Wednesday, December 31, 2008
UPDATE: 70 degrees and beautiful blue skies greeted the Tournament of Roses Parade crowd this morning in Pasadena. A great morning got a little better when New Mexico's float was awarded the Bob Hope Award for Best Use of Humor.
This is a photo slide show featuring the State of New Mexico's entry into the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade.
I arrived to view it early, before it rolls down the parade route on New Year's day, and just as it was going through its safety inspection.
The inspector wanted to know where the fire extinguisher and gas cap were hidden. I had no idea, but they eventually found it. The inspector told me she's been doing these for years and thought the Roadrunner Coyote was destined for a big parade award.
Irwindale cops started lining the street where the floats were being staged. The floats are being moved to Pasadena from the warehouses now, and are getting a full police escort, similar to the ones we saw during the presidential campaign (just not as fast).
I know you're all probably staying up late to welcome the New Year, but if you're like me an hitting the hay early, the parade starts at 7am (MT). This is a prime marketing opportunity for the state and city sponsors, like TAOS.
I understand some 14 million people watch the parade every year. I've got two tickets to the grand stand and two more for the football game, but my health is in serious decline and I'm going to fly home in the afternoon. I'm bummed. How often do you get to go to the Rose Bowl game with Joe Paterno coaching PENN State and Pete Carroll coaching USC.
For now let me wish each and everyone of you a very Happy New Year. I mean this part: May you find joy in every moment of every day.
For more information on the float I'm going to paste the news release from the State Tourism Department.
Bobbi Baca (the former first lady of ABQ and wife of Jim Baca) has also been blogging about the float here. And of course, Jim Baca has some posts on the state's marketing effort too.
New Mexico’s ‘Hats Off To New Mexico – Beep Beep’ Float
The beloved cartoon characters of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, who have entertained millions of young children, and the young at heart for the past 60 years since their creation by the late chuck Jones, will entertain a few million more Thursday (January 1, 2009) when it travels Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California in the 2009 Tournament of Roses® Parade. The parade begins at 9 a.m. Daylight Savings Time in the Mountain time zone.
Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner are the stars of the State of New Mexico float, “Hats Off To New Mexico – Beep Beep.” This is the third time in the past four years that New Mexico will be represented by a float in the Rose Parade, and it follows on the heels of last year’s float, “Passport to Our World & Beyond,” winner of the coveted Grand Marshal’s Trophy “for excellence in creative concept and design.” It is one of the top three awards given each year.
Once again, the New Mexico float was designed by award-winning float designer Raul Rodriguez and built by Fiesta Parade Floats of Pasadena, Calif. under contract with the New Mexico Tourism Department.
Zooming down the roadway of old Route 66, Wile E Coyote, strapped atop an ACME rocket, is making yet another futile attempt to catch the Road Runner, just as he shifts into high gear. Fans know it is only a matter of seconds before this elaborate scheme will invariably fail with catastrophic results for the Coyote.
Their accelerating chase travels through the abstract scenery of New Mexico’s Land of Enchantment. The vast landscapes of the State are comically depicted in animation art form from the snow-capped trees of the majestic mountains, through the teetering rock formations on down to the colorful desert floor bursting alive with blooming yuccas.
“It can be a huge undertaking or something quite simple,” Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti said of the challenge to create a float that can represent New Mexico’s diverse entertainment offering in a colorful, eye-catching design. “New Mexicans, however, robustly celebrate this diversity; and when people around the world turn on their television sets to watch the 2009 Tournament of Roses® Parade broadcast, our ‘Hats Off To New Mexico – Beep Beep” float will turn heads. Fiesta Parade Floats has done a remarkable job in capturing the whimsical side of New Mexico’s entertainment story.”
Wile E. Coyote will be crafted from brown uva and creamy white pampas grass. He rides atop a rocket created in 8,200 brilliant red carnations. The Road Runner will sport a plumage of dark blue sinuata statice and light blue delphinium florets with legs decorated in yellow split pea beans applied one-by-one.
The Road Runner is going full speed with legs moving so fast they are almost a blur as the Coyote hangs on tight to the gyrating rocket to which he is attached. The pinnacles of the rock formations spin and wobble to the vibration of the musical sound track and the Road Runner’s famous Beep! Beep!
New Mexico will come vividly alive in more than 50,000 roses. The unique rock formations will be created in butterscotch and bronze chrysanthemums with striations of roses. The desert floor will feature roses in shades of orange, while the yucca blossoms will be created in over 10,000 white dendrobium orchid florets individually glued onto small welded rods. Black chive seeds and white sweet rice cover the Route 66 roadway.
The national and international exposure offered New Mexico through television coverage of the 2008 Tournament of Roses® Parade was valued at more than $1 million, according to industry experts. Nearly 40 million Americans in 16.5 million households tuned in to watch the parade on nine national and international television networks, including NBC, ABC, HGTV and the Travel Channel. The Parade was also broadcast live in 150 countries and territories.
It is estimated the exposure offered New Mexico following this year’s appearance –especially considering the publicity generated as winner of the Grand Marshal’s Trophy last year– will be even greater. Co-sponsors of this year’s event include Isleta Casino & Resort, New Mexico State Parks, Albuquerque Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Santa Fe Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, the Town of Taos, the Town of Red River, Santa Fe Brewing Company, ESPN, Vivac Winery and El Pinto Restaurant.
