Friday, October 17, 2008

Beep. Beep. Coyote and Roadrunner Highlight New Mexico's 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade Float!

The beloved cartoon characters of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner have entertained millions of young children, and the young at heart, since 1949 when animation legend Chuck Jones first introduced us to his parody of chase cartoons.

On January 1, 2009, the wacky and zany antics of these two stars of the cinema - florally recreated and larger-than-life – will headline the State of New Mexico’s float, “Hats Off To New Mexico – Beep!Beep!,” as it travels Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California in the 2009 Tournament of Roses® Parade.

Here our report on News Radio 770KKOB:

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 will be 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.

Raul Rodriguez was a featured guest for the unveiling of the 2009 float design Thursday evening (October 16, 2008) at the Chuck Jones Gallery just off the Santa Fe Plaza.

Here our interview with Mr. Rodriquez:

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Michael Cerletti tell us the parade float is another marketing tool to expose the state to tourists from Southern California and around the world:

While New Mexico’s state bird has been entertaining visitors to the Land of Enchantment since its official designation in 1949, so has its cartoon counterpart entertained movie-goers. In fact, both celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2009.

Mike Stauffer with the NM Tourism Department give us this description of the float:

Float Description

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,” Secretary 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 including 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 and El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque.

“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.”

The Tourism Department says they still have sponsorship opportunities available. If you're interested in promoting your town, region or company contact them in Santa Fe for more details.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


On Thursday, the Darren White for Congress campaign released its latest financial report to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The report showed that Darren White’s campaign has $678,371 cash-on-hand compared to Martin Heinrich’s $327,608 – a 52 percent difference.

“We are in great standing for the home stretch,” said Stephen Schatz. “With just 19 days left to go, we feel that we have the resources and manpower necessary to close strong and to achieve victory on November 4th. Our cash-on-hand total puts us in a good position to respond to our opponent’s false character attacks, and will allow us to get-out-the-vote.”

Darren White received $554,347 in contributions for the quarter, and has raised $1,507,556 since he began his campaign.

The cash-on-hand report follows an earlier press release from the Heinrich campaign requesting local TV stations pull ads the Republican Party is sponsoring for the White Campaign. See the their news release here.

Whites report does not mention that Heinrich reported donations of $750k in the third quarter of 2008 and has the support of big money fro the DNCCC for local television media buys.

A Rare TV Spot from a "Humbled" Senate Candidate

In 2005, Specialist Erik Schei was shot in the head by a sniper in Iraq. The doctors put his chance of survival at zero. With the right treatment, Sergeant Schei was able to not only live, but can now communicate with others.

Meet Army Sergeant Erik Schei in Tom Udall's latest television ad released today.

The Associated Press reported on January 22, 2008 that Erik was a 21-year-old Army sergeant in October 2005. He was serving in Mosul, Iraq, as a machine-gunner with the Army’s 94th Engineer Battalion. A sniper’s bullet pierced the right side of his helmet and passed through both frontal lobes of his brain.

“They gave him zero chance of survival,” Erik’s father, Gordon Schei, said. “They said if he did survive, he would be a vegetable. They wanted us to pull the plug on him. But we dug deep.

“We’re people of faith, and we brought him home, and today he communicates with people. He laughs, he’s standing — not on his own, but with help. He’s doing so many things.”

Erik uses a wheelchair and lives with his parents and 7-year-old sister in the Rio Rancho home his parents helped him purchase in August. The family moved from Taos to be closer to the VA hospital.

He is constantly impressing his parents, friends and therapists with the improvements he is making. He now speaks one or two words at a time. Often, “annoying” is one of them, speaking of his sister, said Christine
Schei, laughing. He has a computer attached to his wheelchair, which often speaks for him. He activates it with his head.

“We’re also teaching him to feed himself, which takes a lot of effort,” Christine Schei said. “His brain just seems to have forgotten which muscles to use.”

There are some things, however, that his brain has not forgotten how to do. “He knows how to read, which was a shock to all of us,” she said. “They held up cards and he mouthed the words. A lot of times, it’s a whisper. It’s not real loud. We have to push him sometimes, ‘Erik louder, try harder.’ He has been our
miracle child. We have great expectations, and hopefully by the end of next year, he can walk in a walker even if it’s just two or three steps.”

