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Monday, February 20, 2012

Reader React On The Big Picture For New Mexico, Plus: Still Struggling In Santa Fe, And Senators Fete Lujan 

Our Friday take on the big picture for New Mexico in the aftermath of the legislative session drew a lot of reader response. We noted the defeat of a constitutional amendment that would have asked voters to decide if the state should tap the $10 billion Permanent Fund to finance programs for early childhood, offering the thought that the state is still in denial when it comes to the social conditions crisis that has such deep roots here. Let's see what some of that email came with.

Allen Sanchez, president and CEO of St. Joseph Community Health, who has been a key player in the legislative battle over the amendment, came with this:

Joe, You really hit the nail on the head. Many of our children are on a path that in the future will swallow up any effort to change course. The spiral is growing and no matter how big the future fund will be, it won't able to make a dent in the problem. We are already seeing that the investment we make in Kindergarten thru 12 is at risk because children arrive unprepared to take advantage of that investment....

For the record, St. Joseph Community Health is one of our current sponsors.

Here's a reader from ABQ who thought we had it all wrong:

You are whining sour grapes about the failure of a raid on the Permanent Fund to pour more money down the money pit of education. Two things must happen to improve education. Families of Indians, descendants of the Spanish settlers, and Mexican immigrants must embrace education as a value. Many do not. Immigration policy must reduce the number of children of Latino immigrant who are filling our schools with children who do not speak English. One result is schools that do not educate well the children of US citizens. No raid on the Permanent Fund will fix either problem.

That's strong stuff and we disagree. Embracing education as a value is simply not going to come out of the blue. This is a generational problem that cries out for attention from the state in the form of early intervention to foster the value of education. Sadly, parents have not been able to get the job done.

Sharon Kayne of NM Voices for Children, a group backing the amendment, came with this:

Great piece! Eloquent and hard-hitting at the same time. Thanks!

Another reader had this contribution:

Joe, The politics of keeping people poor and uneducated has been perpetuated by the ever present Patron System in NM. As long as keeping control is more important than improving the human condition, we will still act in many ways like a third world country. We have all the resources to lead the nation in energy, education and tourism, just not the will. It simply is not this way in every other state I have lived and worked in. My theme song throughout my life has been Bob Seger's "Against the Wind." As a "Naturalized New Mexican," coming here with the intent to help make this a better place, I will continue to work at making things better here. We can do this!

John Bussanich says State Senate Finance Committee Chairman John "Dr. No" Smith deserves some criticism:

Great comments in the "Big Picture" essay. It will be a happy day for NM when Dr. No leaves the scene. What a cold, wet blanket.

Bruce Wetherbee , a longtime union activist in Santa Fe, emailed:

Joe, Your article this morning was brilliant. The solution to many of our problems is people sitting down and compromising. Top of the list: improving the education of not just our kids but in too many cases their parents as well. Unfortunately the attempts to solve reading problems, miss the mark by not recognizing that there are thousands of young parents out there who cannot adequately read themselves. They and their children need not be punished but encouraged, They also need not to be embarrassed, as shame is probably the strongest deterrent to any advancement...

Thanks to all of the readers who emailed in their thoughts on what remains the defining issue of the state--breaking the generational cycle of poor education, poverty and other social ills that put us at the bottom of the barrel.

COUNTY CONVENTIONS

Insiders say at this weekend's Bernalillo County GOP convention probable US Senate nominee as expected trounced opponent Greg Sowards in getting delegates elected to next month's pre-primary convention. It will take 20 percent of the delegates there to get an official spot on the ballot or else Sowards will have to go out and get petition signatures to qualify. Based on what happened this weekend, that's what he will probably have to do.

As for the race for the US House, on the Dem side Marty Chavez and Eric Griego are said to have had the organizational edge over Michelle Lujan Grisham at the weekend county convention. On the GOP side it's also a three way race with Dan Lewis, Janice Arnold-Jones and Gary Smith running. Insiders say Arnold-Jones and Lewis have the convention advantage over newcomer Smith.

SANTA FE SCENE

How did it come to this?

The bloom is off Santa Fe a little," (longtime art dealer and Santa Fe businessman Gerald Peters said. "It isn't as popular as it once was. Santa Fe took its tourists for granted, while other communities became more attentive and competitive."

The ongoing Bear Market in the capital city has been so severe that even passage of bonds on the March 6 city election ballot to build police and fire facilities is in doubt.

One wonders if the Bull Market will ever return Santa Fe to its glory years.When we bumped into Santa Fe Mayor David Coss on the opening day of the Legislature he was rejoicing that city tax collections were flat, not down again. That's what you call lowering expectations.

SO LONG TO LUJAN

Both the state's US Senators took to the Senate floor to honor NM House Speaker Ben Lujan as the Legislature ended its 30 day session Thursday. Lujan, suffering from cancer, will not seek re-election to his Santa Fe state House seat. Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman said:

Throughout his long career, he's fought fiercely to ensure that the needs of his fellow New Mexicans were being addressed. He's worked hard to improve the quality of New Mexico’s school system. He's fought for the rights of our workers. And he's worked hard to strengthen our economy. I know I speak for all of his colleagues in our state legislature when I say that his service and strength throughout his recent personal difficulties have been an inspiration to all, and his fighting spirit will be missed..His exemplary work ethic is something which we should all aspire to,” Bingaman said.

You can view Bingaman's tribute here and one from Dem Senator Tom Udall here.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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