Local Viewpoints

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IRS Scams Increasing Across New Mexico as Tax Day Approaches

Apr 11, 2016

 Commentary:  Attorney General Hector Balderas announced today that the Office of the Attorney General is receiving increased reports of IRS impersonation scam calls to New Mexico consumers. In these scams, callers claim to be from the IRS and threaten New Mexicans with legal action unless the consumers pay the alleged back taxes or owed taxes. The scammers then ask the consumer to send money by various means including prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. New Mexicans are also experiencing a variation of this scam that tries to play off the current tax season.

$1.5 Million for Hurricane Dolly Recovery in Ruidoso

Apr 11, 2016
Office of US Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

  Commentary:  Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce announced that the Village of Ruidoso is receiving $1,573,571 to replace a bridge severely damaged by flooding from Hurricane Dolly in July and August 2008. The new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding will cover 75 percent of the cost to replace the Close Road bridge, and brings the total amount of federal funding for Hurricane Dolly recovery to $13,533,274.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas

  Commentary:  This week, Attorney General Hector Balderas, eleven other attorneys general and the Consumer Protection Commissioner of Hawaii sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary John King urging the federal government to cease recognition of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting body for post-secondary institutions. ACICS accredits schools like Brown Mackie College, ITT Tech and many other schools that have failed students to an utterly indefensible degree.

John G. Franchini (official photo)

Commentary:  Superintendent of Insurance John G. Franchini has been reappointed for four years by the Insurance Nominating Committee in a unanimous show of approval for the progress that has been made under his leadership.  The Nominating Committee is comprised of nine members - four appointed by the governor of New Mexico, four appointed by the New Mexico Legislature, and a chairperson chosen by the other eight committee members. 

Hunt Companies Welcomes New Executive Vice President

Apr 11, 2016
Daniel Singer

  Commentary: Hunt Companies, Inc. announced today that Daniel Singer has been named Executive Vice President of Hunt Companies.  In this role, Daniel will be located in Hunt’s New York City office and will be responsible for identifying, negotiating, structuring and managing capital market opportunities for Hunt and its affiliates. Daniel will play a critical role in building and coordinating relationships with banking and financing industries to access capital and ensure Hunt is strategically aligned within the industry and with the correct partners.

Bill By El Paso-Area Legislators Leads To Over $170,000 For Texas Veterans

Apr 11, 2016
State Senator José Rodríguez

  Commentary: A bill passed by Representative César Blanco and Senator José Rodríguez has raised more than $170,000 for Texas veterans and their families. 

Local Nonprofit Marks 20 Years of Working for New Mexicans Living in Poverty

Apr 11, 2016
New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

Commentary:  The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (the Center), a statewide nonprofit organization, is recognizing its 20th year of working with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty. The Center first opened its doors in 1996 as a small spinoff group with limited resources. Today, the Center on Law and Poverty is one of the larger law firms in the state and represents groups of poorer New Mexicans in the courts, the state legislature, and executive policy-making arenas.

Senator Howie Morales

  Commentary:  It is no exaggeration to say that the most vulnerable citizens in New Mexico, as in the broader society, are largely invisible and rarely heard.  Among these are the elderly and the ill, children from broken homes in the juvenile detention system, and desperate people struggling with severe mental illness and behavioral problems.  When such individuals are being abused and neglected, we must, as citizens, extend compassion, and as public officials, act swiftly.

  Commentary: If I were a younger me, maybe 16 or 20, I'd be puzzled – and angry.

I'd see a world my elders had badly poisoned and were continuing to poison.

Consider the vast amount of carbon dioxide we've added to the earth's atmosphere; rising and acidified seas; glaciers, sea ice, coral reefs, trees, species, and arable land vanishing with obscene speed; and potable water rapidly disappearing while the world's population surges. Inequality growing, democracy endangered. Probable pandemics.


  Commentary– American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Las Cruces Transportation Federation #6341 President Marcos Torres released the following statement:


“It is welcome news that the Las Cruces Public Schools Board has voluntarily withdrawn its motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent a strike by the members of LCTF #6341. In addition to withdrawing its motion, the Las Cruces Public Schools Board has also vacated its temporary restraining order, and the courts have dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety.


NM Education Secretary Hanna Skandera

  Commentary:  The New Mexico Public Education Department (NM PED) recently instituted a major “administrative” change in how Special Education and many other services are delivered to New Mexico students most in need of mental health and other “ancillary” services. 


Cornell: Gila Diversion Is A Flawed Plan

Apr 7, 2016

 Commentary: In a recent radio interview on KRWG, Congressman Steve Pearce spoke in favor of the Gila Diversion, a project aimed at diverting New Mexico’s last free-flowing river.  The Congressman cited a number of reasons why the diversion was a good thing for New Mexico:  water, jobs and low cost.


  Commentary:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing $335,605 to the University of New Mexico to research challenges associated with protecting the air we breathe from the impacts of climate change. Specifically, the university will study how changes in land-use patterns and transportation systems affect greenhouse gas emissions and community exposure to vehicle pollution.      

$698,000 Grant for Mesilla Water System

Apr 7, 2016
Office of US Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

  Commentary: Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce announced that the North American Development Bank (NADB) has signed a $698,115 grant agreement with Mesilla, N.M., to improve the town's water distribution system and provide new water hookups. The project will increase access to potable water service, improve service reliability and eliminate conditions that negatively impact water quality, helping reduce the risks associated with waterborne diseases.

Enough with the civility already!

