Saturday, November 15, 2008

Watch President-Elect Obama's First YouTube Address

Billed on YouTube and 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

NM Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught Announces Her Retirement

On Friday State Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught announced that she will retire from her position at the end of this year, capping a distinguished 21-year career in state government.

“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:

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.

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.

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

McCulloch Makes His Move To Chair NM GOP.

Doctor Allen McCulloch, from Farmington, is making his move to take over leadership of The Republican Party of New Mexico.

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.

, 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.

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.
McCulloch pulls no punches when writing about the party's current organization:
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, the
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.
McCulloch finishes his letter with an optimistic note:
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.

Rio Arriba Politico Naranjo Dies at 92

From a friend at UNM

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 EspaƱola, 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.

EspaƱola 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.”

Eclipse Aviation Workers Won't Be Paid On-Time.

Update - 12 noon

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.

Coaches on Central (505-242-7111) is giving everyone with an Eclipse badge 20% off food only.
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.

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.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

T. Boone Pickens Stalls Wind Farm Project

From the Dallas Business Journal -

Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is revamping his renewable energy campaign in light of falling energy prices, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

According to the AP, Pickens told a crowd gathered at the Edison Electric Institute convention that part of his reduction in spending on his renewable energy campaign includes placing his West Texas wind farm project on hold for now.

Pickens says the recent fall in gas prices is responsible for the delay in his wind farm project in West Texas, the AP reported.

However, Pickens said he expects oil prices will rise again and long-term he does not see oil providing America all of the energy resources it needs.

Pickens earlier in the year told lawmakers a switch to American-produced energy resources within the next 10 years is necessary to end the nation’s crippling $700 billion dependence on foreign oil.

Pickens, who revealed his alternative energy plan earlier in the year, also told the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that the United States should be able to produce 22 percent of its electrical energy needs using wind-powered electricity, based on Department of Energy estimates.

Pickens, at the time, pointed to the Great Plains, which includes parts of West Texas, as the prime location for producing wind energy resources.

Your Chance to Pick a Post for Governor Bill Richardson

We don't do many blog polls. Basically, they're unscientific. But with everyone speculating about Governor Bill Richardson's future we thought we'd get a sense of which post you think he'll likely be appointed to by President-elect Barack Obama.

Today on the Daily Kos, readers are picking Richardson overwhelmingly to be Secretary of State. He leads their poll with 63% of the vote and is well ahead of both Sens. John Kerry and Richard Lugar who have 23 and 13 perecent.

Check the poll at the bottom of the Daily Kos ' Cheers and Jeers post, and read some of the comments about Richardson. Many people say that he's prepared for the job, because as UN Ambassador he's already done parts of the job and that he's familiar with some of the key players internationally.

Photo credit: MG Bralley

Monday, November 10, 2008

State Treasurer Savoring "Obama-time"

Months before New Mexico State Treasurer James Lewis was re-elected president of the Western State Treasurers Association he stood on the steps of the state capitol in Santa Fe and told a crowd gathered there that he was going to endorse Barack Obama.

In March and April, Lewis campaigned and was elected as an Obama delegate to the DNC in Denver this August.

On Tuesday night, Lewis could be seen cherishing the historic 2008 election while watching network newscasters declare Obama had captured the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected.

Lewis told the crowd of about 2500 people at the ABQ Convention Center that he had a premonition about Obama. He said, "I knew he was a special person." Lewis believes the 47-year old president-elect has the fortitude and the vision to lead the country though some of the most pressing issues, including the economy.

We had a chance to talk to Lewis on Friday.

Lewis tells us he's looking at the election of the 44th President of the United States in its historical perspective. He says the country has come along way since the Jim Crow laws, used to block African Americans from voting. Lewis even reminded us that before the 1965 Voting Rights Act his relatives were prevented from voting because they didn't know how many "bubbles were in a bar of soap."

"This is a proud moment for me," said Lewis. "It's a sense of achievement."

Lewis says any young person who goes out and gets a good education and has a strong work ethic can acheieve anything they want.

"He's getting the last laugh," said Lewis about Obama's election on Tuesday.

Lewis said, "Obama had a history of pulling people together. We need someone like him during these tough economic times."

"He'll surround himself with competent people and will listen to his advisors," said Lewis who has not yet heard if he'll be appointed to a transition team. In 1993 Lewis was picked by the President-Elect Clinton and worked with four or five other people developing a transition report for the export/import bank.

For now he's preparing for the legislature and and projected revenue shortfalls.

Lewis also took a few minutes analyzing what the New Mexican Republican Party might consider doing to re-establish itself after stunning defeats in all three congressional districts.

Our colleagues at Democracy for New Mexico captured Lewis on stage election night in this video. And the ABQJOURNAL covered the state's African American community exuberant reaction to Obama's election here.

You can also listen to our interview with Mr. Lewis in Denver during the DNC in our audio archives.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

President-Elect Obama Delivers 1st Radio Address

If you're like me you took the weekend off of politics, expect maybe to watch Meet the Press on NBC, like we do every Sunday morning, or to check out the post election show on KNME where I appeared as a guest panelist on New Mexico In Focus: The Line.

If you caught up on chores and spent leisure time visiting with friends, and family, after a long campaign season, then you might have missed President-Elect Barack Obama's first national radio address since being elected last Tuesday.

You definitely want to listen to it here.

I found the transcript on the DNC's website here.

Stay tuned, on Monday we'll post our exclusive interview with State Treasurer James B. Lewis. He's savoring Obama's victory and thinking about how far African American's have come since the civil right's movement.