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Local Elite Breaks Tape

Caroline Rotich trains in Santa Fe, wins Boston Marathon

Local NewsMonday, April 20, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm

Anyone who travels on the Santa Fe Rail Trail has likely caught a glimpse of Caroline Rotich’s slender frame bouncing along. Training in good weather and bad, the running Rotich is also a familiar face at community sporting events.

holy smokes, Rotich wins Boston!!! #NMruns_Boston

Posted by Santa Fe Striders on Monday, April 20, 2015


Now that the Kenyan woman has dashed across the finish line as the female winner of the Boston Marathon with an unofficial time of 2 hours, 24 minutes and 55 seconds, her name is etched into this history books. News about Rotich, 30, one of several athletes who train with Ryan Bolton in the City Different, traveled fast on social media:


Here's her profile from the Boston Athletic Association:

Game of Thrones for Noobs II

Season 5, Episode 2 review:

Pop CultureMonday, April 20, 2015 by Alex De Vore

Welcome back to another Game of Thrones review. Be aware that spoilers are ahead but that I also have no fucking clue about what the hell is going on. Read last week's magical review here.

The Story Thus Far

Tyrion Lannister popped out of a crate and barfed all over the place before learning he probably should go and meet the Khaleesi with his buddy Matt Pinfield. The androgynous lady knight and her young ward (NOT SQUIRE!) hung out on some kind of moor, bitching about God knows what, and that one dude who apparently lost his dick got tricked by a hooker into a serious throat-slittin’. Dragon-Tits’ pets spewed fire in her face as if to say, “Hey! We don’t like being chained up in the basement of your weird, pseudo-ancient Egyptian crypt!” Braveheart Junior (which is what I’m calling the king of those weirdos who live on the other side of the big-ass wall) wouldn’t bow to Stannis “No Nickname” Baratheon, and so he was almost burned to death, but John Snow shot him in the heart with an arrow, which was probably a lot better than writhing in the flames. The moon-faced daughter of Ned Stark is given some coin by some guy and told to go to, uh, some place if she ever needs help.

The Gist
I’ve been told that the fate of Arya Stark, the moon-faced girl, has been in question between seasons, so even this nonfan was excited to see she had joined up with a friendly curly-haired dude to sail to a seaside town with the coin she had received from some kind of wizard. The city has a massive statue guarding its port entrance, and Arya is clearly nervous. Can we blame her? She’s known life to be pretty fucked of late and has been forced to fend for herself for a pretty long time, apparently. Her arrival, unfortunately, is inauspicious. Yes, she has found the House of Black and White (which is either a dormitory for the best chess players or the location in which those cookies were invented), but when the surly old bastard who lives there opens the door, he tells her to get lost. And so she waits through the night for who knows what and rattles off names to herself while it rains. Eventually, she gets sick of it, tosses the coin into the sea and heads off into the city.



Meanwhile, Lady Brienne (the androgynous she-knight) and her young pal are slurping down soup in one of Westeros’ many convenient medieval HoJo locations. Brienne is, as always, acting super tense, and the young man is blasting laser-boners from his eyes toward all the young women hanging out when they realize that Lady Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish are also there. It’s a bit odd that Brienne told this guy last week that they were far enough away from the danger they’re fleeing (a danger, by the way, the likes of which is still a mystery), because this sighting gets her all riled up. Verbal jabs are exchanged between Brienne and Sansa about how everybody sometimes has to kiss their boss’s ass, and Baelish tries to get Brienne and her buddy to stay awhile. This doesn’t go over well, and the next thing you know, Sansa and Petyr’s bodyguard guys are chasing Brienne and what’s-his-dick through the forest on horseback. It’s a mostly boring scene until Brienne cuts this one guy good and stabs this other guy in the throat. She seems cooler all the time and is stoic about the throat stabbing. Cool.



Elsewhere, Cersei Lannister receives threats against her daughter in the form of locket-wielding dead snakes, and her brother Jamie reminds her that he couldn’t have let their daughter know he was her dad because how fucked up is it that this brother and sister banged!? He tries to calm Cersei and reminds her that their daughter would be pelted with rocks and that, as it stands, everyone is pretty lucky that their incestuous monster isn’t a complete fucking idiot. And anyway, he can’t stay and argue about who raised who, because he is off to visit his buddy Baron Chinstrap (who’s name I didn’t catch) to enlist his aid in a secret mission in the most southern of all southern places. He offers the guy a castle and shit-talks his wife who, to be fair, is definitely weird-looking, but love is blind and all that. The whole exchange simply adds to the whole Lannisters-are-fucking-dicks pile, and it truly seems like they just go around doing whatever the hell they want.

In the realm that resembles Persia or Babylon or whatever nondescript palm trees-and-gardens locale you’d like to imagine, the inbred Lannister daughter kills time in some beautiful estate while the prince’s sister-in-law reminds him that the Lannisters killed his brother/her husband. She wants to cut a bitch and send the pieces back to Cersei, but the prince is just trying to hang out on his awesome balcony and mostly just wants to be a kind and merciful ruler. He’s a man of the people, all right, and he says this awesome thing about how of course he’s sad his brother died and he knew his brother way longer than his sister-in-law did, but she isn’t happy and all but threatens his new position by rhetorically asking him how long he thinks he’ll rule. Nobody is cut, which is kind of a letdown.



