Farmers resume "water bank" use

Farmers using the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s “water bank” had their irrigation supplies turned back on Monday, but the district’s water manager said it is not clear how long they’ll be able to water. 
Water bank farmers are the lowest priority water users on the farm water system. Two weeks ago, with Rio Grande levels falling because of the drought, the district cut off water bank users, the first time that had happened in the history of the district. With warmer weather, snow melt has increased flows in the river enough to supply the low-priority water bank customers for now. 
But they could be cut off again any time over the next two months, said conservancy district water manager David Gensler.


Orangutan born at ABQ zoo

Officials at the Albuquerque BioPark say a baby orangutan that was born at the zoo this week is alert, has been nursing and has a strong grip.
 The zoo says Sarah the Sumatran orangutan gave birth to the healthy baby sometime late Thursday or early Friday. Zookeepers have yet to determine the baby's gender. They say Sarah and her baby are behind the scenes but will soon rejoin the rest of the orangutans. 
The zoo's primate supervisor, Debbie Wiese, says the first few days after birth are the most critical and the mother and baby will be closely monitored to make sure development progresses normally. Sarah's pregnancy surprised zookeepers last November, making it difficult to determine a due date. 

This is the first orangutan birth at the zoo since 2008.


Carlsbad Caverns pipeline needs repairs

Park officials say a pipeline that stretches more than a mile to provide Carlsbad Caverns National Park with drinking water needs to be replaced. 
Officials say some sections of the pipeline were damaged by freezing temperatures. A wildfire also destroyed much of the line's insulation along with many of the wooden blocks used to support it. 
The pipeline provides water to the visitor center, employee housing and park offices. Officials say repairing or replacing the line is necessary to ensure a permanent, reliable source of water. 
The park will consider a range of alternatives to accomplish the work as part of an environmental assessment. It will also evaluate potential issues and effects on park resources as part of the process.


NM Supreme Court allows water manager to decide rights

New Mexico's highest court is allowing the state's top water manager to decide proposed water rights transfers to increase flows in the drought-stricken Pecos River
The state Supreme Court ruled Monday the state engineer's office can move ahead with an administrative hearing on a proposal to transfer water rights to allow more pumping of groundwater near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico. The water will go by pipeline into a reservoir to boost river flows.
The justices rejected arguments by a ranching family that State Engineer Scott Verhines has a conflict of interest in deciding the water proposal by the Interstate Stream Commission. 
The Supreme Court tossed out an Eddy County district court judge ruling that stopped the state engineer from holding a hearing, which now will start in June.


Economic decline hurts El Paso airport

NewsNM Swickard - Nope, not just economic decline. The TSA has caused some people, myself included, to prefer to drive rather than fly, an odd change for someone like me who loves to fly. I have not been up in a commercial aircraft for six years. From the El Paso Times - by Evan Mohl - The El Paso International Airport is facing a decline in passenger traffic and additional cancellations of flights -- something that is causing growing concern among city leaders. Tight economic times and ongoing challenges of airline companies have caused city officials and leaders to search for ways to maintain and increase the airport's flights and passenger traffic.
     The airline industry's struggles with profitability, increasing fuel costs and mergers have drastically affected small and midsize airports that depend on airlines for business, said Brent Bowen, professor and head of aviation technology at Purdue University.
     The El Paso airport, with a taxpayer-funded budget of about $48 million, is not immune. The airport's traffic is down 15 percent since 2010, said Monica Lombrana, the city's director of aviation. Lombrana also said Southwest Airlines, which operates more than half of El Paso's daily flights, plans to stop its direct flight to San Diego in the near future. The announcement comes a few months after the airline stopped its two nonstop flights to Albuquerque.
     "It's a pretty stark situation for medium-sized airports," Bowen said. "And it has pretty much everything to do with the airline industry, which those airports have little or no control over." Read more

