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NM In Focus Looks At Budget Developments

Lawmakers in Santa Fe continued to debate budget fixes this week. Today host Gene Grant and our Line opinion panelists sat down in studio to discuss the partisan divide in budget negotiations. If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on the best way to move forward, what’s at stake for everyday New Mexicans? The program is produced by KNME TV and you can watch it in the You Tube link at the bottom of the page.


Another Scam Reported In State

Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a second Scam Alert this week, this one warning senior citizens to protect themselves against the “Bahamas Grandkids Scam” that is hitting New Mexico. Scammers are calling New Mexico senior citizens from Ontario, Canada and Maryland phone numbers claiming that their grandchild is in jail for drunk driving in another country, namely the Bahamas. The scammers tell elaborate stories including details of a destination wedding the grandchild traveled to and then explain that after the wedding the grandchild was arrested. The scammer does not let the grandparent speak to the grandchild, “because they are in court,” but they do urge them to call a second number to post bail. When the grandparent calls the second number, they are informed of a “deal” and if they get a prepaid debit card from Walmart the bail will be $2000 instead of $3000. They are then asked for that prepaid card number. “I’m asking all of our families to be on guard for this scam as it preys directly on the love, trust and kindness of our New Mexico grandparents,” Attorney General Balderas said. “If someone calls to tell you a family member is in jail in another country and wants money from you, please verify this information with other family members before you consider taking any action. These scammers want to scare you into giving them information and money, but do not let their lies intimidate you.” Recent numbers associated with this scam are Maryland number 1-443-687-8088 and Ontario, Canada number 1-437-344-0996, but this scam originates from other numbers as well. This is an old scam with a new twist and can include a variety of different lies to trick people. The Office of the Attorney General was alerted to this new version by an 83-year-old grandma and retired law enforcement officer who went all the way through the scam, without giving any money, and wanted to warn the public about the details of the scam.


Familiar Faces Join Martin On Staff For 2017

New Mexico State football fans will have a pair of familiar faces on the sidelines this upcoming season as head football coach Doug Martin announced the additions of former Aggie standout QB Chase Holbrook and former graduate assistant Kai Brown. Holbrook, who played for NM State from 2005-08, returns to his alma mater as the tight ends coach after spending the 2016 season working under Mike Leach at Washington State as a quality controls coach. Prior to his time in Pullman, Holbrook served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Tarleton State. Other stops for the Hurst, Texas, native included New Mexico State Highlands (2014) and McMurry (2009-13). During his time in Las Cruces, Holbrook rewrote the Aggie history books and still owns the single-season and career record in passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns. “We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately.” Brown was elevated to defensive ends coach after serving as a graduate assistant for New Mexico State the past three seasons. During his first year in the City of Crosses, Brown worked with the defensive line before moving over to the linebacker corps the last two seasons. “Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role,” Martin said of Brown. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.” A native of Seattle, Wash., Brown played his collegiate career at Brown University (2004-08) where he was a two-time All-Ivy Leaguer at defensive end. Following his collegiate career, Brown spent four seasons with the Sacramento Mountain Lions (2009-12) of the United Football league where he played on both sides of the ball. He then spent the 2013 season with the Iowa Barnstormers before joining the Aggie coaching staff in 2014 as a graduate assistant. New Mexico State set to open the 2017 schedule on the road at Arizona State on Thursday, Aug. 31. Kick-off time and TV info have yet to be determined.


NMSU To Host Well Workshop

Why do wells go dry? What do you do when your well is full of sand? If you`ve ever had these questions an upcoming well workshop may provide you with answers. Dalene Hodnett has the details.


Task Force Reports Arrests

The Pecos Valley Drug Task Force reports that their agents and members of the Carlsbad Police Department have taken down a couple of suspected hooligans. On Wednesday, Daniel Mauzey was wanted for a number of crimes. A search warrant to remove him from a residence was obtained and executed by Carlsbad Police. After a brief standoff, he was taken into custody. The other suspect, Valerie Fierro, was also in the residence. A firearm and ammo were also seized. The Task Force Commander says the case is still under investigation. If you have info, call them.


