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Update 8:05 a.m., June 27: After a flight over the blaze, the Forest Service now confirms the size of the Las Conchas Fire at 43,597 acres.
Update: According to officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory, as of 8 p.m. Sunday (June 26), all radioactive material accounted for and protected.
Here s a photo taken from the Los Alamos National Bank of the Las Conchas fire as it nears Los Alamos:
There is a voluntary evacuation in effect for Los Alamos and White Rock for the blaze that started on private land and has burned an estimated 3,500 acres in the Jemez Mountains.
Martinez has directed her administration, including the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Health to provide support for local emergency managers, firefighters, and other personnel in Sandoval County, Los Alamos County and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
My administration will make every effort to provide support for local emergency response crews, said Gov. Martinez. With evacuations in place and the fire burning quickly, it is important that residents in the surrounding communities remain attentive to the local emergency operations alerts and orders.
We are working closely with crews on the ground in order to protect lives and minimize damages.
Gov. Martinez has requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issue a Fire Management Assistance Declaration for the Las Conchas Fire to provide further assistance.
Voluntary evacuations are in place for residents of Los Alamos County, including White Rock and the City of Los Alamos. Residents living within Cochiti Mesa and Las Conchas have been evacuated as well.
Campgrounds near the area including Jemez Falls Campground have been evacuated. A shelter for evacuees is available at the La Cueva Fire Station.
NM 4 is closed at Mile Marker 37, State Road 4 at Pajarito, and West Jemez and Anchor Ranch Road.
This grant from FEMA will help us pay for many of the costs associated with fire suppression, New Mexico State Forester Tony Delfin said.
According to a news release, the Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs) are designed to help pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of suppressing the fire, which can include pre-positioning of resources, evacuations and sheltering, traffic control, fire equipment use and more, but does not cover costs for reimbursement of property damaged or destroyed by the fire.
More from the release:
According to Michael S. Duvall, Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, We have put resources in place to help local officials respond to the Las Conchas Fire.
The state, local, and federal response will help protect lives, property, and critical infrastructure.
New Mexico State Forestry and the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management urge all state residents and visitors to do their part in preventing and being prepared for wildfire. Should evacuations because of wildfire become necessary, remember the Five Ps you need to have ready to go: People, important Papers, Prescriptions, family Pictures and Pets.
There are reports the fire is about a mile from the lab s southwest perimeter.
LANL officials contacted employees Sunday saying that all laboratory facilities will be closed Monday (June 27) and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site.
Employees are considered nonessential and should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers.
(Hat tip on photo to Mario E.
Back on Tuesday, Nov.
23, a state worker grabbed at the camera of KOB-TV reporter Gadi Schwartz 1while the reporter shot videotape outside the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Building in downtown Santa Fe. During the fracas, the state employee fell down and one of his associates told Schwartz to leave the premises, saying, This is not public property; this is state property.
A security guard later tried to evict Schwartz from the vicinity uttering the same phrase.
Schwartz was covering a story concerning the discovery of bones by a construction crew 2outside the PERA Building and had earlier spoken to a member of the Santa Fe Police Department on camera about the discovery. Schwartz tried to explain that he had permission from the police officer to shoot video of the scene but the state employee insisted that Schwartz leave, as did a security officer who arrived after the state employee fell to the ground while attempting to grab Schwartz camera.
Here it is:
After the incident with the state employee, Schwartz called the police.
New Mexico State Police Lt. Eric Garcia, who reviewed the video, said assault and battery charges will be filed against the state employee. The initial evidence reviewed by investigators, Garcia said, makes it clear that not only was Schwartz physically assaulted, he was clearly in a public area he had every right to be in.
No word yet if the state employee who grabbed the camera has been disciplined.
Opinion: The Orwellian This is not public property; this is state property is an instant classic.
Unfortuntely, it reflects a disturbing trend among too many public officials, public servants and security personnel who seem to lose sight of whom they are supposed represent, protect and to answer to.
As a journalist, Gadi Schwartz has no more rights than the average citizen but he certainly does not have any fewer rights. He was covering a story on state property and was not taping anything that was not already roped off by Santa Fe police.
Considering how aggressive the state employee who initially assaulted him acted, it appears Schwartz showed remarkable restraint. Think to yourself: If somone grabbed you while you were doing your job, would you have reacted as cooly as Schwartz did, telling the offender, Hey, man, you need to take it easy ?
I m not sure I would have.
And the nonsensical reasoning of the security officer who arrives later is maddening. Schwartz was not interfering with any state employees from doing their jobs. And the fact that Schwartz was the victim and had called police to report the incident never seems to have entered the security officer s mind.
And her interpretation that Schwartz doing his job as a reporter somehow places him in the category of a vendor is ridiculous.
The attitude that public property is somehow less than public points to a troubling tendency of late and, especially in an age of telephone cameras and Flip cameras, perhaps local state and federal authorities need to remind their employees more explicitly about the basic, individual and Constitutional rights of the citizens they are paid to serve.
For example, there was this incident in El Paso:
And this summer, there were instances of security preventing reporters from shooting video and covering the BP oil spill along public beaches5 on the gulf coast. Here s a link of one incident recorded by WDSU-TV in New Orleans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fMTp9hCgWI6
and another incident involving CBS News:
Or this incident in Albuquerque two years ago:
And it s not just journalists. There are plenty of incidents of authorities ordering ordinary citizens to leave public property, seizing and prohibiting the taking of photographs and videotape at public events in the public square, and generally trying to put public events under lockdown.
This is partly why I post stories listing Monuments to Me, 10examples I find of politicians who while still in office, still acting as public servants have public buildings, ballparks, courthouses, gymnasiums, etc. named after them.
