The New Mexico 12th Division court hosted the hearing today between seated Otero County appointed County Commissioner Stephanie Dubois which filed for a restraining order against Couy Griffin after a tense public comments session in the November Otero County Commission meeting. The Honorable Shannon Murdock ordered a dismissal.
Dubois said she made the order after an incident that happened during a county commission meeting on Nov. 10. During the meeting on November 10th, Griffin made comments towards Dubois during a public comment period. An argument then ensued between both parties, involving shouts and harsh words. Dubois said she was terrified over what happened and still fears for her life. “I’m just fearful. I’m 77 years old,” she said. “It was very scary that nobody protected me.”
However, the verbal quarrel wasn’t the only incident that happened to Dubois according to her in several reports with Albuquerque television stations. The restraining order however only outlined the events of that day when filed.
The hearing was virtual and not an in person hearing with a judge brought in from out of the area because all members of the local judiciary recused themselves from the case or had a full docket.
The hearing was originally scheduled for December 5th to be heard in front of the Honorable Shannon Murdock. The filing of a restraining order is a serious action by a public official on a constituent even one that is a former county commissioner. The issue locally was such a hot potato with the hearing scheduled for December 5th, 2022. The state Supreme Court appointed the Honorable Shannon Murdock to preside.
The hearing was postponed then to December 15th as Commissioner Dubois requested a continuance and Couy Griffin filed for a dismissal.
The hearing was hosted virtually today, and the judge dismissed the case. The record or minutes of the case has not yet been released to the public.
2nd Life Media and AlamogordoTownNews.com requested a comment from Commissioner DuBois but her response when we asked for comment was “No.”
We then also requested a comment from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, and he provided us the following statement…
“The filing of this restraining order was purely political. I did not threaten Stephanie in any way nor did I harass her. I merely expressed my opinion that I felt her appointment to the seat in which I was elected was a disgrace. And that opinion is formed by the fact that she has run for office eight times and been unsuccessful every time she has run. She is not an elected voice of Otero County but an appointed voice of the radical progressive Governor of New Mexico. We hear daily that our democracy is under attack. Not a better example of that than what has happened in Otero County. But I’m glad it’s behind me and I appreciate you for allowing me to share my side of this story.”
The case is now dismissed. Ms. Dubois will serve in her role for two more weeks and the Amy Barela will be sworn in as the newly elected commissioner for Otero County District 2.
A side note and additional commentary regarding coverage of this saga in Otero County Politics:
Our earlier reporting on the ongoing saga of the restraining order was met with harsh attacks by some members of the Otero County Democratic machine and some members of the Otero County Republican machine. Individual members of each attacked our coverage in some social media channels some making attacks very personal to the businesses we operate. Without naming names a few went as far as cyber bullying and questioned why we took sides on the issue. A few became very hostile and passionate. Social media challenges and phone calls can be interesting. We were accused by some of only viewing the issue of intimidation of Ms. DuBois from a position of privilege as white males, (the majority owner and the publisher is a Hispanic male), we were told we were insensitive and don’t understand hostility. (As members of the LBGTQ community in a conservative county we would beg to differ.) However, to reassure ourselves that we were being fair and unbiased we had our specific to this issue reviewed by a panel outside of the county for their take on our coverage. They unanimously agreed our reporting did not show bias.
The review committee surmised that:
“The AlamogordoTownNews.com allowed for each sides point of view to be heard but did offer a valid question of rather the free speech would potentially be infringed upon by a restraining order. The AlamogordoTownNews.com site also questioned inconsistencies in the statements by those involved depending upon the media outlet. It questioned if the county saw a threat and as an employer and should it have filed a restraining order as based on court precedent a route taken by other governmental bodies?”
AlamogordoTownNews.com and AlamogordoConservativeDaily.org will continue to publish stories of the public interest. It will question official positions and actions of elected and appointed representatives when it deems it of interest to the public. Most of the coverage is not political but is of community interest related to sports, business, community interest and culture.
The political coverage does garner large readership and when Couy Griffin is involved it does seem to spark community interest and hot debate locally and from across the nation.
Will Couy Griffin continue in the public political spotlight long term, or will he seek other avenues in the private sector?
Time will tell. He will be under less of a microscope in the new year excepting for any ongoing court cases, investigations, or trials since he is no longer a public official.
The ownership and business interests of this media company also are not public officials, thus not in the public realm. They are protected by First Amendment rights and protections afforded to them via Amendment One and is supported via membership in Independent News Organizations which assist, mentor, and grow small local media companies to keep a free local press and public dialog alive and well in small rural communities.
Until the next story, let’s each have a day of positivity and prosperity during this season of caring.
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!
When a public official files a restraining order for public comments is that a dangerous precedent to free speech?
The Otero County Commission the last several years has been the albatross of New Mexico in driving a media circus of controversy. Most of those controversies were driven by Couy Griffin while holding office of County Commissioner District 2, but the actions of the commission related to a variety of issues have raised questions and multiple court cases, a few of which have risen to the attention of the New Mexico Supreme Court and may eventually land on the docket of the US Supreme Court.
With the removal of Mr. Griffin from office, some thought civility and common sense would come back to the commission. The appointment of Stephanie DuBois by the Governor to fill Mr. Griffin’s position led to more controversy being so close to the general election.
The County Commission meeting of November 10th became a true circus of hostility and the meeting fell into disarray that again garnered national media attention to Otero County New Mexico and not in a positive light.
During that meeting, during public comments Couy Griffin went on a verbal rampage disparaging Ms. Dubois and attacking her role in the office she was appointed to calling her “an eight time looser.” Ms. Dubois felt she was verbally assaulted and not protected by the County Commission Chair nor the Sherrif is what she has stated in public comments.
Ms. Dubois told KOAT Action News; “I’m just fearful. I’m 77 years old. I don’t own a gun. I don’t have any way [to protect myself]. And for me, that thing in the room was frightening,”
According to a filing at the Otero County Courthouse, Couy Griffin is facing a restraining order from Stephanie Dubois. She’s the current county commissioner till December 31st via the appointment.
Dubois said she made the order after an incident that happened during a county commission meeting on Nov. 10. During the Thursday meeting, Griffin made a few comments towards Dubois during a public comment period. An argument then ensued between both parties, involving shouts and harsh words.
Dubois said she was terrified over what happened and still fears for her life. “I’m just fearful. I’m 77 years old,” she said. “It was very scary that nobody protected me.”
However, the verbal quarrel wasn’t the only incident that happened to Dubois. She claims she felt threatened the day the commission certified the election results when Couy was on horseback on the public street carrying a flag that said, “we the people.”
She told KOAT “Couy is on a horse, hiding behind a fire truck with a big flagpole that said, ‘We the people.’ All of a sudden, I see the flagpole moving and he comes down and puts himself between me and my car,” she said. After the two moments, the 77-year-old decided to file a restraining order, to ensure her safety and protection.
