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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Attorney General King Upholds SOS Herrera's Decision on Gubernatorial Write-In Candidate

MHerrera Today, New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera's office released a letter to her from the office of Attorney General Gary King and written by Assistant Attorney General Tania Maestas that upholds the legality of the Secretary's decision to allow gubernatorial write-in candidate, Kenneth A. Gomez, on the November general election ballot. Gomez is a self-described tea party supporter from Bloomfield.

The letter said, in part:

Based on our examination of the relevant New Mexico constitutional, statutory and case law authorities, and on the information available to us at this time, we conclude that the ballots, as presented, are neither blatantly illegal nor unconstitutional. We further conclude that the New Mexico Constitution does not specifically prohibit the write-in gubernatorial candidate and that the Secretary of State has not done anything illegal.

Herrera's Republican opponent in the Secretary of State's election, Dianna Duran, and some of her supporters have been critical of Herrera's decision to allow Gomez to be a write-in candidate for governor because he hadn't indicated anyone to serve as his lieutenant governor to form a ticket. In New Mexico, candidates for lieutenant governor and governor run separate primary races and the winners of each of those form a ticket that is voted upon as a whole in the general election.  

The AG's office had this to say about that aspect of Herrera's decision:

Article Y, Section 1 of the New Mexico Constitution states that "the governor and lieutenant governor shall be elected jointly by the casting by each voter of a single vote applicable to both offices." On its face, the current ballot is consistent with the constitutional requirements. The space for write-in candidates in the current ballot requires a single vote. It does not require voters to make two separate votes for governor and lieutenant governor, nor does it otherwise distinguish between the candidacies of the two offices. The ballot does not state the name of write-in candidates; it merely sets forth a blank line for purposes of writing in an individual's name.

... The Constitution does not contemplate or address an individual, like a write-in candidate, who becomes eligible to run for governor by means other than an election. Nevertheless, the Constitution does not, by its terms, prohibit a person from qualifying and running for governor as a write-in candidate without a corresponding write-in candidate for lieutenant governor. The Constitution provides a procedure for filling the vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor, should the necessity arise.

The letter from the AG's office also took the position that Gomez properly submitted his declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate and that Gomez met all the requirements for getting on the ballot:

The Secretary of State is required to certify a candidate who properly files a declaration of intent pursuant to Section 1-12-19.1(0) of the Election Code. Mr. Gomez timely filed his declaration of intent the day after the primary election, with all the required documentation. The provisions of the Election Code governing the certification of writein candidates do not differentiate between gubernatorial candidates and candidates for any other office in the general election. In particular, the statute is silent as to any additional requirements for the gubernatorial candidate, such as the need for a lieutenant governor candidate or the process for designating a lieutenant governor candidate.

Mr. Gomez has met all the statutory requirements for certification.

In a written statement accompanying the release of the AG's letter, Secretary of State Herrera reaffirmed the importance of citizens' right to vote for the candidate of their choice, saying, "A ban on write-in Governor Candidates directly disenfranchises an individual's right of association and political expression. I am working diligently to ensure there is no intimidation of voters or interference with the election."

September 30, 2010 at 11:55 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, 2010 NM Secretary of State Race, Legal Issues | Permalink | Comments (9)

Alamogordo Daily News Endorses Harry Teague for Congress in NM-02

HarryTeagueHatch Today, the Alamogordo Daily News endorsed Harry Teague in the general election to represent NM-02. You can read the full endorsement here. Excerpt:

“When U.S. Rep. Harry Teague says he's working for southern New Mexicans, we believe him because we've seen him in action.

"We've seen the many things he has done for Alamogordo, Otero County and Holloman Air Force Base. We've seen his work with area veterans, an issue he takes so seriously that, as a freshman congressman, he was able to gain a seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee. That's where he's able to work on such issues as veterans' health care funding, veterans' mental health, economic opportunity for veterans, women veterans' issues and veteran homelessness.

"...Most important of all is Teague's willingness to keep in touch with his constituents. Since he took office almost two years ago, Teague has returned to the district all but four weekends. That's a pretty impressive record, but it's the only way Teague said he knows how to stay in touch with the people who elected him to office.

"Pearce said he returned to the district about 45 times during his six years (2002-08) in Washington. By contrast, Teague has made 72 trips to the district in about 20 months.

