Postal closures concern election officials, voters

From - (AP) - Elections officials in several states are concerned that the closing of mail-processing centers and post offices could disrupt vote-by-mail balloting this year, a potential problem that has led some members of Congress to call for a delay until after the November elections. The U.S. Postal Service recently announced that it is moving ahead with plans to close at least 223 processing centers and thousands of post offices, adding to the 153 centers and 965 post offices that have closed since 2008. The moves are part of a wide-ranging cost-cutting strategy for an agency that estimates it will lose up to $18 billion a year by 2015. Voting officials are raising a variety of concerns, depending on the circumstances in their states. Meanwhile, postal customers have security concerns about leaving ballots in their mail boxes to be picked up by postal carriers. In California and Arizona, officials say the closing of processing centers could delay the delivery of mail-in ballots beyond the deadline to have them counted. "We just have to have a moratorium through this presidential year to avoid disastrous consequences," said California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who wrote a letter last week to the U.S. postmaster general urging a halt to the closures until after the November election. "I'm asking for a time-out." The Postal Service has said the next round of facilities won't close until August, and it would then halt the process temporarily at the end of the month to minimize disruptions ahead of the general election. Read more

John Stossel Dinner in Alb.

John Stossel
From John Stossel is one of the most prominent pro-free-market media voices in the United States today. And, for one night only, he is coming to Albuquerque!  Bringing Mr. Stossel back to Albuquerque is a great opportunity for the Rio Grande Foundation and for New Mexico's free market/limited government community. A few years ago at a luncheon hosted by the Rio Grande Foundation, 350 people attended a luncheon keynoted by Stossel. This time around we are hosting a dinner gala at the Marriott Pyramid in Albuquerque on Wednesday, April 25. Dinner – which will include filet mignon and wine – will last from 6:30PM to approximately 8:00PM. Individual tickets are available for $100 per person.  More News New Mexico

2 Dead After Experimental Plane Crash

From -The Federal Aviation Administration says two people died in the crash of a small plane Wednesday night as it was attempting to land at the Belen Airport.  The single-engine plane, an experimental Legacy 2000, is registered to an owner in Albuquerque.  The plane clipped power lines as it was attempting to land. Our overhead video of the scene shows widely-scattered wreckage in a remote area.  Two bodies were found in the wreckage and authorities are working on notifiying next of kin.

Court Denies Request to Delay Pollution Requirements

From -  A federal appeals court Thursday denied a request by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and Public Service Company of New Mexico to delay pollution control requirements from taking effect at a coal-fired power plant in northwest New Mexico. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals refused their request to put off regulations adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year. The requirements are aimed at curbing haze-causing pollution at the San Juan Generating Station. The ruling means PNM will have to start investing money to comply with the requirements within the next five years while it continues to appeal the agency's mandate in court. PNM said the mandate, which would cost New Mexico ratepayers and others at least $750 million, could eventually be struck down by the courts.  More News New Mexico

Sunland Park Election Cancellation Considered

From -Upcoming elections for a troubled border city where three employees face extortion charges in connection with a secret video recording of a mayoral candidate getting a lap dance may be canceled or postponed, New Mexico officials said. Third Judicial District Attorney Amy Orlando told the Las Cruces Sun-News on Wednesday that she and Secretary of State Dianna Duran have discussed possibly canceling Sunland Park's election scheduled for next week.  "With what information I've been given so far, there is cause for concern for the election going forward," Orlando said.  More News New Mexico

Pearce, Bingaman Work Together

Steve Pearce
Washington, DC (March 1, 2012) Today, Congressman Steve Pearce expressed his support for the House Natural Resources Committee’s passage of S. 897, sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman, which allows states and tribes to use unspent coal mining royalties for the cleanup of abandoned non-coal mines. Pearce sponsored the legislation’s companion bill in the House, H.R. 785 in February 2011.

Jeff Bingaman
“Contrary to the hyper partisan climate in Washington, I’m proud to say that I worked with our state’s senior Democrat to solve a longstanding problem, and ensure that this bill gets signed by the President,” said Pearce. “In New Mexico, abandoned uranium mines need reclamation. The reclamation process returns land damaged by mining to useful purposes. Additionally, this legislation allows excess money that already exists within AML to be used for non-coal reclamation by states and tribes. This allows for opening the existing AML program to uranium mine cleanup. I look forward to working closely Senator Bingaman in the future on solutions that benefit New Mexico.”
Currently, the Department of the Interior (DOI) restricts the ability of states to use certain funds to reclaim non-coal mines. S. 897 passed in the Senate in November and has moved through the House Resources Committee.


PNM Returning to Financial Health

CBS - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — PNM Resources Inc., the parent company of New Mexico's largest electric provider, on Wednesday announced it has started to turn things around, reporting earnings of more than $176 million for 2011 and improvements in ongoing earnings per share of nearly 25 percent.

