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High Court Times

State Supreme Court to make final decision on marijuana advisory vote

Local NewsTuesday, September 16, 2014 by Joey Peters
The fate of a marijuana decriminalization vote this fall is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court, who will likely make a decision on it next week.

Recently, both the Santa Fe and Bernalillo county commissions voted to put a non-binding question on their Nov. 4 general election ballots asking voters whether the counties should support decriminalizing possessing small amounts of marijuana. The secretary of state quickly told both counties that they didn’t have the authority to put “poll questions” that don’t carry legal weight onto statewide general elections ballots.

It wasn’t long before both commissions challenged the secretary of state’s decision, with Bernalillo County appealing directly to New Mexico’s highest legal body. Santa Fe County was expected to also file a motion with the high court by the end of Tuesday.

The Santa Fe County Commission specifically instructed its county attorney to “initiate or defend…any action that may be brought to remove the question from the ballot or otherwise challenge the legality of the advisory question.”

Originally, both counties needed their election ballots ready by the end of the week to start sending out ballots to absentee voters on time. But the state Supreme Court issued a stay on the mailing of Bernalillo County ballot and is scheduled to hear the issue on Sept. 23.

“It’s an emergency and concerns an issue of statewide concern,” says Bernalillo County Attorney Randy Autio.

UPDATE: Santa Fe County has filed an emergency writ of mandamus to the state Supreme Court on the issue. Read below:

County Passes Development Moratorium

Offiicals vote to take 12-month pause on considering activites including mines

Local NewsTuesday, September 16, 2014 by Joey Peters

After months of debate over a proposed mine on La Bajada mesa, the Santa Fe County Commission voted unanimously today to impose a 12-month moratorium on "specified developments of countywide impact."

More specifically, the moratorium will apply to applications to the county for landfills, junkyards and "sand and gravel extraction activity requiring blasting." And it will apply to new and existing applications to the county, covering the controversial application for a basalt mine at La Bajada.

The basalt mine project drew plenty of backlash from county residents, resulting in a June public hearing that lasted seven hours. Several commissioners thanked the residents during today's meeting for bringing their concerns directly to the county staff over the past few months. 

"You talk about an open-door policy," Commissioner Miguel Chavez said after 14 people testified in favor of the moratorium. "I think we're there."

The moratorium takes pressure off commissioners from making controversial decisions on approving projects like La Bajada for one year. In the meantime, they are expected to further hash out the county's regulations on controversial commercial practices like strip mining.

Commissioner Kathy Holian mentioned how the county made a similar action after imposing a temporary moratorium on oil and gas development six years ago. 

"We used that time to develop our oil and gas ordinance," Holian said. "It set a process for evaluating applications."

The county's ensuing ordinance strengthened regulations protecting water, landscape and vital resources when such oil and gas projects are approved, Holian said. 

Several activists and concerned citizens showed up to the meeting and applauded the commission after the vote. Among them were actress Ali MacGraw and former CIA spy Valerie Plame, noted residents known locally for their advocacy on the issues. 

Rainbow Backfire

Interstate paint job comes with up to $25K cleanup cost

Local NewsTuesday, September 16, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

Labor Day weekend got someone’s creative juices flowing, as they apparently took special pains to create a splattered rainbow along the Interstate 25 northbound offramp leading to St. Francis Drive by dropping jars of paint at regular intervals. But those fun and games forced the state to pony up cash for cleanup in an area where it recently wrapped up a $6 million construction project.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” says Miguel Gabaldon, District 5 engineer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, “that we went through and finished a project and got it all done and got all the finishing touches on there, and we have somebody who thought it was going to be funny…and they caused damage to the roadway.”

The pink, yellow, blue and white splashes rendered useless a safety coating that the department uses to help tires maintain contact with road under slippery conditions. “A motorcycle in a rainstorm over one of these paint areas could lose control, and we would be dealing with injury or death to an individual, so these are some things people need to think about,” he says.  

State Police are investigating the vandalism, and the transportation department hopes prosecution will help recover the $7,000 it’s already spent on cleanup, including crews who kept interstate traffic away as a truck-mounted, high-powered sprayer worked its magic one night last week. Next, the state needs to reapply the friction seal, which could drive the cleanup cost closer to $25,000.