“... We need to make sure Teague stays in office. That's why we recommend re-electing Harry Teague in the 2nd Congressional District.” – Alamogordo Daily News

September 30, 2010 at 10:49 AM in Media, NM-02 Congressional Race 2010, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Endorses Denish-Colón for New Mexico Governor and Lt. Governor

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The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club has announced that it has endorsed Lt. Governor Diane Denish for New Mexico Governor and Brian Colón for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in the general election. The organization released the following statement about its endorsement:

Lt. Governor Diane Denish believes that protecting our environment is crucial to the health and well being of the state’s citizens, and she has supported environmental protection policies throughout her eight years at Lieutenant Governor, such as support of the Bad Actor Bill, support for the protection of the Otero Mesa, and creation of a Green Mortgage Program to help finance affordable and energy efficient housing.

The contrast between her stand on global warming and that of her opponent could not be greater. Denish believes “there is no question that global warming is occurring.” Susana Martinez, on the other hand, is in denial about the grave threat facing our children: She contradicted every major scientific organization by falsely claiming "there is disagreement in the science community concerning the causes of global warming.” [emphasis added]

The Lt. Governor supports “incentives to encourage more use of energy-efficient technologies in building and manufacturing as well as a commitment to increasing the generation of renewable power. New Mexico has a strong role to play in reducing carbon emissions, by investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and in new technologies."

"The urgency of addressing climate change touches many areas of our lives, including transportation, proper weatherization of our homes and how we plan our cities," Denish continued. "New Mexico can create bold incentives to encourage renewable power generation and transmission, green-building retrofits and other programs to attract sustainable high-wage and low-emission industries. The Gulf drilling disaster should be a wake-up call to the Congress that we must develop cleaner energy sources as quickly as we are able to do so – not only for environmental reasons, but also for our nation’s economic security.”

Denish is a strong supporter of programs and incentives that encourage the development and deployment of clean energy such as public building retrofits. She has worked the school superintendents association to get the Energy Smart program started for retrofitting public schools to save both energy and money.

Denish believes we must recommit ourselves to preserving our state's wild places. ”New Mexico has vast and wild spaces that deserve strong protections so they can be enjoyed now and for generations to follow. I am committed to preserving our state's rare gems. One such place is the Gila River flowing through Southwestern New Mexico. It is one of the last wild and un-dammed rivers in the nation and as governor I pledge to keep it that way.”

Reduce, reuse, recycle is a good guide for state policy, she believes. “I would like to see recycling in more municipalities and would welcome assistance in devising state policies to bring this about. I also would like to see the state support recycling through its purchasing policies and to assist schools and universities in also moving to use of recycled materials.”

On green building practices, Denish said, “I support updating building codes to consider more use of energy-efficient technologies while also creating a menu of incentives to encourage builders to use more efficient building techniques and materials over time.”

On the biggest emitters of carbon emissions, Denish opposes construction of Desert Rock and would support conversion of existing coal-fired power plants to run on natural gas.

Denish connects growth and water as few officials do. “New Mexicans demand that water is being used wisely, especially as our population grows and we encounter periods of drought," Denish said. "Too often we have allowed growth to occur without adequate water, then bailed out developers after the fact. Our population and development will continue to grow, but our water supply is constant and limited by natural forces.”

"The agricultural sector needs state and federal support to transition to conservation of agricultural water. Water banks can provide incentives for conservation," Denish continued.

She supports the banning of leg hold traps and other unsportsmanlike hunting and trapping on public lands. And she will continue her support for protection of Otero Mesa.

The Sierra Club is the nation's oldest and largest environmental volunteer organization, established in 1892, and with over 7,500 politically active members in New Mexico, the endorsement of the Rio Grande Chapter is widely sought by candidates for elected positions across the state. As the Chapter finalizes its endorsements for the general election they are posted on its new web site.

Photo by Stephen Jones.

September 30, 2010 at 09:20 AM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, 2010 NM Lt. Governor Race, Brian Colon, Climate, Diane Denish, Energy, Environment, Green Economy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Great Way to Wish Julie Heinrich a Happy Birthday

HeinrichsDid you know that it is our CD1 First Lady’s birthday today? Julie Heinrich -- the loving and steadfast partner of Congressman Martin Heinrich. Julie has been very gracious in allowing us constituents in CD1 to share her husband with her these past two years.

