Testers not teachers in the classrooms

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. When talking to people who have never taught in public school, they often have solutions that I know are wrong. Further, they will not believe someone from inside the schools; especially the teachers. Know this: the teachers are for the most part doing what they are told by the administrators to do.
     Many teachers say they are not teachers, just testers. They spend no time teaching, instead, every minute is focused on accountability tests. All the students are learning are test questions, if you can call that learning.
     Even worse is that many teachers wonder why they got a teaching certificate because no one listens to them. Obviously there is no need to address the curriculum at teaching colleges when teachers have no voice.
     What would happen if we started listening to teachers instead of administrators? Administrators are far removed from classrooms. Many went into administration for the pay. They can double their retirement. Teach twenty years and administer five years then retire with pay like they were in administration twenty-five years.
     Most of what I find objectionable is the reform fads. When I started teaching in public school Gerald Ford was the president. The then fad, among others, was quarter-hour lesson plans. For every class period I needed four pieces of paper filled out explaining how I was going to change what was happening in the classroom four times an hour with methods, objectives, materials and measurement routines.
     This requirement was before computers so it was done by hand, my hand. Each week, with a sore writing hand, I handed in a stack of 120 lesson plans which I am sure no one had time to read. The next year I took a job at the University of New Mexico in educational media because my writing hand could not take any more.Read full column

Education leaders propose new funding system

Higher education leaders in New Mexico are proposing a new system for state funding of universities and community colleges. 

The proposal was developed by a team of New Mexico State University administrators. It would have legislators provide colleges and universities with the schools' previous year's allocations but also add incentive funding to reward the schools for performances. 

Measurements for the performance-based funding could include completed student credit hours, total research funding and awarded degrees.

 The proposal has backing from two- and four-year schools across the state. Western New Mexico University Joseph Shepard says the agreement on the proposal is "monumental."


Virgin Galactic pushes back start date

Virgin Galactic has again pushed back its estimated start date for launching commercial flights from New Mexico's Spaceport AmericaAnd spaceport officials say they'll need more state money to make up for lost user fees and visitor revenue at the project. 
The spaceport's director, Christine Anderson, says she plans to ask the Legislature for $7 million to finish paving a road between the facility and Las Cruces because other expenses have eaten into her budget. 
The budget assumed that Virgin's space flights would begin in February 2014, but they're now slated for August. 
The spaceport's visitor center was expected to open at the end of this year, but the center and its theme-park style, space-related experiences is a year behind. 


AG says NM could lose tobacco revenue

Gary King
Attorney General Gary King's office estimates New Mexico could lose from $12 million to $25 million next year from a nationwide settlement with tobacco companies. 
New Mexico is to collect about $39 million in tobacco payments this year and has received nearly $572 million since 1999. 
A legislative panel is to hear from King's office Wednesday about a reduction in revenues because of an arbitration ruling against New Mexico and five others states in September. A three-judge panel concluded the states didn't adequately enforce laws requiring smaller tobacco companies to pay certain fees if they weren't part of the 1998 settlement with major companies. 

New Mexico is using nearly $20 million in tobacco revenue this year for early childhood programs and to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program.


N.M. salsa company sues cranberry giant

From KRQE-TV.com - By Alex Goldsmith - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Behind its North Valley restaurant, El Pinto's salsa factory is humming, churning out jars and jars of the spicy stuff. But El Pinto's twin owners say it's not the jars but new single-serving size plastic tubs that got them a big opportunity with cranberry giant Ocean Spray.
     Ocean Spray wanted to make 12 ounce plastic tubs of cranberry salsa and a cranberry relish and turned to El Pinto. "They were having difficulty doing it in their facility so they were looking for somebody that was capable of doing it," said El Pinto owner John Thomas.
     "They were supposed to buy 200,000 cases per year of this product for at least three years," said Michael Cadigan, El Pinto's attorney. So El Pinto says it sunk around $1 million in costs and a lot of time and effort buying and modifying machines to make the products and develop the recipes themselves.
     In April 2012, on the day when El Pinto was supposed to start cranking out Ocean Spray's products, a nasty storm hit and knocked out power to El Pinto's machines. According to a lawsuit filed by El Pinto against Ocean Spray, the cranberry company used that as a reason to back out of the deal claiming El Pinto violated the terms of their contract.
     But Cadigan tells KRQE News 13 he believes Ocean Spray had ulterior motives. "I think Ocean Spray found another company they wanted to do this project with, and they had to find a way to get rid of El Pinto," Cadigan said. "When they found a way to do it cheaper in Canada, they pulled out."
     The lawsuit also accuses Ocean Spray of sharing trade secrets with that new business partner including salsa recipes as well as salsa-making techniques. More

David Clements on News New Mexico Wednesday

David Clements, Candidate for U.S. Senate
David Clements, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate will be in the News New Mexico studio Wednesday, October 30, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. 
     He is the former Assistant District Attorney and senior trial lawyer for the 6th Judicial District in southwestern New Mexico. He currently serves as the Dona Ana County Republican Party Chairman and 2nd Congressional District Vice-Chair of the New Mexico Republican Liberty Caucus.
     David is married to Erin and they are raising their 3yr old son Roland in Las Cruces. David received his bachelors degree at New Mexico State University in Kinesiology and his law degree from the University of New Mexico.
     If you have question for David, please submit them here.


