Monday, July 31, 2006

Water and Moon Mountain

The Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board criticized me this morning for wanting to protect Moon Mountain in Ruidoso. Essentially, they said the residents of Ruidoso should just buy it and then they gave some ink to me saying I wanted to balance environmental protection and revenue generation on state land through a constitutional amendment. I disagree with their position on developing Moon Mountain at the expense of proper planning and conservation. I have always felt you should err on the side of ecosystem protection. The ecosystem in Ruidoso is highly stressed. That is what this issue is really about. Now, in the Journal's own website today there is an Associated Press story documenting an emergency funding by the Bureau of Reclamation that is aimed at getting some extra water to Ruidoso and Cloudcroft because of shortages. Um, Moon Mountain is one of the last pieces of undisturbed watershed in the area.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Just What You Would Expect

I always wake up early when I return from the Eastern part of the country because I get on their time zone clock and then come back and stay on it for a few days. It makes me get up earlier and be more productive. I read in the Journal's business pages this morning that Exxon Mobile net profit last quarter was $10 billion. In one quarter! Then a little bit later I get some really good stuff from a friend of mine in Washington that will interest all of you. He is an expert on Energy in the west. This report is from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The report was just issued.

“Although it is difficult to quantify the effect of speculation on prices, there is substantial evidence that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices. Several analysts have estimated that speculative purchases of oil futures have added as much as $20-$25 per barrel to the current price of crude oil, thereby pushing up the price of oil from $50 to approximately $70 per barrel. Additionally, by purchasing large numbers of futures contracts, and hereby pushing up futures prices to even higher levels than current prices, speculators have provided a financial incentive for oil companies to buy even more oil and place it in storage. A refiner will purchase extra oil today, even if it costs $70 per barrel, if the futures price is even higher.

“As a result, over the past two years crude oil inventories have been steadily growing, resulting in U.S. crude oil inventories that are now higher than at any time in the previous eight years. The last time crude oil inventories were this high, in May 1998 – at about 347 million barrels – the price of crude oil was about $15 per barrel. By contrast, the price of crude oil is now about $70 per barrel. The large influx of speculative investment into oil futures has led to a situation where we have high crude oil prices despite high levels of oil in inventory.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

News Items

Here are couple of news items that went out today. This one is in response to an Albuquerque Tribune Columinst who attacked the Governor and me as an environemental elitists. It was written by my friend Geoff Webb.

This next one is good too. While I am anything but elitist, I most certainly am an environmentally minded public servant. I am proud of this one.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, July 24, 2006

Teachers in the Oil Patch

A large group of teachers were paid $500 to sit through a presentation funded by Yates Petroleum of Artesia to hear about all the good things the Oil and Gas Industry does for us in New Mexico. Yes, I do believe they do some good things too through their payment of taxes and employment of New Mexicans. Yates thinks teachers only hear negative things about the oil patch. I don't know whether that is true or not, but I do know there are two sides to every story. There is nothing wrong with what Yates is doing except for the fact that there is no one who has large amounts of money for stipends for teachers to hear the other side of the story. They should hear about the threats to Otero Mesa and Valle Vidal from the Oil and Gas industry as well.

I hear Cheney is coming to New Mexico. You want to bet he will be raising money for my opponent?

I will be hitting the road tomorrow for Washington, DC for some of my volunteer work and some fundraising for the campaign. Wish me luck on that fund raising cause I need a heck of a lot more money to counter the oil and gas industry's support of Pat Lyons. Please send money to me by going to my website at

Sunday, July 23, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play


The New York Times is running some great pictures of New Yorkers lining up to get bags of ice because large parts of that city have been without electrical power for seven days. Its hot in New York City this summer, like every where else.

I got to thinking about New York's crumbling electrical grid and our current war of choice in Iraq. As war costs approach a half trillion dollars think how some of that money could have been used to repair America's infrastructure. War produces nothing but death and expensive explosions. This war has done nothing for building roads, schools, clean water supplies and energy efficiency. It has made some defense industry corporations bottom lines look good.

