According to news reports, however, the Gov. has rescinded that requirement. Employees will be required to return NEXT month at the start of February. This is another case of poor leadership from the Gov. COVID (and remote work) has been going on for nearly 3 years now. The Gov. and her team should have figured out who needs to be in the office 5 days a week and who doesn’t (and how to manage them effectively) by now.
Could some state buildings be shuttered and sold off? Should the locations of gov’t buildings be shifted to reduce commute times? How can we make sure remote employees are actually doing their work?
According to a new report from the Legislative Finance Committee the State of New Mexico is wasting $18 million a year on unused office space. The LFC report found telework and 21% of staff vacancies are accounting for unused offices.
Telework COULD be a cost-saving measure in some circumstances, but the State needs to produce coherent rules for government employees and whether those jobs are able to be done remotely or not. Sadly, the Lujan Grisham Administration has not managed to do this 2.5 years after COVID began and created the push for remote work. Watch the story here.
The Rio Grande Foundation will be in federal court this Wednesday arguing in favor of free speech against New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. You can see the court notice below and read up on the case itself here.
While elections come and go, the fight for liberty continues!
Local Albuquerque Company ProView Networks, helped Rio Grande Foundation team up with ProView StoryFile technology to allow the public to engage in a virtual environment with candidates and other public figures. The technology allows users to ask questions with the technology selecting the best match. ProView Networks produced the StoryFile conversation in Albuquerque.
The technology offers users the opportunity to sit down with a virtual version of the candidate and ask questions that are relevant to the office they are seeking, about the candidate’s background and their qualifications.
Several candidates were offered the chance to create a Proview “StoryFile” in the waning days of the campaign. Republican Attorney General candidate Jeremy Gay agreed to sit down and answer questions which highlighted everything from the role of the attorney general to his personal philosophy on
important issues in law enforcement and his own biography.
Said Paul Gessing, president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation: “The Rio Grande Foundation’s podcast Tipping Point New Mexico allows me to regularly sit down with some of New Mexico’s most important thought leaders, elected officials, and candidates to discuss the issues facing our State.
Proview/StoryFile is yet another tool that will allow the public an even more intimate way to hear from these people.”
ProView Networks, an Albuquerque, NM based company has partnered with StoryFile, based in Los Angeles, as a production partner. Through this state-of-the art interactive technology, ProView Networks is producing and telling the stories of not only political figures, but prominent people in athletics, entertainment and business as well as preserving historical and family legacies.
If you’re looking for the merits and demerits of the various candidates for governor and attorney general, there are plenty of other posts on this page or podcasts at TippingPointNM.com. We’re here to discuss the so-called “down-ballot” or lower-profile issues before voters this November. In person early voting at the county clerk’s office begins Tuesday, October 11 while early voting sites open on Saturday, October 22nd.
JUDGES: without putting too fine a point on it, New Mexico’s judiciary is in need of a massive overhaul. It is one of the primary bodies responsible for the States horrendous crime problems. Currently, New Mexico’s Supreme Court is 100% Democrat with 4 of the 5 having been nominated by Gov. Lujan Grisham (only Michael Vigil who was elected in 2018 and faces retention this election was NOT appointed by MLG).
There are numerous other Metro Court and other positions, most of which are unopposed, but there are retention elections and those are VERY IMPORTANT. In New Mexico a judge must must receive at least 57% of the vote. So, it IS possible for voters outraged by deteriorating public safety conditions to push back against the judiciary in hopes of getting better judges on the bench.
In terms of constitutional amendments Amendment 1 would tap into New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to create a host of early childhood programs, but most significantly universal pre-K. RGF has written extensively on the serious problems with this proposal here and here (for starters).
Amendment 3 would require that an appointed judge shall be up for election at the first general election one year after being appointed. At the election, the winning candidate would serve the remainder of the term in effect. This one is not an issue.
Bernalillo County voters are being asked to amend the County charter. After some difficulty finding out exactly what changes would be made we reached out to the County. You can read for yourself here what it would do (this information is not on the actual ballot). We have no problem with the amendment.
As a general rule we recommend voting against ALL bonds, not because all of them are bad or wasteful, but because local voters have a tendency to blindly vote YES on nearly all bonds. Bonds are simply government debt which must be paid off by your property tax dollars. Broadly speaking voters should be more careful about these, but bonds are almost never voted down at least in the Albuquerque metro area (this may not be the case in other areas of the State, so vote accordingly).
The Rio Grande Foundation has been tracking per-pupil spending at Albuquerque Public Schools for several years. We use the simple mathematical technique of dividing the total annual budget by the number of students in the district, a number which has declined dramatically in recent years.
KOAT Channel 7 recently did an excellent story about the propensity of cities throughout New Mexico to make big payouts to citizens who have been denied access to basic public records. The Rio Grande Foundation has won multiple lawsuits including one against the City of Albuquerque but we are not alone. The City of Albuquerque’s taxpayers have paid out more than $330,000 over the Keller Administration’s repeated denial of public records.
