Latest Bill Action from the Legislative Session

Posted on 25. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Bill to Make Stealing Utility Hardware that Keeps NM Humming A Felony “At least put this crime on par with stealing a goat”

Passes Senate Public Affairs Today

SB 28 Neville Penalties for Larceny of Cable Hardware

SPAC Do Pass 8-0, on to SJC

Santa Fe- Currently a thief can be charged with only a misdemeanor crime for stealing a $10 copper wire that could potentially cause a power outage throughout an entire city or do even worse damage. In comparison, stealing a goat in New Mexico is a felony.

Senator Steve Neville (R-Farmington) wants to change. He does not want to change the livestock theft crime, but he wants to make the larceny of telecommunication or utility cable or hardware to be a third degree or second degree felony, not a misdemeanor. He said the type of crime and its penalty should be based on the damages to the utility and the cost of getting the utility back on-line after the theft, not based on the cost of the stolen wire or piece of hardware.

“Thieves are out there right now stealing cable and wire for the copper content with complete disregard of how that piece of equipment can potentially jeopardize an entire community,” Senator Neville said. “That stolen item could cause a power outage and do a lot of damage, everything from shutting down business operations, to shutting off the heat in people’s homes causing pipes to burst or people to freeze to death.  It could cost a utility company tens of thousands of dollars to get the community humming again.”

The bill was amended in Senate Public Affairs this afternoon, clarifying that the theft of railroad signal equipment would also be a felony. “Can you imagine how stealing a wire and disabling a Railrunner crossing signal could end up costing a motorist or pedestrian their lives. The penalty should fit the crime. These thefts should be felonies,” Senator Neville said.

Senator Neville said all thefts of telecommunication or utility cable or hardware would be at least a third degree felony, those that cost the utilities over $20,000 to restore the services would be second degree felonies.

Regarding the  goat felony crime, Senator Neville said that as he researched his bill he learned that livestock in New Mexico have historically been critical to the livelihood of New Mexicans and the theft of livestock has always been a third degree felony. “At least, let’s put this crime on par with stealing a goat in New Mexico,” Senator Neville said.

Senate Bill 28 would amend §30-16-1 NMSA (Larceny), by adding the crime of committing larceny of telecommunication or utility cable or hardware. Depending on the dollar value cost of the restoration of services following an outage caused by said larceny, the crime is categorized as a third degree (any value) or second degree (over $20,000) felony.

Sometimes We Don’t Want to Advertise ‘I’m from the Government and I am here to help” Undercover State License Plates to Help Employees do their Jobs in Sensitive Situations

SB 51- Protective and Undercover License Plates

Senator Sander Rue

Passes SCORC

Undercover state employees can avoid advertising they work for the state because of the markings on their government issued license plates under a bill Sponsored by Senator Sander Rue. The bill,   SB 51- Protective and Undercover License Plates, heads to Senate Judiciary after receiving a do pass from Senate Corporations and Transportation tonight.

“Sometimes we don’t want to advertise “I’m from the Government and I am here to help,” Senator Sander Rue said as he quoted the nine most terrifying words in the English language from President Ronald Reagan. “Sometimes advertising they are a state employee can put those employees working in the field in jeopardy and can jeopardize the critical work they are doing for the state.”

The bill sets in law a process to issue non-government license plates to state employees who work in agencies and departments such as CYFD, and to probation and parole officers who need to work undercover in sensitive situations without the public knowing they are public officials. And the law also creates a mechanism to prevent abuse.

Senator Rue said the bill is designed to protect state employees and help them do their jobs in sensitive situations without the public knowing by the license plates on their state vehicles, that they are public employees.

“CYFD employees often times have to intervene in traumatic family situations, a job that is difficult enough,” Senator Rue said. “We need to do everything we can to assist them in doing their critical work in the field without jeopardizing their situation under sensitive circumstances by advertising they are a CYFD employee,” Senator Rue said.

The bill also adds language to 66-6-15 NMSA to allow MVD to issue undercover and sensitive activity plates to Indian tribes, pueblos, counties, municipalities and other governmental entities.

Job Creation and City Revitalization Bill Heads to Senate Finance

Small Business Revitalization Funding Passes SPAC Committee Unanimously

SB 52- Mainstreet Programs

Senator  Sue Wilson Beffort

MainStreet New Mexico will drive away with $100,000 for technical assistance for the New Mexico MainStreet program under a bill sponsored by Senator Sue Wilson Beffort. SB 52- MainStreet Programs- heads to Senate Finance after passing Senate Corporations and Transportation this afternoon.

This session, The MainStreet program is also seeking up to $2 million dollars from capital outlay for the program that is a national award winner.

The program helps local commercial districts revitalization in cities throughout the state by assisting property owners rehabilitate buildings, address infrastructure needs and fund capital improvements.  It is done through a non-profit corporation, with local MainStreet organizations working in partnership with cities.

Senator Wilson Beffort said it is a job creation bill because it helps to create an inviting environment that attracts new businesses to an area, “One of my priorities this session is to seek ways to create more job in the state. The MainStreet program does that while revitalizing our cities. It is a win-win program.”

