Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
Comes Out Swingin'
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Who Needs Legislators?
Richardson also said Wednesday the state would address through its own regulatory powers or administrative efforts priorities left undone by the Legislature during the session that ended Feb. 16.
What's going on here? Do we really want to allow individuals in government who are not happy with the outcome of the legislature to start creating their own rules? This is not the way our system of government is intended to work. We need to nip this in the bud.
C'mon folks, regardless of which side of these issues you support, it's time to speak out against this blatant seizing of power. Let's see some comments, and challenge your legislator to come on the site and post a comment to show that they are not going to take this lying down.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Looks Can be Deceiving
The new regulations will require people who are not U.S. citizens to provide two types of identification - including a federal ID number and a passport issued by their native country - before they could get a license.
New Mexico is one of 11 states that don't require driver's license applicants to prove they're legal U.S. residents. Currently , foreign nationals can obtain a New Mexico driver's license by showing only one form of identification.
That's right, 39 other states realize that licensing illegal immigrants is a bad idea. Now the Governor is making news by pretending to add one more "form of identification" to New Mexico's illegal-friendly licensing policy. The problem is that despite what you might read in the news, a federal ID number is NOT a form of identification:
Are ITINs valid for identification?
No. ITINs are not valid identification outside the tax system. Since ITINs are strictly for tax processing, IRS does not apply the same standards as agencies that provide genuine identity certification.
ITIN applicants are not required to apply in person, and IRS does not further validate the authenticity of identity documents. ITINs do not prove identity outside the tax system, and should not be offered or accepted as identification for non-tax purposes.
A wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf, and our Governor is still soft on illegal immigration. But, don't take my word for it. Let's get it from the horse's mouth:
[Richardson]: Now, here's my view, Chris: You've got to be realistic. I want to have illegal immigrants in New Mexico have driver's licenses.
And there you have it.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Actions of the Irate
The governor said he was disappointed that legislators did not approve several measures he sought, including increasing the state's minimum wage, limiting fees on payday loans, cracking down on corruption among state officials, providing tax relief and financing road projects. "This is the least-productive session that I've had as a governor," Richardson, who has been in office since 2003, said last week.
Oh boy, I can see the campaign literature now. "Re-elect Governor Bill Richardson, he's just finished his least-productive session as Governor. " Ouch, not exactly the kind of statement to make before running for re-election - where's Billy Sparks when you need him?
So, what's a Governor to do? Well, dang it. It's time to go get them GOPers (subscription):
The New Mexico Labor Department has ordered what it calls a routine audit of the state Republican Party, putting the GOP on notice that the agency may be poring over a long list of confidential party documents.
State Republican Party executive director Marta Kramer said Saturday she suspects politics from Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson's administration is the reason for the audit.
Oh, I know what you are thinking. Now it's the Republicans crying, "Conspiracy." However, you have to admit, the timing of this "audit" is pretty convenient. The Republican
The notice outlines an extensive list of documents the Labor Department may be examining, including salary and payroll records, tax-return paperwork, checking-account registers and "All contracts between your company and independent contractors that did work for you during the period mentioned above."
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would say that it sounds like the Governor is trying to redeem himself and dig up the dirt to support his previous accusations.
Monday, February 20, 2006
It's Always a Conspiracy
Some would-be Madrid listeners called the Journal on Saturday and accused the newspaper of conspiring with KKOB, which airs Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators, to keep Madrid off the air in New Mexico.
Ortega said the accusation was completely off the mark.
"The same conspirators kept the president off of the air, too," he said with a chuckle. "Talk about duplicity."
Why am I not surprised? I'm thinking a campaign that is already launching into media bias complaints is in trouble coming out of the gate.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Oh Yeah, That Made Sense
Among the big-ticket Richardson measures that failed or were ignored in the session were $250 million he wanted for roads and highways statewide....
So, while you are bumping around on the road to work, consider what got money instead:
Richardson's $393 million Rail Runner Express commuter train to link Belen, Albuquerque and Santa Fe roared out of the Legislature unscathed after hitting a rough patch early in the session. A Senate measure to stop state funding for the train failed.
The capital outlay projects include $100 million for [Richardson's] proposed spaceport in southern New Mexico and $90 million for new public schools in high-growth areas.
Now didn't I read somewhere Richardson's Transportation Secretary promising that the Rail Runner would not take away funds from our roads? Oh well, so much for promises from the Richardson administration.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
No Time for Ethics
Gov. Bill Richardson wants lawmakers to postpone work on broad ethics or lobbying reforms until next year and instead focus on anti-corruption proposals developed in the wake of a kickback scandal involving state treasurers.