Swickard: Trading Liberty for Safety

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin 
The problems in Boston this last week have brought up other problems that arose from dealing with the attack upon the Boston Marathon and the subsequent capture of an alleged terrorist. Constitutional Rights were not in effect for citizens of the area because there was an emergency.
It has been said there was not enough time for the proper judicial authority so it was skipped. We are a nation of laws so when the government does not abide by laws I become concerned. Perhaps this was an unfortunate instance when the problems of law-breakers required our nation of laws to not be a nation of laws. What concerns me is not this time, which is gone, it is the next time.It is ever so easy the first time to find a reason to not abide by our Constitution and to not give American Citizens their rights since this was an emergency.
What about the next time and the time after that? Have we forfeited all of our Constitutional Rights because of an attack upon our nation? I would hope not. More so, if we have to lean one way or the other, which way should we lean: toward a tyranny of the government where citizens are forced at gunpoint to obey the authorities or liberty that requires the authorities to abide by the laws of private property search?
Me, I am for the government never having a time when we trade our Constitutional Rights for safety. So what I would like is two-fold: first, an understanding why proper channels were not used in Boston to detain an entire town and to search house by house. But that is something that happened so perhaps it is water under the bridge. More important, can our government just shut down towns without judicial review? Likewise, can the authorities shut down a state or even the entire nation without judicial review? 
Could there be a day when every American is confined to home without paperwork? Could we find a day when every home in American is searched without judicial review? Could the newspapers be shuttered and the Internet cut off? Could the cable networks be stopped and there be no one to write about it? 
Perhaps we should be talking about this in Congress and our state Legislatures. If we do not talk now, we may not ever. Will you trade safety for your liberty? Read Column


Roswell Horse slaughter house passes inspection

The attorney for a proposed horse slaughterhouse in southeastern New Mexico says a federal inspection Tuesday went well and the plant hopes to be in business soon.  
Attorney Blair Dunn says agriculture officials found no issues at Valley Meat Co. and told the owners they are recommending a grant of inspection be issued immediately. Dunn says he expects final approval for the plant to come in a matter of days. 
Valley Meat Co. has become ground zero for an emotional, national debate over a return to domestic horse slaughter. 
The company hopes the inspection ends a yearlong political drama that has left it idle and made owner Rick De Los Santos and his wife, Sarah, targets of vandalism and death threats.


NM Supreme Court to hear arguments in water case

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear arguments next week in a case challenging the state's ability to pump groundwater in southeastern New Mexico.
 The state has been pumping water from wells between Artesia and Carlsbad to augment flows in the Pecos River. The pumping is part of a drought management strategy aimed at delivering water to downstream users in New Mexico and Texas
Other users are complaining that the state's pumping has lowered the area's water table. 
The Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a lower court ruling challenging the state's process for transferring water rights to the well field.


LULAC faults NMSU in presidential search

A civil rights group is faulting New Mexico State University for not including them in the advisory and selection process of naming a new president. 
The New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens said in a letter Monday that it was being excluded and faulted NMSU for the low number of Latinos on the school's board of regents.
 Paul "Pablo" Martinez told the board of regents in a letter that LULAC was included with the recent selection of University of New Mexico President Bob Frank
NMSU spokeswoman Julie Hughes says the board has received LULAC's letter and is in the process of responding. 
Community forums of the five presidential finalists began this week. 


Hanna Skandera on News New Mexico Wednesday

NewsNM - Swickard - We will be talking public education with Hanna Skandera, the Public Education Department Secretary Designate at 7:00 a.m. If you have questions, please use our feedback link to send them. The hosts will be Michael Swickard and Bob Endlich.

APD to increase service aides

The Albuquerque Police Department plans to increase its ranks of police service aides -- civilian employees who aren't sworn police officers but who perform some of the same duties. 
Chief Ray Schultz says the department wants to increase the number of aides to 60 from the current 21. 
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque's police service aides write initial reports on some crimes and collect some basic evidence. Aides don't carry guns while on duty and don't have arrest power. 
Schultz says hiring more aides will free up regular officers to respond to more serious situations faster and create an apprentice program for aides to become regular officers.


NM delegates reintroduce Columbine-Hondo legislation

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegations are trying again to designate the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area in Taos County as wilderness. 
Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, on Monday reintroduced legislation to give the area permanent wilderness status. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House Tuesday by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents northern New Mexico
Located in the Carson National Forest, the Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a "Wilderness Study Area" since 1980. The Columbine-Hondo includes lush forests and alpine meadows that are home elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, and bighorn sheep.
 Udall and Heinrich say giving the area permanent wilderness status will increase profitable tourism opportunities and provide for continued traditional land uses, such as hunting and grazing.


