AlamogordoTownNews.com Political Candidates GB Oliver & Amy Barela Q & A Responses & Financials

The Republican primary race between GB Oliver and Amy Barela for the 2nd District County Commission primary is the most watched race in the county and appears to have the most buzz from near and far. 

If fundraising were the measure, Mr. Oliver seems to be leading with a campaign war chest to date of $13,963,76 verses $9476.79 for Amy Barela to date.

Links to their most recent filings are below, followed by responses to the Q & A survey of questions from AlamogordoTownNews.com

GB Oliver 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution: Robert Joe Pattillo $2000, Richard A Boss $1000, Kerry Eaton $1000, Aubrey Dunn $500, James J Klump $500 (All local donors)

Loans to Campaign: GB Oliver $6063

In Kind: Justus Photography 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $13963.76

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ 8,977.79

Amy Barela 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution Self 2,562.38, Committee to Elect James Townsend Barela, Amy A. (Amy For Otero) $1000, Dustin Collins & Michael Collins $1000 each (local donors)

In Kind Justus Photography $100 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $9,476.79

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ $2,172.17

In April before the race got heated and in full swing, we submitted questions to all the candidates in the various races. Mr. Oliver and Ms. Barela were thorough in their execution the questions and each are very serious in the campaign for office. Both are very visible to the public and both have very active campaigns with a field of volunteers working on their behalf and with a very active social media presence. Both candidates have a unique offering and a wealth of public service experience. The question for the voters seems to come down to what is the go forward vision for Otero County that best fits the future and which candidate best represents a path forward to securing that future. What follows is the responses to our questions. We appreciate their time and dedication to allowing the public to get to know them better.

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.

Amy Barela Response:” My name is Amy Barela, and I am running to be your county commissioner in this 2022 primary election. I am a conservative that has served this county in many voluntary capacities for over 12 years. Some things I have been able to do:

  •  Bring the National Day of Prayer back to Alamogordo and for the last 5 years we have done just that.
  •  I have helped to increase our voter turnout and voter registrations in Otero County by 10%.
  •  I stood with businesses to help keep their doors open when unfair mandates jeopardized their livelihoods as well as their employees.
  • Along with a team of dedicated individuals we worked to get the county commission to designate Otero County as a second amendment county. There were 625 people in attendance when the county commission passed this resolution……… unanimously.
  •  I fought the school boards and alerted parents to the indoctrination of their children with curriculum that is fully engulfed with (CRT) critical race theory, sex education and other radical teachings parents were not aware of.
  •  These are just some of the things I have been privileged to work on with many wonderful, energetic people. I would enjoy visiting with you to listen to your concerns about the issues.

While this seems about activism, I do this to educate the community and hope to give the community a voice in all matters and issues. I try to keep the community informed because it is important for everyone to have the facts to make educated decisions. There are many resources available to us. The number one resource being you. I listen and have listened to Otero County citizens for years. The people guide me in their needs now and as your commissioner I will continue to listen to your needs.

  •  Holloman AFB is vital to our community. However, we must not put all our eggs in one basket. We must look at other ways to bring solid businesses to employ citizens in our county.
  • I understand the forestry issues adding the dumping and trash problems.
  •  I will work to protect our mountains and forest through responsible use of the land. I know how to help citizens clean up their neighborhoods caused by illegal dumping.

I am excited to address the opportunity of the American Dream, home ownership, with new laws that have been changed to allow access from counties for funding. I also have a plan to incentivize volunteers at our fire departments to allow our law enforcement to get back to being law enforcement and not first responders. I have a plan. I want the best for our county. I need your prayers in this new venture and am excited to move Otero County forward. I need your support. I humbly ask for your vote June 7th.”

GB Oliver Response: “’I’ve held virtually every position that exists in banking, including sitting as a director on the Board of Western Bank.

I was one of 3 founding members of the Paragon Foundation, an organization that provided funding and attorneys in cases defending Property and Constitutional Issues. I was named the Executive Director of the Foundation and remain in that position. The Paragon Foundation grew to have thousands of members spread across the United States. I published a Nationally syndicated Magazine on behalf of the Foundation, The Cowboy Way, that was provided to membership, as well as sold in Walmart, Barns and Nobel, Hastings, Tractor Supply, and numerous other outlets. The Foundation also carried or was the major funder of three cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, Robbins vs. Willkie, Heller vs. D.C., and McDonald vs. Chicago. Heller and McDonald are considered today to be second amendment landmark cases.

Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Alamogordo Center of Commerce where I have played a key role in solvency of a permanent status of the 3rd and 4th F-16 Squadrons, expansion of hyper-sonic weapon testing at HAFB and bringing in a regional Jet Service. I have also been actively involved in bringing a host of new business, Hotels, and a 252-unit Apartment Complex that we will be announcing shortly.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed. If your office is judicial, please explain your judicial policies or view from the bench.

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “I have never held an elected office; however, I have been working hand and hand with Holloman leadership, acting as the liaison between Air Force and our elected officials in Washington to fund the expansion of the HAFB test track, expanding air space to assure the solvency of the F-16 mission as well has funding for state-of-the-art facilities for the MQ-9 mission. These endeavors have not only expanded the mission at Holloman but created many civilian jobs for this community.

I have also taken an active role in highlighting the NMDOD Stop Light Report regarding schools and have advocated for expansion of STEM, Career Tech, more school to work opportunities as well as higher standards.

Last year we secured 32 million dollars to be used for the design of the test track, this year we are seeking 138 million to begin construction on that facility. Those dollars will ensure that all hypersonic testing for the United States will be done at Holloman. We will be flying to Washington is the coming month to secure 58 million for the MQ-9 program and an additional 26 million through MILCON for taxi strip expansion.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off? If Judicial what ruling had the greatest impact on you when making it and why?

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “As mentioned previously, the Paragon Foundation had major investments in three cases that were heard by the United States Supreme Court. Those cases were Robin vs. Wilke in 2007, District of Columbia vs Heller in 2008, and McDonald vs Chicago in 2010. I had the privilege of sitting before the Supreme Court during the oral briefs in all three cases. These cases have directly protected Americans 2nd Amendment Rights. 

I also co-authored several pieces of legislations, not only in New Mexico, but Wyoming, Arizona, and South Dakota. The most notable was the Concealed Carry Bill for the State of New Mexico, which required three legislative sessions before passing both houses and being signed by Governor Johnson.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Why are you running for office?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response: “God has placed me in arenas my whole life that have developed my skill set to ultimately lead our community to a brighter future. My time in DC fighting for the rights of Americans has given me understanding of the intricate landscape of bureaucracy. DC is a terrible place, however learning how to navigate the architecture of the system has given me the edge to propel Otero County to a fighting chance to find prosperity.