“If it wasn’t intentional,” Gabaldon says, “people need to take more care in carrying their loads and make sure that whatever they are transporting in their vehicle is secure.”

Casanova Con Man Makes Campaign Appearance

Susana Martinez' gubernatorial campaign points aim at Gary King's role in early release of Michael Soutar

Local NewsTuesday, September 16, 2014 by Justin Horwath

The Casanova Con Man "needed an insider—someone to get to Attorney General Gary King," states a radio advertisement released Tuesday by the gubernatorial campaign of Susana Martinez, "to get him out of prison." 

The Republican incumbent's new radio spot takes aim at Democratic challenger King's role in the early release from a 34-year prison sentence of the recidivist felon Michael Soutar, whose history of charming women into relationships to gain access to their money earned him the nickname the Casanova Con Man. His frequent escapes from authorities also earned Soutar two appearances on America's Most Wanted. 

In June, SFR published an investigation that scrutinized King's role in Soutar's early release from the 34-year prison sentence, handed down by a district judge here after a jury in 2007 convicted him on 10 felonies for defrauding investors who sank money into an art market he set up in Santa Fe. 

In the ad, Martinez' camp focuses on the connection between King and Raymond Sanchez, King's former Democratic colleague in the New Mexico House of Representatives whom Soutar retained as his attorney to fight his conviction from the confines of a jail cell. "Casanova Con hired Gary King's political friend to lobby for early release," says an ominous male voice in the ad. "It worked. Gary King caved. And Casanova Con got out. After serving only five years. Only five years of a 34-year sentence. Gary King himself cut the deal, meeting in private with Casanova Con's lawyers."

While it was First Judicial District Court Judge Michael Vigil who ultimately agreed to Soutar's early release—or as the ad says "the deal"—emails show King writing that he "agreed with" Sanchez to pursue "mediation" in the case. Typically "mediation" only occurs in civil cases, not criminal cases.

During the March 2012 resentencing hearing, King's office ultimately agreed that Soutar had the right to ask the judge for reconsideration of his sentence, but said nothing about whether the judge should keep the escape artist and repeat con man behind bars. It was a sharp contrast to the position taken by the Regulation and Licensing Department's Securities Division, which jointly prosecuted Soutar with the Attorney General's Office in the 2007 case. Then-director of the Securities Division joined the former prosecutor in writing letters urging Judge Vigil to keep Soutar behind bars. The prosecutor, Patrick McNertney, now says the release sends a message to financial criminals that New Mexico is a state where they can buy their way out of prison.

King's office redacted several email exchanges between King and Sanchez when it produced internal documents about the case in response to a public records request made by James and Linda O'Hara. Soutar paid back $179,452 to some victims of his investment scheme, but not all the victims received financial restitution, like James O'Hara, a former employee of the market, and his brother, who lost $32,500 he invested in Soutar's scheme.

"Victims were outraged," says Martinez' ad. "But it was Casanova's best con. Because he knew Gary King stands for the powerful few—not us." 

King spokesperson Phil Sisneros says the radio ad is "not even within the realm or universe of truth" and points to previous statements released by the King's office in the case. King's office has denied that the attorney general's relationship with Sanchez played a role in King's actions in the case. Officials stood by the office's role in the negotiations with Soutar's attorneys. But they have yet to explain why the very office that prosecuted the con man didn't fight for him to remain behind bars during the resentencing hearing.

"It’s just flat-out lies," says Sisneros.

Sisneros is taking a break from his full-time position as a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office to serve for King's campaign, which this week announced the departure of its third campaign manager all while enduring a volley of attack ads financed by Martinez' $3.8 million warchest.



Legal Wrangle

Bernalillo County to challenge secretary of state on marijuana advisory question

Local NewsMonday, September 15, 2014 by Joey Peters

The Bernalillo County Commission today voted 3-2  to file a legal challenge to the secretary of state's attempt to keep two advisory questions off the November election ballot. 

