Monday, January 31, 2011
State Sen. Tim Keller: Take Politics, Governor Out of State Investment Council
This is a guest blog by State Senator Tim Keller, a Democrat who represents SD 17, Albuquerque’s East Central Gateway and the International District
Last year the Legislature passed landmark reforms of the State Investment Council (SIC) in response to conflicts of interest, legal investigations and governance challenges at the SIC. Now it is time to finish the job of reforming our state’s $15 billion investment funds.
The Legislature’s Interim Committee on Investment Oversight has put together a package of bills to achieve these necessary reforms. The most important proposed change is the removal of the Governor as chairperson of the SIC. Regardless of who is serving as Governor, this change is critical to eliminate conflicts of interest and maintaining appropriate the level of expertise.
In 2010, the top recommendation to emerge from our independent comprehensive review of our state investment funds was to remove the Governor from the SIC. New Mexico is the only state in the country where the Governor is personally in charge of investment and pension fund oversight. Without removing a Governor from the SIC there will always be an inherent conflict of interest and the potential for pay-to-play and favoritism. The bottom line is that it is best to base our state’s financial investments on the principles of finance, not politics.
Beyond concerns about conflict of interest, the current governance arrangements for the SIC raise questions about the level of expertise required to manage our state’s investment funds. We expect our Governor to lead the state and hire staff to implement the vision they were elected to deliver. We do not, however, expect them to have the expertise or direct responsibility for approving the buying and selling of billions in stocks, bonds and alternative investments with our children’s endowments. This is precisely why the SIC was set up as quasi-independent government institution in the first place.
Governance best practices suggest that the SIC should internally elect a chairman who is not an elected official; someone with the sound judgment, the integrity and the expertise that the fiduciary nature of the position warrants.
While removing the Governor from the SIC is the most crucial piece of reform this session, other important proposed changes included:
- Establishing a formal structure and performance metrics to evaluate the SIC’s economically targeted investments -- local private equity, film fund, etc. (SB 25).
- Depoliticizing the appointment process for the small business investment council to ensure that investment principles come before politics in our local small business economic development (SB 24).
- Giving the Attorney General the jurisdiction needed to prosecute securities fraud and go after the estimated $1.3 billion currently under lawsuit around the country (SB 18).
The current SIC governance arrangements are outdated and detrimental. It is time for bold change in how we manage our $15 billion dollar endowment. The package of bills before the Legislature this session provides an opportunity to finish the job on SIC reform. I am hopeful the Legislative and Executive branches will work together to put our SIC on sure footing for generations to come.
Take Action: Contact the members of the Senate Rules Committee (SRC) and urge them to vote yes on SB 17, REMOVE GOVERNOR FROM STATE INVESTMENT COUNCIL. Also, contact Gov. Susana Martinez and urge her to support the legislative package proposed by the Interim Committee on Investment Oversight.
This is a guest blog by Sen. Tim Keller. To submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.
2/1 APS Board and CNM Election: BernCo Clerk Issues Inclement Weather Plans
Late this afternoon, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver issued a statement announcing that, regardless of inclement weather, polling locations are set to open at 7:00 AM on Tuesday, February 1, for the APS Board (Districts 1, 2, 4) and CNM elections (Districts 2, 4, 6):
State law does not allow for the late or non-opening of polling locations, so the county clerk’s office is putting plans into gear to ensure the election is conducted regardless of the weather.
Voters experiencing any issues or with any questions about the election should call the Clerk’s Office Bureau of Elections at 468-1291. Staff will be on hand to answer calls beginning at 6:00 AM on Tuesday. See beyond the break for more info:
Poll officials are being reminded to report at 6:00 AM to their location and are being asked to make arrangements for reliable transportation to the polls. Poll officials have been given a contact number in case of emergency so the clerk’s office staff can ensure the election supplies arrive to the polling location on time to open at 7:00 AM.
Sheriff’s deputies will be on-call to assist the clerk’s office in helping poll officials and/or their ballots and supplies get to the polling location on time.
County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver has been in contact with APS and APS and is working with the principals at schools that are acting as polling locations to ensure staff are there to open those locations -- regardless of a delay or if classes are cancelled.
In case any consolidated polling location is not open at 7:00 AM, voters may call the clerk’s office at 468-1291 and will be directed to the polling location closest to them or to the nearest Early Voting site so they may vote provisionally.
