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politics

State gets near-failing grade for corruption

Jerome Block Jr.
Jerome Block Jr.

Our lawmakers have made some recent strides in opening up government and tackling a historical lack of political ethics. And we still have a long, long way to go. The State Integrity Investigation published last month made that painfully clear.

The report sponsors assembled journalists nationwide to gather information on "laws and practices that deter corruption and promote accountability and openness." New Mexico scored a D- (Hanna Skandera, state secretary of public education, must be appalled) and an overall ranking of 39.

Not a single state in the country scored an A. And even the states ranking highest have seen their share of malfeasance. The investigation website reports that New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Lorretta Weinberg laughed when asked about her state's top ranking, saying, "If we're number one, I feel bad for the rest of the states."

Big kudos to Gwyneth Doland, newly-minted executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, who assembled all the information for our state report. Her "story behind the score" is well worth checking out.

politics

Scaredy-Cat Politics

Alibi columnist and State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino penned an article for us last week on the fear-inducing campaigns of Republican presidential candidates. OyP calls it “conjured fear.”

Bill Maher seems to agree in his review of last night’s debate. He says the candidates yammer on about issues people don’t have time to worry about, such as immigration, abortion and how social services lead to tyranny.

President George W. Bush came up a lot during the debate as Mitt Romney tried to chip away at Rick Santorum’s popularity. Bush was also heavily criticized for fueling his campaigns with fear and hot-button social issues, such as same-sex marriage.

Primitive fright, writes Democrat Ortiz y Pino, is effective:

Only the dulling influence of repeated terror can explain why so many Americans consistently vote against their own economic interests.

Santorum might be experiencing a bit of nerves today as he’s questioned about one particular statement during the debates. He said that though No Child Left Behind didn’t align with his fiscal conservatism, he voted for it because sometimes you have to “take one for the team.”

politics

Check up on the Legislature from where you’re sitting right now

The 2012 legislative session convened today. You can peep in through these live webcasts offered by the Roundhouse.

Scope a livestream from the Occupy the Roundhouse protest.

Read along as Gwyneth Doland and Heath Haussamen live-blog the session.

Scan the bills that have been filed by state legislators.

Peruse Gov. Susana Martinez’ state of the state address.

politics

Trump is out

Trump’s heart will remain true to the private sector.
Trump’s heart will remain true to the private sector.

Though he’s pretty sure he would have won, Trump says he doesn’t want to run for president anymore.

Still, he promises to keep speaking his mind on policy matters—“loudly.”

The whole shebang:

"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.

I want to personally thank the millions of Americans who have joined the various Trump grassroots movements and written me letters and e-mails encouraging me to run. My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words. So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician's thoughts. My ability to bring important economic and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the national dialogue is perhaps my greatest asset and one of the most valuable services I can provide to this country. I will continue to push our President and the country's policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness. Issues, including getting tough on China and other countries that are methodically and systematically taking advantage of the United States, were seldom mentioned before I brought them to the forefront of the country's conversation. They are now being debated vigorously. I will also continue to push for job creation, an initiative that should be this country's top priority and something that I know a lot about. I will not shy away from expressing the opinions that so many of you share yet don't have a medium through which to articulate.

I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country's most important issues and am hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the Office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs."

Thank you and God Bless America!

Donald J. Trump

politics

Greg Payne's running for Council

Greg Payne told me yesterday via email that he's jumping into the Council race this year and going after Trudy Jones' District 8 seat. Both Jones and Payne are Republicans, though the race is ostensibly nonpartisan.

Payne is a former Alibi columnist and known for his controversial opinions. He won a Council spot in 1999. He went on to the Legislature and became transit director for the city under Mayor Martin Chavez.

Payne plans to use public financing for his 2011 run.

Joe Monahan's got the lowdown.

politics

Did the guv veto a lot of bills?

State senators are not happy about many of Gov. Susana Martinez’ vetoes. But were there a lot? Or was it just business as usual?

Out of a total 284 measures that passed both the House and the Senate, Martinez signed 186 into law and vetoed 98, according to the Legislative Council Service.

Some of those were “pocket vetoes,” which means the governor didn’t kill them directly. Instead, by not acting on them before Friday’s deadline, she procedurally vetoed them.

According to the Legislature’s records, the new guv did veto a large percentage of bills in 2011—when you compare her to Gov. Bill Richardson.

In 2003, Richardson vetoed 16.1 percent of passed legislation.

In 2005, Richardson vetoed 16 percent of passed legislation.

In 2007, Richardson vetoed 19.8 percent of passed legislation.

In 2009, Richardson vetoed 10.5 percent of passed legislation.

This year, Martinez vetoed 34.5 percent of passed legislation.

But this isn’t the first time New Mexico has seen a governor’s veto stamp hard at work. John Yaeger, assistant director of the Legislative Council Service, says during Republican Gov. Gary Johnson’s first term in 1995, he vetoed about half of the measures that came across his desk—roughly 200 of 400 bills.

