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Nurse Union Alleges Retaliation, Noncompliance

Union press conference on City Hall's lawn reignites tensions between Christus St. Vincent's and its employees

Local NewsFriday, April 24, 2015 by Justin Horwath
Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center retaliated against a top union nurse and has been breaking its agreement on nurse staffing levels, officials with the New Mexico chapter of National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees alleged in a press conference outside City Hall on Friday. 

Tears welled up in Diane Spencer's eyes as union officials told reporters that she's one of the best nurses the hospital and that her termination had been a result of Spencer's union-related activities, including keeping track of staffing levels of the nurses who work at the hospital.

"What we will not tolerate is a targeted attack on our members," said District 1199 President Lorie MacIver. 

Hospital officials say in a prepared statement that they "will not comment on personnel matters" but add that "we have always followed a policy of non-discrimination, union members or not."

"And, we have consistently demonstrated our commitment to following that policy," reads the statement. "Over the years, in our long term relationship with 1199, there has not been a pattern of discrimination against employees because of their union affiliation."

Shane Youtz, the union's attorney, says hospital administrators told Spencer—who received "extremely good" evaluations during her tenure there—that she would be under investigation two hours after an April 5 meeting between Spencer and the chief nursing officer about staffing levels at Christus St. Vincent. The number of staff on duty during hospital shifts had been the major point of contention between the two parties last year during contract negotiations that featured a walkout by union nurses. 

Union officials say they can't go into details about the incident that led to Spencer's termination due to federal privacy laws, but Youtz said there was no adverse medical outcome involved to the patient and characterized the incident that triggered her termination as a "routine" occurrence at the hospital that doesn't justify firing Spencer, "one of "Christus' best nurses."

"Many people knew she was going to be fired," said Youtz, who added that the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board while, separately, an arbitrator investigates the issue.

During contract negotiations, the union and the hospital agreed that staffing levels for nurses would remain at the 40th percentile, a calculation that means about 60 percent of peer-hospitals have more robust nursing staffing levels than that of Christus St. Vincent.

But the union alleges that, since the Jan. 1 contract, the hospital has only staffed nurses at the 40th percentile for roughly one day and that the hospital has been choosing to pay fines instead of increasing staffing levels. (Hospital administrators call the payments contributions to a fund for nurse education).

Hospital administrators respond in the statement by citing New Mexico Hospital Association data they say shows it has higher nurse staffing levels than most large hospitals in the Land of Enchantment and that the hospital experienced "exceptionally high census numbers for the hospital, due to flu and other related illnesses."

"We underestimated the high census needs and immediately enhanced recruitment efforts," they say, which includes the hiring of 35 registered nurses since March. 

"The funding portion of the agreement is complex as it uses a tracking mechanism to check staffing on a combined 31 nurse and tech units each day," reads the statement. "Some are checked twice daily for a total of 42 unit checkpoints a day. If we fall short on staffing, even on 1 out of 42 checkpoints each day, the agreement calls for a contribution to the education fund."
 
In a letter the union delivered to City Hall officials, union officials say that hospital administrators "failed to make any serious effort to meet their commitments as to staffing as they promised us and you last October."

The letter alleges the hospital lost 300 nurses in the last three years, "most of whom have left because of poor staffing," and that the hospital has been relying on traveling nurses from out of state whom the hospital ships in for 13-week contracts. 

This Weekend

Don't miss the Met

Weekend PicksFriday, April 24, 2015 by SFR

Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand

After two years of production, Luke Carr presents all four acts of his highly anticipated sci-fi post-punk concept album and new media opera that features poly-rhythmic percussion and immersive video.

More Info >>

Ryder Studio Exhibit

Students and faculty of the Ryder Studio present their work. Through May 17

More Info >>


Gallery Talk

Linda Green and David Eichholtz discuss the life and work of the late artist Tom Green as part of the exhibit "Mapping the Human Condition."

More Info >>

The Met: Live in HD

The Santa Fe Opera presents this double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. For tickets, call or visit ticketssantafe.org

More Info >>


Contemporary Clay Fair

Over 30 potters and clay artists show their work, featuring everything from traditional pottery to wearable jewelry.

More Info >>

Raquel Z. Rivera and Ojos de Sofía

This Puerto Rican and Dominican neo-roots band enchants you.

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.

Morning Word: Brandenburg Fears for Her Safety

District Attorney: I don’t think they’re going to kill me

Morning WordFriday, April 24, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Kari Brandenburg says friendly Albuquerque police officers have hinted she's a target of forces who want her out of office and punished for daring to challenge the police department. Don't count on her backing down. That, plus a quick statewide news roundup ahead of the weekend.

