AlamogordoTownNews.com: Couy Griffin Files an Appeal of his Ban from Public Office & Other Pending Cases Update

Couy Griffin, ousted Otero County Commissioner is by far the most prolific of local leaders to gain national attention.  He raised his profile to the national stage in creating “Cowboys of Trump” and a fire and brimstone style of ideological propaganda that the masses embraced for a period of time. Now they appear to be tiring of the rhetoric and the negative press. 

His base however continues to rally around his fight against “Santa Fe” and the “left” as witnessed by his most recent fundraising appeal which has raised $16,541 of a goal of $50,000.

From his pulpit of the Otero County Commission, he led a variety of conversations and debate, from participation in the alleged insurrection, to being an election results denier. 

Mr. Griffin gained national notoriety and took that notoriety onto the speaking circuits. His brand has been used by higher profile personalities around the nation who have profited off of his trials and tribulations to the toon of thousands of dollars.  Yet he is forced to defend himself in the judicial process.

Couy Griffin on Tuesday notified the high court of his intent to appeal. The ruling against Griffin this month from a Santa Fe-based District Court was the first to remove or bar an elected official from office in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol building that disrupted Congress as it was trying to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Griffin was previously convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, without going inside the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.

Griffin has invoked free speech guarantees in his defense and says his banishment from public office disenfranchises his political constituents in Otero County.

He was barred from office under provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which holds that anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution can be barred from office for engaging in insurrection or rebellion. The provisions were put in place shortly after the Civil War.

A flurry of similar lawsuits around the country are seeking to use the provision to punish politicians who took part in Jan. 6.

Griffin says he continues to act as his own legal counsel in the case.

“Honestly I have felt very abandoned by many,” Griffin said.

Conservative activists aligned with Griffin have urged supporters to file disciplinary complaints against the judge who barred Griffin from office.

Other cases of removal have been filed around the US for individuals that supported the events of January 6th, 2022. Mr. Griffin is the only one thus far that had a conviction related directly to activities of that day. 

The case may eventually carry forward to the US Supreme Court. Mr. Griffin’s name is nothing new to a case that may eventually come to the Supreme Court as he U.S. Supreme Court was asked to consider, via a writ of certiorari, whether a New Mexico Court of Appeals judge erred when he overturned a decision denying Couy Griffin qualified immunity in a first amendment case.

Griffin, as the Otero County Commissioner for District 2 at the time, in 2019 blocked Jeff Swanson, the Democratic Party of Otero County chairman, from his Facebook page after Swanson posted comments critical of Griffin’s performance as a commissioner.

Swanson sued Griffin and Otero County Records Custodian Sylvia Tillbrook alleging that since Griffin’s Facebook page was a public forum, that Griffin had violated the First Amendment by engaging in viewpoint discrimination. Viewpoint discrimination is when a government or a governmental entity restricts speech on a given subject matter.

The case was filed in the New Mexico 12th Judicial District Court. When the case was removed to federal court, Griffin’s motion to dismiss the case citing qualified immunity was denied.

He appealed the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals where the decision was reversed. The Court of Appeals’ opinion stated the lower court relied on “on out-of-circuit authority” in its decision.

“We reverse. The Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed lower courts not to define rights at a high level of generality when considering a qualified immunity defense,” the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision states.

Swanson petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari which is “issued in order that the court issuing the writ may inspect the proceedings and determine whether there have been any irregularities,” according to Barron’s Law Dictionary.

The question Swanson and his attorney A. Blair Dunn are putting to the U.S. Supreme Court is “Did the 10th Circuit err in reversing the decision of the District Court that Commissioner Couy Griffin was not entitled to qualified immunity after the Circuit recognized that Commissioner Griffin had engaged in viewpoint discrimination to exclude Mr. Swanson from his open to the public Facebook page where he openly discussed the public’s business that he was elected to attend to?”

The details of that filing are found at 

https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/21/21-1502/226363/20220526150143…

And in other lawsuits pending against Griffin:

Per coverage from the Alamogordo News in a story by Nicole Maxwell…

“The criminal case against former Otero County commissioner Couy Griffin, 47, of Tularosa, for allegedly failing to file Cowboys for Trump as a political action committee was scheduled to begin September 19 and was pushed back to December.

In a motion filed by Griffin’s attorney, Jonathan C. Miller, Miller noted a family emergency which would preclude him from being available for the preset date. According to court records, Miller’s mother is terminally ill.

Per 12th Judicial Judge Douglas Driggers, the case is to be reset no sooner than December 2022.

The criminal complaint filed by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on March 18 states that between Jan. 15, 2020 and March 18, 2022, Griffin “willfully and knowingly” violated provisions of the Campaign Reporting Act by disregarding orders to register as a political action committee with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, file finance reports and pay $7,800 in accumulated fines by the March 18, 2022 deadline.

Griffin pleaded not guilty to the charges during an April 1 arraignment. This case will more than likely be go to jury trial in December.”

Thus, the impact of Mr. Griffin’s term of office will continue to be under review in the judiciary at a variety of levels, for quite some time it would appear.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com From Couy Griffin to The Hague Language Matters, Let’s Understand Gratitude

From Couy Griffin to a comunique from The Hague, the understanding of words matter, and there is no better place to start understanding the interpretation of words then via “Gratitude.”

Gratitude, you know it when you see it or feel it but what does it mean? Does it mean the same thing to you as to an Italian, a Russian or a citizen of China?

Spanish speakers say “gracias” to express their gratitude. Italians show appreciation with a “grazie.” Both of these words come from the Latin root “gratia,” which denotes grace, graciousness, and gratefulness. For those who speak Spanish and Italian, their way of saying “thank you” has purely positive connotations.

The French “merci,” on the other hand, derives from the Old French “mercit” and the Latin “mercedem.” Both of these words denote forgiveness and pity, which are tinged with guilt along with gratitude.

