SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

Burn Another One Down

Zozobra and Zozobro offering options for torching last year's woes

Local NewsMonday, August 31, 2015 by Elizabeth Miller

We've all got a few worries worth destroying, and this time of year is increasingly ripe with options.

Of course, many are looking forward to the 91st year of the Burning of Zozobra, which will once again take over Fort Marcy Park on a Friday night, this time Sept. 4.

And for the second time this year, there's the not to be confused (or seen as copyright infringement) Zozobro, a student-built sculpture filled with more than 200 worries and regrets from the Tierra Encantada Charter School.

Teacher Joaquin Martinez led his ninth grade class in lessons on Santa Fe' Fiesta history and traditions, mathematics, and team-building to construct Zozobro, recruiting parents to help with the framing to make it a full community effort, and adorn him with traditional Mexican tissue paper flowers. At 4:30 pm on Wednesday, shortly after the Fiesta Court visits the school, a music club procession will lead to the school’s basketball court, where Zozobro will burn. 

With him will go worries collected from throughout the school and stuffed into the sculpture’s shoulders. 

“For my kids, it was super important, just the cooperation—they had to design and do the blueprints and so on, and then for the school, it's important to have a place to really let go of the worries and see that sometimes we all have the same ones,” Martinez says. “So we'll have discussion about, ‘Well, what did you write down.’ ‘Oh, me too.’ It’s not so much an Oprah Winfrey show, but we get into the common worries or the common troubles, whether finances or family problems or so on, so it’s an outlet to see the unity in life.”

This is the second year for Zozobro, after last year saw Martinez’s seventh grade history class working on three spin-off burning sculptures. While he jokes that they’ll find out if Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe has anything to say about the carefully guarded tradition they sponsor (the club was none too pleased with a satirical @Old_Man_Gloom Twitter account that popped up last year), so far it looks like the Tierra Encantada kids are in the clear.

Zozobra event chair Ray Sandoval wasn’t aware of the fauxzo.

“You know, I think that we all want to participate and if this is a learning opportunity for the kids and it brings them together, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said on Tuesday afternoon at Sanbusco Center, where the O.G. Zozobra rests just a few days away from meeting its maker.

“If it were much taller than 10 feet and they started charging admission, then we would probably have some,” he continued.

“It looks great! I think the kids are gonna have a lot of fun,” he said, looking at pictures of Zozobro on a reporter’s mobile phone.

Sandoval ended with a caution. “Obviously, burning something is dangerous. We don’t want to encourage all of these little fires everywhere, but at the same time people are respectful and that obviously looks like Zozobra, so I think we’re OK with it.”

The real deal Friday evening festivities will be followed the next day with the Santa Fe Fiesta Mariachi Extravaganza, featuring Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Al Hurricane & Al Hurricane, Jr., and this year, for the first time, preceded by 5K and 10K run for adults and 1K for kids as well as entertainment beginning at 3pm. Fort Marcy Park opens at 7pm and the burning is at 9:30pm. 

Downtown parking will be $5 in city-owned facilities and a free shuttle service will run from parking lots to the event site. Bus service to and from the site is also free. 

Look out for road closures along Bishops Lodge Road from Paseo de Peralta to Murales Road, Old Taos Highway from Paseo de Peralta to Murales Road, Paseo de Peralta between Grant and Washington, Murales Road and Federal Place, and restricted car traffic patterns on Paseo de Peralta and Old Taos Highway. Expect the Cross of the Martyrs area to also be closed this year. 

Tickets are $10 and more information are at and various Guadalupe Credit Union and State Employees Credit Union locations.

SFR Deputy Editor Enrique Limón contributed to this story.

Ready, Set, Go

Santa Fe city election candidates can pick up packets to be in races for March 2016 ballot

Local NewsMonday, August 31, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm

Looking for change at City Hall? Are you ready to be the change you want to see in the world? 

Prospective candidates for Santa Fe City Council can pick up information and necessary paperwork from the city clerk beginning today. 

Since city councilors fill staggered four-year terms, one seat in each of the four districts is up for grabs in the March 1, 2016, election. 

Councilors whose terms are expiring are Patti Bushee, in the northside District 1, Peter Ives, representing eastside District 2, Chris Rivera, from District 3 in the southwest region of the city, and Bill Dimas, who lives in District 4 in the south-central neighborhoods. 

