Errors of Enchantment

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RGF comments in KOAT Channel 7 story about Mayor Keller’s city-financed book

11.13.2023

In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic the Keller Administration spent $97,000 of taxpayer dollars to publish book; sold fewer than 100 copies. The City’s inspector general trashed the project as a “waste of taxpayer money.”

We concur and shared as much with KOAT TV Channel 7. You can see the report here.

Not only was Mayor Keller’s performance as Mayor during COVID 19 poor (largely following the Gov.’s lockdown approach), but this book was clearly written as a campaign piece in support of the Mayor, not as a “after action report” to facilitate understanding of the policies that worked and didn’t work both with Pandemic, but also the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020.

 

All GOP Legislators Publicly Oppose MLG’s EV Mandate

11.09.2023

In advance of the meeting next week of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s unelected Environmental Improvement Board during which they will decide whether or not to strictly limit the availability of gas powered vehicles, Republicans in BOTH houses of New Mexico’s Legislature have registered their opposition to the plan.

Here is the Senate GOP’s letter. 

Here is the House version.

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans don’t want to buy an EV as their next car. Those majorities are even bigger for low income and elderly people which New Mexico has in large numbers. 

Do New Mexico Democrats, especially in the Legislature, support the Gov.’s latest overreach? We’ll be asking them and so should you!

Another false start for Virgin Galactic

11.09.2023

Spaceport America’s lead tenant Virgin Galactic had finally begun launching it’s manned space tourism flights this year after the facility had been open for more than a decade. And, while the stock price had been destroyed, it seemed like things were finally moving in the right direction for both the company and the taxpayer-funded facility, right?

Wrong. 

According to SpaceNews, The company just announced that (after a series of successful flights in recent months) Virgin Galactic will reduce the frequency of flights of its current suborbital vehicle and stop them entirely by mid-2024 as it concentrates resources on the next generation of vehicles.

Virgin Galactic announced Nov. 7 it would be laying off staff and reducing other expenses to concentrate resources on the Delta class, The company also said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would be cutting 185 jobs, or about 18% of its current workforce.

Not surprisingly, what limited economic benefits New Mexico had been receiving from these launches will soon evaporate as “company staff who work on the vehicles at Spaceport America in New Mexico will go to a new factory near Phoenix the company expects to complete in the second quarter of 2024 to help with the assembly of the first Delta-class vehicles.” In other words, Virgin Galactic workers are moving out of state.

Virgin Galactic reported $1.7 million in revenue in the third quarter from its spaceflight as well as “membership fees” from customers, and projects $3 million in revenue in the fourth quarter. The company had a net loss of $105 million in the third quarter.

SpaceShipTwo on Unity 25 flight

EV article roundup

11.09.2023

Biden Got Manufacturers To Build EVs But He Can’t Force You To Buy One

You could lose access to a key feature (AM radio) if you buy an electric car. 

Ex-Ford CEO warns of fierce challenge ahead for electric vehicles

Across almost every segment of the electric-vehicle industry,  demand seems to be slowing.

Hertz is slowing the electrification of its rental fleets, citing poor resale value and higher-than-expected repair costs.

“From where we stood six months ago, it’s going to be a challenging time for everyone involved in the EV market right now.”

State (Colorado) offers residents major incentive to give up their gas cars

Colorado is now offering EV rebates up to $6,000 for new vehicles and up to $4,000 for used ones. These rebates can be combined with the federal tax credit of $7,500 meaning that purchasers of EV’s can receive up to $13,500 courtesy of the taxpayer.

Given the massive $3.5 billion budget surplus (courtesy of oil and gas) we expect MLG to ramp up the subsidies for EV’s since the market (people buying cars) aren’t enthusiastic about them.

If you oppose Gov. Lujan Grisham’s EV mandate and other policies to bribe/force you into an EV, please send them a note here.

City of Albuquerque spent $80,231.98 on President Biden’s visit

11.08.2023

It took several months for our public records request to be fulfilled (Biden’s  visit was on August 8), but the Rio  Grande  Foundation has learned that the City of Albuquerque Spent $80,231.98 on policing and other security during the President’s visit.

The amount is rather less critical than the approach taken by the Keller Administration which invoiced the Trump campaign for $211,175.94 for an overnight visit in 2021. In the wake of Trump’s visit Mayor Keller told the Daily Show, “I don’t really expect us to get paid,” he said. “But it’s important that we do, and you know, we would do it for anyone else, so he’s no different.”