Pan east across the globe and you’ll find other translations of gratitude that aren’t only positive in association. In Japan and Korea, gratitude is often expressed by saying “I’m sorry” and the terms for gratitude and indebtedness are used almost interchangeably.

These linguistic differences only scratch the surface of both the problem and the potential of studying gratitude, which is this: gratitude manifests in distinct ways across different societies. It follows that research should should capture the diversity of these expressions. But while the past two decades have seen an explosion in gratitude research, studies remain extremely narrow in scope.

Up to this point, the majority of research on gratitude has been conducted on people from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic nations.

What we know about gratitude comes mostly from findings in Western and Northern Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Even though research on the subject is booming, the sample size represents only a sliver of humanity and the 7 Billion occupants.

Researchers have conducted studies across Latin America, from Mexico to Guatemala to Chile, though they’ve focused largely on university students and have skipped Caribbean countries altogether. Several Eastern European countries are represented in studies, including Russia and Romania, as well as in certain Middle Eastern countries like Jordan and Turkey. Some research has focused on China, Japan, and India, as well as most countries in Southeast Asia, but Central Asia is missing from the literature. African societies are sparsely investigated, with only a few gratitude-related studies completed in Ghana and Cape Verde, and research on Pacific Island societies is virtually nonexistent.

It’s not just large swaths of the globe that go unexamined. Studies comparing multiple societies help uncover the cultural specifics and universals of gratitude—yet only a handful of research papers are explicitly cross-cultural. And even these cross-cultural studies are limited in scope.

Why is this important and why is understanding gratitude across multiple cultures important? As we become an even more interconnected world words matter and how those words are interpreted in some circles can make the difference in a business deal closing or not or in a political crises being solved or not or worse a war being waged or not. Understanding linguistics is a key element to enlightenment and moving a society forward. Gratitude studies is a good first step in understanding human reactions to words.

Words matter, locally we see how words have mattered in politics.

The use of words to instill fear and ignite a base of people has been the hallmark of Couy Griffin, those words interpreted and followed by his actions put his character and intention completely under scrutiny.

Had he chosen his words differently, he might have been interpreted differently, for what is really in his heart, verses what is perceived. Hearing of words and seeing his words, one wonders what is really in his heart?

Actions matter but so do words and understanding the meaning and context of those words are key to a civil society.

Thus university studies on gratitude are a great starting point locally and on the international stage.  When it comes to cross-cultural studies on gratitude, most researchers have focused their investigations on how people express thanks. The goal has been to distinguish the feeling of gratitude from its linguistic practice. In the United States, saying “thank you” to someone may indicate that one feels gratitude toward that person, or at least for their actions. But this isn’t necessarily the case in non-English speaking societies, where verbal expression and emotion can be less intertwined.

The approach of asking participants about the extent to which they currently feel “grateful,” “thankful,” and “appreciative” carries obvious limitations. Many languages don’t have identical translations to map the nuanced distinctions between these words. Beyond linguistic variations in people’s conceptions and expressions of gratitude, major social and even religious differences exist across cultures.

Thus a study is being conducted and led by Michael McCullough at the University of California, San Diego, and in collaboration with the Psychological Science Accelerator, the team plans to study how to measure gratitude and its effects in at least fifty countries around the world. “We believe that crossing the next scientific frontier of gratitude research will require researchers to cross their own cultural and geographic frontiers to explore the shared and unique terrains of gratitude,” writes McCullough. The team hopes to increase standardization of gratitude measures across cultures and facilitate future research by bringing together current multi-cultural data on gratitude into a single, open-access database. Ultimately, the project will transform gratitude research by setting a new roadmap for future scholars wanting to investigate questions around the universality of gratitude.

From the linguistic phrases of Couy Griffin locally to the use of “thank you” in over 50 countries this study like most on linguistics is important to human development and enlightenment in Otero County as well as in The Hague. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin Removal What is Next, Couy Upset with Sheriff Black

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin and Otero County made history today with a ruling in the lawsuit that was filed to remove Commissioner Griffin from office.  

According to today’s ruling, Griffin qualifies for removal as per Section 3 of the 14th amendment and participation in a rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States and the peaceful transition of power of the presidency.

Text of the amendment:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Interpretation is that no person can be a Senator, Representative, Elector or officer of the United States — or United States military officer, or member of a State Legislature, or a Governor, or a judge of any State — if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in a rebellion against the United States or gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. But Congress can change this with two ­thirds vote.

A History Lesson of how Republicans enacted the 14th Amendment Section 3:

This is a section of the constitution that dealt directly with the aftermath of the Civil War, section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those who had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [United States] or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from serving in the government. It was designed to keep the governments free of those who had broken the country apart. However, its effect wound up being relatively minor, that is until this trial.

Due to the obscure cases around the use of this amendment this may make an interesting case that could go all the way to the US Supreme Court as a precedent setting case. Even more interesting is the precedent this case could indeed set for future generation. The application of this portion or amendment to the constitution has not been reference or used in a case in more than 150 years. 

If this ruling stands up on appeal, it sets a significant precedent for the next election cycle,” said Gerard Magliocca, a constitutional scholar at Indiana University who has studied Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. “After all, if Couy Griffin is disqualified from holding office for his role in Jan. 6, then shouldn’t Donald Trump be disqualified for his even greater role in Jan. 6th?” Of course the difference is Couy had a conviction tied for his acts while on the “Capitol Grounds” while his conviction was a misdemeanor it was a conviction no less around the issues of rebellion or insurrection.

Magliocca said the issue could arise in a number of ways moving forward and is ripe for the Supreme Court to litigate before Trump might run for and potentially win the presidency in 2024.

