Alamogordo Town News KALH Radio Anthony Lucero Reports Threats Against Susan Payne

The Mayor of Alamogordo Susan Payne receives threats and calls for her death as reported in a live interview with KALH Radio’s Anthony Lucero in a breaking news report.

The incidents began with tensions off the charts with protesters in front of Alamogordo High School from an extremist religious groups not from Alamogordo attempting to stir up hate and disrupting peace in front of the high school all last week.

Susan Payne as herself on her personal web page and not in any professional capacity as mayor posted a quote on Facebook clearly stating this is her personal page closed and open only to her friends and not official page.

Sunday the 15th Payne posted the following “don’t worry about the things you can’t control, sometimes you just have to pray, put it in Gods hands and leave it alone. Pray about it today and leave it alone, Amen.”

She followed it with this also applies to cop hating blue haired freaks who are desperate to be TikTok stars. Note per Anthony Lucero’s story no one was named. 

In an interview for Alamogordo Town News on KALH Radio by Anthony Lucero she explained “no one knows who I was talking about, it doesn’t matter, I didn’t put a name, assumptions were made.

A person by the name of Jenny Buckley per KALH Radio responded via a TikTok post, “It’s telling, that she is doing a lot more to —-talk me, one of her constituents then she is to deal with the hate group…”

However Susan Payne per her statement has been keeping watching the group and asking questions both as a private citizen and via her professional capacity though actions are limited due to constitutional limitations. 

Ms. Buckley implied Susan Payne has not been seen out there once defending the kids. However KALH reports in an interview with Mrs. Payne that to be untrue. Mrs Payne was out there but chose not to post photos ops of her visit. Per Susan Payne, “I did go out there again I’m sorry I didn’t do a photo op. I didn’t know that I needed to, I assure I was there and can prove I was there long before others.”

Note per Mr. Lucero’s reporting, Buckley is not the only blue haired critic of Susan Payne from the area. 

On the plus side Buckley did identify the protesters as Cry to God Ministries which appears to be nothing more than an hate group of the facsimile of the old Westboro Baptist Church that used to protest funeral of soldiers and gays and is nothing but hate with a new coat of paint. 

Like the Westboro folks the 1st Amendment does allow these freak shows to appear free speech is not always pleasant nor tasteful speech and there are limits to what law enforcement and citizens can do to block this display of hate. 

Sadly the flood gates from this have spiraled into hate at the local level with a few radical citizens also going after and threatening Susan Payne. There is no justification for hate directed toward Ms Payne and threats and phone calls as reported in Mr Luceros story on KALH are uncalled for. Civil dialog is a must for a civil society. 

Ms Payne received several unnerving and even some threatening voice mails, one voice mail called for her execution and another called her a Nazi sympathizer. For those that don’t know Mrs Payne she was born into the Jewish faith and her family practices elements out of both Christian and Jewish traditions.

Mrs. Payne has been working hard on this issue reviewing what legally the city can do. Mrs Payne though this interview with Anthony Lucero for Alamogordo Town News on KALH Radio further explained that  she was not speaking as the mayor but as a private citizen, in her professional role daily the nonprofit she leads ensures 196 at risk children are fed weekly, she works for domestic violence victims and helps with the homeless. 

The attacks on her are a concern for her and her grandchildren’s safety. Mrs Payne has grandchildren that attend Alamogordo High School, so she certainly cares about the safety or the kids enrolled there. 

Hear the complete interview and hear a few of the hate calls and threats made to Mrs. Payne and the complete story as reported by KALHRadio.org Anthony Lucero on the Alamogordo Town News on KALH Radioedition: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2qnYgevTBLPeeeMf7HxKMQ

To stay updated on live and breaking Alamogordo Town News with Anthony Lucero and information via KALHRadio.org live stream.

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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.

You may also like: Heart and Soul of Republican Party

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.

You may also like: Heart and Soul of Republican Party

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 Commentary & Fact: “There is NO communication regarding the public requesting Mr. Melton to place the resolution on the agenda.”

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10-03-2022 8:21pm

AlamogordoTownNews.com Commentary & Fact: “There is NO communication regarding the public requesting Mr. Melton to place the resolution on the agenda.”

Chris EdwardsEditor

Image

AlamogordoTownNews.com Mr Melton lied there is No communication from constituents asking for the resolution to be considered.

AlamogordoTownNews.com Mr Melton lied there is No communication from constituents asking for the resolution to be considered. 

