Terry McAuliffe's MyCar Isn't Even a "Real Car"

Commentary by Marita Noon - I don’t cover campaigns. I write on energy issues. So, other than the fact that, at their respective 2012 conventions, I met both the Republican candidate Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli—who I found to be totally solid, humble, and extremely good-looking, and Democratic candidate former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe—who worked the room at the private party with back-slapping chumminess and a toothy smile, why am I writing about McAuliffe? Because, when we were introduced, my friend told him that I write on energy issues—specifically green-energy, crony-corruption.
     McAuliffe, moved in, posed for a picture with me, and told me that I’d like his new green car project because it was being fully funded through private money. I looked askance at him, and told him that if that was really true, I’d be interested in hearing about it. He assured me it was and then, quickly slipped off to someone more receptive.
     Apparently the “private money” was pure politicking. The MyCar a “neighborhood electric vehicle” with a 25-mile range and a top speed of 35 mph that Car and Driver reported: “isn’t a real car” may have private funding that’sscandalously acquired, but it also depends on millions in government assistance, tax exceptions, and rebates. The Washington Post says McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive “fits into a pattern of investments in which McAuliffe has used government programs, political connections and access to wealthy investors of both parties in pursuit of big profits for himself.”
     To build the MyCar, MacAuliffe was able to get loans and land donations from the state of Mississippi the poorest state in the US. Where did the “poorest state” find this kind of cash to build cars? the Mississippi Development Authority’s Energy Division received approximately $40 million from the 2009 Stimulus Bill that was designated for “stimulating the creation or increased retention of jobs” and “reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” GreenTech’s MyCar fit the requirements.
     You might be wondering, if McAuliffe is running for Governor in Virginia, why is he setting up his car manufacturing business in Mississippi? One answer is, the decision makers in the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) saw through the scam and didn’t bid on the project. Read full column

Swickard: Putting the ouch into texting

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. If you want a good laugh go to any college campus to watch some of the best and brightest students in the world trying to text and walk. The resultant signpost smack-downs are amazing. What is the communication value of their texting since these students make the same mistake day after day texting themselves into sign poles and off curbs?
       It makes me wonder when texting students wander out into traffic. Must be a Darwin moment when traffic has to frantically avoid them. Disaster strikes when a driver is texting and not watching the texting students. Both are knuckleheads. They cannot stop texting for even a few minutes.
      Some think we need more laws to keep people from being knuckleheads. Not me since a person intent upon being a knucklehead will be a knucklehead regardless of laws. We have plenty of data over the years of people who insisted on being foolish despite good advice.
       For the record I try to help text victims who accidentally embrace sign poles. My sympathy is given when all of a sudden they realize their device is broken so they will have to look life in the eyes all day long.
       A generation or two ago it was not texting that caused these accidents, it was loud music. By loud I mean volume that parts your hair when you get into the car. My generation sang along at the top of our lungs without anyone ever hearing us.
       Many in my generation drove right through red lights and into the path of emergency vehicles via the mind-numbing effects of loud music. One friend years ago said he did not hear the collision but realized that there had to have been one since when the music stopped he realized he was upside-down on the highway. Read full column

Ex-cop wants job back after acquittal

Former APD Officer Connor Rice
From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A jury has found former Albuquerque Police Department Officer Connor Rice not guilty on two counts of abusing suspects during a drug investigation. Rice had been on trial since Monday accused of using excessive force when he and other officers chased men believed to have been smoking marijuana at a city park in May 2012. The jury found him not guilty of battery and aggravated battery.
     The jury got the case Wednesday afternoon and deliberated about 45 minutes before breaking for the night. Deliberations resumed Thursday morning, and the verdict was reached at about 11:30 a.m.
     Rice said he doesn't know what the future holds, but he has appealed his termination as an APD officer. “I loved my job,” Rice said. “I can tell you that. I'm deeply grateful for the relationships I formed on that job, and I will always be grateful for those relationships". Rice said he had been with APD for seven years. More

Advocates hold vigils outside Pearce's office

Advocates have launched a series of vigils outside of Congressman Steve Pearce's Las Cruces office to push for federal immigration reform. 

The group Border Network for Human Rights says it will the hold daily morning vigils until Friday. 

The move comes as immigrant advocates press the lone Republican in the state's Congressional delegation to support a federal proposal that would grant immigrants in the country illegally a pathway to citizenship.

 Pearce has said he didn't support that measure. Pearce represents New Mexico's border with Mexico and is viewed by the GOP as a key figure is helping attract Latino voters to the Republican Party.