The $100,000 appropriation from the general fund will go to the Economic Development Department for the purpose of expanding technical professional assistance to enhance local MainStreet programs statewide.

The MainStreet program is part of an economic development network of more than 37 states and 1200 communities across the country that was launched in 1984 in New Mexico.

- Editor:  The above were submitted by Diane Kinderwater of the NM Legislative Office. For more information, please contact: 505/986-4702

 

 

 

 

The Real Gun Control Argument

Posted on 24. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

It’s about time we took off our politically correct muzzle, removed our rose-colored glasses and talked about the real reason many Second Amendment supporters are pushing back at the anti-gun forces with extreme prejudice.

The reason is simply this… many don’t trust their government and have lost faith in that government’s willingness to protect its citizens’ basic freedoms as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

These low-trust citizens are really fall-away Americans who are now viewing many of their government’s decisions with extreme skepticism. They have come to this conclusion over a number of years and over several political administrations.

I believe their distrust has deepened and grown enormously over the last four years but that it started in earnest under President George W. Bush with the enactment of the Patriot Act, which was for many an infringement on their privacy rights.

To be sure, the Patriot Act became law during a period of intense terrorism and was designed, according to the Administration, to protect our liberties rather than prevent us from pursuing them, but the result was a considerable increase in the government’s ability to surveil us, thus limiting our basic rights to privacy. (Don’t forget, fall-away Americans guard their privacy and their right to be left alone as passionately as any other freedom.)

The proof is in the decisions

Low-trust Americans and critics point to real decisions the current Administration has taken to bolster their case for withholding their confidence.

Some of those decisions were rendered by the President himself like the one that totally ignored the Immigration and Naturalization Act by slow-walking and then down-prioritizing the deportation of certain immigrant groups rather than adhering to the regulations which only permit this act for individuals.

Then there were those made by America’s chief law enforcement officer and the Justice Department like Operation Fast and Furious, the nose-thumbing of Congress on this issue, the refusal to prosecute voter intimidation cases, etc.

Others made by Administration surrogates like the Democrat dominated Congress that bullied the Patients’ Affordable Healthcare Act to passage seemed to seal the deal for the skeptics…that is until the recent Vice-President led task force on gun control.

For many fall-away Americans this task force, along with several pending gun bills and the media’s mobilization of anti-gun activists, is viewed as the Battle of the Bulge for the Second Amendment — AND they’ve dug in and are not going to give up without a fight.

That’s why Liberals should not chuckle when they see bumper stickers the likes of: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.” These people mean business and will not go quietly into the dark night as they have checked out of the third person and checked into the active voice.

A quick look at booming NRA membership and skyrocketing gun and ammunition sales will tell even the most naive observer that something’s up and it’s not support for omnibus gun legislation spearheaded by Presidential Executive Order.

Invasions are easy to recognize

Fall-away Americans are also looking at the media and seeing the handwriting on the wall. Here I speak of the Journal News newspaper in Westchester County that recently revealed the names and addresses and interactive Google map of all gun owners in that county – an action that has put gun-owners and non gun-owners alike at risk from an escalation in home burglaries.

A loss of Second Amendment rights is often preceded by a loss of First Amendment rights. Just ask the peoples of Poland about their occupation in 1939 by the Nazis under trumped-up charges they were persecuting Sudeten Germans living there. How many weapons were confiscated from the Poles? Answer: All of them.

This falling domino method of losing rights has been used by many oppressors, but the West Germans learned their lesson after WWII. They banned the gathering of unnecessary information on German citizens and the sharing of it with other government agencies in contrast to what the Nazis and the Stasi did. The law is called the ‘Datenschutz’ (data protection), and it enshrines the right of German citizens’ privacy.

Fall-away Americans believe that by creating a federal registry of guns and gun-owners and then sharing this information with any/all government agencies will perfectly position an unethical or rogue government to keep tabs on its citizens and enable it to tax, regulate and eventually confiscate America’s weapons. Even trusting citizens should be worried about this possibility, because once set in motion, the domino could fall backwards or forwards taking other rights down with it.

We must not trifle with our Bill of Rights nor should we believe as many progressives and liberals do that it is a work in progress. No. It is like the Ten Commandments. After all, God didn’t tell Moses these were the Ten Suggestions, and our founding fathers didn’t call the Bill of Rights the Bill of Possible Options either.

- Editor

Inauguration or coronation?

Posted on 24. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Dateline: Washington, DC – January 21, 2013?

Well, America, we finally did it. After throwing off the abusive monarchy of George III who subjugated all of us 237 years ago, we’ve come full circle with the coronation of a new king.

Today, King Barack the First, was elevated from his previous position as President to Supreme Monarch of the United States of America (soon to be renamed the Kingdom of Grand Largesse).

Americans turned out in the hundreds of thousands to fill the nation’s capitol city (soon to be renamed Victory City) and assembled on the steps of the Capitol Building (soon to be remodeled and renamed the Memorial of the Masses) to celebrate the moment and pay homage to their new ruler.

