Failed Dem candidate, husband blew public cash on lavish trips, luxuries

Western New Mexico University (WNMU), a small institution in Silver City, has come under scrutiny for extravagant spending by its administrators, revealed in a financial review by Searchlight New Mexico. The university, with around 3,500 students, has been spending substantial amounts on international trips and high-end furniture. Since 2018, WNMU President Joseph Shepard has embarked on trips to Zambia, Spain, and Greece in an effort to attract international students and their out-of-state tuition dollars. These trips, costing nearly $100,000 over the last five years, have involved other university executives, members of the WNMU Board of Regents, and Shepard’s wife, former CIA operations officer and Congressional candidate Valerie Plame, all funded by the university.

Locally, Shepard has utilized university funds, around $27,740, to furnish his on-campus residence at Seret and Sons, a Santa Fe retailer known for its luxurious offerings. Shepard defended the expense, emphasizing the need to entertain potential donors with an environment fitting their expectations. Despite the considerable costs incurred in travel, lodging, and furnishing, the university has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis on these expenditures. Only 64 of the current 3,500 students, less than 2% of the total student body, are international students, and more than a third of them come from Mexico.

Shepard justifies these expenses as long-term investments, contributing to a strategic plan to increase the school’s international population. He also emphasizes the importance of the president’s residence looking presidential for fundraising events. However, former university leaders and critics argue that this perceived opulence contradicts the region’s blue-collar history and economic reality, with nearly 30% of the town living below the poverty line.

In addition to international travel expenses, financial records reveal reservations at high-end hotels in the United States, including stays at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, a $12,000 expenditure to lease a 5,400-square-foot home in Santa Fe for two months, and a one-night stay at a Scottsdale, Arizona, resort accompanied by a $119 breakfast totaling over $1,000.

The university, founded in 1893, is located between the Gila National Forest and historic mines, emphasizing its mission to represent the diverse population of southwest New Mexico as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Shepard, who assumed the role of president in 2011, oversees a nearly $75 million budget and receives a $365,000 salary. Despite increased international relationships, particularly with Mexico, critics question the value of these expenditures, especially given the university’s 31% graduation rate. Concerns are also raised about the impact on local low-income students as tuition increases, and they argue that the budget could be more responsibly managed.

Shepard’s spending history faced legal challenges in 2018 when Brenda Findley, the university’s former vice president of business affairs, filed a lawsuit against the WNMU Board of Regents, alleging improprieties in the expenditure of public funds. The whistleblower suit was settled this summer with a payout exceeding $160,000 to Findley. Despite record levels of inflation and state-mandated employee raises, WNMU raised tuition by 3% the same month, further raising concerns about funding priorities and the impact on local students. Critics argue that Western New Mexico University, though potentially great, needs to focus on serving its local students rather than spending exorbitantly to attract students from other regions.

Two of NM’s three U.S. reps. refuse to vote to condemn antisemitism

Two out of New Mexico’s three congressional representatives refused to vote to condemn and denounce “the drastic rise of antisemitism in the United States and around the world,” with Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury (D-NM-01) being the only member of the delegation to vote for the measure.

The measure read that the U.S. House “strongly condemns and denounces all instances of antisemitism occurring in the United States and globally; (2) reaffirms and reiterates its strong support for the Jewish community at home and abroad; (3) calls on elected officials and world leaders to condemn and fight all forms of domestic and global antisemitism; (4) clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism; and (5) rejects all forms of terror, hate, discrimination, and harassment of members of the Jewish community.” 

Reps. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM-02) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM-03) voted “present,” while 311 members, including Stansbury, condemned and denounced antisemitism. Fourteen members voted against condemning antisemitism. Both Leger Fernandez and Vasquez did not have the stomach to take a stand against a rising barrage of hate and violence targeting Jews.

The same antisemitism both representatives have refused to condemn has shut down bakeries, canceled menorah lightings, and forced Jewish teachers into hiding, to name only a few instances of the rabid wave of violence. 