Legislative auditors criticize child care providers

Legislative auditors are criticizing state oversight of taxpayer-subsidized child care providers, saying a government agency failed to detect sex offenders possibly living at child care locations. 
Auditors outlined their findings Wednesday to the Legislative Finance Committee. The audit report said the Children, Youth and Families Department suspended three child care homes after auditors told the agency that registered sex offenders listed the homes as their primary address. 
The audit report said New Mexico needs to better coordinate early childhood programs, such as subsidized child care for low-income families, with the state's more academically rigorous pre-kindergarten programs. Auditors said basic child care fails to improve the later school performance and literacy of students.


Human Services Sec. under fire for hunger comments

Sidonie Squier
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez is calling for the resignation of Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier.  
This follows a report of an email written by Secretary Squier on September 17, 2013 stating, “…[T]here has never been and is not now any significant evidence of hunger in New Mexico….” Secretary Squier’s email was written in response to receiving a “Draft Hunger Task Force Report”.  
Her email in its entirety states, “Nicely written and organized document.  Since there has never been and is not now any significant evidence of hunger in New Mexico, I would offer that the focus of the report should be on getting proper nutrition for children (and adults).   
Governor Martinez and Secretary Squier have characterized her written words as “poorly worded."  


Liquor laws may be changing in San Juan County

From KOB-TV.com - By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Restaurants in parts of San Juan County may soon be able to sell beer and wine, and it's all because of what one restaurant did.  Fishead’s San Juan River Lodge decided they wanted a beer and wine license because they thought it would be good for business.
     "Most of them like beer and wine with their meal, so when we decided to put the restaurant in place we thought that's a good idea," said general manager Thaddeus Cano.
     Right now, restaurants in the unincorporated areas of San Juan County are not allowed to serve liquor. But Fishead’s gathered enough signatures to force the county to hold an election.
     "Everybody who comes in, we ask 'Oh, are you a resident of San Juan County? Can you sign out petition?'” said assistant manager Betty Mauldin. If voters approve it, all restaurants in the county will be able to get a license to sell beer and wine.
     "I see the cities Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield all serve beer and wine in their restaurants so I don't see the problem with county restaurants serving beer," said David Archuleta. The county commission is expected to decide on a date for the election at a meeting next week. More

Public paid $27K for Martinez out-of-state trips

NewsNMSwickard - Hey, how about a look at former governor Bill Richardson's use of public money? Let's have a little balance please.
From KOAT-TV.com - SANTA FE, N.M. —New Mexico taxpayers are picking up thousands of dollars of costs related to political fundraisers and other out-of-state trips by Gov. Susana Martinez.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that public records indicate that the state spent more than $27,000 on 11 such trips between mid-March and June.
     Just over $24,000 paid for transportation, lodging and food for the governor's security team while nearly $2,500 paid for travel expenses of Martinez aides. Most of Martinez's own costs were paid by her re-election campaign or organizations inviting her to events.
     Along with several political fundraisers, the governor's travels included a trip to Rome as part of a U.S. delegation attending the installation of the new pope and to Salt Lake City for a Republican Governors Association meeting. More

No 'Incredibly Small' Wars Against Energy by Obama

Commentary by Marita Noon - Look closely at the energy-related news stories of the past dozen or so days, and, between the lines, you’ll see a theme: government makes predictions and assertions that cannot be backed up by data to protect or project preferred messaging.
     The unusual collaboration of the University of Texas (UT) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) conducted a first-ever detailed examination more than 500 wells were analyzed of individual drilling sites to determine the total amount of escaped methane from shale gas operations. The study was released on September 16 by the National Academy of Sciences. The New York Times story on the study opens with: “Drilling for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, appears to cause smaller leaks of the greenhouse gas methane than the federal government had estimated.” It reports: “Previous E.P.A. estimates relied on engineering calculations, and other studies gathered data via aircraft flights over drilling sites.”
     Why does this matter? Because environmental groups have used previous methane-leak estimates to claim that leaks offset the environmental benefits of the clean-burning natural gas the wells produce. Such claims are used to bolster fracking opposition. A September 17 press release from the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works states: “methane leakage from shale gas development is not releasing nearly as much methane as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had predicted. EPA’s grossly exaggerated estimates have been widely used by critics and far-left environmentalists to discredit the benefits of hydraulic fracturing.”
     The exaggerated estimates of methane leaks came from a study released two years ago when two Cornell University scientists, Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea, reported catastrophic levels of methane were being leaked by fracking operations. According to Forbes, “a slew of experts” discredited the research, which just reviewed EPA data and relied on estimates and hypotheticals. Read full column