Moon Mountain Again

Incumbent Land Commissioner Pat Lyons told the people Friday night in Ruidoso he needed to sell Moon Mountain because he needed the money to help fund schools. Less than 24 hours later he told the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau members in Ruidoso that he would be reducing their grazing fees by 10% in October (just prior to election day) because oil and gas revenues were so high.

Also, we found out, as you can see from this picture, that the Land Office spent over half a million dollars for thinning of the forests on Moon Mountain. The money was mostly federal funds. What wasn't mentioned in a good Albuquerque Sunday Journal article was that the only land that was thinned to reduce fire danger was the land that could support development and was later put up for sale. That is expensive prep work done at taxpayer expense for Lyons' developer of choice.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ruidoso Trip

We left early this morning for Ruidoso with a short drive by of the Plaza in Socorro. I have always liked that Gazebo and my little pickup truck looked good there.

Then I went by one of my favorite places to check up on it. The Maintenance Department for Socorro County. I always want to check to see if it has had any maintenance. So far, I dont think so.

Then we arrived for a series of meetings in Ruidoso. People there are really upset with my opponents plans to trade away a much beloved piece of open space known as Moon Mountain. It will then be developed with hundreds of homes. They had a special meeting for me tonight to discuss ways of saving it. We had about 40 people show up, and then my opponent waltzed into the meeting too. He dug himself a really deep hole. It was kind of sad.

These folks in Ruidoso are beginning to experience a declining quality of life due to traffic congestion and loss of open space. My opponents development plans have caused a coming together of diverse groups in that Village and they want to save this land. I will help them in any way I can. Most of them are republicans with a good sense of conservation ethics.

Finally, this picture is from the going away party for Jessie Keefe and Jeff Hunt. They have moved to Hawaii. Jessie did a great job as my campaign manager during the primary election. We are all going to miss them.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stem Cell

Pete Domenici voted with the President on killing stem cell research. I have always had a hard time dealing with Pete on some stuff, especially environmental issues, but generally I have always mostly respected him. I have especially thought his work on behalf of the mentally ill has been important. However, his vote to place religion before science and to support this President has lost me completely.

I hope everyone who has loved ones who are suffering debilitating and fatal diseases will remember this one vote. It should not be a reason by itself to vote Pete out of office, but when you add it to his undying support for the administration's war and fiscal stands, we should think about his re-election bid in a critical light.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


During the Depression of the 1930's President Roosevelt put together the Rural Electrification Administration to bring power to the Nation's farmers and ranchers. It was a tremendous social program that made the country strong. Yes, it was the nation getting together on a welfare program for rural America. A program well worth it. Apparently, we are still handing out the money big time to farmers and ranchers around the country, but not for the same national purpose. Read this if you want to be astonished.

Another sad part of this is that these people picking up these payments usually are very conservative and ask their Representatives and Senators to vote against most other welfare and assistance programs.

My opponent Patrick Lyons received $20,000 from this fiasco. Click on this link to get to a map and then click on the counties to see who picked up money for their cows. Click here for farm giveaways. Some of the amounts are astonishing. I wish I had a chance to compare them to Patrick Lyons' donor base. Maybe someone out there would like to do it? Like an enterprising investigative reporter.

Don't assume that I think all subsidies are bad. Real natural disasters are legitimate reasons for relief to agriculture. Also, subsidies that enable water conservation, wildlife protection, watershed protection and riparian protection then it is probably good.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Money Trail

My opponent Pat Lyons has raised 90% or more of his campaign donations from entities who do business with the State Land Office. He is raising unprecedented amounts of money from the oil and gas industry, the real estate industry and big agriculture. Yes, he is the incumbent and he is doing nothing illegal, but if these numbers don't beg for public financing of the land offices races in the future then we should just turn the whole agency over to the lessees.

Oil and Gas Interests --$211,000
Real Estate and Developers--$119,000
Ranching, Dairy, Agriculture--$175,000

That is creeping up towards half a million dollars from lessees at the Land Office to the coffers of Lyons. This brings enormous pressures to bear on the independence of the land office. Already, this is record breaking for the amount of money raised for a land office election.

