Monday, November 30, 2009

Allen Weh's campaign bus destroyed in fire

Arson hasn't been ruled out in the over-the-weekend burning of the bus used by GOP gubernatorial candidate Allen Weh, his campaign said.

The bus was destroyed after a fire broke Friday night out at its storage facility in Belen. Other vehicles also were destroyed.

According to the campaign: 

"The bus, known as Freedom1, will be missed by the campaign and many others because of its special connection to the firefighters who died in 9/11. The bus was built to lead “Ride to Remember-2002,” a motorcycle rally that involved more than 450 firefighters and rode to Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the crash site in Pennsylvania."

The red, white and blue bus had a photo of Weh and said "Veterans for Weh" on the side.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Free public records seminar next week

It's one of the best tools around for finding out a little more about what's happening in state government: the state's Inspection of Public Records Act.

But do you how it works and what all you are entitled to under the law? Are you familiar with the exemptions?

If not, check out a free seminar on the IPRA Dec. 1, thanks to the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and the New Mexico Independent. You can attend in person at the KNME-TV studios if you're quick, or watch online. The event is from 5:30 to 7:30.

Register by emailing

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tough times for everyone, including casinos

Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino won't be able to make a big bond payment in December, Pojoaque Gov. George Rivera said.

Rivera points out that the state's casinos still pump money into the local economy through the state's revenue sharing agreements. Come to think of it, that might be the only (fairly) steady source of cash for the state at the moment, what with fluctuating oil and gas prices and rocky tax revenues, although it has decreased some overall from last year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

King funeral to be broadcast on TV and the 'Net

If you can't make it to Moriarty High School Saturday at 10 a.m. for the funeral of former Gov. Bruce King, you can still catch the event. Channel 7 will stream the event on its website and Channel 4 will broadcast it live on its 4.2 channel.

The crowd will be large, no doubt, but the speeches might be short. Just former president Bill Clinton and Lutheran Pastor Rev. Russell C. Lee are scheduled to speak.

Lyons vs. Richardson

I'm pretty sure Pat Lyons and Bill Richardson aren't running against each other for anything next year, but maybe I missed something.

Based on their comments this week, it seems perhaps I did.

The spat between the Republican land commissioner and the Democratic governor started earlier this week when Lyons blasted Richardson for implementing five days of furloughs for state employees, calling it "cruel."

In short, Lyons said he'd been fiscally conservative so his shop wouldn't have to force employees into unpaid vacations. Richardson apparently didn't like that, and suggested Lyons was out to score political points. Richardson said Lyons had "yet to take an active role in helping the state shore up its budget shortfalls."

Lyons responded late Thursday, saying his office "generates an average of $500 million a year for public schools, universities, hospitals, correctional facilities, and the other state supported programs that rely on the Land Office to meet their budgets."

He went on to say “I’m not the one who hired 400 friends and paid them excessive salaries, or spent exorbitant amounts of money on my pet projects, or paid corporations and movie producers to do business with the state, or spent every penny of last year’s $400 million revenue windfall, which by the way is pretty close to what we need to bridge the budget gap. I’m not the problem, I’m the solution.”

The state budget shortfall is an important issue, but it just seems an odd one for these two to be crosswise over. Is Lyons running for something else? How 'bout Richardson?

Update, 3:18 p.m.
Yep, Lyons is running for something: PRC. (Knew I was missing or forgetting something.) That could explain some of this...But is Richardson running for the regulatory panel as well?

In any case, the matchup continues. The governor's office this afternoon released a statement critical of a proposed land swap in the Whites Peak area.

"I’m extremely concerned about proposed land swaps between the State Land Office and private land owners in the Whites Peak area," Richardson said. "I am told the swaps would result in a net loss of almost 4,000 acres to the state, much of it pristine mountain, alpine meadow, lake and riparian territory.  These are some of the finest public hunting and sporting grounds in the state." 

