*Data provided by Northern New Mexico College Registrar Kathleen Sena to NNMC Board of Regents (7/28/2014). If there looks to be student growth on the graph above provided by Registrar Kathleen Sena, our dear reader should note this graph shows a one-month period. A meaningful graph showing a one year period (below) demonstrates the accurate and precipitous drop in enrollment thus:
Northern Administrators reported enrollment of 1,633 for fall 2013 according to the IPEDS National Center for Education Statistics (Integrated Post secondary Education Data System), which is searchable at: http://nces.ed.gov/globallocator/ The NNMC Study Group believes a more accurate enrollment figure for fall 2013 to be 1,000.
The Northern Study Group believes it is appropriate and important to host the open letter to "Colleagues, Community Members, Family and Friends" by Dr. Patricia Perea. We believe the issues raised by Dr. Perea are of wide concern and demonstrate NNMC President Barceló's disinterest in dialogue and the unilateral decision-making that has often found her at odds with the larger community. Further, it is always powerful to take inventory on how we each act--or fail to act--on our convictions.
Concerns with the 2014 MALCS Summer Institute may be directed to President Barceló: email@example.com MALCS Leadership: firstname.lastname@example.org or the author of this letter Dr. Patricia Perea: email@example.com The NNMC Study Group also invites any responses from NNMC President Barceló and/or MALCS leadership/members: firstname.lastname@example.org
Media commentary of Dr. Perea's courageous stance against MALCS sponsorship by war profiteers includes Houston's public radio station KPFT. A discussion of environmental racism and this year's MALCS Summer Institute was hosted by "Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say" 8/5/14. Listen to the full discussion on itunes [Dr. Perea begins at 29:00]. In addition, Albuquerque, New Mexico's "Daily Loco" has covered the MALCS controversy. Both links below. Please share widely.
Click below to download full letter on PDF.
On July 15th, the New Mexico Board of Finance met, with two items on their agenda, which are critical to Northern New Mexico College and Española Valley/ New Mexico taxpayers.
NNMC Administration and Board Members requested a $16M “Systems Improvement” Revenue Bond to, at long last, begin their feverishly pursued Student Housing Construction Project.
Demonstrating a level of transparency unknown to NNMC’s Board of Regents, the New Mexico Board of Finance makes video and audio of every meeting available online. You may access the July 15th meeting in full at http://governor-nm.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1557 (Northern New Mexico College’s presentation is the last of the day and begins at 5:37 and continues until the meeting adjourns at 6:21. All quotes from the meeting in time brackets.)
The members of the NM Board of Finance firmly questioned NNMC President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló, Vice-President for Institutional Advancement Ricky Serna, Vice-President for Finance and Administration Domingo Sanchez, and the President of Monument Construction Timothy R. Pitcher.[i] Pitcher’s company is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, so the NNMC Study Group hopes that Mr. Pitcher had other business in Northern New Mexico—maybe golf—that can justify his unsuccessful trip to win approval of public bonds to construct dormitories for NNMC. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
The New Mexico Board of Finance refused to vote to pass the requested revenue bond for the student housing construction project. In the last few awkward, uncomfortable minutes of the meeting, not a single member of the Board of Finance would put forward a motion to vote on the NNMC requested bonds and construction [6:19-6:21]. Because no member of the Board would put forth a motion to approve the bonds, the ill-conceived, no-bid project was finally defeated. Or at least shelved, deferred, tabled… indefinitely.
In denying the schemes of NNMC President Barceló and her Board of Regents, the New Mexico Board of Finance scored a win for current NNMC students, who have seen their tuition increase by more than double in three years as programs, services, instruction and faculty have been cut. The New Mexico Board of Finance also scored a win for New Mexico taxpayers, who have watched as Northern New Mexico College has squandered our hard-earned money while President Barceló and her Executive Team, including Vice-President for Institutional Advancement Ricky Serna and Vice-President for Finance and Administration Domingo Sanchez have sent our college into a steady decline.
