One month of Trump’s R&R cost taxpayers more than a year of Obama
❝ New Mexico’s Senator Tom Udall just introduced an important bill with a funny name: the MAR-A-LAGO Act, or the, Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act.
❝ Mar-A-Lago is President Trump’s self-described “Winter White House,” and it’s been the focus of a lot of attention since Trump took office. His weekly trips cost taxpayers $3 million each weekend he attends and he’s not just going alone. Trump infamously held an open air situation room meeting in front of his club members and the press as he monitored a North Korea missile test while dining on the patio…
So…Sen. Tom Udall, along with other members of Congress, introduced the well-named MAR-A-LAGO Act to require Trump’s White House to disclose who is meeting with Trump behind the closed doors of Trump’s secretive Winter White House.
❝ “It’s simple: the American people have a right to know who has access to the president and who has leverage over this administration,” said Udall.
No doubt True Believers in Trumpism will maintain their habit of ignorance, following every statement, every order as direction from a primitive god. The rest of us – the majority of those who voted, the majority of the whole nation IMHO, want to know what is going on? Especially since we’re picking up the tab.
Always heartwarming to see our state talents recognized.
Do Not Resist
Nov 19 to Nov 20
Saturday and Sunday 1pm
Dir. Craig Atkinson – 2016 – 72m – No Matinees
SPECIAL THANKS TO THE ALBUQUERQUE CENTER FOR PEACE & JUSTICE AND BURQUE MEDIA PRODUCTIONS! ADVANCE TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW WITH THEM!
SPECIAL PANEL DISCUSSION ON SUNDAY NOVEMBER 20 TO FOLLOW SCREENING WITH ADRIANN BARBOA (APD FORWARD), SAMSON COSTALES (FORMER POLICE OFFICER), ARTHUR BELL (BROTHER WAS KILLED BY THE S.W.A.T. TEAM ), JAVIER BENAVIDEZ (SOUTHWEST ORGANIZING PROJECT) Dr. FINNIE COLEMAN, DIRECTOR OF AMERICAN LITERARY STUDIES, UNM DEPT. OF ENGLISH PLUS OTHERS T.B.A.
Thanks, Michelle Meaders
❝ Hispanic voters were largely credited with President Obama’s victory in 2012, but they weren’t as crucial as many believed. Mr. Obama didn’t even need to win the Hispanic vote to put him over the top, thanks to high black turnout and support among white voters in the North. The turnout among Hispanic voters didn’t surge, even though exit polls implied that it had.
This year, Hispanic voters, perhaps motivated by Donald J. Trump’s policy proposals (including deportation) and harsh language aimed at undocumented Hispanic immigrants, really might decide this election.
❝ Early voting data unequivocally indicates that Hillary Clinton will benefit from a long awaited surge in Hispanic turnout, vastly exceeding the Hispanic turnout from four years ago.
It’s too soon to say whether it will be decisive for her. The geographic distribution of Hispanic voters means that many of her gains will help her in noncompetitive states like Texas and California, not Michigan and Pennsylvania.
But the surge is real, and it’s big. It could be enough to overcome Mr. Trump’s strength among white-working class voters in the swing states of Florida and Nevada. If it does, it will almost certainly win her the election…
Lots of details for electoral politics wonks. When you live in a state where Hispanic ethnicity wavers forth-and-back over the 50% boundary you accept that issue-specific voting takes place. That’s fine. Here in northern New Mexico at least the memory of days when Democrats had the backbone for class warfare still counts at election time.
So does voter turnout. Not so unusual to see 50% turnout in primaries. At least Democrat primaries, here. Presidential elections often turn out 60-70% of registered voters. Better than average US numbers.
Jeremy Danielson is a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee who was on his way to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11, to present a mock-up of some sort of technical apparatus at a Department of Energy conference.
He never got past the security checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport and his final destination for the day was the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Airport officials shut down the Sunport for hours and Danielson was carted off to jail by police, who apparently believed the device was a fake bomb.