Perhaps my greatest skill is being able to bring groups of people together, for a single purpose and vision. Our goal four years ago was to bring the City of Alamogordo, Otero County, the Alamogordo Public Schools and the leadership of Holloman Air Force Base together, meeting in the same room, at the same time, with a single focus. That had never happened in the history of this community and now it happens, here in the Center of Commerce, on a monthly basis.

This is my home and my family’s home for 125 years. It is where we raised our children, owned businesses, and have been allowed to live and associate with the finest people on this earth. It would be my greatest honor, and it is time for me to give back a small part of what this community has given my family.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is your vision for the office you seek?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response“We must be vigilant and proficient with spending taxpayer funds. A solid budget with growth factors is a must! We must expand and diversify our economic potential to GROW our way to a more fiscally responsible chapter.

Supporting our Sheriff’s Office is of utmost importance as we continue to see an uptick in crime and instability in our Judicial System. A strong emergency plan is a must. The more inflation creeps the more we need to rely on each other as a community to get through the upcoming economic crises. 

Protecting our Forest Land and water sheds with true intent. The Federal Government must be put on notice for the mismanagement of our Public Lands. This incompetence has impacted our water systems, cattle growers’ ability to maintain herds and a serious consequence for wildlife habitats and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Protect our historical and cultural backgrounds and capitalize on our strengths that we demonstrate in our community. We are unique and the rest of the Country can learn from us.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?

Amy Barela Response: “County Cleanup plan, road repair / development schedule, judicial complex issues to be complete or several stages through the implementation of, low-income housing 

development”

GB Oliver Response: “We have brought vision followed by action and accountability. We have brought high paying jobs, growth, educational prowess via alternative learning opportunities, a regional Jet service and now our community has seen the impact of solid leadership.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you visited New York Avenue and shopped or spoke in person with the shop owners of that business district? 

Amy Barela Response: “Last week”

GB Oliver Response: “I met with two business owners on New York Avenue, in their place of businesses on 5/11/2022.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What do you view as the biggest opportunity and how you can assist with that opportunity for business growth in the New York Avenue business corridor?

Amy Barela ResponseALamogordoTownNews.com note: NO RESPONSE ON THE QUESTIONARE to this question from Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “The attitudes of business owners on New York have improved dramatically over the last three years. That, in itself, opened the doors to the transition we are witnessing in our downtown. Now this community is taking that area seriously, traffic is increasing and that alone will not only bring other businesses and increased property values in that area. My family owned five business at one time on New York in the 1920’s and 30’s. It was the heart and soul of this community then…and has the potential to be that again.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program? Amy 

Amy Barela Response: “Before covid”

GB Oliver Response“2018” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?

Barela Response: “School Board Meetings. Often”

GB Oliver Response“In 2016 I was asked to address the returning teachers and staff for the Alamogordo Public Schools. This community learned a tough lesson regarding the quality of Public Education and its impact on the business community. The quality of our education system was one of the reasons given by the Under Secretary of the Air Force for not permanently bedding down the three F-16 Squadrons at Holloman. His quote was “we will not subject the children of the men and women at Holloman Air Force Base to a substandard education.” That is what brought the changes in our Public Schools and eventually led to a perinate bed down of the three F-16 squadrons.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center? 

Amy Barela Response“Often”

GB Oliver Response: “It was several months ago when I joined the Holloman Commander’s wives in a tour of the Flickinger.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Stood beside them during covid shutdowns to keep them open over big box stores. I am a job creator.”

GB Oliver Response“Everyday via the Center of Commerce…It’s what I do.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to improve upon the blight of abandoned homes and derelict businesses in Alamogordo or Otero County in the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Remove the junk cars”

GB Oliver Response: “The Center of Commerce, for the last year and a half, has made cleaning up this community one of our priorities and to engage with the City and County in that effort. Rodney Eaton led the initiative with several “Trash Pickups,” where 160 individuals gathered on a Saturday at various locations and the results were several tons of trash removed from our highways and streets. That has expanded into Otero County’s involvement, where their personal and equipment has joined these pickups. Our Sherriff participates by patrolling the highways to slow traffic during these pickups. The City of Alamogordo has now joined this movement by condemning and removing several structures in this community each month. In fact, the city has now budgeted money this year to completely rebuild Alameda Park, turning that facility into a beautiful park that we can all enjoy and be proud of. The lesson I take away from what has transpired in the last year and a half is that one man, Rodney Eaton, had a passion to change the optics of this community and because of the close relations we have fostered over the last four years with the City and County, we live in a cleaner environment.

We have several more of these clean ups scheduled and we invite you to participate!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Attend ribbon cuttings”

GB Oliver Response“Center of Commerce is the first interaction an incoming business has when coming into this community. At the present, I am working with two hotels, two Aerospace companies out of California, both associated with the development of the hypersonic program slated to come to the Test Track. We are entertaining three investment groups looking at apartment complex sites, that also includes the 252-unit complex mentioned previously, three restaurants, a major truck stop, an entertainment venue, and a major box store.

Housing is our highest priority and what is refreshing about the Apartment complex is that for the first time, this project has been made possible by the City of Alamogordo and Otero County working on different facets of this project to make is happen. That is a first!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Name the top 5 locally owned businesses that you believe best represent the image you would like to see of Alamogordo going forward.

Amy Barela ResponseAlamogordoTownNews.com this was left blank by Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “Not going there.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “They would certainly enhance the quality of life for those living here, however there are certainly higher priorities that need to be achieved to ensure their success.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What outreach have you done to build bridges of understanding and collaboration between people of color, the LBGTQ community and local government and the business community? 

Amy Barela Response: “That is everything I do often”

GB Oliver Response: “Most of my life has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for those living in our community. Color, culture, or sexual orientation plays no role in my world. We are all God’s creation, with certain needs, rights, and each deserves an equal opportunity. The rest is left to the courage and determination of the individual. To believe anyone, because of their color, culture, or sexual preference needs special status with government agencies is an insult to that individual’s integrity and God given gifts. I have never seen an individual, when given special status from government, that led a happier, more fulfilled life.” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: How are you funding your campaign?

Amy Barela Response: “Self and donations”

GB Oliver Response: “The majority is my money with a few local doners”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires more detailed annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?

Amy Barela Response: “I think the county needs to have a reporting form for each newly elected official to report any income that is received from county (ie business transactions). Campaign finance reports are filed with the SOS for anyone to review. I plan on closing my account after the election and do not see the need to fundraise during my term. I will reopen if running for re-election when time.”

GB Oliver Response: “Transparency is the only true method of moving our community forward”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “Absolutely, Government works best in sunlight.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support the growth of more bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues in Alamogordo’s New York Avenue area? What will you do personally to support growth and revitalization of the corridor?

Amy Barela Response: “Support any and all new business.”

