Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Feed The Kids

So it’s come to this.

What is “lunch shaming?” It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill.

In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments.

On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, which directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or sign up for federal meal assistance and puts an end to practices meant to embarrass children. It applies to public, private and religious schools that receive federal subsidies for students’ breakfasts and lunches.

The law’s passage is a victory for anti-hunger activists, who have long been critical of lunch-shaming practices that single out children with insufficient funds on their electronic swipe cards or who lack the necessary cash. These practices can include making the child wear a wrist band or requiring the child to perform chores in exchange for a meal.

In some cases, cafeteria workers have been ordered to throw away the hot lunches of children who owed money, giving them alternatives like sandwiches, milk and fruit.

“People on both sides of the aisle were genuinely horrified that schools were allowed to throw out children’s food or make them work to pay off debt,” said Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, an anti-poverty group that spearheaded the law. “It sounds like some scene from ‘Little Orphan Annie,’ but it happens every day.”

I don’t understand why the state of New Mexico had to pass a law that banned lunch-shaming — have we gotten to the stage where life is a Charles Dickens novel? — but I’m glad they did.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Donald Trump went for the trifecta at a rally in New Mexico on Tuesday.

During a 65-minute speech in Albuquerque last night, Donald Trump laced into New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. He blamed her for the state’s economic problems, for the growing number of food stamp recipients and for not doing more to reject Syrian refugees. The billionaire even mused about moving to the state to run for governor himself.

“She’s got to do a better job,” Trump told thousands of supporters, per Jenna Johnson. “She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on: Let’s go, governor.”

So in one long gasping, shuddering breath, he attacked a woman who’s a Latina — the first (and only) Latina governor in the state and the country — and a fellow Republican.

I’m pretty sure that if Gov. Martinez was gay or had a disability he’d have worked that into the rant, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. general says attack on hospital in Kunduz was requested by Afghanistan.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact has been agreed to.

NATO warned Russia to keep its jets bombing Syria out of Turkish airspace.

New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran racked up another charge in her corruption scandal.

American Airlines flight makes an emergency landing after the pilot dies.

The Miami Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin.  Like that will help.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Short Takes

Massive traffic jams in Austria as border guards check for smuggled immigrants.

Turkey is launching air strikes against ISIS.

Texas authorities have arrested and charged a suspect in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston.

Dianna Duran, New Mexico Secretary of State, is charged with multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud.

Tropical Update: Hurricane Fred pounded the Cape Verde Islands, but doesn’t look like it’s going to head in our direction.

The Tigers had the night off.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If You Can’t Take The Heat

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez went ballistic after Mother Jones published a cover story on her, her aspirations, and the people who work with her, including some rather colorful language about opponents.

In an email blast to supporters, Martinez attacked the messenger, calling Mother Jones a “tabloid” and “one of the most radically liberal publications in the country.” Martinez accused Mother Jones of “peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago.” She claimed that “this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico.” In the email, Martinez does admit to calling 2010 Democratic opponent Diane Denish “the B-word,” adding, “I admit it—I’ve had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life.” Her email ends with a plea for a campaign contribution.

Her email neglects to address several parts of the story, such as the reports that Martinez’s top adviser, Jay McCleskey, wrote “I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH!” about a fellow GOP pol, and that a former Martinez adviser mocked New Mexico political icon Ben Luján for his English-speaking abilities, saying he “sounds like a retard.”

Martinez’s campaign has also created a petition describing Mother Jones as “the far-left’s premier magazine” and calls the story “one of the most desperate and despicable attacks to date.” The Martinez campaign’s message goes on to ask supporters to sign a petition ostensibly to “show the D.C. liberal media that their desperate attacks have no place in our state.”

Mother Jones should send Ms. Martinez candy and a dozen roses for the bump in subscriptions and on-line traffic.  It never would have happened without her help.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marriage Equality Legal in New Mexico

Big news from the Land of Enchantment:

New Mexico Pride Pin 08-22-13The New Mexico Supreme Court has cleared the way for gay marriage in the state.

In a unanimous decision on Thursday, the state’s highest court declared state marriage laws unconstitutional and upheld New Mexico county clerks’ decisions to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The state Supreme Court will now define “civil marriage” as the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.

Writing for the court, Justice Edward Chavez said that “barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.”

In August, the Doña Ana County clerk announced he would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because there was nothing in the state’s constitution preventing it. Seven county clerks followed suit; some because of an Albuquerque district court judge’s ruling that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The state’s highest court agreed to hear the case after several county clerks asked the justices to clarify the law.

