Why New Mexicans Should Fear Conrad James

Conrad James

The battle for the New Mexico House of Representatives is shaping up to be a battle for the ages. Republicans have an opportunity to take control of the House for the first time in decades. They are foaming at the mouth and throwing money around the state in rapid-fire fashion. House District 24 pits Democrat incumbent Elizabeth Thomson against Republican Challenger Conrad James. Conrad James must not win the election.

Conrad James was the state representative for District 24 from 2011-2012. He lost his re-election bid to Rep. Thomson by less than 300 votes. During his time in office, Conrad James waged a war against state workers, women, and undocumented immigrants. He believes that social programs should not be funded by income redistribution and that industry should be deregulated.

War on Children and Women

In 2011, Mr. James irresponsibly sponsored HB 380, No School Health Center Reproductive Services. This bill would have prohibited all advice or health care related to contraception, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases or reproductive process and functions!

Was he out of his mind? New Mexico has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country. According to a Legislative Finance Committee report, teen pregnancy costs New Mexico $590 million per year. Children born due to teen pregnancy have an increased likelihood to be incarcerated or live in poverty.

Here are some startling statistics from hhs.gov:

  • 68% of teenage parents in New Mexico are Hispanic
  • 5% of New Mexico girls have had sexual intercourse before the age of 13
  • 11% of New Mexico girls have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse
  • 87% of teenage pregnancies occur out of wedlock
  • The teenage abortion rate in New Mexico is 17 per 1000, which is lower than the national average of 18 per 1000
  • 11% of female and 18% of male high school students have had sexual intercourse with 4 or more partners
  • 15% of New Mexico teenagers chose not to use protection during their last sexual intercourse

Many of these children do not have anybody to turn to for help or advice concerning sexual intercourse. Their only option to get help is at school. If Mr. James believes that sexual education and advice is evil or immoral, he needs to wake up! New Mexico has been ranked as the worst state to raise a child even under the best of circumstances.

War on State Workers

State workers are the only people Mr. James seems to hate more than teenagers, immigrants, and the poor. In 2011, Mr. James sponsored a bill to prohibit payment for accumulated sick leave for state workers.

Wow! This would save the state of New Mexico millions of dollars right? Wrong! Most state workers are authorized paid sick leave every year. To reward workers for attending work, the state passed legislation that would allow workers to cash in sick leave if it was unused. It was an incentive to come to work and be productive.

By taking away the cash-in option, Mr. James’ bill would force state workers to use all of their sick leave and miss work. This would dramatically reduce the already pathetic efficiency of state government. Why should a state worker let the sick leave accumulate if there is no incentive to do so? The bill was idiotic and shows a lack of understanding of state government.

On top of that, he voted for a bill to increase the retirement age of state workers. Apparently, he believes that people should be forced to work until they die to get any type of benefit.

Undocumented Immigrants

Obviously, a man who grew up in Ohio, lives in a predominantly white district, and makes ridiculous amounts of money has very little sympathy for immigrants who risk their lives to make a better future for their families.

He voted to restrict driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. It seems strange that a man of African-American decent would vote to restrict the rights of a people who are marginalized, discriminated against, and treated as outcasts of society.

On top of that, he is a member of the Board of Regents at the University of New Mexico. He is in control of the academic future of many undocumented immigrants and students who have family members that are undocumented.

War on the Poor

Mr. James believes that “Tax policy should not be used to redistribute wealth, choose economic winners and losers, or to engineer society. Taxes should be kept low, simple, broad, and predictable.” That should be translated to say that state- run social programs to help the poor should not be funded! This is a typical economic ideal of someone who resides amongst the societal elite. Their rallying cry should be “Don’t take our money to pay those lazy bums in the South Valley and rural New Mexico.”

It is nice that Mr. James has money to put food on his table, hire a nanny, send his children to elite private schools, and live the life of his dreams. Unfortunately, the majority of New Mexicans cannot. People need food stamps, subsidized child care, school funding, and other programs to survive. How does Mr. James propose that we pay for these programs? My guess is that he does not have a plan to help the poor.

