Sunday, April 28, 2013

Has Governor Martinez been a do nothing governor?

No! She has been far from a do nothing governor. Our governor has done many things to harm our state. 
Our governor started out by opposing job creation by cutting the tax credit to the film industry. She opposed our spaceport. She opposed our commuter train. A well-supported commuter train could promote small businesses growth around the local stops. Rather than spending time promoting our state as a place to do business and visit, she went out on the campaign trail to increase her own job profile. Less time supporting the GOP and more time supporting local employers would keep New Mexican workers employed. How about a real all of the above approach to energy production, where is the governor’s support for green energy jobs?  Where is the governor’s support of our National Labs?

The governor’s appointee for Secretary of Education has been busy selling our educational system to private for profit corporations, which drains taxpayer’s dollars for our school systems.  Why is the appointee not promoting parent interaction through programs directed at education? She could encourage parents to work with the schools to get children to eat healthy and exercise.
The governor could have promoted bicycle trails to and from local schools. She could have encouraged employers to give employees paid time to exercise during working hours. She could have encouraged local farmers to provide healthy foods to school systems through tax breaks. No, she was far too busy selling off our school systems to Corporate America.
Governor Martinez is opposed to illegal aliens getting driver licenses. As a former district attorney, she should have found ways to speed up getting people the correct paperwork so that they could legally work in our country. Working with Mexico on this, guns, the drug issues could have promoted more jobs and international trade all at the same time. We do not have to support illegal immigration to fix the problem. We could have fixed the problem by designing a different license that would have solved the problem long ago and meet federal standards at the same time.

Governor Martinez failed the residents of the City of Albuquerque by cutting backroom deals for our fairgrounds. She supported the hiring of a disgraced law enforcement individual to run a building project where he has no skills.
Governor Martinez promoted and signed into law tax cuts for corporation, while forcing local cities and towns to increase taxes on working New Mexicans to pay for that tax cut.  

Governor Martinez is no friend to the women in this state. She should be replaced with a candidate who puts working New Mexican families first and foremost above any party.  Governor Martinez has done a lot in the last few years and none of it has been beneficial to working middle class New Mexicans.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What is the Plan? Mayor Berry

Mayor R. J. Berry has no idea on how to attract business to our lovely city. He knows how to watch as they leave. He knows how to ask everyone else to come up with ideas. He failed to know which would produce results. So Mayor Berry here are just a few good ideas. With any luck a democrat like Pete or Margaret will be able to put them into action during their term in office.

Cover the irrigation ditches in the South Valley with solar panels. It will provide clean energy and slow the loss of water. Get the farmers involved so that they can say that they are working hard to protect their natural resources.

Build an artificial lake near but Not in the Bosque, surround it with a board walk, add restaurants and shops. Call it something cool and promote it! All you need is a piece of land and a developer. You are in business and you can use any revenues created by the project to help protect the Bosque. Provide tour buses to the green spaces near the river and promote bird watching. Extend the little train between the Zoo and the Bio Park so that it takes people to the Hispanic Cultural Center, the airport and the boardwalk town square. Create a website that tells the world what a great place Albuquerque is to visit. Include a list of place to see, restaurants and shop to visit, and things to do in our great city. Add a map that directs people to all the great things to do in our city.

Create a weeklong event every year and promote it loudly between business owners in the city and engineers at Sandia National Labs. Hold it at the convention center in the city. Encourage business owners to talk with engineers on how to improve their businesses both with new technology and with improving their old technology. Promote Albuquerque as a world class environment for growing your business because we have the national labs at our fingertips for any business needs they might have in the future. No other city in the country can offer the intelligent or the educational skills of our national labs.

Promote cultural events all summer long. Encourage schools to plan things like music and drama in the parks. This could make our parks a lot safer since the homeless would be driven away by all the crowds. Ask local interest groups and promote events like sword fighting from the Society of Creative Anachronism, miniature war reenactments from the Civil War reenactment groups and/or Native dancing from the pueblos. Provide vender space so that shops can sell food and their goods at these events. You could even do it at the balloon park as well. Promote! Promote! Promote!

