Friday, August 26, 2011

Senator Wirth and Representative Egolf to Hold District Meetings to Discuss Redistricting and the Special Session

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Senator Wirth, Representative Egolf

State Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and State Representative Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) have scheduled two neighborhood meetings with residents of their districts. The first will be Tuesday, August 30th, at the Hondo Fire Station at the intersection of Old Las Vegas Highway and Highway 285 near the Eldorado exit, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. The second will be Thursday, September 1st, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in the Lamy/Peralta Rooms.

“With the population growth in the state, the boundaries of Santa Fe’s state legislative districts are going to change. Certain proposals also change representation on the Public Regulation Commission for residents in Eldorado. We look forward to input from our constituents on the various redistricting plans,” the legislators said.

Senator Wirth and Representative Egolf have made district meetings a regular part of their legislative duties, and both underscore their importance.

“These meetings are one of the most important things we do,” Egolf said. “They are a way for us to better understand individual and neighborhood concerns, while discussing the best way to proceed on legislative issues.”

Wirth represents State Senate District 25. Egolf represents State House District 47. Since their districts overlap, they work together whenever possible in addressing issues of concern to Santa Fe residents.

August 26, 2011 at 05:20 PM in Events, NM Legislature 2011, Redistricting, Santa Fe | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Stephanie DuBois Guest Blog: Many Concerns About Today's Dem Party

StephanieDuBois110 This is a guest blog by Stephanie L. DuBois of Tularosa, who is a life-long Democrat who recently ran for New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner.

I am a 65-year-old Democrat and activist and have been for many years. I am presently the CD2 vice-chair for the State Democratic Party, my 5th term. I am a dog groomer and trainer. I am a certified mediator for Magistrate Court,volunteer. I have run for various offices unsuccessfully, but at least I made sure a Democrat was running. I am an American, a patriot and the daughter of a Pearl Harbor survivor.

I moved to Deming, New Mexico in 1978. I now live in Tularosa and have for 21 years. I had always been involved in politics in one way or another in my native state of New York -- not New York City but Long Island -- specifically, a town called Miller Place, three miles east of Port Jefferson where the ferry went to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

My parents and grandparents were Democrats and, at age 21, I registered as a Democrat as well. I have been a registered Democrat ever since. I have voted in any and all elections where I was eligible to vote -- school, county, city, etc. I have now lived in New Mexico for 33 years.

Ladies and gentlemen I don't know about you, but I am very concerned about our state and our state politics and the direction we are headed.

My county of Otero was pretty much Democratic when I moved here in 1990. Within what seemed to be overnight, we became and still are totally Republican and we now have the unsolicited voice of the bogus "tea party." To be fair, I do like the fact that they question their elected officials. They even go so far to give them ultimatums to make sure they carry out the tea party agenda. When the tea party demonstrates, they make sure to wear or carry a firearm to punctuate their position.

I have many concerns regarding voting, redistricting and the protection and security of our public records -- which should be just that, public. We, as Democrats (and I am talking about real Democrats -- not those who use the Democratic Party for their own personal gain but then embrace Republican philosophies and values), should be watching out for the good of our Party. I think our Party -- the Party of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton -- has been infiltrated by moles, Republicans pretending to be Democrats who undermine our Party from within. Are there any real Democrats who will defend our values, civil rights, Social Security, Medicare, etc. out there now?

A couple of things are happening that really scare me -- and I don't scare easily.

Senator Rod Adair: Conflict of Interest
One is the acceptance by Democrats of a situation that allows a state senator to form a consulting company that bids on county contracts to draw their county lines as part of redistricting. He has received, just from two counties that I know of to date, $34,000. However, no one feels this is a conflict of interest.

Senator Rod Adair (R-Roswell), the senator in question, has also garnered contracts from at least two other counties that I know of. When questions about a possible conflict of interest were raised, the answer I saw was, it is a citizen legislature there are bound to be conflicts of interest because the legislators all have jobs outside of their elected positions. That quote was from Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who was a state senator working in the Otero County clerk's office for many years.

Dianna Duran: Answer These Questions
Now today, as Secretary of State, Duran has the power to turn 64,000 voter files over to the State Police to investigate possible voter fraud. She has by-passed the county clerks' offices as the most obvious place to check voter records and not cost tax payers any additional monies. The Democrats have not questioned the impact this will have on us the taxpayers and citizens of New Mexico.