Martin and Julie have two boisterous, imaginative boys with enough energy to run every street in the district in an evening, I am sure. These two boys have grown up so much these first two years, and I sometimes think of what an undertaking it is for the family to have Martin away or working in the district more than home. It truly is a generous and priceless gift for us constituents in CD1. Martin and Julie have done an excellent job and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

If you, too, are grateful for the spirit and time that Julie Heinrich has given us as a community -- please join me in gifting Julie with a birthday present by going to Martin's campaign donation page. Contribute to this family effort she is a part of with her husband, Carter and Micah. Even a gift of $5 or $10 can make a real difference! --Mary Ellen Broderick

PS: I joined Mary Ellen today in making a donation to Martin's campaign as a birthday tribute to Julie Heinrich, and hope you will too. The FEC contribution deadline for this quarter is midnight tomorrow -- so it's a perfect time to show our thanks to Julie and help keep Martin in office, fighting for us each and every day. --Barbara Wold

September 29, 2010 at 04:28 PM in NM-01 Congressional Race 2010, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (3)

NM House Candidate Joel Davis: Stop Subsidizing Out-of-State Corporations

JoelDavis Attorney Joel A. Davis, the Democratic candidate for New Mexico State Representative in District 44 in Rio Rancho, called a press conference yesterday and laid it on the line regarding his incumbent opponent. “It’s arrogant to point the finger about higher taxes, not bring a single idea to fix the problem or bother to even show up for work in tough times.” Davis, standing in front of a shut-down Rio Rancho small business, was referring to Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert, who did not present a single bill in the past legislative session to fix looming budget problems and missed hundreds of key votes.

Davis pointed out that the incumbent was one of two missing Republican legislators who could have shot down the budget she loudly complained about, but who were absent when it was time to vote. The budget passed narrowly with a two vote margin.

“You simply have to show up to work and take practical, thoughtful and deliberate action,” Davis said. “If she really cared she would have showed up for work and killed the budget bill. What would happen to you if you didn’t show up to work 2 to 3 days per week … every week?”

Davis suggested that instead of playing ‘silly electioneering games’ the incumbent should have shown up to work and presented at least one practical idea on how to ensure decent schools, and plan for our future.

“Our district deserves hard work and thoughtful approaches to our problems,” Davis said, “For instance, it’s time to stop subsidizing out-of-state corporations, like Wal-Mart, with tax loopholes, while we pay the difference!”

Davis was referring to the tax reform, known as “combined reporting,” which closes tax loopholes that major multistate corporations use to avoid state corporate income taxes while small businesses and citizens have to pay state income tax.

Davis then directed a question at incumbent Rep. Powdrell-Culbert: “How can you possibly think it is okay for small businesses and New Mexican’s to pay higher state income taxes while Wal-Mart skates?”

“Right now Wal-Mart does not pay a penny to New Mexico for income taxes, while you and I, and our local small businesses make up the difference at a cost between $24 million and $70 million per year according to several studies,” Davis explained.

“In a time when we are talking about raising taxes, why does the incumbent give lip-service to lowering taxes?" Davis asked. "When she bothers to show up, why does she vote to make each of us pay more because of her out of touch notions?”

“My Economic Blue Print for New Mexico doesn’t have room for out-of-state corporations that take our money and run out of state while we pay higher taxes. It is just plain wrong, and it is hurting small business,” emphasized Davis.

Joel Davis has a real chance to take this seat if folks step up and help him. Please call his campaign at (505) 301-3394 for yard signs, post cards or to volunteer. Contributions may be mailed to: Joel Davis for New Mexico, PO Box 45318, Rio Rancho, NM, 87174. You can also contribute online here.

September 29, 2010 at 03:18 PM in 2010 NM Legislature Races, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice League Decision of the Decade: Part 2, The Heart of New Mexico

The Justice League PAC (Finding the Superhero in All of Us!) has unveiled its second comic strip for the 2010 New Mexico gubernatorial contest between Democrat Diane Denish and Karl Rove's candidate, Susana Martinez. This second comic -- The Heart of New Mexico -- finally unveils Diane Denish’s superpower:

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Click image for larger version

This first comic strip showcased the transformation of Susana Martinez into Captain Lockstep, under the watchful eyes of Sarah Palin and Bob Perry. Coming up next? The Justice League reveals that the battle will be engaged. Can Diane and her New Mexico roots match up against Captain Lockstep’s out-of-town evil forces? They'll be introducing Captain Lockstep’s newest villain-in-waiting, known only as the powerful A.T.M. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, visit the League's website where you can sign up for future emails, and make small contributions to help keep the comics coming.

