Kim Posich 1953-2017

A memorial will be held for Kim at 6pm on Friday, August 18th at the Albuquerque Museum (2000 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104).

Remembering Kim

Kim Posich, long-time Executive Director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, passed away on Sunday night at home. His family, the Center staff, and the community mourn the loss of such a tremendous social justice advocate.

Gail Evans, the Center’s Legal Director and his wife, wrote the following remembrance of Kim:

Kim was diagnosed with ALS in January of 2015. During these past few years, as his body steadily shut down, his mind, his humor, his grace, his patience, his appreciation of life did not. He continued to be a wonderful partner, parent, grandfather, friend, and colleague, contributing to the Center’s work until very recently, when he became more and more focused on the basics – breathing, eating, and drinking – all of which had become a real struggle.

Many of us loved and respected Kim. We loved his intellect; we loved his determination to build a more just world; we loved his persistent fight against poverty and injustice; we loved his appreciation for life, nature, a good joke, a good poem, and a good game, and we loved how much he loved. He truly was a beautiful man.

Please take a moment to appreciate the sky, the light, a flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk, and remember Kim. Be kind and understanding to someone you don’t know, or don’t like, and remember Kim. Say yes to someone in need who asks you for a favor, and remember Kim. Be inspired by the Freedom Riders and remember Kim. Take a bold move for justice, and remember Kim.

 

Kim at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

Kim Posich served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty for 14 years, between 2002 and 2016. He joined the Center with a clear purpose: to transform the small but effective organization into the powerhouse of legal advocacy in New Mexico that it is today. In the ensuing years, he achieved that vision beyond what anyone could have imagined. He increased the Center’s budget by more than $1 million, grew the size of the Center’s staff by 300 percent, and expanded the issue areas in which the Center was engaged, all while staying true to the Center’s history and core values. The Center’s achievements under his tenure are too numerous to list, but a few highlights include:

  • Leading stakeholders from around the state in a successful campaign to expand Medicaid eligibility. This change extended healthcare coverage to over 250,000 adults who were not previously eligible.
  • Winning a landmark lawsuit extending workers’ compensation benefits to agricultural laborers.
  • Coordinating campaigns that brought $16 million of financial support to New Mexico’s civil legal services system—the “legal emergency room” for the poor.
  • Collaborating with community groups to persuade the University of New Mexico Hospital to stop charging uninsured, indigent patients 30 percent more than insured patients and requiring them to pay 50 percent of expected charges for some services in advance.
  • Arguing for improvements to the state’s administration of public benefits that resulted in hundreds of thousands of people getting assistance more effectively when they needed it.

As New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Board Member John W. Boyd wrote:

Kim’s tireless work has resulted in accomplishments that have changed New Mexico law and improved our state in ways that make us very proud.

Rest well, Kim. We will miss you.

Families and School Districts Ask Court to Find that State Failed Its Legal Obligation to School Age Children 

SANTA FE, NM—In a pre-trial hearing starting Monday, May 22, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (the Center) will ask the First Judicial District Court to find that the State has failed to meet its constitutional obligation to provide children the supports necessary to learn and succeed. The Center will also ask the Court to rule that the State’s system of education is unconstitutional as it applies to Native American students.

“Education is a right, not a privilege. It’s time for the State of New Mexico to step up and meet its constitutional responsibility to provide public schools the resources and programming they need to promote the success of all children,” said Edward Tabet-Cubero, Executive Director of the Center. “It is unacceptable that a vast majority of our children cannot read, write, or do math at grade level. The State is failing our kids.”

The Center’s Motions for Summary Judgement in the lawsuit, Yazzie v. State of New Mexico, are on behalf of a group of New Mexico families and school districts including Gallup, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Cuba, Moriarty/Edgewood, and Lake Arthur. The families represented have children who are English language learners (ELL), Native American or economically disadvantaged and have been negatively impacted by the lack of resources provided to New Mexico public schools.

