New Mexico

Incompetent or Insolent? Providing our Governess with Guidance

My Dear New Mexicans,

When last I addressed you, a mere four days ago, calling attention to a deficit in our political leadership, perhaps I was too deferential. I largely refrained from calling our politicians to account by party affiliation or name. My hope was that speaking in generalities, exhibiting some restraint, and offering constructive suggestions on a less oppressive path forward, I might elicit a more measured and progressive approach to mitigating exposure to the COVID-19 virus. I suggested fostering a resumption of social and economic interactions is crucial to our ability to deal with this current manifestation of the virus. More importantly, though I didn’t state it explicitly, such a response would lay a foundation for our reaction should we face future outbreaks. Sadly, our Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham – Democrat, is continuing to fail us.

As I pointed out last time, what is essential depends on your unique circumstances. If you are a rancher or farmer working outdoors, having appropriate clothing to protect you from the elements is essential. Without it, you risk exposure to multiple hazards, ranging from UV radiation to insects and unnecessary scratches and scrapes which expose you to potentially dangerous infectious agents. That MLG-D’s stormtroopers…excuse me, our State Police…could issue a cease and desist order to Bar G Western Wear in Portales, a small, independent store serving one of the more remote areas of our State, should elicit outrage from every New Mexican. Admittedly, State Representative, Gregg Schmedes – Republican, commented “MLG, you’re wrong. These are the good guys, and they are ESSENTIAL. #TooFar,” and Steve Pearce – Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman, noted, “mom and pop stores in New Mexico need to be spoken for.” While correct in concept, these tepid challenges arrive far too late and are completely inadequate to the level of incompetence being demonstrated by our Governor.

But, there I go again, being differential. In characterizing MLG-D’s actions as incompetent, I may be giving her too much credit. I’m assuming that she recognizes the State’s need for leadership, but simply lacks the skills and fortitude to supply it.

There are two darker possibilities. The first: living in the Democrat Party leadership cesspool…excuse me, bubble…MLG-D is completely ignorant of the needs of the vast majority of her constituents and thus incapable of recognizing where to lead us. The second: MLG-D recognizes our needs, but for personal and political gain she chooses to ignore them.

Regardless of the reason, it is we, the citizens of New Mexico, who are continuing to pay a heavy price.

We need to be the leadership for New Mexico.  Therefore, I would like to direct you to the following website www.orangenm.com and visit the New Mexico Counties Infections tab.  I have joined up with a Pathologist, Dr. Vann Schaffner as well as Darryl Dunlap, Founder of the New Mexico Patriots, to provide guidance to make a recommendation for our Governor to open up business for New Mexicans.

We have 33 counties and alongside President Donald Trump’s 3 phase “Opening Up America Again” there are certain counties that should never had a shelter in place order.  For example, any county that has not had one single infection. They are the following: Guadalupe, De Baca, Union, Sierra, Mora, and Harding. Each of those counties needs to be opened up immediately.

We should also open up any county that has less than 1 in 25,000 infection ratio in their county.  This is on a 7 day running average and is divided against the total population of that county. For example, Bernalillo County 1 in 30,302 people will be infected with the Corona Virus where McKinley County has a 1 in 2,998 people are infected on a 7 day running average.  These are two distinctly different situations and should be treated as such.

Each of these counties where more than 1 in 25,000 are infected should continue along the same path we are currently on as a state.  The counties are the following: Cibola, McKinley, Sandoval, San Juan, Socorro, and Torrance.

We need to continue to advocate for this data-driven decision on behalf of our citizens and business owners who desperately need to get back to business as usual.  These recommendations also provide a goal for those who haven’t met these criteria and obviously rewards those counties which have achieved a level of containment we can all live with.  Along with the President’s 3 Phase “Opening Up America Again” guidance we should be back to normal here in this beautiful state.

