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Morning Word: Cop Secret No More?

August 18, 2017, 7:30 am

Longstanding police discipline secrecy policy might change
Santa Fe Police Chief Patrick Gallagher tells SFR that details regarding the internal investigation of Sgt. Troy Baker, who shared racist and offensive memes earlier this year, will be made public once it is completed. That would represent a huge break from normal protocol, which is for the police department to keep any and all officer disciplinary history under wraps. SFR’s cover story a few months ago showed how varying interpretation of public disclosure law meant varying degrees of transparency among departments around the state, with SFPD being one of the least transparent. The mayor told us he had asked Attorney General Hector Balderas for clearer guidance on the matter.

Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?
In two years, Santa Fe Public Schools nearly halved its number of students who are chronically absent from school. The district points to its hiring of three truancy coaches and a new parent notification system as reasons more kids are showing up to classes now. Last school year, SFPS paid $82,000 to a California-based company for its attendance tracking system. The district has created a task force to look at why some students are habitually truant (meaning they’ve accumulated 10 or more days of unexcused absences in a school year).

Mixed results
While we’re talking about kids: A legislative report indicates that New Mexico is seeing “mixed results” from its early childhood programming. One of the most effective measures was the $54 million annual investment on pre-kindergarten combined with $24 million for the K-3 Plus program, which extends the school year, and is geared toward helping low-income families. But budget cuts to programs like K-3 have contributed to hampering their effectiveness in some places.

Wipe the slate clean, I guess?
Speaking of the mayor, Gonzales announced in a news release last night that the city would conduct a deeper examination all of its monuments to the past, including activities like Fiestas de Santa Fe and the Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas, amid the falling of Confederate statues across the country. In addition to continuing “leader-to-leader dialogue” with Pueblo leaders, the mayor is also directing the city manager to deliver to the public and the City either a report or a timeline for a report that includes municipal support for historical events, monuments to people or historical events, and suggestions for how the public can submit their input on such matters. Some Native people in Santa Fe look at memorials to Spanish conquest as distastefully as statutes to the Confederacy.

Spaceship launch site withheld docs
A $220 million taxpayer-funded launch site for spaceships owned by New Mexico is in trouble for withholding documents that reveal its economic impact in the state. Spaceport was asked by a news outlet in El Paso for documents to verify the site’s claim that it had a $20 million economic impact in 2016 despite losing millions. It tried charging the news station hundreds of dollars just to look at documents.

Dirty Texan thieves
New Mexico is tired of Texas road workers who keep coming over and taking state-protected soil to repair a dirt road Dell City, Texas, along the state border. “We’re calling them dirty bandits and dirt desperados for doing this to the [school] kids,” says New Mexico’s State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. The commissioner for the county where Dell City is located says that, actually, New Mexico should be grateful for years of “cost-free road maintenance.” The state is asking the county to pay for “the minerals mined and removed to date.” It could become a bigger thing.

It's not enough
Managers of New Mexico’s two major retirement funds, the Educational Retirement Board and the Public Employees Retirement Association, admitted Thursday that new investment in the funds is still not enough to meet retirees’ needs. Reforms to pension benefits and contributions are under consideration to address billions in shortfalls for public educator retirees. At this time there are no immediate plans to restructure benefits or contributions for other public employees who benefit from the PERA pension fund.

Taos needs $1 million for veteran cemetery
Plans have been under way since 2013 to build a new cemetery for American soldiers in Taos as the Santa Fe one reached capacity. Initially, the cemetery received $200,000 from the Legislature, but quickly rang up a larger bill, and now an additional $1 million is needed to install crypts.

Weekend: Not bad, for now
The weather heading into the weekend in Santa Fe looks to be partially cloudy with a chance of scattered thunderstorms Sunday. Texas wishes they had weather this nice. But with the Southwest warming more quickly than other places due to climate change, we’re all in the same boat, so maybe we should stop fighting and just share our dirt?

Thanks for reading! The Word is so ready for this weekend. Like, SO ready. DID YOU KNOW... It's Indian Market? I know, kind of a little, off-the-beaten-path thing, but you should look into it...

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