« October 2010 | Main | December 2010 »

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

State Auditor Hector Balderas Announces Special Audit of Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department

Today, State Auditor Hector Balderas announced a special audit of the Santa Fe County’s Sheriff’s Department and the county’s internal financial control process. The county contacted Balderas and asked for assistance in reviewing allegations of misappropriation of public resources by former county Sheriff Greg Solano.

“The alleged activity publicly disclosed by former Sheriff Solano is very troubling,” Balderas said in a statement released today. “My top priority is to assess the total loss of taxpayer dollars and prevent any further losses.”

Balderas is currently working with county officials to obtain an independent audit firm, approved by the State Auditor, to conduct special procedures related to the Sheriff’s Department and the County’s overall internal control structure.

November 30, 2010 at 01:32 PM in Government, Hector Balderas, Santa Fe | Permalink | Comments (0)

Obama the Non-Negotiator: Gives Away Store on Federal Employees and Gets Nothing Back

What's up with President Obama? As Rachel Maddow so ably points out in the video clip above from yesterday's TV show, he now seems firmly entrenched in a pattern of behavior that pretty much guarantees Democratic positions will get the short end of the stick even before negotiations begin. Maddow traces Obama's history of capitulating to the perceived demands of right wingers from the get go, rather than holding back and using possible compromise measures to get something in return from Republicans.

FootballMaddow compares Obama to the cartoon character, Charlie Brown, who always has the football he's trying to kick snatched away by Lucy at the last minute. Charlie never seems to learn his lesson, and he keeps doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Maddow goes even farther and says Obama/Charlie Brown now kicks at the missing football even without Lucy's prodding. In other words, the President is fooling himself.

This is a losing (and demoralizing) strategy, plain and simple. So why is Obama so attached to using it?

Bipartisan Pipe Dream
Is the President still clinging to the misguided notion that if he gives away the store to right wingers across the aisle -- and the faux Dems within his own party -- they will "like" him more and suddenly start putting the needs of country before political considerations? Can he really still believe he can achieve "bipartisanship" by pretending that the number one goal of Republicans to make him a one-term president (as stated by Sen. Mitch McConnell) is no longer operational? If so, he has problems that need some heavy duty therapy to overcome. At the very least, he needs some serious prodding from the genuine Democrats who are still out here fighting for core Democratic positions, like putting the working class first. Enough is enough.

Sending a Bogus Message
The latest example of Obama's hang-dog attitude was his announcement yesterday that he wants to freeze the pay of all federal employees for two years, presumably to "send a message" that he is "serious" about deficit reduction. What he doesn't seem to get is that real Democrats and anyone who cares about America's middle class families will get a different message -- that the President is willing to scapegoat workers and mess with their livelihoods in the midst of a horrible economic downturn. Federal workers didn't create the mess we're in, so why should they pay the price?

Oh, by the way, military salaries aren't included in the freeze (surprise) -- not even highly paid personnel in the Pentagon -- nor are the truly high salaries and perks of workers at our national labs, including Sandia and Los Alamos here in New Mexico. The federal government pays private concerns to run the labs and they set worker pay, not the government, at least not directly. But the tax rolls of the federal government and state and local governments certainly will take a hit.

Impact on New Mexico
According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal, there are 31,909 federal employees at 94 agencies in New Mexico who in 2009 were paid $2.066 billion in wages. These include the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Social Security Administration and the VA Medical Center. The proposed freeze would wipe out a 1.4% across-the-board wage increase scheduled for 2011. That would prevent New Mexico's federal civilian payroll from rising another $28.9 million per year, based on 2009 data, or an average of $906 per employee.

We benefit both from the tax revenues paid to the state and the dollars these workers spend in the local economy. With a two-year freeze on pay, we'll lose the additional tax revenue produced by the raises, and federal employees won't be spending it and sending it out into the economy with the usual ripple effect. This helps the economy how? Even worse, the freeze would hardly make a dent in the federal deficit so working people and the states would be giving up funds for what amounts to nothing more than a misguided symbolic effort.

