Lujan-Grisham calls for Wiener to resign

Commissioner Michael Wiener (center)
From - By: Peter St. Cyr, Gadi Schwartz, 4 On Your Side  - A controversial photo showing a Bernalillo County Commissioner posing with bar girls in the sex capitol of the Philippines continues to shock the community. And, at least one colleague is calling on the former city councilor and state senator to resign. KOB’s investigative team was the first to confront Commissioner Michael Wiener about his visit to the well-known red light district. After hearing Wiener provide several different explanations about his trip, KOB’s 4 On Your Side team spent the day trying to confirm every version of the commissioner’s story. Wiener said he was only in the area for three or four hours and denied renting a room in the district overnight. "We went there to take a look… walk up Walking Street and then went to the airport," Wiener said. He claims he took his girlfriend to check the area out during a flight layover to Caticlan to visit his young daughter and said nothing inappropriate happened while he was in the island country. But a photographer, who is working on a story about sex tourism and who took Wiener’s picture in Angeles City, said he heard Wiener making inappropriate comments to the girls posing with him in the picture. Seattle photographer John Keatley also Wiener boasted about the hotel he was staying at because it catered to Americans open to a good time. Read more

Swickard: Getting worse before getting better, if ever

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Try the Swickard Test in your community. Take two elementary schools, the one rated the very best and the one rated the very worse and switch entire staffs between the schools. Move the teachers, counselors, librarians, administrators, janitors and cafeteria workers entirely one school to the other. Then we will get an honest look at the staff and administrative effect. One day the school staff is either on the exemplary or the poop list. Then they are at the other school. In three years the effect of the staff will be seen, which is largely not that much. The best school will still be best and the worst school will still be worst. But educators will not try the Swickard Test because they instinctively know the outcome. The problem then shows that spending the lion’s share of your time getting more administration in the worst school is of no use. More administration and more tests and more fads does nothing to change the best to the worst or the worst to the best. Education after the Swickard Test has to admit that the differentiator of success in the schools does not happen to be in the professional staff.  Read column


Feds Nab 28 NM Gang Members Linked to Trafficking

From Arizona Daily Star -Federal agents and local police have arrested 28 suspected gang members and associates in New Mexico as part of a national roundup of gang members linked to drug and human trafficking. Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations announced Wednesday that members and associates affiliated with the South Side Locos and Brown Pride gangs in Albuquerque, southern New Mexico and the Four Corner's region were in federal custody following a quick probe of the area.Authorities also seized heroin, cocaine and meth with a street value of close to $300,000. In addition, federal agents and local authorities seized more than a dozen or so illegal firearms and two expensive vehicles."This was a coordinated effort that resulted in the arrests of a number of high ranking gang members," said Dennis Ulrich, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge of West Texas and New Mexico. "We believe they were involved in drug trafficking and human smuggling." The roundup was part of a national operation known as "Project Nefarious" which nabbed more than 600 gang members with outstanding warrants across the country. Read more

Intel Must Pay Penalty for Not Hiring in NM

From Oregan Live -Intel missed its local hiring targets last year at its New Mexico fab, the Albuquerque Journal reports. The Journal's report (which is behind the paper's paywall) says this is the third time in five years that Intel has failed to find at least 60 percent of new hires in New Mexico. From the Journal:
A report presented to Sandoval County commissioners by Intel government affairs manager Liz Shipley this week showed only 35 percent of the 349 employees the company hired in 2011 were state residents. The 60 percent hiring goal was one of the conditions the county set in 2004 when it approved a $16 billion revenue bond for Intel. Intel missed the goal in 2009 and 2006, as well. In 2009, 27 percent of its 11 new hires were from New Mexico. In 2006, 103 or 56 percent of the 185 employees hired were state residents.  Figures Shipley provided showed that overall since 1995, 63 percent of Intel's new hires have been from New Mexico. The Journal reported that Intel, which employs 3,500 at Rio Rancho, must pay the county $100,000 for educational initiatives as a result of missing its local hiring target.
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US Cracks Down on Border Corruption

