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public meetings focus on doña ana county colonia improvements

courtesy photoheavy rains caused flooding in the northern doña ana county community of salem this summer. residents of communities like salem will have three chances to share their infrastructure needs at upcoming meetings.residents of doña ana county concerned about conditions in dozens of underdeveloped communities called colonias have a new opportunity to speak out and participate in planned improvements at three upcoming meetings.the public events grow out of an oct. 11 resolution passed by the board of county commissioners that reaffirmed a commitment to the county’s 2003 model colonias initiative, a project designed to overhaul the rural and semi-rural communities scattered across the county.calling for a reigniting of the colonia reform effort and recommending a blue print plan, the resolution recognizes the importance of collaborating with the new mexico state government and other partners in a common goal to “galvanize small communities and dramatically improve the quality of life while concurrently stimulating economic development.”hosting 37 of 150 identified colonias in new mexico, doña ana county has “far more than any other county and there are real needs to each of them,” said jess williams, doña ana county public information officer. a september 2017 county report estimated that slightly half of the county’s 209,000 residents live in colonias and surrounding rural areas.advertisementthe report calculated that $606 million is currently needed fo...





our government is lying to us about the economy

assertions that social security is running out of money, the cost of medicare is getting too high, or we can’t afford the food stamp program are false.





our government is lying to us about the economy

commentary: the u.s. monetary system allows for far more freedom in the conduct of monetary policy than has been traditionally pursued by congress, the treasury and the federal reserve bank. the consequences of not taking advantage of those freedoms have been regular, artificially created economic crises that reverberate throughout our economy, having the greatest impact, unsurprisingly, on middle and working-class families.courtesy photomax mastellonethe following may sound to some of you like fake news because of how different it is from what you have been taught about how our economy works.it is not fake news.please read through this piece and then do your own research on modern monetary theory (mmt). i have provided an accessible primer at the end of the article.these are all verifiable facts:as a monetarily sovereign nation, the u.s. created and denominated its currency by law and is the monopoly producer of the u.s. dollar.in 1971, when president nixon took the u.s. off the gold standard, the dollar became a fiat currency, one that is not backed by any valuable commodity.while on the gold standard, if the government wanted to increase the money supply it would have to increase the gold reserves proportionally.now, with a fiat currency, the feds can create an unlimited amount of dollars if they choose.states, counties, cities, all businesses and the public are not monetarily sovereign and must use the government-issued dollar for all financial transactions. thus, unlike...





people want to vote but have a hard time doing it

commentary: people want to vote, but they are having a hard time doing it. as i engage with people who are not voting in local elections, the most common response is frustration over trying to navigate the system.courtesy photoscott krahlingif we care about people and their right to determine their own quality of life, then it is up to all of us to do something to give those being left out a better opportunity to participate in democracy.this year’s city of las cruces election increased turnout from 8 percent to 10.5 percent, compared to the last election for these districts. the most effective outreach efforts are engaging with voters directly, so congratulations to the campaigns, nonprofit organizations, civic groups, our election advisory council, and other community partners who worked to increase turnout.considering our limited resources, we are making steady progress. i applaud our efforts.as county clerk, having administered over 30 elections, i am ready to do more. i am not ready to celebrate 10.5 percent turnout, especially when the data shows that only 2 percent of eligible voters under the age of 25 voted. i have learned over the years our biggest challenge is getting accurate information into the hands of voters. the county clerk, city clerks, schools, and other third-party entities who administer elections have limited — if any — resources to inform every voter directly, so much of the responsibility is left to campaigns.as a result, we have a campaign-cen...





nm isn’t getting amazon, but we can become more attractive for new businesses

with a few significant policy reforms and a serious effort to tackle crime, our state could be in the running for numerous other businesses and thousands of jobs.





a map of language charted by navajo philosophy

outside her office at the peaceful spirit treatment center on the southern ute reservation, navajo poet esther belin takes in the thin late-fall sun. here in the four corners of southwestern colorado, where the southern ute, navajo, ute mountain ute and jicarilla apache reservations come together, the landscape is both beautiful and brutal in its spareness, much like belin’s poems. she’s also an intake counselor at the addiction center, and she lives and works in that world of intersectionality, where language and identity overlap with the triumphs and failures of addiction.her new book, of cartography, is framed by the four cardinal directions and their symbolism in navajo history. it digs into the cultural and physical representation of navajo language, how landscape shapes identity and what it means to be indian.her poems try to capture the rhythm and storytelling intrinsic to the diné language. “i wanted to investigate whether there was a navajo meter or diction, and how that voice could come out,” she says. “it’s not just a collection of poems squeezed together. this was about pairing identity politics with navajo philosophy, which is all very orderly, and then telling my story through the structure.”that structure shapes the reading experience: some of the poems are lists, others are questions. some are wordless grids, x-marked within four quadrants. as a reader, i felt initially uncertain how to read the book, almost queasy. that’s deliberate: belin wa...