Eddy Aragon is the afternoon host of “The Rock of Talk” which airs on his radio station in Albuquerque, 93.7 FM/AM 1600 KIVA.  He’s a graduate of the University of New Mexico with degrees in Political Science and Economics. He has been recognized by the Albuquerque Journal as Radio Personality of the Year every year since 2017.  He has appeared on Fox News, CNN and over 40 radio shows throughout the country. Eddy is an 11th Generation New Mexican. He can be reached at: rockoftalk@me.com.

Opinions offered by Piñon Post contributors in no way, shape, or form represent the viewpoints of the publication or its editorial staff. Submit an op-ed to the Piñon Post at: news@pinonpost.com.

Las Cruces bishop first in U.S. to resume Mass as MLG’s State Police hunt down church ban defiers

On Wednesday, Las Cruces Bishop Peter Baldacchino advised his priests to resume their ministry, in accordance with state-ordered health guidelines, making it clear he does not agree with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order of no more than five people congregating in one place. 

“We [as priests] have been called by Christ and ordained to serve the people of the Diocese of Las Cruces, to bring them hope and consolation during this difficult time,” Baldacchino wrote.

“In the events of these days and weeks the Lord is calling us out of our comfort zone, he is calling us to seek new ways to reach the people. In addition to this mission with which we are entrusted, we also have the mission to keep people safe. The two must be equally pursued.” 

“While it is true that we need to take every reasonable precaution to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, it is equally true that we offer the greatest ‘essential service’ to our people. The past few weeks have brought to light many unintended consequences of the ‘stay-at-home’ order,” he continued.

According to the Catholic News Agency, “Baldacchino is the first U.S. bishop known to have amended a previously declared diocesan ban on public Masses since the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the U.S. last month.”

The news comes amid Gov. Lujan Grisham sending State Police out to hunt down people of faith who are defying her ban on church gatherings announced the day before Easter Sunday.

In the Governor’s announcement of the ban, she said she wanted to make clear that “home is also holy,” mentioning the Jewish Passover and the Islamic Ramadan as other holy occasions. The announcement just so happened to come out the same day the Albuquerque Journal published an op-ed from a leftist columnist who harassed an elderly pro-life man, where she echoed much of the same language in the piece. 

Audio obtained by KIVA 93.7 FM/1600 AM’s “Rock of Talk” host Eddy Aragon, shows state police calling churches, saying they’ve had “complaints” that the churches have remained open, and they must suspend all gatherings immediately.

In once call from an “Officer Price” to the New Hope Revival Church, he informs the church they are “non-essential and this business should be closed down until further notice until this epidemic is over and completed.”

 Another call from Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office to Pastor Jeff Carr of Mesa Baptist Church in Rio Rancho informs the church of the Governor’s order while giving guidelines that are supported, including “online services, drive-in services where people remain in the car with their windows rolled up… or listen to a radio service, honk their horns for ‘Amen!’ and so on.”

On Monday, Legacy Church in Albuquerque filed a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico claiming Gov. Lujan Grisham violated the First Amendment protecting their freedom of religion. Head Pastor Steve Smothermon said, “Really what I consider a very egregious act on her part that at 5 o’clock on Saturday she puts out this new order for churches basically not making churches essential when they were before, and she does it on the eve of Easter.” 

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a statement on social distancing and religious practices in light of a church in Greenville, Mississippi where congregants were fined $500 for participating in a church service from their cars. “Even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” wrote Barr. 

The Las Cruces Bishop’s decision to resume Catholic mass services will test what lengths Gov. Lujan Grisham is willing to go to clamp down on religious believers practicing their faith, as she is allegedly a member of the Catholic faith.

Dems cry ‘voter suppression’ after Dem-majority NM Supreme Court blocks all-mail election

On Tuesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court dealt Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and the Democrat Party a crippling blow in their attempt to use the COVID-19 pandemic to push for an all mail-in ballot election, despite New Mexico’s ancient voter records.

