Archive for December, 2010

In Memoriam

by John Weckerle

Tonight, I and the folks here mourn the passing of our family member and long-time friend, Steve Wansky, who died today in Columbus, Ohio.  Steve was 64.

Steve was a kind and giving man who served in the military before moving on to become a teacher and football coach, a career that held him until his retirement.  We’ll miss his warmth, his good nature, his sense of humor, and his ever-present friendliness.  Our hearts go out to our sister-in-law Rena, who has been with him for many years and has had a good man taken from her suddenly and before his time.

Steve served his country and its young people for many years.  We miss him already, and the world has lost a good, good man.

East Mountain Tea Party Officials and Islam

Editor’s note: We consider it important to state at the outset of this article that it is in no way our intent to denigrate or disrespect anyone’s religious beliefs, in this article or elsewhere; in fact, it was the issue of religious intolerance that sent us down the path that led us to this piece. We’ve provided links to full articles where appropriate to provide our readers with the full context of the quotes; we have saved the key references in both PDF and PNG screen grab formats, so if any of the links in this story should become inoperative in the future, please let us know and we’ll do what we can to repair them.

Update 1/4/11: Our original article on the East Mountain Tea Party’s apparent anti-Islamic bias can be found here.

by John Weckerle

East Mountain Tea Party Co-Founder Therese Cooper (image via You Tube)

As many of our readers may remember, we took issue some time back with what we considered to be anti-Islam positions officially expressed on the East Mountain Tea Party (EMTP) web site (our articles on the subject, along with others, are now collected under the category “Tea Party-gate.”).  The EMTP post informed readers that key members of the EMTP (Therese Cooper, Char Tierney, Silvana Lupetti, and Felicia Wilson), including at least two of its co-founders, had submitted a letter to Congressman Martin Heinrich’s demanding that he state his position with respect to a Muslim community center proposed for downtown New York.  We objected to the anonymously-posted EMTP article, and received a surprisingly vitriolic response indicating a clear anti-Muslim bias.  We had a little fun trying to track down the identity of the anonymous poster, who in our view is the EMTP’s official internet spokesperson  – and after a while, partially lost interest in that aspect, but we continued to research the issue of religious discrimination, because we were frankly dumbfounded by the strong anti-Islamic sentiment that came across in “teapartynm’s” response.

»» East Mountain Tea Party Officials and Islam

Message From Wildlife West Founder

by Roger Alink, Executive Director, Wildlife West Nature Park

Wildlife West Nature Park is private 501-c-3 not for profit organization that has numerous restrictions placed upon it by IRS.  No involvement in political activity or having the effect of supporting any candidate or groups of candidates is allowed.   The park has been perceived to be affiliated with the TEA party primarily because of the large signs around the community advertising the TEA party meetings at Wildlife West Nature Park.  Numerous calls concerning this issue were made with great concern that the park was supporting the TEA party.  Even though we just rented the facility to the TEA party, sometimes perceptions are a bigger problem than reality.  I feel it is unfair for this issue to get misunderstood by many on both sides of the political spectrum and both sides have threatened to withhold support for the park.  The park depends on the whole community for support and we are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received throughout the past year. Wildlife West Nature Park is non-partisan and only wants to serve our wildlife and education mission as well as the entire community without any perception of representing political issues. Therefore the decision is to no longer rent our facility to any group representing any political issues and/or candidates or groups of candidates. Let’s put this behind us and work for a peaceful and healthy park in 2011.

Stand Up For Local Charities

by John Weckerle

As our readers might imagine, it is with a great deal of interest that we have observed the developing story of the East Mountain Tea Party’s (EMTP’s) latest brouhaha, this time involving the Moriarty Lions Club and Wildlife West Nature Park.  Both organizations recently discontinued the practice of leasing space to the EMTP.  As reported by some, reasons given were public perception issues, threatened loss of donations, and potential concerns with respect to the groups’ status as charitable organizations in the context of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) policies.  The latter is the official position given by both organizations.

In reality, we can see where there is likely a combination of these three factors at work.  Let’s face it: the Tea Party in general, and the EMTP in particular, can be rather pugilistic in their approach to activism, and this has gained them a reputation for divisiveness and combativeness.  Some of the positions they have taken have elicited concerns, including some expressed here, regarding bigotry.  Both on the national and local front, the movement has indulged in a great deal of name-calling and denigration, excoriating those with whom they do not agree and insinuating that those with opposing viewpoints are somehow less American than those on the “right” side of the fence.  Somehow, those affiliated with the Tea Party have taken the position that they are the (self-appointed) heirs to the Founding Fathers, the Sons of Liberty, and so on in terms of patriotism and American values.  One need only read through some of the articles on the EMTP’s web site or read last week’s letter from Sylvia Bokor to the Mountain View Telegraph (or the much nastier diatribe on her blog) to get a feel for the tone of the “dialogue.”  There are a substantial number of Americans who likely find this kind of invective extremely offensive, and probably a great deal more who are simply tired of hearing it.  In short, while the EMTP and other similar organizations are very enthusiastic about their cause, they have expressed that enthusiasm in such a manner as to turn off a large number of people, some of whom are likely donors to the organizations in question.

