Monday, June 18, 2018

Unraveling Of Martinez Administration Quickens With State Police Scandal, CYFD Woes And PED Fallout  

The Martinez administration has been a slow motion train wreck ever since the infamous pizza party of December 2015 that cracked her approval ratings and led to a loss of confidence in state government leadership. Now with just over six months left in her second and final term, the unraveling of the administration has quickened. Here's how:

--The State Police Chief is now mired in scandal which has also entangled the Governor:

The state paid at least $200,000 in a settlement with a former member of Gov.  Martinez’s security detail, but a new lawsuit filed by current and retired law enforcement officers alleges the agent had been removed from the job after he was caught gambling on duty. It also suggests the payout was ostensibly to allow him to reimburse Martinez, who the officers claim loaned him thousands of dollars. The allegations are just one part of the lawsuit filed against State Police Chief Pete Kassetas claiming he harassed and discriminated against employees while enjoying protection from the governor.

--The Children Youth and Families Department announces disciplinary action against 11 of its employees who were involved in the case of a 7 year old ABQ girl who was put into prostitution by her family. That notorious case follows the murders of 7 years old Omaree Varela and 10 year old Victoria Martens, cases that also blackened the record of CYFD.

--Public Education Department. Even GOP Governor nominee Steve Pearce is now rejecting one of the pillars of the state Public Education Department--the controversial teacher evaluations--leaving another major state department in need of new leadership and a culture change.

What a mess.

It will be either Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham or Republican Steve Pearce who will be charged with cleaning it up.

Lujan Grisham is said to have served in the cabinet of state governors longer than anyone and her advocates say she is more than qualified to institute needed reforms. But foes claim her state tenure was marked by serious mismanagement.

Pearce is a tough talker and knowledgeable. His supporters say he means business and will turn around state government as if it were a business. But he has little executive experience and his bull in the china closet mentality may stymie him. Also, he would have to deal with a Dem dominated Legislature.


Sec. Jacobson (Journal)
CYFD has become what the state corrections department was back in the old days--a tinder box waiting to explode on the Governor's desk which it does repeatedly and often horrifically.

CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson is polishing her resume in her final months in office, recently touting her performance before a business group. She won media praise for disciplining the CYFD personnel in the case of the 7 year old, but she refuses to release the names or the punishment, apparently in defiance of state law. Also, what about discipline for her performance? Where is the accountability there?

Jacobson preformed well as state tourism secretary but her three and half year tenure at CYFD has been deeply troubled. Her appointment was criticized as blatantly political since she had no experience in CYFD issues. But she was given the reins, was unable to change the culture of the agency and here we are.

Governor Martinez isn't saying much of anything about any of the breakdowns in state government or even on the matter of ABQ GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood, a longtime Martinez ally, being arrested for aggravated DWI even though anti-DWI has been one of this Governor's banner issues. One of our Alligators aptly sums up the fading days of Martinez this way:

These days, Susana seems to have her gaze firmly fixed over the shoulders of any and all that she deals with concerning the worse-than-before state she is soon to leave NM in, with a laser focus constantly scanning the horizon for any potential shot that may yet open up for a Trump administration appointment. Sort of the Chris Christie of the West, On his way out he didn't give a rip about what was going on in his state of New Jersey, he only cared about the state of his personal options to cash in on his time in office. In other words, the conduct underlying this lawsuit involving the state police chief arose on the watch of an executive who really doesn't care what's going on in her government because she's already focused elsewhere.


In Santa Fe over the weekend we ran into Mayor Alan Webber and asked him what has most surprised him about his new job:

You're always on. It's pretty much nonstop. That's the biggest surprise. 

Webber is the city's first full-time Mayor and receives a salary of $110,000 per year. The citizens seem intent on getting their money's worth.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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