Morning Word: Tribal disaster aid delayed by shutdown
And the rest of New Mexico's news
October 11, 2013, 8:00 am
The shutdown is delaying disaster relief to tribes.
On Sept. 30, a day before the government shutdown, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved aid for parts of New Mexico damaged by the summer storms that flooded houses and public buildings and damaged roads. But now FEMA officials can’t come to the state to do damage assessments because of travel restrictions imposed on some federal employees during the shutdown.
The state won't open Carlsbad Caverns National Park after the White House said it would allow some national parks to reopen if states would pay for the park operations.
In response to the Current-Argus's request for comment from the governor's office, Gov. Susana Martinez issued a statement through her communications director, Enrique Knell, saying the state has no current plans to fund the park. The reopening of the park is the responsibility of the federal government.
"Their inability to perform even basic functions like funding government operations is a sign of the terrible dysfunction and inability to work together in Washington," the statement read. "We hope this shutdown ends quickly, but in the event that it doesn't, as a state we will have to continue to monitor the fiscal and other impacts to New Mexico. The impact on everything from social service programs to our labs and bases to the effect on our GRT (gross receipts tax) base and to tourism numbers, will only get worse as the shutdown wears on if this isn't resolved quickly."
Democrats went after Gov. Susana Martinez on a helicopter flight on a state police helicopter. The Albuquerque Journal said the flight was to make sure she made a commercial flight to out-of-state political fundraisers and asked her to reimburse the funds.
Martinez campaign spokesman Danny Diaz defended the use of the helicopter. Martinez flew on it after staying until near the end of a State Board of Finance meeting, which ran several hours late.
"She used the helicopter in her official capacity as governor of the state in order to attend the Board of Finance meeting. As always, taxpayer funds were not used to pay for her political travel," Diaz said in a statement.
An exemption to the Affordable Care Act means that many Native Americans could be left uninsured.
Beginning January first, most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay penalties under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But Native Americans are one of just a few groups that won’t be fined if they don’t buy insurance. That exemption could mean status quo for a big part of Indian Country: high health disparities, and no access to care.
A ranch in southern New Mexico is suing over an investigation by the state Children Youth and Families (CYFD) Department that alleges ranch residents were restrained and beaten by staff.
Parents sign over a power of attorney to Chandler when their children enter the program, which includes a biblical component. The parents agree to allow behavior modification, including physical punishment.
“The government wants to come in and take away their God-given fundamental right to parent their children,” Chandler said.
Attorney General Gary King and environmental groups are appealing the controversial copper rule that loosened water quality standards for copper mines.
And Ted Turner too.
Turner, who founded CNN, owns the Ladder Ranch in Southern New Mexico, which is near a copper mine in Sierra County that a company wants to reopen.
San Juan County is planning on a terrorism response drill this weekend. The drill will cost $70,000.
During Saturday's drill, San Juan County law enforcement and emergency response agencies will react as if terrorists attacked San Juan College and a local energy industry. In that type of scenario, response agencies would operate under an Emergency Operations Center based out of the county government complex on Oliver Drive in Aztec, Cooper said.
"I'm not worried about al-Qaida coming over here and screwing with us," he said. "I'm worried about domestic terrorism."
The Columbia Journalism Review highlighted New Mexico In Depth's coverage of the behavioral health funding suspensions.
In Depth, based about fifty miles southwest of Santa Fe in Rio Rancho, was launched in 2012 with a $500,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation. I recently talked with Jennings by phone about how his startup—with a mission “to foster, promote, and publish journalism in the public interest”—has been covering the Medicaid story over the past four months. In Depth’s approach may be instructive for newsrooms with similarly small staffs and limited resources—according to its website, In Depth runs on a yearly budget of about $132,500.
Kind of weird to describe Rio Rancho as in relation to Santa Fe instead of Albuquerque (without mentioning Santa Fe is the state capitol)... but an interesting read nonetheless.
A writer for High Country News says Steve Pearce is one of those to blame for the shutdown.
The village of Ruidoso is looking at a gross receipts tax refund.
"Our audit partner was going through your records," and noticed all the construction activity associated with the treatment plant in 2009-2010, Saavedra said. For many years, the state didn't allow governments to buy construction items without passed-on GRT, he said. But adoption of new state building regulations piggybacking on federal rules on accelerated depreciation of buildings, changed that and allowed governments to save substantially on gross receipts taxes paid on construction projects, said.
Add another book to the banned books list.
Wilmott has a sophomore daughter at Alamogordo High School where the explicit book "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman has been required reading material since 2004. On Thursday that changed.
Wilmott successfully got the book banned. And now her daughter will never hear "sexual innuendos and harsh language" ever again.
"I trusted the school system. I trusted the school district to pick proper material, and this is not," said Wilmott.
The closing of the Sunland peanut facility in Portales likely means the end of the peanut growing business in the area.
“I have hundreds of thousands of dollars of peanuts ready and I have no where to go,” Cox said. “I can’t thrash them, I can’t haul them anywhere, I can’t get paid for them. I can’t do one thing with them at this moment and I got a banker saying your notes are due and we need money.”
In addition to more than 100 Sunland employees losing their jobs from the impact and financial strain of a voluntary product recall and a government-enforced plant shutdown, Cox says the livelihood of peanut farmers is at stake with Sunland’s closure.
The Drought and Fire Digest:
Las Vegas is looking at injecting water into the aquifer below the city then trying to retrieve it.
The Taos News looks at potential mayoral candidates for Taos, including a county commissioner.
Albuquerque had the strongest home sales in seven years in September. Albuquerque Business First cited the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
A study by a fiscally-conservative group ranks New Mexico near the bottom of the heap when it comes to taxes for businesses.
The red chile crop in Hatch is ramping up after problems with the green chile harvest earlier this year.
Most farmers said the harvest season started with near-perfect conditions in early August that, a month later, were soured somewhat by a persistent rainstorm that covered the region for days. It sparked some chile-ruining disease. In a field near Garfield, workers recently rushed through a 4-acre field, deftly pulling both red and green peppers from the same plants, bound for a processed product called "autumn blend," said Salem farmer Jerry Franzoy. Some of the peppers had blotches, and some leaves died -- problems from the rain. He estimated about 3 to 5 percent of the crop was ruined.
Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center will get almost $4 million from Otero County.
Heckert's request was for exactly $3,693,860 worth of funding for the fiscal year of 2014-15. He said funding for medical facilities is in a state of flux due to the New Mexico Medicaid program known as Centennial Care. "Our concern is that the money will go away before the system is in place to see that the money is restored back," Heckert said. "That's what we are worried about because we will still be expected to deliver the care and almost $4 million will not be showing up to help with that."
It was windy around Albuquerque on Thursday. [Crowd: How windy was it?] So windy that empty boxcars were blown over by the wind.
The Navajo version of Star Wars is headed to the Kimo Theater in Albuquerque.