The Court unanimously sided with the Republican Party of New Mexico, with Chief Justice Judith Nakamura saying, “The relief that is requested is specifically prohibited by New Mexico statute … which says that a mail ballot shall not be delivered by the county clerk to anyone other than the applicant for the ballot.”

The Court found a solution to the pandemic concerns with in-person voting by ruling that the state should send out absentee ballot applications to be filled out and sent back, which both followed current statute and curbs potential for widespread fraud. 

A deep-dive from the Public Interest Legal Foundation found countless instances of inconsistencies in the New Mexico voter rolls, with 3,168 registrants flagged with duplicate concerns, 1,681 dead residents, 1,519 voters aged over 100 years old, 64 of which are aged over 120, and 188 registered with a commercial address. — # of Registrations flagged for duplicate concerns: 3,168

The Republican Party of New Mexico hailed the Supreme Court’s decision, writing in a statement, “The court’s refusal to rewrite New Mexico election law—to allow the unsolicited mailing of live ballots as part of an all vote-by-mail (VBM) election–shows the proper respect for the importance of election integrity, even in the face of the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

The hard-left dark money Democrat Party-linked 501c4 nonprofit “ProgressNow NM” bemoaned the Court’s decision to follow written law, claiming “this is a rough day for democracy in New Mexico,” despite the ability of citizens to vote legally with absentee ballot applications.

Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver sent out a statement begrudgingly accepting the decision, saying, “My office will comply with the court’s order and mail absentee ballot applications to all voters registered with a major political party. That’s why it’s important that eligible voters register to vote or update their voter registrations by May 5.”

The Democrat Party of New Mexico sent out a statement once again using the COVID-19 crisis as a pelting board to launch attacks at the Republican Party. The statement claimed the NM GOP is attempting to “suppress the vote,” despite the Party asking for the Court to rule in the bounds of current law. 
The New Mexico Supreme Court is made up of four Democrats and one Republican.

‘Mom and pop’ shops selling necessary goods served with cease and desist orders by Gov. MLG

On Monday, farming and ranching store Bar G Western Wear in Portales announced via Facebook that they had been served with a cease and desist order by State Police for keeping their doors open. The store sells essential items needed by farmers and ranchers to keep their businesses running.

Bar G Western Wear’s post reads, “Soooo folks… we’ve just been served with a CEASE and DESIST order! Apparently there were several complaints against us. (Snitches/Busybodies…..who would have thought). The NM State Police were very professional and nice. We will pursue this further. Thanks for the overwhelming support!”

State Rep. Gregg Schmedes (R-Tijeras) responded to the news with outrage, writing, “Apparently Governor Grisham doesn’t believe farmers & ranchers are essential. Where are they supposed to go to get supplies and work clothes? MLG, you’re wrong. These are the good guys, and they are ESSENTIAL. #TooFar”

Apparently Governor Grisham doesn't believe farmers & ranchers are essential. Where are they supposed to go to get…

Posted by Representative Gregg Schmedes on Monday, April 13, 2020

The Republican Party of New Mexico has pushed back on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s orders that allow large corporations like Walmart to keep their doors open during COVID-19, while small “mom and pop” shops are hurting, many being sent cease and desist orders if they remain open to provide essential goods and services to their communities.

“Somewhere the Main Street owners of mom and pop stores in New Mexico need to be spoken for,” said Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce. 

Lujan Grisham’s office shrugged off the concerns by writing, “Any half-thought-out proposal about picking winners and losers and allowing partial closures … will lead to more illnesses and more death.”

Ex-ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez to SD Governor: ‘We don’t care if we make you sick’ with COVID-19

On Monday and Tuesday, former Democrat Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez took to Twitter to defend the policies of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and to go after Republican governors with whom he disagrees.

Early Tuesday morning, Chavez responded to a Twitter video from Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem giving South Dakotans information on how they can slow the spread of coronavirus. He wrote in response, “North Dakota – we don’t care if we make you sick.” Chavez apparently meant to direct his aggression at South Dakotans, despite him writing “North Dakota.”