"I’m particularly concerned about the process by which this swap apparently has been arranged – namely, a behind-the-scenes deal with virtually no public input or notification, sealed bids, and inadequate opportunity for examination. This should not be acceptable for any major transaction involving public trust lands, much less lands that for centuries have been used for traditional purposes such as hunting, trapping and recreation."

  Expect a rebuttal from Lyons next. . . 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Department of Workforce Solutions secretary returns to work

Betty Sparrow Doris resigned effective at the end of August as the head of the Department of Workforce Solutions. 

But she's working again for the department on contract.

If you thought there was a hiring freeze in state government, you are correct. But it doesn't apply to contract workers.

PRC releases some info from survey

...but not a whole lot. Some of the employees' comments were blacked out completely, like this one.

Read this story for some of the information that was released. Many comments focused on the agency's hiring practices. Several of those who responded said the PRC has a tradition of hiring unqualified people — "political flunkies," according to one employee — because of political influence or family ties.

While releasing some  of the survey information is better than none, it's not what we asked for, and many are saying, it's not legal for the PRC to withhold. The stories aren't over on this one. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kent Cravens to pursue "statewide office"

Usually, the press releases from a would-be candidate state exactly the office the person is seeking.

Not so with a release from Sen. Kent Cravens, R-Albuquerque. He's set to announce his "statewide elected office" on Wednesday.

Word on the street is he's running for lieutenant governor, but stay tuned.

PRC ethics survey yields interesting results

Even Public Regulation Commission officials admitted that the information they likely would get from a survey of agency employees about ethics might not be the most flattering.

Whether they expected the results to show that 85 percent of those polled had seen unethical behavior at the agency in the past year, or that about half had been asked to do something unethical by a supervisor is unknown. What is known is that training is coming to the beleaguered agency.

The survey is just the tip of the iceberg, though, in terms of information that some say could fix up the PRC. The agency today plans to release some of the comments that employees wrote on their surveys. Still, the agency plans to black out some information, making many wonder what there is to hide.

Here's a look at the survey's raw data, as provided by the PRC.