From -US state and federal agencies are cracking down on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle Mexican drug cartels.  That's a relatively new idea for Sunland Park, New Mexico, a small dusty city reeling from their latest scandal involving their mayor-elect, a topless dancer, and extortion. The only U.S. city on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande shed light on corruption that seems endemic to border towns thanks to a mix of small-town politics, an influx of corrupt government practices from across the border, and, of course, the rise of the cartels and their endless supply of cash. While much of New Mexico is west of the Rio Grande, this dusty enclave of 14,000 residents is the only U.S. city located on the Mexico side of the river, on the same side as — and just across the border fence from — Ju├írez.  Read more

PRC’s Marks, Howe seek stay on San Juan clean up

San Juan Generating Station
New Mexico Business WeeklyNew Mexico Public Regulation Commissioners Jason Marks and Doug Howe are asking the parties involved in planning the environmental modifications of Public Service Co. of New Mexico’s aging San Juan Generating Station to voluntarily stay litigation until a third alternative can be developed that would begin to reduce the state’s reliance on coal generation. The 40-year-old coal-fired plant is in violation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze reduction rules for polluting the surrounding region, which includes Mesa Verde National Park and the Weminuche Wilderness Area. The EPA wants PNM to install pollution control technology at the plant, which PNM says will raise electricity rates and estimates will cost about $750 million to build. The state has been pushing its own solution, which it said would cost about one-tenth of the EPA project, while admitting it would also be less effective in meeting EPA regulations. Read More News New Mexico


New Mexico receives $34M education grant

Houston ChronicleNew Mexico will receive a federal education grant of $33.8 million over seven years to prepare public school students for college and careers, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Wednesday. The state will target two dozen high-poverty middle and high schools, and an estimated 11,000 students in grades seven through 12 will be served. Schools can hire tutors and other personnel to help students prepare academically for college and assist them in financial planning to cover the costs of attending a post-secondary school. "Reforming education in New Mexico requires us to invest in identifying struggling students and getting them the help they need," Martinez said in a statement. The recipient schools are: Pecos Middle School and Pecos High School; Tse Bit Ai Middle School and Shiprock High School; Los Alamitos Middle School and Grants High School; Coronado Middle School and Coronado High School in Gallina; San Diego Riverside Middle School and Walatowa High School in Jemez Pueblo; Jemez Valley Middle School and Jemez Valley High School in Jemez Pueblo; Los Lunas Middle School and Los Lunas High School; Ortiz Middle School and Capital High School in Santa Fe; Garcia Middle School and Mora High School; Penasco Middle School and Penasco High School; Red Mountain Middle School and Deming High School; Cochiti Middle School in Pena Blanca, Santo Domingo Middle School in Santo Domingo Pueblo and Bernalillo High School. The state Department of Higher Education obtained the federal money through a competitive grant program operated by the U.S. Department of Education. Read More News New Mexico


PPP’s polling raises some eyebrows; favorability numbers for NM Governor shift 6 points in just days

Capitol Report New MexicoIs there something funny going on with the surveys Public Policy Polling (PPP) is releasing here in New Mexico? PPP is a national outfit associated with the Democratic Party. The North Carolina-based firm doesn’t hide that fact but insists it doesn’t allow its rooting interest for Democrats and liberal causes interfere with its polling data. Republicans often cry foul when PPP numbers show GOP candidates and issues in less than favorable light — that’s natural in the zero-sum game of politics. But conservatives complain that PPP surveys aren’t just snapshots of elections and issues but, rather, an attempt to advance talking points to try to shape opinion and influence the media. “They’re not so much a polling organization as they are a group of people trying to establish a narrative,” one statewide Republican official who preferred not to have his name used told Capitol Report New Mexico this week. PPP Director Tom Jensen has said that’s simply whining. “It’s fine with me if your readers want to not believe our polls,” Jensen told the conservative magazine The National Review in 2010, “but we have no history of cooking the numbers for Democrats.” But a couple issues have come up in polling that PPP released this week for New Mexico. For example, on Wednesday (April 25), PPP released some numbers about the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race. While releasing the numbers, Jensen declared in a news release that “New Mexico is not going to be a swing state this year,” pointing to its survey showing President Obama with a 14-point lead in the state over Romney. Read More News New Mexico


