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Lujan Grisham flying to Dubai for ‘climate change’ conference

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is set to attend the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP28, in Dubai on December 2 and 3. 

New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney and Deputy Chief Operating Officer Caroline Buerkle are Accompanying Governor Grisham on this international trip. The panels they will engage in, titled “Subnational Leaders Supercharging Climate Action Across America Panel” and “All Hands on Deck: How the U.S. Climate Alliance is Securing America’s Net-Zero Future with State-Led, High-Impact Action,” involve discussions on ambitious climate innovation and the role of the U.S. Climate Alliance in achieving a net-zero future.

The choice of Dubai as the conference location is noteworthy, given the country’s reputation as a significant oil exporter and her traveling via airplane, which creates a significant amount of pollution, according to “climate” scientists. This is particularly relevant as COP28 emphasizes a “global stocktake” to assess progress toward the 2015 Paris Agreement goals. The paradox of hosting a climate conference in a nation heavily reliant on oil exports adds complexity to the discussions.

Governor Grisham’s consistent international engagements, including leading trade missions to Taiwan and Australia in recent months, raise questions about the effectiveness of such trips in addressing climate concerns. While the Governor actively participates in “climate”-related initiatives, critics argue that tangible actions at the state level should take precedence over international appearances.

The panels, which will include representatives from various U.S. states and cities, offer a platform to showcase state-led efforts. However, skeptics question the impact of these discussions on addressing immediate climate challenges within New Mexico, particularly considering the energy sector’s importance in the state’s economy.

As Governor Grisham joins global leaders in Dubai, the spotlight remains on the practical implications of her climate policies back home. Whether these international endeavors translate into effective climate actions within New Mexico is a subject of ongoing debate, highlighting the tension between global aspirations and local priorities in addressing climate change.

Dem anti-gun law not targeting the main way youth are getting guns

In recent times, the issue of guns has garnered widespread attention across the state, driven by growing concerns about the potential for increased violence, particularly through shootings. Recently, in Albuquerque, a 15-year-old fired off a gun at Coronado Mall.

Democrats rammed through an extreme anti-gun bill last legislative session, making parents and guardians felons if a minor got access to their firearms and caused great bodily harm or death with them. But underaged offenders aren’t necessarily getting guns from parents who forget to lock their gun safes.

Kyle Hartsock, a commander with the Albuquerque Police Department, sheds light on a significant source of firearms for teenagers: theft, especially from vehicles, according to a report from KOAT 7 News. “Some are kept for self-defense, some are kept because they are just kept, and they have always been there. So that’s the primary place kids get guns. From mom and dad,” says Hartsock.

The prevalent method for teenagers acquiring guns is through the theft of firearms, particularly from vehicles. Hartsock emphasizes that the thieves often target vehicles displaying hunting stickers or stickers supporting law enforcement. The assumption is that individuals who support the police are likely to possess guns, making these vehicles attractive targets for theft. “They look for hunting stickers, stickers that support police because they see that guy that supports police carries guns, and they just look around for those cars to just break windows and roll the dice that they are going to find a gun inside,” explains Hartsock.

The consequences of these thefts are far-reaching, as the stolen guns frequently enter the black market and find buyers through various social media platforms. Hartsock points out that transactions involving these stolen firearms often take place on platforms like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat or through connections with individuals capable of selling guns. The ease of access to firearms through such channels contributes to a significant number of homicides stemming from black market gun sales.

Hartsock provides insights into recognizing potential warning signs related to teenagers and firearms. He suggests observing changes in behavior, even though teenagers can be enigmatic. Paying attention to whether they become more protective of certain objects, such as backpacks or their rooms, can offer clues. Additionally, he highlights the importance of scrutinizing specific language and emojis used in online communications. For instance, seemingly innocent references to water guns may indicate something more sinister. “We see the use of the water gun to show actual guns, and we see it in homicide investigations, and so it might be cartoonish and funny. It doesn’t mean let’s go have fun on a hot day; it means actual firearms,” warns Hartsock.

According to the Albuquerque Police Department, the statistics are alarming, with approximately 70-80 guns stolen in the city every month and a mere four or five of them being recovered. The prevalence of stolen firearms and their potential journey into illegal markets remains a pressing concern for law enforcement and public safety.

