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Friday, February 14, 2003

Regents Approved Despite Dislike of Gov.'s Policy

By Loie Fecteau
Journal Politics Writer
    SANTA FE The Senate moved quickly Thursday to confirm three new regents at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology amid still swirling controversy over undated resignation letters they signed for Gov. Bill Richardson.
    Confirmed as members of the board of regents at New Mexico Tech were:
   
  • Jerry Armijo, a Socorro lawyer who served as chairman of the Commission on Higher Education for the past year and a half;
       
  • Richard Carpenter, a retired Santa Fe lawyer;
       
  • Isaiah Storey, a senior at New Mexico Tech who is majoring in chemical engineering.
        Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, told his fellow senators that by voting to confirm the new regents at Tech, the Senate "joins the governor in creating a willful unconstitutional act."
        Adair contends Richardson's policy of having his appointees to university boards sign resignation letters Richardson could invoke at will conflicts with the state constitution. The state constitution says regents "shall not be removed except for incompetence, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office."
        Adair said the undated letters mean Richardson's appointees to university boards would be unable to act independently.
        Adair and several other Republican senators subsequently walked off the Senate floor on Thursday to avoid voting on the new regents.
        Several Democratic senators on Thursday praised Richardson's choices for the New Mexico Tech board of regents.
        Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, said he believes Carpenter is "one of the most eminently qualified persons to serve on any board of regents."
        Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said Armijo "did a great job on the Commission of Higher Education and I know he'll do a great job on the board."