Piñon Post

Lujan Grisham keeps flirting with special session

Far-left Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham continues toying with the idea of having a special session for “crime” and “public safety.”

Per a report from the Santa Fe New Mexican, the governor’s agenda for a potential special session would include sending “criminal defendants who are found incompetent to stand trial to a mental health or behavioral health treatment program,” a bill to ‘offer mental or behavioral health programs to people with “a significant mental health issue and a chemical dependency’ when family members are unable to have them involuntarily held in an inpatient facility,” measures to restrict panhandling, and increasing penalties for felons in possession of firearms.

Recently, the governor sat down with PBS New Mexico’s “New Mexico In Focus” to talk about the potential of a special session.

She told the program, “It’s a decision I can make. I have the authority to do that as governor [of] the state of New Mexico, so why not just decide? You know, part of it is I want to be successful for the public.”

She added, “We have a lot of public safety issues that still require, in my view, immediate and dramatic attention. And what I want is these strategies to get through a very narrow, very tight, special session.”

In the New Mexican’s report, the governor claimed she was leaning “80/20” in favor of calling a special session. Previously, the governor called a special session in 2021 to ram through a bill to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state.

She has not, in fact, called special sessions on the time-sensitive topics of reforms to her Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) or border security, both crises plaguing the state.

See what first New Mexico billionaire’s solar fortune is worth now

In the late 1970s, amidst the global energy crisis sparked by the Iranian Revolution, a young Ron Corio, freshly equipped with a driver’s license, found himself stuck in extensive gas lines in New Jersey. This experience prompted him to consider solar power.

Decades later, Corio’s venture, Array Technologies, based in Albuquerque, has emerged as a leading name in the renewable energy sector (due to heavy government subsidy and no excise taxes whatsoever), propelling him to become New Mexico’s sole billionaire. Forbes attributes Corio’s fortune to strategic share sales following Array’s IPO in October 2020, positioning him as the wealthiest individual in the state as per Forbes’ latest state-wise richest person compilation.

Corio’s journey into the solar industry began post-high school when he ventured to the University of New Mexico, pursuing engineering. His path took a turn when he joined a local startup, HDI Research, which was innovating an automotive ignition system to boost efficiency and minimize emissions. This role marked Corio’s initial foray into solar, as he installed a solar setup for HDI’s remote cabin.

John Williamson, who served as Array’s chief engineer, remarked, “In those early days, solar wasn’t mainstream, positioning Ron as somewhat of an industry maverick. He faced skepticism, with many advising him to pursue more traditional career paths.”

Corio’s pivotal moment came in 1985 when he transitioned to a small Albuquerque solar company, Wattsun Corp. It was here that he conceptualized his first solar tracker, a pivotal invention aimed at enhancing solar panel efficiency by aligning them with the sun’s trajectory. This innovation laid the groundwork for what would become Array Technologies.

Fast forward, solar trackers now play a crucial role in solar energy generation, with the International Energy Agency noting it as the fastest-expanding renewable segment. Wood Mackenzie’s Annie Rabi Bernard highlights that trackers feature in nearly half of all new large-scale solar projects, presenting a significant growth opportunity in the sector.

Williamson fondly recalls Corio’s early contributions, “Ron wasn’t just the first to imagine a solar tracker; he was instrumental in making it commercially viable for the utility market.”

Strategic moves and industry foresight mark array’s journey from a small venture to a solar powerhouse. Despite facing challenges, including market competition and regulatory uncertainties, Corio’s resilience and innovation steered Array through. His decision to decline a buyout offer from Oaktree Capital Management during a turbulent period showcased his commitment to the company’s vision.

However, Array’s market dynamics shifted, prompting Corio to eventually partner with Oaktree, a move that led to his stepping down as CEO and CTO. Despite these changes, the company continued to thrive, with its IPO in 2020 marking a significant milestone.

Corio’s exit from Array didn’t mark the end of his contributions to the solar industry. As the company navigated post-IPO challenges and market fluctuations, Corio had already solidified his legacy within the sector.

Reflecting on Corio’s journey, Williamson shared, “Ron’s always been more hands-on, preferring the grit of engineering work over idle relaxation. Even after stepping away from Array, he continues to explore new technological frontiers.”