It's Friday, April 24, 2015

Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg says that she has personal safety concerns after making the decision to charge two Albuquerque police officers with murder.
“I fear for my safety because other Albuquerque Police Department officers have told me that I should,” Brandenburg said. “I don’t think they’re going to kill me, but I have been told to fear for my safety.” 
Read more at ABQ Free Press.  

District Judge Fernando Macias has decided the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office won’t have to release the work records of a slain deputy who was shot and killed by another deputy in Las Cruces last October.
The ruling came in response to a motion filed in February by attorneys representing Tai Chan, 28, the former Santa Fe deputy who is charged in the Oct. 28, 2014, slaying of 29-year-old Jeremy Martin. The attorneys sought access to the slain deputy's work records, including results from a psychological exam, and it appears they will continue to fight for the records despite the ruling. 
Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

After months of delays, the US Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch as US attorney general. Both of New Mexico’s senators voted for her.

Matthew Reichbach has local reaction. 

Investigators are still not certain if more than one radioactive storage drum leaked at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad last year.
More than 20 employees at WIPP were contaminated during the following day, and shipments of waste to WIPP from nuclear production sites around the nation stopped and still haven’t resumed, stranding thousands of barrels of waste at Los Alamos and other nuclear labs. 
Read investigative reporter Patrick Malone’s story here. 

Political struggles at Pojoaque Pueblo have led to a "shakeup" in its business operations.
“The CEO of the pueblo’s enterprises resigned this week, and the general manager of Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino has been placed on administrative leave.” 

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 


The Gathering of Nations got under way in Albuquerque last night. Local businesses hope the pow wow will give them a big economic boost.

Read it at ABQ Business First. 

Eight Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s new Netflix movie, Ridiculous Six, because, they claim, the script demeans their culture. Netflix released a statement saying, "The movie has 'Ridiculous' in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part ofbut in onthe joke.

See the actors’ interviews with KOB here. 

State Democrats will meet this weekend in Albuquerque to elect a new party chair. Two candidates for the position have emerged: Debra Haaland, who was the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor last year, and Richard Ellenberg, who has served as the chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party for the past six years. Last December, Debbie Weh Maestas, daughter of former state party chairman Allen Weh, was elected Republican Party chairwoman.

Steve Terrell has more on the candidates.

Political reporter Andy Lyman sat down with both candidates to ask them questions about how they plan to help the Democratic Party recover from last year’s election losses.

See them here. 

The extended forecast for government transparency in New Mexico isn't always sunny in New Mexico. New Mexico In Depth continues its series of guest commentaries on attempts to reform open government policies in a state perceived to be at risk for corruption.

Read Viki Harrison’s take. 

Gov. Susana Martinez is going to Mexico today to discuss economic development, tourism and trade with Chihuahua Gov. César Duarte.

Details here.

Martinez was in Las Cruces yesterday to announce 200 new jobs at a call center there. The state will provide $180,000 in Job Training Incentive Program funding to train the incoming employees.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 


Española School Board members voted 3-2 to fire Superintendent Danny Trujillo.

Ardee Napolitano has the story. 

The New Mexico Department of Health wants to collect more data and plans to track medical marijuana from seed to sale. To help, the department has awarded a software contract to BioTrack THC.

Read more online. 

The Morning Word is published at the Santa Fe Reporter each weekday morning before 8 am.  If you have suggestions, story links or a story tip, please email me here. Thanks, and have a great weekend.  We hope to see you back here bright and early Monday morning.

Reports: Native Actors Walk Off Adam Sandler Movie Set

The movie was being filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Local NewsThursday, April 23, 2015 by Justin Horwath
The Indian Country Today Media Network reports that "approximately a dozen" Native American actors and actresses walked off the Las Vegas, New Mexico set of an Adam Sandler film, The Ridiculous Six, in protest "after the satirical western’s script repeatedly insulted native women and elders and grossly misrepresented Apache culture."

According to the report, published Thursday, "The examples of disrespect included Native women’s names such as Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, an actress portraying an Apache woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe, and feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee."

Facebook

"My native women were disrespected and I walked off of set of the movie I was doing," writes actor Loren Anthony in a Facebook post in which he shared the link to the article. "I will always stand for what is right and for my people. My dignity is not for sale. Please read this article, share it. The fight of our people still continues."


Karen Barragan, spokeswoman for Netflix, which will debut the film, did not return a request for comment Thursday. 