If you haven't see it yet, also be sure to check out episode 1 of their video. The Justice League PAC will produce several more comic strips and videos over the next five weeks.

The Justice League PAC is a statewide political committee and was formed by Neri Holguin, Sandra Wechsler and Eli Il Yong Lee, who have years of experience in New Mexico politics and issues. Its purpose is to reinvigorate New Mexicans to reclaim politics for ourselves.

The Justice League PAC has a particular interest in this race, because it will decide which Governor signs or vetoes redistricting legislation in 2011. Redistricting will have more impact on the next ten years of legislative and Congressional races, and subsequent policies, than perhaps any other single factor.

September 29, 2010 at 01:37 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Diane Denish, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rep. Ben Ray Luján: Take Advantage of Comment Period to Express Concerns on Low-Altitude Flights Over Northern NM

Ben-Ray-Lujan110 This is a guest blog by Congressman Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents New Mexico's Third Congressional District.

Over the past few weeks, the Taos community and communities across Northern New Mexico have been expressing their concern over the proposal by Cannon Air Force Base regarding a Low Altitude Training Navigation (LATN) area.

I want to make myself clear: I am very concerned about the potential impact of this proposal on New Mexicans and our way of life, and I have been very clear with Cannon about that. It is critically important that any review of this proposal consider the concerns of the local community. New Mexicans are my primary concern and their voices must be heard.

In recent weeks, I have heard from hundreds of my constituents who are also greatly concerned about the proposal’s potential impact. For this reason, I have sent two letters to the Cannon Air Force base. The first request asked for increased public outreach efforts by Cannon to ensure that local residents are fully aware of the possible impact on their communities and have the ability to comment on the proposal. The other letter requested an extension of the comment period for the affected community to help ensure New Mexicans have adequate time to express any opinions on the proposal. Since that letter, the comment period has been extended to Friday, November 15, 2010.

In every conversation with Cannon, my office and I have made it abundantly clear that Taos and all affected communities have a right to express their concerns and that any potential negative impact must be taken very seriously by Cannon.

I encourage all potentially impacted New Mexicans to take advantage of the comment period. After this period ends, Cannon will then conduct an environmental assessment, which will be followed by an additional period for comment. In the coming months, as the plan is considered, please know that your voice is of great importance to the issue, to me, and to the community.

My priority has always been the people of New Mexico and working with you to protect the way of life that we hold so dear. If you have any questions or additional concerns, please do not hesitate to contact any of my offices.

This is a guest blog by Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

Note: Comments can be mailed to: Cannon AFB Public Affairs Office at 110 E Sextant Ave, Suite 1150, Cannon AFB NM 88103; or sent via email to [email protected] by Nov 15. For more information, visit the Cannon AFB website at www.cannon.af.mil.

To submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

September 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM in Guest Blogger, Military Affairs, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) | Permalink | Comments (10)

TONIGHT 9/29: Reception Supporting Re-Election of Rep. Karen Giannini

Please Join Hosts
State Senator Tim Eichenberg, Bernalillo County Democratic Party Chairwoman Ana Canales, Carl & Julie Akins, Former State Senator Janice Paster and Reena Szczepanski
For a Reception In Support Of
Rep. Karen Giannini
NM House of Representatives, District 30
Wednesday, September 29th, 5:30 PM
Artichoke Cafe, 424 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque

Click for flyer. Suggested Contributions: Hosts $250, Sponsors $100, Supporters $50. RSVP to: Matt Ross at (505) 263-4879, or [email protected]

September 29, 2010 at 09:13 AM in 2010 NM Legislature Races, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Teague Ad Bags Pearce Record of Shipping Jobs Overseas -- And It Should

Tomorrow, the Harry Teague for Congress Campaign will launch a revealing new TV ad called “Protect” (video above, transcript below) that highlights Congressman Steve Pearce’s record of shipping jobs overseas instead of working to keep them right here at home. It's a truly horrible record.

Did you know that Pearce helped give corporations $42 BILLION in tax breaks to ship U.S. jobs overseas? And get this, he once said, “every time a U.S. job goes to India, new jobs are created in America.” Right.

And now -- so he doesn't have to talk about his record -- Pearce is running personal attack ads of the lowest sort.

