Environmentalists and energy advocates agree: Ethanol reform now

Commentary by Marita Noon - We all expect to pay a price for missing deadlines—fail to pay a ticket on time, and you may find a warrant out for your arrest. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can apparently miss deadlines with impunity.
      For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the statutory deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into the nation’s motor fuels.
      In November 2013, the EPA attempted to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels, which by then came months past the legally mandated deadline. The EPA surprised and pleased RFS opponents when it utilized its authority by taking market conditions into consideration to adjust levels. The agency set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013’s, even though the law requires increasing amounts. Ethanol producers, expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction. They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider. To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.
      Then, on November 21, the EPA announced it would make a decision next year on how much ethanol refiners had to add to gasoline this year. Yet, if refiners don’t meet the unknown requirement, they get fined. That’s akin to handing out the class syllabus after the students have failed the final exam.
      With the goal of reducing foreign oil imports, Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 and revised it in 2007—which also provided incentives to America’s fledgling ethanol industry. At the time, gasoline demand was rising to an all-time high and oil imports comprised more than 58 percent of U.S. oil consumption. No doubt Congress believed it was saving American consumers from their addiction to oil.
      Then the world changed. The U.S. economy plunged into a terrible recession, unemployment soared, and gasoline demand fell sharply. Meanwhile, advanced drilling technologies, including the long-used hydraulic fracturing and newer horizontal drilling, began producing oil and natural gas from U.S. shale formations—previously uneconomic to develop—leading to America’s 21st-century energy boom.
      Today the U.S. stands as the world’s largest natural-gas producer, projected to pass Saudi Arabia as the number-one oil producer. With crude-oil supplies flooding the market, prices have been cut in half. Although fears over foreign-oil dependence have abated, the U.S. remains stuck with an outdated, unworkable, and even harmful—to vehicles, engines, and the environment—ethanol mandate. Read full Marita Noon column on Breitbart.com

Swickard: Being superstitious about rain in New Mexico

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   Christmas time is magical with the Christmas superstitious advice, "You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why..." It is a belief in goodness and the hope Santa can see goodness in each of us. The main point of the season in my family is the birth of Jesus. But we also enjoy Santa.
      As a child I understood the birth of Jesus, but to me the Santa story had to be taken entirely on faith. As a child I started my lifelong superstition that I somehow had control over things that were beyond control.
      This fall I have a dilemma. My windshield wipers are just barely working but I have a good reason to not change them. No, I am not cheap, this is more important. It has to do with the bountiful rain we are receiving this fall.
      It seems there are two types of people: those who confess to being superstitious and those who won't admit it. I identify with a scene in the movie, Bull Durham when the character played by Kevin Costner says, "I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak... You know why? Because they don't happen very often."
      Like everyone I have good days and challenging days. When I have two good days in a row I am on a streak and I try to remember how I got on the streak. So my windshield wipers are really worn out. I still see to drive in the rain but normally I would change them in a heartbeat. But months ago I noticed they were marginal because, surprise, it rained.
      The superstitious part of me noticed when it rained two days in a row. I knew I should go put on a new set of wipers but gosh that rain was sure nice. So for all of these months the windshield wipers have languished. But the rain is wonderful.
      I might get help from Superstitious Anonymous, but it is still raining. When the rains stops as we know it will, then I will have new wipers. I park when it rains now. No Santa, don't bring me wipers, we are on a streak. Merry Christmas. Read the full column


State senator wants to help students pay loans

Senator Jacob Candalaria
From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —New Mexico students default on their college loans more than students in any other state. Now, a state senator wants to help combat that problem this legislative session.
      Jacob Candalaria is a state senator from Albuquerque. He said this is a difficult problem to tackle in the Land of Enchantment. “We actually see a lower percentage of students in New Mexico borrowing money than the rest of the country,” Candalaria said. “The problem is once they do borrow money, they’re more likely to be unable to pay it back.”
      Candalaria is the youngest state senator in New Mexico. He’s a second-year law student at the University of New Mexico. As a student himself, Candalaria said he listens to his peers worry about student loans.
      National numbers reveal New Mexico has the highest percentage of student loan default rates. The national average is 13.7 percent. New Mexico sits close to 21 percent. So the senator is proposing a state-based tax credit for students. It would offset some of the costs of paying back student loans after college.
     The Department of Education released the national default rates in September. The study looks at the rates from 2010. More

Forest Service: Decorating national forest trees could be harmful to wildlife

From KOB-TV.com - It's become a holiday tradition in some New Mexico national forests, but now the U.S. Forest service say it needs to stop.
      The Forest service says for years, trees in the national forest have been decorated with tinsel, garland and edible decorations, but decorations are being left as trash and could be dangerous to wildlife.
      While it may look festive, the forest service says none of it is good for wildfire and the edible treats aren't part of their natural diet, which could be harmful.
      There are prohibitions against littering. Individuals could face a fine of $150 or more for leaving litter on the National Forest. More

Swickard: Come now to the aid of our oil patch

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Now is the time for all New Mexicans to come to the aid of our oil patch. The New Mexico oil patch has sustained us in New Mexico for decades both in products we use and as the prime financial support of our public education system. Unfortunately, with the global drop in prices our oil patch is going into a hard time.
      New Mexico has been politically pushed to fund green energy projects which do not have the generation density to be cost-effective and useful. Our oil patch has long funded the public schools, the green energy projects fund the politicians. We need public schools more than we need politicians. We will eventually abandon all of the green projects when we run out of money we wish to spend on politics.
      However, the oil patch is the real deal for New Mexico. Therefore in this price drop we New Mexicans need to recognize the opportunities an oil price war provides our state. When the New Mexico oil patch prospers, so do all New Mexicans.
       This war for market share has happened before. And therein is a lesson: Congressman Steve Pearce had a company in the oil patch when oil prices declined to the point the oil patch essentially shut down. That is where we are headed so we need to take a page from Pearce's playbook.
      Steve Pearce and wife Cynthia had a well service business with dozens of employees when an oil price fluctuation stalled production in New Mexico and West Texas. They went against conventional wisdom and keep all of their employees on the payroll unlike other companies who quickly trimmed their workforce because there was no work.
      Those workers who were let go went on unemployment and then drifted into other lines of work. Steve and Cynthia's workers kept busy working in the company. They based their extraordinary risk on their personal faith and their sense of the value of their workers.
      Early on they decided to go to the very ends of their savings. It was close. Within a couple months of when they would have to shutter the company the oil patch suddenly lurched to life because prices shot up. Their crew was ready and able to work the first day those services were needed. For that giant bet on the future, there was quite a reward for Steve and Cynthia as the only company ready the first day the oil patch revived.
        The future of our public schools and much of our state's economy hangs in the balance. For the public schools there is nowhere else to make this money. Come now to the aid of our oil patch and we all will prosper together. Read full column


