A Commentary on outsider Influence on Alamogordo and Otero County…
The Republican Party of Otero County is hosting a presentation by Freedom Families United founders Casey and Mykel Peterson this week. They recently bounced onto the scene with a video of Dr Kenneth Moore – Republican, the Alamogordo Public School Superintendent. The video went viral days after the announcement of a lawsuit filed by the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts and Lorrie Black against the School Board and against Dr. Moore.
Alamogordo and Otero County over the past year has had a plethora of outside agitators invited in or just showing up to engage the local community into a tizzy of division.
Last year, it was David Clements and the Election denier sideshow that attempted to fleece the county of funds, with nothing proven of actual local election fraud in Otero County.
However, with the citizens of Otero County New Mexico further divided by these outsiders; they profit going from city to city, with their roadshows of chaos, creating a train wreck of damage and a divided community in their wake.
Anti-vaxxers and election fraud advocates quickly embraced Clements, with far-right Colorado podcaster Joe Oltmann creating an online fundraiser for him and calling him “a lightning rod of truth and courage.” The appeal during the peak of antivax drama brought in more than $304,000 in donations, including from donors who say they support his “election integrity” crusade.
Clements says he is not paid for his appearances but asks for donations for travel expenses at the door.
A few weeks ago, yet again, another outside group of agitators appeared and protested in front of Alamogordo Public High School preaching religious bigotry and hate and causing a huge ruckus between what the school system and the city can do to protect the students from their speech of hate and what’s constitutes free speech. After about a week of agitating the community they left.
And now, yet again, from outside the area, we have a video drop and a presentation by another set of outsiders; Casey Peterson and his wife Mykel.
Who are these individuals that just suddenly appeared on the scene locally and why are they suddenly involved in Alamogordo Public School policy debate?
According to an interview with Anthony Lucero on KALHRadio.org they claim to have been involved with exposing Critical Race Theory indoctrination and they attended the New Mexico State Equity Conference where Dr. Moore was speaking and was able to ask him questions.
A question a reader should ponder? There were many superintendents and officials with many school systems attending this event and presenting…
Why was Dr. Moore selected to highlight?
Why not highlight one of the other participants?
Were they guided to Dr. Moore?
Did someone tip them to keep an eye on Dr. Moore?
Given the Petersons live near Albuquerque and incorporated their business in Arizona how did Otero County in Southern New Mexico and the Alamogordo Public Schools jump onto their radar to investigate?
What is their motivation for investigation of APS verses all the various school systems in New Mexico?
Their organization was incorporated in Arizona and is listed in New Mexico as a foreign corporation due to out of state registration.
After leaving Sandia Labs the couple created the Freedom Families United. Its purpose is to work “to unite pro-freedom families and educate them on the forces undermining individual liberty in New Mexico and around the nation,” per statements in previous interviews.
Per their initial filing with the New Mexico Secretary of State, “ Character Of Affairs: We are working on getting our charitable solicitations licenses (or the equivalent) in all 50 states so that we can ask for donations online. Our Website is also being built at this time. Our official launch date is TBD at this time, but anticipating an early August 2022 Launch. We have not received any donations as of this time in NM or any other state. Our board members are all voluntary. We do not have any paid employees at this time.”
Apparently they have modeled their organization after the activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, of which it supported as a contributor of videos and financially until a post they posted on Twitter Tuesday…
They have pulled support per the Twitter post above.
It appears they modeled their organization after; Activist James O’Keefe who resigned Monday morning from his position leading Project Veritas, the conservative group he founded, after clashing for weeks with his board.
In a video to Project Veritas employees, O’Keefe promised to start a new, rival organization doing similar undercover activist work.
In a statement posted Monday night responding to O’Keefe’s video, Project Veritas’s board claimed it was legally required to call a board meeting after it discovered O’Keefe committing what it described as “financial malfeasance.”
According to the statement, the board’s list of alleged misspending incurred by the nonprofit at O’Keefe’s direction included a $14,000 charter flight to meet someone who could repair his boat. Other alleged expenses included $150,000 over 18 months on private “black cars”and thousands of dollars on “DJ and other equipment.”
The board also accused O’Keefe of wasting $60,000 on “dance events.” O’Keefe, a former high school musical theater performer, has been accused in the past of spending the nonprofit’s money on his own musical interests. Last year, Project Veritas acknowledged improperly spending more than $20,000 to help O’Keefe star in a performance of the musical Oklahoma!
“Even with all of this public fallout, the Board still wants to speak with James,” the statement read, adding it wanted to “work things out.” “We did not fire him, nor do we want him to resign.”