Danielson, 40, is now facing a fourth-degree felony of having a facsimile or hoax bomb or explosive, according to court records. He has no criminal history and Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed he was an employee traveling on business.
His attorney, Dan Cron, said Danielson, who has a Ph.D., knew the Transportation Security Administration is sometimes concerned by the mock-ups, so as he was putting his carry-on bag on the conveyor belt, he told TSA workers that they would need to look at it…
Cron said Danielson has taken technical mock-ups on business trips in the past.
TSA said, blah, blah, blah.
Sunport said blah, blah, blah.
Albuquerque police said blah, blah, blah.
A spokesman for the FBI, which is helping in the investigation, said it is ongoing and wouldn’t comment further.
A LANL newsletter says Danielson was part of a “radiography source development team” that won a 2014 Defense Department award of excellence. He also is listed as an author of various research papers and a participant in scientific conferences.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Since the advent of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, I fly nowhere. I will only visit any place I can get to in my 22-year-old pickup truck.
❝ Here’s something all of divided America should be able to agree on: Smart infrastructure investment works. For evidence, look at Colorado, where elected officials of both parties trace an economic boom to a decision 27 years ago to spend more than $2 billion on a new Denver airport.
❝ The Denver International Airport was the brainchild of Federico Pena, who was elected mayor in 1983 and who would become the Secretary of the Transportation and Energy departments in the Clinton administration. It was assailed as a boondoggle by some local businessmen in a campaign led by Roger Ailes, then a Republican media consultant and later the impresario of Fox News.
❝ The airport was financed by revenue bonds, which proved to be among the best performers in the market for state and local government debt. Today it is the linchpin of Colorado’s transition to a global 21st-century economy flush with high-paying jobs and enhanced by daily nonstop flights to Asia, Central America and Europe.
Colorado has many economic advantages, from shale to ski resorts and beyond, but state officials say the new airport was the catalyst needed to set off the boom. “It’s foundational,” Governor John W. Hickenlooper said in an interview last month in his statehouse office. “I mean we look at infrastructure” as the central element “to build our new economy around.”
❝ The airport’s…annual economic impact today exceeds $26 billion, more than eight times [the old airport] Stapleton’s in 1984…It has generated more than 270,000 jobs, almost twice the comparable figure for Stapleton 32 years ago, and $295 million in concession gross revenue, compared to $45 million for Stapleton in 1994…Passenger traffic was a record 27.5 million for the six months through June, up 6.8 percent from 2015. Stapleton had 33.1 million passengers in all of 1994…
❝ Colorado’s economy, meanwhile, is leaving behind its reliance on mining and energy. Since 2012, the accommodations and food services industry grew 22.5 percent, faster than in any other state except Texas and California, according to Bloomberg data. Health care and social assistance companies expanded 17.4 percent, the most for any state. Wholesale trade grew 17.7 percent, the fourth best in the U.S. since 2014, and finance and insurance grew 7.4 percent, bettered only by Utah and Nevada. Today, material and energy make up less than 30 percent of the total market capitalization of Colorado’s publicly traded companies, down from 53 percent in 2010.
And that’s the killer for me. Living in New Mexico, everything that was backwards about Colorado in the 1980’s is still alive and well in New Mexico. Our Republican governor has only one response to a budget defined by oil and gas production in a downturn. Austerity, cut the budget for everything from education to social welfare. Infrastructure upgrades started by the previous Democrat governor are still incomplete – mostly because she hates to admit a Democrat did something useful.
And I’m not confident the likely return to a majority Democrat state legislature is going to change our reliance on extractive industries and military subsidies.
Denver Post file photo
❝ Battles over electricity rates and rooftop solar have raged across the country, with at least 28 utilities in 18 states attempting to boost customer charges and change the rules of the game. But in Colorado a settlement reached last month could offer a model for the nation…
How Xcel’s new approach will play out is still not clear. Some pilot programs will need to test the new model, but it appears the settlement is good news for Colorado’s investment in renewable energy, particularly for solar. However, while the settlement deals with rates and renewable energy, it will also be dependent on another Xcel initiative to upgrade its grid and to install 21st century meters in homes at a cost to customers of $500 million.