AAA Releases Weekend Gas Watch

The statewide gas price average in New Mexico is $2.18 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel, according to the AAA New Mexico Weekend Gas Watch. That price is one cent less than last week and 58 cents more per gallon than last year. Of the major metropolitan areas surveyed in New Mexico, drivers in Santa Fe are paying the most on average at $2.17 per gallon while drivers in Albuquerque are paying the least at $2.08 per gallon. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.28 which is the same as last week and 58 cents more per gallon than last year. Prices continue to remain relatively flat due to lower driving demand and an oversupplied market as a result of increased U.S. production. As refinery maintenance season begins and driving demand increases, we could expect to see some of the gasoline supply in the U.S. soaked up. “Refineries will soon switch to producing the more expensive summer-blend fuel and demand for gas will increase as people take road trips in the spring,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe. “We encourage drivers to keep their vehicles maintained, remove unnecessary weight from cars and trucks, obey speed limits, and not drive aggressively in order to save on fuel costs.”


Carlsbad Man Declared Competent

A Carlsbad man who has been accused of murdering his father, dismembering him and then burying him in the backyard has been found competent to stand trial, according to a report from KRQE TV. Steven Allumbaugh hit the 88-year-old man over the head back in 2012. Allumbaguh later admitted to dismembering the man’s body and putting it in garbage bags and then burying them. He was later found guilty of collecting more than 19-grand from his father’s social security checks. He has also been charged with second-degree murder but that trial was pushed back after his attorney ordered a psychiatric evaluation. The report says his next court date hasn’t been scheduled.


Lynn Gallagher Confirmed As Cabinet Secretary

The New Mexico State Senate voted unanimously to confirm Lynn Gallagher as Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Gallagher was appointed as Secretary Designate by Governor Susana Martinez following the passing of Secretary Retta Ward in March 2016. Prior to her appointment, Gallagher served as Deputy Secretary of NMDOH since 2013 and as General Counsel for the Aging and Long-Term Services Department. “Lynn is a dedicated public servant who demonstrates strong leadership and dedication to improving the health of New Mexicans,” Governor Martinez said. “Lynn is passionate about making New Mexico a better and healthier place, and I am confident in her abilities to lead our largest state agency.” Among the many public health priorities, Secretary Gallagher is committed to addressing substance misuse, teen births, diabetes and obesity. The Department continues to make important progress in improving health outcomes in New Mexico. For example, births to teens ages 15 to 17 have declined and are now at their lowest point in many decades. Through tobacco cessation programs, cigarette smoking among adolescents has declined to nearly one in ten, the lowest rate ever measured in the state. And New Mexico’s childhood obesity rate continues to trend downward, as many other U.S. states have experienced increases. Under Gallagher’s leadership, the Department is focusing on health issues that have the greatest impact on New Mexico’s population health status, expanding community engagement and working on a sustainability plan that will help the agency be more efficient and effective as the future of public health services evolve. Gallagher, a native of Truth or Consequence, has lived and worked in New York and Florida providing state and federal compliance and contract management. She returned to New Mexico in 2009 where she entered private law practice before entering state government. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Management Change At Vets Home To Mean Vet Needs To Be Met Quicker By Vet Services

The needs of veterans and veteran families at the Veterans Home in T or C would receive renewed attention under a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque.) SB 204 passed the New Mexico State Senate passed unanimously. The bill would transfer of the management and oversight of the New Mexico State Veterans’ Home. Located in Truth or Consequences, from the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) to the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS). DVS stated that the transfer would streamline veteran services and create one state entity with authority and responsibility for all direct veteran services in the state. It also said there will be an increased focus on the Veterans Home which will allow DVS to respond quicker to the needs of the veterans and families residing in the Veterans Home. Among other things, the bill would also create: • a new healthcare coordination division within DVS • makes the current state approving division a bureau • defines a gold star parent • qualify gold star parents to receive services from DVS • make changes to the list of members serving on the Veterans’ Home Advisory Board • clarify that the Veterans’ Home is for qualifying spouses, surviving spouses, and gold star parents The bill passed the Senate 41-0, it now moves to the House for consideration.