1.  What does the word "ethics" mean to you?
see surveys
2.  Do you think you could spot potential problems with ethics in the Agency?
yes 106 no 6
3.  Have you observed any ethical issues/violations at the Agency within the last year?
yes 100 no 17
4.  Does management provide adequate information/training on ethical issues?
yes 14 no 106
5.  Do you feel that as an employee of the PRC your are aware and understand what "ethical" rules
    the staff and the Commissioners need to follow?
yes 78 no 35
6.  Have you ever received any training from management at the PRC regarding what is ethical and
     what is not in your position?
yes 24 no 92
7.  Have your ever been asked to do anything you felt was unethical by someone who has
      supervisory or managerial power over your position at the PRC?
yes 51 no 50
8.  Do you think that there is a different ethical standard for Commissioners,
      exempt employees and classified employees?
yes 97 no 24
1.  How do you think the PRC is perceived by the public?  Rate on a scale of 1-5
1 2 3 4 5
3 3 13 33 70
Ethical Unethical
2.  How do you think the PRC is perceived by the regulated entity?  Rate on a scale of 1-5
1 2 3 4 5
1 10 37 31 39
Ethical Unethical
3.  How do you think the PRC is perceived by the employees?  Rate on a scale of 1-5
1 2 3 4 5
3 4 22 30 62
Ethical Unethical
4.  Please rank the following issues in order of which of the issues raises the greatest concern to you as related topics at the PRC.
#1 would be of the most concern to you and needs the most improvement,  #2 second most etc.
      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Political Partisanship   45 18 18 5 6 5 5 5 2 5
Personal use of state time 22 10 12 22 16 8 6 2   8
Influence by regulated industries 21 9 8 13 10 12 13 10 1 8
Hiring and promotional practices 73 23 13 6 1 1 1     3
Use of computers and state equip 11 7 4 3 15 13 18 17 2 9
Unequal treatment of employees 49 24 14 10 3   1     5
Expense reporting   18 5 3 5 16 13 16 16 2 10
Time reporting   17 7 8 8 10 19 7 16   7
Other   ***                    
*** 22 see comments
1.  Would you feel comfortable reporting unethical behavior by an employee if you were told
      it would be kept confidential?
yes 38 no 81
2.  Do you feel that you could confidentially discuss concerns with someone in this Agency?
yes 31 no 84
SITUATION QUESTIONS - These are hypothetical
1.  Your supervisor asks you to look the other way when he/she allows another employee to
      take off early every day and not report it on their timesheets.
ethical 1 unethical 125 I don't know 4
2.  Your boss takes you out to lunch.
ethical 61 unethical 19 I don't know 25
3.  A regulated entity tells you that they will buy you dinner if you fast track their paperwork.
ethical 0 unethical 117 I don't know 2
4.  An employee of a regulated entity asks you out on a date.
ethical 19 unethical 54 I don't know 30
5.  Your friend asks you to get their paperwork due to the PRC processed more quickly that the regular guy.
ethical 11 unethical 95 I don't know 7
6.  A regulated entity takes you out to dinner and you pay for yours.
ethical 77 unethical 22 I don't know 15
7.  Working against the PRC agenda at the Legislature on work time.
ethical 5 unethical 91 I don't know 10
8.  Helping a regulated entity to get copies of the documents they need that have been filed in a case file.
ethical 43 unethical 45 I don't know 18
9.  A member of a regulated entity asks you to pass on confidential case information.
ethical 2 unethical 105 I don't know 9
10.  An employee does not report time they have taken off on their time sheet.
ethical 1 unethical 113 I don't know 16
11. An employee is consistently taking more than one hour for lunch and not reporting it.
ethical 2 unethical 98 I don't know 16
12.  A Commissioner asks you to do a special favor for a regulated entity.
ethical 5 unethical 85 I don't know 23
13.  A fellow employee is working for a regulated entity as a second job.
ethical 6 unethical 73 I don't know 22
14.  An employee of a regulated entity gives you a kitten.
ethical 32 unethical 31 I don't know 52
15.  An employee of the PRC gives an employee of a regulated entity a car.
ethical 15 unethical 78 I don't know 23
16.  An employee is passing on false information about a fellow employee in order to keep
       them from getting a promotion.
ethical 1 unethical 100 I don't know 2
17.  Volunteering to work on a Commissioner’s campaign.
ethical 38 unethical 35 I don't know 36
18.  Employees are taking walks together and visiting during their lunch hours.
ethical 99 unethical 2 I don't know 7

Monday, November 16, 2009

Think quick: how many Congressional districts does New Mexico have?

If you answered three -- you win!!!

However, the authors of new report out on stimulus spending seem to think we have 13 districts. (Yes kids, what you learned in civics is still true: we have five people total representing us in D.C., two senators who represent the whole state and three representatives, each from a district.)

Thanks to the New Mexico Watchdog site for pointing out that and other strange things related to recent stimulus spending. 

One of the more odd things in the report is that it shows that 15.8 jobs were created in the state's "35th Congressional District," where nearly $9 million in stimulus cash was spent, and that no jobs were created in the state's "40th CD," where nearly $8 million supposedly was spent. . .

That raises some serious questions about where that money went -- and why so few jobs were created with that much cash.

Holidays would be longer under furlough plan

The Gov. Bill Richardson administration has come out with a draft of its plan to furlough all state employees except those for "critical public safety and welfare positions."

The plan, submitted to union leaders, is as follows. It basically extends holidays by forcing the employees off the day before the actual holiday. That means long weekends for some, and stretches  without government services for others. 

Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009 (Friday, Dec. 25 is Christmas)

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009 (Friday, Jan. 1 is New Year's)

Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 (Monday, Jan. 18 is MLK Day)

Friday, April 2, 2010 (Good Friday, for which employees already can take four hours off)

Friday, May 28, 2010 (Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day)

Already, the plan isn't sitting well with some employees, as it means two paychecks around Christmas and New Year's that would be smaller than usual.