One of those questions seeks to ask voters if the county should support decriminalizing penalties for possession of one ounce of marijuana or less. Last week, both the Bernalillo and Santa Fe county commissions voted to put such a question on both counties' ballots. Neither question would hold legal weight. Instead, they would essentially serve as voters' recommendations to the counties.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran quickly told both counties that they had no right to put "poll questions" on general election ballots and that her office would bar them from doing so. But both counties say they have the right to, pointing out that advisory questions are not addressed in state statute nor the state constitution.

Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar recently told SFR that her office should control the county side of all election ballots while Duran's office controls the side of the ballot with statewide races. 

Bernalillo County's legal challenge against her ruling will be filed to the state Supreme Court. The commission's two Republicans voted against the measure. The Santa Fe County Commission is expected to make a similar after a special meeting tomorrow. Salazar says that her office needs the issue resolved by Friday so she can get ballots out to absentee voters in time. 

Ad Wars: King Campaign Silent Following Martinez Attacks

All the free speech money can buy

Local NewsMonday, September 15, 2014 by Justin Horwath
Democratic gubernatorial challenger Gary King has yet to respond to a shelling of recent ads from incumbent Republican Susana Martinez. 

If this gubernatorial election has showed anything, it's the ability of big money to drive campaign narratives. The latest campaign finance reports show Martinez with $3.8 million in the bank, a 24-1 cash advantage over King's $157,730. (Much of that came from King's own pockets).

Arguably, King hasn't been helping his own narrative. Monday, he announced the departure of his third campaign manager for this election season. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Keith Breitbach cites family and "philosophical differences" with his boss for the exit. That's following reports that King is returning contributions made from companies tied with registered sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein—the same week when a video leaked showing King quoting Hispanic labor activist Dolores Huerta. “[Huerta] said you can’t go out there and just vote for somebody for governor because they have a Latino surname,” King tells a crowd. “She said you have to look at them and find out if they have a Latino heart. And we know that Susana Martinez does not have a Latino heart.”

The Weekly Standard released a portion of the video without the reference to Huerta's name. King stood by his comments. But the damage was done. Big money doesn't only just buy campaign ads. It also finances a team of opposition researchers to dig up the dirt—in this case an out-of-context video snippet leaked to a friendly reporter—to drive a particular campaign narrative. It could be working, too: An Albuquerque Journal poll released Sunday shows Martinez with an 18-point lead over King.
 
But for now we'll focus on the television ads. Television is the preferred medium for campaigns to communicate a narrative to voters. A TV commercial reaches a wide audience. It doesn't take active engagement—like reading a newspaper article—to view. And it's easy to digest. 

Here's a snippet of all the free speech money can buy.

What's Right? 

First, SFR would like to take credit for this recent ad, which lambasts King for publicizing emails leaked from the campaign accounts of Martinez and her staffers. King didn't exactly "publicize" the emails in the traditional sense of the word. We did, in a 2012 article The Year in Closed Government, an investigation into the private email network maintained by the governor and her close advisers. King's office had been investigating the emails. He furnished them to SFR after we made a request for the emails under the Inspection of Public Records Act.

"King...released the emails to SFR without redacting anything, even purchases linked to Martinez’ account of Nickelback, Lifehouse and Kenny Chesney songs," we reported, along with receipts for "Spanx undergarments."

"King publicized the stolen emails," an ominous female voice says in the ad. "Receipts for the governor's underwear order."

The ad correctly points out that the FBI blasted King for releasing the emails during its investigation into their release by Jamie Estrada, Martinez' 2010 campaign manager who this summer pleaded guilty of two federal felonies in the case: unlawful interception of a campaign email and lying to the FBI about it.

King defends releasing the emails in response to our records request in this interview, saying, "Frankly they weren't secret documents by any circumstances because they were already in the hands of somebody who was a member of the public."

You're welcome, governor. But we'll give her team credit for its ability to pick out of our 4,500-word investigation—into deal-making within the confines of a gubernatorial shadow email network—one paragraph dealing with gubernatorial undergarments. Brilliant. 

