Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama's Economic Recovery Plan to Create 2.5 Million Jobs

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.

Developing Story: Richardson to Commerce Department

BREAKING NEWS: CNN analysts discussed Governor Bill Richardson's role in an Obama Administration as Commerce Secretary last night on CNN's Larry King (18:00 minutes into the video).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rio Grande Foundation Investigating State's Investments.

by Paul Gessing and
Jim Scarantino

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.

Napolitano's Exit Would Leave Arizona in GOP Hands

Napolitano Appears to be Obama's Homeland Security pick!
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who graduated in 1974 from Albuquerque's Sandia High School, is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, multiple news agencies reported late Wednesday.

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."
Napolitano graduated in the same high school class as Vice President Dick Cheney's controversial chief of staff, David Addington.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bingaman Hosts Democratic Delegation.

Photo: by Senate photographer John Klemmer

Senator Jeff Bingaman greeted Ben Ray Lujan, Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall and Harry Teague in Washington on Wednesday. The Rep-elects are in Washington for freshman orientation.

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.
And rumors are swirling as the Republicans try to figure out how to bounce back.

Joe Monahan inaccurately reported Sheriff Darren White was considering a run for ABQ Mayor next fall.


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.

Keeping It Fresh! No Canned Posole Here.

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

Bingaman Votes to Rebuke Lieberman

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.

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.

UPDATE: #1: Reichbach, at NMI, reports that DNC Chairman Howard Dean has backed the Senator's decision.

Do you have an opinion? Send us your thoughts by typing a comment on this post or emailing me at Peter [at]

State sets hearing for Galisteo Basin

The Oil Conservation Commission has scheduled a public hearing on proposed rules for oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin. The hearing will be Dec. 11 in Santa Fe. Officials say people wanting to recommend changes in the proposed rules must do so by Nov. 24 and those wishing to submit written comments have a deadline of Dec. 3.

The commission says the goal of the proposed rules is to establish a new process for evaluating and regulating exploration and development in the Galisteo Basin, which is described in an executive order from Gov. Bill Richardson as a ``fragile and ecologically sensitive area.''

Earlier this year Richardson imposed a moratorium on drilling in the basin that is set to expire in January 2009.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

State Auditor Hector Balderas Says He's "Ready to Serve" New Mexico.

State Auditor Hector Balderas Standing Behind
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?

House Republican Caucus Elect Leaders

From a New Release:

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.