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Morning Word: ABQ elections today

And the rest of New Mexico's news

October 8, 2013, 8:00 am
By Matthew Reichbach
  • The mayoral election in Albuquerque is today. Incumbent Richard Berry is the heavy favorite to keep his position -- but if he is kept under 50 percent by Pete Dinelli and Paul Heh, he will face a runoff election in November.
  • KUNM reminds that there are bonds and city council seats to vote on.
  • V.B. Price wonders why Pete Dinelli's stances on issues, seemingly among the majority of Albuquerque residents, didn't get much media attention.
  • An Albuquerque city councilor says a proposed late-term abortion ban is unconstitutional.
    In a two page draft, Jones says independent legal counsel has determined the proposed ordinance is unconstitutional on its face.

    She wants the city to seek a ruling from a court to provide guidance on the ordinance's constitutionality.
  • There are questions being raised about the handling of county money in Bernalillo County.
    In interviews and documents, they have expressed concern that too much of the county’s money is tied up in long-term investments and that the treasurer might have to sell some of the investments at a loss to generate the cash needed to pay for routine operational expenses.“We’re struggling to make payroll, not because we don’t have enough money, but because we’ve got it tied up in longer-term instruments,” Commissioner Wayne Johnson said in an interview Monday.
  • Furloughed federal employees are seeking unemployment.
    “Since the federal government shutdown on Tuesday, Oct. 1, approximately 47 percent of our initial claims have been federal claims,” Workforce Solutions Secretary Celina Bussey said in a news release Monday morning. “We are encouraging federal employees to apply online or contact UI [Unemployment Insurance] Operations Center to submit their initial claim.”

    From Oct. 1 through Monday afternoon, Workforce Solutions received 2,700 new unemployment insurance claims. Of those, 965, or 36 percent, came from federal employees, said Workforce Solutions spokeswoman Joy Forehand.
  • The only member of the Water Quality Control Commission that voted against a rule change to allow copper mines in the state greater leniency when it comes to water pollution resigned from the commission on Monday.
    Doug Bland, a geologist with New Mexico Tech, cited work-related reasons for stepping down from the state Water Quality Control Commission and the Mining Commission, which he chaired.

    However, skeptics in the environmental community suspect political factors, suggesting that Bland was pressured to leave as a result of votes he cast earlier this year. They see Bland’s departure as the latest victory for Gov. Susana Martinez’s goal of stacking environmental and mining commissions with industry-friendly people in order to undo or weaken previously adopted environmental regulations.
  • Candidates in the Las Cruces municipal elections will get to face off a League of Women Voters forum tonight.
  • Meanwhile, two candidates who were ruled to not have enough valid signatures are going to the courts, saying they did have enough signatures to make the ballot.
    Hopefuls David Roewe, a real estate agent who wants to become a District 5 city council candidate, and Bev Courtney, a Las Cruces Tea Party member who's seeking to become a District 3 candidate, filed the action together.

    The first hearing in the case has been set for Wednesday -- the same day as the start of absentee voting -- before state District Judge Jim Martin.
  • The Legislative Finance Committee says school districts are classifying students as special education students to get more funding.
    The evaluation recommends the state consider funding special education based on a district’s total enrollment instead of a district count of its special education students.

    A “census-based” distribution of special education funds would ensure all districts get their fair share, according to the committee. Districts with high-needs students could still draw extra funds through a special pool of money for those costs.
  • Albuquerque bus drivers picketed on Monday, asking for better safety on public transportation.
  • Interim Committee Watch (all links to agenda):

    The Radioactive & Hazardous Materials Committee finishes its meeting at the Pecos River Village Conference Center in Carlsbad today.

    The Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommitee meets at the State Capitol today.

    The Jobs Council meets at the Fort Bayard Room in the Grant County Business and Conference Center in Silver City on Wednesday.

    The Military & Veterans' Affairs Committee meets at the Sgt. Willie Estrada Memorial Civic Center in Alamogordo on Wednesday.