The ceremony was produced and directed by several of Hollywood’s top celebrity directors. The leading producer was Steven Spielberg who is responsible for the recent box office hit, “Lincoln and Me” (the really true actual verifiable no foolin’ life story of Abraham Lincoln who was reverse re-incarnated from Barack Obama).

The festivities took months of planning and creative accounting by the Democratic National Committee which amassed millions of dollars of tribute (donations) for the ceremony from eager subjects aspiring to key positions in the Court of the Great Barack.

The newly-formed Royal PAC called, “Organizing for Action” headed up by Obamaphiles Messina, Axelrod, Cutter, Gibbs, Plouffe, et al. will be in full operation January 22nd. The aim of the PAC will be to identify which donors to the Obama campaign will be awarded land grants in the former states of California, Hawaii, Texas and Florida.

Their secondary task will be to create a short list of possible candidates for peerage. It is rumored that among the candidates are: Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Sean Penn, Madonna, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the entire Chicago City Council, the entire Democratic Senate and all members of the SEIU.

While the President was being crowned, architects and designers were feverishly completing their work on a new coat of arms for the King which will replace the outdated seal of the President, a stunning new signet ring bearing the King’s picture and an eight-foot tall throne made of Republican Rino horn (it will replace the old HMS Resolute desk that had served Presidents from FDR on).

Hollywood choreographers and songwriters were collaborating on a new musical that will debut on July 4th and which will commemorate the new King’s rise to power from his humble beginnings in Hawaii. The musical’s working title is: “Obama the real American idol: From rags to swag.”

The festivities were supposed to have been emceed by radical author Saul Alinsky, but he could not be exhumed in time for the ceremony (Whitehouse doctors were also doubtful they could re-animate him had he been dug up).

Next in line was former domestic terrorist turned royalist Bill Ayers, but Mr. Ayers was unable to locate a tie. Instead, the honor went to the Senator from New York (soon to be re-named New Bama), Charles Schumer. It is rumored that Mr. Schumer will soon accept a prominent position as Court Schmoozer in the new Court of the Great Barack.

After the coronation and the singing of the old national anthem (the new royal song will be, “Let’s stay together” by Al Green) the crowd was treated to a poetic reading by MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews. The title of Mr. Matthews’ poem was, “The decapitation and dismemberment of conservatives: Ode to the common man.”

The evening will be capped off by two royal balls. At each ball the new King and his queen will be borne in to the venues on the backs of fat-cat capitalists from Wall Street, hedge fund managers, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and former President George W. Bush.

America, rejoice, for unto you a king is given, and he will make straight the crooked and make equal the unequal. The poor will become rich and the undeserving the deserving.  He is for all time and for all men: Barack the Cool, Barack the Benificent and Barack the MAN. All hail or else.

- Editor: The New Mexican Voice welcomes equally fanciful opposing points of view. Send them to us at: editor@newmexicanvoice.com

Superwhitehouse-atmospheric-theatricalidocious

Posted on 22. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

It’s getting confusing. I thought I had to buy a ticket to see a movie or take in a show to be entertained. That’s all changed. Somebody should have told me all I needed to do was watch our President sign Executive Orders!

Today’s example of the gun control Executive Order signing ceremony took me back to the time when I won a coloring contest sponsored by our local TV station in Milwaukee. Us kids (we always called ourselves that) were avid fans of a futuristic space show headed up by a spaceman called, Captain Jet.

One day in 1953, the Captain (CJ) actually picked my drawing on air as one of the top three winners and I was invited to appear on the following week’s show to pick up my prize.

When the happy day came, I wasn’t nervous.  After all I knew I wasn’t going to be shot into space to rendezvous with ole CJ on a far-off galaxy. I was just going into a TV studio and on a set that looked like it was designed by my grade school classmates.

We were all carefully positioned next to CJ before the cameras started rolling and I got the first question. After asking me my name, he wanted to know where my father worked. Not remembering, I politely excused myself, walked off the spaceship set and headed towards my mother who sat off-stage by the whirring TV camera.

I didn’t see Captain Jet’s face, but I do remember what he said when I got back on board the good ship cardboard. He looked into the camera and said, “Well kids, it’s a good thing our ship hadn’t left the Earth’s orbit yet or we’d have lost this little fella.” Talk about suspension of disbelief! (We called it imagination back then.)

Children have been in TV audiences since the late 40s. Remember Howdy Doody, the Buster Brown Show and then Captain Kangaroo? But this using children as window dressing phenomenon is new to me.

It’s one thing to host kids for the White House Easter Egg Hunt or the Whitehouse Christmas Tree lighting, but I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember if the likes of Ike, LBJ or Nixon surrounded themselves with moppets on the podium for bill-signings. Don’t think so.

Children have been used as props by politicians throughout the ages, but usually referred to in speeches in absentia. I didn’t think that I’d live to see the day that the Whitehouse would be holding casting calls for little urchins to show up at bill-signings. Remember the cute little boy in the vest by the President’s desk when Mr. Obama signed the healthcare bill? Precious.