All-Dem NM Supreme Court upholds Dems’ gerrymandered ‘Frankenmap’

In an unsurprising turn of events, the all-Democrat New Mexico Supreme Court upheld New Mexico’s extremely gerrymandered congressional map, dubbed by many as the “Frankenmap.”

The Court dismissed claims by the GOP that it favored Democrats excessively. The lawsuit, filed by New Mexico Republicans, argued that the state legislature’s redrawing of the map amounted to a Democratic gerrymander, violating the state’s constitution. This redistricting occurred before the 2022 midterms, and the alterations aimed to shift the 2nd Congressional District, previously leaning Republican, toward a more Democratic profile.

The contested district is currently held by Democrat Rep. Gabe Vasquez, who secured victory in 2022 against Republican Congresswoman Yvette Herrell by a margin of 0.7 percentage points. In 2020, Joe Biden carried the district by approximately 6 points. In the prior map, 45th President Donald Trump had won the district by nearly 12 points.

Despite the GOP’s legal efforts, the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit, marking another redistricting loss for Republicans. The party had sought a “partisan-neutral” redraw, but the court did not uphold this request. A trial court had previously determined that while the map favored Democrats, it didn’t meet the threshold for an “egregious” gerrymander.

Herrell is running again to reclaim the seat despite the extremely gerrymandered district that chopped conservative areas in as many as thirds to help Democrats swing the state for all-Democrat control. The former congresswoman has the support of all the GOP leadership in the House and chairmen of key committees.

As redistricting efforts unfold across the United States before the 2024 elections, both major political parties experience mixed outcomes. In North Carolina, Republicans secured a significant win, favoring the GOP in a new map split 7-7, with 10 districts leaning Republican, three toward Democrats, and one competitive seat. Democrats gained ground in Alabama due to a court ruling against a GOP-drawn map deemed a racial gerrymander. Georgia also faces a court-ordered redraw after a judge overturned a map accused of racial gerrymandering.

Louisiana Republicans have been instructed to redraw their map following a court ruling that deemed the current map a racial gerrymander. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is deliberating on a map criticized for favoring Republicans despite Trump losing the state.

In New York, Democrats are considering redrawing the state’s map, with the timing of this process remaining uncertain before the 2024 elections.

Scandal-plagued eco-left group’s ex-employee pleads guilty to fraud scheme

In a shocking turn of events, James “Jim” Matison, a former employee of the Santa Fe-based enviro-Marxist group WildEarth Guardians, which files frivolous lawsuits to protect supposed “endangered species” at the expense of property owners, recently pleaded guilty to federal money laundering and wire fraud charges. Matison, 46, hailing from Pueblo, Colorado, allegedly engaged in a scheme where he wrote fraudulent checks to himself from the organization, amounting to a total of $242,210. The plea agreement he entered could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of $250,000 for the charges against him.

The illicit activities spanned from February 2015 to February 2019, coinciding with Matison’s tenure as the organization’s restoration program director. The news release mentioned that Matison faced personal “financial difficulties” during this period, providing a backdrop to his actions. He first joined the organization in 2002.

WildEarth Guardians, headquartered in Santa Fe, is known for its extremist environmental advocacy work in New Mexico and Colorado. Often a critic of the oil and gas industry, the group relies on funding from the State of New Mexico and federal agencies. Additionally, it actively engages in environmental restoration initiatives.

Court records revealed that Matison played a pivotal role in approving restoration project invoices submitted by contractors for payment from WildEarth Guardians. One such contractor, Timberline Environmental, owned by Matison’s co-defendant Jeffery Ham, became part of the fraudulent scheme. Ham allowed Matison to submit bogus invoices from Timberline, leading to a series of fraudulent transactions.

Matison’s modus operandi involved approving invoices for payment to Timberline, collecting the checks, depositing them into Timberline’s bank account, and then receiving pre-signed Timberline bank checks from Ham. Subsequently, Matison used these checks to transfer the funds to another company under his control, Phoenix-based Euro-American Development.

Ham, the co-defendant, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his role in the scheme.

The case was thoroughly investigated by the offices of inspectors general at both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case.

WildEarth Guardians discovered the scheme in April 2019 through the lawyers of an anonymous informant. Matison and Ham were terminated from the organization in the same month. In May 2019, WildEarth Guardians submitted a forensic auditor report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office detailing the scheme and identifying Matison and Ham as the perpetrators.

