Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sen Lopez: Ready To be Lt. Gov on Day One

Updated: 10pm

On Saturday morning, Linda Lopez, who has been in the New Mexico State Senate for 13 years, officially entered the already crowded race for Lieutenant Governor. She becomes the fourth woman to announce a campaign for a state office next year.

It appears, 2010 is truly shaping up to possibly be the "Year of the Woman" in New Mexico politics.

During her brief speech, Sen. Lopez told about 100 supporters, including most of the families of murdered women found buried this Spring on Albuquerque's West Mesa, that she's ready to be the state's next Lieutenant Governor on day one if elected.

Lopez said she has unique experiences that qualify her for the job. Lopez said her campaign will be about jobs for New Mexicans. She said many communities are in need and that she doesn't believe building prisons are economic development, instead she said they are becoming repositories for "our children."

Lopez noted more than half of the state's grandparents are raising their grandchildren. She said the state shouldn't be anywhere close to 54%. She recommends using technology to help teachers and families improve the education outcomes.

She also talked about Safe Coverage Initiative, which she described as a public health care option already in place in New Mexico. She said congress should pay attention to what is being done in New Mexico. She pledged to work on more access to health care and to work for medicare funding if she's elected Lieutenant Governor.

Lopez also promised to work closely on the governor's initiatives:
I'm not shy, two women at the head, we can create change, and we will.

With children playing in the park and others enjoying homemade breakfast burritos, Senator Lopez spent about five minutes outlining her vision and why she's running for Lieutenant Governor for us.

See what the Senator says about what she's been doing to help the murder victims in another video here. Also listen to her remarks on the state's budget crisis and her role, as the Senate Rules Chair since 2002, in reforming ethics laws in New Mexico in this video.

Eleanor Griego, the mother of a murdered woman, was at the announcement to support Lopez. She told 770KKOB News Radio why she is supporting Lopez' candidacy in this exclusive interview:

Eleanor Griego
Griego said the children orphaned by the murders are doing well. The school aged children each got a $215 dollars for a "back to school" shopping spree after the group collected donations. Griego said having new clothes and gear for school helped their self esteem, but she's concerned some of them are still being teased at school.

Griego said one of her grandchildren's school mates insulted his mother, not knowing she was murdered, and that she's working with administrators to make sure the children are okay. She said many of the them are still getting counseling after attending six funerals this summer.

After announcing in Albuquerque in the morning, Sen. Lopez jumped on the Rail Runner and headed North to Santa for a 2nd announcement event on Saturday afternoon outside the REI store.

Her first fundraiser is scheduled for Wednesday evening at Fiesta's Restaurant in Albuquerque.

View a photo slideshow from the Lopez' announcement at Washington Middle School Park.

Blogger Mary Collins said in her "A Female New Mexican's Political Blog" post that the senator will have to answer some difficult questions before Democrats cast their votes. Collin and Lopez talked about violence toward women and childhood obesity, and pay parity in this video.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Roadmap to Recovery Commitments Met in New Mexico

In June, the President and Vice President announced their "Roadmap to Recovery," summer initiative. It was designed to accelerate the Administration’s economy recovery efforts, and included ten major projects – from putting more cops on our streets to keeping more teachers in our classrooms to giving more people access to health care – were announced.

Now we're getting updated reports on program efforts in New Meixco just 200 days after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was rolled out.

Here are a few highlights:
  • 14 health centers are providing expanded services to residents throughout the state.
  • 2,000 new education jobs were funded in the second 100 days of the Recovery Act.
  • Over $6 million was awarded to the state for summer employment programs. The goal nationally was to create 125,000 youth jobs during summer break.
  • Over $5 million was awarded to 8 different law enforcement agencies, hiring or keeping on the street 28 law enforcement officers. Albuquerque did not receive any grant money to hire officers because of audit results with past awards.
  • over $99 million was awarded to begin 3 airport and 4 highway projects at locations throughout the state.
  • Work was begun on 81 different DoD construction and rehabilitation projects at locations throughout the state.

To view the national Roadmap to Recovery results and to see a project map click here.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009 as the country faced the greatest economic crisis in a generation. The Recovery Act is providing needed tax relief and financial assistance for hard-hit families and businesses, delivering aid to states facing record budget shortfalls and making hundreds of billions of dollars in investments in technology and infrastructure that create jobs and lay a new foundation for the U.S. economy.

