AlamogordoTownNews.com When a public official files a RESTRAINING ORDER is that a dangerous precedent to free speech? cOUY gRIFFIN vS sTEPHANIE dUBOIS orTERO cOUNTY NEW mEXICO

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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AlamogordoConservativeDaily.org: 3 Interesting Otero County Local Political Races: Will They Buck the Mid-Term Curse Dating to FDR?

New Mexico joined the Union in January 1912. It has participated in 28 presidential elections through 2020, alternating some extended periods of support for Democratic and Republican candidates. Democrats have now won 7 of the last 8 elections, including Joe Biden’s 54% to 44% win over Donald Trump in 2020.

Candidates Reverend Warren L Robinson veres John R Secrest lll face off for Otero County Magistrate Division One (2nd Life Media AlamogordoTownNews.com)

Locally in Alamogordo, Otero County, New Mexico

In Otero County, it appears the Republican stronghold is strong and in place and most races are a given to swing to the Republican candidate with ease. 

However, there are three races of interest this mid-term election that could be seen as competitive for a variety of reasons.

The position of magistrate judge in Otero County is typically a snooze as to what to expect of an outcome. However, this midterm election for magistrate Division One and Magistrate Division Two there are interesting dynamics at play.

The position of magistrate is one that does NOT require a law degree, and candidates typically, are individuals well embedded in the local political party system.

 The position of magistrate in Otero County has historically been made up of candidates that come from the “political machine” and as such, the position has been riddled with controversy, the last several years with political games alleged locally and via former Governor Martinez…

April 2022-

Most recently Otero County Magistrate Judge Steve Guthrie agreed to resign the Division I seat April 25, 2022, ending further disciplinary proceedings related to a judicial inquiry by the New Mexico Supreme Court which began in 2021. Guthrie’s resignation became effective April 25, according to New Mexico Supreme Court documents when the court granted a petition for permanent resignation “in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings.

In September 2021 the Judicial Standards Commission asked the court to open a disciplinary inquiry related to a slew of alleged misconducts by Guthrie. The Commission had conducted its own inquiry into the allegations beginning in January 2021. Among the allegations were improper sentences and incarceration for defendants, improper bail issuance, failure to complete required paperwork, engaging in judicial activities without proper jurisdiction, judicial misconduct and violation of a defendant’s right to due process. 

 Guthrie was censured prior to that incident in 2019 by the New Mexico Supreme Court for misconduct related to a spat he had with a neighbor.

Link to 2019 Judicial misconduct case: https://www.nmjsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2018-031-Pet-to-Accept… 

December 2017- 

Otero County Magistrate Judge Scott Newton officially resigned from the bench and withdrew his candidacy for 12th Judicial District judge. Newton said he was tired of the politics being played at the local and state level because of him taking a leave of absence due to a medical issue. Newton said he was not going to have his good name destroyed or put his family through it. “They’re attempting to use this legal absence that I took for a basis that I am unfit to do my job,” he said to the Alamogordo Daily News in 2017 “It’s a total lie. There’s nothing wrong with me. I do have my own personal health issues to deal with, but it’s not an issue in terms of being a judge. It’s just somebody wants to make it an issue. I am not going to stick my neck out there and get it chopped off. It’s just not worth it. Especially with the medical issues that I’ve been dealing with, I don’t have the energy or stamina to fight that fight or put my family through that fight.

Newton was elected to the Magistrate Court Division I judge’s seat in 2010 after Judge Richard Stokely retired from the bench.

April 2016

Otero County Magistrate Court Judge Gene C. Galassini hung his robe up in April 2016 also under a cloud of criticism.

Per the Alamogordo Daily News at the time, “Galassini, 59, decided to resign or in his case retire from the bench because of health reason but more importantly to spend time with his three grandchildren. He and his wife, Rocky, also just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary,” at the time of his resignation.

“It’s the stressful nature of the job,” Galassini said. “I’ve got three grand babies plus one on the way. It’s just time to start spending some time with them.”