Unfortunately, Sen. Jeff Bingaman doesn't see it that way, according to a quote he gave the Journal. He likes "the signal" it gives:

"I believe the president is taking appropriate action here to send a signal to the country that we are conscious of the problem and beginning to take serious steps to deal with it. But this is obviously not going to be enough. Significantly more in savings needs to be achieved and additional revenue must be found if we're going to make a serious dent in the deficit."

Other Reaction
Many other Dems and worker advocates are not amused. Like Rep. Van Hollen (D-MD):

"[I]t would have been far preferable for the White House to have included this as part of a comprehensive proposal, instead of singling out the hard working men and women of the federal workforce," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in a statement to reporters this evening. "By focusing exclusively on federal employees, the Administration runs the risk of reinforcing the myth, pushed by some for politically convenient but cynical reasons, that America suffers from a federal government comprised of unproductive and overpaid civil servants. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Van Hollen's the incoming ranking member of the Budget Committee, but also represents a large number of federal employees. That said, he's not alone.

Like Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND):

"I hope it is not just federal workers who bear the burden and bear the brunt of expenditure cuts, because we're at war, we have a huge debt and deficit, and there's no evidence that [there's] self-sacrifice, or mutual commitment to have everybody address these issues," retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) told TPM after series of Senate votes tonight. "All of it has to be done, so I understand why the president said what he said [but] it's interesting to me the juxtaposition of saying 'We must extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and yet we can't afford to extend unemployment benefits to those who are out of luck and out of jobs."

Like John Gage,  president of the American Federation of Government Employees:

"This proposal is a superficial panic reaction to the draconian cuts his deficit commission will recommend. A federal pay freeze saves peanuts at best and, while he may mean it as just a public relations gesture, this is no time for political scapegoating. The American people didn't vote to stick it to a VA nursing assistant making $28,000 a year or a border patrol agent earning $34,000 per year."

Like economist James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas:

"It's a cheap stunt. It's depressing that this is being offered as policy, when it's nothing but a gesture -- and a dishonorable one."

Even an article in Newsweek:

Democrats are opposed to the idea of a two year pay freeze for federal employees, which is really a pay cut if there is any inflation, because it would be counter-productive to the economic recovery. If there is one thing that any economist from across the political spectrum will tell you it is that the government should currently be pumping money into the economy, rather than removing it. You can do that through a mix of immediate tax breaks for working families and infusions of investment in economically productive programs such as education and transportation infrastructure, as Democrats tend to favor, or you can do it less effectively through tax breaks for the wealthy as Republicans advocate.

But the one thing you ought not to do is take money out of the economy. But that is precisely what this proposal would do, in the name of deficit reduction. How much deficit reduction? Not much, just an estimated $60 billion over 10 years, which is less than one-tenth of what the government will save if it allows the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire.

The Progressive Plan
Too bad our President isn't commenting favorably on the excellent budget proposal offered by the Economic Policy Institute, Demos and The Century Foundation instead of buying into the corporate-backed ideas of right wingers who could give a rat's ass about ordinary Americans. (You can read a summary of the proposal here.) Is Obama that overcome by the thought of right-wing criticism or is he becoming just another government official who's been bought off by moneyed interests? Either way, it's working people who will lose -- and it's working people who are already paying the highest price for corporate and financial malfeasance and greed.

PS: Here's the topper. Organizing for America is now urging Democrats to write letters to the editor in support of Obama's proposed federal employee salary freeze. I'm not kidding.

November 30, 2010 at 12:02 PM in Children and Families, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Government, Jobs, Obama Administration, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Susana Martinez Spending More Time With National Republicans Than New Mexicans?

SMartinezCr New Mexicans are hurting. Employment is still inching up as we head into the holiday season. There's an increasingly heated debate going on about how to deal with the $450 million hole in the budget. There's action going on within a number of interim committees regarding critical matters like reforming the state's investment infrastructure and making government more efficient. Meanwhile, it seems that Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez is spending more time plotting political strategies with Republicans on the national scene than in analyzing New Mexico's problems and listening to all sides in an attempt to forge solutions at home.

