Swickard: Train wreck by design

© 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. In the old west a rancher on a hill saw a steam locomotive going one direction. Around a bend another was coming the other way on the same tracks. At the crash inquest he was asked, “When you saw them collide, what did you think?” The rancher said, “I thought it was a heck of a way to run a railroad.” 
Three connected political items bring to mind metaphoric train wrecks. First, the New Mexico legislature starts slowly each year. Week by week the pace of legislative business picks up a little until the last few days, regardless of whether it is a 60 or 30 day session.  Suddenly it is time for the New Mexico legislature end game. So both legislative chambers meet often around the clock those last couple of days which is too intense for the media to adequately cover. Mercifully, everything comes to a screeching halt at noon the last day. Those final hours often are taken up by filibuster so that much of the work of the legislature is ruined by the bills that get caught and cannot be acted upon. Year after year it is the same. Each year losing all of that work to filibusters is a heck of a way to run a government. Read column


Greek Protestors: Cousins of Occupy Movement

Greek Newspaper depiction of Angela Merkel
Financial Times - A Greek newspaper depicts Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, in a Nazi uniform above the headline “Memorandum macht frei” – an allusion to the memorandum in which Greece’s foreign creditors demand more austerity measures and to the Auschwitz slogan. In these anxious times anti-German sentiments are not unusual in Greece. Locked in a struggle to avoid economic ruin and exit from the eurozone, Greece is confronting the potential collapse of its self-image as a country with a secure place in Europe’s family of nations.
To blame Germany draws on deep wells of national suffering endured during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation of Greece. It is not the only response: Greek economic mismanagement, public sector corruption and dysfunctional politics inspire much self-criticism. Animosity towards Germany is not sweeping through all levels of Greek society.
However, a steady drumbeat of resentful attacks on Germany’s policies in the eurozone debt crisis, and on German popular views of Greece, rumbles week after week through television talk shows and the press. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Los Alamos 3rd Most Affluent City in America

Los Alamos, New Mexico
NM Business Journal - Los Alamos is the nation's third strongest concentration of high-end incomes. Twelve percent of the households in Los Alamos earn income and benefits worth more than $200,000 per year, according to an On Numbers study of U.S. Census. The only two places that rank higher than Los Alamos are the Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn., metropolitan area at 16 percent and San Jose, Calif., at 13.2 percent.
The only other markets that came in above 10 percent were Washington (11.6 percent) and San Francisco-Oakland (11.0 percent).
Santa Fe is ranked 54th (4.84 percent), Carlsbad-Artesia is 191st (2.81 percent) and Albuquerque is 208th (2.72 percent). Read full story here: News New Mexico

48 Hours Left: Little Done in Democrat Legislature

KOAT - Gov. Susana Martinez signed the second bill of the 2012 legislative session into law on Tuesday, days before the 30-day session is set to expire. With less than 48 hours to go and still a ton up for debate, time is running out for lawmakers and the governor to accomplish anything. The bill signed on Tuesday dealt with oversized hay loads along state highways. The previous bill signed was to pay for the legislative session. "It's probably the biggest time wasting session I've been in in my 16 regular sessions," Sen. Rod Adair, R-Chaves and Lincoln, said. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Reforms Blocked: Martinez Offers Veto Threat

Susana Martinez - practicing with her pistol
(KRQE) — The $5.6 billion spending plan for the budget year that begins in July is on its way to the governor's desk about two days early. But Tuesday, Gov. Susana Martinez indicated lawmakers aren't quite in the clear yet. The legislative session, which is primarily held to pass a budget, ends Thursday at noon.
Martinez told reporters she will likely veto the budget if legislators don't pass some of her tax and education reforms. Vetoing the budget would mean lawmakers would be back for a special session.
Martinez said her tax and education proposals go hand-in-hand with the budget that the legislature approved. Part of the spending plan includes money for reading initiatives and about $37 million for possible tax cuts. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Udall Ties Future Job Creation to Renewable Energy "Investments" in Obama Budget, Makes No Mention of Solyndra

Tom Udall
NM Senator Tom Udall posted this comment on his website regarding the president's budget proposal. Last year Udall was once of 97 senators to vote agains Obama's budget proposal.
"President Obama's 2013 budget proposal sets a mark for his priorities and his vision for the country. While I don't agree with the entirety of his request, his budget works toward deficit reduction by meeting the deep automatic spending cuts that were set into motion last year. It is also a strong endorsement for future job creation, with investments in manufacturing jobs, renewable energy and valuable skills training. As we continue to chart the course for our economy's recovery, my focus will remain on making sure the needs of New Mexico are met."
No mention was made of previous investments in renewable energy such as Solyndra.

