Saturday, February 28, 2009

Taos Adopts High Performance Building Programs

Taos Joins 2030 Challenge...

The Town Council of Taos, New Mexico on February 24, 2009 unanimously approved the Taos High Performance Building Ordinance. The new ordinance is the culmination of a yearlong effort by Town officials and staff, citizen volunteers, and Sage West Consultants to encourage energy-efficient construction using the Town’s building code.

Attorney Maija D. West, Architect Alix W. Henry, and Earth Scientist William M. (Bill) Brown formed Sage West Consultants in 2008 to assist the Town in shaping the new high performance building programs authorized under the new ordinance. “This type of ordinance is being crafted for cities, towns and states throughout the USA,” say West and Henry. “It represents a necessary move toward building a new economy based on energy efficient design, clean energy systems, and energy affordability not possible with our current building stock.”

“The work being done here in Taos is an outstanding model for southwestern communities,” says Brown. “The new ordinance was developed around the unique demands of our community. It fits our local climatic conditions and the Town’s in-house administrative abilities. It nurtures and supports our local building industry. It strives to ensure that money spent on energy circulates within our community rather than flowing to out-of-state energy providers."

The new ordinance provides building permit applicants with flexible, phased approaches to construction and retrofits of residential and commercial buildings in Taos. Residential construction must meet Home Energy Rating System (HERS) standards that phase in gradually from 2009 through 2012 and beyond. Commercial construction must meet Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified standards – the minimal level of LEED performance – beginning in 2009. Sage West Consultants recommended HERS and LEED standards because they offer builders wide latitude to innovate and low- or no-cost solutions in creating energy efficient buildings.

The Town of Taos took a major leadership role in implementing the ordinance by requiring that all Town-owned and Town-funded buildings meet the new energy-efficiency requirements. “Taos showed consistent, strong leadership in setting a new course for the future,” says Brown. “Mayor Darren Cordova and ex-Mayor Bobby Duran both set clear directions for our Town Council and citizens about the dimensions of the ordinance. Town Attorney Allen Ferguson worked wonders to assist us with language and clarity that reflected the instructions of our Mayors and Town Councilors.”

The ordinance provides builders with the option of paying fees in lieu of compliance, and these fees will go into a fund to assist qualified low-income citizens in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

“Taos demanded from the outset that the ordinance should relieve the burden of rising energy costs for those least able to afford them,” says Mayor Darren Cordova. “We look forward to the Town continuing to assist its low-income citizens through weatherization retrofits, inspections, and education on energy savings as funded through the ordinance.”

Mayor Cordova noted that small towns in the USA have been highly effective in finding clean energy solutions. “Local governments are on the frontlines of planning and development, and play extremely important roles in creating energy efficiency,” he said. The new Taos ordinance also is perfectly timed to take advantage of the nation’s economic stimulus package, and to demonstrate our role in our nation’s economic recovery and moves toward energy self-sufficiency.”

“I am impressed with the level of community effort on this ordinance,” said Long Range Planner Matthew Foster. “More than 50 citizen volunteers and our consultants worked long hours together with Town officials to make the effort succeed. Taos is well positioned for high performance construction by virtue of its remarkable history. We are a high desert community with a long history of sustainable building.

We are continuously working to reduce our greenhouse gases emissions while anticipating predicted water shortages.” “But more important,” Foster added, “Taos today exhibits an outstanding spirit of cooperation among our businesses, our residents, our public utilities and our city and county government for creating an economical energy future.”

In a separate vote, the Taos Town Council approved the 2030 Challenge Resolution to create carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030. Taos joins the State of New Mexico, the City and County of Santa Fe, and the City of Albuquerque in the national and international spotlight of adopters of the 2030 Challenge.

“The resolution is consistent with Taos’ endorsement in 2007 of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the resolution on Sustainability, and the resolution adopting the EPA's Energy Star Challenge,” said Foster. “These actions by our Town Council voice our Town’s continuing responsiveness to the quality of life in Taos for present and future generations.”

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 26, 2009

State Road Is Renamed after Slain Sheriff's Deputy!

A Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty is getting a new tribute.

Today, at a meeting in Santa Rosa, The NM Transportation Commission agreed to name State Road 337, in Tijreas , the James McGrane Highway.

Deputy McGrane was shot and killed while making a traffic stop there at the end of his watch on March 22, 2006.

McGrane's accused killer Michael Paul Astoraga is awaiting trial and is currently housed at the NM State Prison in Santa Fe on parole violations. Astoraga is also accused in two other earlier murders. He was arrested in Mexico City and extradited to New Mexico in April 2006 after his mug shot appeared on America's Most Wanted.

McGrane had served with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department for 3 years. He also worked in law enforcement for the NM State Police and the United State Postal Inspection Service.

The renaming process began a few years ago by residents in the East Mountains.

County Commissioner Michael Brasher and Sheriff Darren White backed the idea, but the process was delayed because road name change rules were being changed by the NM Transportation Commission.

"This is a fitting tribute to a dedicated law enforcement officer," said White. "It is recognition of the way McGrane lived his life, not by the way it was taken."

White says he doesn't have an exact date for the ribbon cutting ceremony, but said, "It won't be long. We've already been in touch with the Governor's office."