Questions that should be asked include: Are these documents protected? Are they secure? Is your or my name among those documents under investigation? I think we, the people, have a right to know. The only information on a voter card that is not for public knowledge is the person's birth date and phone number. Everything else is public.

Dems Need to Speak Out Publicly
The office of Secretary of State is very powerful, as we found out in the selection of George W. Bush in the Bush/Gore election in Florida. Katherine Harris had a great deal of influence over that election and the eventual outcome with Bush being selected. We don't ever want this Secretary of State to have that kind of influential power.

In states across the country where governors are Republican and Republicans control the secretary of state offices, there is a movement to make sure that minorities and  Democrats generally have a much more difficult time voting. In these states they are instituting things like shortening the time you can register to vote and requiring picture ID. Some of these over-the-top requirements are akin to the old Jim Crow laws that were in effect requiring a poll tax for African Americans who wanted to vote.

We, as Democrats in New Mexico, need to stand together and speak out strongly to make sure that this Secretary of State is not going to run over our elections and make rules that will keep even one person from being able to vote. We can't do that by remaining silent.

I think we need press conferences letting the public know that the Democratic Party is not going to stand quietly by while Republicans and "tea baggers" take our rights away from us -- rights that our fathers and grandfathers thought they were fighting for. I think we should demonstrate in front of the Secretary of State's office and the Governor's office and let them know in no uncertain terms we are not going to stand for them messing with our voting rights.

We are Americans. We are patriots. We won't be silenced!

This is a guest blog by Stephanie L. DuBois. If you'd like 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.

August 3, 2011 at 11:20 AM in Democratic Party, Dianna Duran, Election Reform & Voting, Guest Blogger, NM Legislature 2011, NM Secretary of State, Otero County, Redistricting, Right Wing | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

8/3-5: NM Legislative Redistricting Committee to Meet in Pueblo of Acoma, Gallup and Farmington

The Legislative Redistricting Committee has scheduled public meetings at locations throughout the state in order to encourage public accessibility and input on the upcoming redistricting plan. The committee will recommend new boundaries for the congressional districts within New Mexico, the state House of Representatives and Senate districts, the Public Regulation Commission districts, and the Public Education Commission districts. Recommendations will be based on the 2010 decennial census, the redistricting guidelines adopted by the New Mexico legislative council, and testimony received from interested individuals and groups. The hearings will include sharing of information about the legal requirements of the redistricting process, sample maps and time for public comment.

Representative Mary Helen Garcia (D–Dona Ana–34) and Senator Linda M. Lopez (D–Bernalillo–11) co-chair the committee.

The upcoming meeting takes place over three days, August 3–5, in Pueblo of Acoma, Gallup and Farmington. Work begins on Wednesday, August 3, in the Piñon room of the Sky City Casino at the Pueblo of Acoma. On Thursday, August 4, the meeting moves to Calvin Hall on the University of New Mexico Branch Campus in Gallup, and on Friday, August 5, the meeting will be held in room 9008 of San Juan College in Farmington. Two more multi-day meetings are scheduled in August around the state in preparation for the special session of the legislature that begins in September.

The committee recognizes the importance of redistricting in a democracy. Members and legislative staff are working to ensure that every citizen is represented and that the process is visible and open for public input. Representative Garcia encourages all interested New Mexicans to take an active interest in the redistricting process. “The job of the Redistricting Committee is to develop a variety of plans that are in line with the legal principles that govern redistricting. We look forward to sharing the information we’ve gathered and hearing from all concerned,” said Representative Garcia.

The committee welcomes and encourages public attendance and input. Time for public comment will be allowed each day. For more information and the most current committee agendas and calendars, please click here.

August 2, 2011 at 01:51 PM in Events, NM Legislature 2011, Redistricting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Guest Blog: Expo NM Racino/Alternative RFP Doesn't Offer Level Playing Field

CharlieBennett This is an open letter to NM citizens, legislators and state officials from Charlie Bennett of Albuquerque.

