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Morning Word: Berry wins reelection easily in ABQ

More shutdown news, Gov uses state chopper and more...

October 9, 2013, 8:00 am
By Matthew Reichbach
  • Richard Berry easily won re-election in Albuquerque for a second term as mayor, with a concession speech from Pete Dinelli coming an hour and a half after polls closed.
  • Meanwhile, there will be one city council runoff.
  • All ten bond questions easily passed.
  • Something Berry will have to deal with even before his second term starts -- a potential shutdown of Sandia National Labs on October 21.
  • And at Los Alamos National Labs:
    The Los Alamos Monitor has learned that LANL has suspended its operations for processing and shipping transuranic (TRU) waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

    Four shipments already loaded will be completed. Nuclear material has been secured and facilities are being put into a “safe standby” condition.
  • A non-profit dental clinic may permanently close its doors becausse of the government shutdown.
    “It is low reimbursement rates, it's the state contracts not being processed in time,” said Mary Altenberg, executive director of the services. “It's being able to only to build actual deliverables; it's this perfect storm coming together and then the shutdown.”

    Altenburg is worried the government shutdown will slow down the reimbursement process.
  • Missed this earlier this week, but Democrats don't think the current crop has what it takes to take down Gov. Susana Martinez. It is still not as dire as Republicans' punting on Richardson's reelection, but it's close.
  • Martinez, meanwhile, is raising money in Texas and Arizona.
  • Martinez used a state police helicopter to get to a Republican political event on time. Specifically to make her commercial flight on time.
    Because the Board of Finance meeting ran longer than usual, Martinez was running late for a commercial flight from Albuquerque to Houston for meetings related to the Republican Governors Association, according to Enrique Knell, a spokesman for the governor.

    So, the State Police helicopter was summoned to fly the governor to Albuquerque.
  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan slammed the "piecemeal" approach to funding the government, saying it was hurtful to Indian Country.
  • Legislators questioned the price tag on fixing roads after the recent storms.
    Tom Church, secretary-designate of the state Department of Transportation, said about 290 miles of roads were damaged and need to be repaired.

    One item on his list — $13 million to rebuild two miles of a state highway — drew most of the skepticism from members of a transportation subcommittee.
  • New Mexico Mercury looks at rallies for immigration reform that occurred throughout the country, including in New Mexico.
    A seven-year resident of Albuquerque, El Centro member Placida Cortes said the demonstration was for all Latinos, workers and immigrants. “We don’t want anything else other than a dignified life, respect, and that our employers don’t exploit us and threaten us with deportation if we are undocumented,” Cortes told FNS. Life was difficult for many immigrants in New Mexico’s biggest city, with minimum wage workers scrambling to pool their resources to make ends meet, Cortes said. “You don’t have a big salary, and can’t pay expenses,” she added. The immigrant worker compared today’s migrants with the Monarch butterflies that fly from the upper reaches of North America to Mexico to survive.
  • A columnist has a scathing take on the transition from the behavioral health funding suspension.
    At that meeting, Diane McWilliams, director of HSD's Behavioral Health Division, insisted that the transition had been smooth, that 88 percent of New Mexico staff members - everybody except billing personnel - were still in place, that there should be no interruption in service.

    We have two realities - HSD's and everybody else's.
  • Gov. Susana Martinez denied allegations of violating open records laws in one of the four cases her administration faces. Her lawyer is seeking to have the case dismissed with prejudice -- meaning it could not be brought back again.

    This case is against the Santa Fe Reporter:
    SFR claimed in its lawsuit that after its publication of that article, the governor's office stopped responding to SFR's inquiries in a campaign of unlawful retaliation against the paper—in violation of the New Mexico Constitution's freedom of the press provision. Martinez denied that claim in Monday's filing. She argued her spokesman, Enrique Knell, responded to five inquiries from SFR in the period after the December article. But SFR staffers only received one official statement from Knell in that period—on Aug. 28, and it came after the article in question, about deceased state Rep. Stephen Easley's replacement, had already been published.
  • The last group of soldiers from White Sands Missile Range returned home from deployment.
    "We thank each and every one of you for the work you did in the country of Afghanistan on behalf of a grateful nation," said Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, WSMR commander, in a news release. "We owe you a debt of gratitude. Today we celebrate you, knowing that this marks the end of the 2nd Engineer Battalion's deployed soldiers. As of today all of our men and women that are serving on WSMR are united."
  • City council candidates in Las Cruces debated a proposed sales tax hike.
  • The Navajo Nation will stop capturing wild horses and reverse its support for a horse slaughter plant.
  • The state health care exchange is running smoothly, even if the federal website is not.
  • Hatch residents angrily responded to the firing of the police chief.
  • The AP reports on the selection of the new state public defender.
    Jorge Alvarado was unanimously appointed chief public defender by an 11-member commission, which interviewed four other candidates for the position.

    Commission chairman Michael Stout said Alvarado will assume the job next month of running the Public Defender Department. He said Alvarado “showed a passion for indigent defense.”
  • Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks urged teachers not to quit despite low morale that he blames on the state. Specifically...
    So what’s behind the letter? Brooks says teachers are fed up with changes the state's made.

    “I'd say 75 percent of it is directly related to the new evaluation system from PED,” said Brooks.
  • The Tucumcari City Commission will revisit the firing of the city manager.
    The commission voted 3-2 at its previous meeting on Sept. 26 to fire Powers as city manager in a move that was not previously announced or discussed in any other meetings of the council, whether in public or in executive session. Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval moved that Powers be fired. Commissioners Dora Salinas-McTigue and Ernie Dominguez voted with Sandoval for the dismissal. Mayor Amiel Curnutt and Commissioner Robert Lumpkin voted against the motion. McTigue could not be reached Tuesday for comment about the reinstatement attempt. Sandoval would not comment about the dismissal.
  • Bernalillo County commissioners voted 4-1 to ban picketing outside a single house.
  • Los Alamos Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados will run for a fourth term.“You start looking at your job in a new way when you become a mentor,” she said, adding she was also re-elected secretary-treasurer of the New Mexico Magistrate Judges Association, which furthers her commitment to an office she’s held since 2003.

    “I still love the job, and I also have some projects I’ve started that I want to see finished,” she said.
  • Bridge Street in Las Vegas, NM was named one of the top-ten streets in the country.
  • Aztec moved forward with asking for funding for flooding cleanup.

 

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