Vigil-Giron Faces Arraignment on Friday

Update: Vigil-Giron waived her appearance at her arraignment on Friday. Her Attorney Robert Gorence entered a not guilty plea on her behalf and notified the court he was filing this motion to dismiss all charges against his client, because two state prosecutors are expected to be called as witness at a trial (as early as November).

Vigil-Giron has until September 11th to be booked at MDC and fingerprinted. She will remain free on her own recognizance.

Co-Defendent, Armando Gutierrez also remains free after pleading not guilty at his arraignment. He was allowed to return to Texas for Labor Day. He has until September 18th to turn himself in for booking and fingerprinting.

All the defendents were ordered not to have any contact with each other.

Former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron will be arraigned in State District Court today.

She, and three others, were indicted on 50 felony counts on August 19th.

Vigil-Giron, along with former lobbyists Elizabeth (Daisey) Kupfer, her husband Joseph Kupfer, and political consultant Armando Guiterrez are accused of fraud, money laundering, kickbacks, creating false public vouchers and tampering with evidence.

Those charges stem from unaccounted money originally awarded to the Secretary of State by the Federal Help America Vote Act. Those funds were then suppose to be allocated to voter education programs and to ensure disabled people could vote in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

The 10am arraignment is set for State District Judge Rozz Sanchez' courtroom. Judge Neil Candelaria has been recused and attorney's are looking for a new judge.

Photo: MG Bralley

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chávez Endorsed by Home Builders Association

Update 730am: Mayor Martin Chavez received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, following a mayoral forum at Lodge #1 in Albuquerque on Thursday night.

Albuquerque's three-term Mayor Martin J. Chávez, who is running for an unprecedented fourth term, picked up another endorsement today.

The Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico, who has not endorsed mayoral candidates in the past, but recognized Chavez in 2008 with its Green Build Leadership Award , unanimously voted to endorse him in this Fall's municipal election, scheduled for October 6th.

HBA President Steve Nakamura said the endorsement was a result of the mayor's strong support for impact fee reduction legislation, which city councilors have deferred twice since returning from Summer break.

Nakamura said:

Of the nearly 8,000 jobs lost in Albuquerque over the last 12 months, the construction industry accounts for about two-thirds of those losses. We believe the Impact Fee Reduction Legislation, proposed by Mayor Chávez, is the single most important attempt to help save our local jobs.

Chávez said the HBA's endorsement galvanizes his decision to seek re-election and underscores the cornerstone of his candidacy:
We must provide opportunities for our citizens - in all industries - to prosper, especially in times of economic distress. I remain committed to local impact fee reduction, and I will continue to support that very important initiative.

In July, the New Mexico Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. announced that it has endorsed Richard J. Berry in the race for the Mayor of Albuquerque. ABC has 164 member firms that collectively provide high-paying jobs for thousands of employees. Berry's decades of business experience, along with his pro-business track record in the New Mexico State Legislature, were keys in garnering the endorsement.

Photo: MG Bralley


Students in the Albuquerque Public School District will now be allowed to opt out of next weeks Welcome Back To School address by the President of the United States. The option comes after a handful of parents watched a FOX News report and then called and emailed APS.

The ABQ Journal reports some of the parents believe the speech is more like an indoctrination. They also objected to an element which asked students to write describing how they could help the President. They objected to their children participating because they said it was forcing the children to "sign a contract" of support for Obama.

State Dems were quick to repsond. The Democrat Party of New Mexico's Executive Director Josh Geise said, "Only the Republican Party could politicize the president welcoming students back to school."

After listening to parent's concerns, APS Superintendent Winston Brooks has decided to allow parent to opt out of the program which includes appearance by singer Kelly Clarkson and basketball start LeBron James.

APS said they made their decision after checking with several other urban school districts.

The White House said, "The President will challenge student to work hard, set educational goals and take responsiblity for their learning.

We've learned the paper assignment has been withdrawn from the program.
The Bernalillo County Republican Party Vice Chairman told the APS Board he thought the speech violated the district's political solitication policy.