Early on Martinez, who will take office on January 1, 2011, spent more than a week hobnobbing with fellow governors present and future at the Republican Governors Association convention in San Diego, as well as speaking to the national media. Clearly, the GOP has plans to utilize Martinez in a role similar to that played by RNC Chair Michael Steele (before he became an embarrassment) and Sarah Palin -- to show that, despite policy positions to the contrary, they are supportive of minorities like Hispanics, African-Americans and women. Tokenism at its finest.

Now Martinez is reportedly going to D.C. for a Wednesday "summit meeting" along with more than a dozen other GOP governors-elect at the invitation of incoming U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. The meeting with GOP House and Senate leaders will take place the day before President Obama's bipartisan meeting with the nation's new governors, most of them Republicans, announced by the White House earlier this month.

I can only imagine how successful that will be in getting Republicans on board to pass fixes for some of the nation's many pressing problems during the lame-duck session -- instead of voting no on everything to deny the President and Democrats any claim to a victory. Soon after the mid-term elections, President Obama invited GOP House and Senate leaders to a meeting at the White House to talk about legislation but they didn't show up, claiming they were too busy.

The GOP Congressional leadership has served almost exclusively as an obstruction to meeting the nation's challenges, voting to stop even any debate on vital legislation like the unemployment insurance extension. They have been dedicated to operating on purely political grounds, and to hell with the needs of the people. I guess Martinez feels A-OK being a part of the national politics-on-steroids approach to governing, and likely will be counseled on how to do similar things here in New Mexico.

For now, Martinez seems content to leave Richard May -- a long-time Washington insider who worked for decades for high-powered Beltway lobbying firms and Congressional Republicans -- in charge of her administration's budget analysis and proposals -- while she plays the political version of Dancing With The Stars. Folks are increasingly wondering how interested Susana really is in New Mexico's problems, given her recent laser-beam focus on getting her name out there on the national scene. Right-wing politicos and moneyed interested are almost always very good at getting what they pay for.

November 29, 2010 at 06:59 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Economy, Populism, NM Legislature 2011, Obama Administration, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (2)

State Sen. Tim Keller Proposes Additional Fixes for State Investment Fund

SKELL In the 49th New Mexico legislative session last winter, lawmakers took action to fix State Investment Fund (SIC) performance and governance by passing SB 18 -- a comprehensive SIC reform bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque). A year later, with a new board, management and governance, New Mexico has drastically changed how the SIC functions. However, according to Sen. Keller, more issues have come to light and there is a need to recoup lost funds.

“We made big changes last round that helped a lot, but it wasn’t quite enough. It’s now time that we finish the job,” Senator Keller said in a statement released today. “This summer new structural problems have come to light for all of our investment funds. My legislative package will address these, including the most significant, taking the Governor off the SIC entirely.”

Keller noted that New Mexico stands alone nationally in allowing its Governor unfettered and unchecked control of state investment decisions.

Sen. Keller also provided synopses of proposed legislation scheduled for interim endorsement at the Legislative Investment Oversight Committee (IOC) the afternoon of Wednesday, December 1, 2010, in the IOC hearing room at the state capital:

  • Remove Governor from the SIC: The number one recommendation made by the Ennis Knupp research, which was completed in 2010, was to remove the Governor as chair of the SIC. SB 18 in 2010 attempted this but was amended at late stages in the legislative process to keep the Governor on the board. This bill would remove that seat entirely, yet would acknowledge and ratify the executive branch responsibility via several executive appointed seats and representation from the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration. As previously mentioned, New Mexico is currently the only state in the country with a Governor personally residing on the state's investment fund board and directly responsible for investment decisions.
  • Investment Fraud Accountability: Appealing provisions that give the Attorney General investigative authority for securities fraud. Currently the authority rests within the executive branch (inside the licensing and regulations department) creating a structural conflict of interest. This bill also broadens the threshold for prosecution of fraud [N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law Art. 23-A (McKinney)], thus enabling the recovery of a percentage of the estimated $1.3 billion currently under litigation throughout the nation.