The municipal judge seat is also ripe for the taking, since Judge Ann Yalman tells SFR Monday morning that she’s not planning to run for judge again. Appointed to fill a spot vacated when Judge Fran Gallegos resigned in 2005, Yalman then earned election twice. 

After nearly 10 years in the court and at age 67, she’s ready to retire. 

“I’m young enough to run for president, but not young enough to run for municipal judge again,” Yalman says with a hearty laugh. 

City rules require all candidates for the judge job to have passed the New Mexico Bar. The court deals with traffic cases and misdemeanors such as shoplifting, drunken driving and code enforcement within Santa Fe's city limits. 

Ives tells SFR he’s ready to jump into the election cycle again and is planning to “enjoy the process.” 

“My hope is that the record has been strong enough that folks think I have been doing a good job in paying attention and putting the city in the right direction," he says, "and they will want to put me back in there.”

He says he hopes to see more voters submit ballots this go-round. 

But since the election doesn’t feature a contest for mayor, history doesn’t predict that will come true. The 2014 election saw about 29 percent of registered voters casting ballots compared to the 2012 election, which had a turnout of about 20 percent. 

Rivera says he's also planning to run again and hopes to stop by City Hall today to pick up his candidate packet. As of about 2 pm, City Clerk Yolanda Vigil reports that both Bushee and Dimas have already picked up packets, along with former Councilor Frank Montaño, who says he wants to run against Bushee. Former County Commissioner Virginia Vigil also stopped by, the clerk says, because she's interested in running for the judge spot. 

The first step for a candidate is to complete a nominating petition with signatures from at least one-half of 1 percent of the registered voters in the district where he or she is seeking office. For the judge office, voters can be from anywhere in the city. There’s also information about getting started with the city’s public campaign financing system. Vigil says she's meeting with those who stop by today in person and wants other potential candidates to make an appointment so she can get them started on the right foot. For more details, call her at 955-6521. 

Morning Word: Border Funds Spent on Overtime

Concerns raised about how law enforcement spent federal resources

Morning WordMonday, August 31, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Border Audit
State auditors are expressing concerns about how the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office allocated funds it received from a Homeland Security grant. Turns out a ton of money meant to be used at the border is going toward management overtime.

Gambling Spree
After reading about New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s alleged gambling sprees with campaign donations, we are left to wonder if anyone would ever donate money to a political candidate again. The criminal case could boost support for publicly financed campaigns, but again those seem to be problematic too. Remember how Ben Hall was accused of paying himself during his losing re-election bid last fall? 

Political Analysis
Some people are already calling on Duran to resign. If she does, the governor will get to appoint her replacement until a special election next year. Blogger Joe Monahan is the go-to guy for analysis on this one. 

In and Out
It looks like veterans are getting faster access to benefits and not having to wait as long for doctor appointments. 

Big Day at APS
Albuquerque Public Schools board members are expected to decide the fate of Superintendent Luis Valentino this morning.

Unpopular Evaluations 
Parents, according to a new poll, really don’t like their children’s teachers being evaluated for how their students perform on tests.   

City Money  
The City of Santa Fe needs to address its $15 million deficit and figure out how to avoid budget shortfalls in the future, according to Finance Director Oscar Rodriguez.

Bail Reform
Judges want to keep dangerous criminal suspects behind bars, and now there’s a push to reform the state’s bail system. 

Recycling the Recycling Plan

Santa Fe County will draft ordinance that requires current haulers to offer recycling pickup in three districts

Local NewsSaturday, August 29, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

The nearly half-dozen trash haulers who serve three districts in unincorporated areas of Santa Fe County would be required to provide recycling services under a new proposal that aims to increase the rate of diversion from the landfill while still keeping the interests of county residents in mind.

The proposed ordinance, which was outlined last week by county solid waste management officials, is a compromise to an earlier idea that would have had the county directly intervening to award exclusive contracts to haulers who made the lowest bids to the county for refuse and recycling pickup.

That plan met fierce opposition this summer from hundreds of residents who testified at community meetings that they happened to like their trash haulers, especially the rates, and the last thing they wanted was the county to step in, change the lineup and increase the price of pickup.

A series of community meetings are planned in the next two months to see how residents react to the latest proposal, which covers 15,000 households that stretch as far south as Edgewood, as far north as Tesuque and as far east as Lamy.

