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          Front Page


Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Committee Backs ENMU Regent Picks

By Loie Fecteau
Journal Politics Writer
    SANTA FE A Senate committee on Monday endorsed Gov. Bill Richardson's three nominees to the board of regents at Eastern New Mexico University, sending their nominations on to the full Senate.
    Endorsed by the Senate Rules Committee were:
   
  • Alva Carter, a former educator, peanut farmer and owner of a Portales car dealership;
       
  • Jay Gurley, director of corporate communications at ENMR-Plateau Telecommunications and past president of Clovis Community College;
       
  • Tracy Henderson, a Tucumcari native and senior at Eastern, who is majoring in public relations.
        Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, voted to support the confirmation of Carter after Carter said he had declined to sign an undated letter of resignation that Richardson could invoke at will.
        "You're the one holdout of the entire 23 regents," Adair told Carter.
        Adair was referring to Richardson's 23 nominees to university boards, who were all asked by the governor to sign undated resignation letters.
        Adair has been refusing to vote on Richardson's nominees to university boards because he contends having university regents sign undated resignation letters violates the state constitution.
        While the governor can remove most appointees to boards and commissions at will, the state constitution says regents can be removed only for "incompetence, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office," and only after they are provided hearings.
        However, Carter told the committee he would resign if asked to do so by Richardson.
        "I just didn't feel good (about the resignation letter)," Carter told reporters later. "But if the governor asked me, I'd resign."
        Meanwhile, Sen. Roman Maes, D-Santa Fe, told the committee that former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson had his nominees to university boards sign a conflict-of-interest disclaimer form. One question on the form asked the appointees if they would be willing to resign at Johnson's request.
        "So it's not just this governor that requested that (resignation agreements)," Maes said. "The previous governor did the same thing."
        But Adair said having appointees check a box on a document stating they would be willing to resign if asked to do so by the governor is not the same as having them sign undated resignation letters.
        Adair subsequently abstained from voting on Gurley, who told the committee he had signed an undated resignation letter for Richardson.