Today, the Whitehouse Office of Theatricality had assembled four well-dressed and well-behaved youngsters to frame the President as he signed 23 Executive Orders designed to stave off vicious crime perpetrated by gun-wielding crazies.

The scene looked bizarre as if the invitations had gotten mixed up, and instead of being at PS 41 for the annual spelling bee, the kids found themselves standing in for criminals and law-breakers who were supposed to be shackled to their chairs while the Commander in Chief talked about murder and mayhem.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think that children should be used as scenery for Presidents or any other elected officials. If this is the new normal than I’m just going to insist that the President bring in a bevy of barnyard animals, bales of alfalfa and bushels of rutabagas to future farm bill signings.

As long as he’s at it, he could bring back Mr. Greenjeans to hold the signing pens while the theme song from Green Acres plays in the background. Somehow, the atmospherics of that scene appeal to the old farm boy in me. Now that’s what I call a real signing ceremony.

- Editor

Could tyranny come to America?

Posted on 22. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

There is an elephant in our room, and it is the unasked question: “Could tyranny come to America?” I’m told that serious-minded, intelligent people (you know, rational, modern men and women) would never ask this question nor even entertain the possibility of debating it even if it were asked.

Perhaps that’s the problem. Outside of the academic environment where theories and hypotheses are tossed around college classrooms like vulgarities on the Bill Maher show, the question is largely un-debated except among those people that are labeled by the left as kooks, right-wing crazies, wackos, nut jobs, Tea Partyers, survivalists, extremists and Republicans.

It’s not surprising then that we don’t want to talk about the possibility that our U.S. government or any of its three branches: the Legislative, Executive or Judicial might one day (or incrementally over time) turn renegade and limit some of our freedoms or remove others, completely.

Historical examples might be: Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, the internment of innocent Japanese during WWII and the Patriot Act, to name a few. Were we to talk that talk it might make the possibility actually, well, possible. Then, Heaven forbid, we’d have to think about it by shifting our focus away from the latest sports scandal.

That unspoken thought on tyranny (or abuse of power if you prefer) shares the cupboard with a lot of other unspoken thoughts tucked away on our secret shelves. Incest is one. Mental illness is another. Drug addiction and alcoholism (now called substance abuse) are a little more acceptable now that so many Americans have experienced them.

Unspoken issues share space with euphemisms we use to soften reality. For example, “Uncle Joe passed away/on/over last week.” Translation: Uncle Joe died. Passing away sounds like he suddenly left town unannounced and moved to the Villages in Florida.

Euphemisms take the edge off reality by making a perfectly normal but uncomfortable-to-acknowledge situation acceptable to society when society can’t handle the truth. They are also often the precursor for the subordination of unspoken issues (like tyranny) to the dust heap reserved for uncivilized conversation.

It may be high time to man up and talk about tyranny in relation to American life and politics. There are many forms of it, but all of them have one thing in common – an inordinate amount of power concentrated in a few hands.

The enablers of tyranny are cowardice, apathy, ignorance, lethargy, stupidity and gullibility. Tyranny also relies on lies and subterfuge to succeed. The lies don’t have to be sophisticated. They can be simple emotional appeals to our fears and our basic needs. They can come from the left and from the right of the political spectrum, and like fire, they need oxygen to survive. Their oxygen usually comes in the form of a crisis or the threat of one.

Other examples of tyranny are: an abusive parent or spouse, sexual harassment, slavery, monopolies, unfair laws, un-enforced or inconsistently-enforced laws, voter fraud, disenfranchisement or manipulation.

The tyrant is a battlefield commander that divides the opposition into smaller groups, attacks them unmercifully and then paints them with a brush of ideological repugnance and then forces them into a highly visible corner. Finally, the tyrant calls the public’s attention to them and declares them, the enemy.

While America may not be teetering on the brink of tyranny, to say it could never happen or ignore the conversation is naive and foolish. I’ve said it before though not said it first, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” To that I would simply add ‘or say nothing.’

- Editor

The Kerry hearing you probably won’t hear

Posted on 22. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Washington, D.C. (January 24, 2013)  Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing for Senator John Kerry’s Secretary of State nomination took place. The Committee’s Ranking Member pursued a tough line of questioning regarding Senator Kerry’s green energy investments and his ability to profit, as Secretary of State, from his support for a climate change agenda.

According to this author’s imagination, the questioning took place as follows:

RANKING MEMBER: Senator Kerry, it is my understanding that you voted for the STOCK Act, is that correct?

KERRY: Yes, and along with many fellow Senate Members, I co-sponsored the bill introduced by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

RANKING MEMBER: The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act—known as the STOCK Act— prohibits members and employees of Congress from using “any nonpublic information derived from the individual’s position… or gained from performance of the individual’s duties, for personal benefit.” The bill also applies to all employees in the Executive and Judicial branches of the federal government. Is that correct?

KERRY: That is the general emphasis, yes.

