Thursday, August 20, 2015

State Senate Summer Doings, APS Happenings, Clash Over Teen Curfew Coming And The Byzantine Capital Outlay Process 

Both parties are using the summer months to line up contnders for the battle for control of the NM senate in '16, and the recruitment efforts may have produced a familiar name. Dem insiders say former two-term Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack is prepping to take a run at incumbent GOP State Senator Craig Brandt. Swisstack, a deputy BernCo manager for public safety, isn't talking yet but R's are monitoring the situation. They say Brandt;s district is pretty solid R and while Swisstack is a big name they are optimistic that they can hold the seat. . .

Former APS School Board member Kathy Korte--ousted from her post in the last school board election by the Guv's Machine--is still following the education action. She has a pointed opinion on that proposed contract with a Denver firm that got new APS Superintendent Luis Valentino in hot water:

The IT contract was to "audit" the technology areas of the district, including SIS -- Student Information Systems. Whomever has control of the SIS system has control of student data -- all those tests. If the state gets control of the student data, that data can be manipulated. If the APS student data is manipulated to appear "reforms" are working, then that's 2/3 of the state's student population. There is something fishy with all of this. Martinez-Skandera are right to know that if they can win friends with the people who can hand them the data, they can win a victory before they leave in 2 years.

APS did not sign a contract with the Denver firm but the incident revealed Valentino playing footsie with education secretary Skandera via text message and prompting the conspiracy theories about the goal of that contract. APS chief financial officer Don Moya was placed on leave by Valentino after questioning the contract.


The sensational crimes this summer involving teens has prompted Gov. Martinez to announce that she will ask the Legislature in January to give cities the power to implement teen curfews, even though a previous ABQ curfew in the 90's was found unconstitutional. Reader Alan Wagman adds:

Juvenile curfews cut crime? According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the juvenile crime rate peaks on school days at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and peaks on non-school days at 8:00 p.m. The rate then plunges sharply all night long from these peaks. By 11:00 p.m. on school days, the juvenile crime rate drops to the level of 7:00 in the morning. By 11:00 p.m. on non-school days, the juvenile crime is about equal to the level at 11:00 in the morning -- but only because the rate has dropped all night to a low point at 5:00-6:00 a.m. and then climbed again. See more here:  

And Israel Chavez, a candidate for the ABQ city council in the October election and who at 23 is not that far away from his own teen years, says this:

A curfew takes a superficial approach instead of tackling the issues head on. We need to look deeper at this than a curfew. Where is the legislation to crack down on drug dealers who are targeting youth in schools, or legislation to provide meaningful rehabilitation to our children that fall through the cracks? It's time to get to the root of our problems. 

Chavez is running against longtime GOP Councilor Brad Winter in NE Heights District 4.

ABQ Dem State Rep. Javier Martinez seems ready to lead the opposition to a teen curfew. He writes:

Why aren’t we connecting youth to entrepreneurship and STEM field opportunities? We’re making huge investments in Innovate ABQ - let’s channel our youth’s creativity and energy into our business innovation strategies. A curfew is unenforceable. APD is a mess, without enough officers and a litany of questions regarding its internal procedures. A curfew is also ineffective and simply criminalizes young people. Young people are the solution, not the p


We're still not seeing a serious effort to reform the Legislature's byzantine capital outlay process despite this story continually making the rounds:

New Mexico lawmakers appropriated more than $1.1 billion for more than 2,800 capital outlay projects from 2010 through 2014. But less than half the money has been spent. . . The capital outlay bill is one of the top priorities of each legislative session because it pays for hundreds of state and local projects. . . But many critics, including scholars who study how states pay for brick-and-mortar projects, say New Mexico's politicized process for selecting local projects is flawed. . . Once New Mexico authorizes money, oversight to ensure the dollars are spent efficiently appears to be lacking. 

Hey, that's over $500 million just sitting there. Hello, Santa Fe?


We misspelled the Animas River as "Animus" and a reader writes:

Several times you have referred to the deadly toxic materials spilled into the "Animus" River... I mean, given the mind-set of so many Four Corners conservative types, that's an understandable mistake, but it's actually the Animas river, Spanish for Spirits or Souls. Animus is a vindictive, hate-filled attitude. 

Gracias, Señor.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign