The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

Jul 29, 2010

Business as Usual

John Dantis' desk isn't even cleaned out yet and the county is back to its old tricks again. Our Eyes tell us that County Manager Thaddeus Lucero has decided to create a new six figure Deputy County Manager position for HR Manager Renetta Torres.
From: Thaddeus Lucero
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:09 PM
To: Alan B. Armijo; Art De La Cruz; Maggie Hart Stebbins; Michael Brasher; Michael Wiener
Cc: [Commissioners' Assistants]
As you know, under the current County Management structure there are four departments, IT, Human Resources, Economic Development and PIO, reporting directly to me.  Over the past several months I have been giving thoughtful consideration to the overall structure.   In order to improve and enhance operations I will re-establish a previously existing division-Administrative Services-which will have IT, HR, Economic Development and Public Information under its umbrella.  I will appoint Renetta Torres, current HR Director to be Administrative Services Deputy County Manager.   As I have previously indicated, this will not involve the creation of a new position. 
Note that County Manager Lucero is notifying the commissioner that there "will" be a new Deputy County Manager. And despite Lucero's claims to the contrary, our Eyes tell us that the county has not had a Deputy County Manager of Administrative Services in at least a decade.

We'd argue that "re-establish[ing]" a position that hasn't existed for over a decade is no different than creating a new position. Just like "revenue enhancements" are no different from tax increases. Lucero is creating a new position and he's doing it on his own authority barely taking the time to notify his bosses on the commission before doing so.
Every family member hired by the county was done so with the approval and full knowledge of the County's Human Resources Department where Ms. Torres was the director. Instead of looking into the department's failings, Lucero is giving Ms. Torres a promotion.
[End Sidebar]
John Dantis should be hauling home the final boxes from his office Friday, but the county itself is back to business as usual.

Jul 21, 2010

Dantis Day

If you have any business with the county, you'd best either get it done before next Tuesday or plan on waiting until Wednesday. It seems the county is adding a day to go with the street that's already named for the retiring Deputy County Manager of Public Safety, John Dantis.

This Tuesday, July 27th will be John Dantis Day featuring not one but two parties to celebrate his retirement. All we need now is a proclamation from the governor or perhaps a declaration from the commission.

The first of the soirees starts promptly at 11:30 am and runs to 1:00 pm. Attendees are asked to bring 5 bucks and come in costume.  It's a potluck, but don't worry desert starts at 3:00 pm.

The second of the two soirees is a cake and punch celebration.  Ironically - and perhaps tellingly - this one will be held in the very chambers where the Bernalillo County Commission meets.

Look... John Dantis has undoubtedly has a number of friends that wish him well. However, these two little parties - some of which are clearly on taxpayer time - only serve to underscore the disparity between the powerful and the expendable.

When one's final act is a clear violation of policy and ethics, it's hard for the public to sit by and watch as his retirement is celebrated. Tuesday, July 27th will be Dantis Day - at least at the county. For the rest of us it will be a reminder of everything that's wrong with county leadership.

Jul 19, 2010

Welcome to 1873

by Marita Noon

The World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting is held each year in New Mexico. The event, incorporating a Wild West Jubilee, is a multi-day costume party where participants stay in character while competing in the old west town that has been created in the dust east of Albuquerque. I was there as Cookie Krumm. I even won two awards for my costume and character.

Having had fun there all weekend, it was difficult to go back to the “real world” of problems and politics when it was over. Little did I expect the real world would include visions of miners with picks, pans and mules.

I received an e-mail containing the approval for the “Plan of Operations” for exploration of minerals such as tungsten, copper, silver, lead, and zinc. The Finley Basin Exploration Project is in Montana in the Flint Range Inventoried Roadless Area.

Back in the 70’s Union Carbide had drilled 10 exploration holes on the site “which is rated as having moderate to high mineral potential for the majority of the area.” Now, an Australian company wants to invest in America, bringing outside dollars in and creating jobs by exploring the Finley Claims.

This should be great news with America’s economy in need of jobs and investment—except it really is back to the 1800s.

The Forest Service’s approval granted to Finley Mining states that they will “use a team of mules” and that “hand tools will be used to level the drilling pad and clear rocks, debris and any small shrubs.” Additionally, “all disturbances would be reclaimed using hand tools.”  Can you say 1873?

Reading the Decision Memo, one gets the feeling that the Forest Service would rather not approve the mining proposal, but there are no real grounds not to. While explaining the “rationale” for the decision, the memo states that the company has the “legal right to conduct exploration activities” and that “The role of the Forest Service is to ensure that mining activities minimize adverse environmental effects. Congress has not given the Forest Service authority to unreasonably circumscribe or prohibit reasonably necessary activities under the 1872 General Mining Law that are otherwise lawful.”

Back in the 70’s Union Carbide did the original exploration with bulldozers and other mechanized equipment. But that was before the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was written and implemented in January 2001 by the Clinton administration.

Now to get approval, the plan had to incorporate mules. A Forest Service representative said that using mechanized equipment would have resulted in delays of multiple years as the proposal would have to go through Washington rather than being dealt with on the local level.

Mine operators will “camp” nearby on private property and “pack” into the site each day—walking on foot and using the mules whenever equipment weight requires their assistance. The Decision Memo also mandates that all equipment must be cleaned “prior to entry on the project area” and that they will use “certified weed free hay for the mule stock.” Additionally, they must remove all trash (“such as cans, bottles and other debris”) daily for “disposal in a state-approved landfill.”

How is America supposed to be competitive on a global scale when we are back to the 1800s, mining our natural resources by hand? This is environmentalism carried to an extreme. It doesn’t matter whether we are extracting tungsten, gold or uranium—or even oil or gas, current policies tie the hands of those who want to explore and make new discoveries, who want to create new wealth and provide real jobs for America. They’ve become like the bootleggers—an illicit business that has to be done under the cover of darkness.

If we want to move ahead in America and maintain our status as a world leader with a strong economic foundation we need to change our attitudes and encourage responsible extraction of our resources. Asking that mining be done with a pick and a mule is going beyond “reasonable”—it is punishment.

Modern methods can use equipment and machinery to extract the resource responsibly and then reclaim the land when the mineral is exhausted.

A crusty old miner with his pack mule is part of the charm of the Wild West Jubilee but they are no longer the real world. Today, we need a government that encourages, rather than punishes, those who are willing to take the risk of exploring, those who are willing to bring funds into the American economy and provide real, private sector jobs.

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the nonprofit organization advocating for your right to energy. CARE is working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. Find out more at

Jul 10, 2010

Sarge in Charge

Odd things happen sometimes. Things that leave you scratching your head. Last week Valley Area Commander Rae Mason had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. That's not strange things like this happen and we wish Commander Mason a speedy recover.

What's strange is that despite having four lieutenants available to fill in for the ailing Mason, our Eyes tell us that The 5th Floor chose a junior Sergeant. Until Commander Mason is back on her feet Sergeant Joe Escquibel will be in charge.

So, I'm sure you're wondering... what's wrong with that? No disrespect to Sergeant Escquibel, but sergeants - particularly inexperienced sergeants - could create a few problems should events in the area overtake their ability and experience. One of our Eyes behind the badge was concerned that a Sergeant wouldn't be ready handle situations like an officer involved shooting. Commanders must take charge of the scene and direct how the investigation develops. Any mistake could result in serious legal consequences.

There's another more subtle problem. Until Commander Mason returns Sergeant Escquibel becomes his supervisor's supervisor. Once the Commander returns the sergeant will be supervised once again by a lieutenant that the day before he was supervising. Confusing huh?

Hopefully, Mason's recovery will go quickly and nothing serious will rock the Valley Area Command. But until then, the sarge is in charge.

Jul 8, 2010

Rate Increases - Another Opinion

by Jason Marks

As a PRC Commissioner for the past five years, I take PNM's proposed rate increase very seriously.  Marita Noon's recent commentary on it, not so much.   As a cheerleader for the fossil fuel industry, Noon would clearly like to believe that renewable energy policies (and their proponents such as me) are to blame for large PNM rate increases, but the actual facts say otherwise.

To begin, the 25% increase in PNM's rates thus far since 2007 was not driven by the state's renewable energy requirements.  It was the result of adding more conventional (natural gas) generating plants to the ratebase; converting a lease for a portion of Palo Verde nuclear generation station's output to an ownership interest (short term cost; long term savings); increased  coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuel costs; and other increases to supply costs and operating expenses.     These rate increases were approved in three separate PRC cases.  I voted for the 6% increase to base rates that we granted in May 2008, against the imposition of a fuel clause in June 2008 (9% effective increase), and against the 10% rate increase the PRC approved in May 2009.    I have written in some detail about these cases on

Renewable energy could not -- and did not -- have any material impact in these cases because, through May of 2009, the only substantial renewable resource on PNM's system was their 200 MW wind farm near Fort Sumner, and the price for that power was only $0.0275/kwh.    This price is only slightly more than PNM's average supply cost, and is actually lower than the market price of for new wholesale power from conventional sources.  

