New Mexico Supreme Court Clears Way to Recall Couy Griffin

Today the New Mexico Supreme Court Ruled that the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin may proceed with the recall per the attached…

An effort to recall the founder of Cowboys for Trump from his public office as a county commissioner can move forward under an order of the New Mexico state Supreme Court.

In a written order Monday, the Supreme Court rebuffed an appeal from Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin and upheld a lower court ruling that said voters can circulate a recall petition. A successful petition would trigger an election vote on whether Griffin can finish his four-year term in office.

Retired military veteran Paul Sanchez and other members of the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin are accusing Griffin of using his elected county position for personal gain and a variety of other charges.

They say Griffin used his office space to solicit contributions to Cowboys for Trump that covered his personal expenses. They also are criticizing Griffin’s pursuit of travel reimbursements from taxpayers for a cross-country trip that culminated in a visit with Trump at the White House.

Griffin has called those allegations frivolous, baseless and politically motivated per his many public rebuttals. Griffin says that the Cowboys for Trump is a for-profit endeavor and as such that is not subject to financial disclosure requirements for political organizations. The state of New Mexico ruled against this assertion affirming that Secretary of State may go after him and the organization for failure to comply with New Mexico political reporting laws.

The losses continue for Griffin… 

Separately, Griffin is defending himself against criminal charges in connection with the siege on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.  Couy Griffin spent nearly three weeks in a Washington jail, after a judge released him and said she will trust Griffin to show up for trial in connection with the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell reversed a magistrate judge’s prior detention order that described Griffin as a flight risk. Griffin denies federal charges that he knowingly entering barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds with the intent to disrupt government as Congress considered Electoral College results even though there are photos from his own official photographer that the prosecution is basing their case on that shows otherwise.

Griffins luck continues to be bad in related to cases pending against him as witnessed by the KOB Channel 4 story showing him climbing a barricade to gain access to a restricted area of the nations capital.

The status of the initial lawsuit  regarding the recall succeeded with District Judge Arrieta in proving probable cause for all 5 allegations the committee asserted. The judge he gave the committee permission to begin collecting signatures toward having a recall election. 

However, as Commissioner Griffin exercised his right to a single appeal under the New Mexico Recall Act and appealed the case to the NM Supreme Court (NMSC), until today they were waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on Griffins appeal. 

The committee could NOT collect any signatures until the NMSC rules. 

Commissioner Griffin filed that appeal within his appropriate time limit on 18 Apr, ’21.  The Recall Act required the district court that the case was filed in to hear the case within 14 days of when the committee initially filed. 

It was actually 28 days from filing to the hearing. Then from when the judge issued the ruling in favor of the Recall Committee, Commissioner Griffin had 5 days to file an appeal. 

Commissioner Griffin actually got 11 days to file his appeal. He filed on the last day with the New Mexico Supreme Court. 

The Recall Act says that the NMSC must hear the case and rule on it “forthwith”. 

Because of the way that Judge Arrieta correctly wrote his ruling, because Commissioner Griffin did file an appeal, the committee was prohibited from even collecting signatures until today’s ruling which upheld the recall initiative. 

Paul Sanchez is the Chairman & Spokesperson for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin

The committee information can be found on their Facebook Page at:

https://www.facebook.com/RecallCouy

They are fundraising per the committee webpage at

https://donorbox.org/committee-to-recall-couy-griffin

As it stands now it is not the courts but the voters that will decide if Griffin represents their best interests? The question for his district is the district better off now under his leadership on the commission that it was without him? What has his record been on lowering district poverty, bringing in livable wage jobs, improving education and securing state and federal money to enhance opportunities via grants and support to his district? The voters will decide!

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Oil and Gas Industry Funding of New Mexico Politics, Follow the Money…

What is reason big oil contributes so much to New Mexico and to the southern Congressional District? 

14 Congressional Districts produced roughly 80% of onshore U.S. oil and this district inclusive of Otero county is one of those mighty 14 districts.

New Mexico following a 19th Century Budget process of 21st Century needs…

New Mexico for the long term must look at revenue options to wean itself off oil and gas tax revenues but that is an uphill battle. Republican and Democratic leadership of the state has allowed oil and gas to fund such a large portion of government operations that they are fearful to tackle the industry too much as to disrupt the tax revenues the state has become overly reliant on. Over the years, the state’s budget has become increasingly reliant on oil and gas funds. In the 2020 fiscal year, that share was about $2.6 billion — just over a third of the state’s general fund. Since 2006, the state has used oil and gas revenue for at least 28 percent of its budget and sometimes as much as 37 percent.