Beyond his business ventures, Corio has embraced philanthropy, channeling a portion of his wealth into the Corio Foundation, supporting various causes and fostering innovation through educational scholarships.
Forbes reported in 2023 that Corio was the state’s first billionaire. In 2021, his net worth was $1.1 billion, and it has shot up to $1.7 billion now, which is on par with what he was worth in 2023. He is currently ranked the 1,851th wealthiest person on the planet.

ABQ City Council set to take stance on police chief’s performance

The Albuquerque City Council is slated to convene on Wednesday to determine their stance on Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina. Councilor Louie Sanchez, a former APD officer, has raised the question of a vote of no confidence, emphasizing that such a vote would convey a “clear message.”

“We’re done with no accountability. We’re done with no transparency,” stated Sanchez, underlining the necessity to rebuild public trust in the police department.

Sanchez’s call has prompted Chief Medina to appear at the council meeting to field inquiries. An APD spokesperson, Franchesca Perdue, confirmed Medina’s attendance and readiness to provide insights into crime-fighting efforts and the department’s positive trajectory.

According to the city charter, a two-thirds majority vote from the Council can oust a police chief, provided there’s substantial cause. Even if the no confidence vote falls short, Sanchez intends to persist in his endeavors, potentially advocating for changes to the city charter.

While specific alterations weren’t outlined, Sanchez expressed willingness to collaborate with fellow councilors. Previously, Sanchez and councilor Renee Grout attempted to amend the city government structure from a strong to weak mayor system, albeit unsuccessfully.

Scrutiny of the law enforcement agency and its leadership began in January, following federal raids on the homes of three APD officers and a local attorney’s office. This was amid revelations of numerous DWI dismissals involving five officers, leading to over 190 dismissed cases. The officers implicated in the DWI unit resigned after being placed on administrative leave pending an internal inquiry by APD’s Internal Affairs Division.

In another development in February, Chief Medina was involved in a vehicle collision, injuring Todd Perchert. Perchert, speaking about his injuries, announced plans for legal action against the city, represented by attorney James Tawney.

Despite these challenges, the City Council narrowly voted against initiating a multi-agency investigation into Medina’s crash in March. This tumultuous period follows APD’s attainment of its highest level of compliance with the court-approved settlement agreement, or CASA, in November 2023. However, Sanchez voiced concerns that these recent events might jeopardize the prospect of concluding the CASA agreement.

“DOJ is probably not going anywhere,” remarked Sanchez, hinting at the ongoing oversight from the Department of Justice.

This is not the first time illegals were found hiding in NM middle school

Last week, Santa Teresa Middle School in Doña Ana County was placed on lockdown following the discovery of illegal immigrants hiding within its premises. Situated near the U.S. Southern border with Mexico, this incident is not an isolated occurrence, as migrants have been found hiding there previously.

“Being that those schools are so close to the border, the proximity of the border, these types of events happen weekly,” stated Refugio Socorro, a spokesperson with U.S. Border Patrol.

“A lot of people in that area that try to evade arrest from our apprehensions do have a criminal history or have immigration issues. So that’s the reason why they just take off running and go through locations they’re not even familiar with,” Socorro added.

According to reports from KOAT, migrants likely entered the U.S. border through “The Anarpa Gap,” an opening in the border wall approximately five miles from the school. Concerns about safety have been voiced by parents, with one mother expressing her worry for her child’s safety amidst such incidents.

“At first, I was scared with every notification from the school that they’re on lockdown. As a parent, you’re going to get worried,” she remarked.

Gadsden Independent School District (GISD) extended gratitude to the U.S. Border Patrol for their efforts in ensuring the safety of children. In a statement, GISD thanked both the U.S. Border Patrol agents and the officers of the Sunland Park Police Department for their prompt and professional response to the situation.

Meanwhile, recent developments elsewhere, such as a pair of murders in Michigan allegedly perpetrated by migrants, have sparked discussions about potential political ramifications. Strategic National CEO John Yob, known for accurate polling in 2016, suggests that these events may influence public opinion, possibly impacting future elections.

NM SOS Toulouse Oliver suffers legal blow after trying to hide election info

In a major legal development, a federal court has ruled that New Mexico must allow a conservative group to publish voter registration data online in a move toward transparency and election integrity. 

U.S. District Judge James Browning in Albuquerque decreed that the conservative-leaning Voter Reference Foundation LLC is legally entitled to access information from the state’s voter rolls. This marks a setback for the Secretary of State’s office, which had sought to prevent the release based on a federal election transparency law.