Apr 6, 2016

  Have I lost my senses? Not at all. What I refer to here is a bogus "civility," a de-politicizing politeness that obscures the substance of an argument. Policing "tone" or complaining about "political correctness," without honestly engaging in the substance, is a diversionary tactic. It deflects citizens from a substantive debate about our politics - about policies and legislation that affect our lives and the choices available to our children. What could be less civil than this brand of "civility?"


Democrats: New Mexico Behavioral Health Suspension Was "A Manufactured Crisis"

Apr 5, 2016
Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico

  Commentary:  U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the following statement after New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared the remaining providers in the Behavioral Health Investigation of fraud:

Congressmen Express Concern Over Charter/Time Warner Cable Merger

Apr 5, 2016
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva

  Commentary:  Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler expressing concern over the proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks by Charter Communications.

New Mexico Democratic Chair Deb Haaland

  Commentary:  After N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared the final two New Mexico behavioral and mental health providers of allegations brought against them by Governor Susana Martinez, Democratic Party of New Mexico leaders Debra Haaland and Juan Sanchez III slammed Governor Martinez for disrupting behavioral and mental health services to some of New Mexico’s post vulnerable residents in the interest of out-of-state companies.  

Heinrich Announces Proposal to Strengthen Security at U.S. Airports

Apr 5, 2016
Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico

  Commentary:  Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced a new proposal he’s backing to strengthen U.S. airport security, especially in non-secure “soft” target areas at airports like check-in and baggage claim areas, to the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill, which the Senate is expected to begin consideration on this week.

  Commentary: Today, the Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Debra Haaland, the first Native American woman to lead a statewide party in New Mexico, welcomed the announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address at the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) on May 26.

 Commentary:  You're on Main Street, facing North, stopped at the light where El Paseo hits Main. Late afternoon, darkening sky. It's been raining all day. Roads are wet and slippery, maybe even getting icy. 

The light turns green and you drive into the intersection, then spot a cop car speeding down El Paseo toward you, bubble-gum machine flashing. Mom shouts “Speed up!” You almost make it. The cop-car crashes into your car's rear. You're injured. 


  Commentary:  This morning, the Albuquerque Journal (and several news stations) printed an intentionally misleading story on AFT’s relationship with Pearson – you can read the story 

New Mexico Mental Health Services Face Additional Major Disruptions

Apr 1, 2016
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Commentary:  Democratic Senate leaders today expressed their serious concerns and frustration over news that the third of five behavioral health providers brought in from Arizona by the Martinez administration in 2013 will leave the state within 90 days.  Agave Health Inc., which provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services in 11 New Mexico counties, announced that beginning July 1, 2016, it will longer operate in the state.  The senators warned that the newest pullout of another provider will create fresh disruption to the care and treatment of many fragile individuals,

PNM Tries to Sneak Palo Verde 2 Into Rate-Base

Apr 1, 2016

Commentary:  PNM’s wholesale customers have been leaving PNM in order to take advantage of the lower rates they can obtain elsewhere while at the same time increasing shares of their power that come from clean, renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar.  In the past year alone:  Gallop, Aztec and Navopache Electric Cooperative have all announced departure from PNM.

Senator Howie Morales

  Commentary:  Senator Howie Morales (D-28-Catron, Grant & Socorro) has called on the New Mexico Attorney General to clarify whether parents legally may opt out their children from taking the controversial state-wide PARCC exam.  A growing number of parents have expressed concern about the intensity and amount of standardized testing-taking required of students in New Mexico’s public schools.  Sen. Morales sent a letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas requesting a formal legal opinion on the question before the PARCC exam is administered, starting shortly.

Papen: Another Blow To Health Care In New Mexico

Apr 1, 2016
Senator Mary Kay Papen (D)

  Commentary: I am concerned that the overnight dissolution of the board of directors of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (HSC) by the University of New Mexico (UNM) board of regents could jeopardize the long-term viability of the HSC as a leading national academic medical center.  The speed of this decision raises red flags and could affect the accreditation of both UNM and the HSC, since accrediting bodies require institutional autonomy to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and assure its integrity.

Group Seeks Injunction Against New Mexico Over Tax Dispute

Mar 31, 2016
Office of the Governor

  Commentary:  This week, MALDEF formally requested an injunction in state district court against the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department and Secretary Demesia Padilla (collectively, "TRD") to prevent them from continuing to unlawfully withhold millions of dollars from immigrant taxpayers who use federal Individual Tax Identification Numbers ("ITINs") to file their tax returns until two pending lawsuits, originally filed in February of 2015, are resolved.


  American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Las Cruces Transportation Federation #6341 President Marcos Torres  released the following statement: 


“We are disappointed the Las Cruces Public Schools Board has chosen to intervene in this matter through the courts after STS-NM chose to discontinue negotiations on March 30. We will comply with the temporary order issued today by a Las Cruces judge preventing a strike from occurring before an April 12 hearing. 


Nachison: Planned Parenthood Gets Stronger

Mar 30, 2016

  Commentary: There is lots of anti-Planned Parenthood (PP) propaganda in the air these days.  Reality differs.   Pandering to revised videos from a discredited organization known for severe editing, paste ups and false “news” is not funny, nor accurate.  State-by-state Republican defunding occurs.  Nothing new about that.  Why, as Jeb Bush even said in 2015 during his now failed campaign:“I’m not sure we need to spend $500 million on women’s health issues” (NPR).  Really?  Yes we do - and I am proud of Planned Parenthood.


  NEA Commentary—The U.S. Supreme Court today delivered its decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, affirming that public employers have a compelling interest in having strong and effective collective bargaining. The 4-4 decision leaves intact the sound law of Abood v.