After reviewing the new RFP (pdf) issued by the New Mexico State Fair Office for "Proposals for a Race Track and Casino Operation or for Alternative Uses," the inclusions listed below made it evident, to me at least, that it is the intention of that office and perhaps our Governor to award the RFP to the only "offerer" who has already prepared an extensive proposal to this date -- Albuquerque Downs & Casino. Not only was that proposal requested and directed by the State Fair Commission in 2010, but it was prepared for them at taxpayers expense by the State's General Services Department Secretary Jaramillo and State Fair's contracted Attorney John Myers.

This offense to a fair and level RFP process should be more than enough to disqualify that applicant from making an offer to this RFP.

Those inclusions to the RFP referred to previously are:

  • "Proposals shall provide for rent paid to the State Fair in an amount of no less than two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) per year. The lease shall be for 25 years."
  • "ALL OFFEROR PROPOSALS MUST BE RECEIVED FOR REVIEW AND EVALUATION BY THE PROCUREMENT MANAGER OR DESIGNEE NO LATER THAN 2:00 PM MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME ON Thursday, August 25, 2011. Proposals received after this deadline will not be accepted."

To expect any "offerer" to submit a proposal by August 25, 2011, other than the one by the ABQ Downs & Casino that had already been submitted in December of 2010, is ludicrous! This RFP is designed to ensure that the current tenant succeeds in being awarded the lease of 90+ acres of prime inner city property for only $2 million annually for 25 years, with absolutely no mention of future value.

This is an insult, not only to the neighbors of EXPO NM and the City of Albuquerque, but to all taxpaying citizens of this state and their legislators. There has not been an RFP for the lease and operation of this property for over 10 years. After the many Task Forces to improve the State Fairgrounds that have always been heavily attended by New Mexico developers and citizens alike, it would behoove this newly seated State fair Commission to step back and reconsider the implications and consequences of the action they are about to rule upon.

It is my sincere hope that this RFP might be viewed by our State Legislature as the sham that it truly is and that Governor Susana Martinez sees fit to present it to them during the upcoming Special Session for their disapproval and an extension to a fair and equitable proposal process. All respondents to this RFP should be given equal time and an an equal footing to prepare a proposal, including those unaware or discouraged by this process.

Sincerely yours in community.

This is a guest blog by Charlie Bennett, who serves on the Boards of the La Mesa Community Improvement Association in Albuquerque's International District, the NM Asian American Association and the La Mesa Community Land Trust. He is the Chair of Ward 26A of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County. His interest in all things equine stems from his time growing up behind the world's largest annual inner-city equine event at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

If you'd like 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.

August 1, 2011 at 02:12 PM in Guest Blogger, Land Issues, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Save the Date: Major Fundraiser 8/28 for Bernalillo County Democratic Party

RoundLogo
--SAVE THE DATE--

What:  Fundraiser for Bernalillo County Democratic Party 

When:  August, 28th, Sunday, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Where:  Home of Tim and Sandra Eichenberg

Special Invitees: State Senators and Representatives from Bernalillo County and immediately adjacent counties and other Electeds from Bernalillo County

All former chairpersons of the BCDP are being asking them to attend so that their previous work for the party can be recognized and they can offer their thoughts on the 2012 election cycle

Theme:  A Presentation on and Discussion of Redistricting and the Pending Special Legislative Session on Redistricting by Senator Linda Lopez, Co-Chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee

Enhancements:  Music, Food, Refreshments

Goal:  $6000.00 to be Raised for DPBC; $20.00 Contribution per Person

FINAL DETAILS FOR EVENT WILL APPEAR HERE MID-AUGUST

Questions? Contact [email protected]

July 26, 2011 at 12:43 PM in Democratic Party, Events, NM Legislature 2011, Redistricting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ACLU-NM Sues Secretary of State Dianna Duran for Violating Open Records Law

DownloadedFile Gov. Susana Martinez and her GOP cohorts in New Mexico -- like Secretary of State Dianna Duran -- seem to really get off on talking a good game about the importance of government transparency, but all too often they don't follow their own advice about how an open government should operate. Is "transparency" just another handy buzzword to use within their never-ending campaign mode that seems to be a continuing substitute for actually governing the state and working to solve the myriad of genuine problems we face? Sure seems like it.

One more example of their hypocrisy: Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) filed a lawsuit in the Second Judicial District Court against Secretary of State Dianna Duran, alleging that she violated open records law by concealing public information regarding alleged voting irregularities. On March 15, 2011, as the legislature debated controversial voter ID legislation, Duran announced her office had uncovered proof that 37 undocumented immigrants cast ballots in New Mexico elections.