Sources: DA anticipates charging APD officers in Boyd shooting

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – District Attorney Kari Brandenburg’s office anticipates pursuing open counts of murder against the two Albuquerque police officers who shot homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills on March 16, KRQE News 13 has learned. 
      It is a preliminary decision, made several weeks ago, based on multiple reviews of more than 1,000 pages of evidence and nine DVDs containing recordings from APD’s investigation of the shooting, which police turned over to prosecutors in early October, multiple sources have told KRQE News 13.
     Brandenburg has said she expects to make a final decision in the spring on whether to pursue charges against the two officers — Keith Sandy, who has since retired from APD, and Dominique Perez of the SWAT team — in one of the most controversial in a long string of police shootings in New Mexico’s largest city.
     Prosecutors have a somewhat unorthodox plan for the Boyd case, the sources said. Rather than using a grand jury session, which is conducted in secret, they anticipate presenting the charges during a preliminary hearing in open court, where a judge would decide whether there is probable cause to go on to trial.
     By presenting open counts of murder, prosecutors would give jurors in a trial a range of charges to choose from, all of which are predicated on the theory that the officers killed Boyd intentionally. The stiffest of those charges is first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. At the other end of the spectrum is voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of six years in prison.
     Pursuing charges against police officers in a shooting would mark a significant departure for Brandenburg. In 14 years as DA, she has declined to prosecute each of the roughly 100 police shooting cases that have landed on her desk. More


Lawmakers to consider state children’s song

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico has an official state tie, the bolo tie. There’s the state question, red or green? The state even has its own song. But what about an official state children’s song?
      It’s one of the bills lawmakers could make into law next month. Mesilla Elementary music teacher, Melanie Williams wrote the song three years ago for a third grade program on food.
        “There wasn’t really anything out there about green chile. I thought that was a shame, so I wrote a song for my students to sing,” Williams said.
        Now her song could become a part of New Mexico history. A student’s mother talked to Dona Ana County State Representative Bill McCamley who wants to make it the state’s official children’s song.
       Both houses would have to approve McCamley’s bill in the upcoming session. Representative McCamley hopes its one bill lawmakers can agree on. “We’re celebrating who we are as people. Celebrating our food, celebrating our culture, celebrating our children,” McCamley said.
      Williams no longer teaches but says she’s honored her song will even be considered. More

Marita Noon: Germany’s “energy transformation” — unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system

Commentary by Marita Noon - Perhaps when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was a child, she attend a party and was the only one who came without a present, or wearing inappropriate attire—and the embarrassment she felt haunts her to this day. That’s how psychodynamic psychology (Freud) might explain her December 3 decision spend more money on Germany’s failing energy experiment to avoid, as Reuters puts it: “the embarrassment of missing her government’s goal of a 40 percent reduction of emissions by 2020.”
      As Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has also embraced the biggest carbon dioxide reductions through a program known as “Energiewende”—or, in English, also called energy change, shift, or transformation. Energiewende was launched in 2000 under Merkel’s predecessor who offered subsidies for any company that produced green energy.
       While the European Union (E.U.) has committed to carbon dioxide cuts of 40 percent by 2030, Germany’s national goal aims to get there a decade sooner—which may have seemed achievable early in the program. After the 1990 reunification of Germany, the modernization of East Germany brought rapidly reduced emissions. However, the program’s overall result has raised costs and the emissions the expensive programs were designed to cut. Read full column

NM Supreme Court: Judge removed by voters must leave bench

From KOB-TV.com - A New Mexico judge who attempted to stay in office despite being ousted by voters must go, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.
      District Judge Sheri Raphaelson did not receive enough retention votes in the November election. In 2009, she was appointed to fill a vacancy for a term that began in 2008. Raphaelson then won a 2010 election.
      Raphaelson argued that under law, she must serve a complete six-year term that began after the 2010 election.
      But the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state Attorney General's Office says she inherited a six-year term that started in 2008.
      Justices voted unanimously on Monday that she must leave the bench at the end of the year. More

NM Airlines plans to resume flights

From KOAT-TV.com - New Mexico Airline planes remained grounded Friday after the airline voluntarily parked the fleet for mechanical issues this week.Flights have been canceled until further notice.
      Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Lynn Lunsford wouldn't say what mechanical issues New Mexico Airlines was working on. The airline made the decision several days ago, and Lunsford said all five planes operated by the airline were still being worked on.
      Passengers expressed frustration at the Albuquerque International Sunport Thursday after landing for connecting flights with New Mexico Airlines, only to learn they were canceled. New Mexico Airlines says they would reimburse passengers whose flights were cancelled.
      CEO of Pacific Wings Greg Kahlstorf, who runs New Mexico Airlines, says the mechanical issues are a temporary issue and expects his fleet to be up in the air again soon.
      New Mexico Airlines’ destinations include Albuquerque, Los Alamos, and Carlsbad; their main hub is at the Albuquerque International Sunport. It primarily flies smaller aircraft that seat up to nine passengers.
      Kahlstorf said flights from Los Alamos to Albuquerque will resume in the future, but added that the company will suspend flights to their Carlsbad destination indefinitely until the FAA addresses safety issues at the airport there.
      Carlsbad Airport is an uncontrolled airfield and has no tower because of its low volume of traffic, according to the FAA. Kahlstorf said there is a helicopter operation next to the airport that imposes safety hazards to his planes when they land and when they take off.
      Kahlstorf didn't give an exact date of when New Mexico Airlines will begin resuming flights to their Los Alamos and Albuquerque destinations. More

Swickard: America's war on the military

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - December 7 is a sacred day for our military and me. My father George Swickard was a combat soldier in WWII. He retired in 1966. Growing up we lived on military bases. Our playmates were all from military families. Pearl Harbor Day and the Arizona Memorial Commemorating that day are cherished by my family.
      My Grandfather Horace Swickard served on the border following the Pancho Villa raid and went directly to France with General Pershing. I have his memorabilia from World War I, The Great War, The War to end all War, etc. My father's burial flag is proudly displayed in my home. He is buried with my mother at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
      As to the Bataan Death March, my father has a cousin William Swickard. Read his story: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/68527-world-war-ii-survivor-william-swickards-recollection/
      The military and its honor is important to me. While the "Date that will live in infamy" still burns in my heart it is a date mostly forgotten by citizens of our country. Last Sunday some media did cover Pearl Harbor Day while other media had more important things to do.
      My local daily newspaper did something odd, it presented December 7, 1941 from the viewpoint of the Japanese. What were their motivations and what do the Japanese think about the second world war? There was more but I shredded the newspaper and threw it in the trash.
      Seems those in charge of that newspaper did not serve in the military. It was a slap in the face of veterans, especially those who served in World War II. I lived three years in Japan and also have studied their culture. The article about how the Japanese view that conflict might have been interesting on the anniversary of V-J day which is the day Japan formally surrendered. But there was nothing else in the paper commemorating that Sunday morning 73 years earlier.
      Worse, it seems our society is at war with our military and the veterans. They give lip-service to loving our military but every financial cut is upon the military. Combat personnel are getting their pink-slips while in a theatre of war. Washington is cutting benefits for veterans while taking on more financial expense from people who come to our country without legal status.
      My buddy Charlie says that America is not at war: the military is at war, America is at the Mall. There is truth to that saying. We are reading that public schools are banning parents in military garb from dropping off or picking up students like something is wrong with being in the military. Read full column