  • Educational Retirement Board (ERB) and Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Governance Reform: Enabling the implementation of several necessary governance and best practice changes from the 2009 Ennis Knupp study including: open meetings act, fiduciary duty, transparency and accountability measures. The bill would also address concerns regarding financial expertise by creating a new seat which would require the elected board member to possess a minimum of ten years of professional investing experience.

  • Economic Targeted Investment Oversight: Proposing establishment of a formal structure and performance metrics for all the Economic Targeted Investments (ETI) -- NM private equity, film fund, etc. -- to be managed separately by the SIC. Utilizing the current statutory Private Investment Advisory committee (PIAC) structure, the newly established board (SIC PIAC) would be specifically responsible for effective oversight regarding ETI funding, as well as any merit-based recommendations presented to the SIC. In addition, the bill would separate performance tracking in order to prevent the co-mingling of ETIs with “endowment” funding.

  • SBIC Governance Reform: The Small Business Investment Council (SBIC) is a subsidiary of the SIC that invests an estimated $45 million in New Mexico small businesses. This program has been successful in creating jobs and providing financing to small businesses around the state. However, there is a need to depoliticize the appointment of the SBIC board to ensure that investment principles are prioritized before politics. By incorporating appointees from the legislature the bill would diffuse any one person's potential influence over investment choices and would ensure altruistic decision making.

“The committee has been working hard on these topics and I hope they will endorse the end result," Keller said. "If not, I certainly plan on sponsoring them independently."

November 29, 2010 at 12:54 PM in Finance, Investments, Government, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Get On-The-Ground Updates by Laura Paskus from Cancun UN Climate Talks

Highly respected New Mexico freelance writer Laura Paskus, who covers environmental issues as well as other important topics, is attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. The COP 16 talks begin today and runs through December 10. Paskus is there as an Earth Journalism Network Climate Media Fellow (EJN is a project of Internews), and will be posting on her Southwest Reporter blog and on Twitter (http://twitter.com/LauraPaskus) about events as they unfold. 

As Laura discussed in a Santa Fe Reporter article published in August, New Mexico -- like many other part of the globe -- is already experiencing climate changes due to greenhouse gas emissions:

Indeed, the effects of climate change are already visible in New Mexico: One need look no further than Santa Fe or the nearby Sangre de Cristo or Jemez Mountains to see evidence of a massive dieoff of piñon trees. 

Between 2002 and 2004, millions of acres of piñon trees in the Four Corners region died. The trees, already weakened by severe drought, fell prey to an explosion in the population of bark beetles, encouraged by the warmer temperatures.

The drought and the bark beetle outbreak fall in line with some of the projections the state’s Climate Change Advisory Group makes about how climate change will hit New Mexico. 

The challenges we face are clearly global AND local in nature, and the American Southwest can expect to face a myriad of serious problems unless changes are made:

“A lot of people are concerned about sea level rise in coastal areas, which is obviously a very serious and legitimate concern, but I think that the kinds of problems we’re projecting here in New Mexico, in some ways are worse—and they are going to hit us faster,” Jim Norton, director of the Environment Protection Division within the New Mexico Environment Department, says.

Norton points to scientists’ projections that the southwestern United States will experience longer droughts. Longer droughts, combined with hotter temperatures, will cause greater evaporation—from soils and reservoirs—so the effects of the droughts will also be more severe. “You can argue,” he says, “that we’re going to get hit harder and faster than the coastal areas that get so much attention.”

Check in often on Laura's blog and Twitter account in the coming days to get her take on the global initiatives being discussed, as well as how what goes on in Cancun will impact our corner of the world.

November 29, 2010 at 12:30 PM in Climate, Energy, Environment | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bill Richardson Again Mentioned as Candidate for Chairman of Motion Picture Association of America

Richardsondenvercr This weekend, an article in the New York Times reported that another round of interviews is underway in the search for a new Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, and that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is in the running:

According to a headhunter with knowledge of the search, but who asked for anonymity because the search is private, one candidate is Christopher J. Dodd, the powerful Democratic senator from Connecticut, who is retiring. Bill Richardson, the exiting governor of New Mexico, is also in the mix, this person said.

