Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cornelius Considering Running for NM Public Land Commissioner in 2010

Self-described conservative Republican Bob Cornelius gave us the word this weekend that he's formed an Exploratory Committee and intends to seek his party's nomination for New Mexico's Commissioner of Public Lands.

In April, former two-term Land Commissioner Ray Powell, who served from 1993-2000 and still has his 2006 cambpaign website active , told blogger Heath Haussaman that he was going to seek the Democratic Party nomination in 2010.

Powell lost a close primary election, in 2006, to former Land Commissioner Jim Baca.

Cornelius, a native of Tatum in Lea County and a graduate of Eastern New Mexico, has launched a campaign website, I'm Backing Bob, here.

Cornelius is a long-time GOP activist and Co-owner and Executive Vice President of Petro Verde. A company he said he started to both build and promote alternative and renewable fuel sources in New Mexico and beyond. He is also a fraud investigator employed by the NM Public Regulation Commission.

Corneilus said he has a unique perspective to add to the State Land Office because he grew up in Southern New Mexico:

Oil and gas are the backbone of our economy, but I believe that we must diversify in order to provide new jobs, sustain growth, and to insure that our future generations have every opportunity to succeed.

In his announcement, Corneilus states that he has an appreciation for the state's beauty and its people and pledges to be "an avid protector of our public lands, assuring they will be preserved for future generations.

Current GOP State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons, the only Republican to hold a current state office, has several run ins with the state's attorney general's office because of lease agreements given to a political donor, will be term-limited out of office next year.

Corneilus said:

Commissioner Lyons has served New Mexico well. I wish him the best as he seeks to become a Public Regulation Commissioner. Pat oversaw record breaking oil and gas revenues that have benefitted all New Mexicans. I applaud these efforts, but believe that the State Land office can continue to improve in the areas of promoting alternative energy and job growth, as well as assisting our communities with special projects.

Cornelius tells us he's traveling the state to discuss his possible candidacy with concerned citizens, elected officials, and business leaders. He will make a formal decision about his candidacy this summer.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Incumbent Mayor Gets AFSCME Endorsement

Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chavez, who has qualified for the ballot and public financing, but has not officially announced that he's running for a 4th term this fall, has picked up an important and powerful endorsement from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which represents 3500 city workers.

Read the endorsement here.

Chavez, who declined to participate in the union's mayoral forum last month, has said he plans to announce his re-election plans within "weeks."

New Mexico Independent's Heath Haussaman and Joe Monahan broke the story here and here that AFSCME's decision was made by union members on Wednesday night.

Council President and PEOPLE Committee chair Andrew Padilla said:
Mayor Chavez is in a very strong position to be re-elected and we look forward to a good working relationship over the next four years with the Mayor and his administration.
Richard Romero and RJ Berry are also on the ballot. Yesterday, Romero went on the offense at a news conference calling Chavez "fiscally irresponsible." Marjorie Childress reports here that a Chavez spokesperson is defending his record and the city's bond rating. We have audio from Romero's news conference, with former City Treasurer Lou Hoffman, and a response from Deborah James (Chavez spokesperson). Both audio interviews will be posted this weekend.

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Four Investment Scammers Busted in NM