As an emergency measure, all Early Voting sites for the APS/CNM election will be open on Tuesday --- to issue provisional ballots only -- for voters who cannot access their consolidated polling location due to inclement weather (a list and maps are available at www.bernco.gov/elections):
- Clerk’s Office Annex at 620 Lomas NW
- APS City Centre at 6400 Uptown Blvd. NE
- CNM – BT Portable 4 at 1401 Basehart Rd. SE
- Coors Plaza at 3200 Coors Blvd. NW
- Rio Rancho City Hall – 3200 Civic Center Circle NE, Rio Rancho
Polling locations that are not open at 7:00 AM and have voters waiting could have their hours of operation extended by court order. The county clerk will acquire court orders if needed.
The County Clerk reminds voters that for the APS/CNM election polling locations are consolidated. Many voters may be voting at a different location than they normally do. Voters can check for the location of their consolidated polling location by calling 468-1291 or visiting http://www.bernco.gov/elections and selecting “Where Do I Vote.”
Susana Martinez's BOLD Inaugural: Big Oil, Gas, Pharma, Developer Hoedown
Martinez dances at inaugural, says NM "open for business"
Over the weekend, Republican Governor Susana Martinez's transition team released a list of donors that paid for her inaugural shindig in Santa Fe. It's shocking, I know, but Martinez’s BOLD inaugural party largely ran on oil, gas and cash from powerful interests. BP, Xcel, Yates and Western Refining were among the heavy-hitting energy companies that powered Martinez’s party.
The question on everyone's mind, of course, is what might they want in return? Just today, the Republican members of the NM House Energy and Natural Resources Committee walked out on a presentation by two energy experts about the negligible impact of common-sense regulations on oil and gas production. Committee Chairman Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) said, ""The Republicans were making all kinds of noise about fairness and what kind of chairman I'm going to be, and the first trick or game that is played is a walkout. It honestly blew my mind. I couldn't believe it. It was just kind of a sad moment."
Apache and Devon energy companies gave $25,000 each to the Martinez inaugural with others, including BP, Shell, Yates, Western and Xcel, each giving a minimum of $5,000. Meanwhile, the infamous Helena Chemical Company gave $10,000 and Jeff Elmore, one of its top managers in Mesquite, personally donated another $15,000. Vanessa Bartoo, of Bartoo Sand and Gravel, donated $25,000. Vanessa also owns the racehorse Double Down Special, currently the fastest quarter horse in the nation.
A number of nuke interests also gave generously to Martinez's inauguration fund, including the Nuclear Energy Institute ($10,000), Uranium Producers of NM ($5,000), Urenco USA ($10,000), Neutron Energy ($15,000), International Isotopes ($250). Other power interests also gave big, including Peabody Energy ($10,000), PNM Responsible Citizens Group ($25,000), El Paso Corp. ($2,500), El Paso Electric ($10,000), El Paso Natural Gas ($2,500), New Mexico Gas Company ($2,500), New Mexico Gas Company HEAT PAC ($2,500), New Mexico Propane Gas Association ($5,000), Pinnacle West: Arizona Public Service ($25,000) and Southern Union Gas Services ($10,000).
In total, Martinez raised $966,000 for her inaugural -- the most in history. Unfortunately, it's difficult to determine who many of the individual donors are because, unlike required campaign donation reports, the list doesn't include any occupations beside the names. If you see any you know, please add them to the comments thread on this post.
“It’s no surprise that the industries that stand to gain the most bank-rolled Martinez’s inaugural party,” said DPNM Executive Director Scott Forrester in a statement released today. “In reviewing the list of inaugural and campaign donors, I have a feeling pay-to-play will be alive and well in the Martinez administration, despite what she said on the campaign trail.”
“In fact, just one month in and we’ve already seen attempts to weaken clean-water protections with connected lobbyists and lawyers helping to write Martinez’s own executive orders,” Forrester continued.
Gov. Martinez has also chosen climate change denier Harrison Schmitt, who has called environmental leaders "communists," to serve as NM Energy Secretary. And the NM Supreme Court recently forced Martinez to implement new greenhouse gas rules she had refused to publish by issuing an executive order on the first day of her administration.
In addition to oil and gas, Martinez’s inaugural fundraising roster is dotted with insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and developers. Some of the same big donors from oil and gas and other special interests that funded her primary and general election campaigns also gave big for her inaugural. Some of them have even become part of the governor's transition team. And remember, Martinez got blobs of campaign bucks from a number of big business moguls and oil interests from Texas, as well.
“Whose side will Martinez be on?” Forrester asked. “Will she favor average New Mexicans struggling to stay in their homes and make ends meet in this economy -- or will she take the side of the powerful corporate interests and continue to let them write her administration’s policies?”