“The moral to the story is that we are listening to the people, and we’re trying to work with them. We're hoping they'll like this and will be onboard with it,” Craig O’Hare, an energy programs specialist with the county, tells SFR on Saturday. “This approach to this ordinance is just as aggressive as the last one, at least in terms of getting more people to recycle. And that’s our objective.”

Under the proposal, the trash haulers would have to pull a permit from the county and tally by weight the recyclables they collect, reporting it to the county on either a monthly or quarterly basis, something that hasn't been worked out yet, O’Hare says. 

There might not be a permit fee, O’Hare adds, but if there is one, he claims it will be minimal because the overall objective is to monitor the volume of recycling in the county.

Right now, county rules say residents who throw their recyclables in with the rest of the regular refuse are actually subject to fines, but such cases are rare, according to O'Hare, who notes the county's new goal is to divert between 25 and 30 percent, in keeping with the standards set by many recycling-conscientious local governments across the country.

O’Hare, however, recognizes that such a goal will take time, and he says he’s hoping that it all will start with provisions such as these, which require trash haulers to accommodate residents who otherwise can drop off their own recyclables at the eight so-called convenience centers in Santa Fe County.

“It’s important to point out in all this that we're not asking that people pay for trash haulers if they don't want to,” O’Hare says. 

He estimates that roughly 3,000 of the 15,000 households do so in the three districts the county is targeting, and that nearly two-thirds of the people who live in the districts currently do not have recycling pickup.

O’Hare says once the to-be-determined community meetings are held and the county has a sense of how the residents feel about the ordinance, it could go before the Santa Fe County Commissioners for formal adoption sometime in late October or early November, eventually taking effect in the spring of next year.

“That will give the haulers time to prepare for what they need,” O’Hare says.

This Weekend

Celebrate New Orleans with Music

Weekend PicksFriday, August 28, 2015 by SFR

Slices of Wonder

Works that engage packaging design and ad culture.

More Info >>

Guardians of the Galaxy

Step into this Chris Pratt filled corner of the Marvel Universe.

More Info >>

Bike MS: Pedal Los Pueblos

This two day charity ride raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

More Info >>


Watch as they unveil this year's design of Zozobra, check out the Zozo-themed art show inside Sanbusco, put all the gloom you want to ditch inside that papier-mache bastard and then check the live entertainment under the water tower. Nice.

More Info >>

A Salute to New Orleans: 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

The Iguanas and Les Gens Bruyants pay tribute to the always awesome New Orleans.

More Info >>

Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue Gospel Brunch

It's brunch, it's gospel, it's not a half bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

More Info >>

Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.

Boil Water in Las Campanas

Roughly 400 residents of luxury subdivision urged to boil water for five minutes to kill possible E. coli

Local NewsFriday, August 28, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

A high-end housing community on Santa Fe's west side is reeling as the state has advised roughly 400 residents who live in Las Campanas to boil their water, at least until tomorrow evening. Officials are working to determine whether E. coli is making the water dangerous to drink, the state Environment Department’s Drinking Water Bureau tells SFR.

Wayne Jeffs, a compliance officer with the water bureau, says so far no one in the community 10 miles west of Santa Fe has fallen ill, and a few more samples have been taken by the Las Campanas Water and Sewer Association. The results should be back sometime Saturday afternoon.

The boil advisory was issued late Thursday afternoon after a routine test conducted on Monday discovered a microbiological contaminant that indicated there might be E. coli in the drinking supply, Jeffs says.

On Wednesday, more water samples were taken, and the results came back Thursday morning, identifying the contaminant as E. coli, according to Jeffs.

Jeffs says the contamination may have been brought on by stagnant water in some of the water lines, or there could have been a false positive during the sample process. In any event, he claims that the water bureau is trying to get to the bottom of it; in the interim, he says the bureau is “erring on the side of caution.”

This advisory only applies to the drinking water from the Las Campanas Water System and does not extend to any other surrounding water systems, Jeffs says.

Concierge Nancy McDermott says this afternoon that the Club at Las Campanas shut down its food and beverage service to be on safe side, but the golf course is still open.

City officials say their municipal water supply has not been contaminated. Recent water samples have so far yielded clean results. Although the city sells water to Santa Fe County, which then provides water to the Las Campanas Water System, city officials say there has been no indication that the bacteriological contamination originated from city water sources, according to a press release issued today. 

