The state Senate voted Friday to confirm Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s five nominees to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, an unusually fast decision that came just six days after she announced her choices. The Senate Rules Committee, which is responsible for background checks on gubernatorial nominees for high-level jobs, considered the candidacies of all five during a three-hour hearing. Then the full 42-member Senate confirmed all of them without dissent. The new regents are:
o Kimberly Sanchez Rael, whose background is in business. She will serve a six-year term.
A political action committee that supports GOP candidates is housed in the same law office as the president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents who co-authored recent controversial changes to the university’s Health Science Center. The incorporation document for New Mexicans for Honest Leadership lists the same downtown Albuquerque address and suite as Doughty, Alcaraz & deGraauw, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. The PAC is in good standing with the state. Doughty, Alcaraz & deGraauw is the same law firm where Robert Doughty, who the state Senate confirmed as a regent last year, works as a partner. Campaign finance reports don’t list Doughty’s name as associated with the PAC.
A sudden overhaul in governance of the state’s largest public medical institution has left several people questioning the motivations behind the changes and its aftermath. One such skeptic is Mel Eaves, a now-former community member of the board of directors that made recommendations on the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. HSC operates the university’s medical school, nursing school, two hospitals and the cancer center. This piece also appears in the March 23 edition of the ABQ Free Press. To Eaves, the motivation for the overhaul stems from other entities wanting a piece of HSC’s $220 million sitting in reserves, earmarked in part for the construction of a new hospital to replace the campus’s current adult hospital, which was built in the 1950s.
University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents will next week consider dissolving the board that governs its Health Sciences Center in what will likely be a contentious hearing. Update: On Monday, the Board of Regents voted 4-2 to proceed with the takeover. The story continues as originally written below. Currently, the Health Sciences Center (HSC), which includes University of New Mexico Hospital, the state’s largest hospital, is governed by a board of directors separate from the university’s Board of Regents. Previously, the Health Sciences Center was governed by a committee of the Board of Regents. The proposal also adds the “executive vice president” title to the HSC Chancellor and subjects much of that position’s authority to the UNM president.
Gov. Susana Martinez named a Republican to fill a vacancy in the state Senate. Martinez named former Estancia mayor Ted Barela to replace former State Senator Phil Griego. The Torrance County Commission named Barela as their choice to fill the vacancy. “I have great confidence that Ted will work hard to represent the residents of District 39 well and believe he’s committed to working with legislators from both parties to diversify our economy and improve our schools,” Martinez said in a statement. Griego resigned with just days left in the legislative session.