Following the morning speech, the President will appear in a 30-minute documentary featuring singer Kelly Clarkson and Cleveland Cavilier LeBron James.

The program marks the kickoff of an education initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom Inc. Called "Get Schooled."

The five-year campaign is aimed at improving this country's dismal high school and college completion rates.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Weh Will Announce Gubernatorial Bid at UNM

Former New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh, who formed his exploratory committee for Governor on May 5th, is using You-Tube to personally invite supporters to his formal announcement at the University of New Mexico Student Union Building next Tuesday, September 8th.

Now there's even MOORE Lieutenant Governor Candidates.

Earlier in the day former State Representative Brian Moore, from Clayton, New Mexico announced his intentions to run for the Republican Party's nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Unlike the nine candidates running for the 2nd highest position in the state on the Democratic side, Moore is the first to jump into the Republican race.

Photo credit: MG Bralley

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Mayoral Candidate Questions Chavez' Priorities

The day after the Albuquerque City Clerk began accepting early absentee ballots in his office, Richard J.Berry, a candidate for Mayor, is speaking out.

This afternoon, Berry sent reporters a news release and questioned Mayor Martin J. Chavez’ timing for announcing $275,000 in city tax dollars to go to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office for more prosecutors.

Berry said that the District Attorney’s Office must have the resources it needs to complete its important work, but called Chavez' proposal a disingenuous election season stunt, because during the 2009 legislative session Chavez lobbied the New Mexico Legislature to appropriate funding for mass transit options instead of funding for more prosecutors in Bernalillo County. Also, Chavez still cannot fund the 100 officers he promised to add to the Albuquerque Police Department.

“If Marty wanted to show leadership concerning public safety in Albuquerque, he should have asked the legislature for funding that would have had a positive impact on crime. Instead he lobbied to fund more mass transit options, such as his $300 million trolley car,” said
Berry, a two-term state representative who fought for and voted to fully fund district attorney’s offices across the state.

Berry, who sits on the Appropriations and Finance Committee, made a motion to fund the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office at the highest level available. That motion was passed and the office received a higher level of funding.

“This is nothing more than a $275,000 smokescreen. If this program was a true priority for Chavez, he would have asked the legislature to fund it instead of asking for money for his trolley,” said Berry. “In the last weeks of the campaign Chavez is scrambling to appear tough on crime in the hope that voters will forget his record, but after twelve years as mayor, he has been unable to solve the problem.”

Berry, who has called on Chavez to explain why he believes deficit spending is the way to run Albuquerque's city government, recently pointed out that since 2004 Chavez’ administration has raided $112 million from public safety and quality of life projects to support a city budget that he grew by almost 50 percent from 2003 through 2007.

“Instead of solving the city’s fiscal problems, Marty’s made another expensive campaign promise,” said Berry.

Berry, who owns a local contracting company with his wife, was recently endorsed by the New Mexico Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors

Earlier in the campaign, Berry pledged to get tough on gangs, reduce property crime in Albuquerque and end the so-called "sanctuary city" policy for criminals put in place by the Chavez Administration.

Unregistered voters have until Tuesday, September 8th to register to vote. Early voting at three other city locations begins September 16th.

Photos: MG Bralley

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heinrich Plans Health Care Roundtable with Plant Employees Facing Layoffs Next Year.

U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich, who has been on a listening tour in his district during the summer recess, will meet with employees from General Electrics' Albuquerque plant this afternoon during a 90-minute roundtable discussion that is closed to the general public.

The 400 workers fear they'll be losing their health care insurance coverage when the plant shuts down next year.

Rep. Heinrich, who hosted a town hall meeting late last month in Albuquerque, has spent the last several months gathering information and listening to the stories of countless health care providers and his constituents about the urgency of health care reform and the positive impact it would have on New Mexicans.

Heinrich said, "New Mexicans who have lost their jobs, or face losing their jobs, to hear firsthand what working families need to stay covered and stay healthy during difficult economic times."

In the wake of announcements of proposed layoffs, employees of General Electric (GE) will be at the table to discuss their concerns directly with Rep. Heinrich.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Colón: Today, The Journey Begins

Democrat Brian Colón introduced his mother-in-law to nearly 500 of his friends at a campaign celebration and fundraising kickoff at the Hotel Albuquerque on Monday night.