GB Oliver Response:” Absolutely! In a healthy community, the original business district is always the heart and soul of activity. It should be the goal of every local governmental body to maintain and foster business there because it identifies not only who we were, but who we are. I have traveled all over the United States and when I see a community downtown business district, it tells me all I need to know about the trajectory of that community.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?

Amy Barela Response: “Building it to be a better place for my family.”

GB Oliver Response: “The economic opportunities that are coming to this community. Make no mistake, there is rough water ahead, but there is no community that I’m aware of, better positioned to recover and excel once we see the other side, than are we.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Can you work in a bi-partisan manner with the majority party to drive more state and federal funding into redevelopment and jobs creation into the district?

Amy Barela Response:” I didn’t realize redevelopment and job creation was partisan?”

GB Oliver Response: “I have demonstrated many times the importance of finding middle ground and promoting our goals in Otero County.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Rather a judicial candidate or other candidate what can you do in your role to help solve the issue of homelessness and mental health patients on the streets of Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Affordable home ownership, veteran home ownership, jail rehabilitation and work programs, address drug abundance and availability with enforcement.”

GB Oliver Response: “Working collectively with our local agencies to support and find solutions will be our best method of stability for those in need.”

At AlamogordoTownNews.com, we appreciate the candidates that took the time for thoughtful responses to inform and possibly serve the public. 

Early voting has begun, get to know your candidate and come on down to the county building and vote early and let your voice be heard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Alamogordo MainStreet Appoints New Executive Director & Upcoming Main Street Events

Alamogordo MainStreet, in a press released today, announced that Nolan Ojeda has been hired as the new Director for the nonprofit focused on economic development in Alamogordo’s downtown historic district. 

Mr. Ojeda has hit the ground running during his first week in the position by working with the board in its monthly board meeting, conducting several one-on-one meetings with merchants and today meeting with the senior leadership of the City of Alamogordo. 

According to the press release from Alamogordo MainStreet…

Mr. Ojeda is originally from Las Cruces; Ojeda’s passion lies in community building. As a downtown merchant on New York Ave., Ojeda and his wife run The Local Bodega, a shop and small business incubator that features local makers and artisans. Ojeda’s experience also includes Mechanical Engineering and Project Management with the US Navy. This background makes Ojeda uniquely positioned to understand the needs of the downtown businesses and implement Alamogordo MainStreet’s Economic Transformation Strategies through the New Mexico MainStreet Four Point Approach -Economic Vitality, Promotion, Organization and Design.

Cindy Boylan, President of Alamogordo MainStreet, is excited to welcome Ojeda, “The Alamogordo MainStreet Board of Directors was unanimous in our decision for a new Executive Director. We are looking forward to Nolan’s leadership in facilitating an aggressive agenda and multiple events, starting with our Atomicon Cosplay Event on May 14th.”

Ojeda’s hiring comes as the nonprofit is poised to bring back the first full calendar of in person events since the start of the pandemic, as well as implementation of the Great Blocks Grant Program and creation of an Arts and Cultural District, both of which have the potential to bring major monetary investments into the local economy.

Ojeda is also very excited for his new role, “I’m thrilled to be a part of the efforts to revitalize downtown. I look forward to working with our passionate and talented board, as well as New Mexico MainStreet and the City of Alamogordo, to get closer to creating a space downtown for people to enjoy and small businesses to thrive. I’m up for the challenge to move the organization forward on its ambitious goals and a transition that will make the community proud.”

Alamogordo MainStreet and the Downtown Merchants of New York Avenue have several events planned the end of April and into May to entice and entertain the community…

April 30, New York Avenue from 1oth Street to 12th Street will be closed off for an “Evening Under the Stars” Gala Event with is an arts and culture event sponsored by Roadrunner Emporium, New York Art and Music Studio and Patron Hall which is a free to the public street party showcasing live music, art, culinary arts, a street beer garden, food trucks, live radio remote, live performance art and more.

There is a VIP ticket for a special Patrons Hall wine and appetizers events showcasing Lacy Reynolds on the Harp, belly dancing demonstrations and more. 

May 6th, New York Avenue Presents Downtown Nights Alive After 5, Most of the New York Avenue Businesses will be open from 5 pm to 8 pm with special pricing and events. This event under the leadership of Alice Weinman of Victoria Alamogordo is a merchant driven event to drive awareness of the New York Avenue businesses after 5. This month there will be a live radio remote, live music at some storefronts, food trucks and more.

May 14th, Atomicon Alamogordo sponsored by Alamogordo MainStreet.  ATOMICON is Alamogordo’s version of “Comic-Con”

Comic-con is an international comic book convention and nonprofit multi-genre entertainment event that is normally held annually in San Diego, California.

A comic book convention or comic con event has a primary focus on comic books and comic book culture, in which comic book fans gather to meet creators, experts, and each other. Main Street is in hopes to try and gather as many fun-filled themed vendors, performers, and guests dressed in costume as possible to fill the streets!

Guests, vendors, and MainStreet merchants dress up and decorate and join in the fun of the event. There will be a costume contest, entertainment, vendors, food trucks, live music and much more!

There will be live music by Rosewater Blues & Doso Dirtbags & beer gardens located throughout the streets

Live entertainment by:

OddLab (neon light parade) http://www.odd-lab.com/

Ghostbusters impersonators

RAD Studios (Dance performers)

Belly Dancing performances

Burlesque show (After hours 18+)

Children’s Music Theater (CMT) will be presenting the live performance of “The Hobbit” that same night as Atomicon at The Flickinger Center for Performing Arts @ 7pm – (event link posted) https://www.facebook.com/events/506869514251934/506869524251933/?active_tab=about

Patron’s Hall will be turned into “Hobbiton” to showcase the hard work put into the performance and to coincide with the comic theme, there will be photo ops and fun activities for the whole family!

Alamogordo’s New York Avenue, the New York Avenue Merchants, Arts Community and AlamogordoMain Street are all collaborating in a renewed effort to showcase the best of history, culture, arts and commerce at heart of Alamogordo – New York Avenue.

Come shop the local businesses in the MainStreet district and stop by the Alamogordo MainStreet office to congratulate Nolan – that is, if you don’t find him walking downtown and chatting with the MainStreet business owners or walking the streets during the upcoming 3 street festival and shopping events.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: DC Court Case Begins, Additional Lawsuits File Against Couy Griffin in New Mexico

As the case commences in Washington DC, Monday 3/21/22 on Federal charges and Griffin decides not to ride up to the courthouse by horseback as discussed previously, two other lawsuits back home in New Mexico have been filed against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin…

New Mexico Court Case 1:

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin is now facing criminal charges in New Mexico. The “Cowboys for Trump” founder has been embroiled in a legal battle with the secretary of state since 2019 when she defined his group as a political committee.

That meant Cowboys for Trump had to register with the state and identify its major donors. Griffin sued, arguing that was a violation of his first amendment rights. A federal appeals court threw out his lawsuit.