During the special session of the Alamogordo City Commission meeting on August 2, 2022, Mr. Melton went on public record and lied. If one watches the video proceeding of that day one sees at 3:57.45 when Mr. Melton claims, “the reason for bringing it (the resolution) forward to discuss is because I heard from my constituents this is what they want. I am in this role to represent them…I am here as a service to our constituents;
we have to represent them
…”

NO SUCH COMMUNICATION EXISTS.

2nd Life Media and AlamogordoTownNews.com under the Open Records Act requested from the City of Alamogordo all communications from citizens “requesting that Mr. Melton place the Sanctuary City for the Unborn on the agenda as a resolution and or any communications regarding abortion and the fear of clinics in Alamogordo up to the date the resolution before the public in a “Special Session.” Also requested were notes from City Staff regarding any dialog that Commissioner Melton had with staff and staff notes related to the proposed resolution regarding “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” Status and all communications from constituents 60 days prior suggesting that Abortion was a hot button issue that “required it to be addressed by the city commission.”

During the special session of the Alamogordo City Commission meeting on August 2, 2022, Mr. Melton went on public record and lied. Mr. Melton claims, “the reason for bringing it (the resolution) forward to discuss is because I heard from my constituents this is what they want…” 

NO SUCH COMMUNICATION EXISTS. The Melton/Block Duo lied

The City Charter and State law requires the retention of all communications that are related to records or communications used, created, received, maintained, or held on behalf of a public body are public records just as if they were maintained by the public body itself.

(Thus, if any communication existed in a private server that is not operated by the city or notes of any calls, copies of text, social media inquiries that exist, then Mr. Melton by law was required to turn them into the city when a Public Records Request was submitted. 

In this regard, if private email or other communications is used to conduct public business, (a constituent request to discuss abortion or a resolution around abortion would be public business) the email or communication, is a public record, even though a personal account is used. The person using the personal account is effectively using, creating, receiving, maintaining, or holding the data and must release it to the government body they represent and to the public if an Open Records request was submitted. 

If a record exists and Mr. Melton did not release it, then he violated the law and is subject to fines and a misdemeanor. 

If no records exist as per city staff, then Mr. Melton and Mr. Block lied in their assertion that this was “necessary to bring to a resolution out of constituent concern.”  Not one single form of communication with city representatives regarding this issue exists prior to the public forum concerning the resolution. 

In an article in the propaganda blog of his domestic partner, Candidate John Block, Melton is quoted as saying…“I have brought forward Resolution 2022-38 because my constituents are worried Alamogordo has no resolution or ordinance on the books protecting unborn life. This measure not only affirms life from conception to natural death, but it declares Alamogordo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” said Melton.

Which constituents are worried? None, Zero not a single request until they made it an issue.

Our public records request required the city to refer “all communications from constituents requesting or any dialog related to abortion and a resolution.” NONE EXISTS. 

This was a ruse, “an action intended to deceive the public, a trick, a sham.”

It now makes sense why Mr. Melton does not support having a Code of Conduct in place for elected and appointed city commissioners. As this action crafted on deceit would be a violation of the public trust in misrepresenting a “constituent concern” that did not exist. 

If the duo had been honest, they would have gone on the record and conceded that their family had financially gained from a pro-life organization via past employment and that this is an issue dear to them thus they wanted to bring it forward. An honest dialog of why it is important to them would have gained more allies, including this news source, verses deception to the public which is a violation of public trust.

And of great interest were a few elements of the staff notes procured via our Open Records request.

Staff notes referenced “Floyd”? We have an enhanced open records request seeking clarification and more information around the staff notes and rather the reference was actually to a resolution Roosevelt County passed a year ago.

Floyd and Roosevelt County verses Alamogordo, Otero County:

Floyd is a city in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, a year ago this small poor community passed, a pro-life resolution also with NO power of law. 

The staff notes also referenced Karl Melton providing the staff an example resolution. As previously reported Mr. Block, Mr. Melton’s domestic partner worked for a pro-life advocacy group out of Washington DC, in his past and the family connection to a pro-life Advocacy group was left out of any dialog or disclosures on the part of Mr. Melton or Mr. Block during the heat of the resolution and petition fight. (Another breach of trust by failing to disclose past financial gains from a pro-life advocacy group.)

Floyd, New Mexico is a village in Roosevelt County with a population of 91, a racial makeup of 93.59% White, 5.13% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. The per capita income for the village is $13,747, 19.2% of families and 41.8% of the population lives below the poverty lineincluding 61.5% of under 18 and 19.2% of those over 64 living below the poverty line. It is in Roosevelt County with a total county population of 18,018. The population of the county shrank 1800 people from the 2010 census to the 2020 census. 