Albuquerque, N.M. – Four men were indicted yesterday by a Sandoval County grand jury after a months-long investigation by the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Securities Division for racketeering, securities fraud, forgery, conspiracy and other fraud related charges. Investigators allege a multi-million dollar investment fraud case spanning 17 states and impacting more than 40 people and companies.
The men, all from out of state, were arrested by agents of the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Securities Division and officers of the Rio Rancho Police Department last week after meeting with a Securities Division undercover agent posing as a potential investor. 
The investment they were offering is not registered with state or federal authorities, and none of the four men charged are licensed to sell securities in New Mexico. Additionally, they provided several false or forged documents and fraudulent mineral leases and geologic data.
Arrested were Theodore "Ted" Hogan, age 64, also known as Ted Kills In The Fog, a resident of Sedona, Arizona; Brad Greenberg, age 53, of Charlotte, North Carolina; Grady J. Hunts Arrow, Sr., age 69, a resident of Pryor, Montana; and Loren E. Old Bear, age 58, a resident of Lodge Grass, Montana. 
After arraignment in Sandoval County Magistrate Court last week, Hogan's bond was set at $1 million cash only. Hogan has a history of fraudulent activity and served time in prison on bank fraud and corruption charges in the 1990s. Grady Hunts Arrow and Loren Old Bear were released on a $50,000 surety bond; Greenberg was released on a $1,000 cash bond.
According to the indictment, the four men were offering interests in a limited liability company and an investment contract for the development of oil, gas or other mineral rights in a multi-million dollar plan to develop coal bed methane wells on the Crow Reservation in Montana. 
The New Mexico Securities Division probe of Hogan and his associates was launched late last year in response to information provided by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. 
The investigation revealed that a retired Rio Rancho woman had invested $50,000 with Hogan.
"Hogan has hurt investors throughout the country," said Superintendent Kelly O'Donnell. "This current scheme is only the latest in a complex and interwoven series of investment frauds Hogan has been perpetrating for more than seven years, all involving purported mineral development in Montana on the Crow Reservation." 
The U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Inspector General, the Rio Rancho Police Department, the Albuquerque Police Department's Special Investigations Division, the Arizona Corporation Commission Securities Division, and the Virginia State Corporation Commission Division of Securities and Retail Franchising all were partners in the investigation.
"This case highlights the critical importance of doing a little independent research before making any investment," said Securities Division Director Bruce R. Kohl.  "A call to our office would have quickly revealed that Mr. Hogan was an unlicensed individual with a very dubious history."
By calling 800-704-5533, the Securities Division toll-free number, investors can find out whether an individual is a licensed financial professional and if that individual has been the subject of disciplinary action in New Mexico or other states. The Securities Division can also assist in determining if the investment offered is registered with state or federal regulators. 
The Regulation and Licensing Department Securities Division protects New Mexicans from fraud and financial abuse by licensing investment professionals, registering securities offering made in the state, and investigating fraud and other violations of the state securities law.  To learn more about investment fraud, visit the division's website at www. <>

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

One on One with Ben Ray Luján After SF Health Care Tour

First-term U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján, Jr. is staying busy on his trip home to the 3rd congressional district this week. Today he toured several facilities in Santa Fe to discuss health care reform.

He tells us what he learned in this audio podcast.

Listen to the story about Corporal Charlie an 84 year, wheel-chair bound, vet (in Gallup) who had his purple heart stolen. Luján says Open Hands helped "Charlie" get a new electric chair and that the gift has lifted the old soldier’s spirit. Luján's office is helping to replace the corporal's award medal.

Luján say health care costs must be lowered. He also give us his predictions on what action congress will take this year on health care.

To learn more about the congressman's view on the national health care debate read his guest blog on Barbara Wold's Democracy For New Mexico here.

Luján, Jr. also told us about his upcoming credit card forum and workshop this Saturday (3-4pm) at the Rio Rancho Library. Luján, Jr. says he’ll be discussing the new credit card holder’s bill of rights enacted to provide more consumer protection.

Listen to his comments in this second audio podcast.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

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Virgin Galactic Rocket Motor Testing Successful

This morning, Virgin Galactic announced the successful completion of the first phase of tests of the rocket motor that will propel space tourists, scientists and payloads into space.

The company is selling trips to space, for around $200,000 and plans to launch flights from Spaceport America in Southern New Mexico beginning in 2010.

In the desert of southern California, Virgin Galactic's key supplier Scaled Composites and its subcontractor SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) have successfully completed the first tests of the innovative rocket motor that will propel space tourists, scientists and payloads into space. The hybrid Nitrous Oxide system being used is the largest of its kind in the world and it will send Virgin's customers up into sub-orbital space at speeds over 2500 mph (4000kmh), to heights over 65 miles (110km) above the Earth’s surface, before the spaceship descends back down through the atmosphere using its pioneering feathered re-entry system.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic said:
As Virgin Galactic gets ever closer to the start of commercial operations, we are reaching and passing many important and historic milestones. The Virgin MotherShip (VMS) Eve, the first of our amazing, all carbon composite, high altitude WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicles, is flying superbly. SpaceShipTwo, which will air launch from Eve, is largely constructed and awaiting the start of its own test flight programme later this year.

The rocket motor burns for a very short period of time because the spaceship is launched from VMS Eve in the upper atmosphere, rather than from ground level. This means much less fuel is required, and the fuel burn is more environmentally benign than the solid rockets used in most ground based systems.

While the rocket motor is extremely powerful, it is also completely controllable. This system can - if necessary - be shut down at any time, allowing the spaceship to glide back down to land at a conventional runway. This is a significant feature in the overall safety of the Virgin system for human space flight.