Let’s look at Johnson’s numbers, the last Republican governor to helm the state atop a Democratic Legislature. (For all the years discussed in this blog, the Roundhouse has been run by Dems.)

In 1995, Johnson vetoed 47.2 percent of passed legislation.

In 1997, Johnson vetoed 27.6 percent of passed legislation.

In 1999, Johnson vetoed 33.4 percent of passed legislation.

In 2001, Johnson vetoed 27.1 percent of passed legislation.

politics

A racist joke from the Secretary of State’s Office?

Political action committee, the Justice League, got a packet from Secretary of State Dianna Duran about filing finance reports. It included a link to an Excel spreadsheet with a sample of how PACs should fill out their info.

That sample, says the Justice League, is racist.

The sample last name, Sheryl Powdrell-Culbertson, is a combination of Sheryl Williams Stapleton and Jane Powdrell-Culbert, two members of the state Legislature who are African American. The sample first name is Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederacy.

The sample PAC represented by Jefferson Davis Sheryl Powdrell-Culbertson is the National Organization of the Beer Drinkers and Guzzlers.

Rep. Powdrell-Culbert (R-Corrales) says it was racist. Secretary of State Duran called her up earlier today, the legislator says. “I think the person that did it, first of all, was very stupid to do something like that. I’m sure that she will take the appropriate step in addressing it.”

As an African-American state representative, “you end up having to deal with some stuff that you’d rather not deal with,” Powdrell-Culbert continues, “and you have to attribute it to the person’s ignorance.”

The Justice League is calling for the immediate resignation of Duran, but the legislator says that’s too much. “I respect her,” Powdrell-Culbert says of her fellow Republican. “She respects me, and we have a relationship. She will address it.”

Rep. Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque) was not available for comment. The Secretary of State’s Office has not yet issued a response.

politics

Did the guv misspend campaign funds?

Common Cause New Mexico said today that Gov. Susana Martinez may have violated the Campaign Reporting Act. She spent extra cash from her campaign war chest on radio ads advocating an end to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

The organization says the attorney general should investigate.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran says the rules were not broken, which left Common Cause’s executive director, Steve Allen, puzzled, according to a news release.

“Funding this kind of lobbying advertisement seems to be a clear violation of this statue,” he says.

Allen was also once an editor at the Alibi.

politics

Medical cannabis faces a challenge in the Roundhouse

Rep. James Smith (R-Sandia Park) has introduced a bill that would put an end to New Mexico's medical marijuana program.

Montana's considering a similar measure, because, as House Speaker Mike Milburn says, the state is "getting known for the wrong reasons."

Gov. Susana Martinez said during her campaign that she'd like to see the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act repealed. Smith's measure was introduced in Santa Fe on Thursday. Looks like the bill is heading to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary.

politics

The war on women’s health care

Rep. Mike Pence
Rep. Mike Pence

A vote in Congress this week will decide the fate of millions of dollars and people that usually go to Planned Parenthood.

The vote could even happen today.

Rep. Mike Pence has proposed a measure that would cut Title X funding from any organization that also provides abortions services. But that money is used for family planning, says Jenny Black, CEO of Planned Parenthood of New Mexico. The Title X program was created by President Nixon four decades ago and allows low-income women access to contraception, pap tests, testing for sexually transmitted infections (including AIDS) and breast exams. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of Title X services in the country, Black says.

“We are a point of entry for women into the health care system,” Black adds. “Women come in for the first time, for their first pap or first STI testing. They’re coming because they’re sexually active and responsibly taking care of themselves. They won’t have anywhere to turn.”

Pence’s bill was also amended to cut off any funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that flowed into Planned Parenthood for STI prevention and treatment.

Another amendment seeks to ax money for sexuality education in the country. But President Obama also is seeking funds for proven sex-ed programs after years of President Bush’s policy to only fund abstinence-based education.

The amendment that would hit New Mexico the hardest, says Black, would halt any federal dollars from making their way to a Planned Parenthood affiliate. That means Medicaid.

“We provide care for about 25,000 families in New Mexico,” Black says. “This is an attack on women’s health, but it’s also an attack on a family’s ability to control its own fertility.”

Nationwide, 3 million women seek health care from Planned Parenthood, and again, Black points out, that’s 3 million families. “It’s not just the women,” she says. “It’s the men in their lives, too.”

Zeroing out federal funding for Planned Parenthood severs a key component of America’s health care infrastructure, Black adds. And it’s economically unsound, she adds: For every dollar spent on preventive care, the country saves four bucks in later medical costs.

House Republicans also launched a separate measure that would completely defund Title X altogether, not just take Title X money from Planned Parenthood.

“When Congress is supposed to be focused on the economy and creating jobs,” Black says, “we’re seeing this highly politicized attack on women’s health care.”

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America calls this “the most dangerous legislative assault on women’s health” in the organization’s 95-year history. Through this link, people who want to weigh in on the issue can reach the office of their U.S. representative. Or you can call 202-730-9001.

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