No Horses, But Detroit Water Dept Employs 'Horseshoer'

It looks like this but without the horse
From - Despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer. Yet even with a department so bloated that it has a horseshoer and no horses, the local union president said it is "not possible" to eliminate positions. Union rules have turned the department into a government jobs program, some critics say. The horseshoer’s job description is "to shoe horses." The description was last updated in 1967. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has a large debt, rising water prices and inefficient services using almost twice the number of employees per gallon as other cities like Chicago. A recent independent report about the DWSD recommends that the city trim more than 80 percent of the department’s workforce. The consultant who wrote the report found 257 job descriptions, including a horseshoer. In response to the report, John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents many of the DWSD employees, told the Detroit Free Press that the department needs more workers. But critics say this is just another example of city departments operating as a jobs program for union employees. Read more


Swickard: New Mexico college football seen with the privilege of age

© 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Forty some years ago then NMSU Head Football Coach Warren Woodson was forced by NMSU to retire because he was 65 years of age. It is the curse of the Chicago Cubs Billy Goat and the trade of the Babe to the New York Yankees all in one. NMSU suffers from the “Old Man Woodson Curse” which is still going strong. Warren Woodson was NMSU’s only successful football coach since the 1930s in terms of consistent winning seasons. He was also a witty fellow saying, “The perfect college football record is seven wins and four losses. The fans are happy, the alumni are sullen but not mutinous and the NCAA does not investigate your program.” Both the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and New Mexico State University in Las Cruces have struggled in past years. At both universities there have been cries that Division 1 sports should go the way of the rotary phone. Heavens no! With the privilege of age I reflect on the last 45 years in New Mexico of D1 football. Besides watching Aggie football, I also worked at UNM in 1982 when then UNM Head Football Coach Joe Morrison had a ten and one record but did so without fan support. After 45 seasons there are things I know. Also, for many years I have sat next to my uncle who came to NMSU in 1946 out of the Navy and graduated in Electrical Engineering. He then worked at White Sands for forty years.
Coach Warren Woodson
At age 86 he is not the oldest Aggie fan but in the running with 66 years of Aggie games. We both know the cheer, “Go Aggies, Go Aggies, Aw Shuckins.” My first season watching the Aggies was Woodson’s last. He was seven and four. My college freshman year in 1968 was with new Coach Jim Woods, the first of many coaches to deal with the Woodson Curse.  The curse is not so much on the field as in the administration offices, those same offices that decided Woodson would have to resign. In the late1970s they decided to make money by having the football team sell losses to national powerhouses. I believe NMSU is around two wins and seventy losses for a losing percentage of 97.15 percent. Those programs selling losses more than a year or two ultimately disband their football programs. The immediacy of selling losses is so that the athletic director, staff and the coaches can guarantee their own salaries since there is no guarantee that the fans will come. By playing ethically bankrupt fund-raising games the program gives up two losses out of eleven games each year, gets their players bruised, both physically and mentally and the fans stay away because the team never goes to bowl games.  That Woodson Curse sure does work. Football programs are judged by win/loss records and so NMSU has not gone to a bowl game since Ike was in the White House. What should they do? Two things, they must cut expenses to live within their means, and look at their program from the fans point of view.  Now I may be wrong but I am still the one with the money in my pocket. They must please me or I will vote with my feet. Over the last four decades I have not seen fan-centric attitudes often.  That said, I want D1 football at UNM and NMSU. It is the face of the two universities like nothing else. In fact, nationwide most people know nothing about colleges except their sports presence. When the Arizona Wildcats made the final four in basketball years ago student enrollment surged. For NMSU to get rid of the Old Man Woodson Curse the administration needs to stop being stupid. They have hired many good coaches who could have been great. Like the hardcore Aggies we are, my uncle and I bought six season tickets this year. Better to have extra room, eh?  However, unless NMSU throws off the curse of stupid administrative decisions, it is right to wonder how any more seasons can the Aggies keep going if they keep doing the things they have been doing?  My advice: keep the football team, lose the administration.


Getting America to orbit on US-made vehicles

Dr. Patricia Hynes
Dr. Patricia Hynes - This column has never been political, and it still isn't. Republicans and Democrats alike agree, the commercialization of human spaceflight makes sense. How did this bi-partisan support within the space program occur? In the case of the shuttle replacement project sending Americans to orbit on American-made spacecraft, it started under President George Bush, and has been continued under President Obama. Congress agreed, it is best for the government to buy rides on private launch vehicles and use privately manufactured capsules or spacecraft to send Americans to orbit to do government work. My last article covered the recently successful Mars Science Laboratory Mission (MSL) and the landing of the Curiosity Rover. That story was such an affirmation of determination I could not resist putting it in perspective relative to Olympian achievements. Yet, there was another story that occurred two days prior to the MSL success. It was the selection by NASA of the three companies who will compete to carry U.S. astronauts to and return astronauts from the International Space Station under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities (CCiCAP) Program. Boeing Space Exploration, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Sierra Nevada Corporation were the funded winners, receiving $460 million, $440 million and $212.5 million respectively. OK, I realize I just hit my limit on acronyms. CCiCAP is a 21-month-long program that will require the selected companies to design their launch vehicles, and spacecraft for humans and integrate both into a system. The STS or Shuttle Transportation System was made up of the launch vehicle and the orbiter. The launch vehicle's job is to get the orbiter or spacecraft going fast and high enough to reach orbital speed. Read More News New Mexico