But we don’t have to wait long for more cuts and stabbing, because over in the realm of Daenerys Targaryen, her boyfriend is leading a brigade of newly freed slaves to find those responsible for throat-slashing the poor eunuch who just wanted hooker hugs. The former slaves are no good at hide-and-seek, but the boyfriend guy is; before you know it, he stabs a seemingly normal section of the wall and connects with a guy from the Sons of the Harpy. From his mask, we know he killed the other guy, and soon the Khaleesi has convened her advisers to discuss what they’ll do to him.

While this is going down, Tyrion and his buddy Matt Pinfield (Varys) are heading to Meereen in a luxury wagon and doing that nerd thing where people who nobody wants to fuck are like, “They’re just jealous because we’re geniuses!” Tyrion is drinking too much and would rather be out in the fresh air, but Matt Pinfield won’t let him because he heard Cersei has a bounty out on his head. So Tyrion just whines like a punk. All we know is they’re going to look for someone to become the new ruler of…ummmm…some place.

Smash cut to Cersei inspecting a severed dwarf head, and her spooky court alchemist or wizard or whatever-the-hell he is is all like, “I’ll keep that dwarf head, girl. I can use it in my work.” This is gross, but Cersei has to check in with her council and offer the Master of War position to this guy who basically wrote the book on misogyny and won’t accept until he hears it from the king, who is apparently busy but isn’t he also a pre-pubescent boy so, like, what the hell does he know? Once again, we almost feel for Cersei, but ultimately cannot, as she is an incestuous monster.



Meanwhile, Stannis Baratheon offers Jon Snow the surname of Stark (a quick Google search taught me that his last name is Snow because he’s a bastard, and bastards in this universe are given arbitrary last names based on where they’re born), but he tells his pudgy friend he won’t do it because he swore a vow to the Night’s Watch. Again, Jon Snow is a good guy who really sticks to his convictions. And this pays off, as it turns out, because there just so happens to be an election to see who their new leader will be, and they elect John Snow, because apparently one of the other guys pissed himself during a battle, and the old guy in charge of the election process seems to like Jon Snow. Things are looking up for this bastard.

We rejoin Arya Stark as she hunts pigeons for food in alleyways and talks shit to street toughs. It seems like she must be having a hell of time, so it is very convenient that the guy from the House of Black and White shows up. She follows him to find out he isn’t some grizzled old black guy after all, and he’s the guy who gave her the coin in last year’s season. What!? It’s confusing big time, but she finally gets to go inside. What will happen to her? Who the hell knows?



Back in Daenerys’ town, we discover she’s all about the justice system and demands a trial for the eunuch murderer, but it never comes to be because some hot-headed former slave goes to visit him in jail and totally kills him. He’s pretty smug about it, too, even after Daenerys tells him that it wasn’t his place and he’ll have to be punished. She calls the whole damn city together and tells the people that this guy should have let the trial go down, and now he has to die. Does it seem odd that the Sons of the Harpy guy was, in Daenerys’ eyes, deserving of a trial while this former slave guy isn’t? Perhaps it was because he was so blatantly unapologetic for his crime, but it still seems like the Khaleesi’s behavior is growing more and more erratic. It’s almost like she is making snap decisions out of a fear of seeming weak or ineffective, which  kind of makes her look worse. In a relatively short amount of time, she seems to have gone from confident to indecisive, and it’s almost like she shouldn’t be in charge.



Anyway, she has the guy beheaded, and everybody starts hissing at her, which totally sounded like maybe there was blood gushing out from the recently decapitated guy’s neck stump, but it was just the people. Maybe in the world of GoT, hissing is like booing? Anyway, she heads home and is pensively surveying her city when a dragon appears, who she refers to as “Dragon.” Either this is one of the dragons she locked up in her basement or it’s a new one we haven’t met yet. Newcomers couldn’t possibly know. Either way, if she named one of her dragons Dragon, then she sucks at naming things even harder than she sucks at listening to her people when they ask her not to behead someone. The dragon takes off into the night, and she watches him go, while we are left with more questions than ever.

The Bottom Line
It’s pretty obvious that each of the storylines in this week’s episode are trying to slowly but steadily ramp up the suspense for what we can only hope will be a major payoff. That said, it’s still frustratingly complicated, and sometimes they don’t even tell you the names of certain characters. More throat slashing definitely helps with the pacing, but there is still more talking and complex politicking than fights and dragons, and that’s a shame. Why on earth that guy from the House of Black and White made Arya Stark hang around in a strange city when he was someone she knew (at least according to the “Previously on…”) is baffling, and Sansa Stark seems like a whiner. The more interesting plotline came with Daenerys’ knee-jerk behavior and willingness to kill someone who betrayed her trust. Either she is growing up and embracing harder decisions, or she has risen to the level of her own incompetence. It would also be cool if the dragon who showed up did some more dragon stuff soon, and if we don’t get more Peter Dinklage ASAP, some of us are going to be bummed.

Pros
There was some serious stabbing this week. Jon Snow deserves (and gets) nice things. The dragon action seems to be ramping up. Certainly all the groundwork being laid down in all the plotlines will lead to something big?

Cons
Who the hell are all these people? Who the hell is that dragon? That guy from the House of Black and White seems to be jerking Arya around, and it seems pointless…almost all of her screen time was super-boring.