Now, the New Mexico attorney general has filed a misdemeanor charge against Griffin for failing to register a political committee. 

The criminal complaint that was filed by the attorney general can be found here…

https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:4dd6abbc-469…

The AlamogordoTownNews.com staff contacted Couy Griffin for a comment on this pending case upon his return from Washington DC and his statement is as follows…

I’d like to say that if Hector Balderas was not a political hitman using his office to destroy political opponents he would be advocating for the extradition of Prince Andrew!! Prince Andrew traveled from England to New Mexico with the single objective to sexually abuse underage girls.”  Mr. Griffin continued, “Yet the Santa Fe Sheriff and New Mexico AG remain SILENT!!! Such a disgrace.”  Mr. Griffin concluded his comments with, “Absolutely print this. That POS Prince Andrew flew into our great state and sexually abused young girls who were under the age of consent. All orchestrated by Jeffrey Epstein at Zorro Ranch! The ranch formally owned by NM Governor Bruce King!!! But yet he abuses girls in our state and the Sheriff and AG let him walk?? And then the arrogant blue blooded a——  pays the girls so it shows the world if you have enough money and power you can get away with being a PEDOPHILE? America starves for justice. An no better place to state with the pervert uncle Andrew.”

New Mexico Court Case 2:  Lawsuit Filed to Remove Couy Griffin from Office

“Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin must be removed from office and disqualified from holding future public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution based on his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection”, according to a lawsuit filed today by a group of New Mexico residents. 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the New Mexico-based law firms of Freedman, Boyd, Hollander and Goldberg, P.A, Dodd Law Office, LLC and the Law Office of Amber Fayerberg, LLC serve as co-counsel on the case, which also seeks a court order declaring the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the events surrounding it an insurrection under the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” as an “officer of any State” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

Griffin has served as an Otero County Commissioner since January 2019. Upon taking office, he swore an oath to “support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of New Mexico, and the Constitution of the United States.,”  per the lawsuit filed. 

Link to complaint filed in the courts:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Griffin-Qu…

Exhibits filed against Couy Griffin in the second case per above:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Griffin-Qu…

WASHINGTON DC Update as of 6 pm Eastern Time

Meanwhile Couy Griffin’s federal trial began in Washington DC today. For the first time, a U.S. Secret Service agent testified publicly Monday about the underground loading dock where Vice President Mike Pence and his family were evacuated on Jan. 6.

The testimony came late in the day during the trial for Couy Griffin, a commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico, and the founder of “Cowboys for Trump” who was indicted on two misdemeanor counts in connection with the riot. Griffin chose to forgo a jury in favor of a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, which began Monday morning.

Though Griffin was charged with some of the least serious offenses among Capitol riot cases, the trial was an important test for how much the government may have to disclose to other defendants about former Vice President Mike Pence’s whereabouts on Jan. 6. Jurors in the first Jan. 6 trial of Guy Reffitt saw a brief video of Pence and his family being evacuated from a ceremonial office in the Senate Wing. But Griffin’s attorney, David Smith, pushed for far more information to be made public – arguing the vice president’s exact location at the time he entered Capitol grounds was critical to determining his guilt.

In a contentious back-and-forth, Smith asked Hawa about who decided on the security perimeter around the Capitol on Jan. 6 and whether the restricted area extended underground or would move with the vice president. After repeated objections from the DOJ, Smith angrily claimed prosecutors were attempting to stop him from asking legitimate questions — prompting assistant U.S. attorney Janani Iyengar to suggest they “bring the temperature down.”

McFadden upheld the DOJ’s objections and advised Smith to move on, telling him he’d failed to show Pence had left the restricted area — likely dooming that prong of his defense strategy.

Smith spent significant time developing a second prong, however, with the prosecution’s primary witness, Matthew Struck. Struck, a freelance videographer, traveled to D.C. with Griffin on Jan. 6. Under an immunity agreement, Struck provided the DOJ with dozens of videos of Griffin on Jan. 6, including many showing him on Capitol grounds. In one video, Griffin appeared to say Capitol Police had told members of the crowd not to enter the area being prepared for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. In another, Griffin could be heard saying things would become “less and less” peaceful if, as he believed, election laws continued not to be followed. He also lamented on multiple occasions that, “Mike Pence sold us out.”

But Struck’s testimony was far from the nail in the coffin prosecutors might have hoped. He downplayed Griffin’s involvement at the riot – saying he’d just been there to look for a place to pray – and repeatedly said he either couldn’t remember or couldn’t hear potentially inflammatory statements on video. Under cross-examination from Griffin’s attorney, Struck said Griffin told him Pence had already certified the election before they got to the Capitol – which, though not true, proved Griffin thought Pence had already left the building, Smith said.

Smith also focused in particular on questioning U.S. Capitol Police Inspector John Erickson, who the prosecution called to outline the restricted area on Jan. 6. Smith pressed Erickson on the exact contours of that area, how USCP handles Secret Service protectees and whether the Capitol Visitor’s Center was part of the building. Much of Smith’s questioning fell to objections from the DOJ, however, including a statement from another USCP officer he attempted to enter describing the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center – which is in the lower level of the Capitol – as being separate from the building. That would have been particularly helpful for Griffin, since, as Hawa testified, the vice president and his family were in the visitor’s center loading dock while Griffin was on the Capitol grounds.

Federal Court in DC ended for the day shortly before 6 p.m. with no resolution. McFadden called Hawa back for closing arguments Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Article is a collaborative sourced article with AlamogordoTownNews.com. WUSA9, Citizens for Responsible Ethics, US Department of Justice and Couy Griffin provided commentary.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin Roadshow From Montana to QANON Rally & HBO Movie Couy Griffin Makes The Rounds…

As Otero County voters are aware  Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin has prevailed against efforts to recall him from office as a county commissioner in southern New Mexico.

Recall committee spokesman Scott Fredrick confirmed the end of September that a petition drive collected 1,229 signatures from registered voters and that it wasn’t enough to trigger a recall election by state law.

Amid the recall effort having survived, Griffin has been burnishing his image as a God-fearing “peaceful patriot” who stands in solidarity with about 70 jailed defendants and 100’s of indicted defendants linked to the Capitol siege. 

Under the direction and guidance of former president Trumps former lawyer Sidney Powell, and funded by a fundraising campaign that shows a fundraising total to date of $41,567 created by the controversial alleged Proud Boys affiliate Ben Bergquam; Couy Griffin has been traveling around the country. 

On his tour he is lecturing on his vision of America and continuing the message of a stolen election. Recently on tour in Dillon Montana, Couy Griffin mined his preaching background when he proclaimed to the pro-Trump crowd that he believes the former president is anointed by God.

Griffin founded Cowboys for Trump and faces misdemeanor charges for his alleged presence in a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol building during the riot of Jan. 6 in Washington D.C.