He was first elected Magistrate Court judge in 2006 then took the bench in January 2007 after 23 years of being an officer with the New Mexico State Police in Las Cruces, Roswell and Alamogordo. Galassini retired as a lieutenant from State Police District 8 in Alamogordo.”

However, records with the State Supreme County show that the resignation may of had more to the story; then stress and health issues. 

The New Mexico State Supreme Court granted the State Ethics Commission’s Petition to Accept Stipulation in Light of Permanent Resignation from Judicial Office concerning Otero County Magistrate Judge Gene C. Galassini, Supreme Court Case No. S-1-SC-35791, JSC Inquiry No. 2015-074. “The Supreme Court order made Judge Galassini’s retirement permanent effective 02/29/16, forever barred him from holding judicial office in New Mexico, and unsealed the Supreme Court’s file in the matter. 

A link to the Supreme Court File and Mr. Galacini’s resignation letter is below:

https://www.nmjsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-1-Galassini-Order…

Mr. Galassini was hired in 2021 to serve Congressional  Representative Yvette Herrell as her law enforcement liaison and has been paid a salary and other compensation since appointment of $34,833.33 as a member of staff.

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The 2022 Mid Term Otero County Magistrate Matchup:

Magistrate Judge Division One has turned into a very competitive race with the Reverend Warren Robison competing against John R Seacrest III, both candidates have deep roots in Otero County, both have professional, volunteer and business experience and both have campaigned with professionalism, dignity and mutual respect with no negativity in their race for office.

Reverend Warren Robinson Experience: “Reverend Robinson has 20 years of teaching, counseling and community service in Alamogordo to include 3 years’ experience with Juvenile Justice Board helping youth with reconciliation for criminal offenses, a wide range of local board experience with non-profit service organizations, Chaplain for both Alamogordo City Police and the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, knowledge of the community business leaders and deeply involved in local history and historical preservation” according to his responses to the League of Womens Voters.

John R Secrest III Experience: “What I bring to the courtroom is real life experience and vast knowledge. I am an entrepreneur/small business owner since age 18 with 21 years in Landlord/tenant rights, business contracts, and well versed in DWI/DUI laws. I have also been a plaintiff on several appearances in Mag. Court. To further prepare, I have been mentoring with previous Mag. Judges as well as studying the NM Criminal/Traffic Law manual and NM Constitution. I am a constitutionalist, from the people for the people’s court. I live with unwavering morals, integrity, and honesty. I am UNBIASED and fair.” according to his responses to the League of Womens Voters

The League of Womens Voters asked both candidate what they would do about the backlog within the Magistrate System?  Their response was…

Reverend Warren Robinson: “Once within the system I’ll be thoughtful in listening to staff and reviewing the existing processes, then use my experience interfacing with multiple constituencies to influence process changes to end any backlog.”

John R Secrest III: “It is my understanding that Otero County Magistrate Court does NOT have much of a back log. If there is a back log it is primarily due to covid restrictions impeding the court’s ability to operate per usual and in that instance, I would say more cases will need to be handled telephonically. There is always room for improvement.”

Both candidates demonstrate a passion for community and a sense of ethics that the magistrate’s office needs to rebuild its reputation in Otero County.

Magistrate Division 2

The race is between well-known Alamogordo MainStreet and arts advocate and realtor, Claudia Powell, verses Michal Ryan Suggs, the incumbent who was appointed to the Division II Magistrate Judge’s seat Feb. 20, 2018, by Gov. Susana Martinez after Judge James Scot Newton resigned from the bench.

Claudia Powell’s Experience per her website:” Claudia Powell has been part of this community working tirelessly as a relator since 1986 serving our military with impeccable service since 1986. Mrs. Powell has received the Military Relocation Specialist designation from the National Association of Realtors, Past President Alamogordo MainStreet, Director of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, Otero County Habitat for Humanity, Past President Otero United Way and Past Director of the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts.

Michal Ryan Suggs Experience per the League of Women’s Voters: Juris Doctor- Master’s degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University, a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, 21 years law enforcement experience, 6 years adjunct professor of criminal justice and 4 years incumbent as Otero County Magistrate.”

When asked what they would do about the backlog within the Magistrate System? 

