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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mayor Keller Director Says Crime Wave Over Emphasized By Media; Not "Good For Us", And: "Artificial Redhead Appears Headed To State House  

David Campbell
It's a common lament that the media, meaning mostly the TV stations, are caught up in unceasing, sensational ABQ crime coverage. The old cliche "if it bleeds it leads" is almost as well known around here as the stations' call letters.

The latest to decry the crime coverage is attorney David Campbell, the veteran city employee who has been around forever and a day and is now head of the ABQ Planning Department for Mayor Keller. In a speech before the Economic Forum, he opined:

Our self-talk about security is very devastating, Not that it doesn’t exist. Not that you don’t report on it, but it sure seems to me that we emphasize it in great measure perhaps more than what is good for us.

Campbell may have a point but there are other points that outweigh his concern:

--The city has never suffered a crime wave that lasted this long.

--ABQ has been ranked first in the nation for auto theft, and among the national leaders in violent crime. 

--We had a record setting year for homicides last year and many have another this year. 

--Legions of city residents say they no longer feel safe and voice their concerns on the TV newscasts. That's news because that has really never been the case here. 

--City fathers have failed to provide for the safety and security of the citizenry. 

On that last one Campbell can give thanks that the media has been keen to give a pass to elected leaders, but that could be changing. 

The news coverage can be dispiriting but in this case reflects reality, a reality that won't go away with less coverage, but only when our elected (and appointed) officials fully confront and resolve the crisis. Director Campbell can plan on that.

P.S. We wonder if Mayor Keller feels the same as Campbell about there being too much emphasis on the city's crime wave?

ARTIFICIAL REDHEAD

Merritt Hamilton Allen 
By her own account the likely newest member of the NM House will be an "artificial redhead." Republican Merritt Hamilton Allen was selected this week by the BernCo Commission to fill the East Mountain House seat left vacant by the resignation of Rep. James Smith who was appointed to the BernCo Commission by Gov. Martinez.

The Governor will have to approve the selection of Allen for the House seat but that should be a cinch considering she is the daughter of 84 year old former GOP Silver City State Rep. Dianne Hamilton.

Allen is an owner of a PR firm that does work here and around the nation, including for the US Navy. Here's some background from her company Vox Optima:

Merritt entered the Navy as a (real) brunette via the NROTC program at the University of Notre Dame, worked overseas, in recruiting, and with military healthcare. In her last Navy assignment, she managed all environmental, medical, and personnel issues on the Navy’s National News Desk. She also ran the Department of the Navy’s media training program. Medically retired from the Navy after serving eight years as a public affairs officer, Merritt built several strategic communication teams as a contractor before forming Vox Optima in 2005.

Allen, 47, is seeking the House seat in the June primary. She has a Republican foe but will be heavily favored if, as expected, the Governor appoints her.  She would face a Dem foe in November but this seat is all red all the time. And that's not the artificial kind.

GETTING PROGRESSIVE

Roxanne Barber, vice-chair of the new Adelante Progressive Caucus in the NM Dem Party, writes:

Joe, I see that you mentioned the election of Marg Elliston as the new Dem party chair at last weekend's State Central Committee meeting in T or C, but the bigger news is the approval of our state's first progressive caucus: Adelante Progressive Caucus. Forming the caucus and moving toward approval was a year-long effort by a relatively small group of progressive Dems from across the state. We now have close to 300 statewide members.

A news release from the new caucus says:

“Adelante” is a Spanish word that means “move ahead” or “go forward.” The new caucus will work to move the Democratic Party forward by attracting and recruiting people who have been historically under-represented in the democratic process, to implement a small-donor fundraising model in the state party, and to create more transparency and accountability in the state and national parties.

FUNDING EARLY CHILDHOOD

State legislators are saying a doubling in early childhood education money in the past seven years--from $137 million to $269 million--demonstrates the state's commitment, but reader Stephen Spitz, who has special expertise in that area, says that's not the whole story:

New Mexico continues to improve early childhood education but the improvements are baby steps for only a tiny fraction of our infants.

Home visiting (HV) is the program that science and randomized studies say yields the biggest bang for the buck for both the children and the state. Last year only 4,500 infants received home visits. The 2018 Legislature expanded HV by $1.5M so that for FY 19 4,800 will get home visits. This is less than 5% of our infants, the overwhelming percentage of which are born into poverty and would benefit most from the program. 

Here are the stats: NM has 27,000 births per year, 82% of which are Medicaid qualified. HV is a prenatal to 3 program meaning that approximately100,000 babies (3 X 27,000 + 14,000 for prenatal) are eligible. So, yes, its good that 300 more infants will receive home visits in FY 19 but just under 80,000 will not and many will enter kindergarten more than a year behind their more advantaged peers.

Most of these children then proceed to fall further behind, unable to read properly or perform 3rd grade math, and receive either an inadequate high school education or drop out. They then form families and the next cycle of poverty begins. This despite the existence of our $17.5 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund that is set aside for education. This makes no sense and is an obvious waste of much of the approximately $3 billion we are now spending annually on K-12 education.

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