PNM Resources' earnings report comes as environmental groups accuse it of pursuing rate hikes, higher profits and executive pay at a time when ratepayers are struggling.
Both of the company's utilities — Public Service Company of New Mexico and Texas New Mexico Power — showed increases in ongoing earnings.
The company pointed to higher retail rates for the improvements. In the case of PNM, New Mexico regulators approved an increase of about 9 percent in base rates that went into effect in August. That, along with lower power plant outage costs, mild weather and load growth, helped the utility's financial outlook. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Tighten Your Money Belts, Gas is Going Higher

Businessweek - Oil climbed over $110 a barrel after a report of an explosion on a pipeline in Saudi Arabia. The report of the blast, which appeared on English-language websites from the Middle East, explained the rise in the oil market after 2:30 p.m. New York time, said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy.
Crude oil for April delivery rose $1.77 to settle at $108.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange before extending gains after the floor closed. The price was $109.99 at 3:36 p.m. in New York. Futures have dropped 0.8 percent this week after reaching a nine-month high of $109.77 on Feb. 24.
Brent oil for April settlement climbed $3.54, or 2.9 percent, to a 10-month high of $126.20 a barrel on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent rose as high as $128.40 after the settlement and dropped back to $127.79 at 3:36 p.m. Futures rose 1.7 percent in regular trading as U.S. officials escalated warnings that the nation may join Israel in attacking Iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons and on economic reports signaling growth.  Read full story here: News New Mexico


Nava Retiring, Cervantes to Run for Senate, Suddenly Ken Martinez a Good Bet for Speaker

Joseph Cervantes
NMPolitics - Cynthia Nava joined today the growing list of state senators who aren’t seeking re-election, and Joseph Cervantes quickly announced that he’ll try to replace Nava in the Senate instead of seeking another term in the House. Nava, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, cited frustration with a deadlock in the Roundhouse over education reform as a factor in her decision, and said she’ll look for other opportunities to make a difference. “It just seems like we’re kind of spinning our wheels in that regard because of the partisanship,” Nava, a Las Cruces Democrat, told “I’m just looking for an arena where I can make a positive difference.” Read full story here: News New Mexico


Duh: Clinton Says Embrace Pipleline

Daily Caller - Former President Bill Clinton said the federal government should embrace the Keystone XL pipeline that the Obama administration rejected last month. Clinton also said that one of the “best things” about being out of office is “you can say whatever the heck you want.”
“One of the most amazing things to me about this Keystone pipeline deal is that they ever filed that route in the first place since they could’ve gone around the Nebraska Sandhills and avoided most of the danger, no matter how imagined, to the Ogallala with a different route, which I presume we’ll get now, because the extra cost of running it is infinitesimal compared to the revenues that will be generated over a long period of time,” he said Wednesday at the Energy Innovation Summit. “So, I think we should embrace it and develop a stakeholder-driven system of high standards for doing the work.”
Clinton’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would have to approve the pipeline since it crosses international borders. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Think New Mexico Doesn't Need a Photo Voter I.D. Law? Ask a "Buddy"

Maggie Toulouse Oliver
KOB TV - The Bernalillo County Clerk says the Albuquerque man who claims to have registered his dog to vote will be subject to potential prosecution for voter registration fraud, a 4th degree felony in New Mexico.
The unnamed dog owner told KOB Eyewitness News 4 that he saw a voter registration booth on the University of New Mexico's campus a few weeks ago and decided to see how easy it would be to register his dog to vote.
He said he was trying to expose the problems with the registration system. The man told us the registration was accepted and entered into the system by the Clerk’s office. His dog, "Buddy," subsequently received a voter registration card in the mail. Read full story here: News New Mexico


In Memoriam: Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

From - Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles. We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior. Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.  Andrew recently wrote a new conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation: I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.  Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night. Andrew is at rest, yet the happy warrior lives on, in each of us.

Sony Pictures Imageworks to leave New Mexico

New Mexico Business WeeklyA company official said Wednesday that Sony Pictures Imageworks will not renew its lease in Albuquerque when it expires in July. The Albuquerque facility integrated very successfully with the studio’s Culver City base and made significant contributions to such productions as “I Am Legend,” “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “G Force,” “The Green Lantern,” “The Smurfs,” “Men in Black 3,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the official said in an email. The company opened in Albuquerque in 2007 and has been the largest post-production operation in the state. Imageworks representatives said the decision to open an operation in Albuquerque was part of an overall production strategy designed to leverage regional economic incentives and local talent bases in the United States and overseas. Read More News New Mexico


Slots Net Nearly $1 Billion

Albuquerque JournalGambling activity in New Mexico grew a little less than 2 percent in 2011, but the state’s tribal casinos and state-licensed racinos and nonprofits still had a “net win” of nearly $975 million. In addition to revenue for gaming operations, that translated into more than $130 million paid into the state’s general fund via revenue sharing. “Net win” is the amount wagered on slot machines at tribal casinos, state-licensed racinos and nonprofit gaming rooms – minus payouts and approved regulatory fees. Net win is a key indicator of overall gambling activity. Tribal casinos pay the state nothing on their table games like poker and blackjack. Racinos and nonprofits can offer only slots machines. Collectively, the state’s gambling parlors reported $973.8 million in “net win” last year, a 1.9 percent increase over 2010. Gambling interests paid the state $130.2 million in gaming taxes, a 1.1 percent increase from 2010. (Albuquerque Journal subscription  required) Read More News New Mexico 


No Suits Filed Against Latest Map

The "Old" House Redistrciting Map
Capitol Report New Mexico - It took months but it looks like the redistricting fight is finally over. Sources tell us the 48-hour deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 29th) for parties to appeal Judge Jim Hall’s final map for the state House of Representatives came and went without any parties — Democrat, Republican or otherwise — filing any paperwork.
The general sense was that while both House Democrats and Republicans weren’t crazy about the new map, they were resigned to accepting it. On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Susana Martinez met with reporters and articulated the same feeling. “If either side is in agreement that everything is fine,” Gov. Martinez said, “we’ll live with this map and move forward.”
A Republican analyst told Capitol Report New Mexico, ”it’s not the greatest map in the world and it’s not the map we would have passed had we been in control of the legislature. But it’s as good a map as we could reasonably expect” after the state Supreme Court ordered Judge Hall to go back to the drawing board earlier this month. Read full story here: News New Mexico