the border as a ‘weaponized’ landscape

heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta scene from the u.s./mexico border. in the foreground, behind a barbed-wire fence, u.s. border patrol agents speak with each other in el paso, texas. across the rio grande, in the background, is cuidad juárez, mexico.the tacos dorados, francisco cantú tells me as we push through the turnstiles into nogales, mexico, are some of the best he’s ever had. so we beeline through the bustling streets toward the small metal cart in search of the paper-wrapped stacks of crispy chicken tacos dripping spicy red salsa.cantú is the author of the line becomes a river, forthcoming this february from riverhead books. the book is a beautiful and brutal chronicle of the four years he spent working as a border patrol agent, and the years afterward, in which an immigrant friend, josé, is deported to mexico, and cantú finds himself navigating border policy from the other end. the book — his first — is already generating buzz; this year cantú has received a whiting award in nonfiction and a pushcart prize, and a section of the book recently aired on this american life.on this monday, we’ve driven the 45 minutes from tucson to nogales, leaving my red pickup on the u.s. side, under the shadow of the 30-foot-tall wall that cuts through the city. we eat our tacos in a little city park. cars stream around us, but the park itself is calm: big cottonwoods with white-painted trunks arch over us. a few fallen leaves tick around us in the wind, as we talk about ...





what a new report on climate science portends for the west

from wildfires to drought, a look at a warming world.





former sen. griego convicted of bribery, other ethics violations

a jury found former state sen. phil griego guilty on thursday of five charges stemming from his dual role as a legislator who helped push approval of the sale of a state building and a broker who made money off the transaction.courtesy photophil griegothe convictions — on counts of bribery, fraud and violating the state’s ethics laws — included four felonies.griego could face up to 17.5 years in prison, though he’s free for now while awaiting sentencing.“holding the powerful accountable is how we ensure our government truly serves the citizens of new mexico and that no one is above the law, regardless of their political status,” said state attorney general hector balderas, whose office prosecuted the case.griego, d-san jose, “was largely stoic as the verdict came in,” the albuquerque journal reported. “his wife was in tears.”griego, 69, didn’t speak to reporters when he left the courthouse in santa fe, the journal reported. “i don’t believe the state proved its case, but the jury thought otherwise,” griego’s attorney tom clark told reporters.though balderas’ office gets credit for prosecuting griego, journalism first shone light on griego’s misdeeds. the santa fe reporter published an investigative report in 2014 about griego’s brokering of the sale of the historic santa fe building that he also voted, in his official role, to sell. he made $50,000 on the deal.advertisementgriego, who served for 18 years, resigned from the senate in 2015...





kids count goes on the road to southern nm

with a ranking of 49 in child well-being, there is a huge need in new mexico for solutions.





nm isn’t getting amazon, but we can become more attractive for new businesses

commentary: the global ecommerce giant’s search for a second headquarters has the economic development profession in a tizzy. the fact that amazon ceo jeff bezos was born in albuquerque has further driven hopes up among many new mexicans that somehow, some way, the land of enchantment will be picked.in fact, three separate proposals (albuquerque, borderplex alliance and santa teresa) were sent to the company from new mexico. don’t count on new mexico being chosen or even among the finalists.this is not a case of being unduly negative. have a look at amazon’s own site selection guidelines:new mexico lacks a truly international airport, has no existing buildings of 500,000 square feet and it doesn’t have a city or even a metro area with 1 million people.our tax structure is not “business friendly,” particularly our gross receipts tax (more on that later).in terms of incentives, amazon wants them (a lot of them). it is an open question whether providing these incentives will be good for new mexico (or whoever wins amazon).when it comes to quality of life, new mexico’s crime issues will be a big negative.it’s pretty clear new mexico doesn’t fit amazon’s wish list. some issues are fixable — and, to the extent they are, our elected officials and economic development leaders must get to work. a realistic assessment of new mexico shows that we can do a lot to make our state more attractive as a place for other companies as a potential location or relocation sit...