Gov. Noem has not issued a mandated “stay-at-home” order for her state, despite heavy criticism from Democrats, despite the measures put in place by Noem have cut initial projected infection rates in South Dakota. Noem says Dr. Anthony Fauci has applauded her response to COVID-19.

Noem’s response differs greatly to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s mandates, including a stay-at-home order, and State Police is tasked with enforcing the guidelines by citing businesses disobeying the order, with civil penalties of up to $5,000. 

Lujan Grisham has taken heavy criticism in recent days over banning church gatherings the day before Easter Sunday and allowing abortion facilities to kill babies through abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the CDC guidelines to “Delay inpatient and outpatient elective surgical and procedural cases.” Abortion is never medically necessary and thus is an elective procedure.

But despite the deadly pandemic, Chavez is defending the Governor’s proposals, writing on Twitter in response to a Republican U.S. Senate candidate decrying the Governor’s order, “Your solution being to allow mass gatherings as long as people are praying?  Hilarious.” It appears Chavez is mocking people of faith for praying on Easter, a Constitutionally-protected religious freedom.

On Monday, Legacy Church in Albuquerque filed a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico for violating their First Amendment right to religious freedom.

In response to a commenter criticizing Lujan Grisham keeping abortion clinics open while banning church services, Chavez wrote, “A doctor and his or her patient making an important health care decision versus 300 or so people who gather, infect and spread killer disease to thousands. Not really the same.”

Chavez’s tweet may be seen by many as ironic, since abortion is the act of killing a human baby through unnatural measures, while he is trying to make the case that the “important health care decision” to kill the child is necessary during a deadly pandemic.

On Good Friday, Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO) late-term abortion clinic had a full parking lot, thanks to the governor’s order. SWO ends babies’ lives up-to and after 7 months gestational age. 

SHOCKING: New Mexico Abortion Clinic Packed on Good Friday, Out-of-State Clients Travel to Obtain Elective Abortions During Pandemic.

Posted by New Mexico Alliance for Life on Friday, April 10, 2020

New Mexico’s Real Crisis: Political Leadership

Dear New Mexicans,

You fear we are in the midst of a crisis. Sadly, I must confirm your fear…to an extent. It is true we are in the midst of a crisis. But it is not the crisis you have been led to believe. And we have brought some of this on ourselves.

We, the citizens of this Land of Enchantment, are in a crisis of leadership. It is not a new problem, either. But the current circumstances have brought it to the fore, if not into focus.

I would suggest that the reason we can’t bring the cause of our crisis into focus is we have accepted a false characterization of politics in our fair state. We like to think we are like the rest of the country in having a bipartisan government. We have elections, some members of the minority party win positions, there are some communities where the minority party holds local control, and we call that bipartisan. But our State government isn’t bipartisan. Partisan politics in Santa Fe is pervasive, and casts a pall over our entire state, negating most local power. That creates a dysfunctional dynamic at the root of our leadership problem.

Before my assessment is dismissed as rantings of a lone-wolf, conspiracy theorist, I will tell you that I am not alone. There are many voices in the state raising similar concerns. The fact that they are so easily muted in the political debate is, in fact, a primary piece of evidence that my premise is correct. How the muting occurs is not my focus today.

Returning to my main point, I would suggest our state government dysfunction has been growing for decades. Reviewing some legislative history may help shine a light on how our government has evolved.

Forty years ago, Representatives from both parties formed a coalition and ousted the sitting Speaker of the House. The new Speaker, also from the majority party, appointed committee chairmen from both sides of the aisle. That coalition-led House passed proposed legislation, sent it to the Senate, compromises on issues were made, and final bills went on the Governor to be signed.

Everybody did their job in good faith. That is the way bipartisan government is supposed to work.