RANKING MEMBER: The STOCK Act passed quickly and with wide bipartisan support.

You are the wealthiest member of the Senate, is that correct?

KERRY: Yes, that is what is reported.

RANKING MEMBER: Thank you Senator. I’ll change topics now.

You have been an ardent believer in Climate Change as a man-made crisis. In August of 2009, you penned an op-ed that compared the threat of climate change to the 9-11 attacks. In it you wrote: “Make no mistake: catastrophic climate change represents a threat to human security, global stability, and—yes—even to American national security. …

Unfortunately, not everyone in Washington appreciates the stakes. It’s tragic that we live at a time when if one were to dismiss the threat of terrorism, you’d be sent home in the next election. But there are no similar political consequences if you dismiss the science or the threat of climate change.”

On September 30, 2009, you and Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the Senate version of a cap-and-trade bill: the 821-page Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act—also known as the Kerry-Boxer Bill. At the time, you said, about the bill aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and therefore slowing global warming: “Ultimately, this bill is about keeping Americans safe.”

The Sierra Club, long the standard bearer for the environmental community, responded to the Kerry-Boxer bill this way: “Millions of jobs could be created here if only the U.S. were to invest wisely in clean energy, innovation and efficiency.

This bill can build our clean energy economy—and not let polluters get away with their dirty business-as-usual ways. Global warming is a very real threat to our national security. As catastrophic weather events increase over time, our world will see more climate refugees—masses of people forced to move, causing clashes over borders and dwindling resources like food, fuel and water. A strong clean energy bill is essential to protecting our security.”

The Kerry-Boxer Bill didn’t pass. But that hasn’t stopped your crusade against global warming.

In 2011, in response to the President’s glaring omission of any climate change priorities in his State of the Union Address, you gave him a pass when you said: “That’s alright. There’s a lot of work that has to be done to revalidate the science and the facts with respect to that.

It would cloud the reality that we’re trying to deal with respect to energy. So I’m very sympathetic. I understand that completely. That is not where the country is. That’s not where the issue is right now. It has to be brought back there. And it will be, but that’s a different track on a different issue.”

It now appears that you see the Secretary of State position as the “track” to bring it back. The Los Angeles Times reports that as Secretary of State, you will “push the issue to center stage as a slow-motion crisis in need of a global solution.”

Climate hawks are practically giddy over your nomination. For example, writing for the National Journal, Coral Davenport says that as Secretary of State you will “likely raise climate change to a top-tier priority.” In Mother Jones Magazine, Washington Bureau reporter Kate Sheppard wrote: “Having Kerry at the helm at State would be very good news.”

In Climate Progress, Joe Romm says he believes your nomination is “the first serious indication Obama will focus on climate change in his second term.” And, in Grist.org, Lisa Hymas refers to you as “the most ardent climate hawk ever to hold the office.”

Have I reflected your views and the enthusiasm for your nomination accurately?

KERRY: Yes. As you know, along with my lovely wife Teresa, I wrote the book This Moment on Earth: Today’s New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future. I do believe that I would be “the most ardent climate hawk ever to hold the office.” I am pleased to have received such affirmation from the green groups. I view them as family.

RANKING MEMBER: Thank you Senator. Next topic.

Is it true that you helped craft President Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill—more specifically, you worked on the portions that offered federal support for green energy projects?

KERRY: Yes, I am very proud of my efforts to promote clean, green energy. I “played a key role in securing energy tax provision increases to include a long term extension of provisions that provide tax incentives for the production of renewable energy and tax credits for conservations.”

RANKING MEMBER: Humph! Amazing, since your “efforts” have cost America’s taxpayers billions on foolhardy projects that lined the pockets of Democratic lawmakers and wealthy donors before going bankrupt. But, I digress.

Big-ticket Obama donor,” John Doerr also was part of shaping what went into the 2009 Stimulus Bill. Doerr is a partner at investment firm Kliener Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Doerr jumped on the Climate Change bandwagon in 2005 and credits Al Gore for his “environmental awakening”—though his conversion may have been more financial than spiritual as he saw green-energy as the “mother of all markets” and “the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”  In 2006, Doerr started his first green-tech investment fund.

KPCB has two investment portfolios that specifically fund green energy projects—both launched in 2008: the Green Growth Fund to invest $500 million in growth-stage companies, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers XIII, a $700 million fund to invest in greentech, information technology, and life sciences ventures.

Senator Kerry, you may be wondering why I bring up the seemingly unrelated investment firm KPCB. I’ll tell you.

More than fifty percent of the companies within these funds have benefitted from loans, grants, and special tax breaks through the 2009 Stimulus Bill, in which both you and John Doerr participated.

Senator, you have vast wealth, myriad investments, and an impressive record that considerably beats the average. Obviously, you know how to spot a good investment opportunity. Yet, you did not invest in either of the KPCB funds at their inception.

You waited almost a year later, until after the stimulus bill was passed—which directed billions of taxpayer dollars to KPCB funded projects. According to your investment records, you invested in both of Doerr’s greentech funds—Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers XIII and the KPCB Green Growth Fund—on March 31, 2009. You’ve invested in the funds many times each year in the subsequent years.

