Friday, February 26, 2010

New Clayton Prison passes audit

The Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility (NENMDF) in Clayton passed its first American Correctional Association (ACA) audit with flying colors this week, scoring 100 percent on both mandatory and non-mandatory standards. The audit report now goes to the Commission on Accreditation, which will meet in Chicago, Ill., this summer, to review the results and determine whether accreditation will be granted.

ACA standards ensure the safety and well-being of staff, inmates, and the community. The standards determine nearly every aspect of prison life, from the temperature of meals, to how soon after intake an inmate should be interviewed by mental health professionals to how many square feet of living space each inmate should receive. The audit team found NENMDF compliant with the 57 mandatory standards and 428 non-mandatory standards applicable to the facility.

ACA accreditation is a voluntary process, but the New Mexico Corrections Department requires all prisons within its system to be ACA accredited. New Mexico is one of only a few states with the ‘Eagle Award,’ a special distinction for having all applicable areas of its agency ACA accredited.

NENMDF’s three-person audit team complimented the prison staff. Auditor Robin White of Georgia commented on something that had never before occurred during one of her audits. She said, “Inmates said the best part of being here is the staff.” The auditors said comments like that highlight the professional culture that’s being cultivated at NENMDF. The auditors were: J. Patton Dellow, correctional consultant from Lincoln, Ill., Rodney Bivens, director of corrections and personnel for the Knox County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Department, and Robin White, correctional consultant from Savannah, Ga. The audit was conducted February 22-24, 2010.

The GEO Group, Inc. operates the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility. NENMDF is a medium-security prison, housing 600 New Mexico Corrections Department male inmates. The facility opened in 2008.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poll: Denish leads GOP field in 2010 election

Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish leads all five Republican gubernatorial candidates in a new poll released by Public Policy Polling -- although it appears Pete Domenici Jr is within striking distance.

Denish leads Domenici by five percentage points, 45-40, but holds much wider margins against the rest of the Republican field.

“Even in this hostile political climate, Diane Denish holds a lead against all of her potential opponents," Denish campaign Communications Director Chris Cervini said in a news release. "That’s because New Mexicans view her as an independent voice and a champion for middle-class families and their jobs."

But, considering the poll's 3.1 percent margin of error a possible Denish-Domenici race is essentially a dead heat. Of course that race isn't even finalized. While Denish is running unchallenged, Domenici still needs to collect a minimum of 20 percent of his party's pre-primary delegates and win the June 1st primary.

Denish polls 18 percentage points higher than Allen Weh, 48-30 percent, and by 14 percentage points over state Rep. Janice Arnold Jones, 47-33. She also holds a 14 percentage point lead over Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, 46-32 percent, and the a similar 14 percentage point leader over Albuquerque Public Relations agency owner Doug Turner, 46-32 percent.

“Diane has developed a unique relationship with the people of New Mexico, and as Governor she’ll bring about a new way of doing business to Santa Fe. New Mexicans are looking forward – not backward – and Diane has the new ideas that will get our economy moving and help families make ends meet,” Cervini said.

Denish’s advantage comes in spite of significantly reduced popularity for Governor Bill Richardson. Only 28 percent of voters in the state approve of the job he’s doing with 63 percent disapproving. His 22 percent approval with independents and 7 percent with Republicans is not unusual for a Democratic official these days, but he’s even in negative territory within hisown party at a 42/47 spread.

"Given Obama and Richardson’s low levels of popularity Diane Denish is doing pretty well,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But a contest with Domenici certainly looks like it could be competitive.”

Denish is easily the best known of the Gubernatorial candidates with 75 percent of voters holding an opinion about her. They break down positively by a 41/34 margin. A plurality of voters has no opinion about each of the Republicans. Domenici is viewed favorably by 27 percent, followed by 17 percent for Martinez, 12 percent for Weh and Turner, and 8 percent for Arnold-Jones.Although Barack Obama’s approval has slipped into negative territory at 45/48, both of the state’s Democratic Senators have solid 48/36 approval spreads.