One switch away from nuclear disaster

NewsNM-Swickard - the same thing happened in Albuquerque in 1957 when a hydrogen bomb fell accidentally from a military airplane Interesting story read here 

From KOB-TV.com - By: Mike Anderson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 -  A hydrogen bomb nearly detonated on the U. S. east coast, with a single switch averting a blast which would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that flattened Hiroshima, a newly published book says.
     In a recently declassified document, reported in a new book by Eric Schlosser, the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia national laboratories said that one simple, vulnerable switch prevented nuclear catastrophe. The Guardian newspaper published the document on Saturday.
     Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on Jan. 24, 1961 after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired  its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.
     Parker F. Jones at the Sandia National Laboratories analyzed the accident in a document headed “How I learned to mistrust the H-Bomb.” “The MK39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne-alert role in the B-52,” he wrote.
      When the B-52 disintegrates in the air it is likely to release the bombs in “a near normal fashion,” he wrote, calling the safety mechanisms to prevent accidental arming “not complex enough.” The document said the bomb had four safety mechanisms, one of which is not effective in the air.When the aircraft broke up, two others were rendered ineffective.
     “One simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!” Jones wrote, adding that it could have been “bad news — in spades” if the switch had shorted.
     Schlosser discovered the document, written in 1969, through the Freedom of Information Act. Read story


Making it politically profitable to do the right thing

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “The issue is not a partisan issue. We will not solve our problem by electing the right people. We will only solve our problem by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.” Milton Friedman.
     Those words spoken by economist Milton Friedman during the presidential administration of Jimmy Carter are just as true today. The problem he saw then is exactly the same problem we are experiencing now. Politicians, for the most part, always do the politically profitable things as it applies to them. Unfortunately, many citizens feel those are not the right things for them but do not know how to change the politicians.
     Changing politicians comes two ways: changing some of their actions and, changing from one politician to another. It would seem that, as Friedman said, it is not a partisan issue. Both political parties seem to want exactly the same thing: to make government bigger so that they are ever so much more powerful themselves.
     Government gets bigger no matter who is elected. It is true some politicians do not increase government quite as fast as other politicians, but in the last century government has always gotten bigger. President Thomas Jefferson observed, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”
     Sometimes the only thing that helps is to get new politicians in office who do not yet know the ropes to bind the citizens. Those are the ones that we think will be different. Mark Twain observed, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
     One of the most troubling aspects of politics to me is that to get elected both parties must promise to spend tomorrow’s money on today election. The way they see it, if they do not they will be yesterday’s news. Any politician saying they are not going to bring home the pork is unelectable. Read full column

How to identify flood victim relief scams

From KOB-TV.com - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King is warning residents to be wary of scams that falsely solicit funds to help victims of recent flooding. King says it is fairly common for scam artists to take advantage of natural disaster situations and take money from unsuspecting people.
     The attorney general's office is sharing the following simple tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
  • Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events.
  • Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don't get a clear answer – or if you don’t like the answer – consider donating to a different organization.
  • Don't give out personal or financial information – including your credit card or bank account number – unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Never send cash: you can't be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes. 
  • Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.
     New Mexicans can report suspected scams to the attorney general's office via email at communications@nmag.gov or by filing a complaint report. Consumer Complaint forms are available at http://www.nmag.gov/consumer/file-a-complaint. To view more online resources for identifying flood fraud, click here.

APS, City Council clash over loop road

From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —A traffic jam at an Albuquerque middle school is causing a crash between the school board and City Council.Monday, city councilors voted to block Albuquerque Public Schools from getting the curb cut it needs for a proposed loop road. The council said more community input is needed.
     Tuesday, cars stretched out of the Jefferson Middle School parking lot into oncoming traffic. The line of cars spills into traffic at the intersection of Lomas and Girard boulevards. APS was close to a fix in its plan to create the loop road, but as of Monday isn’t allowed to cut curbs to complete the loop project. City council said the school needs to work with the community during the next 60 days to find other options.
     Albuquerque City Counilor Brad Winter said so far, no one has brought a plan better than the loop project. APS board members said they’re green lighting the project with or without the council’s blessing.
     The superintendent of schools said he believes the city is playing politics with children’s safety, and are blocking the curb cut because of the upcoming election. Opponents of the proposed loop are concerned it would lower neighbors’ property values and create a safety hazard for children who walk home. More

