Signing While Intoxicated

Fortunately, this story isn’t from Indiana…

I know that government officials at all levels are sometimes accused of being "drunk with power," but one New New Mexico mayor takes it to a new level. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Mexico border town mayor and congressional candidate Martin Resendiz was drunk when he signed nine contracts with a California company that is now suing the city for $1 million, according to a deposition in the case.

“The day I signed, I had way too much to drink. It was after 5 p.m. and I signed it (the contracts) and I didn’t know what I was signing,” Sunland Park, NM, Mayor Martin Resendiz wrote in response to questions from lawyers for the architectural design firm Synthesis+. “My sister had to pick me up.”

The lawsuit claims the company is owed $1 million for work performed under the nine contracts, according to a report Thursday in the Albuquerque Journal. Sunland Park contends the contracts were not valid because they weren’t approved by the City Council.

Resendiz, a former El Paso, Texas, police officer and Sunland Park municipal judge. He has been mayor since March 2008 and has said he plans to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

Resendiz could not be reached Thursday morning but his office said it expected to issue a statement later in the day.

According to a transcript of Resendiz’s June 2010 deposition by attorney Victor Poulos, Resendiz acknowledged signing the documents in May or June 2008 after several hours of drinking with Sythesis+ executives at Ardovino’s Crossing, an Italian restaurant in Sunland Park. Among the executives present was architect Daniel Soltero.

“Again, this was after two or three hours of us drinking, not exactly the best time to do business, not exactly the best time to read over legal documents, which he (Soltero) did not portray at any time to be legal documents,” Resendiz said according to a transcript of the deposition.

City Councilor Daniel Salinas, who was also deposed, said under oath he was at the restaurant meeting and was also inebriated.

Synthesis+ officials said the mayor signed the documents in July 2008 at the Sunland Park city hall and that the mayor was sober.

Poulos said it was the first time in his 33 years of practicing law that someone had acknowledged signing a contract while drunk.

Insurance by the Numbers

When the subject these days is health care, that dreaded six-letter "r" word that ends in "form" usually follows. Let’s skip that topic and its consequences. Instead, a few interesting insurance facts, courtesy of The Council of State Governments and its annual The Book of the States.

  • Top five states for percentage of residents covered by insurance: Massachusetts (97%), Hawaii (92.5%), Wisconsin (91.8%), Minnesota (91.7%) and Maine (91.2%)
  • Bottom five states for percentage of residents covered by insurance: Texas (74.8%), New Mexico (77.5%), Florida (79.8%), Mississippi (81.2%) and Louisiana (81.5%)
  • On a regional basis, percent insured are 88.6% in the Midwest, 88.5% in the East, 83.9% in the South and 82.8% in the West
  • Where people get their insurance: 53.7%, employer; 13.2%, Medicaid; 12.1%, Medicare; 4.9%, individual
  • People under age 65: 65% have private insurance and 17% are uninsured
  • Children under age 18: 58% have private insurance, 34% are on a public health plan and 8.9% are uninsured

What do all the numbers mean? Let us know your interpretation.

Inside the Uninsured Numbers

What do we know about the health care uninsureds in our country? That there are somewhere around 46 million people in this category, the national total is slightly over 16% and Indiana’s percentage is nearly the same.

Gallup, the polling people, have some more numbers. Their recent surveys tell us there are more uninsured in Texas, New Mexico and Mississippi (between 24% and 27% in each state) and the lowest totals are in Massachusetts (5.5% with its "universal" coverage), and Vermont, Minnesota and Hawaii (all in the 8.5% range). The Gallup results also show regional trends — lower numbers of uninsured in the Northeast and higher figures in the South and West. They link varying amounts of Hispanic populations as one of the reasons for the difference.

But there are more numbers that should not be forgotten: 45% of the uninsured are in that status for less than four months and only 16% are uninsured for more than 18 months. According to the Heritage Foundation, 20 million are in households with incomes more than twice the poverty level, approximately nine million are on Medicaid and nearly as many are illegal immigrants. The problem, experts say, is the lack of portability in insurance (those who change jobs often go in and out of the uninsured count). Policy changes regarding tax treatment and portability would be a huge first step in the right direction.

The point: Yes, the many Americans without insurance is a problem and part of the health care reform debate, but take a closer look at the numbers before forming your opinion on what needs to take place. 

The Gray Area of Green: Green Jobs Discussion Should Focus on Reality, Not Buzzwords

A brief but to-the-point column from Governing’s Christopher Swope attempts to inject some reality into the green jobs discussion. He notes that while it makes for admirable rhetoric to tout "green jobs," one must look deeper than a label to determine if a green job is actually green:

Suddenly, everyone is talking about "green jobs." Task forces in Connecticut, Minnesota and New Mexico, among other states, are looking at how to attract, create and retain them. Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has been trumpeting a report predicting 4.2 million new green jobs over the next 30 years.

That sounds nice. But what exactly is a green job? It’s a maddeningly difficult question to answer. There’s more hype than there is good research on the subject, and just about any claim anyone wants to make seems to stick.

That’s unfortunate. Because throwing around wild numbers masks where the real economic opportunities are. For example, manufacturing and installing wind turbines would create brand-new job markets in a country that never really has had much of a wind-power industry. But most of the jobs that get labelled "green" these days are positions that already exist and bear only tangential relationships to the environment. A study done for the state of Colorado counts some Wal-Mart employees as green, because a percentage of the products the retailer sells are Energy Star-certified. Cashiers, janitors, accountants, secretaries, lawyers, even government officials — all can be "green workers" if their work touches energy efficiency in almost any way.

Not that using less electricity and putting people to work aren’t worthy goals. But rather than chasing buzzwords, policy makers should recruit specific industries that have realistic chances of success in their states. When you dig into the numbers being touted on green jobs, you find a lot fewer photovoltaic specialists and geothermal engineers — and a lot more cashiers and truck drivers — than you may want.