Erik has occupational and physical therapists come to the house three times a week, and a speech therapist comes twice a week. His mother also drives him to speech therapy three times a week.

“My hope is for him to be able to live independently, to be able to take care of himself and not be dependent on anyone else,” Gordon Schei said. “He’s always going to need some kind of help. Right now, he needs 24-hour care, but nobody thought he would get as far as he is right now, so there’s no sense in thinking he won’t
get further.”

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Tom Udall pushed for and voted in support of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 which became Public Law 110-28. It included $600 million in funding for post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, Congressman Udall has consistently voted in support of increasing funding for veteran’s health care and served for eight years as a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.


Who Won the U.S. Senate Debate Wednesday Night?
STEVE PEARCE (R) free polls

Senate candidates Republican Steve Pearce and Democrat Tom Udall sparred over their votes on the nation's financial troubles in their first debate in Albuquerque last night. Pearce criticized Udall for voting for a $200 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while Udall said Pearce failed to support expanded unemployment benefits and a new economic stimulus package. For debate analysis check out Joe Monahan here. And, KOB TV 4 has video highlights of the debate here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Udall Reports Strong Fundraising Thru September

Congressman Tom Udall’s campaign for United States Senate today filed a finance report showing he raised almost $1.8 million from July 1 through September 30 and entered the final month of the campaign with nearly $2 million cash-on-hand. Udall, who has consistently raised more contributions than his opponent, garnered 75 percent of his contributions, or 6,255 individual donations, in amounts of $100 or less.

“Tom Udall’s commitment to always do what’s right for New Mexico and our nation resonates strongly throughout our state thanks to his broad base of supporters,” said Udall Campaign Manager Amanda Cooper. “Their consistent and generous support has ensured that Tom Udall will finish this campaign strongly and continue fighting to make our economy work for the middle class again, to create new, renewable energy jobs of the future here at home and take care of our veterans when they come home.”

Throughout the campaign, Udall has maintained a steady effort to win supporters in every region of New Mexico. He has held a strong statewide advertising presence, already rotating 13 TV ads and debuting 15 regionally focused radio ads today. Udall has helped open over 11 offices statewide where volunteers and supporters invest countless hours, including going door-to-door on his behalf.

"At a time when our nation faces very significant challenges during a period of great economic uncertainty, Tom Udall has the judgment and integrity to do what’s right for the people of New Mexico. In the Senate, we can count on Tom to always stand up for our best interests,” concluded Cooper.

In previous reporting periods during the primary election, Udall outraised both of his potential GOP opponents combined and has outraised his opponent, Steve Pearce in the general election contest.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

NMDWS Veterans Stand Down Project to Benefit Homeless.

Event to Provide Cold Weather Gear
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Veterans Employment and Training Section (VETS), in partnership with the New Mexico Veterans Integration Center (NMVIC) and the Veterans Administration (VA), will host the 2nd Annual Albuquerque Stand Down Project October 17-18, 2008.
The event will take place at the New Mexico Veterans Integration Centers (NMVIC), 6101 Central NE, Albuquerque, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. 
It is estimated that one third of the homeless population in the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County area are Veterans.  The Stand Down Project will serve an estimated 400 to 600 homeless persons. The desired outcome of this event is to prevent homeless deaths during the winter months.
"Stand Down" is a military term originating from times of war when exhausted combat troops were given the opportunity to return to a place of relative security to rest and recover. "Stand Downs" today have become a means to care for and advocate for homeless veterans.  Every day, like the soldier in combat, the homeless veteran must continue to do battle.  His or her enemies often include lack of shelter, unemployment, physical and emotional difficulties, legal difficulties, substance abuse, and hopelessness.
This often creates a self-destructive cycle leading to complete withdrawal from mainstream American society.  To aid homeless veterans in regaining dignity and self-respect, the agencies offer a 'hand up' not a 'hand out'.
During the event the participating agencies will provide services that include but are not limited to:  employment and training counseling, chaplain services, counseling, hot showers, haircuts, substance abuse counseling, medical check up with referral, Veterans Benefits counseling, Human Services counseling (TANF/Food Stamps), personal hygiene kits, cold weather clothing/items, VA/medical ID's, financial counseling, hot meal and sack lunch.  Influenza and pneumonia shots will be provided at no cost.
The Albuquerque Stand Down Project will also be consolidated with the VA Medical Centers "Project Hand Up".  Project Hand Up is an annual outreach event for Albuquerque's þHomeless and near homeless veterans, as well as non-veterans. 
Participating agencies during this event include:  USDOL Veterans Employment and Training Service, Governor's Commission on Disability, NM Division for Vocational Rehabilitation, Commission on the Status of Women, various faith based organizations, Homeless Court System, NM Women Veterans, Native American Veterans Group, Veterans Administration VR&E, VA Medical Center, NM Army National Guard and Reserve, NM Air National Guard, City of Albuquerque, NM Department of Veterans Services, NM Human Services Department, NM Department of African American Affairs, Social Security Administration, Presbyterian Medical Services, and the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