By contrast, a few years ago, for the first time in 60 years, the minority political party in our state won a majority of seats in our House of Representatives. It lasted for one term, or two short years. It has been alleged that because of the minority party’s failings in the House, the legislature failed to accomplish important work during that period. But it is a fact that the House passed well over 100 proposed pieces of legislation, sent them to the majority-party controlled Senate to be addressed, and the leadership of the Senate prevented those bills from being reported out of committee for consideration. In many cases, committee chairmen, who were appointed by the majority-party’s leader in the Senate, didn’t allow the proposals to be brought up in the committee proceedings.

To me, it sounds like the House did its job, and the Senate didn’t. That is New Mexico partisan politics.

How did it come to this? How has our state’s political environment deteriorated so far? I suspect the genesis may actually be partially attributable to the events 40 years ago. But again, that is not my focus today.

The unfortunate fact is, due to this deterioration in our political environment many of our current government leaders have marinated in the poisonous juices of disdain for those outside of their own party for years. That is not only a recipe for partisan government, it is a recipe for bad leadership. For, if you are closed to considering the opposition’s positions, you build potentially dangerous bias into your decision making.

If you don’t think that is significant, let’s look at a consequence of our most recent legislative session. As a result of the actions of our legislature, with both houses controlled by the state’s majority party, and our governor, also a member of the majority party, we citizens are facing an increase in the state budget from $6.4 billion to $7.7 billion. That’s a 16.8 percent increase year over year. We were told this was justified because it could be covered by a budget surplus, which surplus was due to increased revenues associated with the performance of a strong oil industry. However, the surplus actually wasn’t sufficient to cover all the new expenditures, so a tax increase was also required. Additionally, a significant amount of legislation included in the output of this session is designed to kill the oil industry within the next 20 years. There were minority voices warning that it was imprudent to use a short-term windfall from a volatile industry, which you plan to abolish as quickly as possible, to justify committing to long-term expenditures. They were ignored. Partisanship ruled the session.

So, along comes a crisis, and it’s still not the one you are thinking of. The bottom has dropped out of the oil market, and the golden goose that was necessary to support the poorly conceived spending increases has died far earlier than planned. We are looking at having to call a special legislative session. And the cause of this catastrophe is outside of our control. Russia and OPEC are having a spat over oil production, and there’s not much anyone but Russia and OPEC can do about it. A special session means expenses to pay when the problem is we don’t have money to begin with. It also means allowing the same partisans, who made poor decisions during the first session, to try and undo the fiscal mess they created.

If only we had a leader who could have seen that committing the entire surplus, and then some, to ongoing new programs wasn’t a good idea. If only we had a leader who could see beyond the political capital that could be generated by spending it all. If only we had a leader who had instead chosen not to commit us, the citizens of the state, to pay for these projects.

Maybe, with the expense of a special session, some of the poor decision making can be reversed. Maybe, but there is a complication. You may have heard we have ourselves a good, old fashioned pandemic. You know the one: COVID-19. Our Governor has issued a statewide stay-at-home order. But, it seems that our state constitution may not allow a special session to occur while complying with that order.

Nor should it. Carrying on debate requires communication, even amongst partisans. Most of what we communicate comes not through the words, but through non-verbal aspects of interaction such as tone or inflection, facial expressions, and body posture. These are lost, to one degree or another, with all communication at a distance.

And now, let me move from generalities, to specifics, and to the situation which is currently causing so much fear in our state. Our Governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to issue a stay-at-home order. In so doing, I believe she is failing to meet her leadership responsibilities to the citizens of New Mexico. I would attribute her failure in part to the dysfunctional partisan political-think which is so pervasive in our higher levels of government; it allows her to discount opinions coming from political rivals too easily. I also believe she isn’t looking beyond the information being given to her regarding the potential impact of the virus and placing it in a proper perspective relative to the multitude of other elements that contribute to our New Mexican society.

