Posts Tagged ‘Lawsuit’

Blood in the Water

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

There must be blood in the water because the sharks are most definitely starting to circle closer and closer:

A records clerk at New Mexico State University is suing past and present state officials and a couple of controversial financial firms in a class-action suit to recapture money lost in questionable investments by the state Educational Retirement Board.

The suit, filed by Donna Hill of Las Cruces, seeks to win back money for 95,000 beneficiaries of the state educators’ pension fund.

Hill, in an e-mail Tuesday, referred all questions to one of her lawyers, Jonathan Cuneo of Washington, D.C.

This suit appears to be identical to another suit that has been filed based on the questionable management of funds by the State Investment Council (SIC). Actually, calling the investment practices questionable is probably a bit too kind. Heck, calling them “investments” is in itself a bit of a misnomer:

The tab for bad investments the state made with Chicago-based Vanderbilt Capital just got worse — to the tune of at least another $65 million.

The Legislative Finance Committee is now estimating the state lost $155 million in a series of highly leveraged mortgage investments with Vanderbilt, up from earlier estimates of $90 million.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee was told by a private attorney whose client is suing to reclaim the losses that the red ink on the investments could go as high as $200 million.

Legislators were not happy .

“We’ve got a budget crisis, an ethics crisis and an investment crisis,” said Sen. Cisco McSorley, an Albuquerque Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I don’t know if we can deal with all three in a 30-day session.”

The concern was bipartisan. 

While this news was breaking, our fearless Governor Richardson, Chairman of the SIC, was addressing the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce (GACC) on his plans to raise taxes by $200 million – just a little more than the amount of taxpayer money the SIC “lost” under the administration’s watch. 

Now, for those who might be tempted to argue that the Governor was simply derelict in his duties when it came to oversight of the SIC investment practice, consider this latest finding from an independent third party:

An outside review of the State Investment Council, commissioned after a string of scandals, recommends significantly curtailing the governor’s power over the SIC. 

Scandal after scandal is bound to hurt those seeking office in 2010 with deep ties to the administration. After all, how much more can they expect the public to tolerate in the current economy?

On the negative side, said Larry Waldman, senior research scientist at UNM’s Business and Economic Research, “The local situation is terrible. Job growth is the lowest it has been since at least World War II. It’s worse than most people thought it would be.” He said New Mexico’s economy probably won’t show signs of recovery until at least the second quarter of this year. 

 Hmm, not exactly the time most rationale people would think to promote regressive taxes, but then again, it’s not like this administration has ever really been concerned about the needs of everyday New Mexicans.

Maybe an Educator Would Like to Chime In

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

My kids are getting a public education. So, I should get behind anything that brings more money into the schools, right? Wrong. More money does not equal a better education. Case in point:

Since the 2000-01 school year, public education funding in New Mexico to this year has increased by $949 million, or 57 percent, according to the Department of Finance and Administration. During that same period, enrollment has remained relatively flat, growing about 1 percent to nearly 324,000, according to the state Public Education Department.

Yet, despite the facts above “education advocates” would like to sue the state under the premise that they aren’t being sufficiently funded. Am I missing something here? There has been a 57% increase in funding. I can’t seem to find the report that indicates that indicates there has been a 57% increase in student performance. Oh right, it’s because it doesn’t exist.

Tom Udall Aligns With Litigating Radicals

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Our nations founders believed that a separation of powers and a series of checks and balances were a critical component to maintaining a Democratic society. It is for this reason that we have three separate branches of government each with their own unique role – the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial.

In a nutshell, the legislative branch crafts our laws. The executive branch enforces our laws, and the judicial branch rules on whether or not enforcement of those laws violate our Constitution. This is the basics of our government that everyone is supposed to learn at an early age in school.

On a daily basis, this separation of power comes under attack by radical groups that believe that their agenda is more important than the balance of power created by the Constitution of the United States. One such group is Earthjustice. Read this excerpt from their President’s vision:

We function like a law firm in some ways because we represent clients and we don’t go to court in our own name. The clients’ effectiveness is strengthened by the legal clout and other skills we bring to the issues on which we work together, and the breadth and depth of our work depends on our working with clients.