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Carraro Quits the GOP

We probably saw this one coming right after June's primary. State Senator Joe Carraro is ditching the Republican Party to become an Independent.

"I think the Republican Party abandoned me. I think they left me. This is a statement a lot of people say, but I really think it's true," Carraro said.

Carraro has claimed that the N.M. Republican Party broke the law when it endorsed his opponent Sheriff Darren White in the primary for the 1st Congressional race.

Carraro claims that gave White a huge advantage in raising campaign money.

Carraro says he probably won't run for office again, but he says he hopes to stay in the political arena. Carraro was fist elected to office in 1985. His district includes Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

Listen to our un-edited interview from March 25, 2008 with State Senator Joe Carraro.

And for more about him leaving the GOP party read this KOB TV 4 Story

White Claims He Raised Flag on Aragon Long Ago

Today, former Senate President Pro Tem, State Senator Manny Aragon pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiracy and mail fraud in a public corruption scandal surrounding the construction of the downtown Metropolitan Courthouse. Earlier, Aragon’s co-defendants pleaded guilty to corruption charges earlier this week and agreed to provide federal prosecutors information on millions of dollars in kickbacks to Manny Aragon, who was working to secure their construction contract.

Now Darren White, who served as Secretary of Department of Public Safety [DPS) says he raised the flag on the "bought and paid for Aragon," long ago.

White's campaign released the following statement:
Former State Senator Manny Aragon has a long history of shady deals, unethical behavior, strong-arm tactics, and huge conflicts-of-interests when he controlled the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

As the Associated Press reported, when Darren White served as the Secretary of Public Safety in Governor Gary Johnson’s Administration, Darren ‘did what few in state government have dared to do: publicly criticize Aragon’s involvement in debates and legislative decision about privately operated prisons in New Mexico.’ As Darren correctly pointed out, Manny Aragon was a ‘bought and paid for’ consultant for the industry he was in charge of regulating.

Along those same lines, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Aragon’s power ‘play’ where he was ‘pandering to the police-officers’ union,’ and orchestrated the ‘crass politic[al]’ stunt of the New Mexico State Police Association’s vote of no confidence. The paper concluded that the vote of no confidence was ‘reason enough for the rest of our state’s population to be glad he’s [Darren White] the top cop.’

Darren White has long fought against shady deals, corruption, and ethics violations throughout his career – from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. When he is elected to Congress Darren will continue do the same thing and fight for the citizens of New Mexico.

Darren White will shake up the political bosses, shady lobbyists, and the traditional power-brokers in Washington, D.C., and promises to govern in an open and transparent manner ....

White released these two articles as proof of his concern years ago:
Legislators decide the rules governing their ethical behavior

Associated Press

12 September 1999

SANTA FE (AP) - New Mexico's recent prison troubles could force the Legislature to undergo a bit of self-examination and rethink the ethical rules that govern the conduct of lawmakers.

As the Legislature tries to organize an investigation into privately operated prisons, questions are resurfacing whether the Senate's top leader has a conflict of interest in dealing with prison-related matters.

It's unlikely those questions will go away soon. And if the issue lingers long enough, it could focus public attention on what a national watchdog group says are flawed ethics laws governing legislators in New Mexico and other states.