“The people of southern New Mexico deserve better than a representative who uses mudslinging and bold face lies in attack ads to cover up his record on the issue people care the most about – the economy,” Teague Campaign Manager, Dominic Gabello said in a written statement. “Why would Congressman Pearce care more about creating jobs in India than he does in the U.S.? Southern New Mexicans can't afford Congressman Pearce and his record of shipping jobs overseas again.”

If you live in New Mexico's second congressional district, I hope you're thinking about how awful it would be to have Steve Pearce in Congress again. Once was enough. Make sure all your friends, neighbors and family members know the truth about Pearce's failed record on the economy and so much else of substance. And why not take the next step and sign up to volunteer for Harry's campaign? Every hour helps.

Transcript:

HARRY: I’m Harry Teague and I approve this message.

NARRATOR: Why is Congressman running misleading personal attack ads against Harry Teague?

Because it was Pearce who gave corporations $42 billion in tax breaks, to ship your jobs overseas.

During a trip to India, Pearce even claimed that “every time a U.S. job goes to India, new jobs are created in America.”

Congressman Pearce, stop worrying about jobs in India. Start telling the truth here. And stop your personal attacks against Harry Teague.

September 28, 2010 at 11:08 PM in Corporatism, Economy, Populism, NM-02 Congressional Race 2010, Political Ads, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (4)

Obama Answers Question 'Why Are You a Christian? (Full Video and Text)

I see that most news outlets are focusing on President Barack Obama's answer to a question he got today in Albuquerque's South Valley that asked, "Why are you a Christian?" You won't see coverage of much else Obama had to say because, you know, this one deals with a meme that members of the "mainstream" media and right-wing operatives have long been pushing -- wowie, zowie, is Obama really a, you know, Muslim? Yikes!

In reality, the woman who posed the question said she was asking it because Mother Theresa had also been asked that question and she had loved her answer, which she had read in an article. Simple. She wasn't questioning whether or not he was a Muslim. And she wasn't "grilling" Obama as some news orgs are saying.

I also wanted to post the President's entire answer, in context, because most news outlets like to provide only a couple lines, leaving out Obama's discussion regarding the fact that its essential for America to embrace people of all faiths, no faith and everything in between.

See Mary Ellen's video above for the entire exchange, which also included a question about abortion. The full transcript of the question and answer is posted below.

Transcript:

Q Hello, Mr. President. Thank you for coming to the South Valley.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it’s great to be here.

Q It’s really a great opportunity, and I thank the Cavalier family for inviting me and my husband. I have three questions and they’re kind of hot topic questions and I’ll just -- THE PRESIDENT: All three of them?

Q All three of them. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You didn’t slip in like sort of a easy, boring one in there with the --

Q No. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: All right, let’s hear them.

Q One of them is basically -- Mother Teresa answered it in an article and I was going to ask you the same because I loved her answer. The first one is: Why are you a Christian? Second one is, there’s really no laws about the abortion law and when a woman can and can’t have an abortion, whether it’s two months or eight months, and what is your view on that? And the third one -- it’s not as -- it is a hot topic but it’s literally a hot topic, and it’s about my husband’s chili peppers. (Laughter.) And that was my question: Would you please take some chili peppers home with you? One is a habanero.

THE PRESIDENT: I will definitely check out these chili peppers. I like spicy food to go with your spicy questions. (Laughter.)

Q Spicy.

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I’m a Christian by choice. My family didn’t -- frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn’t raise me in the church.

So I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead -- being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me.

And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God. But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace.

And so that’s what I strive to do. That’s what I pray to do every day. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith. And it’s -- but the one thing I want to emphasize, having spoken about something that obviously relates to me very personally, as President of the United States, I’m also somebody who deeply believes that the -- part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith -- that this is a country that is still predominantly Christian. But we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own. And that’s part of what makes this country what it is.

Now, with respect to the abortion issue, I actually think -- I mean, there are laws both federal, state and constitutional that are in place. And I think that this is an area where I think Bill Clinton had the right formulation a couple of decades ago, which is abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. I think that it’s something that all of us should recognize is a difficult, sometimes -- oftentimes tragic situation that families are wrestling with.

I think the families and the women involved are the ones who should make the decision, not the government. But I do think actually that there are a whole host of laws on the books that after a certain period, the interests shift such that you can have some restrictions, for example, on late-term abortions, and appropriately so. So there is in fact a set of rules in place.

Now, people still argue about it and still deeply disagree about it. And that’s part of our -- that’s part of our democratic way.

All right, next. I want to make sure I get everybody in.