I would suggest on, the legislative front, she needs to call the special session and charge the two chambers with cutting the budget by 40%. I would also urge her and Mayor Keller to cut the State and City employees by the same proportion as the private sector has suffered.  To facilitate this, she needs to rescind the restrictions of the stay-at-home order as it might apply to the session. The members of the two houses are presumably adults and capable of taking appropriate precautions to conduct business while minimizing their risk.

For the rest of us, extending the stay-at-home order indefinitely, as she seems willing to do, is not a solution. It is costing jobs and businesses, and the longer it is kept in place, the greater the losses will be. As a consequence, it is going to cause social costs in disruption of families and emotional and health tolls that will be felt in the state for years.

Make no mistake, using people’s fears to justify imposing such measures is not leadership. The Governor keeps saying that we must accept strict compliance with her directive because it is unacceptable for one person to die from COVID-19 who might not have. Exactly the same logic can be used to justify banning private cars so not one more person dies in an auto accident who might not have. Before you claim that the two are different, consider the facts. We know that most people who get in a private car will not die, just as we know most people who contract COVID-19 will not die. We know that some people will die from both. We allow people to drive anyway but recommend they observe precautions, such as driving the speed limit or buying a safer car or staying at home, and we are supposed to incarcerate people who recklessly endanger others. We know that there are precautions we can take to limit the risks from COVID-19, such as wearing a mask and gloves in public or maintaining social distancing or staying at home. If we are adults enough to make the decision about driving, then why does the Governor get to make the decision regarding COVID-19. We would not accept her infringing our freedom if she attempted to place a ban on driving. Why should we accept her judgment regarding the stay-at-home order?

For those who say, aren’t things terrible in New York City, I say, yes. But that is not terribly relevant to discussing New Mexico’s situation. New York City has a population of approximately 8.4 million people living in an area of 302.6 square miles. New Mexico has a population of 2.1 million people living in an area of 121,697 square miles. New York City has a 98-story residential building, amongst multiple buildings over 50-stories. New Mexico has one 22-story building. That means, in New Mexico we have one-quarter of the population spread over 400 times the space. The solution to maintaining social distancing in New Mexico is vastly different than what will work in New York City.

Of course, there’s also the flip-side of the Governor’s “not one death that might have been prevented” argument. Who will you give the right to decide who will die? I admit, I don’t have that right. But every Governor in the country, whether they are conscious of it or not, makes exactly that decision when they address health care and countless other issues under their control. Every decision allocating funds to one priority and not another has the potential to impact someone in a life-or-death matter. It’s part of the job. We should elect Governors who will make decisions in an adult manner, and not like a spoiled child loose in a candy store. Or worse, like a frightened child.

Grave times require courage, from leaders and citizens alike. When he accepted the position of Prime Minister in 1940, Sir Winston Churchill could have saved the lives of thousands of British military personnel and civilians who would die continuing the fight against Germany. He could have capitulated. But what would the cost have been? We think we know, with the benefit of hindsight. He had no way to be certain. However, when the new Prime Minister first spoke to Parliament that May, he clearly understood the gravity of his decision. He told them and the British citizens, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” But there was something just important he didn’t tell them. He didn’t tell them to go and hide in their homes. Nor did they.

Here’s a final observation regarding the stay-at-home order. How exactly do you decide which “essential” businesses should remain open? The fact is, nothing is essential until you need it. Air isn’t essential until you are hypoxic. Water isn’t essential until you are dehydrated. Food isn’t essential until you are hypoglycemic. A plumber isn’t essential until your toilet backs up. A dentist isn’t essential until you have an abscessed tooth. A new car isn’t essential until your old one breaks down. Your elective joint-replacement surgery isn’t essential until the pain and debility cause you to fall trying to go to the bathroom, and the intracranial hemorrhage from hitting your head kills you. A new recliner isn’t essential unless you are spending hours at home because the Governor has ordered you to lock yourself in. It’s a constantly changing continuum, and the Governor doesn’t know what your essentials are. In some cases, her failure to recognize yours will kill you as certainly as COVID-19. But, in such a circumstance, your death won’t be counted in the COVID-19 toll, nor will she be held accountable. There are also problems with her definition of essential. For example, with apologies to the industry, ask yourself the question, how many more people are involved in preparing your food if you get it from a restaurant?