National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Delanie Bomar wrote following the shocking vote, “It shouldn’t be hard to condemn antisemitism, but apparently, for Gabe Vasquez, it’s too heavy a lift. Voters in New Mexico deserve better than this.”

Vasquez faces a tough 2024 election to keep his seat, with GOP former Congresswoman Yvette Herrell running to reclaim her former place in Congress after the far-left Democrat won in 2022 by around 2,000 votes. National leaders have come to Herrell’s aid in campaigning as Vasquez flounders with votes that will likely harm his reelection chances, including refusing to condemn antisemitism and refusing to vote for measures to curb sky-high prices for American consumers. 

Survey uncovers voters’ stance on GOP’s potential immigration focus

A recent poll conducted by News Nation/Decision Desk HQ News reveals that nearly one-third of voters feel that securing the border and addressing illegal immigration should be a top priority if Republicans win the White House and both chambers of Congress in the upcoming election. The survey found that 32 percent of respondents prioritize immigration, with 30 percent leaning towards prioritizing spending to combat inflation.

Within the Republican voter base, support for increased attention at the U.S.-Mexico border is even more pronounced, with 52 percent of Republican respondents indicating that border security should be a primary concern for GOP lawmakers post-election. This issue is exacerbated in border states, including New Mexico.

The survey delves into opinions on the effectiveness of building a wall along the southern border. Only 25 percent of respondents, regardless of party affiliation, believe that constructing a wall would help address the country’s border security issues if Republicans achieve a federal trifecta next year.

Regarding funding to address migrant-related problems, 53 percent of respondents support the federal government increasing funding to state and local governments. Notably, more Democratic voters (73 percent) support this funding compared to Republicans (38 percent).

Title: A dry wash in the high country to the east of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which is split between Hudspeth and Culberson counties in Texas, along the New Mexico border. Library of Congress via Wiki Commons.

The poll also highlights a divergence in views on government spending. A majority of respondents, both Democrats and Republicans, believe that government spending is currently out of control. The survey indicates that 55 percent of respondents feel that Congress must take action to bring down government spending, even if it involves shutting down the government.

When it comes to supporting a government shutdown to lower federal spending, 70 percent of Republicans are in favor, while 39 percent of Democrats share the same perspective.

The survey, conducted from November 26 to 27 among 3,200 registered voters, has a margin of error of two percentage points.

ABQ City Council triumphs after Dems flip votes, override Keller’s vetoes

In a surprising turn of events, Albuquerque City Council suspended the ongoing environmental justice rule hearing just one day into what was anticipated to be a weeklong discussion. 

The halt coincided with the council’s move to override Mayor Tim Keller’s recent vetoes concerning legislation aimed at reshaping the Air Quality Control Board, the very entity considering the environmental justice rule. 

A bill aimed to postpone the Air Quality Control Board’s consideration of an environmental justice regulation until February. Despite passing with a 5-4 vote on Nov. 8, falling short of a veto-proof majority, councilors later voted 7-2 to reinstate the moratorium.

Councilors Tammy Fiebelkorn and Isaac Benton dissented. However, a pivotal moment occurred when Democrat Councilors Klarissa Peña and Pat Davis changed their votes, resulting in a 6-3 decision to override the veto. This decision allowed for the removal of board members, with Fiebelkorn, Benton, and Davis opposing the move and Peña once again altering her vote.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Councilor Dan Lewis, aimed to replace current board members and postpone hearings on environmental justice regulations until February.

The board, comprised of seven members, was in the midst of a $49,000 contract for the hearing at the Albuquerque Convention Center. 

The contentious rule faced opposition from defense contractors, developers, and major employers like Kirtland Air Force Base, the University of New Mexico, and Sandia National Laboratories. 

Critics argued that the regulation was overly burdensome, potentially quadrupling permitting times, threatening economic development, and even impacting national security.