September 28, 2010 at 07:02 PM in Faith Community, Minority Issues, Obama Administration, Religion | Permalink | Comments (4)

President Obama Talks Economy, Education, Vets Issues with S. Valley Families; Stops at Barelas Coffee House with Diane Denish for Huevos Rancheros


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President Barack Obama arrived to visit with the Cavalier family in the Los Padillas neighborhood in Albuquerque's South Valley just after 10:00 AM this morning. Los Padillas is a semi-rural area of Albuquerque in the South Valley and a number of horses and cattle eyed the President's motorcade as it arrived. More than one rooster was heard crowing, along with a few muffled nickers and moos. Drying red chile ristras provided the color.

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The parking lot for the media and guests was a grassy meadow used for pasture. Yes, there were even a few genuine cow patties. No flashy set ups -- just the Valley as so many of us have come to know and love it, even if our families haven't been here for a few hundred years -- and even more so if they have.

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Saying he likes to get out of the Washington "bubble" and have a chance to talk to folks, listen to them, answer questions and get suggestions and advice about what’s happening in the country, the President spoke for about 10 minutes to a crowd of 35 in Andy and Etta's backyard. He then answered their questions for another half hour. Mary Ellen was on the scene representing DFNM and was excited to be a witness to such a small and intimate event. The White House team has always been great about access to bloggers, and this was no exception. Up close and personal.

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The President, in a friendly and jovial mood -- and remarking about the great New Mexico weather -- made the rounds before and after the event, shaking every hand and talking personally to each person in the crowd. Obama also greeted and joked with Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and Congressman Martin Heinrich, who were in attendance and sharing a bench. The rule for the rest of the crowd was BYOLC (Bring Your Own Lawn Chair).

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Referring to the elected officials present, Obama said, "Everybody knows your governor, Bill Richardson, and we are grateful to him. Your lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, who is I believe going to be also the next governor of the great state of New Mexico. We’ve got Congressman Martin Heinrich, and I will say that Martin told me that if I was going to come to Albuquerque that I better visit the South Valley the next time I come.  So he gets some credit for bringing me here today."

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The President's remarks were more serious, and focused on the continuing economic problems we're experiencing, the need for a long-term plan to fix them and the importance of taking steps to improve education -- even in these challenging times.

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(Click for a transcript of the President's remarks and the Q and A speedily produced and distributed by the White House Media Office).

Both Short- and Long-Term Plans Needed to Bolster Economy: On the economy, the president said, in part:

We have gone through obviously the toughest economic situation since the Great Depression, and no state has been untouched, no group of people has been untouched by the devastation.  We lost 8 million jobs.  The financial sector almost completely melted down.  We almost slipped into a Great Depression.  And so we acted very quickly to try to stop the bleeding. 

And we’ve had some success.  An economy that was shrinking, was contracting by 6 percent when I was sworn in, is now growing again.  We were losing 750,000 jobs a month when I was sworn in.  We’ve had eight consecutive months of private sector job growth.

So we’re making progress and we’re moving in the right direction, but in addition to the immediate crisis that we were dealing with, one of the challenges that I think everybody around the country when I talk to them recognizes is we’ve got to have a long-term plan for how we make sure America remains the number one economy in the world and how we make sure that we still have opportunities for middle-class Americans to prosper and to expand, to be able to support their families and send their kids to college and retire with dignity and respect; and how do we provide ladders for people who aren’t yet in the middle class to be able to get into the middle class; how do we help small businesses grow; how do we help make sure that our large businesses are the innovators that are designing the new products that we’re able to sell overseas.

Most Important: Education and Training: After explaining how our current economic stall has been in the making for many years, Obama pointed to a strengthened education and training system as the most important element in helping us regain our competitive edge:

So part of the reason I decided to run for President was because we had all these problems that we hadn’t been dealing with for a long time, even before the crisis hit, that we had to deal with -- if we want to stay competitive for the 21st century.  And the number one issue in terms of us succeeding as an economy is going to be how well we educate and how well we train our kids.  Nothing else comes close.

The President cited his adminstration's efforts with the "Race to the Top" in education funding, as well as expanding early childhood education, increasing Pell Grants for higher education and having the government directly fund college loans as achievements so far. "And if you go into public service, if you’re like Etta and you go into teaching, for example, after 10 years, whatever is remaining on your debt will be forgiven," Obama said.