“Time will tell, but Martinez’s fund-raising is a pretty clear indicator what side she’s on,” Forrester said.
Action Alert: Sen. Eric Griego Urges NM Gov. Susana Martinez to Support Ethics Reform
Sen. Eric Griego comments on his ethics bills
Albuquerque State Senator Eric Griego (D-Bernalillo, Valencia) is challenging Governor Susana Martinez to support three campaign and ethics bills as part of her campaign pledge to “clean up” state government. Martinez has made such "clean up" a mantra of sorts, repetitively claiming she will push BOLD changes to improve transparency, ethics and accountability in elections and government. So far, that's not been the case.
Sen. Griego, who has also sponsored ethics and campaign finance reform bills in the last two legislative sessions, wrote a guest blog for Democracy for New Mexico on the topic earlier this month. He has now introduced a package of three bills dealing with campaign finance: SB 181 banning contributions by companies and individuals who do contract work with the state; SB 182, which limits donations from individuals and political committees to $250 for local and county races and $500 for statewide races; and SB 294 providing a voluntary public financing of campaigns.
“Expanding public campaign financing is the single best way to limit the undue influence of special interests on New Mexico politics,” said Steven Robert Allen, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, said about SB 294. “This bill offers a smart way to achieve that crucial goal.”
Sen. Griego said with the growth of Republican influence in the Roundhouse, Governor Martinez is well positioned to push for sweeping ethics and campaign finance reform “to end the kind of excesses that have undermined public confidence in our system.” Gov. Martinez should “make good on her promise to bring ‘bold change’ and challenge the status quo,” Griego said.
“If our elected leaders are not prepared to clean house, hold public officials accountable and put rules in place to reduce the power of special interests,” said Sen. Griego, “then voters will elect someone who will.” Sen. Griego says the question for the Governor and Republican and Democratic legislators is, “Are we willing to make good on our promise to seriously tackle campaign and ethics reform?”
Take Action: All three of Sen. Griego's ethics bill are set to be heard first in the Senate Rules Committee (SRC), so please contact all nine members of that committee urging them to support SB 181, SB 182 and SB 294. Also please contact Gov. Martinez to insist that she live up to her campaign promises by supporting passage of these bills.
In addition to Sen. Griego's ethics legislation, one House bill and three Senate bills have so far been introduced to establish a state ethics commission -- all sponsored by Democrats. Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) is sponsoring HB 195, Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Bill O'Neill (D-Albuquerque) have introduced SB 164, Sen. Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana) is sponsoring SB 172 and Sen. Pete Campos (D-Las Vegas) has proposed SB 293. New Mexico is one of only nine states without an ethics commission, but so far New Mexico lawmakers haven't been able to agree on a version that they believe would be right for our state. A number of ethics commission bills have kicked around the legislature for the past four years but none have gained any widespread momentum.
Unfortunately, our new Republican governor, Susana Martinez, has expressed her opposition to any sort of ethics commission, saying such a body would merely consist of "politicians appointing other politicians to review the conduct of politicians.” Instead, Martinez wants to create a division within the New Mexico State Police to search out and deal with corruption as a crime.
Conveniently, such a division would be under her control because the governor has authority over the State Police. I highly doubt that Martinez would ever allow any action to be taken to root out and prosecute corruption on the part of any Republicans if such a unit were created. So far, Martinez has not publicly stated whether or not she would veto a bill creating an ethics commission.
To see all our posts on the 2011 legislative session, visit our archive.
Action Alert: Four Anti-LGBT Bills Introduced in NM Legislature
So far in the 2011 New Mexico legislative session, four anti-LGBT rights bills pertaining to marriage equality rights have been introduced -- all of them sponsored by Republicans. Three of them are resolutions to change the New Mexico constitution:
This House bill would make it against the law for New Mexico to recognize same-sex civil marriages, civil unions or other similar legal unions entered into in other states or nations where they are legal. This legislation can be seen as a response to a recent legal opinion issued by Attorney General Gary King that says same-sex marriages performed in other states and nations should be recognized as valid legal marriages in New Mexico, according to legal precedents, our laws and constitution.
HB 162 would take away the rights and responsibilities gained by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions while they visit or reside in New Mexico. This despite the fact that opposite-sex marriages are always recognized in other states through "comity," or legal reciprocity among states and nations.
HB 162 has been referred to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee (HCPAC), made up of 3 Dems and 2 Republicans, and the House Judiciary Committee (HJC), which consists of 8 Dems and 7 Repubs.
