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Thursday, May 31, 2012

ACLU Hails Federal Court Decision Knocking Down Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

DomaThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico praised today’s ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it denies married LGBT couples the same federal benefits available to other married couples. The decision, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, was reached unanimously by the three-judge panel.

“The First Circuit clearly made the right call here,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “LGBT couples are valued members of our communities. They work, pay taxes and contribute to the common good just like the rest of us. They’re part of loving, committed relationships. As the court held today, there is simply no permissible federal interest that justifies passing a discriminatory law like this.”

DOMA was enacted in 1996. Last year, President Obama said the Department of Justice would stop defending the constitutionality of the law. A few weeks ago, Obama made the historic announcement that, after giving the topic serious thought, he now supports marriage between same-sex couples.

“We’re living in an exciting moment in history,” said Simonson, “in which the general public, the courts and even the President of the United States are recognizing that the government has no business intruding into people’s personal sexual lives. Times have changed. Here in New Mexico family is important, and LGBT individuals and couples are valued parts of our families. They’re our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. This case is additional evidence that the nation is moving toward a more tolerant, accepting future.”

Read the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals decision here.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a similar case in federal court on behalf of a woman who was forced to pay over $300,000 in taxes after the death of her spouse. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had spent for 44 years together as a committed couple. Edie nursed her wife through a long battle with multiple sclerosis, but Thea passed away in 2009.

Edie would not have had to pay the $300,000 if she had been married to a man. The ACLU expects a decision in the case shortly.

And this from Freedom to Marry: Federal Court Unanimously Rules Defense of Marriage Act is Unconstitutional; First Circuit Court panel, including two Republican appointees, finds “no precedent exists for DOMA's sweeping general ‘federal’ definition of marriage for all federal statutes and programs.”

Today a federal three-judge panel, including two Republican appointees, unanimously ruled that Section Three of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against the marriages of same-sex couples performed in the states, is unconstitutional. Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, and the architect of the Hawaii marriage case cited in the unanimous opinion:

“Today’s unanimous decision issued by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is a powerful affirmation that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is an unconstitutional and unjust law whose days are numbered. This ruling will return the federal government to its historic role of respecting marriages performed in the states, without carving out a ‘gay exception’ that denies thousands of protections.

“As more loving same-sex couples commit their lives to one another in marriage, the harms of this unjust law become more clear – from service members, risking their lives to protect ours, being denied the ability to protect their own families through military medical insurance or survivor benefits to senior citizens having to move out of their homes after their partners of many decades pass on because they cannot access Social Security protections afforded any other legally married couple.”

May 31, 2012 at 09:15 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clean Cars would Slash Oil Use and Pollution this Summer

Green car imagesAs New Mexicans get ready for summer road trips, an Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report finds that cleaner, more fuel efficient cars would significantly slash oil consumption and global warming pollution across the state. The report, Summer on the Road: Going Farther on a Gallon of Gas, was released as the Obama administration is on the verge of finalizing fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks that achieve a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025.

“As they plan their summer road trips to beautiful places like the Jemez, Manzano, or Organ Mountains, New Mexican families have enough to figure out—they shouldn’t have to worry about the gasoline they’re burning” said Sanders Moore, director at Environment New Mexico. “As hot as this summer is shaping up to be, the last thing we need is more oil burning in our cars and more global warming pollution heating up our atmosphere. But in some of the cars and trucks out there today, a gallon of gas disappears more quickly than a snowball in July. Let’s beat the heat by getting cleaner cars on the road with the Obama administration’s proposed standard."

If the cars and trucks on the road today met the proposed 54.5 mpg standard, it would slash statewide oil dependence by more than 142 million gallons and cut our global warming pollution by 1.2 million metric tons this summer alone. That’s the equivalent of taking more than one coal plant offline for the whole summer. Those savings mean we would burn less cash too, saving the average New Mexico family $664 at the pump in a summer.