“The national and international exposure offered New Mexico through our appearance in the Parade and the media events held in conjunction is immeasurable,” Secretary Cerletti said. “Our purpose in participating in this event – like all our advertising efforts - is to pique the interest of our potential visitors and to create in them a curiosity to find out more about the Land of Enchantment. It is important that the New Mexico tourism industry does everything it can to take advantage of unique marketing opportunities, like the Tournament of Roses® Parade.”
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This is not Matthew Astorga’s first murder charge. He pleaded guilty to killing a New Mexico man in 1996. (HatTip) to MG Bralley with background on Matthew Astorga's first conviction here.
He’s also charged with being a criminal in possession of a firearm and attempting to flee or elude police. His bond is set at 1 million dollars.
For more details check the local Kansas newspaper report here.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tourism officials with the Town of Taos are headed to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California to unveil their new "Summer of Love" tourism promotion. It promises to be an exciting summer in Northern New Mexico with lots of film, art and outdoor events. We asked Town of Taos Public Information Officer Cathy Connelly to send us notes from the road. This is her first report.
A Blog Bit from Chat Cat -- Taos Road Trip 12.26.08
Every time I come back to Taos and come up over that rise into the valley I’m surprised. I get that same, smile-producing panoramic view of the Rio Grande Gorge cutting out across the valley every time. It speaks of endless opportunity to me. Milleniums of it. The wild west in physical form. The promise that nothing is finite. I suspect each time that I’m over it, but happily I never am.
It’s kind of the same with road trips. OK, hopefully not the millennium thing. But you get in the car (in this case one of the newly photo-wrapped Taos vans), and who really knows what’s going to happen? Endless opportunity.
Yesterday was bright, clear and enticing out of Albuquerque, road-eating rock and roll on the radio as I headed west toward the Tournament of Roses in one of Taos’ rolling reminders to get yourself there. These are big white 15-person vans that now are 85 percent ‘wrapped’ in giant, high-res images of Taos. They’re photos that hit on why Taos continues to be such an international tourist destination -- Taos Pueblo with a light snow, extreme skiing, white water rafting in the Rio Grande, a famous painting by Blumenschein, “Santiago the War Chief”, from the Harwood Museum (speaking to our art colony status), unique shopping, spa and spiritual rejuvenation, incredible outdoor beauty.
And bam. Amid the tunes, all of us on I-40 hit a snow storm that takes us down to 35 miles and hour, picking out semis and cozying up to them pretending that helps, and questioning the entire undertaking while snow builds up on windshield wipers and visibility drops. White knuckle time.
View a few minutes of Cathy's road trip video here.
Obviously I made it through, and the Taos van and I are now in Kingman, Arizona, resting for the night until we point again toward Los Angeles and the Tournament of Roses for leg two of the journey. The van’s filled with Taos information – press kits and vacation guides – to educate the audiences and press in California as to why they should immediately drop everything and get themselves to Taos.
Problem is, I can’t really put the full impact of that first view of the Rio Grande Gorge into the van. I guess the lucky ones will just have to get that on their own.
Wish me luck. 350 more miles to go. Who knows what might happen.
Note: I'll be flying to Los Angeles and covering the parade for 770KKOB. We'll have interviews with all the volunteers building the New Mexico Float and let you know if the state captures another top trophy for its Roadrunner and Coyote Float.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Not what the Governor needs before his U.S. Senate Confirmation Hearings. NBC even shows him walking away from local reporters questions. Richardson has directed state agencies to cooperate with the "Pay for Play" probe.
Friday, December 19, 2008
He says the rescue plan will require ``meaningful concessions'' from the auto companies and others, including labor unions and suppliers. The companies, he says, ``must understand what is at stake, and make the hard decisions necessary to reform.''
Bush said Friday he ordinarily would let the companies go bankrupt, concluding it's the ``price that failed companies must pay.'' But, he says, ``These are not ordinary circumstances.'' He says letting the industry collapse, amid a financial crisis and a recession, would be irresponsible.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Today, I am asking for your support in becoming the next Chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico.McCulloch believes:
We are at a cross-road of our Republican future. We can cease on the opportunity to come together and re-build a stronger more responsive party or sink further into irrelevancy.
Business as usual, will not work! We must begin by building a fundamentally sound organization, from the ground up.
As your next chairman, I am committed to ensuring our county chairs, activist's and legislators have a seat at the New Mexico Republican table. I believe we first have to be organized as a party to defend our values in Santa Fe. In preparation for the legislative session, I am proposing that county chairs develop legislative caucuses that will be prepared to respond to upcoming legislation. These county caucuses will be part of the state Republican Legislative Affairs Committee. Today is the time to start!
Second, we must start now on the development of our ground game in preparation for the 2010 midterm election. One of the most pressing issues that will face our party will be legislative redistricting in 2011. We must not allow a Democrat majority to exist in two years. The old saying that all politics are local is my commitment. We must Stop the Progressive Democrat organizations from making anymore gains in Santa Fe.
Together, we can focus on building a strong party by ensuring every county has the tools they need to build strong efforts in:
• Voter Registration
• Strong ward / precinct organizations
• Candidate recruitment and training
• Meaningful communication from the state GOP
I have travelled to every corner of the state and have developed many strong working relationships. I have been given a commitment by our outgoing members of congress that they will help in the rebuilding of our party. I am asking for your support in electing me the next Chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico.
United we win!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
On Sunday morning, as I set out on my morning errands, I could hear sirens screaming north of my house. After filling up my gas tank, the number of sirens continued to grow. As a journalist, I was curious and followed the sound to the Walmart parking lot near Academy and Wyoming.
