Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

9-3 Rail Runner project moved too fast

90312 RR audit

SANTA FE – The Rail Runner moved too fast. No, we aren't talking about the state's passenger train moving along at speeds upwards of 200 miles per hour. New Mexico passengers complain about I-25 traffic outrunning them.
According to an Albuquerque Journal report by Colleen Heild, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's Rail Runner project had an overly ambitious timetable that caused numerous bad decisions to be made.
At least that is the conclusion of a year-long audit by the Susana Martinez administration and from all indications it may be reasonably accurate. Martinez has been accused of undermining all the signature projects of the prior administration but this one is undermining itself.
Martinez's team suggests that the timetable for getting the trains running was not developed according to the project needs but to the timetable of Richardson's presidential run. Admittedly some of Richardson's major initiatives did have 2008 completion dates.
One of those initiatives was the SHARE information technology program for getting all state computers working on the same system. That project was derailed in numerous departments well before 2008.
According to experts, other states which had purchased similar hardware, the necessary changeover to the new system required an average of 27 months. Richardson wanted it done in less than half that time.
The spaceport originally had a 2008 completion date. Delays in development of the spacecraft mean delays in spaceport completion are not a problem except that Richardson didn't have as much to talk about on the campaign trail.
Failure of the Legislature to pass a bill limiting the liability of spacecraft suppliers now appears the biggest obstacle to any further successes for the spaceport. Another effort will be made next January but the powerful influence of trial lawyers appears to have that beaten forever.
Several states in competition with Spaceport America already have passed such legislation. Christine Anderson, executive director of our spaceport, says New Mexico already has lost a company to Florida because of our lack of such indemnity coverage.
From space travel back to New Mexico's slow trains on a fast track, Pete Rahn, chairman of the Transportation Commission and secretary of the Transportation Department under former Gov. Gary Johnson, had harsh words for the Rail Runner implementation under Richardson.
The Rail Runner project was spearheaded by the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments and not the state Transportation Department as would normally be the case.
The reason given back in 2003 was that NMRCOG had more transportation planning experience. Possibly another reason was that Gov. Richardson had great faith that NMRCOG executive director Lawrence Rael could finish the project on his timetable.
The project did move with surprising speed. Negotiations with several pueblos along the route were necessary. Normally such negotiations are slow. These proceeded at a breakneck speed as did other land dealings. Sites for stations along the route also proceeded at surprising speed.
Two of those sites evidently were decided upon without adequate deliberation. The Lobo Special Events Platform for fans attending nearby athletic events was last used in December 2009 for the New Mexico Bowl football game.
Many Santa Feans were thrilled about the possibility of attending Lobo football and basketball games. But the trains don't run late enough to get fans back to Santa Fe after games.
The Zia Station in Santa Fe has never been used. The city council was rushed into making a decision and evidently didn't take into account the opposition of neighbors when they discovered the grandiose plans of developers of the small amount of land adjacent to the station.
So New Mexico taxpayers are on the hook for close to $900 million over the next 15 years to pay off bonds and other expenses. It isn't a surprise. We knew that. We were still on a honeymoon with Gov. Richardson and allowed lawmakers to approve a project that paid too much for land and which benefits far too little of the state.