The paper also said Vickee Jordan Adams, a former executive at the communications firm Hill & Knowlton and daughter of Vernon Jordan, the senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton, was also being considered. However, nobody's commenting on the record:

Spokesmen for Senator Dodd and Governor Richardson did not return calls seeking comment. Efforts to reach Ms. Adams were unsuccessful. A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association declined to comment.

Back in February, Governor Richardson's name was also being mentioned by unnamed sources as a candidate for the job. At the time, Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegoes said, "The governor is not interested in this job and he is not interested in lobbying or returning to Washington."

This past summer, the search committee reportedly came close to hiring Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska Democratic senator and president of the New School. But "negotiations fell apart."

Today, a Politico article followed up on the rumors:

Retiring Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are both in the running to become chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, one of Washington's A-list lobbying gigs, according to a report in The New York Times.

Hollywood studio executives are considering Dodd and Richardson to act as Hollywood's top lobbyist in the nation's capital, a job that reportedly pays $1.2 million a year

For months, the names of both men have swirled in the trade press as a possible replacement for former Kansas Rep. Dan Glickman, who stepped down in September. In May, the Times even reported that Richardson wasn't interested in the job.

The article also noted that the gig isn't all fun and games:

The job would be a switch for both Dodd and Richardson. As high-profile public officials, the two often don't answer to anyone. But the MPAA chairman reports to the heads of the six leading movie studios: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures. And it's a serious challenge to manage those competing agendas.

"The leader of the MPAA needs to have a fair amount of both sizzle and steak. Having one quality and not the other diminishes your effectiveness," Glickman told the Times.

Before Glickman was named to the post in 2004, former advisor to President Lyndon Johnson, Jack Valenti, held the position for four decades. A lot has changed since then, however, making the job harder to fill. As described in the New York Times article:

For starters, the job has become less fun. The association still holds screenings at its 80-person theater two blocks from the White House. But last year, the studios cut the group’s budget by 20 percent, or about $20 million, making lavish events harder to pull off. Stricter lobbying rules also restrict grandiosity.

And when it comes to influence, Hollywood has also been surpassed by Silicon Valley. Given a choice between meeting George Clooney or Google’s C.E.O., Eric Schmidt, the more coveted invitation for many Washington hands is the latter.

In Mr. Valenti’s era, studios were stand-alone entities whose interests in Washington were in lock step over issues like movie standards. Mr. Valenti fought back state and local efforts to censor content, for example. The association gave Hollywood moguls a government stage but also kept Washington out of the movie business by starting and running the movie rating system, which it continues to do.

But today the association’s six members — Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers — are all embedded deep within global media conglomerates. All employ their own lobbyists and often have competing interests.

Sounds like we'll know pretty soon though:

One thing is clear, Mr. Glickman said: Pressure is building on the industry to make a hire. “In Washington, you can quickly get out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “This is too important of a job not to get filled very soon.”

Photo by M.E. Broderick.

November 28, 2010 at 06:16 PM in Film, Gov. Bill Richardson | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

12/16: BernCo Dems Host Pasta and Politics at Nick's Crossroads

317

Check out the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County website. You can sign up for their newsletter here.

November 27, 2010 at 01:45 PM in Democratic Party, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

11/30: NM Film Office Cosponsors Special Evening to Commemorate American Indian Heritage Month

Lisa Strout, Director of the New Mexico Film Office, has announced the NMFO is joining with the New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture to sponsor an evening of activities to commemorate American Indian Heritage Month. The events will take place from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM on Tuesday, November 30, at the museum, which is located at 710 Camino Lejo, on Museum Hill in Santa Fe.  Click for driving directions to the museum.

“This will be an entertaining, educational, and memorable evening and a wonderful celebration of Native American culture,” said Lisa Strout.

The evening includes a tour of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s exhibit Here, Now, and Always, and includes a screening of the film Miss Navajo from acclaimed Navajo filmmaker Billy Luther.  