Take Action: The best place to stop this bill in its tracks is in the HCPAC, where all 3 Dems -- Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque HD 18), Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D-Albuquerque HD 16) and Rep. Bill O'Neill (D-Albuquerque HD 15) -- are supporters of LGBT rights. Please contact these 3 lawmakers, thank them for their prior support for LGBT rights and urge them to defeat HB 162.
This House joint resolution seeks to amend the New Mexico constitution so that marriage can only apply to one man and one woman, and so that no same-sex marriages performed in states or nations where such marriages are legal could be recognized here. If passed by both houses of the legislature, such an amendment would have to be voted on by New Mexicans at the next regular election or a special election called for that purpose. If supported by a majority of those voting, it would be added to the NM Constitution.
This resolution has been referred to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee (HCPAC), the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) and the House Voters and Elections Committee (HVEC). A referral to 3 or more committees usually equals the death of legislation, but we can never be too careful when it comes to anti-LGBT rights initiatives.
Take Action: Again, the best place to kill this bill is in the HCPAC, where all 3 Dems -- Rep. Gail Chasey, Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas and Rep. Bill O'Neill -- are supporters of LGBT rights. Please contact these 3 lawmakers, thank them for their prior support for LGBT rights and urge them to defeat HJR 8.
Note: Rep. Chavez is a new conservative legislator elected in November of last year, having defeated Democratic incumbent Andrew J. Barreras. Chavez is an attorney and the son of the late Tibo Chavez, a former district court judge, lieutenant governor, state senator and state senate majority leader, and a Democrat who ran for governor in the 1970s. David Chavez also ran for the state Senate in 2000 against Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen. He seems to be playing both to Republicans and a group of old-line conserva-Dems who claim the Dem Party has become "too liberal" -- so-called dog whistle language for "we can't stand equal rights for LGBT folks" bigotry.
This House joint resolution seeks to amend Article 20 of the New Mexico constitution by adding a new section to read: "Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." Like clockwork, Rep. Espinoza has unsuccessfully sought passage of this legislation every year since 2007.
Thankfully, like Rep. Chavez's proposed anti-same-sex marriage constitutional amendment, Espinoza's resolution has been referred to three committees -- HCPAC, HJC and HVEC -- so that will make it difficult for it to wend its way through the House. Since it's a resolution for a constitutional amendment, it would go to the voters for approval if it managed to pass both houses of the legislature.
Take Action: Again, the best place to kill this bill is in the HCPAC, where all 3 Dems -- Rep. Gail Chasey, Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas and Rep. Bill O'Neill -- are supporters of LGBT rights. Please contact these 3 lawmakers, thank them for their prior support for LGBT rights and urge them to defeat HJR 7.
This Senate joint resolution seeks to change the New Mexico constitution so that marriage can only apply to one man and one woman. Sen. Sharer has sponsored similar legislation during the past two sessions. The Senate Rules Committee rejected it last year on a 5-2 vote.
SJR 4 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee (SRC) and the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). SRC is chaired by Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque SD 11), a long-time LGBT rights supporter, and it consists of 6 Dems and 3 Repubs. However, 2 of the Dems -- Sen. George Munoz (D-Gallup SD 4) and Sen. Tim Jennings (D-Roswell SD 32) -- are conserva-Dems and have voted against domestic partnership legislation in the past. The other Dems on the SRC are generally considered supporters of LGBT rights.
The SJC was formerly chaired by Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque SD 16), an LGBT rights champion, but this year he was ousted from that post by Dem Senate leaders and replaced as chair by conserva-Dem Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Espanola SD 5). Sen. Martinez has a history of opposing LGBT equal rights. It's unknown how he will run the SJC and whether or not he will seek to get SJR 4 through the committee by hook or by crook. The SJC consists of 7 Dems (including Sen. McSorley) and 4 Repubs but, again, there is no guarantee that all the Dems will oppose anti-LGBT legislation. If 2 Dems were to defect or be absent when a vote is taken, SJR 4 could pass through this committee.
Take Action: We need to kill this bill in the SRC. Please contact all of these lawmakers and urge them to defeat SJR 4. In your contacts with Sen. George Munoz (D-Gallup SD 4) and Sen. Tim Jennings (D-Roswell SD 32), please mention that the platform of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, which was passed by the party's State Central Commitee, supports marriage equality -- and they should too if they consider themselves Democrats.
