The Pat Lyons-Ray Powell feud continues: “He’s just an old hippie from Nob Hill,” “I see a pattern of abuse”

Capitol Report New MexicoA controversy over the fate of the Dixon’s Apple Orchard has re-ignited the political feud between the current and former commissioners of the State Land Office (SLO). Ray Powell and Pat Lyons simply don’t like each other and they’ve exchanged more barbs in recent weeks as the orchard – famous throughout the state and badly damaged by the Las Conchas Fire and subsequent flooding – goes through a possible change of ownership. Powell is the current commissioner of the SLO and replaced Lyons, who was term-limited out after eight years as commissioner (2002-2010) and is now a commissioner at the Public Regulation CommissionThe two have wrangled before (click here to see each guy going head-to-head in a Capitol Report New Mexico video we posted last year) and now that the Dixon’s Apple Orchards case has set the orchard’s owners against Powell, Lyons and Powell are at it again. “He’s a do-nothing land commissioner,” Lyons told Milan Simonich of the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership last week. “He’s just an  old hippie from Nob Hill that doesn’t know anything about agriculture.” “I see a pattern of abuse,” Powell told Capitol Report New Mexico last year about Lyons’ tenure at the SLO and last week Powell went to the office’s official website to post a reply to Lyons, accusing him of promoting sweetheart deals while at the SLO. “I will work hard each day to continue to earn the public’s trust by doing business in an open, transparent manner,” Powell wrote. Read More News New Mexico


NM court allows child support to emancipated minor

KRQETeenagers younger than 18 who are living on their own can be entitled to receive child support from a parent even after they are legally freed them from their parents' control, New Mexico's highest court ruled Monday. The decision gives minors who are abandoned by a parent the ability to collect financial support, according to a lawyer for 21-year-old Jhette Diamond, who left her home in northern New Mexico at the age of 13 because of her mother's abusive boyfriend. The high court's ruling upheld a district judge's decision to grant Diamond $15,278 in child support from her mother — covering from 2005 when she was still a minor to May 2009 when she graduated from high school in Espanola and turned 18, legally becoming an adult. Diamond went to court in 2007, at the age of 16, to be declared legally emancipated from her mother. That allowed her, as a teenager, to independently make decisions that otherwise would have required parental consent, such as applying for a driver's permit, enrolling in school and obtaining medical coverage. After separating from her mother, Diamond lived with neighbors and their families, continued to attend school and worked in a restaurant to pay her expenses. Read More News New Mexico


List of New Mexico cities with most and least low-income households

New Mexico Business WeeklyMore than 25 percent of Albuquerque households have annual incomes of less than $25,000. That’s according an On Numbers analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data as of 2010, the latest year for which official figures are available. On Numbers analyzed income data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey for all U.S. cities, incorporated towns, villages, boroughs and census-designated places (CDPs) with at least 1,000 households. CDPs are unincorporated communities that possess the other characteristics of cities. Sixty-eight New Mexico cities and towns are listed in the report, which includes the number of households in each that have an income below $25,000 per year. Albuquerque has 217,256 households, 55,434 of which have a household income of less than $25,000 annually (25.52 percent). New Mexico’s largest city ranks 4,061 nationally. Las Cruces, with the second-largest number of households at 36,477, has 12,583 with an annual income of less than $25,000 (34.50 percent). Santa Fe, with 8,324 households that earn less than $25,000, saw 26.30 percent of its 31,651 total households fall below the line. Read More News New Mexico


Noon: End the mindless pursuit of at-any-cost renewables

Marita Noon
Last week, anything that wasn’t “Obamacare” didn’t get much news coverage. With that in mind, one has to wonder why “36 citizen organizations with more than 1.1 million combined members” chose June 27 to release the results of a skewed survey and introduce their nine-point plan toward a “truly renewable, sustainable energy standard.”
Perhaps they realized the folly of their effort, but had to do the press release to show their donors what they’d done, while having virtually no impact. Maybe they wanted it buried—in which case, I am happy to expose it. Americans need to see what these “groups” are really doing to our country.
In the June 27 release featured on PRNewswire, they choose verbiage that is designed to elicit an affirmative response—even I agree with some of their statements! For example, I believe we should “retool federal loan guarantees” and that “Government incentives must benefit public health, economic well-being, and the environment.” I think we all “deserve clean air, access to clean water, safe, sustainable food and good health.” I heartily embrace this statement: “The use of taxpayer dollars for energy projects, whether in the form of subsidies, tax incentives or loan guarantees, currently runs counter to the public interest.”
Who among us would say: “government incentives should hurt public health…” or “We all deserve dirty air, dirty water and bad health?” The implication of the press release is that if you do not agree with their “American clean energy agenda,” you want “dirty air and water, and bad health.”  Read rest of column here: News New Mexico

Senators Smith and Feldman, Different Views on What Will Happen With Expanding Medicaid

John Arthur Smith
Senator John Arthur Smith says finding a way to pay for Medicaid expansion is a real problem. Senator Dede Feldman says expanding government through Medicaid will create jobs.
“I think it’s going to be a big argument,” Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, told the Santa Fe New Mexican last Thursday. He questioned whether New Mexico can afford the Medicaid expansion. “I think there’s going to be an internal struggle within the Legislature on what level to spend [on Medicaid],” Smith said. “Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot of policy I would like to support but I haven’t found a way to pay for it.”
Dede Feldman
Senator Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, always a proponent of expanding the size and scope of government said the Medicaid program will more than pay for itself as federal dollars wash through the state’s economy. “Medicaid is an economic driver in rural areas,” Feldman said. “It will creates jobs in clinics and in doctor’s offices and hospitals, where there are no other jobs.” “I am really hopeful the administration will get on board with the Medicaid expansion,” she said.


