Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Domenici Institute

On Saturday there was an article in the Albuquerque Journal about a local anti domestic violence organization losing its federal funding.  Enlace, a group that works on those issues as they affect immigrants, was recently the recipient of a national award for its excellence.  Keep this in mind for a moment.

Some time ago I was wondering aloud why the media has not looked into the funding of the Domenici Institute which is a partner with New Mexico State University and is housed on that campus.  After a few days of waiting on the Journal to look into it I decided to find out for myself.  I wrote an email to the Institute's program manager Sara Patricolo asking her about the funding sources.  She was very responsive. I received a reply after about a week.  Here is her explanation of the funding of the Domenici Institute.

"The Institute was the recipient of  a U.S. Department of Defense grant(awarded March 31, 2010) in the amount of $10,000,000 for a term from March 31, 2010 through September 30, 2014."

She also said a $500,000 grant was made from a "company" which she did not identify.    I had asked her to identify the source of any funds coming into the institute.  I can only assume it is from a fossil fuel based corporation because  of the work that the institute will carry out studying this polluting energy source.  I have asked her again to identify the mystery corporation.  Much of the institutes tasks will involve studies of the fossil fuels and uranium industries and their impact on our state.  How can we expect these studies to be independent if energy industry money is helping to fund them?  And is the defense department  mingling their funds with this work and why?

Some of the work the Institute will do is fine.  Its educational and mental health work can be positive.  However its investigation of health care reform effects seems a bit befuddling since reform hasn't really begun.  It is also peculiar that defense money will fund development of student programs to "advance free market and entrepreneurial models of economic development."  Does that mean working to cut regulation and public safety?  Who knows why Defense would think this is important?

These are valid questions that the main stream media should investigate since all of this effort ultimately costs New Mexico taxpayers.  New Mexico State University will use state tax dollars to fund overhead and other expenses.  It would be interesting to know how much former republican governor Garrey Carruthers is being paid to manage this program along with his other duties at NMSU.

Finally, think again about the small group, Enlace, that just had its funding pulled.  Think again about $10,000,000 being funneled by the Obama Defense Department, in the middle of a recession, to an institute built to honor a great supporter of the Defense and fossil fuel industries in New Mexico, former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici.  It all seems a little strange.  I will be asking for regular accountings of how all of this money is spent.

And to the media, you are all about transparency in government.  How about using your fervor on this strange expenditure of public money.

1 comment:

Bubba Muntzer said...

Interesting how the Republicans and their mascot in the White House have no problem spending $10 million of the taxpayers money as long as it's to give a leg up to their Capitalist funders.

And as long as it's done to honor a conservative Republican's name.

While we witness the ongoing destruction of everything that is good about this country, let us examine this insidious practice of naming buildings and institutes and bridges and overpasses after people, by people who owe that person a favor.

The idea is that this will rehabilitate the person's reputation. Long after they are gone and what they did is forgotten, the building or the bridge or the Little League baseball field will be there perpetuating their name.

But let us not forget that Pete Domenici had possibly the most terrible environmental voting record in US legislative history. Even Republican environmental groups gave him bad marks.

Let us not forget how corrupt he was, as in when he tried to throw the 2006 elections here in New Mexico in the Republican's favor by pressuring US District Attorney David Iglesias to issue indictments against prominent Democrats just before the election. He and Heather Wilson.

To those of us who remember people like him the way he was, and not the way those who owe their careers to him want us to, the stench they leave behind will also hover over everything named after them.