New Mexico is following a 19th century tax and business model for 21st Century business and public needs. In the end this is a recipe for failure for failing to adapt the model of income generation for the state. New Mexico’s dependence on natural resources has been a feature of the tax structure since statehood in 1912. As decades passed, the resources being pulled from New Mexican earth changed what was once coal, then became uranium, then natural gas and shale oil but the economic model never changed with them times. Basically, the state is running with the same tax model as it did from 1912 but is facing 21st Century needs.

But how did the state become so reliant upon oil and gas money to fund its budgets? First the history as seen above then big money influence. All one must do is to just follow the money paid to political campaigns. Where political contributions go, so goes public policy, it would seem.

Oil and Gas industry money was the largest source of state campaign contributions in 2020, according to an analysis from New Mexico Ethics Watch.

Per New Mexico’s Ethics Watch Report Titled The Continuing Influence of the Oil and Gas Industry in New Mexico in 2020: New Mexico’s Long-Standing Resource Curse…

“In spite of Covid-19 and a state wide shutdown…money from oil and gas interests to New Mexico politicians and political organizations continued to flow, with almost $3.3 million from the industry going to political causes during this past election cycle.”

Between 2017 and 2020 the old and gas industry contributed $11.5 Million to politics in the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico Ethics Watch has documented and researched 98 corporations, 262 individuals, 23 associations, 11 PACs, and almost 100 lobbyists active in New Mexico political campaign fundraising from 2017-2020.

Oil and Gas Political Spending 2017 to 2020

$4.3 MILLION – DIRECT CONTRIBUTIONS
$3.75 MILLION – LOBBYIST CONTRIBUTIONS
$3.4 MILLION – PAC SPENDING
APPROXIMATELY $11.5 MILLION TOTAL

Oil and Gas CONTRIBUTORS to new Mexico Political Circles

98 CORPORATIONS
262 INDIVIDUALS
23 ASSOCIATIONS
11 PACs
~100 ACTIVE LOBBYISTS

A detailed report on campaign money from the oil industry can be found at https://www.nmethicswatch.org/uploads/1/3/6/2/136215453/oil-and-gas-report_05012020.pdf

As was the case in the previous election cycle, the California-based Chevron corporation overwhelming was the top source of political money for New Mexico politicians in 2020, spending almost $1.8 million last year. Chevron lobbyists alone gave $700,000 during the primary to a PAC called “New Mexico Strong,” which, despite its name, is based in Texas.

Have you ever wondered why our member of congress spends so much time in Texas? Follow the money. Over 70 percent of the oil and gas contributions to politicians last year came from out-of-state companies, individuals and committees.

Top 20 Oil & Gas Contributors, 2020 Amount

1 Chevron $1,786,198.90

2 Jalapeno Corporation $142,462.00

3 Exxon Mobil Corporation $117,550.00

4 Strata Production Company $106,500.00

5 Devon Energy $102,500.00

6 Marathon Oil Company $83,500.00

7 Occidental Petroleum Corporation $76,162.50

8 PNM $61,918.18

9 Concho Resources, Inc. $59,350.00

10 Bowlin Travel Centers $57,975.00

11 John Yates $53,500.00

12 John A. Yates Sr Trust $50,000.00

13 Peyton Yates $47,500.00

14 NGL Water Solutions Permian LLC $47,000.00

15 New Mexico Gas Company $45,750.00

16 Process Equipment and Service Co $45,181.50

17 Conoco Phillips $44,500.00

18 Marathon Petroleum Corp. $40,750.00

19 Charlotte Yates $40,000.00

20 Petro-Yates, Inc. $37,000.00

With a few notable exceptions, the top contributors list is composed of corporations. There’s a reason for that. New Mexico law, unlike federal law, allows for direct contributions to candidates by corporations, associations, PACs and individuals

Grouping the oil and gas industry political contribution numbers by election cycles, we see the following amounts:

• 2015/2016: $1,697,488

• 2017/2018: $3,101,581

• 2019/2020: $3,082,830

The California-based Chevron USA is one of the best-known oil companies in the world. It’s also one of the top oil producers in New Mexico, currently holding more than 1,600 active drill permits, some that have been in use since the 1930s, according to data from the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The company also led the oil and gas sector in terms of political spending in the 2020 election cycle, just as it did two years earlier. In 2020, Chevron reported contributing $1,761,198.90 to candidates and political committees in New Mexico. Last year’s Chevron contributions came during a time in which the corporation was losing money – more than $11 billion in new income loss during the 12-month period ending in September 2020.