The status quo of the elite and powerful will be safe as long as he gets elected. It is unfortunate that somebody like this is on the Board of Regents at UNM. Many of his students come from families who are poor and rely on social programs.

Environmental Assassin

The title of this category is a little harsh, but not unwarranted. Although Mr. James has not directly passed or sponsored any environmentally dangerous bills, his record shows that he favors deregulation. His official stance is:

“Regulation policies should be focused on protecting citizens and the environment and not used to punish/reward particular industries or micromanage the private market. I will continue to work to ensure that more energy is safely produced in New Mexico.”

It is funny to read that he wants to “protect citizens and the environment.” Mr. James is funded by multiple out-of-state oil and energy companies who are salivating at a chance to cash-in on New Mexico. On top of that, he received a $1000 campaign contribution from Monsanto! I will not go into an in-depth analysis of how wrong it is to accept money from Monsanto and still claim that you want to protect people and the environment.

Just Say No!!!

These are just a few of the reasons to make sure that Conrad James loses his election bid. They even call into question his position as a Board of Regent member at UNM. He is supported by the NRA and is a prototype Koch Brother clone. He must be stopped! Take some time to look at his campaign contributions and his legislative history. It should shock you. He has clearly demonstrated that he is out of touch with the realities of New Mexico and does not understand those who are not amongst the elite. His ignorance should not be a complete surprise considering the fact that District 24 is 60% Caucasian. He should stick to what he is good at…working for Sandia Labs.

UNM President’s Lies Exposed

Recently President Frank announced that the Student Fee Review Board is no longer allowed to allocate athletic or library student fees. Combined, he removed almost $5 million away from the SFRB’s recommendation authority. He wanted to make sure the athletic teams are competitive in the Mountain West Conference so Governor Martinez will attend games.

What exactly does that mean and why did it happen?

 The SFRB is a student led group that was created to make recommendations about how student activity fee dollars should be split amongst various organizations on campus. They make a recommendation to the Strategic Budget Leadership Team. The SBLT ultimately makes the final recommendation for the President’s approval.

Currently 50% of the total student fees are taken out of the SFRB recommendation process for debt obligations. By removing the Athletic and Library fees, the SFRB only has allocation authority over roughly 20% of the total student fees. The remaining 20% is all that is left for every student organization on campus!

The GPSA and ASUNM were startled by this new policy and asked President Frank to wait until November to propose the new policy. They needed time to prepare comments and come up with alternate proposals. President Frank agreed to wait and said “he would not propose something like this during the summer when students were not around to make comments.”

Well… he didn’t do it in the summer! Last month he made a statement that he was removing the fees from the SFRB. No comments would be accepted. He even had the audacity to claim that he never made any type of promise to GPSA or ASUNM!!!

I ask you, how do 2 elected and intelligent members of the student body remember his promise, yet he seems to want us to believe that they are lying? Why would he go back on his promise so quickly and lie to everybody?

Here is a brief timeline of events:

  1. February 2014- The Board of Regents state that they believe that the “SFRB is not to be involved in the allocation of athletic or library fees” They should only have jurisdiction over student activities and student government.
  2. President Frank says that there is confusion in the SFRB policy and he will work with the GPSA and ASUNM to make a proposal to the Board of Regents in March.
  3. March 7- President Frank, GPSA, and ASUNM compose a joint memo to the board of regents stating that they agree to wait until November to make changes in the SFRB process.
  4. March 7- VP Krebbs addresses the Board of Regents. He states that student fees make up 13% of the athletic budget. He talks about how important athletics are and that UNM athletic receives the lowest amount of student fee support in the Mountain West Conference. President Frank echo’s his comments and brags that Governor Martinez attended a basketball game.
  5. In a letter dated March 28th, but delivered April 24th President Frank declares that he is removing the Athletic and Library Fees from the SFRB immediately.

