Posts Tagged 'Susana Martinez'


Yes, there seems to be a run from ALEC and while not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade the question I’m asking here is: So what? This is not the time for high-fives and victory laps. Karl Rove, the Koch Boys, the other corporate donors to ALEC, and the dozens of their front organizations will not loosen their grip on the political narrative. According to the April 21, 2012 Rolling Stone, the Koch Boys alone have invested over $100 million over the past 30 years building an empire of foundations, think tanks, advocacy groups and the like. They aren’t going to walk away from this class war. What they will do, however, is become ever more clever in hiding their agenda. They aren’t going to retreat because there is too much at stake; there is still enough money left in the public till to be sucked into their bank accounts. The billionaire warriors against American social democracy and vital public interests like education and health care will continue to polarize the country using even more surreptitious means. These people have unlimited amounts of money and their own media networks to further their agenda and will do whatever it takes to shove that agenda down the public’s throat. They are relentless and that is exactly how they got to where they are today. We too must be relentless in uncovering their fronts, exposing their agendas and their sycophants, and educating the public about the dangerous consequences to a democratic society that this kind of sociopathic destruction represents.

The most important question to ask right now, as we enter the 2012 election season nationally and in the races for the New Mexico legislature, is how do we elect better, more honorable people whose allegiance is to the electorate first? One place we can start is by naming names and telling voters the truth. Ask the public if they voted for ALEC or for their Senator or Representative. Ask if they are aware that their legislators have been acting on behalf of ALEC to pass laws that originated in a Washington DC conservative think tank sponsored by the largest corporations in the world – corporations which have nothing to do with New Mexico. It needs to be pointed out how some legislators were bought with campaign contributions, a free meal, or a trip to a “seminar” at a fancy resort that just happened to have a great golf course. Voters need to understand what motivates politicians to pass laws and make policies that are antithetical to their constituents – money. Money in the form of campaign contributions from innocuous sounding foundations – that’s the grease.

In a pointed example of the ALEC agenda at work here in New Mexico, the Governor and her Secretary-designate of Education, after having been turned down by the Legislature, continue to relentlessly pursue their discredited education reform agenda to privatize public education, humiliate teachers with Gestapo-like classroom raids, grade schools, teachers, and children, and enable out-of-state corporate for-profit charter schools. In other words, the Legislature and the voice of the public be damned – these agents of big political money have a debt to pay back. In spite of the governor’s campaign shuck and jive about ensuring New Mexico tax dollars are spent in New Mexico, her NMPED outsourced nearly $6.5 million of taxpayer money for services that could have been easily sourced here. Did the PED really need to hire a Texan to advise them on hiring what they call “key people” to assist in formulating policies on Hispanic and Native American education? We don’t have that expertise in-state? Really? Next there is SB 9, which would have put out-of-state businesses on an equal tax footing with in-state businesses – the Governor vetoed that one. When you get to the bottom line, the best interests of New Mexico and New Mexicans are being vetoed as well.

The public information/education campaign must reach out to voters and engage them in dialog before they cast their ballots. Wren Abbot’s excellent reporting in SFR this past week exposing the PED spending mentioned above is exactly what is needed and more of it. We need much more good and accurate information put out there if the public is going to grasp what is being done to their schools specifically and the public trust in general. The public needs to know how differential tax policies hurt them, their neighbors, and local businesses. Patent disregard and disrespect for public opinion and legislative intent must be countered with good reporting, good facts, good dialog, and a good statement of consequences. There’s a lot of work to be done in the weeks and months ahead. We can have our high-fives when better and  more honorable people are elected to public office.

This article first appeared in: The Light of New Mexico

Listen and Show Some Respeto

Listen and Show Some  Respeto

Listen, Listen. Listen. That was the watchword, the first principle I was taught when working for the University of Wisconsin Extension Services which I did throughout my graduate studies. I traveled that state conducting extension service programs all of which were developed by listening to the communities we served. When I was first elected majordomo of my acequia here in the northern mountains I spent most of my time asking questions about what was needed to make the ditch function more fairly and efficiently and listening carefully to the answers. I sat for hours listening to viejos tell me the history of this very old acequia dug by hand from the mountain to the meadows. Respeto. I spent my time getting to know the families served by the ditch and walked the land the acequia passed through from the mountain presa to the last gate at the farthest end of our llano’s irrigated fields. This was my experience in Wisconsin coming into service in New Mexico and tempered by Governor Lew Wallace’s dicho – “Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico.” I had no “calculations” but knew that listening to people tell you about themselves, their needs and their experiences will not fail you and a plan will make itself evident in proper time. Listen.

Our Secretary-designate of Education has not distinguished herself with a willingness to listen and this is not without consequences. New Mexico failed to receive a waiver of the NCLB requirements because the Secretary-designate of Education and her allies were eager to push their imported, ALEC-inspired ABCD-F Act through the legislature. In passing this piece of retrograde legislation the State failed to meet the Federal requirements for exemption from the NCLB. Interviewed on the KOB-TV web site, APS Superintendent of Schools, Winston Brook, voiced his opinion that the ABCD-F grading system didn’t meet federal requirements. Winston went on to say that Skandera was made aware of those concerns before she released the grades. Brooks was also aware that the U.S. Secretary of Education had written a letter to Skandera telling her she needed to address the issues. Obviously the federal concerns were not dealt with in a timely manner hence no exemption.

Carrying water for ALEC has its price and in this case the price will paid by New Mexico’s schools, teachers and children who have been saddled with the ABCD-F Act and will now struggle to be released from the NCLB requirements. There is no denying Ms. Skandera came to New Mexico on a mission and she has been notably single-minded about carrying out her assignment. Her ideological blinders have kept her from grasping the cultural realities of the state including our diverse languages a tradition for which she has demonstrated a profound lack of respete.

Skandera has placed herself within an ideological cocoon comprised of her own imported staff and well paid out-of-state consultants, which has resulted in a tragic lack of critical understanding and ham-handed policy execution. Her reform process has been a self-affirming and thus a self-defeating feed-back loop. She and her advisors have all been on the same page but the book they are using is about somewhere other than New Mexico.

What we have received is a lot of fancy doubletalk such as this recent example from the Secretary-designate: “New Mexico consistently has been ranked 48th, 49th or 50th in most of our achievement rankings, etc.. And for the first time we will be in the top 11 states championing reform, and I believe we are headed in the right direction…”. This statement would be held up for ridicule in any logic class. The speaker equates “achievement rankings” and “championing reform” as though they are equivalents. Reform and achievement are not even remotely the same thing and cannot honestly be used in a comparative sense; they are totally unrelated ideas being force fit into being equivalent to make it sound as though something profound is happening. This is the definition of propaganda –  false ideas spread deliberately to further one’s cause. It’s time for the current Governor and her administration to show some respeto for the people of New Mexico. Escuche, Escuche, Escuche.

This was first published at:

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