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Morning Word: The View from the Cheap Seats

July 11, 2017, 7:30 am

Airball
The UNM basketball program failed to collect $432,000 in revenue from luxury suite tenants over the past seven years. That's according to an audit of the troubled Athletics Department. The problem came to light after the media exposed numerous overpayments and questionable spending by the department. It's a fraction of the more than $9 million raised by skybox sales, but it reveals a striking lack of financial oversight in a department that had been losing money for years.

PED to cede control of ineffective teachers to districts
The state Public Education Department plans to change a single word in its rules. If a "shall" becomes a "may" in the rules governing teachers who've been found ineffective through evaluations, it will be up to districts to decide if a performance improvement plan is warranted. That's a huge shift for a department that's butted heads with teachers' unions for years.

ADA suits ruled frivolous
According to KOB-TV, a federal magistrate judge thinks Santa Fe attorney Sharon Pomeranz and her client, Alyssa Carton, were using the Americans with Disabilities Act to bully businesses into a quick settlement. The pair filed 99 lawsuits against Albuquerque businesses, claiming they'd violated the ADA. The court threw out every lawsuit and ordered Pomeranz and Carton to pay $40,000 in court costs.

Pancakes and plunder
Under cover of night in the hours before the annual Pancakes on the Plaza fundraiser, someone made off with tens of thousands of dollars worth of handcrafted art from vendors in the tents on the north side of the Plaza. Police say they have little to go on in the brazen theft.

Vacancy
The scrum for an open seat in the US House of Representatives is something to see. After Rep. Steve Pearce announced yesterday that he won't run for reelection to Congress and instead run for governor, the guessing game began for a seat Democrats would desperately like to win in November 2018. Over at NMpolitics.net, Heath Haussamen digs in to some of the names being mentioned now that Pearce is leaving. There are four Democrats already in the race. On the Republican side, this beard (belonging to state Sen. Cliff Pirtle) could be headed to Washington with a pair of wins in the primary and general election. 

He's running ... for something
State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is eyeing public office once again. Just which office is to be decided. Dunn may run for reelection to his current position, for which he's already drawn competition. Or he may run for the Public Regulation Commission. Or the Republican may run for Steve Pearce's old seat in Congress. He'll have to decide soon, though, and his campaign says that decision is near.

Weapons-grade plutonium via FedEx air
Los Alamos National Lab has fired at least one employee after the lab sent 100 grams of weapons-grade plutonium to two other national laboratories using FedEx air. That's against federal safety regulations and the latest example of a safety lapse from the lab. Other employees are being disciplined. Imagine if Tom Hanks ended up with that shipment on a desert island—way different plot to Castaway then, yeah?

Student exodus
It's not just college graduates who are leaving New Mexico, it's incoming college freshman. Over the past seven years, college enrollment in the state is down more than 22,000 students. It's something of a national trend, but that's the kind of math that doesn't bode well for the state's workforce and makes it hard to attract businesses looking for qualified workers.

Thanks for reading! The Word is considering standing outside and staring at the sky until a legitimate rain storm occurs.

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