Yet, missing from this conversation is accountability for the state’s topmost administrators – those in the Public Education Department.
Simple questions: Who is ensuring that the PED audits are fair and objective? The Governor? Somehow that’s not reassuring.
So, to the real question: does Secretary Designate Skandera and Governor Martinez’s political agenda truly align with the interests of the children being served by our public schools?
This is another example of selective accountability that is suggestive of a developing pattern.
Those of you who followed the recent legislative session can attest that this pattern of selective accountability is nothing new. Call it convenience or self-selection – Governor Martinez is quick to tout accountability — so long as she is exempted.
Already, during her brief tenure in office, the Governor been presented with numerous opportunities to embrace greater accountability as applied to the conduct of her administration.
In the “Baby, It Hurts So Good Department”, tough economic times couldn’t be working out better for Big Oil. Despite all those regulatory fetters, today Exxon Mobil reported a first quarter profit jump of 69%.
In view of the pain that motorists are feeling at the gas pump, along with the alleged focus of some in Congress to attacking the deficit, one would think Speaker John Boehner and GOP budget master Paul Ryan would be on the same page. But apparently, someone didn’t get the memo:
You know that fun (OK, somewhat corny) icebreaker game people play, usually at work conferences or meetings? It’s called “Two Truths and a Lie.” Everyone in the group is instructed to come up with three stories about themselves, one of which is completely fabricated.
The object of the game is for the remaining members of the group to call out the falsehood. In the process of playing this game – theoretically – people have a little fun, they relax a bit and they learn a bit more about each other.
It’s now time to plan Two Truths and a Lie, Clearly New Mexico style.
Here’s how it works. We’ll give you three news items and then you guess (to yourself, or in the comment section if you’d like) which of the three news items is based on a lie.
For those of you that have been tracking the federal budget debate, The New Republic blog has an interesting post that examines this largely overlooked component of the Ryan Budget.
Jonathan Cohn writes,
So just to sum up: Raising the age at which Americans become eligible for Medicare, or whatever program Republicans put in its place, would make health insurance more expensive for businesses, workers, and their employees, all while leaving one-fifth of future 65- and 66-year-olds with too little insurance or none at all. And oh, by the way, this is all part of a Republican budget that enacts huge tax breaks for the wealthy. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get grumpy about that.
Perhaps we should start calling this the “Oh By The Way Budget.”
by Terry Schleder, NM Alliance for Retired Americans
Ever wonder why the Tea Party cries crocodile tears over the national debt while campaigning against the actual saving of money? Perhaps it’s because the distraction has worked.
Progressive social programs that made the American Middle Class happen – Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid – are officially up for grabs, having been scapegoated since the 80’s (openly), and maybe earlier. (Disclaimer: I get nauseous when I research it any further back than my entire voting life.)
Tax Day came and went this year, but its theatrical backdrop of a budget “discussion” in DC rings hollow across the US in state capitols where middle class public employees are finally refusing to play the scapegoat. This pushback against the uber-rich puppeteers of the past four decades rocks, but is it enough to save our community programs?
In this particular time of crises, when States are feeling the abandonment of federal responsibility like a downhill-rolling M1 Abrams tank, is it also possible for Progressives to envision and protect a caring, strong government that enables us to keep our promises to a healthy middle class?
Some folks think so, so they’re hoping we all show up for the National Day of Action to save our community programs.
And instead of encountering 30 rag-tag Raging Grannies and Retiree activists from our beleaguered public worker unions, the ABQ Tea Party this year faced hundreds who came out to protest corporate welfare.
Terry is NM Field Staff for the NM Alliance for Retired Americans. He’s worked in public health policy, research and advocacy for too long in NM and a couple big cities. He holds an MPH degree from UNM but thinks his working class background taught him stuff, too.
But from Hayward’s blog, you’d think this happened by itself!
The chief causes of this decline are technology—cost-effective “scrubbers” to remove sulfur dioxide from the waste stream—and resource substitution: we started using much more low-sulfur coal from the western United States.