Alamogordo, New Mexico is a city with a population 31,384, a racial makeup of 75.4% White of which Hispanic or Latino were 32.0% of the classification); 5.6% African American, 1.1% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 12.1% from some other race, and 4.2% from two or more races. the median income for a household in the city was $30,928. About 13.2% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.9% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over 64 living below the poverty line.

The contrast between these two communities in population 91 verses 31,284; racial makeup 93.59% white verses Alamogordo’s more diverse, a poverty rate in Floyd of 41.8% verses Alamogordo 23.9% makes one wonder. Why would Floyd, Roosevelt County be referenced in any political dialog with Alamogordo as a “model” for public policy? One would think our elected representatives would model actions from successful communities not one with a shrinking county population and a poverty rate that has 61.5% of the children living below the poverty level. 

True leadership means modeling public policy based upon successful communities. 

Duplicity and Demagoguery – the Company One Keeps.

A fitting poem – The Company One Keeps

“One night in late October,

When I was far from sober,

My poor feet began to stutter,

So, I lay down in the gutter,

And a pig came near and lay down by my side.

Then we sang “It’s all fair weather when good fellows get together”,

Till a lady passing by was heard to say:

“You can tell a man who boozes,

By the company he chooses”,

And the pig got up and slowly walked away.”

Why are we focused on the Block/Melton duo? 

The Melton Block duo has roused, either directly or indirectly through their surrogates to remove those that differ from their viewpoints from the party dialog. They engage in blocking dialog and profiles. To date they will not engage in civil discussion to find areas of collaboration; they see more value in attacking opponents rather then delivering an affirmative argument for their positions. It is easy to attack another of differing opinions, it more difficult to provide affirmative dialog with positive overtones to build consensus. 

If we want representation within our city and at the state level to bring state funding for business growth and marketing, education, infrastructure, and support for our way of life, then leadership must show and offer positive collaborative solutions. 

Our city and county deserve leadership that understands the art of horse trading and compromise. Hostility toward the power brokers up north does the region NO favors in brokering solutions. 

We want a state representative and a commissioner that is looked at as seasoned professionals not one that is considered on the fringe. Fringe leaders garner headlines and build upon their personal ego but deliver little to their constituents.

Skilled moderate leaders on the other hand seek areas of compromise and collaboration to bring the best of government forward for the constituents within their district. 

The Block/Melton duo have a history of partnering with those of dubious tricks and dubious reputations and tactics. A “mysterious mailer” with our business return address which is “mail fraud” went out to key Republicans in Otero County to disparage and intimidate us from questioning the radicalized tactics being displayed and reported upon. 

The mailer was crafted with a specific intent to damage our business and to damage our reputation within the community. Was it sent from the candidate or the appointed commissioner or one of their ambitious followers? We hope not. The postal inspector general, the federal authorities and our private investigator will eventually have the answer to that issue and once established we will prosecute.

However, mysterious mailers and social media attacks are not new to Candidate Block and appointed Commissioner Melton, as per the company they keep. The duos associates, as reported by the New Mexico Political Journal, conducted smear campaigns against Albuquerque meteorologist Mark Ronchetti who is the Republican nominee for governor when he was running for Senator in 2020.
As reported by the New Mexico Political Journal “John Block has posted particularly ugly smears, as has Rick Montoya, and there was a disgusting letter that quite a number of delegates have said looks like the style and tone of one of (Republican Party Leader) Pearce’s closest allies, John Billingsley.”

Mr. Block clearly still has not backed away from the attacks on Ronchetti, he has several stories he wrote in attack of Ronchetti posted on his campaign website.

All the while Block recently paid $1000 for a sponsorship at a fundraiser for Ronchetti. Hypocrisy or attempting to coddle favors in the final weeks before the election? 

The playbook of Duplicity and Demagoguery continues. However those in Santa Fe and Albuquerque are all too familiar with these characters. 

Clearly, we believe in responsible government. We believe those leaders in appointed and elected positions should be examples of collaboration and seek and sponsor solutions to business growth, crime, and security. 

We do not believe that there is a role for duplicity and demagoguery nor personal agendas from elected or appointed leaders

Thus far the appointed Commissioner Melton has not sponsored a single piece of legislation or a single ordinance to address real issues within the city of Alamogordo around business growth, crime prevention nor improving core services.

The appointed Commissioner Melton and his domestic partner have sown seeds of deceit and division and conned the public into believing a non-issue was the most pressing issue facing the city. 

They know better! The additional ruse against a City Code of Conduct creates an even further wedge between the idea of accountability and real responsible governance.

