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Morning Word: Soda Tax Campaigns Paid For By Outside Groups

March 24, 2017, 7:30 am

Fizzy Math
More than half a million dollars in cash, consulting, canvassing and other campaign expenses has flowed into Santa Fe's soda tax election. Almost all the cash on both sides is coming from outside groups like the American Beverage Association and the OLÉ political organizing group in Albuquerque. As expected, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg played a large role, too. The last day to register to vote in the May 2 election is April 4.

Frozen
Gov. Susana Martinez has ordered the State Personnel Office to stop hiring state employees. Except for cops, child-services workers, wildland firefighters and some Tax and Revenue Department employees, the state won't hire anyone until further notice. The state's revenues are up slightly and actually in line with projected spending, but the state's reserves are so low that they could drop to just $25 million—compared to a more than $6 billion annual budget.

Eye-Opener
The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer looks at the effects of an immigration raid and the rumors that follow. The title says it all: After an immigration raid, a city's students vanish. Two days after an ICE raid in Las Cruces, he writes, 2,000 students didn't show up to class.

State Ed Chief Investigates SFPS 'Snow Day'
When Santa Fe Public Schools closed their doors last week to let students, parents, teachers and others go to the Capitol to protest the education budget, Hanna Skandera thinks they may have violated a state law that prevents public money from being used for political purposes. There's no love lost between Skandera and SFPS superintendent Veronica Garcia, who find themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Skandera Likely to Stay
Meanwhile, long-running rumors of Hanna Skandera's departure for the national stage were just about laid to rest yesterday, as Politico reported she's unlikely to get a job at the US Department of Education under Donald Trump.

Con Man Gets Probation
A judge sentenced former Santa Fe con man Matthew Sample to five years' probation after he swindled and spent more than $1 million from investors. Prosecutors wanted more than six years in jail, but the judge said she ordered probation so Sample can pay restitution. How, you ask? His current job is expected to pay $200,000 this year.

Starbucks On its Way to Española?
It may well be, giving the caffeine-crazed a small sanctuary of corporate consistency if they deem a stop at a local joint too risky. The rumor is that the store will be a "rural prototype" Starbucks—whatever that means.

Hey, It Snowed
Like, a lot. There's snow on the ground here, and both Taos and Santa Fe ski areas reported about a foot. Almost forgot winter was a thing.

Thanks for reading! The Word respects winter's pluck.

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