These statements to KOAT and statements she has given prior and then yesterday to radio personality Anthony Lucero of KALH radio raise questions as to the timing of events, were they as aggressive as perceived, or were they just an exercise of free speech?
Free speech can sometimes be intimidating when on the receiving end as a public servant. But unless an actual threat has been made it is hard to define what is meant as rhetoric and what is an actual threat to a public servant.
The restraining order was filed prior to the incident on horseback. There seems to be conflicting dialog and conflicting interpretations as to what occurred via the horseback incident.
Ms. Dubois did a post on November 12th that described the incident and then the description to Anthony Lucero at KALH and the description of that incident to KOAT television News seems to differ a bit.
To KALH she mentioned a deputy sheriff asked her where she was parked and agreed to walk her to her car. She then said during the interview with Mr. Lucero that “the deputy was present when Mr. Griffin appeared from behind a parked firetruck on horseback and on the public street. She claimed to Mr. Lucero in an interview yesterday that the deputy, “only went so far with me and I ended up going to the car by myself.“
Did Ms. Dubois feel intimidated, one could certainly see how she could feel intimidated by Mr. Griffin, but the question posed is was her safety at risk? It’s hard to imagine a deputy sheriff would have exposed Ms. Dubois to harm due to the personal liability and the liability to the department. Further based on experience with law enforcement in Otero County most are very responsible, professional and take their oath of office to ensure public safety seriously. I recently personally had an incident on the street with a gentleman that threatened me, the deputy at the courthouse was very protective of me and ensured my public safety from the threat. Based on my experience with the Otero County Sheriff’s Department and with the local Alamogordo Police Department it seems at odds that a sworn officer would allow Ms. Dubois to be at risk.
Even at the crazed County Commission meeting of November 10th, 2022, at 1:15.43 of the video one can witness Sherrif Black removing the microphone from Mr. Griffin and ordering the room vacated to calm the room. The Chairwoman ordered the room closed for 15 minutes for a cooling off period.
While the tone of the conversation was not “civil dialog” and was harsh and aggressive in tone, one is hard pressed to see a threat of harm to those seated on the commission dais.
Ms. Dubois via her filing for the restraining order claims, “I am an elderly woman who feels she has no protection from law enforcement.”
While her assertion that “Mr. Griffin shows a great deal of anger towards the party” she belongs is factual, the assertion that she feels she has no protection from law enforcement seems counter intuitive to the culture of law enforcement.
The filing of a restraining order is a serious action by a public official on a constituent.
The issue locally is such a hot potato that local judges recused themselves from presiding over the hearing scheduled for December 5th, 2022. The state Supreme Court appointed the Honorable Shannon Murdock to preside.
Judge Murdock has an interesting job in hearing this case. Not often does a public official file a restraining order on a member of the public due to public comments.
There is precedent in California for such a case…
Can a city restrict the conduct of a self-described civic-minded individual, with a history of flamboyant speech and dramatic behavior in his communications with the city, without running afoul of free speech rights?
In City of San Jose v. William Garbett, filed on November 24, 2010, the Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeal says yes, when the conduct meets the conditions for an injunction under Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8.
Section 527.8, also known as the Workplace Violence Safety Act, allows any employer to seek a temporary restraining order and injunction on behalf of an employee who “has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from any individual” at the workplace. For purposes of the statute, a city is an “employer.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 527.8(d).) “Unlawful violence” is defined as “any assault or battery or stalking as prohibited in Section 646.9 of the Penal Code, …” (§ 527.8(b)(1).)
“Credible threat of violence” is defined as “a knowing and willful statement or course of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family, and that serves no legitimate purpose.” (§ 527.8(b)(2).)
To obtain an injunction, an employer must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, not only that the defendant engaged in unlawful conduct within the meaning of the statute, but also that great or irreparable harm would result to the employee if the injunction were not issued due to the reasonable probability unlawful violence will occur in the future. (Code Civ. Proc. § 527.8(f); Scripps Health v. Marin (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 324, 335.)
Interestingly in the case it was not the elected or appointed individual seeking the restraining order but the city applying for the restraining order to protect its paid personnel. In the case of Ms. Dubois, she is paid by Otero County thus the county is the one that is tasked with workplace protection.
In Garbett, the City of San Jose sought 14 injunctions (and temporary restraining orders) on behalf of the city’s deputy city clerk, the mayor and city council. The city submitted evidence that the appellant, William Garbett, age 70, had a long history of grievances with the city going back many years, and that the appellant made a “credible threat of violence” toward a deputy city clerk, and other city employees under section 527.8(b)(2). In addition to evidence that the appellant regularly visited the city clerk’s office and attended city council meetings, expressed fanciful ideas, appeared agitated or angry or resentful toward the city, and had inappropriate verbal or physical outbursts, there was additional evidence that this antagonism escalated. Specifically, there was evidence that the appellant threatened a deputy city clerk by stating that his only recourse to change policy in San Jose was to act similar to that of one angry man in Kirkwood, Missouri, who a few months prior had shot and killed several people at Kirkwood City Hall. The deputy clerk, who understood the reference, reportedly felt threatened and feared for her safety and the safety of the mayor and city council. After she reported the event, the city searched the appellant when he attempted to enter council chambers and implemented extra monitoring procedures or security measures.
The trial judge granted the city’s initial requests for interim restraining orders. Following an evidentiary hearing – which included the testimony of several witnesses who had previous interactions with the appellant and two expert witnesses – the trial judge also issued 14 injunctions restricting the conduct of the appellant toward the deputy city clerk, mayor, and council.
Each injunction included orders requiring the appellant to stay 300 yards from the protected individuals and City Hall. The injunction also included specified exceptions which would allow appellant to attend public City Council. Those exceptions included requiring appellant to enter City Hall through a specified entrance, be subject to a search before entering the City Council chambers, sit in a specific row, use a particular stairway during meetings, and communicate with the City Clerk’s office by mail or proxy.
Appellant sought review of the injunctions contending, in part, that the orders restricting his conduct and movements violated his rights to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the California Constitution and represented the city’s attempt to “curtail what amounts to annoying behavior.”
The Court of Appeal affirmed all 14 injunctions including the restrictions on the appellant’s movements. The Court disagreed with the appellant’s First Amendment arguments, relying on California Supreme Court precedent establishing the right of the state to penalize willful threats to perform illegal acts, even those consisting of pure speech. In re M.S. (1995) 10 Cal.4th 698, 710.) The Court also found substantial evidence to support the court’s factual findings on the requisite elements of section 527.8, namely that the appellant had expressed a credible threat of violence toward city employees that was not constitutionally protected speech; that this conduct caused the city employees to experience fear; and a likelihood of future harm.
When the appellant protested that he did not intend to threaten anyone, the Court dismissed this argument, concluding that the defendant’s subjective intent is not required for the conduct to be deemed a credible threat under the current definition found in section 527.8(b)(2).
