Aug. 19, 2017
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Morning Word: Mural, Mural Off the Wall

July 19, 2017, 7:30 am

Massive cover-up at City Hall
Actually, it's kind of on City Hall. A mural on the outside of the seat of city government, called "Spiritual Warrior Within," was stuccoed over by contractors who were working on project to restucco all of City Hall. The city says miscommunication between several departments, boards and commissions is to blame, but the mural may be permanently lost—or turn into an expensive restoration project.

Dunn gonna run
State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is going to take another shot at Congress. Dunn announced yesterday that he'll pass up the chance for reelection to his current post to instead pursue the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Steve Pearce. He's the second Republican into the race, after Alamogordo Rep. Yvette Herrell. So far, four Democrats have announced a run, though all announced before Pearce made his decision and none have held elected office before.

Whistleblowers say state silenced them
Three women who filed a lawsuit against Presbyterian Healthcare Services for underpayment of taxes say they raised the issue with their bosses at a state agency two years ago, only to be silenced. The women work at the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance and say they identified issues with the insurer in 2015. They filed a lawsuit under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, which lets private individuals prosecute government waste cases, but also lets the attorney general intervene, which Hector Balderas did last week. 

A deeper story
New Mexico in Depth continues its post-mortem examination of the behavioral health care crisis that began in 2013, when the Martinez administration accused 15 providers of Medicaid fraud, froze payments to them and forced many out of business. Its most recent look at the mess examines how the state took three years to investigate a Las Cruces business that had a letter from state prosecutors explaining it had already self-reported billing problems and been cleared in a review that covered the vast majority of the payments in question.

Feds officially pass on charges for Boyd officers
Though it was reported years ago, the Department of Justice has now made it official: Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez will not face charges for killing homeless camper James Boyd in 2014. The bar for those charges, which involves a determination that the APD officers willfully deprived Boyd of his civil rights, is one of the hardest to meet for prosecutors.

State board grills UNM over new hospital
The hospital at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center is old, overcrowded and, despite being the only place in the state that can treat certain conditions or traumatic injuries, had to turn away 1,000 people last year. The Health Sciences Center has been trying for years to build a new facility on land it owns, with money it already has, but Gov. Martinez has been skeptical of the project. The State Board of Finance shelved the plan five years ago and spent three hours debating its merits yesterday. No vote is scheduled. The plan can't move forward without it.  

Truck stop drama
The latest public meeting for a proposed truck stop at the I-25/Highway 14 interchange featured as much hissing and screeching as, well, a truck stop itself. Angry residents of the Turquoise Trail and Rancho Viejo developments say the 24/7 business has no place near their homes. The land Pilot Flying J wants to buy is generally zoned for commercial use, thought the county would have to approve modifications.

How unique is the Lobo?
A federal spending plan for the US Department of the Interior would require genetic testing of the Mexican gray wolf to determine if it is a distinct subspecies. If it isn't, protections for the wolf could be weakened or removed. Supporters say it's a responsible approach, which wolf advocates say it's a thinly veiled plan to stop wolf reintroduction in its tracks.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that there's a certain length after which jean shorts are no longer acceptable.

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