Ag Regent At NMSU Passes Senate

The New Mexico State Senate voted 30 -10 to require that one of the five New Mexico State University (NMSU) regents have a degree or at least experience in agriculture. The bill requires that one of the five regents have a bachelor, master or doctorate of science degree in the field of agriculture, agriculture systems management, animal science or a comparable discipline or at least four years of ag experience. It is sponsored by Senator Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell) and Senator Pat Woods (R-Broadview.) “Ag industry is a huge industry in our state, it has a direct impact of five billion dollars and an indirect impact of ten billion. Ag needs a voice at New Mexico State University,” Senator Pirtle said. “Agriculture is a critical field of study for our state and for our nation. NMSU regents need a hands on knowledge of this field of study to help education students this industry that is growing in New Mexico.” “We want to ensure that agriculture is understood and appreciated by at least one of the five regents at New Mexico State University. NMSU has its long history in agriculture when it was first known as the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanics Arts after the Territorial Legislature established it in 1889. We want to make sure ag is alive and well at NMSU and that the ag industry continues to grow in our state,” Senator Woods said.


Eddy County Commission Tackles Multiple Topics

Wednesday morning on Good Morning Artesia on KSVP Jon Henry(pictured) and Larry Wood talked about the county serving as the Fiscal Agent for the DWI Program. They also talked about ordinances, a control burn south of Malaga, the state sweeping VFD money and new hours for county employees.


Woods Houghton Podcast Returns

This week the Eddy County Extension Agent talks about trees, no need to burn your lawn and fertilizer basics.


Report Shows Mixed Crime Trends In 2016

Top-level crimes, as classified by the FBI, decreased for a second straight year in Roswell in 2016. The overall decline (11.5 percent) in Part I crimes (murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, arson) within the city comes despite a 2016 rise in murders and arsons. Meanwhile, Roswell saw a slight increase (9 percent) in Part II crimes (non-violent crimes against persons and property crimes) last year.The report contains a large amount of information, from the department’s recruitment efforts and staffing history in recent years to multi-year statistics showing changes and trends in local crime, arrests, drug seizures and number of calls coming through the dispatch center for the various local and regional emergency agencies. The year’s activities of RPD’s various divisions (Patrol, Criminal Investigation, Special Investigations, Support Services, Professional Standards) are represented in the report. The report also highlights some of the criminal cases investigated, incidents handled, public outreach efforts initiated, community education opportunities presented and training undertaken by RPD in 2016. “The foundation of our agency’s overall goals are crime reduction, increased transparency and enhanced lines of communication with stakeholders and community,” RPD Chief Phil Smith writes in the annual report. “In the order of quality and not quantity, we adhere to the model of hiring and recruiting only the most qualified personnel. We pursue the mission of reducing victimization through proactive problem-solving and community partnerships.”


SCAM ALERT: New Scam Call Threatening IRS Criminal Lawsuit Hits New Mexico

Attorney General Hector Balderas(pictured) issued a Scam Alert in response to a new scam hitting New Mexico that threatens a ‘criminal lawsuit’ by the IRS if the caller’s message is not returned. The digitized voice in the recording claims to be Officer Edward Jonathon calling from the legal department of the Internal Revenue Service and leaves a call back number along with his threats. Scams of this nature are meant to intimidate and trick New Mexicans into giving up their personal and financial information to the scammers. “Now that tax season is upon us, New Mexicans must be especially diligent to protect themselves against the influx of IRS scams hitting the state,” said Attorney General Balderas. “If you receive a recording or call claiming to be from the IRS, do not be fooled and hang up the phone immediately. The IRS will contact you by U.S. Mail and will not demand personal and financial information from you over the phone. Regardless of who a caller claims to work for, never give out your personal or financial information over the phone.” Reported calls are coming from Texas number 1-469-565-0447 and Florida number 1-786-605-1337, but they could appear as other numbers as well on your caller ID. If you receive a scam call please report it to the Office of the Attorney General by calling toll free 1-844-255-9210.


