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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ABQ Abortion Battle Fully Joined; Backers Of Ban Start With Early Edge, But Foes Have Resources To Fight, Plus: Webber Gets Official; Latest On His Dem Guv Run, And: Readers Take On Teacher Evaluation 

The ABQ abortion battle is fully joined, with the November 19 election garnering more attention as early vote centers are set to open Wednesday and the pitch for absentee ballots is going full steam as evidenced by the mailer we posted here today.

Our election observers say the proposal to ban late term abortions--those after 20 weeks of pregnancy--seems to stand a pretty good chance of passing, unless the the nature of the electorate can be changed in the final weeks.

A September ABQ Journal poll had 54% of likely voters supporting the abortion ban and 39% against.

Low voter turnout is the friend of this controversial ballot proposition. The lower it goes the more the pro-life side should benefit. Their voters are the most energized so far.

However, the major group fighting the ban--Respect ABQ Women--has $110,000 in cash in its campaign account to spend between now and Nov 19, reports newsman Sterling Fluharty. The main group in support of the ban--Protect ABQ Women and Children--reports about $23,000 cash on hand.

If the cash disparity persists, ban foes could get a boost, but our election analysts point out that it takes fewer dollars to motivate those who favor the proposal. (The first TV ad urging a defeat of the ban started to air today. See it here.)

One reason for that is the 27,000 petition signatures that were gathered to place the measure on the ballot. Many of those who signed can be counted on to vote.

Our Legal Beagles say the abortion ban--if passed--would end up in the courts and likely found to be unconstitutional. That makes the Nov. 19 vote more symbolic for some voters and may keep them home.

Another challenge for the pro-choice side is the favorable views many Hispanic Catholic Democrats have toward the ban. They will have to target their potential supporters carefully.

ONE LONG BALLOT

The "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance" as the late term abortion ban is known may be the longest ballot initiative in city history. That's because the complete proposed ordinance is printed in both English and Spanish.

For voters in ABQ City Council District 7--a large portion of which is in the mid-ABQ NE Heights--they will also see on their ballot a city council race. It's the run-off election between Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Democrat Diane Gibson.

Arnold Jones scored 49% of the vote in the first round of balloting Oct 8, but she needed 50% for the outright win.

Mayor Berry has taken a personal interest in the Arnold-Jones effort. If she were to lose, control of the nine member council would flip to the Dems. Currently the R's control it 5 to 4.

Tito Madrid, a veteran GOP operative who did field work for Berry's mayoral campaign, is now working for Arnold Jones who earlier this year Berry appointed to the council to fill a vacancy.

WEBBER'S WAY

Alan Webber made it official Monday and became the fourth Democratic hopeful seeking the 2014 nomination for Governor.

We broke the news of Webber's intentions last week, noting that the Santa Fe author and businessman received a good chunk of change when the business magazine he helped co-found--Fast Company--was sold for some $365 million in 2000.

Webber, who identifies himself as a pro-business, progressive Dem, did not get all the cash from that sale, of course. It was shared among a group of investors, but he has enough personal wealth to shake up the race.

Insiders expect him to put up in the neighborhood of $500,000 of his own money for the primary.

Governor Martinez's campaign immediately tagged Webber as part of the "extreme fringe" of the Democratic Party

Webber, who has lived in Santa Fe with his wife of 37 years since 2003, announced his candidacy via Twitter and posted a several minute introductory video. He did not mention his foes and noted that this is his first run for elective office, although he has government experience. That includes writing speeches for Massachusetts Governor Micahel Dukakis and working for Portland, Oregon city government.

Webber's news release announcement is here. His consultant is ABQ's Neri Holguin.

KOB-TV's report on Webber's announcement is here.

WEIGHING WEBBER

Several readers opined on the new Guv entrant including conservative Jim McClure:

Alan Webber's candidacy could add some much-needed excitement to the governor's race. The fact that he's an outsider is a plus because he brings fresh ideas and is not invested in the status quo. He may be the only Democrat in New Mexico who has private-sector credentials and does not reflexively distrust the profit motive.

Another wrote:

I would lose the "Alan" for governor branding. "Alan Webber for Governor" would be better. Alan is not a common name in NM and people won't relate to it. Also, the opening of "Hi, I'm Alan" in the video seems weak and his appearance and method of talking is more suited to a national race.

And another:

Santa Fe liberals don't have a good track record of selling statewide, but the other candidates manage to share the common link of being tied to the mess in Santa Fe. Worse, none are capable of raising money.

The other contenders for the Dem nod are Attorney General Gary King and State Senators Linda Lopez and Howie Morales.  ABQ Government administrator Lawrence Rael tells us he is also weighing a run.

PARENTS RESPONSIBLE, TOO

Reader Joan Fenicle writes to us of the hot debate over the state's new teacher evaluation program:

I am certainly no expert on teacher evaluation, but common sense tells me that teachers can't be held totally accountable for the performance of children who show up for school unprepared. And the one third of our children who come into first grade unprepared are those most likely not to meet norms nor graduate. Seems that early childhood education is an investment New Mexico must make if we want to change this pattern. Only then can teachers be held responsible for the performance of the children in their classrooms.

Reader JD Robertson adds:

The way I see the new teacher evaluation system, there is going to be more trouble administering it as opposed to working under it. How many people can one rating official reasonably be expected to be responsible for? According to what little I read, among other considerations, the principal of each school will be expected to monitor (classroom visit) each teacher in his school on a regular basis. How many teachers will that be in a school with 2,000 students? Based on my own experience when I was a rating officer, in order to give a well thought out appraisal a maximum of three people is about all one rater can handle. Naturally, the paper work alone will be astronomical. From my point of view the system being offered is bureaucratic nonsense.

Lisa Todd, a teacher at ABQ's Taylor Middle School, disagrees:

Team education in New Mexico finds itself at the bottom of the standings when it comes to the performance of our students. The time has come for the key players of our team to raise the level of our game. These key players are the teachers and administrators. It is time for us to try something new, and give Education Secretary Hanna Skandera a chance to help us improve. The new Educator Effectiveness System is the way we will improve the level of our profession. I am an eighth-grade math and physical education teacher...Having experienced the new evaluation process, I find myself assessing my skills and looking closely at my educational practices that result in actually changing my “game” because of this new evaluation protocol.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Ramon Huerta
Raul Huerta writes us from Hamilton, NY:

Dear Joe, I wanted to let you know about the passing of my uncle, former ABQ State Representative Ramon Huerta (D-24). He served with distinction  as the chairman of the Education Committee. He was responsible for legislation such as the education lottery and placing nurses in public schools. He taught Spanish at Highland High School for 30 years, was President of the Albuquerque Classroom Teachers Association, was editor of El Hispano and a member of the Army Air Corps. He died a few weeks after his 89th birthday. He was a respected member of the legislature...

Thanks for that news, Raul. Ramon Huerta served from 1988-1994....

In our first report on Guv candidate Alan Webber Friday we said he was "newly arrived" as a Santa Fe resident. He says he has lived there full-time for ten years. Our impression that he was a new arrival came from a news interview he conducted earlier this year.

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