State Dems’ chief to step down

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Steve Terrell - At the end of the month, Javier Gonzales will step down as state chairman of the Democratic Party. But, Gonzales insists, he will not be leaving politics. However, he’s not necessarily thinking about some behind-the-scenes, party-elder position. In fact, Gonzales said in a recent interview, he’s considering running for some elected office.
     “I was raised believing in public service,” Gonzales said. “I’ll probably spend the summer evaluating options that I might have, whether it be on the elected side or other, and make a decision at that point. I certainly don’t plan on leaving politics.” He declined to say which office or offices he’s considering running for.
     Back in the mid-1990s, when he was serving on the Santa Fe County Commission, Gonzales made little secret that he was interested in running for Congress. But now he says that’s not on his horizon, as long as incumbent U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat, holds the seat. Luján, Gonzales said, is a longtime friend and former schoolmate.
     He said serving in an elected office isn’t the only way to “influence good outcomes for your state.” He said his work on the Board of Regents for New Mexico State University is one example. In the recent interview, Gonzales talked about his tenure as party chairman — the high points and the low — as well as the immediate future of the Democratic Party, which next year faces the task of trying to unseat a popular Republican governor in Susana Martinez. Read more


Government of the government by the government for the government

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  Nearly a hundred years ago Walter Lippmann wrote about the sickness of an over-governed society. Good thing he is not alive today. He would find more than a sickness with today’s society. It is reasonable to ask: when is too much government really too much?             Early in the life of our country Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Especially in the last one hundred years our government really gained ground on liberty. We certainly see the distorting influences of too much government in our lives.   Americans are heading toward a society of tyranny. Perhaps we not living in a completely totalitarian society, but it is easy to answer: are we Americans heading toward more liberty or more tyranny? 
            When government tells us how many ounces of soda we can purchase at any one time, this is tyranny. Further, people in business tell horror stories about government workers who operate with the force of a dictator.
     What should government be doing? Walter Lippmann wrote, “In a free society the state does not administer the affairs of men. It administers justice among men who conduct their own affairs.” The legitimate role of government in a free society is focused only on justice and the defense of our nation both externally and internally. Read column


Campaign contribution limits increase

New Mexico's campaign contribution limits have increased, allowing candidates to accept larger amounts from donors. 
State law requires adjusting the contribution caps for inflation after each general election. 
For the 2014 elections, the secretary of state's office says candidates for statewide office, such as governor, can accept contributions from individuals of $5,200 per election — a total of $10,400 for primary and general election campaigns. The previous limit was $5,000 per election. Individuals can contribute $2,400 per election — up from $2,300 — to candidates for the Legislature and other non-statewide offices. 
Political action committees can contribute $5,200 per election to a candidate, up from $5,000.


Venture capital in NM down

A shortage of money for investments in business startups is being felt in New Mexico
The New Mexico Venture Capital Association reports that venture capital investment in New Mexico companies dropped by a third in 2012 from 2011. 
According to the Albuquerque Journal, venture capital investments in New Mexico totaled just under $40 million in 2012. That was down from just over $60 million in 2011, and the 2012 investment total is the lowest level for New Mexico since the recession in 2009. 
Michael Schafer of New Mexico Community Capital says forcing startups to cope with less investment capital could slow their growth and potentially make them less viable.


Mayhill fire grows to 200 acres

A 200-acre wildfire burning 2 1/2 miles southwest of Mayhill, N.M., near Curtis Canyon has prompted evacuations. 
Fire officials asked residents in the immediate vicinity of the blaze to evacuate Wednesday night. Officials said 20 homes are in the path of the fire. 
The fire was moving in a south-southwesterly direction, away from the community of Mayhill.  Firefighters said they've been successful in keeping the fire from spreading south across Highway 130.  They are focusing their efforts on the northern flank. 
The fire was named the Curtis Fire. Officials said it sparked about 3:30 p.m.


Sandia Labs makes ricin decontaminate

New Mexico has a link to what could be keeping President Barack Obama safe from attacks. 
Sandia Labs developed a type of foam to decontaminate anthrax that federal buildings have been using for more than a decade. They said the foam used for anthrax can also decontaminate ricin.
 Sandia Labs said there is a chance the foam is being used now to clean up after a suspicious letter sent to Obama. That letter contained ricin, a poison found in castor oil plant seeds.
 Mark Tucker, the foam’s mastermind, said he developed the sudsy solution before the 2001 anthrax attacks. The decontamination foam cleaned up the federal buildings after the anthrax scare.