Once there I realized it wasn't a fire or a bad accident, but police from multiple agencies lining up to parade through the streets of Albuquerque. Their annual holiday patrol began just after 11 am and will take them up and down multiple streets.
Happy Holidays. Run Santa don't let them catch you.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Barack Obama is asking his economic team to develop affordable housing plans to keep families in their homes during "these uncertain economic times."
Obama said he understands the family home is the cornerstone of American's financial security.
During his Weekly Address, the President-elect nominated Shaun Donovan to be his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Donovan, a former commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City, will come to Washington with the innovative ideas and new perspective needed to help the thousands of hard-working American families whose livelihoods have been threatened during this tough economic time.Obama plans to stem the rising tide of foreclosures and he's asked his economic team to develop "a bold plan that will dramatically increase the number of families who can stay in their homes."
He's proposing a comprehensive, coordinated federal effort to make staying in the family a reality.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The official dedication and ribbon cutting for the inaugural run of the Rail Runner Express into Santa Fe will commence at 12:00pm at the Santa Fe Railyard near the Farmer's Market.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
Wednesday, Lt. Governor Denish announced the Transition Advisory Leadership to direct teams in the following areas: Government Efficiency and Finance, Economic Stability, Transportation and Infrastructure, Education and Workforce, Healthy Families and Communities, Energy and Environment, Safety and Security, Youth Voices and Youth Vision, and Centennial Anniversary.
A list of citizens, sorted by county, is attached and pasted below.
Pueblo of Cochiti
T or C
T or C
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
"I'm disappointed that this bill died in the Senate. It's my hope now that the Bush administration will consider using a fraction of the funding set aside to stabilize financial markets to preserve this important American industry."
Bingaman voted Thursday to invoke cloture on a House-passed auto bill; that measure failed in a late night vote.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
Saturday, December 6, 2008
In today's weekly address, President-elect Barack Obama explains the key parts of his Economic Recovery Plan -- which will save or create 2.5 million jobs in the next two years.
To read the transcript and to see how the high unemployment numbers are affecting families click here.
Friday, December 5, 2008
A day after meeting with Governor Bill Richardson and local reporters, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is taking the first step in transition to Governor.
This morning (Friday), Denish named Kathy Keith as director and Chris Cervini as communications director for her transition team.
"Governor Richardson and I are committed to a smooth and seamless transition of power. I assure the people of New Mexico that there will be no interruption in good state government and public service. When the time comes for me to take power, I stand prepared to lead," Lt. Governor Denish said.
"The transition staff will work at my direction to prepare the administration to hit the ground running on day one. New Mexico faces serious challenges and we will be ready to meet them head on. Kathy and Chris bring exceptional experience, skills, and professionalism to our transition efforts. It's a pleasure to welcome them to the team."
Lt. Governor Denish named Kathy Keith as Transition Director to be the point person to the Governor's Office and overall manager of transition activities. Kathy Keith joins the staff from Public Works, LLC a private firm which assists Governors and their cabinet agencies nationwide on projects involving planning, innovative policy and efficiency. Previously Keith served as the Director of Economic Development Division for the State of New Mexico (2003-2006), as the Director of the federal program to rebuild Los Alamos following the Cerro Grande Fire (2000-2002), as the White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Energy (1998-2000) and for the United States Congress (1993-1998) in various capacities. She is a native of Tucumcari and holds a bachelors degree in journalism and political science from Texas Tech University.
Chris Cervini was named Transition Communications Director and will be responsible for communicating the activities of the transition and working with agency PIOs and current governor's office communications staff on the transition. Chris Cervini joins the transition from Lovelace Health System where he served as External Communications Manager in the Marketing and Public Relations Department. Before that he was Chief of Staff and Communications and Policy Director for Lt. Governor Denish from 2003-2006. He has a Master's Degree in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C.
Photos: MG Bralley
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Now, I’ve been charged with aiding and abetting the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) with the intent of helping area residents living with muscular dystrophy. I'm asking for your help to bail out of jail. I’m locked-up and serving time for Jerry’s Kids, and I won’t be freed until I collect enough bail (donations) from my friends, associates and neighbors.
It’s easy to contribute to Jerry’s kids.
I need to restore my “clean record” and hope you can make a $5 to $100 donation before Thursday.
Of course, this is the MDA’s annual fundraiser and I need your help to reach my bail goal of $1600 dollars.
This year’s MDA Goodwill Ambassador is 12-year-old Aaron Armijo. He’s a 6th grade Roosevelt Middle School student, who loves math and sports. We both have a passion for Lobo sports, the NE Patriots, and pizza.
Aaron told me he hopes you help me get out of jail. He assures everyone that the MDA is a good cause. Aaron says with your donations helps him to a UNM-H clinic every six months.
Please bail be out NOW.
With your help they may even let me out on good behavior. During this holiday season take a moment to give what you can.
Your 100% tax-deductible donation will help MDA continue research into the cause and the possible cure of the 43 neuromuscular diseases they cover. Your support of the MDA Lock-Up will also help MDA provide medical equipment, clinic visits, support groups and a magical week of MDA Summer Camp for the families served by the Association in our local area.
If you have any questions feel free to email me at Peter@770kkob.com or call the MDA at 505.823-1331.
Your donation is my key to freedom! Be proud of the fact that together we're providing help and hope to kids and adults served by MDA in our community.
Thanks for making a difference!