Beware: The Foolish Politics Of Climate Change

Commentary by Marita Noon - Last week, while America dithered over whether or not to depose Syria’s president, an ocean away, a different leader was decisively dumped. The election of Australia’s new prime minister has international implications.
     On September 5, in a landslide election, Tony Abbot became Australia’s new Prime Minister restoring the center-right Liberal-National coalition after six years of leftward economic polices. Conservatives the world over are looking to learn from Abbott. In the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Tom Switzer, sums up the “resounding victory” this way: “Abbott did the very thing so many US Republicans and British Tories have shied away from in recent years: He had the courage to broaden the appeal of a conservative agenda rather than copy the policies of his opponents. As a result, Australians enjoyed a real choice at the polls.”
     While this should sound alarms for liberals, the real panic is with the global warming alarmists. It is not just the politicians who are “looking on in horror.” It is everyone who has bought into, as the WSJ calls them, “the faddish politics of climate change”—those who believe we can power the world on rainbows, butterflies, and fairy dust are panicked. Their entire world view is being threatened.
     This was clearly evident at last week’s hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, regarding the proposed change in compensation for electricity generated by rooftop solar installation. The hearing was scheduled in a room typically used for Public Regulatory Commission meetings. Well before the scheduled start time, it became clear that a bigger auditorium was needed—and it was filled to capacity. The majority was, obviously, there in support of solar—they were carrying signs. Thirty-nine of them gave public comment in opposition to the proposed rule changes. After each comment, they hooted, cheered and waved their signs—until the Chairman prohibited the sign waving. Two of the women went by only one name “Lasita” and “Athena,” with no last name—linking themselves to some goddess. Several referenced Germany’s success with renewable energy.
     They were organized, rabid in their support, and intimidating to anyone who dared disagree. At one point, the Sierra Club representative, took control of the hearing and, completely ignoring the Chairman’s instructions, stood in the front of the room and, with hand-waving gestures, got everyone who was there in opposition to the proposed change to stand up and wave their signs. A smattering of individuals remained seated. Three of us spoke in favor of the proposed change. I brought up those who’d held up Germany as a model to follow and posited that they didn't know the full story. Read full column

National monument in the Gila closed

From KRQE-TV.com - GILA NATIONAL FOREST, N.M. - According to a news release, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and the Gila Visitor Center have been closed due to damage and debris from heavy rain in the area.
     A portion of N.M. 15, which provides access to the national monument and visitor center, has also closed north of Doc Campbell's Post in Gila Hot Spring. The monument and center are both expected to reopen this week after water levels decrease and the highway reopens.
     Volunteers from the Mesilla Valley Search and Rescue helped clear out debris that had been washed over a bridge near the visitor center Sunday. Grapevine, Lower Forks and Lower and Upper Scorpion campgrounds are also closed. Upper Forks campground is open, according to the release. More

Alamogordo moves closer to legalizing beekeeping

From KOB-TV.com - By: Jeffery Gordon, KOB.com - The city of Alamogordo is moving closer to legalizing beekeeping. The city commission has taken steps to approve an ordinace that will allow people to keep bee hives on certain sized properties
     Beekeepers will have to register their hives with the city and notify their neighbors. Those critical of the plan say it could endanger people who are allergic to bees. More

Swickard: Surprise, you’re in the Army now

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Last week two young college men were in front of me in a grocery store line. I asked them, “What do you think about the conflict in Syria? Is America about to get embroiled?” One student shrugged, “I don’t know or care since it doesn't concern me.”
     “Really,” I exclaimed, “Did both of you register for the Selective Service when you turned eighteen? They both nodded a bit puzzled. I continued, “The whole reason for Selective Service registration is so they can draft you if our country needs you to serve in the military.”
     After a pause, one said, “You can’t get college financial aid unless you register.”
     “So you had a good reason to register with Selective Service,” I said. “That’s the same Selective Service I registered with in 1968. They registered me so that later then President Richard Nixon sent me greetings.”
      I had their attention. “Didn't it occur to you that if our country gets into a big shooting war young men like you are just what our Army needs?”
     One student protested, “No that is not right. Our country has an all-volunteer military. Our country does not conscript people against their will into war.”
I smiled, “Then why did your country need you to sign up for Selective Service in the first place? They spent years pushing you to do so when you turned eighteen. They made sure you knew bad things would happen if you did not. The way I see it, our country has two more draft eligible soldiers if needed.”
      Panic crept into their eyes and I went on. “I’m 63 so they do not want me. They need young men.” I sang a verse from long ago, “You’re in the Army now, you’re in the Army now… you’ll never get out, you’ll never get out, you’re in the Army now.”
     Two geezers behind me laughed loudly. They sang that same verse again.
      Finally I asked, “Did you vote in the last election?” Both shook their heads no, “We not registered.”
      I could not help observing, “Then there is no political reason for any politician to save your butts.”
They paid at the register and hurried out. The geezers behind me laughed, “Bet they now pay attention to the world news.” Read full column

