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Morning Word: A Long, Ugly Look at Nuclear Safety

June 30, 2017, 7:30 am

Labs' safety culture
The nation's nuclear weapons labs can't wait for this week to end. An ongoing series of reports by the Center for Public Integrity has laid bare the labs' safety practices. The reports expose what critics call weak oversight and a penchant for using fines more as a slap on the wrist than a serious effort to correct safety lapses. Considering New Mexico's attachment to the nuclear weapons complex, the long reads are good ones.

Not their job
Or it shouldn't be. A court-appointed monitor who oversees the New Mexico Human Services Department's administration of a federal food assistance program says managers need to lose their jobs. A lawsuit that began years ago recently uncovered allegations that staff had been instructed to falsify information on applications to delay benefits. A federal official called it the country's "most fouled-up" food stamp program.

Pueblo blocks La Bajada access
The path up the steep escarpment at the northern edge of Cochiti Pueblo has been used for the El Camino Real and Route 66, but the Pueblo says concern about degradation and protecting the area for future generations means it's now closed. Hikers and community members of a nearby village are concerned. “I guess this has some history and meaning to those people, as well, but nobody more than the Pueblo,” says Cochiti's natural resource director.

Paper Genocide
This week's SFR cover story exposes how the funding structure for Native health care builds in conflict between local Native American tribes and urban Native Americans. Often, poor funding can lead to difficult decisions or an outright inability of the Indian Health Service to pay for specialized care. 

'20 months of agony'
The hotel developer who's trying to build a Holiday Inn Express on the south side of Taos says the permitting process has been "a nightmare" and "20 months of agony." While a project he started around the same time in Ohio is complete, Taos is debating the height of the hotel, which the developer agreed to try to reduce to three stories from a planned four.

'Bare bones' sugary-drink tax election 
The eight voting convenience centers used by the city of Santa Fe during the May 2 election kept costs to $59,000 instead of the much-discussed $90,000 price tag. The trade-off for the higher-than-expected turnout in the election was long lines at some centers. Voters could cast a ballot at any of the eight locations across the city, but centers in the northern and eastern council districts were busy all the way until polls closed.

Feds cede wolf reintroduction power to states
The new plan by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to deal with the sometimes-controversial Mexican gray wolf (the actual lobos) reintroduction program is to give states the authority to decide when and where to release wolves into the wild. The program is supposed to broaden the gene pool and make it easier to remove the wolf from the Endangered Species Act list. The Martinez administration has opposed reintroduction.

The Fourth
Yes, it's not until Tuesday, but a lot of people are checking out on Monday, too. If you're looking to make plans, here's a list of Fourth of July stuff happening around the state. Looks like it's shaping up to be a decent weekend, with a chance of storms accompanying the cooler temperatures before it heats up again next week.

Thanks for reading! Well, that was June. The Word hopes you made good use of it. Also, check out national news about New Mexico lately. Um, the plague is here every year, guys.

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