Posts Tagged ‘Governor’

Can’t Miss the Parade

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Our elected officials are struggling with how to fix an astronomical and ever-growing budget deficit without cutting expenditures or raising revenue. I’d really like to see the former versus the latter occur, and even those who want to empty our wallets, are struggling with the lack of financial restraint being shown by state government agencies in this time of economic crisis:

“Knowing that, the administration has not put the brakes on spending,” said Ortiz y Pino, who is running for lieutenant governor. “There is no evidence in my mind that this administration in any way slowed down the spending in state government. Now, I’ve worked in administrations in the past, and as soon as there was any question that we were going to be in budget trouble, the word was out. Stop hiring, don’t fill vacancies, no out-of-state travel, no contracts, no printing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, just make sure we get through this OK. Has this administration done anything remotely like that?

In related news…

New Mexico plans to sponsor a float in the 2010 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

New Mexico Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti said the response from the southern Californian travel market to New Mexican floats in the 2006, 2008 and 2009 parades was tremendous, and a float is a good way to reach potential visitors.

Phew! It’s a good thing we have our spending priorities straight.

Budget Cuts Shouldn’t Hurt Kids

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Governor Richardson’s mantra going into the Special Session this weekend is a simple one: “Budget cuts shouldn’t hurt kids.” It’s one that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn had been voter tested and approved:

But most interesting was $38,353 paid for “research/polling” to a company called Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates in Santa Monica, Calif. Nearly all the money was paid in June, a much smaller chunk paid in September.

It’s a simple message, and a nice diversion tactic. Governor Richardson gets to avoid taking ownership for spending New Mexico into a crisis. He gets to pretend to be the great savior of our children, while trying to turn the legislature into the big bad wolf:

Gov. Bill Richardson late Tuesday rejected legislative proposals to plug a state budget gap that’s now expected to top $650 million, saying at least two of them would cut too much money for public schools.

Richardson called for lawmakers to try again before a special legislative session on the budget starts Saturday.

“Governor Richardson has studied the legislative proposals and finds the cuts to education unacceptable because of the severe impact to teachers and kids,” Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said. “The governor wants one proposal from the Legislature, not three, that makes fiscally responsible cuts without hurting schools.”

But, here’s the thing. The Richardson Administration, and to a great extent the rubber-stamping majority in the legislature have done more to damage education in New Mexico over the last seven years, then anything some cost-cutting could ever do. They’ve herald one supposed “great” education reform after another without ever actually doing anything to improve education for our children. Worse yet, they’ve refused to ever take ownership of their repeated failures:

A new batch of testing results shows New Mexico students’ math scores are among the nation’s worst, with little change from previous years.

The data, released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and often called the Nation’s Report Card, shows New Mexico’s fourth-graders with an average math score of 230 out of 500. The national average was 239.

The New Mexico average score for eighth-graders was 270, compared to a national average of 282.

The achievement gap between New Mexico’s Anglo students and students of other ethnicities remained wide, without significant change from 2007.

Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia said the overall numbers may not provide a fair comparison because of the small sample of students tested. About 11 percent of New Mexico’s fourth-graders and 10 percent of eighth-graders took the test.

Garcia also said students and teachers in New Mexico often do not take the test very seriously because scores are not broken down by district or school. She said other states use incentives to raise awareness about the test’s importance.

Oh yeah, that’s the problem with the test scores. We don’t have a big enough media campaign to let our kids know that tests are important. They actually know all of the information, there just not taking the test seriously. GIVE ME A BREAK! Here’s a novel idea… How about taking ownership for the education failures?

Look, year after year, we’ve thrown ever-increasing pots of money at education with ever-worsening results. How about we try something different? Go ahead and cut education spending. Let’s stop pretending the children are going to get hurt. Based on the test results released year after year, it can’t get much worse for them.