keller sweeps high-dollar race to become abq’s next mayor

state auditor tim keller landed strong in his bid to be albuquerque’s next mayor, sweeping up just under 62 percent of the vote last night in an election with large turnout for albuquerque — 29 percent.courtesy photoalbuquerque mayor-elect tim kellerkeller ran a largely positive campaign, emphasizing along the way grassroots support for his campaign. the only candidate in the race who went for public financing, he raised 6,000 small donations of $5 apiece early in the year to qualify for public funding.keller noted in his victory speech the positive nature of his campaign, saying he had “rejected division.” his campaign overcame negative ads charging he was soft on sex offenders and numerous ethics complaints filed by his political opponents.as a publicly financed candidate he was in the middle of the pack financially in what was the most expensive mayoral race in albuquerque, ever.here’s a breakdown of the funds available to each candidate, including in-kind support and loans from candidates to themselves, during the general election:total amountpercentbrian colón$859,10629.58%dan lewis$580,01019.97%ricardo chaves$524,91018.07%tim keller$418,76214.42%wayne johnson                $393,71113.56%michelle garcia holmes$88,4163.04%gus pedrotty$23,9430.82%susan wheeler-deichsel$15,5220.53%                                     total$2,904,380during the run-off period, keller was outraised significantly by his opponent, city councilor dan lewi...





what a new report on climate science portends for the west

the complexity of climate change means it’s hard to trace simple lines from cause to effect in daily life, much less plan for the future. that’s one reason the federal government updates its national climate assessment every four years — to provide lawmakers, policymakers and citizens with the information they need to plan everything from urban infrastructure, to insurance programs, to disaster readiness. after the third nca came out in 2014, the world experienced three of the warmest years on record. in the same time the united states, along with 167 other signatories, agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global temperatures below a dangerous tipping point.but after last december’s presidential election, the odds of the u.s. willingly contributing to international climate change solutions dwindled. at this year’s united nations climate conference, the trump administration — which previously announced plans to withdraw from the international climate agreement — says it will promote fossil fuels and nuclear energy.all of which makes the fourth nca seem even more urgent. after all, the u.s. emits more greenhouse gases per person each year than almost every other country in the world. last week, the government released the first part of its 2018 assessment. focusing on the science of climate change, the report describes how greenhouse gas emissions are affecting the u.s. already and will continue to do so in future if we continue on the curren...





compliance with abq lobbying rules falls way short

will keightley / creative commonsalbuquerque at sunset.one way to cut through the din of constant political noise during an election is to look at the money flowing through the political system. laws that require campaign and lobbying reports are meant to help the public learn about groups or people attempting to influence election outcomes through donations, or official decisions by spending money on elected officials once they’re in office.those laws are only worthwhile, though, when they are followed.take, for example, albuquerque’s lobbying ordinance. it looks good on paper. lobbyists are supposed to include on their registration statements the specific official action they are seeking to influence and to file financial reports or, in the absence of financial activity, file a letter stating as much.but new mexico in depth has found an almost wholesale lack of compliance among registered lobbyists in albuquerque. the reporting failure is due in part, it appears, to lack of education aimed at lobbyists about the rules. it’s also due to how the ordinance’s enforcement provision is interpreted: according to the city attorney’s office, a written, notarized complaint is the only way to trigger an inquiry, although one transparency champion reads the city’s ordinance as giving the city attorney’s office flexibility to pursue investigations even when there is no written complaint.the result is less public information than the law requires involving lobbyists whose e...





sunland park, border futures and the new mexico dream

big themes shaping the u.s-mexico border are in the news — immigration, nafta, the border wall, and the so-called drug war. largely flying under the radar are the day-to-day concerns facing millions of borderlanders from two nations in places like sunland park.where are the good-paying jobs? is the community water supply affordable and safe to drink? what about flood control, traffic, roads and neighborhood security? are the schools good? will a pack of stray dogs maul our playing children? do local governments give a hoot about us?heath haussamen / nmpolitics.netsunland park city hall.wrestling with seemingly local issues, last week’s session of the sunland park city council provided a broader portrait of a border society in transition and some of the early 21st century choices communities must make in a context of tight-fisted state spending, federal funding policies, capital investment priorities, real estate market forces, lifestyle trends, and shifting regional and global environments.crammed into the small city council chambers and spilling into the hallway, dozens of concerned local residents turned out for the nov. 7 meeting to hear about and debate ambitious economic development projects, flood mitigation, animal control, housing subdivisions and more.falling on the 100th anniversary of the bolshevik revolution, according to the gregorian calendar, what proved to be a marathon meeting did not culminate in the storming of the local winter palace. nonetheless, it ...