“Not only could you take that trip to the Organ Mountains without worrying about the impacts of the oil you’re burning along the way, but you could book the family a hotel for a couple of extra days with the money you’re saving,” added Cross. “The only solution that will relieve the pain we’re feeling at the pump is the one that will protect New Mexico’s environment and health too. Our oil dependence doesn’t just cost us at the pump—it threatens our shores with spills like the disaster in the Gulf, spews toxic pollution into our air, and contributes more to global warming than any other fuel. We simply need to get off oil, and a strong, 54.5 mpg clean car standard would be the single biggest step we’ve ever taken. We applaud the Obama administration for its work to make these benefits a reality.”

“All the better, drivers do not have to wait until 2025 to reap the benefits of cleaner cars,” noted Moore, citing the Natural Resources Defense Council’s related report, Relieving Pain at the Pump. “Thanks to the Obama administration’s first phase of standards that took effect this year, a bumper crop of fuel efficient cars have already started coming to the showroom floor.” The number of models getting more than 30 mpg has tripled since the first phase of standards for years 2012 through 2016 were announced.

President Obama proposed the new 54.5 mpg standard this past fall. The proposal has the support of 13 major automakers, as well as the United Auto Workers and numerous environmental and consumer groups. These national standards grew out of the leadership of 14 states, led by California and including New Mexico, which previously adopted state-level standards.

May 31, 2012 at 08:52 PM in Environment, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Final Countdown to Pre-Primary Election June 5, 2012

T minus 6 days.

Primaries are tough. This year the CD1 primary has been real tough. Barb had a way to wrap up all the "he said she said's." For me it is a struggle. I feel like I should have a striped shirt on and a whistle, yelling "Fowl, ten yard penalty". 

Who am I to say what is a penalty unless it is very blatant. And to be fair each claim brought up by a campaign against the other has to be researched in depth. So far Eric's campaign stating Michelle was in charge of the Ft Bayard complex when things were so horrible down there, is the most awful thing. However, what it triggers for me is how the poor souls living in those types of conditions still exist I am sure. Our society is not caring for our elderly. We do not staff the senior care centers right and more of us are getting old and will need care of some sort. Bottom line, the senior care centers need more funding and oversight. Reviewing the federal report briefly it appears Michelle worked very openly with the federal gov't when they stepped in to review this nightmare. But, I am sure it is still going on within this state somewhere. I had the pleasure of shadowing Michelle for a day back in February, to a Native American senior gathering, and these seniors just lit up seeing Michelle. Each one saying how she helped them out. I took video testimonials at the time but never had time to put them up. I will share one now.

As for Eric and his speeding tickets and other non violent fines, what can I say? First thing that comes to mind is "is that the best you all got?" Oh yeah, there is the fact that Eric only had one bill that he carried pass. For me that is a sign of the road block times we live in. No wonder he got speeding tickets after being in this legislature and seeing nothing get done, and very important measures being voted down, like senior care and oversight. I may be speeding too! Folks should not forget that Eric cast many many votes for all the other bills during his 4 years as a senator. They were the right votes and were very much needed for the people. I am sharing a video below of Eric speaking about the DREAM act, Let's think about all the people the DREAM act will help, kids that want to learn and make a difference.

Last but not least is Marty. Marty could still pull this out for sure. Marty has his pluses and minuses as all human beings. He is staying out of the finalist riffraff it appears. The fouls were being thrown early between Eric and Marty as CD1 candidates. There is no sense in revisiting these here and now. Suffice to say Marty could still pull out a win.

I am putting up a video below of all three candidates at a debate that was sponsored by Bern Co ward 11A. The question was about the budget, balancing the budget.

May 30, 2012 at 04:19 PM in Candidates & Races, Eric Griego, Martin Chavez, Michelle Lujan Grisham, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (4)

Guest Blog by Jennifer Romero "Over Charging and Mischarging Costly"

Guest blog post by Jennifer Romero candidate for Bernalillo County District Attorney. Jennifer is running against current DA Kari Brandenburg.

A few years ago, a friend gave me a book on the collateral consequences of incarceration. It was an interesting read, but I had already witnessed most of these consequences up close and personal during my time as a public defender.