Friday, November 28, 2008
We found this tee-shirt at Better than Pants along with a few other collectibles.
Now a quick question that begs your comment.
Do you think there is to much "lame-duck" lag time between the election and the swearing in of the next U.S. President? Should the three and half month period be changed, or is it necessary for a "smooth" transition? Leave us a comment, on this blog, with your thoughts on the matter.
And, check out the inauguration count-down clock in the right column.
ECLIPSE AVIATION $1 BILLION IN DEBT. CREDITORS ARE LINING UP, BUT TAXPAYERS NOT LIKELY TO RECOVER INVESTMENT.
FLYING A LITTLE LOWER
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Of course, New Mexicans are thankful for the many local men and women who have served in battle this year. On Monday, we talked to NM Veterans Affairs Secretary John Garcia about his legislative priorities for next year. He says he's preparing for the return of New Mexican troops who have been deployed overseas. Garcia also tells us about the collaborative efforts the state has with the Feds to ensure vets needs are met locally.
Listen to our interview here.
Millions of Americans are celebrating the annual Thanksgiving Day holiday Thursday with a traditional feast with friends and family. President George Bush is spending his last Turkey Day holiday at the Camp David presidential retreat outside of Washington, while his successor, President-elect Barack Obama is in Chicago.
The president thanked 7,500 military troops, just back from the Middle East for their service, two days ago at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. About 10,000 Fort Campbell troops have returned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since October. But, other troops are scheduled to depart for the regions in the coming week.
Thanksgiving is even being observed in space. Today the astronauts and a cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station are marking the day. The U.S. space agency NASA says the crew of the orbiting outpost are dining today on a special freeze-dried meal of traditional foods including green beans and mushrooms, candied yams, cranapple dessert, cornbread stuffing and smoked turkey.
Earthbound citizens have lots of dinner options and most of them are not freezed dried. We found these great Paula Deen recipes featuring Honey game hens online at ABC News.
The United States has officially observed Thanksgiving since 1863, although the first Thanksgiving is believed to have taken place in 1621. UNM History Professor Ferenc Szasz talks about the founding of the national holiday of Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln in this interview with UNM's Senior Communication Representative Carolyn Gonzales.
We'll be off for the next few days sharing, caring and laughing with family and friends. We wish you and yours a safe and memorable Thanksgiving.
Last week we went Frozen Turkey bowling in Los Alamos with fellow blogger LP at the NMFBIHOP. Enjoy the video from our first experience with turkey bowling.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Eclipse Aviation Seeks Court Approval for Restructuring under 363 Sale Procedures and Debtor in Possession Financing. Affiliate of ETIRC Aviation, VLJ maker's largest shareholder, announces offer to purchase Eclipse.
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - November 25, 2008 - Eclipse Aviation(r), manufacturer of the world's first very light jet (VLJ), announced today that it is seeking court approval for debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing and procedures for the sale of substantially all of its assets under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The proposed sale will enable the business to continue as an industry leader in the manufacture and sale of VLJs with lower costs and reduced debt liabilities.
Eclipse filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware this morning, simultaneously announcing an agreement for the sale of its assets for a combination of cash, equity and debt to an affiliate of ETIRC Aviation S.a.r.l., Luxembourg, subject to higher and
better offers. ETIRC Aviation, a principal driver of the VLJ industry in Europe, is currently Eclipse's largest shareholder. ETIRC Aviation's Chairman Roel Pieper has been the acting CEO of Eclipse since July 2008 and has served as Eclipse's Chairman since January 2008. The proposed sale is subject to competitive bidding through a public auction, which is expected to be completed and a sale finalized in January 2009.
"In the face of unprecedented economic challenges, it is clear that the sale of the Eclipse business through the Chapter 11 process is the right course of action to maximize the value of the business, secure its future and protect the best interests of Eclipse's stakeholders,
including customers, suppliers, employees and creditors," said Roel Pieper, CEO of Eclipse Aviation. "The successful sale will position the business for aggressive global expansion, allowing the company to fulfill its promise and solidify its position as the world's leading
manufacturer of VLJs."
Also announced today, a group of existing Eclipse shareholders and note holders will provide Eclipse with post-petition, debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing. This financing will provide Eclipse with sufficient resources to continue normal business operations through the closing of
the sale. Eclipse has filed a motion with the Court to approve the financing with a request for an expedited hearing to avoid business interruption. Once approved, this financing along with other relief requested from the Court, will position Eclipse to pay wages and salaries, honor employee benefits, service customer aircraft and continue manufacturing operations throughout the sale period.
New York-based Greenhill & Co., Inc., a leading independent investment bank with proven expertise in mergers, acquisitions and restructurings, has been retained as financial advisor to Eclipse Aviation.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Every fall for the last six years Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish has met with some, or all, of the 13 Cabinet Secretaries that make up the Children's Cabinet. The meetings, scheduled ahead of the legislative session each winter in Santa Fe, allow her to get input from each department and determine her legislative agenda.
This year is no different. Well almost no different. Everyone she meets knows she'll likely be Governor by the start of the 60-day session. Still, she's meeting with each secretary before the Thanksgiving holiday. Denish will become the state's first female governor if Governor Bill Richardson is appointed, and accepts, the post of Secretary at the U.S. Commerce Department.
Denish told reporters that she is working closely with the Gov. Richardson, and is staying in close contact with him, to work on their legislative agenda. Denish said for now there is only one governor. She also told the group that she and Richardson are well aware of budget shortfalls and are working hard to develop a balanced budget proposal.