New Mexico is now one of 17 states where same-sex marriage is legal.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Short Takes

President Obama weighs “limited” strikes against Syrian forces.

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to close.

Former JP Morgan employee arrested in $6 billion loss.

Family of Israel Hernandez is suing Miami Beach Police in the taser death of their son.

Lots of same-sex couples are getting licenses and getting married in New Mexico.

That explains it: The New York Times website was hacked today for a few hours.

The Tigers lost to the A’s 6-3 in a game shortened by rain.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Land of Enchantment

New Mexico Pride Pin 08-22-13New Mexico does not have a law or constitutional amendment on the books about marriage equality.  It is, I think, the only state in the union that is basically silent on the issue.  When I lived there from 1995 to 2001, my partner and I just assumed that it was against the law, so we never even considered getting married.

But some people have, and they’re doing it, and the state’s attorney general isn’t going to try to stop them.

Attorney General Gary King said even though he has cautioned county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a court rules on the matter, he will not intervene in Las Cruces, where the Doña Ana County clerk began issuing licenses Wednesday to gay couples.

King, in a telephone interview, noted that he has filed briefs in a pending lawsuit, expressing the belief that the state’s prohibition against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. It would be hard to argue the other way in an action against Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, he said.

Who might have standing in court to file an action against the clerk, besides the state attorney general?

King said legislators or other Doña Ana officials — the county attorney or county manager — might have such standing.

The Associated Press reported that same-sex couples began arriving at the Clerk’s Office in Las Cruces on Wednesday, soon after learning of the announcement by Ellins.

The wire service quoted Char Ullman, 51, saying, “I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, ‘You want to get married?’ I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”

King said it’s possible that other county clerks around the state might follow suit. (Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar told the AP on Wednesday, however, that she would wait until the issue is settled in court.) There could be a situation in which same-sex couples in counties that don’t allow same-sex marriage would travel to counties to get married.

“It leaves the state in an uncertain position,” King said. “I think there’s still some risk that there will be some people who think they are married when they aren’t.”

Although the state supreme court could rule against them, it would be interesting to see if they look at the law, the happy couples, and decide “oh, what the hell,” let them be.  That’s how they roll in New Mexico.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Short Takes

Five people were killed as more tornadoes hit Oklahoma.

Totally unpredictable: Fears of civil war in Iraq after 1,000 dead in May.

Wildfires in New Mexico force evacuations.

Feds have a “person of interest” in the latest ricin-mail case.

Medicare has more money than predicted.

The Tigers lost to Baltimore in a wild finish, 7-5.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Short Takes

Get in, get out — Japanese who lived near the damaged nuclear plant have just a few hours to visit their homes to get belongings.

The U.S. will deploy armed Predator drones in Libya.

Demonstrations continue in Syria.

Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, is getting into the act.

President Obama will appoint a task force to look into high gas prices.

The Florida legislature debates higher education spending.

The Tigers had the night off.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Land of Enchantment – With Pictures

Brian and I went up to Santa Fe today to visit my aunt and uncle. We took the back road — NM 14, known as the Turquoise Trail — through the east side of the Sandia Mountains and past the little towns of Madrid (pronounced “MAD-rid”) and Cerrillos, then up to the foothills south of Santa Fe. We came back along I-25, and then back to Albuquerque. Here are some of the sights.

Heading north on NM 14.

More below the fold.

One of the stores in Madrid.

A view of the foothills.

Teta Peak, a landmark west of Santa Fe.

Tomorrow I’ll head back east to Independence, Kansas, and the start of the William Inge Festival. See you there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Land of Enchantment

I arrived safe and sound in Albuquerque, and after a tour of my former office and a visit with old friends, I’m ensconced with Brian and getting acquainted with Walter, a Jack Russell/Australian Shepherd mix, and re-acquainted with Marty, who has been with Brian since before I moved to Miami.

We’re off to our favorite New Mexico restaurant to reboot my chile genes. Tomorrow we’re off to Santa Fe and the mountains.

Because of limited access to the internet — and I really want to spend quality time here — this is it until sometime tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Travel Day

The house has been tidied for the house-sitter and in a few minutes I’ll be off to Miami International to fly to Albuquerque to visit friends and family for a couple of days, then off to Independence, Kansas, for my twentieth trip to the William Inge Theatre Festival.

