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Technically speaking

A technicality means Arizona's governor won't be able to fill out a new state school facilities board, at least for the time being.

This month, Republican Gov. Jane Dee Hull named seven members to a panel that will oversee the state's new school-construction-finance program. It marked the first step in implementing Arizona's Students FIRST--Fair and Immediate Resources for Students Today--plan, the construction program approved by lawmakers in July.

The board is supposed to have nine members, but two seats reserved for an architect and an engineer will remain unfilled because of the wording of the school construction law. As written, it would prohibit those two members from practicing their professions in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

Gov. Hull wanted members with expertise and experience, said Francie Noyse, the governor's press secretary. But, Ms. Noyse added, such "members would be shut out of working in their profession. We don't want them to have to give up their livelihood to serve on the board."

The legislature is expected to correct the problem when it meets for its next session in January. In the meantime, the board will continue its work with architects and engineers on hand for questions, Ms. Noyse said.

Long commute

An unopposed Republican candidate for the New Mexico board of education says a cross-country commute won't stop him from fulfilling his board duties.

Marshall Berman, who soundly defeated 20-year board veteran Millie Pogna in the state's Republican primary in June and faces no competition in November, says he accepted a two-year post with the Washington-based Council on Competitiveness only after he was assured he would be able to spend nine days a month in Albuquerque to attend to his board responsibilities.

But Ms. Pogna and several state board members contend that it's unethical for Mr. Berman to serve while living in Washington, and they have asked him to step aside.

Mr. Berman counters that, by working with the competitiveness organization to improve how American schools measure up to those in other countries, his job will complement his board duties.

"People should have concern if I don't show up for board meetings and if I'm not active in the state of New Mexico," Mr. Berman said. "But that's not what I intend to do."


Vol. 18, Issue 3, Page 16

Published in Print: September 23, 1998, as State Journal

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