Monday, April 06, 2015

Not So Low After All; Koch Back On UNM Regents, Carruthers Warns Higher Education Heyday Here Is Past And More Laments Over Expo And Tingley  

Jamie Koch opined that he could not recall a "lower point" in the history of the state senate but it turns out it wasn't so low after all. Koch, who resigned his position as a University of New Mexico regent with a righteous dose of indignation during the recent legislative session, has gladly accepted reappointment to the post by Gov. Martinez.

The political odd couple--a GOP Governor and a former NM Dem Party chairman--brewed up an ill-fated and poorly executed movida that had Koch resign from the board in the hope that the Dem controlled senate would confirm controversial Republican Matt Chandler to the panel. That didn't happen and the nearly 80 year old Koch was left holding his...well, you know what, in his hand.

That Koch is such a willing handmaiden to the Governor is cringe-inducing to his fellow Dem travelers but easily explained by the thirst for power and position, no matter how humiliating it may appear to those on the other side of the glass. . .

Koch and the other regents will be saying farewell to the heyday of higher education in our fair state. That's not according to us, but directly from New Mexico State University president and former NM Governor Garrey Carruthers. He spares no words in outlining the spare future:

We're going to cut budgets. . . We're recommending to the regents somewhere north of a $9 million reduction in our expenditures for 2015-16."

The institution has seen a protracted decline in enrollment in the past three years.

"We need to recalibrate the university, recognizing that enrollment is going to be flat. At best, we may see slight increases. We're not going to enjoy the good old days, when enrollment was going up 3 or 4 percent. The demographics in New Mexico just do not support that. The population in New Mexico is flat; the graduation rate in New Mexico high schools is down. Plus we have seven universities and 22 two-year colleges they can go to. There's just not that many students prepared to go to college," Carruthers said.

On March 12, the university instituted a hiring moratorium. . .

The higher education jigsaw puzzle assembled over the past 100 years is coming home to haunt in this new century. Twenty-two two year colleges! If the political leadership does not surface to consolidate higher education in the decade ahead, then it will be a slow and painful fade for many institutions. . .

Still on the education beat. . . Our education insiders point out that Paul Aguilar, a deputy secretary of education under controversial state Sec. of Education Hanna Skandera, did not make the list of six semifinalists for the job of ABQ public schools superintendent, He was one of the original applicants, raising questions about the role the administration could play in APS if Aguilar got the top job. Skandera's policies--particularly for student testing-- have drawn intense criticism from many APS
teachers and parents.


Republican Ted Barela is your new state senator for the seat that was held by Phil Griego. Griego resigned during the recent legislative session over an ethics issue involving a Santa Fe real estate deal. Barela from Torrance County was named to fill the vacancy by the Governor and will represent the sprawling, six county district at the 2016 legislative session. However, the seat is positioned to go back to the Dems at the '16 election. Santa Fe Dem Liz Stefanics who once held it is already on the campaign trail.


A lot of email continues to come in on over our lament on the decline of Tingley Coliseum at NM Expo on the state fairgrounds. John Hooker, a former director for strategic planning at the fair, answers former Mayor Chavez's call on the Friday blog to move Tingley and the fair to a new ABQ Westside location:

A key point that Marty and many others miss is that Expo New Mexico is actually in operation every week of the year except for Christmas and New Years. Expo hosts events including art fairs, art shows, equestrian events and dog agility competitions, not to mention private gambling and horse racing, monster truck shows and professional wrestling. The New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair which has been at the Fairgrounds for decades explicitly said that they would simply close if the Fairgrounds move out of town. Now, we have a spanking new Racino which cost the owners millions of dollars to build, along with a new multi-year lease to use the grounds, the racetrack and the horse barns. That ain't going to move anytime soon.

Hooker's full take on Tingley and the fair is here.

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