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Home / Articles / News / Local News /  Briefs: Nov. 4

Briefs: Nov. 4

November 11, 2009, 12:00 am

Got Court? Embattled New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. failed to appear at recent court-ordered mediation sessions with a woman who sued him for paternity and child support earlier this year, then skipped out on a judge’s order to show up and explain himself, according to documents filed last month at the 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe. The court record does not indicate that Judge Raymond Ortiz issued a bench warrant for Block. This is not the first time Block has blown off a child support hearing; SFR reported on a pattern of such behavior before his election last year.

What of the pending criminal case against Block and his father, Jerome Block Sr., stemming from campaign finance violations? The Blocks’ attorneys “are confident that this case will not be ready for trial in January 2010,” when it was scheduled, according to a notice filed with the court on Oct. 23.

The Blocks’ attorneys “intend to request a continuance of the trial” because “a number of discovery disputes have arisen,” the Oct. 23 filing says. Since then, prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office have named additional witnesses they intend to call. They are Andrew Griego, the state Department of Transportation’s IT chief security officer; Hugh W Curfman Jr., a document examiner with the San Diego Police Department; Thomas Van Valkenburgh, a handwriting examiner with the Northern Forensic Lab; and Devin Martinez of Wells Fargo Bank.

Block Jr. did not return SFR’s call. For SFR’s past Blockgate coverage, click HERE.

Got Enriched Uranium? Apparently, the health care debate hasn’t entirely tied Congress’ hands. US Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, introduced a bill late last month to temporarily reduce by up to $500,000 per year the tariff on certain uranium enrichment technology.

“It’s something we’ve been doing every year and it hasn’t moved yet,” Bingaman spokeswoman Jude McCartin says. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, on which Bingaman serves.

The chief beneficiary of the tariff cut would be Urenco, a consortium of European energy companies that, under the name Louisiana Energy Services, has constructed a $1.5 billion uranium enrichment facility near the Texas border. According to The New York Times, the Urenco project has turned tiny Eunice, NM into a “boomtown”; McCartin says construction there has created 1,900 jobs. On its website, LES says the centrifuge technology will reduce “US reliance on the global nuclear fuel marketplace.” The US now relies on Russia for most of its nuclear fuel.

 

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