Friday, July 31, 2009

ABQ Prepares to Double Down on Eclipse

Updated: With audio from news conference.

The word
this afternoon from City Hall is that a new group of investors wants to restart Eclipse Aviation in the city.

The assets of the Albuquerque jet maker, which laid off around 800 employees in February when it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, are set to be purchased by a new company called Eclipse Aerospace.

That group is made up of several people that were involved with the old company, including jet owners and customers still waiting for their order to be filled. They have put down $5 million in earnest money to buy the company and re-open it in Albuquerque where hangars are already available.

The new bid for the company has been submitted and a hearing for the motion will be held August 10 and the new company could be up and running as soon as August 24.

Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chávez said Friday the new company plans to potentially rehire hundreds of Eclipse employees.

It's unclear what incentives the city may be offering the Eclipse Aerospace, but Chávez said he's 98 percent certain that Eclipse has been saved although there are few details:

This is extraordinarily good news for the city of Albuquerque. I believe it will come to fruition.
Double Eagle Land At Double Eagle Airport Could be Lost.

Weeds and an empty parking lot are the only things left at the former
Eclipse Aviation Training Center built on donated land at the Double Eagle Airport.

In 2005, a three-way land exchange, with the city, state land office and BR Ranch Ventures, LLP gave Eclipse Aviation 150 acres of prime space at Double Eagle Airport to build a manufacturing plant. That land is set to revert to a commercial developer for a measly $10,000, or $66 an acre according to a Special Warranty Deed filed with the City Clerks in February 2005. William Rogers and John Black donated the land after making an exchange with the city. Terms included getting the land back from Eclipse if no manufacturing plant was built by January 2010, or buying it back if the company filed bankruptcy which it did earlier this year.

We visited the site today. The only building there is surrounded by weeds. Even the computer harddrives used in two flight training simulators have been removed by a former supplier. However, the company's primary hangars South of the Sunport are empty and could rehouse the new group with minimal preparation.

While New Mexico's State Investment Council had invested some $19 million dollars in the original company, it should be noted the original company brought hundreds of people to the state who spent money they earned at the company around the community, buying houses, cars, eating out and paying taxes. One estimate says the spending, by employees and the company, may have contributed up to $150 million dollars to the state's economy in roll through money.

Will Former Employees Return to Work?

770KKOB's Michael Jasso reports some former top-level Eclipse employees could return to work within the next two weeks. This February more than 800 employees were laid off after having paychecks delays.

Last August the jet's certification came under scrutiny by the FAA and the U.S. Congress but was deemed fit to fly in September 2008

According to aviation industry reports, in June this year, Eclipse 500 jet's had their EASA Type Certificate suspended, striking a potential blow to the value of Eclipse Aviation's intellectual property assets that will be sold at the August bankruptcy auction.

The group of Eclipse Aerospace investors includes owners of Eclipse jets. They are said to be very confident this will go through. The business would operate in the already leased buildings at the Albuquerque Sunport and Double Eagle II Airport.

Chávez said there is a chance that several foreign governments might offer competing bids. The city doesn't want that to happen because then the assets and jobs would go elsewhere.

KRQE's webpost notes several aviation trade publications have reported that the first priority of Eclipse Aerospace would be to provide much-needed service for the existing fleet of 260 Eclipse jets sold before the original company failed, including buying back multiple jets from dissatisfied owners.

Starting up new production then would happen sometime in the indefinite future.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Movie Production Will Help Local Charities Raise Money

Universal Pictures and Working Title Films are offering non-profit organizations a fund raising opportunity as extras for their upcoming film entitled Paul on August 11 and 12 at the Albuquerque Convention Center in a Comic-Con scene.

The movie stars Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Star Trek) and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The Boat that Rocked,) as two British science fiction enthusiasts on the trip of a lifetime to the Comic Con convention in San Diego, and then to Area 51 in the Nevada desert.

