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Morning Word: UNM Accreditation At Risk

August 16, 2017, 7:30 am

Wolf at the door
The financial problems with the University of New Mexico's Athletic Department have drawn the attention of the state auditor and the attorney general. Now, the Higher Learning Commission, which evaluates colleges and universities from Arizona to West Virginia, has told the university it is reviewing its regional accreditation. According to NM Fishbowl, the commission was told the special audit underway is looking at more than just the Athletics Department. If the HLC somehow pulls UNM's accreditation, it would be a massive hit to the school, as it could no longer receive federal financial aid and its degrees might not be recognized by other institutions.

SFPD sergeant on desk duty
Roughly six months after SFR uncovered incendiary Facebook posts by Santa Fe Police Department Sergeant Troy Baker, the police chief has parked Baker at a desk pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. The department can't take more than 180 days to complete an IA inquiry, and there are just a few days left before that deadline. One of Baker's posts, a meme showing a car running over stick figures and titled "All Lives Splatter," drew ire after the Charlottesville incident that killed one woman and injured many more.

Doña Ana GOP chair resigns
Roman Jimenez, who posted a Facebook screed over the weekend bashing "violent, leftist protesters" and then claimed it had nothing to do with racially fueled violence in Charlottesville, has resigned from his position leading the county's Republican party. Jimenez made the announcement on Facebook.

Your (financial) fuel is low
New Mexico has been cruising through the last two budget years like your dad when the fuel light comes on: "I think we've got enough to make it to the next exit." That's more or less what a new review of states' financial health found. New Mexico could last barely one week if it had to rely on its reserves to completely fund government. Potentially more worrisome is the reliance of legislators and the governor on those reserves to fund recurring government costs. A new revenue estimate is due out today.

More Native lawsuits against Mormon Church 
Two more lawsuits have been filed by former Native foster children who were in a program run by the Mormon Church. The filings claim the church didn't do enough to protect children who were in the program and suffered abuse at the hands of some foster families. Seven Navajo lawsuits have been filed since 2016 and another filed in Washington state. The suits have echoes of the Catholic Church priest sex abuse scandal.

UNM regents approve first phase of hospital
In a unanimous vote, the University of New Mexico's Board of Regents gave the school's hospital the go-ahead to hire an architect to design the first phase of a new hospital facility. The project would cost $230 million dollars, which the hospital says it has in reserves that have been targeted toward the project. The construction would still have to get approval by the state Board of Finance, which has balked at the project with Gov. Susana Martinez voicing concern.

High and dry
This could be the first day in more than a month that some part of the state doesn't see a thunderstorm or lightning activity. So, you know, if you've been wanting to go outside and hoist a huge metal rod into the sky, today's probably your day. But don't do that. Because lawyers.

Thanks for reading! The Word fondly remembers being stuck on the side of the road near an Iowa corn field while our mother's dad drove out to bring my father an extra few gallons of gas.

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