I'm betting she was pretty proud, especially considering each friend contributed a minium of $100 to hear the 39-year-old former party chairman deliver an inspired speech about why he wants to be the state's next Lieutenant Governor.

Colón told the crowd that from a very early age, "I have felt the call to service. Today, the journey begins."

Colón, recorded on our Flip Camera, talked about education,
labor, healthcare, energy, and jobs during an address to supporters.

Colón, who has a campagin website here, has not said when he will "officially" announce, but it is apparent that he's taken a lead in fundraising. He'll need the money to compete with the eight other people running for the position. He faces.....ah you know the challenger's list.

The question a few people were asking at the party remains unanswered tonight: What if Governor Bill Richardson gets appointed by President Barack Obama to head the World Bank or accepts an ambassadorship and leaves the state, then who would then-Governor Diane Denish appoint to replace her?

One Democrat in the crowd told us as we prepared to leave, "If her [Denish's] team was here tonight, and shares notes about Brian's passionate speech, then she may be able to make an easy decision."

At the end of the night, Colón, who is known as the "gentleman leader" didn't forget his manners. His staff handed out "Thank You" notes to each guest as they left.

To hear all of Colón's remarks click the play button below or listen to the audiocast we recorded.

For more event photos and analysis visit Barbara Wold and M.E. Broderick's Democracy for New Mexico blog.

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New Mexicans Sign Up As Organ Donors

Turns out that New Mexican's have big hearts, and lungs......and even eyes.

Over 20,000 New Mexicans have signed up as organ donors in less than two weeks since Governor Bill Richardson publicly registered himself as an organ donor. Of that, nearly 200 New Mexicans utilized the new online donor registry website that the Governor announced earlier this month.

“Governor Richardson’s leadership on this issue and his very public pronouncement as a registered organ donor has certainly helped raise awareness about the importance of organ donations,” State Taxation & Revenue Secretary Rick Homans said. “I also want to commend the efforts of New Mexico Donor Services for their relentless campaign to bring attention to this life-saving issue.”

More than 35,000 New Mexicans have registered as organ donors in August, compared to over 26,000 in July, a 35 percent increase. This increase comes on the heels of Governor Richardson holding a public event to unveil a new website and signing up as an organ donor on August 18, along with a public awareness campaign undertaken by the New Mexico Donor Services.

A vast majority of new organ donors have registered while renewing or getting a new driver’s license or an identification card at the motor vehicle divisions’ offices across New Mexico .

But with the launch of a new website and registry earlier this month, New Mexicans now have another way to sign up as an organ donor. The site and registry were created through an $115,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and is a collaborative effort between the Motor Vehicle Division, New Mexico Donor Services and New Mexico Lions Eye Bank.

The Donate Life Donor Registry Website can be found at or

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Attorney General's Top 10 List of Consumer Complaints

Probably no surprise here. Auto Dealers top the New Mexico Attorney's Generals Top 10 List of consumer complaints.

Today, Attorney General Gary K. King's Consumer Protection Division released New Mexico's Top 10 Consumer Complaints for fiscal year 2008.

1. Auto Sales
2. Contests/Sweepstakes/Prize Promotion
3. Retail Sales
4. Home Repair/Construction
5. Debt Collection
6. Telemarketing Communications/Slamming/Cramming
7. Auto Repair
8. Credit Cards
9. Satellite TV Sales and Service
10. Travel

The National Top 10 Consumer Complaint list was also released today by the National Association of Attorneys General.

1. Debt Collection
2. Auto Sales
3. Home Repair/Construction
4. Credit Cards (tie)
4. Internet Goods and Services (tie)
6. Predatory Lending/Mortgages
7. Telemarketing/Do-Not-Call
8. Auto Repair
10. Auto Warranties (tie)
10. Telecom/Slamming/Cramming (tie)

The AG's Consumer Protection Division Director Karen Meyers said, "We have seen a 22% increase over last fiscal year in consumer calls reporting potential deceptive or unfair trade practices. At a time when more families face an increasing struggle to make ends meet, it is extremely important that the Attorney General's Office maintain the level of consumer protection needed to keep New Mexicans from becoming victims of dishonest business practices."

