Swickard: Becoming the more jobs state

Commentary by Michael Swickard - Two things are true for the majority of high school students in New Mexico, especially in the smaller communities: first, if these young people get a college degree, they tend to make considerably more money in their lifetime than if they do not. It is not a guarantee but like fastening your seat belt does not completely protect you in a collision; it certainly improves your odds of not being seriously injured.  more opportunities with a college degree than without/ Secondly, for many who get a college degree there is a better than average chance they will have to relocate elsewhere in the state or more than likely somewhere else in the nation to be able to have a college education required job. College-required jobs are at a premium in New Mexico, outside of finance, engineering, nursing and education. New Mexico colleges graduate many students who find that pressures in the job market force them to leave the state. There are even majors in New Mexico colleges for which there are no jobs within the state. In talking to recent graduates I find that some ambitious graduates say it is obvious that companies in New Mexico are just holding on, not leading the nation. Read column

Gibson Guitar Raid One Year Later......No Charges

From hotair.com -Last August, the federal government raided a Gibson Guitar factory and confiscated property worth at least $500,000. What had Gibson Guitars done wrong? They had imported wood from India and failed to follow every “jot and tittle” of the regulatory law … not of the United States, but of India.  Thanks to a bureaucratic U.S. law called The Lacey Act, Gibson and other importers can be criminally prosecuted by the U.S. government for violations not only of U.S. regulatory law, but also for violations of other countries’ regulatory laws. The Indian government didn’t see a reason to penalize Gibson — but Gibson’s own government didReason.tv recently checked in with Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz to see how the case has progressed. Turns out, the DOJ has filed no charges. That means Gibson hasn’t had its day in court to defend itself — and the government still has all that confiscated property.  More News New Mexico

Arnold-Jones claims she’ll easily win preprimary

Janice Arnold-Jones (Photo by Heath Haussamen)
From NMPolitics.net - Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Janice Arnold-Jones sent out an eye-popping news release earlier this week claiming she is “poised to take well over 50% of the delegates” at the preprimary nominating convention in March. The preprimary is the preferred method of qualifying for the primary ballot. Succeeding there is also considered a sign of organizational strength and can be a big boost. Candidates do well at the state preprimary by working at a grassroots level to get their delegates elected at county preprimaries and sent to the state meeting. It’s no secret that Arnold-Jones, a former state representative from Albuquerque and a champion of open government, has an active following. Her news release stated that her supporters “came out in force” at the county-level meetings in the five counties that are in the 1st Congressional District. But the claim was eye-popping because Arnold-Jones is a candidate the GOP establishment usually doesn’t take seriously, and because she significantly trails both of her primary opponents, Dan Lewis and Gary Smith, in cash on hand. Arnold-Jones said she’s confident in her claim. She told NMPolitics.net her actual expected support at the preprimary is better than what she predicted in her news release, “but I’d rather be conservative.” “This is the grassroots of campaigning, and this is very personal,” she said in explaining how she won the support she expects to have. “People are very concerned about what is going to happen with this district, and that, first and foremost, we have someone who can stand toe to toe with the Democrats. Read more

The kerfuffle over the hair sylist and the Governor

Susana Martinez
Capitol Report New Mexico - By now, you’ve probably heard about the Santa Fe hairstylist who has announced he won’t cut the hair of Gov. Susana Martinez because she does not advocate for same-sex marriage. The first question that popped into my mind was that while I think it’s a proprietor’s perogative to serve a customer, would the sylist also refuse to cut the hair of President Obama if the president stopped by his salon a campaign trip? After all, President Obama flatly said on numerous occasions on the2008 campaign trail that he was opposed to gay marriage and now, four years later, he still has not come out in support of it, with White House communications officials saying only that his stance on the issue is “evolving.” Read More News New Mexico


Topless Setup at City Hall?