Despite a green-energy push from the White House, these funds haven’t “delivered the returns expected on the timeline expected for most venture capitalists.” In fact, Doerr admitted in a November 2009 speech that the government funding saved them: “If we’d been able to foresee the crash of the market, we wouldn’t probably have launched a green initiative, because these ventures really need capital.

The only way in which we were lucky, I think, is that the government stepped in, particularly the Department of Energy. Led by this great administration that put in place these loan guarantees.”

Senator Kerry, I recall my mother telling me to put my money where my mouth is—I am sure you were taught some similar adage. It is great to see a person investing in issues in which they are strong believers—as your investment history shows. However, Senator, this has always been immoral for members of Congress and, thanks to the STOCK Act, it is now illegal.

We have every reason to believe that, as Secretary of State, you will push forward a clean energy agenda, one that moves climate change to center stage; a top-tier priority—and this will financially benefit your family and friends. With the Kyoto Treaty dead and more and more countries abandoning their CO2 targets, these greentech funds seem doomed without another form of government intervention and that could come in the form of your manipulating climate change into a national security issue as I’ve laid out.

Following the passage of the fiscal cliff deal, green energy stocks rallied—not because of market demand (in fact, in spite of it), but because the deal promised continued government funding. In much the same way, if global warming falls off the radar—as it is currently doing due to a lack of actual warming and the global economic crisis—these greentech investments will die without a government savior such as yourself.

If you are confirmed as the Secretary of State, Senator Kerry, can you assure me, and the American people whose tax dollars have already been transferred to you through your investments, that you will not make climate change a national security issue as your record, to date, indicates you will?

Perhaps it will really work out this way on Thursday.

Author’s note: Thanks to Christine Lakatos for her extensive research on the green-energy crony-corruption scandal and specifically KCPB’s greentech investments.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 New Mexico Home Sales Numbers Set Records

Posted on 21. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

15,098 home sales were reported to the REALTORS Association of New Mexico (RANM) during 2012.  This is over 13% more sales than reported in 2011 (13,300) and is nearly 6% higher than the 2008 count of 14,218, the largest activity before 2012 since RANM began keeping state-wide figures in 2007.

22 reporting counties showed an increase in sales from 2011 to 2012; 3 showed no change; and 6 reported a decrease in sales.

2012 median prices are up slightly from those reported in 2011.  The 2012 median is $167,500; the 2011 median was $166,500.  The 2012 New Mexico median price is over 10% lower than the 2008 high of $188,000.  Median price indicates half the properties sold for more and half for less.

“The December median of $171,100 was higher than the November 2012 median of $169,697,” according the Cathy Colvin, 2013 RANM President.  “While distressed properties are still a disproportionate share of many markets, this increase in median prices is partly a result of low inventory and indicates market prices are beginning to stabilize.”

Even with the December increase in state-wide median prices, houses remain very affordable.  RANM CEO M. Steven Anaya reports “The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (NAR) predicts 2012 will clearly go down as a record year for favorable housing affordability conditions and a great year for buyers who could get a mortgage.”

The trends and numbers reported are only a snapshot of market activity.  If you are interested in buying or selling, consult a REALTOR familiar with your market area; he/she can provide information on specific trends in your neighborhood.

Statistical information and trends are based on information furnished by New Mexico Member Boards and MLSs to U. S. House Stats.  Current reporting participants are: Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS, Las Cruces Association of REALTORS MLIS, New Mexico Multi-Board MLS (Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis/Portales, Deming, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Sierra County areas), Otero County Board of REALTORS, Roswell Association of REALTORS, Ruidoso/Lincoln County Association of REALTORS, Santa Fe Association of REALTORS, San Juan County Board of REALTORS, Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS, and the Taos County Association of REALTORS. Reports represent single family residential data only.  Information does not necessarily represent all activity in any market/county.  Figures based on reports run 1/16/13.  Visit www.nmrealtor.com (housing trends) for county and board statistics.

This article was submitted by the REALTORS Association of New Mexico is one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 5,800 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market.

The government gives, the government has taken away

Posted on 21. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

Or, do they take and then give? It appears to be a vicious cycle with no beginning or end.

For the last four years, President Obama and his EPA have waged a war on coal. Though they deny it, their regulations have cost thousands of miners their jobs, and hundreds of coal-fueled power plants are scheduled to be closed within the next few years.

On January 7, Georgia Power announced that it will “shut down 15 coal and oil-fired units, cutting nearly one-sixth of its power grid capacity to comply with federal rules aimed at reducing air pollution.” This, the latest in a string of plant-closure announcements, will take away nearly 500 jobs. Over the next five years, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation forecasts closures of plants that currently produce 20 percent of the nation’s coal-fueled generation.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution report cites the closures come “after the utility and parent Southern Co. spent years unsuccessfully fighting the regulations.” The regulatory hit to the coal industry is tough to deny: “Currently, the amount of coal that Georgia Power uses to produce electricity stands at 47 percent, down from 70 percent five years ago.”