Claudia Powell: My understanding is the backlog that was created during the Covid-19 crises is now cleared. However, if I were on the bench, I would work with the staff, within the legally bound confines, utilizing my years of collaboration and partnership skills to ensure we did all within our means locally to ease any backlog.”

Michal Ryan Suggs Experience per the League of Women’s Voters: “I can proudly say, there is no backlog of court cases in Otero County Magistrate Court. The court continued to operate throughout Covid. All of the Judges in the 12th Judicial District work tirelessly to serve the people. Whatever adjustments were needed to the docket to ensure timely access to justice were and continue to be made. Under my leadership as Presiding Judge, the speedy and fair resolution of cases has been and always will be a priority of the Otero County Magistrate Court. Our rights deserve this level of experience, knowledge, and continued commitment.”

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The other race that has proven, interesting, is the race for Otero County Commissioner District Two, formerly occupied by the controversial Couy Griffin. The two candidates to win the primaries are Amy Barela on the Republican side, verses Stephanie Dubois, on the Democratic side. Both candidates won a contested primary.

The race was considered initially an easy win for Amy Barela given the district leans heavily Red and heavily conservative. However, politics, judicial rulings and an appointment by the Governor of Ms. Dubois into the seat of which Couy Griffin was removed by judicial order has created many interesting dynamics into the race.

Political scientist and pollsters watching the district competition believed it an easy win for Ms. Barella. Speculation was that there would be a backlash, due to the judicial removal of Couy Griffin, thus a wave of Republican voters activated and to the polls.

Ms. Barella has easily outraised, outspent and outpaced Ms. Dubois in advertising, door knocking and overall visibility. 

Ms. Dubois on the other hand, received an appointment to the vacant position by the Governor with swearing in to occur on 10/28/22.

Ms. Dubois has been much more visible in the recent weeks and attended several events with the Congressional Democratic Candidate and others. Yesterday in Tularosa, a Get Out the Vote event was sponsored by Ms. Dubois, and Independent Candidate Elaine Allen seeking the position for District 56 State Representative was also present.

The campaign within Tularosa has become very competitive with some rumors of foul play, but thus far the campaign has been, overall civil. 

Ms. Dubois appointment by the Governor, received a respectful response by Ms. Barella. However, the response to the appointment by the Republican Party and by the Candidate for State Representative District 51, was aggressive in tone, and filled with negatives that did not benefit candidate Barela, who has shown a level of respect and decorum during the race. 

Several independents and moderate Republicans questioned, said they were leaning toward Ms. Barela but after the Republican Party response, and that of the candidate for District 51, they “opted for Ms. Dubois.” One cited, “I’ve had enough hate from that office, Couy was an embarrassment and brought nothing but trouble to Otero County, the vigor of hate that was espoused by the Party response made me decide to break the party line and vote for Ms. Dubois,” a respected and well-known Republican that asked that his name not be used said he really likes Amy but “maybe it’s time to shake things up on the commission, and end the rubber stamping of the Steve Pierce mandates, the county budget is a mess, obviously what we have in place is not working.”

Will there be a backlash from the Republican Party response to the appointment of Ms. Dubois, will Ms. Dubois be able to elicit enough moderate Republicans, motivated Democrats and Independents to the polls to carry her over to remain in the district 2 seat? Will the curse of mid-terms and the economy play into the results of the local elections? We will know in about 2 weeks.

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The mid-term elections in most states are traditionally, a completely different animal and can lead to all kinds of unexpected results. The mid-term election of 2018 was the year of the woman.

2018, women candidate had broken the records for the number of candidates for governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives elected a record number of women, with at least 90 women expected to make their way to Washington, D.C. in January.

In 2018 Deb Haaland of New Mexico broke the barrier and became one of the first Native American Women elected to congress. Democrat Deb Haaland, the former chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, won New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in the 2018 midterms. 

Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, became one of the first Native American women elected to Congress alongside Democrat Sharice Davids, who won Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Two Native American men — both Republicans — served in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to 2018.