Back to the Petersons and their mission…
The Petersons claim their first exposure to Critical Race Theory was via Sandia Labs. In 2020, 5 years after Casey Peterson had begun working for Sandia, he discovered in his words “the cancer known as Critical Race Theory was spreading quickly throughout the organization. And this was months before anyone even knew what critical race theory was. My wife and I both immediately went to work; researching and creating a detailed video debunking this racist, sexist ideology and shining a light on what CRT was doing to our national laboratories. Months later, in August of 2020, after every other avenue had been exhausted, we blew the whistle on Sandia National Laboratories by mass emailing that video out to all 16,000 employees and contractors in their email directory. Over the next weeks, the words Critical Race Theory began to enter the political consciousness of the media and most Americans….”
Per their website biography page they claim they “suffered continued repercussions for blowing the whistle on our National Laboratories but somehow avoided being fired until February of 2022. We found ourselves fighting for our freedoms, yet again, when I refused to disclose my vaccination status to my employer, refused forced medical testing and the forced disclosure of medical test results.”
Their mission with their new work via their organization “is to revive communities and strengthen Families Nationwide, restoring the purpose, meaning, and hope of patriots. We are defenders of Life, truth and values, working together to take our Country back, and raising the next generation of lions, not sheep.”
Take Our Country, our state, our County our School System back again…
One can interpret that statement in a variety of ways. Most Americans view themselves as patriotic, and want to live a life of purpose, meaning and hope.
The Tea Party originated the statement in more recent decade of “take our country back,” as their phrase for trying to take the country back from “liberals, freeloaders on welfare, immigrants, minorities, and, President Obama.”
In 2015, Candidate Donald Trump used the phrase and continued to emphasize illegal immigration and border security, telling thousands of supporters that he would keep the United States secure and dominant in the global economy. “Don’t worry, we’ll take our country back,” he said.
Where did the country, our county, our state our school system go?
Who took it there? How do we take it back?
These questions are seldom asked. The slogan itself implies the answers.
But there is a silent understanding among those who insist the country, state, county or schools have to be rescued from an internal threat.
The “outrage industry” profits and is what runs most of this dialog rather from the Clements or the Petersons and many others of their ilk.
The outrage industry couldn’t exist and have come this far, and become this profitable, without help from mainstream politicians, who have been running against Washington, and in Southern New Mexico against, “the Governor” and Santa Fe.
Since Ronald Reagan’s successful 1980 bid for the White House, when he famously announced that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
Verbal attacks on the government came into vogue. For his entire 42 years in the Senate, Orrin Hatch ran against Washington feeding the outrage industry in its infancy.
More and more, Americans have come to see the government in a negative light.
These “outrage industry profiteers” also claim to be fighting the Deep State, identified as the evil control center of an ill-defined power structure within government that props up the Governor in Santa Fe and her power structure and most of Washington D.C. These profiteers thrive on stirring controversy and chaos wherever they can gain an audience.
Once their roadshow leaves Otero County, Alamogordo, and the Alamogordo School System drama; these showboats will move along profit, and create chaos across a number of other local small rural communities, and within certain neighborhoods in the large cities across the nation. They have no vested interest in Alamogordo, Otero County, the Alamogordo Public Schools and they could care less of the havoc they created. They came, stirred the pot and made a few bucks along the way.
After those profiteers and agitators leave it’s then up to the local community leaders, political leaders, and business leaders and concerned citizens to then, have to figure out a way to rebuild fences, reestablish the norms of civil dialog, and bring the community back together again.
Alamogordo has fallen prey to these agitators again and again in recent years.
Isn’t time we work within ourselves, without outside influence and agitators and via collaboration build a community that we can all be proud of?
Inclusive, prosperous, spirited, entrepreneurial and entertaining and United for a common good – that should be the goal of all of us. We don’t need outside Influencers to divide us, we within Otero County need to build bridges to unite us.
The Mayor of Alamogordo Susan Payne receives threats and calls for her death as reported in a live interview with KALH Radio’s Anthony Lucero in a breaking news report.
The incidents began with tensions off the charts with protesters in front of Alamogordo High School from an extremist religious groups not from Alamogordo attempting to stir up hate and disrupting peace in front of the high school all last week.
Susan Payne as herself on her personal web page and not in any professional capacity as mayor posted a quote on Facebook clearly stating this is her personal page closed and open only to her friends and not official page.
Sunday the 15th Payne posted the following “don’t worry about the things you can’t control, sometimes you just have to pray, put it in Gods hands and leave it alone. Pray about it today and leave it alone, Amen.”
She followed it with this also applies to cop hating blue haired freaks who are desperate to be TikTok stars. Note per Anthony Lucero’s story no one was named.
In an interview for Alamogordo Town News on KALH Radio by Anthony Lucero she explained “no one knows who I was talking about, it doesn’t matter, I didn’t put a name, assumptions were made.”