Monday, August 27, 2012

8-31 WWII Surrender with USS New Mexico in Attendance

83112 VJ
 SANTA FE -- As part of our centennial coverage, the following is the Japanese surrender ceremony ending WWII.
    On September 2, 1945, Japan made formal the surrender it had declared on August 15. The ceremony occurred aboard the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay.
   The Japanese delegation, unable to find any vessel seaworthy enough to take them into the bay, boarded an American destroyer to take them on the 16-mile
   An impressive 258 Allied warships filled the bay, making it one of the most formidable displays of naval power ever assembled in one anchorage. Many more
could have joined them, but it was an invitation-only event for warships that had distinguished themselves in Pacific battles.
   The Battleship New Mexico was there, honored for her service in the Gilberts, Marshalls, Solomons, Marianas, Philippines and Okinawa. In her last two
battles, she suffered three kamikaze hits, killing a total of 83, including the commanding officer, and injuring 206.
   Also present was Gen. Jonathon Wainwright, the beloved commanding officer who remained in the Philippines after MacArthur left.
   Wainwright, who had endured all the prison camp atrocities experienced by his troops and looking like a skeleton, was quickly rescued from a prison camp
in China and brought to the ceremony.
   He took a place of honor, near MacArthur and reportedly received the first ceremonial pen when MacArthur signed the surrender document as the Supreme
Commander of Allied Powers in Japan.
   The Navy was not impressed that MacArthur became supreme commander or that he would conduct the surrender ceremonies. MacArthur's promotion made it appear
that the Army had won the war in the Pacific and not the Navy.
   Obviously, it took both But neither wanted to admit it because the two services were completely separate entities. Had Japan not created the same problems
for itself, our divided command would have caused us even more problems.
   And the only reason the Air Force wasn't part of the argument was that it wasn't created until 1947.
   The solution to the Navy's displeasure was to have MacArthur conduct the ceremony aboard a Navy ship. And to get President Harry Truman's cooperation in
the deal, the vessel chosen for the surrender ceremony was the Battleship Missouri.
   Instead of being conducted on the broad fantail of the Missouri, the signing took place on a narrow quarterdeck, around a worn table from the ship's
galley, covered by a coffee-stained green tablecloth. The ceremony was short, which pleased both MacArthur and the Japanese.
   Another indication of evident downplaying of the ceremony was that the American officers wore khaki uniforms, the British wore shorts. Our other allies
wore dress uniforms. The Japanese wore top hats and tails. That's an interesting progression from those who had the most to do with winning the war to those
who lost.
   Although the ceremony was simple and understated, it was followed by a massive show of strength, as 1,900 Allied aircraft came roaring overhead.
   Following the August 15 surrender declaration by Emperor Hirohito, it took two weeks before the first American soldiers landed in Japan. Air drops to
prison camps had been occurring and agents from the Office of Strategic Services had parachuted into prison camps to keep order until troops arrived.
   One of the first tasks of the soldiers who landed was to get to the airfields to remove propellers from Japanese aircraft. There still was unrest among
many of the military and a fear that mutinous kamikaze pilots might make a last-minute bid for immortality during the surrender ceremonies.
   The first stage of the occupation was to provide for the care of Allies who had been held captive. It was accomplished as quickly as possible because our
troops were clamoring to get out and families back home wanted to know of their loved ones.
   The Battleship Missouri can be visited in Honolulu by going to Pearl Harbor and taking a shuttle. Tours are conducted of various parts of the ship. Or one
may go directly to view the surrender location and listen to a recording of MacArthur's words.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

8-29 Goodbye to the ol' apple picker

82912 Aubrey

SANTA FE – State Sen. Aubrey Dunn was a master tactician and understood state finances perhaps better than anyone else ever has. He died last week at 84.
Dunn was business manager and part owner of the Alamogordo Daily News. He also had an apple orchard at High Rolls. At the Legislature he preferred to call himself an apple farmer likely because that was safer than saying he was in the newspaper business.
Aubrey was a Democrat but if he were in the Legislature today, he'd probably be a Republican. It was shortly after his 1980 resignation from the Legislature that Democrats in the Southeastern part of the state started changing their registration to Republican or getting beaten by Republicans.
Dunn was conservative. He thought like a business manager – or an apple grower. During the period he reigned as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democrats held a good 30 out of the 42 seats in the Senate.
In the House, Republicans and conservative Democrats had formed a conservative coalition to take control. In the Senate that wasn't necessary since most Democrats already were conservative and Dunn was in control of the money.
The battle back then was not so much Democrats vs. Republicans as it was House vs. Senate. By law, the House wrote the state's general appropriation act, which then went to the Senate. It was then up to Dunn to outmaneuver the House. He always found a way and it never was the same.
Dunn almost didn't get the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, he had wielded so much power that Senate leaders worried he would give too much of the budget to public schools.
Aubrey had presided over passage of the state's first public school equalization distribution. The state was enjoying an oil boom at the time so there was money to bring most schools up to a median without affecting the schools that had a high expenditure per child.
The better off districts, of course, were in the oil patch and their senators were not pleased with Dunn. But he managed to convince them that his objective was fairness and that fairness was good.
Most senators ended up being pleased with Dunn's Senate finance leadership. Back then, the House didn't try to get the appropriation bill to the Senate by mid-session. House leaders waited as long as they could to send the bill to the Senate so Dunn would have as little time as possible to outmaneuver them.
The Senate Finance Committee always was left with very little time to consider the massive bill. That meant night sessions that often lasted well into the morning.
Dunn endeared himself to many lobbyists when he looked over the crowd at the beginning of a night session and enumerated those issues that would not be addressed that evening. Those lobbyists could get a good night's sleep.
After the committee session, Dunn often would retire to his office with top lieutenants to plan strategy. The following morning a swarm of lobbyists would be waiting for him to enter the building hopeful they could get a nugget of information or impart information to him. Occasionally he would tell one or two to come see him after a while.
Then there was the big pork barrel bill, which Dunn aptly renamed the Christmas Tree Bill. Back then, there were no agreements about everyone getting a present or how many presents the governor would receive.
The bill would reach the floor of the Senate late on the final morning of the session. As lawmakers were frantically searching through the many pages in the bill, Dunn would caution that there wasn't time to look for their projects. There only was time to vote for passage of the bill.
Nancy Pelosi was not the first person to think of that maneuver.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

