An epic rant against school lockdowns

In this week's Intelligencer, an epic rant against school lockdowns, the PRC rules against Navajo people, a call for reform in child support payments, citizens push back in southern New Mexico, and businesses brace for yet another statewide minimum wage raise.

The Intelligencer is a weekly newsletter that gives you a quick overview of La Politica across New Mexico and the U.S., covering topics such as policy, current events, the political landscape, and tech.

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Happy New Year New Mexico!

Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos

1. CBS journalist goes on epic rant against locking down kids

Details: During an end-of-year CBS news correspondent panel, reporter Jan Crawford made the most out of an opportunity to sound off when asked what was the most underreported story of the year. Crawford’s answer deserves an Emmy, and a lot more recognition, in our opinion.

What she said: “It's the crushing impact that our COVID policies have had on young kids and children. By far the least serious risk for serious illness…the risk of suicide attempts…school closures, lockdowns, cancellation of sports. You couldn't even go on a playground in the D.C. area without cops shooing the kids off…tremendous negative impact on kids, and it's been an afterthought.” (emphasis ours)

“If our policies don't reflect a more measured and reasonable approach for our children, they will be paying for our generation's decisions, the rest of their lives.”

Her colleague agrees: “Well, I have to agree with Jan…you know, obviously as parents were always thinking about this and especially as a parent of young children thinking about the long-term impact on their development.” – Weijia Jiang.

2. PNM files appeal with state’s high court


Details: Last week, the Public Regulation Commission unanimously rejected PNM’s motion to vacate the Four Corners Power Plant, give its share to the Navajo Transitional Energy Co., and issue $300 million in bonds to cover capital expenditures, saying PNM needed to justify the $300M and provide a specific list of “replacement energy resources that would be used” when PNM vacates the plant in three years.

Why it matters: The Four Corners Power Plant, which is on tribal land, provides nearly a quarter of the Navajo Nation’s annual budget and employs hundreds of Navajo families. The transfer would have helped the Navajo Nation comply with the Energy Transition Act's costly mandates to switch to “renewable” energy.

The big picture: The Navajo people have already been hit hard by the closure of the Navajo Generating Station in northeastern Arizona — and next year the San Juan Generating Station will also close. This war on coal is being waged by extremist environmentalists, along with their corporate and government allies. And the Navajo Nation, already limited in economic development opportunities, is collateral damage.

3. State agency signals support for child support reform


Details: Acting Director of the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division Betina McCracken has called for the state to send child support money to families first, instead of it being “intercepted” by the government. In September, ProPublica published an investigation of this practice, which spurred the agency to react.

Why it matters: In 2020, more than $1.7 billion in child support was collected by federal and state governments — none of which went to mothers or children. We covered this issue earlier in the year.

The big picture: It’s no secret New Mexico ranks at the bottom in the country, and any reform that helps families over politicians and bureaucrats is most welcome. With the upcoming legislative session, we will be watching this one closely.


4. Otero County commission approves resolution opposing the plan that conflicts with county ordinances

Details: Otero County officials said that the proposed wilderness areas would encroach upon well-established grazing allotments and that some lands do not qualify as “wilderness.” They are also worried that prescribed burns would not be a regular practice but only a “wildfire mitigation effort.”

Why it matters: The Commission also claims that federal forest officials did not address the conflicts, nor their concerns and that the feds did not communicate with the county for the drafting of the plan.

The big picture: While federal officials deny they left the locals out of the process, environmentalists control the forestry and wildlands bureaucracy at all levels. The obscure battles over land and resources has been fought across the country and all over New Mexico. Last session was packed with bills on the issue and we will keep you updated in all the ways Big Green worms their way into the upcoming budget-only session.

5. In midst of a chaotic economy, New Mexico adds to the madness

Details: The state minimum wage is scheduled to increase in January by a dollar to $11.50.. MLG signed the job-killing legislation two years ago which will culminate at $12.00 an hour by 2023.

Why it matters: Minimum wage mandates make it harder for those with little education and experience while also preventing new hires and often leads to workers’ hours being cut. Even in a best-case scenario, raising the wage will not raise people out of poverty.

The big picture: Politicians will say anything to get elected and re-elected. It’s very easy to tell workers the government will pay them more money. But the actual consequences of their policies are only felt by the impoverished workers, not by the politicians themselves.


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