Besides the self-glorification aspect, it shows a distortion of the the idea of who serves whom.
After all, you ve never heard of a billionaire naming a wing of his mansion after the maid or butler.
So why do some public servants half-expect that their work should be so recognized?
- ^ KOB-TV reporter Gadi Schwartz (www.kob.com)
- ^ a story concerning the discovery of bones by a construction crew (www.abqjournal.com)
- ^ Santa Fe New Mexican (http)
- ^ New Mexican (http)
- ^ security preventing reporters from shooting video and covering the BP oil spill along public beaches (http)
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fMTp9hCgWI (www.youtube.com)
- ^ Democratic National Convention in Denver (www.denver.org)
- ^ Bob Who are you?
- ^ The Cato Institute also lists some examples involving average citizens here (http)
- ^ Monuments to Me, (http)
The Legislature gave New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish $106,500 to hire personal security.
D.A. Susan Martinez purchased her own gun and hasn t asked taxpayers to pay for body guards.
The two women, opposing each other in the race to be elected New Mexico s next governor, have very different ideas on what they need for personal security, and what taxpayers should pay to make them feel safe.
Susana Martinez2 has been the Dona Ana County District Attorney for 13 years. In that job she makes enemies of the kinds of people who create work for body guards.
She and members of her office have the job of putting murderers, rapists, armed robbers and members of organized crime behind bars. But, according to her spokesman Adam DeGuire, almost as a matter of pride she doesn t have body guards. She takes care of personal security herself.
Sometimes she jokes about it.
Diane Denish3 does not deal with violent criminals. The State Constitution gives the Lt. Governor very limited powers.
She sits on various committees and heads the so-called Children s Cabinet, but has no executive powers beyond supervising her staff of six people Only during the Legislative session does she have regular duties as President of the State Senate. When the Governor is out of state, she fills in, though she hasn t taken any controversial action during those occasions when she is temporarily governing the state as sitting Governor.
Denish s neighbors have come to learn the surefire signal that Richardson has left the state. They can tell by the car of State Police officers that appears outside Denish s house and stays there all night.
Denish Makes History
Denish has wanted a full-time State Police security detail assigned to her since her first term in office.
Not only did she want the State Police to accompany her around New Mexico, she wanted the state to pay for the officers to travel with her out of state. We have found evidence that on certain occasions when she traveled around New Mexico, a pair of State Police officers accompanied her. The record of their presence on the trip appears in the logs of aircraft use and passengers kept by the General Services Department.
Those trips would cost hundreds or thousand of dollars each for the time of the State Police officers. For instance, on September 4, 2007, Denish flew from Santa Fe to Las Cruces. Her security detail cost the state $797.43.
She stayed overnight, and the jet returned the next day, with a contingent of State Police to bring her back. The charge for the security detail for that return trip: $1,160.57.
But when it came to a full-time team of State Police bodyguards, Richardson turned her down. This was one of the few recorded instances over the past seven years when Denish and Richardson publicly disagreed.
When Richardson wouldn t give Denish her own State Police bodyguards, Denish went to the Legislature.
Thanks to the late Sen.
Ben Altamirano of Silver City, back in 2008 she got $106,500 to hire her own personal security personnel. That made Denish the first Lt. Governor in the state s history to get public funds for personal security.
Reports the AP s Deborah Baker in the story linked immediately above:
Historically, lieutenant governors haven t been provided security when they re going about their duties as lieutenant governor.
Denish said she is the only female lieutenant governor without full- or part-time security.
And she said even when she has been acting governor, she hasn t always been provided security.
She cited several worrisome incidents during her tenure. She said she was forced off Interstate 25 onto the shoulder once while driving alone at dusk; she had car trouble on I-25 and called the governor s security detail at the mansion to alert them she might need assistance; and was confronted in the parking lot of an Albuquerque radio station by a very agitated man with marital problems who had heard her on the air and sought her out.
Even with this six-figure appropriation, Denish still wanted State Police protection in addition to what she hired. Citing the fact she had her own budget for personal security, Richardson completely stopped the State Police details accompanying Denish on trips around New Mexico.
Martinez Security Detail: A .380 Semi-Automatic
Martinez provides her own personal protection in the form of a .380 semi-automatic handgun6.
It is with her at all times. She is not a large person. Indeed, she is diminutive.
It s hard to discern where she has concealed this weapon. Maybe it s in her purse, maybe not. You simply can t tell when you are in her presence.
It is not unusual for prosecutors to carry concealed weapons.
Many police officers carry a concealed gun when off-duty. Martinez gained an early familiarity with firearms when in her teens she worked as a guard for her family s security business.
Martinez s line of work most likely gives her more reason than Denish to fear confrontations with violent people or revenge attacks from members of a criminal s family or gang. But when asked if she had any experiences like those Denish used to justify her claim for body guards, Martinez spokesman DeGuire shrugged it off.
Nah, he said. Everybody knows where Susana lives. She doesn t make a big deal out of it.
The orginal version of this story incorrectly reported that Martinez carried a .45 automatic.
Related: Capitol Report New Mexico asks, Do We Really Need A Lt.
- ^ Posts by Jim Scarantino (watchdog.org)
- ^ Susana Martinez (www.susanamartinez2010.com)
- ^ Diane Denish (www.dianedenish.com)
- ^ Denish s Flight Records (newmexico.watchdog.org)
- ^ Related: Denish Gets Her Own Appropriation For Personal Security (www.santafenewmexican.com)
- ^ .380 semi-automatic handgun (en.wikipedia.org)
- ^ Do We Really Need A Lt.
- ^ Click here to LEARN HOW TO STEAL OUR STUFF! (watchdog.org)