Appellant further challenged the injunctions on overbreadth grounds, taking issue with the limitations on his access to the City Hall building and his movements within the council chambers. The Court nevertheless upheld these restrictions, deferring to the trial judge’s view of the evidence and factual findings on the requisite elements of section 527.8, and the lower court’s considerable discretion to fashion orders aimed at preventing harm of the nature suggested by the threats.
The Garbett case establishes good law for public entities which seek to curtail repeat offenders or conduct that escalates or develops into what has been classified as more than merely annoying or unprotected speech.
The question in the case of Ms. Dubois verses Couy Griffin, does this case escalate to the level that requires such action? Did Ms. Dubois ask the County Attorney for assistance and protection?
Based on court precedent should the county be filing on behalf of Ms. Dubois or is she correct in filing a restraining order on her own?
As usual, this will be another interesting case that will draw much attention of the media both locally and on the national level. The judge in the case is in a no-win position, as whatever the outcome, there will be an outcry of criticism. Depending upon the ruling, this is yet another case, that could end up in appeal and continue to drive negative headlines to Otero County New Mexico.
Sadly, this again is another black eye to the reputation of Otero County and Alamogordo and does not show the best and the brightest of the region. This is another incident that makes the region look like the wild west verses an area of sophistication and a place that is conducive as a good business environment.
When a public official files a restraining order for public comments is that a dangerous precedent to free speech?
Based upon the case outlined above the answer is complicated at best, as the erratic individual was able to continue in his quest of expression but was required to comply with additional security measures to ensure the safety of public servants.
Otero County politics is always entertaining as we have said before. In the new year may we get past entertainment and move to a zone of civility and good governance for the good of the public.
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In a very productive meeting of the Alamogordo City Commission tonight the Commission passed the first publication of the City Ordinance that places a Code of Conduct Policy and a social media ordinance into action for the City Commissioners.
Under the leadership of Mayor Susan Payne, the city moved forward with a 6 to 0 vote based on a strong recommendation from the City Manager and the Municiple League to add a local layer of accountability and protection for the citizens of Alamogordo and to commissioners themselves.
There was light debate led by Commissioner Josh Rardin on semantics of language as related to the city charter on one point. Once the language was verified and the city charter was consulted to by the city attorney and the city manager all seemed pleased with the policy mechanics and the ordinance as proposed. A motion was made by Commissioner Sharon McDonald and Seconded by Commissioner Burnet and the vote was called. Without further debate and a roll call vote the motion for the Code of Conduct passed 6-0.
Commissioner Melton was not present and made comments in a previous meeting opposing the ordinance. In a text dialog with AlamogordoTownNews.com on October 4th at 7:59 pm Mr. Melton said, ” I made the comment during the last commission meeting about why I OPPOSE the draft code of conduct, in its current form.” He continued, “if changes are made, I will happily vote for it.”
The Code of Conduct lays out a process for conduct and a process for complaints by staff or the citizens of Alamogordo for a breach of such conduct. A chairperson with legal experience would be convened to weigh the complaint and if legitimate they would assemble a review panel to review the compliant. After the review then a recommendation of a fine or censorship or escalation to the state level would then occur. Or if found not guilty of the charge then all would go back to status quo. Citizens abusing the policy would be barred from future complaints via the process in the ordinance.
A second complimentary ordinance was also passed related to use of social media. The ordinance passed without debate with Commissioner Rardin calling the vote and Commissioner McDonald seconding the vote. It also passed 6-0 with Melton being absent.
The other topic that actually had the most dialog was the streamlining of the way business licenses are issued. The new process requires a streamlined application, an inspection by fire first and ensuring zoning is correct then a quick approval by the city clerk. The process spreads renewals across the year to the business application anniversary date verses all 1500 or so of them coming due the `1st of January. There was debate on the fees for missing the renewal and dialog around some verbiage and cannabis but overall was civil and mature dialog. Mayor Payne again explained the importance of the process, there was dialog around public safety and food trucks, but this was another very pro-business approach to streamlining the process and ensuring it was affordable to register in Alamogordo to do business.
Mayor Susan Payne has made it a priority of her administration to show Alamogordo is “Open for Business and Business Growth.”
Excellent job and dialog by all commissioners that were present at tonight’s meeting. The 10/11/22 City of Alamogordo Commission Meeting was an example of bi-partisan collaboration, driving transparency and business, by the 6 Commissioners that were present. Job well done!
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AlamogordoTownNews.com Mr Melton lied there is No communication from constituents asking for the resolution to be considered.
During the special session of the Alamogordo City Commission meeting on August 2, 2022, Mr. Melton went on public record and lied. If one watches the video proceeding of that day one sees at 3:57.45 when Mr. Melton claims, “the reason for bringing it (the resolution) forward to discuss is because I heard from my constituents this is what they want. I am in this role to represent them…I am here as a service to our constituents; we have to represent them…”
NO SUCH COMMUNICATION EXISTS.
2nd Life Media and AlamogordoTownNews.com under the Open Records Act requested from the City of Alamogordo all communications from citizens “requesting that Mr. Melton place the Sanctuary City for the Unborn on the agenda as a resolution and or any communications regarding abortion and the fear of clinics in Alamogordo up to the date the resolution before the public in a “Special Session.” Also requested were notes from City Staff regarding any dialog that Commissioner Melton had with staff and staff notes related to the proposed resolution regarding “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” Status and all communications from constituents 60 days prior suggesting that Abortion was a hot button issue that “required it to be addressed by the city commission.”
During the special session of the Alamogordo City Commission meeting on August 2, 2022, Mr. Melton went on public record and lied. Mr. Melton claims, “the reason for bringing it (the resolution) forward to discuss is because I heard from my constituents this is what they want…”
NO SUCH COMMUNICATION EXISTS. The Melton/Block Duo lied…
The City Charter and State law requires the retention of all communications that are related to records or communications used, created, received, maintained, or held on behalf of a public body are public records just as if they were maintained by the public body itself.
(Thus, if any communication existed in a private server that is not operated by the city or notes of any calls, copies of text, social media inquiries that exist, then Mr. Melton by law was required to turn them into the city when a Public Records Request was submitted.
In this regard, if private email or other communications is used to conduct public business, (a constituent request to discuss abortion or a resolution around abortion would be public business) the email or communication, is a public record, even though a personal account is used. The person using the personal account is effectively using, creating, receiving, maintaining, or holding the data and must release it to the government body they represent and to the public if an Open Records request was submitted.
If a record exists and Mr. Melton did not release it, then he violated the law and is subject to fines and a misdemeanor.
If no records exist as per city staff, then Mr. Melton and Mr. Block lied in their assertion that this was “necessary to bring to a resolution out of constituent concern.” Not one single form of communication with city representatives regarding this issue exists prior to the public forum concerning the resolution.
In an article in the propaganda blog of his domestic partner, Candidate John Block, Melton is quoted as saying…“I have brought forward Resolution 2022-38 because my constituents are worried Alamogordo has no resolution or ordinance on the books protecting unborn life. This measure not only affirms life from conception to natural death, but it declares Alamogordo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” said Melton.