Instead of meeting with moderate Republicans and Independents and seeking common ground for areas of collaboration they call out those that differ as RINOS. They block us on their social media pages and attempt character attacks and try to change the narrative rather than addressing real issues and ways to compromise for the good of the community.

Block seemed to have aligned, at past state conventions, with those that are on the fringe to the traditional Republican Party platform. He aligned with those that that attacked a seated Republican Governor in the past and were part of the element within that cost the Republican Party a significant number of seats in the state assembly, all the while state houses in most states have seen gains from moderate Republican candidates. 

The extremist gets headlines and feed the fury of division, all the while the moderates collaborate and drive public policy forward.

What is most entertaining is Mr. Block is a newcomer and opportunist to Alamogordo. His past life he has flip flopped in ideology. He worked for a pro-life organization and as reported by The New Mexico Political Journal concerning Mr. Block, “the irony of a former Martin Heinrich intern and volunteer for Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign awarding himself the position of judge and jury of the conservative Republican purity test has been noted by many.” 

More entertaining is the fact he does not own these flip-flops nor acknowledge his history. Rather than embrace his past, admit to his experience, and explain what he leaned from each experience he “whitewashes it.” 

He whitewashed the story of his working with Martin Heinrich and tried to explain away why he worked with both Heinrich and Keller in his propaganda pages. 

Note in his linked-in profile there is not a single reference to working as a Democratic Operative as a Martin Heinrich intern and a volunteer Democratic Operative for Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign. He does have a link to a policy brief he claims credit for yet does not allude to the Democratic Senator he crafted the brief for. He name-drops, Republicans, all over his linked-in resume but does not dare acknowledge his work for Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich or Mayor Tim Keller though in reality those two assignments were the most prestigious of his resume excepting of course for his position in Las Vegas as a Front Desk Agent at Diamond Resorts International.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnfornm

The fact of him defining a RINO and who should, or should not be in the party, is classic. 

According to a site called politicalfireball.comin a story posted April 8, 2020, “Block comes from deep Democrat roots and is the cousin of former Democrat PRC Commissioner, Jerome Block, who was sentenced after pleading guilty to fraudulent use of a state-issued credit card, embezzlement and election law violations. John Block’s uncle has also been in and out of jail for drug use and breaking the terms of his probation.”

His family experience explains his hostility toward this news source and his stance of being against “rehabilitative justice” as his family experience had run ins with the law and continued a path downward instead of a path forward. 

Carpetbagger: “a person perceived as an unscrupulous opportunist”

The heat of Northern New Mexico media coverage began to impact the Block/Melton duo with another article titled Glass House John Block Exposed.

 
This heat and exposure with many articles attacking Mr. Block during the 2000 election may explain why the Block/Melton duo fled Northern New Mexico to seek political favor in Otero County having lived in the county less than 2 years…

Block in commentary on his propaganda page tried to “mansplain” his association with Democrats as a member of their staff. 

Block: “I worked to help stop radical open-borders socialists from taking over Albuquerque by VOLUNTEERING on the Keller campaign for a little over three weeks to uncover unethical campaign practices.” 

Yeah right, okay, sure. Anyone who has ever worked on a professional campaign knows that a “volunteer” will never be privy to the innerworkings of a campaign, its strategy, and its internal process. There is NO WAY a “volunteer” in just “three weeks” John Block, would have had access to any information that could be used in an ethics review.

A very funny story to weave, but of course, most Americans are gullible when it comes to politics and the spinning politicians weave.

Most of the public has never seen the innerworkings of a professional campaign, and how a professional campaign staff operates, so this story would seem plausible to the untrained political novice. 

But it gets better…

Per Block, “the only office that granted me an internship was Heinrich’s.” That in itself is a testament that Republican leaders at the time did not offer Mr. Block an internship. One wonders why?

Block continued: “I was given the selective opportunity to serve the people of New Mexico as a Senate intern and bring a conservative perspective to the far-left office… My fellow interns repeatedly attacked my Republican ideals and repeatedly attempted to have me fired from the internship, but I did not back down — and it made my conservative values and support for our 45th president that much stronger.” 

 Or more radicalized, the duo felt the heat and fled the hot pan of Northen New Mexico politics? The Block/Melton duo fled Northern, New Mexico, for a “safe, conservative community” – Otero County. Why Otero County? If success was eminent in Northern New Mexico? –  Opportunism. 

The Melton Block Duo has flip-flopped on Ronchetti. One wonders if Ronchetti will remember this analysis of his senatorial run by Mr. Block? 

Per John Block, “Instead of campaigning to be New Mexico’s next U.S. Senator, it appears Ronchetti is more interested in playing the high school bully, name-calling, and pushing everyone in his way just to get what he wants…The nasty, bottom-of-the-barrel ad-hominem attacks on fellow Republicans, many of them being fellow candidates, prove that Ronchetti’s campaign is willing to go to any embarrassingly low level to win.”

Sound familiar? Appointed Commissioner Melton and Candidate Block, showed their true colors with the lies around the Resolution and should look in the mirror… The nasty, bottom-of-the-barrel ad-hominem attacks on fellow Republicans… prove that (Melton and Block) is willing to go to any embarrassingly low level to win.”  

Blocks words not this commentators excepting for replacing Ronchetti with Block Melton. 

Ronchetti would do well to distance hisself from this duo.  

Note: the commentaries and investigations into the antics of Melton and Block will stop when they rise to the occasion of true leadership, end the attacks on those that differ in opinion and embrace open dialog with a civil tone to seek areas of compromise for a better Alamogordo. Until then, we will continue to forge forward a vision to Retake Republicanism from radicalization and bring it back to the ideals of a big tent that welcomes everyone and serves with decorum and grace. It’s time the Grand Ole Party return to its roots, expels with myths and reembraces the tenants of its past glory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A record of the motions of the lawsuit is found at

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

The actual complaint document can be found at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The commission adjourned without funding his lawsuit.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com 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 Court Issued Writ of Mandamus, Commissioner Vickie Marquardt Responds, Prosecutor Adds to Couy Griffin Sentencing Dialog

The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus Wednesday against the Otero County Commission for certification of 2022 primary election returns.

During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”

Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”

The commission is meeting in special session on Friday; however, Couy Griffin is scheduled for a sentencing hearing in Federal Court in Washington DC for his role in the insurrection thus his attendance is in doubt.  Federal prosecutors are asking the court to consider the refusal to approve the vote canvass and the subsequent criminal referral to the NM attorney general as part of the sentencing considerations for Couy Griffin tomorrow.

During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results per legal interpretation of the Secretary of State and the New Mexico Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”

Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt Chairwoman of the Otero County Commission has issued a press release this afternoon stating her concerns with the election between GB Oliver and Amy Barela which is an 11-vote variance and will be forced into a recount if the election is certified. Per her press release she is now giving specific examples of what she believes to be election irregularities. The irregularities outlined however are not Dominion Machine Driven as outlined in commissions concerns but they have to do with voters who reside on properties without a dwelling so potentially fraudulent voting. Which indeed would be an issue but not the issue initially listed and solved by doing away with the voting machines. Fraudulent voting is a distinctly different issue than trust in a machine.  The story gets even more interesting and tomorrows special meeting of the commission is sure to be heated and entertaining. 

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt Chairwoman of the Otero County Commission’s press release is below…

Stay Tuned tomorrows Otero commission meeting will be entertaining in the dialog from all sides and the sentencing of Couy Griffin will both make national headlines. All eyes are again on Otero County from around the nation but not about prosperity, jobs creation and growth. All eyes are in Otero County with mixed emotions of unease questioning is the is precursor to what to expect with the November elections and what is in store for our nation of laws and a fragile democracy. 

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CAlamogordoTownNews.com Political Candidates David Greenwald & Stephanie DuBois Q & A Responses & Financial

The Democratic primary race between David Herny Greenwald and Stephanie Louise DuBois for the 2nd District County Commission primary is neck to neck in the fundraising race with Mr. Greenwald slightly ahead of Mrs. DuBois. Links to their most recent filings are below, followed by responses to the Q & A survey of questions from AlamogordoTownNews.com

David Henry Greenwald 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

  • Largest Cash Contribution: Karen Lecomte $300, Christopher Jones $250, James Neely $200 (Local)
  • Gary Stallings, $250 (Out of County)
  • Loans to Campaign: 0
  • In Kind: 0
  • Total funds raised as of reporting period: $1722.54
  • Ending Balance as of reporting period: 1418.17

Stephanie Louise DuBois 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

  • Largest Cash Contribution: Debra Holland $250, Denise Lang Brown $200, Self $100 (local donors),
  • Robert Lara $100, Elizabeth Stefanics $100, Linda Siegle $100 (Out of County Donors)
  • Loans to Campaign: 0
  • In Kind: 0 
  • Total funds raised as of reporting period: $1495
  • Ending Balance as of reporting period: $747

Candidate Questionnaire Otero/Alamogordo Primary Elections between candidates David Henry Greenwald and Stephanie Louise DuBois

Note in an email dated 4/4/2022 Ms. DuBois emailed that she would “rather not participate” in the questionnaire.  What follows is the responses from candidate Greenwald…

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

David Henry Greenwald 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate response: 

Education: B.A., University of Northern Colorado, Anthropology and Archaeology; Northern Arizona University, Graduate Studies in Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management.

Background: I was raised on a ranch in Wyoming and developed a deep and abiding respect for the land. That early experience as well as a lifetime dedicated to cultural and natural resource management has allowed me to understand the concerns of those who rely on the land and its water resources. I admire and respect those who make their livelihood from the land: farmers, ranchers, foresters, outfitters and others who respect and retain an understanding of sound management practices. For more than 48 years as an archaeologist, I have consulted with conservationists, tribal governments, environmentalists, ecologists, and land managers, seeking methods to achieving mutually acceptable solutions. 

My wife, Dawn, and I were business owners for 17 years in Otero County before retiring here. For the past 9 years, I have served in a volunteer role as President of Jornada Research Institute, centered in District 2 of Otero County. I am heavily involved in eco-tourism in Otero and Lincoln counties, which is focused on engaging all ages of the public through involvement, study, and protection of cultural and natural resources. I consider myself a practical conservationist owing much to my conservative upbringing in Wyoming. I understand the need for sensible management applications to maintain environmental sustainability. I currently serve as President of Jornada Research Institute, a 501 – C – 3 not-for-profit educational and research organization. I am also a board member of the Tularosa Arts and History Council and a trustee of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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.

David Henry Greenwald Response: I have not held office previously.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: I have not held office previously, thus not applicable.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

AlamogordoTownNews.com:  Why are you running for office?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “To try to make a difference. I’m born of conservative roots and believe in holding the line on spending while attempting to improve the job market and promote opportunities for residents of Otero County. We need to bring more jobs to this area to keep younger residents here and stop the “brain drain.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “To bring back some normalcy to Otero County, reduce or eliminate wasteful spending on audits and unnecessary consultant fees. I hope to provide some level of rationale thought and behavior, and work to improve services, roads, and facilities for all Otero residents.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: That I have helped to improve county management and services, better relations among Otero County residents, and helped bring new businesses to the area.

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: May 10, 2022

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Applying the Main Street revitalization program offers a community to draw businesses and people together. Efforts in the Alamogordo downtown district can benefit from applications and strategies offered by programs such as Main Street America, where grants can be obtained to help business owners or help businesses locate in downtown area. Alamogordo is unique in its Mid-America and Pueblo Revival architecture. Although I don’t have experience with programs like Main Street America, I have a keen interest in historic preservation. When the Plaza Pub was being threatened by the proposed construction of a CVS store, I went before the Alamogordo City Council and gave a presentation on why the Plaza Pub building should be preserved and repurposed. In that presentation I provided a similar type of project in Phoenix, Arizona, that I was involved that had a church of significance to the surrounding community that was slated to be destroyed as part of an urban redevelopment project. The parties involved found a way to develop around the church and make it part of that redevelopment area, satisfying the objections of the local residents. It is buildings such as the Plaza Pub (now the Tularosa Basin Historical Museum) that so many affiliate with Alamogordo. 

Another example has been the recent National Register of Historic Places nomination that I was a major contributor to for the Tularosa Acequia System. Although the Village of Tularosa has been listed as a District with various contributing buildings, the acequia system was not specifically identified. In 2019, I was part of a team who completed the complex nomination of the acequia system, which is now being recommended by the State Historic Preservation Office as the standard guide for future acequia nominations.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Probably one of the championship football games at Tularosa High School.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Not applicable”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “I did a presentation and shared a film on the history of Fort Craig and the looting of military and civilian graves that took place from the 1960s well into the 1990s. The name of the film was Helluva Way To Treat A Soldier, produced by the Bureau of Reclamation. Looters were searching for military items to sell on the black market. We were tasked by the Bureau of Reclamation to fully excavation the cemetery to recover the remains of those who were buried there but were being desecrated by profiteers and antiquity collectors, and attempt to identify them. The remains of all 65 individuals are now buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Largely, my focus has been on eco-tourism, creating opportunities that involve public programs as educational venues that teach all age categories about our natural and cultural resources. These programs teach participants about the value the resources provide and what we can learn from studying them, about how the past was and how we may be able to use that knowledge to better the present, and the need to respect our natural and cultural resources so future generations can learn from and enjoy them . 