Alan Webber to run for Governor

Alan Webber
Santa Fe businessman and former magazine publisher Alan Webber has joined the race for governor, becoming the fourth Democratic candidate to take on Republican incumbent Susana Martinez. 
Webber said Monday in an interview that he's entering the race because New Mexico faces problems in creating good jobs and providing a quality education to children. Webber said "it's going to take new leadership in the governor's office to turn those things around." 
The 65-year-old Webber co-founded the business magazine Fast Company in the 1990s and later sold it. 
Webber joins Attorney General Gary King and state Sens. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Howie Morales of Silver City in seeking the Democratic nomination.


APD releases names of officers injured in shootout

Albuquerque Police have released the names and conditions of the three officers wounded in Saturday's shootout.

 Ofc. Matthew Hannum was hired by APD in June 2004 as a PSA, and entered the police academy in July of 2006. Hannum was hospitalized and later released. 

Ofc. Eric Martinez was hired by APD in January of 2004. Martinez was grazed by bullet fragments and was treated on the scene. 

Ofc. Daniel Morales was hired in 2003. Morales remains hospitalized and is recovering from his injuries. 

BCSO deputy Robin Hopkins remains in intensive care as a result of her injuries. Doctors anticipate her to remain in the hospital for several weeks.


Green Tea Not Welcome at Tea Party

Commentary by Marita Noon, www.energymakesamericagreat.org - Jobs. Enlarging the tax base. Market access. Energy choice. Fair compensation. Options. Make money. These words and phrases represent ideas or concepts that are attractive to Republicans, conservatives, limited-government and free-market supporters, and even fiscally minded Democrats—which is exactly why they are being used to get buy-in from these groups for something that is 180 degrees from their core values. This approach, I believe, is part of an organized plan by the left to hoodwink the right.
     If supporters of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, said it was heavily subsidized on both the state and federal level, had an artificial market created by government mandates, would help mitigate global warming, was the recipient of taxpayer dollars through Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill that funded projects like Solyndra, and was marred by cronyism, the right would run. Instead the wily tactics have won over a few Republicans with strong conservative résumés. Those sell-outs are working hard to bring their peers into the fold.
     Let this be a warning. While they may be hitting the right notes, they are singing the wrong song.
     I first became aware of this scheme back in July—then, I thought it was just an anomaly. The Georgia Tea Party Patriots, cofounded by Debbie Dooley, partnered with the Sierra Club in support of increased solar in the state. When I talked to her for a column I wrote addressing it, she told me it was all about choice. With a sneer, she called the utility company “a monopoly” and explained that solar would give them competition while consumers would get options. Recently Dooley found her way on to Fox News, where she touted the Green Tea Coalition and claimed to be battling “big energy.” Read full column

Three police officers wounded in shootout, suspect dead

From KOB-TV.com - By: Steve Mieczkowski, KOB.com - Two Albuquerque Police officers and one BCSO deputy were shot and wounded Saturday morning during a shootout. The events began when reports were received that a man was walking around with an AK-47 rifle near Broadway and Pacific. The man then shot an APD officer before leading police and BCSO deputies on a car chase through the North Valley.
Police report that the man continued to fire shots during the chase, wounding a second APD officer and a BCSO deputy. The suspected shooter was shot and pronounced dead at 4th Street and Montano.
One of the APD wounded officers has been released by police, and the other is still in surgery. The BCSO deputy is out of surgery and is in a medically induced coma. The identities of the three officers have not been released, and police have not identified the identity of the shooter. This has not happened at is available.
Also from KOB-TV
Governor Susana Martinez has talked to Albuquerque Police Chief Allen Banks and Sheriff Dan Houston to offer her support after Saturday’s shootout. The Governor told them State Police and the Department of Public Safety are on stand bye if they need any help.
In a statement Martinez added, "I ask all New Mexicans to join Chuck and me in keeping these officers and their loved ones in our prayers.” KOB.TV.com