The top recipient of Chevron’s contributions in New Mexico last year was the political action committee New Mexico Strong, which received a total of $700,000 during the primary from the oil giant. The PAC used the money to produce ads, mailers, and other services for six conservative incumbent Democratic senators facing challenges from more liberal primary opponents. Four of those incumbents lost their primaries.

Chevron also contributed to several leadership PACs in New Mexico in the 2020 election. The company gave Republican PACs $94,300, with PAC 22, (the Senate GOP PAC) getting $50,000 and the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee receiving $44,300. But Chevron did not completely leave out Democrats during last year’s election. Chevron contributed $44,300 to the Brian Egolf Speaker PAC, $25,000 to the New Mexico Senate Democrats, $5,000 to the Senate Majority Leader PAC and $10,000 to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s MLG PAC. (The governor was not up for re-election last year.) The company also contributed to dozens of individual candidates in 2020. Chevron contributed $245,300 to Republican candidates and $108,800 to Democrats.

What is all of this money buying?

The industry’s reach stretches beyond campaign donations. Its power led to the demise of a bill that would’ve outlawed spills of produced water, a toxic byproduct of oil and gas drilling. In committee where the measure died, Cervantes blocked public comment on the measure but did give fossil fuel lobbyists a chance to explain why they opposed it, according to the New Mexico Political Report.

Oil and gas industry leaders have also been intimately involved in shaping the policies meant to regulate it – and even boasts about the number of edits it secures to new rules.

In a February presentation, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association told its board it had secured significant changes to a proposed rule for limiting methane pollution. The state accepted more than 70 of the trade group’s redline edits, NMOGA said, according to records obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute.

The “process has been fruitful,” the group announced.

Among the fruits of NMOGA’s nearly $1 million influence campaign was greater leniency on “emergency” exceptions for venting and flaring – referring to the releasing or burning off of excess methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The Future?

With the oil and gas industry providing such a big portion of state government revenues – not to mention providing employment for so many in southeastern and northwestern New Mexico – nobody is predicting the end of fossil fuel production in this state any time in the near future nor should we.

However, what is advocated is that we as citizens need to be wary of where the big money is going. We need to hold our candidates accountable for our wishes not just the wishes of big money contributors. We need to hold candidates accountable to be in their districts in New Mexico and ensure they are representing small business and local interests not just those of big business which is donating millions of dollars to their campaigns. As citizens we need to stay active and vocal and ensure our voice does not get lost in the fray to big money and big corporate political interests.

Attend city commission and county commission meetings, attend congressional and senatorial open houses. The Governor does not make most policy it is made locally and via the legislature. Know what each level of government is up to and hold representatives accountable to represent us, “we the people.”

Alamogordo Town News Investigates: Why do homeowners have to pay for repairs to sewer connections that are in the city street and not the city?

Dear Mayor Richard Boss and Susan Payne District 3 City Commissioner and member of the Commission,

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/31293/alamogordo-town-news-investigates-why-do-homeowners-have-pay-repairs-sewer

We are writing this letter as one of several concerned citizens who have experienced damage to their water or sewer pipes or foundation damage as a result of actions by the City of Alamogordo and the contractors working on the McKinley Channel Project. The City of Alamogordo Department of Public Works has notified homeowners that they must repair the damaged sewer pipes connecting into their homes but that are in the public street beyond the sidewalk due to street damage that was caused by the McKinley Channel Project large equipment mismanagement under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Alamogordo.

Throughout the project over the last several months the streets adjacent to the project and homes adjacent to the project have suffered damages due to the rumblings, shaking and use of the heavy equipment used for this project.

While the citizens of the streets of Juniper and McKinley are appreciative, that after so many years, the city finally found funding for this important Channel Project. However, that project that benefits the city in whole, should not be done at the peril of the residence of Juniper and McKinley Avenues without consequences.

Several homeowners had complained to no avail until the last 2 weeks about the heavy equipment damaging the foundations of the homes when the equipment was running along the McKinley alley way. Primarily the weight of the industrial size earth dump truck. When driving along the ditch its vibrations were significant enough to cause considerable cracking to the foundations of multiple homes. See photo below as example 1 of damages caused by use of equipment from this project.

