Sept. 23, 2017
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Morning Word: Just Hang on a Sec, OK?

June 29, 2017, 7:30 am

Benefits delayed
A group suing the state's Human Services Department for denying and delaying welfare benefits says Brent Earnest, the department secretary, should pay $100 a day out of his own pocket for violating court orders. The lawsuit, which started five governors ago, has taken a turn in recent years as a federal judge held Earnest in contempt of court and appointed a monitor to oversee the department's compliance. Attorneys say the problem has gotten worse and the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez has used having the monitor as an excuse. Earnest is due in court today.

Last choice
Also delayed for years is the instant-runoff voting system approved by Santa Feans in 2008. Since that election, the city charter has said Santa Fe has to use ranked-choice voting as soon as it's affordable and reliable. The city council says that won't be in March. Last night, the council voted to delay use of the system. The secretary of state's office tells SFR it would pay. But the council didn't trust the state's voting-machine manufacturer to meet deadlines that would certify the system by October 1. The next city election is March 6, 2018.

Open government delays
Still more slow government news: The attorney general has prosecuted just one case against a government entity for violating the state's open records law. Hector Balderas said he would "absolutely" prosecute violators when he was campaigning. He and his team have found 20 violations since he sat down in the big leather chair in the state's highest law enforcement office.

I think, therefore ...
I think I need more office space and employees. The Word is lucky Rene Descartes isn't alive. Bad puns notwithstanding, Descartes Labs, which recently plopped down headquarters in the Railyard, has also opened a satellite office in San Francisco. The tech company hopes to keep expanding, potentially doubling its workforce.

You're out! Wait ...
This one feels like the Santa Fe sheriff's deputies who picked up the guy who escaped from the state pen and offered him ride to a shelter before realizing who he was, but it's actually a little more embarrassing. A fax machine that wasn't monitored is the culprit in the inadvertent release of a guy who fought with Albuquerque police as they tried to arrest him after a fight with his girlfriend. They caught up with him.

Leaning D
The venerable Cook Political Report, which rates the likely outcome of prominent campaigns for elected office, has shifted New Mexico's gubernatorial race to "Leans Democratic." It may not reflect much other than the political winds—there aren't any big names in the race on the Republican side yet; Jeff Apodaca, Santa Fean Peter DeBenedittis and US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham are in on the Democratic side.

Zen Coens
Ethan and Joel Coen do seem to make movies with a certain zen to them. They are doing so, the New Mexico Film Office says, around Santa Fe. Perhaps at this very moment. The pair (Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski) are currently filming The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

Quit acting like a haboob
A drone pilot down in Las Cruces caught some cool video of a dust storm—called a haboob—blowing into town on Saturday. The cloud blocks out everything behind it and the guy was wise enough to both land his drone before the storm hit and to provide an on-screen description of what was happening.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that not even Tom Cruise can outrun a dust storm. Though he came super close. He's so fast. Just ask him. IF YOU CAN CATCH HIM.

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