Southwest water bill would shift funding from Gila River diversion

By a tight vote Tuesday morning, the Senate Conservation Committee passed a water bill—one that represents the latest attempt to control spending on a controversial diversion on the Gila River. Introduced by Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, Senate Bill 72, would channel federal money earmarked for the diversion toward other water projects in southwestern New Mexico. It would appropriate $50 million toward fully implementing a regional water project in Grant County, other shovel-ready water projects in the area, a groundwater study of the Mimbres Basin aquifer and water planning for the City of Deming. Morales told NM Political Report that he sees passage of the bill as a way to move tens of millions of dollars in federal money in a “responsible way.”

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) voted in 2014 to build the diversion, ten years after Congress authorized the state to trade 14,000 acre feet of water with a downstream user in Arizona. Already, New Mexico has spent more than $13 million of its federal subsidy on studies, engineering plans, and attorneys fees, although the state and the New Mexico Central Arizona Project (CAP) Entity still lack a firm plan or location for the diversion.

Riding two horses with one saddle has its pitfalls

Algernon D’Ammassa writes the “Desert Sage” column for the Deming Headlight and Sun News papers. When Deming and Luna County learned who would be our local  candidates for June party primaries and the November election, one contest in particular raised eyebrows. Luna County Commissioner Javier Diaz will relinquish his seat after his current term and both major parties are holding primaries to select candidates to replace him. The Republicans have a crowded field of five candidates, and one of them caught everybody’s attention right away: Deming Mayor Benny Jasso. “Yes, it is true,” wrote Jasso in a statement posted on social media; and no, he has no intention of resigning as Mayor.

Controversial ranch owner running for state rep

The owner of a controversial ranch for troubled youth filed this week to run for state representative in southern New Mexico. Scott Chandler, who runs Tierra Blanca Ranch in Hillsboro, is running as a Republican to replace retiring state Rep. Dona Irwin, D-Deming. Chandler’s name has come in the news often for the past few years, starting with an Amber alert New Mexico State Police made after raiding his ranch in 2013 after allegations of abuse and found nine missing teenagers. “You can look at that and see what came out of that,” Chandler told NM Political Report. “We had tons of scrutiny and were thrust under the spotlight and nothing came out of it.”

At the time, Chandler said the nine children were on a hike and soon delivered back to their parents.

Developers are spending $1 Billion to build a fake town in the middle of the NM desert. Here’s why

What would you do with $1,000,000,000 dollars?  If you are a DC-based technology firm you just might be looking for a place to build a new city if you could just find a place to do it that was sure not to attract any residents. And the mayors of Hobbs and Las Cruces both say an empty city would make a great neighbor. Here’s the backstory:  In 2012, Pegasus Global Holdings, a Washington DC based technology company, announced plans to build a full-scale city, built to code with restaurants, shopping malls, city parks and homes of all sizes.  Just no people.