But, we are not like a law firm in the fundamental sense that we identify critical issues and strategies that need to be moved forward, rather than just wait for clients and cases to show up. We think about what kinds of clients are needed to best advance the particular cause. We bring judgment, experience, and strategic leadership to the problem, working with the clients to figure out what needs to be done in court and elsewhere to achieve lasting results. Our powerful and diverse array of regional offices take on litigation that will make a difference in the places they know best as well as cases that will set nation-wide policies that other groups can use in their own advocacy.

In addition to our unparalleled litigators, we have lobbyists in Washington D.C. who are skilled at moving the politics forward and at protecting our victories from Congressional attack.

In other words, they use the judicial system to do something it was not intended to do – namely the creation of new laws , and then try to prevent Congress from doing what it was intended to do – namely, pass laws. It is these actions, not their environmental cause, that makes them a radical group. Their vision is to try and disrupt the underlying fundamentals of our Democratic system.

So, where does Congressman Tom Udall fit into all of this. Well, a quick Google search of “Tom Udall” and “Earthjustice” shows that Congressman Tom Udall is a reliable ally for this radical environmental group. When they need a pawn in Congress to introduce a bill or an amendment to support their judicial activist efforts, they have been able to count on Tom Udall time and time again.

Earthjustice is one of those groups that keeps America reliant on foreign oil by fighting at every turn domestic oil and gas exploration. When we feel the pinch at the pump, we have radicals like Earthjustice and Congressman Tom Udall to thank.

All Is Not Lost

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

From the state that awarded a large settlement to a woman who burned herself with coffee, a sensible court decision is finally rendered in New Mexico (subscription):

An Albuquerque man has lost a lawsuit that claimed McDonald’s should have essentially protected him from himself by providing security for guys who, like him, show up drunk past midnight and start flirting with knife-wielding women in the drive-through.

Steven Pohl filed a complaint for damages against the fast-food giant, contending that a security guard should have been on the premises of its Wyoming and Central NE location when he was struck and dragged by the vehicle of a woman who was trying to flee his advances and those of his equally intoxicated companions.

Among those companions was Pohl’s uncle, Patrick Pohl, an Albuquerque police officer.

McDonald’s, the lawsuit contended, “owed a duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety of their invitees.”

Jurors thought otherwise, taking little time to find in favor of McDonald’s late last week after a weeklong hearing before state District Judge Clay Campbell.

“Jurors felt that to have guards at a McDonald’s shouldn’t be necessary, and that Mr. Pohl should have stayed in his vehicle, which we never denied,” Pohl’s attorney, Gene Chavez, told the Journal. “But it was our position that even if McDonald’s was 5 percent negligent and our client the more negligent, that McDonald’s was still in the wrong.”

Chavez called the jury “calloused and business-friendly.”

I would call the jury, one of the most sensible juries the New Mexico courts have ever seen. A drunk guy harasses a nineteen year old girl at a drive-through. She shows him a knife and tells him to leave her. He returns with drunk reinforcements. The guy has only himself to blame for getting injured. He should count himself lucky he didn’t end up dead.

I Believe Plates

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I just need to preface this post with a little reminder… I’m Jewish. Why is that important? Well, it provides perspective. I simply don’t understand this nonsense about suing the state of South Carolina to keep people from having “I Believe” plates on their cars:

“I do believe these ‘I Believe’ plates will not see the light of day because the courts, I’m confident, will see through this,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, the group’s executive director.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for South Carolina, asks a judge to stop the state from making the plates and rule that the law allowing them violates the First Amendment.

Seriously, I don’t get what all the hoopla is about. “State law allows private groups to create specialty plates as long as they first collect either a $4,000 deposit or 400 prepaid orders.” So, someone can create plates for their favorite University team, charitable organization or anything else for that matter, but people go bonkers if they want to advertise their faith?