KOB TV - A Sunland Park mayoral candidate says an unidentified man threatened to blackmail him by releasing a video of a topless woman dancing for him if he didn't drop out of the race.
Mayoral candidate Gerardo Hernandez said Wednesday that an unidentified topless woman danced for him in his office and believes it was a set up by another mayoral candidate. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Calls for Full Disclosure a Little Spotty

Things are changing in New Mexico. We have a functioning Sunshine portal, a Foundation for Open Government to insure more open and above board processes, and bipartisan calls for transparency in campaign finance related to the recent Citizen United court ruling. However, before you get caught up in the new wave of higher ethical standards it is best to understand that not everyone is calling for a full accounting of everything that desperately needs full disclosure.
It has been nearly three years since agreements by Santa Fe County and the State of New Mexico paved the way for millions of dollars in funding and other considerations to go to private developers of a movie studio in Santa Fe. The terms of the scheme were nothing if not remarkably brazen.
Santa Fe Studios
Somehow, Santa Fe county commissioners and the New Mexico state government agreed to give Santa Fe Studios partners: which included Current State Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales, Lance Hool, Jason Hool and Conrad Hool, free land, free water utility hookups, a $10 million grant, and a $6.5 million government backed loan. Why?
These very clever men managed to convince elected officials and/or decision makers in Santa Fe that it was in the “public interest” to construct this particular facility to “lure” Hollywood producers to New Mexico. How could such an incredible scheme come off? It seems that a longtime friendship between the principals and former Governor Bill Richardson provided significant political lubricants during the funding process.
Later when State Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales was questioned about his good fortune with the project he said he had “detached himself” from it. However, numerous attempts at convincing Gonzales to actually provide full and complete disclosure of what “detaching” actually meant in financial terms, have been completely ignored.
Javier Gonzales
The Sunshine Portal, the noble efforts of the Foundation for Open Government, and calls for full disclosure of the fund sources of PAC’s and Super PAC’s are reasonable. Is it also reasonable and ethical for a State Democratic Party Chairman to be on the receiving end, along with his partners, of a $10 million grant, a $6.5 government guaranteed loan, free land, and free utility hookups from government entities where he is presumed to have so much influence? If this is reasonable, is it also reasonable that he do so without being required to provide full disclosure of the financial details after his exit from a taxpayer financed deal?
If it is not reasonable for Gonzales to remain silent, why are so many otherwise reasonable elected officials and media members ignoring this situation while spending so much time pounding the table calling for full disclosure and transparency?


Labor Activist Announces Bid for House Seat

Christine Trujillo
One of the most aggressive labor activists in the state, who observers say was able to successfully block bi-partisan efforts to reform education in New Mexico, has announced she will be running for the House of Representatives.
Christine Trujillo of Albuquerque told the Albuquerque Journal she will provide primary opposition to incumbent and fellow Democrat Danice Picraux in House District 25. Trujillo who is in her sixth term as president of the American Federation of Teachers in New Mexico, worked tirelessly behind the scenes for more than a year to stop the social promotion bill sponsored by Representative Mary Helen Garcia of Dona Ana County and supported by Governor Susana Martinez. The bill would have halted the widely discredited practice of moving school children on to 4th grade when they are unable to read at the third grade level.


Second Gun Involved in Murder of ICE Agent Linked to Fast & Furious

Brian Terry
From cbs.com -Prosecutors recently sentenced a Texas man, Manuel Barba, for trafficking a weapon connected to the murder of Immigration and Customs (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata. Nobody was more astonished to learn of the case than Zapata's parents, who didn't know that Barba had been arrested or linked to their son's murder. "The family was obviously surprised to learn that there was a case involving a weapon linked to the Zapata incident," attorney Trey Martinez told CBS News. Martinez represents Zapata's parents and the surviving ICE agent in the assault, Victor Avila. "They were surprised they had never been contacted in the capacity as victims so they could give a response or some kind of reaction at the time of sentencing."  Barba was sentenced to 100 months in prison on January 30th. When we asked why the Zapatas weren't contacted, prosecutors in Houston told CBS News they only handled the weapons charges: conspiracy, false statements and exportation/receipt of firearms. Zapata's actual murder "is being handled by another US Attorney's office and... is separate and apart from the firearms case that was handled by our district," said a spokeswoman. She added the firearms offenses "are crimes that do not involve victims in the legal sense of the word and therefore, notifications are not part of the legal process."   In a related development, CBS News has obtained documents showing that Barba was under ATF surveillance for at least six months before a rifle he trafficked was used in Zapata's murder. Zapata's government vehicle was ambushed by suspected cartel thugs in Mexico Feb. 15, 2011.  More News New Mexico