Increased spending on teachers to come from unstable oil market money

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - The governor's announcement of new spending on teachers and classrooms will come out of new state tax revenues that depend heavily on oil and natural gas prices.
      Gas prices continue to drop – they were near $2 per gallon Wednesday in Albuquerque – and nobody knows where the bottom is.
      Oil supply is outstripping demand. West Texas crude, which is the type of oil southeast New Mexico produces, dropped to $60 a barrel at one point Wednesday, which means money from state severance taxes on oil is dropping too.
      You won't find anybody weeping about the low prices at the gas pumps. "It feels great; let's hope it lessens even more," said one man.
      "The bottom line is the market's getting better; the economy is getting better because I'm spending that extra money – whether it's eating out, or at the mall or buying a gun – now, that money's not going in my gas tank; I'm spending it somewhere else," said another local man.
      The bottom price for crude is still out of sight; it's hard for the oil industry to make sudden changes in production. Industry analysts expect it to keep growing well into next year and for prices to keep dropping. More

Bill would force state's attorney general to prosecute cops

From KOAT-TV.com - SANTA FE, N.M. —A new bill discussed by the Court, Corrections, and Justice Committee at the state capitol last week is turning some heads. The bill, which hasn't been officially filed, would make the attorney general of New Mexico prosecute charges against police officers instead of local or area district attorneys.
       The bill was spearheaded by Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson. Gibson reached out to state Rep. Gail Chasey (D) to help form and draft the bill some weeks ago. Chasey and Gibson share a precinct together.
       Since 2010, Albuquerque police have been involved with 27 fatal shootings. While some have produced civil settlements by the city, no officer has been indicted or charged. So far the bill is only four pages, and would put the attorney general in charge of prosecuting any state law enforcement officer charged with a violent felony, assault against a household member, abuse of a child or any crime for which registration under the sex offender registration and notification act is required.
       Opponents of the bill feel the attorney general’s office doesn't have the resources to prosecute such crimes. However, supporters disagree and feel not many officers are either prosecuted or investigated for criminal offenses statewide, producing a manageable caseload.  More

Obama revives ozone regs he once opposed for being too sevene a burden on economy

Commentary by Marita Noon - Within the bundle of more than 3,000 regulations lies a rule on ozone that President Obama himself in 2011 “put on ice” in effort to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.” Regarding the 2011 decision that shocked environmental groups, the New York Times recently stated: “At the time, Mr. Obama said the regulation would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments at a time of economic distress.”
      So why is the rule back? First, Obama isn’t facing an election. More importantly, following the 2011 decision that struck down the proposed ozone rule, environmental groups sued the Obama administration. The resulting court order required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release the proposed rule by December 1, with finalization by October 2015.
      Once again, environmental groups-- which, on September 21, revealed that their true intention of changing the system (“capitalism is the disease, socialism is the cure”)-- have taken charge of America’s energy policy, and, therefore, economic policy. They have systematically chipped away America’s sources of economic strength: cost-effective energy.
      First they came after coal at a time when natural gas ran cheap and proponents touted it as the “bridge fuel” to the future. No one much spoke out. Some in the natural gas business even encouraged the war on coal, as it benefitted them. When I first heard that then-Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McLendon gave the Sierra Club $25 million to fight coal (it is reported that the Sierra Club turned down an additional $30 million), I remember yelling at the TV: “You fool! You will be next!”
      Within months, the Sierra Club launched its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign that claims: “Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy and harms human health and the environment in places where production occurs.” A headline on the Beyond Natural Gas webpage describes that natural gas as: “Dirty, dangerous, and run amok.” Shortly thereafter, McLendon “agreed to retire.” Read full column

Bernalillo County district attorney under investigation

Bernalillo County DA Kari Brandenburg
From KOB-TV.com - By: Blair Miller, KOB.com - Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has called a news conference for 10 a.m. Monday to discuss allegations she is being investigated “in a matter pertaining to her son.”
      A report from The Associated Press says Brandenburg is accused of offering to reimburse burglary victims for not implicating her son as a suspect in the burglaries.
      A spokesperson for Attorney General Gary King's office, which is allegedly involved in the investigation, told KOB Sunday they "could not comment at this time."
      KOB will be at the news conference conference Monday and have a full report on the investigation. More

New approach to football I hope with new Athletic Director

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - The New Mexico State University Aggies need to stop selling losses. I am offended every time the administration thinks selling a loss is a good idea. They have been selling losses for most of forty years and it has brought them quick cash and lasting failure.
      Let me count the ways selling losses is a bad idea: first, every football team is judged primarily by their win/loss record. Bowl appearances are determined by win/loss records. Further, the win/loss record has a positive correlation with home attendance. Teams who give up losses each year do not go to Bowls. NMSU has not gone Bowling since 1960
      So I have protested dozens of times about selling losses. Each time I am told I just do not understand educational administration. Psst: I have a Ph.D. in that field. They trade short-term employment for themselves for long-term institutional losses.
      Every year I am told the money just does not work any other way. Yet in all those years the NMSU administration has had to shift money to the Athletic Department a number of times. Remember, "Easy money is always the hardest."
      So there is a new Athletic Director, Mario Moccia. He is a former Aggie great in baseball. In his senior year at NMSU the Aggie football team was winless. That year then football head coach Mike Knoll was fired after a 4 and 40 career. How's that selling losses doing for you Mike?
      The next coach finally stopped the skid with a victory so NMSU Football only lost 27 straight games, some of them sold losses. NMSU was playing with players hurt in sold games. Add to that, the home attendance over the decades has been poor at best and nearly non-existent at all other times.
      The NMSU administration said it had to sell losses because the fans were not coming to the games. They got it backwards. If they play and win, the fans come. Incidentally, since 1967 I have attended Aggie football. Many seasons I have six season tickets though this year we only got four. Read full column


Kawasaki commercial shot at Spaceport

From KRQE-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It looks like the New Mexico Spaceport will be used for other things besides space travel, it’s now the backdrop for a new motorcycle commercial. Production of Kawasaki’s new Ninja motorcycle used the Spaceport’s futuristic building and 12,000 foot long runway for the commercial.
      It took five days to shoot the commercial back in September. New Mexico Spaceport officials say using the facility for commercial advertising generates hundreds of thousands of dollars for Spaceport America and local communities.
      The Spaceport’s future has been in question since Virgin Galactic space flights were put on hold indefinitely. The state is looking at ways to cover the operating budget at the Spaceport. More

