Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Shame On Sue

Last week, CHI St. Joseph's Children unveiled New Mexico Truth, a campaign that sheds light on the dismal condition of children and families in New Mexico. The site is a spoof on the state tourism department's New Mexico True campaign, which predictably led to Governor Susana Martinez's press secretary calling the ads petty.

A few days later, New Mexico Voices released findings of the Kids Count report, which ranks New Mexico as first in child poverty. Again. Martinez and her ilk had the perfect opportunity to lay out a plan to pull New Mexico out of its dismal poverty and unemployment (also first in the nation). They had the opportunity to overturn corporate tax breaks, advocate for funding for Early Childhood Education and strengthen the Public Education Department. At the very least, the governor could have laid out budget priorities to alleviate poverty, given this year is a short session which is a budget session. 

Instead, Martinez laid out a "tough on crime" farce that sounded more like a campaign speech rather than a plan to pull our state out of poverty. Rather than focus on programs that will lift up our state, the Governor advocated for youth curfew and incarceration with the same tough on crime schtick that ran out of steam a long time ago. Predictably, Martinez also reintroduced her plan to go after drivers licenses for Undocumented Immigrants. 


For the sixth year in a row. 

Martinez's tired rhetoric shows she is out of touch with the needs of New Mexicans. A new poll shows that the majority of New Mexicans support drivers licenses for undocumented people.  While Martinez should be focused on creating jobs, she is determined to bully her way to a hollow victory. 

Martinez's speech infuriated me, and apparently I wasn't the only one. For a brief, glorious moment, someone shouted "shame on you!" as Martinez spouted her typical racist, anti-Immigrant rhetoric. We later found out the shouter was Representative Christine Trujillo (D, Albuquerque) and she did what I have been itching to do  - she called the governor out, and she did it right to her face. 

Martinez was already walking into session as a punchline - her infamous pizza party is still fresh on everyone's minds. A group of Senators wore socks with pizza and cokes printed on them and a group of protestors gave away free pizza outside the Roundhouse. During her speech, however, Representative Trujillo took dissent to a new level and interrupted the governor. 

Immediately, Republicans blasted Trujillo's action as disrespectful and called for decorum. Speaker of the House Don Tripp called her action inappropriate and a spokesperson for the governor called Trujillo's action petty.  


Recycling the same tired argument over drivers licenses for political gain is petty. Using the same scare tactics to argue over licenses while our state keeps slipping further down the sinkhole of the Martinez administration's making is irresponsible and using racist, xenophobic language and scapegoating is reprehensible, Sue.  

While the Department of Homeland Security had to go so far as to write a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal to clarify the Real ID Act (something our mainstream media outlets fail to do over and over again), Martinez uses fear in order to try and drum up one more sputter of support for taking away drivers licenses from Immigrants. 

Immigrant Day of Action, Santa Fe. Photo by the author 
As if that wasn't petty enough, Martinez and her cronies are pushing "tough on crime" bills which, at first glance, seem like they can reduce crime, but are really meant to catch Democrats between a rock and a hard place: while they will vote against these bills because they are ineffective, they will seem soft on crime and, come election time, they will be portrayed as such. While draconian laws don't reduce crime, Martinez uses her tried and true tactic of making speeches and pounding the podium, but won't put any type of real investment in solving New Mexico's crime problem. 

It's worth noting that the GEO Group and Corrections Corporations of America (both private prisons) have made $38,000 in donations to Martinez and other Republicans' campaigns. Locking up more people = millions of dollars in revenue for private prisons. 

I don't feel any safer, do you? 

The only pettiness I see in Santa Fe comes from the Governor's office and the Republican-controlled House. Speaker Tripp, while you allow the drivers license bill, teen curfew bill and right-to-work bills onto the floor for votes in an effort to create "election bait," please remember your call for decorum and respect and show the same to the people of this state. We are less interested in your reelection and more interested in seeing our state begin the hard work of getting out of last place.

Bravo, Representative Trujillo, and I agree whole-heartedly - shame on you, Governor Martinez. Shame on you.