Swickard: Drink up America before the trouble begins

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.” Economist Thomas Sowell
     A certain kind of spending makes our country go round. It is when one American reaches into his or her pocket and trades money for something of value. Commerce among Americans was described by John Kennedy as “A rising tide raises all boats.” America got rich in comparison to the rest of the world by this commerce.
     Sandwiched into commerce was government which was initially a small part of the total picture. The total bite of all national, state and local taxes at the start of the 20th century was about three percent. Today it is 30 percent or higher. For that increase Americans got a robust military, roads, hospitals, fire stations and a first rate judicial system. These things make America great.
     Sadly, in the midst of these great improvements there are also many do-good projects. We have so many of them that we have out of control spending. We reached a tipping point where our government is making the extra revenue needed out of thin air since America can no longer borrow that much money.
     How much? Currently around 40% of all government spending is make-believe money. There is a notion that dollars created out of thin air by our government do no harm. This make-believe money is now the coin of the realm. But consider the problem of owning dollars not backed by anything of value.
     There is an old joke: a man walks into a bar and says, “Give me a drink before the trouble starts.” The bartender pours a drink. The man gulps that down and says, “Give me another drink before the trouble starts.” So the bartender pours another drink. The man gulps it down and the bartender asks, “When is the trouble going to start?” The man says, “As soon as you realize that I don’t have any money.”
     Drink up America, because the trouble is just about to begin. Read full column

Reser's Fine Foods recalling meat products in NM

From KOB-TV.com - By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com A Kansas food company is recalling meat products from several states, including New Mexico, for possible contamination with listeria.
     Reser's Fine Foods is recalling around 22,800 pounds of chicken, ham and beef products. There have been no reports of illness at this time.
     Consumers with questions about the recall should contact the Reser's Fine Foods Consumer Hotline at 1-888-257-7913.
     Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number "EST. 13520" or "P-1352" inside the USDA mark of inspection. More


Former ABQ councilman running for 1st congressional district

Mike McEntee
Former Albuquerque City Councilman Mike McEntee says he will seek the Republican nomination for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District. 
McEntee is the first Republican to enter the race for the seat currently held by freshman Democrat Michelle Lujan-Grisham of Albuquerque.
 McEntee says he is running for the seat because he is "deeply concerned with the direction of our nation" and the partisan hostility that has gripped Washington. The former air traffic controller says he is "committed to presenting an alternative direction for our great state and nation." 
McEntee was on the Albuquerque City Council from 1997 to 2001. 


SUPCO starts marriage equality hearings

Same-sex marriage will be at the forefront again in New Mexico as the state's supreme court takes on whether or not licenses should be legal statewide. 
Earlier in 2013, several county clerks came forward one by one deciding on their own whether or not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. A lot of clerks were ordered to do so because of lawsuits against them, claiming it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to wed.
As of October 2013, Dona Ana, Taos, Santa Fe, San Miguel, Valencia and Bernalillo counties allowed licenses. 
Each of the counties had a firestorm of couples show up the first day they allowed licenses. Yet, many people still felt it was necessary for the supreme court to make a formal ruling for New Mexico as a whole. 
The supreme court agreed, and decided to have the first of several discussions today. 


Could United States use a ‘Silent Cal’ Coolidge now?

From Capitol Report New Mexico - By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog -  He never had his image carved on Mount Rushmore and he was best-known as a man of few words but thanks to a surprising best-selling book, Calvin Coolidge is getting an historical makeover. And with the United States staggering under a $1- billion national debt, perhaps “Silent Cal” can offer some lessons for modern-day politicians.
     “We can’t imagine having a conservative hero like Coolidge who would cut the budget but that’s because our interest rates are so low,” said Amity Shlaes, the author of “Coolidge,” which landed for seven weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. “When the interest rate goes back 6 percent, you know what? Americans will be looking for someone with the authority to cut the deficit, (with) the confidence, the willingness to do the hard thing and people like Coolidge will be models.”
     It seems every politician — whether in Coolidge’s times or today — is afraid to say no to increased spending. But the man from New England who became president during “The Roaring ’20s” afterWarren G. Harding died and handily won election in the 1924 presidential campaign, didn’t seem to mind if people called him parsimonious, tight-fisted or cheap. In fact, he relished it.
     Slaes points out that Coolidge vetoed some 50 bills during his five years in office and as vice president and president managed to slash the national debt from its post-World War I level of $27 billion to $17.65 billion by the time he famously announced, “I do not choose to run” for re-election in 1928. “He was a silent New Englander,” said Slaes, who appeared in Albuquerque on Monday, signed books and spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Rio Grande Foundation. “The main thing to know about Coolidge is that he cut the budget as president. He didn’t just reduce the growth, he actually cut it and (he did) this over a long period. He’s an unknown president from the 1920s, but he did that thing that we want to do (now).” More