Georgia, New Mexico join call for end to U.S. ethanol rule

Reuters - Two U.S. states that depend on the livestock industry are adding their voices to a string of states asking Washington to ease pressure on corn prices by suspending rules that send a large share of the crop to produce ethanol. Georgia, the center of U.S. poultry production, and New Mexico, with its large cattle industry, this week asked federal officials to suspend a program that encourages converting corn into ethanol fuel. Roughly 13 billion gallons of ethanol are due to be blended with gasoline this year under a federal renewable fuels mandate meant to bolster domestic energy sources. The rules can be waived under a formal appeal from a state to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Livestock farmers complain that demand for ethanol wrongly diverts a large share of the feed corn they need and drives up prices already inflated by a long dry season. Poultry farmers in Georgia are spending about $1.4 million more in feed costs per day due to the drought and ethanol rules, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal wrote in a letter to the EPA that seeks a waiver of the ethanol mandate. Read More News New Mexico


Something new: Romney releasing energy plan in New Mexico

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney will be in Hobbs, New Mexico Thursday. Washington PostPresumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney plans to roll out a new energy policy Thursday during a campaign stop in New Mexico. He mentioned the upcoming announcement at a fundraiser Tuesday in Houston but stopped short of revealing new details. “We will be, I believe before the end of this week, in New Mexico describing a comprehensive energy plan, particularly as it relates to fossil-based fuels,” Romney told donors. “I know that we have members of the media here right now, so I’m not going to go through that in great detail so I can save a bit of that until a little later in the week. But your input is something I wanted to retain before we actually cross the T’s and dot the I’s on those policies.” A Romney campaign aide confirmed that the candidate will discuss new energy policies Thursday. Read More News New Mexico


Obama Co-Chair Gave $10,000 to Ryan PAC

Marc Benioff
President Barack Obama's campaign team has a credibility problem…..again. His political surrogates have been nailing the “extremist” label on Paul Ryan ever since he was selected as Mitt Romney’s V.P. choice. There’s just one problem. One of the Obama campaign's biggest fundraisers and donors is also a contributor to the PAC of Paul Ryan.
Marc Benioff, a national campaign co-chair for President Obama's re-election campaign, donated $10,000 to Ryan's political action committee earlier just two months ago (in June), according to CNN.
Apparently Benioff met with Paul Ryan and was very impressed with his budget reform ideas. According the CNN Benioff said Ryan's proposals, “Offer 'a lot of the right long-term thinking for the country."
Now that doesn’t sounds like an extremist as much as it does a truth teller.

WAC is Dying, NMSU Odd Man Out

ESPN - The commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference said Monday that it has become apparent the league won't have enough football members to compete after this season, and his focus now is on trying to keep the conference together for other sports.
NMSU A.D. McKinley Boston
The 50-year-old WAC would be the first Division I conference to give up on football since the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1995, and it might go the way of the SWC, too, and cease to exist altogether.
"It doesn't mean we've given up on the idea of football for the future, but it's apparent we don't have enough members in 2013 to play football," Jeff Hurd told The Associated Press.
That means New Mexico State would have to join Idaho and play as an FBS independent next year. The WAC's five other football members -- Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas State, Utah State and Texas-San Antonio -- leave the league after this year. Read full story here: News New Mexico

PNM Explains a Few Facts About Renewables

NewsNM note - We received this from PNM recently - There could be a lot more solar and other forms of renewable energy in your future. What would happen if we went 100 percent solar right away?

We are committed to meeting the requirements of the New Mexico Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires investor-owned utilities to have 15 percent renewable energy generation by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. In the past two years we have installed 22 megawatts of solar energy and we now have enough solar and wind energy to power more than 80,000 homes. We've also provided energy efficiency programs to help our customers save 192 gigawatt hours of energy. While it might be nice to consider replacing coal-generated electricity with wind and solar immediately, unfortunately it’s not technically or financially possible, with today’s technology.
First, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Second, electricity is used the moment it is produced – there are no large storage facilities. But PNM did kick off an innovative battery storage project south of Albuquerque last year to help overcome that hurdle. See the associated article in this email.
No energy provider in the world offers 100 percent renewable energy. The Renewable Portfolio Standard says California has a long-term goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. See the state-by-state goals. We estimate that if we replace coal-fired electricity generation with renewable energy, it would take 18,000 acres of solar panels and cost $4 billion. Plus, that only gets you enough energy an average of 40 percent of the time. We intend to continue taking advantage of the renewable energy resources that New Mexico is blessed with. In April, we proposed adding 20 additional megawatts of solar energy in 2013, 10 megawatts of geothermal energy, and other renewable energy.


