Talking budget, ethics legislation on KUNM

The KUNM call-in show for this week focused on the recently-ended legislative session. The station invited Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Milan Simonich, New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry President Jason Espinoza, New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Susan Boe and this writer to discuss transparency issues and more. We discussed the failure of an ethics commission, the budget situation, the general tone of the Roundhouse during the session and more. As always, there were some entertaining callers and host Gwyneth Doland kept things moving along. You can listen to the entire thing below, courtesy of KUNM.

Berry says ABQ would ‘welcome’ Syrian refugees

After speaking with contacts at the White House and receiving a briefing on the security process, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said that Albuquerque would welcome Syrian refugees if the federal government chooses to send refugees from the war-torn country to the city. Berry made the comments while calling into the KUNM Call-In show on Thursday. “It won’t really be up to the mayors whether they do or don’t come to your city but if Syrian refugees get here, just like Rwandan refugees, Cuban refugees, Vietnamese or whatever country comes next—unfortunately there’s always some need—we’ll do what we always do,” Berry said. “New Mexico is a big-hearted place and we’ll welcome them to our home like it’s theirs and we’ll work with them.” Berry said that after initial comments where he said he was not confident in the security process, he reached out to contacts in the White House and received a briefing.

NM gets a D- in 2015 State Integrity Investigation

In 2010 Dianna Duran ran for secretary of state as a reform candidate who would clean things up in the wake of scandals that had plagued the office’s two previous occupants. As a county clerk in rural Otero County and later a state senator, Duran had earned a reputation for cool-headed competence. She was endorsed by most of the state’s newspapers and even the left-leaning editorial board at The Santa Fe New Mexican gave her a thumbs up, citing a “solid record of integrity.” When she won, Duran became the first Republican to hold the secretary of state’s office in 80 years. That was then. In late October, just a year into her second term, Duran, the state official in charge of overseeing elections, campaign finance and ethics, resigned and pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement charges related to personal use of campaign funds.

Analyzing New Mexico’s threat of corruption

With officials from all three branches of government presenting their respective agendas at the Roundhouse this week, it’s important to keep in mind that maintenance of public trust is among the state’s chief obligations. Today political writer Harry Eten at FiveThirtyEight.com looked at how difficult it is to derive a comprehensive measurement of corruption at the individual state level. One of the articles he cites includes particular relevance for New Mexico. A survey by researchers Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston asked investigative and political reporters to rank levels of illegal and legal corruption in each state. From Dincer and Johnston’s article:
We define illegal corruption as the private gains in the form of cash or gifts by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.