Friday, January 22, 2010

Denish announces border security legislation

"Increasing international border security is critical for the economic future of southern New Mexico' Denish says.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish announced new border security legislation,to better combat security challenges facing New Mexico from increasing criminal activity across the border.

The legislation calls for the designation of four executive agency border liaisons to coordinate efforts with the federal government and counties along the border, ensuring the continued development and growth of cross-border commerce and trade between New Mexico and Mexico.

“The security of our international border is critical to the safety of all New Mexicans and we must work diligently to prevent violent crime from crossing over our Southern border,” Denish said. “We must ensure that the free flow of commerce and trade continues uninterrupted through our three ports of entry, with all assets of the state brought to bear in a prudent and efficient manner to support both federal and local security efforts, as well cross-border economic development and job creation."

In May 2008, we reported on a tour Denish took with the NM National Guard along the border. You can read about her inspection here.

After her tour nearly two years ago, Denish told us "the troops and border guards are doing a good job patrolling the area, but the Federal Government needs to continue funding the operation and the state needs to provide housing assistance."

If the legislation, introduced in Santa Fe today, is approved, Border Security Liaisons would be designated by the Departments of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Public Safety, Transportation and the Border Authority. Each liaison would provide an international border security perspective in their respective agency's ongoing strategic planning. New Mexico Department of Transportation's liaison would focus particularly on vital ports of entry infrastructure needs.

Rep. Cote, who agreed to carry the legislation for the lieutenant governor, said the state has to securing its border with Mexico so, "we can we continue to expand cross-border commerce through our ports of entry."

House Joint Memorial 9 would require increased coordination between these formally designated liaisons and their local and federal counterparts to better leverage state resources and support future economic development in the state's border region.

Denish photo: MG Bralley

Hughes plans PRC campaign

Hank Hughes, the executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, plans to announce his bid for the Public Regulation Commission on Saturday in Santa Fe.

Hughes, who is vying for Carol Sloan's District 4 seat, said he will be an advocate for "New Mexico's families by making the PRC more transparent and accountable to the public."

"Through my experience in serving homeless families and managing two successful non-profits, I believe I can help turn the corner at the PRC," Huges said in a news release. "I have spent the last 18 years leading organizations that help homeless families in New Mexico. And most recently, through my work at the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness I have been developing new, green affordable housing units in Santa Fe, Gallup, Albuquerque, and Las Vegas."

Hughes lists his "long track-record of advocating for New Mexico's homeless," including work on green affordable housing projects as qualifying experience for the PRC seat.

He wants the PRC to be "more accountable to the public by introducing more ethics reforms and oversight."

He said he'll also focus on "making the state a renewable energy leader and standing up for the rights of New Mexico's consumers against corporations and utilities."

The District 4 includes the counties of Bernalillo, San Juan, McKinley, Santa Fe, Cibola, Sandoval, Rio Arriba, Socorro and Valencia.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Audio: Johnson says country is bankrupt

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Doug Turner protesting tax increases in front of state capitol

Former Governor Gary Johnson, a possible presidential candidate in 2012, blames New Mexico's current state budget deficit on both Gov. Bill Richardson and legislators, who voted for the last seven budgets.

"I'm just outraged over the fact that we're in a position that we're in today given the spending that's occurred over the last seven years," Johnson said.

Johnson says "spending has got to stop." In fact, he says it's continuing to increase around the country and in Washington.

He contends what's happened in New Mexico is "exactly what's happening on the national level."

"Spending is out of control. First and foremost spending needs to stop on the national level," Johnson said. "It's not that it's not stopping, its that it's increasing by the amount that it is . It's just crazy.... We're bankrupt."

He and GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Doug Turner hosted a tax protest rally outside of a snowy Roundhouse in Santa Fe on opening day of the 2010 New Mexico Legislature.

"This has just been ... drunken sailors spending every last nickle that they've had, and the notion that somehow we have to raise taxes to pay for the largess over the last seven years is unconscionable," Johnson said.

Johnson is hypercritical of the current administration adding over 4,500 new state employees to the payroll.