Being locked up isn’t the worst part of going to jail, and the problems created by incarceration don’t end when a person is released from custody.

Most people who stay in custody longer than a week lose their jobs. Depending on how long they are incarcerated, and how much money they had, many also lose their homes, cars and families.

When a person is finally released from jail, they are dropped off downtown near the old jail and not given a second thought. Where will they sleep? Eat? Live? Work? With few resources, many are doomed to fail on probation and destined to doing life on the installment plan.

Over the past five years, there have been troubling trends in overcharging by the DAs office which has in turn led to over-incarceration at the Metropolitan Detention Center. Two areas are most notable: drug offenses and domestic violence.

New Mexico law allows for a charge of drug trafficking by either distribution (actually selling or distributing drugs) or possession with intent to distribute (which is determined primarily by the quantity).

New Mexico courts have said there is no bright line rule to determine the difference between a personal use amount and a trafficking amount. The 2nd Judicial District Attorneys Office believes that even small amounts (two or three rocks of crack, two grams of cocaine, two bee-bees of heroine) are more than personal use amounts. The result is that these individuals, who would have normally been released on their own recognizance or on a reasonable bond had they been charged with the appropriate crime of possession, instead are held on high bonds (bonds real drug traffickers have no difficulty posting!). All of these cases take years to be heard in our overburdened court system. Meanwhile, serious cases fall through the cracks.

Domestic violence is another area where overcharging is common. The kidnapping statute in New Mexico is broad and the DAs office in Bernalillo County has taken advantage of this by tacking on a charge of first degree kidnapping wherever possible. If an offender stood in front of a door, held or grabbed the alleged victim in any way, they often find themselves overcharged.

Cases that should have been charged as battery on a household member, a misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail, are frequently inflated to include first degree kidnapping, a charge which carries 18 mandatory years in prison. Misdemeanor domestic violence cases typically resolve fairly quickly, and the defendant is usually out of custody and often able to take advantage of counseling even while the case is pending. They are able to support their families and, if possible, to put their family back together.

Because first degree kidnapping carries mandatory time, this charge results in high bonds that few can post. Those facing allegations of kidnapping are ineligible for release on pretrial services or house arrest. Since the risks are so high, these cases also take a much longer time to resolve, clogging the dockets in our overburdened court system. In my entire career, I have seen only a handful of cases that truly involved kidnapping against a household member and resulted in a conviction on that charge. The rest ultimately resulted in convictions for misdemeanors or lower level felonies, but only after the offender spent years in custody waiting for the case to wind its way through the court system.

Over the years, many victims of domestic violence have contacted me to say that they will never call the police again, because the overkill response resulted in them losing one of their household’s breadwinners, losing their home and finding themselves and their children in danger of being on the street. Then, by the time the offender was released, he or she had served all of the time and the court was without jurisdiction to supervise and insure that there was counseling if necessary.

We all pay the price of overcharging and over-incarceration. We spend more than a quarter of our county’s budget on the Metropolitan Detention Center, and a large portion includes these cases. Our community is paying twice for over-incarceration, as people who could have become productive members of society lose that opportunity and ability and we end up supporting their families via welfare programs.

Resources that are wasted on overcharging and over-incarceration are better spent on much needed programs. At this time Drug Court and Veteran’s Court are severely underfunded.

On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who gave their lives for our freedoms. Let’s also honor those who have returned from wars with battle scars that very few of us can understand by making sure we have the funding to provide services within the courts.

We won’t have the resources to fund these important programs until we start getting smart on crime. Bernalillo County can’t afford another four years of overcharging and over-incarceration. It’s time for a reasonable District Attorney who will put people before politics. Please support my “smart on crime” policies by voting for me on June 5.

May 30, 2012 at 06:45 AM in 2012 Primary Election, Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guest Blog: Why Vote? A Young Person’s Perspective by Hannah Siegel

Photo-01Following is a guest blog by Hannah Siegel. A 2012 Sandia Preparatory School Graduate and Intern for Martin Heinrich’s Campaign for U.S. Senate.