"Taken together, the financial disclosure rules that apply to the nation's state legislators may be more loophole than law," the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based research group, said in a report earlier this year.

At the center of the ethics dispute in New Mexico is Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque. He's a paid consultant to Wackenhut Corrections Corp., the Florida-based company with a multi-million-dollar contract to hold state inmates in its prisons at Hobbs and Santa Rosa.

Since December, four inmates and a guard have died at Wackenhut prisons. That's prompted the calls for an independent investigation into private prisons.

Aragon is among those pushing for an investigation. He says his business interests with Wackenhut pose no conflict with his legislative duties because the prison consulting work involves matters outside of New Mexico.

Aragon also says he's being unfairly singled out for ethical scrutiny. He suggests similar conflict of interest questions apply to the business interests of New Mexico's other part-time citizen legislators - from teachers and ranchers to liquor retailers and oil producers.

But last week, Public Safety Secretary Darren White did what few in state government have dared to do: publicly criticize Aragon's involvement in debates and legislative decisions about privately operated prisons in New Mexico.

State Republican Chairman John Dendahl took up where White left off.

Dendahl asked Attorney General Patricia Madrid, a Democrat, to determine whether Aragon's consulting work for Wackenhut posed a conflict of interest.

Madrid turned down Dendahl's request. Only elected and appointed officials or prosecutors can ask for legal opinions from the attorney general's office, she said.

Dendahl isn't giving up. He plans to have a legislator pose the conflict of interest question to Madrid.

And Dendahl has other options if that doesn't work.

A legislator can ask for an advisory opinion from the interim Legislative Ethics Committee. Any citizen can file an ethics complaint with the Legislature about the conduct of a member of the House or Senate. A complaint alleging ethical misconduct could lead to an investigation, hearing and disciplinary action.

But the controversy about Aragon's Wackenhut job also raises larger questions about New Mexico's ethics laws.

According to the report by the Center for Public Integrity, New Mexico deserved a "barely passing" grade for its law that requires lawmakers and state officials to disclose some information about their personal financial interests.

The center said New Mexico's law, like most others across the country, had too many loopholes that allowed legislators to "keep a wide range of private business activities and interests from public view."

State law requires lawmakers to list the sources of gross income of more than $5,000 - but not the exact amount or even broad ranges of their earnings from jobs or investments. And the sources of money need only be described in broad categories - such as "law practice" or "consulting operation" or "oil and gas."

Moreover, lawyers and consultants are not required to disclose the names of their clients.

In Aragon's financial disclosure report, filed in January, "consulting" is listed as a source of income for his law practice. There's no mention of Wackenhut or any other client, however.

The center's report said detailed financial disclosures are particularly vital in the states like New Mexico that have part-time legislators because "legislative service is often just one of several hats they wear."

"If they (legislators) fully disclose those activities and interests, others - their constituents, news organizations and their peers in the legislature - are at least armed with the information they need to decide whether a particular lawmaker's actions have been influenced by factors other than the public good," the report concluded.


White attacks Aragon for Wackenhut job

Albuquerque Tribune

9 September 1999

Was Senate President Manny Aragon working for the people of New Mexico or for Wackenhut Corrections Corp.?

It was a serious question raised by the state's head of public safety on Wednesday during a briefing on prison matters.

"Senator Aragon has to choose," Darren White, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety, said. "He's either an employee of Wackenhut or the Senate Pro Tem."

White angrily stomped out of the closed meeting between legislators and Wackenhut officials at the federal courthouse Downtown.

Aragon chaired the briefing of the legislative leadership about recent private-prison events. Wackenhut officials and Corrections Secretary Rob Perry also attended. Aragon and House Speaker Raymond Sanchez arranged it.

Aragon took a paid consulting job with Wackenhut in 1998 shortly after the state entered into agreements with two New Mexico counties to rent prison cells from Wackenhut.

"It's just a travesty, given the man who is chairing is an employee of that company," White said.

Aragon said he did nothing wrong.

"I have no idea what he is talking about," Aragon, a South Valley Democrat, said. "I wear my Senate Pro Tem hat every day.

