The MLG COVID response “defense” that isn’t

At the Rio Grande Foundation we LOVE it when we appear in media outlets thanks to writings of others. It means that we’ve hit a nerve and that people are paying attention. Unfortunately, papers don’t always give us an opportunity to respond, so we respond HERE.

The latest is a piece by “democracy activist” John House and it is in the Santa Fe New Mexican. The author calls it “A defense of the Gov’s pandemic actions,” but it really is no such thing. The author mostly wishes to discount the content of a deposition by Health Secretary Tracie Collins that we published online, but he doesn’t actually make any salient points. Instead he makes the red-herring argument that Sen. Cliff Pirtle and RGF believe that absent the Gov.’s lockdown policies, the economy would be “just fine.”

In reality, there would have been impacts from the Virus alone, but with locked-down New Mexico and other “blue” states having the highest unemployment rates and more open “red” states having the lowest, he clearly glosses over the impact of the Gov.’s policies. Just to be clear, New Mexico now has the 13th-highest death rate from COVID, so MLG’s lockdown policies haven’t exactly succeeded.

Way back in April of 2020, the Rio Grande Foundation outlined an alternative approach to fighting COVID 19 in New Mexico. We called it “Fairly Open.” It involved being fair with businesses and allowing them to innovate. It meant being open and transparent about the data being used and working to explain her decisions to the people of New Mexico. If House REALLY believes MLG did a good job on COVID he didn’t do a very good job of defending her.

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Is inflation back? The trend (and the big spend) are not our friend

Americans have not suffered from really high inflation rates for a generation. Notably, there is widespread agreement among economists across the political spectrum that inflation harms the poor disproportionately.

According to the following chart from the New York Times, inflation hit 5% in May. The annual rate hasn’t been 5% since 1990. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that the kind of spending we’ve seen from the Biden Administration is largely to blame and unsustainable.

Current U.S. Inflation Rate, May 2021 | Finance Reference

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308 Jeffrey Smith of New Mexico Copper Company discusses the importance and challenges of mining in NM

On this week’s conversation, Paul sits down with Jeffrey Smith of New Mexico Copper Company. After over 300 episodes of the show, this is the first time Paul has had a chance to interview someone from the non-oil-and-gas mining industry.

Jeff and Paul discuss the copper industry, the proposed Copper Flat mine that his company is working to get permitted, environmental issues in mining, and the particular importance of mining in Biden’s push for electric vehicles and “renewable energy.”

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“Free” buses another futile attempt to push unpopular transit in Albuquerque

Government is really good at using copious quantities of taxpayer dollars to produce undesirable “products” at a high cost and having those products in turn rejected by the supposed “customers” they are meant to serve.

The City of Albuquerque has chosen to spend $3 million (above and beyond massive existing subsidies) to completely eliminate bus fares on the City bus system.

Albuquerque’s buses are deeply unpopular and have always been so, but ridership truly plummeted during the pandemic. Of course, despite massive government spending, transit ridership had been declining nationwide for years. The pandemic caused ridership to plummet. 

The question is not whether “free” bus service will goose ridership (it won’t). Rather, the questions is whether transit will ever recover from new “virtual” and hybrid work patterns (and the emptying of Americans from urban centers).

The concept was concisely summarized by President Reagan in the quote below many years ago.

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. - Ronald Reagan

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RGF podcast censored by Youtube

During a recent Tipping Point New Mexico podcast (still available in audio format and on Facebook) the hosts discussed the usual list of political news and events impacting New Mexicans. Among the topics discuss were mask requirements imposed upon student athletes, Gov. Lujan Grisham’s emails (and contrasting their deletion with the recent “dump” of Dr. Fauci’s emails), and we also discussed the unfortunate withdrawal of professional golfer Jon Rahm due to a positive COVID test.

Which of these (or other) topics caused Youtube to pull our video down? Hard to say. See the notice below. What is definitely of concern is the censorship practices of our big tech companies. That’s why we at RGF have been a proud member of the Free Speech Alliance which is organized and led by the Media Research Center.

The Free Speech Alliance

 

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New Mexico’s “progressive” legislators pen bizarre and conflicted letter to Biden on energy setting themselves in conflict with Gov. MLG, party leaders

New Mexico’s most far-left “progressives” on June 8 sent an “interesting” letter to President Biden in support of his Administration’s anti-energy policies. The letter largely disregards the profoundly negative impacts Biden’s permit moratorium is having on New Mexico in terms of lost jobs and revenues (impacts publicly acknowledged by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham).

Notably, these elected Democrats are acting counter to their OWN STATE as well as THEIR OWN Gov. and legislative leaders. Also the letter linked above is illogical .

The letter states the legislators’ support for the Biden Administration’s moratorium on oil and gas leases and calls for a “transition” away from oil and gas. So, naturally in the next paragraph it argues for raising taxes on oil and gas through a royalty increase. All of this is of course for the supposed benefit of “the children” who they say are receiving inadequate revenues from the very oil and gas they support Biden by “keeping it in the ground.”

Notably, more Democrats DID not sign the letter (24 signed, but 46 of them DID not), so support for the Biden Administration’s moratorium remains a MINORITY position even among New Mexico’s increasingly-progressive Democrats. Shots fired.

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Tipping Point 307: CD 1 Election Results Analysis, NM All Turquoise, MLG Announces for Reelection, Student Athletes and Masks

On this week’s podcasts discussion, Wally and Paul talk about Mark Moores getting clobbered 63% to 33% in the Congressional District 1 race; What went wrong? What does it mean? What does it mean for redistricting?

Paul gives “props” to Mayor Tim Keller for vetoing Albuquerque’s gas tax;

On COVID 19, all New Mexico counties are now in turquoise.