Expectations for this mid-term election…

It’s true that the polls have shifted somewhat toward Republicans in certain key races. On September 15, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gave Democrats a 71 percent chance of holding the Senate, as of midday Wednesday, that number is 61 percent. In other cases, forecasts haven’t changed much: FiveThirtyEight has the GOP’s House takeover chances still above 70 percent. And there have been some contrary indicators, with surprisingly good poll results for Democrats in redder states like Iowa and Oklahoma.

Yet what amounts to a relatively minor poll shift has been greeted with a sense of impending Democratic doom, for reasons mostly unrelated to the polls themselves. The bad economic news, the historical trend of the president’s party performing poorly in midterms, and the tendency of polls to understate Republicans in certain key cycles (especially Senate races) can all be read to suggest that the smart money is on the GOP to do well.

This underlying assumption that Republicans should be the favorites and will end up the favorites means that small poll shifts in the GOP’s favor get interpreted as devastating for Democrats. And that assumption could well be correct — there are good reasons to believe it. Alternatively, it remains possible the polls are basically on target, or that election night results could deliver a surprise in the other direction.

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The state of the battle for the Senate

Democrats remain the favorites in the battle for the Senate, according to FiveThirtyEight, but their advantage has shrunk in the past month. When you look under the hood of FiveThirtyEight’s model to see why, it mostly comes down to shifts in four contests:

  • In Nevada, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) dropped from a 61 percent favorite to a 49 percent slight underdog.
  • In Pennsylvania, the chances of John Fetterman (D) winning dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent.
  • Meanwhile, the chances of challengers Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina winning each dropped from about 40 percent to 27 percent.

Other Democratic candidates, like Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), haven’t seen similar drops in the past month. Kelly is a 78 percent favorite to win, and Warnock is a 57 percent favorite. In Ohio, Tim Ryan remains a 28 percent underdog.

With the Senate split 50-50, the basic math is that so long as Fetterman picks up that GOP seat in Pennsylvania, Democrats can afford to lose one seat of their own. So, they could lose Cortez Masto or Warnock, but not both. And if Fetterman loses (and no other Democrats campaigning for GOP-held seats win), even losing one Democratic incumbent would flip the chamber.

 Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania look like the most important states in determining Senate control. But there’s a problem. Only one of those contests — Georgia — has been frequently polled of late. And it’s unclear how useful those polls are, since if neither candidate tops 50 percent of the vote next month, Warnock and Herschel Walker will just head to a runoff in December.

Public polling in the other two key states has been sparse. In Nevada, we’ve gotten only two public polls conducted in October — one showing Cortez Masto up 2, and one showing her trailing by 2 among likely voters. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the two public polls have both shown Fetterman up just 2. One of those polls is from the Trafalgar Group, while another is a joint effort from one Republican firm and one Democratic firm.

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Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sweeping four-term presidency, every president has fallen victim to the “midterm curse.”

The “curse” is considered political shorthand at this point—the opposition party to the incumbent leader will wrest control of the House of Representatives or the Senate from the leadership. In fact, the sitting presidential party has lost seats in the House in every single midterm election since FDR’s first term, save for three: FDR himself in 1934, Bill Clinton in 1998 during his second term in office, and George W. Bush in 2002 fresh off a hotly contested victory in the 2000 general election. In each of these instances, the presidents had remarkably high approval ratings—around 70%—often due to historic moments that offered an opportunity for landmark leadership, such as FDR’s New Deal, Clinton’s federal budget surplus, and Bush’s handling of the aftermath of 9/11.

There are a variety of explanations as to why parties often face defeat in the midterms after sweeping the floor in the presidential election. Voter apathy and presidential approval ratings play a large part, but voters are not the only ones who sway the outcome of elections. Midterm elections are susceptible to impacts from the re-drawing of districts and gerrymandering that may occur after a presidential election and can work to disenfranchise a party’s voting block. This is not a phenomenon isolated to the U.S., either: The parties of political leaders across the globe tend to strengthen early in a presidential term before diminishing later.