Latino and African-American Students: The President said that we need to focus more on the needs of minority students, who often lag behind in math and science because of poor schools or other factors:

I’ll be honest with you, African American students, Latino students, we’re doing worse in science and math than the overall average.  So America is the 21st and 25th, but if you actually looked at performance of Latino and African American students, it would be even lower.  And that’s inexcusable because that’s fastest growing portion of our population.  That’s our future.  That’s our future workforce. And so we’ve got to have the most skilled, most highly trained workers in the world.  And this is what we’re going to be focusing on over the next couple of years.

Choice is Clear in Coming Election: The President then spoke about the upcoming election, and it's vital importance:

This election coming up in November is going to offer a choice on a whole range of different issues.  And this issue of education gives you a sense of the choice that I think Democrats are trying to make and the choice that the Republicans are trying to make.  The Republicans recently put out what they call their Pledge to America.  And it basically outlined what their priorities are.     

Their number one economic priority is retaining $700 billion tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of the country -- millionaires and billionaires mostly.  We’d have to borrow the $700 billion because we don’t have it.  We’ve got these deficits and debt. So we’d have to borrow the $700 billion from China or the Saudis or whoever is buying our debt, and then we’d pass off on average a $100,000 check to people who are making a million dollars up to more than a billion dollars.      

That’s their main economic plan.  And when you ask them, well, how would you pay for some of this stuff, they don’t really have good answers.  But one way they would pay for it is to cut back our education spending by 20 percent and eliminate about 200,000 Head Start programs and reduce student aid to go to college for about 8 million students.

That’s one of their answers.  And I just have to say, look, China -- that’s not the decision they’re making about their education system and their kids.  South Korea, that’s not the decision that they’re making about their kids.

Obama was asked questions from the small and intimate crowd about his thoughts on immigration reform, why he is a Christian, abortion, government-sponsored small business loans and tax cuts, among other things. Again, check the transcript for the full Q and A.

Discussing Veterans' Care: One moving exchange featured Andy Cavalier's son, Andrew, who spoke about his dad's military service as a Marine and his experience with the VA as a disabled vet over the years, including 17 different surgeries. Getting very emotional and to the point of tears, the son said to the President:

Veteran

The reason I get emotional is because -- Well, unfortunately at the VA sometimes he doesn’t get the care and the service that he should. I mean he sacrificed his body -- I mean, over 17 surgeries that he’s had -- But, you know, I see -- he put his blood, his sweat and his tears into this country and doesn’t always get the type of care that he deserves because -- I just want to ask, I mean, do you have any plan for that?  There’s obviously lots of veterans out there -- who feel the same way, not getting the treatments that they deserve.  It’s not just the medications, you know, it’s really being treated like a human.

President Obama gave a long answer that touched on how he and the Democrats have pushed for increased funding for veterans' services, and that his administration is going to have "zero tolerance" for homeless veterans. Acknowledging that much more needs to be done, Obama said, in part:

Now, here’s the good news.  First of all, I’ve got what I think is one of the finest, if not the finest, Secretaries of Veterans Affairs ever, General Ric Shinseki, who himself is a disabled veteran.  And this guy just thinks day and night about how are we going to make sure that veterans services are provided in a timely, effective, respectful fashion, all right?  So that’s point number one.

Point number two.  We are actually -- even in the midst of this very difficult budget situation that we’re in, we have increased over the last two years funding for veterans more than any time in the last 30 years.  More than any time in the last 30 years.

And the reason we did it was because a lot of VA facilities had gotten outdated. The backlog in terms of folks trying to get medical services or getting their claims processed had just gotten ridiculous.  You had over a million young people who had served in Iraq and now Afghanistan who had come back and they’ve got new problems like -- well, they’re not new problems but now we’re much more effective at diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury -- they weren’t getting services.  We’ve got women who are now serving in a much more dangerous situation in a lot of these theaters, and yet a lot of VA facilities still did not have special services for women and their special needs as they return.

So we are in the process of investing more in the VA and reforming how business is done at the VA than at any time in the last 30 years.

A Stop in Barelas with Diane Denish: The Obama motorcade left at 11:35 AM and headed to the corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and 4th Street to make a food stop at the Barelas Cafe -- THE place for talking politics (with your mouth full) in Albuquerque, with Democratic governor candidate, Diane Denish. As Diane puts it:

We were hungry, so I invited the President to lunch -- New Mexico-style. We went to one of my favorite places, Barelas Coffee House. Barelas is a local small business -- family-owned -- and serves some of the best posole around. It was a chance to show the President one of those little places that makes New Mexico special.

