Slush fund shuffle
It's been a slush-free winter here in the Land of Enchantment and, at least legislatively, that might continue. New Mexicans give tens of thousands of dollars to their governor each year for, well, whatever. The contingency fund that's been set up to let the governor throw parties or entertain people at the mansion doesn't require any sort of public audit. A bill introduced by Republican Sen. Sander Rue would require such disclosure for spending from the $70,000-$90,000 pot of money. It passed the Senate without opposition, but was also changed to make the audits begin Jan. 1 of next year. It still has to clear the House … and the governor who used the fund to pay for part of a holiday party you might recall back in 2015.
Rise up … or raise up
Gov. Martinez says she wants bigger raises for state police and prison guards in the Senate version of the state's $6.3 billion budget. A spokeswoman called the House spending plan soft on crime. It gives 6.5 percent raises to state law enforcement officers. The governor also says it doesn't focus enough on Albuquerque's crime problem.
What's nine legislative days among friends? Or rivals? Once again, a tax reform proposal is popping up with less than a third of the legislative session to go. It's not broad reform, but rather adds online purchases and nonprofit hospital services to the gross receipts tax rolls. It's not clear the governor would entertain such a measure. Or pay to entertain it at the mansion with a tax reform party that isn't publicly audited. We're skeptical either of those things would happen, though.
Senate stops regent reform
A bipartisan plan to change the politicized process of appointing regents to oversee the state's universities ran into a wall ($) yesterday. A Senate committee said creating a system to vet nominees and then giving that group of names to the governor might be just as political. Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said it might be a "solution in search of a problem." Cervantes' daughters went to UNM.
The US marshal for New Mexico isn't Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive. So, in a way, we all lose. Nevertheless, for the last eight years, it's been Conrad Candelaria. He's stepped down and a deputy has taken up the post. It's a political appointment, and the state's congressional delegation has recommended four people from whom the White House can choose a replacement, but that was about nine months ago.
Police have arrested a Las Cruces mother for child abuse after two of her kids tested positive ($) for methamphetamine. According to an affidavit, a child services worker suspected Gail Delbozque of giving meth to her children and made the referral to police.
A former office manager for the Otis water cooperative in Eddy County faces 75 counts of wire fraud for allegedly embezzling $800,000 ($) from the agency over two years. The office of the state auditor identified the issue in a review last year. Lori Whitaker apparently used at least some of the money at casinos and resorts across the state. The co-op's current manager declined to comment. He's Whitaker's son.
Admittedly, not much of a chance, but cooler air aloft could bring snow, rain, or some combo thereof for the most northern parts of the state today. It'll also be windy just about everywhere, but still warm.
Thanks for reading! The Word wonders if there's an ideal sweet/savory combo breakfast item. You can't say that unholy alliance thing at the fast-food place that has syrup in the bun. Not that using a pancake to sop up an over-easy egg is out of bounds, but I want to do that myself.
The dollar signs ($) are links that require a subscription, likely beyond a few free articles a month.
Spread the Word at sfreporter.com/signup.