Consumers of the Las Campanas Water System are advised to boil the water for five minutes before drinking, cooking, dishwashing and bathing, according to a press release issued by the state Environment Department. 

The presence of E. coli in water, the press release says, indicates that the water may have been in contact with sewage or animal wastes and could contain disease-causing organisms.

Most strains of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, according to the state. However, a positive test for E. coli in the drinking water supply may indicate the presence of dangerous strains that could cause severe gastrointestinal illness and, in rare cases, death.

Children, the elderly and immuno-compromised individuals are at an increased risk for illness, the state said.

UPDATE: As of late Saturday, the water boil was lifted after test samples taken Friday concluded that the water was clean and safe to drink.

Morning Word: Solar Levy Dropped

PNM's 15.8 percent rate hike request no longer includes fee for photovoltaic panel usage to offset grid infrastructure costs

Morning WordFriday, August 28, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Solar Levy Dropped
The state's investor-owned utility filed a 15.8 percent residential rate increase request with the Public Regulation Commission in Santa Fe on Thursday. PNM has decided not to request fees from homeowners who rely on rooftop solar panels for their electricity. If the utility gets a fuel charge reduction and cuts other costs, residents could eventually be hit with a 7.9 percent hike.

Clean Water Act Blocked
New Mexico and 12 other states successfully got a judge in North Dakota to block implementation of the Clean Water Act, which was supposed to go into effect today. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn welcomed the news: Regulating a state’s most precious resource, water, from Washington DC is both ineffective and wrong. Local oversight, local control and local communication lead to the most effective protection of our arid state’s waters, streams, and tributaries.”

School Board Punts
Thursday morning's school board meeting to consider the future of Luis Valentino, the new Albuquerque Schools superintendent, didn't end with any personnel decisions. Instead, the panel decided to push their discussions to next week. It's New Mexico, and the board's inaction has us asking the age-old question: Mañana?

Straw Poll
We missed this earlier, but Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, won the Curry County Fair straw poll. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina rounded out the top four. Carson won a similar poll in Roosevelt County. It might not matter. Results from the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Joe Biden, who's said to be considering entering the Democratic primary, beats all the GOP candidates in general election matchups in the voter survey.

Bank Boom
On the same day that Wall Street saw its best two-day rebound, a new report show community banks in rural parts of the state are giving more residential and commercial loans. That could be a good sign for the economies in eastern and southern New Mexico.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction
The Santa Fe Climate Change Leadership Institute wants city and government leaders to impose a $2 fee on monthly water bills to create a fund aimed at reducing carbon and methane gas emissions. Here's how it would work, according to the nonprofit: Those funds could be used for more solar installations, community gardens, home weatherization programs, low energy loans to help residents transition to renewable energy and education programs informing people how they can reduce their carbon footprint.

New Mexico Film
Denzel Washington, who has filmed movies in New Mexico before, is headed back to the Land of Enchantment to star in the remake of The Magnificent 7 with Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt and Peter Sarsgaard.

Lady Lobos Win
It was close, but the University of New Mexico's women's soccer team beat in-state rival New Mexico State University for the fifth consecutive time. The 1-0 victory was the first for new head coach Heather Dyche.

Have a great weekend. Come back to see what's new on Monday.

Water for Roads

Water for Roads: San Ildefonso governor accuses Santa Fe County of 'inability to act in good faith'

Local NewsThursday, August 27, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

San Ildefonso Gov. James Mountain, whose pueblo is at the epicenter of a roads dispute that has now put an entire water delivery system in jeopardy, on Thursday accused Santa Fe County Commissioners of acting irresponsibly with the recent decision to withdraw $30 million of the county's funding toward the project.

The county's financial obligation is part of a 5-year-old federal court settlement from a case known as Aamodt. But Commissioner Henry Roybal wrote in a resolution that it was “imprudent” for the county to invest in a water delivery system while the legal status of all roads in the county are in limbo, as they pass through all four pueblo territories.

Other commissioners agreed with Roybal, passing the resolution on Tuesday in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Miguel Chavez the lone dissenter.

Speaking out for the first time since the county's action, Mountain, in an interview with SFR, says, “It shows their inability to act in good faith. I don’t know what the county’s line of thinking is, but I do know that the settlement agreement is a separate matter versus the trespass matter, and the county  appears to have intertwined the two, which is very inappropriate.”