Census to hire field representatives in New Mexico

From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The U.S. Census Bureau will be embarking on a massive hiring campaign starting this week. Officials say they will begin interviewing and testing candidates for temporary field representative jobs Wednesday at the New Mexico Workforce Connection office in Albuquerque.
      The interviews will continue every Wednesday and Friday through March 27. Those who are hired will help with the 2015 American Housing Survey. Their duties will include conducting telephone interviews with selected households from May through August.
      The jobs are temporary and the pay rate is $13.55 an hour. The workers will also get paid for mileage, which means they must have a valid driver's license and a reliable vehicle with insurance. More

It’s time for tough love on tax credits for the mature wind industry

Commentary by Marita Noon - Is the lame duck Congress oblivious to the message voters sent to Washington last month? Or, are they intentionally ignoring it in favor of special interests? A pending vote on a tax-extenders package—that would have a slim chance of passage in the new Congress—will reveal whether or not they learned anything from the 2014 midterms.
      Throughout 2014, since the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind energy industry expired on December 31, 2013, lobbyists from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) have pushed Congress to vote to retroactively revive the PTC. So far, sound fiscal thinking has prevailed. The lame duck session provides their last opportunity to hand over hard-earned American tax dollars to big business, and pile national debt on future generations.
      The PTC provides one of the best examples of the worst kind of taxpayer waste being considered in a tax-extenders deal. The largest benefactors of the credit (underwritten by U.S. taxpayers) are wind energy turbine manufacturers like General Electric (which purchased Enron’s wind turbine business in 2002), and investors like Warren Buffet, who, without apology, recently admitted: “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
      The U.S. wind energy business started as a gleam in Enron’s eye, enjoyed an entitled childhood at taxpayer expense, and, by now, should have blossomed into an adult. Instead, now, at the tail end of this Congressional session, the industry—by way of AWEA lobbyists—has its hand out for a ninth round of “free” taxpayer money. These dollars, which get transferred from hard-working taxpayers to big corporations and billionaires, are borrowed from our children, with the paper being sold overseas in what is known as “national debt.”
      For this lame duck Congress, AWEA’s panhandling should be as welcome as grown children returning home for financial support—“just one more time.” Like parents, possessing the kind of wisdom that often only crystalizes in our fifties, Congress must now realize the inevitable: sometimes seeing our dependents grow up to be independent requires tough love and a line in the sand. Though it is hard, most parents know saying “no” is part of the process of having children that grow into mature, responsible adults. Read full column

The Pit renamed WisePies Arena

From KOB-TV.com - by: Elizabeth Reed - The Pit will now be known as WisePies Arena (aka The Pit), the UNM Athletics Department announced Monday. WisePies Pizza & Salad, a locally owned business, has agreed to give $5 million over 10 years to support the Athletics Department through the newly established WisePies Fund.
       It's the largest cash gift ever to the department and the sixth largest cash gift overall to the university, according to a press release. The funds will be used to support The Pit debt service incurred from the 2009-2010 renovations.
       "From the time we first discussed the potential renovation of The Pit, we talked about the need for state and private support to make the renovation a reality," said Paul Krebs, Vice President for Athletics for the University of New Mexico, in a statement. "Specifically, we've talked about the need to find a naming rights partner for the building. 
      The fact that WisePies is a local company and Steve Chavez, the company's co-CEO, is a native New Mexican and successful, local businessman makes this gift even more significant and special."
      The naming deal is half of what UNM initially sought. In 2013, the asking price was $10 million over 20 years. More


A new batch of Atari games up for auction on eBay

From the Alamogordo Daily News - he second round of Atari cartridges from the notorious dig at the Alamogordo Landfill are now up for sale on eBay. Between 300 and 400 games will be up for auction in this round that will include Yars' Revenge and Super Breakout cartridges.
       There are 40 games listed on the auction website at the moment. To locate the games on eBay, go to collectibles and type in Atari Dig Cartridges, there you can find games from the dig. Each game comes with a property tag and a Certificate of Authenticity proving its from the Atari Tomb.
      Operational Consultant Joe Lewandowski said the games will be posted over the next couple of weeks in batches up to 50 because it takes time to post them. He said they will have the same titles as the first round but just the cartridges such as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Missile Command, Asteroids, Centipede, Defender and Phoenix.
      "We have a limited amount of Raiders of the Lost Arc, we're holding back on those and keeping them for museums. Anything that there's not a whole lot of we're keeping them," said Lewandowski. "We also have a limited amount of PelĂ©'s Soccer, RealSports Baseball and Video Chess which are also not for sale, they will be going to museums at a later date."
      Lewandowski said they will be posting 10 more copies of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, some of them have the booklet included while others do not.
      He said Yars' Revenge, the new title that's included in the auction, was the premiere game of its era and was created by Howard Warshaw who also created the now popular E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Read more

If businesses don't want to come to New Mexico, nobody's gonna stop 'em

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - "If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's gonna stop 'em." Yogi Berra
      Likewise, if businesses don't want to come to New Mexico, nobody's gonna stop 'em. This Thanksgiving we pause to count our blessing. Many of us have many blessings to count. But some New Mexicans are not as fortunate because New Mexico is not a business-friendly state. Many New Mexicans are long-term unemployed.
      New Mexico is government-friendly. The number of government jobs is amazing. However, the private sector is not as blessed. So while we wipe the butter from our lips from our Thanksgiving dinner and say our blessings, we must confront the part of New Mexico that needs help: private businesses.
      Those of us in business are aware of anti-business attitudes but most New Mexicans refuse to see these actions as harmful. Business unfriendly means the government; state, county and local, makes it harder to conduct business in New Mexico than it needs to be.
      Often government makes it harder to do business in New Mexico than in competing states. We rarely know about businesses who thought about moving their operation to New Mexico but upon investigation decided to move to a different state. But it would seems lots of businesses are not coming.
      Part of the problem is governance which makes things harder on businesses than it needs to be. There are inspectors who can dispirit businesses with over doing regulations and enforcement.
      Example: every restaurant owner knows the state inspectors can close them any day. No one can endure a really rigorous inspection. But for the humanity of the inspector, every New Mexico restaurant is red-tagged and closed.
      And part of the problem in New Mexico is finding a professional workforce ready, willing and able to work for a new business. A man asks a friend, "How's your wife?" The friend replies, "Compared to what?"
      Everything that happens in a workforce is compared to other workforces. Both Albuquerque and Santa Fe have higher minimum wages which is a barrier to a first job by young people. There are many young people who are in their twenties and still have not had a first job. Employers want workers with a work history to predict how they will work.Read full column