With the 2022 midterm elections fast approaching, it can be helpful to look back at the past century of midterms and gauge what patterns may suggest an outcome to this year’s election. Stacker used data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the U.S. House of Representatives to visualize outcomes of midterm elections on the president’s political party in Congress.

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The President’s party has only gained seats in the House three times since 1934

The incumbent party lost control of either the House or the House and Senate six times since 1934. Only three presidents—FDR, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—gained seats in the House of Representatives for their parties at midterms.

In FDR’s case, this was thanks to his swift decisions steering the country out of the Great Depression, including the New Deal and various economic relief measures. Clinton’s second term in office marked the first Democratic president to gain a second term since FDR. Though his popularity was beginning to falter due to emerging personal scandals—including the Monica Lewinsky situation, which saw Clinton face impeachment for lying to Congress—it hadn’t yet hit the low that would follow. Bush’s midterms were a narrow race to win an easily swayed power balance, marked by gerrymandering and expensive campaigns that ultimately favored the incumbent party.

The Senate has faired similarly

Statewide Senate races are not impacted by redistricting but still often suffer the same outcome for the president’s party. For most of the 20th century, Senate races were often won by the opposite party than the state in question had gone for in the presidential race. In 1986, for instance, the “mismatch rate” of U.S. Senate races was around 59%, meaning over half of states voted into office senators of the opposite party than they had voted for president most recently. This has waned in intensity recently—particularly during Obama’s presidency—but still generally held. However, the 2022 election cycle may mark a departure from this tradition, with only 4% of registered voters claiming they planned to vote for a senator from a different party than they had endorsed for president.

Presidential approval rating is often the clearest predictor of seat changes

Midterm elections tend to be considered referenda on the party in power. As a result, the electability of Congressional members is increasingly tied to the public’s attitude toward the president. Swing seats have consistently gone to the nonincumbent party when public approval of the current president is low, and the inverse when the public believes their administration is doing well.

Since FDR’s presidency, presidents with a low public approval rating have lost an average of 37 congressional seats during midterms. Only two presidents—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—have had a public approval rating above 60% during midterm elections; consequently, they have been the only two presidents in recent history to avoid the “midterm curse.”

Voters may be motivated more to turnout when their party is not in power

Voters generally turn out in lower numbers for midterms than for presidential elections. In the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, respectively, only 4 in 10 eligible voters turned up to the polls, whereas 6 in 10 voted in the 2016 general election. However, the drive to overturn the actions of an unfavorable president can be a powerful antidote to voting apathy. A good example of this was the 2018 midterms, in which, according to an analysis by Catalist, “young voters and voters of color, particularly Latinx voters, were a substantially larger share of the electorate than in past midterms.” These voters were majority Democrats, voting in opposition to the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump. That year, midterm surge voting leaped up, and it was “clear that both mobilization and persuasion were critically important in producing this scale of victory for Democrats.”

What does this mean for 2022?

In sum, the 2022 midterms will likely follow the patterns laid out here. All seats in the House of Representatives are up for the taking and a third of those in the Senate. President Joe Biden’s approval rating—40% as of Oct. 20—is on the lower end of historical midterm rates for an incumbent president, suggesting that, if historic precedent holds, Republicans will gain seats on Nov. 8. However, some factors may exert outside influence on the midterm results. 

The Democratic Party has been experiencing the same mobilization that spurred a midterm surge during Trump’s presidency, this time regarding issues such as abortion rights and inflation. Voters in Kansas recently turned up in record numbers to vote down measures that would restrict abortion access; elsewhere in the country, local and state legislatures have taken up steps and earmarked funds protecting the right to choose in repudiation of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

On the other hand, Republican-sponsored extremists are doing what they can to stem this tide, threatening election workers so convincingly that there is a feared shortage of people to work the midterms. Moreover, one recent poll suggests that Democrats’ momentum may have begun to stall, particularly among women, who in 2018 turned out to vote in greater numbers than men

You may also like: Heart and Soul of Republican Party

Written by: Andrea Vale National Coverage, local coverage by Chris Edwards and Rene Sepulveda

Description: Stacker used data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the U.S. House of Representatives to visualize outcomes of midterm elections on the sitting president’s political party in Congress.

