Tempest

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Pontiac Tempest

This Pontiac Tempest was sporting some patriotic messaging yesterday morning. “Tempest” would be a good enough descriptor for my week, but it all culminated in an incredible Independence Day in Silver City yesterday. More to come, but for now, thanks to everyone who came to my opening at Common Ground.

The Closing of the Silver City Daily Press & the End of Local Media

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In 2005, I found a lifeboat. At the time, I was the news director for KNFT. The radio station wasn’t in the best financial shape — in fact, a trustee had been appointed to manage the day-to-day operations. When I learned of an opening for a staff writer at the Daily Press, I arranged an interview with Publisher Tina Ely and Editor Dean Thompson. I began my two-year stint at the Press that July, and within months KNFT was bought out and fully automated. Continue reading…

Transparency in New Mexico: The 2010 Legislature

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This year brings a landmark for the Sunlight Foundation. We’ve been hinting for some time that we’re going to make a serious play in state government, and New Mexico is one of the first where we’ll focus those efforts. As my colleague Noah wrote earlier this month, the state’s House of Representatives has voted to expand the presence of webcams in its proceedings. It was an early sign during the 2010 legislative session that New Mexico’s lawmakers are beginning to take open government seriously. It was a also welcome sign, but when the session ended last week it was clear that open-government advocates will remain busy in the 2011 session.

The state has been plagued by corruption and ethics investigations in recent years, and while the Sunlight Foundation doesn’t have a dog in that particular fight we do recognize (and support) the role transparency can play in helping citizens hold their elected officials accountable. From Sunlight’s perspective, there are a number of interesting questions raised by New Mexico’s legislature and the “state of transparency” there—some unique to the Land of Enchantment and some that will be applicable in other locales as well. For starters, the state legislature is part time and they just completed a 30-day session (every other year it’s 60 days). That’s true for many states, but in New Mexico legislators aren’t paid for their time in Santa Fe. It also means lawmakers have precious little time to consider legislation. As you’re aware, the Sunlight Foundation has long called on Congress to post legislation online for 72 hours prior to a vote. How would such a rule be feasible in a short legislative session like the one underway in New Mexico? Continue reading…

New Mexico ranks first in greenlighting stimulus projects

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That’s according to the ProPublica Reporting Network, which crowdsourced a spot-check of 520 projects across the country. There’s a great article up (compiled by my buddy Amanda Michel) showing the state of stimulus funding in the 50 states. New Mexico appears to be doing well:

The federal Transportation Department data, listing the status through Aug. 7 of approved road and bridge projects in all 50 states, show a huge disparity in progress nationwide.

New Mexico is the furthest ahead when it comes to green-lighting projects, having issued a notice to proceed for all its approved projects.

According to Michel, the coming wave of construction is the big take away:

But in most cases, approved projects were still in the pre-construction phase, the Spot Check reporters found. “Construction is supposed to begin the first week of August, but I have yet to see any progress beginning,’’ wrote Coulter Jones, who looked into a $3 million paving project in Luzerne County, Pa.

Reports from the field came in over a two-week period in late July, so it’s possible some have advanced in the meantime. Coulter checked back last week, for instance, and found that work had begun on the Pennsylvania project.

In some cases, construction delays appeared to be the result of contractors’ schedules rather than red tape.

Looks like there’s some construction coming your way (no matter where you live).

Shorter Joe Monahan

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“Journalists who also blog shouldn’t criticize me because I’m right and they’re wrong. So go look at all the crazy stuff they’re trying to pull.” Or something like that (scroll down to the bottom).

Oh, and to his assertion that his is “the most respected, most quoted and most read political web site in New Mexico,” here’s this:

Sure, right now his site is on top (likely because all the other blogs in the state are linking to his whining about those scary “progressive bloggers” and “quasi-secret, out-of-state nonprofit ventures.” But back during the election, you can see it was Matt at NMFBIHOP who was pulling in the big numbers. Heck, if you toss in the SF Reporter and and the NM Independent (two more of his recent targets) you get this:

If you really want to get a sense of the man, check out his Twitter stream:

I’ve got two bloggers stalking me. One makes pancakes–NMFBIHOP–The other–Beltway Baca–makes crazy!

Leave it to Joe to respond to legitimate criticism with actual name-calling. It just doesn’t get any more juvenile than this. ((Not to mention the hypocrisy: this is somebody who calls sources — in New Mexico of all places — alligators.)) Monahan is the worst of bloggers: he doesn’t link to anybody else in the state, even when responding to direct criticism, robbing his readers of even more context. He also doesn’t allow direct comments, preventing readers from responding in the light of day. Instead, he filters criticism and praise alike, publishing only the bits and pieces that advance his own agenda.

His attacks on Heath Haussamen are even more ludicrous: Heath is a guy who has established not only a comments policy, but has an entire section on his own ethics responsibilities. Long before criticizing Monahan for his use of anonymous sources, Heath had a clear policy in place for when he would use un-named sources. Monahan, on the other hand, relies on them almost entirely, and there’s no rhyme or reason.

Oh, and one last thing Joe: it’s pretty easy to nail an “exclusive” if you’re willing to publish anything and everything that pops into your inbox.

For more on the whole affair, start where everybody else did at m-pyre, then check out Matt and Julia.

Mr. Fancy Pants Goes to the Ball

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I alluded in my Twitter feed a few weeks ago that I had purchased a tuxedo. Well, it’s inauguration season here in Washington D.C., and I’m going to celebrate in style courtesy of the New Mexico State Society. My sister and I are society members, and while she forked up the cash to get in, the Society was gracious enough to allow me to attend as a member of the press. I think it’s very indicative of how well the Land of Enchantment, its lawmakers and other leaders have embraced new media and the state’s bloggers.

I’m also going to work with Matt from NMFBIHOP and Barb from Democracy for New Mexico to interview the freshman members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation (Reps. Ben Ray Lujan, Martin Heinrich, and Harry Teague) in the coming week.

Regardless of that possible coverage, I will be taking my camera to the Inaugural Gala (which is to be held at the beautiful Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian). So, I hope to snap a bunch of photos of New Mexican politicos and other friendly faces as we celebrate the inauguration of President-Elect Barack  Obama.