To keep the record straight, I have recieved $1,000 from an oil and gas refiner and $10,000 from planned community developers.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dendahl Lays an Egg--Grade AA Extra Large

Here is what Republican Governor Candidate John Dendahl said on the radio about weak DWI laws and the legislature's alleged failure at passing stronger laws.

"...the Legislature understands that statistically ... too many people who are repeat offenders happen to have Spanish last names."

He let his true colors show here and the GOP should hold another closed door meeting to boot him out of the race as they did their duly elected candidate Mr. Damron. This can not be explained away by saying he was not 'artful' in saying it. Actually, I hope the GOP keeps him in the race for obvious reasons.

Well here is a note from me to Dendahl. I am quite sure that my son and daughter, both Bacas, have never been arrested for DWI. Nor have I ever been arrested, or my brother Tom, nor my sister Carlota, nor my late father Fermin, nor my uncle Jaime, nor my Aunt Pelta, nor my grandfather Delfin, nor my grandmother Lenore. Now, that is a lot of 'spanish named' people that have never been arrested for DWI, and that is just in my immediate family.

I also wonder what would have happened if Bill Richardson had said,
"the Legislature understands that statistically ... too many people who are repeat offenders happen to have Anglo last names." Do you think that story would have been relegated to the back pages of the news media? I don't think so. This story is probably far from over.

I would invite the readers to add a comment on this blog to name all the people they know with 'Spanish Names' that have not been arrested for DWI. Also, write a note to the State GOP asking them "WTF?" Email it to

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lunch Bet

My friend bet me a lunch that the current Middle East Meltdown will end with Israel bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. I took the bet but somehow I think I better start planning on where the lunch should be at.

I am so fed up with this Middle East Culture of war. Everybody I talk to is fed up with it too. My first memories of problems in that region come from about 1954. That makes it a 50 year long war so far.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Who Owns the Land Office and the West?

This is a website you all should visit and study. It will give you a good overview of who owns the oil and gas leases in the Western United States and on New Mexico's Otero Mesa. Browse around it a little bit and then take a look at the contributions to this Land Commissioner race that I am in at this site.

A lot of the people on the first website are giving a lot of money to my opponent as you can see on the second website. I will be publishing some pretty good facts on this and you will be astonished.

This will help you understand the money I am up against in this race. I have recieved no contributions from oil and gas companies. I figure my opponent has recieved at least a majority of his money from this one group that does business at the Land Office. This is unprecedented. The other contributions, or most of it, comes from other groups that do business at the Land Office.

Elections for State Land Commissioner in New Mexico cry for public financing. If I am successful in fighting off this oil and gas money I will seek public finanicing for this elected position.

I would however be happy to get a contribution from you. You make one online at

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Front Page

I wish I were the editor of the Albuquerque Journal. Just for a day. Today there were three stories on the front page that belonged elsewhere not because they were not important but because of the news that was relegated to the back pages. The Journal's continuing stories on Manny Aragon, Robert Vigil and Eric Serna, all Hispanic Democrats, might be newsworthy. But the continued violence in the middle east and Iraq should, in my opinion, be front page stuff these days because of their long lasting effects on our country. Fifty people being killed in Iraq in a single day is important. The civil war that has been predicted by everyone except bush, rumsfeld and cheney, is underway and the ramifications are profound.

I had coffee this morning with a long time friend who is an immigrant and naturalized citizen. He has been a great public servant and I respect him a lot. He said, "This country is at a low point and our stature is getting worse every day in the eyes of the world. I would consider returning to Europe if I didn't have family here."

I was suprised to hear this and saddened. I know he loves this country but his frustration is understandable. He can not understand why more people are not outraged and protesting in the streets over this war in Iraq. He is really concerned that students have 'checked out' on dissent.