The Washington Approach 
 

"Politicians in Washington just don't get it," says the gubernatorial candidate whose $3.8 million warchest includes a whole lot of Washington money. "Here in New Mexico, we're doing things differently." Text of the ad cites a "bipartisan jobs package" passed by the Democratic legislature and signed into law by Martinez. As Steve Terrell at The Santa Fe New Mexican points out, the ad also refers to King's votes as a freshman lawmaker in 1987 to hike the state gas tax by three cents and to suspend for two years tax rebates on food and medicine. The bills, Terrell reports, passed the legislature with bipartisan support. Republican Gov. Garrey Carruthers signed them into law. No mention of that bipartisanship. 

No Regrets
  

The Martinez campaign is really hammering away at those 1987 votes [see above]. This time it throws in the assertion that King voted for the "largest tax increase in state history." The New Mexican has the context behind that assertion. (It wasn't actually the largest tax increase in state history.) In any event, the "better choice" is clearly Martinez, according to the ad, who "inherited the largest deficit in state history"—the state constitution doesn't allow the state to operate on "deficits," but this is more of a semantics debate than anything. She emerged from the budgetary woes, the ad goes, and sold the state's "luxury jet"—true, but the move was more symbolic than having any sort of budgetary impact. Martinez' also "increased teacher pay." Democratic lawmakers surely had a lot to do with that effort, but there's no mention of the bipartisanship waxed upon by the previous ad. The governor initially proposed an increase in teacher pay before the 2014 legislative session, and ultimately signed into law a package that hiked pay for all teachers by 3 percent, along with increasing the minimum teacher pay by $2,000. But she rejected hiking pay for more experienced teachers. 

RGA: Pay to Play
 


In addition to $3.8 million in her campaign bank account, Martinez also boasts support from the Republican Governor's Association, which reported raising $24.1 million from April to July of 2014.

Since the US Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, groups like the RGA can raise an spend unlimited amounts of cash in elections. The caveat is that they can't directly coordinate the spending of that cash in elections with candidates.

IRS filings show that the RGA has been paying the firm of Martinez' top political advisor Jay McCleskey tens of thousands of dollars over the past year. He hasn't commented on the expenditures, but RGA disclosures say the group is paying him for "consulting" in Arizona and Nevada.

The ad hits King for engaging in "pay-to-play" governing by taking contributions from attorneys who had contracts with his office. We reported some of these donations in an October 2013 article.

Yet there's a particular irony in the RGA releasing an ad hammering Martinez' opponent for "pay-to-play" governing. In February, an SFR investigation reported on emails that showed Martinez' 2010 campaign apparently attempted to funnel $25,000 in contributions to Martinez from a Louisiana developer through the RGA, a charge the campaign now denies. Following the contributions, the Martinez administration awarded the developer's company, The Downs at Albuquerque Racetrack and Casino, a 25-year extension to lease state land.
 

The Truth

This is perhaps the most hard-hitting ad that's come out of the faltering King campaign. The first assertion that Martinez "lied" is a response to a previous Martinez ad that pointed out numerous gender discrimination lawsuits filed against King in his capacity as the state's attorney general. One of the four lawsuits brought by female employees was rejected by a federal judge, while King's office settled claims with three of the other employees. King says Martinez will "do anything" to avoid talking about all the various rankings at which New Mexico has placed last. That includes job creation—referring to federal data that showed New Mexico was last in job growth from Jan. 2011 to Nov. 2013, with 0.9 percent—and "caring for children"—referring to an Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Book, where New Mexico ranked 49th in child well-being. Martinez did make a list released by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which calls Martinez one of the nation's "worst" governors. It's a list, Republicans will point out, that includes mostly Republicans. And while it's true that Martinez vetoed a minimum-wage hike, she was also on record supporting a smaller increase than what Democratic lawmakers sent to her desk. 

Cleanup 

Here we have King attacking Martinez for attacking King. He hits on yet another "worst" list and the state's job woes again. He also alleges Martinez "gives no-bid, sweetheart deals to her friends," but, in this instance, that's more of a reference to the friends of Martinez-appointee Jon Barela and a whistleblower lawsuit filed against him and the state's Economic Development, which he leads. King will "demand" that women are paid the same as men, promises the ad. The Martinez camp had an immediate response to that assertion: "What King fails to mention is that the liberal American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) praised Governor Martinez 'for her support of New Mexico’s Equal Pay for Women Act and for developing measures to narrow the gender wage gap.'” 