Wanna bet whether Keller and the City invoiced Biden on this? Within the overall City budget of $1.3 billion both amounts are trivial and we WANT presidential candidates and presidents of BOTH parties to visit our City and State.

Vice President Biden visits Albuquerque > Kirtland Air Force Base > Article  Display

Tipping Point NM episode 554: Election Day Preview, Free Bus Study Problems, ABQ City Council “Donation” Case has Merit and more

11.08.2023

It’s election day. Here are some of the important issues and races being voted on in New Mexico and nationwide.

The City of Albuquerque Council will be voting on whether to make “free buses” a “permanent” program this Wednesday. A City report downplays the impact the program has had on crime rates, but in reality does nothing of the sort.

Our case against ABQ City Council’s “donation” to Planned Parenthood has merit according to the judge.

According to the Washington Post home schooling grew dramatically in the wake of the COVID pandemic but not especially in New Mexico (according to the best available data).

Inflation has hit New Mexicans when it comes to car insurance.

Stories questioning the merits of EV’s are coming fast and furious.

Report fails to absolve “zero fare” program from crime issues on ABQ buses

11.07.2023

ABQ City Council will be voting on Wednesday evening on whether or not to. make the City’s “free” bus program permanent. Media stories purport to show the results of this city report as showing that crime did not worsen thanks to the program.  (another report here)

“Free” bus fares began on January 1, 2022. They have been in place ever since. Sadly, the City report has too many charts like the one below.  The fatal flaw is that no data is produced from dates prior to the program being implemented.

Yes, good data is hard to come by because of COVID ridership changes and other issues, but providing incident data only back to the start of the “free” fare program fails to show any impact at all. It’s meaningless.

That said, the massive uptick in narcotics on city buses highlighted below would seem to be a big and growing issue to be addressed on city buses. The City ultimately needs to go back to the drawing board to find evidence for and against “free” buses.

According to the City’s report net revenue would be $1,785,000 if fares were collected. As an aside, the report itself was not readily available on the City’s website. We had to ask a friendly councilor for the report which we have. posted and linked above. 

Vandalism has gotten MUCH worse since the “free” bus program took effect but the report notes that “some” of these problems are at bus stops not on buses themselves. A breakdown of that would be helpful. 

Election Issues tracking nationwide and in New Mexico

11.06.2023

For starters, if you haven’t already voted, please do. Election Day is Tuesday November 6, 2023. You can find out where to vote here.

Starting with some important National issues to watch:

Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Andy Beshear has been leading GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron, but Beshear’s opposition to school choice and COVID lockdowns during his term have become late issues.

In Mississippi, GOP Governor Tate Reeves is hoping his recent income tax cuts overcome negative stories about scandals with state grants.

In Virginia, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has an approval rating of 56 percent and hopes voters will give him a mandate for conservative governance by giving the GOP a legislative majority.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has become one of the most partisan in the country, approving a Democratic gerrymander for Congress, ruling a voter ID law unconstitutional, and changing the state’s election law during COVID in a way that encouraged fraud. An election for the court is on Tuesday’s ballot. Unions have poured in millions for the Democratic candidate.

Ohio Issue 1 could be a harbinger of things to come on the abortion issue. If voters in a trending “red” state vote in support of abortion rights it could have profound impacts on post-Dobbs abortion politics.

If adopted Issue 1 would establish a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy.[1]

Colorado HH: would undermine Colorado’s best-in-the nation taxpayer protections by allowing the state to retain and spend revenues that it would otherwise be required to refund to residents.

Closer to home in New Mexico

Santa Fe is voting on proposals to target taxes on the wealthy to fund housing construction for low income residents. Santa Fe’s proposed excise tax measure would result in a new 3% tax levied on home sales of more than $1 million.

Albuquerque: City Council races

There are 4 total races, 3 of them have significant ideological implications for city governance. City council could be a more robust ideological opponent of Mayor Keller’s “progressive” agenda or it could become more of a “rubber stamp.”

Albuquerque Public Schools board: APS school board which has been a moderate board could become more union dominated or could be more conservative than it has been.

7 candidates running for Mayor of Las Cruces.  The City is electing a new mayor for the first time since 2007. The race along with city council races will involve ranked choice voting.

Las Cruces school board is up for election as well.

Case against ABQ City Council Planned Parenthood “donation” to move forward

11.03.2023

The case (brought by RGF President Paul Gessing) (with legal representation from the Liberty Justice Center) over Albuquerque City Council’s “donation” of your tax dollars to Planned Parenthood will move forward. A Bernalillo County Court denied the City of Albuquerque and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ motions to dismiss Gessing v. Yara, a case challenging the City’s illegal donation of taxpayer funds to the private organization.

City Councilwoman Tammy Fiebelkorn explained that she sponsored the $250,000 donation “to provide vital support for Planned Parenthood.”

In a ruling issued November 1, the Court found that the plaintiffs have made a creditable case that the “agreement” between the city and the organization is essentially a sham, purporting to purchase services from Planned Parenthood while in fact paying out taxpayer money to a politically favored group.

The primary issue at stake is New Mexico’s “anti-donation clause” and whether a government body can simply “donate” taxpayer dollars to a private, political organization.

Home schooling grows, but (surprisnigly) not especially in NM

11.02.2023

Home schooling is often forgotten about in the political debate over school choice. There are good reasons for that here in New Mexico as (despite our State’s myriad educational problems, it is reasonable when it comes to home schooling regulations), ranked “B” in one recent report.

The home school community generally prefers to stay out of the limelight in Santa Fe unless politicians start regulating them heavily (even MLG has not attacked them so far).

But, as you can see below thanks to a recent story from the Washington Post in terms of growth home schooling is growing quickly thanks in part to the Pandemic. And, while numbers have fallen off a bit from the peak, numbers remain quite high.

Surprisingly, given New Mexico’s relatively light regulatory touch, New Mexico didn’t see a particularly large increase in the wake of COVID (see below). Nor is New Mexico a particular hotbed of home schooling (so far as the available data indicate).

Tipping Point NM episode 553: Big Problems with New Mexico’s EV Mandates with Carlos Garcia

11.02.2023

On this week’s conversation Paul talks to Carlos Garcia of Garcia Automotive. Garcia is one of the State’s largest car dealership networks. Paul even purchased his car from them!

Paul and Carlos discuss the business, its history, and the myriad problems with Gov. Lujan Grisham’s headlong push to mandate electric vehicles. You can contact the EIB through this website set up by the Rio Grande Foundation called: KeepYourCarsNM.com. 

Inflation has hit New Mexicans: Car Insurance in the State got 34.1% more expensive in 2023

11.01.2023

New Mexicans (like all Americans) have been buffeted by rising costs in recent years. According to a new report from Marketwatch notes that insurance rose 34.1% in 2023 alone. According to the report, “New Mexico saw a steeper increase in auto premiums over the last year than most states in the U.S” which saw an overall increase of 16%.

Why is that? Again, from the report: Claims payouts are the single biggest expense for insurance companies, representing 70%-80% of auto insurers’ expenses in a given year. Medical claims are a significant portion of those payouts, meaning that increases in healthcare expenses result in increased payouts for individual medical claims.

The Cost of Car Repairs and Replacements Is Up

Finally, New Mexico has one of the highest rates of auto theft in the country. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB), New Mexico saw 475.5 car thefts per 100,000 residents in 2021. That rate is the fourth-highest of all states and the District of Columbia.

The authors of the report don’t see insurance costs coming down and, if Gov. Lujan gets her way with the forced shift to electric vehicles insurance prices could rise further as EV’s are more expensive to insure than are gas vehicles.

Below are some comparisons for the EV vs. gas powered models of similar cars. In the meantime, you can share your opposition to the forced move toward EV’s here. 

Tipping Point NM episode 552: Massive Energy Subsidies, Toyota’s EV Alarm, More Film Subsidy Scrutiny and more

10.31.2023

Stories questioning the viability of EV’s are coming fast and furious

10.31.2023

The following are a series of headlines relating to electric vehicles. They were collected on ONE day (October 31, 2023). A brief summary of the article is provided below the headline (again, we are NOT against EV’s as a concept, but are firmly against the Gov.’s push to mandate EV’s on New Mexicans. If you agree, take a minute to send the Environmental Improvement Board a message here.

EV market could become the ‘next big flop’: Economist

EV’s are piling up on dealer lots because “Nobody bothered to ask consumers whether they wanted the car.”

EVs create profit potholes for major US automakers GM, Ford

Ford noted in its earnings report released last week that its EV unit posted a quarterly loss before interest and taxes (EBIT) of $1.33 billion – an acceleration after a loss of $1.08 billion in the prior quarter. It added that it’s cutting production of its Mustang Mach-E while scaling back about $12 billion in planned investments in the EV segment, including delaying its second battery plant in Kentucky.