Artesia Looking At Increasing Water And Sewer Rates

The City of Artesia is trying to sell a raise in water and sewer rates to people. Recently Scott Verhines(pictured) of Occam Engineering presented the proposal to some citizens and members of the business community. Years ago he says years of drought ran up against the city’s water supply. He also says the city needs to make sure that it has an ample supply of water in the future. He says residents will see an increase of 40 percent in the coming year. This would apply to the 2013 Base Rate. After that he says there will be two five percent increases over the next two years. He also says that sewer rates will also increase by 20 percent.


Artesia Student Honored In Santa Fe

Two legislators representing the Artesia area, Reps. Candy Spence Ezzell (R-Chaves) and Jim Townsend (R-Chaves, Eddy and Otero), joined Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Sandoval) in recognizing the achievements of Artesia High School student Alexandra Mauritsen. Mauritsen, a high school junior, recently scored in the top one percent nationally of students taking the ACT college entrance exam with a perfect composite score of thirty-six. In addition, Mauritsen scored 1570 out of a possible 1600 points on the SAT exam.


Paul Gessing Podcast Returns

This week the Head of the Albuquerque based Rio Grande Foundation think tank talks about jobs and taxes.


Swickard:A State Government Too Big To Cut

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. It’s amazing watching the New Mexico Legislature. They want to name the Green Chile Cheeseburger as New Mexico’s Burger. But they are ignoring that Texas is about to get New Mexico’s crop water in court so the only Green Chile available for burgers may come from Colorado. And that’s not all. The Legislature was called into session primarily to deal with a large amount of money missing from the budget. The first thing said by some leaders in the House and Senate was that the New Mexico Government is too big to cut. Too many New Mexicans have been hired to fire any of them. They got that from the banking crisis of 2008. It worked for the bankers then and seems to be working now. Thanksgiving will be awful if some of the state worker cousins gets laid off and other do not. Since the state government cannot be cut, taxes must be raised. That is exactly what the citizens do not want. But the next election is many months away and many of the leaders in the Legislature didn’t have an opponent in this last election so the citizens have no control. Making it worse is the betrayal in the Legislature. Years ago, Governor Bill Richardson, who spent every second running for President of the United State had a plan to make New Mexico better and get lots of press while doing it. The food and medicine tax was abated while that amount of money was made up by raising fees. He was celebrated for his plan which almost got him to Washington but for a few details. New Mexico was out the money for his run at the Presidency but no one seems to care. Anyway, that Bill Richardson plan compensated by increasing fees for the loss of revenue from the tax on food and medicine. The rank and file New Mexicans paid the same amount of money out of the family budget each month but people who were struggling daily would struggle less. Fast forward to today where since the Legislature cannot cut the too big to cut state government they are going back to taxing food and medicine, but the fees are going to be raised also. To make us feel better, if that is possible, the Legislature is not putting all of the taxes back on food and medicine. But the counties were supposed to be held harmless by Richardson’s taking the taxes off food and medicine. The Legislature was supposed to make up the loss of taxes. Then the Legislature decided to not do that but let counties raise that money themselves in taxes. Already then taxes doubled since the fees were raised. The revenue was neutral when taxes were taken off food and medicine and fees to the state were raised. Counties then raised the taxes in their county since the Legislature would not share any of that extra state money from fees. Now the Legislature is bringing back taxes on food and medicine while raising the state fees even more. Essentially, the citizens got taken three times. And what the Legislature this session was supposed to do is fix the economy and find a way to deal with the loss of so much water in the Texas lawsuit. Without water for crops there isn’t going to be Green Chile, onions, alfalfa and Pecans. There will be plenty of pecan firewood for sale. These things will make the state much less attractive for businesses. Taxes going up and minimum wage going up. You know the minimum wage is price-fixing. It’s fixing the price of labor. Politicians don’t care. What’s the tipping point in New Mexico? The edge where many businesses and citizens leave? When enough leave, the budget crisis gets worse. Can’t cut the state government because it is too big to cut. If New Mexico had enemies who wanted to harm the state, what would they do differently in the Legislature? Nothing. We will find out what Green Chile Cheeseburgers made with Colorado green chile taste like since the Legislature is doing nothing to replace the water lost to Texas. At least the green chile isn’t coming from New York City. Email: drswickard@comcast.net - Swickard’s new novel, Hideaway Hills, is availableat Amazon.com