Family 

In this ad, King's hoping voters will remember his parents, former Gov. Bruce King and First Lady Alice King, fondly. It's the old "Elect-me-like-you-elected-my-dad" card Humorously, King also cites a New Mexico Watchdog article detailing that, while New Mexico is at the bottom in education results, it's at the middle of the road in education spending—point being that more taxpayer money pumped into education doesn't necessarily produce commensurate educational outcomes. What's humorous here is that King uses the article to argue he'll "reverse Martinez cuts to education." 

Yet there's not much time for context in a 30-second TV spot, is there? Just sit back and let the money talk. 

This is Only a Test

Santa Fe plans emergency disaster drill this weekend

Local NewsFriday, September 12, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

Sirens, blockades and evacuations might be on tap Saturday in the Santa Fe area as officials conduct a citywide emergency preparedness drill and an emergency wildfire drill with the Monte Sereno community.
 
Santa Fe Office of Emergency Management, Fire and Police Departments, the Santa Fe Regional Emergency Communications Center are all involved in the exercise at Monte Sereno and near Ridgetop Road and the Thornburg Investment Management campus.  A city press release says it will test the 911 reverse notification system and ask residents of Monte Sereno to evacuate to a pre-determined evacuation site.
 
The exact time of the exercise is not being disclosed in advance "to protect the integrity" of the drill, the release says. 

The citywide drill sounds more like an elaborate PR campaign, with the agencies asking residents  to:

"Identify two emergency escape routes from their home and neighborhood, locate their gas shut-off valve (if they have natural gas service to their home), call or text an out-of-town contact they may stay with in the event of an evacuation and let them know they are participating in the drill, and post a picture or description of an important, unusual, or creative item that they have included in their emergency kit to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #SantaFeOEM."

Don't want to miss the fun? Sign up for the Nixle alert system.

Campaign Finance Amendment Dead in Senate

Tom Udall hits the campaign trail.

Local NewsFriday, September 12, 2014 by Justin Horwath

"Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard."

That's what US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a dissenting opinion in a case decided by the high court in April, McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission. Federal campaign finance law limits donors to giving $5,200 to an individual federal candidate per election cycle, in addition to $5,000 annually to a political action committee. The decision struck down an overall limit on individual giving per election cycle, so before the ruling, a person could only give $48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to PACs.

Now, the sky is the limit.

Only three of Breyer's colleagues agreed with his analysis that limiting so-called aggregate contribution limits does not violate the First Amendment's free-speech protections. The conservative five-member majority once again eviscerated a decades-old campaign finance regulation, furthering its reasoning in the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision that equates giving and spending money in elections to free speech.

Enter New Mexico's US Sen. Tom Udall. He introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress and the states to "regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections." It would essentially overturn the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions and strip the Supreme Court of its ability to declare "reasonable" campaign finance laws unconstitutional.  

[Click here for this week's print article about New Mexico legislative candidates skirting campaign finance limits].

You could read the full amendment here, but we've got a spoiler for you: It died a predictable death in the US Senate Thursday, with 54 Democrats falling six votes short of earning the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The death was predictable because Republicans in both Congressional chambers oppose the proposal on free-speech grounds. All 42 senators in Thursday's vote were Republicans. (Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich voted in favor of the amendment.)

Constitutional amendments are the only way to overturn Supreme Court precedent—short of the court overturning itself. Yet, getting Congress and the states to agree on a such a measure is a long shot.

To amend the Constitution, two-third majorities of both the US Senate—67 of 100 members—and US House—290 of 435 members—need to approve a joint resolution and pass it along to the states. Currently Democrats hold the Senate with 53 seats and two Independents who caucus with them, while Republicans have 33 more seats in the House. 

Then, three-fourths of the states—38 of them—must ratify it with a majority in either a state legislature or state convention. 