We might imagine the deep embarrassment—even humiliation—that must be felt by Barceló et. al. after years of confident and premature announcements of their new dorms on campus: “Northern New Mexico College will open its first residence hall on the Española campus in Fall 2015,” boasts the College website.[ii] Indeed, NNMC Men’s Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Ryan Cordova has been recruiting student athletes to Northern assuring full on-campus accommodations. Will those students and their families receive an apology for NNMC’s disingenuous promises?
How were the NNMC Administrators and NNMC Board of Regents able to so confidently—if ineffectually—argue their case to the New Mexico Board of Finance?
At the May 22, 2014 NNMC Board of Regents Meeting, NNMC Board Members Michael Branch (owner, Branch Realty, Santa Fe), Kevin Powers (retired, investment banking, Albuquerque), Alfred Herrera (retired, New Mexico Public Education Department, Española) and Rosario “Chayo” Garcia (agent, New York Life Insurance Company, Española) voted unanimously to allow Paul Cassidy of RBC Capital Markets and Peter L. Franklin of Santa Fe’s Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, P.A. Law Firm—to act as agents of NNMC—pursuing funding for the multimillion dollar, no-bid dorm project.[iii] The NNMC Board of Regents approved this though Franklin explained that this funding strategy "describes the security for the bonds” as “basically the College's system’s revenues, basically all the revenue that the college earns or takes in.” [iv]
When Board Secretary Herrera, asked if this meant Northern was pledging the dorms themselves and the dorm revenue as security (aka collateral) Peter Franklin clarified that the guarantee of the debt was not a guarantee using the project itself, but instead the NNMC Board of Regents was seeking to pledge
[E]ssentially all the College’s assets. All the College’s revenues and assets.
This is not a project revenue financing where all you’re pledging is the
revenue generated by the student housing. Um… would be nice if it could
be that, but… I… the problem is it won’t… Well, I shouldn’t get into that…”
When pressed further by Regent Branch on guaranteeing the debt incurred by building the dorms, attorney Franklin responded, “All I guarantee is that… I got out of bed this morning and here I am.”
Paul Cassidy explained that the tax-exempt bonds would be “a fixed-rate debt that can’t be refinanced for ten years.” Thus, the terms the current NNMC Board Members vote for would be set in stone for at least a decade. No matter, let’s not worry about the details! Cassidy continued assuring the Board Members, “I think the keys, though, to the project are getting State Board of Finance approval. Once you have State Board of Finance Approval and NMFA Board approval on the loan, your consultants on the construction side can get started.”
But when the New Mexico Board of Finance met this week they not only did not approve the project, they strongly questioned the proposal. Issues included:
Further, the New Mexico Board of Finance was clearly disturbed by the $978,000 in fees charged by Monument Construction for “student housing study,” “student housing survey,” “financial analysis,” and “market analysis” [6:06-6:08]. Yes, close to one-million dollars in fees to—as a member of the New Mexico Board of Finance put it—“[do] the study to show need for housing… and you’ll build it?” [6:09]. Yes, NNMC’s Administration agreed to pay just under one-million dollars of our taxes to Monument Construction, which studied the need for the student housing they would be building.
Followers of NNMC may recall that this April, President Barceló’s Administration insisted on cutting three programs , 7-10 full-time staff and instructors (tenured professors among them), and eliminating our Child Development Center to make up a $250,000 shortfall in their budget. The cuts to student instruction, faculty, staff and child care equal approximately one-quarter of the fees paid to Monument to study the needs for its own services. President Barceló released a paid advertisement that read in part “Considering the closure of any program is a difficult and unfortunate task, but one that is sometimes necessary in order to preserve our College.” [v] Meanwhile, her administration paid approximately four times that amount to Monument Construction.
New Mexico Governor Martinez ended the New Mexico Board of Finance meeting with a compassionate understatement, “We need more time in viewing the stability of the institution” [6:03]. Another Board of Finance Member said simply, as if to a child, “Thank you for coming to talk to us. Good luck.”