Now, PNM is requesting another 22% hike, and again, it is not related to renewable energy.   About half of the rate increase request relates to increased rate recovery for capital investment items.   PNM is asking for an increase in its rate of return on equity capital and also to be able to charge customers for $329 million in capital investments it has not yet made (but plans to make).   This $329 million does not include any renewable energy projects.   Other significant factors PNM mentions in their summary of the rate increase are increased costs for employee benefits and maintenance.  

As mentioned by Noon, there is a case before that could potentially add relatively expensive solar resources to PNM's system.  But, the rate case it filed in June for an average 22% increase does NOT include any of the costs of these potential solar programs and in fact has nothing to do with renewable energy standards.   Don't believe me?  Read PNM's own executive summary at     (By the way, I have been scrutinizing the solar case carefully, and will not be supporting components that can't demonstrate that they are a reasonable "deal.")

PNM ratepayers deserve better than  the partisan hogwash that Marita Noon delivered up regarding the proposed rate increase.  When so many families and businesses are struggling financially and will find it hard to absorb a large electric rate increase, they need to know what the real issues are, and the PRC needs to be looking at these real issues in order to determine a fair outcome.

PNM ratepayers are also entitled to a fair and informed discussion of the costs and benefits of greater use of renewable energy.  The fact is, PRC rules that I drafted, sponsored, and passed do require utilities to do more solar projects, but they also cap the bill impacts for renewable energy activities at 2% - 3%.   I think the benefits of investing in alternative energy supplies are easily worth cost impacts in this range.  Think about it: 3% on our electric bills to invest in our future versus 40% -50% to just support business as usual.    I've written more about renewables, climate change, and the risks of fossil fuel dependency at

----- Editors Note-----  
Yesterday we received the above rebuttal from Commissioner Marks. As you know, we believe in airing all sides to every issue and allowing readers to voice their own opinions. As such, we'll let Ms. Noon and Commissioner Marks air their opinions in their own words.

Understand that we haven't done any serious research on these specific cases, but have never seen government mandates that don't add to the cost of business - usually far more than the government projects (healthcare for example).

PNM is a regulated utility, a state protected monopoly. As such, market forces have very little effect while political forces mean everything. In this political environment and under this administration, PNM would not benefit from making an issue of the cost of "alternative energy" mandates. However, don't believe for a moment that these government mandates aren't reflected in the rates that you pay.

Jul 6, 2010

Get Ready to be Outraged

by Marita Noon

New Mexicans are rallying to fight a rate increase proposed by PNM—the largest electrical system in the state. It would be the third major increase in recent years. Previous increases raised rates for some customers by as much as 24%. A PNM representative told business leaders that this one would be “big.” It is: 21.2%.

New Mexico, a poor state by all indicators, will have to pay almost 50% more in 2011 for their electricity than they did in 2007. We all accept a gradual cost increase for most everything in life, but double in less than five years? David King, chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) calls the rate increase a “hot potato” saying that he’s received “a flood of calls from ratepayers.”

How can this be? In a state like New Mexico, this will leave people freezing in the dark!

While PNM is the easy target, their actions are, at least in part, the result of the people we voted into office—both on the state and the national levels.

In 2009 and the New Mexico State Legislature unanimously passed a bill that upped the percentage of electricity generated by renewables by 2011 from the current mandate of 6% to 10% with 15% by 2015 and 20% by 2020—and renewables cost more. On my current PNM bill I am paying between $.07-.10 a kwh. Yet, if I have solar panels on my roof and produce more solar than I can use, PNM will pay me $.13-.15. So if PNM is paying more for solar power than they are charging me for electricity—they are in trouble.

The PRC is also considering a plan from PNM that would add 80 megawatts of solar to their system to help them meet state-mandated renewable energy standards—for which PNM says they will “defer the costs associated with the renewable resources as regulatory assets on its balance sheet.” So that increase will come at a later time—meaning additional increases!

Third district Congressman Ben Ray Lujan was chairman of the PRC when he, along with Commissioner Jason Marks, pushed hard to get the legislature to increase the percentage of energy that comes from renewables. They really shoulder responsibility for  the increases.

If you are unhappy with a nearly 50% rate increase, get ready to be outraged! More is coming. This time at the hand of New Mexico’s Senator Jeff Bingaman.

As Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, New Mexico’s beloved Senator Domenici was always front and center of the energy debate—pushing for energy. Sadly, he retired and Jeff Bingaman became the Chairman. He has a totally different view and style.

Senator Bingaman has not been getting a lot of face time in the 24-hour news cycle, but he has been quietly working behind the scenes to make energy more expensive. He has a bill that has already passed the Natural Resources Committee markup that would increase renewable electricity and is now writing a power-plant only carbon cap bill.

