Senator Rod Adair bids adieu

Senator Rod Adair
From Capitol Report New - Big news in the Roundhouse. Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that one of the most outspoken conservatives in the state Senate, Rod Adair of Roswell, has decided to withdraw from his race against fellow Republican Bill Burt:. Adair has spent 16 years in the legislature and in addition to his conservative positions, Adair has also been an ardent supporter of greater transparency in government. Due to redistricting, Burt was moved from Senate District 40 over to Adair’s District 33. With Adair gone, Burt gets to skip the Republican primary race and move on to the general election in November, where he will meet Democrat Stephanie Dubois. Adair is now the ninth member of the Senate to decide not to run for re-election. Nine out of 42 members. That’s 21.4 percent. Read more


Snow helps Northern NM ski resorts

From Santa Fe New Mexican - by Staci Matlock  - Ski Santa Fe closed on April 1, but the latest snowstorm Monday night is helping a couple of other New Mexico ski resorts stay open.  Taos Ski Valley reported 15 inches of new snow and will stay open through the weekend.  Sipapu Ski received 14 inches of new snow overnight and resort officials will keep the resort open through today.  Angel Fire Ski also had already closed when the storm hit. "Never fails, shut down for the ski season and we receive more than a foot and a half of snow," tweeted Angel Fire Ski staff. Read more

Should you clap at government meetings?

From the Rio Rancho Observer - When is it OK to clap at a city council meeting? That’s what a couple of residents wanted to know at Wednesday night’s Rio Rancho Governing Body meeting. Their comments came after Mayor Tom Swisstack said near the beginning of the meeting that he does not want clapping at council meetings. Swisstack made reference to the March 14 Governing Body meeting, at which several audience members broke out in spontaneous applause after a resident questioned why only one councilor attended the swearing-in ceremony of new Councilor Chuck Wilkins. After the applause at the March 14 meeting, Swisstack cautioned the audience not to clap before they know the facts — that is, in his case at least, that he called Wilkins in advance of his swearing-in to tell him the mayor had another commitment that night. “Let me clear something up,” Swisstack said at Wednesday night’s Governing Body meeting. “I don’t allow clapping. I’m trying to maintain some sense of order. This is not a circus.” Read more 


Experts: Drug violence key in Mexico vote

From the El Paso Times - By Diana Washington Valdez  - Mexico's drug violence is the most important issue the country's four presidential candidates must face during their campaigns over the next four months, experts say. "The narco violence is the biggest issue in this election. Everyone will be wondering how each of the candidates will deal with the narco-traffickers," said Jaime Aguila, a professor at Arizona State University who specializes in Mexico topics. The Mexican presidential election will take place in July. More than 44,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug violence since President Felipe Calderón, 49, launched his crackdown against the drug cartels in December 2006, according to Mexican government figures. His six-year term ends in September, and Mexican presidents cannot run for re-election. Read more

Tucumcari official requests help from water authority

Ute Lake
From the Clovis News Journal - By Kevin Wilson  - PORTALES — A Tucumcari city commissioner requested help Tuesday from the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority. He figured the authority had more pull with the Interstate Streams Commission than he did. He first said he was in full support of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System — a pipeline from Ute Reservoir to authority members in Curry and Roosevelt counties — but some protections needed to be in place for Tucumcari and Quay County, where the reservoir is located.. Lumpkin said the city and county were being required to hook up to an intake structure (pump station) the authority was building. But Lumpkin said that would be a cost of $6 million, and Quay County and Tucumcari are already working with another provider on a separate intake structure as part of development of the Ute Lake Ranch development. Lumpkin also requested the authority help establish a minimum elevation for the reservoir, built in the 1950s to create a sustainable water supply for eastern New Mexico. Lumpkin asked for the long-promoted elevation of 3,765 feet, almost 12 feet below the reservoir's current level, and reduced pumping when the elevation nears that mark. "It would always be there to protect the future of that reservoir," Lumpkin said, "and the future of the project." Read more.