And, as long as we’re making cuts, how about getting rid of the hundreds of governor created and appointed positions drawing down comfortable salaries for absolutely no work. In fact, let’s fire everyone who can’t seem to get their department to actually provide the services they are supposed to be providing.

Heck, why stop there? Let’s just fire everyone who refuses to take responsibilities for seven years of failures and fiscal mismanagement. Start with Governor Richardson and don’t stop until you find someone who says, “I’ve totally and completely messed up, and this is how I’m going to fix it.” My guess is that before you find that person, the budget will actually be balanced.

Education Declines and Teacher’s Union Gives Award

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I didn’t write about this last week, but I should have. The absurdity of the teacher’s union giving Governor Richardson America’s Greatest Education Governor Award is just shocking. It shows a complete disregard for student achievement as a measure of success:

New Mexico students did not improve their academic performance during the Richardson administration. The evidence suggests a very slight decline. The prestigious American Legislative Exchange Council, using many factors of evaluation, ranked New Mexico 48th in the nation in 2007, the same ranking it gave New Mexico in 2002. It ranked New Mexico 49th during most years of Richardson’s administration.

During the late 1990s New Mexico routinely scored in the low 40s, so the last few years represent a definite decline. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this year gave New Mexico an “F” in its report card for overall academic achievement, an “F” for the academic achievement of low income and minority students and an “F” for the return on investment per dollar spent.

I highly recommend reading the entire commentary written by Jose Z. Garcia.

Make the Call (505) 476-2200

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Here’s a fact. Anytime Democracy for New Mexico and I are in agreement that a bill should be signed into law, you can rest assured that it is a good idea:

Take Action: Please call Gov. Richardson ASAP at (505) 476-2200 and urge him to sign Rep. Cervantes’ Open Conference Committees bill, HB 393, as he promised to do last week. The Governor has until April 10th to sign the bill. The legislation passed the House 66-0 vote and the Senate 33-8.

Governor Richardson is playing games here, and it stinks. First, he says no one cares about more transparency in government, which is a bunch of baloney. Now, he’s claiming he can’t sign the bill because he hasn’t received it.

The governor thanked everyone for speaking [in favor of signing the bill]. He said he hadn’t received the open conference committees bill yet.

“Well, Step 1, I need to get it up here,” the governor said. “I physically couldn’t sign a bill that we don’t have.”

If you ask me, he’s starting to set the stage for a pocket veto. So, here is the thing, I write day in day out and don’t really ask for anything in return. But, today I’m asking.

I made the call, and I’m asking you to do the same. Call (505) 476-2200 and request that Governor Richardson sign HB 393 into law.

Governor’s Rationale Stinks

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Do you smell that? Near as I can tell, the strong offending odor seems to be coming from the Governor’s office. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Governor Richardson’s last ditch effort to fight open meetings:

The first opening of the doors to the New Mexico Legislature’s long-closed conference committee meetings might have provided a glimpse into the future — and some lawmakers say that’s a good thing.

But whether Gov. Bill Richardson will sign a bill to routinely require the opening of those conference committees — where designated House and Senate members meet to hash out differences in legislation — is uncertain. A top Richardson aide said Tuesday the governor wants to carefully scrutinize several perceived “loopholes” in the bill.

Yup, this is definitely the source of the stench. Members of the legislature voted 99-8 to open the conference committee meetings to the public. That is pretty dang near close to unanimous. The loopholes giving the Governor pause:

One potential loophole identified by Gallegos was a provision in the bill that the Legislature could move to close conference committees by adopting a rule change — an action, unlike the pending legislation, that wouldn’t require the executive branch’s approval.

“It just seems like common sense that either you would open them or not,” Gallegos said.

The rationale Mr. Gallegos puts forth is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Let’s be real. The VAST majority of legislators voted to open the committee meetings. If they suddenly did an about face and opted a rule change to close the meetings, they would be crucified in the media and it would be easy to defeat them when they were up for re-election. The campaign materials practically write themselves.