Now, instead of getting on track and preparing for the construction of a long-awaited water delivery system that will bring potable water to the entire Pojoaque Valley, the four pueblos and the thousands of non-native residents who live within or on the periphery of the pueblo boundaries will either have to wait or run the risk of never actually receiving water.

“There is that potential,” says Mountain, 42, a graduate of Los Alamos High School and now in his second term of governor for San Ildefonso, which has a population of just under 1,000.

Yet the county is still holding out hope that a compromise can be met without having to take the matter to court, and now the ball is in the court of the four pueblos at hand: Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso and Tesuque.

The question most paramount, in the eyes of the county, is whether property values will decline in those pockets where the ownership of roads are under dispute, something that the county is contending has occurred already in El Rancho, a small community that sits east of San Ildefonso.

The entire confusion, and the subsequent devaluation of property values, started occurring a little over a year and a half ago, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs wrote a letter to the county, accusing it of trespassing every time residents used County Roads 84 and 84B—essentially access roads to the small community of El Rancho, just east of the pueblo's boundaries.

That assertion unleashed a chain reaction of events that led to a reduction in property values, which in turn spawned an uneasy housing market in which lenders will no longer write mortgages, because the roads that lead to the properties can no longer be insured due to their legal limbo.

While county officials have long maintained that they have the rights of way to the roads under the decades-old Pueblos Land Act agreement, the contingency being that they always maintain them, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Interior contend that the roads have belonged to the pueblo as far back as the late 1600s, during Spanish rule.

And they now want them back. They'd like to rename them.  They simply want the county to acknowledge the fact that the pueblo is the rightful owners if they want cost-free access to the roads, something that will last in perpetuity.

But instead of accepting these conditions, which were presented to the county last week, the county said they'd first like to protect further declining property values across the Pojoaque Valley by coming to a compromise over all county roads, not just those in San Ildefonso.

Such a rejection was not handled well by San Ildefonso officials, who walked away from the negotiations, which led to the drafting of the resolution that was passed two days ago. The measure drew a packed county chambers, the majority of whom were El Rancho residents who testified about their financial problems and the losses they've incurred as a result of the legal dispute over ownership.

"We need to protect taxpayer dollars and need security of roads before this big investment," Commissioner Liz Stefanics tells SFR, in explaining why she voted for the resolution.

What's more, the county may now need to save money to pay for the legal costs that will certainly arise from the standoff between the county and San Ildefonso.

But to Mountain, the way he sees the situation, he's just protecting the sovereignty of his pueblo.

"You have to define the borders of your property, if you're interested in prosperity and future investments," he says, although he did not say the pueblo, a nongaming tribe, was contemplating adding a casino at some point in the near future.

Held hostage and certainly in limbo now is the water itself. The Pojoaque River has seen better days, Mountain says. And those who have first dibs on water rights are the four pueblos, which was acknowledged in a federal court settlement five years ago. Santa Fe was a party to that agreement, which was, by design, obligated to help the pueblos financially while helping its Pojoaque Valley residents as well.

Morning Word: Insurer Pulls Out of Health Exchange

Blue Cross, Blue Shield will drop 35,000 individual policies

Morning WordThursday, August 27, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Two and Done 
There have been plenty of signs this was coming, but now it’s official: Blue Cross, Blue Shield said Wednesday that after just two years, it is pulling out of the New Mexico Health Exchange after the company's request to jack rates up 51.6 percent was rejected by the state’s insurance superintendent on Aug. 8. The insurer says it lost close to $20 million covering its health policies here last year. The departure means about 35,000 customers will have to find a new provider by the first of the year.

Decision Possible by New Year 
James Fenton at the Farmington Daily Times reports that commissioners at the Public Regulation Commission want to make a final decision on what to do with the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s request to require more coal to burn at its San Juan Generation Station by the end of the year, and they’ve set up a new hearing schedule to keep the case on track. Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy says, “We need to make some tough decisions.” Environmentalists who’ve crunched the numbers don’t think it should be that hard to require PNM to move to renewable energy sources, which they say have already proven to be cheaper and more reliable.

No matter what decision regulators make, PNM plans to refile its earlier incomplete rate increase application. If it wins approval, it could boost residential rates 16 percent. Other media outlets have reported it’s a 12 percent increase, but they don’t account for the utility's plan to cut the rates for its one big 30-megawatt industrial user—likely Intel.

