- The Albuquerque Journal takes a look at "chronic" staffing shortages at the Children, Youth and Families Department.
Despite hiring a large number of workers in recent years, the vacancy rate for CYFD's Protective Services Division was at 15 percent earlier this month, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. The division investigates child abuse allegations, among other duties. The vacancy rate included 29 unfilled caseworker job positions.
The division's vacancy rate was 13 percent as of April 2011, according to the legislative audit.
- State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, meanwhile, wants changes to the Children, Youth and Families Department. This comes following the death of a nine-year old boy after his mom kicked him and killed him -- after the boy had complained of abuse before.
“We shouldn't wait for disasters like this, and issues like this -- it just makes me sick to my stomach,” said Padilla. “I am not going to let this young man’s death be in vain, we are going to find answers here, solve this issue and we are going to change New Mexico in this very critical area.”
In his letter to the attorney general, Padilla called for a nonpartisan commission of former Supreme Court justices to investigate Varela’s case.
- Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, says Hanna Skandera shouldn't get a confirmation hearing this year because it is a 30-day session and is the final year of Martinez's first term.
- Legislation would bring survivor benefits for state judges and magistrates into line with benefits for other government workers.
Thomas Cole has been covering the story:
As things stand now, judges and magistrates can name survivor beneficiaries without any reductions in their pensions. And, upon the death of a retired judge or magistrate, a survivor beneficiary receives 75 percent of the pension for life – regardless of the beneficiary's age.
I reported in July that the provisions would allow, for example, a judge's grandchild to receive millions of dollars in survivor benefits over the child's lifetime.
- New Mexico Capitol Report writes about state money going toward the scholarship program.
“These laws are not etched in stone,” said Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe. “We can change them … We need to stabilize the lottery.”
“This problem has been known, it’s been looming, it’s been coming and should have been solved a year or two ago, but it was not solved,” Martinez said.
- The state's environmental attorney recommended denying a sewage permit to a horse slaughterhouse.
Orth said the Environment Department secretary should deny Valley Meat Co.’s application because of its record of environmental violations when it slaughtered cattle. The company’s plant is just east of Roswell.
In her 49-page recommendation, Orth said Valley Meat had “a long history of avoiding regulation” and that it would not take steps to protect groundwater from contamination.
- New Mexico In Focus discussed the top stories of 2013 last week.
- The unemployment rate dropped in all four metro areas in New Mexico in November according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Media news:
Milan Simonich is no longer with the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership. However, he is now with the Santa Fe New Mexican.
@trip_44Doing fine. On staff at the New Mexican.— Milan Simonich (@MilansNMreport) January 7, 2014
NM Telegram was told that Simonich's position at the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership (which includes the Farmington Daily-Times, the Las Cruces Sun-News and several other smaller papers) was eliminated as part of cost-cutting measures.
- Fox News host Greta van Susteren still is pushing for Martinez to be included in discussions of a Republican vice presidential candidate in 2016.
- Community groups met with the Department of Justice in the DOJ's investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.
- The San Juan County Commission passed two resolutions protesting state and federal policies.
San Juan County officials said the county's Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, payment for 2014 is uncertain.
The federal government provides counties throughout the country with PILT payments to compensate local governments for having federal land within its borders because the governments don't collect property taxes from that land.
- A top official in the Richard Berry administration is accused of "petty antics" at a city council hearing. A critic of APD was taping the reaction of Berry administration officials to testimony critical of the administration when Perry apparently approached his camera in an attempt to block the view.
- Former Gov. Bill Richardson has been generally supportive of eccentric former basketball player Dennis Rodman's trips to North Korea. But Richardson slammed Rodman's latest statement about an American being held in North Korea.
"I thought Dennis Rodman crossed a line this morning by implying that Kenneth Bae might be guilty, by suggesting that there was a crime. There is no crime. Kenneth Bae is an American detainee that's been there a year in bad health who deserves to come home. I think Dennis has drank a little bit too much of the kool-aid from the North Koreans."Richardson is a former ambassador the United Nations and has traveled to North Korea himself. He also has negotiated with North Korea over the years including during his time as governor.
Rodman is in North Korea with a team of ex NBA players for an exhibition game to celebrate the birthday of Kim Jong Un. Rodman describes the trip as "basketball diplomacy."
- New Mexico First held a brainstorming session at New Mexico State University ahead of a Water Town Hall in April.
Heather Balas, executive director of New Mexico First, said perspective on water issues varies from north to south, with northern New Mexico concerned about watershed management. "Folks in the south were just more concerned about ag," she said.
- Farmington's lobbyist told the city council that seeking funds for water projects was more likely than $28 million for a road. The city council decided to keep the road as the top priority anyway.
- The battle between Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and its power supplier continues. This time the supplier voted to stop rebates for energy efficient appliances and fixtures.
Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey said in an email that the board voted to stop the program for co-ops that “are not paying the full cost of electric service, including the cost of providing energy efficiency service.”
New Mexico regulators have suspended a proposed rate hike from Tri-State pending an investigation into whether the increase is warranted. Because of the suspension, Tri-State argues that New Mexico co-ops are not paying the same rates as co-ops in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska.
- It was filing day for a lot of municipalities around the state. Here are a few of the stories about candidates signing up to run for office.
- Four candidates signed up to run for mayor in Alamogordo. Tuesday was the only day to file to run for office in Alamogordo.
- The Ruidoso News looks at candidates who want to run for municipal office in Lincoln County's five towns, including three candidates for mayor in Ruidoso.
- Those seeking positions in Farmington, Bloomfield and Aztec took advantage of the first day to sign up to run for office. The Farmington Daily-Times does a good job of describing the differences between each municipal system.
- Candidates in Mesilla, Hatch, Sunland Park and Anthony also signed up for municipal runs. Mesilla and Hatch will be electing mayors this year.
- Clovis has ten candidates for five races. There is no mayoral race this year in Clovis.
- Portales has a bunch of incumbents, including the mayor, seeking another term.
- Municipalities in Quay County also had filing day in Tucumcari, Logan and San Jon.
- Carlsbad's mayor is seeking reelection though it is unclear who will run against him.
- Deming wants more rodeos and equine events to come to the city.
- Taos candidates also signed up to run for office.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican continues to cover the saga of the former Santa Fe Community College president who says she was wrongfully terminated. This time, the New Mexican looks at surveys that were critical of of Ana “Cha” Guzmán's tenure. There was some praise as well.
- An Albuquerque game developer is getting attention for his games at CES, the massive tech expo going on in Las Vegas right now.
- Oops. KOB reporter Jen Samp temporarily forgot which station she worked for. Hat tip to Geoff Grammer for the video and Jen, next time Geoff makes an embarrasing typo, let us know.