Poor Ben Ray Luján can't seem to catch a break these days. First there's the allegation that the congressman was the target of a drug probe (false); then a Tea Partier tells him to "get out of politics and make room for an American."
First, the drug probe: On Tuesday, news surfaced during an arbitration hearing for former Santa Fe Police officer James Vigil, who last year was arrested for DWI, that Luján was the target of an FBI cocaine probe.
But at a Wednesday news conference, Vigil reported that the probe target was actually embattled PRC commissioner Jerome Block Jr., not Luján.
But Luján's troubles weren't over. Also on Tuesday, after Luján's visit to Farmington, that city's newspaper quoted a Tea Party protester who urged Luján to "get out of politics and make room for an American."
(When informed that Luján is an American--a lifelong New Mexican, at that--the protester reportedly said he meant "an American patriot.")
State Auditor Hector Balderas, who's so far made an impressive showing in the race for Sen. Jeff Bingaman's seat in Washington, has made the comment a rallying cry via his Facebook page and campaign website. In both places, Balderas urges supporters to sign the following petition:
Ben Ray Lujan is a lifelong New Mexican, yet a Tea Party member told him he wasn’t a real American. We need to tell the Tea Party that they don’t own patriotism. This kind of talk has no place in our political dialogue. If you are as outraged as I am, please add your name to my petition below.
Yet as one commenter on Balderas' Facebook page notes, a single radical does not an entire Tea Party make, so what constitutes "this kind of talk" may be a matter of opinion.
In other news, the AP reports that the Martinez administration has sold the state jet for $2.5 million--a $3 million loss compared to what it spent to buy the plane in 2005. Sigh.
But who needs $3 million?
The post office! The Economist reports this month that the USPS has been losing money like it's going out of style, largely because it can't raise prices but also has the (now virtually unfunded) mandate of delivering to every single address in the country.
The upshot: USPS is considering closing thousands of post offices around the country.
Today, US Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, took a stand against the closing a USPS facility in Las Cruces.
"The job loss alone will have a damaging economic impact that far outweighs any potential savings," a press release quotes Pearce as saying.
The presser also points out that 80 percent of USPS' expenses go to personnel costs, which account for comparatively less of FedEx' and UPS' expenses. Then again, if you've ever lived in a place where your only option is a PO box, you might understand why UPS and FedEx don't have to spend the extra money on personnel: They simply don't deliver to everyone.