8-27 Gov. Martinez in Tall Cotton

82712 RNC speakers

SANTA FE – We said two weeks ago that New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's selection as a Republican National Convention speaker was a slam dunk for the committee.
Republicans have significant problems with women and minorities so the selection of several minority women with high offices was an easy call. And now comes the news that our governor will speak immediately before the keynote address.
That is a real coup. Her slot is being touted as second only to keynoter Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey tomorrow night. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the final night of the convention.
Every one of the multitude of convention speakers has a special message to deliver. Gov. Martinez was chosen to tell the inspiring story of her life and to talk about what needs to be done to keep the promise of America for the next generation.
Other women governors chosen as speakers are South Caroline Gov. Nikki Haley and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. Other women on the convention program are U.S. Rep Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Ann Romney.
Also speaking in a prime position will be former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is expected to talk about the need for a strong military. Many would have liked to see her as the vice-presidential nominee but her pro-choice position ruled that out.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who is East Indian, is expected to talk about diversity and will appeal to the young. She is the youngest governor in the nation at 40. She also can appeal to the military. Her husband is scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan next year.
Other new governors who will share the platform are Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Luiz Fortuno of Puerto Rico and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Like several other Hispanic elected officials, Sandoval does not speak Spanish. Gov. Martinez may sell better to Hispanics because she speaks the language well.
The tea partiers will hear from Tennessee Sen. Rand Paul, former Democratic Rep. Arthur Davis of Alabama, Georgia Attorney General Sam Owens and Gov. Bobby Jindall of Arkansas.
The swing state of Florida has numerous speakers. Among them are Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Scott, Rep. Connie Mack and Attorney General Pam Bondi. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also is on the agenda and likely to talk about the brand of education reform New Mexico currently is experiencing.
Ohio, another swing state, will be represented by Gov. John Kasich, House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. Pennsylvania will be represented by former Sen. Rick Santorum, a former Mitt Romney challenger.
The old timers will be represented by Sen. John McCain, the GOP's most recent presidential candidate, and Mike Huckabee, who ran against McCain in the 2008 presidential primaries and who was expected to jump in again this year.
Instead Huckabee kept his popular Fox-TV show and interviewed the top candidates. He had almost exclusive access to Rep. Todd Akin as the Missouri Senate candidate debated whether to withdraw from his race. Huckabee's convention message is expected to be directed toward Christian conservatives.
And, of course, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a U.S. Representative from Minnesota will make a major address. Ryan has been in the news more often than presidential candidate Mitt Romney lately because of his close political ties to the much maligned Todd Akin. That may bring some extra focus on Ryan during the convention.
Several prominent Republicans have been notable for not being included as a convention speaker. They include Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Ron Paul. The blow to Rep. Paul may have been softened by the selection of his son Rand Paul to speak
The GOP is doing something very interesting with Newt Gingrich who also is not on the list of speakers. Gingrich instead will be immersed in something convention organizers call Gingrich University. Classes will be conducted each morning of the convention on how to sell the GOP platform.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

8-24 White House Press Corps Gets an Assist

82412 pres interviews

SANTA FE – The White House press corps, which covers every move of President Barack Obama, owes a big thank you to an Albuquerque pop music station.
Last Friday morning, the president accepted an invitation for an on-air chat with KOB-FM's "Morning Mayhem" co-hosts Carlos Duran, Kiki Garcia and Danny Vigil.
Presidents do that sort of thing from time to time but the White House press corps has been feeling ignored recently because the escalating battle between presidential candidates has produced an atmosphere in which neither candidate had been inclined to take questions from a probing press corps.
Just look at the battle of gaffes and their exploitation by the opposing camp to see why Obama and Mitt Romney prefer to confine themselves to prepared remarks.
But over this past weekend, President Obama's team made a quick pivot. On Monday morning, Obama submitted to a grilling by reporters. Former Gov. Romney was in Hobbs yesterday. We'll see if New Mexico's enchantment caused him to sit and talk with press corps reporters.
According to news coverage of Obama's conversation with reporters, little new information was imparted. Readers may have learned more from the light-hearted conversation with the KOB radio crew. The questions and answers were in the Saturday morning Journal and the six-minute interview likely can still be found at
For the record, Obama revealed in his interview that he prefers red chile but hasn't eaten enough New Mexican food to pick a favorite. His favorite workout song is "Crazy in Love," by Beyoncé. And his favorite superpower would be to speak any language.
The president also was asked what superhero he would want to be and what he thought of the latest Carly Rae Jepson song. He didn't know about a superhero but did know of Carly Rae Jepson.
That's better than what I would have done. I do have a superhero however. It is fictional New Mexico Gov. Arcadia Alvarado, patterned after Gov. Susana Martinez. Alvarado is a Hispanic female governor of New Mexico and running for president.
Her trouble is that she has to fight off some pesky New Mexico aliens while trying to remain the favorite among presidential candidates. You can find it in comic shops or by googling Saucer Country.
Creator Paul Cornell loves New Mexico, inside politics and the UFO myth. He has fallen for the richness of the UFO legend in New Mexico.
As long as I am revealing myself, my favorite superpower would be 20-20 vision; my favorite New Mexican food is a chorizo burrito – Christmas. And my favorite workout entertainment is channel surfing among CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

