Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Another Branch Of The APD DWI Scandal Emerges; Cops Across State Fail To Show For MVD License Revocations; DWI Drivers Escaping Tough Penalty, Plus: Happy Fourth, New Mexico  

Happy Fourth!
Those extra DWI checkpoints for the long holiday weekend may look inhibiting to drivers but their effect is not as profound as intended. 

The APD DWI scandal, wherein cops allegedly took a walk on court hearings for drivers charged with drunk driving, also brings to the fore another major lapse in DWI enforcement in ABQ and the state. 

A report reveals that more than 2,200 suspected drunk drivers in the past two years have kept their driving privileges because police have been no shows at state Motor Vehicle Department hearings where licenses are revoked for six months for driving under the influence.

That leads to this take from a law enforcement professional:

Governor Lujan Grisham needs to add a rewrite to the state's DWI laws in the upcoming special session because the APD DWI scandal and now the MVD scandal show DWI enforcement is failing in New Mexico.

As citizens we can only wonder what the FBI investigation into the APD-DWI scandal will expose. Are ABQ Metro Court employees involved? Are MVD employees involved? How deep does this DWI scandal go and how far back? 

Did MVD hearing officers report to MVD Director Mark Williams the huge number of officers failing to appear at their hearings? If they did report to him, what did Williams do or not do? If they failed to report to Williams, why? Why hasn’t MVD been auditing these hearings to determine what was happening? 

You would think the people in charge at MVD, the legislature and Governor would require them to provide a yearly report on the number of DWI hearings, their outcomes and officers failing to appear.

Records show that APD officers failed to show up 50 percent of the time for the MD license revocation  hearings. Tucumcari was best with a no-show rate of zero percent but a number of jurisdictions had no-show rates of 100 percent including the Clayton and Cuba police departments. 

Happy Fourth, New Mexico! 

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Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Court Battle Continues Over 180 Day School Year As State Plunges Deeper Into Under Performance; Why PED Has It Right And Status Quo Educators And Helicopter Parents Have It Wrong  

Going from worst in the nation in public education to anywhere above it is not going to get done without  some pain and shaking up of the failed status quo. But the state doesn't appear anywhere near ready to take on the challenge.

We know that because another court hearing is scheduled today over a lawsuit filed by 63 public school districts and charter schools to stop the Public Education Department from mandating a 180 day school year.

That's a standard many districts already adhere to, but is still meeting with vociferous opposition including from parents unqualified to make such decisions as their children drop-out, slip into crime and drugs or lousy paying, dead-end jobs that further the state's downward spiral

This relatively minor change from the MLG administration, led by PED Secretary Arsenio Romero, is backed by grim facts:

New Mexico’s fourth-grade students’ reading proficiency rate of 21% in 2022, when it was named 50th in the nation, mirrored its rate more than 20 years earlier, despite small fluctuations over the decades. Additionally, the pandemic significantly affected chronic absenteeism rates in New Mexico. The percentage of students who miss more than 10% of the school year rose from 16% in the 2019-2020 school year to 40% in the 2021-2022 school year, and only decreased by 1% in the following school year.

In other words we are off the charts in under performance that is impacting the state's ability to attract business and jobs and keep younger people who are diligent students from seeking greener pastures, leading to an aging and stagnant population.

Let's go to the expert as the court is again gaveled into session today to hear the helicopter moms and intolerant educators make their case, showing why they and a majority of the state are dead wrong and on the wrong side of history. Here's PED Secretary Arsenio Romero trying his best to persuade the school districts:  

Sec. Romero
Dear District Leaders, I am deeply alarmed by the high number of low-performing schools and what that means for the state, the children who are being educated here, and our future. Far too many of our schools are under performing. 

Students statewide have low reading and math proficiencies. This is unacceptable. It is time for accountability: for the Public Education Department, for the school districts (including their boards and schools), charter schools, teachers' unions and families. We owe this accountability to our state’s most precious resource: children. 

While some progress has been made, we cannot ignore the persistent low student achievement results and achievement gaps that continue to plague New Mexico’s public schools decade after decade. It is time to break free from the status quo and demand excellence from everyone who works within the state’s education system. 