Goodbye OPEC, Hello Independence

Commentary by Marita Noon - www.energymakesamericagreat.org - October 17 was the fortieth anniversary of the oil embargo slapped on America by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). That action changed the entire geopolitical map—taking the power from the United States and giving it to the Middle East. As a result of the embargo, the price of gasoline quadrupled, gas stations had multi-hour long lines, and the stock market plummeted—kicking off a serious recession.
     My entire driving life has been impacted by OPEC’s actions. On October 17, 1973, I was 15—days away from turning 16. I got my driver’s license on my sixteenth birthday. It was a different world prior to the embargo. America was the dominant player in the energy market—supplying 63 percent of the world’s oil at the beginning of World War II—and had surplus supply. The surplus neutered OPEC’s previous embargo attempts in 1956 and 1967, as the U.S. was able to fill the demand gap OPEC created.
     It wasn't the embargo itself that changed the dynamic, but the timing of it. U.S. oil production peaked in 1970 and declined sharply in the subsequent years. When OPEC chose to use oil as a diplomatic weapon in 1973, America was no longer the swing producer with the ability to fill in the gaps. We’d become increasingly dependent on suppliers from the oil-rich Middle East. Scarcity was our reality.
     To punish the U.S. for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War, OPEC banned oil exports to the U.S. and, eventually, other countries. OPEC then reduced production by 5 percent per month until the embargo ended in March of 1974.
     While the social, political, and economic impacts of the embargo have been harsh, there’s also a silver lining: North American producers were forced to find new ways to explore for and produce hydrocarbons—and those technologies and techniques developed by individuals and industry have, once again, changed the geopolitical equation.
     The 1973 OPEC oil embargo revealed a serious weakness in America’s energy and national security. Read full column

Train hauling cars crashes near Socorro

Photo: Kevin Cobble/Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
From KRQE-TV.com - by Bill Diven - SOCORRO, N.M. (KRQE) - A freight train with new automobiles in its manifest derailed early Saturday scattering auto haulers along the main line south of Socorro. No injuries or hazardous materials were reported in the crash that happened on the BNSF Railway 18 miles south of Socorro around 5 a.m.
     New Mexico State Police reported early indications a broken rail may have caused the initial derailment with additional rail cars jackknifing against that wreckage. A railroad spokesman later said it's unclear if the rail broke before or because of the derailment.
     Photos from the scene show about 20 freight cars stacked up in the foothills above the Rio Grande floodplain and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Preserve. Many of them are two- or three-deck auto haulers that can carry as many as two dozen smaller cars each.
     Battered Volkswagens were visible inside some of the cars.
      A refuge spokesperson said operations there were not directly affected although a section of State Road 1 leading from south of the visitors center to near Interstate 25 was closed.
     Refuge personnel also were working with railroad contractors to minimize environmental damage and any threats to wildlife from cleaning up the wreck and repairing the track.
     The train originated in El Paso on Saturday and was headed to the railroad's freight yard in Belen. More

Swickard: Not a single political argument left

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “If you can't answer a man's arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.”Elbert Hubbard - My last column pleased some readers while angering others. So I got lots of email. There was a commonality in the angry ones who always started by calling me a racist. Then they labeled me an extreme Republican Fox News wacko. Sorry, I am neither a Republican nor a Fox News viewer.
     Typical was: “You miserable misleading republican bigot racist moron.”  For some reason they make it personal. Some even slurred my dog Conrad. He did not mind and replied, “To know me is to love me, I must be a helleva dog…” Conrad stole that from a Mac Davis song. But it is true.
     And I am fine with personal attacks. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher noted, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.
     Very few of the angry ones did more than call me vile names. A couple of readers did mention the arguments in my column. For that I am grateful. I agreed with one that I should not call the president names. That does not mean I should not oppose his actions.
     Some who wrote were tickled I said what they had been thinking. Great! But others called me a poopy head. They shouted as loud as they could (in writing) but did not take on my concern that this president had been acting in a mean-spirited manner.
     What no one answered is why this president needs to make it harder on all Americans just because he is sore at the Republicans in Congress. They made him mad and if he wants to talk smack with them, be my guest. If he wants to make it hard on the Republicans in Congress, that is his prerogative.
But America has well over 300 million citizens. Of that number approximately 200 million Americans are eligible to vote. Around 50 million are Republicans and 70 million are Democrats. Obviously many Americans are not registered to vote. Hurt those Republicans and not 90 year old veterans.
     This president should not attempt to hurt all Americans just out of spite and anger at the Congressional Republicans. Leave the rest of us out of the punishment. Read full column

Teachers speak out for, against PED changes

From KOB-TV.com - By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - For the first time, a few New Mexico teachers were willing to air their criticism and support of changes put in place by the state’s Public Education Department, or PED.
     Beginning this school year, PED implemented new teacher evaluation procedures that will complement new end of course exams for New Mexico students. There appears to be growing support for an attack against PED led by Albuquerque Public Schoolsboard member Kathy Korte. 4 On Your Side first reported on Korte’s efforts earlier this month.
     “Well, I think one alternative is to slow it down,” Albuquerque teacher Adam Amador said in an interview with KOB Eyewitness News 4. Amador supports Korte’s efforts. He agreed that New Mexico’s educational system needs improvement, but said the new testing and teacher evaluations fail to adequately address economic and cultural influences in the classroom.
     “Data and research shows that [students] don't do well on tests when they don't know where they're going to sleep, and where we don't know where they're coming from,” Amador said.
      Meanwhile, Lisa Todd, another Albuquerque teacher, voiced support for the PED changes. She said any change is long overdue. Todd is especially supportive of the new teacher evaluations. She said teachers, administrators, and parents need to give PED a chance to implement the changes. More