While we're talking about Washington and politics, New Mexico recently closed its D.C. office. Former Gov. Bill Richardson opened the office early in his term.
Early in her term, Gov. Martinez transferred Brian Moore, her deputy chief of staff, to the Washington office. Moore resigned earlier this summer and Martinez closed the office.
The value of a D.C. office has long been debated. After all, New Mexico does have a five member congressional delegation in Congress. They are supposed to represent New Mexico.
But sometimes they don't represent New Mexico quite the way our governor might like. Richardson had so many initiatives going in Washington that he needed a staff to keep track of them.
Gov. Martinez's plan for the office is very different but also makes sense. Send someone back for a year or so. Let that person get a firm grasp of who he/she needs to work with and how. Once all the channels and understandings are worked out, close the office and bring the staff back.
In this case, the governor did not stick with the same person but if everything is set up to work in each department of government, the person brought back from D.C. no longer may be needed.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

8-22 Hoyt Clifton remembered fondly

82212 Hoyt

SANTA FE – Hoyt Clifton arrived in Santa Fe just a few years after I got here in 1965. It seemed as though he was the New Mexico elections expert from the beginning but his obituary says he was just the voting machine specialist for the first few years.
It's interesting. Clifton came to Santa Fe because of his knowledge of handling the huge 850-pound voting machines of the day. Today, we are back to a pencil and paper.
As long as I can remember when anyone had a question about elections they called Hoyt. He could explain anything in the election code because he had written most of it. If it was a complicated question, he would patiently explain the background and the problem it was designed to correct.
Many amendments to the election code are introduced every year. Those who worked with Clifton say he could look at any bill and immediately be able to explain what the sponsor was trying to do.
One day I called the Secretary of State's Office and the secretary of state herself answered the phone. She said Hoyt was not there but that she could help me. I'm sure she could have helped but I was so accustomed to talking with Hoyt that I said to just have him call Jay Miller went he got back.
I could tell from the tone of her voice that I had insulted her greatly. I don't remember which secretary of state I insulted but I wouldn't tell you anyway. I wouldn't want her to remember.
Hoyt had to have known how important he was to that office. But I'm also positive that he never let on. He was as gracious and unassuming a person as I ever have known. My father was the only person I can put in the same category.
Maybe the best evidence of his personal attributes is that he worked for six different secretaries of state. That isn't easy. It is unusual to see a person work as a division director for two elected officials or cabinet secretaries in a row. Six has to be a record.
Clifton's six bosses all were Democrat. The last Republican secretary of state served over 80 years ago. Current Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican, had highly positive comments about Clifton, including that he didn't have a mean bone in his body.
Clifton was always a rancher at heart. He looked like a rancher and he dressed like one. After 26 years of service to the state, he retired to his ranch near Melrose.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich created a small stir recently when he said in his stump speech that he looked forward to following in the footsteps of Democratic senators such as Jeff Bingaman, Clinton Anderson and Dennis Chavez.
Some fans of former Sen. Joe Montoya objected to his name not being included in Heinrich's remarks. Although Montoya was effective at continuing the work of Anderson and Chavez in keeping federal installations in New Mexico, his 12 years in the Senate were less than half the tenure of Anderson, Chavez and Bingaman. And Montoya's service ended with a loss.
Nevertheless, Montoya's career was notable. He was the youngest member ever elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. He was barely 21 and in law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
In 1938 he graduated from law school and was reelected. A year later he became majority floor leader of the House. His accelerated political career got him to the state Senate in 1940 and to the lieutenant governor's office for three terms. In 1957 he reached the U.S. House and in 1964 was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Montoya liked to invest in real estate. Once he started running statewide, he expanded his investments from Santa Fe to other communities so he could claim property ownership there. It worked well until his defeat by Jack Schmitt in 1976.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

