- After more than two weeks, the federal government shutdown is over. It dominated the Morning Word like no other issue had since same-sex marriage (which will be in front of the state Supreme Court next week).
It came to an end after President Barack Obama signed a bill passed by the Senate and House. Most of the delegation voted for the bill that not only ended the shutdown, but averted breaching the debt limit and defaulting on the country's loans.
- U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich each weighed in on after voting to end the shutdown.
- Rep. Steve Pearce held a conference call to discuss the end of the shutdown on Wednesday afternoon.
- Federal workers across the nation, including in New Mexico, are going back to work today.
- State Sen. Howie Morales is in the race for governor. He is the third Democrat to join the race.
- Steve Terrell looks at the upcoming travels of Gov. Susana Martinez. The popular governor is in high demand for fundraisers and political events for Republicans around the country.
- In Santa Fe, the knives are out for Javier Gonzalez and Jon Hendry. The Santa Fe New Mexico has the latest.
“Mr. Jon Hendry’s initial denial and attempts to mislead the people of Santa Fe via the press have strongly diluted, and almost rendered ineffective, the strong and respected endorsement and voice of labor in Santa Fe and New Mexico,” Abeyta wrote in a three-page letter to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “I respectfully request a full investigation into Mr. Hendry’s actions.”
“That’s fine. Whatever,” Hendry said Wednesday.
- The Society of Professional Journalist Rio Grande chapter condemned the subpoena of a journalist's notes. The state Department of Health subpoenaed the notes of Joey Peters of the Santa Fe Reporter in a whistleblower case.
- A progressive non-profit has filed a complaint with the IRS over a non-profit that has paid for state Public Education Department secretary-designate Hanna Skandera's travel.
- The PED doesn't like Albuquerque Public Schools board member Kathy Korte.
The Mid Heights Messenger reports the PED "emailed several thousand public school teachers on Tuesday" an email response to Korte's email that gained statewide attention.
- PED received a "threatening" phone call according to the Santa Fe Reporter.
- An investigators says that test-cheating could easily happen in New Mexico as it has happened in other areas across the country.
- KUNM asks when the Children, Youth and Family Department knew about Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program's child restraint policy.
- The Los Alamos School Board met on Tuesday.
The purpose of the meeting was to draft a resolution giving guidance to the District on how to move forward in solving what Board President Jim Hall has called a “crisis” of teacher frustration and work overload, much of it fueled by the new teacher evaluation system implemented by the State of New Mexico Public Education Department (PED).
- The Los Alamos Monitor has this take on the meeting.
After dozens of teachers and administrators reminded the board of how difficult it’s been this year to deal with the oncoming flood of paperwork and documentation required of them because of new state mandates, the school board presented a motion that walks a fine line between appeasing teachers and the New Mexico Public Education Department.
The motion acknowledged teacher grievances with the state-mandated programs, pledging to take a strong and studied look at each aspect of these programs, and see what they can dismantle or at least postpone without drawing the ire of the NMPED.
- The Navajo Nation Council voted to appropriate $4.1 million to the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.
NTEC formed earlier in the year to oversee the tribe's possible acquisition of Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton.
Delegate LoRenzo Bates sponsored the bill and told the council that when NTEC was created, the tribe did not provide any money to cover the company's operating costs.
- We won't be able to see how many individuals signed up for health care through the federal government website until mid-November at the earliest according to Capitol Report New Mexico.
- The gross receipts tax rate in San Juan County will be going up. it was not intended, and the county commissioners blame the state.
Commissioners said the county received inaccurate information from the state when it attempted the restructuring, which would funnel money from the hospital to the county's general fund.
“The state messed up. The blame can't go around,” Commission Chairman Scott Eckstein said after Tuesday's commission meeting.
San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter announced the tax increase during Tuesday's meeting. The gross receipts tax rate in San Juan County is currently 6.3125. Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and the Valley Water and Sanitation District also impose additional gross receipts taxes. Commissioners said they will consider reducing the county's taxes by 0.125 in July 2014 to offset the upcoming increase.
- Gov. Martinez attended the groundbreaking of a park in Rio Rancho designed to cater to those with physical or developmental challenges. This is the same park that conservative members of the Rio Rancho Governing Body were so upset was included in Rio Rancho's capital outlay requests that they censured mayor Tom Swisstack.
- The sign of a protester in Alamogordo who blamed the "Al Qaeda Tea Party" for the shutdown was destroyed by a passerby. Since the shutdown is over, however, the protester won't have to make a new one.
- Albuquerque had a record week in film permits -- 23.
“The film industry has been a consistent bright spot for Albuquerque’s economy and the amount of interest is growing as seen by this uptick in activity,” Mayor Richard J. Berry said in a statement. “We have been able to create a film friendly environment for productions through an extremely efficient permitting process, supportive citizens, amazing crews, great infrastructure and local businesses ready to support the industry.”
- Fundraising isn't just for candidates -- their PACs raise big money as well.
A political action committee affiliated with House Speaker W. Ken Martinez, a Grants Democrat, raised $171,499 during the past six months, but a PAC operated by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez collected $313,151 during the same period.
The early fundraising by the two party leaders reflects the high stakes in the outcome of races for the 70-member House, which Democrats have controlled for more than a half century. Democrats have a 37-32 advantage in the House, with one seat vacant because of the death of Rep. Stephen Easley, a Santa Fe Democrat. The governor will appoint his successor from recommendations by county commissions and there’s a good chance a Republican will end up serving the remainder of Easley’s two-year term.
- A Los Alamos National Labs employee filed a lawsuit saying he was given a position with less authority after saying security protocols weren't followed when certain VIPs visited the labs.
- Portales passed an ordinance banning the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana.
- The primary water well in Mesilla is back on line after being out of service for about a month.
The pump was supposed to last the town for 15 years, but operated for 23 years before it failed. Kirkpatrick also explained the deposits of manganese and sediments are typical for water wells, and he advised trustees the well needed to be checked and cleaned every five to eight years.
He added the build up of manganese in the well was the probable cause for the failure of the pump's motor. "The motor needs water to keep it operating properly," Kirkpatrick said. "The manganese blocked that water from reaching it."
- UNM was considering increasing the standards for its bridge scholarship but put those plans on hold for a year after criticism mounted against the changes.
- Jeff Proctor, late of the Albuquerque Journal, writes about vapor cigarettes for the Santa Fe Reporter.
- Traffic woes in Albuquerque crossing the river are compounded by construction on the two major ways to cross the river at the same time.