A person by the name of Jenny Buckley per KALH Radio responded via a TikTok post, “It’s telling, that she is doing a lot more to —-talk me, one of her constituents then she is to deal with the hate group…”
However Susan Payne per her statement has been keeping watching the group and asking questions both as a private citizen and via her professional capacity though actions are limited due to constitutional limitations.
Ms. Buckley implied Susan Payne has not been seen out there once defending the kids. However KALH reports in an interview with Mrs. Payne that to be untrue. Mrs Payne was out there but chose not to post photos ops of her visit. Per Susan Payne, “I did go out there again I’m sorry I didn’t do a photo op. I didn’t know that I needed to, I assure I was there and can prove I was there long before others.”
Note per Mr. Lucero’s reporting, Buckley is not the only blue haired critic of Susan Payne from the area.
On the plus side Buckley did identify the protesters as Cry to God Ministries which appears to be nothing more than an hate group of the facsimile of the old Westboro Baptist Church that used to protest funeral of soldiers and gays and is nothing but hate with a new coat of paint.
Like the Westboro folks the 1st Amendment does allow these freak shows to appear free speech is not always pleasant nor tasteful speech and there are limits to what law enforcement and citizens can do to block this display of hate.
Sadly the flood gates from this have spiraled into hate at the local level with a few radical citizens also going after and threatening Susan Payne. There is no justification for hate directed toward Ms Payne and threats and phone calls as reported in Mr Luceros story on KALH are uncalled for. Civil dialog is a must for a civil society.
Ms Payne received several unnerving and even some threatening voice mails, one voice mail called for her execution and another called her a Nazi sympathizer. For those that don’t know Mrs Payne she was born into the Jewish faith and her family practices elements out of both Christian and Jewish traditions.
Mrs. Payne has been working hard on this issue reviewing what legally the city can do. Mrs Payne though this interview with Anthony Lucero for Alamogordo Town News on KALH Radio further explained that she was not speaking as the mayor but as a private citizen, in her professional role daily the nonprofit she leads ensures 196 at risk children are fed weekly, she works for domestic violence victims and helps with the homeless.
The attacks on her are a concern for her and her grandchildren’s safety. Mrs Payne has grandchildren that attend Alamogordo High School, so she certainly cares about the safety or the kids enrolled there.
Alamogordo is a unique community in that it is basically a town without a legitimate major news provider. Like many small rural communities, the local community stopped supporting the local paper, the paper struggled and was eventually acquired by a national media conglomerate. The result now the public complains, because there is no consistent local coverage and dedicated local reporting.
2nd Life Media saw that gap in coverage and felt the community of Alamogordo deserves local coverage. March of 2021 2nd Life Media Inc launched the AlamogordoTownNews.com site as an alternative to get local news, local sports coverage and local business and non-profit events covered and before the public realm. The week of launch the online publication had 20 readers and the focus was initially on downtown revitalization and sports coverage. Now we have over 6000 readers.
On March 21st, 2021, we published our first story announcing the launch of this new service we market at AlamogordoTownNews.com…
“Hello to Southern New Mexico. We love the history of the Alamogordo News but believe it is time that more local news coverage of sports, politics and small business comes to Alamogordo. So, in collaboration with the local community and in support of building Alamogordo into an art, entertainment, tourism capital of Southern New Mexico. We begin this journey together. If you have news stories you would like to see published, please email me at CoachEdwards@2ndLifeMedia.com. with story details, photos and more. Let’s work together to create a real local positive community newspaper. We look forward to working with our community together in positivity.”
Our first several stories announced the Marilyn Sepulveda Scholarship Fund encouraging applicants, a focus on New York Avenue small businesses and sports coverage. As Covid restrictions loosened up we began more focus and the arts and cultural initiatives within Alamogordo and the potential growth and investment by small business entrepreneurs. As elections and politics took center stage we covered highlights of municipal elections, interviewed candidates, and found ourselves digging deeper and asking more candidate questions then the traditional newspaper. All along the way our readership grew significantly.
While delving into the political antics of Couy Griffin, John Block, Karl Melton, and the machines that run the political leadership of Otero County we hit on the nerves and the comfort of some of the establishment.
We have been called a right-wing talking piece by those on the left and attacked harshly by Couy Griffin supporters and the Trumpian brigade on the right. Given we have been equally criticized by the old guard chairmen of both political parties, that reinforced to our board of advisors, we are on the right track of being fair, allowing for each party to be heard, and balanced, in that both sides staying equally critical of our coverage, as it does not favor either.
Our coverage can be critical, asks questions and looks beyond the walls of Otero County and Alamogordo at precedent. We seek advise and reach out to academia and other media sources to validate information, to seek history or background and to reach a perspective that extends beyond Alamogordo and Otero County.