John Horning, the Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians, emphasized the organization’s commitment to accountability and upholding the law. The group, known for its stance against the oil and gas industry, has been actively involved in environmental causes and policy advocacy, often participating in public rulemaking and opposing certain government initiatives related to energy production.

The revelations about Matison and Ham highlight the challenges environmental organizations face in maintaining internal integrity and financial transparency. The case underscores the importance of accountability within advocacy groups, even as they work towards addressing critical environmental issues.

Punk shoots up ABQ mall — a ‘gun-free zone’

On the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 24, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) swiftly responded to reports of gunfire at Coronado Center — a “gun-free zone” — in northeast Albuquerque. The incident occurred shortly before 4 p.m., prompting a significant police presence.

Around 100 officers who were initially monitoring a rally at the Uptown Shopping Area were quickly redirected to Coronado Center upon receiving alerts of shots fired.

Gilbert Gallegos from the Albuquerque Police Department provided updates following the incident, stating, “The suspect is not in custody. To my understanding, they did a foot pursuit, chased him out of the mall, and he was able to escape at this point. We do have a good description. We believe we may have photos later tonight. We’re getting those analyzed and checking with different witnesses who were involved, but at this point, everybody is safe at the mall, everyone is safe in the surrounding area. We don’t believe there’s any kind of threat to the public.”

Another photograph of the suspect:

Witnesses inside the mall described a chaotic scene, with people rushing to safety. Maryah Lovato shared, “We didn’t hear gunshots. We just… everybody piling up, like falling over each other. We thought maybe something, a fight was happening, so we just ran out. We were stressed out, just trying to get to somewhere safe.”

By 4:54 p.m., APD confirmed that there was no active shooter. An off-duty Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy or lieutenant pursued the offender. While APD had a description of the suspect, they anticipated releasing photos later that evening.

Fortunately, there were no reported injuries, and officers discovered at least one bullet casing at the scene. The firearm used in the shooting was not immediately identified.

Crucially, APD clarified that there was no connection between the rally held earlier and the shooting at Coronado Center. The mall, however, remained closed for the remainder of the evening following the incident.

The suspect was later identified as 14-year-old Isaiah Montoya.

Reports indicate that immediately after the shooting, around 3:51 p.m., officers detained a juvenile involved in a confrontation with Montoya. The juvenile revealed a prior friendship with Montoya but mentioned an ongoing dispute over social media. Following a physical altercation at the mall, Montoya allegedly brandished a silver handgun and pursued the juvenile and another individual. The situation escalated as Montoya fired a round outside the mall, causing panic among shoppers and workers.

Surveillance footage and eyewitness accounts, including those of an off-duty Bernalillo County Sheriff’s lieutenant, provided a detailed sequence of events. Montoya, carrying the firearm, initially walked away from the mall entrance but then turned back, firing a shot that struck the building. Additional footage captured Montoya manipulating the handgun outside the mall before fleeing the scene toward Menaul Blvd.

A gun matching Montoya’s firearm was discovered near the mall on November 25th, 2023, and subsequently turned over to the police. A warrant from the Children’s Court approved charges against Montoya, and efforts are underway to apprehend him.

Concerns have been raised regarding the potential culpability of Montoya’s guardians under Bennie’s Law, an anti-gun law recently passed regarding minors getting access to firearms from their parents or legal guardians. The law stipulates that if a child gains access to a negligently stored gun, resulting in harm or death, it constitutes a fourth-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to a year and a half in prison.

The application of the law hinges on whether the child causes harm, turning it into a misdemeanor if no injuries occur. The involvement of Montoya’s guardians in legal proceedings remains unclear at this point. However, despite the law, it appears it has not been a deterrent whatsoever, as crimes involving minors and firearms have gone up since its passage.

Not so honorable: New Mexico Supreme Court censures Democrat judge

In a recent development, a Democrat New Mexico judge from Las Cruces, The “honorable” James Martin of the 3rd Judicial District Court, faced public censure from the New Mexico Supreme Court for breaching six rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 

The censure, issued on Nov. 13, followed an acknowledgment of allegations by Judge Martin, who admitted to influencing prosecutors to pursue more severe charges against Robert “Berto” Burnham in a 2018 case.