"There are no sacred cows in this thing," Aragon said. "It if turns out Wackenhut hasn't done its job, . . . they should be removed from the state of New Mexico."

"It's an egregious conflict of interest for a legislator who is bought and paid for by Wackenhut to say he's approaching this issue from an objective standpoint," White said.

Aragon has defended his role with Wackenhut, saying he only consults for the company in other states.

Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, majority whip and Aragon's second-in-command, also defended him.

"I think Senator Aragon was there as a concerned leader, not as a Wackenhut employee," the Las Cruces Democrat said.

Last year, legislators including some Senate Democrats admonished Aragon, an attorney, for taking the side job.

Aragon held on to the top job in the Senate, promising that he would distance himself from policy issues involving Wackenhut.

White said Aragon and Wackenhut are putting a political spin on the riots.

"Wackenhut and Senator Aragon are blaming all this on the Corrections Department and the inmate-classification system," White said. "Wackenhut was doing the presentation likelife was good, and why shouldn't it be when they've got that guy on the payroll? It's disgusting."


Leave State Police in Darren White's hands

Santa Fe New Mexican

22 October 1999

So Darren White's a bit of a hot dog. And Manny Aragon isn't?

Boss man of the New Mexico Senate, Aragon is leading a legislative effort to separate the State Police from the Department of Public Safety over which White presides.

The Albuquerque senator won unanimous support this week from the Legislative Finance Committee. Undoubtedly he'll ram a bill through the Legislature when it convenes in January presumably to consider weightier matters.

Gov. Gary Johnson is likely to veto this attempt at a police-barracks coup, and even though the Republican governor is embarrassing many GOP legislators to tears with his drug-legalizing obsession, we're confident most Republicans would rally 'round the governor and Secretary White if it came to an override vote.

Aragon's play, then, is merely to the gallery, where he's pandering to the police-officers' union and scoring points off a man who couldn't even defend himself. Secretary White is awaiting back surgery, and could make the finance-committee hearing at which Sen. Aragon dismissed him as "more walk than talk." Whatever that meant in Aragonese, it was no compliment to White, an Albuquerque cop given a big-time lift when our quirky governor took office nearly five years ago.

White may be the most pleasant surprise in the Johnson cabinet. He's proven himself an excellent listener not to the suits stalking the Roundhouse, but to the working people whose taxes pay his salary.

Last month's narcotics raid on Chimayo resulted from White's willingness to hear what the people of the area had to say about drug thugs and other law-enforcers' unwillingness, or inability, to do anything about them.

Where cop cars of other colors wouldn't go, the black-and-gold "staters" have made their presence felt for the past three years. Undercover officers also were hard at work in the arroyos of the Santa Cruz Valley.

Federal narcotics agents were called in, and a combined force swooped down on the headquarters of several suspected druggies; nearly three dozen indictees were taken out of circulation.

Were White concentrating solely on Chimayo, and neglecting New Mexico's other 121,000 square miles, Aragon might have cause for making the State Police an independent agency, as it has been off and on. The senator says he's been talking about it for years. By bringing it up in the wake of the well-executed Chimayo raid, however, Sen. Aragon calls his own motives into question.

Were a Democrat in the governor's mansion, and the DPS secretary a Democratic appointee, would the Democrats running the Roundhouse be so hot to trot out a reorganization plan?

Last month, White was given a vote of no confidence from the New Mexico State Police Association; reason enough for the rest of our state's population to be glad he's the top cop. Sen. Aragon's assault, too, should be viewed from the framework of crass politics thus as evidence in favor of leaving the State Police under White's demanding leadership.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


United States Senate Candidate Tom Udall and Candidate for Congress Martin Heinrich will accept the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve & Protect Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) at a 10:00 am rally in Albuquerque on Thursday morning at the Barelas Community Center.

The two candidates will be joined by NCPSSM Executive Vice President Max Richtman, who ten years ago was honored to present the NCPSSM’s endorsement to Tom Udall during his successful run for Congress. Both candidates will speak at the rally on issues including the need to reduce health care costs and their ideas for health care reform.

New Mexico native returns after 60-year absence

A native New Mexican once found in streams and rivers throughout the state has returned home after a 60-year absence. Five river otters were released today in the waters of the Rio Pueblo De Taos on Taos Pueblo.

