Posts Tagged ‘Government’

UNM Kills Freedom of Speech

Friday, January 14th, 2011

It looks like KNME Director of Content Franz Joachim, or someone else over at the University of New Mexico, just made a big mistake that seriously undercuts their credibility as a media outlet. A couple of sources reprinted a press releases by Adam Kokesh regarding his right to bear arms for the taping of a political talk show. The mistake I’m talking about is not the one where UNM refused to allow him to open carry a weapon after he had already done so without incident, although it could be easily argued that was a mistake. The big problem is that they uninvited him from participating in another previously scheduled appearance because he sent out a press release:

After sending out the press release below, Iraq veteran, former congressional candidate, and host of Adam VS The Man on AM 1550 KIVA, Adam Kokesh was “uninvited” from participating in the scheduled taping of “The Line” today for KNME TV. Despite receiving death threats, Kokesh was originally denied his request to legally open carry at the studios on the University of New Mexico campus, then abruptly denied his opportunity to participate in this publicly sponsored political talk program. At 11am this morning, KNME Director of Content Franz Joachim called Kokesh to inform him that because of the previous press release he was no longer welcome.

Regarding this gross disregard for public safety and freedom of speech, Kokesh said, “No Iraqi ever threatened me, but I was given a gun and told to patrol Iraq to fight for our freedoms. When I came home, fellow Americans threatened me, and I was denied my basic right to self-defense. Having a government sponsored institution making people feel unsafe to speak out politically is unacceptable.”

In one fail swoop, a taxpayer funded entity just trampled on the first and second amendment of the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised that UNM disregards our second amendment rights, although I wonder if they would treat Governor Martinez the same way if she was (or when she has been) a guest on one of their shows?

With that said, I am flabbergasted by the concept of a citizen being uninvited from a political discourse show produced by a taxpayer-funded University for publicly, and in a completely non-violent manner, expressing an opinion.  Universities are supposed to be places where the free flow of ideas are encouraged, not punished or kept from ever seeing the light of day. This is absolutely reprehensible, and it’ll be interesting to see what action is taken by those who position themselves as ardent defenders of free speech.

Finding Untapped Cash for State Government

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Have you ever tried to explain New Mexico Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) to a business person not from New Mexico? They just don’t get it. This is especially true for businesses who do business with the federal government.  Mention GRT, and they’ll tell you they have an exemption from charging sales tax to the federal government. It is a completely foreign concept. In other states, they have sales, and you can’t charge the federal government sales tax. That’s why we have gross receipts tax in New Mexico. So much of our eco0nmy is based on federal dollars that the State had to figure out a creative way to collect taxes on that exchange of dollars.

But, what about those out of state companies that do business with federal agencies in New Mexico? Do they know they have a GRT liability. I’m willing to bet the vast majority of them don’t. In fact, if they’re bidding against a New Mexico company  for work at a federal facility in New Mexico, they’ve got a built in competitive advantage. You see, out of state companies have the lowest GRT rate in the state. In some case that advantage can translate into a 3% difference. Don’t believe me, download the tax rate table and see for yourself.

Now, that assumes that the out of state company is registered to do business in New Mexico and is actually paying GRT, which I believe would actually be the exception rather than the rule. In fact, if they’re not factoring in GRT, they may find themselves with 8% or greater competitive edge over their New Mexico competitors. Just in case some of you might think I’m making this up, let’s just take a look at a recently awarded federal contract:

Title:                 Tower Relocation Project
Sol. #:                AG-7512-S-10-0036
Agency:                Department of Agriculture
Office:                Forest Service
Location:              R-3 Southwestern Region/Lincoln NF
Posted On:             Jan 11, 2011 4:49 pm
Current Type:          Award
Base Type:             Presolicitation
Base Posting Date:     Aug 10, 2010 4:54 pm

Click the link, and you’ll find this $29,500 contract was awarded to Jim and Martha Flake of Clarksville, Tennessee.  I don’t know the Flakes, and I’m sure they are hardworking people. But what I do know is that a quick search on the Corporations page at the NM PRC, doesn’t show them registered to do business in New Mexico. So, if they’re not even registered to do business in the State of New Mexico, does anyone believe they are actually going to pay GRT?

Yeah, me neither.

So, here’s a revenue generating idea for the good folks in Tax and Rev: Start monitoring which out-of-state firms are winning federal contracts in New Mexico, and while you’re at it, maybe you want to use some of the free tools available to figure out which of those firms that have won contracts in the Land of Enchantment in the past have actually paid the GRT that New Mexico contractors have to pay.