This is where our media comes into play. Maybe the war, since it is four years old, doesn't sell many ads, but I strongly believe this international news belongs on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal and not just the New York Times. I am fortunate enough to be able to afford subscriptions to both papers, but not many can. The NYT costs me $48 a month!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Water Water

I just flew back in from Ruidoso after an appearance before the Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual meeting. I had driven down to Ruidoso just before the Primary election and it was so dry it looked like the dark side of the moon. Today it looked like a different landscape. Many of the Playa Lakes were full to the northwest of Carizozo and there was a tinge of green appearing on the terrain after the recent torrential rains. (Note, this doesn't mean the drought is over. It does start confirming global warming theories that we will get our rainfalls all at once in many places.)

The most important subject at the meeting today was water. That is what is on everyone's minds and we spent the better part of our candidate forum talking about water. One of the big concerns of the farmers, ranchers and government workers at the conference was the continued impact of sprawl on the watersheds. If you get a chance to fly into the Ruidoso area you can see why they are concerned. Looking out of our Beechcraft's windows you can see the sprawl starting fifteen miles from Ruidoso. I was astonished. Was water planning a part of this development? I wouldn't bet the farm on it! Or maybe I will have to!

Then, I get home and find the Albuquerque Journal story on the State Water Engineers Office being criticized for hiring more attorneys on contract to handle the work load revolving around water issues. They have spent about $5 million in the last year. That seems like nothing to me given the magnitude of the water litigation and permitting that is taking up their time. That amount of money wouldn't even fund the infrastructure for one small sized subdivision. What is the big deal about this? Think about this. Water is the preeminent issue in our state and some one is complaining about the small appropriations for our water agency. Maybe this is just "Wag the Dog."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

There Goes My Baby

Noelle has really left the nest this time. After returning from Malaga, Spain last week she spent the week in bed with a Strep infection. She was up to full speed by yesterday which was good because she left at 7 a.m. this morning for her new job and the start of a career. She will drive to Chandler, Arizona today along with Bobbi to set up her household before starting work next week for Intel as a financial analyst for Corporate Services.

It may look like she packed everything she owns in her Honda, but you should see her closet! It took Justin four years to clean out his closet after graduation, so I guess Noelle has some time left.

Bobbi always makes these kinds of trips with Noelle to help soothe the stress for our youngest child. Noelle is just 21. Please notice the styrofoam box on Bobbi's lap. Yes, they are Frontier Burritos!

Meanwhile, Justin and his girl Karly are in Syracuse, New York where Karly is entering the second year of her Masters degree studies. Justin will be moving sixty miles south to Ithaca to start his MBA program at Cornell University. They will spend weekends together at least!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Poll

Here is the memo from my Pollsters at Lake Research. I will win this election if I raise adequate funds to fight my opponents massive infusions of oil and gas money. It is great to be ahead of an incumbent four months before the election, but the thought of his bank roll is scary.

I especially like the part about the public's trust on who better takes care of the environment.

To: Interested Parties

From: Lake Research Partners

Date: July 5, 2006

Re: Recent Poll Findings on NM Land Commissioner Race

A recent survey of likely voters in New Mexico reveals that, if the election were held today, Jim Baca would defeat incumbent Pat Lyons in the race for Commissioner of Public Lands.[1] Lyons is highly vulnerable to a challenge from Baca, already trailing him by 5 points, 38 percent for Baca to 33 percent for Lyons, with just under 3 in ten voters undecided (29 percent). Baca holds an even greater advantage among a key group of swing voters: independents. Among independent voters, Baca leads Lyons by a 12-point margin, 34 percent to 22 percent, with 43 percent undecided.

Lyons’ tenure as Land Commissioner has left the voters dissatisfied and looking for change. His problems are two-fold: he is still largely unknown to the public 4 years into his term; additionally, among those voters who are familiar with Lyons, he is perceived to be doing a bad job as Land Commissioner. Just 22 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Lyons, 8 percent have an unfavorable opinion, and fully 70 percent of voters either have no opinion or have never heard of him.

Voters’ ratings of Lyons’ performance as Land Commissioner are even more critical. Twenty percent of voters believe Lyons is doing an excellent or good job as State Commissioner of Public Lands, compared to 29 percent who believe he is doing just a fair or poor job. Fully half of voters don’t know what kind of job Lyons is doing.