Section 3 of the 14th amendment has been called “the most forgotten provision of the forgotten Fourteenth Amendment.” Congress last used Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1919 to refuse to seat a socialist Congressman accused of having given aid and comfort to Germany during the First World War, irrespective of the Amnesty Act.

Interesting fact is the amendment was drafted by Republican members of the Thirty-Ninth Congress.

Republicans when setting out the conditions for restoring former confederate states to the Union demanded, in rough order of priority, a constitutional change in the basis of apportionment (Section 2), constitutional provisions respecting the state and federal debt (Section 4), constitutional or statutory provisions limiting confederate participation in politics (Section 3), constitutional or statutory provisions protecting the rights of former slaves and white Unionists (Section 1), and a constitutional ban on secession that did not become part of the final Fourteenth Amendment.

Couy Griffin was indeed removed from office today. He claimed in a radio interview with Anthony Lucero on KALH this afternoon that he received a call from the Otero Couty Manager telling him he was “officially removed from office, that his office security code had been changed, his computer access stopped and that his no longer was a serving commissioner.”

Mr. Griffin apparently was pretty upset with Sherrif Black according to statements he made to KALH saying, “Probably the thing that gives me the most heartburn is that Sherrif David Black said yes totally enforce everything and that he stands behind this order…”

Griffin continued, “it’s a shame, it’s totally just a shame they can do this through the civil courts and a liberal judge in Santa Fe can take away the will of the people of Otero County and now the Governor is going to hand select whoever is going to replace me, for the next 3 and a half months, and Pamela told me on the phone, when I said what about this next commission meeting? She said we will do it with 2 commissioners… “

Couy still believes that the judge is outside of his jurisdiction.

Joshua Beasley the chairman of the Republican Party of Otero County, never contacted AlamogordoTownNews.com back with a statement but gave one to Anthony Lucero in which he said, “ I was hoping for otherwise, you know, January 6th was far from insurrection, there was bad behavior for sure on both sides but it was far from an insurrection but when the courts are overrun with people who are working against the will of the people it is not surprising.”

Amy Barela, the frontrunner in the campaign to replace Couy Griffin in the election planned for November of this year responded, “I don’t know what to say, my heart is broken for Couy.”

KALH also reached out to the Democratic Candidate to replace Couy Stephanie Dubois, her response was, “It is always a sad thing regardless of if we agreed with him or disagreed with him, it’s a sad thing to see an elected official to have to leave not under his own steam.”

The Oter County Democratic Chairman, Jeff Swansons response was, “those who intimidate voters, engage in in insurrections and conspiracy behaviors will be held accountable.”

What’s Next:

There are 3.5 months left in the term of Couy Griffin and at present District 2 is now unrepresented and without a commissioner. State law says that the Governor could pick a person to fill the position. If that were to occur that would be the first time that has occurred since the days of a territorial governor based on the research, we have found to date. 

Given its a Democratic Governor one would think the odds-on favorite would be Ms. Dubois to complete Mr. Griffins term. 

However, the Governor has taken a hands-off approach to Otero County when it comes to other vacancies. There is a vacancy for magistrate in Otero County that could have been temporarily filled by the governor.

A recommendation letter was sent to the Governor to fill that role with Reverend Warren L Robinson, until the November election by appointment, however the Governor has eft the position vacant to date. Will she continue that path with a hands-off approach to Otero County or will she act?

Couy Griffin is likely to appeal this court ruling. He entered this case with no representation and attempted to defend himself. Given the ruling and the precedent it could set on the national stage, odds are, representation will step up, as this case could end up eventually going before the US Supreme Court do it its very unique nature. 

How odd that a case in New Mexico of a former Rodeo Cowboy Actor, Couy Griffin, would gain such notoriety and possibly be precedent setting.  Politics locally gives new meaning to the slogans “Exclusively Alamogordo” or “Exclusively Otero County.”

To hear the complete interview on KALH by Anthony Lucero click on the news link…
https://kalh.org/news/

AlamogordoTownNews.com Otero County Area Gets State & Federal Infrastructure & Military Grants

A large number of projects are getting a good deal of funding for the cities in Otero County as a result of the Federal Infrastructure Bill and via New Mexico Capital Outlay grants.

The state of New Mexico identified 200 wells in need of plugging for the initial grant application through the U.S. Department of Interior, located throughout the southeast Permian Basin and northwest San Juan Basin regions. Twenty Five Million was allocated to New Mexico for cleanup under $25 million in federal funds granted per the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

About $398 million has been dedicated to construction projects, known as capital outlay, throughout the state.

Grants for infrastructure require local money and are also funded by the state via The Capital Outlay process and by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding and requests on budget bills by our elected Representatives of Congress and the Senate.

Local projects getting New Mexico Capital Outlay money include:

Improvements to the County’s public address system: $112,000

Otero County Sheriff’s Office vehicles:$400,000

Alamogordo

Construction at Alameda Park Zoo: $300,000

Irrigation system replacement at Alamogordo city golf course: $1.1 million

Field improvements at Alamogordo High School: $1.3 million

Construction at Buena Vista Elementary School: $340,000

Vehicles for Alamogordo Police Department:$314,000

Blind and Visually Impaired (NMBV): $177,000

NMBV playground construction: $950,000

Replacement of the theater roof at NMSU Alamogordo: $1 million

Cloudcroft

City vehicles and equipment: $305,000

Waterline replacement on Corona Avenue:$55,000

La Luz

Replacing three water wells: $130,000

Mescalero Apache Tribe

Sanitation Facility: $378,500

Water tank improvements: $78,530

Ski Apache improvements: $648,209

Tularosa

Vehicle purchase: $227,000

Village hall and police state repairs: $150,000

Water system improvements: $100,000

Additional Federal Grants pouring into Otero County include:

Holloman Air Force Basin received $40 million to support its training facilities for MQ-9 aircraft, an unmanned aircraft used in military defense operations.