The following day, the ACLU-NM filed an Information and Public Records Act (IPRA) request to independently verify these serious allegations. Duran’s office unlawfully concealed many of the requested documents, claiming “executive privilege,” and redacted many emails so heavily that they were rendered useless.

“These sorts of hit-and-run allegations are reckless and irresponsible,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Without offering any proof, the Secretary of State has undermined the public’s confidence in our elections system while hiding the evidence for her claims behind the cloak of executive privilege.”

On rare occasions and under narrowly defined circumstances, government officials are permitted to withhold some types of information under “executive privilege,” according to the ACLU-NM. However, in recent years officials have abused executive privilege, using it to conceal public information that could prove embarrassing or politically inconvenient. In her first executive order as governor, Susana Martinez severely limited the use of executive privilege, proclaiming that “access to public information should be the rule, and denial thereof the exception…”

Duran made the exception the rule, making liberal use of executive privilege to withhold public voting records and official correspondence from the ACLU-NM and several journalists. In a response to journalist Heath Haussamen’s attempt to acquire these same records, the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department affirmed Duran’s improper use of executive privilege, stating:

“We should be clear it is our understanding that these same emails were requested from the Secretary of State and they chose to assert executive privilege over some or all parts of these emails. The Department does not feel executive privilege can be asserted, or would appropriately apply over these emails.”

“It is disappointing that our Secretary of State would go to such extraordinary lengths to hide important public records from New Mexicans,” said ACLU-NM Staff Attorney Alexandra Freedman Smith. “Governor Martinez promised that her administration would usher in a new era of openness and transparency in New Mexico government. It’s a shame that Diana Duran does not share the governor’s commitment.”

Staff Attorney Alexandra Freedman Smith, Co-Legal Director Maureen Sanders and Cooperating Attorney Ed Macy represent the ACLU of New Mexico in this case.

A full copy of the ACLU-NM legal complaint against is available online: ACLU v. Duran

Where's the Beef, Dianna?
This past Friday, SOS Duran was grilled by members of the legislature's Courts, Corrections and Justice interim committee about her allegations that she had "proof" that 37 undocumented New Mexicans fraudulently cast ballots in elections in the state. She was also confronted about her decision to turn over 64,000 names of people she characterized as potentially fraudulent voters to the Department of Public Safety with the implication that criminal acts had been committed.

Duran suddenly claimed she wasn't really looking for "voter fraud" in these instances, but merely trying to make sure New Mexico's voter rolls were accurate. This despite her numerous accusatory statements in the past clearly claiming she had uncovered extensive "voter fraud" -- especially among New Mexico's immigrant population. 

Of course if Duran were really trying to find the facts -- instead of using the same dog-whistle tactics employed by Gov. Martinez to rile up the right-wing tea party crowd about those nasty immigrants -- she would be all for revealing the "proof" she has cited -- as well as using the expertise of the state's county clerks to get at the truth. Instead she seems determined to drag her feet as long as possible so she can keep nurturing wedge issue angst without having to show the public any real evidence to back up what she is alleging. As is often the case, her lies are now turning back on themselves to the point that she seems to be backtracking on her VOTER FRAUD! claims. Has she lied herself into a corner?

Even the right-wingers on the Albuquerque Journal editorial board are incensed over her behavior. In an editorial published this past Sunday, the board took Duran to task in no uncertain terms for her refusal to turn over documents the public has a right to see unless they are "redacted" to the point of nothingness.

Duran has surely heard the well-worn phrase “seeing is believing.” And seeing her office redact line after line after line in letter after letter in her investigation of irregularities in voter files does not position her in the eyes of the public as the champion of transparency she claimed to be while campaigning.

... Duran’s office claims releasing the information now “will compromise the Secretary of State’s decision-making process.” She says she will release some of it after her investigation is complete. That’s not executive privilege; that’s situational censorship [emphasis added].

It's long past the time that SOS Duran should be showing us the "beef" to back up her claims, or admitting she basically made the whole thing up to score political points. Let's hope that the ACLU-NM complaint can pry some of the documents in question out of Duran's office so that at least some of facts in this matter can see the light of day.