Lawmaker: Marijuana needs debate in New Mexico

NewsNM:Swickard I agree with Representative McCamley that the debate on legalizing marijuana needs to be done in a professional manner and the idea looked at from all angles. From KRQE-TV.com - (AP) – The conversation about whether New Mexico should join other Western states in legalizing marijuana is cranking up as state lawmakers prepare for the 2015 legislative session.
       Rep. Bill McCamley, a Democrat from southern New Mexico, took his case for legalization to fellow lawmakers Tuesday during a meeting of the interim health and human services committee. McCamley dismissed the stoner humor of 1970s comics Cheech and Chong and said this should be a serious debate.
       “Let’s talk about the facts,” he told the committee. “Let’s talk about what’s actually happening in terms of public policy, and let’s not get caught up in stereotypes about what this is or isn't.”
       McCamley has yet to craft the legislation, but he’s looking at Oregon as a model. Voters in that state, Alaska and the District of Columbia approved ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana earlier this month, joining Colorado and Washington.
       In New Mexico, the push for legalization follows the success of ballot questions in two of the state’s most populous counties that gauged voter support for decriminalizing marijuana.
       “If you look at prohibition, it’s basically a failure both in terms of alcohol in the 1920s and the drug war now,” McCamley said during an interview. “We’re spending all of this money enforcing marijuana laws and prosecuting people for smoking marijuana. That can be used in other law-enforcement efforts like prosecuting rapists and murderers – and that’s important.”
       McCamley also estimates that the state could save over $33 million in costs associated with police, courts and corrections if marijuana is legalized.
       The New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association has yet to develop a position on the matter. Gov. Susana Martinez has been an outspoken critic of decriminalizing marijuana, and control of the state House of Representatives swinging to Republicans will likely make for a challenge in getting legislation passed.
       “We don’t want to get people’s expectations up, but it’s very important to have this conversation,” McCamley said. More

Marita Noon: Dear Northeast, How’s that solar working out for ya?

Commentary by Marita Noon - A couple of months ago, effective in November, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit.
       It’s dramatic headlines like these that make rooftop solar sound so attractive to people wanting to save money. In fact, embedded within the online version of the Boston Globe story: “Electric rates in Mass. set to spike this winter,” is a link to another article: “How to install solar power and save.” The solar story points out: “By now everyone knows that solar power can save homeowners big money on utility bills.” It claims that solar works even in New England’s dreary winters and cites Henry K. Vandermark, founder and president of Solar Wave Energy in Cambridge, as saying: “Even snow doesn’t matter if your panels have a steep angle. It just slides right off them.”
       Solar is not the panacea it is promoted to be, though it is true that—after a substantial investment, heavy government subsidies (funded by all taxpayers), and generous net-metering programs (that raise costs for non-solar customers)—solar systems can save money on the typical homeowners’ monthly bill. (An unsubsidized system averages about $24,000.)
       New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year—Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts went “dark” on June 1, in part due to tightening federal regulations. Another major closure will take place within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
       A new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant on 18 acres of the 65-acre Salem site will replace the Salem Harbor plant. The remaining 47 acres will see redevelopment, including renewable energy. But, that plan has received pushback from environmental groups that want it fully replaced with renewables. TheBoston Globe states: “A decade ago, replacing the aging plant with a far cleaner natural gas facility would have thrilled environmental and public health advocates.” 
       The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the project’s approval, claiming the state “failed to adequately consider its own climate change law when state energy officials approved the Salem plant.” In February, the group settled the suit after it caused construction delays and reliability concerns. Read the full column


Parents and teachers take standardized practice test to better understand what students are facing

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stephanie Claytor, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - There is a lot of controversy surrounding standardized tests that all New Mexico public school kids take. On Saturday, some parents and teachers gathered at the Los Duranes Community Center in Albuquerque to try the practice tests. They wanted to get a firsthand look at what our students are facing.
      This year, New Mexican students in grades third through eleventh, will have to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC. They’ll have to take it in March and April. This test is different from previous standardized tests because it’s digital and only offered in English.
      The parents and teachers at the meeting found the exam troubling. "I don't think that I could pass that test, despite the fact that I have taught for two decades,” said David Wilson, a bilingual interventionist for Albuquerque Public Schools.
      In many cases, teachers’ evaluations will be heavily based off of their students' scores. Many of the teachers who took the practice tests said they've been discouraged from talking to parents about the exams.
      On the PARCC New Mexico website, it says "The PARCC assessment measures real world skills that colleges value, like critical thinking and problem solving. New Mexico's college and universities will use those assessments as one of the indicators of a student's readiness for entry-level college courses." More

Swickard: Schools becoming vast educational wastelands

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. I cannot understand why when people become educational administrators they forget the enterprise of education is supposed to be centered on children. It is not in today's world and educational administrators are unable to grasp why schools have become vast educational wastelands.
     Question: should students enjoy school? Like most discussions the problem is understanding the word, "Enjoy." Research to the contrary, most modern administrators are afraid of being criticized for students enjoying the day.
     I was at an elementary school some time ago where there were two types of teachers. One type was the kind gentle teachers who looked at and thought about each child individually. They try to make the educational experience the best it can be for each student.
      Balance that with the new breed of teachers who are just trying to show off to the administration by proving that they teach with RIGOR! That is the new buzz word, rigor. It means teachers use what some people call "Tough Teaching" and do not worry in the least that students may not like what they are experiencing.
      The teachers who center on rigor make sure no child enjoys any moments during the day because if they do then the teacher is being too easy on them. These rigorous teachers, supported by rigorous administrators never consider the feelings and emotions of students. The more students hate every moment of school, the better these educators feel. But that is completely contrary to research.
     At this school during Christmas time one teacher's class was singing songs while the teacher helped the students make presents for their mothers. In short, this classroom was buzzing with interested students. The other classroom was silent and very depressed because often they did not even get recess since to show rigor that teacher, with the support of the administration would skip recess.
     As I was standing there in the gleeful classroom a student from the other classroom walked by, looked in and spoke mournfully. He said, "Hi Mr. Snowman," to a full-size Frosty the Snowman. I wanted to go bring him into the circle but I was just an observer of instructional practice.
     Every teacher this year says that they are instructed to keep students pointed toward cheating the accountability tests by practicing the specific answers. Students do not find this interesting. They detest school and everyone in it. A few teachers keep trying to blow life into this aberrant style of education and they are uniformly smacked around by the administration who only care that their schools score better. Read full column