PPP, a Democratic polling firm, surveyed 990 New Mexico voters from February 18th to 20th. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3.1 percent. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Turner and Arnold-Jones smoked marijuana

A week after Pete Domenici Jr. admitted to “recreational” marijuana and cocaine use decades ago, two more Republican gubernatorial candidates, Doug Turnerand Janice Arnold-Jones, say they also tried marijuana years ago.

“I tried marijuana between high school and college,” Turner said in an e-mail sent via his campaign spokesman, Stephen Dinkel. Turner said he has never used any other illegal drug.

Arnold-Jones, who is on a fundraising trip in New Jersey, told today that she tried a marijuana cigarette once, with her boyfriend, in 1972 while she was attending UNM, but said she “didn’t like it.” She also said she bought a pack of cigarettes 30 years ago, but after smoking just nine, decided she didn’t like them either

Republicans Allen Weh and Susana Martinez told, through their spokespeople, that they have never smoked marijuana or used any other illegal drug.

Diane Denish, the Democratic candidate for governor, was traveling and did not respond to a question about whether she’s ever tried illegal drugs in time for this posting.

Heinrich: Labs technology transfer to be streamlined

U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-1) is applauding Energy Secretary Steven Chu for appointing a Technology Transfer Coordinator to help national laboratories streamline the transfer innovative scientific and technical solutions to American businesses.

“When world-class scientists and entrepreneurs put their minds together, anything is possible,” Heinrich said. “I commend Secretary Chu for his leadership in recognizing the tremendous opportunities our national laboratories present to private industry. The addition of a tech transfercoordinator will help businesses utilize advanced technologies to manufacture products more effectively and ultimately create more jobs.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Heinrich joined ten of his colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary Steven Chu urging him to appoint a national Technology Transfer Coordinator.

Today, Chu named Dr. Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology was named as the first ever, full-time appointee to the position and will be responsible for working with national labs to streamline their research and commercialization partnerships with the private sector—including large and small companies, venture capital, universities, and other nonprofit research and development institutions.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was signed into law in Albuquerque, New Mexico on August 8, 2005, included Section 1001(a) to require that a Technology Transfer Coordinator be appointed as the Secretary of Energy’s principal advisor on technology transfer and commercialization; however, a full-time position was not filled until now.

According to a November 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service, the federal government spends approximately one third of its annual research and development budget to meet mission requirements in over 700 government laboratories. Much of the technology and expertise generated by this investment has applications beyond the immediate goals of federally funded research and development. As a result, there are numerous opportunities for private industry to take advantage of existing technologies at federal laboratories.

Sandia National Laboratories has been a leader in building mutually beneficial partnerships with industry, including Goodyear, Intel, and General Motors.

GOP Survey shows Pearce with lead

Former Republican Congressman Steve Pearce, who has outraised freshman incumbent Rep. Harry Teague, in the last two quarters, is now touting polling data which shows him with a slight lead in this year's 2nd Congressional District race.

The Tarrance Group poll, commissioned by Pearce, surveyed 401 likely voters between February 16-18, shows Pearce with a 4 percent lead in the 2010 election -- clearly inside the poll's 4.9 percent margin of error.

However, the good news for Teague, according to National Journal's Hotline On Call blog, is that he continued to outperform the Democrat generic ballot, meaning that some voters who are turned off by the Democrat brand still feel some connection to the Southern New Mexico incumbent.

The bad news is that he's still way below 50%, and the rest of those votes will be hard to make up -- even in a district that has more Democrat voters registered.

Pearce is listed as a "Young Gun" on this NRCC list.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poll: Domenici Jr leads GOP field

While Democrat Lt. Governor Diane Denish cruises toward her party’s nomination for governor in 2010 unchallenged, the five-person Republican primary is beginning to heat up, and Pete Domenici Jr, who entered the race last, already has a huge double-digit lead in both name recognition and early voting preferences according to a public opinion poll conducted by 28 NMSU students enrolled in a Political Research Skills course instructed by Dr. Jose Z. Garcia.

The telephone survey, which calculated the responses of 444 registered Republicans statewide, from February 9-13, reports 36.3 percent of participants named Domenici without prompting and 29.3 percent of them said they were leaning toward voting for him — a nearly 18 percent lead over second place finisher Susana Martinez.