On top of all this, the absurdity of proposing that the reasoning for not signing open meetings into law is that at some point someone might try and close the meetings is beyond understanding. Every law can be changed by a future law. It happens ALL THE TIME. If you bought into the Governor’s rationale, well, then nothing would ever be signed into law because it might be reversed a future date.

This just stinks like nothing more than a rancid pile of political manure. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a little more annoyed than usual.

Simply Brilliant, Tax Them When They’re Down

Monday, February 16th, 2009

New Mexico, like the rest of the country, is feeling the squeeze of the economic crisis. And, what priority have some legislators and the Governor come up with for this legislative session?

New Mexico legislators are considering a bill that would, for the first time, set up state controls on greenhouse gas emissions. But the change of administration in Washington, and the resulting prospect of federal regulation, has raised questions about whether the state effort should proceed.

The measure’s backers say there are still good reasons to impose a state “cap-and-trade” system as part of the Western Climate Initiative, a regional effort by 11 U.S. states and Canadian provinces to place a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and set up a market to allow industry to trade emissions credits.

The system would cap the overall emissions from the state’s 100-or-so largest industrial greenhouse gas emitters. A trading system would allow companies to buy and sell emissions allowances, tapping market mechanisms to find the lowest-cost way of making the needed reductions.

The ridiculousness of this proposal is mind-boggling to me. Assuming you have embraced this whole chicken-little-the-world-is-getting-too-hot-we’re-all-doomed global warming nonsense, then you’d at a very minimum have to agree that it is a GLOBAL phenomenon.

Keeping this in mind, that idea the 11 Western (and for the most part sparsely populated) states are going to reverse “the global warming trend” is just absurd. Even more insane is that one of those states, our own Land of Enchantment, which heavily depends on oil and gas revenue to stay afloat, is going to consider taxing the heck out of those industries at a time when they are at a serious low.

Make no mistake, that is exactly what a cap and trade program is – a new source of tax revenue for bloated governments in need. That is the only reason that these states think “there are still good reasons to impose a state ‘cap-and-trade’ system” instead of waiting for a federal, or better yet, global solution.

Now, I have to admit. If New Mexico were to move forward with this, the may in fact succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Why? Well, because they will drive those “100-or-so largest industrial greenhouse gas emitters” to one of the 39 states in the Union that do not have this tax system in place.

Making the End Run When Legislation Fails

Friday, February 6th, 2009

A pet peeve of mine regarding Governor Richardson’s administration is their commitment to circumventing the checks and balances intentionally built into our system of government. And, it appears they’re at it again.

In 2004, amidst much uproar, the “Electronic Government Act” was being pushed:

A bill that calls for organizing government records through a system called “e-portal” was pending at the end of the 2004 legislative session. Backed by Gov. Bill Richardson, the “Electronic Government Act” would create a pricey e-portal system that would use the fees generated from government records to manage and fund the system. In order to obtain government records, members of the public would have to use e-portal and pay according to its tiered pricing system. (HB 291; SB 314)

It was that “pricey e-portal system” (read: pricey for you and me to access public information) that had folks like the New Mexico Press Association and New Mexico Foundation for Open Government up in arms. The bill was defeated.

But, now that they think everyone is distracted by the economic crisis plaguing the state, the Richardson administration is back up to their usual backdoor manuevers. Without much fanfare, the Taxation and Revenue Department has put out an 88-page RFP to do exactly what the legislature had previously rejected.

I hope someone in the legislature calls the administration to task before it’s too late.

It Sure Would Take a Lot of Chutzpah

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I can’t help but wonder if Governor Bill Richardson will bring up a push for ethics reform (subscription) in his State of State address today:

It’s a $1.7 million mystery.

Several people who might be in a position to clear it up say they don’t know anything; others aren’t talking.

It all plays out against the backdrop of an ongoing federal pay-to-play investigation that derailed Gov. Bill Richardson’s nomination for U.S. commerce secretary.

