Susan Montoya Bryan | The Associated Press
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011
"What matters to New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell is sunshine.
He's quick to trade in his undecorated office for a few moments outside under the Northern New Mexico sun.
But Powell's obsession with sunshine goes beyond being warmed up by the golden rays on this winter day. He's more interested in the kind of sunshine that will bring openness and transparency to what goes on at the State Land Office. He wants to restore confidence in the agency, protect state trust lands and continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars each year for public schools and other beneficiaries.
"Our objective is to put as much sunshine as we possibly can on these projects and let them live or die by their merits," he told The Associated Press during an interview. "The way we inoculate ourselves from future problems is just to have sunshine on everything that we do."
The Land Office during the previous administration was embroiled in legal battles over the exchange of trust land for private land around White Peak in northeastern New Mexico, and other questions were raised about appraisals, commercial land leases and the lack of analysis on some projects.
Former Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has defended his administration, but just this week the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected two of the White Peak land swaps that were orchestrated by Lyons. " More>>>>