Judge James T. Martin. Portrait via NM Courts.

The case involved Burnham, the former owner of Boots And Bourbon, who was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing a semi-automatic rifle at a woman at the Las Cruces bar, identified as Martin’s daughter. The bar subsequently closed in 2018, and Burnham was convicted in 2021, with an ongoing appeal.

During Burnham’s trial, Judge Martin reportedly leveraged his authority to coerce prosecutors Samuel Rosten and Spencer Wilson into modifying the charges against Burnham. In a phone call, Martin directed the prosecutors to use language such as “brandish a firearm” in jury instructions instead of stating that Burnham “pointed a firearm” at Martin’s daughter. Following this, an amended jury instruction was submitted, alleging that Burnham “brandished and/or pointed a deadly weapon.”

After Burnham’s conviction, Martin inquired about his detention, expressing satisfaction that he was taken into custody. The court’s opinion highlighted Martin’s allowance of his daughter in his chambers during the trial, acknowledging the potential appearance of impropriety.

The Supreme Court’s censure aimed to emphasize the importance of judges avoiding any appearance of impropriety and to reassure the public of the legal system’s commitment to maintaining an independent, fair, and impartial judiciary.

NM high court sets hearing date for suit over Gov. MLG’s anti-gun order

In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments concerning the scope of the governor’s authority to issue public health orders. 

The petition initiating this legal scrutiny has been filed by entities including the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Republican Party of New Mexico, and every Republican state legislator. The legal filing came after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a public health emergency order stripping Bernalillo County and Albuquerque residents of their right to concealed or open carry a firearm. 

During the signing of the blatantly illegal order, Lujan Grisham claimed that no constitutional right, in her view, including her oath, “is intended to be absolute.”

A Joe Biden-appointed judge quickly struck down that measure due to its blatant unconstitutionality, but the question about the governor’s authority to make such edicts is what the lawsuit is centered upon.

Alongside questioning the governor’s authority, the petition seeks clarity from the court on whether drug abuse and gun violence can be considered valid grounds for declaring a public health emergency. The New Mexico Supreme Court has slated the arguments for January 8, where these issues will be thoroughly examined.

Reps. John Block (R-Alamogordo) and Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) have begun impeachment proceedings against the governor and intend to bring them forth in the next legislative session.

ABQ Mayor Keller sides with eco-left, vetoes bill to rein in ‘rogue’ board

In a recent development, Mayor Tim Keller has vetoed Bill O-23-88 and R-23-176, sending ripples through the Albuquerque City Council. The bills aimed to repeal and replace the Air Quality Control Board and impose a moratorium on the board, restricting its ability to pass a Health, Environment, and Equity Impacts rule without scientific evidence, arguing it falls beyond its jurisdiction based on case law.

City Councilor Dan Lewis expressed concern, stating, “By vetoing these bills, the Mayor has put the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico at risk of losing thousands of jobs.”

 Lewis criticized the Mayor for siding with enviro-Marxists, particularly mentioning Marla Painter, whom he accused of representing only the South Valley, and her husband Mark Rudd, a domestic terrorist associated with the Weather Underground. Lewis argued that the veto goes against economic development and the interests of numerous family-owned businesses, expressing grave concerns about the proposed rule. In a press release, Lewis wrote that the veto “puts checks and balances on rogue Air Quality Control Board.”

According to Lewis, the Air Quality Control Board intends to implement regulations that would make it extremely challenging, if not impossible, for companies to obtain air permits in Albuquerque. Despite the Mayor expressing serious concerns with the proposed rule, he chose to veto the legislation, preventing the board from moving forward with these regulations.

The Albuquerque Journal characterized the proposed Health, Environment, and Equity Impacts rule as “perhaps the most restrictive regulatory rule in New Mexico history,” with environmentalists supporting its broad application to various businesses requiring air quality permits, from small enterprises to schools, hospitals, and more.

The University of New Mexico voiced its apprehension, stating that the proposed regulations could negatively impact UNM operations on the main campus, the Health Sciences Center, UNM Hospital, and anticipated developments like the South Campus TIDD and UNM Health infrastructure.

Even the City’s Environmental Health Department expressed concerns, noting that the proposed rule seemingly applies to a wide range of entities, including small businesses, schools, hotels, office buildings, gas stations, and larger corporations.