Sen. Howie Morales joins race for NM governor

State Senator Howie Morales
From the Alamogordo Daily News - by Milan Simonich - State Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City entered the race for governor on Wednesday, meaning the Democratic primary election will be at least a three-way competition.
     Morales said he is taking a leave from his job as a hospital administrator so that he can campaign fulltime. He acknowledged that he was entering the race a bit late, but said the seven months between now and the primary election would be ample. At 40, Morales is among the younger state legislators, but he said his campaign for governor was not intended simply to become better known.
     Morales has a Ph.D. in education and spent the first part of his working life as a teacher. He also has been a baseball coach and a Grant County clerk. Morales has been a state senator since 2008, originally appointed to the seat by then-governor Bill Richardson.
     Two other Democrats have been in the governor's race for months. They are state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and state Attorney General Gary King. Throughout summer, Morales positioned himself as an alternative for a party unexcited by Lopez or King.
     Morales said he received encouragement from people who could envision the Lopez or King providing tough competition for Martinez in next year's general election. More

Film office says project permits have doubled

The popular "Breaking Bad" television series that was filmed in Albuquerque may be over, but interest in the city as a filming destination is on the rise. 

The Albuquerque film office says it processed 23 permits for various productions last week, more than double seen in a typical week. 

Mayor Richard Berry says the uptick in interest is evidence of the city's success in creating a film-friendly environment. The permits are used to enable filming in public areas while minimizing their impact on traffic, emergency services and neighborhoods. 

There are currently five large productions in Albuquerque and numerous smaller ones, the city says, including the thriller "Big Sky" starring Kyra Sedgwick, "La Vida Robot" with George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis and two network television series, "Night Shift" and "Killer Women."


Clements announces run for Senate

Dona Ana County Republican Party chairman David Clements has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Tom Udall. 
Clements, an assistant district attorney in Las Cruces, said in a statement Tuesday that he will focus his candidacy on "advancing free market policies that allow small businesses to create jobs, balancing the federal budget and fighting to preserve the privacy rights of New Mexicans." 
He described himself as a "constitutional conservative and economics enthusiast." Clements said "career politicians" like Udall "have created a culture of dependency in New Mexico." 
Clements is the only declared GOP candidate running for the Senate seat that Udall won in 2008.


Gov. and candidates release campaign reports

Gov. Martinez
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's re-election campaign reports raising $2.1 million during the last six months. 
The campaign released a fundraising summary Tuesday that showed it with a cash balance of nearly $3.3 million as of Oct. 7. The campaign spent about $345,000 from April through earlier this month.
 Candidates for state office and political committees face a deadline Tuesday to submit campaign finance reports to the secretary of state's office. 
No fundraising reports were immediately available for the two Democrats who have announced plans to run for governor — Attorney General Gary King and state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque
Martinez spent almost $7 million in the 2010 primary and general elections. 
Information from the Associated Press. 


LANL to shut down Friday unless shutdown ends

From KOB-TV.com - By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Unless Congress reaches a deal and ends the government shutdown soon, Los Alamos National Laboratory will close this Friday. The entire town of Los Alamos is bracing for the impact, since the laboratory is the biggest employer there. A shutdown would also crush local businesses that rely on customers who work at the lab.
     The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce says without those families spending, fragile local businesses could crumble. The shutdown itself will hurt city operations directly. “I see it as potential for a major failure,” Katy Korko said. “Our county government relies on Gross receipts taxes, which they receive from the operations of Los Alamos National Lab.”
     It’s a disaster they can see coming, and hope politicians will prevent. “The true impact of what's going on is not hitting home to the people in Washington,” Wells said. “I love our nation. This is a great nation. We need to act like we are.”
     It’s still unclear how many of the lab’s 10,000 employees will be affected. The House passed a bill to protect funding for the labs, but the Senate hasn’t touched it yet. They say they’re waiting for a bill to fund the entire government. More

State to pay National Guard workers amid furlough

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is stopping the furlough of several dozen civilian state workers for the National Guard by agreeing to cover their salaries this week while a federal government shutdown continues. 
A spokesman for the National Guard said Monday that the 55 employees maintain guard facilities across the state and include staff responsible for computer security and construction management. The state will pay about $53,500 to maintain the workers on the payroll this week by covering the federal share of their salaries. They otherwise would have been furloughed starting Monday.
 If the partial federal shutdown continues, the governor's office said New Mexico will consider whether to keep the civilian workers in their jobs.