Just a thought.

It’s a Bond, Not a Tax Increase

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Governments love to issue bonds for projects. Usually these push for new bonds are accompanied by claims that new bonds will not raise our taxes. But, what happens when the state and local governmental entities that push for the bonds ends up unable to pay for it?

The $2.9 trillion municipal-bond market has been stung recently by worries that some cash-strapped cities or states won’t be able to pay off or roll over debt. Costs have risen broadly for municipal borrowers. The market also faces challenges from the expiration of the Build America Bonds program, which helped cities and states borrow $165 billion at interest rates held down by federal subsidies.

Can you say, “Tax increase?”

The Civilized European Approach

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

For those in this country who would like to see America move towards a more “civilized” European approach to governance:

A Swiss village has found a drastic way to compel dog holders to pay their pet’s annual tax: cough up, or the dog gets it.

Reconvilier — population 2,245 humans, 280 dogs — plans to put Fido on notice if its owner doesn’t pay the annual $50 tax.

Local official Pierre-Alain Nemitz says the move is part of an effort to reclaim hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes.

He says a law from 1904 allows the village to kill dogs if its owner does not pay the canine charge.

After all, people need to pay their fair share, right?

Some People Just Don’t Get It

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Governor Martinez has thanked the Environmental Improvement Board for their service and shown them the door, and I say good riddance. In fact, I’d encourage her to just get rid of this appointed board in its entirety. Now, I did find this statement by outgoing member Gay Dillingham quite thought provoking:

“So as a citizen I would expect the same dedication be given to reviewing all the evidence before she commits to overturning or supporting it,” Dillingham said. “History has shown us there is a dynamic relationship between regulatory obligation and private sector innovation and we need enough time to give this process a chance to work for New Mexico.”

Yeah, it has. The regulatory obligation of the Prohibition gave us speakeasies and created great entrepreneurial opportunities for organized crime. The increasing regulatory obligation in the form of ever-increasing taxes has led to a vibrant and creative class of tax shelter planners. I’ll leave it to greater minds than mine to conjure up what sort of private sector “innovations” could be created by  Ms. Dillingham’s nonsensical cap and trade in a bubble regulation.

Solving Unemployment with Spoons

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

The liberal assertion goes something like this, “If the government just increased taxes and spending, more people would be working, and everybody would be better off.” Of course, this misguided thinking is the result of a lack of understanding regarding how wealth is actually created. Consider this from Steven Horowitz:

Employing people to dig holes and fill them up again, or to build bombs that will blow up Iraqis, will certainly reduce unemployment and increase GDP, but it won’t increase wealth. The problem of economics is the problem of coordinating producers and consumers. This coordination happens when we produce what consumers want using the least valuable resources possible. That is why it is wealth-enhancing to dig a canal using earth-movers with a few drivers rather than millions of people using spoons, even though the latter would generate more jobs.

Then again, maybe we ought to listen to those advocating for the launch of a Spoon Renaissance.

Unintended Consequences of Government Actions

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Rats on a Sinking Ship

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship The general rule of thumb is that political appointees, like rats on a sinking ship, make way for the exits when their political free ride comes to an end (i.e. it comes time for their benefactor to leave office). This rule of thumb is particularly necessary when state government is saddled with a crippling deficit as is the Land of Enchantment.

However, I can’t say that I’m surprised that the Richardson Administration is attempting to leave office with same disregard for the public welfare which was evident during the entire time they were in office. Namely. I’m talking about their willingness to time and time again put public interest aside in favor of political payback jobs. But, even though I’m not surprised, I am nauseated by the gall of those who continue to put their self-interest before everyday New Mexicans:

Richardson on Sunday ordered a suspension of hiring by agencies under his control, but an internal memo circulated Monday says the order doesn’t apply in cases where agencies have completed hiring decisions and offered jobs. That loophole could allow more Richardson appointees to shift into classified jobs in the coming weeks.
Cole’s column on Tuesday reported that at least seven gubernatorial appointees have been moved to classified positions since July.

But, there is a silver lining to this cloud. It gives us an immediate opportunity to see just what kind of executive we have in  Governor-elect Susana Martinez.  The answer is a no nonsense Governor, who appears ready to walk the talk:

Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, the Martinez transition team chairwoman, told Richardson staff chief Brian Condit that any “exempt employees” moved into protected jobs after Nov. 3 without Martinez transition committee approval “will immediately be terminated upon the swearing in of Governor-elect Susana Martinez on Jan. 1, 2011.”
And, I for one can’t wait to see those folks sent rowing on January 1.