About the Exhibition: MIAC’s exhibition Here, Now and Always tells the story of the Southwest’s oldest communities. From elder to younger, each generation has taught the next: we are here now, and we will be here always. Here, Now, and Always is a major exhibition based on eight years of collaboration among Native American elders, artists, scholars, teachers, writers and museum professionals. The voices of fifty Native Americans guide visitors through the Southwest's indigenous communities and their challenging landscapes. More than 1,300 artifacts from the Museum's collections are displayed and accompanied by poetry, story, song and scholarly discussion. For more information, see:  www.facebook.com/IndianArtsCulture.

About the Film: From World of Wonder Productions and filmmaker Billy Luther, whose own mother was crowned Miss Navajo 1966, the film reveals the inner beauty of the young women who compete in this celebration of womanhood. Not only must contestants exhibit poise and grace as those in typical pageants, they must also answer tough questions in Navajo and demonstrate proficiency in skills essential to daily tribal life: fry-bread making, rug weaving, and sheep butchering.

The film follows the path of twenty-one year-old Crystal Frazier, a not-so-fluent Navajo speaker and self-professed introvert, as she undertakes the challenges of the pageant. It is through Crystal's quiet perseverance that we see the strength and power of Navajo womanhood revealed. No matter who takes the crown, this is a journey that will change her life.

Interspersed with pageant activities are interviews with former Miss Navajos, whose cheerful recollections of past pageants break the tension the current contestants are undergoing.  Their memories provide a glimpse into the varying roles Miss Navajo is called upon to perform: role model, teacher, advisor and Goodwill Ambassador to the community and the world at large. For more than fifty years, Miss Navajo Nation has celebrated women and their traditional values, language and inner beauty. 

As winners of the pageant, women are challenged to take on greater responsibility, becoming community leaders fluent in the Navajo language and knowledgeable about their culture and history. The film reveals the importance of cultural preservation, the role of women in continuing dying traditions and the surprising role that a beauty pageant can play.  For more information, see http://www.missnavajomovie.com.

November 27, 2010 at 11:26 AM in Arts, Events, Film, Native Americans, Santa Fe | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Relax. Enjoy. Appreciate.

TDayWordle
Click image for larger version

November 25, 2010 at 12:34 PM in Holidays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Susana Martinez Picks Rep. Keith Gardner Chief of Staff, Jessica Hernandez General Counsel, More

The transition team for Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez today announced its selections for a number of positions within the incoming administration, and described their experience:

Keith Gardner, Chief of Staff: Gardner serves as minority whip in the New Mexico House of Representatives, in addition to representing District 66 and the people of Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt Counties. Gardner is the managing partner of Sprint Sports Rehabilitation Clinic in Roswell, where he has resided for the last 17 years.

Ryan Cangiolosi, Deputy Chief of Staff Overseeing Boards and Commissions, Constitution Services and Cabinet: Cangiolosi most recently served as director of personnel for the Governor-Elect Martinez Transition Committee. Cangiolosi also served as campaign manager for Susana Martinez for Governor. He's the former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Bernalillo County. He has extensive business experience and is an officer in the United States Naval Reserve. Cangiolosi has a BA and an MBA from the University of New Mexico.

Brian Moore, Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director Overseeing Policy and Cabinet: Moore most recently served as director of policy planning for the Governor-Elect Martinez Transition Committee. Moore is a business owner from Clayton and was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010. He was a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 2000-2008, serving on numerous committees including legislative finance and was a strong advocate for New Mexico’s rural communities.

Jessica Hernandez, General Counsel: Hernandez is a director in the litigation department in the Albuquerque office of Rodey, Dickason, Sloan Akin, & Robb, PA. Hernandez specializes in cases involving product, premises and general liability matters. She has served as a law clerk for the Honorable James O. Browning, United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico and received recognition as the youngest member of the New Mexico State Bar in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Matthew Stackpole, Assistant General Counsel: Stackpole most recently served as director of support and coordination for the Governor-Elect Martinez Transition Committee. Stackpole served as deputy director of campaign operations for Susana Martinez for Governor. Previously, he assisted Richard J. Berry’s campaign for Albuquerque mayor, as well as field operations for the Republican Party of New Mexico. Stackpole graduated from the University of New Mexico Law School in May 2010.