Helicopter rescues Artesia residents from flood

From KOB-TV.com - By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Rain flooded SKP RV Park south of Artesia, leaving the people living there with no way out. Local runoff from storms caused the camp to be surrounded by water on all sides.
     Sixty residents were airlifted from the camp, three at a time. Altogether, 73 people were evacuated. KOB Eyewitness News 4 was there when the residents arrived on safe ground. One evacuee said it was an uncomfortable journey. "My husband had surgery last weekend. They evacuated the medical people first. He would have rather stayed in our rig, laying on the bed. He's quite uncomfortable in the bus now," Marg Schinke said.
     The evacuees were placed on buses and sent to Carlsbad, where the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center. More

NM Law Enforcement Academy changes rules

The board that oversees the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy has adopted a new curriculum that will mean trimming the academy to 16 weeks for basic police officer training. 

It was a unanimous decision by the boarding during a meeting Wednesday in Santa Fe to approve the new curriculum and trim six weeks from the current program. Officials say the new academy will feature more dynamic training and less redundancy to create a more fluid learning environment for cadets. They say this will help agencies around the state get their officers trained and on the street in a more efficient manner. 

The next basic training academy will begin in January. Classes are limited to 50 cadets.


Railrunner ridership is down

Ridership on New Mexico's commuter rail system dropped last year, and officials attribute part of that to the weak economy and job losses reducing the pool of passengers. 
Rio Metro Regional Transit District Director Terrence Doyle told a legislative panel Tuesday that Rail Runner Express ridership declined by about 9 percent in 2012, but fare revenues grew 10 percent because of higher ticket prices. He said lower gasoline prices and the higher fares contributed to the ridership decline. 
About 1.1 million riders boarded the train last year and 734,000 through August of this year.  
Rail Runner officials said they're looking for ways to boost ridership, such as shortening travel times.


NM reaches settlement with Chevron

New Mexico officials say Chevron Corp. will pay $5.2 million to settle the state's claims that the energy company improperly applied for money from a state environmental cleanup fund. 
The state says the company allegedly said it didn't have and didn't collect on insurance to pay for cleaning up petroleum contamination from Chevron's leaking underground storage tanks at gas stations around the state. 
According to the state, those statements were untrue because the company got payments from insurers through secret settlements and didn't tell the state. The state says it paid $4 million to Chevron. 
The settlement was announced Wednesday by the offices of Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King and by the state Environment Department.


Loving football calls it quits

From KOB-TV.com - By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Across New Mexico, high schools are preparing for Friday night football, but one high school has cancelled its’ varsity program just weeks into the season. For the Loving High School varsity football team, last Friday was their last game under the lights.
     “Somewhat kind of expected it, but I didn't expect to not have any more Friday night lights," said senior Gabriel Morales. “I just feel a little disappointed knowing like we have so many people in our school that aren't willing to play football."
     The team only has 22 players, half of them freshman. After losing 51-0 to Hagerman last Friday, the school district decided to call it quits. They said it’s for the player’s safety. “I think coach made a decision, and he did what was right for the team and what’s going to keep the boys healthy, so injury free," said parent Sonia Guzman.
     But the boys will get to keep playing. The rest of the season they will play against JV teams on Saturdays. “I just feel a little depressed knowing that this is my last year, and I’m basically going to be playing JV all over again," said Morales. More

Remembering Alfred Marchand from Alamogordo

While almost 3,000 people died in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and every life lost was a tragedy, many in Southern New Mexico were especially saddened when they learned that Alfred Marchand, 44, of Alamogordo was a flight attendant with United Airlines.
     Marchand enlisted in the military after graduating from Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D. A year later, he left the service, when his father died, and became a police officer in New Mexico. He spent 21 years in law enforcement.      When he retired he became a flight attendant with United. Rest in Peace Alfred Marchand as we remember you this day.