The government has taken away.

Despite the assault on coal that has decimated the economy of entire regions, lawmakers voted to subsidize coal through Section 406 of the American Taxpayer Relief Act—known as the “Fiscal Cliff Deal.” The 400 Section of the 157-page bill is for “Energy Tax Extenders” and includes “provisions of the Bill that are relevant to ongoing and future projects in the renewable energy space.”

Within the package, various tax credits are extended—including the Production Tax Credit for wind energy that I’ve fought to end. Other extensions include those for “closed and open-loop biomass facilities, geothermal facilities, landfill gas facilities, trash facilities, qualified hydropower facilities, and qualified marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy facilities.” And then, there are a few lines in Section 406, buried in a group of renewable energy provisions, which extend a tax credit for coal produced on American Indian land.

American coal is bad, but apparently coal from Indian lands is good?

Section 406 “extends,” by one year, an accommodation in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that allows a credit for “Indian coal”—which the bill defines as coal produced from reserves which were owned by an Indian tribe on June 14 2005.

Compared to the amount for renewables, the actual dollar amount going to Indian coal is miniscule in the grand scheme of the Fiscal Cliff Deal—estimated to be about $1 million, The Missoula Independent states that Section 406 currently applies to only three mines in the country, but it is the hypocrisy; the incongruity of it that is so troubling.

One mine that benefits from the tax credit is the Absaloka mine, a 10,427-acre, single-pit surface mine on the Crow Indian reservation in southeastern Montana, operated by Westmoreland Coal Company. The mine employs about 100 tribal members and provides royalties for the Crow Indians.

According to the Independent, “The section 406 tax credit pays Westmoreland an estimated $2.26 per ton of coal extracted at Absaloka. In 2007, the mine produced 7,704,556 tons of coal. In 2010, it produced 5,467,670 tons.” So, in 2010, the US taxpayers gave Westmoreland nearly $12.5 million to mine coal on the Crow Indian Reservation.

The government gives.

Native Americans have long been given some special accommodations—though it does seem that their coal contributes to CO2 as well. While the tax code gives, the EPA has taken away.

The Navajo Nation occupies land in what is known as the Four Corners region—where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado meet. Coal is important to the everyday life of the Navajo. A report on coal’s uncertain future, says the following about coal’s place in the life of the Navajo: “It warms their homes, and provides them with jobs. Recent events threaten both winter warmth and job security for the future.”

Navajo lands include coal mines and coal-fueled power plants that are facing decommissioning and closure due to the EPA’s expensive emission controls. The coal mines support the power plants—if the power plants shut down, quick closure of the mines is expected. All three coal-fueled power plants in the area are facing closure of some or all of their units.

The Navajo Mine has one customer: the Four Corners Power Plant—which has five coal-fueled units—and provides electricity to 300,000 households in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The three older units are scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year, and the plant’s partial shutdown will reduce demand for the mine’s coal by about 30 percent. On January 8, jobs cuts at the mine were announced: “BHP Billiton plans to cut about 100 jobs at Navajo Mine.”

The government has taken away.

Sources tell me, BHP Billiton, the Australian company that operates the mine, has been trying to sell it for several years. Tightening environmental regulations decrease the mine’s potential profitability. With the mine’s sole customer’s partial shutdown, it hasn’t attracted any buyers.

Enter Section 406.

Back in December, BHP Billiton reached an agreement with the Navajo Nation that provided for a 100 percent stock sale of the mine’s assets to a tribally chartered corporation by mid-2013. The regional newspaper reported: “A tribal corporation would have certain tax advantages.” The sale of the Navajo Mine to the Navajo Nation could preserve 800 high-paying jobs at the plant and mine. BHP will continue to run the mine through 2016.

The government gives.

Encouraging resource development and the economic prosperity that comes with it is good for the Navajo Nation, the Crow Tribe, and all Native Americans—but that can happen through an inviting, rather than hostile, regulatory environment.

And, if coal is OK for them, it should be OK for the American Nation. Coal warms our homes and provides good paying jobs for all Americans —whether in the coal mines, coal-fueled power plants, manufacturing that depends on cost-effective energy, energy-intensive high-tech industries, or other fields. Instead of taking away our resources, we should all benefit from the bounty—which includes “winter warmth and job security for the future.”

The government shouldn’t be in the business of giving and taking. That role should be reserved for “the Lord” alone.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


Virginia: Energy Capitol of the East Coast?

Posted on 21. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

With a flood of new federal regulations hitting everything from healthcare, energy, food safety, and bird protection, it is encouraging to know that some states can still think for themselves.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell, while campaigning, declared that he was going to make Virginia the Energy Capitol of the East Coast—after all Virginia is blessed with abundant energy resources such as coal, offshore oil and gas, and one of the largest uranium deposits in the world. His plans have been thwarted by the federal government.