Gov. speaks on youth ranch investigation

Gov. Martinez
Gov. Susana Martinez says evidence found at a New Mexico youth ranch for troubled kids corroborates allegations by current and former students of abuse. 
Martinez made the comments on Monday in defense of the state's handling of an investigation into the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program near Hillsboro . 
An Amber Alert and state police manhunt was launched Friday after officers found the ranch empty when they arrived to take custody of the children. Pete Domenici Jr., the ranch's attorney, said the children were safe and being returned to their parents. Martinez says officers issued the alert as they moved to verify that information. The alert was cancelled on Sunday.
 Police continue to seek the operator of the ranch, Scott Chandler, for questioning. Chandler has denied any children have been harmed.


Get Rid of Ethanol Exchanges Too

Commentary by Marita Noon - Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. If it were front and center of the newscycle, as Obamacare is, most would also have the same repeal-or-revise attitude regarding ethanol mandates as the two are marching hand-in-hand. In addition to the odd collection of opponents—conservatives and unions in opposition to Obamacare; and environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groupsoppose ethanol—there are numerous other similarities.
      Healthcare for all sounds like a good idea, after all who wants to tell a mother holding a sick child that she can’t get care? Likewise, homegrown fuel that will increase America’s energy independence, sounds good—especially when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
     While both Obamacare and the RFS were passed by Congress, the particulars are left to government agencies to regulate. With the RFS, the EPA has missed statutory deadlines for issuing RFS volume requirements and then released rules mandating that refiners use 4 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2013. Yet, according to the EPA, only 142,000 gallons have been available for refiners to blend so far. Reports indicate that for 2014, the target for cellulosic biofuel would be 23 million gallons—despite the fact that the fuel is virtually nonexistent.
     While the Obamacare exchanges have not been working as expected—with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina reporting only one person enrolled after 24 hours, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Jon Stewart that if someone doesn’t participate “they pay a fine.” Guess what? Even though there isn’t enough cellulosic ethanol to meet the EPA mandates, refiners are required to blend it into gasoline—and, if they don’t, they pay a fine.
     Obamacare has created a whole new set of problems such as doctor shortages,reduced work hours, and sticker shock. The RFS, also, brings a host of unintended consequences:
•Ethanol reduces miles per gallon—At a time when the White House has upped the MPG a vehicle gets (known as the CAFE standards) it is also mandating the use of ethanol, which lowers MPG.
•Ethanol mandates have devastated the dairy industry (and turkey growers are none too happy, either)—In rural California, dairy farmers have been deeply affected by the rising cost of feed (which has jumped as much as 240 percent since 2005) brought on by mandated ethanol blending by the RFS.
•Ethanol damages small engines and outdoor power equipment—In my bookEnergy Freedom, I have an entire chapter on ethanol. For it, I interviewed Abe at K & S Services Center in Albuquerque, NM—which specializes in small engine service and repair. He told me that 85 percent of the repairs they do are caused by fuel problems. Read full column


Balloon Fiesta wraps up with mass liftoff

From KRQE-TV.com - by Bill Diven - ALBUQUERQUE - The 42nd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta floated into history Sunday with the farewell mass ascension of its nine-day run.
     While winds blew out some events during the Fiesta, breezes Sunday morning were light enough to allow pilots a last flight.
     It's not known if the wind had picked up enough later in the morning to contribute to what witnesses called a difficult landing that injured a passenger. Rio Rancho police report a balloon was attempting to land near the 500 block of Quantum Road shortly before 9 a.m. when the gondola dragged into a curb.
     That tipped the basket and resulted in a leg injury to a passenger. Police said the 68-year-old man was taken to Rust Medical Center for treatment.
     His identity and medical condition have not yet been released. More

Swickard: That One Moment of a Mobster President

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “You don’t understand, I could have had class. I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am.” Marlon Brando in the 1964 movie, On the Waterfront.
     Some think too little about it while others think too much. At some point most people consider their legacy. “How will I be remembered?” Most people are born relatively anonymously. They live and die such that only friends and family know them, but the world does not unless they have “That One Moment.”
     Almost everyone famous has had That One Moment when they went above themselves, or below. Some are branded by events that define their entire life. Former President Richard Nixon is best remembered from the aircraft door waving as he left his tarnished presidency. Harry Truman is remembered holding up an incorrect newspaper headline: Dewey Wins. President Gerald Ford will forever be stumbling down stairs.
     President Bill Clinton is remembered for his believable denial, “… I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky…” It was a great performance ruined later when he confessed he was lying the whole time. Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller had a heart attack possibly in the intimate embrace of a woman who was not his wife.
      First President George Washington was afraid he was going to be impeached before he could finish his second term. History instead remembers his best moments. History gave a moral pass to Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon Johnson, James Garfield, perhaps Eisenhower and certainly Franklin Roosevelt.
     Last week there was a moment which may become the legacy of President Barack Obama. It was the placing of an unnecessary fence around the World War Two Memorial. No other government shutdown resulted in the closing of Memorials.
     The core issue is that President Barack Obama was trying to make the partial government shutdown worse than it needed to be for ordinary Americans. There was no reason to hold 90 year-old veterans hostage other than the spitefulness of a Chicago style Mobster President.
     To many Americans this action was an indecent exposure of the Mobster President’s soul. This evil will be his legacy. It erases all of the good he did in other things because history will remember him for That One Moment. Read full column