Martinez Ready for "Prime Time"

Susana Martinez
KOB - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will make a primetime speech next week in her appearance at the Republican National Convention.
Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said the governor will speak next Tuesday night at the convention but the exact time hasn't been determined because the convention schedule isn't final. Republicans are holding their presidential nominating convention Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla. A primetime speaking role increases the potential for national television exposure for Martinez, who is the nation's first Hispanic female governor. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NMSU Regents Sort Through DACC Nursing Mess

KRWG - At a regular meeting Monday, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents listened to concerns from the public on the loss of accreditation for the NMSU Dona Ana Community College's Nursing Program and heard an update from DACC President Margie Huerta on the issue.
Huerta detailed communication efforts with the students to date and shared information from the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) report on the reasons cited for non-compliance.
NMSU Regent Javier Gonzales
"I want to say how disappointed and sorry we are that the nursing program accreditation has been lost. We wanted to keep our accreditation; unfortunately that did not happen," Huerta said.
Huerta said the DACC administration had remained hopeful that increases to the pass rate, which was 100 percent in December 2011, and other improvements would help them hold on to the accreditation.
Huerta said options for the students are the largest concern at the moment. She indicated that students could remain in the program as DACC applies to regain accreditation. She also indicated other options were being considered including the review of transcripts of students currently in the DACC nursing program for possible transfer to the BSN program in the NMSU College of Health and Social Services. Such a transfer option would allow students who go on to graduate to receive a bachelor's degree from a fully accredited program. CHSS does not offer an associate degree.
Barbara Couture
Another option under consideration is working with the NMSU Carlsbad campus to help DACC students complete their associate's in nursing through courses offered by NMSU Carlsbad faculty. Although this option is actively being explored, whether NLNAC would approve a plan of this sort for the DACC students, and whether there would be any implications for the accreditation of the NMSU Carlsbad program would have to be examined.
In addition to working with the NLNAC, DACC administration will be meeting with the CEOs of Memorial Medical Center, MountainView Regional Medical Center and Advanced Care and Rehabilitation Hospital to see if they will consider employment options for those students coming out of the program soon. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Let the NMFA Finger-Pointing Begin

KRQE - There are still plenty of unanswered questions in the continuing investigation at the New Mexico Finance Authority, but it's not just detectives and auditors doing the asking
On Monday the oversight committee in charge of monitoring the major public lender had plenty of questions of their own for NMFA staff and investigators looking into the mess.
The NMFA submitted late audits the last three years, including a forged 2011 audit former controller Greg Campbell is charged with creating. That was enough for the State Auditor's Office to put the NMFA on its "at risk" list earlier this year.
But Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R - Corrales) said state auditor Hector Balderas didn't do enough. "We should have been notified that it was late," Powdrell-Culbert said. Balderas shot back, saying that it was the oversight committee that didn't do enough in this case. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Coming Soon: Higher Energy Prices, Shortages

Marita Noon
Townhall - “Once real numbers have come out about renewable energy costs, people are having second thoughts,” reported Maureen Masten, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources and Senior Advisor on Energy to Governor Bob McDonnell, VA, while addressing his “all of the above energy” strategy to meet the state’s energy needs.

The real costs of renewable energy are coming out—both in dollars and daily impacts. After years of hearing about “free” energy from the sun and wind, people are discovering that they’ve been lied to.
On Tuesday, August 14, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) approved a new renewable energy rate rider that will allow the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) to start recovering a portion of its recent development costs for building five solar facilities around the state, a pilot solar facility with battery storage, and wind resource procurements. The renewable rider could be on ratepayers' bills by the end of the month—“depending on when the commission publishes its final order,” said PNM spokeswoman Susan Spooner.
The rate rider currently represents about a $1.34 increase for an average residence using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per month—or a little more than $16 per year. This increase seems miniscule until you realize that this is only a small part of increases to come. PNM needs to recover $18.29 million in renewable expenditures in 2012 and the rate rider only addresses monies spent in the last four to five months. The remaining expense will be carried into 2013. Read full column here: News New Mexico


New Mexico sees spike in Independent voter registration

From - by Stuart Dyson - New Mexico is one of the states leading the way as more and more voters registered Independent, turning away from the two major political parties. Democrats made big gains back in the 2008 election with President Barack Obama's visionary campaign inspiring many voters to register democratic. But in 2012, it is a different story. Right now in New Mexico is about 48 percent Democrat by voter registration, 32 percent Republican, and a fast-growing 17 percent Independent.  the latest numbers from the New Mexico Secretary of State showed Democrats losing more than 13,000 voters since the 2008 election cycle, about 2.3 percent of their total. Republicans have gained more than 8,000 voters, an increase of about 2.3 percent in their numbers. There are more than 26,000 new independent voters since 2008 - a big increase. "It's a reflection of how Americans and how the typical American views American politics right now," said University of New Mexico political science professor Mike Rocca. "I think people are fed up with the negativity. I think they are fed up with what they do as two parties who can't get anything done." "Independent voters tend to lean one way or the other," said his political science colleague, professor Tim Krebs. " It's rare to find the voter who is truly independent, undecided. They often lean in one direction or the other." National polling shows about 10 percent of Independent voters are actually undecided and could go either way for Mitt Romney or President Obama. Still, none of the Independent voters can be counted on as strong supporters of either candidate. Read more