Independent’s voter guide adds to election understanding

Nowadays, newspapers, especially community newspapers, rarely devote much energy—or any significant percentage of non-advertising column inches—to the job of informing local voters about candidates for public office. That is why the “Guide for Voters” published by The Independent last Wednesday deserves our appreciation. The editor made a spirited effort to cover just about every significant public office up for grabs in the Tricounty area primary elections held on June 5. Thank you, Ms. Harriman!

We could take issue with the failure of The Independent to challenge campaign rhetoric on matters unrelated to the powers of the office sought. We could raise a pointed eyebrow at failure publicly to notice candidates’ apparent lack of interest in some “elephant-in-the-room” issues. On such as “sanctuary city” policy in non-urban areas, for example. Or animal control problems, the proliferation of fracking operations into sensitive substrate all over the state, the all-too-obvious plan of out-of-state tycoons to enact so-called “right to work” laws in every populated county of New Mexico, appropriate responses to oligopolistic control of broadband markets, on the matter of better infrastructure standards for semi-rural areas, or the need for better first responder capability in the East Mountains area.

I would have preferred a more adversarial approach to candidate interviews in our local “Guide for Voters” (toward Democrats as well as Republicans).  Candidates can be expected to pay fair market rates for advertising their own self-serving narratives. Nevertheless The Independent coverage appears in sharp contrast to the lackluster coverage of the  Albuquerque Journal on the televised debate of Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

The TV debate happened May 20. The story was given priority position on the front page story in the Journal, but it was published two days later. The headline and subtitle indicated Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham was being pressed to open her personnel records to prove her claim that Gov. Bill Richardson had not fired her from her job as secretary of the state’s Department of Health. The first paragraph of the story appeared to say both her opponents challenged her claim that she left the job on her own terms.   

The Albuquerque Journal “news” article itself should be discredited for the following reasons:

The underlying theme or primary takeaway of the story is that none of the candidates is forthcoming.

Apodaca and Cervantes were implicitly characterized as finding moral fault with Ms. Lujan Grisham because they were both trailing her in the pre-primary polls.

The implication that Ms. Lujan Grisham was lying about the incident was not further developed in the story, even though there was time to seek out additional information before the story went to the press.

In today’s political arena, the possibility that Grisham was fired by the governor actually supports her claim that she will stand her ground against authority, rather than suggest she did something wrong. The Journal story failed to indicate why the firing might be relevant to her fitness to serve as governor, and never actually raised the “So what?” question, leaving it open for reader speculation.

The Journal did not find out and report whether the personnel records might be opened for public review, even though there was enough time to check.

The article contradicts itself by pointing out that the rival candidates had different criticisms—not the same criticism about an alleged firing as mentioned at the beginning of the story. The article noted that statistics showed an increase in deaths attributable to drug overdoses during her administration (again, so what?)  Then it said the same thing was happening in other parts of the country during the same time frame. No other specifics were given. Nor was a logical connection made between the statistics cited and her fitness to serve. So the implication is that the candidate who made the criticism introduced a red herring.

In almost 30 column inches of Albuquerque Journal’s coverage on the debate, no mention was made of a single specific proposal for policy change advocated by any of the three candidates. Nor was any mention made of any substantive issue that might distinguish any of them from the others.

The name of the single Republican candidate for office was mentioned at the end of the story, with no indication of how his name might be in the least relevant to the main point of the article. It did however repeat the name for public recognition, just one more time.

The Boyd article can at bare minimum be deemed a lazy—almost insulting— piece of junk journalism. Unlike the The Independent “Guide for Voters,” that story contributed nothing to public understanding of issues embedded in the race for governor of the State of New Mexico.

Thanks again, Ms. Harriman.

Respectfully yours,

LEO SULLIVAN, President

East Mountain Democrats NPC

 

Summer Reading Program support from Blake’s Lotaburger

I am the Children’s Librarian at the Moriarty Community Library. Our Summer Reading Program is beginning Monday June 4 at 1 p.m. We will be issuing the bookmarks Blake’s Lotaburger has produced for us. For every three programs kids attend they receive a free kid’s meal! We are very grateful for their sponsorship. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ashley Williams, Moriarty Community Library