Contaminated gas in 3 states, refinery admits mistake

From KOB-TV.com - By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Roughly 100 people believe they pumped diluted gasoline into their vehicles earlier this week at a half dozen Giant convenience stores, according to the company tied to the problem. A spokesperson for Western Refining, which owns Giant, told 4 On Your Side that a gasket failed on a large petroleum storage tank near Gallup.
     "We have a number of safety processes and quality control processes in place, but one of the seals failed and allowed some water to leak into that tank, and it once it did, it got into a couple loads of our gasoline," spokesperson Gary Hanson said.
     Hanson said company workers did not realize the leak occurred until a customer called to complain on Tuesday. He said customers would not have been able to determine if the gas was contaminated.
     About a half dozen Giant convenience stores were affected -- including one in Rio Rancho on Route 528, and one in Albuquerque on Paradise and Universe Boulevards. The remaining stations are in: Show Low and Springerville, Arizona; Cortez and Durango, Colorado.
     Hanson said drivers who believe their vehicles have damage from the contaminated should callthe company's claims line at 1-877-511-1012.. He said they should have a receipt as proof of purchase and a damage estimate from a mechanic.
     "The process will probably take a couple of days. Once they get the repairs, our intent is to collect the receipts and get them a check as soon as we possibly can," he said. Dealers across the Albuquerque metro said they're working with more and more customers who have the same type of damage.
     Meanwhile, workers at the refinery are still trying to figure out what failed. "I don't have all the answers just yet, but obviously you try to learn from your mistakes and this is something that we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," Hanson said. More

Dumpster diving bears get new home at zoo

From KRQE-TV.com - ROSWELL, N.M. - There's new hope for a pair of dumpster diving bear cubs. They're the newest attraction at a southeastern New Mexico zoo after they were picked up off a Ruidoso street rummaging through trash bins with their mom.
     "Momma was a trash bear and the babies learned very quickly that the cafeteria was a trash can," said Roswell Spring River Park & Zoo Director Elaine Mayfield.
     But now these two cubs are the newest residents at the Spring River Park & Zoo in Roswell.
     It's a place where zookeepers say the animals will never have to scrounge for food again.
     "It's nice that we have them here," said Mayfield. It's a shame they can't be in the wild, but we will take them. They will be education ambassadors."
     Mayfield says the 7-month-old bears don't necessarily have the best record with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and neither did their mom.
     "Several weeks ago, we had a female bear causing problems, breaking into cabins and things like that. She had lost all fear of humans and this was actually in downtown Ruidoso, so our officers responded, and of course this female bear had a couple cubs," said New Mexico Game and Fish public information officer Mark Madsen.
     Madsen says the mother bear had created so many problems he and his staff had to put her down.
      Luckily for the babies, now known as Sierra and Ursella, the Roswell zoo just happened to be looking for a new addition. Their bear, Otto, passed away last month.
     Zoo officials say the cubs are being housed in a temporary pin while they do some maintenance work on Otto's old home. They say they hope to have the bears moved into a permanent enclosure within the next month. More


Navajo Nation reverses stance on horse slaughter

Bill Richardson and Robert Redford
The Navajo Nation, under fire by animal protection groups for its wild horse roundups and public support for a return to domestic horse slaughter, says it is reversing its stance following talks with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. 
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly says he met with Richardson over the weekend and the two have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to work together to find more long-term and humane solutions to the horse overpopulation problem. 
Tribal officials estimate the Navajo Nation has 75,000 feral horses drinking wells dry and causing ecological damage to the drought-stricken range.
 Richardson and actor Robert Redford this year created the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, which is fighting efforts by a Roswell company to a horse slaughterhouse.


Flooding causes nearly $20 million in damage

New Mexico officials say recent flooding caused about $19.8 million in damage to roads. 
In a briefing for a legislative panel on Tuesday, state Department of Transportation estimated it will cost about $13 million to repair state Route 159 in southwestern New Mexico
Part of the road leading to the tiny community of Mogollon was destroyed last month after heavy rains caused flooding. A department spokeswoman said reconstruction of two miles of the road near Mogollon will cost about $3 million and it will take $10 million to realign other parts of the road and deal with extensive erosion. Bulldozers have created a temporary road only for local access by high clearance vehicles.
 Damages totaled about $3 million to state Route 1 in Socorro County.


