Mr. Fancy Pants Goes to the Ball


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.

Freeport layoffs


I haven’t seen anything about this on the Daily Press Web site or over at the Sun News (or maybe I just couldn’t find them) but the AP is reporting 600 layoffs at Chino:

Chino Mine in southwestern New Mexico will lay off three quarters of its employees early next year because of a sharp decline in copper prices.

Chino’s parent company, Freeport-McMoRan, announced Wednesday it plans to suspend mining and milling activities at Chino, but will continue reclamation activities and copper production from its SX-EW plant.

Man, that is not a good sign. More later…

Crunch time

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I imagine most of the people still in New Mexico who read this blog are watching the economic turmoil with a mixture of fear, anger and awe. So much of the current mess seems beyond our control and completely out of our hands. And, while I’d agree with that in part, there are a couple of things you can do:

  1. Register to vote! This mess is the result of a bunch of bad decisions by a bunch of people, and voting better people into office is a great way of remedying the situation. There’s a widget on the right hand side of this blog where you can go, or visit this link to register through Rock the Vote. You only have a few days left.
  2. Donate to candidates. I know it’s tough right now, especially with the economy in the state it’s in. However, it’s probably the best investment you can make with your money. Vote more and better Democrats into Congress (people like Martin Heinrich or Harry Teague) and they’ll work to fix some of the inequality that has impacted families across the state and country. Check out the True Blue New Mexico page on Act Blue and send some coin to some worthy candidates.
  3. Volunteer. Knock on some doors or make some phone calls on behalf of Barack Obama. My understanding is that they’re coordinating a lot of the get-out-the-vote effort, and this will be crucial in swinging New Mexico for the Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District and for the presidential race.
  4. Tell your friends. Send them a link to this post. Ask them to register. See if they’ll volunteer with you.

Or, you can do nothing – you can sit back and watch what happens. If you think the country is doing great and you’re happy with your health care options and you think America is safer than in 2000 and you’re not worried about your retirement, then I guess you don’t have that much at stake in this election. Otherwise, I hope you’ll help out. You owe it to yourself.

Chamber shenanigans

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My friend (and former colleague) Mary Alice Murphy has another recent story on the continuing saga of the Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber board of directors, if you recall, decided last month to accept executive director Nicole Robbins’ resignation rather than grant her a three month working leave of absence. Many of the chamber members (you know, the local business owners in the area) cried fowl, and have since forced a recall election for the board.

I’ve got some strong feelings on this matter – Nicole is one of the most earnest people I’ve ever met, and I’ve never known anybody so dedicated to doing well. Simply put, I can’t understand why anybody would want to ler her go.

At the same time, I’m a practical guy, and I’m not privy to the internal discussions of the board over what is fundamentally a personnel issue. It reminds me of the city council years ago when it replaced Tom Bates as city manager. Bates had some strong support in the coomunity, but the council made its decision and stuck by it.

Finally, I have some personal history with many of the board members, and nothing but respect for them. The board member have consistently stepped above and beyond what their professional careers required to serve with numerous civic organizations within Grant County.

Regardless, it looks like the chamber board have already formed a search committee to look for an interim director. This either conveys a sense that they feel they have enough support to survive the recall election or they don’t care either way, and they’re going about business as usual.

I’d be a bit more interested in learning about the logistics of the vote. Will the meeting be public (I’ll be in town that week)? How will it be tabulated: does a majority of the membership have to be present? Or, does it require a majority (or supermajority) of those members who show up?

Anybody else know of recent developments?

Journalist turnover in Silver City


(Updated in comments – Please see below)
With the recent news that Levi Hill would be leaving the Silver City Sun News, and Mary Alice Murphy’s shift to a part-time, freelance schedule at the Silver City Daily Press, came a realization: in the past four years, there’s been a 100-percent turnover for full-time, daily reporters in Silver City.

When I returned from Washington D.C. ((where I had interned with Sen. Jeff Bingaman for the summer)) in August, 2004, I took a position as news director for KNFT radio. My predecessor, Larry Behrens, had just taken a job as KOAT’s local reporter for the Silver City/Southwest New Mexico area. At the Sun News, Levi was working with Tom Baird and sports reporter Matt Miller. The Daily Press was employing Melissa St. Aude, Mary Alice Murphy, and Steven Siegfried, with Vince Kong on sports duty.

The lay of the land has changed completely. Every name listed above has moved on (or is moving on) with the exception of Mary Alice, whose role at the Daily Press has been reduced significantly. KNFT’s news operation was basically scrapped in 2006.

I think the changes have been gradual enough that there’s been no serious loss of institutional knowledge, the statistic is staggering in my mind. What happens to follow through on long-term stories? How does a news organization maintain relationships with the community when its most visible ambassadors are constantly changing?

What do you think? Has the turnover in reporters been good, bad, or a mixed bag?