Senators to introduce bills to buffer Fort Bliss, WSMR

From the Alamogordo Daily News - SANTA FE -- Three U.S. senators from the Southwest will introduce a bill Wednesday afternoon in which vast land transfers would create buffer zones for White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss. To make the changes possible, the two military installations would strike an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
     "This bipartisan effort will help add critical safety, security and planning buffers to White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, and it will play an integral role in accomplishing their national security missions," said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. Working with him on the bill are Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and John Cornyn, R-Texas.
     Heinrich said the bill's intent was to ensure that the installations have the best circumstances for training and testing. The bill would transfer 5,100 acres from the BLM to the Army to provide what the senators said was a critical safety and security buffer to NASA's White Sands Test Facility and the Department of Defense's Aerospace Data Facility. Both are tenants of White Sands Missile Range.
     Another 2,050 acres in Fillmore Canyon would be transferred from the Army to the Bureau of Land Management to create a boundary that is more clearly identifiable to the public to prevent accidental trespass onto Fort Bliss.
     The final component of the bill would preclude the BLM from selling or exchanging 35,550 acres in order to prevent incompatible development for the Fort Bliss Dona Ana Range Complex and Training Areas that include some of the Army's premier large weapons system firing ranges and artillery firing boxes.
     The senators said this land would still be accessible to the public for recreation, grazing, transportation, and other existing uses. Read more


Rash of copper thefts hits Roswell

From - By: Amber LaVail, KOB Eyewitness News 4  - Copper thieves went ‘prime time’ in Roswell. They recently hit television towers and a private home. They left behind tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
     Two television towers were left without cooling systems. Chaves County Lt. Britt Snyder says, "There is a huge rash of copper thefts going on." Rubble is all that is left of the air conditioners at KOBR-TV. "Years ago they would try and break into your house, now it just seems like they are trying to steal the air conditioner," says Snyder.
     Chief Engineer Gary Babcock found the dismantled air conditioners and says, "Copper thieves are back. We see this every year whenever the prices go up a little bit." County Sheriffs say thieves took their time with the coolers and copper. Snyder says, "In the case of the tower sites they were dismantled in place vs. trying to take the entire unit. They actually took the time to try and disassemble them in place."
     Even though the repair costs of the KOBR-TV air conditioner will be over eleven thousand dollars, the thieves only made out with about a hundred bucks. According to Babcock, "We have called the sheriff out there. We have set up camera surveillance and so on like that so hopefully we catch somebody and put a stop to it."
     Snyder says, "We will also work with our recycling companies to help identify the individuals who are bringing these items in." No television service was lost due to the theft. But engineers say it was close. Read more

Finalists for NMSU president to host community forums

New Mexico State University has announced that all five finalists to become the school's new president will hold community forums starting next week.

 Former New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers is scheduled to meet with the public Monday at the Corbett Center Auditorium. He will be followed by former Texas Tech President Guy Bailey the next day. 

David Ashley, former Las Vegas President University of Nevada-Las Vegas will hold his forum the following Thursday and Elsa Murano, Texas A&M President Emeritus, will meet with the community April 29. 

University of Colorado Denver Dean Daniel Howard has scheduled his forum May 1. Regents are expected to select the new president by early May.


APS signs deal for techbooks

Albuquerque Public Schools just signed a multimillion deal to bring digital techbooks to every school. 

To access techbooks, students need a device with Wi-Fi. Once teachers log on, it’s like a digital classroom, complete with videos, pictures and models catered to every lesson. 

Last year, APS was part of a pilot program with Discovery Education, a private company. In all, 30 schools took part. 

APS signed an $11 million contract to get the science techbook for all grades. All teaches will have access to the streaming content. The president of the teachers’ union said that techbooks are a great resource, but she wondered if APS has the money to buy more laptops, tablet and desktops so every student can log on. 

APS stands by the investment and said techbooks will save the district money in the long run.