The last time I was in Albuquerque was five years ago at this time — following the same itinerary — and I’m way overdue for a chile fix. I’m also going to go to Santa Fe on Tuesday to see my aunt and uncle and take in the unmistakable sights and smells of the desert. I love Florida, but there is magic in the mountains and I have yet to see a sunset here in the tropics that can match the ones over the Sandias.

Blogging will be in vacation mode for the next couple of days, and when I get to Independence, I’ll be putting up in-depth posts about the activities there at Bobby Cramer.

See you in Albuquerque.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trip Planning

One of the things I look forward to this time of year is planning my annual pilgrimage to the William Inge Festival in April. I did the research and it turns out that this will be my twentieth trip to Independence, Kansas, since I started going in 1991; I missed the fun in 2002 when I was directing a play here in Miami.

As part of the trip, though, I’m leaving a few days early and overshooting Independence to spend a few days back in Albuquerque. The last time I did that was in 2005, arriving just in time for a desert tornado and the election of Pope Benedict. (Coincidence?) Like the last time, I’ll be staying with Brian, seeing friends, making a trip to Santa Fe to visit relatives, and enjoying some really good New Mexican food.

There are a lot of things I love about living here in Florida, but I also loved my years in New Mexico. There’s nothing like the clear blue sky, the glorious sunsets, the stark desert landscape, and the lure of the mountains. I can’t wait to see them, and when I’ve done my bit for kids and county and retire, I plan to spend time in the magic of the Land of Enchantment. I consider this trip to be both a return to good times and friends as well as a scouting expedition.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Short Takes

New York and New Mexico have new governors this morning.

Outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson denied Billy the Kid a posthumous pardon.

North Korea would like to cool things off with everybody else.

A bomb in Egypt killed 21 people outside a church.

Stormy weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes, killed six in Arkansas and Missouri.

Finally final: Joe Miller concedes the Senate race in Alaska. The state had already certified Lisa Murkowski.

Travel Light:
Florida’s new lieutenant governor will face travel restrictions after the last one ran rampant with the state’s planes and automobiles.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

In The Rearview Mirror

Nine years ago today I loaded up the Pontiac with my plants, my computer, and Sam. At 6:30 p.m., in a driving rainstorm, we left Albuquerque following the Bekins moving van on our way to Miami and my new job. We drove until midnight, getting to Pecos, Texas, where we spent the night. The next morning we got on I-10 and cruised across the Lone Star state, catching Houston at rush hour, New Orleans in the dark (I took the detour through the city so I could say I’d been there), and finally stopped for the night somewhere on the Mississippi/Alabama border. Finally, forty-eight hours to the minute after leaving Albuquerque, we arrived in Miami… in a rainstorm.

Nine years later, I still have the Pontiac and the plants. Sam is gone, and the computer — a Gateway PC — has been replaced three-fold. I don’t have the same job I did when I came to Miami, and I’m living in my third residence. I have made a lot of new friends, renewed some old ones, and maintained contact with the people I left behind in Albuquerque who still mean as much to me now as they did then.

Nine years is the longest I’ve lived in one city since I graduated from high school. My current job is the longest I’ve worked in one place at basically the same job; it will be eight years in October. For someone who is staring down the barrel of his 58th birthday in six weeks, that probably makes me sound like a flake; I know people who are my age who have worked at the same place since they graduated from college and I’m being invited to their retirement party hosted by their grandchildren. But I wouldn’t trade my life experiences for anything. Yeah, there are some things I could have done better, and I have a few regrets, including my failed relationship with AJP. But even there, we had fifteen good years and wonderful memories — and a lot of growing up for both of us — that can’t be discarded because we’re apart. Although I’m not doing exactly what I planned to do with all those years of studying theatre, I am very proud of the work I do, and I feel like I’m making a genuine contribution to the education of the 340,000 students of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. I owe a lot of that to the experience I gained working in Albuquerque and Michigan. As for the theatre, moving to Miami gave me the inspiration to write the play that gave me my first New York production in 2008. So all in all, life is in balance.

In a way, it’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a decade that I’ve been back in Miami. In a lot of ways I still feel like a newcomer. I still have a strong connection with New Mexico, including being the defender of New Mexico Spanglish among a lot of other different accents and dialects. I still miss the glory of the mountains and the spectacular New Mexico sunsets, and I still have yet to find a place in South Florida that does huevos rancheros the right way. But I’m glad to be here and able to look back at all the amazing blessings that have come my way.