Wish we could turn back time to the good old days. A new study says New Mexico's once-robust reserves are depleted to the point that the state couldn't survive even a modest recession without massive tax hikes or service cuts. Moody's Analytics came out with the study, which says the state would need 10 percent reserves to weather a mild financial storm and 17 percent reserves to handle a serious recession like the one from which it has just begun to emerge. Reserves currently stand at just a hair over 1 percent.
Presby pays up
After three whistleblowers filed suit against the state's largest health insurance provider, Presbyterian Health Plan has agreed to pay them and the state $18.5 million to settle a case of unpaid taxes. All three whistleblowers work at the state Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. They're getting paid under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, which lets private citizens file suit on behalf of the government. The attorney general took over the case, as provided by law. Presbyterian says the settlement means it did not commit any fraud.
Stalker, congressional candidate
David Alcon, who's running for the 2nd Congressional District seat in Southern New Mexico, is the suspect in a stalking case from this weekend. Police in Santa Fe believe he sent a series of text messages to his victim, who was at a Halloween party. The texts allegedly said Alcon didn't want to lose the woman for another 10 years and included pictures of his genitals. Alcon was convicted of stalking nine years ago. He told the New Mexican that he'd moved past that chapter of his life.
Activist turned accused murderer
The saddest part of this story is the death of Vincent Gutierrez. He was shot and killed by Steve Kramer over the weekend, police say. Kramer is one of the three founders of Burque Media, which began a few years ago as an alternative news source during the city-wide outcry over actions of the Albuquerque police. His co-founders say Kramer's last year was spent largely on the street in a haze of drugs and deepening paranoia. Saturday night, they believe he shot Gutierrez as the two sat in the former campaign office of mayoral hopeful Stella Padilla.
Santa Fe shelves Verizon contract
A city committee voted unanimously to set aside a four-year contract with Verizon Wireless worth $373,000 because of the cell carrier's abysmal service. City councilors say the company knows the issues its customers have had with Verizon's signal in Santa Fe, especially downtown, but has done little to nothing to improve it. A meeting is planned between Verizon and city and county officials next week.
PNM plans for no-coal future
Faced with the shutdown of two units at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station to comply with the federally mandated reduction of Four Corners haze, PNM is asking for proposals to provide hundreds of megawatts of electricity generation from sources other than coal. It's not all likely to come from the same source, be it natural gas, wind, solar or geothermal, but the utility company says it wants to give itself the option of getting rid of coal within about five years.
Just for kicks
A Route 66 junkyard owner who opened a brew pub on his Grants property says it's ludicrous that a European company is suing him because he's using the name of the historic road in a beverage. The company says it owns the trademark to the term Route 66 if it's used in relation to a beverage, and it brews a Route 66 beer through a company in Wisconsin. Henry Lackey, the junkyard and brewery owner, says letting a European company trademark Route 66 is akin to letting a New Mexico company trademark the Eiffel Tower.
Remember Ski Rio?
Few do. The out-of-the-way ski resort in far Northern New Mexico was loved for that solitude, but it also made it difficult to bring in enough skiers to keep the place open. It closed in 2000 and the owners more or less walked away from the place. It makes for kind of a cool TV story now.
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