»» Stand Up For Local Charities

Better Late Than Never

by John Weckerle

Well, with Christmas now behind us, Kwanzaa under way, and New Year’s barreling down upon us, we figured a few lights might be in order…

Christmas lights at New Mexico Central headquarters.

Holiday Spirits And The Spirit Of Innovation

by John Weckerle

Today brought the denizens of New Mexico Central headquarters a visit from several close friends for a small gathering of after-the-holiday relaxation.  Quite a number of calories gave their lives for the cause, and several of us put our heads together and invented the new holiday drink craze for the second decade of the twenty-first century, which starts next Sunday.1

Lemon Franjoma (serves about six)

3 shots vodka (we used the Kirkland brand from Costco. We have been told this is made in a former Grey Goose distillery.)
1 shot creme de cacao
2 shots Bailey’s Irish Cream
6 slices of lemon dipped in sugar

Mix the first three ingredients in a shaker or similar vessel and pour into shot glasses. Begin by sucking a lemon slice, and then consume the contents of the shot glass.

We also viewed a short Christmas video produced by our good friend Jevon Campisi (who was unfortunately unable to join us), which is worth a look.

1There are some who will insist that the second decade of the twenty-first century started on the first of January this year. There are also some who will assert that the “millenium” and the twenty-first century began on January 1, 2000. Both positions are demonstrably incorrect; the correct dates are January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2001, respectively. There are those who will hem and haw and state the there are two ways of looking at the concept. We acknowledge this, and also acknowledge that one of them is dead wrong.

Of course, there are other cultures using other calendars which share neither the same “New Year’s Day” nor the same number for the year, which makes the entire preceding argument seem moot and just a tad silly. We acknowledge this. We’re still right, though.

Another Holiday Greeting

by John Weckerle

We’d like to take a moment and wish all of our readers who are celebrating Kwanzaa this year a very happy, joyous, and peaceful holiday!

And So This Is Christmas

by John Weckerle

Senior Consumer Affairs Consultant Wilson digs deep to get the answers.

The denizens of New Mexico Central headquarters are, finally, settling into a quiet and comfortable Christmas Eve – so far, at least, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed – with dinner nearly ready and presents wrapped and under the tree.  The last of the lighting we’ll do for this year got finished this afternoon.  As situations would have it, we’ll likely be the only ones seeing it this year – but we’ll enjoy it, and we’ll see about posting a picture if we don’t doze off too early.

Senior Consumer Affairs Correspondent Wilson has launched a “barker” investigation: What really lies at the bottom of the frozen dairy industry?

The time leading up to the holidays has been a bit of a challenge here; there have been some aggressive viruses, trips to the emergency room and thence to the hospital in general, and an important present that got lost – but, for the most part, all of this has been sorted out.

The most difficult part, though, is that we have a close family member who is unexpectedly fighting for his life.  There has been a great degree of pessimism, but I do not share it, and thus far I have been right at every critical turn.  Nobody is right all the time, but I’ve called it correctly each time so far and I am not giving up now.  Any kind thoughts and prayers would, of course, be appreciated.

All that having been said, we wish all our readers who observe the holiday a happy, joyous, and loving Christmas!

Wherein, We Apologize

by John Weckerle

We  have received a response from one Brady McElligott to an article (Would You Like Some Apples With Those Oranges) we posted in in the relatively distant past (September 26), which indicates that some apologies are in order:

  • To our readers, for apparently confusing the issue at hand with a typo in the first paragraph, inadvertently adding an “e” to the end of Valeri McElligott’s first name one out of the three times we used it in the article.
  • To the Moriarty Public Library, for our apparently incorrect thinking that Valeri McElligott was the head librarian.  We’d like to point out to the City of Moriarty and the library that this page suggests that this is the case, and recommend that the City do something about updating and/or removing it.
  • To the Mountain View Telegraph for not linking to their Letters to the Editor, which contained Valeri McElligott’s observations on the subject of the Muslim community center proposed for downtown Manhattan.

We have replied to Mr. McElligott’s specific comments in detail.

Full Text Of Senator Arlen Specter’s Farewell Speech

Editor’s note: While we will withhold comment on Senator Arlen Specter’s “closing argument” to the Senate (at least for now), we will say that we find within it enough food for thought that we feel it appropriate to provide the full text, even though this is not, strictly speaking, a local news issue. This text is taken directly from Mr. Specter’s web page. In part, we provide this because the search engines are already returning primarily news stories and blog posts, and links to the full text are becoming a little difficult to find.