The Grade
C Plus: For an episode where a whole lot seemed to happen, mostly nothing happened.

Now, come get your treat, Drogon. Good boy!



Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO. GIFs via giphy.com

Morning Word: PNM Plans to File Exceptions in Rate Case

Utility execs disagree with hearing examiner's findings

Morning WordMonday, April 20, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
PNM's original plan to raise electric rates could still be approved by commissioners, but it looks like they'll have to tweak their application. That, plus we link to a story that shows the complete financial devastation suffered by people who survive gunshot injuries in America.

It's Monday, April 20, 2015

If you missed it late Friday, an independent hearing examiner has recommended public regulation commissioners reject the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s request to raise its rates 12 percent (that’s an average based on all market categories; residential rates would jump 16 percent if the plan is ultimately approved).

The Associated Press has more. 

Meanwhile, PRC members Karen Montoya and Sandy Jones said they want to expedite a decision on how best to regulate Uber and Lyft under the state’s Motor Carrier Act and plan to put the issue before the full commission in the next couple of weeks.

Read it at the ABQ Journal. 

Norman Bay, a former University of New Mexico law professor and US Attorney for the District of New Mexico, is the new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Read more at the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory may have to contract with private security services to protect the facility and employees if contract talks break down with 230 union guards.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Still no word on transition plans as behavioral health care provider La Frontera plans to exit southern New Mexico. About 3,800 patients will be affected by its departure.

Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

School officials in Las Cruces are facing some tough budget decisions to avoid bankruptcy.
At the current trajectory, and at current staffing levels, Terry Dean, the district's associate superintendent for finance, said that the district could run a $6.5 million deficit next year, "and that's an illegal budget." When fully-staffed, the district is currently using 92 percent of its budget on employee compensation—salaries and benefits. That's a figure that school officials say is way too high. 
Damien Willis has the details. 

Members of the Fort Sill Apache Indian tribe want the New Mexico Supreme Court to reconsider their appeal to build a casino.

Read more online. 

Engineers monitoring that jet fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque say that several nearby water wells appear to be unaffected.
The fuel leak, which is believed to have been seeping into the ground for decades, was first detected in 1999. Estimates of the amount of fuel spilled range from 6 million to 24 million gallons. The greatest concern has been that the spill would contaminate drinking water wells in the Southeast Heights. 
Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

It’s still more than a year away, but the district attorney’s race in Bernalillo County is heating up. Former assistant attorney general and assistant US attorney Raul Torrez has announced his candidacy and has actively been fundraising and campaigning. New campaign finance reports reveal that he's collected more than $100,000 for his campaign.
"I think it's important that we get out now, early, and address the interests and the needs that the people have expressed with regard to this office. People are hungry for change, they're ready for fresh leadership, and I think the time is right to get out and give them a vision of what the future may be," Torrez said. 
 Kari Brandenburg hasn’t announced if she’ll seek a fifth four-year term. Former APD commander and special prosecutor Ed Perea says he'll formally announce his candidacy next month.

Read more at KOB.com.

On Friday, Phil Griego, who resigned from the Senate in disgrace, was telling the Albuquerque Journal he had no qualms about receiving his legislative pension check because he hadn’t committed any crimes. But some people are questioning if he committed perjury when he failed to disclose the lucrative real estate fee he earned on his latest financial disclosure forms.

SFR investigated. 

Sen. Pete Campos’ name is not on the list of six finalists to become president of New Mexico Highlands University.

The Las Vegas Optic has the short list. 

While law enforcement agencies around the country have started requiring their officers to wear body cams, it doesn’t look like that’s happened in Taos County yet. Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told reporter Andrew Oxford he's going to change his department's policies soon and has already given them a verbal mandate to use their cameras.

More at the Taos News. 

Three former military buddies, upset that a Tucumcari businessman was flying the American flag upside down, climbed a pole and removed it. But there’s always two sides to a story.
The store’s owner, Steven Benavidez, says he hung it that way for a reason. Benavidez, a Vietnam veteran, says he did it because he believes the United States and Tucumcari itself, is in distress. “It’s about time somebody had enough courage to get up and speak out,” Benavidez said.
Read more at KRQE.com.

Patsy Gresham has been appointed to be the Quay County Treasurer to fill out the term vacated by the resignation of elected treasurer Nadine Angel, which ends Dec. 31, 2016. Angel said she is resigning for personal reasons.

Read more at the Quay County Sun. 

That report from NerdWallet last week that shows women outearning men in Las Cruces appears to be faulty. It actually included more than wages, which still aren't fair.
Jim Peach, a New Mexico State University economics professor, says it “appears that the study didn't report earnings, rather it may have focused on income. It's a subtle difference, but one that adds up. Earnings are just that—money received for labor, the earnings of the sweat of your brow. Income, on the other hand, can include interest payments, dividends from stocks and other investments, or annuities from any source.” 
Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

Victims of gun shootings around the country shared their pernicious stories of torment and financial ruin to Mother Jones reporters.

Read them here. 

Scott Sandlin wrote an in-depth story about how a high-court decision last November is changing how judges assign bail amounts for jailed inmates.

Read her long piece here. 

This Weekend

Check out art, a documentary on school lunch and LEGO sculptures.

