New Mexico columnist Ned Cantwell weighs in with his nominees for the Legislature’s Dunce of the Session:
Some years there are so many candidates for Dunce of the Session, it is difficult to choose. Certainly, there were obvious nominees this season.
Republican Cathrynn Brown of Carlsbad embarrassed herself and the state by introducing legislation that could potentially jail rape victims. It turned out Rep. Brown did not support such nonsense, but simply did not pay attention to the language in her own bill. Lesson is, if you are going to introduce it, you had better understand it.
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque angered many when he spoke against a bill to increase penalties for crimes against children, including injuring a child while driving drunk, child abuse and rape. Ortiz y Pino opined increasing penalties would hardly be a deterrent because “these are acts of passion, of momentary insanity, of craziness.”
Please, Senator. If that is the criteria for criminal punishment you can just throw out penalties for a whole lot of crime in our society.
This year’s top Dunce of the Session Award, though, has to go to Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat, who took a very serious matter, confirmation of Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera, and turned it into a carnival dunking booth.
She might just as well have brought to the Skandera hearings a wire cage, set Hanna on a perch, and let the parade of witnesses aim softballs to dump her into a tank of water roiled by ravenous Democratic carnivores.
This is one of New Mexico’s enduring embarrassments. Skandera has held the job two years and our Senate cannot bring itself to either reject her or confirm her, preferring instead to use her as a political pawn.
Frankly, I don’t know if Skandera is the best fit for education secretary. That’s a decision for the Senate. It’s their job. Hopefully, by the time this is published, Lopez will have stepped up to the plate.