Sir Richard continued:
Less fuel and clean fuel all add up to a space launch system which will be completely unprecedented in its low environmental impact compared with current space flight. The spaceship’s carbon footprint for each of its passengers and crew will be about a quarter of that for a return trip from London to New York, demonstrating again the extraordinary benefits that new technology can bring to the quest for clean transportation.

Virgin Galactic's mission is to transform the safety, cost and environmental impact of access to space. Not just for passengers, but also for a range of important scientific purposes, and to send small satellites into orbit. The world’s scientific community is united in recognising that making better use of space will be vital to mankind’s ability to manage the huge future challenges of life back here on Earth.

The rocket motor will continue a series of exhaustive tests, and the spaceship itself will start flight testing later this year. The testing programme for the rocket, the spaceship and VMS Eve will be extensive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Denish Gets Missing Person Work Group Update

In March, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish proposed a new emergency alert system, similar to Amber Alerts, for missing adults and convened a task group to consider a system following the discovery of 11 missing women and a fetus on Albuquerque's West Mesa.

We reported on the task force's first meeting here.

Today, the Lt. Governor got the groups first recommendations and we just got this update from her office.

From a News Release

ALBUQUERQUE – Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish today hosted a meeting to hear reports and recommendations from the members of the missing person work group.

Representatives from law enforcement, the media, community advocates and elected officials attended the meeting. The gathering today was the second meeting of the missing person work group. At the end of March, Lieutenant Governor Denish organized the first meeting of the group to discuss effective means of finding missing people of all ages and backgrounds.

Lieutenant Governor Denish established three work groups earlier this year: the media and law enforcement group chaired by Mary Lynn Roper, General Manager of KOAT-TV; the data improvement work group chaired by Major Robert Shilling of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety; and the Community Outreach and Networking Group chaired by Lisa Simpson, Executive Director of Crossroads Transition Services for Women. Each work group has met and has developed recommendations.

“I am pleased that such a diverse group of people have been a part of this important discussion,” said Lieutenant Governor Denish. “We are all committed to developing a more comprehensive approach to finding missing people, despite the circumstances of their disappearance. Effective means of communication among law enforcement and the media is essential as is enhanced data sharing among law enforcement agencies. This will ensure the safety of our citizens and mobilize efforts to find missing people.”

A key recommendation from every work group was to implement a public education campaign. This campaign will be directed towards members of the public as well as members of law enforcement. The education campaign will ensure the public is aware of the process for reporting a missing person and tracking their case.

For example, a person does not have to be missing 24 or 48 hours before law enforcement considers them missing. There also exists a statewide number (1-800-HLP-FIND) that connects directly to a statewide missing person clearing house.

Enhanced and consistent training of law enforcement on reporting and tracking of missing people was recommended as well as increased efforts to ensure data sharing and effective communication among state and local law enforcement.

Compiling all of the associated and pertinent missing person statues into one comprehensive statue was recommended. “I look forward to working with Lt. Governor Denish to review all of the current state regulations on missing people to make sure that they are the most effective and to guarantee that these laws are adequately enforced,” stated State Senator Sander Rue, a member of the missing person work group.

“As a result of this meeting, there are a number of areas that we can begin work on right now, including no-cost and low-cost recommendations to various agencies and providers about proposed improvements” said Lieutenant Governor Denish.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

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Rep. Ben Ray Luján Jr. Hosts Health Care Reform Tour in Santa Fe Tomorrow.

Rep. Luján will be highlighting the need for health care reform and quality affordable health care for all Americans. We'll be watching what he says during his reform tour tomorrow.

News Release:

Santa Fe, NM - Tomorrow, Rep. Ben Ray Luján will hold a tour of community health service providers to highlight the need for health care reform that provides quality, affordable health care for all Americans. He will visit Open Hands, a health center dedicated to providing health services as well as loans for medical equipment for disabled and elderly individuals in low income homes. Following his visit to Open Hands, Rep. Luján will tour the Santa Fe Community Guidance Center, which provides primary care and behavioral health services.

"We must make sure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care," said Rep. Luján. "The cost of health care is spiraling out of control and even families with insurance are only a job loss or an injury away from losing their coverage. We need health care reform that changes the status quo and provides affordable, quality health care for all Americans."

