Not all unconfirmed state executives call themselves cabinet secretary
Hanna Skandera's brass is not contagious. Not yet anyway.
Skandera, never confirmed by the state Senate as leader of the Public Education Department, is nonetheless calling herself the cabinet secretary.
She is the boss, in command the way Mayor Richard J. Daley was in Chicago. She is the the big kahuna, a force in classrooms and committee rooms run by dawdling senators.
Skandera is the undisputed ruler of the public schools. Just ask her.
She figures that the Senate, notably Rules Committee Chairwoman Linda Lopez, has stalled her confirmation long enough. Lopez's committee has carried on the last two years without a vote on Skandera's nomination.
Rather than playing along with this controlled chaos, Skandera anointed herself as cabinet secretary. Gov. Susana Martinez, who nominated Skandera, also is referring to Skandera as secretary of education.
We will not follow along. Skandera is still the secretary-designate of public education. To be sure, it is a clumsy title, the kind that can strangle the top paragraph of news stories. Still, secretary-designate is an honorific more accurate than the title Skandera took for herself.
Plus, in an administration run by a former district attorney, law and order is important to us. We cannot condone the use false titles when state law says cabinet secretaries must be confirmed by the Senate.
The possibilities of Skandera's power play continuing are 60-40, according to the little-known oddsmakers in Las Vegas, N.M.
If Martinez is re-elected next year, Skandera could become the only unconfirmed eight-year cabinet secretary in New Mexico history.
Then Skandera can grade schools, discipline boards of education and decide which charter applications suit her, all with a half-baked title borne of a confirmation process that Lopez botched.
If Martinez loses the election, Skandera's era would end much sooner without her ever receiving a confirmation vote. Skandera then would go on the free agent market of designated bosses.
She would still have her connections in the Republican Party and her inflated title of education secretary when she looks for another job.
Meantime, other designates for state cabinet positions are minding their manners and respecting the process that says you live in purgatory as long as Sen. Lopez stalls your confirmation vote.
At the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, David Martin is lising himself as cabinet secretary-designate. Martin, right, previously was secretary of the Environment Department, a job for which the Senate confirmed him.
Ryan Flynn is Martin's designated replacement at the helm of the state Environment Department. Flynn also is referring to himself as secretary-designate.
Who knows, by summertime Skandera's brazen style may embolden the entire Martinez administration to take whatever titles it likes, regardless of what the Senate does or does not do.