AG King's Consumer Protection Division has offices in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Walk-in hours are 10:00 am-3:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Consumers can make appointments and ask questions by calling 1-800-678-1508. Complaint forms are available at each office and on the AG's website.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Third Woman Enters 2010 Governors Race In NM. Arnold-Jones Pledges Principled Leadership

Photo: MG Bralley
Final update: 10p (with Video and Audio)

Four-term State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones (R-ABQ) officially announced her 2010 bid for the Republican Gubernatorial primary just after 4pm on Sunday at the Albuquerque Sheraton Uptown.

Arnold-Jones, who was the first lawmaker to webcast a House committee meeting last February, to the delight of journalists and constituents, said New Mexico is at a crossroads and that she wants to create new paths that will restore the public's trust in government.

Arnold-Jones, who announced her exploratory committee on June 18th, joins many government officials said government needs to be more transparent. But, Arnold-Jones appeared to set her self apart, and pledged, as governor, to make her cabinet meetings more accessible to the public.

Press the play button to hear Arnold-Jones complete remarks.

After leaving the stage, Arnold-Jones told us that her plans to transform ethics, connectivity and education in the state are "revolutionary."

She took advantage of her 20-minute speech, broadcast live online at NMGOV.TV, to lay the ground work for her campaign theme and explain her stands on a number of issues, including ethics, education, building a smarter economy and restoring public trust in government.

A bipartisan crowd of about 200 people, which included former Governor Dave Cargo, and State Senator Tim Eichenberg, as well as City Councilor Don Harris, and others, listened to Arnold-Jones address her plans on multiple issues, including:
Fulfilling our promise to our State employee retirement programs, healthcare, crime, public safety, border issues, water resources, and management of the state budget. These issues cannot, and will not be ignored.

Not all Republicans are ready to jump on board with Arnold-Jones' campaign. One of those is Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, who is trying to reverse lawmakers repeal of the state's death penalty.

He issued a late-afternoon statement. White said he was disappointed in her decision to join Democrats in the legislature, this past Spring, who voted to repeal capitol punishment for the most "heinous murderers, including cop-killers."

Soft-on-crime legislators should be voted out of office, not promoted. Considering, in a recent poll, eighty-six percent of all Republicans in New Mexico support the death penalty for murderers.

Indeed, Arnold-Jones will face Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, and likely candidates Doug Turner and former NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh. Both Turner and Weh have been touring the state preparing to announce. Former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson is still on the sidelines considering a run, but her hopes may have been dashed by allegations made by the House Judiciary Committee looking at the firing of New Mexico's former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

Whoever wins the Republican Party nomination for Governor next June will likely face the third female candidate in the race. Democrat Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is the only announced candidate for the 2010 Primary and she has already collected a formidable campaign treasury. And Denish isn't sitting on her "ethic reform" laurels. On July 9th, in front of the NM Supreme Court building in Santa Fe, Denish unveiled her own ethics reform plan.

Photo: MG Bralley
It did not take long for Arnold-Jones to roll out her top campaign message. She said she wants to lead the state because she says she knows voters have grown tired of New Mexico being known for graft, corruption and poor service:
It is time for New Mexico to be known for the ethical choices we make and for the responsive, innovative, quality service provided to our citizens. It is time for all of us to stand up for New Mexico and embrace our dreams. Please, join me in this revolution now! Together, connected, we will lead the nation!
Arnold-Jones said she will pursue recurring, mandatory ethics training for all public employees, from the top down, and that she would encourage and reward whistleblowers who share her goal of eliminating arcane hiring and administrative practices and other abuses.

Government, Arnold-Jones said, is meant to be a servant of the people, not a master that steadily erodes our individual liberties:
For the past seven years, we have had unbridled spending, an absentee governor, and numerous highly paid political appointees in positions of power and authority who were often ineffective, incompetent, or both.

We have also had the same old, closed-door, backroom politics, pay-to-play process churning out policies that make headlines but accomplish little. Regulation has run amok and it is stifling our entrepreneurial spirit.

This is not principled leadership and it certainly does not deserve our trust! In Santa Fe we are experiencing a moral train wreck and it is costing the taxpayer money and confidence.

To read all of Arnold-Jones remarks click here.