While some supported the need for “environmental justice” regulations, opponents criticized the proposed rule’s drafting process, claiming inadequate stakeholder involvement. The sudden suspension of the hearing raised concerns about its impact on ongoing discussions and decision-making processes.

New Mexico sheriff found dead in Santa Fe hotel room

​​Curry County Sheriff Mike Reeves was discovered deceased in a Santa Fe hotel room on Monday, where he had traveled for law enforcement training. At 59, Reeves, survived by his two sons, Collin and Hayden Reeves, and a daughter, Avery Reeves, left a void in the community. The cause of death has not been immediately disclosed, but Undersheriff Michael Brockett assured that no foul play is suspected. An autopsy is scheduled with the Office of the Medical Examiner in Albuquerque.

The news of Reeves’ passing led to an outpouring of grief from officials and colleagues. Curry County Manager Lance Pyle expressed the community’s heartbreak, acknowledging Reeves’ significant contributions to the county. Brockett will temporarily assume the sheriff’s duties until the Curry County Commission appoints a successor.

Reeves, who ran unopposed for the sheriff’s position in 2022, had a distinguished career spanning over 35 years in law enforcement. He commenced his journey with the Clovis Police Department in 1983 and later retired from the Curry County Sheriff’s Department in August 2018. Following Sheriff Wesley Waller’s retirement, Reeves decided to run for sheriff and succeeded him.

Sheriff Reeves’ career was marked by both accomplishments and challenging moments. Notably, he was among the initial responders to the mass shooting at the Clovis-Carver Library in August 2017, where he demonstrated valor and received a citation for his courageous actions. Reeves also ventured into the medical field, becoming a registered nurse in 2008, inspired by his own experiences during a hospital stay as a child.

In a 2018 interview, Reeves shared two poignant memories from his law enforcement career. One involved receiving a life-saving medal in 2008 for aiding a choking baby girl, and the other was the harrowing experience of responding to the library shooting. Reflecting on these incidents, Reeves emphasized the significant impact law enforcement and medical professionals can have on people’s lives when motivated by a positive intent.

Sheriff Mike Reeves leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication, with his passing eliciting reflections on his meaningful contributions to the community.

New Mexico unemployment claims just spiked

In the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor, it was revealed that initial filings for unemployment benefits in New Mexico experienced an increase during the week ending November 25 compared to the previous week. The data, considered a key indicator of job market dynamics, showed that new jobless claims in the state rose to 743, marking a notable uptick from the 586 claims recorded in the preceding week.

On a national scale, U.S. unemployment claims also registered an increase, reaching 218,000 in the same week. This marked a rise of 7,000 claims from the previous week, which had reported 211,000 claims. The figures are seasonally adjusted to account for variations in employment patterns that occur regularly throughout the year.

Notably, the state of Kansas stood out with the largest percentage increase in weekly claims, experiencing a significant surge of 91.0%. In contrast, Oregon saw a noteworthy decline in new claims, with a substantial 48.3% drop. These contrasting trends in different states highlight the dynamic and varied nature of the economic impact of the ongoing circumstances.

The reasons behind the increase in unemployment claims in New Mexico and other states are likely influenced by a range of factors, including shifts in local economic conditions, potential fluctuations in job availability, and broader macroeconomic trends. The data underscores the continued challenges and uncertainties facing the labor market as it navigates the complex landscape shaped by both the ongoing recovery efforts and the lingering effects of the recent global disruptions.

As policymakers and analysts assess these trends, the focus remains on supporting economic recovery measures and addressing the specific needs of communities facing heightened unemployment challenges. The evolving situation will be closely monitored for its implications on both regional and national economic recovery trajectories.

Lujan Grisham extends radical anti-gun edict

Democrat anti-gun Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has decided to extend an executive order declaring “gun violence” a public health emergency. The renewal, effective until December 29, 2023, underscores the governor’s attacks on lawful New Mexico gun owners’ rights.