"This coming Saturday I will graduate from Sandia Prep in Albuquerque. For the past year, I have been the news editor of my school paper and I have always held a deep seeded interest in politics. Over the past month, these two passions have come together through my Senior Experience internship with the communications director of the Martin Heinrich for Senate campaign.

As a result of this experience, I was motivated to write an op-ed for other young people, giving my opinion on the importance of voting and explaining why I support Martin Heinrich. I hope you will consider publishing this op-ed in Democracy for New Mexico before next Tuesday’s primary."

Perhaps it was the midterm election cycle, the time of day (just after school), the polling place, or simple serendipity, but the first time I ever cast my vote, I was pretty much alone. There was no line and no need for the voter card I had carried around like a talisman since I first got it a few weeks prior.

Voting was simple and easy. I had done my research so thoroughly that I even knew which judges I wanted to keep. I could have filled in the circle that would allow me to vote straight Democratic, but for some reason I felt the need to bubble in each and every individual oval, and every time I did so, I felt a spark of adrenaline and a feeling of accomplishment and importance.

No longer would I just have to sit behind the phone and urge people to do what I so longed to do. No longer would I have to walk from house to house for hours in 100 degree weather with the bitter, yet hopeful knowledge that volunteering was all I could do. Finally, I had my own say. Finally, I could use my civic voice. At last, I could vote.

There are many reasons I could name that would  explain my voting excitement or why I would encourage other young people to vote: every vote matters, voting now creates good habits later, and voting is the most important civic duty a person has. But those are just facts, and none of them really capture my enthusiasm. You see, I vote for my future. Incidentally, this is also why I cast my primary vote for Martin Heinrich and why I will do so again come November.

Right now, there are several bills floating around congress that would keep the interest rate on federal student loans low. And though, at this current moment it doesn’t look like I’ll need a government loan for college next year and the years beyond, for many of my peers, a government loan is their only option. The only thing the bills really differ on is how they would be paid for. The bill introduced by Republicans in the House of Representatives will cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is aimed at stopping serious health risks and chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer before they happen, and is included in the Affordable Health Care Act. The bill that Rep. Heinrich supports will raise taxes by six percent on oil companies. Since oil companies are currently raking in more money than any other industry in America, I think they can afford a small tax increase to support the future generation of CEOs.

But there are other issues currently being debated on Capitol Hill that are just as important if not more so to my generation and future generations.

Firstly, being a relatively private person and having also recently joined Facebook, I can say that privacy on the internet, a place where confidentiality can easily be breeched, is a serious matter. But it’s not just hackers that can compromise private information. Recently, there have been rather terrifying reports that employers are demanding to see employees’ and job applicants' passwords so they can access information that may be hidden from the public eye on Facebook and other social media sites. To counteract this new trend, Rep, Heinrich took action and introduced the Password Protection Act, which would make it illegal for employers to demand online, private information.

Secondly, I have lived in New Mexico my entire life, which has given me a clear window into the debate over illegal immigration. We should build a higher fence; employers should be penalized for employing illegal immigrants; all illegal immigrants should be rounded up and deported; illegal immigrants shouldn’t have drivers’ licenses: these are all common opinions voiced about illegal immigration. But one thing that isn’t talked about enough is the children who come to our country at a young age. Though they are not American citizens, many of them have grown up in America. This is their home. They know English just as well as their fellow students and are just as driven to make the American dream their own—many serving our country in the military. Rep. Heinrich is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), which would allow students, who are just like me, only different in their country of birth, to receive full status as a U.S. citizen.

