Report Cards Due For New Mexico Schools

From - ALBUQUERQUE -- This week, New Mexico's schools will find out if they've made the grade. It is part of Governor Martinez' push to reform education. The new system gives each school an A through F grade. "What you want is a full picture of what's happening in a school," said Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Skandera says the biggest thing about these grades is that they are not just based on test scores. Elementary schools will be graded partly on student improvement, and 40 percent on standardized tests. For high schools, AP courses, graduation rates, and student improvement will also hold weight along with test scores. In fact much of the public schools' grades focus on student improvement and teacher ability to close the achievement gap, with a special focus on students who may be years behind their grade level. "Even if they're walking in two to three years behind, you close that gap, and by the time those kids leave your elementary school they're not 3 years behind, they're one and a half years behind. We need to acknowledge that progress; that's good teaching," said Skandera. Read more

BLM: Environmental Impact Review Requirement for Spaceport Road Gets Waived

KRWG - An in-depth environmental review of a proposed southern road to Spaceport America in New Mexico won't be required after all. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Spaceport and county officials recently were notified by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about the decision not to require the in-depth review. Had the environmental impact study been required by the federal government, officials say it would have boosted the expense of the road construction and left the project with an indefinite timeline. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Some Duke City Payroll Figures Released

NM Business Journal - The payrolls for Albuquerque's finance and insurance firms totaled $665,531,000 in 2009, averaging out to $49,300 per worker, according to a report released Monday by On Numbers. New York City's finance and insurance firms totaled $92.6 billion in 2009, averaging out to $159,600 per worker. The payroll figure is far and away the highest in the nation, while New York's pay per worker is second only to the average of $201,500 in Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn. Albuquerque has 1,313 finance and insurance firms that employ 13,509 workers. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Miller: Arizona and NM are NOT Sister States

Jay Miller
Inside the Capitol - SANTA FE – At first glance, New Mexico and Arizona appear to be sister states. Both were claimed and explored by Spain in the 1500s. Both had equal periods of Spanish, Mexican and American rule. And both were granted U.S. statehood a month apart. But otherwise, the differences were great. For nearly a millennium, New Mexico was peopled by peaceful Pueblo farmers. Arizona was controlled by marauding, nomadic Apaches. New Mexico was colonized in 1598. But Spain had little interest in the land that now is Arizona. It was hard to traverse because of that huge canyon blocking northern exploration and travel. It was left to the Apaches.
When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it began allowing non-Spanish settlers and traders. That began the Santa Fe Trail, bringing people of many cultures and ethnicities from the East and Midwest. Most of them didn't keep moving west to Arizona where there was no protection from Apaches. Arizona's early migration came from the Southern states looking for farm land. But the farther west they got, the more arid the land became. Read full column here: News New Mexico

Judge's Ruling Leaves Campaign Finance Rules in Doubt

NMPolitics - With the 2012 election in full swing, a judge has issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of state limits on financial contributions to be used in federal campaigns and for independent expenditures in state races.
The judge left intact limits on contributions to candidates for state office and to groups intending to spend money on state races in coordination with candidates. Still, the ruling, unless overturned, will likely mean more money raised and spent on state and federal races in New Mexico this year.
U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson’s ruling leaves many types of contribution limits in state law unenforceable, at least for now. For example, the state Republican Party, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Johnson’s ruling, will be able to accept donations of unlimited size from the Republican National Committee to help candidates seeking federal office. Of course, the state Democratic Party will also be able to take unlimited contributions from the Democratic National Committee. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NM Primary to Cost $553,000

KOB TV - SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Legislature is being asked to provide $553,000 in supplemental money to pay for the June primary election. Gov. Susana Martinez's proposed budget includes the funding request for the secretary of state's office, which administers elections. The secretary of state's chief of staff, Ken Ortiz, says the money will cover a wide range of expenses for the June 5 primary, including supplying paper ballots, maintaining the state's computerized voter registration system, providing voter registration forms and canvassing election returns. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Storm to bring snow, icy roads to state

From - (AP) - A relatively mild winter storm is expected to bring snow and icy road conditions to parts of southern and eastern New Mexico. The National Weather Service says the storm system moving into the state could bring from 4 to 6 inches of snow above 7,500 feet in the central and southern parts of the state as it strengthens Sunday evening. The storm's effects in New Mexico will be felt primarily south of Interstate 40. Only light snow flurries are expected in Albuquerque. Read more

General Dempsey: Iran Can Block Flow of Oil

NewsNM note - (Spence) According to our highest ranking member of the armed forces (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Iran does have the ability to do what President Obama has already done. It can block the free flow of oil. There are differences. Iran might use its navy for the blockade, while the president has managed to accomplish the same thing on the Keystone XL pipeline with the stroke of a pen. And the president can and will use the U.S. navy to free up the free flow of crude oil in the Persian Gulf, while he refuses to do the same in North America.
Bloomberg - Iran has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz “for a period of time,” and the U.S. would take action to reopen it, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey said. “They’ve invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,” Dempsey said in an interview aired yesterday on the CBS “Face the Nation” program. “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that.” Should Iran try to close Hormuz, the U.S. “would take action and reopen” the waterway, said Dempsey, President Barack Obama’s top military adviser.
Blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping lane linking the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf, would constitute a “red line” for the U.S., as would Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on the same program.
The U.S. tightened economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program on Dec. 31, and the European Union is weighing a ban later this month on purchases of Iranian crude. Read full story here: News New Mexico