The Officer's Down Memorial Page has more information on McGrane.

The ABQJournal has more on the story, including how the 38-year old's family is celebrating the decision.

Bookmark and Share

UNM Professor Believes Bone Yard Is The Work of a Serial Killer!

Could there be a serial killer on the loose in Albuquerque?

Police Chief Ray Schultz says it's to early to tell, but yesterday the bones of an 11th victim (who was 4th months pregnant at the time of her death) were unearthed at a crime scene where investigators have been searching for a month.

KRQE TV Anchor Jessica Garate, who won an Emmy in Wyoming for her coverage on the killing of Wyoming Student Matthew Shepard, talked to UNM Professor Dirk Gibson, who has done research on serial killers, believes the grave yard was likely the "dumping ground" for a serial killer.

In this studio interview taped before three more victims were found, Prof. Gibson tells Garate there could be many motives for the killings. He says some serial murderers want bodies to be found, but believe the suspect in these killings probably didn't ever want his victims located.

Chief Schultz says digging at the "city's biggest crime scene" will continue with help from the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Penn and Watts Cast as Wilson and Plame!

The story of Santa Fe residents Valerie Plame and her husband former Ambassador Joe Wilson is one-step closer to the silver screen.

Actors Sean Penn and Naomi Watts have agreed to play the husband and wife team. The movie project is based on Plame's autobiography, Fair Game: My Life as A Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

E! Online:

Not that Sean Penn hasn't been writing his own ticket for years, but it's nice to see winning his second Best Actor Oscar hasn't made him lazy.

The Milk star is in talks to join the cast of Fair Game, about the government-orchestrated outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, per Variety. Penn would play Plame's husband, Ambassador James Wilson, who penned a series of op-eds discrediting the Bush Administration's argument that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass distruction.

Variety Magazine has more about the turnaround production here.

Local Photo credit: MG Bralley

Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Republican Candidate Jumps Into Mayoral Race.

On Monday evening, New Mexico businessman and State Representative Richard "RJ" Berry (R-Albuquerque Dist #20) announced on Jim Villanucci talk show program that he will run for Mayor of Albuquerque.

From a campaign news release:

"Now more than ever, Americans across the country are watching their wallets and expecting their elected officials to do the same. Those of us in Albuquerque are no different. We are at a crossroads when it comes to government. We can either choose to adopt the bailout mentality that looks to a big and powerful government for everything, or we can choose to have a limited and responsible government that spends within its means and helps provide an environment where small businesses can flourish and create jobs on their own. As Mayor, I will restore fiscal discipline to City Hall and focus on policies that will help small businesses create jobs.

Richard J. Berry is a businessman and entrepreneur with over twenty years of real business experience here in New Mexico and the greater Southwest region. He and his wife Maria own and operate Cumbre Construction, Inc., a multi-award winning business.

In addition to cutting wasteful spending and creating jobs, Berry also said he will also focus on cracking down on crime and ethics in government.

Berry received his B.A. in Finance from the University of New Mexico in 1985. While in college he lettered in track and field and specialized in the decathlon while working his way through college on an athletic scholarship.

In 2006, Berry was elected to the State House of Representatives where he now serves on the Appropriations Committee and the Transportation and Public Works Committee.

Albuquerque is a great city and we have a bright future. As mayor, I will strive for efficient government and responsible leadership. I will work to promote an inclusive and optimistic vision for Albuquerque, one driven by bold ideas, but tempered with pragmatism and common sense.

Bookmark and Share

Video: Val Kilmer at Mardi Gras in New Orleans

One of New Orleans' perennial favorite Mardi Gras parades - the Krewe of Bacchus - rolled this year with actor Val Kilmer as King.

Kilmer, who's considering running for Governor in New Mexico, tossed Bacchus coin or doubloon to the cheering crowds as the parade crossed the city to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on the New Orleans riverfront where the serious partying began.

To read more on Kilmer's possible political interest check out New Mexico bloggers NMFBIHOP and Heath Haussamen, the New Mexico Independent and one of our favorites, Democracy for New Mexico.

Thanks to Jeremy Jojola for the video hattip.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crunching the Numbers: Stimulus vs Iraq War!

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Is Bush Looking For a Job in Dallas?

Here's the scoop from a friend in Dallas.

In one of his first outings in Dallas since leaving the White House, former President Bush made a surprise appearance at a hardware store Saturday and joked, "I'm looking for a job."

Bush was responding to an open letter to him from the store's manager inviting him to consider a position as a part-time greeter.

Kyle Walters, president and CEO of Elliot's Hardware, wrote in a letter published in The Dallas Morning News on Feb. 5 that the position of greeter would offer Bush several perks, including a flexible schedule to allow him to travel to Crawford, an opportunity for him to maintain his people skills, ample parking -- including space for his security detail -- and an employee discount for any projects Bush many have on the "Honey-Do" list.

Bush has not accepted the position, but he spent about an hour browsing the aisles and purchased batteries, flashlights and WD-40, the store said in a news release.

"We are thrilled Mr. Bush was able to stop and get a few items for his new home," Andrea Bond, a spokeswoman for Elliot's Hardware, said.