Los Alamos couple finds bear in kitchen

From KOB-TV.com - A Los Alamos couple went to investigate noises coming from their kitchen and came face to face with a bear on Tuesday morning. The incident happened around 9 a.m. in the area of Barranca Mesa Park. According to the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, the bear broke through a screen and came into the homethrough a window. The bear then started eating garbage in the kitchen.
     When the homeowners entered the kitchen, the bear fled out the window as they retreated into the bedroom. Game and Fish wardens are setting up a bear trap due to the nature of the interaction. According to officials, the bear is known in the area for breaking into another house. More

Solar: Obama’s proxy war in the desert

Commentary by Marita Noon - Syria isn’t the only battle into which President Obama is injecting himself where he doesn't belong. True, on a global scale, Arizona’s fight over net metering seems insignificant. However, on a personal scale, what is taking place in Arizona’s sunny desert has the potential to directly impact far more Americans than the shots being fired in Syria’s desert.
     Syria’s conflict is often called a proxy war in that it is an indirect confrontation between superpowers via substitute actors. To understand Obama’s proxy war in the desert, you have to understand the intentionally confusing term: net metering.
     Simply, net metering is the process through which homeowners with rooftop solar panels are paid by the local utility company for the excess power they produce. In its report on net metering, the Institute for Energy Research defines it this way: Net metering “allows people who generate electricity on their homes and businesses to sell electricity back to the grid when their generation exceeds their usage.”
     Net metering has been around since the early 80s when solar panels were expensive and few people had them. But the dynamics changed drastically when states began passing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that required predetermined percentages of electricity be generated from renewable sources—some even specified which sources are part the mix and how much of the resource was required. To meet the mandates, utility companies agreed to pay, what essentially amounts to, full retail rates for the excess electricity being generated by the solar panels. Often the combination of the electricity the homeowner buys from the utility (at night) and what they sell back (during the day) gives them a utility bill of nearly zero. 
     Yet they are still using power from the electric company; they are still plugged into the grid. Grid maintenance, transmission lines and transformers, customer service, and other costs that are part of providing consistent, steady electricity to homes and businesses have historically been borne by everyone using it. Most people don’t think about it; it is just part of the bill.
     Anyone who has ever owned a business, knows that you won’t survive for long when you are buying your product at retail and selling it for retail, as there are many additional costs between wholesale and retail. Yet, this is what utility companies are being forced to do through the net metering agreements that were made back when solar was in its infancy and customers needed to be incentivized to install solar panels so that the utility could purchase the power to meet the mandates.
       When there were only a few solar installations, the loss to the utility had a very small impact. But now, with the numbers increasing, the loss is larger. That loss is being carried by the entire rate base and taking money from family budgets. Read full column


NMSU Aggie Football home opener

News New Mexico -from Michael Swickard who attended the NMSU Aggie home opener.
It was a good Aggie game. I've been watching Aggie Football since 1967 which was Woodson's last year at the helm. 
Sitting next to me was my uncle Eugene McKim has watched the Aggie Football since coming to NMSU out of the Navy in 1946.
Gosh sitting in section H row 22 was 113 combined years of Aggie Football games. 
Again, good game. More thoughts Monday on News New Mexico.


Swickard: Understanding MLK’s colorblind world

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. They are words that will dwell in the hearts of mankind for centuries: “I have a dream…” At last week’s fifty year celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, I was disappointed that the occasion was partisan and worse, missed entirely Martin Luther King’s desire for a colorblind society.
     What made King extraordinary was that, like Gandhi earlier, he knew the oppressed minority could not by force of arms change their own status. Both men realized that only by appealing to the good people of the majority could any real change occur. That is exactly what happened.
     The 20th century was America’s worst and best years. Sadly, early in the century our Constitution had been changed but not the society. Men of color fought for this country and came back to a society still firmly in the grip of the race haters. We now realize that many of the majority population were on the side of minorities but needed a catalyst for them to make societal changes.
     In the 1950s Martin Luther King had a vision of a colorblind society. He did not want Blacks to oppress Whites any more than he wanted segregation to continue. It was difficult to change our society. As we saw in the years that followed, discrimination by the majority was eliminated. Yes, there are still pockets of haters on both sides and there are race baiters and those who make a good living dividing us, the United States of America. But we, as a nation, heard the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. We reached out and embraced his heart to ours.
     This nation now reflects a racial blend of heroes and leaders from President Obama to Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Cosby, Will Smith, Oprah. And the list goes on. Any child born today can be president or can rise to the top of Hollywood. Any child born today can be a general, admiral or Supreme Court Justice. Our society is becoming a racially blended society. Tiger Woods blends two races as does our President.
      We are told that we should not judge all Muslims by the actions of the few extremists. I would extend that argument to include not judging America by the actions of a few race haters. Let us be Martin Luther King’s colorblind America.Read full column