Tolar, NM to get historical marker where bomb-loaded train exploded during WWII

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Tolar, New Mexico has the distinction of being the only town in the US to be bombed out of existence in World War II. This week, 70 years later, the state will install a historic marker on a lonely stretch of US 60 between Fort Sumner and Clovis where the little town once stood.
      It wasn’t the Germans or the Japanese who bombed Tolar. In fact, there wasn’t even an airplane involved. It was an all-American self-inflicted railroad disaster – an accident that miraculously killed only one person.
      Even before the blast, there wasn’t much to see in Tolar, but after 160 bombs went off in a freight train fire, the town was pretty much obliterated. We’re talking big bombs here - 500-pounders - enough to fill four B-29 bombers.
      Railroad historian Randy Dunson grew up nearby. He’s the one who convinced the state Transportation Department to put up a marker for Tolar. “The train derailed right in the middle of Tolar,” Dunson said. “The cars in those days were mostly wooden and the wreckage caught on fire. I do know there was a tank car of naphtha involved in it. The fire reached this boxcar that was loaded with these 160 or so 500-pound bombs.”
     They blew up. Shrapnel killed a local man named Jess Brown, but the train’s rear brakeman was even closer. “He was about somewhere between two and six cars from the fire when this explosion went off and it blew him under the train,” Dunson said. “He was okay – he didn’t break a bone!”
      The explosion left a crater about 20-feet deep and 60-feet across. The town of Tolar was pretty much toast. The dedication for the historic marker is scheduled for 2 p.m. this Friday, at mile marker 344 on US Highway 60, way out on the prairie between Fort Sumner and Clovis. More

APD shooting lawsuits have cost city millions

From KOAT-TV.com - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The city of Albuquerque has spent millions of tax dollars on lawsuits involving officer-involved shootings and it’s not over. Many of the shootings involving police officers end up in court with members of the family of the person shot seeking money. Since 2012, the city of Albuquerque spent $11,455,991 in settlements, judgments and legal fees.
      “We defend police officers like every city employee, vigorously and zealously,” city attorney David Tourek said. Some of those cases turned out in favor of the city, but most have not.
      A big payout went to the family of Alan Gomez. In 2011, police got a call that Gomez was holding his brother and another woman against their will. Officers thought he was armed when they shot and killed Gomez. Police later discovered it was a spoon. The cost of that lawsuit was $1.048 million.
      The most expensive case involved the estate of Kenneth Ellis. He was pointing a gun to his head when he was killed in a January 2010 SWAT standoff. The lawsuit cost the city $8.305 million.
      Then there’s the case of Christopher Torres, who was a mentally ill man with a violent criminal history. Police were serving a warrant for a road rage case. Officers shot Torres during a confrontation. In June, a district court judge ordered the city to pay the Torres family $6 million. The amount was later reduced to $400,000.
      With nearly $12 million already spent on officer-involved shootings, it’s not over yet. There are still some major cases coming down the pike, including the case of homeless camper James Boyd. More

Marita Noon: Six energy policy changes to watch for in a Republican-controlled Congress

Commentary by Marita Noon - Now that the dust has settled on the 2014 midterms, we can get a sense of how things will change in Washington under a Republican controlled Senate—and energy will be front and center.
      Republicans and Democrats have very different views on energy development and policy. The past six years have seen taxpayer dollars poured into green-energy projects that have embarrassed the administration and promoted teppan-style renewables that chop-up and fry unsuspecting birds mid-flight and increase costs for consumers and business. Meanwhile, Republicans have touted the job creation and economic impact available through America’s abundant fossil-fuel resources.
      Voters made their preference clear: Republicans won more seats, and with bigger majorities, than anyone predicted. The day after the election, the Friends of the Earth, wasting no time, sent out a dramatic fundraising pitch, opening with: “The election’s over—the planet lost.” (You may not have even known that the planet was on your local ballot, but apparently it was.)
       The email’s proclamation, once again, exposes the environmentalists’ agenda: “President Obama hasn’t always done the right thing for the environment. He should have denied the Keystone Pipeline years ago, he should be rolling back unchecked fracking, and he should have taken stronger action on climate both at home and in international negotiations.”
       Gratefully, though ideologically aligned with them, he attempted to appease and didn't take the extreme level of action Friends of the Earth would have liked.
      The Keystone pipeline remains a strong possibility, though the Canadians have nearly given up on us. Fracking is regulated at the state level, which, mostly, allows it to continue to increase America’s energy freedom—resulting in lower prices at the pump. Because more than 96 percent of the wells drilled in America today use the decades-old, but new-and-improved, technology of hydraulic fracturing, a federal fracking ban, like environmental groups have been trying to pass through city and county initiatives, would virtually shut down our booming energy economy. President Obama tried, but couldn't pass a cap-and-trade bill—even when his party controlled both houses. Nor could he get a new Kyoto-like international treaty ratified. Most of the western world is now retreating on the climate pledges made in a different political era.
       Friends of the Earth is correct, though. The email states: “Now, with both the Republican Senate and the House salivating and ready to sink their teeth into our most basic environmental laws, the President’s environmental legacy is truly at stake.”  Read full column

Ski season in New Mexico is now underway

From KOB-TV.com - The lifts at Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort in northern New Mexico opened Saturday. It is the first ski area to open in New Mexico for the 12th consecutive year.
       Lifts are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
       Lift tickets are $25 for adults, $19 for teens (ages 13-20) and $15 for kids (ages 7-12) and seniors (ages 61 and older). Kids 6 and younger, 4th graders, 5th graders, and guests ages 40, 60 or 70 years and better receive a free lift ticket every day. More

Would someone get ready to run for office?

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Why would anyone run for office in today's world where outright lies and personal attacks are the currency of the political kingdom? We Americans have just endured months upon months of one candidate calling their political opponent everything but smart and handsome. The lies and innuendos have flowed throughout our towns.
       The non-stop attack advertisements sound like middle-school kids shouting, "You're a poo-poo head." Followed by the rejoinder, "No you're a poo-poo head." Mostly I am very sorry for the family members of the candidates who had to listen to attacks upon their loved ones for the purpose of politics. Some even were the targets in some communities.
       Worse, there is a price to pay for business people who run for office since the first step is to declare a party. Often members of the contradictory party then boycott that business such that the business suffers because someone wants to do their civic duty.
       Why, oh why, would anyone with any kind of sense put up with such shabby treatment? More so there is the concern that the people we would like to get into public service will not submit to this kind of treatment. The business leaders of our communities support people running for office but often will not tolerate those personal false attacks, therefore, will never run for office.
       The First Amendment question: can people knowingly lie but hide behind the Constitution's protection of free speech? Yes, they can and do. This does not mean there are no consequences for those who campaign by falsehood. We who value truth will remember falsehoods and act accordingly.
       Even though an election has just ended if someone was thinking about running next time, that decision must be made soon to get all of the things done to have some kind of chance against an incumbent. But the sting of the false statements and insults are still ringing in our ears. We may forgive but never forget the lies told. Read full column