Mr. SPECTER. Madam President, this is not a farewell address but, rather, a closing argument to a jury of my colleagues and the American people outlining my views on how the Senate and, with it, the Federal Government arrived at its current condition of partisan gridlock, and my suggestions on where we go from here on that pressing problem and the key issues of national and international importance.

To make a final floor statement is a challenge. The Washington Post noted the poor attendance at my colleagues’ farewell speeches earlier this month. That is really not surprising since there is hardly anyone ever on the Senate floor. The days of lively debate with many Members on the floor are long gone. Abuse of the Senate rules has pretty much stripped Senators of the right to offer amendments. The modern filibuster requires only a threat and no talking. So the Senate’s activity for more than a decade has been the virtual continuous drone of a quorum call. But that is not the way it was when Senator Chris Dodd and I were privileged to enter the world’s greatest deliberative body 30 years ago. Senators on both sides of the aisle engaged in collegial debate and found ways to find common ground on the Nation’s pressing problems.

»» Full Text Of Senator Arlen Specter’s Farewell Speech

Good Morning, Central New Mexico

by John Weckerle

With the snow from our recent winter storm nearly gone, this morning brought us another in a series of beautiful sunrises.  For those who missed it, and for those who saw it and want to see it again, we provide another look here.

Sunrise over the Estancia Valley.

Bernalillo County Employees Crochet Hats for the Homeless

by Larry Gallegos, Bernalillo County Public Information Office

Hats crocheted by Bernalillo County employees

A small group of Bernalillo County employees have been very busy for the past year crocheting Hats for the Homeless. The members of the Lunchtime Crochet Club have carefully and lovingly created over 300 hats and scarves this year. Last year the group made 64 hats that were donated to Healthcare for the Homeless but this year they decided to ramp up their efforts and it paid off.

Members of the group will be delivering the hats and scarves to Joy Junction on Monday, December 20 at 4:30pm.

Christmas Lights Parade in Mountainair

by John Weckerle

Checking in on our friends at Mountainair Announcements, we find that there will be a Christmas Lights Parade this Sunday, December 19, at 6:30 p.m.  For more information, see the Mountainair Announcements article.

Well, It’s About Time!

by John Weckerle

I-40 at Sedillo at 1 p.m. courtesy of

It would be stating the obvious to observe that it’s snowing here at New Mexico Central headquarters and in many of the surrounding areas.  As of about 1:15 this afternoon, we’ve probably accumulated about three to four inches, and snow is continuing to fall steadily.  Weather reports are varied with respect to the amount of snow we’re likely to see on the ground (the NOAA National Weather Service web site is still predicting rain), and based on what we’ve seen thus far, we believe they will all end up We are glad that our trip to Albuquerque has been taken care of, and we are now in a position to settle in and watch the snow fall, at least until its time for Senior Meteorological Correspondent Wilson and I to go out and sample the weather again.

Review of the highway cameras and other information at shows a varied set of conditions throughout the region.  Highway cameras at Santa Rosa and Vaughn show little evidence of snow, and there’s even some patchy sunshine in Vaughn.  There is definitely snow on the ground in Clines Corners, although I-40 looks clear in the image (but that could be black ice, so take it with a grain, or a truckload, of salt).  Moving further west, conditions become snowier, with some evidence of snow on the interstate at Sedillo Hill, Zamora Road, and NM-14.  The New Mexico Department of Transportation describes conditions from Carnuel to Sedillo as “mostly wet and slushy with snow still falling,” and from Moriarty to Route 3 as “snowpacked and icy, with possible black ice.”  We noted on our trip back from Albuquerque that Route 66/NM 333 was substantially snowier than I-40.  We recommend that people be very careful driving, leave plenty of time to get where they’re going, and get there before temperatures drop and more snow piles up.  Remember: the snow is falling on wet roads, and that means roads that look snowy may also be icy.

Local Phone Service Interrupted

by John Weckerle

KOBTV reports that internet and phone service have been restored to our area after having been interrupted due to the accidental cutting of a Qwest fiber optic cable in Tijeras.  Another crew cut a line south of Soccorro that interrupted service  to much of the southern part of the State.  KOBTV and other sources suggested that cell phones be used to make emergency contact.

That would have been fine, we suppose, except for those of us whose cell phone service was also affected.  As it turns out, we had a medical emergency here at New Mexico Central headquarters shortly after the outage began, and found that our Sprint cell service was also inoperative.  Unable to make ANY connections to contact doctors or emergency response people for advice, we made our own run to the ER in Albuquerque and took care of the problem ourselves (everything will be fine).

We would like to know more about this situation: the identity of the contractors, what led to the accidental cutting of the cables, whether any negligence was involved, what corrective actions and/or sanctions are being implemented, and what Qwest may be able to do provide some level of backup service in the event that cables are accidentally cut in the future.