The Rio Grande Foundation uses its “Freedom Index” vote tracking site to hold New Mexico legislators accountable for their stances on individual freedom and personal liberty. We have rated all bills that impact individual freedom that received floor votes for the 2022 session and thus the current Index results are “final.”
Sen. Craig Brandt (R) who represents Rio Rancho scored 33 which was the highest rating for any senator (the Senate and House vote on different bills and the House typically takes more votes and thus has higher and lower scores).
(Albuquerque, NM) – The Rio Grande Foundation has filed a complaint with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas under New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) alleging that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has failed to disclose records relating to the governor’s attendance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
In their official capacity, Governor Lujan Grisham and members of her administration attended the conference as representatives of New Mexico. The expenses incurred for travel, food, and lodging are subject to inspection by the public, whether the expenses were paid for with taxpayer funds or otherwise. If special interests funded this excursion, the public has a right to know.
The Foundation submitted a request for records on November 1, 2021 asking for all documents related to these costs. On November 16, 2021, the request was improperly denied. The request to inspect records was expanded and a revised request was submitted on November 18, 2021 and was wrongfully denied on November 23, 2021.
According to the Inspection of Public Records Act, “public records” means all documents, papers, letters, books, maps, tapes, photographs, recordings and other materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that are used, created, received, maintained or held by or on behalf of any public body and relate to public business, whether or not the records are required by law to be created or maintained.
Patrick Brenner, Vice President of the Rio Grande Foundation, said “We requested all receipts and documents associated with the administration’s attendance at this international conference. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has acknowledged that her attendance was in her official capacity as a representative of New Mexico. As such, the records related to transportation are subject to inspection, especially if they were paid for by a special interest or foreign entity. No disclosure of any in-kind contribution can be found in the latest campaign finance report. The administration’s continued devotion to anti-transparency is deeply disturbing and undermines the public trust.”
The Foundation maintains that the Office of the Governor has improperly and wrongly withheld documents that ought to have been made available for inspection by the public. We look forward to a swift response from the Attorney General.
The following opinion piece appeared in the Las Cruces Sun News on Sunday, October 24, 2021.
Kurt Steinhaus has been on the job for just a month or so, but he has already put forth policies and ideas regarding New Mexico’s education system that leave us scratching our heads.
We all want our children to do better in school so that they are prepared to be productive workers and informed citizens. That is not an easy task and it is made even more difficult by the pandemic and the government’s reaction to it.
The first question is why PED has chosen not to release standardized testing data that it has from March of 2020 prior to the pandemic. Yes, only 10% of students took the test, but there is still useful information to be gleaned from the 10% that took it. That’s especially true since there will be no data available at all for 2021. We know New Mexico students began the pandemic behind their peers in other states, but New Mexico families and our education leaders deserve to have at least some insights into where things stood right before the pandemic.
More bizarre are comments Steinhaus made in early October at a Legislative Education Study Committee. When asked what New Mexico would need to do to “make New Mexico teacher salaries competitive” he claimed the state would “have to double teacher salaries.”
That is quite simply false. According to the latest data from the National Education Association, New Mexico’s average teacher pay is $54,256 annually (ranked 32nd in the nation). The highest paid teachers on average are found in New York where they make $87,069. Doubling New Mexico teacher salaries would not “make them competitive.” It would make them by far the highest paid in the nation (at nearly $110,000) in a state that has much lower taxes and living costs than does New York and others with high salaries.
Setting aside whether increasing teacher pay is warranted or effective at increasing student performance, there is simply no data backing up the idea that New Mexico should double teacher pay. Perhaps Steinhaus is not familiar with what New Mexico teachers make or past efforts to recruit and offer enhanced pay to high performing teachers.
And then there are the state’s revised social studies standards which clearly were “in progress” during (prior Secretary) Ryan Stewart’s time at PED but were recently released under Steinhaus. Whether you can call the new, much more prescriptive standards “critical race theory” or not is open to question, but there are concerning elements to be found in the new standards.
Throughout the new curriculum there is a focus not simply on geography, human development and historical facts and events and their relevance for us today. If adopted, the curriculum will intently focus on differences, rather than the similarities among various racial and ethnic groups. Talk of inequity (unequal outcome for different groups) will replace equality under the law. The general trend in the new standards is away from presenting the facts and asking students to come to their own conclusions to instead hammering approved beliefs on everything from gun control and “destruction and occupation” of the Americas by the Spaniards into students.
Secretary Steinhaus does not have an easy job and we understand that. But, our schools need a focused, data-driven approach to improve student outcomes. If paying teachers more will improve outcomes, let’s see the data. And rather than teaching watered-down CRT, let’s focus on teaching basic historical events and not spinning them to make America look like a hive of inequality and injustice.
Paul J. Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.