That's partly why Republicans called Udall's unlikely proposal, introduced in June, election-year rhetoric, while the New Mexico senator issued a statement saying he's "encouraged" by the "growing support" for the proposal. He pledges to continue fighting the high court's rulings. "Momentum continues to build for common-sense campaign finance reform," he says in a statement, "and I will keep leading this fight on behalf of New Mexicans and all Americans to restore our nation’s founding principle—a democracy of, by, and for the people."

But to do so he'll need to play by the Supreme Court's rules.

Udall continues to pump money into his $3.4 million campaign warchest to take on Republican challenger Allen Weh, who reports $691,424 cash-on-hand. As of June 30, Udall, the self-professed campaign finance reformer, holds a $2.7 million advantage over Weh, the self-professed First Amendment protector who says the solution to money in politics is "more transparency, less regulation." 

The latter is certainly transpiring, as Udall well knows. He was listed on an invite as the beneficiary for an Aug. 2 fundraiser held at the Albuquerque home of Shana and Greg Levenson. The luncheon invite suggests contribution amounts: "Victory" costs $1,000 per person; "Success" costs $2,500 per person; and "Triumph" costs $5,000 per person. That latter suggestion is $200 short of the $5,200 election-year contribution limit to candidates, an amount that less than 0.1 percent of the 310 million Americans donate per election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Now, with the McCutcheon decision, that small group of donors can contribute the $5,200 limit to an unlimited number of political committees, which, according to Justice Breyer's logic, allows their voices to be amplified over that of the majority of Americans by buying access to candidates at fundraisers. 

Mr. Udall wants to go to Washington. Again. 

Ballot Scuffle

Counties say legal challenge could stop secretary of state from axing ballot question on marijuana

Local NewsFriday, September 12, 2014 by Joey Peters
Politicians, lawyers and advocates disagree on the question of whether the secretary of state has the authority to stop a marijuana decriminalization advisory question from appearing on two countywide election ballots.

New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who this week said her office won't be putting the marijuana question on either ballot, maintains that she's well within her limits to do so. She underlines that her decision was based on the legality of the issue, not the content of the advisory question. 

"No forms or procedures shall be held in any election pursuant to the election code without prior approval of the secretary of state," was Duran's jargon-laden answer to this reporter's question when she briefly appeared on KUNM's Call-In Show Thursday morning. 

Duran says that after hours of working with her legal counsel, they concluded that counties don't have the right to put non-binding advisory questions, or poll questions, on statewide general election ballots. This came after both the Santa Fe and Bernalillo County commissions voted to put a question asking voters whether the counties should support decriminalizing marijuana on the November ballot. Because they're advisory questions, they essentially work as recommendations to county officials and don't carry legal authority with them. 

Duran says placing such questions on the ballot would push out more meaningful questions, such as bond issues or constitutional amendments.

"My decision is based on that legal advice—not on the issue itself—but that we cannot begin to allow polling questions on an official general election ballot," Duran says. "Not only is it unconstitutional according to my legal counsel, and I’m not an attorney, but it also does not conform with state law." 

This differs from state Attorney General Gary King's letter released last week that says counties have the authority to place such questions on general election ballots as long as they "not carry the force of law." Traditionally Duran, a Republican, as secretary of state would use a legal counsel from King's office. King, a Democrat, is running for governor this year.

Instead, Duran's office has been using Albuquerque attorney Rob Doughty. According to the state Sunshine Portal, Doughty's law firm has received $89,000 in public money from contracts with Duran's office since 2013. 

But Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar and Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, both Democrats, tell SFR that the secretary of state doesn't have the statutory authority to stop countywide ballot questions. Toulouse Oliver is running in a heated race against Duran for the secretary of state this fall.

Salazar brings up the fact that the paper ballot will have two sides: one dedicated to statewide races and one dedicated to countywide races. Her office is in charge of the county side of the ballot, she says.

But a technical issue may allow Duran to get her way. Until this year, the county used Automated Election Services to process its ballot before election. This year, Duran asked the counties to use a company contracted with her office instead in order to expedite the process. Salazar says since the new setup goes through Duran, it will give her a chance to remove the marijuana decriminalization question.

Salazar adds that the county is looking into its legal options to prevent Duran's office from doing so, which could include an appeal that reaches the state Supreme Court. "The technology has changed," Salazar says. "The law has not."

