Operation Free Veterans Stopping in LC Monday

January 30, 2010

By Steve Klinger

In a crowded field of hopefuls for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, see Lawrence Rael’s candidacy stands out for several reasons. For one thing, Rael has never held elective office. Still, he is being described as the “overqualified candidate” in the race for a position that requires only two official duties: presiding over the Senate and acting as governor in the absence of the state’s chief executive.

What Rael does have is an extensive background in administration and impressive list of accomplishments to go along with a persuasive can-do attitude. Currently executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, Rael is widely credited with coordinating and implementing the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, the kind of project he’d like to develop between Las Cruces and El Paso. He has also served as a deputy secretary of transportation, an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and for 12 years as chief administrative officer for the City of Albuquerque.

In a recent interview in Las Cruces Rael said he is running for lieutenant governor because he feels called to continue his career in public service and the lieutenant governor’s position is “a job that needs to be elevated.”

“We expect governors to do it all, and they can’t possibly do it all,” Rael added. Right now department secretaries take on a lot of the governor’s work, he explained. Instead, Rael sees an “opportunity [as lieutenant governor] to create new areas of responsibility.”

Born in Santa Fe and raised in the tiny town Sile, Rael graduated from Bernalillo High School in 1976 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico. He later added a master’s degree from UNM in public administration. In 1984 he became deputy secretary of transportation under Gov. Toney Anaya, then left in 1987 to join the staff of Sen. Jeff Bingaman. In 1990 he returned to New Mexico to become CAO for the City of Albuquerque, a job he held under three different administrations, administering a billion-dollar budget. Since 2002 he has directed the MRCOG, representing Bernalillo, Valencia, Torrance and Sandoval counties. The council manages regional transportation, agriculture, workforce development, employment growth, land-use, water and economic development programs.

Rael spoke confidently of his accomplishments and his pride in bringing people together to get things done. He said he built bridges between several different New Mexico constituencies as Albuquerque CAO, mounting a successful effort to protect Kirtland Air Force Base when it was threatened by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. He said he broke new ground in forging consensus to move forward with transportation initiatives, including road construction and maintenance projects, and especially the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, a project he volunteered to coordinate despite constituencies with conflicting interests and a prevailing sentiment that it couldn’t be done. Today, the commuter rail runs from Belen to Santa Fe and has carried more than 2 million riders.

In 2006, when the state’s regional housing authority system was foundering amid corruption scandals, Gov. Bill Richardson called on Rael to step in and overhaul the agency, adding to his reputation as a successful administrative troubleshooter.

The race for lieutenant governor pits Rael against at least four Democratic opponents in the June primary, including state senators Linda Lopez and Jerry Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque, state Rep. Jose Campos of Santa Rosa and former state Democratic Party chairman Brian Colón. Although some observers regard Colón as the favorite because of his party credentials and close ties with Bill Richardson, Rael’s campaign is in high gear, with his first television ad released in January and an aggressive travel schedule throughout the state. Rael and Ortiz y Pino have been called the two progressives in the race, a label Rael does not dispute, though he prefers to stick to specific issues.

Rael stresses the need for ethics reform in state government. “People are really concerned about accountability,” he said in touting the creation of an ethics commission and especially the establishment of a strong whistleblower provision. “People have an absolute right to question the person and position [of someone they have elected]. You can legislate to death but it comes down to individuals,” he said.

Rael said New Mexico needs a code of conduct not only for elected officials but for all public employees. “I respect that the public is paying me to do a job,” he added.

Another issue high on Rael’s list is smart growth. New Mexico needs planned growth as opposed to suburban sprawl, according to Rael. “If [communities] are not laid out properly and then you try and retrofit, it doesn’t work,” he said. In his capacity as Albuquerque CAO he established zones governed by a water and sewer system, Rael said, thus creating opportunities for local government to have tools to plan better and control growth on the fringe.  He said higher development fees on the fringe are justified to encourage more urban development.

“Albuquerque went through a pro-growth process but is now past it and more green-oriented,” Rael said.  “Development doesn’t pay for itself.”

Southern New Mexico is ripe for a commuter rail system, in Rael’s estimation, both because of its proximity to the international border and the growth of Las Cruces itself. “A train could really help development of the corridor and give people choices,” he said.

An important part of such a system is the availability of shuttles to coordinate with train arrivals and departures, especially in far-flung cities like Albuquerque and El Paso. “We made shuttles part of the fare,” Rael said of the Rail Runner system. “This really helped develop Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.”