An Albuquerque Journal sports reporter had an important article over the weekend on Gov. Lujan Grisham’s ongoing policy of demanding athletes wear masks in New Mexico.

In continuing the sports theme, golfer Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw from the Memorial golf tournament over the weekend due to a positive COVID test and despite having no symptoms. Rahm was leading by a robust 6 strokes.

Paul provides a brief update on the ongoing CYFD story; Thankfully Fauci didn’t delete emails like MLG has been.

With half of all US states (all of them GOP-led) rejecting “$300 supplemental” unemployment benefits, the Federal Reserve indicates the policy is likely to get people back to work.

The La Luz trail race is forced to cease. This makes radical environmentalists happy.

Craziness ensues at two local campaign events. Mayoral candidate Manny Gonzales’ event was disrupted by a drone outfitted with a sex toy followed by a physical attack. Gov. MLG (at her campaign launch) suffered taunts and protests. She then called her opponents lizard people & Q’Anon.

UPDATE: The Youtube video of the following podcast was removed by Youtube. We are unsure WHAT precipitated this action, but we believe it MAY have been the result of our discussion of Dr. Fauci’s changing views on masks during the pandemic OR it could be something else. Thus, the audio is below:

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Do not tread on us

On Thursday June 3rd, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham held her reelection announcement at the Albuquerque Museum. She was met by protesters fed up with her extreme agenda.

Acknowledging the presence of the protestors she said, “I just have to say I’m sorry that we picked the same location that the QAnon lizard people meeting was at.”

In response, the Rio Grande Foundation has the following statement for the governor: “Do not tread on us.”

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Masking of young people, the final big COVID battle?

James Yodice the sports reporter from the Albuquerque Journal has done all New Mexicans a favor with his recent article on the ongoing State mandate that young people, especially student athletes, must wear masks during competition.

Ironically, while Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails from early in the pandemic question the very effectiveness of masks (while Fauci has changed his position, the scientific evidence on masks remains mixed at best). When asked for comment by Yodice, the Lujan Grisham Administration’s spokesperson fell back on vaccination rates (as they have done repeatedly with state reopening overall).

“In the Department of Health’s view, not enough kids are vaccinated yet,” said spokesman Tripp Stelnicki. “We’re certainly making progress. But we’re not at the point where they feel comfortable removing that requirement.”

Stelnicki  went on to say that “The DOH and the governor’s office are working on a plan to tie vaccinations, vaccination rates among teens and schools or districts to a (change) that would remove the mask requirement before the season ends.”

Of course, this completely ignores individual choice on the matter, the fact that young people are not really susceptible to the Virus, the lack of outdoor spread of the Virus, and the potential negatives associated with wearing a mask during a strenuous workout.

Of course, while summer has just begun and most State-sponsored sports are nearing conclusion, this battle is going to arise again both in terms of classroom masking during the school day as well as in athletics which are right around the corner this fall.

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Thankfully, Anthony Fauci didn’t delete his emails like Gov. Lujan Grisham

This article first appeared in The Center Square on June 4th, 2021.

Anthony Fauci’s emails have been released, and they tell an interesting tale about the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. One particular email stood out to me from Fauci to Sylvia Burwell discussing masks.

Within the body of the email, Fauci asserts that the use of masks in a public setting is generally to prevent infected individuals from spreading a virus. More specifically, he writes that the “typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.” This email was sent on February 5, 2020.

If the drug-store masks are ineffective, why were they forced on the general population for over a year? Did masks help contain the spread of COVID-19 at all? What else do we not know?

But I’m not here to argue about the efficacy of masks and Fauci’s handling of the pandemic. I’m here to emphasize the importance of why we are able to have this discussion today: open government and transparency.

Without access to these documents, the country might not have ever known to ask these questions. This is significant as we can analyze the events in early 2020 in a new light. Most importantly, we can hold individuals accountable if they recommended policies that were known not to be effective.

Here in New Mexico, we have a different ongoing dilemma, one that is also rooted in transparency. Thanks to the initial efforts of Searchlight New Mexico, the additional whistleblowers that have come forward since the initial Searchlight report, and some well-timed public records requests submitted by yours truly, we know that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and her administration are still actively depriving the people of New Mexico access to public documents through permanent and automatic deletion.

In January of this year, a directive from the governor’s office was implemented by the New Mexico Department of Information Technology: delete all messages after 24 hours. This directive came before the governor’s press secretary acknowledged the use of a creative new term: “transitory.”

The deleted messages were broadly considered “transitory” in nature, a definition that has already been debunked in the context of transparency and is not a qualified exception under the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), New Mexico’s government transparency law.

“Transitory” messages have been unofficially described as “employee banter, routine check-ins between workers and other insignificant exchanges.” The rub is that they’re all public documents and subject to inspection requests, regardless of whatever “transitory” qualification they try to apply.

Fauci could have used the same term to describe his seemingly innocuous email to Burwell about masks. What if Fauci had deleted that email because it was “just transitory”?

All this and the responses from Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office that there are “no records responsive to your request” underlines a seriously dangerous trend and contemptuous attitude within the Governor’s administration. The widespread and systematic “paper shredder” policy is nothing short of criminal.

New Mexico’s Attorney General agrees: “public bodies acquiring information should keep in mind that the records they keep generally are subject to public inspection.”

The governor’s press secretary Nora Sackett said that the governor takes transparency and open government “very seriously.” If that’s true, then Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration and all New Mexico state agencies should shed their cloaks of secrecy and immediately stop the destruction of public documents.

This is a clear assault on the people’s ability to keep a watchful eye on their elected government and should be alarming to everyone, especially those who care for our democracy.

And remember, democracy dies in darkness.

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