Alb business specializes in balloon repair

From KOB-TV.com - By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - ALBUQUERQUE -- With the Balloon Fiesta just 30 days away and counting, balloonists are starting to watch the calendar and prep their balloons. If those balloons are in need of repair or maintenance, there's a small Albuquerque business that has been specializing in these type of repairs for 30 years.
     Bob Healy was an engineer and says he got burned out from working in a cubicle. Bob was offered a job at Aerco fixing balloons.  "Fell in love and it's become my life's work. Here I am still 30 some years later," Healy said.
     David Eichorn, a retired 35-year Air Force aviator, bought the business a year ago. He said that it just made sense. He has an immense love for anything that flies. "Working here with customers, other people who love to fly. Balloon flying is different than flying fixed wing. So it's a different group of people. So it's expanding my community of friends," Eichorn said.
     Whether it's burners, baskets or balloons, they can fix it. They are a full service station. And there isn't a whole lot of competition in their line of work around town. Or anywhere for that matter, according to Eichorn. "There's one other repair station in town. But there used to be four. We're down to two. There's just not as many repair stations in the country," Eichorn said.
     Whether balloons need to be fixed or not, the FAA requires a 100 hour or annual inspection to fly. Aerco does a lot of those too. More

NM Health Dept. says get flu shots now

Health officials are reminding New Mexicans to start making plans to get flu shots. 

The New Mexico Department of Health says the flu vaccine is arriving in some doctor's office and pharmacies. 

And while it may seem early, Health Secretary Retta Ward says now is the time to make an appointment to get vaccinated. She says it is hard to predict how intense the next flu season will be, so New Mexicans shouldn't wait until flu season starts to get vaccinated. 

Ward says everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each flu season, especially children, pregnant women, people over 50 and anyone with special health conditions or other issues that put them at a higher risk.


NM SUPCO to rule on retirement pension case

New Mexico highest court will issue a decision over whether the state can cut cost-of-living increases for retired educators to shore up the pension system's finances. 
The state Supreme Court heard from lawyers Wednesday in a case brought by four retirees, who contend the state Constitution protects their pensions from reductions such as those required under a law enacted this year. 
There's no deadline for a ruling by the justices. 
The retirees say they have a property right in their retirement benefits, but the attorney general's office told the court that the cost-of-living adjustments can be changed to preserve the pension plan's solvency.
 Retirees saw their pensions increase by just under 2 percent despite the cuts implemented in July.


Los Alamos County issues same sex marriage licenses

A northern New Mexico county has become the eighth in the state to allow marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 
The Los Alamos County clerk's office issued a license Wednesday to a lesbian couple shortly after a state district judge upheld a decision requiring that to happen. 
Janet Newton and Maria Thibodeau were denied a marriage license last week and they filed a lawsuit that led to a ruling by District Court Judge Sheri Raphaelson that same-sex couples are entitled to be married in New Mexico
Dona Ana County's clerk led the way on the gay marriage issue Aug. 21 by deciding independently to allow marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples. Other counties have followed, including Grant County, which plans to start granting licenses next week.


Oil and gas management courses being offered

From KOB-TV.com - By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Oil and gas production is a way of life in the Four Corners and other parts of the state. Now, two New Mexico colleges are offering a degree program to help more students develop their careers San Juan College and New Mexico Highlands University have teamed up to offer the first bachelor's program in oil and gas management.
     "We believe it one of the first degrees of its kind in the United States,” said Randy Pacheco, Dean of the School of Energy at San Juan College.
     The schools have been designing this program for about a year.Officials at San Juan College say this is an opportunity for people who work in the field to take their career to the next level from field work to management.
     "I think when they're searching for bachelor’s degree they want something specific for their industry something they can really relate to that they can use in their everyday job," said Pacheco.
     Students at the School of Energy said they’re excited about the new program. Matthew Burt wants to take what he's learned in natural gas compression a step further. "In order to someday be an expert, I really need to learn all the basics and that's critical in thiscourse," he said.
     Cody Watson hopes this new degree will help him and other students develop their careers in the four corners. "Oil and gas is the lifeblood of San Juan Basin so if we can put students out there with a good knowledge base then they can develop themselves better as employees," Watson said.
     Highlands University says the program is all online and they are already seeing a lot of interest. They expect to have 20 to 30 bachelor's and master's students enrolled in the spring. More

Las Cruces City Council votes to increase GRT

The Las Cruces City Council voted Tuesday to increase the city's gross receipts tax by three-eighths of one percent.   