The New Mexico Film Office says the Happy Madison Productions' movie began filming in Santa Fe and surrounding areas in February and is in part produced by Sandler, whose agency directed SFR to Barragan for comment.


The Santa Fe New Mexican quotes cartoonist Ricardo Caté, illustrator of the paper's "Without Reservations," as saying  that "only a handful of Native Americans walked off the set" and that there is "little offensive material in the script."

"There's nothing worse [in the script] than anything in my cartoons," Caté told the New Mexican. "If anything racial or racist happened I would have walked off. The shoot has been fine, everybody has been happy."

"All I know at this point is I am traveling to South Dakota to address a racial incident involving 57 Native children who were doused with beer by ignorant racists," he writes in a Facebook post, "an [the incident] hardly received any media attention. Not THAT, my friends, is what should be on the discussion table."


Morning Word: Schools Fret over Budget

Educators aren't the only ones re-evaluating financial situation

Morning WordThursday, April 23, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Money may make the world go round and round, but the lack of funds sure can cause havoc with public services. Public servants in the state's largest county could even be facing furloughs before the end of the fiscal year. Need a lawyer? Better call Saul, because the Law Office of the Public Defender is scrambling to make ends meet. All that, plus solar panels are staying put in Eldorado.

It's Thursday, April 23, 2015

Legislators may have given public schools $2.75 billion, a record budget amount, but some educators don’t think the $36.6 million annual increase is enough to keep pace with rapid rising utility and insurance costs.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Schools aren’t the only ones re-evaluating their financial situation. Michael Stout, the chair of the Public Defender Commission, claims the financial situation at the Law Office of the Public Defender is also dismal after Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a $1.3 million supplemental budget measure.

Scott Sandlin has details.  

Bernalillo County may have to dip into its discretionary reserve budget to avoid employee layoffs and furloughs. Tom Zdunek, the county’s top manager, says the budget is expected to trim spending on social-service contracts by about a half million dollars, cut individual commissioners' discretionary funds in half, and freeze and slow hiring.

Dan McKay has the story. 

UpFront columnist Winthrop Quigley doesn’t think that a proposed tax reform package will be a “quick fix” for New Mexico’s ailing economy.

Read his take here. 

Enrollment in New Mexico's food stamp program is up 5 percent in the past 14 months. Some think the increase is tied to the Affordable Care Act.

Read it here.

Gov. Martinez marked Earth Day at the Rio Grande Nature Center and recognized recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards, given to people working on seven state projects aimed at protecting the state’s natural treasures.

Read more here. 

While Martinez was in Albuquerque, she told business leaders she wants lawmakers to fully fund infrastructure projects.
Piecemeal funding means state dollars frequently go unspent, she added, saying, “You can’t spend it because it’s not enough (to complete the project)–so it just sits there.” 
She has a point. State Auditor Tim Keller says he’s found $4.5 billion on the books that has gone unspent.

Read it here. 

Public Regulation Commissioners voted to issue new guidelines for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, but no one really seems to know exactly what those rules are or how they will affect the programs.

Dan Mayfield explains. 

ABQ Free Press is the first paper in the country to endorse a 2016 presidential candidate.

See who the editors are backing. 

State District Judge Francis J Mathew has tossed out an Eldorado property owner’s lawsuit aimed at prohibiting ground-based solar panels on private residences in the Santa Fe-area subdivision.
Eldorado, an early adopter of passive solar technology, has many proponents of solar energy, but large ground-based arrays that have been popping up in recent years have drawn complaints from some homeowners who see them as eyesores.
“Some look at ground-based solar and see something ugly,” [the homeowners association's attorney] said. “And some see the future of the planet.” 
Anne Constable has the scoop. 

Defense attorneys for two Albuquerque Police Department officers charged with murdering James Boyd plan to meet with newly appointed Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn to persuade her to drop the case.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

While New Mexico lawmakers said no to legalizing pot, Colorado lawmakers are considering refunding taxpayers $58 million taxes it collected from recreational weed sales.

See it at KOB.com 

Piñon Coffee is going to be the official coffee sponsor of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We think it’s the same coffee the character in our Morning Word logo is downing every day. 

More on the local roaster here.

Morning Word: New Mexico Hospitals Get Low Ratings

Patients give hospitals mostly two or three stars

Morning WordWednesday, April 22, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
With low to average ratings, NM hospitals have a long way to go to satisfy their patients. At least we'll be able to do some price shopping once the new health portal is published. That, plus Tommy Rodella loses his bid to get out of jail during his appeal.