8-20 No hope for redistricting

82012 etc

SANTA FE – So the cost of redistricting the U.S. House, state legislature and the state Public Regulation Commission this year was over $8 million dollars. Some of us had predicted $10 million so we got off easy considering what a litigious, polarized, uncooperative, out-to-get-each-other society we have these days.
The call has gone out for an independent redistricting commission appointed by the public. Forgeddaboutit. That would take politicians of good will. It ain't gonna happen.
Yes, some states have independent redistricting commissions. Those are states with initiative and referendum provisions written into their constitutions.
The story is that Congress wouldn't allow initiative or referendum in New Mexico's constitution because it didn't want laws "made in the street." They trusted only the governor and Legislature. Too bad they can't see how that's been working out.
Congress did trust Arizonians to make laws in the street. But they trusted Arizonians. They were whiter, more southern, less Catholic and spoke mainly English. So Arizonians passed an independent redistricting commission back in their good government days a decade or so ago.
Two commissioners were chosen. They chose a third. And they drew all the redistricting maps. Gov. Jan Brewer didn't like them so she fired the chairwoman of the commission, whom she had no power to appoint or remove. The resulting court suits, confirming the governor's lack of power, cost millions.
Interestingly, the Republican contention in Arizona was that the districts were too competitive. The Republican argument in New Mexico was that the districts weren't competitive enough. It just depends on whether you are in the majority.
FBI Special Agent Ken Rommel died on July 28. He led a storied life. In World War II, he was part of the Army's 503rd Parachute Infantry, which made the famed jump on Corregidor leading the recapture of the island off the Bataan Peninsula.
In the late 1970s, when mysterious cattle mutilations were being reported throughout Northern New Mexico, U.S. Sen. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt asked for an investigation into what was going on.
Rommel, then retired, was hired by the district attorney's office to head the investigation. Rommel's report was decisive and controversial. The mutilations were all naturally caused.

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is traveling again. Soon after he and Gov. Susana Martinez were elected, the governor sent Sanchez on a tour of the state to identify small business complaints about the state. Many thought at the time that Martinez was largely trying to keep Sanchez out of her hair while she set up her government.
That suspicion became greater when Sanchez announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Gov. Martinez quickly appeared at a Heather Wilson Senate fundraiser the following day and announced that she was stripping Sanchez of any duties not prescribed by the state constitution.
Since the only duty she had assigned him was the statewide tour and that had been completed, Sanchez didn't have much to do other than sit at home and wait for a call to fill in during one of her El Paso trips.
But now Sanchez is planning a statewide tour on his own. Rumors are his political ambitions are not over. Diane Denish did the same as lieutenant governor. Maybe Sanchez's trip will turn out better.

Speaking of those who never give up, former state Sen. Joe Carraro is running for his old seat again. This time, he will be an independent. The seat currently is held by Republican John Ryan.
Democrats likely would prefer the colorful Carraro to staunch conservative Ryan, whose wife Veronica Gonzales is cabinet secretary of Cultural Affairs. Maybe some Democrats might help Carraro. But independents have great trouble raising money.
And Ryan can get everything he needs from Susana PAC and the governor's other political funds. It would be fun seeing Carraro perform on the floor of the state Senate again. But it just isn't going to happen.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I'll be out of office next week. I'll have my computer and shouldn't miss any columns altho the grandkids do have priority on my time.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