Cabinet secretaries are working with the State Personnel Office on the plan.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

King funeral set for Saturday

The funeral for former Gov. Bruce King will be held Saturday the 21st at the Moriarty High School Gymnasium at 10 a.m., his family announced today.

King will lie in state at the Capitol on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

King, 85, died early Friday at his ranch home near Stanley.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bruce King dead at 85

(Updated to include audio interview posted at the bottom.)

Bruce King, New Mexico’s only three-term governor and one of the state’s most loved political figures, died overnight.
He was 85.

King, who served three non-consecutive terms from 1971 to 1974, from 1979 to 1982 and from 1991 to 1994, had been sick and died at his ranch home near Stanley.

King is survived by sons Gary and Bill, daughter in law Yolanda and his brothers Sam and Don, among many others in a large family in the Estancia Valley.

Many say King was a far cry from today’s slick politicians, sticking close to his country roots and his cowboy hats, known for once riding his horse to the state Capitol in a move to both save gas and attract a little publicity for the state’s nascent tourism industry.

King’s terms in office read like a history book for some of New Mexico’s biggest moments, including the 1980 riot at the state penitentiary.

Even for all he and his wife Alice did for the state, the pair never let their power or their position go to their heads, friends said over the years. Bruce King until recently stuck to simple traditions such as coffee with friends and family in the mornings at El Comedor in Moriarty, shaking hands with nearly everyone in the diner.

King, a Democrat, had a heart attack in 1997, but had been in fair health since then. Doctors in September performed surgery to improve the function of his pacemaker.

His wife, Alice died last December. The Kings were married 61 years.

Update, 9:15 a.m.

Attorney General Gary King just released this statement.

"Bruce King would be the first one to tell us all that death is just another phase in the cycle of life and that we must go on with our lives trying to do the best we can while helping others make their way too. None of us in the family thought this day would come so soon after we lost my mom Alice King, but we are comforted by the thought that Bruce and Alice can be together once again," he said.

Funeral plans are still being made. The Kings are asking that donations be made to the New Mexico Children's Foundation instead of flowers.


King, shown in this June 2008 photo with Michelle Lujan-Grisham, was never a stand offish, only-shake-your-hand kind of politician. Instead, he believed in hugs -- big hugs, for everyone.


During a speech at a Democratic Party event at Sandia Resort and Casino last year, King joked with former Gov. Toney Anaya. The pair both grew up in the Estancia Valley.


I took this photo at the King Ranch in the summer of 2008. The best part about getting to know the Kings was that they made you feel like your life was equally as interesting and important as theirs. Bruce in particular always asked me as many questions as I did him. He always looked for something in common with everyone else. In our case, it was growing up in the country.


Bruce and Alice were married 61 years. The pair were equally gracious and charming and both no doubt will be celebrated and mourned in the coming days.

Photos by Kate Nash


An interview I did with Bruce and Alice King on New Year's Day, 2007.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Richardson furloughs state government workers for five days

(Updated to include links to Richardson's veto messages.)

Gov. Bill Richardson used his veto pen this afternoon to nix what he said were "irresponsible budget cuts that would have cut critical health services, closed prisons and jeopardized protection for kids."

At the same time, he signed an executive order that furloughs state workers for five days and cuts state agency budgets by an average of 7 percent for the budget year. He also said he would cut at least 84 exempt employee positions, although it's unclear which ones, and how many of those are vacant.

“Since the session ended, I have heard from hundreds to New Mexicans, including many legislators – who want me to exercise my veto pen to preserve those services,” Richardson said in statement. “I understand and share their concerns, particularly in light of the previous budget cuts.

“However, it would be fiscally irresponsible to simply veto this bill and wait for the Legislature to meet again in January – more than half-way through the fiscal year. “Instead, I am signing an Executive Order today that directs more responsible budget cuts across state government.”

Read the veto messages here.

