Loco Friends: Humans of New Mexico, Dr. Annette Rodriguez and Learners Chess Academy

New Mexico is full of amazing people and community organizations. Today the Daily Loco is going to take a few moments to recognize some of our friends: Humans of New Mexico, Dr. Annette Rodriguez and Learners Chess Academy.


Humans of New Mexico ( www.HumansofNewMexico.com )


For those of you who have not heard of Humans of New Mexico, I suggest that you take a moment to visit their site, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook (they have already eclipsed 1000 likes!). They are a “Community project collecting oral histories from everyday New Mexicans.” I find it fascinating to read (or listen to) the stories of everyday people from our community. Everyone has a story to tell and Humans of New Mexico seeks “capture the complex issues that affect our communities and offer a platform to voice everyday practices of resistance to societal pressures.” This is an amazing project that deserves our support and recognition.


Dr. Annette Rodriguez


The Daily Loco would like to congratulate Dr. Rodriguez for winning the 2016 New Mexico Foundation for Open Government William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award (Education). The award is given “to individuals and organizations that advance transparency in the areas of law, journalism, education, government and business.”

Dr. Rodriguez fought the administration of Northern New Mexico College by using the Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act to expose widespread corruption and poor management at the College. The information was published on The Northern New Mexico College Study Group blog and the Daily Loco.

Dr. Rodriguez is a true champion of the People and proved that she truly cares about the students of Northern New Mexico. Thank you for all that you do Dr. Rodriguez!

The Awards Lunch will be held at the Embassy Suites on October 5, 2016. Tickets are still available. Visit their website for more information or to purchase.


Learners Chess Academy


Where to begin? Learners Chess Academy is a community blessing. The organization was founded in 2010 by Victor Lopez and has grown into a non-profit organization that provides after-school programs and chess camps for youth in Albuquerque. Visit their website to learn more (www.learnerchess.org)

Learners Chess Academy has had an amazing year so far! Coach Victor was honored as a  White House as a Champion of Change. He (and Learners Chess Academy) is definitely deserving of such high praise.

In addition, the organization just launched Learners Without Borders. The project just recently sent a group of high school students (with coaches) to teach chess in El Salvador. What a great opportunity for those teenagers!

Most importantly, Learners Chess Academy provides Need-based Scholarships. Here is the statement from their site: “At Learners Chess Academy, we charge a fee, when we can, for many of our classes, camps and programs. But we also strive to bring the joy of learning chess to those who cannot afford it by offering need-based scholarships for our camps and after school programs.”

Please take a moment and visit their site to make a donation. Any amount can help a child learn chess and provide an enriching after school program and camp opportunity. DONATE (you will be redirected to their donation page)


Thank you taking the time to read about the amazing accomplishments of some of my friends. Albuquerque and New Mexico are full of amazing people and organizations that seek to build a better world. I am proud of you all and proud to be a New Mexican!

NNMC uses intimidation, bias, and ignorance to shape policies


The total disintegration of Northern New Mexico College continues. Our friends at the Northern New Mexico College Study Group exposed some commentary about an August 14, 2014 illegal NNMC Regents Retreat meeting, which violated requirements the Open Meetings Act. (full audio available from NNMC Study Group by request)

In the meeting, the Board of Regents can be heard repeatedly degrading students from the Espanola Valley area:

Regent Martinez complained, “Procrastination is part of the culture itself [in the Valley].”

He also explained that retention rates were low because, “We get students who can’t do fractions. We have a large population of students… with certain deficits.” Chair Garcia agreed with Martinez adding, “They’re not mature enough.”

According to the NNMC Study Group, Board Member Branch reaffirmed his belief that the program and faculty cuts were wise.  “Do you need an AA to work at Jiffy Lube?” asked Branch


NNMC Regent Michael P. Branch(right) and President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo(left)

Are they serious? Do they know how much money an auto mechanic makes?

First of all, they obviously do not understand the importance of providing an education that will lead to jobs that are available in the region. According to NM Workforce solutions:

“Job opportunities are good or favorable, as there should be about 36 openings each year for workers in this occupation”

An auto mechanic, with a 2 year degree, in New Mexico earns a median salary of $36,350. In contrast, the median salary for a biologist with a graduate degree is just $51,000.

That may be “pocket change” for the Regents and administrators at NNMC, but to most people in the Valley $36,350 is a good living that will provide for their families. These are not “Jiffy Lube” jobs like Regent Branch seems to believe. Even if they were, with education and experience, a Jiffy Lube employee can make more than $50,000 per year.