He said an extension between Belen and Las Cruces may not be economically feasible for some time: “El Paso – Las Cruces is a strong corridor, but Las Cruces – Belen would be a challenge.” In addition to enough ridership, Rael explained, there are infrastructure issues. “This is dark territory; it’s not signalized, and you’d need to get around the BNSF [Burlington Northern and Santa Fe] yard in Belen,” Rael said.

Whatever the challenge, Rael conveys plenty of passion about tackling it head on.  He says his experience in government has shown his capacity for leadership: “When you show leadership, accomplishments lead to more responsibility.”

On the opportunity to run for lieutenant governor, Rael concluded: “I had too much experience not to get involved.”

And on the subject of future ambitions, Rael smiled at the obvious question and nodded: “I’d like to be governor.”

By Steve Klinger

In a crowded field of hopefuls for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, Oncology
Lawrence Rael’s candidacy stands out for several reasons. For one thing, Rael has never held elective office. Still, he is being described as the “overqualified candidate” in the race for a position that requires only two official duties: presiding over the Senate and acting as governor in the absence of the state’s chief executive.

What Rael does have is an extensive background in administration and impressive list of accomplishments to go along with a persuasive can-do attitude. Currently executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, Rael is widely credited with coordinating and implementing the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, the kind of project he’d like to develop between Las Cruces and El Paso. He has also served as a deputy secretary of transportation, an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and for 12 years as chief administrative officer for the City of Albuquerque.

In a recent interview in Las Cruces Rael said he is running for lieutenant governor because he feels called to continue his career in public service and the lieutenant governor’s position is “a job that needs to be elevated.”

“We expect governors to do it all, and they can’t possibly do it all,” Rael added. Right now department secretaries take on a lot of the governor’s work, he explained. Instead, Rael sees an “opportunity [as lieutenant governor] to create new areas of responsibility.”

Born in Santa Fe and raised in the tiny town Sile, Rael graduated from Bernalillo High School in 1976 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico. He later added a master’s degree from UNM in public administration. In 1984 he became deputy secretary of transportation under Gov. Toney Anaya, then left in 1987 to join the staff of Sen. Jeff Bingaman. In 1990 he returned to New Mexico to become CAO for the City of Albuquerque, a job he held under three different administrations, administering a billion-dollar budget. Since 2002 he has directed the MRCOG, representing Bernalillo, Valencia, Torrance and Sandoval counties. The council manages regional transportation, agriculture, workforce development, employment growth, land-use, water and economic development programs.

Rael spoke confidently of his accomplishments and his pride in bringing people together to get things done. He said he built bridges between several different New Mexico constituencies as Albuquerque CAO, mounting a successful effort to protect Kirtland Air Force Base when it was threatened by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. He said he broke new ground in forging consensus to move forward with transportation initiatives, including road construction and maintenance projects, and especially the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, a project he volunteered to coordinate despite constituencies with conflicting interests and a prevailing sentiment that it couldn’t be done. Today, the commuter rail runs from Belen to Santa Fe and has carried more than 2 million riders.

In 2006, when the state’s regional housing authority system was foundering amid corruption scandals, Gov. Bill Richardson called on Rael to step in and overhaul the agency, adding to his reputation as a successful administrative troubleshooter.

The race for lieutenant governor pits Rael against at least four Democratic opponents in the June primary, including state senators Linda Lopez and Jerry Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque, state Rep. Jose Campos of Santa Rosa and former state Democratic Party chairman Brian Colón. Although some observers regard Colón as the favorite because of his party credentials and close ties with Bill Richardson, Rael’s campaign is in high gear, with his first television ad released in January and an aggressive travel schedule throughout the state. Rael and Ortiz y Pino have been called the two progressives in the race, a label Rael does not dispute, though he prefers to stick to specific issues.

Rael stresses the need for ethics reform in state government. “People are really concerned about accountability,” he said in touting the creation of an ethics commission and especially the establishment of a strong whistleblower provision. “People have an absolute right to question the person and position [of someone they have elected]. You can legislate to death but it comes down to individuals,” he said.

Rael said New Mexico needs a code of conduct not only for elected officials but for all public employees. “I respect that the public is paying me to do a job,” he added.