Such a challenge would have to be settled by next Friday, Sept. 19, so the counties can start getting absentee ballots out to New Mexico residents located out-of-state during the election. The Santa Fe County Commission could take up the issue during its special meeting next Tuesday at 1 pm. The Bernalillo County Commission may make similar actions during a closed meeting next Monday.

UPDATE: The Santa Fe County Commission has added closed-door discussions of a possible pending litigation regarding "a countywide advisory question for the 2014 general election concerning public support to decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana" to the agenda for its Tuesday meeting. An action item concerning a potential vote to authorize such a lawsuit follows. 

Congressional Reality

NM Sen. Heinrich to appear on Discovery Channel survival show

Local NewsThursday, September 11, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

Will a New Mexico senator have to drink his own pee to survive on a desert island? Can his Arizona counterpart from the US Congress figure out how to spear a fish for dinner?

US Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., are expected to tackle the challenges of securing drinking water, shelter and food during a new television show called Rival Survival that is scheduled to air on The Discovery Channel at the end of October and promises to be at least slightly more entertaining than C-SPAN coverage of congressional debates. 

The congressmen taped a show on Uru, part of the Marshall Islands, where they “put their political differences aside and work together for six days and six nights to find common ground through compromise if they want to survive,” according to an announcement from Discovery. 

Heinrich’s press office issued three news releases today, one about the 13th anniversary of 9/11, one about the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, and a statement about campaign-finance reform efforts. But the official channels were silent about the TV show.

Laurie Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Discovery Channel, said this statement comes from both leaders.

"Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington right now. We can both attest that no one is more frustrated than those of us trying to get things done in this environment. We recognize how difficult it can be to cut through the partisanship. So we decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together. " 

Here’s the news release issued today from Discovery:

At a time when partisanship in U.S. politics litters the media landscape, Discovery Channel's RIVAL SURVIVAL brings together two real world political adversaries and maroons them on a remote island for a week. Disconnected from the world on an uninhabited island surrounded by shark infested waters that mirror the seemingly treacherous terrain of the U.S. Congress, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) must put their political differences aside and work together for six days and six nights to find common ground through compromise if they want to survive in RIVAL SURVIVAL which premieres on Discovery October 29 at 10PM ET/PT.


Sen. Flake, a true conservative Republican, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for six consecutive terms from 2001-2013 prior to his election to the U.S. Senate. Sen. Flake is a self-described reformer who attacks government spending and is vocal on hot-button issues like immigration reform. Last year, Sen. Flake and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) were part of the "Gang of 8" who teamed up to try to change immigration policies in the U.S.  Sen. Heinrich, a member of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is a self-described conservationist and a strong progressive voice from New Mexico on issues that include education, health care and social security. Polar opposites and often at odds in the Senate, these two men must come together to take on the island of Eru, Marshall Islands, an utterly unforgiving deserted destination where the reefs alone are fraught with dangers that include venomous stonefish, lionfish and scorpion fish.


In RIVAL SURVIVAL, our senatorial adversaries turned survival teammates are given a modest choice of items from which they can select only three. Using only these limited resources and their wits, the pair must work together as they attempt to spear fish, build shelter and find enough water to survive for one week.  There is no natural source for fresh water on Eru, and what lives in the ocean will be their major food source. This unusual pairing will leave behind the daily life of congressional staff, senate hearings and committee meetings to navigate the rigors of surviving on an isolated island with no contact with the outside world to call upon for help. 

Once a pivotal point of control during World War II, Eru is home to the wreckage of downed WWII aircraft, and is also knows for what lurks in its waters -- the largest shark sanctuary in the world with more than 2,000,000 square miles of protected waters.  The ban on shark fishing here has created one of the greatest shark populations on earth with nearly every major species of shark, including Black Tip Sharks, Oceanic White Tip Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks, among others.


RIVAL SURVIVAL is produced for Discovery Channel by Renegade, the producers of Discovery's hit series Naked and Afraid, where David Garfinkle, Jay Renfroe and Sean Foley serve as Executive Producers. For Discovery, Denise Contis and Craig Coffman serve as Executive Producers.

 

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