8-17 The battle for champion gaffer

81712 gaffes

SANTA FE – A week seldom passes that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn't get hit by the media for making another gaffe. But he has company. President Barack Obama makes his share too.
Recently President Obama may have made his biggest gaffe of all. In an effort to convince the wealthy to carry their share of the tax load or maybe even a bit more, as with George Buffett, he seemed to begin straying off message.
Obama said, "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own." He wasn't quite in trouble at that point. Everyone had a great teacher or supportive parents or friends or business associates. There's no harm in acknowledging them.
But then the president stepped all the way in the hole. "If you've got a business – you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
He said it and he can never walk that one back far enough. The president, who many Americans already thought is anti-business, has just uttered words that never will be forgotten.
Republicans didn't wait to see if the media might pick it up and go with it. This was too valuable not to begin exploiting immediately – and forever.
Had Obama been speaking to a class at Harvard or the University of Chicago, students would have taken notes and on the next test would have fed them back in the context Professor Obama intended.
But this is the big league where the ball seldom ever comes down the center of the plate. Sure, we know the president was talking about the great American free enterprise system and all the roads and bridges we have built together but that's not the way it will go down in history. Republicans are sure to have "You didn't build that" parties for years.
Those words couldn't have been written for him. If they were, the writer already has been fired. And uttering them like a college professor didn't help either.
You'd be surprised how many politicians have Ph.Ds. They are smart enough to not sound like it. Most don't readily make their amount of education known. Most legislators don't especially care to listen to expert witnesses with a professorial sound. It has been a problem throughout his presidency.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson becomes a better speaker all the time. He hasn't had the opportunity to make as many gaffes as the leading presidential candidates because he isn't getting on stage that often.
But he seems to be getting included in a few more polls and that's what he needs to make the national showing necessary to get into the debates. Johnson won't win the presidency but he will give voice to issues such as ending wars on other countries and the war on drugs.
Gary Johnson also can do something for his new party, the Libertarians. If he can carry five percent of the presidential vote in New Mexico this coming November, he will qualify the Libertarian Party as a major party in the 2014 elections.
Major party status is beneficial to a party because it means the state will run its primary election, just as it does for Republicans and Democrats. Minor parties are not treated especially well in the law because they are such a wild card for the major parties when it comes to tilting an election one way or the other.
If Johnson does get the Libertarian Party the five percent it needs, one other criterion must be met before it becomes a major party. It must increase its voter registration up to one-third of one percent. It is now at two-tenths of one percent.
Such a feat should be possible, especially if it is started immediately while Gary Johnson is in the news. The New Mexico Green Party hit the mark back when Roberto Mondragon polled 11 percent of the vote in the 1994 gubernatorial election.

8-15 Why aren't we celebrating VJ Day?

 SANTA FE -- Recent columns about the part New Mexico played in the end of World War II have produced a chorus ofthank-yous from veterans around the
state. Since today is the 67th anniversary of VJ Day, the following is a reprint of a 60th anniversary column.
Emperor Hirohito's surrender recording was played in Japan on radio stations at noon on August 15.  It was the first time most Japanese ever heard his voice.
 The reaction was agonized disbelief. This was the first military defeat for the country in over 2,500 years. The belief that Japan had an unbeatable
spirit, not possessed by any other nation, had kept it in the war much longer than it should have remained.  A total of 526 suicides were reported in
Tokyo that day.
    The mood in America and Allied nations was far different. Wild celebrations broke out everywhere. It was 5 p.m. in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when my
grandmother heard the news. Soon after, sirens began wailing and gunshots rang out. We went outside and sat on the front step to listen to the celebration.
    In cities, such as San Francisco, New York and Chicago, celebrations continued throughout the night, the following day and that night. Police were under
strict orders not to intervene in the revelry unless absolutely necessary.
    It was the biggest national celebration ever. After all, it was the end of the worst war in history. In San Francisco, the partying was especially
enthusiastic. Many servicemen there had orders to ship out for the invasion of Japan.
    But it was hard to beat the celebration on Times Square in New York, where a magazine photographer snapped a sailor kissing a nurse who had just walked
by. Over the years, dozens of Americans have claimed to be one of the pair. It was their place in history.
    History has been fickle, however, with preserving any memory of those celebrations. Look at your calendar. Do you see V-J Day anywhere? In fact, 99
percent of Americans don't even know where to look on their calendar for V-J Day. That confusion may lend slightly to the anonymity of this great day in
American history.
    You see, noon on August 15 in Tokyo is late afternoon, the previous day, in the United States. So those celebrations began on August 14.
    The other confusion is that President Harry Truman declared September 2, the date the surrender was formally signed, as V-J Day. And since that usually
falls during the Labor Day weekend, it would get lost anyway.
    The reason for not celebrating the end of the most destructive war in history has very little to do with confusion over dates, however. It has everything
to do with confusion about what is important in our great American society.
    Much more important to us now is not making anyone feel badly about losing that war. Political correctness demands that we suppress acknowledgement of
our victories and apologize for shortcomings or atrocities of other nations, because we might possibly, in some way, have caused them.
    So, we don't teach about our World War II victory in schools. And we've taken it off our calendar. So, shouldn't a civilized society refrain from rubbing
it in, you ask? Possibly, but there were V-J Day celebrations throughout Britain last weekend.
    We don't celebrate Armistice Day much anymore, although it still is a national holiday, albeit renamed. Our European Allies still celebrate Armistice Day
in a big way. I was in Belgium on November 11, 2003 and witnessed parades, speeches and a great many American flags, flown in gratitude for our World War I
    Or is it best to put the past behind us and look only toward the future? If so, why do we still remember Pearl Harbor Day? That's on my calendar.
Evidently, it's OK to remember out defeats. That won't hurt anyone's feelings but our own. And we don't seem to worry about doing a whole lot of that.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