The undemocratic decisions and alleged behind-the-scenes deals of the Air Quality Control Board are now a cause for concern, potentially harming major employers and jeopardizing the city’s ability to attract businesses crucial for job growth. The Air Quality Control Board is set to review the proposed rule from December 4th to 8th. The City Council will have an opportunity to override the Mayor’s veto with six votes at the regular meeting on December 4th.

New Mexico ranked one of the least free states

In the “Freedom in the 50 States 2023” report by the Cato Institute, New Mexico finds itself ranked 35th, indicating its position as one of the less free states in the country. The comprehensive evaluation conducted by the libertarian think tank scrutinized policies affecting economic and social freedoms across all 50 states.

While New Mexico secured favorable marks for personal freedom, its economic performance was subpar, reflected in its overall score of 0.04. The report noted that the state has historically possessed more personal freedom than economic freedom, with recent improvements in fiscal policy. Despite moving up to 39th place on fiscal policy, up from a prolonged stint at 48th, and achieving a 36th-place rank on regulatory policy, its 41st-best score on economic freedom weighed down its overall standing.

New Mexico faced criticism for government consumption (48th), government employment (48th), and labor market freedom (44th), among other categories. The report highlighted that the state’s overall tax burden, although below the national average, did not significantly contribute to government choice due to limited competing jurisdictions.

Despite its economic challenges, New Mexico garnered commendations for marriage freedom (No. 1), asset forfeiture (No. 1), and cannabis policies (No. 8). The state also boasted an above-average ranking for incarceration (13th), with low victimless crime arrests and favorable asset forfeiture laws.

However, areas for improvement were identified, with recommendations to enhance school choice and liberalize smoking laws to boost the personal freedom score. The report acknowledged New Mexico’s strong stance on religious freedom and equal rights but criticized weaknesses in tobacco and educational freedoms.

The Cato Institute’s report crowned New Hampshire as the freest state, followed by Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, and Arizona. Conversely, the least free states were identified as New York, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, and Oregon.

Read the report here.

NM Supreme Court holds fate of swing district in balance

The Republican Party in New Mexico is fervently urging the state Supreme Court to invalidate a congressional map that has dissected a politically conservative oil-producing area into multiple districts while reshaping a swing district along the U.S.-Mexico border to favor Democrats.

The court heard oral arguments on Monday but did not issue a ruling. The map in question, crafted by far-left Democrat state lawmakers, is contested by Republicans who argue that it disproportionately affects the representation of their political minority in the state.

The stakes are high as the court’s decision could sway which party ultimately holds the reins in the state’s Second Congressional District, where Democratic Representative Gabe Vasquez seeks a second term. This district has become a focal point in national politics as Republicans strive to maintain their slim majority in the U.S. House in the upcoming 2024 elections.

Similar battles over congressional maps are unfolding across the country. Recent court rulings in Alabama and Florida found that Republican-led legislatures had unjustly diluted the voting power of Black residents. Legal challenges are ongoing in various states, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

In New Mexico, a state district judge ruled in October that Democratic lawmakers had significantly weakened the votes of their political opponents. However, the judge stopped short of labeling it as “egregious” gerrymandering. The Republican Party, appealing this decision, argues that the diluted representation of their political minority may persist for the entire decade until the next round of map redrawing.

Harrison, representing the Republicans, pointed to the 2022 defeat of incumbent GOP Congresswoman Yvette Herrell as evidence of the adverse impact on Republican representation. However, justices raised skepticism, noting the thin margin of Herrell’s loss in 2022 and her previous loss in the open race for the seat in 2018 before district boundaries were redrawn, indicating ongoing competitiveness.

Sara Sanchez, representing Democratic legislative leaders, countered that the evidence presented in the case does not support claims of egregious gerrymandering. She emphasized that while every map may favor one party over another, it only becomes a constitutional concern when it results in entrenchment, a level of effectuation not evident in this case.

The broader political landscape in New Mexico, where Democrats currently hold all statewide elected offices, three congressional seats, and two Senate seats, underscores the significance of the ongoing legal battle over redistricting. The state Supreme Court’s ruling will shape the trajectory of political representation in the Second Congressional District and could have broader implications for the balance of power in the state.

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