That amounts to about four cents on a ten dollar purchase.

The council voted 6-1 for the tax increase, which will take effect on January 1.  Councilor Miguel Silva was the lone "no" vote.  Councilors voting "yes" said the tax increase was needed due to a reduction in state tax revenue.  

The state legislature voted to remove the so-called "hold harmless" provision over a period of years.  

The move was part of a last-minute bill that reduced corporate taxes in New Mexico.


Santa Fe Reporter files lawsuit against Gov.

Gov. Martinez
The Santa Fe Reporter has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Susana Martinez, alleging violations of the state's open records laws as well as retaliation by her office against the alternative weekly. 
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in state district court. It alleges seven instances where the governor's office failed to produce calendars, emails, documents about pardons and other material sought by the Reporter under the state's Inspection of Public Records Act. 
Martinez's administration is being accused of violating the state's guarantee of a free press with "unlawful selective withholding of public information and retaliatory and discriminatory conduct." 
The lawsuit asks that Martinez, who ran on a campaign of transparency, be ordered to implement a system for adequately responding to public records requests.


PNM plans to shut down coal units at power plant

From KOB-TV.com - By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - PNM and several other power producers have proposed a plan to shut down two coal units at the San Juan Generating Plant near Farmington. The plant is required to comply with a federal visibility rule that was going to create a huge cost for customers in the state by forcing companies to install costly pollution-reducing technology. Instead, PNM proposed a plan that would make two of the units defunct, but would cost consumers a lot less in the long run.
     They will propose the plan to the Environmental Improvement Board on September 5 and 6. If the EIB approves it, the Environmental Protection Agency will then approve it. If the EPA approves it, units 2 and 3 would be retired by December 31, 2017. They will also need to come up with a replacement power source. What it will be is still up in the air, but there’s a possibility of a mix of gas fire generation nuclear power. If the replacement is expensive, there’s a possibility PNM will have to ask for rate recovery from the Public Regulation Commission.
     PNM has made a commitment not to lay off any workers at the plant. They are also investing $1 million in Navajo Nation workforce training. More

Super Resources that Only Democrats Could Hate

Commentary by Marita Noon - Energy is a super-resource. It is beneficial to several targeted economic problems and may even help some political conditions. The qualities of energy make it a special category of elements found in nature: a super-resource.
     Berries, broccoli, and beans are all considered superfoods which are defined as a special category of foods found in nature; a food that is considered to be beneficial to your health and that may even help some medical conditions. They pack a lot of punch.
     Oil, natural gas and coal, are all super-resources. They are found in nature. They pack a lot of punch. They are beneficial to the economy in that they create jobs, increase revenues, and help balance the trade deficit.
     The Keystone pipeline would create thousands of jobs—primarily union jobs in construction (one of the hardest hit industries in the economic recession) and increased service employment in supporting communities. America’s abundance of natural gas—due to the combined techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and new technologies—means that there is more natural gas available than can be used within our borders. Many countries, such as Japan (with whom we run a $6 billion trade deficit), want our excess, but to ship it, the natural gas must be liquefied—which requires special liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.The US contains one-fourth of the world’s coal reserves and the Powder River Basin (PRB) found in Wyoming and Montana accounts for about 40 percent of US coal reserves. The 13 active coal mines in the Wyoming portion of the PRB employ more than 6800 workers. Read full column

Play-by-play icon calls last game

From KRQE-TV.com by Dick Knipfing - One of New Mexico's best known voices signed off for the final time Friday night after broadcasting his last high school football game.  Mike Roberts is best known as the "Voice of the Lobos." He did the play-by-play of Lobo football and basketball games for 40 years.
     After that ended five years ago he switched to high school sports:  "I enjoyed it," Roberts told KRQE News 13. "I started doing play-by-play when I was in high school. "That was one thing I really loved doing, and I was lucky enough to have people let me do it."
     Mike, who's now 80, says he doesn't know what he'll do now, but he'll have to learn how not to work. Roberts began his broadcasting career in Atmore, Alabama, at WATM in December 1951. More

Hunting season officially underway in NM

Oh deer, it's hunting season
From KOB-TV.com - By: Jeffery Gordon, KOB.com - Hunting season is officially underway around New Mexico. Sunday marked opening day for hunting deer, elk, squirrel, dove, grouse and band-tailed pigeons.
     The department of game and fish is urging all hunters to be safe in the field. They also want hunters to be mindful of private property and to follow all laws and rules. More