It's also a good idea to contact all the members of the SJC, just in case the resolution gets through SRC, and urge them to vote no on SJR 4. When communicating with Sen. Richard Martinez, please note the DPNM platform supports marriage equality.
It's not expected that any domestic partnership bills will be introduced during this 60-day session because our new Republican governor, Susana Martinez, has strongly and repeatedly voiced her opposition to such legislation and pledged to veto any that reaches her desk. Gov. Martinez claims that domestic partnership is the same as marriage, despite the fact that there are huge differences between the two in terms of legal rights and responsibilities. It's even been rumored that she may rescind an executive order signed by former Dem Gov. Bill Richardson that allows domestic partners of state workers to purchase health insurance benefits.
We'll continue to track these bill as they move forward, and you can always follow them yourselves on the New Mexico Legislature website. In addition, Equality New Mexico offers an easy way to track LGBT-related legislation as it moves (or doesn't) through the legislature. In addition to tracking the 4 anti-marriage equality bills, EQNM is following two anti-bullying bills sponsored by Sen. Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana SD 36) and Rep. Rick Miera (D-Albuquerque HD 11).
To read more posts on New Mexico's 2011 legislative session, visit our archive. Also, check out the links under NM Legislature on the left-hand side of this page for ways to access more information on the 60-day session.
1/31: Weekly People Before Profit Film Series to Feature 'Religulous'
Every Monday at the University of New Mexico's SUB Theater Room 1003 various social justice films will be shown as part of the People Before Profit film series. Doors open at 6:30 PM and films start at 7:00 PM. Admission is free. There will be post-film discussions by professors and grad students. This week's film, on Monday, January 31, will be Religulous, which is sponsored by the UNM Freethinkers Society.
This is the entire schedule (some films/guest speakers are subject to change):
• Jan. 31: Religulous—Directed by Larry Charles—Sponsored by the UNM Freethinkers Society. Post Film Discussion will be led by UNM Freethinkers society.
• Feb. 7: The Future of Food—Directed by Deborah Koons Garcia—Sponsored by S.O.A.P.—Guest Speaker: Chris Duvall from the Geography Department.
• Feb. 14:Water Wars—Directed by Jim Burroughs—Post film discussion led by Daniel Swartz of the Sociology Department.
• Feb. 21: The Corporation—Directed by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, and Joel Bakan—Sponsored by the UNM Fair Trade Student Group. Lecturer TBA.
• Feb. 28: Slingshot Hip Hop—Directed by Jackie Reem Salloum—Sponsored by Coalition for Peace & Justice in the Middle East. Post film discussion TBA.
• Mar. 7: Dark Days—Directed by Marc Singer—Sponsored by the UNM Peace Studies Program and PSL. Post film discussion led by Desi Brown (Peace Studies Instructor/Advisor).
• Mar. 14: Spring Break—Possibly will be showing The Yes Men (2003) and The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)—Directed by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.
• Mar. 21: Iraq for Sale—Directed by Robert Greenwald—Sponsored by ANSWER Coalition—Lecturer TBA.
• Mar. 28: Ghosts of Cite Soleil—Directed by Asger Leth and Milos Loncarevic—Sponsored by the UNM Amnesty International—Lecturer TBA.
• Apr. 4: The Murder of Fred Hampton—Directed by Howard Alk—Sponsored by PSL.—Possible guest speaker TBA.
• Apr. 11: Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy—Produced by Mary Becker—Sponsored by the UNM American Studies Program—Guest Speaker: Professor Alyosha Goldstein from American Studies.
• Apr. 18: Film about child soldiers with a lecture by Professor Steven Bishop (Title of film unknown at this time/TBA).
• Apr. 25: Salt of the Sea—Directed by Annemarie Jacir—Sponsored by Peace Studies and American Studies—Post film discussion led by Teresa Cutler-Broyles.
• May 2: Double feature—Cultures of Resistance—Directed by Iara Lee—Second film TBA—Sponsored by CPJME. Lecturer TBA.
• May 9: Nourish—Possibly sponsored by Fair Trade or Waiting for ‘Superman’ –Directed by David Guggenhiem—Possibly sponsored by the UNM College of Education—Post film discussion TBA. Where: Student Union Building Theater Room 1003.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
2/3: Rally in Santa Fe to Preserve Our Clean Water and Quality of Life
On Thursday, February 3rd, New Mexicans from around the state will converge on Santa Fe to let their elected leaders hear the people's message: we need to protect our water and communities!
