After more than two years of award-winning and investigative work and writing over 450 stories, Joey Peters will be leaving NM Political Report later this month. Peters will be moving back to his home state of Minnesota with his wife. Peters has worked at NM Political Report since April 2015, just a few months after it’s inception, and in that time he broke big stories and won multiple awards. In 2015, one of his award-winning stories put NM Political Report on the map for many readers. Peters broke the news that a recently-resigned deputy superintendent at Albuquerque Public Schools was facing trial for sexual assault on a child.
NM Political Report senior reporter joined the crew at KUNM-FM Thursday morning to discuss the growing scandal over food benefits applications. Multiple workers testified in federal court that supervisors and high-ranking officials instructed them to falsify applications by adding assets to make sure applicants no longer qualified for emergency, or expedited, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, funding. Peters was one of just two reporters to cover the latest hearing in Las Cruces. Listen to Peters’ appearance on the KUNM Call-In show below; he is on the show at the beginning. The allegations led to one state senator to call for HSD Secretary Brent Earnest to resign.
After finding out the Albuquerque Public School’s deputy superintendent never completed a background check in his short two months on the job, I decided to perform one of my own. The deputy, Jason Martinez, left APS abruptly after being in the headlines for clashing over a contract with the school district’s Chief Financial Officer Don Moya. Martinez wanted to award a contract to a vendor where his friend worked. Moya opposed the idea because Martinez’ old friend had been implicated in a kickback scheme at Denver Public Schools. We are counting down the top ten stories through the end of the year with expanded recaps or personal recollections from the three members of the team.
In March of 2015, the Albuquerque Journal published a handful of letters sent to New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera by high school students from around the state. The columnist who wrote the article wrote that she filed a records request and obtained the letters. The letters that were published had glaring mistakes. Some of the excerpts highlighted in the UpFront column: “we are not prepared for it we will fail it and kids that are depending on this test to pass will be disappointed in them self’s” “I mean we can barely pass the SBA. We’re 50th in the state when it comes to education.
New Mexico Political Report senior reporter Joey Peters appeared on KUNM Tuesday afternoon to talk about the scandal enveloping Albuquerque Public Schools. Peters was on during All Things Considered on Tuesday and spoke about being the first to report on the mistaken text message APS superintendent Luis Valentino sent to Chief Financial Officer Don Moya and how he was the first to report that former APS deputy superintendent Jason Martinez is facing trial in Colorado for sexual abuse of a child. Audio of the five-minute conversation with Elaine Baumgartel is available on KUNM’s website. While the story started with the text message sent by Valentino to Moya, when the text message appeared to be meant for Public Education Department secretary Hanna Skandera, it quickly ballooned beyond that. Martinez was then accused of attempting to steer a possible contract for an IT assessment toward the technology company of a former work colleague, one who was fired from Denver Public Schools for accepting kickbacks.
Over the weekend, New Mexico Political Report’s senior reporter Joey Peters hit the small screen to discuss several local and regional issues. Peters appeared as a panelist on New Mexico in Focus, a local public affairs program that airs weekly on New Mexico PBS. He joined host Gene Grant, Albuquerque attorney Laura Sanchez-Rivet, Albuquerque Free Press associate editor Dennis Domrzalski and Vox Optima founder Merritt Allen to talk about several burning issues in New Mexico. The program kicked off with a discussion of the controversial Santolina planned community. The Bernalillo County Commission voted to authorize the Santolina master plan last week.
New Mexico Political Report is happy to welcome Joey Peters to our news team as our senior reporter. Peters will head up investigations for New Mexico Political Report in addition to pitching in with general reporting as needed. Readers here probably know Peters from his time as a staff writer at the Santa Fe Reporter where he worked for four years. Peters was part of the team that won the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government’s William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award in 2013 for work involving open government. Peters has also had work appear in NYTimes.com, E&E Publishing, Stateline, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and MinnPost.