Ever Vigilant: How much did it cost to send the Santa Fe Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Response Team to City Hall in response to last week's powder-in-the-mailroom scare? Nothing, according to City of Santa Fe spokeswoman Laura Banish, because "everybody we sent to the incident was already on duty."
Of course, time is money, and wasted time is wasted money. More than 99 percent of the alarm system calls police responded to in 2007 were false alarms, according to city figures. And for each of the 7,567 false alarms that year, two officers spent an hour of their time for naught. Based on an SFPD officer's starting salary, the city spends at least $231,000 a year in staff time responding to false alarms. Banish says the "incredibly harmless" mystery powder was yellowish in color with a mustard-like consistency. "For all we know it could've been computer toner," she says.
Know When To Hold 'Em: State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Bernalillo, wants to legalize poker tournaments in bars. House Bill 756 would permit "bona fide contests that offer purses, prizes or premiums to the actual contestants for the determination of skill, including Texas hold 'em contests." Five-card stud fans are out of luck.
Overdue Bill: Two months after news of a federal investigation involving a state contractor and campaign contributor forced him out of the running for secretary of commerce, Gov. Bill Richardson is supporting an ethics bill that would ban political contributions by state contractors, who have fueled his past runs for office. But the Feb. 16 statement by Richardson's office didn't mention a formal request last week by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Bernalillo, asking the guv to let state police proceed with background checks of gubernatorial appointees. Richardson, Lopez complained, had "inexplicably ordered" state police to halt the checks.
Trash Talk: Last week, Santa Fe County officials took the unusual step of issuing a press release to call out KSFR radio for incorrectly reporting that the county had held secret growth-management meetings.
A KSFR report from two days earlier essentially accused the county of violating open public-meetings laws, claiming that "while the open house portion of these sessions has been advertised, there has been an unadvertised set of meetings" for developers and other "stakeholders." News Director Bill Dupuy admitted the mistake on KSFR's Web site, noting that the county did give notice of the special-interest meetings, "but it was not apparent to KSFR News until it was called to our attention by county officials after the fact." Translation: Oops.