Today, Denish met with Veteran's Affairs Secretary John Garcia at the Albuquerque's Veteran Re-Integration Service Center. Afterward she met with reporters who only had one topic in mind: the political shift that will take place after Governor Bill Richardson is named to President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet.
Lt. Gov. Denish says she believes Governor Richardson "will be a terrific addition" to the cabinet, and that she's prepared to step into the role as governor as she has so often during her six year tenure as his number two. Denish says her priority right now is to prepare for the 60-day session, and she confirmed she's considering multiple people to replace her as lieutenant governor.
Reporters asked almost every question. Thinking back on it, I wish I'd asked her how her husband Herb Denish felt about becoming the state's first man or first husband. What will we call him? Perhaps, like Alaska's Todd Palin, he'll just want to be known as "First dude," but somehow we doubt that. A reader recommends: First Gentleman.
SF Reporter Kate Nash covered the event with me. Read her post on this morning's news conference at on her SF New Mexican Blog: Green Chile Chatter. Personal Note: So this is my first news video. It gets shakier the longer it goes because I was also holding the 770KKOB News microphone at the same time I was managing to keep the Lt. Gov. centered in the new Flip Video camera. We’ll figure it out as we go.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Politico, an online web journal, reports Madrid, who was one of two woman appointed by Barack Obama' Latino Advisory Board during the fall election. Madrid was also a co-chair of the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee, is on the list with former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar.
Two New Mexicans, Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta and former Richardson energy advisor Ned Farquhar have been rumored to be on Obama's interior department transition team.
Governor Richardson had been on the list for the interior spot, but now appears to be the top contender to become Commerce Secretary.
UPDATED - SUNDAY 1:37PM
The Associated Press reports it's official: Richardson to be named U.S. Commerce Secretary
The official says Obama plans to announce Richardson's selection after Thanksgiving. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
Richardson was energy secretary and U.N. ambassador under President Bill Clinton. Richardson would be the most visible Hispanic named to Obama's Cabinet.Hat tips to Heath Haussaman and LP at NMFBIHOP
Photo: MG Bralley
Saturday, November 22, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama announces he has directed his economic team to assemble an Economic Recovery Plan that will save or create 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
With Governor Bill Richardson's name being floated as a possible U.S. Commerce Secretary, and with multi-billion dollar government acquisitions and bailouts coming out of Washington, the Rio Grande Foundation is taking a closer look at New Mexico’s own “investment” efforts.
New Mexico has been investing in supposedly “private” companies for years through the State Investment Council (SIC) and other government bodies. But the public and policymakers have little to no information on the success or failure of these investments.
Jim Scarantino, the Rio Grande Foundation’s investigative reporter, decided to take a closer look. In his first in a series of reports on the topic, Scarantino has found:
- Under the Richardson administration the State has purchased stock in 52 New Mexico companies ranging from computer software designers to dental clinics to a fish monger;
- These companies are not publicly traded, so there is no market establishing a value for their stock. Nor do they pay dividends. In a sense, these “stocks” have no value;
- New Mexico is essentially loaning hundreds of millions of dollars interest free in exchange for temporary economic stimulus that can easily fall below expectations;
- Loans to film producers appear to directly violate the state constitution’s anti-donation clause prohibition on the state lending money or pledging its credit to aid private enterprise; and.
- A serious question exists whether the state’s risky equity investments may also violate the anti-donation clause.
The largest single equity investment made by the SIC in a New Mexico company is in Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque. New Mexico has invested just under $20 million in Eclipse, not including millions in employee training tax credits, property tax breaks and other financial benefits. With Eclipse facing failure, New Mexico stands to lose its entire investment.
Scarantino reports the SIC lost its $7 million investment in the failed TCI Medical. Millennium Transportation of Roswell has stopped payment its unpaid $1.4 million loan balance. More of the SIC’s equity investments may fail in this difficult economic environment.
These failures present an opportunity for needed scrutiny by the Legislature and the public into the Richardson administration’s speculative and possibly unconstitutional investment practices.
Read the complete text of the Rio Grande Foundation study here.
If appointed, the Democrat in her second term would head the sprawling federal agency, which is responsible for immigration policy and border security as well as emergency response issues.
The Governor's Office neither confirmed nor denied the reports Wednesday.
When asked whether the governor has been offered the Homeland Security post, or whether she has indicated she would accept it, Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said repeatedly, "I can't answer that."
A popular Democratic governor in a red-state, and an early Obama supporter, Napolitano, 51, has been the focus of Cabinet speculation for weeks.
Her departure would send ripples through Arizona politics. Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer, next-in-line to the governorship, would serve the remaining two years of Napolitano's term - putting all three branches of state government under GOP control.
Napolitano has racked up a record number of vetoes during her first six years in office as she often played defense against a Republican-dominated Legislature.
Both CNN and Politico reported the news of Napolitano's selection for secretary of Homeland Security.
Arizona Democrats close to Napolitano knew little late Wednesday.
"She's not said anything to anyone. She's not made any calls," said one, a good friend of Napolitano's who asked to remain anonymous.
Another prominent Democrat called the Homeland Security offer one Napolitano "is highly likely to accept."
"I suspect we're looking at a pretty done deal here."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
While all the Dems above seem to smiling and having a great meeting, Republicans, back home, are still nursing their wounds from an election day beat down.
Joe Monahan inaccurately reported Sheriff Darren White was considering a run for ABQ Mayor next fall.