Another issue high on Rael’s list is smart growth. New Mexico needs planned growth as opposed to suburban sprawl, according to Rael. “If [communities] are not laid out properly and then you try and retrofit, it doesn’t work,” he said. In his capacity as Albuquerque CAO he established zones governed by a water and sewer system, Rael said, thus creating opportunities for local government to have tools to plan better and control growth on the fringe.  He said higher development fees on the fringe are justified to encourage more urban development.

“Albuquerque went through a pro-growth process but is now past it and more green-oriented,” Rael said.  “Development doesn’t pay for itself.”

Southern New Mexico is ripe for a commuter rail system, in Rael’s estimation, both because of its proximity to the international border and the growth of Las Cruces itself. “A train could really help development of the corridor and give people choices,” he said.

An important part of such a system is the availability of shuttles to coordinate with train arrivals and departures, especially in far-flung cities like Albuquerque and El Paso. “We made shuttles part of the fare,” Rael said of the Rail Runner system. “This really helped develop Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.”

He said an extension between Belen and Las Cruces may not be economically feasible for some time: “El Paso – Las Cruces is a strong corridor, but Las Cruces – Belen would be a challenge.” In addition to enough ridership, Rael explained, there are infrastructure issues. “This is dark territory; it’s not signalized, and you’d need to get around the BNSF [Burlington Northern and Santa Fe] yard in Belen,” Rael said.

Whatever the challenge, Rael conveys plenty of passion about tackling it head on.  He says his experience in government has shown his capacity for leadership: “When you show leadership, accomplishments lead to more responsibility.”

On the opportunity to run for lieutenant governor, Rael concluded: “I had too much experience not to get involved.”

And on the subject of future ambitions, Rael smiled at the obvious question and nodded: “I’d like to be governor.”
By Kim McMurray

In New Mexico, heart
water is not an issue that we take lightly, and polluted water, in any capacity is not a problem that we can afford to ignore. The Rio Grande and all our state waterways are threatened by local industrial polluters, and lax regulations within the current Clean Water Act.

The Rio Grande is a hallmark of New Mexico and provides our residents with a place to go fishing, swimming and rafting. Although the Rio Grande and all our state waterways provide us with so much, polluters continue to dump directly into our waterways and into the streams that feed them. In 2007, industrial facilities dumped 26 tons of toxic chemicals into New Mexico’s waterways. And for the most part, these polluters go unpunished. The pollution comes from farming, developers, road building, logging, mining and oil and gas drilling. We have regulations on the books to protect our rivers, lakes and streams. Unfortunately, over the last 10 years federal protections have been weakened, allowing polluters to dump unlimited pollution in the streams and wetlands that feed our great waterways, like the Rio Grande.

The Clean Water Act is the key piece of legislation designed to protect our waters. It was passed in 1972 during a time when America’s rivers were so polluted that some, like Ohio’s Cuyahoga River, caught on fire. We have come a long way in 30 years. But recent Supreme Court decisions have set us back – taking away Clean Water Act protections for thousands of streams and millions of acres of wetlands.

Now developers can pave over wetlands and pollute the streams that feed our great waterways like the Rio Grande, and there is nothing the federal government can do about it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 88 percent of New Mexico’s streams may no longer be protected by the Clean Water Act.

In the best interest of New Mexicans, we need to fix this problem sooner rather than later. The health of New Mexico’s drinking water is at risk, as water consumption outstrips natural supply and the water we do have is threatened by unregulated pollution. If rates of water consumption stay constant and the Southwest’s ever-growing population trends continue, the region will be using twice as much water in 2040 as it does today. We need enough clean water to drink and to fuel our economy. Our crops won’t grow and our livestock won’t survive unless we have enough water. We cannot afford to waste a drop, or let industrial polluters dump tons of chemicals with known links to developmental and reproductive disorders and cancer.

This year we have an opportunity to restore the Clean Water Act to its original intent and once again protect all our waterways by passing the Clean Water Restoration Act. This is a simple bill that reaffirms that all, not just some, of our waters are protected by the Clean Water Act. Right wing ideologues and special interests who want carte blanche to pollute our waterways will argue that this bill is something it is not. For years, they have claimed that the Clean Water Restoration Act would bring the Feds into your backyard requiring permits for every birdbath, mud puddle and swimming pool. Not only is this untrue but it is inconceivable that the EPA would have the desire, let alone the resources, to regulate the water quality of your birdbath.