All of U.S. MQ-9 personnel are trained at Holloman and the funding would go to building a facility specifically for these training activities.

The project was funded in Fiscal Year 2020, but was deferred to free up funds of a wall at the U.S.’ southern border with Mexico.

The base will also receive about $2 million for planning and design of an indoor target flip facility at the base.

This facility will help Holloman measure the radar characteristics of aircraft and devise an aircraft’s vulnerability to enemy radar detection.

The 34,000 facility would upgrade existing technology in use for such research and include a mechanical flip fixture and 40-ton overhead crane needed for the measurements

White Sands Missile Range will also get $1.3 million in the omnibus bill for an assembly facility for long-range missiles. These projectiles are used to attack enemies from far away to reduce the risk of U.S. personnel from enemy fire.

The facility is already planned and will also be used to test and evaluate the missiles constructed. The funding would push forward its planning and design phase.

The voting of these projects at the State Level Senator Griggs supported.

The Federal level funding received approvals of the two New Mexico Senators and the approvals of all members of the House of Representatives except oddly, local Representative, Evette Herrell voted against the Federal Infrastructure Bill.

We all agree the State and Federal budgets are bloated however the founding fathers crafted the “peoples house” to manage the nations purse strings with the theory each representative would fight to “bring home the bacon” to their home districts. 

Specific to the budget and economics this term, Ms Herrell has sponsored 1 bill and co-sponsored 2 specific to budgeting and the economy:

Herrell Sponsored Economic Legislation

H.R.6711 – Stop Funding Our Adversaries Act of 2022– This legislation would bar any federal spending from funding research by or connected to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or the Chinese Communist America’s position in the world, legitimize the CCP, and fails to hold the CCP accountable for imposing health and economic harms to the United States and other countries around the world.

Co-Sponsored Legislation

H.R.5586 – Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act

H.R.5451 – Protecting Financial Privacy Act 

The budget for the city of Alamogordo is on solid grounds and receiving a large numbers of state and Federal grants to move projects within the city forward and to further enhance the life of local citizens while continuing to build reserves. 

Meanwhile, the county funded a $100,000 frivolous lawsuit that most legal scholars suggest it will loose, it’s audit was NOT pristine, and it’s budget is at risk of funding the services needed. Under the county watch the new jail is not staffed properly that taxpayers paid millions for, and we are paying a premium to send our prisoners to other counties due to staffing problems, all the while crime is spiking further and adding to costs to the county budget. Nonpartisan leadership is needed at the county level to stabilize finances and get the jail billables in order.

Collaboration is what is needed at all levels County, State and Federal verses partisanship, to ensure state and federal grants continue to pour into projects this community needs to carry it forward. Responsible leadership looks at other municipalities across the nation and implements best practices to sustainability.

Economic sustainability and the public welfare means a combination of public private partnerships, local taxpayer funding, state and federal grants and collaborations across ideological differences for the public good: 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Groups Collaborate to Repeal Resolution By Ballot Vote

Petition for a Referendum to vote for or against a resolution declaring Alamogordo, NM a sanctuary for the unborn.

On August 2, 2022 the Alamogordo City Commissioners voted to pass resolution 2022-38 that declared Alamogordo a sanctuary city for the unborn. The majority of the people at the special meeting called by the Alamogordo City Commissioners objected to the passage of this resolution. Regardless of the majority objection the City Commissioners passed it.

Karl Melton the City Commissioner that proposed the resolution is quoted to saying:

“Last night, most of my fellow commissioners joined me in supporting Resolution 2022-38,” Melton said. “The five of us affirmed life from conception to natural death and made Alamogordo a sanctuary city for the unborn. Alamogordo now stands in unity with Otero County, which passed a similar resolution of its own.

“While there is more work to be done, I am proud of our efforts that made it clear Alamogordo does not want or need any abortion facilities here.”

Several groups in Alamogordo, NM are now collaborating to get a refendum on the ballot for the Citizens of Alamogordo to vote for or against this resolution and let the voices of the people dictate policies and resolutions and not allow elected officials to dictate to the citizenry their personal goals.

On August 26, 2022 the push to gather signatures began. As of this writing they have 270 of the required 500 signatures required. They will be gathering signatures starting at 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM from August 28, 2022 thru September 1, 2022.

Richard Welch is the source of this story and may be contacted at 720-278-1525 or by email srethng@gmail.com

AlamogordoTownNews.com Community Spotlight: Debra & Joe Lewandowski “Getting it Done”, in Historic Preservation

When one looks at a small-town community like Alamogordo, Otero County, New Mexico or any town for that matter; there are those that stand back and point to what needs to be done, there are those that criticize but never add value to the community, there are those that work discretely behind the scenes to fund and work the cogs of the bureaucracy to get things done, and then there are those that are “doers” that work daily, each and every day with passion, conviction and purpose in “getting it done.” 

When one looks at every major historical preservation project in Alamogordo over the last decade plus, Debra & Joe Lewandowski are “Getting it Done” in Historic Preservation. Taking a drive around the community, one sees the fingerprints of a passionate conviction and the “get it done” commitment of Debra & Joe Lewandowski.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” Mr. Shaw would be impressed by the conviction to historic preservation of Debra and Joe Lewandowski. 

When one looks at the Tularosa Basin Historical Society; it is backed by a volunteer board of directors, that are passionate about preserving the stories, and the structures, that make up the history of Alamogordo, and of Otero County. This platform has allowed Debra & Joe Lewandowski to find their passions and to shine.

These two individuals daily do the legwork or grunt work to bring about results in historic preservation. Long hours of mental and physical hard work, from research to actually building walls, nailing, painting, garbage removal, leading volunteers, interfacing with government officials, bureaucrats and the business community, building bridges and partnerships and doing it daily – is all in a day’s work for Debra and Joe Lewandowski.