The EPA is trying to regulate coal mining out of existence. Federal restrictions have prevented Virginia from being able to access its offshore oil and gas resources—despite bipartisan support within the state for drilling. However, on Monday, January 7, McDonnell was handed an opportunity to differentiate himself from President Obama—something all upwardly mobile Republicans are going to have to do following the disappointing fiscal cliff deal.

With just one year left in his term, the rising-star Republican governor can still make good on his campaign promise. Under his control is uranium mining in Virginia.

Virginia has maintained a moratorium on uranium mining for more than 30 years. It has never happened in the state—as a result, there are no guidelines or regulations for how to do it. The environmental lobby, that opposes extraction of anything, has been able to keep the moratorium in place by maximizing the fear of the unknown.

While McDonnell didn’t initially come out in favor of uranium mining—instead dodging a decision by having studies done and commissions appointed, he has come to realize that the environmentalists just don’t want any extraction. During at 2012 radio interview he sounded frustrated when he said: “These people don’t want us to even study it.

They’ve made their decision. They’ve made up their mind that they don’t want us to look at it. They don’t want us to study it. They don’t want us to have any mining going on. That’s just ridiculous. What I want to do is just get the facts. I don’t have a decision made. They do. Our job—at the direction of the General Assembly—is to get the facts and to determine ‘can we mine it safely?’”

Well, the facts are in.

The Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Study Subcommittee (made up of legislators and citizens) commissioned two studies—one “quantitative” that reviewed the technical issues which was conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences; and the other “qualitative” that evaluated questions of probable social and economic consequences that was conducted by a private firm: Chmura Associates of Richmond.

With the study results in, public hearings held, and field trips to the Coles Hill uranium deposit and to safe and successful mining operations in Canada, the Commission, on January 7, voted 11-2 to lift the 31-year old moratorium—subject to approval by the General Assembly.

Others such as the Heritage Foundation and the Heartland Institute have weighed in in favor of the Coles Hill project. Jay Lehr, who holds a Ph.D. in groundwater hydrology from the University of Arizona and is editor of the Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia, said the following regarding the January 7 decision:

“It is a great day indeed when a government body listens to science in making decisions that impact a state’s economy in a positive way. That is what occurred today when Virginia officials recommended lifting a long-held moratorium on uranium mining within its boundaries.

Virginia is home to what will likely prove to be one of the world’s largest uranium ore finds and certainly among the largest in the United States. Concern for the environment and public health has held up the development of this resource for many years.

Reports were written, data was acquired, and the clear conclusion was that this resource can be mined to the benefit of the state and the nation with absolutely no hazard to the state’s environment or the health of either the citizens of the state or the mine and mill workers. Strict regulatory programs will be in place on the part of both the federal and state governments to ensure this very positive outcome.

At a time when our nation’s 104 nuclear power plants have been dependent on foreign sources for nuclear fuel, this is an important and positive development for our nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The January 7 hearing included speakers for and against uranium mining in Pittsylvania County—an area formerly known for Tobacco farming. Buddy Mayhew, a retired tobacco farmer and teacher who is a life-long resident of the region where the mining would take place was one of the “pro-mining” presenters.

He said: “Those of us who recall more prosperous days in Southside worry about the lack of economic opportunities in the area. As a former school teacher, I know what that means for our schools and our ability to invest in our future.

Our region continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth as both manufacturing and tobacco abandoned Southside. This is a condition that we cannot simply accept; we must continue to look for opportunities to change it. That is why the prospect of uranium mining deserves every consideration.

The Coles Hill project would mean good paying jobs for many in my community and new business opportunities for businesses already in the region. In addition, the project would attract companies that would come to support the mine and hire even more of our residents.”

(Mayhew spoke on behalf of the People for Economic Prosperity, a grassroots group of more than 1200 farmers and small business owners in southern Virginia who support the mining project.)

Uranium mining in Pittsylvania County could create 1,000 jobs, $5 billion in new revenue for Virginia companies, and $110 million in local and state tax revenue. With the global uranium market surging—430 nuclear power plants worldwide and 65 new reactors under construction (with more planned)—more uranium is being consumed than is being mined. Uranium mining in Virginia will not only help the state, it will also help the U.S. trade deficit.

State Senator John Watkins has already drafted legislation based on suggestions in a report from the Governor’s Work Study Group that would lift the moratorium. Passage of the legislation is the next step.

Because the Commission has moved to lift the moratorium, and the Commission is made up of the legislators many of whom are the key players, the most knowledgeable on energy issues, the commission’s vote is a positive step. Hopefully McDonnell is paying close attention. He said he wanted the commission to speak before he made up his mind. Now that they have spoken, the ball will be in his court.

Watkin’s bill will not allow mining to begin, but it will allow the process of allowing mining to begin. The appropriate agencies would begin to develop regulations that would, ultimately, open the door for companies to apply for mining permits.

At a time when leadership in government is sadly lacking, Governor McDonnell can set himself apart and secure his legacy as a job creator by signing the bill when it comes to his desk. Perhaps Virginia can become the Energy Capitol of the East Coast after all.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

 

 


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