First, here's a look at the details of the furloughs, as ordered:

A. Immediately, the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Governor shall:

i. notify the unions with collective bargaining agreements covering employees at agencies subject to Section 1(A) or Section 1(B) of this Executive Order of the need for furloughs and discuss those furloughs with the unions;

ii. develop a furlough plan that:

a. is limited to those agencies subject to expenditure restrictions under Section 1(A) or Section 1(B) of this Executive Order;

b. is consistent with Regulation NMAC;

c. limits the number of required furlough days, which, if possible, should be no more than five (5) days during fiscal year 2010;

d. to the extent practicable and advisable, given the needs of individual agencies, schedule furlough days in a manner that least affects the provision of services to the public;

e. provides a process for limited exceptions based upon public safety, welfare, and cost-effectiveness; and

iii. seek approval of the furlough plan from the State Personnel Board in accordance with Regulation NMAC; and

iv. oversee agency implementation of the approved furlough plan.

B. Agencies subject to the approved furlough plan shall implement the plan.

C. The State Personnel Director shall issue necessary or desirable guidance to affected agencies to implement the approved furlough plan, which guidance shall help agencies avoid overtime or other liabilities during the weeks when the furlough is effective.

Now, here's a look at what else Richardson did with the budget bills:

HB 6 Transfer Reserves to General Fund
HB 16 Reduce Legislative Appropriations
SB 24 School District Flexibility and Insurance
HB 17 Reduce General Fund Appropriations
SB 29 STB Auth. for Capital Projects
SB 25 School District Cash Balance Transfers

Lastly, here's a look at how much agencies are being ordered to save:

Taxation and Revenue Department

Department of Finance and Administration

General Services Department

New Mexico Sentencing Commission

Public Defender Department


Department of Information Technology

Personnel Board

Public Employee Labor Relations Board

Border Authority

Tourism Department

Economic Development Department

Regulation and Licensing Department

New Mexico State Fair

Gaming Control Board

State Racing Commission

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission

Office of Military Base Planning and Support

Spaceport Authority

Cultural Affairs Department

New Mexico Livestock Board

Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department

Intertribal Ceremonial Office

State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission

Organic Commodity Commission

Commission on Status of Women

Office of African American Affairs

Commission for the Blind

Indian Affairs Department

Aging and Long-Term Services Department

Human Services Department, including $16 million that will be replaced by increased federal funds and appropriations from the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund

Workforce Solutions Department

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

Governor's Commission on Disability

Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

Department of Health, including $2 million that will be replaced by increased federal funds

Department of Environment

Office of the Natural Resources Trustee

New Mexico Health Policy Commission

Children, Youth and Families Department

Department of Military Affairs

Parole Board

Juvenile Parole Board

Corrections Department

Crime Victims Reparation Commission

Department of Public Safety

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department

Public Education Department

Higher Education Department

Total General Fund Savings:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Richardson to eliminate future double dippers

Gov. Bill Richardson said today he'll call on lawmakers to do away with so-called double dipping during the 2010 Legislative session. The bill would apply to new hires going forward, and wouldn't be retroactive.

"Earlier this year, I said that I wanted to see the rules allowing for double dipping changed. Unfortunately, the bill lawmakers ultimately sent me raised serious legal issues and I had no choice but to veto it,” Richardson said in a statement. “I moved forward by ordering a thorough review of our return to work rules to analyze their costs, effectiveness and fairness. Today I am proposing responsible reforms that will save the state millions of dollars as well as address concerns of fairness and employee morale."

Under Richardson's plan, changes to the system would include:

-- No PERA retirement for employees collecting a paycheck.

-- No employment by a PERA member employer within 12 months of retiring.

He said those could save $7 million a year. There are more than 500 state employees or 1,600 county and municipal employees who double dip.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Question looms on exempt employee positions

With just two days to go for Gov. Bill Richardson to take action on budget cuts approved by the Legislature in the recent special session, Republican lawmakers are urging him not to veto a measure under which he'd have to eliminate 102 appointed positions, about 60 of which are vacant.

"Don’t exempt the exempt cuts," Sen. John Ryan said in a statement. "Governor, don’t exempt from the list of bills you sign the bill that cuts some of your exempt hires."

Ryan, R-Albuquerque, sponsored a measure under which the governor would have to axe the jobs.