Corruption is Only One of the Problems

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Everyone in New Mexico knows that under the 70+ year Democratic rule of our state corruption has flourished liked bacteria in a petri dish. But, what is less understood is that the total disregard for the rule of law, especially within the ranks of the elected and appointed leaders of the current administration, is not simply limited to padding wallets and stealing from taxpayers to fatten campaign funds. In an attempt to curry favor with one political voting block or another, the Administration has shown the most cavalier attitude toward laws and regulations – changing and discarding them on a whim with a complete disregard to the constitutional process.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Appointees have held midnight meetings to circumvent the legislature and “rewrite laws” as they see fit. We’ve seen others take illegal administrative liberties to steal your water from right under your land. There has been little to no fiscal accountability for state agency after state agency for years. Of course, for the majority of New Mexicans these might seem like actions that “don’t really directly impact me and my family.”

Well, let’s see if we can bring this down to the simplest terms. If lying, cheating and stealing aren’t enough to get your blood boiling, then maybe the raping of children will put you over the edge:

Because CYFD acted as if this regulation did not exist, CYFD failed to notify ICE and released Juan Gonzalez when he was charged with molesting a 3-year-old girl and raping a 6-year-old boy in 2005 when he was found not competent to stand trial. He walked.

Then, in 2008 Gonzalez was arrested again for (allegedly) raping a 4-year-old.

This was preventable.  In fact, the rules and laws were on the books to prevent this from happening. But, the current administration opted to make their own rules. They assumed, as they have all along, that they are above the law:

The Richardson administration did not want to enforce the regulation, for whatever reason, so, rather than engage in the legal process to change the law, they just substituted their own view of what they wanted the law to be.

And now, because of the administration’s arrogance and chutzpah, another innocent child, a 6-year-old little girl playing at a local gym has her life shattered by the act of a (suspected) criminal that could have been prevented.

It’s time the voter’s sent a clear message that they’ve had enough. Regardless of your political affiliation, make sure you vote in the upcoming primaries and encourage your neighbors to do the same. It’s time to send the lawless and self-interested packing and put people in office that will put public service above self-interests.

Ever More Open Society – Except in Government

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

We live in the information age.  A quick web search, and you can find information about almost anything.  Overall, I think this is a good thing.  In my mind knowledge is power.  The ability to learn and find answers quickly makes overcoming some previously insurmountable challenges surmountable.

Yet, there is one place in our society where open sharing of information is seemingly going in the wrong direction. Ironically, this place is called the “public sector.”

New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act is meant to help ensure public involvement and to prevent backroom deals in state and local government, but violations of the law are widespread, an investigation by The Independent has found. School boards, universities, town councils, county and state commissions, and boards across the state have broken the law, casting a shroud of secrecy over government officials’ deliberations and bargaining.

Violating the Open Meetings law can contribute to a culture of political secrecy and corruption, Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Sarah Welsh told The Independent. It also raises questions about the legality of decisions reached based on issues discussed during illegally convened closed sessions.

And, it’s not just the violation of open meetings that is troublesome:

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says a state agency violated the Inspection of Public Records Act when it redacted information from public documents before giving them to Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen Weh.

Now it appears the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) is in the process of correcting that violation.

Sarah Welsh, the sunshine group’s executive director, recently made her own request for some of the public records DFA had provided to Weh with redactions. The agency provided the records to Welsh without redactions, which allowed her to see that DFA had inappropriately blacked out routine information – such as handwritten notations of account numbers or notes such as “OK to pay” – before providing the documents to Weh.

“They provided different information to me and to the Weh campaign, which is not the way it’s supposed to work,” Welsh said.

Story after story have shown that increasingly all levels of public government feel free to act with impunity in keeping the public in the dark:

Attorney General Gary King is accusing Gov. Bill Richardson of violating the state open-records act by withholding the names of those in the 59 political jobs Richardson said he eliminated.

“It seems implausible that your office would make a formal announcement (about the layoffs) when it had no set of records to support its numerical assertion,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Albert Lama wrote in an opinion this week. “It creates the impression that some staff member in the Governor’s Office possesses, contrary to your response letter’s assertions, records pertaining to the 59 exempt employees …

At some point, the voters are going to say enough is enough.  And, it’s increasingly looking like that point may occur this November.