R.J. Berry has no ideas on how to run or promote a city the size of Albuquerque. Let’s find a person who will encourage business and bring back the jobs! A mayor may not create jobs but he or she can create an environment where business develops and thrives even in difficult economic times. Berry does nothing but blames others for his failures as a mayor.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Educational Administrators--Let Me Count the Ways

Let me count the ways that school administrators only advocate for themselves, their supervisors and NOT teachers, staff or students.

One, they advocate for lump sum salary increases so that they may chose where to allocate the raises. Want to bet who gets the most benefit from that form of increases in pay. Administrators pay lobbyists large sums of money to keep the process set in stone. Legislators are bought and paid for by administrators who could careless about teachers, staff, or students.

Two, administrators drag out the contract process with unions so that pay increase can be held back. The money that would go to educators pay is redirected to administrative salaries. Let’s get this straight 1% of $25,000 is $250 while 1% of $250,000 is $2,500 which is not the same.

Three, the only reason most administrators get excited about pension plans is because as top salaries earners with six figure salaries they stand to loss the most. Some get the school to pay both halves of the required contribution so that they pay nothing. They call that a deferred salary benefit. Teachers and staff never get those types of benefits.

Four, most teachers and staff are part-time employees by design of administrators so that they don’t get benefits. In some schools this can and does reach above 70% of the teaching staff. This is not good for students since it encourages higher turnover in the teacher and staff.

Five, administrators never name a building after a teacher or staff member but only their rich friends and themselves. God forbid that they should ever name a build after a high achieving student.

Six, staff and teachers buy supplies for low income students out of their own pockets. How many administrators have every paid for school supplies even thought they get much more in salaries.

Seven, administrators cut staff and teachers long before they cut administrators when the budget gets tight. Administrators will allow six figure salaried vice presidents to retire just to return to work as consultants at outrages sums of money.

Eight, administrators work top down and could careless about employee input into hiring, evaluations, health and safety, and approach to teaching styles or even testing. Why put someone on the hiring committee that actual dose the job everyday?

Nine, administrators short staff positions to keep the budget down but only with staff and teachers. Clearly administrators and supervisors have more to do since some of them spend a lot of time sexually harassing their lower level employees for years while human resources backs them up. Yet, if a teacher should loss his temper for just a few minutes than that person is fired on the spot.

Yes, we all understand just how important it is for administrators, supervisors, teachers, staff, and students to work together to better improve the educational system. Some, no most would call that a delusion or a fantasy perpetrated by legislators and school administrators,

Senate Bill 115, as passed (Educational Employee’s Pension Plan)

This ERB bill, as twice amended, takes this approach to long-term sustainability: changes for current retirees; changes for current members; and changes for new members. These changes will get ERB to 100.7% funded in 2043, whereas no other pension plan in this state is required to meet those same levels of funding in such a short time period.

The bill, as amended:

Raises contribution rate for all employees with salary of $20,000 and above:

- FY 2014 Employee Contribution Rate - 10.1% (School administrators are having the 10.1% they are required to pay covered out of lump sum individual school employee salaries funding as a deferred salary benefit. These administrators pay nothing into the pension plan out of their current salaries.)

- FY 2015 Employee Contribution Rate - 10.7% (How would you like to be forced to pay this much of your annual income into a retirement fund?)

- Employees with annual salary below $20,000 stay at 7.9%

For new employees hired on or after July 1, 2013: (Part-time employees, whom levels can reach as high as 70% + are still forced to pay into the pension plan.)

- Soft Minimum Retirement Age of 55; actuarial reduction if member retires with 30 years and is younger than age 55.

- COLA begins at age 67, rather than age 65

For current retirees:

Immediately reduces the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all retirees until the plan is 100% funded. The COLA reduction is based on the median retirement benefit ($18,000) of all retirees excluding disability retirements.

