EDITORIAL: A day's work, a day's pay

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By The Staff

At a recent meeting of the Luna Community College Board of Trustees, one of its members, Abelino Montoya, insisted that the public still trusts the school’s leadership. That was apparently in response to the recent drubbing of Luna’s recent tax-hike proposal at the polls — only about one in 10 voters in Las Vegas supported it.

We’re glad that Montoya spoke about his feelings about community perceptions of Luna. Although we disagree with many of his opinions, at least he has the guts to assert them, while others on the board stay silent and mostly decline to publicly discuss such issues.

Montoya told the board that “negative outside influences” are distracting from Luna’s progress of recent years. “They (the people) trust us. I know they do,” he said.

He particularly took exception to criticism that Luna’s board hired a president, Pete Campos, who can’t work year-round for the college he leads. Campos is a state senator and is gone for months at a time because of his duties as a lawmaker.

“He’s helping northern New Mexico in its education and in the Legislature. Some people want to talk about why he’s not here,” he said.

This is an example of where Montoya and other trustees are seemingly out of touch with the people they serve. For the rest of us, when we are hired on for a full-time job, we are expected to be around the whole year, with two weeks, maybe three, of vacation. But for some reason, Campos who gets $150,000 a year, is allowed to be away for months at a time. Does that really seem fair, Mr. Montoya?

At the meeting, Montoya had a response for such arguments: He argued that the people in this part of the state appreciate having a Luna president who is in the Legislature, noting that longtime Rep. Sam Vigil spent a quarter century as both president and a state representative.

“The people in this part of the state appreciate that. We have to fight for what we get,” he said. “We don’t have to beg anymore.”

That’s a subtle assertion that having a president in the Legislature has monetary benefits for Luna. To be sure, we haven’t seen anything tangible yet as the result of Campos’ dual roles as a state senator and a college president. But we really don’t want to. We believe that Campos’ constituents elected him to represent the whole area, not just the particular entity that happens to have him employed at the time.  

Campos shouldn’t take advantage of his position as a state senator to benefit his employer. We have yet to see any direct evidence of that, but many are suspicious. A lot of people think that when Campos was an administrator with the Las Vegas City Schools for more than 15 years, that district saw more state pork than its crosstown rival, West Las Vegas. Again, we have seen no direct evidence of Campos’ favoring of one district over the other in the state Legislature. But when he puts himself in that position, he should only expect such suspicions.  

As we have stated on this page before, we believe that Luna students deserve a full-time, year-round president. Montoya and others on the board apparently take another position; we have a profound philosophical disagreement with Luna’s leadership.