Before any of this happens, the commissioners need to find a replacement for Vince Martinez, who resigned as the agency's chief of staff. Steve Terrell over at the Santa Fe New Mexican says it looks like former state legislator Bob Perls wants the top job.

Warning Signs Ignored
An internal government reports shows Environmental Protection Agency officials and state regulators in Colorado ignored early warning signs of a potential toxic chemical blowout at the Gold King mine more than a year before this summer’s spill into the Animas River.

Martinez Jailed
Accused of breaking the terms of his pretrial jail release, former APS Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez is behind bars in Colorado. Colleen Heild reports agents with the Rocky Mountain Safe Street task force arrested him at a relative’s home in Denver. A district court judge there is expected to hold a hearing to see if a higher bond should be set or if the accused child predator should stay locked up until trial.

Puppet Show
ABQ Free Press Editor Dan Vukelich isn’t one to mince words when he writes a commentary or analysis piece. On Wednesday, he wrote the mess at APS “provides a window into a disturbing statewide effort by Gov. Susana Martinez and the state Department of Education to bypass local school boards and implement policy directly through local school administrators.” Vuk also talked to APS board member Steven Michael Quezada, who said his three years on the school board have been a wake-up call to the lengths the Martinez administration will go to end-run the board legally empowered to supervise its superintendent. “I thought that if we brought someone from San Francisco, they wouldn’t have a political agenda, a dog in this thing,” Quezada said. “My hope was to separate politics from education. Maybe it was ignorant on my part to think that.”

Quezada and the other board members will consider what actions, if any, they'll take against APS Superintendent Luis Valentino tonight at a special meeting. Some parents are pushing them to terminate the brand-new boss.

Courthouse Auction
In foreclosure, Jackalope’s real estate and other property were auctioned off in Santa on Wednesday. Global Holdings, which has close ties to the iconic store, acquired the assets for $4.8 million on Wednesday. ABQ Business First’s Mike English writes the auction marks the end for the business under the ownership of Charles H “Darby” McQuade, who founded Jackalope in 1979 and built a thriving retail company with locations in Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Albuquerque. McQuade has lately been in poor health.

Farewell to a Hero
New Mexico is mourning the loss of a Bataan Death March survivor. Ed "Milt" Hern passed away Sunday at the age of 97 in Las Vegas, NM. Hern, who was one of 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers held captive by the Japanese in World War II. He was a prisoner for more than three years. His funeral is scheduled for Friday.

“You’re Fired.” Well, Maybe Not.
More than 1,100 people are urging Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden not to fire Officer Dominique Perez after a judge said there was probable cause to try him and retired officer Keith Sandy on murder charges. More than 1,100 people have signed a petition supporting Perez. The two men are accused of killing homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia foothills. Boyd’s family believes Perez, who has been on administrative leave since the shooting in 2014, should be fired, “so that the public may see that no one is above the law."

Cruces Mayor All But In
Political analyst Heath Haussamen is cutting through the political theatrics and reporting that it's clear that longtime Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima is all but running for re-election this fall. Miyagishima has been lining up support for months; now all that's left is filing for the fall campaign.

Meanwhile, it doesn't look drivers snagged caught on camera speeding or running red lights won't have to pay their fines after all. Some 15 months after the Redflex program was halted, the City of Las Cruces says it's stopped trying to collect almost $3 million in fines.

Feelin’ Lucky?
New Mexico Lottery officials say they’re seeing a big increase in scratcher ticket sales despite a decline in revenue from those dreamy multimillion-dollar Powerball and Mega Million games of chance. Keep scratching; 30 percent of the money, by law, goes to help fund college tuition scholarships.

What a Wish List Says about a City

Soccer is still a big winner as city councilors adjust state funding requests to include more than recreation

Local NewsWednesday, August 26, 2015 by Elizabeth Miller

City councilors on Wednesday night faced the dilemma of all wish list writers: Ask for what you really want (or perhaps need) or ask for what you know you're likely to get.

Santa Fe's governing body finally landed on a list of official Infrastructure Capital Investment Projects that they all agreed on, but not without what one councilor called a "tortured process."

The list the City Council adopted and prioritized included more than 70 items and totaled $159,118,144 in projects as basic as $1 million in citywide facilities updates and as niche as a $50,000 lightning-protection system for a library. Next, it goes to state legislators and lobbyists to work their magic to see if some of these projects can be brought to fruition. 