So what will NNMC’s Administration and Board of Regents do next? Will they abandon the ill-advised, no-bid student housing plan? Will they concoct another multimillion dollar scheme? (Board member Branch has often shared his deep longing for more capital projects and a memorial at El Rito.) Will they be chastened by their own embarrassing display at the New Mexico Board of Finance? Will President Barceló think less of her “legacy “of bronze plaques on stucco and at long last concentrate on serving the instructional needs of our students? Will the Board be reminded of the main mission of our public educational institution?
When the NNMC Board met today (Thursday, July 17th) the Residence Hall update was less than one-minute long, and made no mention of the concerns of the New Mexico Board of Finance and the Board of Finance’s refusal to vote on passage of a $16M “Systems Improvement” Revenue Bond and the Student Housing Construction Project for NNMC. Vice-President of Finance Sanchez said instead--"It is still a work in progress.”
[i] See Monument’s website at: http://www.monumentllc.net/about.html
[ii] Publicity and postcards distributed by NNMC Communications and Marketing: http://nnmc.edu/gallery/student-housing-northern
[iii] More information at: https://www.rbccm.com/municipalfinance/cid-259461.html and http://www.modrall.com/plf
[iv] All direct quotes that follow are from the May 22, 2014 Northern New Mexico College Board of Regents meeting (full audio and video recording available from the NNMC Study Group upon request).
[v] President Barceló’s full statement available at: http://188.8.131.52/wordpress/?p=13076
This week the Northern community learns of yet another resignation in what The Rio Grande Sun has called "a rash of resignations." Gabrielle Amster, the Director of the Northern Foundation, which is charged with raising funds to support student scholarships has resigned. Gabrielle Amster was also a critical fundraiser and point-person for the MALCS (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social) Summer Institute to be held at the El Rito campus June 30-August 2, 2014.
The loss to our community of talented and dedicated instructors, mentors, advisers and visionaries cannot be fully expressed. In the 2013-2014 academic year, Northern New Mexico College has lost over 25% of its full-time faculty through removal or resignation. Some--though not all--are pictured below. Their presence is already deeply missed by community, students, staff, and faculty.
List of 2013-2014 removed and resigned to date below
** Note of clarification from former NNMC Library Director, who resigned in June 2014:
While I am honored to be considered among those who are missed from Northern, I feel like I need to clarify that my resignation does not represent any kind of protest against Northern's administration. While I feel for those who have been asked to leave, and I understand why those who chose to leave did so, I left for reasons that were independent of the college's leadership or operations ... It is because of many of the people who are no longer at Northern that I felt so appreciated in my position at the library. I wish the best for everyone who has separated from the college as well as those who remain to teach and mentor its students.
Thank you for your work to ensure that everyone may feel informed.
In 2010, the National Freedom of Information Coalition awarded our local newspaper thousands in funds to compel Northern New Mexico College to release public records. Although the State’s Inspection of Public Records Act requires that public records requests be fulfilled within 15 days, Northern New Mexico College routinely violated State law by ignoring public records requests. At the time, Kenneth F. Bunting, the Executive Director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition stated, “This kind of blatant disregard for public disclosure laws cannot be tolerated. The Knight FOI Fund is there to make certain that, even in tough economic times, challenges of this sort get made, and that public officials who don't understand their obligation to be forthcoming about the public's business do not get to make up their rules."
Flash forward to 2014, and members of the public who have requested public records are again facing illegal obstruction by Northern New Mexico College’s Administration. Public records requests sent in May and June have yet to be fulfilled by NNMC Administration, though State Law requires fulfillment within 15 days. Last week, Northern’s Communications and Marketing department sent out a press release explaining they simply did not have the staff (though required by law) or the resources (though required by law) to fulfill public records requests in a timely fashion, if at all. (See press release in full below.) The press release was covered by Academe, published by the American Association of University Professors, which is also currently investigating violations of Academic Freedom at Northern.
In addition, at least one member of our community who sent in requests for public records received a reprimand from the attorney contracted by NNMC’s Administration. Aha! This letter stands as explanation for the legal fees referred to in NNMC’s press release. NNMC is paying for frivolous lawsuit threats to members of the public for daring to request public documents via the prescribed Inspection of Public Records Act of the State of New Mexico.