8-13 No-Brainer to pick Susana

81312 Susana speaks

SANTA FE – Susana Martinez's selection as a national GOP Convention speaker was an easy call. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is doing poorly among women and minorities. The choice of three women of color gives him a big triple punch.
Condoleezza Rice finished the Bush era as secretary of state. She was a public favorite for the veepstakes but that would have encouraged talk of two unpopular wars. Rice won't mention war in her speech.
Nikki Haley is Governor of North Carolina and East Indian. She is quite popular but was connected with talk of dalliances in her gubernatorial campaign. This will keep that out.
Both Govs. Martinez and Haley are only 17 months into their first term as governors. That comes too close to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on the surprises and readiness to be president scales.
These three women can give Romney a big boost on nomination night. They are sure to be on prime time and likely soon before Romney's acceptance speech. They'll add considerable interest and energy. Expect to see them on Romney's campaign trail too.
Other speakers invited in the first round were 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, former Arizona Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Florida and Ohio are two of the most important swing states. Everyone was chosen for a vital purpose.
Among those who didn't make the first list is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is speculated to be the keynote speaker. Christie is a stemwinder but he often goes a bit further than the cautious Romney would approve. If Christie does speak, his remarks will be closely vetted.
Somewhere among those not invited to speak – at least yet – is the vice-presidential nominee. Among these are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio
Sen. Rob Portman, Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindall.
More speakers will be named the first bloc chosen were the super stars. These also were the good speakers. The remainder may find themselves in less than prime spots.
There are people the campaign owes for work done or for willingness to have their name tossed around so many times. Some speakers will be from among Romney's competitors in the lengthy primary election. He doesn't want to lose their support.
One of those prior opponents, who will cause many hours of agonizing consideration, is Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Why did he stay in the race so long when he hadn't won a single state? Actually he still hasn't conceded and thrown support to Romney.
That's because Rep. Paul wants something. He'd like the opportunity to address the world from the convention podium just as Gov. Martinez will be doing.
He handled himself well in the primary election debates. But what might he say when he gets the big mike? Might he say something about the folly of wars? Or the war on drugs?
In case you have forgotten, this is same song, second verse. It all happened four years ago. Dr. Paul was shut out of everything. He had raised considerably more money than he needed through Internet solicitations.
So Ron Paul rented an auditorium just down the street from the GOP convention and conducted his own convention. The news media, bored to death with GOP platform debates, sent reporters down the street to cover Paul's activities. One of Paul's conventioneers somehow got into the GOP gathering with a big sign and disrupted the beginning of McCain's acceptance speech.
This year, the national GOP has decided to be a little nicer to Dr. Paul. They have put some of his people on the platform committee. They found a place for Paul to hold a rally nearby. They haven't made the jump to a convention speech yet. But Rep. Ron Paul has some extra ammunition this time. His son, Dr. Rand Paul, now is a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. Might Rand get a chance to speak?

Sunday, August 05, 2012

8-10 Could state be headed for another computer crisis?

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SANTA FE – During the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson, a crisis erupted over the underpayment or non-payment of state bills to its suppliers and contractors.
Some small businesses reported having to close because of not being able to collect from the state. Other businesses cut off the state's credit.
Later, the state ran into trouble collecting federal funds because the data in its claims for reimbursement was incorrect or in an unsuitable form.
The first evidence of this crisis occurred several months earlier when state employees began receiving incorrect paychecks or no paycheck at all.
Since state payrollers were closer to the problem, they knew where to go to get it solved quickly. But businesses throughout the state didn't have the quick access to Santa Fe decision makers, so their problems festered.
Could we be seeing the same sequence beginning again? Are any companies doing business with our state government receiving incorrect or delayed payments?
If it is happening, no evidence has surfaced publicly, so far. But during the Richardson administration, several months passed after state employee problems were solved before the public became aware it also was happening to many businesses.
If you, dear reader, know of such examples, please contact me, contact your local newspaper and contact your legislators. Let's not let the problem fester again this time.
Here's what happened last time and what may be occurring today. When former Gov. Bill Richardson took office in 2003, he had dozens of bold ideas to try. At the time, New Mexico was rolling in money so the governor was able to implement many of them.
One of those great ideas was to replace 70 different antiquated computer systems with one big, powerful system. Peoplesoft, a respected company, was awarded the business.
But since Gov. Richardson had many new projects to fund, he wanted to do this one with the least amount of money possible. So instead of buying a computer system tailored to our needs, he bought an off-the-shelf model and hired another company to teach state employees how to adapt it and use it.
Wait, there's more. He didn't have all employees trained. The top employees were trained to go back and train everyone else. Such complex conversions were taking other states in the neighborhood of 28 months. Richardson wanted it completed in half the time at half the cost.
It was far too much to ask of anyone's employees. The problems that resulted took years to remedy. The last to be fixed were the federal reports for reimbursement. The state lost many millions because of inadequate training and testing of the new system.
By the end of the Richardson administration most departments had their act together. Some departments that had the good luck or foresight to hire at least a few people with exceptional talent and experience adapted quickly and are running smoothly.
A few still are recovering from mistakes of the past. At this time last year, Medicaid was looking at having to replace federal money with state money because it couldn't justify up to $100 million of reimbursements it already had received.
But now we have another problem. Some new department and agency heads appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez are not pleased with their information technology staff so they are transferring them elsewhere.
One of those agencies handles the state employees' payroll. The new employees who took over didn't understand the system. The state has hired two different private contractors to fix the problems and to train the new staff. The employees who were transferred out of that division have not been asked to come back and help train their replacements. Consultants are being contracted to do that.
Word is that other divisions and agencies are finding ways to shed unwanted employees. Could those that handle the computers also be a part of that action? The state could be on the hook for some expensive fixes.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