"Just tell me one area of state government that has improved as a result of 4,500 state employees," Johnson said. "Prudently I think always need to take in account a rainy day tomorrow and it just hasn't happened."

He is also adamantly opposed to an idea, being floated in Santa Fe to tap the state's permanent fund to help cover projected revenue shortfalls through 2011.

"We've tapped the state's permanent fund for the educational emergency that we had. The money didn't even actually go into that," Johnson said. ""Hey they got us here they can cut the spending to get us out of here."

The complete interview is available online here, or by tapping the play button on the bar below.

'Tax increases only reward reckless spending'

“Tax increases only reward reckless spending and make it tougher for small businesses to succeed and for families to make ends meet," said Turner. "New Mexico does not need another politician in the Governor’s office who doesn’t understand that higher taxes hurt both small business and struggling families,” continued Turner.

Turner said he believes that bureaucrats have not kept their promises to balance the state’s budget. “New Mexicans cannot afford more taxes to pay for the mistakes of career politicians. The answer to fixing broken government isn’t higher taxes. The answer is fixing broken government.” Turner stated.

Our interview with Turner is also online here, or by clicking the play button on the bar below.

Turner told us what he was hearing from people who walked or drove by the tax protest.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Video: Gardner responds to Richardson's speech

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Houston announces bid for sheriff in Bernalillo

Dan Houston, with his wife Betty, on stage at Rio Grande High School.

On Monday, Republican Dan Houston, a former Bernalillo County sheriff's captain and Florida police chief announced his decision to campaign for the sheriff's post himself in 2010.

“My plan for the Sheriff’s Department includes strengthening DWI laws by confiscating vehicles of repeat offenders,” Houston told about 200 people inside the Rio Grande High School gym.

Houston was introduced by Nadine Milford, a Bernalillo County activist who is a leader in the fight against drunk drivers.

“Dan Houston is an honest man with years of law enforcement experience. And I know that he will be tough on drunk drivers,” said Milford.

Milford lost her daughter and three grandchildren in the infamous Gordon House DWI crash on Christmas Eve in 1992.

Houston said he has over 26 years experience in law enforcement, which includes experience on BSCO's SWAT Team, Internal Affairs, Narcotics Unit and Commander of Criminal Investigations. He retired with the rank of Captain and is a former President of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Officers’ Association.

Houston also spent 4-years as the Chief of Police of Mary Esther, Florida and from 2006-08 was an Albuquerque Police reserve officer, who worked in the red-light camera program.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Domenici Jr jumps into 2010 gubernatorial race

Updated 11p

Pete Domenici Jr is joined on stage by his mother, Nancy, and father retired U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici (Photos: Peter St. Cyr)

'We need a new direction...people need healing from eight years of fiscal and ethical abuse' Domenici says.

On Sunday afternoon, Pete Domenici Jr confirmed political speculation and announced his decision to run for governor of New Mexico in 2010.

Domenici told a handful of invited supporters, family, and reporters he's entering the GOP gubernatorial primary because he believes the state is "on the verge of economic and ethical bankruptcy."

"Continuous revelations of budgetary disaster and public corruption at the highest levels of our state's government demand that we not only need a new governor we need a new direction," Domenici said. "Helping New Mexicans and New Mexico is the sole basis and motivation for my candidacy for governor.

"I am an ordinary citizen, who like most New Mexicans, is frustrated and fed up with the unprecedented budgetary and corruption crises our state now faces," Domenici said. "I have a deep concern for our state."

Domenici, 50, who never mentioned his own primary opponent's names during his speech, was quick to criticize the likely Democrat Party nominee Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

"As just one glaring example of the mismanagement and corruption at the top, this governor and lieutenant governor have increased the numbers of political appointees by the hundreds," Domenici said. "As a result, they have created a special "upper class" of state employees, accountable to no one, who are selected based on whom they know or how much they contributed rather than their qualifications and how they can help the people."

Domenici, an environmental attorney who has never run for public office before, said that he's not a "professional politician" and blamed state worker furloughs on a "rash of other terrible financial and spending decisions."

"Now the people are forced to bail New Mexico out of a mess the professional politicians got us into," Domenici said. "Hard working state employees must take time off without pay."