Everyday New Mexicans and members of sponsoring organizations will rally outside the East entrance of the Capitol on Thursday, February 3rd, at noon. Participants of the hour-long event will let New Mexico’s leaders know why maintaining common sense water policies is vital to protecting our unique quality of life for all our citizens.
All those attending the rally are invited to bring glass or plastic bottles into which they can put messages to “send an SOS to our leaders.” These messages in bottles will allow participants to tell their legislators how important clean water is to all our families, farms and communities. All messages in bottles will be delivered to the legislators at the end of the rally.
The rally is cosponsored by Communities for Clean Water (CCW), Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS), Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), Environment New Mexico (ENM), New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL), MASE (Multi-Cultural Alliance for Safe Environment), New Energy Economy (NEE), New Mexico Conference of Churches (NMCC) and the Office of Life, Peace, Justice and Creation Stewardship of Gallup Diocese.
All interested citizens are encouraged to attend. For more information contact Lilia Diaz, New Energy Economy, 505-670-5971.
Guest Blog: Cheryl Harris, Candidate for APS Board, District 4
This is a guest blog by Cheryl Harris, a candidate for the Albuquerque Public School Board in District 4. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Cheryl graduated from Sandia High School in 1963. She has a business degree from Westminster College, SLC, UT, and a Masters in Architecture from UNM. She retired from USWEST as an Area Manager- Administrative Services and Real Estate Operations. She says she is running for school board because she is extremely concerned with the achievement gap and graduation rates of our children.
Tuesday, February 1, is the APS school board and CNM board/bond elections. A small turnout, well under 10%, will vote for perhaps the most important elected public position there is.
You will elect the men or women who will decide the direction your schools will take. These are the men and women who will set the tone and attitude for the superintendent, principals, teachers and students. Make the best decision you can. The futures of the children of our community are in your votes.
If I am elected to the Board from District 4 I promise you I will do my best to listen to the voices of District 4, and use their ideas and knowledge in my decisions.
I have been talking to teachers and hearing how burdened they feel with testing throughout the year, duplicative reports to the staff, many committee meetings, and elaborate, complicated teaching and tracking systems that, in their judgment, don’t help advance their students. Teachers just want to teach. They want to learn new ways to teach better from each other.
I have been talking to taxpayers, and although they are overwhelmingly supportive of teachers and better teacher pay, they want the overhead cut. They want the resources in the classroom. They don’t like big salaries for people that don’t teach. They don’t like the stories of waste, fraud, and theft that they are hearing daily on TV.
I have been talking to students. They want enough textbooks, safe schools, and good teachers. They want to go to college. They don’t like all the testing and they are worried for their teachers. They want a school that fits their learning style and needs.
I have been talking to parents. They want to feel welcome when they come to school. They want to speak in their language when they come. They want better meals for their kids, and a safe school. They want to know more about how they can help at school and not be turned away. They want responsiveness.
Improving our schools will take bravery and courage to change the status quo. It will mean getting tough on some parents and making principals, social workers, and school-home liaisons work harder than ever. It will mean taking our best teachers and principals and having them teach the others their techniques.
It means getting all of our low-income advocacy groups to work more with their constituencies, pushing educational expectations, attendance, and effort.
It means students taking a more active role in their career planning and school performance as they get older, making the student led conferences more rigorous and better attended, and making students work harder to achieve graduation, rather than drop out.
It means the administration being willing to step up and look for ways to cut and streamline the overhead, and acknowledging that some processes do nothing to enhance learning in the classrooms, and eliminate them.
It means the school board stepping beyond its role of approving monthly expenses and writing policy statements on cell phones (both necessary, mind you) and becoming a cheerleader, an advocate, a spokes-group all across the community spectrum for good schools and community input and involvement. It means the board must provide oversight and a check and balance system for the administration.
Yes, it will be a lot of hard work. Are our kids worth it? You will decide on February 1st. Please study the candidates’ positions on the issues, their background, and their management styles, and make a good decision. Thank you.
This is a guest blog by Cheryl Harris. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, please contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Monday: NM House Energy Committee to Study Impact of Environmental Rules on Oil and Gas Industries
This should be very, very interesting. On Monday, January 31, the NM House Energy and Natural Resources Committee (HENRC) will hear about the impact of environmental rules on oil and gas production at 8:30 AM in State Capitol Room 307 in Santa Fe.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk about how common sense rules to protect air and ground water affect the oil and gas industry. I believe the people of New Mexico deserve to know the facts and to hear reality, not rhetoric, on this critical topic,” said Committee Chairman Rep. Brian Egolf. “Monday’s hearing will be the first chance for our committee to start learning the truth.”