Thirdly, I would like to take this time to talk about bullying. Yes, former Congresswoman Heather Wilson was right when she said recently that it is the job of parents to teach their children empathy and acceptance. However, I disagree that the government has no role in addressing the problem of bullying. This issue is especially close to my heart as someone who has been bullied because of perceived sexual orientation. In recent years, there has been a dramatic upswing in students committing suicide because they were bullied, especially kids who were bullied because of sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, which is why a bill called the Student Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced. The act, which, again, Rep Heinrich co-sponsors, would outlaw bullying and harassment of students in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity both by bullies and by school staff and programs. The bill would not criminalize bullies, but would penalize schools that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lastly, Rep. Heinrich also fought against the House Republican budget which would make serious cuts to Social Security and Medicare. You may point out that neither of those things really affects me because, as a healthy young person, I don’t need them. But the truth is I won’t always be young and more importantly there are parents and grandparents out there who need these programs to insure their well being and the well being of their children and grandchildren. If I work hard and pay into the system, I should be able to receive the benefits I've earned when I retire. That’s only fair. But if the Republican budget passes, the rug may be pulled out from under me and everyone else because Medicare and Social Security will end as we know it.

When I go to the polls to vote, or when I weigh positives and negatives of both sides of an issue, I’m not just cognizant of my own situation, but of others’ as well. A country is a lot like a really big, dysfunctional family: we are united by a common citizenship and have a responsibility to one another. If one person is struggling, it is the duty of the entire family to help that person out, regardless of how that person may have fallen into that situation. The same is true of a country, but on a much larger scale. So when I cast my vote, I do it not just for my own gain and for my future, but also for everyone else’s. If we recognize that we are all in it together, we are stronger. That notion, I believe, is one that Rep. Martin Heinrich shares and that is why I will continue to throw my support behind him through voting and volunteering.

May 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Guest Blogger, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Youth | Permalink | Comments (1)

House District 46 is Worth Fighting For; Guest Blog by David Coss

Coss for state rep

As the election nears, tensions start to heat up. I’m sure you’re getting a ton of political mail, and you can’t turn on the radio without hearing about one candidate or another. That’s because elections are about choices, and it’s important that voters have all the information about the people they are going to trust to make important choices on their behalf before going to the voting booth.

Our campaign is working hard to talk to voters. Here’s why: House District 46 is worth fighting for. Northern Santa Fe County deserves a quality, experienced leader, with strong Democratic values and a track record of success. The issues we face are too serious and too urgent to throw this election to chance. So we’re working hard, talking to voters at the doors and on the phone, about the choice they face on June 5th.

My opponent is Carl Trujillo. He’s an employee at the Labs and has been a homebuilder in the area. In this campaign and the one he ran in 2010, Carl has staked his entire campaign on running against, as he calls it, “the Democratic Party machine.” He called me a “career politician with a dubious record when it comes to ethics and transparency,” and claimed that I’m backed by “the political old-boy network.”

I am proud of my record as a labor union organizer, a civil servant and a state worker. I am proud of my record as an elected official, fighting for increased ethics and transparency. And I am proud of all the support you have given me. The support for this campaign encompasses all walks of life, progressive reformers, longtime Democrats and brand new voters to the political process.

Carl has spent three years now railing against the “Democratic Party machine.” He says he’s against what the “Democratic Party Machine” stands for. But, Carl serves on the Democratic Party’s State Central Committee, which is the elected body that governs the very same “Democratic Party machine.”Not only that, but he’s also a Party Ward Chair. So, he’s against the Party, calls it a “machine led by cronies” but he helps run it?

Carl also says he’s a Democrat and that he’s for Democratic values, but he says that labor unions can “get in the way of fair wages and employment opportunities.” You can see the youtube video here. Having been a labor organizer and a longtime union member, and seeing the attacks on labor unions in Wisconsin and other states, I find his views incredibly troubling.

I continue to invite Carl to accept the challenge publicly to discuss the issues with me, so that voters know where we both stand, and what we’ll each bring to public office. The Santa Fe New Mexican has generously offered to host a moderated public debate. I have accepted but am disappointed that Carl has not.

The election is just 7 shorts days away. Like I said, this election is too important to throw to chance. Please get involved and vote on June 5th. The working families of House District 46 are worth fighting for.

May 29, 2012 at 04:00 PM in 2012 Legislature Races, Candidates & Races, Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (1)

NM Hispanic Bar Association Endorses Judge Alisa Hadfield for District Court Judge

The New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association endorsed the judicial candidacy of Alisa Hadfield for District Court Judge on May 17, 2012.