He said the first step he'll take to resolve the budget deficits is to "permanently furlough this administration."

"I will reduce the number of appointments to only those positions the Governor must rely on to effectively implement policies necessary to help the people, not the incumbent."

'I am my own man'

Born and raised in New Mexico, Domenici, a single father, has three grown children and a 9-year old daughter. He is the oldest son of retired six-term Sen. Pete Domenici, but says he's his "own man" who has "developed his own roots, deep and strong, in common sense conservatism."

"This mean limited government that removes necessary impediments to attracting businesses and creating jobs," Domenici said.

New Mexico Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales said it appears to him that "Republican insiders have been unable to find a candidate for Governor with an actual record of fighting for New Mexico families."

"They’re settling for the biggest name they could find. The people of New Mexico won’t be fooled. It’s common for voters to ask candidates for office ‘what have you done for me lately?’ In this case, they’ll be asking ‘what have you done for me ever?’” Gonzales said in a statement released after Domenici's announcement.

And, Democrats were quick to post a blog critical of Domenici's record as an environmental attorney and listed some of the clients he has represented.

To listen to audio from the news conference -- including an introduction from Sen. Domenici, click the play button the bar below, or listen online here.

Tough Competition

Despite efforts to separate himself from his father, Domenici may have to tap the senior statesman's political network to catch up to four other candidates who announced last year and have been collecting political contributions since last May.

Domenici faces Albuquerque businessmen Allen Weh and Doug Turner, Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, and Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones in the Republican primary.

Turner was the first opponent to welcome Domenici to the race.

“There are so many good Republicans running because New Mexicans are desperate for a change from the policies and corruption they have endured for far too long," Turner said in a written statement. "...This is going to be an exciting year for Republicans and I look forward to the debate and presenting my vision for New Mexico’s future and becoming our party’s nominee for Governor.”

Weh released his statement shortly after Domenici made his decision public.

“This election for Governor isn’t about political connections or surname; it’s about who has the experience to create jobs and get New Mexico back on the right track — I believe I have that experience, and the ability to lead this state forward. I look forward to the debate” Weh said.

A source close to the campaign told us that "we expect to have $500,000 very soon." But the contact would not tell us if Domenici would agree to monthly reporting listing the names of contributors.

"I chose this time to enter the race because it's the right time," Domenici said. "Voters get worn out over campaigns that stretch on for well over a year and dominate the news and their mailboxes for far too long."

He'll need at least 20% of the party's state pre-primary delegates votes at the state convention, which is scheduled on March 13th, to appear on the June 7th primary ballot.

Doug Antoon
Domenici is quickly assembling his campaign team, which includes Attorney and political strategist Doug Antoon, who managed two successful Albuquerque City Council campaigns for Republicans Dan Lewis and Michael Cook, in the 2009 municipal election.

In 2007, Antoon also coordinated the campaign that saved City Councilor Don Harris from a recall election, and then in 2008 coordinated the re-election campaign of State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort.

Domenici's aunt, Thelma Domenici, and Larry Monte were picked to be co-finance chairs.

Councilor Lewis has been picked to the co-chairman of the campaign in the first congressional district, which includes Albuquerque. Domenici said he will announce other co-chairs for the campaign at "news events in their respective districts."

ABQ City Councilor Dan Lewis
Domenici pointed to Lewis' Republican victory, in the most populated district of Albuquerque, as an example of the Republican Party "revitalizing in many parts of our nation."

He said New Mexico needs "a strong Republican governor to continue this renewal, and I want to be that Governor."

'He loves to solve problems'

The elder Pete Domenici, who still lives in Washington,D.C. flew into town for his son’s announcement. He told reporters he’s introduced a lot of politicans, but never his son.


After we originally published our blog we received an email from campaign coordinator Doug Antoon, who clarified the campaign's plan for financial reporting.

"I would like to shoot for semi-monthly or bi-weekly if we can handle the paperwork and have the people available to post everything on that timetable. But monthly is just no problem," Antoon wrote. "We want more transparency into campaign contributions, not less."

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