Fix for hobbled public financing system on Albuquerque ballot

Boxes of signed democracy dollar petitions were delivered to the Albuquerque City Clerk in early August 2017. Albuquerque’s beleaguered public financing program could become more attractive to people running for mayor or city council if a proposition before voters in next week’s election is successful. 

The changes would boost the amount of money going to mayoral candidates whose campaigns qualify for public money. Plus, Albuquerque residents would be allowed to direct additional money to mayoral and city council candidates of their choice, in $25 increments. 

The proposal is being heatedly debated in the final days before the election. Detractors say the program will cost Albuquerque a lot and favor incumbents or other candidates backed by organized groups with resources to help them.  Proponents say public financing, including this effort to strengthen Albuquerque’s system, would help diminish the influence of money on politics, and encourage more people to run for office.  

Problem in search of a solution

The proposal would update Albuquerque’s original  public financing program for mayoral and city council candidates created in 2005 with high hopes of decreasing the influence of private money in elections. The current system requires candidates to demonstrate they have some measure of community support before receiving public money, through gathering qualifying contributions and signatures from a certain percentage of voters.

Move to open primaries represents growing number of unaffiliated voters

Christa Frederickson just after she voted in the 2016 primary election. Christa Fredrickson is a registered Democrat in Doña Ana County, but says that’s only because she needed to be a Democrat in order to vote in a primary election a few years ago. She has more than once changed her party affiliation to vote in a particular  primary election, because she thinks they’re important. But she doesn’t consider herself a Democrat or a Republican, or a Libertarian for that matter. Those are the major parties in New Mexico, currently.

Lawmakers aim to make voter registration automatic, more convenient

A group of legislators want to ensure more New Mexicans can vote by making registration easier. They’re proposing automatic voter registration when a person gets a driver’s license and they also want to allow registration right at the polls. Eligible voters already can register or update their registration when applying for or renewing a driver’s license or identification at the Motor Vehicle Division. House Bill 84 would make that process automatic, with an opt-out option for those who don’t want to register. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, and Democratic representatives from Albuquerque and Corrales — Daymon Ely, Debra Sariñana, Patricia Roybal Caballero and Joy Garratt.

21st Century student success hinges on internet access

Gone are the days of chalkboards – and even whiteboards – in schools. The Las Cruces Public Schools district has slowly transitioned into using more technology, such as Promethean boards — fully digital smart screens that can connect to a computer to be used as a projector or writing board. And class textbooks and curriculum in many cases are fully online. That means students need access to the internet and a computer to do schoolwork, which is a challenge for many in Las Cruces. Twenty-two percent of LCPS students don’t have an internet subscription, meaning no data plans, broadband or any other type of service, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

When money buys the message, it pays to know who’s spending

During an election year, the public — including University of New Mexico students —  is bombarded with political advertising, online, television radio, in the mail, or over the phone.  

The messages are easy to understand: stay away from — or vote for — this person. Less easy is tracking contributions for advertising, because in the current system donors are able to obscure their identities through so-called “dark money.”

This article was published by both New Mexico In Depth and the Daily Lobo at the University of New Mexico. Anthony Jackson is a Fellow for NM in Depth and a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted on Twitter: @TonyAnjacksonDark money is untraceable contributions that can come from unions, corporations, nonprofits or any group registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(4) and also 501(c)(6) to make it more complex. Donations from these groups can go directly to candidates or to political groups.

New institute aims to strengthen Native influence

A newly formed institute hopes that by synthesizing indigenous wisdom with hard-won knowledge of how American institutions work it can become a powerful advocate and resource for New Mexico’s Native American population. The Native American Budget and Policy Institute, formed in late February at the Tamaya resort on the Santa Ana Pueblo, aims to create a dynamic dialogue drawing from both traditions. Using a network of academics, policy makers and tribal elders, the Institute wants to strengthen the influence of Native Americans in policy making at the local, state and potentially federal levels. The goal is to “create the kind of balance” that allows native peoples to “become architects of policy, the architects of laws where they are necessary” — all toward improving the lives of Native American children and their communities, said Regis Pecos, a former governor of Cochiti Pueblo and one of the Institute’s founders. The Institute’s 11-member governing council seems to embody that vision.

Language preservation focus of 2018 American Indian Day

Slideshow by Anthony Jackson
Native Americans from across the state gathered at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Friday to celebrate their cultures and languages during American Indian Day. New Mexico has 23 federally recognized tribes and there are 25 dialects of eight indegenous languages spoken in the state. Native Americans make up 10 percent of the state’s population. The governor of Santa Clara Pueblo, J. Michael Chavarria, opened the day with prayer and a few special guests — children from Zuni Pueblo and their teacher — drove over 200 miles to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in both English and Zuni. The Head Start program the children participate in has a language immersion program where the they can learn Zuni, their Native language.

Efforts look to support children and teen sexual assault survivors



The trauma Abrianna Morales, 16, experienced from sexual assault last year was compounded by isolation she felt during her recovery . There was no resource group or program specifically directed toward teens and youth. “I felt very alone, very isolated, having to deal with the ptsd, the trauma, all by myself,” Morales said. “I was sitting one day watching television and the character had to report a sexual assault, and it occurred to me, I didn’t know how to report a sexual assault.”

With the help of her parents she properly reported her case, but realized that not all young people who’ve been sexually assaulted have support from their parents. So she decided to do something about it.