Crosswalkers Unite: Santa Fe dog groomer Maria Jobe was naturally upset last week when her mother, Linda, who uses a motorized wheelchair, was struck by a car on her way to the grocery store, in a crosswalk no less. Apparently the driver failed to stop. After hearing about similar incidents from her mother’s neighbors, Jobe decided to organize. On March 4, several elderly and handicapped people will protest for pedestrian rights at the intersection of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road. “If it’s not going to be taken care of by the police, we need to come together as a community,” Maria Jobe says.
Ptooey!: Late last month a Rio Rancho company, Senspex, Inc., won a $70,000 small-business research grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Senspex, which contracts with the US military and Department of Homeland Security, will work on a new way to detect hazardous substances in drinking water. According to Senspex principal investigator David Costello, the researchers will use nanostructures—super-tiny bits of metal—to amplify natural chemical signatures, which can then be picked apart and analyzed using a laser. Eventually, Costello says, the technology could help detect bad stuff in well water.
Carrot-and-Carrot Approach: What does New Mexico get in the proposed federal budget? A little here and there. The Santa Fe Rape Crisis & Trauma Treatment Center would get $100,000—but that’s just a rounding error in the billions for nuclear cleanup and weapons maintenance in New Mexico. According to a summary prepared by US Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office, the state’s second-biggest single get from the feds is $45 million for upgrades to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s security system. Not a bad idea, considering LANL somehow lost track of a couple pounds of nuclear material—probably plutonium—the Project on Government Oversight told the Santa Fe New Mexican last week. POGO later pointed out that “one piece of the story has not yet gotten as much attention as it deserves”—namely, that the Energy Department gave the contractor that manages LANL a $1.4 million bonus for doing such a good job keeping track of nuclear materials last year.
Gee, Thanks: The New Mexico House and Senate declared Feb. 28 “Oil and Gas Industry Day,” on which “heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation [was] extended to the New Mexico oil and gas industry for its many contributions to the state.” Senate sponsor Carroll Leavell, R-Eddy, has reason to be grateful. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, oil and gas companies were Leavell’s top backers in the 2008 elections, contributing approximately one-fifth of the $28,800 he raised.