In the highlights of the most recent data, we see that every student has the capacity for success, if given the right tools and under strong school leadership. The reading gains in Pojoaque of over 26 percent demonstrate unequivocally how quickly student success can be achieved with the right focus. Leadership in the Pojoaque School District invested time and energy into bringing Structured Literacy to their students and in doing that, showed all of us what is possible. 

Schools have the tools: they need only be put to use. 

The NMPED remains committed to working with school districts and school leaders to make sure these goals are accomplished. This will require the development and implementation of effective, evidence-based policies and programs, as well as leadership, innovation, and change. 

Gov. Lujan Grisham and legislators have invested billions of dollars in the state’s education system since 2019 – levels never before seen in history – but historic academic gains have not followed. 

Statewide, barely a third of students are proficient in reading and less than a quarter are proficient in math, and these results are worse for students from low-income families and with disabilities, English learners, and Native American students. That must change. 

NMPED’s proposed budget this year will be focused on accountability. It will require that all districts, schools, and classrooms in New Mexico be held responsible for the academic achievement and growth of their students. We can no longer afford to overlook under performing schools or allow subpar educational experiences to persist. 

In this model, we will enforce accountability at the district level to ensure that those that do not provide their students with an effective education implement programs and policies that are proven to produce positive results. That shift will allow the state to create a renewed culture of high expectations, collaboration, and innovation that will propel our students toward success.  

Let us come together as stakeholders in education—parents, teachers, administrators, policymakers—and embrace this bold vision for accountability. . . 

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Monday, July 01, 2024

Debate Debacle Lands Quietly Here; No Top Dems Calling For Biden To Back Off But Rep. Vasquez Goes Mum Over Performance As Herrell Turns Up Heat  

While a national media frenzy rages over President Biden's stumbling performance in last week's debate with Donald Trump the political waters here over Biden's disappointing night seem quiescent. 

None of the five member all-Democratic congressional delegation have called on Biden to step down or seem stricken with panic over the bad night delivered by Scranton Joe. 

All but one offered solid support in the aftermath of the debacle.

The lone exception would be southern Dem US Rep. Gabe Vasquez who has often shied away from Biden since going to the House two years ago and who is the only delegation member in danger of losing his job in November.

He faces a rematch with Republican Yvette Herrell whom he ousted in '22 in a one percentage point race and who is now calling Vasquez out for refusing to answer when asked after the debate about Biden's competence:

@Gabe_NM refuses to say if Joe Biden is fit to be president. Biden clearly doesn’t have the mental acuity to serve, and Gabe is putting political allegiances over the good of #NM02

Vasquez faces a litany of woes far more dire than any association with Biden. 

He was poorly vetted for the position when recruited by Sen. Martin Heinrich who he once worked for and now that carelessness is taking a bite out of the freshman lawmaker. The latest:

. . .An arrest warrant was executed against Vasquez over outstanding traffic tickets from more than two decades ago and allegations that he tried to flush marijuana down a toilet after police were dispatched to his apartment to investigate a noise complaint in 2005 and also that he uttered a racial slur against a former colleague the year before. "I have not and would never use language like this," Vasquez said, referring to a report unearthed by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet, alleging he called a Black co-worker a derogatory term.

The southern district remains swing territory. Under the new lines it is more Democratic but still conservative. Using the current boundaries in 2020 Biden won the 2nd CD 51.9 percent to Trump's 46.1.

While Vasquez was unprepared for the job and his warts are becoming more prominent, Herrell's abortion stance and her vote to overturn the 2020 presidential results make her an unacceptable choice for many of the few undecided voters still out there. 

Like the presidential race the Vasquez-Herrell campaign will be a long negative slog financed by tens of millions from the national parties and that will have voters praying for the end. 


Sick leave payments to top officials departing the Mayor Keller administration and called into question by the city's Inspector General brings this from a former department director under the previous mayor:

Joe, I was a director under the Mayor Berry administration and when I was not reappointed, I specifically asked about sick leave. I was told in very clear terms by then Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair that I would have to forfeit my time because it was under the threshold. 

Now to learn it was grifted to others, including her, is a clear slap in the face. Sick leave now seems negotiable to those who need it the least and have access to the decision makers. The best insight is to show how many employees have had to forfeit their sick leave because this option was not available to them. 

The city says it "can create exceptions for leave policies, and it is not unusual to do so for senior employees." 

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