NOT TRUE JOE.
White told us tonight, "No Way!" He would not say what he was going to do in two years, but said he's happy being Bernalillo County Sheriff now.
Earlier this week, we posted a letter to the ABQ Journal from Farmington Doctor Allen McCulloch, who has openly criticized current GOP Chairman Allen Weh, and acurately reported he's considering putting his name into the hat to become the chairman of the NM Republican Party. He'll host a get together in ABQ on Friday night to get the ball rolling.
Now we're learning, from a NMFBIHOP report, that Steve Pearce, who lost his Senate Bid to Tom Udall, may also be considering a run for party chairman, but that's less likely if he ultimately want to run for Governor in 2010.
A Hat Full of Names
We've learned that Pete Dinelli, who worked for then Attorney General Jeff Bingaman for three years, is definitely putting his name into consideration to become the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico. Dinelli may have the inside track with the Senior Senator. How much influence will Governor Bill Richardson and Jr. Senator Tom Udall have on Bingaman's final recommendation?
Dinelli's pursuit of the U.S. Attorney's post could be a sign that Mayor Marty Chavez is nearing a decision to run for a third term.
Dinelli was said to be waiting for his boss to make a move before deciding whether or not to enter the city-wide contest himself.
770 KKOB & El Pinto Restaurant Cans the Canned Posole Edict & Busts the Bizcochito Ban
(11/12/08) This morning the ABQ Journal's Olivier Uyttebrouck reported that an 84-year-old tradition at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Albuquerque honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe was being stopped by the City’s Environmental Health Department. Officials revealed after all these years that health regulations mean that the church can no longer serve homemade traditional holiday foods as part of the celebration. No more Posole unless it’s the canned variety. No more delicious homemade Official State Cookies. The Bizcochitos from home are banned, and on and on and on.
Incensed by this tasteless situation afternoon 770 KKOB talk host Jim Villanucci contacted Jim Garcia, El Pinto Restaurant Director of Operations to see how this wrong could be overcome. Garcia talked with El Pinto owner John Thomas and they agreed to supply all the Posole, Bizcachitos, Tortillas, and any other needs to make the St. Francis Celebration delicious and agreeable. El Pinto’s kitchens comply with health regulations and their food is marvelous.
Updated - 8pm
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was faced with the prospect of ditching plans to make a home cooked meal for more than 400 parishioners at its annual celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. Celebrating the holidays with fake – or canned – posole and store bought bizcochitos is not proper New Mexico etiquette.
“We are committed to being a community partner,” said El Pinto co-owner John Thomas. “We are always eager to support organizations in our community because these people are our neighbors.”
The parish had planned to have a home cooked meal served but the City of Albuquerque health inspector nixed the idea. “No worries now,” says Thomas. “The food will be fresh and will exceed City standards.
The festival will follow a procession honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 14, and is open to the public.
Muchas Gracias El Pinto.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut, was allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee after a Democratic Caucus vote on Tuesday despite his support for Senator John McCain in the presidential campaign.
The Senators, including Sen. Jeff Bingaman, debated a resolution that rebuked Lieberman for some of the actions and statements he made during the presidential campaign.
Senators did vote to strip Lieberman of his leadership position on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
New Mexico's soon to be Senior Senator Jeff Bingaman voted "Yes" on the measure. We received this statement from Sen. Bingaman late this afternoon.
I voted for that resolution, and I believe its adoption was an appropriate outcome. It also has the benefit of allowing the caucus to move forward on preparing for our legislative priorities as well as planning to help the new president advance his agenda. With Sen. Lieberman remaining as a member of the Democratic caucus, we are one vote closer to having a 60-vote threshold required to pass legislation and get things done for the country.Meanwhile, Matthew Reichbach at the New Mexico Independent is reporting that Senator-Elect Tom Udall, who won't be sworn in as a U.S. Senator until January 6th, was allowed to speak in favor of retaining Lieberman.
Several Democratic Party bloggers, including our pals at Democracy for New Mexico were not pleased with either Bingaman or Udall's decision. DFNM writes, "Bad start Mr. Udall. Trying to get brownie points from the seniority bosses even before you're sworn in? Not a good sign."
Another disappointed party loyalist commented on Democracy for New Mexico:
We sent a bunch of Democrats to Congress in 2006. They said that there weren't enough of them and the President was a Republican. We sent more democrats this time an we gave them a democratic President. They still have excuses.UPDATE: #1: Reichbach, at NMI, reports that DNC Chairman Howard Dean has backed the Senator's decision.
We cannot afford to give up hope. We have to take names and vote ONLY for those who vote for our issues. That includes Senator Udall.
Do you have an opinion? Send us your thoughts by typing a comment on this post or emailing me at Peter [at] 770kkob.com.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish at Pepsi Center in Denver.
Governor Bill Richardson has spent years traveling the globe preparing for a job he covets, Secretary of State. While he's officially on the record saying he loves being Governor of New Mexico, he was quick to jet off to Chicago for an interview with President-elect Barack Obama on Friday afternoon in Chicago.
Gov. Richardson may face still competition from Senator Hillary Clinton, but Obama has said many times that he values Richardson's experience and leadership.
While we were in Denver at the DNC, moments before the Governor delivered his foreign policy address at Invesco Field, we asked State Auditor Hector Balderas if the prime-time speech was an indication of Richardson's chance of getting the Secretary of State post.
This is what Balderas told us in August.