A former pastor, Griffin acknowledged that Trump is a flawed man. But he reminded the crowd that King David of the Old Testament was a sinner. Those sins included adultery and soliciting murder, according to the Bible.

About 90 people in the Frontier Event Center heard the onetime preacher emphasize that God is sovereign.

If God wanted Donald J. Trump to be in that office right now you can bet your boots he would be,” he said. However in a confusing contradiction to the belief that if God had wanted Trump in office he would be there then Griffin went on to say that, “I believe with all my heart that the election was stolen.” (If God wanted Trump in office how could it be stolen? This writer has yet to comprehend how one can trump God’s will so to say, but we digress.)

“[Trump] was fighting the good fight for those of us who have been left behind by the government,” Griffin said, noting that he has met Trump and had conversations with him. “I know his heart. His heart is for the people.”

Specific to the insurrection Griffin has said he believes the federal government has been reluctant to move forward with trials of defendants charged with alleged crimes tied to the Jan. 6 riot. He said authorities are pushing instead for guilty pleas or plea bargains. Griffin himself was offered a sealed plea bargain agreement but as of yet there is no word of an agreement between Griffin and the Feds on agreement to the plea bargain that was proposed.

Griffin has said he believes trials would compel the government to disclose to defense lawyers video evidence that would be both exculpatory and revelatory.

While in Montana he was accompanied by two other Montana residents facing conviction from the capital related activities. One, Henry “Hank” Muntzer told the Montana Standard that, “Trump will be back before the end of the year after the fraud is exposed.”  

That myth continues to be perpetuated on obscure websites sites and via QANON with constant date changes, when this alleged reset of the US government with Trump reasserting his rightful role in the White House will take place.

Couy Griffin continued his conservative tour this weekend with a trip to Las Vegas to a QANON conference however his speech concerning President Trump was not as rosy and upbeat in support of the former president as his speech in Montana a few weeks prior.

At the conference this weekend, C owboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, who continues facing charges in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot, turned his rhetoric on the former president in a conference speech for abandoning January 6 rioters and failing to deliver on a campaign promise.

We supported President Trump because of his fight for justice as well. And for four years we cried, ‘Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.’ We know she’s a criminal. What did the president tell us? ‘If I was in charge of the law, you’d be in jail,'” Griffin said Sunday at a QAnon conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Mr. President, you’ve been in charge of the law for four years,” he added. “At the end of your four year time, the only ones locked up were men like me, and others like me, that have stood by the president the strongest.”

The AlamogordoTownNews.com reached out to Couy Griffin via text to his private number for a comment for this article or context of the statements but as of publication time of this article has had no comment or response. If we get a response or comment we will amend the article with comments from Mr. Griffin or context to his statement.

In the ongoing saga of the capitol riots to date 670 individuals have now been charged by the Department of Justice with crimes against the United States of America. 

A detailed movie produced by the BBC is being released for television called; Four Hours at the Capitol: a meticulous, chronological account of how 6 January unfolded, executive produced by Dan Reed and directed by Jamie Roberts. If the violence that day seemed sudden and explosive even to those of us following it from afar, the film shows the agonizing push-and-pull between protesters and police on the threshold, the tension building and finally boiling over.

The abundance of material of nearly every minute allowed them to stitch together the sequence of events, while witnesses tell the story. There’s the Capitol police caught on the back foot, the Washington DC police brought in to do battle, the politicians and staff readying themselves for fight or flight and the reporters struggling to keep pace.

The most striking testimony is from the protestors themselves: a broad church ranging from rubberneckers to those clearly intent on doing harm. Many belong to the Proud Boys, the far-right group (now synonymous with alt-right extremism) which led the attack on the Capitol. Some subscribe to conspiracies associated with QAnon.

It can be unsettling to hear some of the participants describe that day in their own words, and to see the pleasure some evidently derive from them.

In the film, often the footage speaks for itself, such as when our Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder; Couy Griffin describes “thousands of peaceful patriots standing around” while the viewer is shown a bloody, baying mob – and Griffin is actually seen on video stirring them up further. “It was very violent: this was an out-and-out physical attack on the Capitol and the people defending it,” says movie producer Reed. “We don’t hold back on that, and that’s got to tell you a lot … The fact that members of the Proud Boys are allowed to speak is entirely as it should be, because that’s how we’re going to understand.

America teetered on the brink of martial law, Reed says. When an officer is dragged into the mob, “you can see that there are different impulses within the crowd: one is to smash his face in and kill him – and the other is to save him.

Had the House of Commons been in comparable jeopardy, he says, “ there would have been massive bloodshed – with that level of threat, I think police would have definitely opened fire. It’s just astonishing that the Capitol police didn’t.”

Instead, as an officer says in the film– and as the footage shows to be miraculous – huge loss of life was averted on both sides. The squall passes when, after four hours, Trump finally tells his adoring, warring supporters to go home.

There’s a certain amount of despair in America that you can see in the high suicide rate among the post-industrial white working class, in the rates of opiate addiction and family breakdowns. There’s a large constituency of people who feel that they are not at the center of the American story any more.

Membership to right-wing militia groups was recently found to have surged since 6 January. That unprecedented violence,  was spearheaded by just few dozen determined individuals – and then that opened the way to events that changed the world in ways we have yet to understand and may not even know or realize for decades.

Four Hours at the Capitol can be seen on HBO. A trailer of the movie can be seen via the link below..

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Roadrunner Emporium presents Halloween Elegance Decorating Tips

It’s Halloween and the pressure is on to decorate the home but do we really want paper spiders and cobwebs around the home? The color black is our friend. Paint a flower arrangement black, accent with Crafts from Roadrunner Emporium’s local artist and the color black. Have a wreath, a vase and a few accent pieces splash black paint on them and you have a subtle Halloween look that is spooky but elegant in styling. Check out these simple looks…

Halloween decor can be fun, simple and even sometimes elegant. Check out Halloween elegance and the crafts, arts, home decor and more from the 55 artisans and antiquities partners of Roadrunner Emporium Fine Arts Gallery Antiques and More- 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico we will be opened tonight till 9 pm and opened this Columbus Day Weekend Sunday from noon to 4.

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Governor Gavin Newsom (D), Commissioner Couy Griffin (R), 2 Peas of the Same Pod – Lessons on Recalls

The Lessons on Recalls; Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin – Similarities and Differences

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin Facing Recall with California Governor Gavin Newsom Surviving Recall (AlamogordoTownNews.com)

“Recall” is the mantra yelled by those not happy with the actions of politicians. Daily we hear recall the governor, recall the commissioner, recall, recall, recall. The threat of a recall can has consequences on an incumbent politician and can hamper their reputation and ability to govern or lead.

In New Mexico, the recall effort of Otero County Commissioner, Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump has garnered local, state, and national media attention. In California the recall effort to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom, once the most popular politician in California just ended as a $300 Million dollar debacle for the Republican party of California. The taxpayers are forced to pick up the $300 Million dollar tab for the “special election” that just concluded with Newsom overwhelmingly remaining in office.