Our favorite stories to run are on the personalities and business leaders that are carrying Alamogordo forward into prosperity and those with a vision or passion. Stories on COPE, published stories in Influence Magazine, ongoings of the Flickinger Center, Alamogordo MainStreet investment and people making a positive difference to our community are our favorite stories to create. Stories on STEM and Academic successes of high school students are always fun to create. Stories on sports success and highlights of high school sports successes always bring joy to our faces when writing them in partnership with other media partners.
We have a great working relationship with the local radio stations and deep partnerships that help us with news tips and getting information to the public with many nonprofits, those in the faith community and the resources of government.
AlamogordoTownNews.com believes we have made a positive impact with our commitment to get information out to the local community that is missing by the traditional new sources.
Is there room for improvement? Certainly, YES!
We operate on a shoestring budget, and we do the best we can with limited resources. We would we like to hire a team of reporters certainly. With the public support that may happen in the upcoming years. We’d love to launch a print edition, someday, but as media evolves print is devolving, so time and financing will determine if that is feasible in the future.
Running a local news publication can be tricky and can be dangerous in some people’s eyes.
When we exposed some of the political antics of Couy Griffin, we had a gentlemen come into our place of business wielding a gun, telling us that gun rights trump our right of free speech. We quickly reminded him amendment one, is that of free press, and we are not intimidated by a gun wielding lunatic. The pen is mightier than the sword in the end. An armed idiot in our place of business is met with like force.
When we ran stories counter to the propaganda of John Block and Karl Melton, again we hit home with facts that made them uncomfortable. Rather than respond in a mature matter of political rhetoric. they went on the offensive, and personally attacked the authors and the businesses owned by 2nd Life Media Inc. They then went on and tried to impede the right of the author to petition and vote, attempted to assassinate the reputation of the affiliated businesses and ownership, and may have violated laws around voter suppression and intimidation. Investigations will determine if rights were violated. A free press won’t be intimidated into silence by character assassination and tactics of intimidation.
A free press that is open to challenge those in authority ensures a free society. Amendment One is Intentional by our founding fathers.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Political coverage appears to be the most controversial coverage we provide via AlamogordoTownNews.com.
While we prefer the more positive coverage of community events, business success, and sports sadly the political stories drive the most readers and engagement.
Just yesterday we were asked by a seated County Commissioner who filed a restraining order against a former commissioner to “not litigate this issue in the public realm” and “which side are you on?”
Our response is the same to this Democratic leader as it was to our Republican leaders. Our job is to keep the public informed on those issues or cases that are of interest to the public and in the public realm.
Elected leaders that take actions are in the public realm, and we will cover the story, if there is an interest to the public. We are not on any side of the issue. We ran stories on precedent in the courts to these types of actions by elected leaders and the public.
We seek to inform the public on precedent and on any situation that could potentially impact Amendment One or any of the founding principles of a free society.
2nd Life Media and AlamogordoTownNews.com has expanded with readership now in the thousands. We now partner with additional outlets such as its sister publication AlamogordoConservativeDaily.org which publishes stories of local interest on several different platforms and via a Newsbreak Newsletter.
We, of course operate on a shoestring budget. If you would like to support an independent citizen driven news source, we appreciate contributions to the primary news site.
The total advertising revenue for locally focused U.S. daily newspapers in 2020 was $1.07 billion, based on the Center’s analysis of financial statements for publicly traded newspaper companies. This is down 40% from 2019, much steeper than the 25% decline the overall newspaper industry experienced during the same time.
The United States has lost almost 1,800 papers since 2004, including more than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies. Roughly half of the remaining 7,112 in the country – 1,283 dailies and 5,829 weeklies – are in small and rural communities. The vast majority – around 5,500 – have a circulation of less than 15,000 consistent with our readership and that of the Alamogordo Daily News.
Vanishing Readers: Print readers are disappearing even faster than print newspapers, and the pace appears to be accelerating.
Over the past 15 years, total weekday circulation – which includes both dailies and weeklies – declined from 122 million to 73 million.
While more and more readers prefer to receive news online, this dramatic loss has been driven not only by changes in reader preference, but also by the business decisions of newspaper owners. The decrease in daily circulation comes primarily from the pullback of metro and regional newspapers from distribution to outlying rural and suburban areas. In contrast, much of the loss in weekly circulation since 2004 comes from the closure of more than 1,700 weeklies.
This decrease in print readers raises serious questions about the long-term financial sustainability of both small community and large metro newspapers.
Web hosting, marketing recruitment, posting time, research and creative all takes resources. Contributions help keep an alternative news and media source viable. We ask that you shop local with our local advertisers and sponsors and shop in our local storefronts on New York Avenue.
If you feel generous enough to directly contribute to our news enterprise, we will recognize you if you so desire as a special supporter of a free and independent press. Some donors prefer to remain quiet and discrete. We respect those sponsors and donors to the AlamogordoTownNews.com operations as well and their need for discretion. We keep in confidence our donors and supporters except those who give permission to use their support in public.