July 20, 2011 at 02:52 PM in Civil Liberties, Dianna Duran, Election Reform & Voting, Legal Issues, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez, Transparency | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

7/18-7/20: Legislative Redistricting Committee Public Meetings in Clovis, Roswell, Las Cruces

From the Legislative Redistricting Committee:
The Legislative Redistricting Committee has scheduled public meetings at locations throughout the state in order to encourage public accessibility and input on the upcoming redistricting plan. The committee will recommend new boundaries for the congressional districts within New Mexico, the state House of Representatives and Senate districts, the Public Regulation Commission districts, and the Public Education Commission districts. Recommendations will be based on the 2010 decennial census, the redistricting guidelines adopted by the New Mexico legislative council, and testimony received from interested individuals and groups.

The hearings will include sharing of information about the legal requirements of the redistricting process, sample maps and time for public comment.

Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D–Dona Ana–34) and Senator Linda M. Lopez (D–Bernalillo–11) co-chair the committee. The upcoming meeting takes place over three days, July 18–20, in Clovis, Roswell and Las Cruces. Work begins on Monday, July 18, at the Civic Center in Clovis. On Tuesday, July 19, the meeting moves to the Daniels Leadership Center at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, and on Wednesday, July 20, the meeting will be held at the Corbett Center at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Three more multi-day meetings are scheduled in August around the state in preparation for the special session of the legislature that begins in September.

The committee recognizes the importance of redistricting in a democracy. Members and legislative staff are working to ensure that every citizen is represented and that the process is visible and open for public input. Rep. Garcia encourages all interested New Mexicans to take an active interest in the redistricting process. “The job of the Redistricting Committee is to develop a variety of plans that are in line with the legal principles that govern redistricting. We look forward to sharing the information we’ve gathered and hearing from all concerned,” Garcia said.

The committee welcomes and encourages public attendance and input. Time for public comment will be allowed each day. For more information and the most current committee agendas and calendars, please go here.

July 17, 2011 at 05:21 AM in Events, NM Legislature 2011, Redistricting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

7/19: Seminar on How the New Mexico Legislature Works

From BernCo Dems:
"How the New Mexico Legislature Works: An Insider's View"
Tuesday, July 19th - 7 to 8 PM
UNM Law School, Room 2401

Ward 20-A is sponsoring a seminar on the inner workings of the New Mexico Legislature for all Bernalillo County Democrats and interested parties. Former New Mexico State Representative Bill Warren will be speaking about his experiences as a legislator and offer his views on a topic that could prove very interesting. So everybody come join us!

July 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM in Democratic Party, Events, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dianna Duran Presentation on Voter Registration Investigation Set for 9AM Friday Before Courts, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee

DuranJDianna-sm New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran is still withholding information related to her "investigation" of 64,000 cases of possible "voter faud" -- claiming "temporary" executive privilege allows her to continue to withhold the release of the information to the public. The investigation, such that it is, involves comparing voter registration rolls with Moter Vehicle Division and Social Security records to find errors that may indicate illegal voter registrations. The State Police have been changed with conducting criminal investigations on any suspicious records that turn up.

As a number of county clerks and others have pointed out, such a list comparison is likely to produce numerous instances of minor differences due to things like voters using slightly different names to register to vote and register their cars, or innocent errors caused by data entry mistakes, etc. Duran, however, has continually suggested that she's dug up proof that there are tens of thousands of illegal registered voters -- and of course she just happens to believe they are probably nasty "illegal aliens" who are abusing the system. Their real aim is to suppress voting, especially by minorities.

Right. Goes right along with Governor Susana Martinez's eternal media campaign using immigration as a wedge issue to rile up voters and give her an opportunity to act tough, like an ex-prosecutor should. Making "voter fraud" accusations has become a jaded tradition within right-wing political circles despite that fact no real evidence of widespread abuse of the registration system has ever been found.

Criticism from Open Government Leader
As reported in the Albuquerque Journal, Duran is getting some blow back on her "temporary" executive privilege claim from a highly respected open government group:

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government executive director Sarah Welsh said Monday that a temporary withholding of information goes against the purpose of executive privilege, which allows officials to withhold records relating to the formulation of public policy within an agency to protect candid assessments from top advisers.