“That’s a substantial poll,” Domenici Jr told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “We’re pleased to see those results. We didn’t expect to be this far ahead this soon.”

In fact, Domenici’s likely voter support exceeded the combined voter preference totals for Martinez (11.5%,) Allen Weh (7.4%), Doug Turner (6.8%), and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones(2.5%). A little more than 42 percent said they are still undecided.

Room for any one of the candidates to surge ahead'

Among likely Republican voters who were able to name, unprompted, at least one candidate in the race, 36 percent were able to name Domenici Jr. That was followed by former state Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh (22 percent), Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez (18 percent), Albuquerque public relations firm owner Doug Turner (17 percent) and State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque (8 percent).
Still, 46 percent of respondents — 203 people — weren’t able to identify a single candidate.

In his analysis of the results, which have an error rate of plus or minus 5 percent, Prof. Garcia looked at the question of whether Domenici’s lead was primarily due to high name recognition because of his father, retired six-term U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici.

To test it, Garcia looked at respondents who recognized both the names of Domenici and Martinez, who came in second in the poll, and found that 25 percent of those people preferred Domenici, while 40 percent preferred Martinez, 12 percent preferred another candidate and 12 percent were undecided.

“That, coupled with other factors, could mean this primary race could come down to Domenici and Martinez,” Garica predicted.

“The low sample size does not permit definitive conclusions, but this reduction, when combined with the relatively low performance of Weh in the preference question despite his relatively high name recognition … and the relatively low performance of Turner and Arnold, suggests—other things being equal—this is likely to become a two-person race in the next few weeks between Domenici and Martinez,” Garcia’s poll memo states.

Garica’s analysis also broke down the support by gender and ethnicity of respondents, and found that Domenici had the support of at least as many men and women as all the other candidates combined, and the support of roughly twice as many as Hispanic voters.

“Pete’s conservative positions are being well received by those now following the race,” Domenici’s campaign manager Doug Antoon wrote in a news release Sunday morning.

Garcia said he recognized the high number of undecided and believes there is still “a great deal of room for anyone of the candidates to surge ahead.”

In fact, the poll was taken before Domenici admitted to using drugs in the 70’s and 80’s and a mixed statement about his chances of winning the general election in 2010.

Poll results challenged

At least one campaign has questioned the reliability of the poll, calling Garcia a “staunch supporter” of Martinez. Another campaign manager told the Las Cruces Sun-News that the poll does not match their own internal polling.

“We disagree with the results, as Susana Martinez’s results appear inflated,” Allen Weh spokesman Chris Sanchez told the Las Cruces newspaper. “It appears there was a huge conflict of interest. We question who paid for the poll.”

But, Garcia has been upfront on the issue. He said that he purchased the survey list from Albuquerque-based Research and Polling with his own money, said that he's "not backing any of the candidates," nor consulting for any campaign.

The professor said his comments about Martinez being "a game changer," made to blogger Heath Haussamen last July, shortly after Martinez' announcement, was not an endorsement.

“I’m a registered Democrat,” Garica said. “My classes have been conducting polls like this for years.”
“It was not an endorsement at all,” he said. “I think I spoke factually, and if she ends up being a viable candidate in the Republican Party, I was right.”
Some pundits have said the poll signals problems for the Weh campaign.
He had the second highest name identification, but only place third in voter preference. So voters who know him may not have a favorable opinion of him.

Steve Kush, who moved to New Mexico from New Jersey, shortly after aiding Chris Christie’s successful campaign, told the Sun-News the polls numbers are “out-of-line with our internal numbers and appear to be regional in nature.”

“The only poll that matters is the one taken by the voters on Election Day, and I am confident the voters will respond to Representative Arnold-Jones’ message,” Kush told the Sun-News.

Turner told the newspaper he was “pleased that his name recognition numbers were as high as they were in the poll.” He said he started out the campaign at “2 percent or less,” because he’s new to the political arena.

The candidates first test will come in mid-March at the Republican Party Pre-Primary nominating convention in Albuquerque. Candidates there will need to muster at least 20 percent of the delegate vote for an automatic primary ballot position. No candidate who has not garnered that minimum has ever gone on to win the primary.