This holiday season from our family to yours, thank you for the support! We look forward to an interesting and even more engaging 2023. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family. May you have a blessed and prosperous New Year.
Rene Sepulveda, Chris Edwards and the staff and family of 2nd Life Media, AlamogordoTownNews.com and AlamogordoConservativeDaily.org and our podcasts, thank you!
New Mexico joined the Union in January 1912. It has participated in 28 presidential elections through 2020, alternating some extended periods of support for Democratic and Republican candidates. Democrats have now won 7 of the last 8 elections, including Joe Biden’s 54% to 44% win over Donald Trump in 2020.
Locally in Alamogordo, Otero County, New Mexico
In Otero County, it appears the Republican stronghold is strong and in place and most races are a given to swing to the Republican candidate with ease.
However, there are three races of interest this mid-term election that could be seen as competitive for a variety of reasons.
The position of magistrate judge in Otero County is typically a snooze as to what to expect of an outcome. However, this midterm election for magistrate Division One and Magistrate Division Two there are interesting dynamics at play.
The position of magistrate is one that does NOT require a law degree, and candidates typically, are individuals well embedded in the local political party system.
The position of magistrate in Otero County has historically been made up of candidates that come from the “political machine” and as such, the position has been riddled with controversy, the last several years with political games alleged locally and via former Governor Martinez…
Most recently Otero County Magistrate Judge Steve Guthrie agreed to resign the Division I seat April 25, 2022, ending further disciplinary proceedings related to a judicial inquiry by the New Mexico Supreme Court which began in 2021. Guthrie’s resignation became effective April 25, according to New Mexico Supreme Court documents when the court granted a petition for permanent resignation “in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings.“
In September 2021 the Judicial Standards Commission asked the court to open a disciplinary inquiry related to a slew of alleged misconducts by Guthrie. The Commission had conducted its own inquiry into the allegations beginning in January 2021. Among the allegations were improper sentences and incarceration for defendants, improper bail issuance, failure to complete required paperwork, engaging in judicial activities without proper jurisdiction, judicial misconduct and violation of a defendant’s right to due process.
Guthrie was censured prior to that incident in 2019 by the New Mexico Supreme Court for misconduct related to a spat he had with a neighbor.
Otero County Magistrate Judge Scott Newton officially resigned from the bench and withdrew his candidacy for 12th Judicial District judge. Newton said he was tired of the politics being played at the local and state level because of him taking a leave of absence due to a medical issue. Newton said he was not going to have his good name destroyed or put his family through it. “They’re attempting to use this legal absence that I took for a basis that I am unfit to do my job,” he said to the Alamogordo Daily News in 2017 “It’s a total lie. There’s nothing wrong with me. I do have my own personal health issues to deal with, but it’s not an issue in terms of being a judge. It’s just somebody wants to make it an issue. I am not going to stick my neck out there and get it chopped off. It’s just not worth it. Especially with the medical issues that I’ve been dealing with, I don’t have the energy or stamina to fight that fight or put my family through that fight.”
Newton was elected to the Magistrate Court Division I judge’s seat in 2010 after Judge Richard Stokely retired from the bench.
Otero County Magistrate Court Judge Gene C. Galassini hung his robe up in April 2016 also under a cloud of criticism.
Per the Alamogordo Daily News at the time, “Galassini, 59, decided to resign or in his case retire from the bench because of health reason but more importantly to spend time with his three grandchildren. He and his wife, Rocky, also just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary,” at the time of his resignation.
“It’s the stressful nature of the job,” Galassini said. “I’ve got three grand babies plus one on the way. It’s just time to start spending some time with them.”
He was first elected Magistrate Court judge in 2006 then took the bench in January 2007 after 23 years of being an officer with the New Mexico State Police in Las Cruces, Roswell and Alamogordo. Galassini retired as a lieutenant from State Police District 8 in Alamogordo.”
However, records with the State Supreme County show that the resignation may of had more to the story; then stress and health issues.
The New Mexico State Supreme Court granted the State Ethics Commission’s Petition to Accept Stipulation in Light of Permanent Resignation from Judicial Office concerning Otero County Magistrate Judge Gene C. Galassini, Supreme Court Case No. S-1-SC-35791, JSC Inquiry No. 2015-074. “The Supreme Court order made Judge Galassini’s retirement permanent effective 02/29/16, forever barred him from holding judicial office in New Mexico, and unsealed the Supreme Court’s file in the matter.
A link to the Supreme Court File and Mr. Galacini’s resignation letter is below:
Mr. Galassini was hired in 2021 to serve Congressional Representative Yvette Herrell as her law enforcement liaison and has been paid a salary and other compensation since appointment of $34,833.33 as a member of staff.