Under the stress of normal circumstances with natural earth vibrations one would agree with that thinking however this is not normal circumstances. The streets of Juniper and McKinley have been bombarded with extreme vibrations by heavy industrial grade earth moving equipment for months and these continued vibrations have caused unwarranted extra stress on these properties resulting in damages that the homeowners are having to cover and insurance refuses to cover.

The heavy dirt dump trucks were going up and down Juniper Drive and causing significant damage to that street. A local plumber reported multiple homes on that street had called him out for street repairs to their plumbing connections that all began during the time the dump trucks were driving up and down Juniper and the homeowners were forced by the city to pay for the repairs as the damage was on the streets at the connection points to the sewers and water mains. When asked why they must pay for damages of which they did not create they were told it was city code by city personnel.

City personnel also reported that they, “don’t believe the homeowner should be responsible once the line is in the street or sidewalk which is public domain but that their hands were tied. They claimed they have reported the issue many times to department heads and the commissioners, and they were told the code is the code and the person is liable.” What is most alarming is that not only did the residents NOT create this issue, but they were also forced to absorb the expense and Alamogordo is one of few cities in the state of New Mexico that forces homeowners to pay for damage to piping and connections from the sidewalk to the street, why?

A city worker also reported that, “the city is aware of the issue and the contractor and FEMA was actually compensating the city to repair the pavement that has been cracked and destroyed on Juniper Drive as a result of this heavy equipment. So here we have a real concern that raises a question of corrupt intent? The city is aware of the issue but has kept it quiet in admitting that the issue exists. The city forced homeowners on Juniper do conduct repairs to piping and infrastructure on public lands, yet the city was paid off or is in the process of being paid off for damages on Juniper. Is the city then going to reimburse those homeowners for “out of pocket expenses” or has the city enriched itself with this “payoff” and not reimbursed the homeowners? The homeowners who are out of pocket deserve answers.

NOW COMES MCKINLEY AVENUE, the giant earth moving dump trucks have been driving up and down McKinley for the past month and guess what? McKinley Avenue is now cracking even after being newly paved just 2 years ago…

The typical residential road in a small town of less than 50,000 residence costs on average $1.5 Million per mile to properly pave and that residential road should have a life of 30 years.  McKinley Avenue was repaved just 2 years ago and should not be seeing the cracking that is now showing up. That cracking was however a direct result of heavy equipment from the McKinley Channel Project.

Per the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning, University of California at Berkeley there are specific weight limits in place for what a typical residential road can handle verses a main through fare and a US interstate. Obviously the later has heavy weight limits and most residential roads are not designed for repeated use by heavy machinery such as the industrial dump trucks carrying dirt for the McKinley Channel Project. In a nutshell, McKinley or Juniper were not designed for the month of heavy industrial traffic that has been going up and down the roads. As such the vibrations and weight has cracked the roads and has cracked the sewer pipes and water pipes in the roads going into the homes.

The construction company admitted as such these past few weeks to some homeowners and then came in and fixed the issue at their expense not the homeowner on 5 damaged residences this past week. While we are happy, they did, the question remains what happens to those homeowners where the issue may not be immediately apparent, and the issue pops up over the next year as a result of the recent damage? The construction company said when they are gone, they will no longer accept responsibility.

Photos of damage and recent repairs during May on McKinley Avenue.

In any other city in New Mexico, the city would assume responsibility as the connector to the sewer city is beyond the sidewalk in the street and in most cities in New Mexico the city assumes responsibility for those connections. The City of Alamogordo’s Public Works Department however notified several residences that the city is NOT responsible, and that the homeowner is responsible no matter where the connection to the sewer lies rather in middle of the road or nearer the homeowner’s property line. When the insurance companies were contacted several said they will NEVER pay a claim that is at the sidewalk to the street and that the city should be responsible and city code is contrary to that of almost every other city in the state.

In reviewing the city code for Alamogordo, it says the homeowner is responsible for repairs to the connection period and that liens are placed on homeowners’ properties for damages fixed by the city and not paid by the homeowner. So, in a nutshell, the city may allow damage and large oversized vehicles to trapse a residential road, that road may be damaged, and the damage may also happen to the homeowners piping and lead to their foundation. The city claims no responsibility and lands it with the homeowner. The city says the average fee is around $2,000.00 for these types of repairs that go into the sidewalk and city street. Alamogordo is the only known city that forces homeowners to absorb the cost of repairs that are beyond the homeowner’s property line into the sidewalk and street.