If you go:

10:00 am Open Hands, 2976 Rodeo Park Dr E, Santa Fe, NM
11:00 am: Santa Fe Community Guidance Center, 820 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM

Photo credit: MG Bralley

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Heinrich and County VIPs Visiting Pajarito Mesa Today

Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, County Manager Thaddeus Lucero and Congress Martin Heinrich will be touring Pajarito Mesa today.

Pajarito Mesa overlooks Albuquerque's South Valley and is home to over 250 families who struggle for basic services such as water, electricity, roads, emergency services, and school bus transportation. See freelance photographer Toby Jorrin's slide show and commentary on the area here.

The group of VIP's will tour the area and discuss community issues like crime, formalizing roads, renewable energy, water problems, and the Census 2010.

A news release from Bernalillo County says the purpose of the site tour is for the elected leaders to visit the area along with residents to see and hear from them, first hand regarding some of the living conditions faced on a daily basis.

“While there are many facets to this issue, I consider this tour the beginning of a humanitarian effort reaching out to the Congressman to open up a public dialogue between residents and elected officials,” says Commissioner De La Cruz.

“This first step is critical to explore and discover ways to create opportunities to work together and the potential for identifying measures of support with our Congressman at the federal level of government.

Later this evening, Heinrich will participate in a Veterans Town Hall at New Mexico's Veteran's Memorial park from 530 to 730p.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Heinrich Will Meet With Auto Dealers Tuesday

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – In light of Chrysler’s announcement to shut down 789 dealerships nationwide as part of its reorganization in bankruptcy court, and the announcement by General Motors to shut down thousands of its dealers nationwide, U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-01) will host a local auto dealers roundtable this afternoon in Albuquerque.

770KKOB will be there and report what was discussed on this blog later in the evening.

Heinrich's press office says the congressman intends to gather concerns and discuss the impact of the shutdowns on local auto dealers in order to discuss those concerns with President Barack Obama’s Automotive Task Force.

Four car dealerships in New Mexico are on the list of dealers Chrysler has targeted to no longer sell their cars. Quality Jeep Chrysler Inc. in the First Congressional District is on the list of closures.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

For Some Vets Everyday is Memorial Day

This 2004 Tom Aviles story won an Emmy. The opening shot of the birds flying took an entire day's worth for that one shot.

Please take a moment to watch the video.

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Heinrich Honors New Mexican Vets; Condemns North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Test.

Duty, Honor & Country. New Mexicans Pay Tribute to Fallen Soldiers.

After a weekend of rain, sunshine filled the NM Veteran's Memorial Park just in time for Monday's Memorial Day ceremonies. Hundreds of people filled the grandstands. They saluted a giant American Flag (flying at half staff), bowed their heads during an invocation, and listened to dignitaries honor veterans and their families.

Lest we forget, a wall with thousands of New Mexican's names surrounds the entrance to the park. The bricks display the names of those individuals who heard the call to duty and are either still missing in action, tragically died in combat, or served in captivity, from WWI through the War on Terror.

Represenative Martin Heinrich, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, was a featured speaker at this morning's event. Other VIP's attending included Lt. Governor Diane Denish, ABQ Mayor Martin J. Chavez, Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Brasher, and City Councilor Dan Harris.

He tells us the first piece of legislation he introduced in Congress was for veterans.
It will help communications between the Department of Veterans Affairs, our State V.A. Directorships and returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. We often lose track of those folks because we only keep track of their physical address which typically changes a lot when they return. One of things we’re trying to do is make sure they start keeping track of emails for all those returning veterans so we can make sure they get the services they’ve earned.

We caught up with him before the ceremony began and talked to him about North Korea's nuclear weapon test underground early Monday.

Heinrich told 770KKOB, that he's concerned North Korea is becoming increasingly isolated from the world community.
I think we need to work in concert with our allies to make sure that North Korea does not pose a threat to the United States or the stability of the entire pacific region.

Heinrich said the NM Veterans Memorial Park use to be in his city council district and that it has a close place in his heart.
In addition to honoring the fallen over the last year I just want to thank the people who show up here every single year. You see their faces again and again if you’ve been to the park. They come every spring. They don’t spend their memorial day at the reservoir or off on a three-day vacation. They come here to recognize and pay tribute to our fallen veterans.
Heinrich also told us he'll be hosting a veteran's town hall meeting on Wednesday at the park, near Kirtland A.F.B., from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish told the crowd, "Because of their [veterans] valor and their commitment, freedom is alive in the world today."

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