What are lessons learned from the recall of Newsom, and are there any parallels with the soon to conclude effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin.

The Governor of California, Gavin Newson; represented the largest economy in America, the 5th largest in the world, the most prosperous state in wealth generation and the engine that drives the American economy via Silicon Valley; so yes, much is at risk when a governor of California failed the competency test. A former governor of California was successfully recalled, Gray Davis, leading to the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the office of governor but that is because of the electric crises, and he could not keep the lights on for business thus the California economy was at risk

Couy Griffin, as County Commissioner of Otero County represents a district within Southern New Mexico that was once the home and the center of America’s space race, nuclear program and contained a school system ranked in the top 10 in the nation. His district in the 60s thru 80’s, while rural, was like California in the concentration of scientist, researchers, innovation and was a center of military industrial collaboration and commerce. Now, however, the district has transitioned to one with increasingly dilapidated buildings, a drain of a qualified and educated work force compared to its past. The district contains one of the lowest vaccination rates and some of highest high school dropout rates in Southern, New Mexico and a lot of blame against the governor and northern New Mexico for the problems plaguing the district.

Mr. Griffin has been a lightening rod of controversy from his affiliation as leader of Cowboys for Trump to missteps in rhetoric that often gets him in trouble, and his handling of campaign finances and those around Cowboys for Trump. These have been lightening rod issues which provide poor optics politically.

What does Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin have in common that led both to battle a recall effort? Both had a significant issue with optics and understanding voter perceptions.

Mr. Newsom before a statewide lockdown was seen eating at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the US, the French Laundry, celebrating the birthday of a close friends and ally. He implemented policies that were viewed by many as harsh, over reactive, and harmful to business.

In retrospect, yes indeed he was insensitive and created very poor optics thus deserved to be called on his actions. But at a cost of $300 Million to the taxpayers? That’s not quite an example of fiscal responsibility and taxpayer sensitivity by the Republican machine.

Economics are showing that when it came down to his policies, over the longer term, the state of California has bounced back stronger than ever, with the largest budget surplus ever and an economy that is churning stronger than at any time since it was founded. Wealth creation is at an all time high and business interests embrace Mr. Newsom because he himself was a connected and prosperous business owner and operator of high-end resorts, wineries, and restaurants. He came from a history of wealth generation and job creation thus the policies he implemented impacted his business interest directly, and he also felt the pain of those decisions. His net worth when entering the governor’s mansion was estimated as at least $20 Million.

The business community never turned-on Newsom, thus the overwhelming rejection of his recall and a failure by the Republican Party of California to unseat him.

Was Katilyn Jenner and Larry Elder the best the Republican party could do to unseat Newsom? If that is the best and the brightest of California’s Republican party, then the Republican party of California certainly has some soul searching to do. Sadly, the taxpayers of California must pick up the $300 Million dollar tab of this debacle.

Back to Commissioner Griffin, he is embroiled in the final weeks of the effort to get a recall question on the ballot. So far with less than 2 weeks left in the effort it appears Griffin may very well survive the recall effort without a vote ever getting on the ballot. Signature collection is sluggish at best. There will be entertaining commentary once the signature drive is over as the real stories of behind the scenes come to light.

Like Newsom, Commissioner Griffin has a horrible problem with optics and the public perception of his behaviors. Yet, he does not seem to care.  

With the deadline of the recall fast approached he appears emboldened and as such is speaking his mind more, traveling in spectacle with his horse red and the American flag near Holloman Airforce Base this past week, and a trip to Montana in the works.  He made statements at the most recent County Commission meeting that his opponents felt were “unbecoming of a commissioner.”

Will Couy Griffin survive the recall? As of September 7th, the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin had 991 of the 1574 required. The deadline for signatures is September 28th and then assuming 1574 are valid then there would be a special election as the deadline for the November election was missed.

Will Couy prevail as Newsom did in California? Odds at this point are yes unless there is a sudden influx of valid signatures over the next 12 days.

History has proven recall elections are won and lost based on how the business community sides.

In the case of Gavin Newsom, the business community was tightly aligned with him. In Silicon Valley he received over 80% of the vote against recalling him. Even in Republican rich, Orange County, the election swayed to his favor. Business executives contributed heavy to his campaign and saw no need in a change to the status quo.

In Otero County where is the business community in relation to Commissioner Couy Griffin?

He has not proven to be an effective business leader or wealth generator. He claims to make less then $23K per year in salaries.  He has not delivered skilled employment opportunities or high paying jobs to his district through any direct demonstrated successes. He attempted to get the Forestry Service to revisit lumber laws and forest management but that fell through during Covid. His ties with the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, now the Center of Commerce, are one of the contributing factors that led to the recall effort. One of the 5 accusations for the recall, is that his travels to DC were not county business, and the county should not pay. To bail him out the Chamber “passed the hat,” Couy’s term. That hat passing, created a flurry of investigations with the County and Secretary of State and was a contributing factor to Couy’s issue of recall.

Alamogordo and Otero County business interest seem to be silent on the recall of Couy. No major corporate contributions have been disclosed to this point, no statements in support of the recall by the area’s largest employers, no endorsement of the recall by the Center of Commerce but equally silent is no loud voice of support. Basically the business community is absent in this fight though the County Commission controls a good deal of government leverage in interfacing with state and feds on redevelopment funding and infrastructure improvement.

 So, what does Commissioner, Couy Griffin and California Governor Gavin Newsom have in common?

Though political ideological opposites that are united in common purpose, to survive a recall.

  • Both failed to understand the public outcry that can result from poor optics or poor management of their image as political leaders.
    • What one says and does matters to the public.
  • Both were temporarily weakened by the recall efforts, but both are now feeling a new sense of embodiment toward their ideology and beliefs as the result of victory or potential victory over the recall efforts.
  • Both enriched their campaign or personal coffers because of the recall efforts and the publicity around them.
    • Newsom brought in over $70 Million into his campaign coffers and has a large chunk remaining unused.
    • Griffin going into the recall claimed he was broke, lost his wife, almost lost his C4T Pickup Truck and his horse- Red, thanks to fundraising efforts led by the controversial Ben Bergquam Frontline America with alleged ties to the Proud Boys. Via Bergquam’s fundraising efforts for Griffin, Griffin has $41,142 in a funds of the $50K fundraising goal that Bergquam created for him.
  • Both love the media spotlight.
    •  Newsom is the “pretty face” of the progressive movement and is a media darling
    • Griffin is the lightening rod cowboy for Trumpian ideology, on a horse, attending rallies around the country.
  • Both got a pass from the business community
    • Couy got a disinterested business community that for the most part is waiting out the recall effort and is staying mute in dialog and direct fundraising.
    •  Gavin Newsom got a bounce and significant funding to maintain his role from the business community.

