Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Explosive Charge in Whistleblower Lawsuit: Gov. Martinez And Education Boss Skandera Had Hand In Hiring Disgraced Deputy Superintendent Who Faces Child Sex Assault Charges; Our Coverage Of The APS Crisis And ItsPolitical Implications 

Jason Martinez
Governor Martinez, soon to be head of the Republican Governor's Association, there's a message for you when you get back from your business trip to California this week: "The home fires are burning."

For the first time in her nearly five year tenure the flames of scandal are lapping directly outside the Fourth Floor of the storied Roundhouse where Martinez holds forth. A whistleblower lawsuit says:

Gov. Martinez and state Education Secretary Skandera had a hand in the hire of the disgraced former deputy superintendent of APS. The chief financial officer for APS has filed a lawsuit against his employer, alleging a civil conspiracy against him and violations of his whistleblower rights. A spokesman for Skandera denied the allegations, saying he is an employee who “has an ax to grind.” Don Moya’s lawsuit alleges that embattled APS Superintendent Luis Valentino originally offered Moya the position of deputy superintendent. Valentino rescinded the offer after a meeting with Susana Martinez and Skandera on June 12, according to the suit. The lawsuit also alleges that Valentino hired Jason Martinez as his deputy “at the urging of Skandera and Governor Martinez.” Jason Martinez never completed a required criminal background check and abruptly resigned from APS last week. Jason Martinez was facing child sexual assault charges in Colorado from 2013. He faces a trial in October in Denver district court.

The Governor knows this is a biggie so her office unloaded both barrels on Moya:

Skandera & Martinez
Governor Martinez dedicated her career to prosecuting child predators and these are completely false allegations by a former Bill Richardson crony who has no credibility. Governor Martinez never even heard of [Jason Martinez] his name until this scandal broke. This allegation is so false and over-the-top that we will be filing a complaint with the state bar against the lawyer and challenge her partner--who is an elected official--to agree to resign from office when he is unable to substantiate this absurd claim about the governor.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Katie Ferlic. State House Minority Leader Brian Egolf is a member of the Santa Fe law firm--Egolf, Ferlic and Day. By linking Egolf to the suit by saying he should resign from the House if it doesn't pan out may seem like a supreme stretch but the Governor is making an effort to politicize the lawsuit from the get-go. However, keep in mind. . .

that this is a political statement by the Governor's office. It is not a statement by the Governor. Why is she not being quoted herself? Her integrity is being directly challenged yet they huff and puff about destroying people's careers, a long-standing tactic of this administration and its Machine. Well, you don't need to be one of our Legal Beagles to know why the Governor is careful not to have that statement come directly from her lips.

Is that statement covering up genuine worry? Imagine Gov. Martinez having to be deposed about the hiring of the alleged pedophile. Maybe the powers-that-be at APS move to shut Moya up quickly and settle his lawsuit, but maybe Moya wants more than money and this thing starts winding its way through the lengthy judicial process.

The questions: How serious is this for Martinez and her Machine? Does Moya have more proof that the Governor steered the Jason Martinez hiring, other than saying soon-to-be-gone APS Superintendent Luis Valentino told him (which is a pretty solid start in itself)? What about that contract that Moya fought against and that disgraced Jason Martinez was so insistent on getting through APS? Did the Governor's administration know about that? Have any role in it? Finally, Will that picture of Jason Martinez on today's blog become Susana's Willie Horton? Stay tuned. . .

P. S. If you're Hanna Skandera right about now you're getting a tiny bit concerned about your relationship with Gov. Martinez. Is everyone up there still on the same page? Just askin'.


Just how did we end up with the now scandal-ridden Luis Valentino as our APS superintendent?

Attorney General Balderas says he is "concerned" that the man Valentino chose as deputy superintendent--Jason Martinez--had not completed a criminal background check when he was hired. Valentino, according to the APS human resources head, shooed away questions about that required check. It has since been revealed that Jason Martinez faces trial in Colorado on charges of sexually assaulting children--as well as assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a domestic violence case. Balderas says he will initiate a "safety assessment" to see if any "protocols" were breached in the Jason Martinez hiring.

That's all well and good, Hector, but the attorney general could do an equal if not greater public service by delving into how the APS board actually hired Valentino and how Valentino hired Martinez. With that whistleblower lawsuit from Moya, Balderas already has plenty of fodder (maybe start with interim APS superintendent and GOP ABQ City Councilor Brad Winter who played a key role in the Valentino selection?).

Was there indeed undue outside political interference that played a role in the Valentino/Martinez hiring disasters? The attorney general can tip toe around the elephant in the room or learn how to hunt elephant. Then there's always State Auditor Tim Keller who at every twist and turn seems to be looking over Balderas' shoulder.


The rumor mill has Valentino resigning before the APS board meets again Thursday to discuss his fate. That would mean yet another "interim" superintendent and the search for a third permanent Super in a year. An online petition demanding Valentino's removal has over 1,300 signatures.

Now Senior Alligator analysis on the APS disarray:

As on many other issues in Albuquerque, one asks where is the community leadership is in the APS scandal. I suspect that our "elite" leaders have already abandoned the public school system for the Academy, Sandia Prep, Hope Christian, Pius X or charter schools. They have left us to fend for ourselves at the mercy of a fragmented political system.

It would be interesting to know the percentage of ABQ's school-age children who are now enrolled in private schools. No doubt the public school system has grown less important to  parents who have the resources to send their kids to private schools--or desperately amass those resources to avoid the troubled system.

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