Which constituents are worried? None, Zero not a single request until they made it an issue.
Our public records request required the city to refer “all communications from constituents requesting or any dialog related to abortion and a resolution.” NONE EXISTS.
This was a ruse,“an action intended to deceive the public, a trick, a sham.”
It now makes sense why Mr. Melton does not support having a Code of Conduct in place for elected and appointed city commissioners. As this action crafted on deceit would be a violation of the public trust in misrepresenting a “constituent concern” that did not exist.
If the duo had been honest, they would have gone on the record and conceded that their family had financially gained from a pro-life organization via past employment and that this is an issue dear to them thus they wanted to bring it forward. An honest dialog of why it is important to them would have gained more allies, including this news source, verses deception to the public which is a violation of public trust.
And of great interest were a few elements of the staff notes procured via our Open Records request.
Staff notes referenced “Floyd”? We have an enhanced open records request seeking clarification and more information around the staff notes and rather the reference was actually to a resolution Roosevelt County passed a year ago.
Floyd and Roosevelt County verses Alamogordo, Otero County:
Floyd is a city in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, a year ago this small poor community passed, a pro-life resolution also with NO power of law.
The staff notes also referenced Karl Melton providing the staff an example resolution. As previously reported Mr. Block, Mr. Melton’s domestic partner worked for a pro-life advocacy group out of Washington DC, in his past and the family connection to a pro-life Advocacy group was left out of any dialog or disclosures on the part of Mr. Melton or Mr. Block during the heat of the resolution and petition fight. (Another breach of trust by failing to disclose past financial gains from a pro-life advocacy group.)
Floyd, New Mexico is a village in Roosevelt County with a population of 91, a racial makeup of 93.59% White, 5.13% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. The per capita income for the village is $13,747, 19.2% of families and 41.8% of the population lives below the poverty line, including 61.5% of under 18 and 19.2% of those over 64 living below the poverty line. It is in Roosevelt County with a total county population of 18,018. The population of the county shrank 1800 people from the 2010 census to the 2020 census.
Alamogordo, New Mexico is a city with a population 31,384, a racial makeup of 75.4% White of which Hispanic or Latino were 32.0% of the classification); 5.6% African American, 1.1% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 12.1% from some other race, and 4.2% from two or more races. the median income for a household in the city was $30,928. About 13.2% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line,including 23.9% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over 64 living below the poverty line.
The contrast between these two communities in population 91 verses 31,284; racial makeup 93.59% white verses Alamogordo’s more diverse, a poverty rate in Floyd of 41.8% verses Alamogordo 23.9% makes one wonder. Why would Floyd, Roosevelt County be referenced in any political dialog with Alamogordo as a “model” for public policy? One would think our elected representatives would model actions from successful communities not one with a shrinking county population and a poverty rate that has 61.5% of the children living below the poverty level.
True leadership means modeling public policy based upon successful communities.
Duplicity and Demagoguery – the Company One Keeps.
A fitting poem – The Company One Keeps
“One night in late October,
When I was far from sober,
My poor feet began to stutter,
So, I lay down in the gutter,
And a pig came near and lay down by my side.
Then we sang “It’s all fair weather when good fellows get together”,
Till a lady passing by was heard to say:
“You can tell a man who boozes,
By the company he chooses”,
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.”
Why are we focused on the Block/Melton duo?
The Melton Block duo has roused, either directly or indirectly through their surrogates to remove those that differ from their viewpoints from the party dialog. They engage in blocking dialog and profiles. To date they will not engage in civil discussion to find areas of collaboration; they see more value in attacking opponents rather then delivering an affirmative argument for their positions. It is easy to attack another of differing opinions, it more difficult to provide affirmative dialog with positive overtones to build consensus.
If we want representation within our city and at the state level to bring state funding for business growth and marketing, education, infrastructure, and support for our way of life, then leadership must show and offer positive collaborative solutions.
Our city and county deserve leadership that understands the art of horse trading and compromise. Hostility toward the power brokers up north does the region NO favors in brokering solutions.
We want a state representative and a commissioner that is looked at as seasoned professionals not one that is considered on the fringe. Fringe leaders garner headlines and build upon their personal ego but deliver little to their constituents.
Skilled moderate leaders on the other hand seek areas of compromise and collaboration to bring the best of government forward for the constituents within their district.
The Block/Melton duo have a history of partnering with those of dubious tricks and dubious reputations and tactics. A “mysterious mailer” with our business return address which is “mail fraud” went out to key Republicans in Otero County to disparage and intimidate us from questioning the radicalized tactics being displayed and reported upon.
The mailer was crafted with a specific intent to damage our business and to damage our reputation within the community. Was it sent from the candidate or the appointed commissioner or one of their ambitious followers? We hope not. The postal inspector general, the federal authorities and our private investigator will eventually have the answer to that issue and once established we will prosecute.
However, mysterious mailers and social media attacks are not new to Candidate Block and appointed Commissioner Melton, as per the company they keep. The duos associates, as reported by the New Mexico Political Journal, conducted smear campaigns against Albuquerque meteorologist Mark Ronchetti who is the Republican nominee for governor when he was running for Senator in 2020. As reported by the New Mexico Political Journal “John Block has posted particularly ugly smears, as has Rick Montoya, and there was a disgusting letter that quite a number of delegates have said looks like the style and tone of one of (Republican Party Leader) Pearce’s closest allies, John Billingsley.”
Mr. Block clearly still has not backed away from the attacks on Ronchetti, he has several stories he wrote in attack of Ronchetti posted on his campaign website.
All the while Block recently paid $1000 for a sponsorship at a fundraiser for Ronchetti. Hypocrisy or attempting to coddle favors in the final weeks before the election?
The playbook of Duplicity and Demagoguery continues. However those in Santa Fe and Albuquerque are all too familiar with these characters.
Clearly, we believe in responsible government. We believe those leaders in appointed and elected positions should be examples of collaboration and seek and sponsor solutions to business growth, crime, and security.
We do not believe that there is a role for duplicity and demagoguery nor personal agendas from elected or appointed leaders.
Thus far the appointed Commissioner Melton has not sponsored a single piece of legislation or a single ordinance to address real issues within the city of Alamogordo around business growth, crime prevention nor improving core services.
The appointed Commissioner Melton and his domestic partner have sown seeds of deceit and division and conned the public into believing a non-issue was the most pressing issue facing the city.
They know better! The additional ruse against a City Code of Conduct creates an even further wedge between the idea of accountability and real responsible governance.
Instead of meeting with moderate Republicans and Independents and seeking common ground for areas of collaboration they call out those that differ as RINOS. They block us on their social media pages and attempt character attacks and try to change the narrative rather than addressing real issues and ways to compromise for the good of the community.
