Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Peril For Spaceport; Report Says Engine Issues Could Stall Launches Even More, Plus: Bashing Balderas; Reader Reports On Latest Push Poll, And: Rumblings Over Martinez Education Reforms; APS Board Member Korte Enters The Ring 

Need something to worry about today? How about the future of the New Mexico Spaceport, where the launch of tourists into suborbital space remains an elusive promise: The news:

The effort has already lasted nine years--one year longer than it took for NASA to land men on the moon. The vehicle has flown only twice under power for short durations at relatively low altitudes. Commercial service scheduled to begin around 2007 has now slipped into 2014.

Even that estimate is questionable. Sources tell Parabolic Arc that the rubber-nitrous oxide hybrid engine being used for flight test isn’t powerful enough to get SpaceShipTwo into space with any sort of payload. Alternatives are now under development, but it’s not clear whether or when they might be available for flight test.

Nine years of promises to give people the rides of their lives, and they still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up to space and the engine only lasts for 20 seconds. That’s not a pretty image.

Are New Mexicans (and their government leaders) aware of these new difficulties that Virgin Galactic faces in getting tourists into suborbital space--tourists who are paying up to $250,000?

Well, they are now....


ABQ Reader Cheryl Haaker reports being polled this week regarding the '14 attorney general's race. State Auditor Hector Balderas is the sole announced Dem candidate. Clovis area Republican District Attorney Matt Chandler is weighing a run. Reports Cheryl:

I had to give my opinions of (Dem Guv candidate and attorney general) Gary King, Hector Balderas, and Matt Chandler. I had to rule on a series of positive campaign-style statements about Chandler and Balderas. I had to endure a long litany of the "crimes" of  Auditor Balderas. After each one I was asked if it would "make me more or less likely to vote for him?" There was no similar list of Chandler wrongs, and frankly, I had a hard time believing most of the Balderas allegations, as they were new to me, and I'm a political junkie.

Another part of the survey dealt with the teacher evaluation system, going through a long list of statements and "how convincing would you find this argument."

It struck me as being a classic "push poll," possibly by Chandler, possibly by the Martinez campaign staff. Although these things can really be annoying, I try to make it all the way through, so they get at least one bleeding heart liberal response!


Kathy Korte
Speaking of that new teacher evaluation system, reader Samantha Reinhardt writes:

Hi Joe, I have been an avid reader for many years but this is my first time writing. I think you should start paying attention to the movement to rally against the state Public Education Department in Santa Fe relating to teachers and students in public education.

At best, this is a travesty against our public education system. At worst, this is becoming a full on war on teachers and families by the public education department. I have joined a few Facebook groups in support of this critical cause and I am actually sickened to see how many teachers are threatening to quit based on what's going on right now.

Resources I have found include this this, this, and this.

Thanks for that, Samantha.

We're running a pic of ABQ public school board member Kathy Korte with this report because she is emerging as a statewide voice for those rallying against certain PED reforms, including mandated year-end student testing.

Korte's firm opposition to the Martinez administration reforms drew the wrath of the ABQ Journal which came with a foot-long hot dog of an editorial raging against her and APS Superintendent Winston Brooks. They both argue that the reforms are destroying teacher morale.

Anytime you get the foot-long treatment, you're hitting a raw nerve. By the way, Korte is an independent.


They're coming for the House. Governor Martinez's SusanaPAC has raised $313,000 in the recent 6 month fundraising period and is using much of it to try to pick up the handful of seats the GOP needs to take over the NM House of Representatives. Democratic House Speaker Kenny Martinez reports raising $171,000 in the last six months to fend off the Guv and keep his job .

The Speaker's PAC reports about $121,000 cash on hand, with SusanaPAC reporting $129,000 in cash.

All 70 House seats are up for election next year. A pick up of even two could give the R's a shot at forming a coalition with a couple of Dems and giving the gavel to the GOP.

Last year a Martinez PAC spent over $2 million on legislative races while Dem interests dumped in $1.4 million. It's going to be intense again in '14 when a lower voter turnout helps the GOP cause.


The pain finally ended last night for southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce when the Congress voted to end the government shutdown and also avoided a debt crisis. But Pearce. a member of the so-called "Suicide Caucus"--dubbed because of its hard-line stance during the crisis--only gets short term relief. The battle will be joined yet again early in the new year when yesterday's agreements expire. (Pearce was among those voting not to reopen the government).

It's been a terrible time for Pearce who is an ultra-conservative in a district that is slowly changing. His efforts during the shutdown to explain himself led to a number of political bumbles that have him looking more vulnerable than when the crisis began.

Will Pearce endure more damage if in early 2014 we repeat the sorry scenario of the past few weeks?


More on the matter of there being no provisional ballots in ABQ elections as there are in state elections. Here's reader Don Schiff, an ABQ Democratic ward chair:

There is only one reason to issue a provisional ballot in Albuquerque city elections: when the voter has not brought their photo ID to the polls. They must then bring their ID to the City Clerk's office within 7 days for their vote to be counted. Generally voters will go home to retrieve their ID if they can. However, at the end of the day some voters will not be able to return in time to vote. So they vote provisionally. 3 of 1045 voters at Bandelier Elementary, where I served as Presiding Judge, chose to vote a provisional ballot. All of them did so after 6:30 pm.


Agnes Maldonado is out, report several reliable Alligators. The executive director of the NM Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, had a chaotic rein which led to her ouster, they inform.

Maldonado is the sister of former ABQ Dem State Sen. Bernadette Sanchez. She previously served as director of administration for NM Expo. She has close ties to the Martinez political operation, having done work for SusanaPAC. Agnes has made the rounds of La Politica. She made headlines in 2007 during the Big Bill reign when she was ousted from her post as director of the NM Coalition Against Domestic Violence...

We said Wednesday that Mayor Berry had won the mayor's race Oct. 8 with the biggest totals in "state" history. Of course, we meant city history....Word comes to us of the untimely death of our old friend Alfredo Santistevan. He headed the ABQ Environmental Health Department under Mayor Chavez and was a longtime Democratic activist. Friends say Santistevan, an ABQ resident, died in Taos. He was 61.

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