An emergency motion to block the city from using what was referred to as an “illegal ballot” was filed last week by advocates for a mandatory sick leave law. The motion was made in response to the City Council's decision during a July 10 meeting to print the full text of the Healthy Workforce Ordinance (HWO) on the official ballot. To fit the full text on the ballot, it will have to be printed in approximately 7-point print size, which proponents of the law say is illegal due to a stipulation in the federal voting systems guidelines of the state's Election Code requiring election ballots to be printed at a minimum of 8.5-point font or larger. The emergency motion was filed in Second Judicial District Court to instruct the City Clerk to place a legible summary on the ballot and provide a large-text copy of the full ordinance in each voting booth. Community groups are alleging that city councilors and government are attempting to defeat the law by purposefully obscuring the text. The Healthy Workforce Ordinance is a citizen initiative that would require all businesses physically in Albuquerque to provide paid sick time off for full-time, part-time and temporary workers. The City Council also voted to include an advisory question on the ballot that appears to advocate against the HWO. The emergency motion also requested that this question be removed. The initiative goes to vote October 3.
Some High Schools Still Struggling with PARCC
According to data released last week, despite a slight rise in overall test scores, many of New Mexico's high school students still performed poorly on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. A report released by the Public Education Department highlighted the positive strides made by the state's high schools. The results showed that since last year, proficiency in English language arts increased 0.9 percentage points, and proficiency in math dropped 0.2 percentage points. But an analysis of the data performed by the Associated Press found that a majority of high school students in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe combined didn't score proficient or better in math and reading. PARCC is a controversial exam that was designed to find if students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards. Altogether, in 2017 New Mexico scored 28.6 percent proficiency in English language arts and 19.7 percent in math.
Judge Orders APD to Pay For Document Delay
Last week, a Second Judicial District Court judge ruled that the Albuquerque Police Department has to pay an independent journalist and his lawyer $20,531 in fines and legal fees for violating provisions of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act which requires public officials and employees to respond to an information request in a timely manner. The complaint was filed by Charles Arasim, who requested files in October of 2016 from the city’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency involving an officer shooting. Court documents say it took APD over seven months to give Arasim some, but not all of the files he had requested. The district court judge presiding over the case ruled that the records should have been turned over within 90 days of the request and fined the city $100 for each day it violated the IPRA law and awarded Arasim's attorney, Thomas Grover, $7,955 in legal fees.