It is clear that broken promises are permitted as long as it gets the Governor to attend a basketball game. Pressure to compete in the Mountain West Conference is an acceptable reason to take away student control of their own money! The Board of Regents and President Frank used the excuse that Athletic and Library fees are mixed with university dollars and therefore are not under the control of the SFRB. The only reason that the Library fees were included was to hide the true reason behind their deceit. They want tailgaters to actually attend the football games.

President Frank needs to acknowledge his lies! He must uphold his original promise and delay the decision until November. He should publicly apologize to the student body.

DOCUMENTATION OF THE EVENTS

Finance & Facilities Committee Minutes February 7, 2014

2) Role of the student fee review board and student fees in the UNM budget presentations. Regent Hosmer made the presentation. Regents’ approval was requested for the role of the student fee review board and student fees in the UNM budget presentations. The proposal on student fees endorses the current policy as it is written, although not always practiced. The request is that when the budget is presented to the Board of Regents, any item to which student fees contribute be presented by the University and not from the students. If the Regents determine that an adjustment to those numbers is appropriate, it is up to the University to decide how that increase is portioned between student fees and University funding. The Library is an example of a unit that is funded with both University funding and student fees. This resolution will also state that it be certain that whatever decisions the SFRB makes about items which are student funded only, such as student government, that they are not touched and that their recommendation stands and flows into the budget appropriately. In response to Regent inquiry regarding the effect on Athletic fees, Regent Hosmer stated that they would hear from the University their recommendation for Athletics fees. When the University brings the budget forward, it would show the funding stream coming from both University funds and student fees into the Athletics stream. If the Regents decided to adjust that, it is then up to the University to determine how that adjustment is applied towards University funding and student fees. Priscila Poliana stated that she believes what Regent Hosmer is proposing is what has been happening. She does believe that Policy 1310 needs to be ratified, and she believes the decisions made by SFRB have historically been accepted with very few differences. Student Government understands the process and is fully aware of it. Regent Gallegos stated that there may be some misunderstanding because procedure has been different from the policy. The only jurisdiction, as far as the SFRB is concerned, will be the matters that are student activities and student government. For entities such as Athletics and Libraries, the SFRB is not to be involved. The administration will recommend to the Regents the funding, whether it be from I&G or student fees, it is to be clear that it is understood what the intent and the result in this proposal is. Isaac Romero stated that the SFRB makes recommendations on all of the student activity fees including Athletics, Libraries, IT, and SHAC. The SFRB recommendation goes to the SBLT, to the President, and the finally the SBLT presents the recommendations to the Regents. That is the process and how it has been. EVP Harris stated that Regents Hosmer’s intent is to clarify that it is the President’s responsibility to bring recommendations forward to the Regents. Regent Gallegos and Regent James expressed confusion with the proposal as there is ambiguity in what the proposal is trying to accomplish. It was originally thought that it was going to reinsure University Administrative Policy 1310 and Regent’s Policy 4.7 that gave the Student Fee Review Board only the ability to make recommendations on student activities and student government, not for Libraries and Athletics. Regent Koch stated that the SFRB review process is rigorous and some areas should not be under the SFRB for budget recommendations. Beverly Kloeppel from Student Health & Counseling stated that she is supportive of the SFRB review process, and that getting feedback from students is important and necessary to keep departments and organizations accountable. Regent Hosmer stated that there is unintended ambiguity in the language of the proposal and did not involve the policy of authority by the SFRB. President Frank stated that this may be a policy issue because there seems to be a source of contention and disappointment around this every year if the SFRB recommendation is not fully accepted. The students put in a vast amount of hours and energy in crafting these recommendations. The process is disproportionate to the SFRB’s ability to influence. There needs to be a review of the current policies and good discussions between the Administration and Student Government. It was also recommended that Elsa Cole from University Counsel review the current policies. The President and the student leaders will review this issue and bring back a new proposal to F&F committee next month. Link to original document:  http://evpadmin.unm.edu/ff-­‐meetings/minutes/minutes-­‐2014/feb-­‐7.pdf