It's Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Patients aren’t giving New Mexico very good approval ratings in a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services survey.
Most New Mexico hospitals get two and three stars, with a few fours peppered in. Only four states and Washington DC have a lower average star rating than New Mexico. 
Hear more at KUNM. 

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, hopes a new law limiting noncompete clauses in health care worker contracts will help retain more clinicians in New Mexico. It could also help improve hospital ratings.

Read the ABQ Journal’s take here. 

After months of delays, voters have elected Russell Begaye president of the Navajo Nation.

Read more at the Navajo Times. 

It looks like former Rio Arriba County sheriff Tommy Rodella will have to stay in prison while he appeals his 10-year sentence.

See it at KOB. 

Members of the Santa Fe Parks Advisory Commission say they’re “blown away” by the lack of record keeping associated with that $30 million voter-approved bond. Without a paper trail, a full-scale audit could be challenging.

Daniel Chacón is following the money. 

Lauren Villagran reports the new Waste Isolation Pilot Plant director has a record of turning around troubled operations, but it turns out that Philip Breidenbach was in charge of another facility in Idaho where “a lack of safety precautions” led to radioactive contamination of 16 workers in 2011.

Read it here. 

Ray Hagerman, the chairman of the Four Corners Economic Development group in San Juan County, says "radical environmentalists" are spreading dangerous misinformation about the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power-replacement plan. He, and county commissioners, are worried hundreds of jobs may be lost if the plant is forced to close.
The "radical, extremist, take-no-prisoners" people lobbying against the plan will not have to look into the faces of those who lose their jobs, [Hagerman] said. 
Of course, renewable energy advocates say hundreds of new wind and solar jobs will be created if PNM is required to look at reliable and cost-efficient alternatives. This morning, public regulation commissioners are scheduled to review an independent hearing examiner’s report recommending they reject PNM’s plan. 

Read it at the Daily Times. 

Speaking of the environment, it’s Earth Day, and two Santa Fe schoolgirls, who lobbied the Santa Fe City Council to ban plastic shopping bags, will appear in tonight’s Saving My Tomorrow on HBO.
The six 30-minute episodes spotlight children from around the country as they share their thoughts on how to protect the Earth through video clips of their own activities—including cleaning beaches and planting trees—as well as performing original songs and readings. 
Robert Nott has more. 

New Mexico Tech engineering students successfully launched a rocket from Spaceport America.

Read it at the Las Cruces-Sun News.

But NM Tech is facing financial difficulties and shrinking enrollment. At peak funding, New Mexico Tech employed about 1,100 people. Today, Tech has approximately 850 employees, while providing services to a student population that has grown by 20 percent over the same time frame.

Read more at the ABQ Journal.

With a new $42 million operating budget, Santa Fe Community College's administrators are planning to keep tuition rates at current levels, boost employee salaries and hire additional staff.

Read it at the New Mexican.

New Mexico’s Workforce Solutions reports the state has seen 31 straight quarters of job growth, but unemployment is still above 6 percent.

Read it here.  


The New Mexico Racing Commission has fined and suspended the license of a Sunland Park jockey for five years after discovering he was carrying an electric buzzer in his shirtsleeve.

Charles Brunt has the story. 

SFR editor Julie Ann Grimm has a great interview with Boston Marathon winner Caroline Rotich, who runs 110 miles a week on trails around Santa Fe. The 30-year-old Kenyan native tells Grimm what she was thinking during her winning run:
Just stay in the race.You know it’s a long ways, but you don’t want to fall out or get out of the race because the moment you get out of the race and have your mind taken by something, you are going to leave a gap open, and someone will try to drop you off. 
Read the interview here.

This isn’t cool: Alex Goldsmith reports that a New Mexico camp that gives kids battling cancer and cancer survivors a place to have fun for a week is struggling to stay open after a major sponsor pulled out.


Street View

04.22.15

Street ViewWednesday, April 22, 2015 by SFR

The honeymoon is over already, as seen on Cordova Road.


Send shots to streetview@sfreporter.com or share with #SFRStreetview for a chance to win free movie passes to the CCA Cinematheque.


7 Days

04.22.15

7 DaysWednesday, April 22, 2015 by SFR
1

COLD SPELL AND SNOW KEEP SPRING FUN

So much for that “out like a lamb” thing.

2

DUCK IN NM REFUGE TESTS POSITIVE FOR BIRD FLU

Just dethpicable.

3

LINDA BEAVER LEAVES LOCAL TOYOTA DEALER

New guys says he will still wow ya, just not in a short skirt.

4

TEENS USE MORE E-CIGS

Those kids like all that new stuff. Plus, cotton candy flavor.