It was also a chance to talk to him one-on-one about our state and the tough times we face. The President gets it. He understands that the key to our recovery is rooted in support of our small businesses.

Accompanied by Denish, the President warmly greeted the staff and customers. "I hear you guys have the best huervos rancheros," he said. The owner, who has operated the restaurant for 32 years, came to the front to greet the president and Denish. Obama said, pointing to Denish, "Here's a steady customer. She's gonna be a great governor." The four ladies behind the counter started screaming and clapping, and the crowd yelled "Obama!" and "Denish!" as they started touring the cafe.

Obama weaved around the restaurant shaking hands and obliging cell phone pictures. "Everyone know your lieutenant governor? Soon to be ..." "Our governor!" a man finished the sentence. "Tell everyone to get out and vote for Diane -- everyone working hard for Diane I hope!" Obama said.

Obama told customers that their food looked "terrific." He said he was happy to be in a "beautiful community" with "wonderful people." The President also gathered the entire staff of the cafe for a group photo before insisting he pay for his meal, joking that the press would catch him if he left without paying -- and then write about it. President Obama left some money on the counter and took off with a to-go order of huevos rancheros with green chile and chicharrones (according to sources). 

One lunch patron, Benny Sedillo, 78, who met Obama at the restaurant, said after the encounter, "We need that kind of president. I told him thank you for what you've been doing."

Afterwards, the motorcade passed through the Barelas neighborhood and over the train yards heading for the freeway, and then headed to the airport. Many people stood outside on the streets to take photos and video of the motorcade, including an entire school at 4th Street and Stover. Air Force One left with the President onboard at about 12:45 PM.

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Post includes input from Mary Ellen Broderick's report, Barbara Wold's thoughts, press pool reports, White House transcript.

Click on photos for larger versions. All photos by Mary Ellen Broderick.

September 28, 2010 at 06:04 PM in 2010 General Election, 2010 NM Governor's Race, Diane Denish, Economy, Populism, Education, Gov. Bill Richardson, Hispanic Issues, NM-01 Congressional Race 2010, Obama Administration, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Veterans | Permalink | Comments (14)

Vote for the Library Bond: Support a Culture of Lifelong Learning in New Mexico

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, of Las Cruces.

As the state and local contests for public office heat up and move into high gear, voters in New Mexico would be wise not to overlook the key issues and decisions lower down the ballot. High on the list among these is the vote for Library General Obligation Bond B (GO Bonds), a $7 million funding measure that will go to support library services at our public, school, tribal, community college and public university libraries.

If passed, the GO Bonds will enable publicly supported libraries at all levels to continue to provide needed core services to the general public, and to children’s and student services, by updating book and journal collections and maintaining critical subscriptions to electronic databases. GO Bonds provide up to 25% of New Mexico library materials.

In New Mexico’s overall learning environment, the debate often centers on our schools, but it would be a mistake for voters to overlook the critical services of our libraries. National academic studies have repeatedly shown that children who participate in summer reading programs uniformly perform better during the regular school year, and are more likely to stay in school until graduation and beyond.

Furthermore, public and tribal libraries provide a safe third place between school and home; a place of free inquiry and learning, but also a place that supports critical community service and cultural learning needs. For adult patrons, libraries provide a community center that affords access to lifelong learning materials, job search and research tools. Libraries allow diverse communities to come together and for all of us to step out of our accustomed comfort zones and bridge historic ethnic and economic divides between our communities. Libraries also are repositories of public and government information that allow residents to tunnel through the red tape and labyrinth of information that divides the average New Mexican from the critical government and educational services that they already pay for with their tax dollars.

If passed, Library General Obligation Bond B will cost New Mexicans forty-five cents on every $100,000 of assessed property value. This is a low price to pay for the sort of critical services our libraries provide to all of us in New Mexico. In November’s election we need to remember to cast our votes for GO Bond B.

Note: You can now download a sample ballot for your precinct at the Secretary of State's website, and check out the bond issues, constitutional amendments and candidates that are up for a vote in your area on November 2nd. If you are not registered to vote, you must register by October 5th to vote in this year's election. Contact your county clerk for more info.

To read more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

September 28, 2010 at 12:20 PM in 2010 General Election, Books, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Children and Families, Government | Permalink | Comments (2)