The 2022 Mid Term Otero County Magistrate Matchup:
Magistrate Judge Division One has turned into a very competitive race with the Reverend Warren Robison competing against John R Seacrest III, both candidates have deep roots in Otero County, both have professional, volunteer and business experience and both have campaigned with professionalism, dignity and mutual respect with no negativity in their race for office.
Reverend Warren Robinson Experience: “Reverend Robinson has 20 years of teaching, counseling and community service in Alamogordo to include 3 years’ experience with Juvenile Justice Board helping youth with reconciliation for criminal offenses, a wide range of local board experience with non-profit service organizations, Chaplain for both Alamogordo City Police and the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, knowledge of the community business leaders and deeply involved in local history and historical preservation” according to his responses to the League of Womens Voters.
John R Secrest III Experience: “What I bring to the courtroom is real life experience and vast knowledge. I am an entrepreneur/small business owner since age 18 with 21 years in Landlord/tenant rights, business contracts, and well versed in DWI/DUI laws. I have also been a plaintiff on several appearances in Mag. Court. To further prepare, I have been mentoring with previous Mag. Judges as well as studying the NM Criminal/Traffic Law manual and NM Constitution. I am a constitutionalist, from the people for the people’s court. I live with unwavering morals, integrity, and honesty. I am UNBIASED and fair.” according to his responses to the League of Womens Voters
The League of Womens Voters asked both candidate what they would do about the backlog within the Magistrate System? Their response was…
Reverend Warren Robinson: “Once within the system I’ll be thoughtful in listening to staff and reviewing the existing processes, then use my experience interfacing with multiple constituencies to influence process changes to end any backlog.”
John R Secrest III: “It is my understanding that Otero County Magistrate Court does NOT have much of a back log. If there is a back log it is primarily due to covid restrictions impeding the court’s ability to operate per usual and in that instance, I would say more cases will need to be handled telephonically. There is always room for improvement.”
Both candidates demonstrate a passion for community and a sense of ethics that the magistrate’s office needs to rebuild its reputation in Otero County.
Magistrate Division 2
The race is between well-known Alamogordo MainStreet and arts advocate and realtor, Claudia Powell, verses Michal Ryan Suggs, the incumbent who was appointed to the Division II Magistrate Judge’s seat Feb. 20, 2018, by Gov. Susana Martinez after Judge James Scot Newton resigned from the bench.
Claudia Powell’s Experience per her website:” Claudia Powell has been part of this community working tirelessly as a relator since 1986 serving our military with impeccable service since 1986. Mrs. Powell has received the Military Relocation Specialist designation from the National Association of Realtors, Past President Alamogordo MainStreet, Director of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, Otero County Habitat for Humanity, Past President Otero United Way and Past Director of the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts.“
Michal Ryan Suggs Experience per the League of Women’s Voters: “Juris Doctor- Master’s degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University, a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, 21 years law enforcement experience, 6 years adjunct professor of criminal justice and 4 years incumbent as Otero County Magistrate.”
When asked what they would do about the backlog within the Magistrate System?
Claudia Powell: “My understanding is the backlog that was created during the Covid-19 crises is now cleared. However, if I were on the bench, I would work with the staff, within the legally bound confines, utilizing my years of collaboration and partnership skills to ensure we did all within our means locally to ease any backlog.”
Michal Ryan Suggs Experience per the League of Women’s Voters: “I can proudly say, there is no backlog of court cases in Otero County Magistrate Court. The court continued to operate throughout Covid. All of the Judges in the 12th Judicial District work tirelessly to serve the people. Whatever adjustments were needed to the docket to ensure timely access to justice were and continue to be made. Under my leadership as Presiding Judge, the speedy and fair resolution of cases has been and always will be a priority of the Otero County Magistrate Court. Our rights deserve this level of experience, knowledge, and continued commitment.”
The other race that has proven, interesting, is the race for Otero County Commissioner District Two, formerly occupied by the controversial Couy Griffin. The two candidates to win the primaries are Amy Barela on the Republican side, verses Stephanie Dubois, on the Democratic side. Both candidates won a contested primary.
The race was considered initially an easy win for Amy Barela given the district leans heavily Red and heavily conservative. However, politics, judicial rulings and an appointment by the Governor of Ms. Dubois into the seat of which Couy Griffin was removed by judicial order has created many interesting dynamics into the race.
Political scientist and pollsters watching the district competition believed it an easy win for Ms. Barella. Speculation was that there would be a backlash, due to the judicial removal of Couy Griffin, thus a wave of Republican voters activated and to the polls.
Ms. Barella has easily outraised, outspent and outpaced Ms. Dubois in advertising, door knocking and overall visibility.
Ms. Dubois on the other hand, received an appointment to the vacant position by the Governor with swearing in to occur on 10/28/22.
