Local Viewpoints

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  Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released revised “standards governing transport, escort, search and detention”—commonly known as TEDS. These standards create minimum requirements for U.S. Border Patrol and the Office of Field Operations, the two components of CBP, both of which may choose to supplement these standards with their own guidance.

  As the ancient joke says, you know politicians are lying when their lips move.


  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement following the successful conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Blast Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Oct 5, 2015

  WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after the U.S. Trade Representative announced that the United States has reached a deal with 11 other nations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

  A Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) could help improve the Doña Ana County Detention Center.

This proposal is independent of any criticisms I may have of the jail administration. It's based on successful models as diverse as Canada and New Mexico's own San Miguel County.

Udall Votes For Short-Term Funding Bill; Pushes For Long-Term Agreement

Sep 30, 2015
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

  Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Appropriations Committee, joined the full Senate in voting for a short-term agreement to keep the federal government running until Dec. 11. The measure, which passed the Senate 78-20 and passed the U.S. House of Representatives 277-151, is now headed to the president to be signed into law. While Udall welcomed the short-term agreement called a "continuing resolution," he urged Congress to agree to a long-term budget that also ends the devastating across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

Pearce Votes Against Bill To Fund The Government Through December 11

Sep 30, 2015
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM 2)

  U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce issued the following statement on his vote against the Senate Amendment to H.R. 719, a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 11. 

Center For Western Priorities

  The Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire tonight unless Congress takes action. With Congressional intervention appearing highly unlikely, Jessica Goad, Advocacy Director at the Center for Western Priorities, said:

Pearce Praises Bill Aimed At Defunding Planned Parenthood

Sep 29, 2015
Rep. Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico

  U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce issued this statement following House passage of H.R. 3495, the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act:

“This summer, gruesome and despicable acts performed by Planned Parenthood were exposed in undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress. Since then, the House has responded to calls from the American people for a halt to these horrific practices,” stated Pearce. “The House’s actions include today’s passage of the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act.”

Democratic Party of New Mexico: Duran Must Resign Immediately

Sep 29, 2015
Former NM Sec. of State Dianna Duran / Official photo

  Democratic Party of New Mexico (DPNM) Executive Director Joe Kabourek released the following statement on behalf of DPNM:  Enough is enough; Secretary of State Dianna Duran must resign immediately.  Rather than performing the duties she was elected to do, Secretary of State Dianna Duran has become singularly focused on abusing the powers of her office to carry out a political vendetta.

Office of the Governor


  In a potential setback for Mexican gray wolf recovery, the New Mexico Game Commission voted unanimously today to deny the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permission to release wolves in the Gila National Forest. The highly political decision, which comes nine months after the Service approved wolf releases into the Gila, ignores the advice of top scientists who have long called for more releases of Mexican wolves, including directly into the Gila. 

  The New Mexico Game Commission on Tuesday denied a permit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release the endangered Mexican gray wolf into the wild in New Mexico, where there are only 53 of the species.

Fischmann: El Paso Electric-Please Explain...

Sep 28, 2015
Steve Fischmann

  Our local electric utility, El Paso Electric (EPE), just submitted its twenty year operating plan for approval by the Public Regulation Commission. It's a real wallet buster for consumers, and a head scratcher for anyone who follows the utility industry. If you like history, it makes for a revealing excursion into 1960's energy industry thinking. If you enjoy true crime stories, there might even be some larceny in it!

Here are just a few of the many plan features that can use some explaining.

Plant Investment

Heinrich Stands With Local Chile Farmers In Protecting Authenticity Of N.M. Brand

Sep 28, 2015
US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) raised concerns over reports of an out-of-state company manufacturing and marketing its products under the guise of authentic chile from Hatch, New Mexico. He issued the following statement today calling for better labeling protections for locally-produced products:

  The local non-profit organization, Cancer Aid Resource & Education, Inc. (CARE) is planning to hold a large-scale event honoring the former whole enchilada fiesta. The event is being planned for the last weekend of September in 2016 in the Las Cruces downtown mall.

  This week, let's dip into the mailbag.


This is not a real mailbag, of course, but Desert Sage's dedicated email address: DesertSageMail@gmail.com.  In hopes of making this column a bit more interactive and to invite Luna County's denizens to share their stories, questions, and concerns, please feel free to drop a virtual letter.