He said the average salary and benefits for an exempt employee is $105,000 a year. Signing his bill could save the state $10 million a year, he said.

"There are a lot better uses for this money especially as the state faces financial crisis. In order to pay for the governor’s friends on the state’s payroll, programs and services have lost out on that funding," he said.

While Richardson has been vocal about other budget cuts, he hasn't said much about the exempt positions.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Richardson "sweeps" state funds, including for college scholarships

Gov. Bill Richardson's office said he today signed House Bill 3, "reluctantly agreeing to cut $68 million from the College Affordability Endowment Fund – a program the Governor created to provide need-based scholarships to New Mexicans." There is about $84 million in the fund.

"It pains me to pull this money from a program that has successfully increased opportunities for many New Mexicans to attend college," Richardson said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we all have to make sacrifices in order to balance the budget. We’re going to have to continue to make these kinds of sacrifices, especially when it comes to cutting capital outlay projects, when the Legislature meets again in January.”

The scholarships are based on financial need. Some 2,366 get the scholarships currently.

The “sweep” of nearly $110 million from various state funds and accounts will "help shore up the state’s main budget account. The bill targets money that is not being used. Most of that savings will come from the College Affordability Fund," a statement from Richardson's office said.

Richardson also used his veto pen, his office said, keeping about $6.5 million in funding from being swept.
A statement said he

"-- Saved $500,000 in funding for domestic violence programs
-- Saved $500,000 that was targeted from the State Auditor’s account. Without the money, the auditor would not have been able to conduct effective audits.
-- Saved $3 million that would have been cut from the E-911 Enhancement Fund in order to preserve $900,000 in federal funding for that project
-- Saved $800,000 for the Trail Safety Fund, which is funded by fees and designed to protect the safety of outdoorsman and other New Mexicans who use off-highway vehicles.
-- Saved $1.7 million for Pre-Kindergarten programs"

Richardson, who worked with the Legislature to create the College Affordability Fund in 2005, had fought this session to hold education harmless. Expect critics to now say he didn't do that.

The governor has until Thursday to act on the rest of the bills approved by the Legislature in the recent session.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dozens of groups across the state skip audits

State Auditor Hector Balderas is working to crack down on scofflaw cities and towns that haven't been audited in many years.

It's a good thing to go after, given that an audit is one way to ferret out wrongdoing and misspending -- and good government, as well. The bad news for Balderas is that he's really got no way to make the agencies do an audit. Nothing in state law allows him to impose fines, he said, or for the Legislature to withhold funding to an agency that doesn't do the audit. If I had to guess, I'd say that might change in the coming years.

One commenter who read my story this morning asked to see the list of agencies that haven't done audits in several years AND haven't responded to Balderas' office as to why not. Here are the agencies who have done neither. The list of agencies without recent audits is much longer, but those not listed here have been in contact with the Auditor's Office as to why they have missed their deadlines.

Agency type, Agency, Name, Year of last audit report

1 State Agency 803 Eastern Plains Council of Governments 2004
2 Special District 4021 Hammond Conservancy District 2007
3 Special District 4031 North Central Solid Waste Authority 2004
4 Special District 4043 San Rafael Water & Sanitation District 2005
5 Special District 4046 High Plains Waste Management Association 2002
6 Special District 4048 Carlsbad Irrigation District 2006
7 Special District 4066 Anthony Water and Sanitation District 2007
8 Special District 4080 Rio San Jose Flood Control District 2004
9 Special District 4085 Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant 2005
10 Special District 4090 Yah-ta-hey Water & Sanitation District 2005
11 County 5006 De Baca County 2007
12 County 5018 Mora County 2007
13 Municipality 6008 City of Aztec 2006
14 Municipality 6028 Village of Santa Clara 2007
15 Municipality 6040 Village of Columbus 2007
16 Municipality 6046 Village of Cuba 2004
17 Municipality 6050 Village of Des Moines 2006
18 Municipality 6058 Village of Encino 2006
19 Municipality 6081 Village of Grenville 2007
20 Municipality 6100 Town of Lake Arthur 2002
21 Municipality 6120 Village of Maxwell 2005
22 Municipality 6122 Village of Melrose 2007
23 Municipality 6130 Village of Mosquero 2007
24 Municipality 6158 Village of San Ysidro 2006
25 Municipality 6174 City of Texico 2006
26 Municipality 6182 Town of Vaughn 2005
27 Municipality 6183 Village of Virden 2007
28 School 7020 Cuba Independent Schools 2007
29 School 7028 Espanola Public Schools 2006
30 School 7032 Floyd Municipal Schools 2007
31 School 7062 Mountainair Public Schools 2007
32 School 7087 Vaughn Municipal Schools 2007
33 Housing Authority 6046-A Cuba Housing Authority 2004
34 Housing Authority 6182-A Vaughn Housing Authority 2006