Joint Memo from President Frank, GPSA, and ASUNM with November promise

To: Board of Regents

CC: EVP David Harris, Provost Chaouki T. Abdallah From: Dr. Robert Frank, UNM President, Priscila Poliana, GPSA President, & Isaac Romero, ASUNM President

Date: March 5th, 2014

Subject: Timeline on Policy 1310

At the last Finance & Facilities meeting, on February 7th, 2014, Regents expressed their concerns with respect to the process through which students make recommendations on the allocation of student fees, underlined in Administrative Policy 1310. After that meeting, student leaders spoke to President Frank and asked approval to make recommendations on 1310. Once approval was granted, they called for a special meeting and brainstormed with a diverse group of stakeholders as a means of identifying possible areas of improvement to Policy 1310. The group concluded that a reasonable solution is dependent on (1) clarifying the scope of student input and (2) enhancing the role/participation of our advisors as our mentors throughout this process. With these objectives in mind, the working group produced a revised version of 1310 and presented it to President Frank on February 20th. The core changes proposed are the substitution of the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) name to Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) and the inclusion of our advisers as voting members in final recommendations. Dr. Frank met with student leaders in several occasions to discuss these proposed changes and look into the best path forward for the student fee recommendation. Both parties agree that any changes on 1310 ought to preserve community input, promote efficiency and advance our University’s mission. As such, our recommendation is that a collaborative working group – with representation from administration, student leaders, and community – be formed to engage in the student fee recommendation process and analyze areas of improvement. As to the timeframe, we concluded that changes during Summer and early Fall would not allow enough time for meaningful input. Consequently, both parties are confident that the collaborative working group can present a thoughtful recommendation to the Board of Regents by November, 2014. As we continue this dialogue, it is worthwhile to remember ASUNM President Mark Hartman (1986-1987) who, in collaboration with administration, in founding the Board described, “The purpose of the Student Fee Advisory Board is to improve communication between the University administration and the student body on issues involving fees. The Board should be used as a means of providing an avenue of student input to the board of Regents, on the collection and uses of student fees.” Attached you’ll find the original Policy.

Sincerely,

President, Robert Frank

GPSA President, Priscila Poliana

ASUNM President, Isaac Romero

Finance & Facilities Committee Minutes, March 7, 2014

8. Presentation of FY15 Athletics Department Budget.Paul Krebs made the presentation. Information was provided to the Regents’ on the FY15 Athletics Department Budget. The mission, core values, and goals were discussed. The graduation rate for Athletics is at 55%, which is higher than the UNM average. When VP Krebs started, there were major issues with academics, and since then they have greatly improved. Student athletes had a record GPA of 3.25 and there are 38 student athletes that have a cumulative GPA of 4.0 or better. Athletics has also had 3 national finishes in Women’s Cross Country, Men’s Cross Country, and Men’s Soccer. UNM is ranked 17th in Learfield Sports. The revenues and expenditures for the Athletics program were discussed. They are good stewards of the money they receive, much of which is donations and gifts in kind. Student fees make up 13% and State funding makes up 8% of the Athletics budget. UNM receives less state funding for athletics than NMSU and we continually try to request a number that is equal to

their state funding, some progress has been made. Regent Koch commented that people don’t realize that Athletics is the largest, except for HSC, in raising private funds from the community. Corporate sponsors are close to $5 million, fundraising is a little over $3 million, gifts in kind are $1.6 million, and we may have another large gift coming in of $1.5 million. On the ticket sales the budgeted revenue it represents 4 components including Men’s and Women’s Basketball at $5 million, Football at $1.9, and $100K for all other sports. The two biggest expenses for Athletics include personnel and grant in aid. Regarding the Mountain West Conference, UNM receives the lowest amount of support from student fees and state funding. Athletics continue to receive support from community because the value of athletics is that they engage the community. Marc Saavedra stated that the money we receive for Athletics comes from individual Legislators Capital Outlay and Severance Tax Bond, and each House member this year received roughly about $800K. UNM Athletics received funding for the weight room, soccer complex, a new van for the ski team, and a few other small projects. The total was close to $2 million for state funding for Athletics. Governor Martinez has been attending games, which is great support for our University and allows for people to engage with the Governor.