Retirees with benefits at or below the median AND with 25 or more years' service, will have a 10% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.8%. All other retirees will have a 20% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.6%. (Please note that the cost of food, gas, utilities, and housing has not and will not be reduced in the coming years for these retirees who are living on fixed incomes.)

These reductions will stay in place until ERB is 90% funded. Once there, the COLA reductions will decrease. The retirees with benefits at or below the median AND with 25 or more years' service, will have a 5% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.9%. All other retirees will have a 10% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.8%. (No action was taken to prevent payouts to lawyers for fund managers who were sued for mismanaging the pension fund in the first place. It is highly likely that future managers will also mismanage the fund thereby preventing it for every reaching a 90% funding rate.)

Once ERB is 100% funded, the COLA reductions will cease and the average COLA for all ERB retirees will be 2%. This bill is consistent with ERB’s funding policy to ensure ERB's long-term sustainability.

Is it any wonder why State Representatives like Mimi Stewart were so offend by this bill. Yet, the majority of Legislators and School Administrators supported and even voted for this bill.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis and Governor Martinez

During the homily this morning, Pope Francis told a crowd of up to 200,000 gathered in front of the Vatican: “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” The Pope also said, “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness.”

Of course this plea falls on deaf ears when it comes to Governor Susana Martinez. If anything the governor rewards the rich while taking more from the poor in this state. With the signing of the budget this year the governor will cut taxes to corporations in this state while cutting pensions for retired educators who live on fixed incomes. The governor will underfund education and roads in order to fund cuts to corporate taxes. The business community is very happy with the legislature and the governor this year. They say it is the best year they have ever seen, which translates to the worst year the voting public has ever seen.

The item that failed this year was an increase in minimum wage that would have increased income for the working poor. This is something that the governor opposed from the start. So much for caring for or protecting the poor in this state, perhaps the Pope can success where Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan has failed when it comes to convincing the governor that she has a duty to New Mexicans who are not rich.

The governor has failed from the very state to protect the poor and minorities. She has attacked immigrants and women. She brought in an educational administrator who has not spent time in the classroom teaching during her career. She made dirty deals with people who promote gambling and horse racing. She replaced sunshine with darkness when it came to state government contracts. She purchases an expensive coffee pot when the funding could have been better spent to help the poor and people with disabilities.

Clearly the Pope has a lot of work to do when it comes to turning Governor Martinez from the dark into the light. I have no problem believing that her mother had a hand in guiding her toward Pope Francis today.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

PRC—Does Education Equal Ethics

Last evening I was talking to a friend of mine who is a republican. I suggested that all lawmakers should be lawyers and they should have a minimum required years of experience in the field. Since they would than be experts in their field and they would know the ins and outs of how to create laws. He pointed out that this would result in a conflict of interest since they worked in the field that they would be required to regulate. I have to agree with him on this topic.
Educations and experience does not always ensure ethical behaviors. Just because someone has, a higher degree does not ensure that those individuals would write regulations that protect the voting public. As my dear departed mother use to say,” You do not put the fox in charge of watching the hen house.”  

At present, there is a bill in the state senate that would raise the requirements for anyone running for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). It would allow only people with a four-year degree and years of experience to run for those seats. Now I am not saying that all individuals who have worked in the field of energy would create regulations that would harm the voting public in order to enrich the power companies. What I am saying is that this bill as it is currently written opens the door to a possible conflict of interest. It limits the field of candidates to only those highly educated individuals who most likely will have worked in the industry for many years.  
I can see the power companies sending their own executives to run for seats on the PRC in the future, without having anyone to run against them, in order to raise our utility rates. Since there is no restriction on how long a person who serves on that commission must wait, they could return at the end of their term to be reward by the power companies with a very nice job for favorable regulations.    

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How do We Create Common Ground and More Jobs in New Mexico?

Common ground is when people have shared experiences that enable them to understand and appreciate each other. You do not have to agree to find common ground with your friends. Common ground is created through shared experiences and time spent together learning more about each other. It helps to be able to have long conversations with people no matter what they believe.  For lawmakers to find common ground they must first see each other as real people and not demons. 