Block seemed to have aligned, at past state conventions, with those that are on the fringe to the traditional Republican Party platform. He aligned with those that that attacked a seated Republican Governor in the past and were part of the element within that cost the Republican Party a significant number of seats in the state assembly, all the while state houses in most states have seen gains from moderate Republican candidates.
The extremist gets headlines and feed the fury of division, all the while the moderates collaborate and drive public policy forward.
What is most entertaining is Mr. Block is a newcomer and opportunist to Alamogordo. His past life he has flip flopped in ideology. He worked for a pro-life organization and as reported by The New Mexico Political Journal concerning Mr. Block,“the irony of a former Martin Heinrich intern and volunteer for Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign awarding himself the position of judge and jury of the conservative Republican purity test has been noted by many.”
More entertaining is the fact he does not own these flip-flops nor acknowledge his history. Rather than embrace his past, admit to his experience, and explain what he leaned from each experience he “whitewashes it.”
He whitewashed the story of his working with Martin Heinrich and tried to explain away why he worked with both Heinrich and Keller in his propaganda pages.
Note in his linked-in profile there is not a single reference to working as a Democratic Operative as a Martin Heinrich intern and a volunteer Democratic Operative for Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign. He does have a link to a policy brief he claims credit for yet does not allude to the Democratic Senator he crafted the brief for. He name-drops, Republicans, all over his linked-in resume but does not dare acknowledge his work for Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich or Mayor Tim Keller though in reality those two assignments were the most prestigious of his resume excepting of course for his position in Las Vegas as a Front Desk Agent at Diamond Resorts International.
The fact of him defining a RINO and who should, or should not be in the party, is classic.
According to a site called politicalfireball.comin a story posted April 8, 2020, “Block comes from deep Democrat roots and is the cousin of former Democrat PRC Commissioner, Jerome Block, who was sentenced after pleading guilty to fraudulent use of a state-issued credit card, embezzlement and election law violations. John Block’s uncle has also been in and out of jail for drug use and breaking the terms of his probation.”
His family experience explains his hostility toward this news source and his stance of being against “rehabilitative justice” as his family experience had run ins with the law and continued a path downward instead of a path forward.
Carpetbagger: “a person perceived as an unscrupulous opportunist”
The heat of Northern New Mexico media coverage began to impact the Block/Melton duo with another article titled Glass House John Block Exposed.
This heat and exposure with many articles attacking Mr. Block during the 2000 election may explain why the Block/Melton duo fled Northern New Mexico to seek political favor in Otero County having lived in the county less than 2 years…
Block in commentary on his propaganda page tried to “mansplain” his association with Democrats as a member of their staff.
Block: “I worked to help stop radical open-borders socialists from taking over Albuquerque by VOLUNTEERING on the Keller campaign for a little over three weeks to uncover unethical campaign practices.”
Yeah right, okay, sure. Anyone who has ever worked on a professional campaign knows that a “volunteer” will never be privy to the innerworkings of a campaign, its strategy, and its internal process. There is NO WAY a “volunteer” in just “three weeks” John Block, would have had access to any information that could be used in an ethics review.
A very funny story to weave, but of course, most Americans are gullible when it comes to politics and the spinning politicians weave.
Most of the public has never seen the innerworkings of a professional campaign, and how a professional campaign staff operates, so this story would seem plausible to the untrained political novice.
But it gets better…
Per Block, “the only office that granted me an internship was Heinrich’s.” That in itself is a testament that Republican leaders at the time did not offer Mr. Block an internship. One wonders why?
Block continued: “I was given the selective opportunity to serve the people of New Mexico as a Senate intern and bring a conservative perspective to the far-left office…My fellow interns repeatedly attacked my Republican ideals and repeatedly attempted to have me fired from the internship, but I did not back down — and it made my conservative values and support for our 45th president that much stronger.”
Or more radicalized, the duo felt the heat and fled the hot pan of Northen New Mexico politics? The Block/Melton duo fled Northern, New Mexico, for a “safe, conservative community” – Otero County. Why Otero County? If success was eminent in Northern New Mexico? – Opportunism.
The Melton Block Duo has flip-flopped on Ronchetti. One wonders if Ronchetti will remember this analysis of his senatorial run by Mr. Block?
Per John Block, “Instead of campaigning to be New Mexico’s next U.S. Senator, it appears Ronchetti is more interested in playing the high school bully, name-calling, and pushing everyone in his way just to get what he wants…The nasty, bottom-of-the-barrel ad-hominem attacks on fellow Republicans, many of them being fellow candidates, prove that Ronchetti’s campaign is willing to go to any embarrassingly low level to win.”
Sound familiar? Appointed Commissioner Melton and Candidate Block, showed their true colors with the lies around the Resolution and should look in the mirror… “The nasty, bottom-of-the-barrel ad-hominem attacks on fellow Republicans… prove that (Melton and Block) is willing to go to any embarrassingly low level to win.”
Blocks words not this commentators excepting for replacing Ronchetti with Block Melton.
Ronchetti would do well to distance hisself from this duo.
Note: the commentaries and investigations into the antics of Melton and Block will stop when they rise to the occasion of true leadership, end the attacks on those that differ in opinion and embrace open dialog with a civil tone to seek areas of compromise for a better Alamogordo. Until then, we will continue to forge forward a vision to Retake Republicanism from radicalization and bring it back to the ideals of a big tent that welcomes everyone and serves with decorum and grace. It’s time the Grand Ole Party return to its roots, expels with myths and reembraces the tenants of its past glory.
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Ex-Commissioner Couy Griffin Snug with Candidate John Block Coupled in Demagoguery
A demagogue, a popular leader, a leader of a mob, people, populace, the commons or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity by arousing the common people against elites or those that differ in thought, especially through oratory and written dialog that whips up the passions of crowds, appealing to emotion by scapegoating groups and individuals, exaggerating dangers to stoke fears, lying for emotional effect, or other rhetoric that tends to drown out reasoned deliberation and encourage fanatical popularity. Demagogues overturn established norms of political conduct or promise or threaten to do so by attacking those that question their thinking.
The central feature of demagoguery is persuasion by means of passion, shutting down reasoned deliberation and consideration of alternatives. While many politicians in a democracy make occasional small sacrifices of truth, subtlety, or long-term concerns to maintain popular support, demagogues do these things relentlessly and without self-restraint. Demagogues “pander to passion, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, rather than reason.
Otero County and Alamogordo is a city divided along ideological political lines in a perceived battle with the liberals of Northern New Mexico and the federal government in ongoing battles over ranching and grazing rights, timber rights and directives from the BLM.
There is an independent streak and a great deal of conservatism running in the veins of a majority of Alamogordo and Otero Counties citizens. There is an underlying distrust of “outsiders” and a definitive distrust of state and federal directives.
The irony, Otero is the 3rd largest county in terms of land area in the state, with 6,613.21 square miles. The population of Otero County in 2018 was 66,781, 3.19 percent of the state total, and ranked 9th in the state in terms of population. Only 10% of the land area is privately owned; the Federal government via the military and BLM, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and the State Land Office own the remaining 90% of the land.
