Morning Word: Abortion ban failure fallout
KSFR news director passes away and more news from around the state...
November 21, 2013, 8:00 am
- The news director at KSFR passed away of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday morning. Dan Gerrity was also a theater artist active in the Santa Fe theater scene.
- Organizers of the failed abortion ban say they aren't done with the issue in Albuquerque or in other places.
- Juan Carlos Holmes has some analysis on Tuesday's results. The Democratic political consultant says it all came down to the runoff rule.
- Speaking of the runoff, Mid-Heights Messenger spoke to Diane Gibson about the race.
Gibson gave credit to her excellent staff. Her campaign manager, Traci Cadigan, worked about 16 hours a day on the campaign during its last days. Gibson said her volunteer base, which she described as a “small army,” snowballed as Election Day drew closer.
Voter contact played a pivotal role in Gibson’s campaign. She started knocking on doors about eleven months ago. Many of the people she talked to on doorsteps gave her the ideas for her platform and joined her campaign as volunteers.
- Gibson told Albuquerque Business First that she was willing and eager to work with developers in her district. Her district includes Winrock.
- Following the rise in special elections by ballot initiative -- two in the past year -- Albuquerque city councilors are looking at a way to stop them and instead hold the elections during regular municipal elections. The plan could also set up a legal task force to see if the proposed ballot initiatives would even be enforceable.
- Lawrence Rael is officially in the governor's race. Rael is the fifth Democrat in the race.
"I get things done," Rael said today.
In 2010 he finished second in a field of five in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, placing behind former state party chairman Brian Colon. "I barely lost that race," Rael said. "People remember that campaign. I have people from all around the state who are supportive."
- The Department of Justice investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department is looking at the APD Internal Affairs department, KRQE reports.
The IA Unit is responsible for investigating officers and employees within APD and is made up of a team of Sergeants, a Lieutenant and a Commander.
When police scenes turn violent, when officers use their weapons to take down a suspect or officers are accused of abusing their power, it's the IA Unit that steps in.
- The Santa Fe Reporter covers the backlash by teachers against the proposed teacher evaluation system.
“I think teachers are sort of feeling like an animal at the zoo,” says Todd Hansen, a music teacher at EJ Martinez Elementary and a union communications director with the National Education Association’s Santa Fe chapter. “You’re behind a fence, a pane of glass, and you’re being observed—which is fine, but it seems like it’s going to an extreme.”
- On Wednesday, teachers wore black to protest teacher evaluations and other education policies of the Martinez administration.
- There were rallies by teachers as well.
- The Santa Fe school board approved alternate graduation guidelines. The state gave districts flexibility in graduation requirements after the districts expressed fear that a significant portion of seniors would be unable to fulfill the state's original requirements.
- Embattled Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz says the investment system in the county is working.
- The state gained 6,900 jobs last year despite the loss of 3,100 government jobs.
State Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque, said New Mexico needed a net gain of 16,000 jobs just to get back to the level it was at before the recession started in 2008.
Larranaga also said increasing employment at existing companies was something the state had not done well enough.
In response, Barela said many of the job gains of the last year were because of expansions by existing companies. Barela said the climate for business had improved since March, when the Legislature on its last day in session approved a bill to reduce corporate taxes and create other breaks for businesses.
- In a big move that is under the radar, the PRC changed the way utilities can meet renewable energy standards. Opponents of the move say this will come at the expense of solar power.
- A reduction in SNAP benefits will have impacts in eastern New Mexico as well.
Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico Executive Director Melinda Joy Pattison said while the food bank has not yet seen any cuts in funding, the local need for food will continue to grow with or without cuts to SNAP.
“It will increase our production trying to meet the need,” Pattison said of the cuts. “The basic premise is not going to change. The need never, ever goes away.”
- The New Mexico Finance Authority picked a new CEO, Robert Coalter.
Coalter, currently the executive director of the Texas Public Finance Authority, was one of two finalists for the NMFA job.
- A proposal to increase the pay of State Police to be competitive with surrounding states could cost the state nearly $11 million.
- Dr. Gene Schmidt, the superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, says the funding of schools doesn't seem sufficient.
A small funding increase by the State for this school year was not enough to balance increased costs by utilities or costs resulting from employee health and pension costs. In addition, the number of students qualifying for special education services declined because the District has done better at identifying and providing services to students in need of early intervention. For doing this good work, the State reduced our special education funding by $300,000. In addition, teacher retirements resulted in a reduction of $800,000 in the unit value of Training and Experience.
- Sen. Tom Udall spoke about the need for filibuster reform again.
- The Taos News -- one of my favorite smaller papers that I read for the Morning Word -- was named as one of the newspapers of the year by the Local Media Association. The Taos News earned the honor for the second year in a row in non-daily newspapers with circulations under 10,000.
- Bernalillo County warned employees against using medical marijuana.
- New Mexico received $479 million in federal energy funds.
- Former Speaker of the House Ben Lujan will be honored posthumously by New Mexico Voices for Children at their Spirit of Hope Awards ceremony.
- Alamogordo's city manager will keep his job despite his response to problems at Oktoberfest.
- If you ever wondered, "Hey, what happened to Adam Kokesh?" the Santa Fe Reporter has your answer, along with his father.
Adam, who called himself “a political prisoner” on a “government induced taxpayer-funded spiritual retreat,” was imprisoned for four months without bond or bail, and nearly half the time, he tells SFR, was spent in solitary confinement. He’s out of jail now after striking a plea deal with prosecutors, but is banned from entering Washington DC, and could be heading to prison for years pending the outcome of a January sentencing.
- The Navajo Nation Division of Community Development is considering a plan to help localize Local Governance Support Centers.
- A Clovis city commissioner who is a disable veteran is suing Curry County alleging they took away his 100 percent property tax exemption for being a disabled veteran. The city commissioner -- also a former Curry County commissioner -- filed the tort claim last week.
- A traffic study for the Zia Road Railrunnner station in Santa Fe is nearly done.
- A proposed settlement between the state and the village of Ruidoso would mean the village would have a fine over mishandled water treatment readings suspended.