Peter Goodman: On The Road To Chope's

Sep 27, 2015

  Forty-five years ago I first motorcycled down Highway 28 to Chope's, in La Mesa. The food and mood in Chope's were welcoming. The drive was delightful too, a gently-curving country road – with a sudden coolness when the motorcycle passed through irrigated fields, and the pungent scent of onions growing.

Nowadays, we don't make that drive often enough – and not on the motorcycle recently. Together, the drive and Chope's are something special we share with close friends and family when they visit.

Somos Un Pueblo Unido: Santa Fe Worker Awarded Lost Wages

Sep 27, 2015

A cook at Horseman's Haven Café, a Santa Fe restaurant, was awarded his lost wages and returned to his regular schedule at work after filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for retaliation he experienced by his employer.

  Albuquerque, New Mexico—A leading consumer group today demanded that Volkswagen be held fully accountable for its “defeat device” scheme to trick EPA pollution tests. The group also called for full rebates to the nearly 500,000 customers deceived into joining the scheme by VW’s false promises of “clean” diesel cars.

McCamley: Water Policy Is An Urgent Matter For New Mexico

Sep 23, 2015
Rep. Bill McCamley (D-New Mexico House District 33)

  “It isn’t enough just to pray for rain.” – former Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire

We’ve had good rain this year, but don’t be fooled. New Mexico had many years of serious drought, and a few months of precipitation won’t fix everything.


  Las Cruces, NM—On Thursday, 9/24, multi-faith leaders and clergy from NM Comunidades en Accion y de Fe (CAFé) will gather to witness Pope Francis’ message to the United States Congress during his papal visit to the U.S.  CAFé will also send a delegation of faith leaders to Philadelphia to see the Pope.  


  Axel, a heroic service dog that saved the life of one of our nation’s brave warriors and had just been named Service Dog of the Year at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards® in Los Angeles, was denied permission to accompany Captain Jason Haag as they were about to board the airplane for home on Sunday.


  New Mexico’s plan to use federal money to dam the Gila River and divert the water into reservoirs is not only ill conceived, it’s a highly questionable use of a billion dollars in taxpayer money. It’s time to scuttle this project.

We believe the Gila River Diversion Project should be reevaluated and replaced with a more cost-effective and scientifically sound alternative, which could provide more water for New Mexico farmers and residents than the current plan.

Hynes: Challenger Center-Another Gateway To Space For Our Community

Sep 22, 2015

  If I was in New Mexico, I'd double down on Virgin Galactic, their vehicle is fundamentally a sound design. This is part of a personal conversation I had last week in preparation for the upcoming International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS).  When I have the chance to get feedback from highly qualified people, like former NASA astronauts, I take it. I can be biased on the New Mexico partners involved in commercial space, partially because I am a New Mexican and because I have a long ongoing relationship with Virgin Galactic's leadership.

  Internal reports suggest that Detention Center Director Chris Barela may be guilty of misuse of public funds, and perhaps of crimes.


I don't pre-judge him. I do ask why it's taken so long for us to reach this point in the investigation, In late 2013, I wrote about these matters and discussed them with law enforcement. At least one Doña Ana County Commissioner also contacted the DA. The State Police began an investigation.


The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), an independent and bipartisan agency that advises the President and Congress on civil rights matters, has released its report on the state of civil rights at immigration detention centers in the United States.  MALDEF testimony is cited throughout the report, which outlines a series of federal and constitutional violations at immigration detention facilities operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. MALDEF and other groups filed a complaint last year with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S.

Pearce Blasts President For Iran Nuclear Deal

Sep 18, 2015
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM 2)

  U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R.-NM) released this statement in regard to the purported expiration of the 60-day congressional review period set by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

Pearce Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood

Sep 18, 2015
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM 2)

  U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R.-NM) released this statement today following House passage of the Defund Planned Parenthood Act (H.R. 3134) and Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act  (H.R. 3504). 

D'Ammassa: Let's Retire The Politics Of Resignation

Sep 17, 2015

  What becomes possible if we retire the politics of resignation?

It was expressed most recently by Congressman Steve Pearce, visiting a town hall meeting in Columbus last month. He was asked about Luna County's unemployment rate, which was 15 percent in July and the highest in the state. Pearce's response was consistent with remarks he has made in the past about those struggling in our county.

Nachison: Why Sanders Is Attracting Support

Sep 17, 2015
Senator Bernie Sanders

  There is a real choice for Americans in 2016. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes good sense: "Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America."