Wait a minute… why does NNMC exist in the first place?

According to a letter from NNMC President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo:

“I respect that the automotive program plays a vital role in an art form unique to northern New Mexico.”

That’s nice…but wait a minute. Isn’t the mission, vision, and philosophy of NNMC to protect the culture of the region?

NNMC Vision:

Northern New Mexico College is a Hispanic- and Native American-serving comprehensive institution that will be recognized nationally for cultural sustainability, quality student learning and developing economically strong communities among diverse populations

NNMC Mission:

The mission of Northern New Mexico College is to ensure student success by providing access to affordable, community-based learning opportunities that meet the educational, cultural, and economic needs of the region

NNMC Philosophy:

Northern strives to provide an educational program that reflects the needs of the communities of northern New Mexico

So… why not keep the automotive program if it plays a vital role in a cultural art form unique to Northern New Mexico, provides for the economic needs of the region, and projects to have sustainable job growth?


So sorry rich people…but my parents cannot afford expensive trips

Secondly, how can they speak so lowly of students from New Mexico?

Provost Martinez and Regent Garcia complain that the students cannot do fractions and are not mature enough. What do they propose? Should NNMC stop admitting students from the Valley because they are not “mature” enough?

Maybe they should take some time to look at the state as a whole before they single out students from the Valley. 1 out of every 2 NM students who attend college need remedial course work. That means that 50% of students from ALL of New Mexico are unprepared for college.

So why do they think that the problem is unique to the students from the Valley? Do they have some sort of bias towards these children?

According to the NNMC Study Group, VP of Advancement Serna stated:

“We have students who are sheltered by the valley. We’re not diverse… we’re homogenous”

Regent Branch added that Espanola has “certain social problems” and Provost Martinez added “Our students are very provincial. Some of our students have never been out of the county.”

These comments are very telling of the lack of concern or empathy that the Regents feel for the local community that they are supposed to develop.

Almost 30% of Espanola’s population lives below the federal poverty level.According to the Census 87% of the population is Hispanic and 68% speak a language other than English at home. 25% of individuals age 25 and up do not even have a high school diploma and only 16% of the population have a college degree.

The NNMC students should be hailed as heroes for attempting to better their lives by attending college. Many of them come from broken homes, a lousy school district, extreme poverty, and are first generation college students.

So instead of complaining that they are not diverse enough because their parents cannot afford to take them on trips, maybe NNMC should highlight these students as inspirational members of the community.


Instead of wasting time worrying about dorms to attract “other students”, maybe NNMC should do everything in their power to educate the population of the Valley. By increasing educational levels, there will be job creation and lower crime rates. It is proven that higher education reduces rates of assault which is one of Espanola’s top crimes.

A Change is Needed!

The people of Northern New Mexico deserve the best education possible. Many of the students simply cannot afford to leave their families. NNMC is their only option.

The current administration seems to be completely oblivious to the realities of the Valley. A change is needed to make sure that the people and the community are taken care of. The comments and actions by the administration at NNMC highlight the fact that they are not up to the job and need to be replaced by people who truly care about Northern New Mexico.




Recently the Daily Loco posted REVEALED: The Connection Between NNMC, The Massacre in Gaza, and Border Security. As most of the Loco readers know, all factual allegations made here always have a link to the source.

Yet, Ricky Serna, Vice President of Advancement for NNMC, seems to believe that there are some untruths in the post. He sent the Daily Loco this:

On Aug 8, 2014, at 12:10 PM, Ricky Serna <donotreply@wordpress.com> wrote:

Name: Ricky Serna

Email: raserna@nnmc.edu

Comment: Request discussion regarding the several untruths you wrote about the MALCS Conference.

Ricky Serna
Vice President for Advancement 

Northern New Mexico College

A few days later I sent an email reply:

Date: August 12, 2014 12:38:42 PM MDT

To: Ricky Serna <raserna@nnmc.edu>
Subject: Re: ’[Burque’s

Mr Serna,

Thank you for taking the time to comment on the post. Please feel free to make a statement concerning the untruths that you claim are in the post. Please be aware that I believe in transparency and accountability. Any communication between us is public information and may be posted to the Daily Loco. I look forward to hearing from you.

Very respectfully,

To this date, the Daily Loco has not received any type of response from Mr. Serna. Why not? Is it because he was hoping that he could use intimidation to force the Daily Loco to remove the post? Who knows.

Whatever his reasons were, it is apparent that he could not address any untruths in the post.