If the Governor accepts a post in the new Democratic Administration in Washington, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish will become the state's first female Governor. She'll also be the first to be empowered by the state's constitution to appoint her successor in the Lieutenant Governor's office. An amendment authorizing the appointment was approved by voters this fall.
Speculation has been swirling that the former State Representative and current State Auditor is at the top of Lt. Governor Denish's list, but she recently told 770KKOB's Bob Clark that she doesn't have a short list. Hmm. If there were two names on the list would they be 1) Hector and 2) Balderas?
We asked Balderas, who was named one of the nation’s 100 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine, if he was prepared to become Lieutenant Governor. Specifically we asked him if he'd had already gotten "a wink and a nod?"
Listen to his revealing answer about 1:05 seconds into this clip.
Read what other bloggers are reporting here and here.
We've heard several other names mentioned as possible contenders for the post. NM Politics Blogger Joe Monahan has that story:
The Denish camp finds Balderas appealing because he is from the Spanish North, heart of the Democratic Party and where Denish is not at her strongest. But some politicos speculate that while a Hispanic light guv for Denish is a political necessity, they would not necessarily have to come from the North. For example, ABQ State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, 65, is seen as someone who might get a look for the slot. He would be a gray beard with no ambition for the state's top job. He would help with Hispanics and also help Di keep the liberal wing of the party under control.Also send us your thoughts via a blog comment. Is Hector the odds on favorite, or do you support another Democrat for the post?
On Saturday, House Republicans elected their leadership for the upcoming session.
State Representative Tom Taylor of Farmington was re-elected Minority Leader. State Representative Keith Gardner of Roswell was elected Minority Whip - filling the position formerly held by departing State Representative Dan Foley of Roswell. State Representative Anna Crook of Clovis was re-elected Caucus Chair.
"We had a successful and productive caucus meeting today," commented Caucus Chair Representative Crook.
"With our leadership team in place, the next item on our agenda is to immediately begin tackling the serious budgeting challenges that face New Mexico in this coming session," stated Minority Leader Representative Taylor.
Oil was selling at $147 a barrel back in July, but now is hovering between $60 and $70 per barrel, and natural gas prices are being hit even harder. This will result in drastic declines in the severance taxes at the same time that the housing market slowdown and economic recession are taking a toll on gross receipts tax revenue and jobs.
"During these difficult times, I am honored and humbled to have earned the support of my colleagues for this leadership position," said Minority Whip Representative Gardner, first elected to the House in 2004.
"Like most families and small businesses across New Mexico, we at the legislature are going to have to focus on cost-cutting to pull through this," continued Representative Gardner.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Billed on YouTube and Change.gov as "Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect," the video went online at 6 a.m.; the radio version airs later in the morning.
Friday, November 14, 2008
“Rhonda has been an invaluable member of my cabinet for the past six years,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “Since taking over the helm of New Mexico Department of Transportation, Rhonda has transformed the agency into a true multimodal department with emphasis on all modes of transportation.
“She was instrumental in implementing my transportation agenda that included improving our critical highway infrastructure needs and providing efficient public transportation systems such as the Rail Runner Express and Park-and-Ride services,” Governor Richardson said.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to work for Governor Bill Richardson,” Secretary Faught said. “Thanks to his infectious enthusiasm and bold leadership, we have been able to make giant strides toward improving transportation in New Mexico. I also want to thank Governor Richardson for this wonderful opportunity to serve our citizens.”
“Rhonda is one of the most skilled and result-oriented public servants I ever had the opportunity to work with,” State Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Cope said. “Her strong and continued desire to build the best transportation department in the country served us well in all areas of highway construction, operations and safety, and public transportation. She has turned a predominantly highway-focused department into a multimodal transportation department. I am very thankful for her service.”
Faught is no stranger when it comes to breaking the gender barrier. Starting her career in 1988 she worked in various positions, including District Engineer,(the first female district engineer of the then New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department).
She also headed the Local Government Assistance Bureau and served as the Adjutant Secretary for the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department.
Going back further in her career, Faught is one of the first women to receive an engineering degree from New Mexico State University . And first and foremost, she is the first female Secretary to head the New Mexico Department of Transportation in its 105-year history. She currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and is the current President of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO).
In 2003, the American Public Works Association selected Faught as one of the Top 10 Public Works Leaders for that year. In the same year, she received the Trailblazer Award by the Commission on the Status of Women. This award recognizes women who have succeeded in non-traditional careers, which are described as careers with generally less than 10 percent women.
Some of the accomplishments under Secretary Faught’s six-year tenure as the head of the transportation department include:
NMDOT was recognized by the Reasons Foundation, a non-profit transportation advocacy group, which ranked NMDOT third in the country for the most efficient use of public money on transportation initiatives.
Passing and implementing the $1.6 billion transportation infrastructure improvement project known as GRIP (Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership). As a result, nearly 4,000 construction jobs were created and more than 90 percent of the projects awarded have gone to New Mexico contractors so far.
Implementing one of the fastest startup commuter train system in the country —the New Mexico Rail Runner Express — between Belen and Santa Fe .
Reducing overall traffic fatalities by more than 30 percent in the last two years, including the reduction of DWI-related fatalities by nearly 20 percent in the last three years.
Implementing a statewide Park-and-Ride public transportation system that has seen the ridership increase more than 430 percent in the last five years.
Implementing a new and easy to use road advisory hotline — 511— for New Mexico commuters and the traveling public.