Link to original document: http://evpadmin.unm.edu/ff-meetings/minutes/minutes-2014/march-7-14.pdf

Memo from President Frank to GPSA and ASUNM that ignores the November promise made earlier

Please work!!

 

#OurUNM and the New Student Movement

OurUNM unity

To paraphrase a famous quote, the wind of change is blowing through New Mexico. Whether they (those in power) like it or not, this growth of community consciousness is a political fact. The gentle breeze of unrest has rapidly increased into a typhoon of outrage and disgust. Citizens across New Mexico are organizing to fight political corruption, police brutality, inequality, and injustice. In the same regard, students at the University of New Mexico are organizing to demand accountability, transparency, equity, and inclusion.

A student and community group called #OurUNM has emerged as the voice of the students and has forced the administration to listen. #OurUNM gathered in front of the UNM Bookstore on Wednesday, April 23rd and conducted a rally in which over 100 students attended. The group had multiple speakers address the crowd concerning multiple university related issues. After an hour of rallying, the group decided to respectfully march through campus, the Student Union Building, and to UNM President Frank’s office.

Contrary to some reports,the march was peaceful and respectful the entire time. The marchers maintained a quiet tone while marching through the SUB and made very little noise in the President’s office. Once they packed into the office, they hand delivered a list of demands for equity, accountability, transparency, and inclusion to the President’s Chief of Staff.

OurUNM Packs Office

On Friday, April 25th, #OurUNM students attended a Student Fee forum conducted by the UNM Student Body President and the Graduate and Professional Student Association President. The forum focused on President Frank’s broken promise to give students a voice in how student fees are allocated. President Frank removed all student input from the student fee allocation to athletics ($4 million) and libraries ($780,000). The only voice that remains for the students will be in the remaining student fee allocation that must be split amongst every other organization in the university.

OurUNM MannyOurUNM Chris

Multiple media outlets attended the forum and interviewed students from #OurUNM. Apparently, the media attention caused a panic in the administration which forced President Frank to release a statement that afternoon:

Dear students –

Student engagement in shared governance is critical to the success of any university, especially to a public research university such as UNM. During this spring semester, in particular, I have heard from a number of formal and informal student organizations, as well as individual students, that we need to find additional ways to ensure that all voices can be heard in order to maintain an accountable, inclusive and transparent community.

I believe in continuous improvement. We can always do better and commit ourselves to finding solutions rather than providing excuses. In order to hear more student voices, the Provost and I propose the creation of a student cabinet as an additional way to engage with students. This cabinet would facilitate communication with a broader cross-section of our students, both undergraduate and graduate. It would act as a forum for discussion on campus issues important to students, such as academic affairs, student affairs,  financial and other critical issues, with the goal of bettering our institution.

 The Student Cabinet is in no way intended to interfere with the operation and structure of our Student Governments, and will not replace the current formal representation from our elected student leaders.  However, it will allow for an additional sounding board for students and the administration to communicate on all aspects of the student experience.

 Over the next week, we will be announcing the process for nominations and applications for the Student Cabinet. I am looking forward to improving the level of student engagement and would like to thank our students for their passion and involvement in our university.

Go Lobos!

 Robert G. Frank,

President

On top of his condescending email to the students, President Frank went on to conduct more damage control in the media. He minimized and belittled the student Movement on KOAT News. He stated that the Movement only consisted of 2 small official student groups and a few students who are part of an unofficial student group. In his mind, “It is only about 1000 students being vocal, while the other 31,000 [students] are going to class.” President Frank went on to “clarify” that the students are just “confused and misinformed”. He took the opportunity to tout his “brilliant” idea of a new “Student Cabinet” with which he will meet 2 times a semester to get student input.