Intense football rivalry leads to post-game brawl

From KRQE-TV.com - LAS CRUCES - A New Mexico high school football rivalry escalated into an ugly brawl, and now both teams learned there will be consequences just as they enter the playoffs.
       The Las Cruces vs. Mayfield game quickly became an example of bad sportsmanship Friday night. Five players from Las Cruces and four players from Mayfield have been suspended for their next games, the first in the playoffs.
      The post-game fight erupted in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 at Aggie Memorial Stadium. The Mayfield Trojans had just beaten the Las Cruces Bulldawgs, winning the District 3 6-A Title. The final score was 28 to 27.
       Right after the game ended, all the chaos erupted on the field. “It’s an intense rivalry. Everybody knows that. Tempers flare. Things happen, but that being said, that’s no excuse,” said Jim Miller, Las Cruces High School coach.
      Mayfield’s coach, Michael Bradley, said, “This is one of the top rivalries in the nation. We’re under the eye of everybody, I tell our kids all the time is everybody’s watching you.” Las Cruces Public Schools superintendent Stan Rounds said the district holds its athletes to high standards and expects them to live up to those expectations.
       “For 48 minutes we had good football,” Rounds said. “For 35 seconds we had bad decisions made by athletes,” he added at a Wednesday news conference. Both teams are entering the class 6-A playoffs. Some of the suspended students are starters, but the district hasn't identified them.
       They won’t be allowed to participate in their next games, can’t travel with the team and can’t sit on the sidelines, Rounds said. Las Cruces will play Atrisco Heritage in Albuquerque Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Community Stadium.
      Next weekend, Mayfield will face the winner of the Sandia-Clovis game. More

Farmington PD evidence room theft could result in four case dismissals

From KOB-TV.com - FARMINGTON -- Almost a month after missing evidence was first reported at the Farmington Police Department, we now know how the theft of drugs and cash from the evidence lockup will affect open cases.
       "At this time there are just over a dozen - 12 to 15 cases - that have been affected by evidence problems," said San Juan County District Attorney Rick Tedrow. "Of those, we are thinking about four of those will result in dismissal of the cases."
       28-year-old evidence technician Ashley Goodvoyce has been charged with the thefts and has since resigned from the department. Police say 70 bags of evidence were tampered with and $9,069.02 dollars in cash are gone.
      "When we have a case where evidence was tampered with, it affects the chain of custody, and the appropriate and just thing to do, under the law, is probably to dismiss those cases," said Tedrow.
       While police were investigating the thefts, they have also worked on a plan to add security cameras and remodel the rooms where evidence is stored, and are examining and implementing new policies to keep this from happening again. More

From the battlefield to the oilfield, it’s all about jobs for veterans

Commentary by Marita Noon - One-and-a-half million to 2 million men and women served in America’s defense during the Global War on Terror. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 250,000 service members enter civilian life each year and that number will rise with the draw-down of soldiers from Afghanistan. 
      As troops return home, they face a new fight: finding a job in a competitive labor market that doesn't understand how their military experience translates into employees with discipline, organization, and motivation.
      Most have served in the Middle East, risking their lives for America, and ensuring an uninterrupted energy supply. They believe in the greatness of America.
      Their experiences in the military make these returning veterans ideal employees for America’s booming oil-and-gas industry. Many companies have seen the value veterans bring to their organization and are actively recruiting veterans—both enlisted and officers.
      What better way to honor them for their service than to minimize the need to return to the Middle East by making America energy secure, by developing our own abundant resources?
       The U.S. oil-and-gas industry has added millions of jobs in the past few years and expects to add more and more—especially with the new energy-friendly Republican-controlled Congress. Just the Keystone pipeline—which is now likely to be built—will employ thousands. Increased access to reserves on federal lands will demand more personnel. But finding potential hires that fit the needs of the energy industry in the general labor pool is difficult, as they lack discipline, the ability to work in a team and, often, can’t pass a drug test. Here the fit for the veteran becomes obvious. Read full column


‘E.T.’ games selling for more than $800

From KRQE-TV.com - ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – Some of the old Atari games dug up from an Alamogordo landfill are fetching a pretty penny on eBay.
      One copy of “E.T.” is going for $810 right now and there’s still four days left to bid. The city of Alamogordo is putting a bunch of the crushed game cartridges on the auction block. They were dug up earlier this year.
      Those old games were dumped in the ’80s after the release of “E.T.” for Atari, a game so bad it nearly bankrupted the entire video game industry. More

Unemployed not considered in minimum wage debate

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - For those talking of increasing the minimum wage, what about the unemployed? A higher minimum wage makes it even harder to get a job. This is especially so for low or no-skill workers looking for their first job. Sadly the proponents of increasing the minimum wage do not even invite the unemployed to discussions.
      We hear from employers, employees and certain members of the buying public who are overjoyed to pay more money so workers making the minimum wage take home more money. Well, I am a bit skeptical that people want to pay more money.
      So the unemployed are not at the table. How do they feel about raising the minimum wage? Many cheer because they do not equate an increase in the cost of labor for employers with a diminished job market for no and low-skilled workers.
      And the most important people not sitting at the table when we discuss what it takes to support a family of four are the unemployed who have not found their first job. Know this: everyone is worth a certain amount to an employer. Skilled workers trade productivity for wages and both the worker and employer are made better by the transaction.
      For most people their first job is the most important job they will ever get since without that they cannot get better jobs. We are seeing young people reaching thirty without a first job. The valuable lessons of the first job are best applied in their teens.
      That first job often in high school usually is a "no brainer" sort of happy hands job where the drill is to do exactly what the boss says and be on time. The most important thing young people must learn is be on time and do what the boss says. Read full column


Day after re-election, Gov. Martinez strikes down '16 Vice Presidential run

From KOB-TV.com - By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Hoarse but happy. That was Gov. Susana Martinez on the day after winning a landslide re-election and learning that the state House of Representatives will be controlled by her fellow Republicans for the first time in 60 years. Her political hand is immensely stronger. There is nothing lame about this duck.
       "We have to work together," Martinez said during an interview at Albuquerque's Marriott Uptown hotel. "I think that's what New Mexicans expect. We have an opportunity right now that was given to us by the voters. We have to deliver now. I know we still have a Democratic Senate, so we are still going to work in a bipartisan way. That's not going to change, and we've done it for the past four years, and we've done some good things."
      Martinez is looking forward to a House of Representatives that won't stifle her legislation in committee after committee, like her pet education bill. Ditto for those driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
       Look for more economic development initiatives when the legislature convenes in January, including right-to-work legislation. Now – how about that talk of running for Vice President in 2016?
     "No," Martinez laughed. "No. I am committed to making sure that New Mexico's tomorrow really is better than today, and that's going to take four years of the commitment that I've made to New Mexicans – and this is where I want to be!" More