Weekend PicksFriday, April 17, 2015 by SFR

Fertile Grounds

This student-organized exhibition explores the erotic, inspired by the theme of indigenous sexuality. Through May 3

More Info >>

Collector's Forum

Lawrence Matthews leads a workshop for anyone who has ever considered buying, selling or caring for fine art or has questions about the inner workings of the art world.

More Info >>


Canutofest

A send-off for Canuto Delgado and donation drive for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.

More Info >>

Lunch Hour

Santa Fe Farmers' Market Institute presents a screening of this documentary focusing on the country's school lunch programs and public health.

More Info >>


Copy Cat LEGO Structures

Try to memorize and copy these structures in 30 seconds during this fun activity.

More Info >>

The Artoonist

Issa Nyaphaga presents his work as a cartoonist, artist and political activist in his new book along with a special screening of Radio Taboo.

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.

Did Griego Commit Perjury?

Questions raised about his financial disclosures

Local NewsFriday, April 17, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
A month after Phil Griego resigned from the New Mexico Senate in disgrace, the Public Employees Retirement Association is set to start sending him monthly pension checks.
 
Griego, who is being replaced by former Estancia Mayor Ted Barela, tells the Albuquerque Journal he has no qualms about getting the $1,324.09 monthly retirement income, because he doesn’t believe “there was any criminal activity or anything like that” when he collected a $50,000 real estate fee on a real estate transaction he brokered between the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and Galiesto Street Inc's Inn of Five Graces, owned by his friends Ira and Shariff Seret.

While Griego admits he violated provisions in Senate rules, Oath of Office and state Constitution, he insists he’s not a criminal and didn’t break any Governmental Conduct Act laws. But SFR has uncovered a document that shows Griego may have committed perjury, a fourth degree felony in New Mexico.

Public records show that on Feb. 5, Griego filed his annual financial disclosure form with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections and Ethics Administration. Those forms require lawmakers to report potential financial conflicts of interest, real estate holdings and other employer information.

Griego included information about working for Excalibur Asset Management Inc. as an associate broker and realtor, listed his rental properties and reporting receiving free office space, worth about $300, from a small technology business in Santa Fe.

But, under penalty of perjury Griego signed his 2015 Financial Disclosure without ever reporting his work representing and assisting the Serets in the deal with the energy department.

Question 11 asks lawmakers to "List each state agency before which you or your spouse represented or assisted a client during the past year". Griego wrote “N/A” – or not applicable.

The form’s last question, asks senators to voluntarily “Provide whatever other financial interest or additional information you believe should be noted to describe potential areas of interest that should be disclosed or (as applicable) you believe or have reason to believe may be affected by your official act."

Video recordings show Griego never voted on the resolution that enabled the sale of the State Parks building in the Barrio de Analco last summer after telling reporters for months he had voted for it. Still, Griego has admitted to recruiting a sponsor to carry the legislation and personally testified in support of the measure.

Government emails SFR received through a public records request also show Griego was actively working with the energy agency to facilitate a review of the sale by the Capital Buildings Planning Commission last spring.

Griego knew he risked perjury when he completed the form. Just above his signature, the form reads: I hearby swear of affirm under penalty of perjury that the foregoing information is true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge.

Despite knowledge of the senator’s resignation and a stipulated agreement showing conclusively that Griego admitted to brokering the deal with the energy department, it doesn’t look like Secretary of State Dianna Duran intends to refer his financial disclosure form to the New Mexico Attorney General’s office.

Ken Ortiz, a spokesman for Duran, tells SFR questions about perjury related to the Griego’s 2015 form is “outside the scope of this office's authority.”

But that conflicts with specific authority given to Duran in the Governmental Conduct Act, which states, “When faced with suspected violations, the Secretary of State may refer those to outside agencies, such as the attorney general or the appropriate district attorney.”

Ultimately, the act states the attorney general would determine if there is sufficient cause to file a complaint.

SFR asked a representative with Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office if they would accept a referral from Duran. James Hallinan, a spokesman for the attorney general, sent SFR this statement:
"The Office of the Attorney General fully reviews every complaint received and investigates where appropriate. Should the Office of the Attorney General receive a referral relating to this matter, the public can be assured that the complaint will be fully reviewed and appropriate action will be taken."
That frustrates Viki Harrison, the executive director for Common Cause New Mexico.

“Once again, the media is doing the investigative work finding out where there are violations and we have agencies that are tasked with doing this and they should be doing it,” says Harrison.

She doesn’t know why Griego didn’t disclose the fee he earned in 2014, but says lawmakers need to stop “wordsmithing" and answer the questions on the form accurately.

“Being transparent to their constituents is what they’re tasked with doing,” says Harrison, hoping in the future lawmakers will “go beyond” what is asked on the disclosure forms, which she suggests need to be reworded.

“How about just doing more than the bottom line,” she asks.
 
SFR has attached a copy of Griego's 2015 financial disclosure form below. Note: 2015 forms account for financial dealings the year prior year.

Morning Word: Radioactive Leak Could Have Been Prevented

Early warnings were ignored

Morning WordFriday, April 17, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
WIPP will spend more than $1 billion cleaning damage from a radioactive leak that could have been prevented, according to investigators. That, plus we have the latest news from around the state. Read it all before you take off for the weekend.

It's Friday, April 17, 2015

Experts say that the Valentine’s Day 2014 radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad could have been prevented with better management and safety protocols. Cleanup costs could exceed $1 billion.