NM corrections audit to be released

The first details of the New Mexico Department of Corrections' massive audit of inmate files are scheduled released at the end of April. 
Department spokeswoman Alex Tomlin said Monday that the first phase of the audit will be publicly be released later this month and will include information on inmates mistakenly released from September 2010 to September 2012. 
Last week, the New Mexico Department of Corrections said Dion Henderson, a man convicted in a 1994 double-murder case, was mistakenly released in February 2012. According to the department, state officials discovered the mistake last Monday. 
The mistake comes as prison officials comb through 25,000 inmate files going back to 2006 after a series of early releases were discovered.


Albuquerque democrat preparing to run for governor

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by By Steve Terrell - State Sen. Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat, said Monday that she’s ready to run for governor. Lopez, who first was elected to the Senate in 1996, told The New Mexican that she has appointed a campaign treasurer but still needs to set up a campaign account and complete the paperwork at the Secretary of State’s Office before formally announcing. “I’m preparing,” she said, adding that she’ll probably make it official next week.  So far, the only other Democrat in the race to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is Attorney General Gary King, who sought the job years ago and has been a candidate for the 2014 nomination since last year. At least one other Democrat is considering the race. State Sen. Tim Keller, an Albuquerque businessman, said Monday he’s also thinking about entering the gubernatorial primary.  Lopez, 49, ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, coming in fourth out of five candidates in the Democratic primary. Read more


Mayor Berry appoints Arnold-Jones to City Council

From - By: Steve Mieczkowski, - former State Legislator Janice Arnold-Jones to fill the vacated District 7 City Council. Arnold-Jones was due to be sworn in Monday afternoon and was scheduled to participate in Monday evening’s Council meeting.
     "I worked with Janice during my time in the legislature and found her to be very professional and passionate about her commitment to good government,” said Mayor Berry.  Arnold-Jones succeeds Michael Cook, who resigned following a DWI arrest earlier this month.
     Note: Janice Arnold-Jones is a political commentator on statewide News New Mexico. Read more

NAACP files complaint with AG's office

From - by Crystal Gutierrez - ALBUQUERQUE - The NAACP is filing a complaint with the state Attorney General's Office, claiming the state government isn't listening to them.  The group says programs for youth enrichment and fitness receive very little funding.
     The move stems from recent actions during the 2013 legislative session. The president of the Albuquerque NAACP says all three branches of government are guilty in denying local African Americans the basic right to enjoy the benefits of funding.
     "We feel that the executive branch, the LFC, budge analysts and those involved in the process and distribution of funds should be held accountable for the distribution of public funds,” Dr. Harold Bailey the president of the NAACP said. Read more

NM ranks second in nation for violent deaths

When you think about New Mexico's state of health, violence plays a leading role in the statistics.
A new report from the state Department of Health says that New Mexico has the 2nd highest violent death rate in the nation. It also says that in 2011, homicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34.
Lisa Rains' son, John Rains, is now part of those statistics. He was murdered in Grants in 2012. Lisa Rains says the high violence in New Mexico is because of the lenient laws.

"It's almost like there's a big huge sign posted 'if you're a murderer or want to commit a serious crime, come to New Mexico because you're going to walk away,'" Rains said.

The state Department of Health report attributes a lot of the state's health problems to the population's socioeconomic status.

From KOB. 

Building code battle returns to court

 Environmentalists are accusing state construction regulators of running afoul of the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
The court last week overturned a 2011 decision by the state Construction Industries Commission to revamp green building codes that former Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson's administration promoted as among the most environmentally friendly in the country.
The court said the commission failed to provide reasons for changing the construction standards. The case was ordered back to the commission for reconsideration and a new vote.
The Construction Industries Division says it will continue to enforce the codes until it determines whether to appeal the ruling. A decision is expected at a special meeting next week.
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is now asking the court to hold the division in contempt for continuing to enforce the codes.


Senate committee approves Ken Gonzales for federal judge

Ken Gonzales

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved the nomination of U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales as New Mexico's next federal judge.
The Albuquerque Journal reports the committee had delayed its vote on Gonzales since February over concerns by the panel's ranking Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, about Gonzales's handling of a Deming-area gun case.
Grassley said on Thursday that a committee inquiry into the matter allayed his concerns.
The nomination now goes to the full Senate for final approval. No vote has been scheduled but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he wants to move quickly on a batch of stalled judicial appointments.