Governor Lujan Grisham’s executive orders mandate collaboration among the Department of Health, Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Department of Public Safety, and Health Care Authority. While the renewal doesn’t introduce any alterations to the existing orders, it does maintain the current public health directives banning guns in parks, among other measures.

A notable absence during the signing was the governor herself, with Lt. Gov. Howie Morales taking on the responsibility in her absence. The decision to renew these executive orders comes at a time when gun control measures are a subject of intense debate across the nation.

New Mexicans who follow the Constitution note that executive actions infringe upon individual rights and bypass legislative processes designed to ensure democratic decision-making, along with total ignorance of inalienable constitutional rights. Moreover, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of labeling “gun violence” as a public health emergency and whether it is the most appropriate approach to tackling the complex social issues associated with it.

The governor promised to provide updates on the progress of initiatives addressing gun violence later this month. The orders, however, have produced no tangible changes to protect New Mexicans.

As Lujan Grisham continues her attacks on gun rights, the ongoing debate surrounding the governor’s executive orders is likely to persist in the next legislative session, with discussions centering on impeaching the governor for violating her oath and far-left Democrats seeking to take away New Mexicans’ rights.

Heinrich sponsors extremist anti-gun legislation banning most rifles

In a recent move that has stirred controversy, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, along with Democrat Senators Angus King of Maine, Mark Kelly of Arizona, and Michael Bennet of Colorado, introduced the extremist Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion (GOSAFE) Act to outlaw most firearms in the United States.

Heinrich claimed there is an urgent need for Congress to take away Americans’ right to bear arms by banning some of the most popular weapons in the country.

The proposed legislation will negatively impact law-abiding gun owners while neglecting the root causes of violence. 

The GOSAFE Act seeks to regulate gas-operated semi-automatic weapons by establishing a list of prohibited firearms, preventing unauthorized modifications, and mandating pre-approval for future designs. The bill has a few exceptions but still bans rifles with 10 rounds or more — a majority of AR-15s and other rifles. One in 20 Americans own an AR-15 rifle. Some of Heinrich’s exemptions in the radical legislation are listed below:

  • .22 caliber rimfire or less firearms  
  • Bolt action rifles  
  • Semi-automatic shotguns  
  • Recoil-operated handguns  
  • Any rifle with a permanently fixed magazine of 10 rounds or less  
  • Any shotgun with a permanently fixed magazine of 10 rounds or less  
  • Any handgun with a permanently fixed magazine of 15 rounds or less  

Controversially, the proposed legislation limits the capacity of large ammunition-feeding devices to 10 rounds or fewer and outlaws conversion devices, such as bump stocks and Glock switches. Additionally, it introduces a voluntary buy-back program to prevent stockpiling of firearms. Buyback programs are known to be ineffective. 

While Heinrich received support from various extremist anti-gun organizations, such as New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords, people who follow what the Second Amendment says argue that the bill overlooks the root causes of gun violence and certainly infringes on the rights of responsible gun owners.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) senior vice president, Lawrence G. Keane, wrote, “The legislation introduced by Senators King and Heinrich is openly defiant of the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. There is no path forward for legislation of this nature that would deprive law-abiding citizens the ability to lawfully possess the firearm of their choosing and the full spectrum of their Second Amendment rights,” adding, “This legislation is a knee-jerk reaction to a travesty (Lewiston, Maine incident), for which the American public is still demanding answers as to why the Lewiston murderer, who clearly showed signs of mental instability and professed to violent threats, was allowed by state and federal agencies to continue to possess firearms. Depriving law-abiding citizens of their Constitutional rights for the criminal acts of a depraved individual doesn’t make our communities safer.”

“This proposed legislation is clearly unconstitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court held in Heller that entire classes of firearms cannot be banned from legal sale and possession by law-abiding citizens,” concluded the NSSF. 

 The GOSAFE Act faces a challenging path ahead, stirring intense debate on its potential impact on firearm regulation and individual liberties. It is unclear if it will go far with Democrats leading the Senate and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. 

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.

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