A bit about Deb and Joe:

Joe and Deb Lewandowski were Alamogordo Mid-High School sweethearts. After graduating in 1974 and 1975, Joe joined the U.S. Army starting their adventure of moving around the world. This opportunity allowed for them to visit historical locations in the areas they served. After 6 1/2 years, they returned to Alamogordo, starting their first business in the solid waste collection business in 1981. 

Over the years, they started other businesses and continuing their involvement in solid waste consulting and management. Both have always had a love and curiosity of the true history story not the way it may have been portrayed. As Joe says, “Hollywood History”. 

In 2012, they started their involvement with the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. Working with great volunteers, they have been honored to be involved with the renovation of the “Plaza” and the La Luz Pottery Factory, two significant projects that put the Tula Basin Historic Society on the map, preserving two iconic buildings that otherwise could be derelict. 

The two are aggressively working on two more very visible projects in partnership with the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, the city of Alamogordo and the business community of the New York Avenue Business District. 

The first project is evolving, as previously reported by AlamogordoTownNews.com, on the corner of 10th Street and White Sands Blvd, as the Alamogordo Railroad History Park. The evolving park that will have artifacts and photographs from the early days of Alamogordo as a railroad town dating to the early 1900’s. The planning for the city and its roots date to 1898. 

Background on the importance of the railroad to Alamogordo, thus the park.

In 1912, incorporated Alamogordo, was founded as a company town, to support the building of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, a part of the transcontinental railway that was being constructed in the late 19th century.

Initially its main industry was timbering for railroad ties. The railroad founders were also eager to find a major town that would persist after the railroad was completed; they formed the Alamogordo Improvement Company to develop the area, making Alamogordo an early example of a planned community. The Alamogordo Improvement Company owned all the land, platted the streets, built the first houses and commercial buildings, donated land for a college. The early days of Alamogordo was driven by commerce around the railroad.

A modern park evolves under a partnered approach.

This walking park will showcase the influence of the railroad, across from the Tularosa Basin Museum and Walgreens. The park upgrades and preservation work are a joint historical preservation project between Alamogordo MainStreet (which secured a $20,000 grant from Union Pacific), the city of Alamogordo, and the design, implementation and oversite of the building project is being done by Joe and Debra under the umbrella of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, and Operational Consultants.

Debra is tasked with creating the photo essay on the walking path that will tell the story of Alamogordo as the railroad town it once was. Joe is tasked with managing the buildout. Together the new park is evolving, and they are “getting it done via community partnerships.”

Dudley School Preservation Project:

The next project, the duo of Debra and Joe, recently kicked off, was a well-attended public meeting seeking volunteers is the Dudley School Preservation Project. Since kickoff there have been two volunteer days where a large amount of cleanout has begun. The work is ongoing and will need volunteers again in the upcoming weeks.

Alamogordo’s Hispanic History, A Story Getting Representation Through Preservation:

Dudley School was the historically Hispanic School. Dudley School was built in 1914 and had four classrooms. Dudley School was set up as part of a segregation plan at the time and specialized in children that did not speak English being educated in a separate school facility. Hispanics could not go north of 10th Street or into the “plaza” at the time. The city of Alamogordo, New Mexico with its proximity to Texas was a racially divided city until the 1950’s. The Dudley School project is important in that it is a historic structure from the early 1900’s, and it was one of the two schools that served students of color during the years of segregation. The project will bring the building back to its origins of 4 rooms and will be a community center as well as a museum telling firsthand family stories of students that attended the Dudley School. The revitalized school will also have playground equipment and will be available to the public for rentals. This is another community partnership effort led by the duo in working the process of partnerships between the city, the Tularosa Basin Historic Society and the public in volunteering to assist in the grunt work of preservation.

According to Joe and Debra, “helping with the setup and planning of these projects, supporting the history, gathering and educating public on the stories of the Basin has been and continues to be very rewarding.”

Both have served at different times on the TBHS Board of Directors.  Debra serves as the TBHS Manager which oversees the daily operations of the museum on White Sands and 10th Street, schedules with Joe the tours and preservation of the Pottery Factory and of course these other multiple projects. 

Passion, Commitment, Heart:

As one drives around the city of Alamogordo and Otero County from the La Luz Pottery Factory to the Plaza, the Dudley School and beyond; the commitment, passion and hard work ethic of Debra & Joe Lewandowski can be felt. Steve Jobs the founder of Apple said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

It is apparent, in each interaction with Debra & Joe Lewandowski, they are creating a legacy of historic preservation. Each puts the elbow grease and hard work into the projects, and they have found the work “they love.” 

We as a community in Alamogordo, and Otero County are fortunate to have them as leaders in our community. From our hearts on New York Avenue and beyond, Thank you!

Byline Chris Edwards, AlamogordoTownNews.com, Influence Magazine

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Otero County, New Mexico Commission votes NOT to fund Couy Griffin Defense

The Otero County Commission met in special session for 31 minutes Friday morning July 1st to discuss a motion presented by Couy Griffin for the county to pay his legal expenses in a lawsuit filed against him for his removal from office.

The decision was made after 30 minutes of Mr. Griffin pleading his case and comments from the public. Some public comments were a bit aggressive as was Mr. Griffin in defense of his action.

After 13 minutes of dialog, the motion to vote was attempted to be called for by the commission chairwoman Vickie Marquardt at the special meeting July 1.  She then allowed Mr. Griffin to continue to defend himself in dialog and allowed a few public comments.

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt then made the formal motion for a vote after 30 minutes of dialog and seconded by Commissioner Matherly.  The meeting adjourned after 31 minutes.