Martinez addresses Nuclear Summit

From the Carlsbad Current-Argus - by Matlin Smith - CARLSBAD — In town for several hours Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez talked about nuclear fuel. The nuclear summit, which runs through Thursday, brings together policy makers, nuclear experts and industry professionals to discuss the findings of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future and the way forward for nuclear energy in the United States.The Blue Ribbon Commission visited Carlsbad in January 2011, when they toured the Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a nuclear waste repository 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad.Martinez said Tuesday that WIPP is the best location for spent fuel and nuclear waste, adding that the future of nuclear energy is a matter of national importance.New Mexico has been intertwined with the nuclear industry since World War II, Martinez said. In the late 1970s, Carlsbad assumed a prominent role in nuclear waste with the instillation of WIPP.During its construction phase, WIPP provided full-time jobs for 1,500 people and currently employs 700 area residents.However, WIPP suffered budget cuts and consequential job loss this fiscal year, going from a budget of $220 million to $218 million, costing 90 jobs. Read more

Challenger alleges petition fraud against NM Sen. Pinto

Senator John Pinto
From the Alamogordo Daily News - by Milan Simonich Texas-New Mexico - SANTA FE -- Matthew Tso, a candidate for the state Senate, has filed a lawsuit alleging that incumbent Democrat John Pinto filed fraudulent and inaccurate nominating petitions. Tso, also a Democrat, is asking a judge to remove Pinto from the June primary election ballot. Pinto, 87, could not be reached immediately for a response. Tso, 33, said today that Pinto incorrectly listed his address on his candidacy filing. In addition, Tso alleges that most of the 900 signatures Pinto collected were duplicates, photocopies or otherwise fraudulent. "He signed his own petition twice," Tso said in a telephone interview. Court records show that Tso filed the lawsuit Friday in the court of Judge Karen L. Townsend of the Aztec-Farmington District. Pinto, of Tohatchi, has been a state senator since 1977 and is the oldest member of the Legislature. Read more 


WSJ: Fed Buying 61 Percent of US Debt

From - The Federal Reserve is propping up the entire U.S. economy by buying 61 percent of the government debt issued by the Treasury Department, a trend that cannot last, Lawrence Goodman, a former Treasury official and current president of the Center for Financial Stability, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion article published Wednesday. "Last year the Fed purchased a stunning 61 percent of the total net Treasury issuance, up from negligible amounts prior to the 2008 financial crisis," Goodman writes. Goodman also warns that U.S. economy and markets are “at risk for a sharp correction” if conditions aren’t “normalized.” "This not only creates the false appearance of limitless demand for U.S. debt but also blunts any sense of urgency to reduce supersized budget deficits." Read more

Another $17 Trillion Surprise Found in Obamacare

From - Senate Republican staffers continue to look though the 2010 health care reform law to see what’s in it, and their latest discovery is a massive $17 trillion funding gap.  “The more we learn about the bill, the more we learn it is even more unaffordable than was suspected,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republicans’ budget chief in the Senate. “The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” he said.  More News New Mexico

Scientific Ghost Town to be Built in Hobbs or Las Cruces

From -The group behind plans to build a $1 billion scientific ghost town in New Mexico has narrowed its list of potential sites from 16 to two.  The Center for Innovation, Technology and Testing, or CITE, will be built near Hobbs, on the New Mexico-Texas, border, or near Las Cruces in southern New Mexico, said Bob Brumley, senior managing director of Pegasus Holdings and its New Mexico subsidiary, CITE Development.  "They are two really good sites," he said. "Now we just have to go through ... and find the one that best suits this business." Two sites were chosen instead of one, he said, because the company is intent on meeting its June deadline for breaking ground on the project and details have yet to be finalized for securing the land. Plans call for development of what is being billed as a first-of-its kind smart city, or ghost town of sorts, on about 15 square miles where researchers can test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems.  More News New Mexico


