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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Another Visit To Conny Amendment For Early Childhood Education As City Still Reels From Shocking Murder Of 10 Year old, Plus: Hector Watch; Big Santa Fe Fundraiser For AG, And: A Gator Strike Comes Up Short  

It really is time to talk again about that proposed constitutional amendment that could put us on a path to resolving the wrenching child abuse and poverty problem in New Mexico.

The reprehensible murder of 10 year old Victoria Martens and previous notorious child killings remind us that we are losing ground and that angry calls for reinstatement of the death penalty--are substitutes for the hard work that has to be taken if the state is to reverse course. (Remember, when we had the death penalty it was rarely used. Not exactly a deterrent).

The constitutional amendment for very early childhood education would ask voters to tap the state's gigantic Land Grant Permanent Fund (nearly $15 billion) for about $150 million a year for ten years to pursue intensive efforts to get at the root causes of the state's 49th ranking in child well-being.

Allen Sanchez, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives--CHI St Joseph's--has been spearheading the drive for several years and is again urging state legislators to put the amendment to a vote of the people. In light of Victoria's death he writes in an op-ed:
:
Home visiting programs have been proven to prevent child abuse. Home visitors journey with a new parent through the very trying times of bringing a baby into the world. Parents are supported as they develop a strong relationship with their child and gain tools to handle difficult times such as soothing an infant who has colic and constantly cries. This bond acts as a buffer to many of the challenges facing families living in poverty.

It is true that New Mexico has the highest percentage of children living in poverty in the United States, however, we are not a poor state. New Mexico has the 3rd largest Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) in the country. This LGPF is dedicated to our children. But these resources are not supporting our most vulnerable, our youngest children. 

It is proven that parent education prevents child abuse yet state leaders refuse to let New Mexicans vote on whether or not to invest 1% of it into early childhood programs like home visiting.

Sanchez says less then 5 percent of those who are eligible receive services and study after study says home visiting prevents child abuse. The Legislative Finance Committee reported 82 percent of NM children last year were born on Medicaid. The constitutional amendment, he says, would make funds available for state funded home visiting and other early childhood programs.

There is no panacea to the deep-rooted drug and poverty epidemic that has swept the state and intensified during the ongoing economic recession. But there is a place to start and Sanchez and not a few others argue it is the constitutional amendment that could mark the first step in turning the tide for the generations to come.

HECTOR WATCH 

Balderas
Insiders are chattering about a recent high dollar fund-raiser for Dem Attorney General Hector Balderas. The host was none other than Downs at ABQ Racetrack and Casino co-owner Paul Blanchard and the price tag to attend, according to one of our Santa Fe Alligators, was a steep $5,000 a pop.

Balderas showed over $381,000 in cash on hand in his April report. (Blanchard gave a $5,000 contribution in October).

Blanchard's casino won a controversial 25 year state racino lease from the Martinez administration early in her tenure. Whether it was a rigged deal was the subject of scrutiny, including by then-State Auditor Balderas who, along with AG King, did not see any signs of a crime.

Balderas is up for re-election in 2018 but his friends say he continues to mull a possible run for the '18 Dem Guv nomination which would mean he would have to leave the AG's office.

The Balderas crowd says it's happy with recent insider polling that they say gives the AG a favorable rating in the 60 percent area, high for any politico in this polarized era.

ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham has practically announced for the Dem Guv nomination and it would be interesting if Balderas joined her. However, that's far from a sure thing because his re-election as AG appears to nearly fall into that category. It's hard to turn your back on that for the uncertainty of a Guv run.

GATOR STRIKE FALTERS

An attempted Alligator strike on ABQ GOP State Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes failed to leave any teeth marks Tuesday. When word spread via your blog that the lawmaker was sponsoring a job fair today, the Gators questioned why the fair--coming in the middle of her re-election bid--was posted prominently on the state labor department website, along with her political logo.

But it turns out the department--now know as Workforce Solutions--has done the same for ABQ Dem State Sen. Michael Padilla when he has sponsored job fairs of which he has done many.

Looks like the Gators will have to find other prey to sharpen their teeth on. That shouldn't take them long.

PNM AND GLICK

Rio Grande Chapter Sierra Club communications coordinator Mona Blaber writes:

Thanks for your post about the PNM rate case and the strange accusations aimed at the hearing examiner. You're right that this appears to be a smear campaign because PNM doesn't know how else to wriggle out of getting caught making financial decisions that benefit shareholders over ratepayers.

I just wanted to add that Carolyn Glick disclosed that she was once a Sierra Club member at the beginning of a previous rate case, where Sierra Club was an intervenor, and PNM raised no objections. We’re not even an intervenor in this case.

Glick said in her disclosure that she led hikes for the Sierra Club in the '90s (we host free hikes every weekend around the state). Our hikes are a separate program from our advocacy work to increase renewable energy. That doesn't mean Glick doesn't care about clean air and water, but as you said, not caring about the environment seems like a bizarre standard to hold rate-case examiners to.

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