Presenting at the hearing will be:
- Kim Sovig, a Research Associate Professor at the UNM School of Architecture and Planning. He is widely published on sustainable development and construction techniques, focusing on clean energy and water resources as they relate to land use.
- Betsy Siwula Brandt, who has a 20 year career in the oil & gas industry ranging from exploration geophysicist to exploration and production manager for Exxon, both domestically and internationally. Her primary emphasis is on how best management practices and technological advances drive industry.
Republican members of the committee have been offered equal time to include their own presenters at the hearing. We'll see who they'll turn to, and whether their arguments can stand up to scrutiny.
It's exciting to witness the new chair of the HENRC taking a pro-active stance on getting the facts out there about common-sense environmental rules. From some of the rhetoric coming out of Governor Susana Martinez's office, you'd think basic rules to protect New Mexico's air, land and water should be out of the question because they would supposedly destroy the industries they regulate. Not surprisingly, the facts that allegedly back up that claim have been conspicuously missing from the discussion. Now's the time to put up or shut up, Governor.
State Rep. Egolf Introduces Bill to Reduce Gross Receipts Tax
Gotta love this one. Yesterday Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) introduced HB 222, a bill that would reduce the gross receipts tax for all New Mexico businesses and residents by a quarter percent. The reduction in the gross receipts tax would be paid for by eliminating tax loopholes and subsidies for oil, gas and other extractive industries.
“At a time when legislators and the governor are looking at taxes and demanding accountability, we need to closely examine whether the $200-400 million annual subsidy to extractive industries creates jobs. This bill gives a tax cut to everyone -- not just a few industries that don’t need one,” Rep. Egolf said in explaining his bill. Egolf is the new Chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
House Bill 222 heads to the House Business and Industry Committee (HBIC) and the House Taxation and Revenue Committee (HTRC) for consideration. Call or email your legislators and members of the HBIC and urge their support.
We'll see if legislators and Governor Susana Martinez support helping working families and all local businesses, or just the oil/gas/mining interests that give them campaign bucks. As you know, Martinez and the Republicans have been whining about the film industry tax rebate -- even though it creates many jobs and supports all kinds of small businesses in the state -- but don't seem to care about studying whether huge breaks given to energy and mining are worth it. This at a time when many in these industries are making record profits.
BernCo Dems Announce Details of Ward/Precinct Elections, Platform and Central Committee Meetings
Ana Canales, Chair of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County (DPBC), has issued the following call for upcoming elections and events:
A CALL FOR THE ELECTION OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF BERNALILLO COUNTY (DPBC) WARD AND PRECINCT OFFICERS AND ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE (CCC)
See below the fold for details.
CREDENTIALS/ RULES AND RESOLUTIONS/PLATFORM COMMITTEE MEETINGS, Saturday, February 19th, 2011, 10 AM, Rooms 2401 and 2402, UNM Law School, 1117 Stanford NE, Albuquerque, NM.
COUNTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEETING, Saturday, March 19th, 2011, Registration 12 Noon, Call to Order, 2 PM, Albuquerque Convention Center, Ballroom A, Albuquerque, NM
The County Central Committee (CCC) meeting shall be for the purpose of electing officers of the DPBC and members of the State Central Committee (SCC), and conducting other business pertaining to the DPBC. The meeting is open to all registered Democrats of Bernalillo County, but only qualified members of the CCC may vote (State Rule 9-2-C).