I have lots of republican friends that I don’t agree with on some issues. It helps to listen to their views and learn why they feel the way they do on hot button issues. I want to know if there is a starting point where we agree on any part of an issue.  It does not require me to completely agree with them but just to get some idea of where they are coming from and what they think the liberal stand is on those issues. Misunderstandings and miscommunication between the two groups is very common.

Take for instance job creation, everyone wants to create more jobs in this state. Republicans want to create private sector jobs and democrats want to keep more federal jobs. I don’t believe that cutting corporate taxes will help to create jobs because corporations already have record breaking profits yet they do not use them to create more jobs. To me more money for corporations does not equal more jobs.

I want to know why we should give them more money when they will not spend the money they already have in the bank. We give money to the poor because we are sure that they will turn around and spend it on much needed items which in turn does create more jobs. It makes no since to give money to people who will not spend it.  How do we get corporations in this state to create more jobs? What will get them to spend their profits on hiring new employees rather  than depositing it in an off shore bank account?

We all know that corporations go outside the country to produce products because the labor cost are lower and the environmental regulations are far fewer. Reducing labor cost would only destroy the middle class in this country. Fewer environmental regulations would only destroy our environment and make our children sick.

The answer is not lower wages or fewer regulations. The answer is to make it cost more for corporations to do business in other country or to retrain our workforce to produce items not produced in other countries because of a lack of skills or knowledge. The first would cause a rise in the cost of products to American Customers. The second would cost the government in both research and development and in retraining of the American workforce.

When it comes to salaries we know that the lower the wages the more government social programs are required to make up for basic needs of employees. If businesses will not provide health insurance for their employees or pay them a wage where they can turn to the private market to purchase it than government must provide it. Yet, corporations complain that government is not good as spending their tax dollars on this because of all the waste. Corporations create their own taxes by failing to provide the means in the first place for people to have health insurance.

We know the results of all the methods we have tried in the past to create jobs. We know what has failed and succeeded. We need new approaches to old problems. We need people who can come up with different answers to old problems. What we do not need is more of the same.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Restraining Orders and the Legal System

We have all seen the news lately about former congressional candidate Janice A. Jones. She is being stalked by a republican rival. The man most likely is mentally disturbed. He was arrested for cutting the tires on Jones’ car and that of her husband. The police arrested Mr. Smith because the Jones could afford to put up cameras to prove it was Mr. Smith who was damaging their property. Even after Mr. Smith was released on bail the Jones contend that he returned to their home in violation of the terms of his release. The police are filing yet another arrest warrant today in the hopes of put him back in jail.

Most of the voting public is not so lucky as to have the support of the police and the mayor when it comes to stalking cases. The police refuse to enforce civil restraining orders. A victim must use their own funds to force any legal issues because the police are unwilling to file arrest warrants. The police often inform the victim that until the stalker harms them nothing will be done. Without money for cameras it is often difficult if not impossible to prove that you are being stalked by a mentally ill individual. They are not likely to admit their crimes. We have seen cases right here in Albuquerque that have led to the death of the stalking victims. Victims are often stalked for years.

Clearly Mrs. Jones high profile image has helped her in forcing the police into action. Funny that she wrote the laws in this state along with the rest of state legislators in Santa Fe. They recently change those laws limiting the number of people who could get help from domestic violence laws. Judges who are not trained in the problems of people are now being forced to handout advice and restraining orders to victims of stalking and harassment. Most judges will tell victims to not even ask for a restraining order since it will not even slow the person down who is stalking you. In many cases it will only give a stalker more information about where you live and work.

After this last year we can only hope that this legislative session starting later this month in Santa Fe will force lawmakers into finding ways to get the mentally ill treatment. Maybe they could also look at strengthen stalking laws and restraining orders since they are basically useless in this state. Maybe we should ask lawmakers just who has to die before those issues are dealt with in this state.