Finally, in a state that is closely divided in terms of partisanship, the office of Land Commissioner is a rare exception where voters are more likely to defer to a Democrat. When asked which Party they trust more when it comes to protecting public lands and the environment, regardless of which candidate they are supporting in the race, 46 percent choose the Democratic Party compared to 29 percent who say the Republicans would do a better job. In a close race, Baca’s partisan advantage could help solidify his lead over Lyons.

[1] Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey, which was conducted by phone using professional interviewers. The survey reached 400 adults, 18 years or older, in New Mexico who are registered to vote and likely to vote in the 2006 general election. The survey was conducted from June 27-29, 2006. The margin of error for the poll is +/-4.9%.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


My barber Gene Varoz has been cutting my hair for 35 years. I did a blog about him sometime back. Read it here. He is one of the best political pollsters I know. I always tell him his "barber poll" is one of the most accurate around. That is because he has over 500 clients and during his half hour with them they always end up talking about politics. So, he gets a good sense for what is going on in his clients heads. He said he has noticed lately that a lot of his clients who were big supporters of bush have stopped talking about him. They are still Republicans, but they aren't carrying the flag for the commander in chief like they used to.

That is probably good news for all of us running this year as Democrats. Of course, Gene's "barber poll" isn't scientifically sound any more than the polls you see me running on this blog. Scientific polls cost real money to put into the field. And, that is exactly what I spent money on last week with Lake Research Partners out of Washington, DC. They are very well respected and very accurate.

I had the poll conducted not so much to get a bottom line figure on my race against Pat Lyons, the only statewide Republican office holder, but to figure out where we go find votes after the volumes of data and demographics are digested. That is the real value of polling.

I will release my poll numbers in a few days. They seem to me to be very good, but smarter people will let me know what all the other stuff means. However, suffice it to say it is always good to be leading your opponent when he is an incumbent. Watch for the real numbers on Thursday or Friday.

I also polled the other races and I can honestly say all the Democrats are doing very well. The Governor's poll numbers show growing momentum after the Republicans threw out their elected candidate and replaced him with John Dendahl. Why am I not surprised?

Monday, July 03, 2006


A lot of people don't remember that I was once the New Mexico Director of Alcohol Beverage Control. This was during a time that licenses sold for over a half million dollars and corruption had ruled in that department. Governor Bruce King appointed me to go in and clean up the mess and revamp the licensing system.

Amongst other tasks, we were asked to enforce the laws against illegal sales of alcohol from backyards on Sundays, private clubs and eating establishments. We would send in an agent to make the buy and then issue a citation to the guilty party. They would then have to appear in court to pay a fine.

Today the Albuquerque Journal had a story about a raid by officers on a local private club and gym. Read it here.

I thought it might be a routine bust until I read the story on the same incident in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Read it here.

If the New Mexican's account is accurate then this is an incredible case of overkill. Why on a simple liquor bust do you need men with semiautomatic weapons arresting patrons, cuffing them, putting them face down on the floor with firearms pointed at the backs of their heads?

This was a non violent case. If the club was selling liqour without a license then they broke the law and should face the consequences. That doesn't include what I described above.

If this has something to do with the fact that this was a 'gay' men's club then the government had better be sure that all of their 'bootlegging' cases have been handled the same way.

I have a feeling this story isn't over.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sun Worshipper

Noelle is back from her five weeks in Malaga, Spain. She attended intensive Spanish lessons in the morning. In the afternoon, it appears every afternoon, she worshipped the Sun on the beach. She is as brown as I have ever seen her and yes she is well aware that too much Sun is not a good thing. That tan will probably disappear soon as she leaves for her new job with Intel in Chandler, Arizona next week. I understand they really work these young people hard after they recruit them, so she wont be getting much time for tanning there.

Noelle has a black Toyota CRV and I told her she could just leave her uncooked dinner in it every morning and it would be ready when she gets off work. I don't think Chandler has been under 100 degrees since May.