Read Staci Matlock's piece here. 

Former Sen. Phil A Griego will begin collecting his legislative pension before the end of the month. He still insists he didn’t break any laws. Under a new law, if Griego was prosecuted and convicted for collecting a $50,000 fee related to legislation he pushed, he would forfeit his $1,324 monthly retirement check. Griego may not in the clear yet. Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office indicated Thursday that the situation was still being reviewed.
“The attorney general takes any allegations of public corruption very seriously, and any credible allegations will be fully reviewed and appropriate action will be taken, including those publicly alleged against former Sen. Griego,” Attorney General’s office spokesman James Hallinan said. “We will inform the public of the disposition of the matter once that determination has been made,” he added. 
Dan Boyd has more from Santa Fe. 

US Sen. Martin Heinrich is apologizing for getting federally reimbursed for some personal commuting expenses after they were reported by USA Today. Senate rules prohibit lawmakers from accepting reimbursements for their own commute from home to work, or for other personal trips.

Michael Coleman has details. 

Journalist Justin Horwath is one of the best  at following the money. He checked Gov. Susana Martinez’ latest campaign finance reports and discovered at the same time her staff was saying they didn’t have the funds to donate a contribution from a Texas developer accused of physically assaulting a woman in Nevada to a domestic violence or other nonprofit, that her account had still had $70,000.

Read his story at SFR. 

Navajo Nation voters are headed to the polls next Tuesday to finally vote in the presidential election do-over.

Read more at the Navajo Times. 

Members of that conservative political action committee who want three "progressive" city councilors recalled in Las Cruces are challenging the way the city clerk counted signatures on their recall petitions. Now they want a court to review the process.

Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, told Veterans Administration Secretary Robert McDonnell he’s still concerned about the long time veterans are waiting to see a doctor or specialist at the Veteran Affairs Medical Centers.
Udall says he and the secretary talked about directing more attention to rural care and coming up with creative ways to fill the doctor and nurse shortfall the VA is dealing with. 
Read it at KRQE.com. 

A federal appeals court will consider lifting an injunction that blocked President Barack Obama’s executive order that shielded millions of immigrants from deportation.

See it at KRQE.com.

After being tossed off the prosecution of two Albuquerque police officers facing murder for killing James Boyd for an apparent conflict of interest, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has appointed Randi McGinnis as her special prosecutor.

Jeff Proctor provides analysis. 

Meanwhile, KOAT is reporting the district attorney says she’s learned that an Albuquerque Police training cadet may be the person who reported that two officers who are being investigated by the Department of Justice, FBI and New Mexico State Police reportedly beat a homeless man. Brandenburg says people in Albuquerque “do not trust their elected officials.”
“We are in a crisis that I’m not sure we can recover from, if we do, in my lifetime,” she said. 
See more here.  

"Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston is back. He’s doing voice work for a New Mexico Tourism advertising campaign to promote its New Mexico Clean and Beautiful program.

Jessica Dryer has the scoop. 

On the eve of marijuana’s high holy day (4/20), CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta says it is time for a marijuana revolution. He thinks the federal government should legalize the drug for medicinal use.
In the piece, Gupta struggles with his own professional journalistic distance and objectivity but ultimately comes out with his boldest declaration on medical pot yet: Journalists shouldn’t take a position. It makes sense. Objectivity is king. But, at some point, open questions do get answered. At some point, contentious issues do get resolved. At some point, common sense prevails. So, here it is: We should legalize medical marijuana. We should do it nationally. And, we should do it now. 
Read more at the Cannabist.

Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey, adamantly disagrees with Gupta’s position. His reefer madness was on full display this week when he stated that he would crack down on recreational marijuana if he's elected president. He also says he's opposed to states profiting from marijuana.

Read it at the Huffington Post.

Christie must be pleased that a federal judge has decided not to remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s schedule of drugs that they contend have no medical benefits.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said during a brief court hearing that she was initially prepared to rule that marijuana should not be a Schedule 1 drug but then decided it was up to Congress to change the law if it wishes. 
Read more here. 

The Albuquerque Isotopes have wrapped up their first homestand. Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite get a series sweep. They lost to Tacoma 3-1 in 11 innings.

Geoff Grammer has highlights. 

What Money?

Records indicate Gov. Susana Martinez misled the public about her campaign's ability to shed contributions made by a Texas developer charged with domestic violence

Local NewsThursday, April 16, 2015 by Justin Horwath
Records show Susana Martinez' campaign had enough money in its bank account to return contributions made by a Texas developer charged by Las Vegas, Nevada, police with physically assaulting a woman in an October 2012 incident. The revelation contradicts public statements made by the Republican governor's spokesman.

Enrique Knell, then a spokesman for the governor, told the Albuquerque Journal in a March article that shedding thousands in contributions donated by the developer, Marcus Hiles, would not be feasible.

On June 3, 2014, Hiles contributed the $10,400 limit to Martinez' campaign, reports show. His wife, Nancy Hiles, also contributed $10,400.

“The campaign has long since ended, and you can’t return money that’s already been spent,” the Journal quoted Knell as saying. 

But new reports filed with the secretary of state's office for the April 13 campaign reporting deadline show that the same day the Journal published Knell's quote, Martinez' committee had roughly $70,000 cash-on-hand. 

