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Briefs: Jan 20

January 20, 2010, 12:00 am

Quaking in Our Boots: At 8:41 am on Jan. 18, an earthquake of magnitude 4.1 struck New Mexico approximately 16 miles west of Raton. A third of the depth of Haiti’s magnitude 7 quake, most New Mexicans wouldn’t have felt it and, apparently, this stuff happens a lot.

“It’s relatively common,” Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey, tells SFR. “We see a lot down there [with magnitudes] between 2.5 and 4.”

In November 1906, New Mexico experienced its largest earthquake on record: a 7, in which “four rebuilt chimneys were shaken off the Socorro County Courthouse, and…plaster was shaken from walls in Santa Fe,” according to the book Seismicity in the United States, 1568-1989.

The USGS’s Seismic Hazard Map of New Mexico reveals that earthquakes are most likely around Santa Fe, Albuquerque and the far northeastern part of the state.

As for a Haiti-sized earthquake in New Mexico, Blakeman says it would be “very unlikely.”

For now, then, a more pressing concern is helping Haiti. “Happy Hour for Haiti,” a music event/benefit, is planned for 5 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Cowgirl. As of press time, close to 20 musicians were lined up to play—including Joe West, Venue Bogardus and Matthew Andrae, to name a few. All donations (there’s no cover) benefit the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

The Case of the Missing $1.7 Million: In a follow-up to last week’s cover story, SFR, after finally receiving a copy of a recent external audit, delved a bit deeper into the fiscal minutiae of the New Mexico Department of Health. The audit was performed by Meyners + Company, a firm headed by a former campaign treasurer for Gov. Bill Richardson, Bruce Malott. Notably absent from the audit was $1.7 million in federal WIC (Women, Infants and Children) funds whose accounting a department whistle-blower has questioned.

In response to SFR’s story, state Rep. (and gubernatorial candidate) Janice Arnold-Jones, R-Bernalillo, says problems at the DOH are “ongoing,” and cites everything from faulty information technology systems to personnel issues.

“All the things you uncovered [are] the way we are typically doing business, and I think that’s terribly unfortunate for state employees as well as the citizens of the state,” Arnold-Jones tells SFR.

As for Meyners, which audits several other government departments, Arnold-Jones says the audits are often difficult to obtain or lacking in information. “I have seen the work of Meyners + Company: Sometimes it’s excellent, and sometimes I’m thinking, ‘We paid for this?’” Arnold-Jones says.

Indeed we did: The DOH audit cost the state $210,223.


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