Recently, we had Alamogordo middle school students participate in an excavation program to teach them about archaeology methods and techniques. Except during Covid, this has been a reoccurring program, one that the students get to experience the outdoors and actual excavating of prehistoric remains.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Although I have not been involved in any efforts up to this time to correct this situation, I have been attempting to find a solution that may help reduce the number of such abandoned homes and derelict businesses. Perhaps an incentive program could be developed that provided funds to such owners to clean up their property or remove unsightly accumulations of debris. The incentive program would provide funds to the owners rather than pay a clean-up crew to do the work. This approach could save the county considerable revenues, while the owner’s costs would be covered. This program needs some development, but it would likely place the burden on the owners through incentives.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “No activity. I think there should be an organized committee at the county level that welcomes new businesses to the area, shares information about the new business to the area with the public and promote its services and products. This was a disappointment to me when we created the non-profit that I operate, with very little interest shown toward what we were attempting to do. A few in the community have been very supportive, but we’ve felt little support since the inception in 2013. This needs to change with an interest in all businesses to see that they are successful and remain a viable part of the greater community.

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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.

David Henry Greenwald Response: “All businesses are important to the community, whether they are owned and operated by an individual or a large corporation. I would like to see greater use of historic buildings and buildings repurposed rather than new construction that lends itself to urban sprawl. The community should focus on heightened use of the downtown zone where more activities associated with the arts, music and culture could be shared with residents and visitors to the area.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Absolutely. Music, art and cultural diversity are a reflection of ourselves. The more robust and greater the variety, the more representative it is of our diverse heritage. When we experience the arts and culture of other nationalities, we gain a better understanding of people who may look different than ourselves but share the same life hardships and accomplishments. Art and music transcend ethnic and cultural boundaries. I was instrumental in bringing the Los Rondas de Cifuentes to Tularosa from Guadalajara, Spain to perform traditional music and songs from Spain with hand-made instruments at St. Francis de Paula church just prior to Christmas in 2019.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “No activity.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

AlamogordoTownNews.com: How are you funding your campaign?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Privately with donations.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Absolutely.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Yes, assuming it doesn’t conflict with a previous event.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Yes, I would like to see more cultural activities offered in our area.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Alamogordo’s setting. It is located in what was a very active cultural area during prehistoric times. However, very little formal research and documentation has been completed on its prehistoric occupants, how they lived, the various resources they used to feed themselves, or how extensively they used the land and resources available to them. Alamogordo offers prime opportunities for eco-tourism if developed in tandem with BLM and the USFS.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “I feel that I can. Much can be gained from negotiation and compromise as I learned during my professional career that required finding reasonable solutions to complicated needs with a fixed amount of funds available.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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?

David Henry Greenwald Response: “Lacking prior experience in such social matters, I would likely attempt to provide a reliable shelter where individuals in need could turn for help. Perhaps this could be a community-wide service supported by public, private, civic organizations and churches with an emphasis to shelter and house those in need.”

Stephanie Louise DuBois – No Response

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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Supreme Court Upholds ADA for a 3rd Time

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

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

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

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

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

To read detail of the ruling visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fifth Circuit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oral Argument

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

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

Post-Oral Argument

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

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

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

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

Yet serious problems remain.

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

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

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

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Alamogordo Town News History Lesson Flag Day, Flag Code and Old Glory by Author Chris Edwards

Bernard Cigrand, a small-town Wisconsin teacher, originated the idea for an annual flag day, to be celebrated across the country every June 14, in 1885. That year, he led his school in the first formal observance of the holiday. Cigrand, who later changed careers and practiced dentistry in Illinois, continued to promote his concept and advocate respect for the flag throughout his life.

But prior to that when the American Revolutionbroke out in 1775, the colonists weren’t fighting united under a single flag. Instead, most regiments participating in the war for independence against the British fought under their own flags. In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to create the Continental Army—a unified colonial fighting force—with the hopes of more organized battle against its colonial oppressors. This led to the creation of what was, essentially, the first “American” flag, the Continental Colors.

For some, this flag, which was comprised of 13 red and white alternating stripes and a Union Jack in the corner, was too similar to that of the British. George Washington soon realized that flying a flag that was even remotely close to the British flag was not a great confidence-builder for the revolutionary effort, so he turned his efforts towards creating a new symbol of freedom for the soon-to-be fledgling nation.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation and passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

In response to the petition, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1777. It reads in the Journals of the Continental Congress:

Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The date commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The flag was called the Flag Resolution of 1777 and was the first of many iterations of what would become the American flag we recognize today.