8-8 This year's nuclear protest may be biggest ever

80812 Nagasaki
 SANTA FE -- The Hiroshima bomb didn't jolt Japan as we had hoped. Its military leaders still refused the unconditional surrender demanded by the
Potsdam Proclamation.
 But it did shake the Russians. Stalin feared he had waited too long for his oft-promised invasion of Japan. If Japan surrendered before he got his
troops into Manchuria, the Soviets would have no claim to Japanese spoils.
 On August 8, Russia declared war on Japan and at dawn on the 9th, tanks rolled into Manchuria.
   The night before, Major Charles Sweeney and crew rolled "Bock's Car" down the runway on Tinian and took of for Japan carrying "Fat Man." Unlike the flight
of "Enola Gay," three nights earlier, this was not a textbook operation.
   There were technical problems getting the device armed. Weather reports were threatening. A reserve fuel tank malfunctioned and couldn't be used, even
though the plane had to carry the dead weight of unusable fuel.
   The camera plane, which was to rendezvous off Japan never arrived. They waited over two hours, using precious fuel. When they arrived at the prime target
of Kokura, it had clouded over during the wait.
   They flew on to Nagasaki, which also was clouded over. There was only enough fuel left for one run. At the last minute, the clouds broke slightly and the
bomb was dropped over a secondary target three hours late.
   But it worked. The blast was even stronger than at Hiroshima. But because the hills of Nagasaki shielded the effect, there was less damage and loss of
   The prime target had been Nagasaki's huge shipbuilding and repair yards, the largest in Japan. The secondary target was the Mitsubishi torpedo and
munitions factory. It is easy to imagine that the factory was completely destroyed by the blast.
   It must have been obliterated, because at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, the only relics displayed are from churches and schools. And even though the
Japanese aren't big on English subtitles, every exhibit in the atomic museum has English text.
   It is a very definite attempt to sway world opinion in their favor by portraying themselves as the victim and the United States as inhumane for having
resorted to nuclear weapons.
   This campaign began even before Japan's formal surrender, when it was decided that it would be easy to sell a victimized Japan, and the bomb as a crime
against humanity. Japanese leaders could explain that the only reason they lost was because we didn't fight fair.
   And, as American POWs were returning from Japanese prison camps with stories of unbelievable atrocities, the subject could be shifted to our wanton use of
atomic weapons. Some Japanese leaders even fantasized that many Americans might be talked into condemning their own government.
   Those fantasies, as we know, have come true. Every year, on the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans gather in Los Alamos to
decry the unnecessary American deployment of the Bomb.
   Perhaps some of their fathers and grandfathers lived to have children and grandchildren because of the bombs. It is estimated that a million Americans
were able to come home and resume their lives because the war was ended quickly.
   The estimates of Japanese lives saved by the bomb range as high as 70 million, because their civilians would have been the major component of their
casualties. American conventional bombing already was inflicting more casualties in a night than the atomic bombs did.
   Anti-war and anti-nuclear protesters often cite statements made by American generals and admirals after the war contending that we could have won without
atomic bombs. The admirals said they could have won the war with a naval blockade. The Air Corps generals said they could have bombed Japan into submission.
 These groups are holding a four-day protest for 2012 and predicting it will be bigger than usual because they will be joined by the Occupy