The proposal to fund Mr. Griffin defense failed based on concerns of violating New Mexico’s and the County’s own anti-donation clause. The New Mexico Anti-Donation Clause states that “neither the state nor any county, school district or municipality… shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.”

quo warranto lawsuit was filed by Marco White, Mark Mitchell and Leslie Lakind naming Griffin’s participation in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. as grounds for his removal from office.

A record of the motions of the lawsuit is found at

https://dockets.justia.com/docket/new-mexico/nmdce/1:2022cv00284/473159

The actual complaint document can be found at

On Jan. 17, 2021, Griffin was arrested on a federal trespassing charge for entering and remaining in a restricted building. He was found guilty and was sentenced June 17 to 14 days’ time served, $500 restitution, a $3,000 fine, community service and one year of supervised release.

In a statement to fellow Commissioners, he denied any connection to the riot.

“This lawsuit is to remove me from my capacity as county commissioner and prevent me from running for county commissioner, too on the basis that I was part of an insurrection in Washington, D.C. in which I haven’t been charged or convicted of anything of the sort,” Griffin said.

Commission Couy Griffin said he called the meeting after Otero County Attorney R.B. Nichols declined to give Griffin a public statement as to why Otero County could not provide Griffin with legal representation in the matter. 

Nichols said that “only the Otero County Commission can issue official County statements.”

“I can provide advice to the Commission on how they should do something, but an official County position comes from the county commission,” Nichols said.

Both the law firm of Mynatt Martínez Springer and the New Mexico Association on Counties advised against Otero County providing legal representation to Griffin, Nichols said.

Griffin’s legal issues are mounting as he is also in an ongoing legal battle over orders to register Cowboys for Trump, an organization he founded, as a political action committee. 

A jury trial in the criminal case against Griffin for his alleged failure to register Cowboys for Trump as a political action committee is scheduled to begin Sept. 19. In July 2020 an arbitrator chosen by Cowboys for Trump agreed with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver that Cowboys for Trump fell under the jurisdiction of the Campaign Reporting Act and should be registered as such. Griffin and the organization were ordered to file delinquent expenditure and contribution reports beginning in 2019 and to pay $7,800 in accrued fines.

Couy Griffin as a part of his statements today mentioned, “he too was disappointed in President Trump that he was not getting support from the president but would rather have support from the county.” He claimed he had been, “fed to the wolves, referred to several members of the public as tyrannical Marxist and condemned mass media for failure of support.” He said, “he respects the decisions of the County Commission and the courts and believes God is on his side.”

The commission adjourned without funding his lawsuit.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Settlement Agreement Executed between EchoMail and Otero County

As thousands of travelers trapse the byways to come enjoy the beauty of Otero County and Alamogordo this weekend, and the spectacle of the Thunderbirds and other awesome displays of military pride at Holloman Airforce Base’s Air Show, the murmurs of spectacle also are running amuck around Couy Griffin and a planned Monday May 9th “Special Meeting” of the Otero County Commission. 

In a news article released by The Paper, Tierna Unruh-Enos is the publisher at The Paper.

In an article Published May 5th, 2022, at 2:27 pm it suggests that “EchoMail has canceled the contract with the county and finds NO Election Fraud.”

“The “audit” of the 2020 general election in Otero County is facing a setback. According to the Otero County Attorney RB Nichols, the software company EchoMail has canceled the contract with the county. EchoMail was given the contract by Otero County at the urging of a volunteer group of citizens called the New Mexico Audit Force. The group is led by former NMSU professor David Clements and his wife Erin Clements.

In January, the Otero County Commission approved an election audit contract of $49,750 with EchoMail. The EchoMail software has been used in other election audits such as the ones in Maricopa County, AZ, led by the Cyber Ninjas. Election officials in Maricopa disputed nearly every claim found in the audit.

Contract for Services Not Rendered

EchoMail received its first payment of $24,875 from Otero County in February per the terms of the contract. On March 17, the House Congressional Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Otero County audit and the EchoMail contract. That same day, EchoMail demanded that the balance of the contract be paid in full after turning in a 13-page document of charts and graphs with no actual analysis. The County disputed the claim, saying that they didn’t receive the services they paid for. On April 15, EchoMail returned $15,125 to the county and canceled the remainder of the contract.

Legal documents show that EchoMail contended that it had completed its contract and found no election fraud as a result of its services.

County Commissioner Couy Griffin has scheduled a special commission meeting on Monday, May 9 to discuss the audit — and to propose getting rid of voting machines in the county.”

Questionable Donations

Since the cancellation of the contract, New Mexico Audit Force has been left to its own devices to complete the audit and analysis on its own. They are not contracted by the county, nor are they a registered business in the state of New Mexico.

Couy Griffin has already gone on the defensive with a tweet to discredit the story and promising a spectacle at Monday’s Commission meeting.

In the meantime, the commission needs to tread lightly to prevent the county from having to expend taxpayer funds to defend its actions in hearings before the courts and or before Congress. 

As the Santa Fe New Mexican has reported, “Complaints of harassment and intimidation by volunteers going door to door in Otero County as part of a group that says it’s auditing the county’s 2020 presidential election results prompted Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas to issue a voter risk advisory”

Otero County is under investigation after spending $50,000 on election audit by various legal entities and may have to defend its actions in court or via fines.

In the US Congress the House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into a partisan ballot review in Otero County, New Mexico, where an “audit force” is going door to door and questioning voters.

The Committee is investigating whether the company’s audit and canvass in New Mexico illegally interferes with Americans’ right to vote by spreading disinformation about elections and intimidating voters,” House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, N.Y., and Jamie Raskin, Md., the chairman of the subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, wrote in a letter addressed to V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, the founder of EchoMail.

According to an article released today by Daily Beast; “The audit came under state and federal scrutiny after EchoMail’s CEO and allies were found to have promoted wild election conspiracy theories. But after a financial dispute with the county, EchoMail packed its bags up early.