Gov. on the road to raise funds

Gov. Martinez

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is in Colorado to raise money for her re-election campaign and speak to a business group.
Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said Thursday that the governor is holding a fundraiser in Denver and will appear at a separate non-campaign event.
Martinez will attend a reception by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry at Coors Field. The owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team will speak at the event and Martinez will talk briefly about an economic development package of tax cuts that was approved by the Legislature and signed into law.
McCleskey said the re-election campaign will pay for Martinez's travel and she will return to New Mexico Thursday evening.


NM Labs look OK under Obama's budget plan

Los Alamos National Laboratory would see a 7 percent budget increase while Sandia's spending would remain basically flat under the Obama Administration budget plan unveiled on Wednesday.
 The Department of Energy spending proposal requests $1.96 billion for Los Alamos and $1.8 billion for Sandia in fiscal 2014. Total spending for cleanup of radioactive waste at Los Alamos would rise 16 percent to $215 million. 
NNSA officials say that given the tight budget times, they are also going back to reevaluate what might be done to more affordably upgrade the plutonium research facilities at Los Alamos
The administration last year proposed putting on hold any further work on a controversial $6 billion project known as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility.


New report looks at health and economy

New Mexico health officials have released a report that looks at the effects of economic status on health. 

Health Secretary Retta Ward says many factors can influence a person's health and those with low economic status often experience more barriers in receiving preventative health care. 

The report shows more than one in four adults in New Mexico ages 45 and older has been diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases, such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease. The top reasons for inpatient hospitalization among those 65 and older are heart disease, influenza, and pneumonia. 

The report also includes some positive findings. Suicide attempts among high school students have decreased since 2003 and teen smoking is on the decline, dropping from 30 percent in 2003 to 19.9 percent in 2011.


Alamogordo splits police and fire depts.

Alamogordo plans to split its Department of Public Safety into separate fire and police departments. 
The Alamogordo Daily News reports that a city memorandum indicates that the split approved by the City Commission Tuesday night will produce net savings of nearly $230,000 in the coming fiscal year. 
City officials say the separation should improve training, retention, recruitment and morale. According to city officials, police and fire personnel do not want to perform both tasks.
 The new departments will come into existence on July 1 with the start of the next budget year.


New state law gives schools flexibility

A new state law will give school districts flexibility for another next year to cope with tight finances by having larger classes and taking other steps. 
Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation into law last week that will allow waivers of certain state educational mandates, such as teaching load requirements and the length of school days, to give districts more leeway in spending state aid and adjusting their budgets in the 2013-2014 school year. 
Similar relief has been provided since 2009, when the Legislature cut state spending to cope with a budget shortfall after the economy soured. But that flexibility would have ended this year without legislation to extend it.
 Legislative analysts say the new law can help districts with growing enrollments avoid hiring additional teachers.


Gov. vetos Nancy Lopez statue

Nancy Lopez 

Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed money the city of Roswell sought for a statue of Hall of Fame golfer Nancy Lopez and her father, who taught her the sport in the southeastern New Mexico community. 
The $150,000 for a bronze statue was among $4 million Martinez rejected last week in a measure financing capital improvements statewide.
 Roswell Mayor Del Jurney said the statue was to be placed at a municipal course recently renamed in honor of Lopez, who won 48 LPGA Tour events. 
A spokesman for the governor said Lopez's life story is inspirational but a primary purpose of state capital improvement financing is for critical infrastructure investments.


Preservation Alliance adding three new properties

The New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance is expanding its list of endangered cultural properties. 
The organization will be adding to the list the plains of San Augustin in southern New Mexico, the Masonic Temple Center in Santa Fe and a historic lodge at Conchas Dam when it meets for an annual conference this week in Portales. 
The organization says it hopes the three new listings will alert the public to possible threats to their preservation. 
The San Augustin Plains include vast grasslands. Ranchers in the area are concerned about plans for drilling wells and pumping water out of the area. The Masonic Temple Center may be up for sale, endangering the future of the unique building and its furnishings. The Conchas Lodge has been closed since 2003 and is deteriorating.