Marsha Leno, one of the plaintiffs in the case, lives in McCartys in western New Mexico. Five of her six children are enrolled in Cibola-Grants County Schools (GCCS). Like many families in the district, Marsha and the children speak both Keres and English at home. Her children have struggled in English Language Arts and other courses that require writing. Unfortunately, the district lacks an adequate bilingual and English as a second language program for Native American students. The GCCS superintendent told Leno that the district lacks adequate funding to address these problems.

The Center’s lawsuit seeks for the Court to order and hold the State accountable to meet its legal responsibility to provide the programming and resources necessary for all public school students to succeed. The lawsuit also seeks to ensure that funds are distributed equitably, including for economically disadvantaged, Native American, and English language learner students.

“The State of New Mexico has been starving its public schools for years and legislation continues to fail,” said Lauren Winkler, one of the Center’s attorneys working on the case. “Our kids are just as smart and motivated as other children across the country. We have loving families, committed teachers, and communities dedicated to their children’s education. But our schools have tried to do more with less, and it’s our children who are suffering from the State’s failure.”

Yazzie v. State of New Mexico was originally filed in March 2014 and consolidated with a similar case, Martinez v State of New Mexico. The Martinez parents and children hail from Española, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Zuni, Magdalena, Las Cruces, and Gadsden.

The consolidated lawsuit goes to trial on June 12, 2017.

Legal counsel on the Yazzie lawsuit include Gail Evans, Preston Sanchez, Christopher Sanchez, and Lauren Winkler of the Center along with co-counsel Daniel Yohalem and Mark D. Fine.

Legal documents in the case can be found here.

A Toast to Kim Posich!

A large crowd toasts to Kim.

Last month, we celebrated at Hotel Albuquerque by raising a glass with Kim Posich. As the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty’s Executive Director, Kim dedicated himself to increasing opportunities for low-income New Mexicans. It was wonderful to see so many of Kim’s friends, family, and colleagues come together to recognize the inspirational leadership of our long-time Executive Director.

NMCLP Board Member Regis Pecos gave a heartfelt toast on Kim’s impact to the community.

Thanks to everyone who attended the event!

 

Thanks again to our generous event sponsors!

Leader Circle
Paul Baca Court Reporters

Defender Circle
Ideum, Inc.
Brindle Foundation

Friend Circle
Con Alma Health Foundation
Coyte Law, P.C.
Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin, & Robb, P.A.
Sheehan and Sheehan, P.A. 
Ambitions Consulting Group

Community Organizations Ask Court to Protect Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Ballot Initiative

By Elizabeth Wagoner, Supervising Attorney for Workers’ Rights

NMCLP Staff Attorney Tim Davis speaks at the May 4 press conference. Photo Credit: OLÉ

On May 4, 2017, several community organizations filed motions to intervene and motions to dismiss in a lawsuit that corporate and industry groups filed to attempt to overturn the Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO) and keep the Albuquerque Healthy Workforce Ordinance off the 2017 ballot. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty represents the intervenors in this case.

The increases to the Albuquerque minimum wage passed in 2012 with the overwhelming support of Albuquerque voters. Now, almost five years later, corporate business interests seek to undercut the democratic process and invalidate the Albuquerque Minimum Wage, cutting the wages of hard working people across Albuquerque by $1.30 – from $8.80 per hour to $7.50 per hour. The corporate interests’ legal challenge to the Healthy Workforce Ordinance ballot initiative is a similarly undemocratic effort by corporations to keep Albuquerque voters, as is their right, from deciding whether workers should have the right to earn sick leave to recover from illness or care for ill family members. The corporate plaintiffs in the lawsuit do not stop there, however. They also ask this Court to take away the voters’ democratic right to propose and vote on ballot initiatives ever again.

The community organizations that fought successfully to put these important workplace rights on the ballot are now fighting once again to protect these laws. The first Motion to Dismiss asks the court to dismiss all of the challenges to the Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance, and a second Motion to Dismiss asks the court to dismiss the Healthy Workforce Ordinance challenges. Both motions argue that the industry claims are flimsy, without merit, and are wholly without respect for the democratic process. 

Find the motions to dismiss here and here.

Find the motions to intervene here and here.