New Mexico off to 10th driest start in 2012

CBS NewsNew Mexico saw little measurable moisture during the first three months of the year, and with less water coursing through the state's rivers, farmers are beginning to feel the pinch again this year as they scramble to find ways of watering tens of thousands of acres of cropland. Forecasters with the National Weather Service and state and federal officials addressed the lack of moisture during a regular drought meeting Wednesday in Albuquerque. This is nothing new for a state that has seen more dry starts than wet ones for the last 12 years. So far this year, forecasters said New Mexico has seen less than half of its normal precipitation. Last year, it was even worse. "Only 2010 and 2005 were wet starts to the first three months of the calendar year, so basically we should be getting used to this dry start thing," said meteorologist Ed Polasko. New Mexico and Texas, two of the hardest hit states last year, are now not alone in 2012. National drought maps show dry conditions creeping across a bigger portion of the West, as well as parts of the upper Midwest and the entire East Coast. By mid-April, not one speck of land in New Mexico had escaped categorization as either abnormally or exceptionally dry — or somewhere in between. Read More News New Mexico


Pearce Honors 64th Anniversary of Israel's Independence Continues Support for Israel

Steve Pearce
Washington D.C. -  Today, Congressman Steve Pearce released the following statement, continuing his support for H. Con. Res. 115, which recognizes “the 64th anniversary of the independence of the state of Israel:”
 “It is important that we recognize Israel’s freedom and independence and continue to support our strongest ally in the Middle East,” said Pearce. “Israel is the freest nation in this volatile region. As the situation in the Middle East continues down a path of instability and danger, we must stand by our stalwart democratic ally. America has no greater friend in the region than Israel, and I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation.”


New Mexico Sheriff Faces 2 Probes for Trying to Block DWI Arrest

ABC NewsNew Mexico's attorney general and a county district attorney are investigating to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against a sheriff caught on audio tape trying to force a deputy to release his friend from a DWI arrest. "We are looking at criminal wrong doing to see if there are any criminal charges to follow through on," Mora County District Attorney Richard Flores told New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said his office is just starting to look into the case. "I expect that our office will take some action because it's really not acceptable to me to have a law enforcement officer directing his subordinates to give different people different treatment under the same law," he said. The two prosecutors are referring to a dispute when Mora County Sheriff's Deputy Lee Allingham says he was battered April 7 by Mora County Sheriff Thomas Garza after arresting Patrick Trujillo for DWI, according to a report by New Mexico State Police. Read More News New Mexico 



Wiener faces scrutiny after visiting Filipino sex district

Commissioner Wiener and entourage
KOBA Bernalillo County Commissioner with a history of making inappropriate sexual comments in Albuquerque may be in more trouble half way around the world. A Seattle photographer, who has been documenting sex tourism in the Philippines, told KOB’s 4 On Your Side team he had a disturbing conversation with Commissioner Michael Wiener in Angeles City, the second largest sex tourism city in the world. Photographer John Keatley has posted several pictures he took of Wiener standing with four scantily clad bar girls last month on his Internet blogWeiner said nothing inappropriate happened and that he and his girlfriend were just walking through the district, waiting to catch a plane out of the city. Keatley claimed he heard Wiener make a racy comment to the girls. “He basically said right when he got up to have his picture taken with the girls, ‘Hey don't touch my penis... Ah hah just kidding - you can touch it.’” Wiener denied saying that. “I may have made a comment like don't get too close to my girlfriends here, but I didn't mention anything like that,” Wiener said. Keatley also claimed the commissioner also told him to relax and enjoy the ‘walking street.’ “He told us what a good time could be had in Angeles City if you just opened yourself up to it,” Keatley said. The photographer also said it appeared Wiener seemed to know the district well. “He was trying to get us to switch our hotels because this other hotel we were staying at would really cater to us having a good time. It was very wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” Keatley said. “He seemed surprised that we didn’t have girls yet. It was kind of like, come on- open your self up have a good time kind of thing.” Read More News New Mexico