Mayor Berry Hosts Japanese Ambassador

Richard Berry
Alamogordo Daily News - Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is set to host the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki is slated Thursday to attend a private reception with Berry and will tour the Sasebo Japanese Garden at the Albuquerque BioPark.
Fujisaki is in New Mexico related to Japan's investment of more than $30 million in smart grid research and demonstration projects in the state. He is scheduled to get an update from Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization agreements in Los Alamos with state officials, the Public Service Co. of New Mexico, and Mesa del Sol in 2010.
The project includes a large-scale battery storage system and a home that will incorporate solar, batteries, smart metering and an energy management system. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Governor to Sign Tax Reform Bill Today

Susana Martinez
Efforts to make New Mexico a bit more competitive were successful in the recent legislature. Governor Susana Martinez will sign tax reform legislation today at Yearout Mechanical in Albuquerque.
House Bill 184/256 will change some of the most unfair and burdensome double and triple taxation of goods and services in New Mexico's construction and manufacturing sectors.
The tax reform package will reduce the financial burden on small business construction contractors, as well as on manufacturers, allowing for new hiring, reducing the cost to consumers of products and new construction. Expected to be on hand for the signing are, Economic Development Department Secretary Jon Barela, Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford, Rep. David Doyle (R-Albuquerque), Rep. Conrad James (R-Albuquerque) plus a number of New Mexico business leaders.


High School's plan for random student drug testing is hard sell to parents

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - by Robert Nott - St. Michael's High School in Santa Fe is going forward with random drug testing of students using hair samples in fall 2012.  Principal Sam Govea made that announcement during a parental forum the school hosted at its Siringo Road campus early Wednesday morning.  About 15 parents attended the meeting, and based on the comments some made, opinions regarding the policy remain divided. Earlier this month, the private Catholic school, which serves about 700 students in grades seven through 12, notified parents that it was considering enacting a drug-testing policy. Parents immediately posted comments on the school's Facebook page, some supporting the plan and others criticizing it. During Wednesday's 7:30 a.m. meeting, Govea said the policy will become effective next semester, and that the school is altering some of its original thoughts regarding the plan. He said the policy will be called "random +" -- with the + sign emphasizing education, intervention and support for students who test positive for drugs the first time. He added that the school is talking with staff and faculty members about the possibility of testing employees as well. Read more

Pacheco will run for Doyle’s seat in NM House, Doyle aims for Senate

NM Rep. David Doyle
From Capitol Report New Mexico.com - And the candidates just keep on comin.’ Retired Albuquerque Police Department officer and Republican Paul Pacheco has announced Wednesday (Feb. 22) he’ll run for the state House of Representatives in District 23, a seat that is currently held by Rep. David Doyle, who is stepping aside to run for the state Senate. Pacheco, who ran for the seat – which is comprised of northwest Albuquerque and Corrales — back in 2010 and finished in a close second place to Doyle, said in a statement that he’ll “focus on reforming education by increasing accountability, creating a more business-friendly environment to grow jobs, and improving public safety by repealing the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.” A former “Detective of the Year” at APD, Pacheco has spent the last five years helping his wife run a small business that provides drug and alcohol treatment. As for Doyle, he’s announced that he’ll run against Democrat John Sapien of Corrales for the state Senate in District 9. According to a brief story in the Albuquerque Journal, Doyle says he’s switching chambers because he thinks he can make a greater impact in the Senate. Read more

Denish sticks neck out with endorsements

Former NM Lt. Gov. Diane Denish
From NMPolitics.net - by Heath Haussamen - Former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who was the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2010, is sticking her neck out by endorsing candidates in two high-profile primaries some consider underdogs. In July, Denish endorsed Hector Balderas, who polls have shown has an uphill battle against Martin Heinrich in the U.S. Senate primary. And earlier this month, Denish gave her support to Michelle Lujan Grisham in a three-way 1st Congressional District primary. She said she doesn’t consider Lujan Grisham an underdog. Whether such endorsements matter is a long-standing debate in politics, but Denish built a statewide network, and the candidates hope her endorsements will at least energize their supporters. Balderas and Lujan Grisham are touting Denish’s backing, which shows she still has influence in a party that is in some ways soul-searching after a 2010 shellacking that included her loss to Republican Susana Martinez. Denish said she thought carefully before making the endorsements. By backing candidates who are or may be underdogs, she’s taking a chance, but she doesn’t seem concerned about that. “I endorse the candidates who I think have the opportunity to be the best public servants in the jobs they’re running for,” Denish told NMPolitics.net. Read more