What the recall movement has done is it has brough two politicians, opposite on almost every topic, but united in a battle to win over the prevailing winds of a recall effort.

Newsom won his effort to stay and prevailed. September 28th is D Day for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin. Will he prevail and join the club of recall survivors with Gavin Newsom? Stay tuned…

New Mexico led the way to today’s NCAA announcement that it will allow athletes to earn money.

$1.5 billion annually, that’s how much college football’s 25 most valuable teams earn in combined profit in an average year, according to Forbes‘ most recent “College Football’s Most Valuable Teams” list.

College sports generates a tremendous amount of money for universities, but college athletes have long been given little more than a scholarship in return.

Polling has consistently shown a majority of Americans believe college athletes should be paid more though, and NCAA officials have started showing support for allowing players to profit off the use of name, image and likeness, until today.

New Mexico Led The Nation

New Mexico SB 94. Titled STUDENT ATHLETE ENDORSEMENT ACT, Sponsored by Mark Moores, Bill B. O’Neill, and Antonio “Moe” Maestas passed the New Mexico Senate with 39 yes votes and 0 no votes on 2/19/21. The bill then passed the New Mexico House of Representatives with 43, yes votes and 21, no votes.  The governor signed the bill into law on 4/7/21 to take effect July 1st, 2021.

The text of the actually bill signed by the governor is available to read via the text:

The law goes into effect on July 1st, the same day that a similar law will go into effect in the state of Florida, becoming the first two states that will have the laws in effect. 

“The NCAA model is not working for the athletes who drive the product,” Lujan Grisham’s press secretary told the Albuquerque Journal following the pass of the bill on Wednesday.

New Mexico’s law includes that athletes can receive food, shelter, having medical expenses paid for by a third party, or making money based off the use of their name, image, and likeness. Meaning that athletes featured on billboards, in commercials, or in video games can now begin to make money without fear of being declared ineligible. Athletes can also hire agents to set up endorsement deals but cannot hire them to represent them in contact with professional teams.

A total of 10 state have similar laws taking effect in July based on the New Mexico model. The NCAA wants to have federal laws or its own permanent rules regarding the issue known as NIL, but was forced to seek a temporary solution rather than have athletes in some states eligible for compensation while others were not.

Without NCAA action, athletes in some states could be making money without putting their college eligibility in jeopardy while their counterparts in other states could be in danger of breaking NCAA rules.

The NCAA’s stopgap measure comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the association in a case involving education-related benefits. That 9-0 ruling is expected to impact issues related to compensation for athletes.

The NCAA cleared the way for athletes to profit off their name Thursday, the eve of legislation becoming the law in New Mexico and Florida that would allow for such compensation.

The expected approval from the NCAA Board of Directors came a few days after a recommendation from the Division I Council to allow athletes in every state to pursue compensation for their name, image and likeness without jeopardizing their college eligibility.

The NCAA’s stunning reversal came after California passed a Fair Pay to Play Act, which would go into effect in 2023. Other states are looking at possible legislation. The California law would allow athletes to sign endorsement deals and licensing contracts, something NCAA rule makers will address.

NCAA officials said they were aiming to have a nationwide rollout of the recommendations made among their 1,100 members.

Figuring out all the details of it, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a much more complex issue than most people see it as. I think schools are going to be able to work through this process and come up with rules that makes great sense for the student athletes and allow universities to continue their collegiate model of athletics, NCAA Officials have said.

NCAA officials said the working group will continue to get feedback on how to deal with state legislation and that will help guide future recommendations.

A very interesting argument in favor of athlete pay was made by the New Mexico Law Review and can be found in the link below…

 New Mexico Law Review -Let’s Get Serious – The Clear Case for Compensating the Student
Athlete – By the Numbers
Neal Newman
Texas A&M University – School of Law

This move follows compliance to a New Mexico state law that takes effect July 1st. 

The New Mexico legislature found itself on the cutting edge beating out typical states such as New York, California or Washington State on a progressive approach to student athlete compensation. What is even more impressive is the bi-partisan support this bill got in the New Mexico legislature with unanimous approval by all New Mexico Senate Republicans and Democrats and example of true bi-partisanship.

The fallout to this new regulation will become a true headache for college coaches and compliance officers creating a whole new set of pressure on those professional staffs. It is conceivable with a superstar collegiate athlete whose likeness is used often could be high paid than the millions of dollars paid to college football coaches. That in itself will ultimately create an interesting dynamic that social scientist and college administrators will be studying for decades into the future. 

When it comes to sports we indeed do live in interesting times in the 21st Century. 

Supreme Court Upholds ADA for a 3rd Time

The Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out a closely watched legal battle targeting the Affordable Care Act, rescuing the landmark health care law from the latest efforts by Republican-led states to dismantle it.

The court ruled 7-2 that the red states and two individuals who brought the dispute do not have the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate to buy health insurance and ordered the case to be dismissed.

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion for the court.

As originally enacted in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required most Americans to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage. The Act also imposed a monetary penalty, scaled according to in- come, upon individuals who failed to do so. In 2017, Con- gress effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount at $0. See Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Pub. L. 115–97, §11081, 131 Stat. 2092 (codified in 26 U. S. C. §5000A(c)).

Texas and 17 other States brought this lawsuit against the United States and federal officials. They were later joined by two individuals (Neill Hurley and John Nantz). The plaintiffs claim that without the penalty the Act’s min- imum essential coverage requirement is unconstitutional.  The court concluded they had no standing. 

To read detail of the ruling visit

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-840_6jfm.pdf

Thursday’s 7-2 ruling was the third time the court has rebuffed major GOP challenges to former President Barack Obama’s prized health care overhaul. Stingingly for Republicans, the decision emerged from a bench dominated 6-3 by conservative-leaning justices, including three appointed by President Donald Trump.

“The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden said, using the statute’s more formal name, after the court ruled that Texas and other GOP-led states had no right to bring their lawsuit to federal court.

At the time of printing no statement has been released by the New Mexico Republican Party concerning the ruling. 

The lawsuit, initially fashioned as Texas v. United States, was filed in February 2018 by 20 Republican state attorneys general and Republican governors. The plaintiffs wanted to revisit National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (NFIB), where the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, upheld the mandate as constitutional. In that decision from 2012, Chief Justice Roberts construed the mandate as a tax, concluding that it was valid under Congress’s authority to tax and spend.

The challenge in Texas is related. The plaintiffs argued that the individual mandate is unconstitutional after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, in which Congress set the penalty for not purchasing “minimum essential coverage” coverage to $0. That bill was adopted in December 2017 using the budget reconciliation process after Congress repeatedly tried and failed to repeal the ACA throughout 2017. Without the penalty, the plaintiffs argued, the mandate is unconstitutional. They further argued that the mandate is so essential to the ACA that it cannot be severed from the rest of the law, meaning the entire ACA should be struck down. At a minimum, they asked the court to strike down the law’s guaranteed issue and community rating provisions alongside the mandate.

