Sept. 19, 2017
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Morning Word: AG Settles Secret Suit

August 14, 2017, 7:30 am

Secret justice
The New Mexico Attorney General recently settled a secret lawsuit against Lovelace Health System for $2 million. The case involved gross receipts taxes paid on Medicaid services. While Medicaid was dishing out compensation for the services as taxable, Lovelace didn't have to pay tax to the state on those services and would have been able to pocket the money. Initially, AG Hector Balderas' office estimated $142.6 million in improperly collected taxes paid to Lovelace. Months later, that estimate dropped to $1.6 million.

Say what?
The New Mexico Republican Party chairman is backing away from its Doña Ana County branch after a local leader, Roman Jimenez, posted an angry diatribe on Facebook. Jimenez wrote that "violent, leftist protesters" were to blame for an increasingly segregated society and racial tension. The post was later removed and Jimenez complained that, one day after a woman was killed while protesting a racist rally in Virginia, his comment was taken out of context. He's a former state policeman and once headed Gov. Susana Martinez' security detail. The governor called the Charlottesville violence a "cowardly attack."

Last act
After a decade at the helm of the Santa Fe Opera, Charles MacKay is calling next season his last. MacKay made the announcement late Friday. He's been with the Santa Fe Opera in some way, shape or form for 50 years and has shepherded it through major expansion and renovations in the past few years.

Lea County shakedown
An audit of property taxes in Lea County, part of the state's most productive oil patch, shows two-thirds of oil and gas drilling companies have reported no new taxable assets in the last decade. That doesn't sound right to the county's tax assessor. In the first year of a four-year audit, she's already discovered millions in unpaid property taxes, but she had to sue the county commission to conduct the audit. They were afraid of being considered anti-drilling.

Judge says Martinez vetoes were illegal
A state District Court judge ruled on Friday that 10 vetoes handed down by Gov. Martinez didn't follow the rules set out in the state Constitution. The vetoes were either delivered late or delivered without a message explaining why she rejected the bills. The governor's private attorney plans to appeal the ruling and will ask a court to prevent the laws from going into effect until the appeal is over.

This may be one of the best weather weeks of the year: Mild highs in the 80s and overnight lows in the 50s with a brief break from monsoonal moisture patterns. Start planning those hikes and cookouts.

Thanks for reading! The Word spent the weekend holed up at home, reloading news sites and social media a little too much. Time to enjoy that sunshine (as much as one can on a Monday).

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