AlamogordoTownNews.com Alamogordo City Commission PASSES 1st Publication of Code of Conduct & Social Media Use Policy for Commission

AlamogordoTownNews.com Citizens of Alamogordo Scored a Victory with a City Commission Code of Conduct and Social Media Ordinance Passing 6 to 0 With Commissioner Melton Absent from the Meeting

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; Block/Melton & The Duplicity & Demagoguery around “Alamogordo’s Sanctuary Resolution”

Ex-Commissioner Couy Griffin Snug with Candidate John Block Coupled in Demagoguery

Ex-Commissioner Couy Griffin Snug with Candidate John Block Coupled in Demagoguery

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. 

Sound familiar?

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 a role 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 the demagoguery 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 valuesduped 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.”

https://aul.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/AUL-FY21-Public-Disclosure-C…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Day Two Recap of Trial to Remove Cowboys for Trump Founder/Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin

Day two of the trail to remove Cowboys for Trump Founder and Otero County New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin from office proceeded today into a second day of expert testimony on why he 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. 

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.

The first version of Section 3 was born in chaos. On Wednesday, April 25, 1866, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction reached agreement on an omnibus Fourteenth Amendment. The centerpiece of that text was the provision mandating black suffrage by 1876. The Republicans on that committee immediately learned from their peers that this provision would not fly. Desperate to produce an amendment by Monday, April 30 the Joint Committee hastily cobbled together a new omnibus draft on Saturday, April 28. The centerpiece of that text was Section 2, which the Republican members of the committee thought would induce former confederate states to accept black suffrage by reducing state representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College in proportion to disenfranchised males over 21. Section 2 of the new omnibus text could not be implemented until after the next census. To ensure loyal control of state governments until that time, the Joint Committee added Section 3, which disenfranchised until July 4, 1870, all persons who gave “aid and comfort” to the rebellion.

The second version of Section 3 was reared in secret. The Joint Committee’s Section 3 engendered substantial debate among Republicans in Congress. Republicans disputed how that provision would be implemented and whether that provision would be effective. In mid-May Republican Senators held a three-day caucus to resolve disputes over Section 3 (and Section 2). We know the subjects of that caucus (largely Section 3), but not the details of what was said. No one leaked then or later in memoirs. 

When that caucus ended, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan proposed, with a few tweaks, the Section 3 we have today.

That Section 3 replaced temporary disenfranchisement with a permanent officeholding ban (both federal and state) while limiting the subjects of the ban to persons who, holding certain offices, had previously taken an oath to support the Constitution. Republicans fell in line immediately. Party members responded to Democratic criticisms but did not discuss the meaning of the Republican Senate Caucus’s Section 3 or how to best implement that provision.

Republicans assumed the constitutional problems the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to solve would largely vanish once either white Unionists or a biracial coalition of white Unionists and former slaves controlled southern governments and sent loyal representatives to Congress. Section 3 would, of course, apply to any future insurrection. Nevertheless, Republicans were focused almost exclusively on preventing confederates from regaining power. They did not concern themselves with what might constitute a future insurrection once the slave power had been permanently interred.

Yet here we are today…

Yet here we are today, in a court case that’s roots are spun from the American Civil War, in a battle to define what is an act of rebellion or insurrection and to answer the question of should a local county commissioner from a small poor county in New Mexico be removed from office for participation in what most have defined as an act of rebellion against the transition of power from former President Trump to President Biden. 

Should Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner be removed from office and barred from ever holding office again per article 14 Section 3?

The plaintiffs today, called law professor and expert on the 14th amendment, Dr. Mark Graber, to the stand to outline the definition of treason and an insurrection under the amendment, and how Griffin’s actions play into that.

Griffin: In your own opinion, is that a violation of my oath?

Dr. Graber: “Yes. Again, let’s go through the elements. You were acting in concert with other people, you marched with them, that’s what the tapes clearly show. You had a purpose, to prevent the certification of Joe Biden to be president.”