General Motors saw its quarterly profit reduced by about $1.5 billion because of higher costs and the impact of selling more EVs

Automakers Are Pumping The Brakes On The EV Transition

The transition to electric vehicles is supposed to be a matter of when not if. However, automakers are starting to seem a little hesitant about what resources they should pour into EV production. Manufacturers have had supply issues building electric vehicles as well as trouble actually selling the ones they have made. Now, companies are lowering expectations for their investors.

Panasonic cuts outlook on EV demand, battery production

Panasonic shares dipped after the company cut its profit outlook by 15% citing slower electric vehicle battery demand, especially on higher-end EVs where Inflation Reduction Act credits are limited.

This Huge List Of EV Defects Proves That The Entire Auto Industry Has  Trouble Building Electric Cars - The Autopian

Albuqueruqe ranked #8 on list of retail theft “hot spots”

10.30.2023

It’s hardly surprising to anyone who follows the news and has seen stores such as Wal Mart, CVS, and Allsups shut their doors along Central that Albuquerque would find itself on a “bad list” when it comes to shoplifting. Data from the National Retail Federation confirm that assessment with a lousy #8 out of the 11 worst cities.

All of the cities ranked with the exception of Miami are governed by Democrats. Miami and Houston are both in “red” states. Only Sacramento has a smaller population than Albuquerque. 

If Albuquerque is going to ever be a great place to live it’s citizens and politicians must make crime and fighting retail theft a priority. Ending “free” bus service would be a step in that direction.

RGF supports Senate Finance Committee Chair Muñoz effort to better understand film subsidy impact

10.30.2023

Over the weekend the Santa Fe New Mexican had an article in which RGF’s president was quoted (alongside numerous other policymakers and policy experts) which documented Senate Finance Committee Chair George Muñoz’s efforts to better understand the impact of New Mexico’s most generous “economic development” program.

We believe the recent LFC report which basically called the program a wasteful boondoggle is the definitive word on the issue as it says what numerous other national reports have found. While we certainly disagree with Sen. Maestas’ assertion that the program has “proven itself,” it will be an uphill battle to rein in the program at a time of flush revenues.

You can reach out to Sen. Muñoz here. He is undoubtedly receiving pressure from film’s well-heeled and subsidized proponents.

George Muñoz (@munozfornm) / X

The most ridiculous government job in New Mexico?

10.27.2023

The Rio Grande Foundation has always cast a critical eye at New Mexico government for its waste, incompetence, and outright corruption. Now, we have what we believe may be the most wasteful single job in all of State government.

According to a press release from the New Mexico Economic Development Department, the Agency has just hired a “Just Transition Advisor to spearhead the state’s initiatives in support of a thriving low-carbon economy.”

The release further goes on to say, “Operating within the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office (JEDI Office) of the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD), the individual will help ensure marginalized communities are consulted and prioritized throughout the transition to renewable energy sources.”

The whole release is fully of PC gobbledygook and non-sequiturs. Ultimately, the entire JEDI office and the “just transition” of New Mexico, a state whose economy becomes more reliant on oil and gas by the day is yet another waste of resources that could be better left in the pockets of average New Mexicans. That would be more just.

Tipping Point NM episode 551: Why New Mexico is Sitting on Billions of Unspent Funds with Tom Clifford

10.27.2023

On this week’s interview Paul sits down with Tom Clifford to discuss New Mexico’s hidden pots of money and billions of dollars in unspent funds sitting around, often not  generating a return. Tom Clifford was cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration under Gov. Susana Martinez. He now works as Research Director with New Mexico Tax Research Institute.

Why is New Mexico sitting on billions in unspent funds? Could there be a better approach? What should be done with those dollars instead?

Toyota Chairman skeptical of EV’s as “alarm bells ring” over slowing sales

10.27.2023

While Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham continues her headlong push to mandate EV’s and we continue our Keep your Cars NM campaign which allows you to push back, news stories run in the national media nearly daily highlighting serious issues with MLG’s policies.

The first story here involves the Chairman of Toyota beinig confirmed correct in having skepticism about EV’s. According to the story from Carscoops.com,

Slowing sales vindicate his resistance to EVs, and that “people are finally seeing reality” about the technology.