The wild otters were trapped and transported from Washington by USDA Wildlife Services and Taos Pueblo as part of a larger otter reintroduction program organized by Taos Pueblo, The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the New Mexico Friends of River Otters, a coalition of citizens, agencies and conservation organizations dedicated to restoring otters to the state.

"Protecting and restoring native wildlife is important to the heritage and ecology of New Mexico , and one of the main roles of the Department of Game and Fish," Department Director Bruce Thompson said. "Today’s release is a positive first step in an effort to return otters to watersheds across the state."

River otters are highly social, playful, semi-aquatic members of the weasel family. They are believed to have once inhabited the Gila, upper and middle Rio Grande , Mora, San Juan and
Canadian river systems and occasionally were mentioned in the journals of early settlers.

There have been no confirmed sightings of river otters in the state since 1953. Decades of trapping and habitat loss are believed to be two factors in their disappearance. Current regulations require trappers to release any otters caught in traps.

"We are so thrilled to see this species back in New Mexico ," said Linda Rundell, state director for the Bureau of Land Management. "We’re working with partners throughout the state to restore watersheds and wildlife habitat; the icing on the cake comes when we can restore species like the river otter to their rightful place in New Mexico ."

Twenty states, including Arizona , Colorado and Utah have successfully reintroduced river otters. River otters and other predators play important roles in keeping communities of native species robust and diverse.

"We are extremely excited that Taos Pueblo has taken the initiative to ensure that our playful furbearing friends are once again diving and swimming in the Upper Rio Grande Watershed," said Melissa Savage with the New Mexico Friends of River Otters.

In 2006, the State Game Commission directed the Department of Game and Fish to initiate efforts to restore otters to state waters. A Department study identified several rivers as suitable restoration sites, including the Upper Rio Grande, White Rock Canyon and Middle Rio Chama in the Rio Grande Basin ; and the Upper Gila, Lower Gila and Lower San Francisco rivers in the Gila River Basin.

A second, larger release is scheduled on the main stem of the Upper Rio Grande in November.

The New Mexico Friends of River Otters, a coalition of government agencies and conservation organizations, plans to release additional otters. Members include Amigos Bravos, Earth Friends Wild Species Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Four Corners Institute, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Biden Plans Visit to Southern New Mexico.

Albuquerque, NM - The Obama campaign today announced that Senator Joe Biden will visit New Mexico this week. Biden will host a Change We Need rally in Southern New Mexico on Friday, October 17th.

More details will be announced as soon as they are available.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

NM Treasurer James Lewis Working With Banks to Open Credit Lines.

James Lewis
On Friday, the New Mexico Business Weekly's Kevin Robinson-Avila reported New Mexico's permanent funds and pensions have been battered by the meltdown on Wall Street, but aggressive action by fund managers has helped mitigate the impact:
In the July-through-September quarter, the funds managed by the State Investment Council (SIC) and the pensions managed by both the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and the Education Retirement Board (ERB) declined by a total of $3.21 billion.

We decided to talk to State Treasurer James Lewis. He gave us the early word: Investors and consumers need to be reassured that the economic rescue plan will inject liquidity into the markets and that banks doing business in the state still need to open lines of credit, before investor and consumer confidence is restored.

Lewis also said he wants those accountable for the crisis to face justice, including indictments and prison sentences.

Lewis, has been on at least one teleconference, with other state treasurers and the U.S. Treasurer, said the State's Investment Council Oversight Committee will meet this week to review how well fund managers have mitigated the impact of the financial meltdown here.

Lewis said the state has taken a defensive posture and is working with economists at UNM to navigate this financial crisis.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

Born to Be Wild - A Nostalgic Look Back at Captain America

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper represented "freedom" 39 years ago. They set out on an motorcycle adventure in Easy Rider to find America, but people were afraid of them. They were afraid of the change they represented.

Now, we've come along way in almost four decades, and so I hope both presidential candidates, who have spent almost two years on the campaign trail, criss-crossing this wonderful land, have discovered what freedom in America means to 300+ million people.

I'm confident next month, Americans will vote for change.

Americans will redefine themselves again.

Here's to being "wild".