Scott Darnell, Communications Director: Darnell, a Farmington native, served as the communications director for the Republican Party of New Mexico and worked as a weekly commentator on the KNME-TV political discussion program, “New Mexico in Focus.” Darnell is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and received a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is currently completing his work as a teaching fellow in the Department of Government at Harvard University.

Matt Kennicott, Director of Policy and Planning: Kennicott most recently served as director of legislative and constituent affairs for the Governor-Elect Martinez Transition Committee. Kennicott was previously director of campaign operations for Susana Martinez for Governor. He has served as the chief of staff for the House Republican Caucus in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Where's the "Bold Change"? These are mostly Republican Party insiders we've seen for years. Lots of white males. At least at this point, it sure doesn't look like the Martinez administration is bringing in many fresh faces or much outside energy -- and Hispanics are in rather short supply. 

November 24, 2010 at 03:36 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (7)

11/29: Rally for the DREAM Act at UNM, Join Phone Blitz Before and After

Please join the Albuquerque DREAMERS in Action; Coalition for Immigration, Race and Social Justice; Mexican Student Association (MexSA), Project for New Mexico Graduates of Color (PNMGC); Raza Graduate Student Association (RGSA) and others at the DREAM Act Rally on Monday, November 29, at Noon in the UNM SUB Atrium to push the US Congress to pass the DREAM Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Prior to the rally, students will also hold a phone blitz from 9 AM to noon on campus as well as from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Plaza de Encuentro, 714 4th St SW, in Albuquerque (map). They will call New Mexico senators and representatives to urge to them to support the DREAM Act.

This bill would apply to undocumented students who graduate from US high schools (or obtain a GED), are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as minors, are between the ages of 12 and 35 and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment. Those meeting the requirements would have an opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning. The legislation would help hard-working, deserving individuals like these.

During the first six years, the immigrant would be granted "conditional" status. After the six year period, an immigrant who meets the conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status, which would eventually allow them to become U.S. citizens. During this six year conditional period, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, but they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.

Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have both said the DREAM Act will be voted on during the lame-duck session in Congress. A vote could come as early as November 29.

For more information, contact gradpeer@unm.edu.

November 24, 2010 at 02:55 PM in Border Issues, Education, Events, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, Military Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Spirit of Giving: Coats, Hoodies, Thanksgiving Meals in Albuquerque

Through the month of December, the African American Cultural Association (AACA) will be holding its annual clothing drive to benefit over 5,000 homeless Albuquerque Public School students. Thousands of homeless students go to school each day without adequate clothing. As the colder weather hits their need becomes more and more critical. Especially needed are warm coats and "hoodies." Hoodies are allowed in schools but only if they are solid colors with no designs, stripes, etc.

All sizes of new or "gently used" clothing, for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, are desperately needed. If you can help please drop your donations off at Love Realty at 1524 Eubank NE in Albuquerque (map) or contact Lovie McGee at 256-8306 to arrange for a pick-up.

Also, your help is urgently needed by the AACA in providing Thanksgiving dinners to homeless APS students and their families. Donations (cash or supermarket gift cards) will help purchase pre-cooked meals. Volunteers are also needed to help with the final preparation and distribution of the meals. If you can help in either way, please contact Lovie McGee at 256-8306.

AACA also needs volunteers to pick up food and supplies the night before Thanksgiving. In addition, volunteers are needed on Thanksgiving Day to help transport food and supplies to Lowell Elementary and then to assist in prep, serving and cleanup. Prep is 9-11 AM, Serve is 11 AM-1 PM, and Cleanup is 1 PM-3 PM. Volunteers can sign up for any shift or as many as they can handle. Call 256-8306 talk to Lovie or Millie or email twolove06@aol.com.

November 24, 2010 at 02:02 PM in Children and Families, Food and Drink, Holidays | Permalink | Comments (0)