Alamogordo, with a population of 31,230 in 2018, represented 46.76 percent of the total population of the county.
Per capita income for Otero County during the last administration was $34,636. Per capita income for Otero County was 83.24 percent of the state average ($41,609) and 63.62 percent of the national average ($54,446)
The percent growth of per capita income in Otero County between 2014 and 2018 of 8.61 percent was less than the state (11.91 percent) and the nation (15.70 percent).
Given that a majority of the land mass is outside of reach of the local government officials and given that incomes in the county significantly lag the state and national averages; then it is easy to understand the political culture of the area, and how extremist with demagogue tendencies rise to fill the void in leadership.
The most prolific of local leaders to gain national attention is Couy Griffin, Otero County Commissioner who 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 at the local level, at least at first.
From his pulpit on the Otero County Commission, he led a variety of conversations and debate from participation in the alleged insurrection to being an election denier. Mr. Griffin gained national notoriety and took that notoriety onto the speaking circuits. His supporters used the pulpit and he fundraised against his trials and tribulations to the toon of thousands of dollars. Not bad for a County Commissioner whose stipend for service is less than $20,000 a year. There is a fundraiser now online of which his goal is $50,000 and the plea is his removal from office $15556 has been raised the last 30 days. Not bad for a month’s work.
Mr. Griffin, possibly seeing the writing on the wall to his legal issues, or possibly just tired of the scrutiny he was under, opted not to run for re-election. Amy Barrela is the favored candidate to win his commission seat this November verses candidate, Stephanie Dubois.
That leads up to the duo of Karl Melton, appointed City Commissioner for Alamogordo, and his domestic partner, John Block, candidate for NM State Representative District 51.
With Griffin exiting stage left, and his influence waning, that created another opening for a new opportunistic demagogue.
The irony: this time, it’s not a rugged cowboy actor garnering for attention, fame and fortune on the backs of Otero County citizens, this time it is a young, educated, alleged conservative, LBGTQ duo, registered Republican, who profess Marjorie Taylor Green as a role model while professing fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
The irony of Melton/Block an out LBGTQ+ couple professing fundamentalist Christianity and Marjorie Taylor Green as a role model can’t be over-emphasized.
Per Multi-million-dollar Republican donor and American Capitalist Steve Forbes who supports the traditional Republican Party policies such as downsizing government agencies to balance the budget, tough crime laws, gun rights, rehabilitative justice, and support for the death penalty. He is editor and chief of Forbes Magazine and not a member of the perceived left-wing media influences. Thus, when Forbes Magazine of which he is editor and chief warns and highlights the demagogue rhetoric and antics of Marjorie Taylor Green, people should pay attention.
Per Forbes Magazine, “Greene baselessly claimedearlier this week that she believes straight people face extinction within 150 years during a segment on her streaming broadcast that airs on her social media accounts.” “Probably in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore,”Greene said. “Everyone will be either gay or trans or nonconforming or whatever the list of 50 or 60 different options there are.”
In other reporting by ultra-conservative Forbes Magazine, it highlighted the demagoguery of Marjorie Taylor Green and her conspiracy theories to include “that a devastating wildfire that ravaged California was started by “a laser” beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family. House minority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) in June said some of Greene’s past comments were “disgusting” and racist, endorsing her Republican primary opponent along with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).”
Yet, Marjorie Taylor Green is who the Melton/Block duo represent as arole model. Interesting since their role model spouts antisemitic propaganda and certainly propaganda counter to the lifestyle of the Melton/Block duo.
The duo seems to be taking their lessons of demagoguery from the Marjorie Taylor Green playbook and preying upon Otero’s citizens via demagoguery, attacking those who differ with them in opinion or thought, inciting their followers to attack small business owners, and even the mayor, when they express a differing opinion to their own.
Conservative Republicans, to include the House Minority Leader, the Minority Whip and the Forbes family which are huge Republican donors, all speak against Marjorie Taylor Green’s style of conspiracy leadership within the Republican Party. The Melton/Block duo reference her as a role model. That role model should give us all as citizens whom this duo represents pause and alert us to the road ahead.
This admission explains exactly what we can expect from this duo – demagoguery.
Thus, with Couy Griffins exit and wanning media attention, this opportunistic duo launched their first act in the saga of Melton/Block duplicity. Then they went on the offensive via an old-fashioned style of demagoguery, attacking the mayor, those that challenge their first act, a young lady battling cancer, and of course alternative media and business owners that don’t fall in line with their theology.
The propaganda and misinformation of a right-wing radicalized blogger, running as a candidate for a State Assembly District 51 from Otero County, New Mexico, John Block, and his domestic partner Karl Melton, has had Alamogordo, and Otero County up in arms and in a teether over a “resolution” that is a mere, opinion piece, and carries NO WEIGHT of LAW.
Mr. Block’s radical falsehoods and accusations against those whose opinions differ from his, continues with untruths and attacks. The aggression in their demagoguery MAY have even pushed them and a few of their followers to the edge, and in possible violations of election law “the Block/Melton – Big Lie.”
The lawful petition activity in an attempt to counter the “the Block/Melton – Big Lie” brought out enemies, including a partisan official who publicly encouraged a deceptive tactic, an error in judgement on his part.
Typical in fashion of demagoguery, those that follow the demagogue often get hurt.
“Go sign their petition using the name of your favorite founding father. Creative belligerence is an amazing tactic to defeat your opponent,” wrote Joshua Beasley, chairman of the Republican Party of Otero County, where Alamogordo is the seat of government.
Mr. Beasley later apologized. Beasley, in a county party email dated Sept. 2, said his inexperience as a party leader led him to the mistake when lobbying against the petition.
“I would like to take a moment of your time and apologize for my recent statement concerning the collection of petition signatures,” Beasley said on the email. “My sarcasm was a juvenile mistake. As I obtain more experience in this newly acquired position, I cannot promise a perfect performance, but I can promise I have the best of intentions for our county when representing and defending its constituents. I appreciate the feedback I have received from many of you and look forward to continuing to build a strong Otero County.”
Alamogordo resident, Jeff Swanson, filed a complaint against Beasley with the Secretary of State’s Office. Swanson cited a state statute outlawing forgery on election petitions or knowingly causing false information to be listed. Violating the law is a fourth-degree felony.
John Block, a blogger and the Republican nominee for state representative in Otero County’s District 51 furthered thedemagoguery in his statements…
“A radical group of scammers calling themselves New Voices Otero is trying to trick pro-lifers into signing their bogus petition by claiming it will give the voters a choice to vote on the resolution, but they are not telling them that Alamogordo is already a sanctuary city for the unborn,” Block wrote.
It is NOT- legally the opinion piece or resolution passed has NO WEIGHT of LAW, thus Alamogordo IS NOT a “sanctuary city for the unborn” – more demagoguery and further evidence of “the Block/Melton – Big Lie.”