I have another essential for you. This is especially true in our interconnected society. Human interaction isn’t essential unless you want to stay alive.

So, let’s tie this together. I would argue that the impending financial crisis our state is facing is a result of poor leadership. The financial issue’s existence is obscured, and its potential long-term impact is exacerbated, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the turmoil created by the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Her leadership style, in particular, is inadequate to the task at hand. Her partisan political training allows her to tune out conflicting views from outside her circle of advisors and justify forcing New Mexicans to stay at home, thinking she is going to save them. She is apparently too afraid to take responsibility for making the difficult decisions that would allow most of us to continue to work and sustain the socioeconomic activities that provide resources we will desperately need if we are to continue responding to these and future challenges.

Another leader, coincidentally a close friend of Churchill’s, once told this nation, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I would hope that we New Mexicans can stop being fearful. Some damage is irreversibly done. But, with good leadership, the damage doesn’t have to continue indefinitely. Instead of prolonging her edict, the Governor should be developing processes and procedures to hasten a return to productive activity for all citizens, and preparing us for that return. We can build on the strategies that have been employed to manage risk in those businesses that have remained open, and translate them to many other settings. We can also acknowledge that our unique circumstances dictate that our solutions should not be the same as what is done in New York City. Ultimately, success in negotiating these grave times will not be measured by how few deaths are finally attributed to COVID-19, but by how little we allow these circumstances to damage the fabric of our New Mexican culture.

Happy Easter Monday!

Eddy Aragon is the afternoon host of “The Rock of Talk” which airs on his radio station in Albuquerque, 93.7 FM/AM 1600 KIVA.  He’s a graduate of the University of New Mexico with degrees in Political Science and Economics.  He has been recognized by the Albuquerque Journal as Radio Personality of the Year every year since 2017.  He has appeared on Fox News, CNN and over 40 radio shows throughout the country.  Eddy is an 11th Generation New Mexican.  He can be reached at: rockoftalk@me.com

Opinions offered by Piñon Post contributors in no way, shape, or form represent the viewpoints of the publication or its editorial staff. Submit an op-ed to the Piñon Post at: news@pinonpost.com.

MLG says Trump doesn’t have ‘national strategy,’ talks up Biden presidency on Easter CNN interview

On Easter Sunday, one day after banning New Mexico from attending Church services, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined Jake Tapper for an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Right off the bat, Lujan Grisham offered criticisms of the Trump Administration, accusing the President of not having a “national strategy.” She said, “If we had better national strategies and better national data, and universal testing, and software [inaudible] contract tracing, then we can really figure out when opening makes sense.” 

When pressed about her administration using Descartes Labs to track New Mexicans through cell phone data in order to gather information about social distancing and citizens’ privacy concerns, Lujan Grisham went on the defensive. She said:

“Some folks got confused that somehow this is state data and [a] state effort, and it isn’t. It’s also aggregate cell phone data for the entire country. And Descartes Labs is a data — large data firm and they do incredible work managing any huge types of information that can be beneficial. So we treat this as a tool that allows us to figure out whether our social distancing — more than just looking at the cases, but looking at where people are traveling, how long people are traveling, and get a sense about whether we need to do something else that limits person-to-person contact and enhances our social distancing. In terms of oversight, if it was anything that we thought in this company or anybody else that was breaching already robust federal or state laws protecting privacy, a) we wouldn’t have a relationship, and b) we would do the appropriate accountability, but they’re just using aggregate data. We don’t have any idea who any of the cell phone numbers belong to — not just in New Mexico but nowhere in the country.”