Richardson's comments came Wednesday after a Senate committee unanimously approved a bill to prohibit campaign contributions and most gifts to legislators and state elected officials - such as the governor and treasurer - from companies and individuals providing investment or financial services to the state.
Isn't it somewhat ironic that at the same time legislator's are pasing legislation that prohibits campaign gifts, they are simultanously passing legislation to increase their unconstitutional retirement bonuses? The Governor let legislators pad their pockets with retirement dollars in 2003, and it remains to be seen whether he'll let them do it again.
Did I mention this is unconstitutional?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Imagine being able to get your MTV and your ESPN without having also to pay for the Game Show or Outdoor Living networks.
It's time cable-TV subscribers had more choice over the channels they want to pay for. Rates have risen more than 40 percent— three times inflation— since 1996. That's the year Congress passed the Telecommunications Act, which ended price regulation on the rationale that competition would restrain cable price hikes. But the major cable companies maintained market dominance in their territories, and prices continued their upward spiral.
I wonder if the Journal will be
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Call Your Legislator
Please stop whatever you are doing, and pick up the phone and call your legislator. Tell them that before this session ends, they must pass SJM45. The future of our children depends on it.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Governor Throws a Tantrum
Gov. Bill Richardson ignited a firestorm in the Legislature on Saturday by warning that a special session may be needed, and he criticized the Senate for a slow pace in dealing with the administration's legislative priorities.
"My prediction is that we will have a special session to deal with the budget, with my 'year of the child' initiatives and other critical legislation. Why do I say that? Because some senators seem more preoccupied with pork than paying for children's health insurance, education or safety programs," Richardson said at a news conference.
Gee Governor, don't you think you might deserve the lionshare of the responsibility here? After all, you were the one that admittedly tried to cram a 90-day session into 30 days. Is anyone surprised nothing is getting done? As to Porkfest 2006, I really don't think the Senate deserves the grand prize.
But what the heck, just go ahead and call the Legislature back into session for the third time in less than a year, and don't even give a second thought to the hard earned taxpayer money you would be flushing down the toilet at a rate of $42,000 a day. What's important here is that you get to throw another press conference where you can talk about the "Year of the Child."
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Response to the Comments
First, it was interesting to note that CharlieABQ (CABQ) was rather selective in the focus of his response. My original post, and my follow-up comment were primarily about the principled way in which Congresswoman Wilson conducts herself. Whereas, CABQ - an interesting name selection - chose to center his comments around the actions of the NSA.
I stand by the historical reference I added as a means to put the current debate in the proper context. Moreover, I think it was particularly relevant to remember it in a time so soon after the passing of Coretta Scott King. The Kings were the heroes of my reference, and the federal government the villain. How anyone could see this as a slight to the memory of Coretta is beyond me.
CABQ makes the point that "Robert F. Kennedy authorized the wiretapping of the Kings after he was badgered into it by J. Edgar Hoover." This only serves to reinforce the strength of Congresswoman Wilson with respect to her principles. Think about it, you have the brother of the President caving under the pressure of the FBI, yet a Congresswoman from New Mexico, in an election year no less, will draw a line in the sand based on her principles.
By writing, " Most of the incidents in the past that Repub spin cites took place BEFORE the FISA was passed," Barb is grudgingly admitting that the acts of the current administration are not without post-FISA precedent. As to Heather voting with the administration 85% of the time, I would expect no less. We are talking about a republican administration and a republican congresswoman. Of course, they are in agreement the vast majority of the time. The important thing is that when it comes down to a difference in fundamental principle Heather is willing to go out on a limb for her principles. There are not enough politicians on either side of the aisle willing to do this.
Now despite the practices of other administrations going back to at least the 1960's, I am, as I stated before, not necessarily in agreement with the actions of the NSA. The only reason I don't come out 100% against them is I don't know all of the facts, and I probably never will. However, select members of Congress should know and Heather's background and present position makes her one of those that should know.
I support our President 100% and worked hard to get him re-elected. However, support does not require blind obedience. We have three branches of government for a reason, and yes Barb, expansion of power by one of those branches gives me reason for concern, and when it occurs, I expect the other branches to step up and meet their check and balance obligation - just like Congresswoman Wilson did. When the obligation is not met, you end up with a rubber stamping legislature like the one we have experienced in New Mexico for the last few years.
As to Tim's question, there is a simple reason for Heather's delay in going to the press. Unlike some other New Mexico politicians, Heather does not conduct a press conference every time she does what the people elected her to do. By all reports, she first attempted to work through normal channels. It was only when that didn't work that she took the issue to the press.