Ms. Dubois has been much more visible in the recent weeks and attended several events with the Congressional Democratic Candidate and others. Yesterday in Tularosa, a Get Out the Vote event was sponsored by Ms. Dubois, and Independent Candidate Elaine Allen seeking the position for District 56 State Representative was also present.
The campaign within Tularosa has become very competitive with some rumors of foul play, but thus far the campaign has been, overall civil.
Ms. Dubois appointment by the Governor, received a respectful response by Ms. Barella. However, the response to the appointment by the Republican Party and by the Candidate for State Representative District 51, was aggressive in tone, and filled with negatives that did not benefit candidate Barela, who has shown a level of respect and decorum during the race.
Several independents and moderate Republicans questioned, said they were leaning toward Ms. Barela but after the Republican Party response, and that of the candidate for District 51, they “opted for Ms. Dubois.” One cited, “I’ve had enough hate from that office, Couy was an embarrassment and brought nothing but trouble to Otero County, the vigor of hate that was espoused by the Party response made me decide to break the party line and vote for Ms. Dubois,” a respected and well-known Republican that asked that his name not be used said he really likes Amy but “maybe it’s time to shake things up on the commission, and end the rubber stamping of the Steve Pierce mandates, the county budget is a mess, obviously what we have in place is not working.”
Will there be a backlash from the Republican Party response to the appointment of Ms. Dubois, will Ms. Dubois be able to elicit enough moderate Republicans, motivated Democrats and Independents to the polls to carry her over to remain in the district 2 seat? Will the curse of mid-terms and the economy play into the results of the local elections? We will know in about 2 weeks.
The mid-term elections in most states are traditionally, a completely different animal and can lead to all kinds of unexpected results. The mid-term election of 2018 was the year of the woman.
2018, women candidate had broken the records for the number of candidates for governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives elected a record number of women, with at least 90 women expected to make their way to Washington, D.C. in January.
In 2018 Deb Haaland of New Mexico broke the barrier and became one of the first Native American Women elected to congress. Democrat Deb Haaland, the former chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, won New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in the 2018 midterms.
Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, became one of the first Native American women elected to Congress alongside Democrat Sharice Davids, who won Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Two Native American men — both Republicans — served in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to 2018.
Expectations for this mid-term election…
It’s true that the polls have shifted somewhat toward Republicans in certain key races. On September 15, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gave Democrats a 71 percent chance of holding the Senate, as of midday Wednesday, that number is 61 percent. In other cases, forecasts haven’t changed much: FiveThirtyEight has the GOP’s House takeover chances still above 70 percent. And there have been some contrary indicators, with surprisingly good poll results for Democrats in redder states like Iowa and Oklahoma.
Yet what amounts to a relatively minor poll shift has been greeted with a sense of impending Democratic doom, for reasons mostly unrelated to the polls themselves. The bad economic news, the historical trend of the president’s party performing poorly in midterms, and the tendency of polls to understate Republicans in certain key cycles (especially Senate races) can all be read to suggest that the smart money is on the GOP to do well.
This underlying assumption that Republicans should be the favorites and will end up the favorites means that small poll shifts in the GOP’s favor get interpreted as devastating for Democrats. And that assumption could well be correct — there are good reasons to believe it. Alternatively, it remains possible the polls are basically on target, or that election night results could deliver a surprise in the other direction.
Democrats remain the favorites in the battle for the Senate, according to FiveThirtyEight, but their advantage has shrunk in the past month. When you look under the hood of FiveThirtyEight’s model to see why, it mostly comes down to shifts in four contests:
In Nevada, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) dropped from a 61 percent favorite to a 49 percent slight underdog.
In Pennsylvania, the chances of John Fetterman (D) winning dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent.
Meanwhile, the chances of challengers Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina winning each dropped from about 40 percent to 27 percent.
Other Democratic candidates, like Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), haven’t seen similar drops in the past month. Kelly is a 78 percent favorite to win, and Warnock is a 57 percent favorite. In Ohio, Tim Ryan remains a 28 percent underdog.
With the Senate split 50-50, the basic math is that so long as Fetterman picks up that GOP seat in Pennsylvania, Democrats can afford to lose one seat of their own. So, they could lose Cortez Masto or Warnock, but not both. And if Fetterman loses (and no other Democrats campaigning for GOP-held seats win), even losing one Democratic incumbent would flip the chamber.
Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania look like the most important states in determining Senate control. But there’s a problem. Only one of those contests — Georgia — has been frequently polled of late. And it’s unclear how useful those polls are, since if neither candidate tops 50 percent of the vote next month, Warnock and Herschel Walker will just head to a runoff in December.