‘Vote as often as possible’ email from college president causes stir

President Cheri Jimeno, NMSU Alamogordo
From New Mexico WatchDog.org - By Rob Nikolewski - A phrase the president of New Mexico State University-Alamogordo used in an email sent to the student body Friday raised some eyebrows, butPresident Cheri Jimeno said she did not intend to cause a stir leading up to Election Day.
      In the email, Jimeno wrote, “I would encourage you to vote as often as possible.”
      “Unfortunately, it seems some people misunderstood,” Jimeno told New Mexico Watchdog in a brief telephone interview Tuesday morning. “You can only vote once. That’s what it means. So, realistically, when you sit there and say, vote as often as possible, what does that mean? It means you can vote once. That’s what it means.”
      The email was picked up and distributed across the Internet by Gateway Pundit, a conservative political website based in St. Louis. Jimeno confirmed she wrote the email Friday morning. More

Marita Noon: The oil price election connection

Commentary by Marita Noon - After years of rising gasoline prices, people are puzzled by the recent drop that has a gallon of gas at levels not seen in nearly four years. Typically in times of Middle East unrest, prices at the pump spike, yet, despite the violence in Iraq and Syria, gallon of gas is now at a national average of $3.
      The public hopes it will last. The oil industry can’t afford continued price suppression. I believe the price will tick up in the days ahead (post-election)—which will make it economic for producers to continue to develop—but the increases will not be so dramatic as to take away the economic stimulus the low prices provide.
      Experts call the low cost the “equivalent to a tax cut averaging almost $600 for every household in the U.S.” while it boosts our gross domestic product by 0.4 percent. Consumers surely welcome the reprieve. But why now and why won’t it last?
      As gasoline prices have made headlines, several narratives are repeated. Generally the explanations revolve around two basic truths—but, as we’ll explore, there is more.
      The reasons offered for the drop in prices at the pump (which reflects the price of a barrel of oil) are 1) increased North American oil production and, 2) sluggish economic growth in Europe and Asia—which together result in a surplus, or a global glut, of oil. Read full column

First case of voter fraud confirmed in Rio Arriba Co

From KOB-TV.com - By: Kristen Garcia, KOB.com - The first case of voter fraud in New Mexico this election has been confirmed by the Rio Arriba County Clerk's Office. According to the Rio Arriba County Clerk's office, a voter trying to cast an early ballot in Espanola Saturday was told he had already voted three days prior.
      The man told poll workers he hadn't voted. He was then shown the signature of the voter, but he says it wasn't his signature. Officials say they were able to confirm that the signature on the original ballot did not match the legal voter's signature on file.
       Poll workers allowed the man to vote on a provisional ballot, but election officials will have to determine whether the provisional ballot can be counted. Elections officials have no legal means of actually verifying signatures or confirming identification of a voter.
      "The poll workers and the Rio Arriba County Clerk’s office did a good job in responding to the situation, following all the procedures available to them," said Bobbi Shearer of the Secretary of State’s office Saturday, "I have nothing, but praise for their efforts to try to ensure integrity in the election. It is just that under current law there are no means available to poll workers to help them determine if a voter is actually the person he says he is."
      Shearer said the fraudulent voter's vote has already gone through a tabulator and cannot be identified or separated from all the legitimate ballots in the machine.  Rio Arriba County also fell under scrutiny just two years ago when campaign workers were caught offering alchol to voters. More

Swickard: Roping Roy, The Wonderful Western Mascot

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Sometimes things matter little in the grand scheme of things but matter much to me. Historical truth is one of those things. Last week Oklahoma State University and New Mexico State University got officially crossways over their mutual mascot Pistol Pete.
      Truth be known I know the story better than most since it is my article from the 1980s that touched this dispute off. You might wonder: why it took twenty-five years to come to lawyers? That is not what bothers me. For me the problem is: when NMSU was made aware they decided to lie their way out rather than be a stand-up institution.
      As to Pistol Pete, I thought years ago NMSU would say, "Whoops," and pick a better mascot such as my suggestion "Roping Roy, the Wonderful Western Mascot." Best I can tell the name is still open if NMSU can muster a "Whoops" about Pistol Pete.
      Pistol Pete is one of five historical issues I have had with NMSU over the years. One was NMSU celebrating its centennial on the wrong year. Seriously. Worse, they were two years off. The way I discovered it was that I was hired to write an article about how NMSU celebrated in the then year of 1988, along with 1938 and 1913. I was supposed to document how institutional celebrating changed over the years.
      To my surprise in the 1930s and the 1950s NMSU (known then by a different name) quietly moved their start date back a year each time. The undisputed fact is NMSU was started by Hiram Hadley, the first university president. And, he was in charge of the 25th year celebration which he held in 1915.
      That is a fact. He knew when the university started because he was there. And the 40th anniversary celebration was held in 1930. Nothing but facts. Both stolen years were done for a "Good reason" much like stealing Pistol Pete along with stealing "Crimson Pride" from the Crimson Tide. Not that it really matters. It just looks stupid.
       Another controversy involved the NMSU yearbook, The Swastika. In 1983 the "Flan hit the fan" about NMSU having a yearbook named The Swastika. I was the head photographer of the 1969 Swastika so I thought I knew all about it.
      The Albuquerque Journal's Impact Magazine hired me to cover the controversy. Seems the first yearbook in 1907 had no Swastikas in it, rather, the name was a Sanskrit word meaning "An auspicious beginning." Along the way Swastika symbols were added and when Hitler ruined the name most organizations quietly cast it off. Not NMSU. The made up a new history: it was a Navajo word meaning "Peace and harmony for all people."
      The Navajo Language Dictionary says it is a symbol with no meaning. The core issue is that no one thought of NMSU when they saw the Swastika. But there was a brisk battle between the people thinking they were supporting the Native Americans and people wanting to support the protesting Jewish community. After my story came out NMSU changed the name of the yearbook to the Phoenix, and killed the yearbook shortly thereafter.
      About that same time I noticed that the NMSU's War Memorial had one name that should not be there and was missing a very important name. It had the name of a graduate who was killed in the Pancho Villa Raid, but was not in the military so that name should not be there. And little Eugene Casey from the Class of 1898, who died in the Spanish American War was entirely left out. I was told it was too expensive to correct it.
      Finally, there is a Kent Hall on campus named for Harry Kent, a beloved president who had a credential problem that showed up his 14th year as president. The powers that be let him leave quietly and named a building for him.
      Each of these historical issues are not particularly egregious, but they do tarnish the reputation of a research university. Worse, in each case the NMSU leaders have known the truth but decided to lie rather than just say "Whoops" and then correct the issue.
      I like Roping Roy, the Wonderful Western Mascot.
Dr. Michael Swickard is co-host of radio talk show News New Mexico 6 to 9 a.m. Monday - Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. Email: michael@swickard.com