If the exception is meant to protect advisers who need to give honest advice on how to proceed without fear of appearing in the news media, then executive privilege redactions should be permanent, she said.

“The bottom line is that information delayed is information denied,” Welsh said.

Duran has exercised what she claims is executive privilege by redacting, or blacking out, large portions of the correspondence about the investigation released to the Journal as the result of an Inspection of Public Records request. As the Journal article notes, the redactions were extensive, including most of many emails between Duran’s staff and officials of the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

Time to Grill the SOS
Duran is scheduled to appear before the the Interim Courts, Corrections and Justice legislative committee this Friday in Albuquerque to make a presentation on this issue. The meeting will be held at 9:00 AM on July 15, at the Probation Services Office of the Children, Youth and Families Department, located at 1031 Lamberton Place NE. The public is welcome to attend, and can comment during time reserved at the end of the meeting (see agenda).

Let's hope that legislators and the public put the pressure on Duran during the hearing to get some basic questions answered about her dubious investigation. For instance,

  • SOS Duran made a significant push before the House Voters and Elections Committee during this year's legislative session claiming that she had evidence that NM elections have been compromised. She claimed to have evidence of 37 undocumented immigrants voting illegally.  Where does this case stand?  Can she substantiate these claims? Where is the transparency? 
  • Why has the 64,000 turned into a criminal investigation when she claims this is an administrative issue? 
  • Why have the county clerks been excluded from this effort? 
  • Is it an efficient use of state resources for DPS to investigate this case?

Duran keeps making rather wild-eyed claims about uncovering nefarious registration behavior on the part of undocumented immigrants, but has never revealed the supportive documentation she has allegedly uncovered in the course of what often appears to be nothing more than a witch hunt. Lots of buzz-word talk, but few facts to back it all up.

In reference to the Secretary of State’s upcoming testimony, Senator Peter Wirth stated, “The committee is very interested in hearing the legal basis for the Secretary of State’s decision to engage the State Police in election matters and why she believes New Mexico has been violating federal election law.”

It's about time Duran was required to release the information about the investigation that she has no legal right to keep secret, as well as provide truthful answers about how and why the investigation is being conducted. After all, the Martinez administration has touted its dedication to transparency and open government -- so let's see some of that happening in terms of this "voter fraud" debacle.

July 13, 2011 at 02:56 PM in Dianna Duran, Election Reform & Voting, Events, Immigration, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez, Transparency | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NM Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez Announces Creation of Jobs Leadership Team

As an article recently reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico is now ranked dead last in job growth, and the state is still losing jobs:

New Mexico was one of 12 states and the District of Columbia to lose jobs from May 2010 to May 2011 — and ranked last in overall growth with a decline of 6,300 jobs, or 0.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April, the state lost 2,600 jobs and ranked 51st in the percent of decline, behind the District of Columbia. In March, the state lost 300 jobs — the deepest percent decline except for Kansas. 

... Other statistics also show that New Mexicans are staying unemployed longer. 

  • New Mexico has is the fifth highest average duration of unemployment — 21 weeks. 
  • The percent of people leaving the unemployment rolls each month without work is the fourth highest in the country. 
  • And 26 percent of those receiving state unemployment benefits have been on the rolls for more than 52 weeks. 

Even though the unemployment rate in New Mexico recently dipped, various measures and analyses have indicated that's primarily because discouraged workers are quitting the job hunt -- perhaps even leaving the state -- and our labor force is declining. According to Douglas Hall of the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, New Mexico's economy needs to produce another 82,000 jobs to return to pre-recession levels. Hispanics have been especially hard hit. "What we need to be seeing is an effort to infuse as much money into the economy as possible," Hall said. 

SSANC That's why yesterday's announcement by Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-Valencia-29) that he has created a much needed jobs-focused leadership team -- tasked with getting New Mexicans back to work -- is so heartening. Senator Sanchez noted that since June of this year he has spearheaded a series of meetings with a high impact group of business and public sector leaders to collaborate in a bipartisan manner focusing on job creation in our state.

Hear, hear!

“We must look at a comprehensive approach to lifting our state out of this recession. I have directed the leadership team to look beyond their particular special interests and work towards a plan that enhances job opportunities for all New Mexicans,” Sanchez said. “Sound legislative leadership has positioned us to have $70 to $100 million of revenue growth for the coming fiscal year. In the 2012 regular session, we will meet our current obligations and use new revenues in a principled manner to strengthen job growth.”