He was also kind enough to do an interview on KRQE News in which he said that there are “more important stakeholders” than the students. Once again, he took the opportunity to pat himself on the back and announce his “Student Cabinet” idea. According to KRQE ,President Frank said “even though he won’t be going through the Student Fee Review Board for athletic and library fees,” he’s “put together a new student cabinet.” Therefore, “I’m going to get more input from more students so, I think the concern that they’re not going to get input is wrong. I’m going to get more input from more students about this.” http://krqe.com/2014/04/25/unm-president-cuts-student-input-for-some-fees/

Amazingly, KOB News focused on the student perspective, but President Frank provided a statement to them in which he once again mentions his wonderful idea of a “Student Cabinet”. http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3413316.shtml?cat=500#.U1vNLl5X9g0

It is clear that President Frank thinks very little of student input, student Movements, and believes that he can make it all just go away with a “Student Cabinet”. The idea is ridiculous and to make matters worse, students were not consulted at all. How can a “Student Cabinet” exist if students did not create it? How can students expect to be heard if they were not involved in any aspect of this idea?

Obviously, President Frank sent the message out after the forum to have evidence and talking points when he addressed the media. He wants the public to believe that he has been thinking about the situation for a long time and has developed a well thought out solution. It is pure propaganda and proof that he will never care about the students as much as the “other stakeholders”.

Students and community members will come together and show President Frank and the media that this Movement is not just a few confused students being vocal. They will reject his “Student Cabinet” idea and demand that he sit down at the table for negotiations with them. THE STUDENTS AND THE COMMUNITY WILL NOT BE SILENCED AND WILL CONTROL HOW THIS PROCESS MOVES FORWARD.

The winds of change are at typhoon strength and must continue to blow. #OurUNM is not going to roll over and play dead just because of a ridiculous proposal by President Frank. Take back our university and demand real change. Join the Movement and find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ourunm

Also, please read this positive article about Student Movements across New Mexico: http://www.abqjournal.com/389924

UNM Innovate ABQ ignores its Moral Duty to NM and the Environment

Innovate

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the UNM Board of Regents has approved $7.3 million for the new UNM Innovate ABQ project. (http://www.abqjournal.com/324469/news/regents-give-the-goahead.html) Although we applaud UNM in its effort to spark job creation in our wonderful city, we condemn them for ignoring their moral duty and purchasing potentially contaminated property. The Board of Regents owe the people and the environment respect by giving all of that money to responsible land owners. They should not purchase land when the ground and water may be contaminated. They are making it clear that they will reward environmental contamination as long as they can’t be sued for it in the future.

The land that UNM is purchasing is located at Broadway and Central. The land may have contaminated ground and water, but the Board of Regents does not care about that. Their only concern is whether or not UNM can be sued in the future for the contamination. They forced the seller to agree to a “voluntary remediation plan” in which they take responsibility for the contamination. The most convenient part is that the sellers are the state Environmental Department and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Co. We all know how much these 2 entities care about cleaning up the environment.

Way to go UNM, sell out your morals to get a quick site for your project. UNM President Frank applauds you by saying “We appreciate the regents support and that they did all their due diligence. It’s a better project because of all the research and it’s a great day for UNM.” Their due diligence included turning a blind eye to UNM’s responsibility to set an example for our youth to emulate. Did this show our youth that they can ignore their responsibility to society as long as they can’t be punished for it? Is it o.k. for them to buy stolen merchandise as long as they are told that they will not get in trouble for it?

UNM should refuse to purchase the property until the site was cleaned and all contamination was removed. That may be a lengthy and difficult process, but it would have shown UNM’s dedication to improving this state. A public announcement from UNM would have been a bold statement that it is not acceptable to destroy the environment and then promise to fix it later. They could have demanded that it be fixed now.

Unfortunately that is an idealistic view of what UNM could be. The reality is that the almighty dollar speaks louder than morals. Our University could have made a statement to irresponsible corporations, the state, and the world. But they did not and that is the sad truth. They gave $7.3 million to purchase contaminated land and that “is not their problem.”