Betsy Ross Didn’t Design the Original Flag

Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Phoebe Griscom, is widely credited with making the first modern American flag in 1776. Folklore states it occurred after General George Washington visited her home at 239 Arch Street in Philadelphia. Ross was the wife of John Ross, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Militia. John was killed in the early stages of the war. What is known is that Betsy Ross worked in upholstery and helped war efforts by making tents and blankets.

The story of Ross and her presenting the American flag to Washington after he gave her a sketch of what he wanted didn’t become part of “history” until 1876 at Centennial celebrations of the American Revolution. Around that year Ross’s grandson, William J. Canby, wrote a research paper for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania claiming that his grandmother had made the first American flag.

The real designer of the American flag was Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey. Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department and also designed a flag for them around 1777, too.

Hopkinson was the only person to make the claim of inventing the American flag in his lifetime until the Betsy Ross apocrypha surfaced a hundred years later. Substantiating Hopkinson’s claims are preserved bills he sent to Congress for his work.

According to the United States Flag Organization:

Apparently acting on a request from Congress, Hopkinson sent a detailed bill on June 6th, and it was sent to the auditor general, James Milligan. He sent it to the commissioners of the Chamber of Accounts, who replied six days later on June 12th that they were of the opinion that the charges were reasonable and ought to be paid.

Flag Day itself was first established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Wilson was also the first president to recognize Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the latter of which is this Sunday. However, Flag Day didn’t officially become established until 1949 by an act of Congress.

Flag Day is not unique to the United States and many countries have specific flag days. Dates of flag days vary across the world, but most dates were chosen to mark a significant national event like an independence day, a declaration of independence, an important military victory, the creation of the flag, or something similar to our Armed Forces Day.

Prior to Flag Day, June 14, 1923, neither the federal government nor the states had official guidelines governing the display of the United States’ flag. On that date, the National Flag Code was constructed by representatives of over 68 organizations, under the auspices of the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion. The code drafted by that conference was printed by the national organization of the American Legion and given nationwide distribution.

On June 22, 1942, the code became Public Law 77-623; chapter 435. Little had changed in the code since the Flag Day 1923 Conference. The most notable change was the removal of the Bellamy salutedue to its similarities to the Hitler salute.

The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 prohibits real estate management organizations from restricting homeowners from displaying the Flag of the United States on their own property.

The Army Specialist Greg L. Chambers Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 added a provision to allow governors, or the mayor of the District of Columbia, to proclaim that the flag be flown at half-staff upon the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who died while serving on active duty. The provision directs federal facilities in the area covered by the governor or mayor of the District of Columbia to fly the flag at half-staff consistent with such proclamations.

The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Sec. 595.)allows the military salute for the flag during the national anthem by members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and by veterans.

And how it was to become named Old Glory

Old Glory!”

This famous name was coined by Captain William Driver, ship master of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig Charles Doggett friends presented him with a beautiful American flag of twenty four stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed “Old Glory!” (This voyage would climax with the rescue of the mutineers of the Bounty).

Captain Driver retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured American flag from his sea days with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver’s “Old Glory.” When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebels were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the hated banner.

Then on February 25th, 1862, Union forces captured Nashville and raised the American flag over the capital. It was a rather small ensign and immediately folks began asking Captain Driver if “Old Glory” still existed. Happy to have soldiers with him this time, Captain Driver went home and began ripping at the seams of his bed cover. As the stitches holding the quilt-top to the batting unraveled, the onlookers peered inside and saw the 24-starred original “Old Glory”!

Captain Driver gently gathered up the flag and returned with the soldiers to the capitol. Though he was sixty years old, the Captain climbed up to the tower to replace the smaller banner with his beloved flag. The Sixth Ohio Regiment cheered and saluted – and later adopted the nickname “Old Glory” as their own, telling and re-telling the story of Captain Driver’s devotion to the flag we still honor today.

Captain Driver’s grave is located in the old Nashville City Cemetery and is one of three (3) places authorized by act of Congress where the Flag of the United States may be flown 24 hours a day.

A caption above a faded black and white picture in the book, The Stars and the Stripes, states that ‘Old Glory’ may no longer be opened to be photographed, and no color photograph is available.” Visible in the photo in the lower right corner of the canton is an applique anchor, Captain Driver’s very personal note. “Old Glory” is the most illustrious of a number of flags – both Northern and Confederate – reputed to have been similarly hidden, then later revealed as times changed. The flag was given to his granddaughter or niece who later donated it to the Smithsonian.

So on this flag day rather you are celebrating in Alamogordo, Nashville or the beaches of California, let us remember no party and no ideology owns the American flag. The American flag is the people’s flag with a long history that is a twist of tales and reverence. 

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