Officials with the governor's campaign and administration have not yet returned voicemails and emails left by SFR Wednesday.

The Dallas Morning News reported in early February that Lone Star Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, gave just over $700,000 of Hiles' political contributions "to services for abuse victims throughout Texas" after the paper inquired to leaders about the incident in a Las Vegas hotel. He pleaded guilty to a domestic violence misdemeanor. 

“At no point in time was Governor Abbott or any member of his staff aware of this deeply disturbing incident,” the governor’s press secretary Amelia Chasse told the newspaper. “Governor Abbott believes that any violence against women is deplorable, unacceptable and shameful.”

And Martinez' campaign has returned donations in the past. In October 2013, following inquiries to Martinez' campaign made by SFR, officials said they would return $25,000 in contributions given by the former owner of an abortion clinic chain and his wife. A campaign spokesperson told SFR that Martinez "strongly disagreed" with the racist remarks against Hispanics made by Edward Allred in a 1980 San Diego Union Tribune article.

And Martinez' campaign said that it removed a registered sex offender from the host committee of a fundraiser held in June 2013 when SFR asked about his inclusion on an invite.

Yet Martinez, a former prosecutor, has resisted pressure from legislative Democrats to give Hiles' contributions to anti-domestic violence causes. 

Police records obtained by SFR that document the October 12, 2012, incident allege Hiles slapped, choked and dragged the woman by the hair after a night of drinking that included a stop at Sapphire's Nightclub, a strip club. 

The two, who were in a relationship, took a cab back to the Wynn Las Vegas, a high-rise luxury resort on the Sin City's strip, where he slapped the woman "in the face with the back of his hand," according to the records.  

The police reports, based partly on video surveillance, state Hiles "was seen grabbing [the woman] by her hair and pulling her into the elevator."

"Once inside the room," states the police report, "Marcus began to punch [the woman], drag her by her hair, and choke her. [The woman] stated she went unconscious. She woke up and ran out the room."

Hiles told police "he could not remember the details of the altercation," states the report. 

Hiles did not return SFR's request for comment left with his office Wednesday. His attorney, Lawrence Friedman, did not return a message left Wednesday. 

Friedman, however, told the Dallas Morning News that "his client disputes the police version of the incident and was the victim of an effort to extort money from a wealthy man." The paper quoted Friedman as saying Hiles "did not hit her" and "did not touch her." 

“To be a victim of domestic violence is horrible. Also horrible is being falsely accused of being the perpetrator of domestic violence,” Friedman told the newspaper. “Marcus Hiles is the victim.”

"Through injury severity and footage of the surveillance video," an officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department wrote in a report, "Marcus showed to be the primary aggressor."

The report states that video surveillance footage corroborated her story to police that Hiles threw her to the ground in the elevator and stomped on her phone. Injuries on the woman, including scratches to the neck, indicated she had been strangled, according to the report.

Police charged Hiles with battery and domestic violence strangulation and booked him in Clark County Detention Center, records show. He pleaded guilty to a domestic violence misdemeanor in February 2013, reported the Dallas Morning News, while the court dropped a felony domestic violence charge.

On March 12, New Mexico In Depth made the connection that Hiles had also given donations to Republicans in New Mexico. 

In the following weeks, campaign finance reports show, Martinez' campaign committee spent down most of the roughly $70,000 it reported having in the bank when Knell indicated to the Journal otherwise in an article published online on March 17.

Instead of giving Hiles' contributions to anti-domestic violence causes, as with Republicans across Texas, Martinez' campaign reported spending $15,000 on Republican Albuquerque school board candidate Peggy Muller-Aragon on April 1; $7,738 in travel on April 6; $10,000 in contributions to another Martinez political committee, Susana PAC, on April 6; and $21,400 on "professional services" to McCleskey Media Strategies, run by her top political advisor Jay McCleksey, on April 6. 

While it's possible some of those vendors billed for those services prior to the revelations about Hiles, the governor's political machine is still well financed. Susana PAC, which lists the same address as McCleskey Media Strategies, reports a balance of $102,615. 

Also on April 6, Martinez' campaign committee reported giving another $15,000 to Advance New Mexico Now—a Republican super PAC which told state regulators in reports that it received $100,000 from Hiles on August 19, 2014. 

The committee reported on April 13 that it had $27,768 in the bank.

College Opportunity

Santa Fe Community College to launch new tribal scholarship program

Local NewsThursday, April 16, 2015 by Zoe Baillargeon

For local Native American students hoping to attend community college and gain a degree, the road just got a little bit easier. In an effort to promote higher education and the acquisition of college-level degrees among students at local pueblos and tribes, Santa Fe Community College is offering new scholarships.

“We want to provide a network of support,” says Valerie Grimley, student employment manager at SFCC. “We’re able to provide that financial support and give our students one less thing to worry about.”

A memorandum of understanding that is scheduled to be finalized Friday by tribal leaders and SFCC president Randy Grissom encompasses 11 tribes around Northern New Mexico, including the Navajo Nation, and Cochiti and Nambé pueblos. It outlines that the school will distribute about $5,500 each semester to qualifying students nominated by tribal leadership.

Grimley says that the college population includes about 250 Native American students, but there are issues with retention due to cost and the fact that attending college causes separates students from their families, as well as traditional cultural and religious events, such as dances, back home.