The Secretary of State’s office, led by far-left Democrat Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, disagreeing with Judge Browning’s decision, plans to challenge the ruling at the 10th Circuit Court and will seek to suspend the ruling’s effect during the appeal process.

The dispute centers on the foundation’s intention to post detailed voter data on its website, including names, addresses, and birth years. The foundation, led by Gina Swoboda, a former Trump campaign official and current chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, asserts its mission is to bolster voter engagement across all states.

“The Voter Reference Foundation is dedicated to ensuring transparent, accurate and fair elections in the United States of America. The purpose of this website is to provide educational information about how our elections process works and how elections data is compiled and maintained nationwide,” the group’s website states.

Judge Browning’s ruling aligns with similar federal court decisions, reinforcing the precedence set by the National Voter Registration Act over state-level restrictions on voter data dissemination. This ruling comes amidst ongoing legal battles in other states like Pennsylvania and Maine, where attempts to safeguard voter information from online exposure have faced legal challenges.

In response to the ruling, Alex Curtas, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, claims the court’s acknowledgment that the state’s restrictions on voter data usage do not infringe on First Amendment rights and were not applied in a retaliatory manner against the Voter Reference Foundation. 

The case, dating back to 2022, saw the foundation initially post New Mexico voter data online, which was subsequently removed following objections from state election regulators. The foundation’s legal action against the state argued that the pushback constituted unconstitutional retaliation and infringed on First Amendment rights.

The publicly accessible voter information in New Mexico does not include sensitive personal details such as Social Security numbers or precise birthdates, nor does it cover participants in the state’s Safe At Home Program for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

However, the foundation’s use of voter data from April 2021 means that any changes to voter registration status after that date will not affect the information available on their website.

Although Toulouse Oliver previously touted a leftist MIT study, claiming New Mexico had some of the best election administration in the country, the Voter Reference Foundation ranks New Mexico’s elections at the bottom of the nation, with a “D” rating. See New Mexico’s ranking on the group’s website here.

Publicly funded ABQ opera show for ‘all ages’ under fire for sexual content

In a recent series of opera performances that sparked controversy in Albuquerque, Opera Southwest’s latest production, “Before Night Falls,” reportedly featured a scene that has left many audience members and residents aback. 

The opera, presented at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s (NHCC) Albuquerque Journal Theatre (a division of the state-funded New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs) from March 1-3, purportedly included a depiction of a live sex act involving nearly nude men, simulating male-on-male sexual intercourse, without any prior content advisory to the audience, per attendees.

The production, funded by the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque City Council, among others, did not provide warnings in its promotional materials or programs about the explicit content, despite the presence of minors in the audience, per one concerned Albuquerque citizen who was in attendance. 

According to Opera Southwest’s mission statement on its website, it seeks “to produce quality, professional, enjoyable and accessible opera in an intimate setting for audiences of all ages.”

This omission raised legal and ethical questions by those in attendance, given New Mexico’s laws regarding the exposure of minors to sexually oriented material. The all-ages audience was reportedly given no warning about the forthcoming indecent exposure and no content advisory. 

The opera’s program also does not mention any such content advisories nor does the website for purchase of tickets. 

The 2000 film rendition of Before Night Falls was rated R, with IMDB’s parental guide noting of the film, “Only male nudity present in [the] movie. Male full frontal nudity shown in a couple of scenes,” adding that the film“[i]ncludes a scene of sexuality involving a child.”

New Mexico statute, Chapter 30 Criminal Offenses, Article 37, relating to sexually oriented material harmful to minors, states, “It is unlawful for any person knowingly to exhibit to a minor or knowingly to provide to a minor an admission ticket or pass or knowingly to admit a minor to premises whereon there is exhibited a motion picture, show or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors.”

The artistic team behind the opera, including artistic director Anthony Barrese and executive director Tony Zancanella, have expressed their unwavering support for the inclusion of the scene, per a press release from concerned citizens, despite its potential violation of state statutes. Meanwhile, Morris James Chavez, the Board President of NHCC, has yet to make a public statement regarding the incident.

This controversial decision by Opera Southwest and the NHCC to include such explicit content without warning has led to discussions about the responsibility of cultural institutions to their audiences, the role of taxpayer funding explicit arts, and the potential legal ramifications of exposing minors to sexually explicit performances.