Public polling in the other two key states has been sparse. In Nevada, we’ve gotten only two public polls conducted in October — one showing Cortez Masto up 2, and one showing her trailing by 2 among likely voters. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the two public polls have both shown Fetterman up just 2. One of those polls is from the Trafalgar Group, while another is a joint effort from one Republican firm and one Democratic firm.
Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sweeping four-term presidency, every president has fallen victim to the “midterm curse.”
The “curse” is considered political shorthand at this point—the opposition party to the incumbent leader will wrest control of the House of Representatives or the Senate from the leadership. In fact, the sitting presidential party has lost seats in the House in every single midterm election since FDR’s first term, save for three: FDR himself in 1934, Bill Clinton in 1998 during his second term in office, and George W. Bush in 2002 fresh off a hotly contested victory in the 2000 general election. In each of these instances, the presidents had remarkably high approval ratings—around 70%—often due to historic moments that offered an opportunity for landmark leadership, such as FDR’s New Deal, Clinton’s federal budget surplus, and Bush’s handling of the aftermath of 9/11.
There are a variety of explanations as to why parties often face defeat in the midterms after sweeping the floor in the presidential election. Voter apathy and presidential approval ratings play a large part, but voters are not the only ones who sway the outcome of elections. Midterm elections are susceptible to impacts from the re-drawing of districts and gerrymandering that may occur after a presidential election and can work to disenfranchise a party’s voting block. This is not a phenomenon isolated to the U.S., either: The parties of political leaders across the globe tend to strengthen early in a presidential term before diminishing later.
The President’s party has only gained seats in the House three times since 1934
The incumbent party lost control of either the House or the House and Senate six times since 1934. Only three presidents—FDR, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—gained seats in the House of Representatives for their parties at midterms.
In FDR’s case, this was thanks to his swift decisions steering the country out of the Great Depression, including the New Deal and various economic relief measures. Clinton’s second term in office marked the first Democratic president to gain a second term since FDR. Though his popularity was beginning to falter due to emerging personal scandals—including the Monica Lewinsky situation, which saw Clinton face impeachment for lying to Congress—it hadn’t yet hit the low that would follow. Bush’s midterms were a narrow race to win an easily swayed power balance, marked by gerrymandering and expensive campaigns that ultimately favored the incumbent party.
The Senate has faired similarly
Statewide Senate races are not impacted by redistricting but still often suffer the same outcome for the president’s party. For most of the 20th century, Senate races were often won by the opposite party than the state in question had gone for in the presidential race. In 1986, for instance, the “mismatch rate” of U.S. Senate races was around 59%, meaning over half of states voted into office senators of the opposite party than they had voted for president most recently. This has waned in intensity recently—particularly during Obama’s presidency—but still generally held. However, the 2022 election cycle may mark a departure from this tradition, with only 4% of registered voters claiming they planned to vote for a senator from a different party than they had endorsed for president.
Presidential approval rating is often the clearest predictor of seat changes
Midterm elections tend to be considered referenda on the party in power. As a result, the electability of Congressional members is increasingly tied to the public’s attitude toward the president. Swing seats have consistently gone to the nonincumbent party when public approval of the current president is low, and the inverse when the public believes their administration is doing well.
Since FDR’s presidency, presidents with a low public approval rating have lost an average of 37 congressional seats during midterms. Only two presidents—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—have had a public approval rating above 60% during midterm elections; consequently, they have been the only two presidents in recent history to avoid the “midterm curse.”
Voters may be motivated more to turnout when their party is not in power
Voters generally turn out in lower numbers for midterms than for presidential elections. In the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, respectively, only 4 in 10 eligible voters turned up to the polls, whereas 6 in 10 voted in the 2016 general election. However, the drive to overturn the actions of an unfavorable president can be a powerful antidote to voting apathy. A good example of this was the 2018 midterms, in which, according to an analysis by Catalist, “young voters and voters of color, particularly Latinx voters, were a substantially larger share of the electorate than in past midterms.” These voters were majority Democrats, voting in opposition to the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump. That year, midterm surge voting leaped up, and it was “clear that both mobilization and persuasion were critically important in producing this scale of victory for Democrats.”
What does this mean for 2022?
In sum, the 2022 midterms will likely follow the patterns laid out here. All seats in the House of Representatives are up for the taking and a third of those in the Senate. President Joe Biden’s approval rating—40% as of Oct. 20—is on the lower end of historical midterm rates for an incumbent president, suggesting that, if historic precedent holds, Republicans will gain seats on Nov. 8. However, some factors may exert outside influence on the midterm results.
The Democratic Party has been experiencing the same mobilization that spurred a midterm surge during Trump’s presidency, this time regarding issues such as abortion rights and inflation. Voters in Kansas recently turned up in record numbers to vote down measures that would restrict abortion access; elsewhere in the country, local and state legislatures have taken up steps and earmarked funds protecting the right to choose in repudiation of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
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:
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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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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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.