NM Water Official Rejects San Augustin Application

From Wall Street Journal -The state's top water official has denied a request from a New York-based commercial venture that sought to drill more than three dozen wells in western New Mexico.
Rural residents, one of the state's largest irrigation districts and others had described the application by Augustin Plains Ranch as a modern-day water grab. They argued it flew in the face of a western water doctrine that has been in place for more than a century to keep speculators from profiting off the sale of water to thirsty users.  State Engineer Scott Verhines announced Monday that he denied the request because it was vague, too broad and the effects of granting it could not be reasonably evaluated. He said he considered the overall impacts the proposal would have on New Mexicans.  More News New Mexico

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez for vice president? She says no

Susana Martinez
Las Cruces Sun-News It's not the first time it's happened, but it is the most recent. National political pundits over the weekend again discussed New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a possible vice presidential pick of GOP contender Mitt Romney. Martinez up until now has said her sights aren't set on that role. Her stance doesn't appear to be changing much. "I'm totally, completely focused on being governor and fulfilling my promises," she said during a visit Monday to Las Cruces. "It's humbling, but I'm not interested." Martinez said none of the Republican presidential hopefuls has reached out to her. One CNN report Monday discussed nine possible Romney runningmates, including Martinez; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Martinez was described by Candy Crowley, CNN chief political correspondent, as having a "trifecta of political assets. She is female, Hispanic and the governor of a swing state." But her drawbacks were that she's "untested and unknown on the national scene." New Mexico state Rep. Terry McMillan, R-N.M., said the fact Martinez's name is still being bandied about is "not a surprise," considering she's got some executive experience and other politically positive attributes. Read More News New Mexico


Grand jury indicts owners of Rio Grande Studios

Michael Jacobs
New Mexico Business Weekly - Attorney General Gary King has filed charges against Michael Jacobs and Ruby Handler-Jacobs after a grand jury indicted the couple for the alleged illegal sale of security interests in Rio Grande Studios that brought in more than $500,000 of investment proceeds. The studios filed for bankruptcy last year. The indictment lists 57 counts, including fraud and the sale of unregistered securities. The grand jury noted that the couple were owners and operators of Rio Grande Studios, a limited liability corporation in Bernalillo County, and indicated that through the studios, the couple offered to sell investments to various people in New Mexico and the U.S., but did not register Rio Grande Studios’ investment plan with the New Mexico Securities Division. Individual investments ranged from $500 to $100,000, according to the indictment, and investors allegedly were told by the Jacobses that the studios would expand from its location in Albuquerque to a large development that would include a movie studio, baseball stadium, amusement park, shopping district, hotel and racetrack. Read More News New Mexico


NM Supreme Court: Sunland Park mayor still can’t be sworn in

Supreme Court (Nikolewski)
Capitol Report New MexicoThe state Supreme Court weighed in on one of the weirdest political stories in the country on Tuesday (April 3), ruling that the man who was recently elected mayor of the troubled border town of Sunland Park still cannot be sworn into office because he’s facing charges of extortion and bribery. In a 3-0 decision, the state’s highest court upheld the ruling of a New Mexico district court judge who said that Daniel Salinas, as terms of his bond, cannot step foot into Sunland Park City Hall or have any contact with city employees while the district attorney’s office in Doña Ana County completes its investigation into allegations concering Salinas and at least one other high-ranking city official. “This is an extraordinary situation involving competing laws,” Justice Patricio Serna said while reading the verdict. Extraordinary is just one of a number of adjectives that come to mind when discussing the recent activities in the town of 14,000 near the Texas and Mexico borders. Read More News New Mexico


Uranium deconversion plant gets New Mexico air permit

New Mexico Business Weekly - The New Mexico Environment Department has approved an air permit for International Isotopes Inc.’s planned spent-uranium deconversion plant near Hobbs. When complete, the $125 million facility will process depleted fuel from Urenco USA’s uranium enrichment plant in Eunice. International Isotopes will extract fluorine gas from the spent uranium for use in microelectronic and photovoltaic manufacturing. The company will need more state permits and a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission before commencing operations. But the air permit allows International Isotopes to begin construction work, said President and CEO Steve Laflin in a prepared statement. Read More News New Mexico


Having Lost 511 - 0 on His Budgets, Obama Criticizes the Ryan Budget, NM Dems Stand for Nothing