Leftist judge claims former Trump attorney Eastman should lose license

In Los Angeles, a leftist judge has recommended stripping John Eastman, a lawyer known for his conservative views and a former law school dean, of his California legal license due to his actions on behalf of 45th President Donald Trump aimed at sending electors back to the states after the allegedly fraudulent 2020 election, in which Joe Biden was declared the winner despite abnormalities. 

The disciplinary actions faced by Eastman in the state’s bar court arise from his formulation of a legal approach that suggested then-Vice President Mike Pence could intervene in the certification of Joe Biden’s allegedly deceitful electoral win. Judge Yvette Roland of the State Bar Court of California recommended this, and the case is now pending a final verdict from the California Supreme Court, with Eastman retaining the right to contest their decision.

Roland, according to her former firm, Duane Morris, upon her appointment to the bench, she “served as a board member and past president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and she is a board member of the Black Women Lawyers Foundation and the California Association of Black Lawyers. She also is a member of the American Bar Association, John M. Langston Bar Association and the National Bar Association.”

“Roland also represented employers against wrongful termination, retaliation, unfair competition, breach of contract, wage and hour, harassment and discrimination claims arising on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin. While she was a seasoned litigator in state and federal courts, Roland resolved many multimillion-dollar disputes by implementing appropriate alternative dispute resolution measures,” the firm’s website read.

Eastman’s defense, articulated by his attorney Randall Miller, asserts that Eastman’s legal interpretations post the 2020 election were rooted in established legal precedents, historical election outcomes, constitutional analysis, and comprehensive academic research. Miller emphasized that Eastman’s process mirrored the standard legal practices undertaken daily by attorneys across the nation.

Judge Roland found Eastman responsible for 10 out of the 11 allegations against him, which included deceiving the courts, moral turpitude, issuing false statements, and collaborating with Trump to impede the presidential power transition. Roland’s detailed 128-page judgment highlighted Eastman’s alleged conspiracy with Trump to disrupt the governmental procedure, particularly the electoral count on January 6, 2021.

Eastman is also implicated in trumped-up criminal charges in Georgia related to efforts to contest the 2020 election results alongside Trump and others. Despite pleading not guilty and defending his actions as legitimate legal advocacy for Trump, Eastman criticized the charges as an attack on lawyers’ vigorous defense of their clients.

The California State Bar accused Eastman of engaging in conduct that violated ethical standards, including making false claims that threatened democratic integrity by attempting to subvert the electoral outcome. Roland, in her ruling, claimed that Eastman’s statements went beyond acceptable legal advocacy and constituted lies that breached his duty of honesty and ethical obligations.

While Roland concurred with Eastman’s defense on one count, asserting his speech at a January 6 rally in Washington did not directly incite the Capitol incursion, she ruled that Eastman should be placed on involuntary inactive status, effectively barring him from practicing law in California pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

The “States United Democracy Center,” a leftist dark money group that has attacked Eastmand and three New Mexico legislators, including Piñon Post founder and editor Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo), lauded the ruling.

“This is a crucial victory in the effort to hold accountable those who tried to overturn the 2020 election. After hearing from almost two dozen witnesses over a 35-day trial, the court found that John Eastman violated his ethical duties to uphold the constitution,” said Christine P. Sun, a senior vice president for the D.C.-based swamp group. “This decision sends an unmistakable message: No one is above the law — not presidents, and not their lawyers.”

Eastman, who has been part of the California Bar since 1997, has a notable legal background, including clerking for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and contributing to constitutional law through the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. 

His academic tenure at Chapman University’s law school ended in 2021 following a faculty uproar over his involvement in the post-election controversies. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Radical leftist likely to be booted from ballot amid ballot petition lawsuit

The political aspirations of former “DREAMer” (illegal alien) and far-left New Mexico Senate hopeful Cindy Nava could be derailed by a legal challenge questioning the validity of her ballot qualification petitions. The challenge, spearheaded by Audrey Trujillo, a Republican contender for the State Senate District 9 seat, along with two prominent local Democrats, County Commissioner Katherine Bruc, and former State Sen. John Sapien, hinges on a clerical error in Nava’s petition forms.

The crux of the dispute lies in the petition forms used by Nava, a Democrat from Bernalillo, which incorrectly listed her address as being in Bernalillo County rather than the correct Sandoval County due to a mix-up between her town’s name and the similarly named neighboring county.

Sandra Wechsler, Nava’s campaign manager, expressed disappointment over the challenge, highlighting the enthusiasm and support Nava has garnered. “Over 250 Democratic voters in Senate District 9 signed petitions to put Cindy’s name on the ballot,” Wechsler told the Sandoval Signpost.