The state asked the city to put their top priorities in the top five slots on the list, but that designates little more than figureheads. Still, as the list passed the Public Works Committee, there was tinkering in those top spots. The Finance Committee punted it with no recommendation after a split vote. So its arrival before the full City Council brought debate about what to rank at the top of the list, and what that said about Santa Fe and its priorities.

“There's not a single issue in our top five that deals with poverty, there’s not a single issue…that addresses spending money on infrastructure that's going to help develop business,” Mayor Javier Gonzales said.

Three recreational centers made it into the top five items for the city, he noted, while nowhere were there projects that might meet the needs of the city's poor or fringe populations, like young children and the homeless, or the very real need of supporting economic development so those young children grew up able to find jobs in their hometown.

“At some point we have to start investing in infrastructure that helps our most vulnerable and helps grow our economy,” Gonzales said. 

Councilor Joseph Maestas had also voiced concerns over listing projects that have already seen significant funds considered, or which aren't through the design phase, and the absence of millions of dollars' worth of deferred maintenance needed throughout the city.

The Finance Committee has also been advised against taking on any new debt, and therefore the council shouldn't prioritize a project that might need a bond to fund it if the city needs to forgo any bonds over the next several years, Maestas said.

“I'm just not sure I can really support this ICIP as presented,” he said. “What I'd like to see is a mix of infrastructure improvements, and I'd like to see some of these improvements that apply citywide.”

They looked at putting forward a list of five projects that would make a statement but expected those would likely be thrown out, Councilor Chris Rivera countered.

“It's better to go for money for projects that will be worked on than to have a list of five that will be thrown out because there's no sponsor for any of them,” Rivera said. 

With improvements to soccer facilities at the Municipal Recreation Complex a big contender for the top spot, Rivera and Councilor Patti Bushee defended soccer as a form of economic development, calling it the fastest growing sport in America and noting that tournaments have been seen to generate revenue for the cities hosting them. 

“We know it’s a wish list,” Bushee said of the ICIP, “as it goes over to our delegation, but we do hope they take note, and it's my understanding we may have a supporter or two over there in terms of the soccer complex.”

Regardless of the projects the city names as its top five, Bushee pointed out, sometimes none of those items see funding and the state goes for something else altogether, like last year, when funding was given for the airport. The soccer supporters already have some financial pledges, she said, adding, “I think we're on the right track in terms of outdoor recreation…I understand that we have a lot of infrastructure and needs, but I think these will be looked at favorably by our legislators.”

Public Works Director Issac Pino assured councilors that what matters for a project is that it's on the list and is assigned a number, and he echoed that legislators often go deep within the list to select projects for funding. 

“I can’t emphasize enough that it doesn't matter if it's number 50 or number three,” Pino said. 

If that's the case, Councilor Peter Ives asked, why have items been moved? He called the process "tortured" and added that he couldn't support the list, “just because so much sausage has been made here.”

The council split over accepting the list as presented, with Ives abstaining, and Bushee, Bill Dimas, Carmichael Dominguez and Rivera in favor, Signe Lindell, Maestas, and Gonzales against. The motion required five votes to pass, and so it failed.

If council wasn't able to approve an ICIP, none of the projects would get legislative attention, and the deadline to submit is Sept. 2, allowing little time for revisions.

Councilors then scrambled to make adjustments to those top five positions, shuffling an additional $890,000 needed for the Southside Transit Center down the list in favor of $1 million in fiber optics to entice business development (No. 2), and bumping off $3 million in upgrades to the Genoveva Chavez Community Center ice rink for $1 million in citywide facilities maintenance (No. 3). In the end, the No. 1 spot still went for soccer, specifically a $10 million project to renovate soccer fields and add an indoor soccer field. No. 4 is $3.5 million for improvements to West Alameda Street drainage, and the last slot is for $5 million for the second phase of development at the Southwest Activity Node Park. The vote for that list saw unanimous approval. 

Children in soccer jerseys took up the seats in the front rows of the meeting Wednesday night as councilors considered the list.

Pilar Faulkner, lobbying on behalf of the Rio Rapids Northern Banditas soccer team for girls under 12, stepped outside the city council meeting after the vote to tell the girls what just happened, explaining how councilors from different districts were essentially fighting over who got slices of the pie. 

“I try not to ask you girls to come out here too often,” Faulkner told them, “but if you hadn’t been here tonight, we may have been kicked off the list.”

Burn Another One Down

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