U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce upset over Little Bear Fire response

Congressman Steve Pearce
From KOB-TV.com - By: Mike Daniels, KOB Eyewitness News 4  - Many Lincoln County residents affected by the Little Bear Fire question if more homes could have been saved if bureaucratic red tape hadn’t kept firefighters at bay. A lot of homeowners are furious and so is U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce. During a phone interview on Friday, Pearce said he supports the firefighters 100 percent. He points fingers at the big wigs in D.C. He believes the fire service should have done more, sooner, when the fire first flared up. "My question early on, and still my question, the bureaucracy, their decision making, they need to change the policy," says Pearce. His beef has never been with the fire fighters actually battling the fire, “Their work is heroic," said Pearce. Pearce wants the U.S. Forest Service to mobilize local crews more quickly and actually protect homes, instead of being told it’s dangerous and to just let them burn. Capitan Volunteer Fire Department Cpt. Craig VanWinkle is a great example. He said he was instructed to not protect homes if it caught on fire, and instead move on to other homes. "We might have broke the policy but we saved the man’s house," said VanWinkle. VanWinkle said in the end his crew saved between 50 and 70 homes. "Repeatedly we come up against the same things, we wind up with smaller fires that become bigger fires," says Pearce. Read more


Protest of zoning request on Leasburg sewage plant: homeowners near the proposed plant don't believe it will be odorless, despite assurances to the contrary

From the Las Cruces Sun-News - By Diana Alba Soular - LAS CRUCES — County officials will vote later this month on a zoning change needed for a wastewater plant proposal that has raised hackles in Leasburg. Residents of the rural community north of Las Cruces contend that a neighboring water district in the village of Doña Ana is unfairly trying to build the plant in Leasburg's backyard —miles away from Doña Ana's own constituents and voters. And Leasburg homeowners who live near the proposed plant on Hope Road don't believe it will be odorless, despite assurances to the contrary, said Tom Austin, president of the Leasburg mutual domestic water association. "We know what this sewer plant is going to smell like," he said. "I don't believe them when they say it won't smell." Austin and a group of Leasburg homeowners said they're concerned their property values will drop sharply if the plant is built. The Doña Ana Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association, which is proposing the plant, is seeking a zoning change that would allow it to be constructed, county officials said. It's also asking the county for a variance, to allow for a narrower road to the facility than county rules require. The association is based in the village of Doña Ana, about seven miles from Leasburg, and is separate from Doña Ana County government. Read more

Straight party vote off N.M. ballots in November

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Barry Massey, The Associated Press - A fixture on ballots for decades, the option to vote a straight party ticket is disappearing in New Mexico and won't be available when people head to the polls in November.  Voters historically could easily choose to support a party's entire slate of candidates by making just one mark on the ballot or pressing a single button. But Secretary of State Dianna Duran has decided not to allow that in this year's general election because there's no provision in state law specifically authorizing it.  "Her job is to follow the law," said Ken Ortiz, the secretary of state's chief of staff.  What remains unclear is whether elimination of the straight-ticket option will disproportionately help or hurt Democratic or Republican candidates.  "This could have major implications," said Brian Sanderoff, an Albuquerque pollster and longtime observer of New Mexico elections.  It's far from certain whether voters who cast straight-ticket ballots in the past will continue to support only the candidates of their favored party by marking ballots in each individual race. People may simply skip voting in lower-profile races as they go through a potentially long ballot.  Read more


U.S. wants 9/11 health program to include 50 cancers but nothing for downwind residents in New Mexico

New Mexico contaminated by Trinity
explosion. No compensation, yet.
News New Mexico Swickard: nothing against the people of 9/11 but where is the compensation for the folks who became sick from the first atomic test at Trinity - the so called  downwinders? Where indeed. From the Alamogordo Daily News - by David B. Caruso, Associated Press NEW YORK -- People who were stricken with cancer after being exposed to the toxic ash that exploded over Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed would qualify for free treatment of the disease and potentially hefty compensation payments under a rule proposed recently by federal health officials. After months of study, the National Institute for Occupa Health said in an administrative filing that it favored a major tional Safety andexpansion of an existing $4.3 billion 9/11 health program to include people with 50 types of cancer, covering 14 broad categories of the disease. People with any of the cancers on the list could qualify for treatments and payments as long as they and their doctors make a plausible case that the disease was connected to the caustic dust. The decision followed years of emotional lobbying by construction workers, firefighters, police officers, office cleaners, and many other people who fell ill in the decade after the terror attack, and were sure it had something to do with the many days they spent toiling in the gray soot. Read more

Bob Endlich on other option in New Mexico forest fires

A regular guest on News New Mexico is Col. (RET)  Bob Endlich, a retired Meteorologist. Here is what he says about the issue of drought and the danger of forest fire. He says: There is some more information which might be considered in this case. Yes, hot temperatures and high elevations have detrimental effects on small aircraft and helicopters when they run out of “density altitude” under such conditions. Density altitude is easily forecast by experienced weather forecasters. Please consider this: There is a fire fighting system which can be put on the C-130 Hercules called the MAFFS; read more about it here
You can see how it works in this video:

I served as a crew member in the C-130 in Vietnam and doing weather research. I can assure you that the C-130 will not “run out of density altitude” fighting fires anywhere in New Mexico. Last year C-130s from Peterson AFB’s 302d Airlift Wing were deployed to Kirtland AFB to support the forest fire fighting efforts in northern New Mexico: Story is here  So, to me, the thrust of this story and situation should not be with the use of helicopters to support a fire at high elevation in the heat of the day. Rather, it should be along these lines: New Mexico is in multi-year drought, and the bark beetles have provided a large supply of dead timber for fuel for any forest fire. In June, the monsoon thunderstorms have not yet appeared on the scene, temperatures are highest of the year and fire fuel is abundant in the forests. Because of the high density altitude in the high mountains of New Mexico, and the inability of helicopters to support fires at high elevations, why not think out of the box to ask the Air Force to sit alert for a few days or weeks with MAFFS –equipped C-130s to provide rapid response to high elevation forest fires. Why does not New Mexico have a contingency plan to request such support rather than quibble with Michael Swickard’s suggestions? ROBERT W. ENDLICH, Lt Col, USAF, (Retired), Meteorologist.