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Denish outlines how she'd cut the budget

At a press conference in Albuquerque, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish this morning called for three budget-cutting steps she says could save the state millions.

They include overhauling the state's capital outlay process; ending double dipping by state employees and better using technology to make government more efficient.

"During these challenging economic times, we must act boldly to make our state government leaner and more fiscally responsible," she said in a statement.

"Before anyone considers further cuts to education or health care, we simply must do everything possible to make government more efficient. Taken together, these reforms will save the state millions of dollars, generate economic activity in both the short term and long term, and provide greater accountability to the public for how their tax dollars are spent. New Mexico families are tightening their belts and government must do the same."

We've heard ideas of fixing capital outlay and dumping double dippers in the past. But her idea on technology seems new. Denish says the state could save $1.9 million a year by switching from current systems to Google Apps. I'm no expert here, but I can say Google Apps might at least be easier to use than programs like SHARE. . .

Given the way the 2010 gubernatorial campaign is going, I'm going to predict that it's just a matter of minutes until Denish's GOP opponents put out statements on Denish's ideas. They are likely to ask why Denish hasn't pushed for these measures in the past and what she's going to do to accomplish them.

Group says Denish used federal funds for driver, polling and Christmas cards

The New Mexico Watchdog site has an interesting read on its blog this morning about what it says is the use of 2003 federal stimulus funds by Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Richardson and Denish to appear on PBS Friday

...but not together.

The duo will be on KNME, Channel 5's In Focus show this Friday at 7 p.m. in separate interviews.

Come to think of it, I can't think of the last time they did appear together, a big change from the early days of the administration. . .

Still, the show sounds worth checking out. Richardson in particular has given the local print media very little time in the past year. He's expected to talk about the budget and his plans to deal with the $253 million in cuts approved by lawmakers in the special session, as well as to look ahead to 2010.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Richardson: tax increases inevitable

Given Gov. Bill Richardson's refusal to allow the Legislature to even consider raising taxes in the recent special session, does anyone else find it slightly amusing that he now says raising them is inevitable?

Keep in mind, his instructions to lawmakers to basically not even think about tax increases nearly caused them to go into an extraordinary session, one in which they would call the shots, and presumably would have increased some taxes, including on alcohol, cigarettes and probably motor vehicles.

His narrowly written proclamation also provoked hours of debate about what was -- and wasn't -- relevant to the session, costing thousands of state dollars and exhausting legislators.

But Richardson said at a press conference today that revenue increases will have to be made because of the state's budget crisis. Just a guess, but if I was a lawmaker right about now, I might be a little upset with Richardson, who didn't say what tax increases are on the table.

Gary Johnson's presidential ad

They say you aren't serious about running for something until you have an ad up. And while that has changed a little in a time when anyone can post an ad on YouTube for anything, this video for former Gov. Gary Johnson's apparent 2012 presidential bid is still pretty fascinating...even if it just turns out to be made by some folks who are working to draft him to run.

Johnson in a recent interview with the New Mexican was coy about his plans.

Check it out.

Smiley Gallegos back in the news

Bloomberg has this story today on Smiley Gallegos, former director of the state's Region Three Housing Authority.