Today President Obama had the temerity to criticize Paul Ryan's effort to bring budget reform to the nation. Last week it was his own party that delivered the most stinging criticism of President Obama's own budget proposal. Not with their words of course. Nevertheless his budget was defeated 414-0 in the House of Representatives. It was the exact vote total within his own party that Obama tallied last year when the president’s budget was rejected 97-0 in the Democratic-controlled Senate. These repudiations of Obama's leadership should serve as a wakeup call to everyone who insists on deluding themselves into thinking this man is capable of leading. He is allegedly managing a process that spends $3.5 trillion a year.
Martin Heinrich
It is simply astonishing that over the course of two fiscal years President Obama has been unable to convince even a single member of his own party, in either the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate, to give him a yes vote on either one of his budget proposals.
Ben Ray Lujan
And so it has become very clear for New Mexico voters. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman routinely defend this president's budget approach and attack Republicans. And yet when offered an opportunity to put their votes where their political rhetoric is, they shrink from their responsibilities. And in the U.S. House, New Mexico’s Ben Ray Lujan and Martin Heinrich are nothing, if they are not consistent bashers of any and all Republican budget policy proposals. Lujan and Heinrich also defend this president at every turn. Again, when offered the opportunity to simply vote yes for the budget offered by their president, the man they claim is their leader, they shirk their duty and vote no.
Tom Udall
Like Bingaman and Udall, both Heinrich and Lujan vote NO on every budget proposal. The truth of the matter is Bingaman, Udall, Heinrich and Lujan support Washington doing exactly what it has been doing for three fiscal years. They are quite OK with spending nearly $4 billion a day more than the federal government takes in as part of "continuing resolutions." These men are cynical. And so far their cynicism has been rewarded. They think if they don’t vote for anything, the president’s budget, Paul Ryan’s budget, or anyone else’s budget, they can’t be BLAMED by voters. All they really want to do is keep their jobs in Washington. Amazingly, Martin Heinrich actually is seeking a promotion for all of the shrinking and shirking of his basic responsibilities. Is anyone going to demand these men stand for something……anything? Time will tell.


Another "Solar Trust" Fantasy Files for Bankruptcy

Washington Examiner - In keeping with the recent trend of so-called green companies going into the red, another solar energy company supported by President Obama's top administration officials declared bankruptcy today. Solar Trust for America received $2.1 billion in conditional loan guarantees from the Department of Energy -- "the largest amount ever offered to a solar project," according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu -- for a project near Blythe, Calif., but declared bankruptcy within a year. It is unclear how much of the guarantee, if any, was actually awarded. Senior officials in Obama's administration had very high hopes for the Blythe project. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar attended the groundbreaking ceremony, which he described as "a historic moment in America’s new energy frontier" and "another important step in making America’s clean energy future a reality." Chu trumpeted at the time that Solar Trust would prove that "when we rev up the great American innovation machine, we can out-compete any other nation." The embarrassment should be bipartisan. "This is a huge milestone for our community," Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., said when the company received its loan guarantee. "I look forward to continuing my work supporting projects . . . that will harness our local energy resources and help reduce our nation’s dangerous dependence on unstable foreign oil.” Read full story here: News New Mexico

Legal Tab for Redistricting $5 Million?

Albuquerque Journal - With $1.2 million already shelled out, another $3.9 million on the table and some bills still in the pipeline, the legal costs of the recent redistricting could be on track to top $5 million. Taxpayers will pick up the tab for the redrawing of district boundaries for elected officials, which ended up being done by a court this year after a clash between Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
For the redistricting of 2001-02 — some of which also went to court — the state paid more than $3.7 million in legal costs. Martinez said she wanted to curb the costs of the recent redistricting fight, and on Monday her lawyers filed a petition with retired state District Judge James Hall objecting to the awards sought by lawyers for Democratic plaintiffs and a group of Indian tribes.
Hall has before him more than $3.9 million in requests for legal fees and costs from various parties in the lawsuits. He has scheduled a hearing for April 20 to hear arguments on the requests. Read full story here (subscription required) News New Mexico