Finally, I'll let Chris in on my secret. When it comes to politics and policy, there is nothing I value more than open debate. Very few issues are as black and white as either side would like them to be.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Why We Like Heather
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Governor's Emerging Pattern
...the House and Senate had allocated money according to their own priorities rather than fully funding the dozens of initiatives [Richardson] proposed...
Then this evening I came across this:
Last week, Richardson told reporters that he isn't backing Ingle's bill, saying he doesn't want the Legislature to consider ethics bills that aren't his anti-corruption package - much of which deal specifically with the Treasurer's Office.
Are you seeing a trend here? Apparently, Governor Richardson feels if it isn't his idea, it isn't worth doing. I'm surprised he hasn't been able to get the Speaker to introduce a bill to just do away with the whole pesky legislative thing.
Legislature Says "@$#%@ the Elderly"
Gov. Bill Richardson blistered lawmakers last week for approving what he described as the budgetary equivalent of "Porky Pig."
Unfortunately, then you read a little more:
He complained that the House and Senate had allocated money according to their own priorities rather than fully funding the dozens of initiatives he's proposed in his self-proclaimed "year of the child."
That's right, there's only room in Santa Fe for one porker, and he wants trains and spaceships to commemorate the "year of the child." Of course, that makes sense. What kid doesn't like trains and spaceships?
Speaking of priorities, the bed tax is going to be rescinded. Hopefully, no one has forgotten whose priority the bed tax was in the first place. This was one tax that even the Sheriff of Nottingham would have refused to collect. I mean look at this commercial and then reflect on the "priorities" of our Governor. C'mon folks, give back the money (subscription).
Monday, February 06, 2006
A Gift for BNSF aka My Buddy's Truck
Ok we all know that the state is spending hundreds of millions of dollars of of taxpayer funds to "purchase" the train tracks from BNSF. What you might not know is:
BNSF will retain an exclusive, permanent easement for freight operations on the Subject Line. Freight operations on the line will continue to be conducted by BNSF pursuant to the retained easement. NMDOT will not acquire the right or obligation to conduct any rail freight operations on the Subject Line.
That's kind of like buying your buddy's truck and being told he can still drive it to work everyday. Oh, and you can 't even think about hauling anything with that truck.
Under the Joint Use Agreement, NMDOT will take over responsibility for track maintenance upon acquisition of each segment of the Subject Line. Prior to each closing phase, NMDOT and BNSF will conduct a joint inspection of the relevant portion of the Subject Line. After closing, NMDOT will have an obligation to maintain the Subject Line to the lesser of the track condition documented during the joint inspection or FRA Class 4.3 With respect to the segment of the Subject Line between Lamy, NM and Trinidad, CO, during the period after NMDOT's acquisition but before the commencement of commuter rail operations, BNSF and NMDOT have established an alternative maintenance arrangement. Essentially, BNSF will establish the track standard; NMDOT will set up a maintenance plan and budget; and BNSF will review and approve the plan and agree to pay a prescribed portion of the maintenance costs.
Now, that's kind of interesting. Again back to that truck we bought from our buddy. What the above segment says is that our buddy gets to tell us how to maintain our truck. He is going to tell us how much to spend, and basically, even though he is going to continue using the truck the same as before, he is now only going to pay a minimal amount of the maintenance costs.
So, let's review. BNSF will receive $393 million. BNSF still has full access to the tracks for free. BNSF only has to pay a fraction of the maintenance costs they had to pay before. But wait, there is more...
Commuter service will have priority over freight service during defined operating window, but only so long as BNSF retains the ability to provide high quality freight service to and Amtrak service is provided in accordance with statutory and contractual standards.
It turns out our buddy will give us priority in driving that truck we just bought, as long as it doesn't get in the way of his driving the truck for work. If it's going to make him late for work, then he gets priority on that truck that we just "bought." Oh yeah, and his Aunt Amtrack gets to use it too.
NMDOT must meet its objective to close the first phase of the transaction on January 17, 2006 in order to avoid substantial project delay costs on this publicly-funded project.
Oh man, it looks like the price of our buddy's truck is going to go up again. Well, it's not like he didn't warn us.
"Retained Freight Easement" means the perpetual, exclusive, assignable easement
along, over and through the Rail Corridor to be retained by BNSF from all conveyances described in the Purchase and Sale Agreements to provide BNSF the perpetual, exclusive right and obligation to provide rail freight services and supporting activities.
Did you catch that? If our buddy decides he no longer needs the truck for work, no problem he can sell his right to use the truck we bought to someone else who might need the truck for their job.
A. No Capital Replacement. The non-maintaining Party shall not be obligated to
compensate the Party then charged with maintenance of a particular segment of the Rail Corridor for capital replacement as a part of ongoing maintenance, even to the extent such capital replacement is attributable to the non-maintaining Party's operations.