“EchoMail fulfilled their obligations under the Contract and found No Election Fraud as a result of their services,” EchoMail’s attorney told The Daily Beast via email.”

All the rhetoric aside; the facts are that a Settlement Agreement has been executed between the County of Otero, New Mexico and EchoMail signed by the CEO of EchoMail and the County Chairperson of Otero County.

A Settlement Agreement has been executed by EchoMail and Otero County ending the relationship and with a demand for a refund for failing to deliver services agreed upon. 

A copy of the signed and executed settlement agreement is contained below…

https://agendasuite.org/iip/otero/file/getfile/23035

Let’s hope Monday’s Special Commission Meeting does not become the national news spectacle that it potentially could. 

Let’s hope rhetoric is kept at bay and the real spectacle reported is the results of a successful Air Show this weekend with 1000’s of happy shoppers spending many dollars in Otero County and contributing positively to growth and prosperity of this beautiful community. 

Let’s put our best foot forward daily, for a county that works together for mutual prosperity, and happiness, where positivity prevails, so too comes integrity in governance and in its people. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com National Small Business Week on Alamogordo’s MainStreet New York Avenue

May 1st through 7th is the official week of Small Business designated by the Small Business Administration as Small Business Week.

Sherwin Williams Paint Store, GloBug, Elite Memories Boutique, Blush Hair Salon, Showcase Carpets and Tile, New,Mexico Influence Magazine, Renefit Southeast New Mexico Influence Magazine, Fitness, AlamogordoTownNews.com, 2nd Life Media, Emanuel Lydia Productions, Our Little Country Store at Roadrunner Emporium, the Local Bodega, Del Ora Goldsmith, Rocket City Game Lounge, Mission Billiards, MoniCakes, Barbies New York Avenue Salon, D & H Stamp and Sign Company, Capped, Flickinger Center, Country Corner Kitchen, Believe It Nutrition, StrangeLove Tattoo, Alamo Jump, Picacho Peak Brewing, Good News Thrift Store, and new shops coming – this is the New York Avenue business district and this is Alamogordo MainStreet and that is Small Business. 

Alamogordo’s Main Street Business District of New York Avenue represents the largest concentration of small businesses in Alamogordo.

From the cultural arts, classes,  live music and antiques of Roadrunner Emporium, to fine entertainment at the Flickinger Center, to a higher end Fine Art experience at New York Art and Music, to finest in fashions at Elite Memories Boutique, beauty and fashion at Blush Salon, Fine speciality gifts at Victoria Alamogordo, finest in quilting supplies and fabrics at Pins and Needles, excellence in locally procured selections at the Local Bodega, trivia and beer at Picacho Peak Brewing Company, late night gaming at Rocket City Game Shop, billiards play at Mission Billiards, tile and flooring, paint supplies, nutrition needs or a hot breakfast each can be found in the New York Avenue business district of Alamogordo’s MainStreet.

The Alamogordo MainStreet organization is concentrated on revitalization and partnerships to reinvent this important corridor and in community partnership with the Alamogordo Center of Commerce, the city of Alamogordo and New Mexico MainStreet; it celebrates Small Business Week with a reminder of this important corridor to the economic vitality of Alamogordo, Otero County and Southern New Mexico. 

Alamogordo MainStreet Executive Director Nolan Ojeda via a press statement concerning Small Business Week reminds Alamogordo citizens; “Alamogordo MainStreet is Small Business. The partnership businesses of Alamogordo MainStreet are the heartbeat of Alamogordo and is exactly what the SBA seeks to highlight with Small Business Week May 1st thru 7th. As the Executive Director of Alamogordo MainStreet, I’d like to personally invite you to our district, this week and (of course every week), as we celebrate Small Business Week and cap it off with our Downtown Nights Celebration this Friday with most stores open till 8 pm. This Friday night we will have a live radio remote from KALH radio at Roadrunner Emporium, a DJ spinning music in front of Victoria some special street vendors and special pricing and events at most of the stores till 8 pm.” 

Nolan continued, “We also welcome all of those coming in this weekend for the Holloman Air Show and invite them to see what makes Alamogordo’s MainStreet the New York Avenue district so unique.”

Rene Sepulveda partner in Roadrunner Emporium explained that the partnership between him and Chris Edwards, is so excited with the momentum of Alamogordo MainStreet and the New York Avenue business partnerships; “that we deepening our partnership with Emmanuel Renteria and Lydia Aspen and their New York Art and Music Studio and investing into the district idea of creating a cultural arts sub-district.  The first example of that investment partnership was our joint Evening Under the Stars Event this past weekend. That event was the tip of the iceberg in showing the potential of arts on New York Avenue. This event resulted in several thousands of dollars worth of art to be purchased by collectors and showcased musical talent with multiple performances throughout the evening.”

The small businesses of New York Avenue have two events scheduled for May Downtown Nights is Friday May 6th with merchants open till 8 pm and Atomicon is Saturday the 14th with a full array of costumed fun similar to a traditional ComiCon event with the street closed off from 8th Avenue to 12th and to include a Hobbit Village at Patrons Hall that evening.

Alice Weinman the owner of Victoria Alamogordo and the veteran business owner of the district says of Small Business Week, “we’ve been in Historic Downtown Alamogordo for 37 years, still here and still moving onward.” 
Alamogordo Small Business is moving forward which is evident every day with the renewed energy of Alamogordo MainStreet and New York Avenue. Come on down and join the multiple small businesses for Small Business Week! 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com New York Avenue’s Pins and Needles New Owner Susan Bollinger

Pins and Needles New Logo 913 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico AlamogordoTownNews.com

On April 1st Alamogordo’s Main Street New York Avenue welcomed a familiar face, but in a new role, as a new business owner in this historic Alamogordo Main Street District. Pins and Needles at 915 New York Avenue, transitioned its ownership from Victoria Alamogordo’s proprietor Mrs. Alice Weinman, to that of her former “fabrics manager” Susan Bolinger and her business partner Penny Maurer.

