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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

US Attorney Watch: Don't Hold Your Breath, Plus: A Letter From Rio Arriba, And: The Politics Of Hispanic Education 

ABQ Federal Courthouse
Still no new US Attorney for New Mexico and no one is holding their breath. Not after this recent news:

The president has sent four nominees to fill U.S. Attorney positions, in the District of Wyoming, and the Eastern Districts of Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan.

But no New Mexico.

The NM US attorney post is held by Republican Greg Fouratt, but Senator Bingaman is apparently in no hurry to get the White House to move to replace him with a Democrat. The various federal pay to play investigations here are thought to be the impediment. Dems don't want to look like they are interfering.

But with a full year of the administration almost gone, the position of US Attorney may start to look less appealing. By the time a new US attorney gets confirmed by the Senate, he may only have a two and a half year term or less before the President seeks re-election, and if he loses they are out. The less controversial position of US Marshal is also still held by a Republican.

For Fouratt and Marshall Gordon Eden it has been an unexpected, but lengthy reprieve. How long that reprieve will go on is anyone's guess. If Dems do not express impatience with Obama and Bingaman, it could last well into the new year.

SCHOOL DAZE

We think Big Bill should be able to get bipartisan support on this one but it hasn't turned out that way. From the Guv:

I want New Mexico to be the flagship state for leading the movement to close the achievement gap for our Hispanic students. I’m ready, New Mexico is ready, and our future depends on it. To achieve this, I am calling on Education Secretary Veronica García to work with legislators to develop the nation’s first Hispanic Education Act here in New Mexico.

The act would deal with community and parental involvement and accountability. Richardson isn't going to be able to get results in a year, but if it puts us on the path to closing this achievement gap, it will be a major highlight of his years in power.

After GOP criticism, state education chief Veronica Garcia put out a statement saying the Hispanic Education Act would not need additional funding.

Are we remiss to label this a civil rights issue?

...F
or the class of 2008, the state's Hispanic graduation rate was 50.2 percent, nearly 14 percentage points below that of their Anglo classmates. Only 45.4 percent of the state's American Indian and 52 percent of black students graduated.

GOP Senator Vernon Asbill of Carlsbad says an education act is unnecessary, that we already have the authority to focus on Hispanic students. But we apparently are not focusing. Helping to elevate the issue to the top of the public affairs agenda may be the main impact of a Hispanic Education Act. That can't hurt.

FROM RIO ARRIBA

A Rio Arriba reader writes:

The Rio Grande Sun recently reported that three members of the Mexican Nayarit drug cartel were arrested in Española by officers from the Region III Multi-Agency Drug Task Force, which was a story that didn't receive attention elsewhere. These arrests are of some concern locally since they suggest the cartel(s) are probably infiltrating this area, which is particularly disturbing because of their reputation and capacity for violence, as well as corrupting the institutions of law enforcement and government (See The Fall of Mexico by Philip Caputo).

Thanks for that. The Rio Arriba area drug epidemic has been an on and off again topic on the blog. It's something that should have the attention of Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and Senator Tom Udall.

In September, Udall was appointed to a Senate caucus that monitors and encourages international cooperation against drug abuse and narcotics trafficking. The Senate Drug Caucus regularly holds hearings and reports on U.S. narcotics control policy.

Can Senator Udall have some hearings in Rio Arriba, epicenter of a long running heroin plague? Or does the plague just pass to yet another generation?

THE NONDEBATE

A Guv debate set for tonight at 6 and sponsored by the conservative Rio Grande Foundation will not have a full house. Candidates Allen Weh and Susana Martinez, generally seen as the two conservative GOP contenders will be no shows. But the moderate GOP Guv hopefuls, Doug Turner and Janice Arnold-Jones, will be at the event at the ABQ museum. (Now we're getting word that Martinez will show.)

If either Weh or Martinez get the nomination, Dems will try to pigeon hole them as ultra conservatives, not appealing in a middle of the road state. Tonight's conservative forum might only complicate things.

SAY WHAT?

A newspaper editorial that is against a state ethics commission? That's
a twist.

...if, or when, we get serious about busting crooks, we've already got the state's auditor and attorney general to put on their trail. Why not devote a half-million, if we had it, to the staffs of Hector Balderas or Gary King, instead of creating a whole new bureaucracy?

Political hacks, government contractors and lobbyists would be ineligible to sit on the (ethics) commission--but in this sparsely populated good-ol'-boy state, plenty of their buddies could serve. So what are the chances that even a majority of the 11-member commission could be trusted?

And what are the chances the Legislature will approve an ethics commission in the January session? Probably about as good as Tiger Woods staying married.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Email your news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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