The producers will donate money to your non-profit organization based on the number of people you bring to the scene. You can register your non-profit by calling Elizabeth Gabel, extras casting director, at 505-982-9681.

The movie also stars Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Blythe Danner and John Carroll Lynch. Directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) and written by Pegg and Frost, the film is being produced by NiraPark, Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan and is shooting in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque areas from June through mid-August.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DC Falls in Love with New Mexico Politicans

While freshman U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich is topping The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People list two other New Mexican's have been selected as "Top Young Guns" by the NRCC.

Today in Washington, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) included two New Mexico Republicans— former Congressman Steve Pearce (CD2) and Albuquerque lawyer and businessman Jon Barela (CD1)—among the first 13 candidates in its New Young Guns program.

According to the NRCC, candidates included in the new program “must demonstrate a base of support, develop a media messaging plan for the race and show they are capable of raising enough money to get their message out.”

But they'll need silver bullets to unseat the freshman representatives in New Mexico's 1st and 2nd congressional districts in next year's congressional races.

Matt Reichbach over at NMFBIHOP reports:
Just four of the 24 Republican challengers in the NRCC's Young Guns program in 2008 successfully won office.

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Udall Catches Up to the Rest of the World Online

Better late than never, New Mexico's junior U.S. Senator is going online and accepting social media as a proven communications tool.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M. today launched his official presence on the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Udall’s outreach on social media will provide constituents with the opportunity to engage in a two-way dialogue with his office and stay up-to-date on legislation in Washington and upcoming events in New Mexico.

Udall said:
More and more New Mexicans have started using social media to connect, and I'm happy to say I do too. Using outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr in the Senate will help me reach out in new ways by providing an inside look at my work in Washington and by providing a forum for conversation on the issues that we face together.
Udall’s first Tweet linked to his Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, sharing the stories of New Mexicans in need of healthcare reform .

His Communications Director Marissa Padilla promises the social media sites will provide regular postings on Udall’s work in Washington and New Mexico along with video and photo content.

Udall can be found at the following web addresses:

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Chevron Donates Land for Code Talker's Museum

Chevron Corporation will honor the Navajo Code Talkers Association (NCTA) with a gift of more than 200 acres of land. It will be used for a code talker's museum and veteran’s center and for other economic development goals.

The Navajo Code Talkers, who served in all six Marine divisions from 1942 to 1945 during WWII, constructed a code from their native language and have been credited with saving countless lives and hastening the end of the war. In 2001, the Navajo Code Talkers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush.

The official ceremony is Friday, just outside of the Navajo Nation Capital of Window Rock, AZ.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will speak, along with members of the NCTA including President Keith Little and Vice President Samuel Tso, as well as Chevron Mining president, Fred Nelson. New Mexico Veterans' Services Secretary John Garcia, dignitaries, veterans and other community members are also attending the July 31st ceremony.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Gangs Contributing to High Property Crime Rates

Burglaries are skyrocketing in Santa Fe according to law enforcement authorities there. The number of break-ins have more than doubled this month compared to last July according to this Santa Fe New Mexican report.

Police Captain Gary Johnson told the paper he believes a spike in gang activity is "exacerbating the residential burglary problem" in the capital city.

The New Mexico Gang Task Force reports there are between 2,000 and 2,500 gang members in Santa Fe. Two weeks ago, Dave Maass, a journalist with the Santa Fe, New Mexico reported many of those thugs are hiding out in plain sight and using My Space pages to operate their criminal enterprises.

Police believe professional thieves are mainly hitting the city's east side of town. While juveniles gang members are focused on residences on the south and west side of town.

According to the Santa Fe Police Department report, burglaries, in the 2nd quarter of 2009 jumped 105 percent compared to April thru June 2008. This month alone there has been an increase of 162 percent.

In Albuquerque, property crimes, according to FBI crime reports, are up a little more than nine percent year-over-year.

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