Mrs. Alice Weinman is the veteran of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue having begun her adventure on New York Avenue almost 40 years ago. Mrs. Alice Weinman’s adventure in Alamogordo and on New York Avenue began as a result of the oil and gas bust of the mid 1980’s. She first set foot on New York Avenue in Alamogordo, New Mexico in October 1985. She said because she has been running three large ladies ready to wear stores in Texas she was bored to death after arriving in Alamogordo.Alice Weinman Owner Victoria Alamogordo 

Alice Weinman owner Victoria Alamogordo 915 Néw York Avenue AlamogordoTownNews.com

According to Mrs. Weinman also known affectionately on the street as “Mrs. Alice” when she came to Alamogordo, the Victoria store was already in operation but not doing well. She said she went into the store and said, “Hi, I am Alice Weinman, and I am here to help you.” The owner at the time responded, “Hi, I am Jatonne and I can’t pay you.” Ms. Alice says when she left the store that day, she had “the keys in her hand.”

Several years later she purchased Victoria at 913 New York Avenue. Over the next 37 years the business evolved and prospered and became a family business that included her husband, son and daughter Barbara; each assisting and working the business to grow. The business did indeed evolve and grow.

Alice and her family are the longest continuously operating business owners on New York Avenue, with businesses that have grown, survived and prospered, over almost 4 decades.

Ms. Alice has modified and tweaked the business over the years to ensure sustainability with the evolving taste of her customer base. That evolution has continued over the decades and in October of 2019 she had the idea of getting into the fabrics and the quilting business. She converted the vault area of her store into a sales area focused on quilting and fabrics. She hired a “fabrics manager” Susan Bollinger to lead the new part of her business. 

Susan Bollinger is an Alamogordo native that worked in a frame shop for many years. She had an eye for art and colors, is a hobbyist artist and always admired Ms. Alice and wanted to go to work with her. That opportunity came about in October of 2019 when Ms. Alice hired her to manage to lead the “fabrics section” in the vault. The business was a success and grew and they made the decision to make Pins and Needles at Victoria into a separate business and acquired the building at 915 New York Avenue and renamed it simply, Pin and Needles.  
Susan Bollinger the new owner of Pins and Needles Alamogordo, New Mexico. 

Susan Bollinger new owner of Pins and Needles Alamogordo #AlamogordoMainStreet AlamogordoTownNews.com

Susan Bolinger continued to run the business and expand it under the watchful eye and mentorship of Ms. Alice. 

The new store opened in January of 2021 offering an expanded line of the highest quality fabrics and more, and to include quilt making classes from quality experienced quilting and sewing educators. 

Both businesses evolved and prospered, and both survived the turbulence of Covid-19 with tweaks to the business offering along the way. 

Pins and Needles 913 New York Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico #AlamogordoMainStreet AlamogordoTownNews.com

Ms. Alice’s daughter Barbara jokes, but is correct in her assessment, that the Roadrunner Emporium and the Local Bodega, both newer businesses on the street, that market themselves as small business incubators, are indeed incubators; but that her mother, “Ms. Alice was incubating and mentoring before it was a trendy buzzword on New York Avenue.”  Brenda Barber continued that, “she is excited and proud to see Susan fly the coup, so to speak, having been incubated by Ms. Alice and the family operators of Victoria.”

Susan Bolinger is very complimentary of her relationship with Ms. Alice and the family operation of Victoria Alamogordo. She says that she always admired Ms. Alice’s grit, stamina and the care she shows for her staff and her customers. “Ms. Alice is one very special person and a treasure to New York Avenue and to Alamogordo,” according to Susan.

Susan Bollinger came to New York Avenue to assist Ms. Alice and grew under her leadership and mentoring. Susan has partnered with Penny Maurer in the acquisition of Pin and Needles. “Penny brings her accounting background to assist in our growth which helps me a lot,” according to Susan Bollinger.Shoppers at Alamogordo Main Streets Pins and Needles

Susan says that her “years of framing experience, the mentoring by Ms. Alice and her eye for color is what provides her the strength to want to own and build upon the brand of her own business.”

It appears that Susan is also making the business a “family affair” in the transition to her ownership that took effect April 1st. She is hitting the ground running with a store that is busy and as of today has new signage and a new logo. Susan’s daughter Meg Bolinger designed a brand-new logo and sign that was installed in the front window today. The new logo for Pins and Needles is sleek, trendy and current but with a nod to “the love and compassion of the art of sewing.” The needle threading a heart in the new signage is symbolic of Susan’s love of quilting and needle arts.New Pins and Needles Sign created by Meg Bollinger

Both Susan and her business partner have the bug for quilting and needle arts. Her business partner Penny Mauer started sewing and quilting during the Covid-19 lockdown and caught the “quilting bug” about two years ago.

When asked what makes Pins and Needles such a success, Susan said, “it is absolutely about providing the highest quality fabrics that are not found in big box retailers at the mall or online, and it’s about getting to know the customer by name and understanding their needs and their projects.”

Pins and Needles, Alamogordo, at 915 New York Avenue, offers classes and workshops, it is focused on a quality offering that cannot be found online nor at big box stores. Individual attention, knowing the customer’s name, understanding their project and how to help facilitate that project is what makes Pins and Needles successful and sustainable for the long run.

Congratulations to Susan Bolinger and her partner Penny Mauer on acquiring Pins and Needles, Alamogordo. Congratulations to Alice Weinman for her mentorship of this business venture. Congratulations to New York Avenue, for having another business success, that is transitioning to the next generation of business ownership that has the wisdom of history, traditions and an appreciation for the artisan skills of quilting and the art of the needle. 

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