Following the Tuesday energy meeting at the White House, President Obama and Senator Kerry indicated that it wasn’t really about CO2 as they are willing to shelve their carbon trading scheme, but as Obama said, he wants a bill that will “raise the cost of burning oil and coal.” Senator Kerry suggested limiting carbon emission on electric utilities—which will require expensive carbon sequestration equipment and/or more renewables. As we have seen first-hand in New Mexico, these increased costs will be passed on to the ratepayer.

It hasn’t worked out well here in this poor state, but our “energy” Senator is working to put the entire country through the same thing. He has drafted legislation to limit emissions from the electric power sector. Unless Americans want to be freezing in the dark, each and every person had better make their voice heard. Wake-up and learn a lesson from New Mexico. Do not let our Senator double your energy bills!

There is never a good time to intentionally raise the cost of the single item that is central to everything that makes America uniquely American—and now, with an economy teetering on the brink of disaster, is the worst possible time. Any Senator, any Congressman, any state legislator, who votes to raise energy costs is simply unAmerican. He or she doesn’t deserve our vote.

I’m outraged. Are you?

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the New Mexico nonprofit organization advocating for citizens’ right to energy that is abundant, available, and affordable. CARE works on energy issues state, region, and nation wide. Find out more at

----- Correction -----
We were contacted by the author regarding an error in the above post. Originally Ms. Noon indicated that New Mexicans would pay almost "double in 2011." Actually, New Mexicans will pay almost 50% more in 2011 than they did in 2007. The post has been corrected above.

Jul 3, 2010

Independence Day

Last year we wrote a post entitled "Independence." It talks about what independence really means. Many of the threats to our independence have come to pass since publishing this post only a year ago. With the Healthcare bill whose first encroachments took effect July 1 of this year and Cap and Tax lurking in the halls of Congress, remember this Independence Day that our nation was built on self-reliance and achievement. Today's dependence on government threatens to crush the very foundation upon which our nation was built.

July 3rd, 2009

233 years ago a group of farmers, lawyers, plantation owners, doctors, and businessmen risked their fortunes and their lives in order to dissolve the ties that bound them to a tyrant. Theirs was a quest for freedom - for liberty - and it started with a declaration of their independence.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them...
These men well understood what independence was. They knew that they were facing one of the world's superpowers both on land and at sea. While they had hopes of forging alliances, there were no guarantees, no one to save them should they falter nothing but their own resolve and courage.
The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one's own affairs without interference.
These brave souls were renouncing a secure future in favor of freedom. They found freedom more appealing than tyranny and freedom cannot exist without independence.

It's not surprising really. People that came to the American Colonies at the time were independent by nature. They chose to leave the "civilized" countries of Europe, to risk it all in a land that was largely unexplored and under populated. A land where simple survival was often a daunting task. A land ill-suited to the faint of heart, but a land whose distance from Europe made it largely possible for one to chose their own destiny.

That was until the Old World started to exert its authority over the New in order to control its wealth. The colonials of the time got little from the English government, yet much was taken. For that reason and many others they severed their ties to a government and king who were becoming more and more tyrannical.

Ultimately, the English colonies in America won their freedom and formed the United States of America. Since that time, our spirit of self-reliance and our collective determination to succeed has made us the greatest nation in history. But it all started with independence from Great Britain.

Independence. Independence is more than simple freedom. It's the freedom to chose, freedom to succeed, and freedom to fail all wrapped up in one word. It means that you're responsible for every choice, every mistake, every victory.

Independence is the bedrock upon which our country was built and it is fitting that its declaration was the first step toward a new country built upon that very principle.

Unfortunately, independence itself is under assault. Its opponents would create a system of laws purported to achieve some elusive yet admirable goal - the effect of which is to create dependence on an outside party.

Whether it's global warming (or the absurd and cynical label of "climate change"), or health care, or the economy, the solutions proposed by the enemies of independence always create dependence on government. Dependence destroys freedom as no one can be truly free when they are dependent upon another.

There's little doubt that we live in a great country. But we wonder how long our freedoms will endure when dependence is not only being encouraged but forced upon the public. Independence built this country. Its demise will surely be its downfall.

This Independence Day, consider those things that you depend on and whether or not you have a choice. If you cannot chose to be independent you are not truly free.


By the way, if you haven't taken the time to read the Declaration of Independence, perhaps this weekend is a good time to take a few minutes to do so. While you're at it, you might want to take a gander at the United States Constitution (particularly if you happen to be a candidate for office or an elected official). Think of it as a small price to pay for the endangered independence that you enjoy... for now.