Possibility of Medicaid "Opt Out" is Muddy

New York Times - Millions of poor people could still be left without medical insurance under the national health care law if states take an option granted by the Supreme Court and decide not to expand their Medicaid programs, state officials and health policy experts said Friday. Republican officials in more than a half-dozen states said they opposed expanding Medicaid or had serious doubts about it, even though the federal government would pick up all the costs in the first few years and at least 90 percent of the expenses after that.
While upholding the most hotly debated part of the health care overhaul law — a requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty — the Supreme Court said in its ruling on Thursday that states did not have to expand Medicaid as Congress had intended — leaving a huge question mark over the law’s mechanism for providing coverage to 17 million of the poorest people.
In writing the law, Congress assumed that the poorest uninsured people would gain coverage through Medicaid, while many people with higher incomes would receive federal subsidies to buy private insurance. Now, poor people who live in a state that refuses to expand its Medicaid program will find themselves in a predicament, unable to obtain either Medicaid or subsidies.
That potential gap will probably lead to ferocious statehouse battles in the coming year, as states weigh whether to accept billions of dollars in federal aid to pay for expanded coverage. The health care industry, sensing the skepticism in some states, is preparing a campaign to persuade state officials to accept the money for coverage of the uninsured. Read full story here: News New Mexico

New Mexico DFA: Still Working on Payroll Snafu

Santa Fe New Mexican - Several state employees spent the weekend angry at the state over a payroll snafu that left them with incorrect paychecks, overdraft fees and other financial problems that as of Sunday evening had not been resolved.
A software glitch that caused checks to be issued Friday with incorrect amounts have caused an unknown number of employees to be underpaid, while others reportedly were overpaid, according to state employees who did not want to be named.
Department of Finance and Administration officials had said Friday that they were “confident all affected employees had received their full payroll.”
“I have my family and I have bills that are past due, and I’m getting late fees,” said one state employee. “Are they going to take that into consideration?”
Another employee who did not want to be identified said he was shorted more than two-thirds of his paychecks.
Another was paid for 30 hours instead of 80 and was still waiting Sunday for the rest of his check.
One longtime employee wasn’t paid at all, although he received a pay stub showing he had been paid half of the hours he had worked.
Tim Korte, a spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, said Sunday that the state is working on the situation and would know more Monday about the status of the problems. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NMSU to Launch Food Safety Site

NM Business Journal - New Mexico State University has launched a food safety blog, where people can go to see the latest hazardous food recalls or food safety alerts issued by the federal government. The Food Safety and Protection blog will post federal food safety alerts for New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Colorado, NMSU said.
The blog is a joint effort between the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center at NMSU and the New Mexico Food Protection Alliance. “This site will give the food protection alliances a way to communicate vital information to help them to inform their neighbors of any food safety situations,” said Sonja Koukel, a community and environmental health specialist with NMSU’s Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department. Read full story here: News New Mexico


No Straight Party Voting: Complicated?

KOAT - Voters will no longer be able to cast a vote for a straight party ticket, making the process a little more complicated. Almost half of New Mexicans vote straight party ticket, meaning they get a ballot for Democrats or Republicans and pick all the candidates in the party of their choice.
"In the last election, 41 percent of New Mexicans voted for the party line, but now they will no longer be able to do that," said KOAT political analyst Brian Sanderoff.
The straight party ticket is going away.
"What it will mean is the voters will have to go through every line, every race, one by one and choose a candidate they think is appropriate," said Sanderoff.
The change will mean more time in the voting booth and possible voter fatigue, which could result in a fall off in participation. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Some Ruidoso Residents Can Bury Fire Debris

Albuquerque Journal - Property owners of tracts of five acres or more whose homes burned in the Little Bear Fire were recently given the option of burying structure debris on their land, if some restrictions can be met.

However, Lincoln County Attorney Alan Morel said owners probably will fare better with future resale of the land if it does not contain a debris burial site.
And Teri Monaghan with the Solid Waste Bureau of the New Mexico Environment Department said her agency prefers material be hauled to the regional landfill.
At a special meeting in mid-June, Lincoln County commissioners approved a resolution authorizing a waiver of a provision in a county ordinance limiting debris burial to sites of 300 acres or more. A letter was attached from the NMED outlining an exemption to state requirements for burial, including for asbestos. With the relaxation of solid waste rules, residents will be allowed to bury appropriate solid waste that burned in the fire that destroyed nearly 40,000 acres, 242 homes and 12 outbuildings. Read full story here (subscription required) News New Mexico

Richardson Implicated at Bid-Rigging Trial

Bill Richardson
KRQE — A New York trial has shed light on a closed investigation of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson , as a witness testified that the financial advisory firm that he worked for got a state contract worth nearly $1 million for 13 hours of work.
Douglas Goldberg, a former official with Beverly Hills, Calif.-based CDR Financial Products, testified at the April trial involving a federal criminal antitrust case involving bid rigging in the municipal bond industry.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that that the case had no ties to New Mexico, but that defense attorneys trying to discredit Golberg's testimony examined his role in getting the company a lucrative contract with the New Mexico Finance Authority. Read full story here: News New Mexico