Eric Holder Continues to Withhold Evidence on How DOJ Armed Mexican Drug Cartels

Eric Holder
Daily Caller - On Tuesday Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform, took a major step toward holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to provide subpoenaed documents and other information about Operation Fast and Furious.
In a Jan. 31 letter, Issa had threatened Holder with such a move if he failed to provide all the subpoenaed documents relating to the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal by Feb. 9. That deadline has come and gone, and Holder’s Department of Justice still hasn’t provided most of those documents. Issa’s subpoena dates back to Oct. 12, 2011.
On Tuesday in a seven-page letter, Issa revealed that Deputy Attorney General James Cole begged Congress to extend the Feb. 9 deadline. Issa wrote that the request was “ironic” and “ignores the reality that the Department has unreasonably delayed producing these documents to the Committee.” Read full story here: News New Mexico


House Sales Up in the Duke City

NM Business Journal - Home prices continued to slide in January, but there was a 13.22 percent increase in closed sales to 411 for single family homes, according to the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors’ January report. Sales volume dropped 9.45 percent to nearly $80 million.
“Consumers are buying in price ranges that are extremely affordable,” said Marc Guggino, president of GAAR. “People look at the median and average and say the market is falling, but these numbers are truly based on the mix of product that is selling. We are holding our own in this interesting market.” Read full story here: News New Mexico

Government "Approval" of What is in a Lunch Bag?

Michelle Obama
The Daily Caller - A North Carolina elementary school forced a preschool student to eat cafeteria chicken nuggets for lunch on Jan. 30 after officials reportedly determined that her homemade meal wasn’t up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s standards for healthfulness, according to a report from the Carolina Journal.
The newspaper reported that the four-year-old girl brought a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, potato chips and apple juice in her packed lunch from home. That meal didn’t meet with approval from the government agent who was on site inspecting kids’ lunches that day. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Education Reforms Blocked at Every Turn

Mary Helen Garcia
In New Mexico unions bosses have made sure that first and foremost, education works for the benefit of the adults working in the system. And the entrenched educational power center’s influence in Santa Fe is alive and well.
No other group is working harder or more successfully to thwart desperately needed reforms that will benefit New Mexico children, than those using legislature leadership to fight education reforms.
The well documented efforts of Michael Sanchez and other Senate Democrats to sandbag the nomination of Hanna Skandera is one example. And what fellow Democrats in the leadership positions in the House of Representatives did to longtime professional educator Rep. Mary Helen Garcia’s is another. Yesterday Garcia's efforts to bring a bill to the floor that would end the long discredited practice of social promotion were strangled by would be speaker Ken Martinez and current speaker Ben Lujan.
Ken Martinez
There are few elected officials in our state that understand education more than Rep. Garcia. Garcia has been championing the idea of putting a permanent stop to the mindless practice of passing students that cannot read at grade level for several years. Apparently her great crime within the Democratic Party was advocating a common sense policy both before, and after newly elected Governor Susana Martinez agreed with the idea.
There is something quite insidious going on in the leadership of the Democratic Party in New Mexico in 2012. Michael Sanchez, Ben Lujan, Ken Martinez and some of most their loyal lieutenants like Sheryl William Stapleton will lay waste to the efforts of any sincere reformers if they think Governor Martinez merely agrees with the change in policy.
It is time for New Mexico try something new. Reformers like Mary Helen Garcia will thrive under new leadership and the state will too. Ken Martinez, Michael Sanchez, and Sheryl William Stapleton need to find something new to do.


U.S. Forest Service Sues New Mexico and Otero County

From therepublic.com -The U.S. Forest Service filed a lawsuit against the state and Otero County over management of forest lands, after the county passed a resolution last year saying it intended to begin following an 11-year-old state law on the issue. The U.S. attorney's office said in a statement the U.S. Constitution forbids New Mexico and Otero County from supplanting federal policies on land and fire management. The legal action filed Feb. 7 followed efforts by the Forest Service and U.S. attorney's office to legally satisfy the concerns of Otero County commissioners about mitigating fire risk due to extreme drought conditions in the forest. "However, the United States Constitution forbids New Mexico and Otero County from supplanting the federal government's land and fire management regime with its own state- and county-specific policies that disrupt the numerous interests the federal government must balance when developing and implementing fire management plans," the statement says.  More News New Mexico