The lawsuit’s proponents argue that the law is unambiguous regarding such errors, stating that petitions with incorrect address information must be invalidated.

Nava had surpassed the requirement of garnering signatures from 3% of District 9’s registered Democratic voters, submitting over 250 signatures to the county clerk. The confusion arose from the paper and online nominating petition’s format, which separates the candidate’s street address and county of residence, leading to the inadvertent listing of “Bernalillo” in the county section.

State regulations are clear that any discrepancies in the required information on a nominating petition, including the candidate’s address, render the petition and all its signatures invalid. The law also penalizes the circulation of petitions that fail to accurately display essential details about the candidate and the office sought.

The lawsuit seeks to disqualify Nava from the upcoming June 4 Democrat primary, leaving Heather Balas as the sole Democratic candidate to face Trujillo in the November general election. This development follows the announcement by current Democratic State Sen. Brenda McKenna that she would not seek re-election, with McKenna having endorsed Nava as her preferred successor.

The legal challenge poses a significant dilemma, balancing the technicalities of election law against the expressed will of voters who supported Nava.

This NM city is one of the best large cities to celebrate Easter: Study

A new study from WalletHub examined all the biggest large cities across the country based on 11 metrics that it defined as speaking to “an ideal Easter celebration. Our metrics range from candy and chocolate stores per capita to the city’s Christian population,” the outlet noted.

WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe wrote, “The best cities for Easter cater to the religious nature of the holiday by offering plenty of opportunities for Christians to attend services, and they also provide the resources for people to have a great time with their family regardless of religious affiliation. That means lots of places to get some sweet treats or dine out, as well as good weather conditions and nice open spaces for Easter egg hunts.”

Cities were ranked from 1 to 100 (the highest numbers being the best) on “Easter observers,” “Easter traditions,” “Kids’ Easter,” and “Easter weather.”

The large city that clinched the number one spot was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which ranked fourth among Easter observers, third among traditions, 96th among kids’ Easter, and third in terms of weather. Its total score was 61.58.

“Pittsburgh is the best city for celebrating Easter, in part because it has some of the most churches per capita and a very high share of the population identifying as Christian, so there’s a lot of people celebrating and plenty of places for them to worship,” wrote WalletHub.

“The Steel City also has some of the most candy shops per capita and a high number of chocolate shops per capita, so it’s easy to sweeten the celebration. Pittsburgh also has some of the most flower and gift shops per capita, so decorating is easy, and Easter is projected to have pretty good weather as well,” it added.

Albuquerque ranked near the top, coming in at 23rd with a total score of 47.06. It ranked 15th among Easter observers, 50th among traditions, 56th among kids’ Easter, and 55th for weather. Last year, Albuquerque was ranked ninth.

The lowest-ranked city was Hialeah, FL, which had a meager total ranking of 28.61. 

“Easter can be an expensive holiday to celebrate. According to the National Retail Federation, the average U.S. consumer will spend roughly $177 on celebration expenses this year,” noted WalletHub.

MLG finally orders Stapleton’s name to be stripped from Expo NM building

The African American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico will soon see the name of Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a former official with Albuquerque Public Schools and an ex-state legislator, taken down from its facade. 

This decision comes in light of Williams Stapleton facing serious allegations at both the federal and local levels for misappropriating public funds. The name removal ceremony is scheduled for next Friday.

Earlier in the week, Williams Stapleton was hit with federal charges, including bribery, money laundering, and defrauding the U.S. government. These charges were brought forth in connection with accusations that she, in collaboration with Joseph Johnson, misused millions in federal funding for personal gain. Additionally, she was indicted on charges of racketeering and money laundering among others related to the misuse of state funds two years prior.

In response to these allegations, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statement, writing, “After careful consideration, I have decided that the serious charges levied against former Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton in a 35-count federal indictment this week warrant removal of her name from the African American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico. If she is exonerated of these alleged financial crimes in a court of law, the New Mexico Legislature can consider returning her name to the facility.”

This stance marks a shift from the Governor’s previous position in 2021, following the state charges against Williams Stapleton. 

At that time, Governor Lujan Grisham had expressed a more cautious approach, indicating that her office would refrain from “premature actions” given the principle that “Stapleton is innocent until proven guilty.”

Scroll to Top