The CEO pointed to slowing growth in the U.S. as proof that his company’s reticence towards EVs was correct. “There are many ways to climb the mountain that is achieving carbon neutrality,” he told reporters at the Japan Mobility Show this week.

MLG OBVIOUSLY knows more about the car industry than the Chairman of Toyota, so we’re sure she will not be deterred in her push for EV’s.

And then there’s this story via Reuters, the headline of which is “More alarm bells sound on slowing demand for electric vehicles.” Here are a few  notable highlights, “We’re taking immediate steps to enhance the profitability of our EV portfolio and adjust to slowing near-term growth,” GM CEO Mary Barra told analysts.

“U.S. automaker Ford earlier this month said it would temporarily cut one of three shifts at the plant that builds its electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck, and in July slowed its EV ramp-up, shifting investment to commercial vehicles and hybrids.”

Tell ABQ City Council to Improve Governance at unelected Air Board

10.26.2023

There is an effort  underway at Albuquerque City Council to make some necessary improvements in governance and accountability at the unelected (and unaccountable) Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Board. A resolution and ordinance will be voted on as soon as this Monday, October 30. You can contact your councilors to lend your support to this resolution and ordinance here.

Resolution  23-176 Ensures the board follows the Air Quality Control Act and operates with accountability when creating regulations.

Ordinance 23-88 Removes the current Air Quality Control Board ordinance and replaces it with a board that establishes the Joint Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board.

You can read more information from Councilor Lewis here. Here are some reasons why this needs to be undertaken:

The resolution and ordinance put forth by Councilor Dan Lewis is an attempt to  ensure that the Board that currently sees itself as autonomous and that is not subject to control or answerable to the council, the commission, city administration or the governor. That means they do not feel they are accountable to the public. If they are not accountable to elected public offices that created the board, they are not accountable to the electorate.

The board has continued to work on issues that the courts have said are not allowed under current law. Lewis’s resolution prohibits them from doing what the courts have already said they can’t do.

The ordinance was drafted to correct these and a few other problems that are the result of the board’s actions.

Mountain View Coalition

Tipping Point NM Episode 550: Lots of Stories on EV’s, School Choice Index, Fake Felony

10.25.2023

Plenty to discuss on the EV front. I had an opinion piece that ran in numerous papers statewide on the Gov’s EV mandate.

The City of Albuquerque is buying electric buses from a company favored by the Biden Administration which is also bankrupt. A bus service in Wyoming can’t even get spare parts.

In yet another EV debacle the City of Albuquerque installed an electric shuttle (replacing the train from the Zoo to the Biopark). Apparently the shuttle doesn’t work very well in the cold or heat and it likely won’t be ready for River of Lights. 

According to a story from Yahoo Finance an EV could cost $13,000 MORE than the cost of a gas-powered vehicle to own over its lifetime.

A British columnist wrote this week: “We must put a stop to the electric vehicle revolution – before someone gets hurt.” One fire took 20,000 gallons of water to put out.

People are sending thousands of emails to the EIB through our new site: KeepyourcarsNM.com

A new report ranks New Mexico a mediocre 35th in school choice.

An Albuquerque city council candidate faked HAVING a felony conviction.

Energy subsidies flow predominantly to solar and other “green” energy

10.24.2023

The following chart provided from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity is just the latest in a long series of charts which highlight the massive disparity between the massive subsidies provided for solar (and geothermal, wind, and biomass, mostly ethanol) and the relatively tiny subsidies handed to traditional energy sources.

So-called “environmentalists” like to claim that all forms of energy receive subsidies or that oil and gas are somehow the recipients of the bulk of subsidies, but the reality could not be more different once the amount of energy produced by each source is actually considered.

Arizona school choice is aiding poor families and students

10.24.2023

Dating back (at least) to Sen. Mimi Stewart’s infamous quote that “We don’t know how to teach kids from poverty” and more recent reporting about New Mexico’s high rates of absenteeism.  You’d think there might be more self-reflection on the failure of a “free” school system to successfully encourage students to attend school.

Unlike New Mexico, Arizona is actually doing something to help poor kids stay in and succeed in school. As the chart below shows, the State’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program is disproportionately benefiting poor families. Will allowing students to attend a school of their choice improve student outcomes in Arizona? Their past record of being a leader in school choice would seem to bode well, (certainly better than New Mexico’s track record) but only time will tell.

Education Savings Accounts Serving Low-Income Communities - Goldwater Institute