Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today's Inflammatory Headline: Susana Names Texan To Cabinet (Yes, One Of Them!) Plus: All Kinds Of Other Cool Political Stuff 

The Norteños will have to wait. Governor-elect Martinez has selected a Texan to head the state's Children Youth and Families Department. Yolanda Berumen-Deines is a social worker who Martinez first met over 20 years ago when she interned for a Texas district judge.

The Guv-elect, a native of El Paso, was scorched by the Dems during the campaign for being a Texan in disguise, but the attacks backfired. Now Martinez is naming her cabinet and top staff and it has a decidedly southern flavor. There have been grumblings--heard here and elsewhere--that the north and ABQ are not getting their due. But elections have consequences and Martinez is the Dona Ana County district attorney, not the Bernalillo County DA.

The latest line the Norteños are trying out is that Martinez needs northerners in her cabinet or else the bureaucracy--dominated by them--will sabotage her efforts. But Martinez's victory was made possible by a huge southern landslide and now it is reaping the dividends. And maybe she doesn't want to fit into the northern government culture, but change it. Egads!

More Hispanic nominees are surfacing as Martinez plows her way through 23 cabinet level departments and agencies. The CYFD appointment comes on the heels of Susana's naming of a Hispanic woman to direct the state corrections department. Earlier, Jon Barela was named economic development director.

The CYFD is one hellacious agency to manage as the new secretary will find out. On the same day she was named, controversy continued to swirl:

The American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit alleges CYFD fabricated, concealed and misrepresented information about its juvenile justice system.


If you haven't had enough coffee, this one will get your eyes opened wide:

Earlier this year, for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women, who now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs. The working class, which has long defined our notions of masculinity, is slowly turning into a matriarchy, with men increasingly absent from the home and women making all the decisions. Women dominate today’s colleges and professional schools—for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same.

Three-quarters of the jobs lost in this Great Recession have been filled by men. We assume that percentage holds in NM where the construction industry was ravaged by a burst real estate bubble and energy related jobs also got smacked.


The WaPo comes with the best political TV ads of 2010 (And you thought they were all bad).

According to Alligator opinion, the best NM ads for the '10 cycle were "More of the Same," from Susana Martinez's Guv campaign and a Social Security ad from Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich. The Martinez ad turned Dem Guv Diane Denish's own words against her, using old video of Di praising unpopular incumbent Big Bill. The Heinrich ad was equally devastating, using a 69 year old woman to sternly warn Jon Barela, Heinrich's Republican foe, not to "mess with my Social Security." And he won't.


The long, agonizing bear market in ABQ housing construction has yet to find a bottom, although these numbers are so bearish you have to think we are close:

Homebuilders in the Albuquerque metro region pulled 69 permits in November, the lowest in several years, according to Jan DeMaggio’s New Housing Market Letter. The 69 permits were down by more than 30 percent from October’s 99. This year is showing the lowest building permit activity of the past three years.

And then there's this:

The Realtors Association of New Mexico reports fewer homes were sold statewide last month when compared to October and November 2009. New Mexico recorded 966 sales of existing home during November, 990 during October and 1,289 during November 2009.

The median price of a New Mexico home during November was $175,000. Santa Fe County reported the highest November median price – $320,000. The median price of a home in the greater Albuquerque metro area is $177,500.


Before Christmas we ran a list of possible gifts for Gov-elect Martinez to place under the state tree. One of them was to consolidate some of the state's 89 school districts. But Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico thought that was a lump of coal in the state Xmas stocking, not a gift. He says think small:

...We shouldn't close small districts (or small schools) simply because they're small. In fact, some of the state's most successful districts are some of our smallest. Think New Mexico's stance has always been that districts should be restructured if they are failing--in other words, if their student achievement is poor and/or they suffer from serious fiscal mismanagement.

Back in 2004, we wrote: "The number of school districts in New Mexico has declined dramatically from 947 in 1940 to 89 in 1970, where it remains today.
Although test scores do not tell the whole story, they do paint a vivid portrait here. Only 4% of New Mexico public school students are in school districts of fewer than 620 students, yet those districts are overwhelmingly represented among the highest achieving districts.

We believe students in smaller school districts generally perform better because these districts often do a better job of tailoring their budgets, curricula, and hiring to the needs of the individual
populations of their schools, which tend to be strongly supported by parents and local community members. Moreover, smaller school districts, not surprisingly, have small schools and small class sizes, which also correlate with higher student achievement.

Some good points, but what about cutting administrators for these small districts? Can't these little districts share some personnel while keeping their independence?


Reader Matthew Munoz takes on reader Joe Craig who blogged here this week that parents have to be held more accountable for the state's lagging public school performance:

Craig says, "If they don't come to school" the parent should be held responsible, but if a parent drops their 16 year old off at the front door of the school and the child leaves campus after the parent is out of sight, it is not the parent's fault.

Craig goes on to say "if they are not dressed with coats." I would agree with this statement if NM was not one of the poorest states, and if our unemployment was not around 9%, but really around 15% when you add in all the people who stopped looking for work...Additionally, how many single parents are making 25k a year and raising three kids...?

The only statement I agree with is "if they don't do their homework--then look to the parents." I think this could work if there was financial incentive for the parents. Do away with the state business tax credits that don't seem to be working and give them to parents who get involved in their child's education. You have to give some parents incentive...Otherwise, what do you do? Punish the parents and throw them in jail?

You mean we pay the parents when the kids do their homework?? What a year 2011 is going to be for the Great Education Debate!


Just think if he had run for Guv:

Actor Val Kilmer is having a hard time selling his 6,000-acre ranch in New Mexico and a harder time shaking the IRS. The "MacGruber" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" star owes almost $500,000 in delinquent federal taxes, according to public records. The new tax lien was filed in November, seven months after the IRS released a $538,858 tax debt.

The IRS filed a $498,165 lien against Kilmer on Nov. 30 with the Santa Fe County Clerk. Also listed on the lien is his Pecos River Ranch near Santa Fe. It's for sale for $18.5 million -- down from last year's $33 million asking price. Kilmer's agent did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

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