The first chapter began in the fall of 2003, when Richardson was collecting money for his Moving America Forward political action committee and starting another related organization called the Moving America Forward Foundation.

Both were aimed at increasing voter participation among minorities.

But unlike the higher profile PAC, the foundation mostly operated under the radar. To date, the foundation has never publicly revealed who donated the more than $1.7 million that IRS filings show it raised in the 2004-07 tax years.

Because the foundation was formed as a “public charity,” it is not legally required to publicly disclose individual contributors or say exactly how those tax-deductible contributions were spent.

The PAC operated under different rules and was required to make detailed public disclosures to the state.

The foundation’s board of directors reads like a Who’s Who of Hispanic leaders in Albuquerque and included several Richardson political advisers.

Two board members didn’t return phone calls from the Journal. Three others told the Journal last week they had no real involvement with the organization and didn’t know who its donors were.

It Sure Would Take a Lot of Chutzpah

What’s the Governor Trying to Hide?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I can’t believe what I just read in a press release issued by the Senate Democrats:

Today I conveyed a request to the Governor asking that he reconsider his lack of support for the Senate Rules Committee’s new confirmation process a process which reflects the deepening sensitivity to ethics and good governmental conduct in the State. Last year the Committee brought greater accountability and credibility to the confirmation procedure, said Senator Linda M. Lopez (D-Bernalillo-11), but our efforts were brought to a halt when the Governor ordered the Department of Public Safety to stop making appointee background checks available to the Committee.

What possible reason could the Governor have to keep the committee responsible for confirming appointments in the dark? Without checks, there are no balances.

Things That Don’t Make Sense

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Sometimes you encounter things that just don’t make sense. Usually, they are lone encounters that leave you shaking your head and wondering. But, sometimes they come one after another.

Gary King announced today that he will support several ethics reform proposals in the upcoming legislative session, and Gov. Bill Richardson, whose administration is the subject of a federal pay-to-play investigation, promptly did the same.

Ok, let’s state the obvious first. A Governor who has had to turn down a presidential cabinet appointment and retain a prominent attorney in light of the unethical pay-to-play conduct of his administration, has no business announcing his support for ethics reform. In a moment of rare candor on national television, that may come back to haunt him, Richardson admitted that donors have been able to buy “an edge” in his administration [a MUST READ ARTICLE]:

For his part, the governor, who declined to be interviewed, has maintained that campaign donations do not influence his decisions. In at least two cases, he canceled state contracts his political supporters had won after the deals became public. He also gave back a $10,000 contribution from a company that won a contract to provide health care to prisoners.

Yet in an interview on NBC in 2007, Mr. Richardson acknowledged that giving money to a politician gives the donor “a little bit of an edge.”

“I don’t give any extra access to somebody that contributes,” he said. “But I’ll remember that person, and I’ll say: ‘Jeez, that guy helped me. Maybe I can help them.’ ”

Of course, you can’t conduct this style of government without the tacit consent of our top prosecutor. That’s why our current Attorney General, like the one before him, should also not be making announcements regarding ethics reform proposals. Since being elected, Gary King has made a lot of noise about investigations, but any real law enforcement in the way of indictments has been sorely missing. If the Attorney General is not going to enforce the current laws on the books by putting criminals behind bars, then he has no business pushing a new set of laws.

Speaking of ridiculous new laws. Take a look at what the Farmington City Council is proposing:

The Farmington City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to outlaw “high gravity beer” — beer with an alcohol content of more than 7.9 percent — and on a ban of selling “fortified” wine containing more than 14 percent alcohol in an effort to curb public drunkenness, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

Somebody please sit these folks down for a drink and explain the realities of life. A drunk is a drunk. We’re talking about someone with a dependence on alcohol. They will drink until fully inebriated regardless of the alcohol content of a particular beverage.

Sometimes, you really have to wonder what these elected officials are drinking thinking.