Monday, March 02, 2015

Top State Biz Leader Eyes Exits, The Move To Move NM Primary, PARCC Protests Ramp Up, And Reaction To Our Big Picture Take 

Here's an eyebrow raiser to start the week: Even the head of the NM Association of Commerce and Industry--a major business cheerleading group--wants to join the U-Haul crowd out of here:

St. Louis Community College announced four finalists in its national search for a new chancellor. The candidates are Richard Dawe, president of Ozarka College; Jeff Pittman, vice provost for online education at Ivy Tech Community College; Beverlee McClure, CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry; and Rod Nunn, interim president of St. Louis Community College’s Forest Park campus.

McClure served as president of Clovis Community College before being recruited by the Richardson administration as Secretary of Higher Education. In July of last year she clashed with the Martinez administration over whether enough state contract money was going to local businesses, but she soon pulled in her horns and has been a Martinez team player this legislative session.

The rush to the exits has been heavy in New Mexico. In 2014, we again made the United Van Lines list of states that folks are fleeing. See our Friday column for some of the reasons.


Backers of a legislative bill that would move the state's primary election to mid-March from early June assert it will make New Mexico a "national player" in the presidential sweepstakes. To which thousands of New Mexicans reply--in an effective imitation of Allen Weh--"So what?" New Mexico is already known for being a national player--for annually being in the cellar for its poverty rate, its poor rate of job growth, the low high school graduation rate and the high suicide and drug addiction rate.

The primary proposal is an obvious bid to advance the national political ambitions of Gov. Martinez. How about we first advance our standing in the national social conditions rankings before we get giddy over the prospect of a couple of presidential candidates spending a night at a Tucumcari hotel? In other words, get serious Santa Fe. . .


One of our readers first raised the question of APS considering cutting elective classes as it looks at budget cuts. Here's the follow-up:

Parents (are) concerned their children would be losing some classes because of the cost of implementing the controversial PARCC exam in APS. They heard the district was thinking about eliminating courses, including the arts, in order to cut costs next year. APS school board President Analee Maestas said no electives will be cut next year. "We're not going to allow that to happen because we do value the fine arts," she said. But, she say students' schedules could be changing. Right now, APS has what's called a block schedule. "With the block schedule, students meet twice a week, and if you miss one class in a block schedule, you've basically missed half a week of instruction," said Maestas.

Meanwhile, student protests over the PARCC test, which started in Santa Fe and are spreading today to ABQ, have also been seen in Carlsbad where hundreds of students skipped classes Friday to protest the exam.


Our Friday blog on New Mexico's big picture--which also is running in the current edition of the ABQ Free Press--struck a nerve with many readers and filled our email bag.

Reader Joe Craig writes:

Great column, great blog. Somewhere Albuquerquean's and New Mexican's have to start asking why we a failing on so many levels and start pointing fingers at the Governor and the Mayor. Wall Street would not have put up with any corporation run as poorly as New Mexico has been run and is running.

Reader Stan Fitch writes:

Regarding your financial summary in Friday's blog: "Hear! Hear!"

Rick Allan writes from Anthony, NM:

I was very pleasantly surprised (no, more like ecstatic) when I went to your blog and read such a wonderfully concise and on the mark statement about what ails NM and the need for much more than irresponsible and destructive denial by demonstrably failed leadership. Your essay should be mandatory reading for all elected officials and the media--every reporter/journalist/editorial board/news station in the state should now pose the rather simple question to state leadership: Have you read Joe Monahan's article? What is your response?  No one should be let off the hook. This would be an effective way to start the public narrative that needs to be held around what has to be done to staunch the state-wide bleeding where life-support monitors are beeping loudly and everyone seems to be listening but sitting on their hands (at best) and then how to restore vitality and sustainable health to NM. 

Bette Brodsky writes;

Hi Joe, One of your statements especially struck me: "The NM populace doesn’t have the will to change things. It’s true. Many of us actually like NM the way it is. We like the Third World, Billy the Kid, Wild West, lawless corruption and the Santa Fe Ring. We love our shared history as a conglomerate of Mexicans, Indians, hippies, vatos, white ranchers, farmers, Penitentes, Spanish villagers, Mayordomos, descendants of Conquistadores, Sikhs, artists, craftsmen, Okies, Texas oil interests, movie stars and entertainers. In short, we’re a hell-of-a mixture that likes to do it our own way and who often admire the blustery windbags who roll into town promising the miracles of glorified snake-oil peddlers.