Judge Hadfield is running to keep her seat as a Family Court/Domestic Violence District Judge in Division 21 of the 2nd Judicial District for Bernalillo County. Under New Mexico Law, judges must run in one opposed election following their appointment, after which they stand for retention elections.

Judge Hadfield was appointed to the Family Court/Domestic Violence bench by Governor Richardson in 2010 after being recommended by the non-partisan Judicial Nominating Commission. From 2004 to 2010 she served as a Domestic Violence Special Commissioner, and is the former Director of the Family Assessment Intervention Resources (“FAIR”) Program, a collaboration with the Courts and University of New Mexico Psychology Department that assisted families experiencing domestic violence. From 1996 to 2004, Judge Hadfield was in private practice where she specialized in family law. She also served as a prosecutor and a public defender. Judge Hadfield is a graduate of the Hofstra University Law School.

“I am honored to be endorsed by the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association,” said Judge Hadfield, adding “For the past twenty years I have been working with families facing many significant challenges including divorce and domestic violence. Promoting safety and the best interest of children is critical. This is my passion and I’m honored to serve my community in this capacity.”

The NM Hispanic Bar Association is the state-wide association for Hispanic attorneys, and is currently composed of approximately 300 members. The Association’s mission is to promote the education and development of Hispanic legal professionals, and it currently works to fulfill this mission through judicial endorsements, community mentorship programs, and continuing legal education programs. For more information on the NM Hispanic Bar Association and its initiatives, visit http://nmhba.blogspot.com.

May 29, 2012 at 03:08 PM in 2012 Judicial Races, Bernalillo County, Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Senators Engage Air Force on Aggressive Kirtland Fuel Spill Cleanup

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall are asking the Air Force to partner with county and state authorities to “conduct further scientific and technical analysis” to determine the scope of the Kirtland jet fuel leak and develop contingency plans for the continued safety of the drinking water.

The Senators, who met with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers in Washington last week for an update on the plume, wrote to him today in support of the Air Force’s goal to cleanup the spill and ensure the area continues to meet federal drinking water standards in the future.

“We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017,” they wrote. “We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water.”

The lawmakers also recommended that the Air Force continue to work in cooperation with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) and the New Mexico Environment Department to continue supporting area well monitoring, evaluating the nature of the plume, and regarding the progress of the cleanup efforts.

“We recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known,” the Senators wrote. “In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.”

The full text of the letter is below: May 24, 2012

The Honorable Terry Yonkers
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics
1670 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1670

Dear Assistant Secretary Yonkers:
Thank you for visiting with us last week to discuss the cleanup of the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) fuel spill in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We truly appreciate your ongoing attention to protecting the health and environment in and around KAFB.

We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017. We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water. We also appreciate the fact that the Air Force is committed to working with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) to ensure there are adequate contingency plans for safe and reliable drinking water in case any existing water wells are ever affected. To ensure success, it is critical for the Air Force to maintain focus on achieving this mission and devoting the financial resources necessary to do so.

We would also like to follow up on our meeting with some recommendations in order to assist in resolving this issue and protecting the groundwater supplies that provide New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area with drinking water. First, we recommend that the Air Force continue to work closely with the ABCWUA and assist them with the necessary resources to conduct further scientific and technical analysis of the size, extent, and characterization of the spill, along with the progress and effectiveness of the cleanup project. While we have no reason to believe that the Air Force’s studies are inadequate, additional analysis would be a great help in maintaining public trust during this project.

Second, we are aware that the Air Force is providing resources to ABCWUA to conduct monthly testing of water wells, which to date have shown no contamination. We urge continuation of this arrangement and expanding it if appropriate to ensure accurate information about the safety of groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Finally, we recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known. In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.

