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Morning Word: A Whiff of Fire Season

June 16, 2017, 7:20 am

Fire on the mountain
The Cajete Fire in the Jemez Mountains chewed through more than 600 acres of forest yesterday. If you're in Santa Fe, that's the smoke you started to smell last night as temperatures dropped. More than 100 families left their homes ahead of the fire, which was fought primarily from the air. Firefighters don't have any of the fire contained. It's burning in the Jemez Valley, about 20 miles from Los Alamos.

Come together
For the first time in two years, the governing bodies of the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County sat down for a planning session. They spent the day primarily talking about two proposed gross receipts tax increases being considered by the county. City councilors have been openly concerned that they would stretch thin the budgets of families who haven't seen their wages grow. The mayor shared his experience with losing the sugary-drink tax vote. The county expects to vote on the increases at the end of the month.

State police catch up with shooter
Damian Herrera shot and killed five people in Northern New Mexico, police say. After a manhunt through Vallecitos, Tres Piedras and Abiquiu last night, police caught up with Herrera as it was getting dark. The Taos News has the latest.

Premium hikes ahead for state health insurance exchange
New Mexico Health Connections, one of four insurance providers selling on the state's Obamacare portal, is proposing a premium increase of 80 percent for next year. It's an uncertain future for the exchange and the companies selling insurance on it, as Republicans in Washington, DC look to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Judge questions ATF sting methods
A federal judge in Albuquerque has ruled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was likely to arrest a disproportionately high number of minorities in a 2016 sting that netted 103 arrests. Yusef Casanova, a black man arrested for selling a broken shotgun and an ounce of methamphetamine to an undercover ATF agent, won the right to pursue what's called a selective enforcement claim. But prosecutors plan to seek a mandatory minimum sentence that could put Casanova in prison for life barring a plea deal.

Can you hear me now?
A former Children, Youth and Families Department staffer is suspected of using more than $50,000 in state funds to buy 116 cell phones and pay for service. She's also suspected of buying upgraded phones that were never given to employees. Investigators called several numbers on the new phones, no one who answered worked for CYFD.

Play ball
The congressional baseball game went on as planned last night, with Democrats downing Republicans 11-2. Rep. Steve Pearce, 0-1 as a pinch hitter, says it was important to continue the tradition after he and his fellow Republicans were ambushed by a gunman at practice Wednesday morning.

The heat
Summer seems to be here a few days early this year. It's going to stay hot and dry for at least a week. The temperature on Saturday could hit 97 in Santa Fe. The air is extremely dry, which is bad for fire and just about everything else right now.

Thanks for reading! The Word envisions apocalyptic lines for air conditioning units and swamp cooler pads at Big Jo this weekend. We'll be the one in a helmet from high school football. Stand back.


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