Myers, Swanson and others exercised their right to petition the government. In response, Block accused them of engaging in a fraudulent scheme, even as his Republican chairman urged people to sign the petitions with phony names.
Mr. Block then petitioned the city of Alamogordo under a request for public records for ANY communications to the City Clerk’s Office from Ashlie Myers or Jeff Swanson on September 1st.
Block labels himself as an “America First Republican,” though his version of a free country doesn’t seem to tolerate dissent.
Karl Melton, who is Block’s partner, is an appointed city commissioner. Melton sponsored the resolution to label Alamogordo as a sanctuary for the unborn. He cried poverty in hopes of shutting down constituents who hope to overturn his resolution.
“There is no money budgeted this year for municipal elections, so if this petition receives enough signatures, the city would be forced to take away funding from important city-funded services,” Melton wrote on his Facebook page as a co-conspirator of more demagoguery and further evidence of “the Block/Melton – Big Lie”
Melton’s anti-abortion resolution had nothing to do with any city service, but he made it a public issue anyway. His next move was to use self-incrimination in hopes of silencing those who disagree with him. Melton told residents the city government he helps oversee “is so poorly run it doesn’t have a contingency fund.”
John Block, and his domestic partner, Karl Melton, appointed, crafted a fight within the city of Alamogordo, misleading local followers to believe by implying this is the first step in a fight to ensure abortions cannot happen, Planned Parenthood and other providers cannot come, and that Alamogordo is a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn.”
In stirring that pot, this, gay duo, with their own slant to fundamentalist Christian values, duped their followers and rallied the public to believe facts that are not true or are pure propaganda.
What does the radicalized demagogue duo gain from this propaganda and attack on those that historically supported them?
Melton claimed, as reported in his domestic partners propaganda piece, that “I have brought forward Resolution 2022-38 because my constituents are worried Alamogordo has no resolution or ordinance on the books protecting unborn life. This measure not only affirms life from conception to natural death, but it declares Alamogordo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” said Melton.
Fact: Alamogordo is NOT “a sanctuary city for the unborn.” It may desire to be one, but legallyit is NOT.
Mr. Melton is splitting hairs and misleading constituents, when he says there is no resolution or ordinance on the books protecting unborn life.
Legally, New Mexico state law governs health related issues, local law cannot, therefore no local city ordinance nor resolution with the “power of law” can legally be on the books to protect the unborn life from abortion, as Mr. Melton insinuates.
When Melton claims the resolution “declares Alamogordo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” he fails to educate the average citizen that the declaration has NO Power of Law and is meaningless.
The resolution carries the same weight of law as this writer declaring, “Alamogordo is a sanctuary city for invading aliens from the planet of Mars.” The implication is that Martians are welcome and safe in Alamogordo. When I declare, “Alamogordo is a Sanctuary City to those from Mars,” it would be laughed at as just hyperbole, however when a government body passes a resolution and a seated commissioner goes on a propaganda tour, people want to believe that Alamogordo is truly a sanctuary city that protects the unborn via the power of local law – it is NOT!
Melton’s partner, John Block, said, “By boldly declaring our city a sanctuary for the unborn, you are not just making an important and necessary statement; you are declaring that those who wish to shed innocent blood are not welcome in our city and do not stand with the values our fervently pro-life community believes in.”
While again, this is nice rhetoric and speaks well for Mr. Blocks fundraising efforts, (especially out of the area) as a talking point, it is absolutely not a statement of fact. The resolution is nothing but an opinion.
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton it appears collaborated in an effort to place the Sanctuary City for the Unborn resolution on the ballot. Mr. Melton expressed at a commission meeting that a large number of his constituents demanded action.
(AlamogordoTownNews.com has a public records act request into the city to verify. We have a request with date and time stamps of the actual number of requests for action on this issue that was submitted to the city prior to it being placed on the agenda. Stay tuned.)
What is a fact is that Mr. Melton’s domestic partner, Mr. Block has worked for a non-profitWashington DC based advocacy group called Americans United for Life. It is a corporation, that received $3.2 million in income per its form 990 that states the company “advances the human right to life in culture, law and policy.” Per the filing it spent $810,610 “on litigation and legal affairs, through the courts to defend life and to protect first amendment conscience. AUL has a combined litigation and legislation strategy, drafting, advising and providing model pro-life legislation to legislators, working to help get it passed, then assisting attorneys in defending prolife laws.”
Is Mr. Melton and Mr. Blocks intent to have Americans United for Life assist with attorney’s in defending this resolution or using it as a springboard for furthering their agenda?
Mr. Block has used his propaganda blog heavily, to endorse the resolution his partner set forth. He then went on the offense to attack and defame those against it, including a young lady receiving treatment for cancer, the mayor a business leader and this new source and its leadership.
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton are partners, thus this past financial family connection to this pro-life advocacy group and the timing of his election campaign, raises the question of did Mr. Melton indeed receive, “so many requests from constituents to sponsor this resolution?”
(AlamogordoTownNews.com has requested copies via an open records request with date and time stamps of all constituent communications requesting this be placed on the agenda. We are awaiting full details from the city of Alamogordo. Since Mr. Melton is opposed to the Alamogordo City Code of Conduct, and all such communications may not be in the city database, this request may lead to further questions concerning ethics and integrity of the complete record of official city correspondence with the commissioner and his partner related to this issue and the integrity of said correspondence.)
A question the citizens of Alamogordo should be asking is rather this effort to facilitate this resolution is part of a bigger plot at a potential legislation and used as a test balloon using the tools, learnings and support of the Washington DC Based Americans for Life, Mr. Blocks former employer?
Given Mr. Block, Mr. Melton’s domestic partner was employed with Americans United for Life, was there coordination, assistance, financial support or guidance in this effort from Mr. Blocks past employer? Why didn’t Mr. Melton disclose the past family connection to Americans United for Life and the capacity in which his partner served at the time of sponsorship of this resolution?
Should Mr. Melton have recused himself from sponsorship of this resolution and from debate and voting given his family tie and family financial gain, in the past, by affiliation with this pro-life advocacy group? Have Mr. Melton or Mr. Block had any contact with this corporation or any of its employees leading up to the sponsorship of the resolution?
At a minimum, in the spirit of transparency, Mr. Melton should have gone on the record and disclosed that his family had financially gained in the past by a relationship and of his partners past employment with Americans United for Life. There should have been a full disclosure of the relationship that existed and rather the advocacy group had been in any consultation or referenced in any manner with the proposed resolution. Mr. Melton with the disclosure should have recused himself from participating in the resolution vote.
Mr. Block when making public comment and attacking his opponents should have disclosed his past affiliation. He should have disclosed his past role and financial dealings and rather there was any contact with his former pro-life employer for support, reference, guidance, marketing assistance, legal assistance, verbiage or financial assistance or other contact concerning the resolution his domestic partner brought forth. Mr. Block should have disclosed he had a past financial incentive to move the pro-life agenda forward.