Gov. loses green building court battle

Gov. Martinez 

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration has lost a court fight over repealing energy efficient building requirements implemented by her Democratic predecessor. 
The state Court of Appeals last week overturned a 2011 decision by the state Construction Industries Commission to revamp green building codes that former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson's administration promoted as among the most environmentally friendly in the country. 
The court said the commission failed to provide reasons for changing the construction standards. The case was ordered back to the commission for reconsideration and a new vote. 
The Martinez administration contended the building requirements were too expensive for developers and property owners.


The next NMSU President may know how to milk a cow

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. These are interesting times at New Mexico State University as the NMSU Regents are set to select the next president. Smart money says they already have a choice but must go through the entire selection process for legal reasons. So there will be five people selected from which they select one.
     Is there anything wrong with some Regents in their heart of hearts knowing right now who they want for president? They have to put on a show and there is a slight chance someone could come in and wow them such that they would reconsider who they already want.
     But knowing already who they want is a good sign to me because the last NMSU President was a puzzle in that I could not understand what those Regents had in mind in their selection.
     What is most important in my mind is the question of institutional identity and that is at the forefront of any decision. The Regents get hundreds of people interested in guiding NMSU in the coming years so they must select someone who reflects and will defend NMSU’s tradition and missions.
     Unless the Regents want to change that mission in the future, the next president needs to know their way around the Ag Barns. In the pool of candidates for president there will be several possible identities for the institution.
     If a person with a background in Hotel Management is selected president, it would surprise me, and it would mean a sea-change for the institution compared to if they selected someone who knows how to milk a cow. I stay in hotels and drink milk so I have interest of both. And do not get me wrong, the NMSU President does not have to milk cows; I just want someone who knows how. Read column


School bus crash revives seat belt debate

From - By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4  -  Monday morning’s school bus crash in Rio Arriba County has reignited the debate on whether school buses should have seat belts or not.  Currently, six states have seat belt laws that apply to buses, but not every state has provided school districts the necessary funding to comply with the mandates.
     Video from around the U.S. shows scenes of adults and children flying out of their seats during school bus crashes. But transportation experts argue buses are designed so that seat belts aren’t necessary. Statistically, most crashed are collisions with other vehicles. Read more

Smart Money Abandoning Renewable Energy

Commentary by Marita Noon - British Petroleum is still one of the world’s biggest oil companies. But as early as the late 1990’s they didn’t want you think of them that way. CEO Lord John Browne of Madingley argued that “the transition to alternatives could be accelerated by changing industry practices today.” While other oil companies eschewed climate change alarmism, BP embraced it. In 2002, Lord Browne declared: “Climate change is an issue which raises fundamental questions about the relationship between companies and society as a whole, and between one generation and the next,”
     As a result, Mother Jones reported in 2006: “BP vowed to cut its own CO2 emissions and invest heavily in solar, wind, and other alternative technologies; it even supported … the Kyoto climate treaty.” BP jumped into renewables and their moniker underwent an evolution from British Petroleum to BP, then to Beyond Petroleum. Between 2000 and 2005 BP invested $500 million into solar power and $30 million on wind and have invested more than $4 billion in alternative energy in the US since 2005.  ExxonMobil didn’t agree.
     ExxonMobil took a different course. In 2005, then-CEO Lee Raymond, said: “What all these people are thinking about doing, we did 20 years ago—and spent $1 billion, in dollars of that day, to find out that none of these were economic.” “In the late 1970s, as oil prices skyrocketed, Exxon diversified into an array of fossil-fuel alternatives, including nuclear and solar energy.” “After several years, Exxon still couldn't see prospects for renewable energy turning into a money-maker, especially since oil prices were falling in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the company decided to get out of the business.”
     Andrew Logan of Ceres, a Boston-based environmental group, sees two possible scenarios: “One is that all the scientists in the world are wrong, in which case there’s no climate change, in which case Exxon will do well.” He then says: “But if the scientists are correct and we have to find a way to transform the way we use energy, then Exxon is going to lag significantly behind its competitors.”
     It is obvious now, nearly a decade later, which was the sound strategy. Global warming is not the manmade crisis it was predicted to be in the mid-2000s and we know that oil is “going to last a whole heck of a lot longer.” Today, innovation and imagination are producing record quantities of domestically produced oil and gas. Robert Bryce reports: “we won’t hit peak oil until we hit peak imagination.” And, Exxon’s Raymond made the right choice to get out of renewable energy. Read more