These moves are part of Xcel’s efforts to chart a path through an environment in which the utility industry faces greater technological change and financial uncertainty than it has in more than a century. Given the popular appetite for renewable sources, such infrastructure upgrades appear well-suited to that mission, so we look forward to seeing what the pilot programs tell us, and obviously hope the findings suggest a way to keep rates low for hard-working families.
❝ The settlement lays to rest the battle over rooftop solar and net metering, the credit that owners of solar arrays get for putting kilowatt-hours on the grid. Xcel had sought to pare the credit, but under this agreement, net metering stands and Xcel has made a commitment to expand rooftop installations and shared community solar gardens. Both the solar industry and advocates understandably see this as a victory.
Xcel also agreed to abandon an attempt to add an extra fixed charge to every bill and focused instead on pilot programs that charge users according to when or how they use energy throughout the day. Critics of the plan noted that a fixed charge provided little incentive for conservation, and tying price to use tends to make sense — at least for those who work the day shift.
❝ Xcel says that the average household will see about a $1.70 drop in their monthly bill for now. But down the road, time-of-use rates that are anticipated to supplant the current rates could lead to big changes.
Time-of-use rates in theory allow for better management of the electricity system and the ability to avoid building excess generating capacity. There is, however, little experience nationally with residential time-of-use charges. Before the PUC approves a wholesale rate change, a careful assessment of the impacts and unintended consequences must be made.
Time-of-use rates fit nicely into the concept of smart homes. And doesn’t require pain-in-the-butt rewiring in the age of wifi. Secure systems? Yes.
Xcel has a reputation for being more forward-thinking and modern than their peers in the Rockies and the Southwest. Compared to our so-called public utility here in New Mexico, they are a combination of Buck Rogers and Bernie Sanders. Do they deserve the credit? Damned if I know. PNM is my only choice at the moment.
What can I look forward to from the new standards set? Dunno. In New Mexico we still rely on a state commission to negotiate with public utilities. Generally from a kneeling position. Oversight provided by the Roundhouse – our state legislature which has at least a half-dozen principled, knowledgeable members out of a much larger number of drones divided into the usual two factions of the same old uninspiring anthill.
Poisonally, I’m counting on continued technological advancement in both solar panels and batteries to allow us to switch affordably into solar and off the grid entirely. Sooner or later.
❝ Five state employees testified in federal court Thursday that New Mexico Human Services Department officials falsified income information on emergency applications for people seeking welfare benefits, resulting in wrongly denied food assistance to the poorest citizens in the state.
❝ At a daylong hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza that stretched into the evening, the state workers said they sometimes entered false asset information on emergency requests for food assistance as a part of a state policy created just as Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration came under federal scrutiny for its high rates of denying emergency requests for aid.
❝ The New Mexico Human Services Department is required to fulfill emergency food requests within seven days of receiving an application for such assistance. Yet the employees, testifying under oath, said they sometimes altered the requests to reflect that those applying for the assistance had up to $400 in assets that did not exist, leading to the applications being denied or delayed…
❝ Margaret Vasquez-Padilla, a family assistance analyst with the Human Services Department who processes applications for benefits, said her superiors changed her case notes on an application for emergency food assistance by putting down that the applicant had $400.
“This has happened before,” she said when asked why she had copied her original case notes. “I needed to keep copies for myself to make sure I was not implicated.”
She and other employees said management with the department’s Income Support Division pressured them in April 2015 to make sure the state’s data on emergency food requests did not reflect that the department was failing to fulfill the requests within seven days.
The employees called themselves whistleblowers, saying they fear retaliation for speaking out about the practice.
Governor Susana Martinez is the delight of Establishment Republicans who want to run her as Vice-Presidential candidate alongside the Trumpet. Presumably to prove the GOP doesn’t wage war on Hispanics, women, who make up a significant portion of New Mexico’s poor.
In practice, her War on the Poor is all-inclusive. Republican class warfare doesn’t need much specialization. Political opportunism just naturally lends itself to discrimination.