“A lot of us in the Native American community have strong family ties, and that can be something that prevents us from pursuing higher education,” says Grimley, who is a member of Cochiti Pueblo. “We’re trying to create that support system here on campus so that our students feel comfortable.”

The scholarships are open to students of all ages and across all degree programs, and each tribe can nominate either one full-time student or two part-time students for the financial aid. In order to be eligible, students must be enrolled and have at least a 2.0 GPA. Then the individual tribe’s education committee will award the scholarship based on need.

“It’s a huge collaboration between the tribes and us,” says Grimley.

The money, she says, is coming from the SFCC Foundation and will average around $500 for a full-time student and $250 each for the part-time students. The agreement also permits tribes to transfer their award money to students from other communities that may have multiple eligible students in a given semester.

Whereas the deadline for regular scholarship applications at SFCC is May 22, the new tribal program won’t issue awards until about three weeks into the next semester.  

Kevin Lewis, the director of education at Cochiti Pueblo, is optimistic about the agreement and the effect it can have for students.

“If we can alleviate some of the financial costs for our students with the memorandum of understanding, they may be more inclined to attend college,” says Lewis.

With Cochiti situated in a rural area outside Santa Fe, Lewis says that some of the main issues affecting a student’s decision to attend college is the cost of transportation and access to Internet for homework and research. With the scholarship money, Lewis says students can have more funds for transportation and access to educational resources.

Grimley hopes that, if the scholarship program is a success, it can expand to include more tribes around the state. 

Morning Word: Balderas Opposes Solar Fees

Attorney general requests review of PNM’s rate proposal

Morning WordThursday, April 16, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Rain or shine, solar-powered energy is booming in New Mexico. As the industry grows, it faces tough challenges. Now, it looks like they may have the state's top consumer protection agency on their side. That, plus fresh water in Lea County could be harder to conserve if a potash mining company starts using up billions of gallons.

It's Thursday, April 16, 2015

A proposal by PNM to have solar system owners pay the investor-owned utility a fee to support its electrical grid has hit another roadblock. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he wants the Public Regulation Commission to “investigate the impact of distributed generation on the utility system in New Mexico, including a full examination of its associated costs and benefits.”
PNM wants homeowners with small solar systems to pay what the utility says is their fair share for the fixed costs of maintaining the electric grid, which continues to provide electricity to them when the sun isn’t shining. But industry representatives say the fee–which could range from about $21 per month for small systems to $36 or more for the larger ones that many homeowners are now installing–could undermine the economic benefits of going solar and knock the wind out of a burgeoning industry. 
Read it at the Albuquerque Journal. 

Meanwhile, people who wanted Gov. Susana Martinez to extend the state’s solar tax credit want to know why she pocket-vetoed the measure.

Read more at New Mexico Political Report. 

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security say rumors that ISIS terrorists are building a camp adjacent to the New Mexico border with Mexico are not true.

See it at KOB.com. 

If you’re still concerned about the dwindling number of police officers in your community, you might consider what some folks in Albuquerque are doing: hiring private security patrols.

See it at KRQE.com. 

Yesterday, we wrote about Equal Pay Day and the absolute necessity to close the gender pay gap. Getting laws on the books could take awhile, but students at the University of New Mexico are taking some long-overdue steps to make language in their constitution gender-neutral.
ASUNM President Rachel Williams said she sees the amendment as a big step towards campus-wide inclusiveness for students who may want to serve in ASUNM to feel more welcome. “It’s about comfort at the end of the day,” she said. “Should we have a student who does identify as gender-neutral who comes into ASUNM and is participating any way [not feel] like the Constitution is binary and exclusive and they don’t really feel like they’re as much as a part of it as they could be just because a couple of words that are very obviously easily changed?” 
Read more at the Daily Lobo. 

On the same day that President Barack Obama announced he was removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror, there are more calls from New Mexico’s congressional delegation and governor to request the extradition of a New Mexico fugitive living on the island.

There was no immediate word whether Charlie Hill, an elusive fugitive wanted for murder in the 1971 death of New Mexico State patrolman Robert Rosenbloom, would be included in the talks. New Mexico officials since the thawing of relations have insisted that Hill, who hijacked a plane to Cuba more than 40 years ago after killing Rosenbloom, be returned to face trial.


Gov. Susana Martinez spent part of Wednesday in Mexico celebrating the opening of a highway bypass project that officials hope will boost trade throughout the border region. In February, Martinez announced that 2014 was a record-breaking year of export growth in New Mexico. That included exports to Mexico, which reached an all-time high of $1.5 billion.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow, a conservation political action committee in Las Cruces, spent $54,000 in their failed effort to recall three city councilors.

Diana Alba Soular reviewed the campaign finance reports. 

A plan by a potash mining company to use more than 3 billion gallons of water has upset officials in Lea County, who say the large amount of water "could jeopardize access to clean water for residents who already are being urged to conserve.”
At a rate of 3,000 gallons per minute, [Commissioner Ron] Black estimated that under the proposal, the water usage would amount to 180,000 gallons an hour, or more than 4 million gallons a day. “That water would be lost forever,” Black said. “If they’re having to use freshwater, that really bothers me."
More at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Tensions are rising between officials in Rio Rancho and Sandoval County, as some in the state’s fastest-growing city consider forming their own county.