The state plaintiffs were later joined by two individual plaintiffs who live in Texas and purchased unsubsidized marketplace coverage. These individuals objected to having to comply with the mandate but intended to purchase ACA-compliant coverage in 2019, even after the penalty was set to $0, because they wanted to follow the law. The individual plaintiffs were likely added to the lawsuit to bolster the states’ weak standing argument in the lawsuit—which we now know was to no avail.

Democratic state attorneys general from (initially) 16 states and the District of Columbia—led by then-California Attorney General (and now Department of Health and Human Services Secretary) Xavier Becerra—were allowed to intervene in the case to defend the ACA. These states sought to protect their interests in billions of dollars in federal funding under the ACA, to ensure that their residents have access to health care, and to prevent chaos in their health care systems if the ACA was found to be unconstitutional.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) partially agreedwith the plaintiffs and declined to defend the constitutionality of the mandate and other key ACA provisions. This was a highly unusual position: historically, the DOJ has defended federal statutes where a reasonable argument could be made in their defense. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed Congress of the DOJ’s position that the mandate was unconstitutional and that the ACA’s provisions on guaranteed issue, community rating, preexisting condition exclusions, and discrimination based on health status were inseverable and should also be invalidated. At that point, the DOJ had drawn the line there, arguing that the rest of the ACA was severable and should remain in effect.

In December 2018, Judge O’Connor, a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas, agreed with the plaintiffs and declared the entire ACA to be invalid. He reaffirmed this decision in late December when issuing a stay and partial final judgment. Many of district court’s legal conclusions, from standing to severability, were criticized by conservative legal scholars, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and the National Review editorial board, among others. 

The Fifth Circuit

The DOJ and Democratic attorneys general appealed Judge O’Connor’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Democratic attorneys general from an additional four states and the U.S. House of Representatives were allowed to intervene to defend the ACA while two plaintiff states withdrew from the case. On appeal, the DOJ under then-Attorney General William Barr took the new position that the entire ACA should be declared invalid. From there, the DOJ changed its position twice more, suggesting first that the district court’s decision applied only to the plaintiff states and two individuals, and second that the court’s remedy should be limited only to the provisions that injured the individual plaintiffs.

After oral argument, the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, partially affirmed the district court, agreeing that the mandate is now unconstitutional. However, instead of determining what this meant for the rest of the ACA’s provisions, the court remanded the case for additional analysis on the question of severability. One judge disagreed with these conclusions and filed a lengthy dissent arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that, in any event, the mandate remains constitutional and severable from the rest of the ACA. She opined that there was no need to remand, especially on severability.

At The Supreme Court New Mexico Joined The Argument the ACÁ Should Stay Intact

The Democratic attorneys general and the House appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court. They initially asked for expedited review, which was denied. However, the Court agreed to hear the appeal on a non-expedited basis and also granted a conditional cross-petition filed by Texas, which asked the Court to uphold the district court’s decision. By granting both petitions, the Court considered the full scope of legal issues in Texas—from whether the plaintiffs have standing to whether the rest of the law could be severed from the individual mandate.

During the briefing and oral argument, 18 Republican attorneys general and governors, two individuals, and the Trump administration argued against the validity of the ACA, which was defended by 21 Democratic attorneys general and the House. The 18 challenger states were Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. The 21 intervenor states were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. Republican attorneys general in Montana and Ohio were not parties to the case but filed an amicus briefarguing that the mandate is unconstitutional but severable from the rest of the ACA. And a bipartisan group of governors from Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin filed a separate brief arguing that the ACA should be upheld. All but four states took a formal position in the lawsuit.

Briefing was completed in mid-August, and all filings are available here. Prior posts analyzed opening briefs from California and the House; amicus briefs from nearly 40 health care and other stakeholders; opening briefs from Texas, two individuals, and the Trump administration; amicus briefs from six organizations; reply briefsfrom California and the House; and reply briefsfrom Texas and the two individuals.

Oral Argument

Oral argument was held on November 10, 2020 by the full panel of judges, including then-newly seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett whom President Trump nominated after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Texas litigation and oral argument loomed large over Justice Barrett’s confirmation process in the Senate.) All three core issues of the litigation were discussed during oral argument: whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue, the continued constitutionality (or not) of the individual mandate, and whether the rest of the ACA could be severed if the mandate is unconstitutional.

As discussed here, much of the oral argument focused on standing. Many Justices seemed troubled that the penalty-less mandate could not be enforced against the plaintiffs and that invalidation of the mandate alone would not address their alleged injuries. Many also raised concerns about the “standing through inseverability” theory advanced by the plaintiffs and DOJ. These topics were key in the Court’s ultimate decision, discussed below.

Post-Oral Argument

Following the 2020 election, the Biden administration formally changed its position in the litigation. In early February, DOJ submitted a letter to inform the Court that it had reconsidered its position and no longer adhered to the conclusions in previously filed briefs. Upon reconsideration, DOJ’s new position was that the individual mandate, even with a $0 penalty, remained constitutional: The 2017 amendment to the ACA to reduce the penalty to zero “did not convert [the mandate] from a provision affording a constitutional choice into an unconstitutional mandate to maintain insurance.” DOJ’s argument echoed the briefs filed by California and the Housebut did not address standing at all.

It is worth noting that Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. This new law expanded upon the ACA by temporarily enhancing marketplace subsidies for lower- and middle-income people through 2022. To the extent that the Court looked to subsequent congressional action, this would have showed that the current Congress believed the ACA remained sound and constitutional. 

New Mexico Health and Human Services Department estimated that over $1.7 billion in federal funding was at risk because if the Medicaid expansion went away, then that would have away too, and so underpinning all of the ACÁ is not just the coverage that people have. It’s also the money that comes into New Mexico from the Federal system.

There was also concern about people with preexisting conditions, which is a protection under the Affordable Care Act that prevents insurers from discriminating against those who have them. If it had been overturned those protections would have also gone away.

Yet serious problems remain.

Nearly 29 million Americans remained uninsured in 2019, and millions more likely lost coverage at least temporarily when the COVID-19 pandemic hit according to the Kaiser Foundation. In addition, medical costs continue to rise and even many covered by the law find their premiums and deductibles difficult to afford as inflation rises.

In response, Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package enacted in March expanded federal subsidies for health insurance premiums for those buying coverage. His infrastructure and jobs proposal being negotiated in Congress includes $200 billion toward making that permanent, instead of expiring in two years.

But his plan includes none of his more controversial campaign trail proposals to expand health care access, like creating a federally funded public health care option or letting Medicare directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. While those proposals are popular with Democratic voters, they face tough odds in a closely divided Congress.

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