Dr. Graber investigated the insurrection and Griffin’s role in it. Under oath, he shared his three big findings: January 6, 2021 was an insurrection, people responsible for writing Section Three of the 14th amendment back in the 1800s would say it applies to county commissioners, and that they would view Griffin’s actions on July 6th as participating in insurrection.

Griffin, who is representing himself, argued he went to Washington D.C. that day as a private citizen and not in an official capacity. 

Like Monday, Judge Francis Mathew had to step in to keep proceedings on track.

Griffin: Your honor…the witness doesn’t need to be trying to put what I was thinking and what I was doing, this is my time with the witness and what I was doing there.

Judge Mathew: He’s answering your question.

Griffin: He’s making accusations all the same.

Next on the stand was Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence who also helped the select House committee investigate the insurrection. She testified that Griffin was an insurrectionist.

In cross-examination, Griffin said that was her opinion.

Toward the end of the day the dialog would make Griffin appear defeated. He mentioned maybe he should have had witnesses for his side. In the end the judge will decide. Today marked the end of testimony. Hundreds of pages of expert witness findings and cross examination that were humorous at time considering the seriousness of the charges and the potential precedent of this trial.

The closing arguments are not verbal but are to be submitted to the judge by August 29th. The judge is said he will rule within 10 days of receipt of those closing arguments.

Prologue:

The most bizarre twist of this whole affair is that an alleged staunch Republican, Commissioner Couy Griffin, has the potential of being removed from office, by an obscure piece of the constitution, that dates back to the civil war, sponsored by Republicans, to protect the United States Government from Confederate leaning elected officials from serving in office. 

The joke on us, in poor, played, Otero County, New Mexico is that the average Joe American is footing much expense with this whole judicial affair; it is game of brinksmanship on constitutional theory, that could impact the lowest to highest levels of power in this nation.  

Mr. Griffin and those that filed the lawsuit are all pawns in a game of constitutional theory being played out in what could evolve into a big-league US Supreme Court, precedent setting case that could impact the political landscape of this nation for decades at every level – city, county, state and national. 

This case getting national attention and being defended by a lone commissioner without an attorney is the big leagues, playing the little guy, into shaping the Republican Party to Retake Republicanism or to allow it to continue its present course, thus allowing an evolution, of power to fill the vacuum of discontent in a way we nor our founding fathers ever would have imagined.

Some say pray for America, others say Retake Republicanism, I suggest being diligent, vote, participate and educate oneself with constitutional facts verses the false narratives, get back to civics education, actually read and understand the constitution, then diligently look at those elected and ask yourself, “does he or she actually represent the values and intent of the founding fathers and that of the constitution for which we are all sworn?” 

Let’s put ego aside and reengage in the art of compromise and citizenship and respect for one another. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A record of the motions of the lawsuit is found at

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

The actual complaint document can be found at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The commission adjourned without funding his lawsuit.

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Otero Commission chairwoman, Vickie Marquardt, expressed that “if they don’t vote to approve the certification they may be arrested”

The commission met in “special session” and in a vote of 2 to 1 with Couy Griffin calling in, the Otero County Commissioners certified the election.

A large audience was present with significant police presence as threats had come in against the commissioners. In the afternoon meeting, Republican County Commissioners Vickie Marquardt and Gerald Matherly voted to certify the results from the state’s June 7 primary over the objections of the third commissioner, Couy Griffin.

Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, spoke by phone from Washington, where he had been sentenced earlier Friday to 14 days in jail on one count of entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The commission chairwoman, Vickie Marquardt, expressed that if they don’t vote to approve the certification they may be arrested and the “Governor could appoint their replacements with would be s further dis-service to the community as they were elected with over 60% of the vote.” 

In his remarks, Griffin refused to back down from assertions that the machines were not secure or apologize for leading a charge against a normally straightforward procedural vote that caused a week-long uproar.

“My vote to remain a no isn’t based on any evidence, it’s not based on any facts, it’s only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition, and that’s all I need,” Griffin said.

The crowd rallied behind Couys phone call and speech but in the end the legal process as interpreted by the State Supreme Court prevailed.

The state’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, had said Friday that the commissioners “must comply with the rule of law” or face legal action and potentially be removed from office.