Dual Focus on Short-and Long-Term
Senator Sanchez said the team's directives are twofold. First, it intends to concentrate on short-term employment gains that can be made in industries that have been devastated by the recession, such as the construction and professional and business services industries. Special attention will be given to New Mexico small businesses.

Second, the long-term strategy will be to look inward, rebuild, and prepare for the next advent of economic opportunity. As the US regains economic traction and stability, new businesses, industries and economic opportunities will be created. “It is imperative that New Mexico be the place where the pillars of the new economy are built,” said Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Chaves, De Baca, Roosevelt) who is also working with the group to identify policy changes that can be made in order to spur job growth. 

“New Mexico is uniquely situated because of our scientific community, universities and natural resources to grow its economy and as a result increase employment opportunities. For instance, we are in a position to be the national leader in wind and solar energy and should be aggressive in our efforts to utilize our resources to insure our prominence in these areas. Our work force is among the best and it is incumbent upon us to continue to provide opportunities to advance their skills; by doing so, both the public and private sectors benefit,” Senator Sanchez concluded.

July 12, 2011 at 01:40 AM in Economy, Populism, Green Economy, Jobs, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

7/6-8: NM Legislative Interim Economic and Rural Development Committee Meetings in Tucumcari, Santa Rosa

The Legislative Interim Economic and Rural Development Committee will meet July 6 and 7 in Tucumcari at Mesalands Community College, and on July 8 at the Blue Hole Dive Training and Santa Rosa Conference Center in Santa Rosa.

Senator Bernadette M. Sanchez (D–Bernalillo–26) is Chair of the committee and Representative Debbie A. Rodella (D–Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Taos–41) is Vice-Chair. The committee will hear from a number of industry and small business experts on energy, real estate and tax policy and laws during the course of the meeting. Thursday morning the committee will tour the North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College. On Friday, Dr. Dely Alcantara of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Jim Peach of New Mexico State University will give an analysis of census data which has revealed a population shift from rural to urban areas and the effects on the demand for labor throughout New Mexico.

“This committee is focused on attracting and cultivating businesses in our rural communities throughout New Mexico,” said Rep. Rodella. All interested persons are welcome and encouraged to attend. Meeting agendas are subject to change. For more information and the most current committee agendas and calendars, please go here. Interim committee audio webcasting is now available through the website.

July 5, 2011 at 07:48 AM in Economy, Populism, Energy, Events, NM Legislature 2011, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

NM Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia to Receive National NEA Civil Rights Award

MaryJaneGarciaCr Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana), Senate Majority Whip of the New Mexico Senate, has been selected to receive the 2011 National Education Association (NEA) Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award. Senator Garcia will receive the national award at the NEA annual meeting that is being held in Chicago on June 30—July 5. NEA will present the Reg Weaver Award to Senator Garcia at the Human and Civil Rights Award dinner on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 6:30 PM. Congratulations Senator Garcia!

Upon receiving notice that she had been selected, Senator Garcia said, “Of the many awards I have received in my tenure serving in the state Senate of New Mexico, this is probably the most prestigious and significant.” Senator Garcia added, “I will continue to fight for the dignity and respect of the disadvantaged and I will always work to ensure that their civil and human rights are protected.” 

As most of us know, Senator Garcia’s priorities during her elected service have always been related to poverty, children and human rights. Her legislative successes include creating the Act of Human Trafficking in 2008; Life Sentences for Deadly Child Abuse in 2005, which increased penalties for child abuse; the Hate Crimes Act of 2003; the Subdivision Reform Act of 1995, which instituted requirements for colonias in New Mexico; Megan’s Law, which created a sex offender registry in 1995; and the Family Violence Act of 1993. 

The Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award is a prestigious national award, and nominees are evaluated on the merits of educating the public on issues related to the impact of poverty on children; working actively to promote economic opportunities for all people; inspiring public engagement in the elimination of poverty; promoting public policy that positively affects the economic health and welfare of families; and working in partnership with other agencies/groups to give a voice to those marginalized by poverty.

Photo by Stephen Jones.

June 30, 2011 at 11:00 AM in Children and Families, Civil Liberties, Education, NM Legislature 2011, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (1)