The same contracted attorney, Tony F. Ortiz of Santa Fe, New Mexico followed with another letter, which threatened “legal avenues” should public comments and opinions “harm the College and its funding sources.” Such a threat against protected speech in writing is quite surprising from a licensed professional. (Tony F. Ortiz lists himself as currently practicing at Scheuer, Yost, and Patterson, P.C., though that firm was disbanded in December of last year. )
Practicing attorneys are well aware that New Mexico has a strong “Anti-SLAPP” statute that was enacted in 2001 (N.M. STAT. ANN. §§ 38-2-9.1 – 38-2-9.2). SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” The New Mexico Anti-SLAPP law explicitly and affirmatively protects members of the public from the actions that Tony F. Ortiz and NNMC's Administration have threatened in writing. The New Mexico Anti-SLAPP statute recognizes that the filing of such lawsuits is “intended to punish members of the public for criticizing or opposing actions that the plaintiff wants a public body to take.” It is clear that “the usual objective of such a lawsuit is not necessarily to win, but rather to silence one’s opponents.”
The NNMC Study Group encourages that you read the letter to a member of our community from attorney Tony F. Ortiz and NNMC carefully. The individual who received the letter (posted below in full) was removed from NNMC this semester, though she had a stellar teaching record. While it is laughable that NNMC’s Administration believes it can regulate the use of the words "we" and "our College," such threats are intended to chill public participation in the practices, policies, and procedures of our publicly-funded College. Such a letter is intended to silence members of the public. Such a letter is an embarrassment to our community, to higher education, and to the students who are learning the critical importance of the democratic process and informed public participation.
The community is not silenced by NNMC Administration’s obstruction of the law in its refusal to release public records. The community is not silenced by NNMC Administration’s threats against protected speech. We love our college too much to witness its continued destruction in silence. The community will continue to hold the Administrators in our public institution accountable and we will continue to make public any violations of State Law. The local and national media have done so as well. See the “NEWS” link for further coverage of issues at Northern New Mexico College.
*Special Note: The NNMC Study Group wishes to point out that while members of NNMC's Administration (including President Nancy "Rusty" Barcelo) and attorney Tony F. Ortiz have of late used the words libel, slander, and misinformation, they have yet to identify any actual instance of the libel, slander or misinformation.
 See “NFOIC awards FOI Fund grant in New Mexico public records suit,” August 27, 2010. http://www.nfoic.org/nfoic-awards-foi-fund-grant-new-mexico-public-records-suit
 Full commentary on NNMC’s press release here: http://academeblog.org/2014/07/12/update-from-northern-new-mexico-college/ Article on AAUP’s investigations of Academic Freedom violations here: http://nnmcstudygroup.weebly.com/uploads/1/7/6/4/17644239/aaup_rio_grande_sun_june.pdf
 See the State Law and Guidelines for Compliance here: http://www.nmag.gov/consumer/publications/inspectionofpublicrecordsactcomplianceguide2009
 See the website of Attorney Tony Ortiz listing Scheuer, Yost, and Patterson, PC 2006-present: http://tonyfortizlaw.com/about/ and December 2013 closing of the firm announced here: http://www.scheueryostandpatterson.com/
 For a brief explanation of Anti-SLAPP, see “New Mexico Court of Appeals holds that Anti-SLAPP Statute Does Not Apply to Judicial Proceedings,” Emil J. Kiehne, March 14, 2013. http://nmappellatelaw.com/new-mexico-court-of-appeals-holds-that-anti-slapp-statute-does-not-apply-to-judicial-proceedings/
 Coverage of the removal of Instructor Annette Rodriguez available at: http://www.riograndesun.com/articles/2014/07/03/news/doc53b48cb23cedb403711101.txt
 See links to media coverage here: http://nnmcstudygroup.weebly.com/news.html
To read NNMC Press Release in full, click on the image above for PDF copy.
New Mexico Legislature on SB-603 NNMC Name Change Bill
Parts 1-8, featuring NNMC President Nancy "Rusty" Barcelo, VP Domingo Sanchez, VP Ricky Serna, and the Public Affairs Committee of the NM Senate.
Feb NNMC Regents Agenda