    The Public School Capital Outlay Oversight Task Force meets on Wednesday at the State Capitol.
  • Health exchange officials traveled to Clovis as part of an informational tour.
    Lisa Reid, senior liaison for health reform at the New Mexico Insurance Division, told attendees to have patience with the online system since the state is still working out issues.

    According to Reid, the state hopes to enroll 80,000 individuals for new health insurance this year. Currently, there are approximately 450,000 uninsured individuals in the state of New Mexico.
  • A case to decide if a man was running an internet cafe or a casino will hit the state's high court.
    McDonald’s offered a Monopoly sweepstakes game with its burgers and fries. Coca-Cola had a promotion in which certain bottle caps could be exchanged for prizes.

    Michael T. Vento says he merely followed the example of those corporate giants when he provided customers an opportunity to win sweepstakes prizes at his internet café in Las Cruces.
    He was originally prosecuted by then-District Attorney Susana Martinez in 2009; it has been working its way through the court system since then.
  • The Kit Carson Electric Cooperative is protesting a proposed rate hike from its supplier.
    Kit Carson contends that the changes would mean an 8 percent rate increase for its customers starting in 2014. Tri-State counters that the co-op’s membership would actually see a net decrease under the new rate structure.

    Kit Carson CEO Luís Reyes said the dispute warrants a thorough investigation. “Because there’s a conflict, we need a third party to determine who’s right and who’s wrong,” Reyes said. “We’ve said all along that these rates need to be based on some kind of cost of service.”
  • The Las Cruces City Council unanimously approved pay raises for police and blue-collar city workers.
    In all, 375 members of the city blue-collar workers union will see a 1.5 percent pay increase on their Nov. 7 paychecks, according to city officials. Another 161 members of the Las Cruces Police Officers Association, which includes both sworn and non-sworn personnel, also will receive a 1.5 percent pay raise, also Nov. 7. Employees in both groups, too, will get a $270 increase that will be folded into their base pay going forward.
  • Media News:

    Sterling Fluharty, who appeared on the Weekly Word podcast a couple of times, has started the Midheights Messenger, a locally based newspaper that focuses on a small area of Albuquerque. It is an intriguing concept -- one new to New Mexico, to my knowledge. While there have been newsletters for neighborhoods and areas of the city, I can't recall a full-fledged newspaper.

    Fluharty writes:
    If you consult the Mid-Heights maps, you will see the region includes neighborhoods around the Del Norte and Sandia high schools, as well as the Midtown and Uptown areas.

    The neighborhood leaders I have met are really excited about the newspaper. News at the local level often gets overlooked by the big newspaper and television stations in town.
  • A Taos County commissioner doesn't show up for his job much.
  • Property taxes are going up in Colfax County.
  • Buskers are safe to continue busking on the Santa Fe Plaza. The Santa Fe City Council withdrew a proposal that would bar most buskers from the Plaza. That doesn't mean that it's gone, however.
    City Councilor Chris Calvert said Monday he is withdrawing a rewrite of the ordinance governing street performers on public property. “We’ll go back to the drawing board in terms of a different approach and process,” he said.

    Calvert said an earlier proposal wasn’t fully vetted. “It wasn’t ready for public hearing, and that’s my fault,” he said. “I needed to do more work in advance meeting with the various parties before we proposed what we proposed.”
  • Interesting. The Democratic Party of New Mexico is launching a directory of businesses that are owned by Democrats or union-friendly.
  • Democrats will also hold monthly meetings in Chaparral, a rare Democratic area in deep-red Otero County.
    She said she plans on talking about county commission-approved precincts and polling places, third-party voter registration, poll workers and her future plans for elections.

    Sikes said the monthly Chaparral meetings were spurred on by long waits at precincts during the last presidential election, some people standing in line for four hours to cast their ballots.
  • The city of Aztec is seeking disaster relief after damage caused by flooding.
  • Canon will open a tech support center in Albuquerque.

 

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