Some have made the case that the use of grading counties by compliance to “social distancing” disproportionately affects rural New Mexicans who have to drive long distances to reach grocery stores and other “essential” businesses, as opposed to people in urban areas who have a shorter distance to drive to get these essential items.

When asked about Joe Biden potentially picking her as his vice-presidential running mate, and if she would accept the nomination, Lujan Grisham answered, “ Well, I will do this: I think that you want a vice president who was much like former vice president Biden. He knew how to govern, he had done a ton of work as a senator and in local government as well, and I think those are incredible attributes. I want to be the governor of New Mexico. I will do whatever it takes to support a Biden administration, and I’m looking forward to a federal administration that can do a national strategy in good times and in bad times both.”

NM leaders respond with outrage after MLG bans church services on eve of Easter

On Saturday evening, the eve of the Easter holiday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she is banning all religious gatherings of five people or more.

Despite many church services already canceling their Easter gatherings, Lujan Grisham rescinded her previous exception for religious services, writing, “absolutely clear that mass gatherings of any type are not permitted in houses of worship.”

“We know that you want to practice your faith, as you should. But this year we must remember that home is holy. The best thing you can do for your community is to stay there,” she continued.

But many New Mexico leaders did not take kindly to the Governor’s unilateral decision to ban people from practicing their faith on Easter, citing that her limit of only five people gathering would cripple churches planning on streaming live online services which would require more than five people to put together.

House Republican Whip Rep. Rod Montoya wrote in a statement, “Governor, despite what you think, these services are essential! To make this decision the day before Easter is egregious.  I am advising churches across our state to continue to produce and offer online services going forward; this order today cannot and will not stand.”

Rep. David Gallegos wrote on Facebook on Saturday, “With just a few hours to go before Easter Sunday, the Governor’s office sent out an emergency executive order adding churches and places of worship to her list of banned mass gatherings. It’s impossible for churches to produce services they can film or livestream with 5 people or less in a room. Doing this the day before Easter is just the wrong thing to do. We need to stand up to the Governor. She has gone too far.” 

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Although church services are now banned on a state level by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, abortion clinics are allowed to stay open, despite health concerns.

MLG ‘expects’ all New Mexicans to celebrate Easter at home, proclaims Easter Bunny as ‘essential service’

On Saturday Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham published a video on Twitter wishing the state a happy Easter with a surprise appearance from the Easter Bunny.

“I want to first thank the faith-based community for supporting us directly and making sure that we’re clear that home is also holy,” said Lujan Grisham.

“We have signed a proclamation that the Easter Bunny delivering goodies and baskets statewide is considered an essential service or this Easter holiday weekend,” explained the Governor. 

Later in the video, she was joined by the Easter Bunny, wishing everyone a “Happy Easter.”

Lujan Grisham’s tweet reads, “This Easter, home is the holy place. I expect all New Mexicans to stay safe by staying home to celebrate, not gathering with friends and family. Together, we will have a safe and happy Easter – by staying apart. BUT tell the kids not to worry: the Easter Bunny is essential!”

NM gun groups sue MLG after she orders closure of all firearm stores and shooting ranges

On Friday, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, representing the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, and various New Mexico retailers filed a lawsuit against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her closure of firearm stores and shooting ranges. 

According to her order, which was extended to April 30, she classifies the businesses as “non-essential,” despite the U.S. Department of Homeland Security affirming that such businesses are, indeed, essential. 

“The government has no duty to protect you, and coronavirus-related impacts to law enforcement could be significant, so times like now are precisely when people must be able to acquire self-defense tools to defend their lives and homes,” FPC President Brandon Combs said. “We are proud to participate in this important case to defend the people’s right to keep and bear arms against government abuses in New Mexico.”

“Grisham has used this crisis to continue her assault on the rights of law-abiding citizens while other Democratic governors in states such as Colorado have deemed these establishments “essential” and actually protected their residents’ right to purchase and own guns,” writes the NRA.

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