Thank you for your service to our country and your personal dedication to this cleanup project. If we can assist you on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely, Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator/ Tom Udall, United States Senator

May 27, 2012 at 08:43 PM in City of Albuquerque, Environment, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, May 25, 2012

5/25: Elect Mary Ellen HD30 Launch Party

Friends, today I launch my campaign for New Mexico State House District 30 seat. The republicans want to gain control over the NM House of Representatives, we can not let them. Everyone who is running for office needs help. Unfortunately it takes money and lots of it these days. So, if you have no plans for this Friday evening of your 3 day Memorial Day weekend, please come to contribute to my campaign, socialize, and have fun.

Flier 5.25.12 001

May 25, 2012 at 07:21 AM in 2012 Legislature Races, Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Congressional District 1 Candidates

As this Congressional District 1 race heats up a bit more everyday this blog is trying to remain neutral. Maybe some of you reading this will disagree but we are. There have been intense arguments written in the comment section of the blog of people venting against their opposing candidate and talking up their candidate. Unless the comment was posted verbatim in another comment thread, the comments have remained as is, unedited, but yes we do check for really off base bad destructive comments and remove them. 

As you know or don't know DFNM Meetup endorsed Eric Griego for the CD1 candidate of their choice. Now we are at the very very very worst time of campaign primary season. I receive guest blogs daily laying out negatives and postives. There is no way the information within the guest blogs can be traced down, so I really do try not to put up something that is real destructive. Barb's philosophy on this blog was we are democrats and most of the time any of the dems running for office will be way better than an R.

And that is the main point, whether the democrats in CD1 choose: Marty Chavez, Eric Griego or Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democracy for New Mexico blog will be 200% behind them. I have very close friends living in my house since Barb passed, and we talk for hours about politics. We take it seriously, we want the best candidate to help this state and the country. Honestly, it is a tough choice who is the best candidate to help us out of this mess we are in. What we are certain about is; we need help out here big time. I still maintain what my experience has been in my race for state rep 30, practically every door I knock on has underemployed, unemployed, overworked and sickness in their home. That is the facts.

Like what Leslie L said in the journal today, paraphrasing; watching the debate on Saturday evening, "good thing she wasn't taking a shot every time one of the candidates said I will be fighting for you." I looked up the word fight in the thesaurus to see if I could suggest another word. What I found I liked the best were the antonyms for the word fighting: advance, cultivate, encourage, forward, foster, further, nourish, nurture, promote.

In summary, I have not voted yet. I generally wait to the election day. But we are all democrats and we should be careful of the circular firing squad. We know each of the candidates is tough, you have to be to be running, I say we democrats are blessed with three wonderful candidates. Sure they all have their imperfections but they all are beauties next to another R in the US House of Representatives. 

For myself, I thank each of you for running and having your whole life picked apart. We need jobs, we need healthcare, we need a safe environment, we need civil rights, we need education, we need compassion.

May 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM in Candidates & Races, Eric Griego, Martin Chavez, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012 | Permalink | Comments (11)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Congressional District 1 Race Latest Poll Results

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Wow, what an interesting race for our New Mexico Congressional District 1. The race reminds me of a great horse race with the all out sprint to the finish line. However, let's face it, the correct analogy would be a one year marathon. We are down to the last 13 days today, and the most current poll shows a total shift of all positions in this hot race.

NM-1 breaking news in ROLL CALL according to the latest polling, Senator Eric Griego is in the lead with 35% of likely Democratic Primary voters in the race for NM's 1st Congressional District.  Here are the brand new poll numbers the story mentions:

**NEW** May 15-16 poll showed:
35% Griego
30% Lujan Grisham
28% Chavez

Feb 28 - March 1 poll showed:
37% Chavez
30% Griego
24% Lujan Grisham

The polling also revealed Griego has the highest favorable to unfavorable rating of the three candidates:
48-16 for Eric Griego
44-18 for Michelle Lujan Grisham
41-35 for Marty Chavez

(Details: Both were conducted by GBA strategies and included 400 Likely Democratic Primary Voters, MOE +/- 4.9%)

The following was released from the Griego Campaign:

“I’m proud of the surging support behind my campaign to fight for what we say we believe as Democrats,” Griego said.  “Our lead in the poll proves that New Mexicans want to elect a leader with a long, consistent record of taking on the status quo and powerful corporate interests to fight for reform and middle class jobs.”
“We’re winning because New Mexicans support Eric’s unwavering commitment to protect Social Security and Medicare, hold Wall Street bankers accountable, and fight for core Democratic values,” said Ed Yoon, Griego’s campaign manager.  “And we will win on June 5th because we are out-raising, out-communicating, and out-organizing our more conservative opponents.”