No mention of the Clean Air Act’s acid rain program – the limits on sulfur dioxide emissions established in the 1990 Clean Air Act. Without the Clean Air Act’s pollution limits, this scrubber technology and switch to lower-sulfur coal would never have happened. Why install pollution controls or use cleaner fuels if you can dump all your pollution in the atmosphere for free?
Sounds like the corporate hacks at AEI are more adept at scrubbing history than scrubbing emissions. Wouldn’t want to let actual facts get in the way of the prime narrative denying government’s necessary role in protecting public health and enforcing the rules of the road for free market capitalism in all its majesty.
It’s about “promoting the general welfare” for those of us with a constitutional bent.
All of which reminds us of a light bulb joke, free market fundamentalist edition.
Question: “How many free market economists does it take to change a light bulb?”
Answer: “None. They wait for the invisible hand to do it.”
And in related news, check out today’s excellent post on DFNM:
Today Politico came out with an interesting story on the controversy roiling around NM Congressman Steve Pearce’s failed attempt earlier this month to obtain an earmark that would have benefited some Texas-based land developers who happen to be his campaign contributors. Earmarks are supposed to be verboten under the new House rules. However, Pearce contended it wasn’t an earmark. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with a majority of the House, disagreed.
In the case of Medicare, the plan ultimately would shift increased costs to seniors, who would see their premiums go up, leaving them on their own to negotiate with health insurance companies. And as for Medicaid, the states would end up on the hook, and be unlikely to cover, the big federal cuts.
It’s important to note that the Pearce-backed Medicare and Medicaid reductions will be needed to help pay for more tax benefits for the rich. The plan calls for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and then reducing the rate for the top tax bracket even further.
So, if this budget plan ever does become law, perhaps the folks at Verde Realty will come out okay in the end.
There are a couple of telling charts we’d like to share with you today. First, check out this one from a Derek Thompson piece in the Atlantic (1/11/11) on the history of U.S. tax rates. We could write several paragraphs talking you through the flattening of the federal income tax rate over the past thirty years. That would likely lead to one of two outcomes. You’d leave this site, or you’d fall asleep.
Instead, just let Thompson’s simple visual tell the story and then draw your own conclusions. The conclusion we drew is the same one that 72% of those polled by the Washington Post and ABC news last week. Namely, the rich in America need to start paying their fair share.
Asking the rich to pay their fair share is a necessary part of what should be a balanced approach to our budgetary woes in Washington, D.C., and here in our home state of New Mexico.
Given her fondness for reciting poll numbers to the press, we wonder if Governor Martinez will pay attention to the results of this poll.
The Clearly New Mexico blog will undergo some changes over the next several weeks.
We anticipate that the look and feel of the blog will remain the same, as will our ongoing commitment to maintaining this site as a forum to raise issues, stimulate debate and provide thoughtful analysis on the issues impacting our lives.
We do, however, anticipate bringing some new voices to the conversation. In the meantime, we look forward to generating daily content about the economy, jobs and state and federal budget debates. We also look forward to holding public officials accountable for their publicly stated positions on key issues facing New Mexicans. So, stick around, and as always, please share your thoughts through the comment section.
Outrage over the Public Service of New Mexico’s plan to raise rates on New Mexico customers while paying its top executives millions has prompted one local group to form a “Shame Campaign” against PNM.
Prosperity Works, a nonprofit that works to bring energy efficiency and economic stability to New Mexico families, recently launched the campaign after the Albuquerque Journal reported that PNM’s new top executive, CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn received a $1.22 million bonus in addition to her $550k salary, for a total compensation of $1.7 million.
The company’s other top four officers received bonuses ranging from $166,466 to $525,466, and the chairman of PNM’s board was paid $1.2 million, for a total of about $ 5 million in bonuses.
This news comes approximately one month before PNM’s hearing before the Public Regulation Commission regarding its request to raise New Mexico’s rates by $85 million, as well as charge an additional $20 million in fees and riders.