Sept. 26, 2016
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Griego Faces New Charges

July 5, 2016, 7:50 am
Judges Considers Evidence against Griego
Beginning this morning, State District Judge Brett Loveless will consider whether the state’s evidence against former state Sen. Phil Griego merits taking the criminal case to trial. Griego is currently charged with 10 felonies stemming from a real estate deal he brokered in 2014. Meanwhile, public documents in the case, obtained by SFR late last week, reveal for the first time that Griego had sought a secretive reprimand in an ethics violation case the ethics subcommittee was preparing against him. Read the previously shielded documents at SFR.

Late last week, Loveless determined that SFR (in particular, this reporter) will not have to testify about confidential information obtained during news gathering for the original investigative stories that brought this issue to light. The judge did rule that I will be required to authenticate Griego’s voice on a recorded interview published on a social media site. While the judge’s ruling will not be case law, Albuquerque attorney Colin Hunter, who filed a motion to quash the state’s subpoena, says Loveless’ decision broadens the scope of reporter’s privilege in New Mexico.

It’s going to be a long summer for Griego. On Saturday, the Albuquerque Journal reported Griego also faces six new misdemeanors in San Miguel County for allowing two men to remove valuable rocks from land his family has leased from the state for five decades. The lease, as SFR reported in January, did not give Griego rights to any surface minerals, including the sandstone boulders that were taken. Griego told SFR earlier this year the men didn’t pay him for the rocks, but said they needed them to shore up an irrigation ditch in Pecos.

Expert: New Inmate Health Care Contract Flawed
The New Mexico Department of Corrections’ contract with a new provider is an improvement but still has problems, since it focuses on staffing levels, not quality of care, and doesn’t require proof that mental health services are effective, according to a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Phaedra Haywood, who uncovered millions in inmate health care lawsuit settlements, showed the contract to Marc Stern, a correctional health care consultant and assistant professor at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, who said he's pleased that new forms will at least verify if inmates are taking their prescribed medications.

Another Solitary Confinement Lawsuit
A new complaint alleges Otero County jail guards allowed a mentally ill woman to deteriorate in solitary confinement, in a holding cell with no bed, sink or toilet, for 14 months. Another inmate, who was locked in the same cell earlier, settled a lawsuit for $3 million last year, according to KOB.

Data-Driven Justice
Bernalillo County, on the other hand, is participating in the White House's new Data-Driven Justice Initiative, aimed at keeping people with mental illness out of jail in the first place.

Summer School Helps Seniors Prepare for Graduation
About 30 high school seniors in Santa Fe are enrolled in summer school classes. They’re in a hurry to make up for chronic absenteeism during the school year. The district says if they complete their studies, they’ll be allowed to don a cap and gown July 27. From the New Mexican:
More than 600 students in the district, including about 200 at Capital and 150 at Santa Fe High, enrolled in summer classes that began just after Memorial Day to get some extra learning time. A four-week program for some 260 students in grades K-8 at Gonzales Community School ended last week.
Charter Schools Relationship with PED Sours
More than two dozen charter schools have filed a complaint against the director of the Options for Parents Division of the New Mexico Public Education Department. They claim their relationship with Director Katie Poulous has deteriorated due to her micromanagement and oversight.

Udall Unhappy with Fire Fighting Funding Process
US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, says it's an “iffy proposition” and “irresponsible” for the federal Department of Agriculture to rely on Congress for emergency funds to battle large wildfires, a pattern that includes the 17,000-acre Dog Head Fire in the Manzano Mountains.

While Congress figures that out, firefighters here are battling a new lightning-caused wildfire that consumed hundreds of acres in the Bosque del Apache on Monday.

Innovative Zika Research 
The University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center has an interesting approach to combat the Zika virus “by targeting their larvae through a safe, effective, and inexpensive treatment that uses lemongrass oil as a natural insecticide.” Researchers showed off the formula during a visit by US Sen. Martin Heinrich last week. Heinrich has called on Republican leaders to pass the president’s $1.9 billion emergency supplemental funding request to battle the infectious disease but says their bill is loaded with “amendments to restrict access to birth control, weaken clean air and water protections, and break the bipartisan tradition of passing emergency disaster funding.”


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