Sandia Labs to employees: Prepare for shutdown

NewsNM:Swickard - With so much of the government still "up" it is interesting what gets shut down and what stays open. I do not see that the Labs are the least important part of the government and should be left open. From KOB-TV.com - By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com - As the federal budget impasse in Congress rages on, Sandia National Laboratories are now preparing to shut down.
      According to a letter sent to all Sandia Labs employees, the National Nuclear Security Administration has asked the lab to close on Monday, Oct. 21. The date coincides with "federal financialconsequences" that would require a shift in Sandia's operational level by necessity, according to the letter.
     Limited work will continue in the event of a shutdown, and Sandia management will notify any employees and subcontractors who will need to continue working. Sandia Labs employs around 9,800 people. It is unclear how many will be affected by the shutdown.
     "It is conceivable that the congressional impasse will be resolved in the coming days," Sandia Lab director Paul Hommert wrote in the letter. "I recognize the uncertainty and hardship this places on you and your families, and my hope is that, should we experience a shutdown, it is short." More

Thanks to Fracking USA Rises to Number One in Energy; Thanks to Obama, We Won't Stay There

Commentary by Marita Noon on Townhall.com - On the very same day that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) announces: “US Rises to No. 1 Energy Producer”—thanks to the shale boom made possible through a technology known as hydraulic fracturing—an environmental group released a report calling for a complete ban of the practice, which would effectively shut down the oil-and-gas industry (and all of the jobs and revenues it creates) and increase dependence on foreign oil. Coincidence? I don’t think so. You probably haven’t heard about either, as most news coverage, on October 3, centered on the government shutdown—eclipsing all else.
     Why would Environment America choose to release a report, that they call “the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking,” on a day when it would likely receive little attention? The answer is found in the WSJ: “the shale boom’s longevity could hinge on commodity prices, government regulations and public support.” (italics added)
     Americans support the concept of energy independence. We don’t like the fact that we've been funding terrorists because we buy oil from people who hate us and who happily slaughter our citizens.
     The Obama Administration is the most anti-fossil-fuel in history, yet within the past month, three Obama cabinet members—two former, one current—have declared fracking a safe technology for extracting oil and natural gas: Read full column

Balloon Fiesta brings big boost to New Mexico

From KOAT-TV.com - The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta brings in thousands of visitors to the area, which has a big impact on the local economy. Officials say nearly 800,000 people will visit Balloon Fiesta Park during the nine-day event; it's the largest visitors event in New Mexico.
     Balloon Fiesta's director of media relations, Tom Garrity said the event has a $90 million economic impact in the state. In a 2011 study, it was estimated that the event generated $15 million in tax revenue.
Officials said with a large number of people coming in from out of town, money is spent in local restaurants, hotels and shops.But Albuquerque isn't the only place to get a boost. "It's not just Albuquerque, the whole state benefits from Balloon Fiesta," said Garrity.
     Garrity said while many people come to Albuquerque to see the balloons, they also visit surrounding areas like Santa Fe, helping boost that city's economy, too. More

Swickard: The politics of I win and you lose

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.People will tell you anything but what they do is always the truth.P. J. O'Rourke It is true that politicians lie to constituents. And constituents fall for the lies almost every time because politicians are good liars. It is hard to discover the lies because politicians really do intend to do what they promise. But then stuff happens when they must follow their leadership.
     Only a fool believes that anyone elected to any office is going to do what they promised. It was just something said to get votes. I am very frustrated with our political class in Congress. They help themselves but not the citizens. Yes there are a few treasures who do what they say but they are always outvoted by the scum.
     Americans are looking in the eyes of our politicians and it is not a pretty sight. What we see is a sea of broken promises. We sent our representatives to Washington to make a federal budget but it has not happened for the last five years.
     Why? Because everyone is playing a political game of “I win and you lose.” That means very little of constructive value is done because someone has to lose for someone else to win. Win-lose is the mantra of dictators who win at the expense of others.
     We do not have to believe politicians, but even better we do not have to reelect them. We do have to quit just voting one party. One bumper sticker said, “Never reelect anyone.” Bingo! Read full column

Hospital employees told they must get flu shots

From KOB-TV.com - Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Employees of the UNM Hospital system don’t have a choice about getting a flu shot this fall if they want to keep their jobs. A new policy requiring flu shots applies to everybody from janitors to brain surgeons, and all the jobs in between. Hospital administrators say it’s all about protecting patients and visitors and employees.
     “Research has shown that higher immunization rates among health care providers reduces the risk of influenza outbreaks in hospital settings, where patients may be at a greater risk of more severe disease,” said Dr. Meghan Brett, UNM Hospital Epidemiologist. A memo to hospital employees refers to “mandatory immunization”, and warns that if they don’t get the shot by Dec. 1, they will face “disciplinary action up and including possible termination of employment.”
     Employees may file for medical exemptions, but they will need documentation from a licensed health care provider. Ditto for religious exemptions. Leaders of Local 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Workers say were never consulted about any of this.
     More and more hospitals around the country are requiring the flu shots, and some employees in other states have lost their jobs. Here in Albuquerque the local union is considering legal action to block the new policy. More