article about multi-ethnic family wins another award

robin zielinski / nmpolitics.netthe article, which has now won three awards, told the story of luz skywalker and zach eason, a multi-ethnic las cruces couple, and their daughter luna. the reporters placed the family in a larger context with statistics and other information, with the 2016 election as a backdrop.an article nmpolitics.net and the las cruces sun-news produced last year about how a multi-ethnic family is working to make ends meet and get along in a complicated world has won another award.the article, “millennials like this mixed-ethnicity couple are reshaping america,” won first place in the feature writing category of the new mexico press association’s 2017 better newspaper contest. damien willis wrote the article and robin zielinski created a video report and photos to accompany it.the award was announced saturday during the annual nmpa convention at the hyatt regency tamaya resort and spa north of albuquerque.a competition judge wrote that willis’ article was “very well written” and “really tackles” complex issues around race. the article beat submissions from the albuquerque journal and other newspapers with a circulation above 11,000 in new mexico for the first-place award — and the reason, the judge wrote, was that “the writing was excellent.”willis and zielinski told the story of luz skywalker and zach eason, a multi-ethnic las cruces couple, and their daughter luna. they placed the family in a larger context with sta...





kids count goes on the road to southern nm

sylvia ulloa / new mexico in depthngage new mexico deputy director lori martinez, left, moderates a panel of doña ana county elected officials including las cruces city councilor kasandra gandara, county commissioner billy garrett, councilor gill sorg, and state reps. nathan small and doreen gallegos at the first southern new mexico kids count conference in las cruces on thursday.amber wallin, kids count director for new mexico voices for children, flashed up a photo on a screen during her presentation to childhood advocates and elected leaders in las cruces for the first southern new mexico kids count conference on thursday. anyone of a certain age would recognize the black and white photo of a motley bunch of kids in baseball uniforms: the bad news bears.wallin said people in new mexico were tired of being those bears, tired of hearing the same old stats: 49th in child well-being, 50th in education, 49th in community and family. some were tuning out, becoming numb, or throwing up their hands because it didn’t seem like there was anything they could do to change the situation.what is her answer to that? “policy matters,” she said.new mexico gov. susana martinez in 2013 accepted the federal medicaid expansion — and the result of that is that the state has climbed in the rankings on health: 37th overall, less than half the number of uninsured children in 2015 compared with 2010, half the number of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs in that same period, and slightly fe...





not in my backyard | nmpolitics.net

commentary: jet engines make lots of noise, especially military jets. it seems several communities in new mexico are bothered by the thought that jets from holloman air force base may fly over their towns and surrounding lands while they are training for the role of combat pilot.courtesy photomichael swickardthe air force leadership at holloman has announced that the jet pilots they are training need more area to practice what they do before they get into actual combat. naturally it goes without saying that when you are in combat is a bad time to learn some things that should be taught before you get into combat.the rub is that many people in these towns don’t want to hear military jets flying over their homes. the very thought of it annoys some people.they are writing angry letters and protesting having to hear the noise of jets. they say that the pilots should fly somewhere else. what they are saying is, don’t fly over my backyard.when i was much younger i was working on a barbed wire fence one day about 20 miles south of carrizozo on my grandfather’s ranch. it was a warm quiet day and i was almost falling asleep on my feet while i worked on this fence. bees were buzzing and birds were singing. then it happened.four f-4 phantom jets from holloman afb came over me doing about 400 knots at 200 feet above the terrain. instantly i went from being almost asleep on my feet to throwing the hammer and running over the fence in a panic. then it was quiet again.it is much wo...





democrats, what’s going to be different this time?

commentary: it’s not surprising that democrats had a historic election night in las cruces and across the nation on tuesday. the pendulum swings, especially after new presidents take office.heath haussamenit’s swinging particularly hard and fast this time because of the radically abnormal presidency of donald trump. in new mexico, republican gov. susana martinez’s low approval rating will exacerbate the swing to the left.so las cruces’ city council now includes six democrats, one independent and no republicans. burqueños will probably elect democrat tim keller to be their new mayor next week. new mexicans will probably choose a democrat to be governor in 2018. democrats will likely keep – and maybe even increase – their control of the state house of representatives next year.meh.i believe who we elect matters, and i vote. i’m also sympathetic to the vast majority of people in this state and nation who could be voting – but choose to stay home instead.what reason do people have to believe either party’s rhetoric and attempts to paint itself as the agent of change? democrats have controlled this state’s government for most of its history. republicans have held greater control of state government in recent years than ever before.did either party move new mexico up in the rankings? did either party substantially combat child poverty, improve education, create jobs for new mexicans, give our children the means to be anything other than new mexico’s greatest ...





raton tries to rise again

a former coal mining town takes a measured approach to economic recovery.