5

BOSTON MARATHON WINNER TRAINED IN NM

The Land of Enchantment: Where every hill breaks your heart.

6

RIFLE ROAD RAGE WAS OVER MISSED LEFT TURNS

Wait till you see what happens if you refuse to go right on red.  

7

SABADO GIGANTE END IN SIGHT

That other Saturday night show better up its game.


Be Brave, Bold Robot

Alex Garland’s 'Ex Machina' has human limitations

MehWednesday, April 22, 2015 by David Riedel

Eccentric Internet billionaire Nathan (Oscar Isaac) builds artificial intelligence robot Ava (Alicia Vikander). Lowly programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson, convincingly playing an American) is invited to Nathan’s middle-of-nowhere retreat to see whether Ava passes the Turing Test—in other words, to determine whether the AI can successfully pass for human. Things go predictably, if quietly, haywire.

There are many things to admire in Alex Garland’s directorial debut. He has a feel for enclosed spaces and builds a convincing sense of dread, as Caleb falls under Ava’s spell and becomes more disillusioned with Nathan. But there’s an underlying ickiness to the entire film, and not just the inherent “OMG, THE ROBOTS ARE LIKE PEOPLE” ickiness. There’s an undercurrent of sexism that’s unpalatable.

For example, every woman in this film is shown, at some point, in a full state of undress. That wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy if the men were, too, but there’s nary a dude’s butt-cheek in sight.

That gets to deeper questions: Why is our eccentric billionaire a man? Why not a woman? And why not a woman who designs an AI? (It’s worth noting that the AI is genderless, and Nathan has programmed it as female.) Is it so bizarre that a woman would invent artificial intelligence? What would she do with it?

Ex Machina isn’t interested in those questions. Presumably, Garland isn’t either. And like other films he’s written—in particular Sunshine and 28 Days LaterEx Machina takes two-thirds of a good idea and pisses away the last third with a devolution into violence that ignores the film’s cosmic questions and gets down to the nitty-gritty of the basest of human emotions, namely the fight for survival.

Of course, the joke could be on me. Maybe Garland is suggesting that despite our best efforts, we’re all just ids and lizard brains at our core, and all we want to do is fuck and, when we’re cornered, escape.

Such is Ava’s dilemma. She’s aware that she’s an AI. Before meeting Caleb, the only other living person she’s met is Nathan. But there’s something off-putting about the idea that her primary goal seems to be to escape.

At the same time, it’s hard to blame her; it’s entirely creepy that Nathan is the kind of person who has more or less built an AI (really, a series of AI robots) for sex. As the film wears on, it becomes clear that Nathan has a screw loose. He keeps talking about the limitless possibilities of AI, but he doesn’t seem that interested in exploring them. He doesn’t talk about leaving his isolated facility and expanding his AI program. It’s more like a sex bunker, where he’s slowly losing his mind.

And that leaves Ava with few possibilities. She realizes that she’s at Nathan’s mercy, and she chooses to do something about it. But how much more compelling would Ex Machina have been if the AI were something greater than its human inventor? In the end, she really is just like us, and that’s disappointing.



 

EX MACHINA

Directed by Alex Garland

With Gleeson, Vikander, and Isaac

Regal Stadium 14

R

110 min.


Why Can’t You Just Play Ball, Dude?

'5 to 7' is great until it isn’t (and then it really isn’t)

MehWednesday, April 22, 2015 by David Riedel

5 to 7 starts so wonderfully that its left turn into bologna is all the more disheartening. How many films have ventured into yay! territory that nearly end up in barfland? In that regard, 5 to 7 is almost a miracle. It’s an American film that seems to be taking a French attitude about an affair between married Frenchwoman Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe) and young American Brian (Anton Yelchin), and then it doesn’t. It ends up being wholly American. Brian has to learn something, and everyone has to feel bad. It’s so goddamn provincial it’s maddening.

 

So maybe just enjoy the beginning, when Brian meets the beautiful Arielle by chance, and they commence an affair with ground rules: They may only meet between 5 and 7 p.m.

 

Simple enough, until Brian wants more and therefore does something dumb. But forget about that and focus on his parents, played to the hilt by Glenn Close and Frank Langella. Witness the charming Olivia Thirlby as Brian’s friend in a similar situation. And then watch it all get pissed away. Ignore the ham-fisted references to Jules and Jim and the poster’s conjuring of Annie Hall. 5 to 7 ain’t those classics, even if it has a rather killer closing line.





5 TO 7

Directed by Victor Levin

With Yelchin, Marlohe, and Close

The Screen

R

97 min.


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