Then there is this poll released on NM Politics with Joe Monahan's blog this morning: Lujan Grisham polls 34.7%, Griego garners 33.9%, Chavez comes with 22.3% and 9% of the 728 likely Democratic voters in the 1st Congressional district who responded to the automatic phone poll said they were undecided. The margin of error in the survey is 3.62%.

This press release issued from Lujan Grisham Campaign:  

"Michelle has seized the momentum and is now tied for the lead in the race for Congress! Michelle has 35 percent of the vote, surging 11 points from February polling. She is tied with Eric Griego. Support for Marty Chavez, the former frontrunner earlier this year, has plummeted significantly, from 37 percent in February to 23 percent now."

Some of the interesting polling statistics that Joe Monahan shares with us on his blog are the following:

"Lujan Grisham, who has made direct appeals to women voters, actually trails Griego in that category, if only by a tad. Griego wins 37% of women to Lujan Grisham's 33%. Chavez gets 22%. But Griego gets 43% of liberals to Lujan Grisham's 34% and Chavez's 18%.
Democratic women are more liberal than Democratic men who tend to be more moderate.
Among men, Lujan Grisham edges out Griego. She gets 37% to Griego's 31%. Chavez gets 23% and the remainder are undecided,
Griego holds a slight lead among Hispanics, but they are bunched up among the three hopefuls all of whom are of Hispanic heritage. Griego scores 35%, Lujan Grisham 29% and Chavez 28%. Anglos give Lujan Grisham 39%, Griego, 34% and Chavez 18%." 

May 23, 2012 at 01:57 PM in Candidates & Races, Eric Griego, Martin Chavez, Michelle Lujan Grisham, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Polling | Permalink | Comments (11)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Destination Education Tour with Hector Balderas

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On Friday May 18, I accompanied New Mexico State Auditor and U.S Senate candidate Hector Balderas as he traveled across the state on his “Destination Education” tour.  Balderas had students from Wagon Mound—many of whom were featured in Balderas’ recent ad—with him.  UFC fighter John Dodson, another New Mexico native, also traveled with us on the campaign bus.

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Balderas to grads                    John Dodson w Mrs.B 

Our first stop was at Albuquerque High School, where Auditor Balderas gave the keynote address at the farewell assembly for the graduating seniors.  Balderas’ touching and inspiration speech to over 1,500 students and staff congratulated the seniors for overcoming great adversity in order to graduate.  Balderas also challenged the students to never let the obstacles ahead stop them from achieving their dreams.  “If you have a plan, work at that plan, and never give up, the world will get out of your way.  I know this because I lived it,” Balderas said.

DSC_1374 copyAfter Balderas’ speech I had the opportunity to get on the campaign bus with Balderas, the students, and Dodson.  It was great getting a chance to talk to the kids from Wagon Mound and hearing why they are so inspired by Balderas’ candidacy.  These Wagon Mound kids were very excited and very proud of their home legend Hector Balderas. The kids were also thrilled to hear about Dodson’s path and career. I asked the kids what they liked about Hector and the video is below.

After about an hour drive we arrived in Santa Fe and met with Representative Luciano “Lucky” Varela and Santa Fe School Board Member Linda Trujillo outside the State Capitol.  The students delivered the letters they had all written explaining what education means to them.  A couple students even read their letters aloud.  Varela and Trujillo were clearly touched and inspired that students traveled so far to express their thoughts and concerns.

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After only two stops on the tour I was exhausted and headed back home. The campaign, on the other hand, was forging ahead, heading to Las Vegas, Taos and Española.                

May 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Candidates & Races, Education, Hector Balderas | Permalink | Comments (0)