Morning Word: A look at the Mora County fracking ban
It snowed! And more news from around the state...
November 25, 2013, 8:00 am
- The world is watching Mora County's efforts to ban fracking, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.
But there’s more to this story — nuances and tensions that are hard to uncover unless you were born and raised in this hard-scrabble, beautiful and resilient Northern New Mexico county.
Most Mora County residents oppose oil and gas drilling. But some of them say there were better ways to prevent drilling, strategies that had a better chance of standing up in court. They believe the ban was an ill-advised move that will have high costs for an already cash-strapped county government and will gain it nothing except attention.
- The piece that everyone in New Mexico is talking about is the National Journal's look at Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey. The piece looks at how some Republicans believe McCleskey has too much power over Gov. Susana Martinez.
- Oh, hey, it snowed! In most of the state, anyway. The snow was a bit of a dud in much of Albuquerque (my house on the westside included), but other areas saw over a foot of snow. This, of course, makes ski areas happy and travelers much less happy. If you want to see more... just go to any news website in the state. As with any major weather event, it is the top story just about everywhere.
- Attorney General Gary King says that the governor overstepped her authority when she unilaterally suspended funding for over 100 capital improvement projects around the state.
"The governor is not permitted under current law and the separation of powers mandated by the New Mexico Constitution to unilaterally withhold capital outlay funds properly appropriated by the Legislature," King said.Twelve New Mexico State Senators had asked for the opinion from King.
- New Mexico Democrats have a Lt. Gov. candidates as attorney Debra Haaland is entering the race.
- Steve Terrell at the Santa Fe New Mexican says that it is ironic that the late-term abortion ban hurt Janice Arnold-Jones when she lost her bid to remain an Albuquerque city councilor.
- Anti-abortion advocates are planning to take the battle to the legislature. However, 2014 is a 30-day session and non-budget items would have to be added by Gov. Susana Martinez. Martinez stayed out of the Albuquerque 20-week abortion vote. A spokesman for Martinez said she hadn't made a decision yet.
However, the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico says Martinez has committed to them that she plans to allow consideration of legislation changing parental notification rules for minors receiving an abortion.
- The former CEO of the New Mexico, who was ousted by the state lottery board, will get a $170,700 severance package.
- Sad news as the media experiment that was the Mid-Heights Messenger has come to an end.
I should have seen it coming. I published plenty of stories on topics no other journalists wanted to cover. I went door-to-door, and talked to hundreds of small businesses in the Mid-Heights, but I never found any advertisers.
Maybe community journalism isn’t designed to succeed in urban areas. It probably works best in small towns, where community newspapers have a monopoly on the media. I noticed the South Valley Ink recently gave up its print version.
- Is tourism about the explode in Las Cruces? The Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director certainly believes so. From Albuquerque Business First:
“In the next two years, we’re as close to a tourism perfect storm as you can get. The spaceport is set to open, and they need our support,” he said. “And then there’s a strong movement to make the Organ Mountains a national monument, and we’re really starting to see our downtown revive.”
“I think, realistically, we’ll see increases of 20 to 25 percent over three years,” he said. “Spaceport America is looking at 200,000 visitors a year, and even if we get 10 percent [of that business], that’s $2 million a year.”
- A task force in Los Alamos came up with proposed changes to the New Mexico Public Education Department's new mandates. The Los Alamos Monitor:
Top three suggestions for the District included “Delay, reduce and/or phase in workloads of current/future district initiatives,” “For this year and 2014-15, return the district focus of the rollout of Common Core” and “Make Planbook.com optional”. Planbook is a piece of evaluation software the district has provided teachers to help create lesson plans.
For the “Schools” category, the top three suggestions were “Increase effort to protect staff preparation time by lessening interruptions,” “Review purpose of staff meetings to see if they can be eliminated/reduced/more focused” and “Review when SAT, IEP (Individualized Education Program, RTI (Response to Intervention) meetings occur.”
In the “Classroom” category, top suggestions included “Reduce classroom interruptions,” “Return to the fundamentals of Common Core — start making sure we have the resources/material/time.”
- Gov. Susana Martinez wants another $2 million for water research.
- Natural Gas output in San Juan County is down thanks to low natural gas prices. Those in the area are hopeful that the Mancos Shale will be a boon for the region.
- A watchdog group is suing to see the nuclear safety records at Sandia National Labs.
- The Shiprock chapter of the Navajo Nation opposes waiver language in the purchase agreement of a coal mine. The Navajo Nation is buying the mine from an Australian company that is getting out of the coal mining business.
On Sunday, 54 members of the chapter voted to support a chapter resolution stating an objection to the Navajo Nation Council's approval to waive all past, present and future claims, demands, damages, indebtedness, liabilities, obligations, costs, expenses and actions for BHP Billiton.
The council approved the waiver during the fall session last month. The tribe and the coal company signed a purchase agreement for the mine on Oct. 31.
- New Mexico's Corrections Department will look to cut the number of prisoners in segregation in half. Right now 10 percent are in segregation -- which means they are locked down 23 hours out of each day.
- Despite the big snow storm that hit all corners of the state, the seasonal drought forecast doesn't look good for New Mexico this winter.
- Roswell approved voting convenience centers which are designed to make it easier for people to vote.
- The La Junta Tribute-Democrat reports on the local efforts to keep Southwest Chief running through New Mexico.
- The turnout for health care seminars throughout the state has been extremely small.
- The Kit Carson Electric Cooperative is opposed a new proposed rate from it supplier.
In a Sept. 19 letter to Tri-State Generation and Transmission CEO Kenneth Anderson, co-op CEO Luís Reyes wrote that Tri-State’s rate changes would “provide the wrong signals for members to use energy efficiently” and are “contrary to the policies that are being pursued by the state of New Mexico.”
Tri-State counters that the new rates would replace an “obsolete” model and would actually save the co-op money.
- New Mexico Secretary of Tourism Monique Jacobson was in Eastern New Mexico and ate at local eateries.
The state’s tourism department placed Taco Box, Foxy Drive-In and Twin Cronnie Drive-In on a list of New Mexico Culinary Treasures earlier this year. Nearly 75 restaurants statewide made the list, and each is family owned and at least 40 years old.
- The Sandoval County Detention Center is nearing capacity.
- A beating resulting from two enemies being placed in the same pod at the Curry County jail was the result of a series of mistakes but there was no attempt to cover it up.
- New Mexico doesn't have a hipster neighborhood yet.