We propose this ordinance needs to be changed to be consistent with every other major city in the state of New Mexico or the city needs to reach an agreement with all the various homeowners insurance companies and pass an ordinance that makes them liable to cover such damage as they would if it were within the bounds of the property line of the home or business owner. The existing ordinance on the books is punitive and unjustifiably passes an unwarranted burden onto the property owner to fix and repair piping that is in the city domain.  As citizens we request the city to modify the city ordinance to be consistent with that of other cities in New Mexico immediately. The ordinance as written raises questions of constitutionality and property rights questions. By way of this letter and public statement we are requesting the city to place this letter into the public record in the public comments of the next city council meeting. Further we are requesting that this item be placed on the docket for review and discussion and finally request a vote be taken within 90 days on modifying the ordinance so that it is consistent with every other major city in New Mexico and that the city assume responsibility for all pipes, and connections outside of the property line of the homeowner or business owner meaning past the sidewalk and into the city street.

Concern Citizens of McKinely and Juniper Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/31293/alamogordo-town-news-investigates-why-do-homeowners-have-pay-repairs-sewer

Commentary by Author Chris Edwards – Rush Limbaugh’s Legacy of Hate-“AIDS Update”

Note below is a political commentary that may not be popular to some. As a matter of societal decency we general stay away from talking ill of the dead. But this exception is very personal to this author and political consultant thus the commentary are the exclusive thoughts of Author Chris Edwards and do not reflect the thoughts or ideas of any client, business or other associated person.

I’ll add some perspective to this commentary as it has offended some…

Many of us who lost hundreds of friends and business associates, creative souls in the arts, on Broadway via the movies, health care workers and others through the AIDS crises remember, vividly, his radio shows and gleeful daily regurgitation at the misery the LBGTQ & community of color was suffering at the height if the AIDS pandemic. He used to read the names of individuals that died of AIDS and blow celebratory whistles. 

You can fact check me as I post commentary that is based on facts. Iowa’s Cedar Gazette reported in 1990 that Limbaugh’s “AIDS Update,” a recurring segment in which he made jokes about a disease that had killed more than 100,000 people in the United States the previous decade, started by playing songs such as “Back in the Saddle Again,” “Kiss Him Goodbye,” “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” and “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” 

The “Aids Update” segment was featured multiple times during the Reagan presidency by Mr. Limbaugh. 

Vivid was his tirades of calling it G-d’s retribution, and urging the quarantining of Gay, hemophiliac children and suggesting men of color and woman of color engaged in behaviors they brought the wrath of God down on them and they got what they deserved. I used to listen to his show and heard it first hand and never can forget nor forgive. While certainly not his only hateful and disgusting commentary over the years, he is at least as culpable as the extremist that invaded the capital and others in leadership and the airways for the divisive state we find ourselves in today. 

He was to the point of being gross and disturbing but that didn’t stop him from airing other homophobic content. Limbaugh, for instance, had another segment that used former Congressman Barney Frank, a prominent gay politician, as fodder. That segment featured the song “My Boy Lollipop” as slurping sounds played in the background. Limbaugh also spread the unfounded claim that gay men practiced “gerbilling” (you can read more about the unfounded urban legend here) and once said, according to James Retter’s book “The Anatomy of a Scandal,” that gay men “deserved their fate.”

He did not deserve the Medal of Honor, and presenting him with it tarnished the award forever. 

He was an awful human being, and the world is a better place without him in it. 

I wish for him every sentiment that he extolled on the victims of AIDS, x 2.

So some of you may be disturbed by most commentary and thoughts. I’m more disturbed that you would show empathy for this behavior in a bigoted individual that has harmed our democracy by the extremist antics he espoused. Further he damaged the Republican Party and it began its slide that led to the Trumpian rise of indoctrination of ignorance over science. May he rot in hell and frankly anyone else who follows the hate and hypocrisy of him and his followers.

He used to use the term femi-Nazi to attack women whom were strong and challenged him.

If there were justice in this world when he were to arrive at the pearly gates for his judgement day may his judgement be by a strong lesbian person of color arch-angle that transfers him to the elevator of hell.

#TakeBackRepublicanism