Did Mr. Block or Mr. Melton violate the law? Probably not. Did they leave out information that was relevant to the issue and the debate? Yes, they did. Was their failure to disclose a breach of ethics? Probably, this situation would make an interesting topic for a university level civics class or law class as a dialog on ethics and standards or codes of conduct and disclosure for the public trust. But now we better understand Mr. Melton’s concern with a Code of Conduct for City Commissioners.
Attempts to influence the City Clerk to quash signatures and ultimately a vote?
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton went even further in effort to discredit the democratic process that attempted to bring the resolution to a vote via a petition. On September 8th a Request for Public Records was submitted on behalf of John Block for a copy of the entire petition with signatures, names addresses and phone numbers. Interestingly the signature at the bottom of the request is that or his domestic partner and city commissioner Karl Paul Melton. KPM.
Thus, a collaboration and/or a co-conspiracy by the two to discredit the signatures of the petition begun. See below
With Mr Melton’s signature above Mr. Block received the data did “his analysis” and then submitted “his” analysis to the City Clerk of Alamogordo in an attempt to influence the outcome. He stated: “I am passing this along to help you in your validation process.”
See letter from John Block to the city clerk.
His analysis did not necessarily match the Clerks own analysis.
Mr. Block attempted to suppress this authors vote with false information that “this author is not registered to vote” and included a link to the indictment of the settled court case as alleged evidence of why my vote should not be counted.
New Mexico State laws states: ”If you have been convicted of a felony, you can register to vote once you have completed the court-ordered sentence of imprisonment, including any term of parole or probation for the conviction. This provision includes federal, state and out-of-state convictions.”
Mr. Block has gone on the record that he does not believe in “rehabilitative Justice” thus his attempt to suppress votes but only of those that differ from him.
But the city clerk was a professional and reminded Mr. Block that he cannot be involved in the research to certify rather signatures were acceptable or not…
The city clerk clarified that she cannot even look at his analysis until she completed hers.
The question citizens should ask is did Mr Block really believe his analysis would be considered?
He is allegedly experienced enough in government to know the ins and outs of process and should know of the clerk had considered his research then she would have set the city up for significant litigation exposure.
He was either naive?
Or was he and partner Karl Melton who signed for the information requested, attempting to influence the results of the clerks audit of which places him, the city and his partner Karl Melton in the crosshairs of potential litigation on charges of “voter interference,” “voter suppression” and with other actions, not covered in this story at this time, “voter intimidation.”
In the end, Mr. Block via his propaganda blog released a story that the city was not qualifying the petition and he was rabble-rousing and spinning a story that the petition failed due to not enough qualified signatures…”they failed to get a mere 589 signatures” he claimed thus why it failed.
He released his story prior to the city officially releasing a press release detailing the reason. He ran with the “failed to gain signatures narrative” and still runs with narrative as does his partner the seated Commissioner.
The truth is the petition was disqualified because the “initial steps in the process was not followed correctly to prequalify the petition” from the City Clerk prior to gathering signatures…
Since the resolution was non-binding, it never should have been considered for petition, as the resolution has no meaning, other than an opinion, it has NO bearing of law. A resolution is not law.
The question the community must demand an answer for is what was the real motive behind Mr Melton and Mr. Block to sponsor this resolution that had no power of law?
Who were they in bed with to bring this into the public realm?
What was the real reason for the intensity of the fight by the Block/Melton Duo?
Why the tactics of defamation against the mayor, voter suppression tactics and the fever pitch of demagoguery against those that disagreed with the resolution?
Why was it so important for Mr. Block to ensure his analysis of voters that signed the petition to vote on a meaningless resolution “was on the record”?
The central feature of demagoguery is persuasion by means of passion, shutting down reasoned deliberation and consideration of alternatives. Demagogues “pander to passion, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, rather than reason.
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton went all out together for a resolution with no meaning? Mr. Melton sees no sense in a code of conduct for the city commissioners? Was this a trail balloon for something else? What’s next as act 2 in the saga of Melton/Block political duplicity?
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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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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.”
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.”
District Court Judge Francis Mathew issued a ruling Tuesday that permanently prohibits Griffin from holding or seeking local or federal office.
In his ruling on the case, Mathews contended that Griffin was not eligible to hold office because of his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.
“(Griffin) became constitutionally disqualified from federal and state positions specified (under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Section 3) and forfeited his current office as Otero County Commissioner effective Jan. 6, 2021,” Mathew’s ruling states. “Griffin shall be removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner effective immediately.”
We reached to Couy Griffin for comment and his response was: “It’s a great example of the type of tyranny in America today. The people in my district have already spoken thru a failed recall waged against me after Jan 6. But since that didn’t work, now I guess they have succeeded thru the civil courts and a liberal judge in a liberal county.” Mr. Griffin in sound bites sounds deflated, understandably, via the intensity of the last year.
The ruling is the first time that an elected official has been removed from office as a result of their participation or support for the January 6, 2021, riot. This is also the first time a judge has formally ruled that the events of January 6 were an “insurrection.”
Judge Francis Mathew gave a multiple page explanation of his ruling basically saying Mr. Griffins defense was inconsistent and that his involvement with Cowboys for Trump in partnership with Stop the Steal played a pivotal role in the ruling because of its “mobilization efforts” leading up to the events of January 6th. The judge claimed that Mr. Griffins “attempts to sanitize the events” of January 6th and his other actions were “without merit and contrary to the evidence produced.”
We have reached to the Republican Chairman of Otero County and the Democratic Chairman for comment and have not received one at this time.
This is a developing story and further updates will be added as more details of the county response come to bare and that of other impacted government bodies.
Mr. Griffins position is up for election in November with favored Republican Amy Barela facing off against Democrat Stephanie DuBois.
This is a developing story and further updates will be added as more details of the county response come to bare and that of other impacted government bodies and a link to live interviews from Anthony Lucero with impacted parties in a special story to be released later today from KALH.
Stay tuned… 12:04 pm update
Republican Chairman Joshua Beasley said he will review the ruling and submit comments later today.
Statement from Democratic Party Chairman of Otero County:
Yes…”We will support and defend the Constitutions of New Mexico and the United States of America ensuring free, fair, and accurate elections for our citizens. Those who disrupt elections, intimidate voters, engage in insurrections and seditious conspiracy behaviors, will be held accountable by Democrats. Americans can count on us!
We look forward to serving with those Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, Declined to State, and other voters who are also true patriots.
We await and encourage any virtuous Republicans to forthrightly take control of their party here, and put forth a far better quality of candidates, who can really work with ALL citizens to better our citizens, lands, and infrastructure.
Otero County is on the cusp of tremendous opportunities for growth and economic thriving. Far too many Republicans here, like Couy Griffin, get elected and prove to be distractions. We need a strong and vibrant Republican party here. We need an overhauled one!
High time for those true patriots and economically savvy Republicans to take charge of their party. Stop the squander!”
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