More at the Albuquerque Journal. 

As Eldorado High School quarterback Zach Gentry prepares to graduate next month and head off to play football in Michigan later this summer, he’s learning competition to land the starting job will be stiff.

James Yodice has the story

Morning Word: Luján Presses for Fair Pay

Why do women continue to earn less than men?

Morning WordWednesday, April 15, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It seems ridiculous in this day and age to still have a gender-based pay gap, but without legislation, it could take women decades to catch up. That, plus disappointing news about SpaceX's recent landing test.

It's Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today may be Tax Day, but yesterday was Equal Pay Day. That’s the day professional women finally catch up to the wages earned by men the year before. The gap needs to be closed, but unless measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act, co-sponsored by US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, are adopted soon, it could take until 2058 for women to catch up. By any measure, that’s unfair.
In New Mexico, women earn 82 cents for every dollar that a man does. While this is slightly higher than the national average, it still represents a gap of more than $7,700 every year. For Latinas and African American women, the wage gap is even worse. Latinas make 56 cents for every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic man, and African American women make 64 cents. A study by the National Women’s Law Center found that in 108 of 111 occupations analyzed, the earnings of women were less than the earnings of men. 
Luján says his bill requires employers to show that pay disparity is “truly related to job performance, not gender; strengthens remedies for women experiencing pay discrimination; prohibits employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers; and empowers women in the workplace through a grant program to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills.”

Read more about pay disparities at the Pew Research Center. 

Santa Fe City Councilor Carmichael Dominguez says the state auditor’s office should prepare a forensic audit on the city’s $30 million park bond. The funds, approved by voters seven years ago, have been “riddled with poor oversight and shoddy accounting.”

Daniel Chacón has more on the audit here. 

SpaceX’s new $2 million vertical launch pad and support facilities at Spaceport America won’t be put to the test anytime soon after company’s Falcon 9 tipped over after landing on a barge in the ocean earlier this week.

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal. 

More than 3,700 people have signed a petition urging the University of New Mexico Foundation to stop investing its endowment funds in fossil fuel-related investments.
Divestment, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, told the regents, “would not in any way hurt the university financially.” It would, however, issue “a clear statement that this research university…recognizes the hard scientific facts. It’s time to make that kind of statement.” 
The industry contends that the entire global economy depends on fossil fuels.
“They call for divestiture but offer no alternative transportation options,” said Wally Drangmeister, a vice president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. “I think they have a pretty slanted view of things. It’s easy to criticize things, but their arguments are pretty emotional and are rarely based on practical alternatives.” 
Mike Bush has more. 

Teresa Padilla, the wife of the late boxing champ Johnny Tapia, claims Jerry Padilla isn’t really Tapia’s biological father, and she’s suing him to prevent him from profiting from the former champ's name and likeness.

Read it at KOB. 

The former mayor of Estancia will be sworn into the Senate on Friday. Ted Barela was selected by Gov. Susana Martinez to replace Phil Griego, who resigned his District 39 seat last month after an ethics investigation determined commissions he earned brokering a real estate deal violated Senate rules and provisions in the state’s constitution.

Read more about it at New Mexico Political Report. 

Political blogger Joe Monahan says, “Mayor [Richard] Berry's nomination of Jessica Hernandez as city attorney gives the laid-back ABQ City Council a chance to ask some pointed questions about APD."

Read his take here. 

The governor has a new public information officer. Chris Sanchez, a well-known Republican political operative, will direct communication efforts for the administration. He replaces Enrique Knell, who’s headed to the Regulation and Licensing Department to manage boards and commissions.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Pressure continues to build for the governor to call a special session to deal with capital outlay funding.

Matthew Reichbach has the latest on the political saga. 

Political action committees, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office, continue to raise and spend money in New Mexico, albeit it a lot less money than during last fall’s general election cycle.

Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

A Santa Fe psychiatrist was back in district court earlier this week. Carola Kieve contends that health department regulators should not have imposed burdensome rules for some medical marijuana patients.
Kieve’s attorney, Brian Egolf, argued that the department abuses its authority in two ways: by requiring physicians who certify patients for the Medical Cannabis Program to attest that the patients unsuccessfully tried standard treatments first and by requiring more documentation from people with certain conditions—including post-traumatic stress disorder—than it does from people with other conditions. 
Reporter Phaedra Haywood was in the courtroom. 

SFR has put together an entire issue focused on reforming marijuana laws in New Mexico.

Get the dope on the changing weed scene here. 

A new poll shows that more than half of all Americans support legalizing marijuana.

Read it at here. 

We don’t think Judge Judy [Sheindlin] will tell graduating seniors in Shiprock to smoke pot. The television courtroom drama queen is headed to New Mexico to deliver a high school commencement address next month. 

Read more at the Farmington Daily Times. 

You won’t become as famous as Judge Judy, but you have a chance to be in Independence Day Forever. Casting directors say they pay extras $72 a day, plus overtime.

Read more at ABQ Business First. 

The Albuquerque Isotopes picked up their second straight win, beating Tacoma at home last night, 6-5.

Read the game stats here.


Congratulations are also in order for Karen. The ABQ Bio Park’s 13-year-old Nile hippopotamus gave birth to a baby hippo on Tuesday.

See video of mom and baby together on YouTube. 
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