Opening an Intelligent Transportation System Center in Albuquerque to monitor road conditions via cameras and other high-tech devices.
Implementing regional transit districts across New Mexico to help promote and establish public transportation services at regional and local levels.
Establishing bilateral working agreements with various pueblos, tribes and nations across New Mexico on transportation issues that affect everyone.
The American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) ranked New Mexico highways and rural roads as being one of the smoothest in the country.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
He says "it’s time for a dramatic change in the leadership and direction" of the GOP.
We received a copy of a letter he sent to editors at the ABQJournal.
Speculation has been brewing that he wants to take over the chairmanship of the GOP in New Mexico after Allen Weh's term expires early next year.
McCulloch, if you don't recall, was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate and lost in a statewide election to Democrat Jeff Bingaman in 2006.
In the Letter to the Editor, McCulloch criticizes Weh, the lack of resources for losing candidates, and says it will take "dedicated leadership" to rebuild the party.
If this utter electoral disaster has taught us anything, it is that our state party is in desperate need to new leadership and vision. Our party needs the kind of change that does not pit Republican against Republican, retaliate against its own members in the Legislature, or turn a deaf ear and blind eye toward building strong county organizations.McCulloch pulls no punches when writing about the party's current organization:
We must now start a process of rebuilding – so we have the ability to not only defendexisting Republican turf, but also pick up what ground has been lost. We must all come together to achieve this vision.
When we lose sight of the grassroots, as our current leadership has, we become out of touch with the thoughts and needs of everyday New Mexicans. Before we can even consider the 2010 election, the Republican Party of New Mexico must make a critical decision as it chooses its leaders in 2009 – will we stay with the same failed leadership of the past four years, or will we embrace change?He also lays down his vision for rebuilding the party at a grassroots level, a strategy implented by Democrats in all 33 counties:
Over the past several years, the state Republican Party has turned its focus away from building an effective ground game and has become far too content with stagnation at the grassroots level. This must come to an end. A strong grassroots base for our party is the only way we can facilitate the registration of new voters, theMcCulloch finishes his letter with an optimistic note:
recruitment of solid candidates, and the engineering of an effective get out the vote effort.
They say all politics is local, and a major aspect of strengthening the grassroots will be getting our party engaged at every level. The state GOP must also interface more with our legislators, mayors, commissioners and city councilors from Farmington to Hobbs, Reserve to Santa Rosa.
With hard work, dedicated leadership, and a strong vision, the Republican Party can move forward and again rise up as a relevant player in New Mexico’s political discourse. But we must first embrace significant, across-the-board change to move our party forward – regaining the ground that was lost this year, and leading us to victory in 2010 and beyond.
The Rio Grande Sun is reporting: longtime Rio Arriba County political boss Emilio Naranjo, 92, died Thursday morning.
Naranjo’s daughter Margarita Naranjo confirmed that Naranjo died in Albuquerque. A funeral will be held in Española, but specific arrangements have not yet been made, she said.
A family member wishing to remain anonymous said Emilio Naranjo died in his sleep at the home of his youngest son, Raul. Naranjo was where he wanted to be, the family member said.
Emilio Naranjo had been doing fine on Wednesday, but had suffered from heart problems, the family member said.
Española School Board President Joe Romero, a friend and political ally of Naranjo, said Naranjo’s son-in-law, Kenneth Salazar, called him this morning with the news.
“Kenneth Salazar called this morning, he told me, ‘My father-in-law died last night very peacefully,’” Romero said. “I’m assuming he died at home. I know there was somebody there with him 24/7, relatives were taking care of him.”
Several businesses are offering Eclipse employees food discounts today.
Kelly's on Central (505-262-2739) is giving everyone with an Eclipse badge 50% off food today.Workers at Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque had a meeting at 6:30, and again at 8:30am, this morning where they were told they would not be paid for the past two weeks of work. 770KKOB has learned Eclipse officials told workers to call an 800 number later today to find out whether they even had jobs.
Coaches on Central (505-242-7111) is giving everyone with an Eclipse badge 20% off food only.
We asked a person getting in their car to leave if they were an employee and the response was, "Not anymore."
Even though employees were told they could work the rest of the day, several workers were seen speeding out of the parking lot this morning. We saw other employees loading plants and personal items in their cars.
There has been no word from officials at Eclipse this morning, but one employee called us and said executives told employees, inside the production hangar, that the company was looking for a bridge loan and were actively looking for additional funding for international investors. Our source said that they believe the company will face bankruptcy by the end of next week if the equity financing can't be lined up.
Late last month, a Connecticut-based market research firm predicted that Eclipse would soon fall victim to global financial turmoil and cease production of its very light jet.
Officials had no comment on the report from Forecast International Inc. in late October, but had said publicly the Albuquerque-based company needed $200 million to $300 million in new equity investment to restructure its operations and reach profitability.
Just this week, four Eclipse customers filed lawsuits in federal court against the aircraft manufacturer, accusing it of failing to refund deposits after it raised the price of its very light jet in June.
The plaintiffs — three companies and a California man — each are seeking refunds ranging from $152,000 to $182,000 paid as deposits after they ordered their Eclipse 500s.
Eclipse spokeswoman Alana McCarraher said Tuesday she could not comment on pending litigation.
In September we reported Day Jet, Eclipse's largest customer, was ending their operations and blaming their closure on Eclipse. Read our earlier report here.
And in early August we reported on congressional hearings investigating the company's FAA approval process. Read details here.
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