Let’s get real here. People are already advertising their beliefs on the their vehicles. Heck, it seems like every fifth car in New Mexico has a little fish on their trunk (with and without legs). Is anyone offended? I’m not.

Allowing people to express their beliefs is yet another thing that makes this country great.

There is absolutely nothing stopping another religious entity from creating their own customized plates, so live and live is what I say. Plus, if we’re paying for those dang plates anyway, shouldn’t we be able to customize them as we see fit?

Making Business the Scapegoat

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I think what happened to Elizabeth Garcia is terrible, and I truly feel for her children who have had their mother taken from them in such a brutal way. However, I don’t understand how a business is held accountable for the actions of a criminal:

Jury deliberations in the case began Monday. Minutes before the jury was to award Elizabeth Garcia’s three children $51 million in damages, Ortiz told jurors the parties had reached a settlement.

Allegra Carpenter, an attorney representing the children—Xavier Mendoza, 13; Jerome Mendoza, 11; and Cene Mendoza, 10—said the terms of the settlement are confidential.

Garcia was working alone overnight in January 2002 when she was abducted from the Hobbs store and later found dead, with more than 55 stab wounds. According to the lawsuit, she had been raped.

Attorneys for Garcia’s family said Allsup’s failure to protect clerks working the graveyard shift make the near-minimum-wage jobs the most dangerous in New Mexico. They had asked the jury to award $60 million in damages.

The criminal in this case went on to do this again:

Paul Lovett, 27, was accused of killing Elizabeth Garcia, 26, in January 2002, and Patty Simon, 35, in May 2003. He was convicted last month of first-degree murder in both cases and of criminal sexual penetration in the Simon case.

Allsup is a convenient scapegoat for society’s anger against the criminal element, but I just don’t understand how we can hold a business responsible for a criminal’s actions. The attorney for the children in this case argued that this all could have been prevented if there had only been two clerks on duty instead of one. You don’t have to search far to know that is not the case. Predators will commit crimes and holding a business responsible is just wrong.

APS Sues Volunteers

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

This article (subscription) in today’s Journal is very troubling:

For years, Albuquerque students in the band Mariachi San Jose entertained audiences at festivals and competitions across the region.

Now, Albuquerque Public Schools is fighting a group of parent volunteers in court over money raised to support the group and for the right to use the name “Mariachi San Jose.”

At issue is whether Mariachi San Jose is a school program or an independent community program.

APS filed a lawsuit against some of the group’s parent volunteers last month. Attempts to resolve the dispute through a court mediator failed Tuesday, according to parents and school officials.

The relationship between APS and the volunteers soured last summer, and everyone agrees that students have suffered the most.

It wasn’t that long ago that Governor Bill Richardson was on his soap box talking about the need for government to get involved in promoting parental involvement. Now, APS is again in the spotlight for going out of its way to DISCOURAGE parental involvement.

Think about this, you have the state’s largest school district, a district with boatloads of taxpayer money, suing parents, who are in all likelihood taxpayers, to keep them from being involved. Something is seriously wrong with this picture. And it only gets worse:

Forming another mariachi group is fine, APS says, but there’s no question that Mariachi San Jose is a school-based group because it started at East San Jose.

Since when does a school fight for ownership rights? Isn’t the school’s purpose to serve the community? So what if the parents started the program at the school? Parents starting a program at a school is a good thing. Does APS really want to discourage this type of initiative by SEIZING a successful volunteer driven programs? It’s not like there is any inappropriate behavior occurring:

But [APS deputy superintendent Tom] Savage said a recent audit of the group’s activity fund at East San Jose didn’t uncover any accounting problems.

Theses actions by APS are sending the wrong message to all volunteers who contribute their time to programs throughout the district that benefit our students. I strongly encourage you to let APS know that suing volunteers is not the answer to improving student achievement. Ask the Superintendent, Dr. Beth Everitt, to stop this nonsense. You might also consider contacting the APS Board.