Two state cabinet secretaries received hearings and confirmation votes from the Senate on Monday. All of it happened in about four hours.
In contrast, Hanna Skandera is still in the midst of her protracted hearing and has yet to receive a confirmation recommendation from the Senate Rules Committee.
Skandera, secretary-designate of public education, has been on the job for more than two years. The Rules Committe chairwoman, Democratic Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, has dragged out Skandera's hearing across 10 hours over three days, and it's not done yet.
Against all reason, Lopez is meandering, letting political personalities and unimportant sidelights take precedence over the single issue at hand: Is Skandera fit to be running the Public Education Department?
Committee members, especially on the Republican side, are ready to cast their votes. They will back Skandera. The question is how Democrats, who control the Senate, would vote.
Lopez is elongating the process on the guise of being thorough -- something she did not care about when it came to other controversial nominees such as Blake Curtis of the New Mexico Finance Authority board and Kari Mitchell for the New Mexico State University Board of Regents.
Neither Curtis nor Mitchell received any scrutiny from Lopez this winter. Both sailed through committee hearings and Senate votes in half a day.
This occurred even though Curtis was in office when a fraudulent audit went undetected by the NMFA board. Curtis, a former Republican legislator, received a free pass from the Senate.
Mitchell was part of the board of regents that authorized a $453,000 payout to then-NMSU president Barbara Couture. The deal-making by the regents and Couture was done in the back room, not a board room with sunshine. Yet only one senator on the Rules Committee, freshman Daniel Ivey-Soto, asked Mitchell any hard questions.
Five days remain in the legislative session. Lopez's credibility is on the line as much as Skandera's at this stage.
The Senate's confirmation process ought to be timely, thorough and tough-minded. It is on the brink of becoming a joke.
We should all learn from history. And history tells us that Clarence Thomas' confirmation for the U.S. Supreme Court was speedier than Skandera's and only slightly more absurd.
Retta Ward received her confirmation hearing and a vote Monday from the full Senate after only five weeks as secretary-designate of the Department of Health.
Ward breezed through without a negative vote.
She will be paid $122,500 annually as secretary of health. That is the same as her predecessor, Dr. Catherine Torres.
Gino Rinaldi, right, also was confirmed Monday by the Senate for Ward's old job as secretary of the Aging and Long-Term Services Department. He will make $97,000 a year, the same as Ward did.
Skandera, at $125,000 annually, also makes her living through a public paycheck. She would continue at that salary for at least another year if the legislative session ends without a vote on her confirmation.
Then the Rules Committee could continue it hearings on Skandera for another winter, but nobody would care.