If our buddy wears out the transmission of that truck with some heavy hauling from his job, it will be our responsibility to replace the transmission. Why? Well, we "bought" the truck. So, it only makes sense, right?
Tax Reimbursement. NMDOT shall pay or reimburse BNSF for any Taxes which are attributable to the receipt by BNSF of any amounts under Purchase and Sale Agreement.
Despite the fact that all of our other friends have to pay gross receipts tax on revenue. We really appreciate the deal our buddy has given us. So, what the heck, we'll go ahead and pay any and all taxes he might owe. Oh and while we're at it, we'll just go ahead and pick up his insurance, and promise to take care of any liability he might have as well.
Would someone please have NMDOT give me a call? I have a car I want them "to buy" for use in their motor pool.
Friday, February 03, 2006
AG Madrid Pushes Drastic Measures
- Interest shall be charged at $5.50 per $100 for 120 days (66% APR) and $4 per $100 for each additional 30 days (54% APR). Interest for loan renewal shall be charged at $4 per $100 for each additional month (54% APR).
- A payday loan may only be granted if it is equal to or less than 25% of a consumer's net monthly income or total payday indebtedness of $1,000.
Basically, the first point comes down to limiting gross profitability to about 54%. Well, how does this makes sense in a free enterprise system? Do we limit how much a restaurant can charge its patrons for a meal? How about the markup of those shirts you just bought your kids? Or maybe, we should limit the gross profitability of the concession stands at The Pit to 54%. That would be ridiculous, right? Although, you have to wonder which industry Patsy would target next.
And what about that second point of a "sale" that is limited to 25% of a consumer's net monthly income? Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend. How many families responded to the advertising circulars and went ahead and bought a big screen television on credit that is more than "25% of the consumer's net monthly income or total payday indebtedness [read how much of their monthly income is going to pay credit related bills] of $1,000. I think you'll find the answer to be many. That is why advertisers push no payments for 18 to 24 months. The consumers are spending more than they can afford. Is outlawing this practice next?
If the legislature wants to have an impact on predatory lending practices, this is not the way to go about it. This is an education issue. Instead of after the fact (i.e. measures that deal with poor personal fiscal responsibility practices), they should be mandating personal economics as part of the curriculum for our middle and high school students.
Oh, those of you who would leave a comment that says this is about protecting the poor, save it. There are many hardworking families that havemanagedd to get by over the years on the most meager of incomes. The difference between them and the "victims" of predatory lending is that they make smart choices.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Still Should Have Stepped Down
Speaking of my opinion, I'll be the guest of the week on KNME's The Line tomorrow night at 7:00 pm. I hope you'll tune in to watch.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Bias, Bias and More Bias
Was congressman past with congresswoman future? Patsy hopes so and rattled off a litany of issues she sees coming in her showdown with R Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Helping her on the trail will be her niece, Samantha Madrid from Las Cruces, who will tackle the campaign before tackling law school and adding another lawyer to the Madrid stable.
Oh, isn't that sweet? A niece stepping up out of love to help out her Auntie. Oops, what's that on the campaign report? Apparently, love and family is all well in good, but in the Madrid family they come from the "Show Me the Money" school. It seems Auntie Madrid's favorite niece is pulling down a cool $4,326 plus expenses every month. Good to see nepotism is alive and well in the Madrid campaign. We wouldn't want her to break from tradition.
I guess in the future, we're going to have to be a little more careful before taking what Richardson's number one blogger has to say at face value. Incidentally, I hope you really took notice as to why Richardson is so enamored of that one particular blogger:
He praised political blogger Joe Monahan. "I think we're lucky that we have one blog that all of you read. Monahan And he's good. He knows the process."
How well does Joe know the process? Intimately. No, not from all that political blogging. The Governor's pet blogger is a high paid lobbyist - excuse me, I meant to write public relations expert - being bankrolled, some say to the tune of $100,000, by hardball playing Stan Fulton, owner of the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. Now I understand why the Governor figured bloggers are being "indirectly" paid. He thought we all follow the Monahan model.
Sorry, that's not the way it works for those of us in the masses. For example, you'll notice I've recently put a Blogs for Heather "ad" on this page. No one is paying me to do that. I just happen to respect Congresswoman Heather Wilson, so I joined others who feel the same way. It's that whole grassroots thing. But, I guess Richardson, Patsy and Monahan just project their motivations on others.
[Disclaimer: When I ran for office in early 2004, prior to launching this blog, I received a $150 campaign contribution from Scott Scanland, another Sunland Park lobbyist].