The fact is, this bill does not impose any new regulatory requirements and does not broaden or add any new category of waters to the scope of the Clean Water Act. It would simply restore the law, clearly protecting what was protected before the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision. There are also exemptions for farmers in the Clean Water Act legislation that passed the Senate committee in June.

This important legislation is now is set to be taken up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We urge representatives Heinrich, Lujan, and Teague to protect America’s waters by helping this bill pass in the House. We cannot wait another year as our waterways continue to be polluted. We need Congress to act now to preserve the Rio Grande and protect all America’s waterways.

Kim McMurray is the Environment Associate for Environment New Mexico, a citizen-based statewide environmental advocacy organization.
By Kim McMurray

In New Mexico, allergist
water is not an issue that we take lightly, and polluted water, in any capacity is not a problem that we can afford to ignore. The Rio Grande and all our state waterways are threatened by local industrial polluters, and lax regulations within the current Clean Water Act.

The Rio Grande is a hallmark of New Mexico and provides our residents with a place to go fishing, swimming and rafting. Although the Rio Grande and all our state waterways provide us with so much, polluters continue to dump directly into our waterways and into the streams that feed them. In 2007, industrial facilities dumped 26 tons of toxic chemicals into New Mexico’s waterways. And for the most part, these polluters go unpunished. The pollution comes from farming, developers, road building, logging, mining and oil and gas drilling. We have regulations on the books to protect our rivers, lakes and streams. Unfortunately, over the last 10 years federal protections have been weakened, allowing polluters to dump unlimited pollution in the streams and wetlands that feed our great waterways, like the Rio Grande.

The Clean Water Act is the key piece of legislation designed to protect our waters. It was passed in 1972 during a time when America’s rivers were so polluted that some, like Ohio’s Cuyahoga River, caught on fire. We have come a long way in 30 years. But recent Supreme Court decisions have set us back – taking away Clean Water Act protections for thousands of streams and millions of acres of wetlands.

Now developers can pave over wetlands and pollute the streams that feed our great waterways like the Rio Grande, and there is nothing the federal government can do about it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 88 percent of New Mexico’s streams may no longer be protected by the Clean Water Act.

In the best interest of New Mexicans, we need to fix this problem sooner rather than later. The health of New Mexico’s drinking water is at risk, as water consumption outstrips natural supply and the water we do have is threatened by unregulated pollution. If rates of water consumption stay constant and the Southwest’s ever-growing population trends continue, the region will be using twice as much water in 2040 as it does today. We need enough clean water to drink and to fuel our economy. Our crops won’t grow and our livestock won’t survive unless we have enough water. We cannot afford to waste a drop, or let industrial polluters dump tons of chemicals with known links to developmental and reproductive disorders and cancer.

This year we have an opportunity to restore the Clean Water Act to its original intent and once again protect all our waterways by passing the Clean Water Restoration Act. This is a simple bill that reaffirms that all, not just some, of our waters are protected by the Clean Water Act. Right wing ideologues and special interests who want carte blanche to pollute our waterways will argue that this bill is something it is not. For years, they have claimed that the Clean Water Restoration Act would bring the Feds into your backyard requiring permits for every birdbath, mud puddle and swimming pool. Not only is this untrue but it is inconceivable that the EPA would have the desire, let alone the resources, to regulate the water quality of your birdbath.

The fact is, this bill does not impose any new regulatory requirements and does not broaden or add any new category of waters to the scope of the Clean Water Act. It would simply restore the law, clearly protecting what was protected before the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision. There are also exemptions for farmers in the Clean Water Act legislation that passed the Senate committee in June.

This important legislation is now is set to be taken up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We urge representatives Heinrich, Lujan, and Teague to protect America’s waters by helping this bill pass in the House. We cannot wait another year as our waterways continue to be polluted. We need Congress to act now to preserve the Rio Grande and protect all America’s waterways.

Kim McMurray is the Environment Associate for Environment New Mexico, a citizen-based statewide environmental advocacy organization.
WHAT: Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are touring the country, Sildenafil
speaking about how we can increase our energy independence and strengthen our national security by transitioning to clean, about it
domestic sources of energy.

WHEN: Monday, February 1, 2010 1:00-2:00pm

WHERE: VFW Post/ 5845 Bataan Memorial W./ Las Cruces, NM 88012-5020

WHO: The national tour is sponsored by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations that recognize that climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels pose serious threats to US national security.

For questions or more information, please contact Kim McMurray, Clean Energy Works (505)254-4819.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.