We are proud of our state, even just the way it is, feisty and authentic and are secretly glad when we hear that people are deserting the state. Go elsewhere to join the rat race and do things like everybody else does. We enjoy our beautiful, under-populated landscape and open spaces.

As we have shown at the polls, our tolerance for outrageous police behavior, our cinematic romanticism of poverty and lawlessness, our support of a silent/cooperative news media, our safe-haven for the nuclear weapons machine and the toxic waste it generates, we like our state to be backward and slow and we turn away from the ugly realities that these somewhat lazy attitudes engender. Sorry for the rant! I’ve been reading too much Joe Monahan!


Scott LeFevre writes:

Mr. Monahan, Wow! Somebody gets it and calls it! Thank you. I appreciate your blog. Any chance for the GOP and Governor being mandated to read it and implement it?

An ABQ reader writes:

Tears came to my eyes as you described what has happened to our beloved state. The mountains and blue sky are still there but our people can't see them with their heads hanging down in worry and fear of what the future is bringing as they search for work. The majestic desert and rock formations are still there to admire but as rural NM towns become desert there is no one there to notice. Yet as you pointed out there is this glimmer of hope that calls for investment in our youngest populations only if we found the courage. Please, Joe, continue to challenge our leaders to find the courage. I know it is there if they can just get past the fantasy of the next election.

Reader Chris writes:

An excellent column! One of your best. Leadership? Who and where? "We"? To what community are you referring? I see very little evidence of any real leadership in ABQ or NM, nor do I detect any sense of community here. What a political culture we have!

Maureen Luna of ABQ writes:

Your column really defined the many issues facing this state we love. I've been here 50 years, have served on the APS Board and the TVI (CNM) Governing Board (twice), the board of New Mexico First, as well as a number of other community groups. Never have I felt so down about the welfare of the state and the city. The police issue has been toxic, the education community is disheartened by the "reform" agenda being forced on them, and the business leaders seem to be re-hashing the same old ideas.

I recently had lunch with a friend, a native New Mexican, who had returned after a number of years out of state. She commented that she felt that people in the state seemed to have a very insular view, not acknowledging that other states have been doing things differently, and maybe better. I call it the "he's not from here" mentality. It used to amuse me to hear this--not so much any more.

Governor/President Carruthers was prescient in his evaluation in 2006. Let's hope some of our young leaders will get involved in attempting to effect the change we need. But the first step has to be the acknowledgement that there is a problem. That is why your column struck a chord with me. The ABQ Journal, the happy-talk mayor, and our nationally ambitious governor would rather pretend that all is well. And that is not going to make us better.

Viki Farrar writes:

The creation of a public-owned bank would be a good solution to help New Mexicans. I wish the Democratic politicians would put such a proposal together. Any Republicans out there who would work on that? A bi-partisan effort to truly support New Mexican citizens who need funding for their businesses and for state infrastructure projects would go a long way in healing our economy and ending the growing social and economic divide in this state. The NM Permanent Fund is a possible source for start-up funds for a New Mexico state bank.

Reader Ron Nelson writes:

Mr. Monahan, I am so happy to finally find someone that has accumulated the same view point about this state as I have. After living here for almost 30 years, I woke up a few years ago, and starting asking, What is going on here? I’ve accomplished many hours of reading and research, using my expertise and schooling in healthcare and business to try to put a finger on the issues.

I’m a numbers person. The first set that struck me odd, was that New Mexico has only gained 1.6 million people in population over the past hundred years, since it has become a state. Compared to other states that surround us that entered statehood about the same time, their populations have more than sextupled. The other is that the major employer in this state is government. Between, federal, state, and local municipal, they outnumber our struggling private businesses. Then there’s the number who pay or file for taxes. Almost 50%.

I’m in total agreement, that among those who seek to leave this state, it is because of the crime. I have heard it from more than one source, that New Mexico, has one of the worst criminal codes in the 50 states. Any attempt to strengthen it is met by resistance by the trial lawyer lobby. Magnified, by political partisanship, corruptness, cronyism, favoritism, laziness, poor understanding of issues and a total lack of any financial transparency ( I have a few juicy stories about this one). Many, including myself are just throwing up their hands and plan on relocating out of state.

Reader Charlotte Lipson writes:

This column is brilliant and am urging all my friends to read it. Thank you!

Thanks, Charlotte, and to all who responded.

We welcome high praise, low praise, brickbats as well as plaintive or joyous cries over the state of our beloved La Politica.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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