“I don’t want to let anybody down, I know there’s a lot of people who want us to stand our ground,” Marquardt said Friday. But, she said, “I don’t think it’s worth us getting removed from our seats to do that.”

Commissioners in a second county, Torrance, who had delayed certification earlier this week, voted to approve the vote totals in a contentious public hearing Friday morning.

Next steps is the state will now certify, the candidates will be on the November ballot that were clear winners and a recount of the GB Oliver, Amy Barella race will move forward to determine the clear winner. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin Given Light Slap on the Wrist as Sentence for Insurrection Participation

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was given a slight slap on the wrist for his participation in the January 6th events at the nation’s capital.

The founder of the “Cowboys for Trump” organization and commissioner of Otero County, New Mexico, Couy Griffin, was sentenced to 14 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, 60 hours of community service and a year of supervised release on Friday after being convicted of entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021.

Griffin, who has been in jail for 20 days, will receive credit for time served and will not have to serve additional time.

Griffin was found guilty in March of the misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. A federal judge acquitted him of another misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in a bench trial during which the judge, not a jury, renders the verdict.

Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that Griffin was guilty of the charge that arose from his illegal entry of U.S. Capitol grounds in the vicinity of then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Capitol building for the counting of the Electoral College votes and remained in the Capitol complex during the riot.

Griffin’s sentencing in Washington, D.C., is happening on the same day as New Mexico’s deadline to certify its election results, and currently, Otero County is refusing to certify, citing unspecified concerns about the Dominion voting machines used in the June 7 primary.

The secretary of state and the state Supreme Court have ordered Otero County’s commission to certify its results, and there is an emergency meeting of the commission today at 4pm, although it is not clear whether Griffin, who told CNN he would vote against certifying, will be back in New Mexico for the meeting or will be joining remotely?

Griffin was not accused of any act of physical violence or of entering the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, but of being present on restricted Capitol grounds cordoned off by law enforcement and closed to the public ahead of the election certification. He asked the judge to sentence him to no more than two months’ probation, which his lawyer argued was the average term for such an offense.

To the extent his presence there contributed to the distress of outnumbered law enforcement officers, he offers them his sincere apology,” the defense wrote in a prehearing filing, later adding, “No evidence, in any case, indicated that Griffin’s purpose in being in the area was driven by [Pence’s] presence specifically” at the Capitol.

Griffin, his attorneys argued, did not personally endanger Pence by his presence on Capitol grounds and should not be treated as if he had.

“Though he is of limited means, Griffin would seize an opportunity to offer assistance to injured officers and to contribute to the repair of physical damage to the Capitol. Griffin vows to never again enter a restricted area, at the Capitol or anywhere else,” the filing added.

Prosecutors, however, said Griffin should get 90 days in prison with credit for the 20 days in prison he has already served. The defendant was part of the mob that “succeeded in halting the Congressional certification,” according to a recent court filing.

Griffin remained on the Capitol grounds for over two hours while rioters engaged in acts of violence and property damage on the Capitol grounds,” the memo read.

The government contended that despite statements to the contrary, Griffin has shown a lack of remorse for his actions. Referring to the split ruling of one conviction and one acquittal rendered by McFadden, prosecutors noted that Griffin tweeted in the weeks after his trial and criticized the judge.

The 1 I lost I will appeal. We SHOULD have won a grand slam on both counts,” Griffin tweeted. “McFaddens PRE written response was pathetic! I wonder who wrote it??”

Prosecutors also allege he has used his legal fight as a way to raise money, asking for contributions to an online funding page.

Jail time, the government argued, was the only way to deter Griffin from acting in such a way again, a claim his legal team, countering, “The shame Griffin has experienced is itself a guarantee of deterrence.”

He was arrested in the weeks following the attack and held in pretrial detention before his legal team successfully won his court-ordered release. Griffin claimed he was innocent and argued he was unaware that Pence was still anywhere in the Capitol area. He did not testify in his own defense.

Griffin received credit for time previously served and will not have to serve additional time. Terms of his supervised release and community service will be released in subsequent articles.

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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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