February 5th - Ward Chair Training for upcoming Ward/Precinct Elections, 10 AM at the UNM Law School
February 10th - Ward Chair Training for upcoming Ward/Precinct Elections, 6 PM at the UNM Law School
WARD AND PRECINCT ELECTIONS, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2011, VARIOUS TIMES
- WARD 10 - 10AM - DPBC South Valley Headquarters, 2314 Isleta Blvd SW
- WARD 11A - 10AM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Main Library, 501 Copper Avenue NW
- WARD 11B - 10AM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Main Library, 501 Copper Avenue NW
- WARD 11C - 10AM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Main Library, 501 Copper Avenue NW
- WARD 12A - 10 AM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County South Valley Library, 3904 Isleta Blvd SW
- WARD 12B - 1PM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County South Valley Library, 3904 Isleta Blvd SW
- WARD 13A - 9AM - Los Volcanes Senior Center, 6500 Los Volcanes NW
- WARD 13B - 11AM - Los Volcanes Senior Center, 6500 Los Volcanes NW
- WARD 14A - 10AM - DPBC South Valley Headquarters, 2314 Isleta Blvd SW
- WARD 14B - 1PM - DPBC South Valley Headquarters, 2314 Isleta Blvd SW
- WARD 15A - 10AM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County North Valley Library, 7704 - B Second Street, NW
- WARD 15B - 1PM - Albuquerque/Bernalillo County North Valley Library, 7704 - B Second Street, NW*
- WARD 16A - 10AM - Ladera Golf Course Meeting Room, 3401 Ladera NW
- WARD 16B - 10AM - Ladera Golf Course Meeting Room, 3401 Ladera NW
- WARD 17A - 1PM - 1816 Patrick Place NW
- WARD 17B - 1PM - TBD*
- WARD 18A - 10AM - UNM Law School Room 2405, 1117 Stanford NE
- WARD 18B - 10AM - UNM Law School Room 2406, 1117 Stanford NE
- WARD 19A - 10AM - Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Hall, 510 San Pedro SE
- WARD 19B - 10AM - Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Hall, 510 San Pedro SE
- WARD 20A - 1PM - Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth St SE
- WARD 20B - 1PM - Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth St SE
- WARD 20C - 10AM East Mountain (Tijeras) Library, 1 Old Tijeras Rd
- WARD 21A - 11AM - Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth St SE
- WARD 21B - 11AM - Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth St SE
- WARD 22 - 10AM - 13 Kiva Loop, Sandia Park
- WARD 23A - 10AM - Ladera Golf Course Meeting Room, 3401 Ladera NW
- WARD 23B - 10AM - Ladera Golf Course Meeting Room, 3401 Ladera NW
- WARD 24A - 10AM - AFSCME, 1202 Pennsylvania NE
- WARD 24B - 10AM - AFSCME, 1202 Pennsylvania NE
- WARD 24C - 10AM - AFSCME, 1202 Pennsylvania NE
- WARD 25A - 1PM - UNM Law School Room 2405, 1117 Stanford NE
- WARD 25B - 1PM - UNM Law School Room 2406, 1117 Stanford NE
- WARD 26A - 1PM - Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Hall, 510 San Pedro SE
- WARD 26B - 1PM - Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Hall, 510 San Pedro SE
- WARD 27A - 10AM - Cherry Hills Library, 6901 Barstow NE
- WARD 27B - 10AM - Cherry Hills Library, 6901 Barstow NE
- WARD 28A - 10AM - Lomas & Tramway Library, 908 Eastridge NE
- WARD 28B - 1PM - Lomas & Tramway Library, 908 Eastridge NE
- WARD 29A - 10AM - Ladera Golf Course Meeting Room, 3401 Ladera NW
- WARD 29B - 10AM - Ladera Golf Course Meeting Room, 3401 Ladera NW
- WARD 30A - 10AM - Adelante Seniors Day Services Bldg, 5411 Osuna Rd NE
- WARD 30B - 10AM - Adelante Seniors Day Services Bldg, 5411 Osuna Rd NE
- WARD 31A - 10AM - Church of the Good Shepherd, 7834 Tennyson NE
- WARD 31B - 10AM - Church of the Good Shepherd, 7834 Tennyson NE
* Please note the changes for 15B and 17B
Information on ward boundaries and precincts within the wards can be obtained by visiting our website at www.bernalillodems.org or by calling the DPBC, 830-3650, ext 11.
To get information on party elections in other counties, visit this page at website of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and click on your county.
Sam Bregman Announces Candidacy for DPNM Chairman
"Enough is enough," Bregman said. "We need to rebuild our party, from the bottom up and regain strong majorities in both the State House and Senate. We are also looking forward to re-electing President Obama, Senator Jeff Bingaman and taking back the 2nd Congressional District. Every day, as State Chairman, I will stand up and speak out for our core Democratic values."
Bregman described himself as a lifelong Democratic Party activist and businessman. He said he started as a precinct chair when he was 18 years old and has been involved in every major campaign in New Mexico since 1981. In addition he served as an Assistant District Attorney for the State of New Mexico.
Bregman noted that he had served on the Albuquerque City Council from 1995 until 1999 and has also served as Deputy State Auditor for the State of New Mexico. In 2000 Bregman ran for Congress in the Democratic Primary for the right to oppose Heather Wilson. In 2004, Sam was Vice-Chair of the State Party.
He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of New Mexico and a J.D. from the UNM School of Law. As an attorney and owner of the New Mexico Thunderbirds, Sam believes in New Mexico and wants to rebuild the Democratic Party. Sam is married and said he's the proud father of three children.