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

Wringing Out the Budget

City council to consider using water funds for other operations while opponents question legal maneuverings and precedent

Local NewsMonday, July 6, 2015 by Elizabeth Miller

Whether the city can move millions from the water fund to the general fund to balance the upcoming fiscal year’s budget is one of the big matters on the table for the July 8 City Council meeting. 

But the mechanism officials will consider—an ordinance to allow the city annually to transfer as much as 12 percent of excess cash balances from enterprise funds to the general fund—could have more long-lasting consequences. 

This year, the enterprise fund in the spotlight is a pot of reserves mostly amassed from the city’s water users,  who pay one of the highest rates in the country, and from taxes paid at cash registers citywide. 

Without the proposed transfer of a total of $4.7 million, the city’s Fiscal Impact Report states, “next year’s budget will come up short by $3 million” and the city’s total operating deficit, which already stands at $11 million, will notch upward. 

The ordinance would amend an existing ordinance allowing the city to transfer up to $1.7 million annually from the enterprise funds that also include operations like the municipal airport and trash collection. Without the transfer this year, officials say the next option is to cut services or lay off staff, or to increase taxes. 

The budget drafted by City Council for the fiscal year which began July 1 relies on that transfer, and without it, the city will have to re-do the budget by the state’s July 31 deadline.  

The ordinance failed to pass the Public Utilities Committee in a June 3 meeting, with Councilors Joseph Maestas, Patti Bushee and Bill Dimas against and Chris Rivera and Peter Ives for the measure. During that committee discussion of the ordinance, Bushee stated, “This is not a one time deal and it is the wrong approach.”

Councilor Ives countered that without the approval of this ordinance, the city budget not only isn’t balanced, but violates existing ordinance.

“I think it’s necessary to move this forward so we didn’t get caught in the circumstance of having approved a budget that legally violates our own ordinances,” he said during the June committee meeting.

The proposed ordinance initially stated that such transfers are intended for “extraordinary duly incurred costs of non-routine city services attributable to operation and maintenance of the enterprise or enterprise fund.”  Given that prior transfers of funds from the Water Division have paid salaries for full time employees, which is not a non-routine service, the Finance Committee struck that word from the draft. It also added a sunset clause of June 30, 2016. 

While the budget details aren’t necessarily a hot topic for public comment considering recent debates over development, there’s still a cry of opposition that’s gaining momentum. 

The Santa Fe Coalition for Good Government’s director, Mary Walta, raised concerns in a June 25 letter emailed to the mayor and city councilors, as well as the Office of the State Auditor and to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

The city has failed to provide compelling reasons for using the Water Division’s funds to pay for city operations when lower city revenues have been an ongoing issue for years and should be accounted for in the city’s budget, says the letter, which also notes, “Most, if not all, of the $11 million shortfall is attributable to increased salaries and employee benefits for current and new city employees.” 

The city had no legal authority to present a budget to the state that relies on a funds transfer that is not authorized per existing city ordinance, she adds. “Hopefully, city councilors who oppose use of water funds for non-water related purposes will not feel compelled to now cover the city’s tracks on what amounts to clear overreaching of authority,” Walta’s letter reads. “Likewise, hopefully the DFA will take a dim view of this sort of ex post facto authorization in the budgeting process.”

She adds that without a concrete plan to increase revenues, this transfer sets a precedent for using enterprise funds to close gaps in the budget the city should expect to see repeated in years to come. 

The coalition also questioned the legality of the city’s considered rededication of the ¼ of 1 percent municipal capital outlay gross receipt tax that was approved by voters in 2004 to fund water-related projects, stating that “rededication of the 2004 tax revenues without voter approval would be illegal."

With the Water Division’s estimated 800 miles of aging infrastructures and hundreds of millions to spend on capital projects planned for the next 10 years, the funds can hardly be spared. And if there are no water-related projects that need to be funded, the coalition contends, then water rates need to be reduced.  But that idea isn’t apparently up for discussion.

“Water is more important than money. It’s priceless,” Carolyn Sigstedt, Santa Fe businesswoman and the lone public commenter at the Public Utilities Committee meeting, tells SFR. “[City council] should see that. It’s not enough for them to say ‘We’ll never do this again.’ It’s just too easy.”

The Wednesday City Council meeting is set to begin at 5 pm in the gym at Santa Fe High School. A proposed development on Old Santa Fe Trail is also on the agenda. 

Morning Word: PNM Faces SEC Complaint

Environmental group says utility misled investors

Morning WordMonday, July 6, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Monday, July 6, 2015

New Energy Economy wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the Public Service Company of New Mexico for allegedly misleading its investors by issuing what they call a “deceptive” news release claiming a coal supply deal could save ratepayers $300 million.
But the complaint contends if PNM had secured a coal contract with Westmoreland Coal Co., about $250 million of the $300 million in savings would occur regardless of whether PNM’s power plan was approved by the state Public Regulation Commission. “Therefore, the PNM news release is intentionally misleading, crafted to sway public and [Public Regulation Commission] sentiment,” the complaint says.

Steve Terrell reports.

The war of words between the investor-owned utility and environmentalists continues. On Sunday, Jo An Newton, PNM’s vice president of external affairs and customer service, accused New Energy Economy of twisting the facts about their power replacement proposal and insisted coal-generated energy is the lowest-cost option for consumers despite computer models that show renewable sources may already be a cheaper option.

Read it here.

Dan Boyd, the Albuquerque Journal’s Capitol Bureau chief, has a good story this morning about the effectiveness of tax incentive packages on economic development and job creation in New Mexico. Boyd says the jury is still out. And even if tax incentives are successful in sparking economic activity, they still come with a cost.
A 2012 Legislative Finance Committee report found it cost the state roughly $31,000 in tax incentives to attract a job with an annual salary of $43,000.

Read it here.

Police departments around the state that have relied on the sale of seized property to boost their budgets are increasingly worried about the impact of the state’s new forfeiture law.

KOB has the story.

The Las Cruces Sun-News' Walt Rubel is confident that Spaceport America will become a viable space launch site, but he’s not so sure it will ever be safe for passengers to ride rockets.

Read it here.

Now that the US Supreme Court has ordered marriage equality for same-sex couples, Alray Nelson wants the Navajo Nation to repeal the Diné Marriage Act.
Our Navajo Nation has a long march toward equality, but we can only move forward. Although the Coalition for Navajo Equality is pleased with the court decision reaffirming our fundamental right to marry who we love, the Diné Marriage Act is still the law of the Navajo Nation. Yet, we believe this victory provides us a foundation to also seek action to its direct repeal. Let me be clear — gay and lesbian Navajo couples only want to be treated with fairness and respect by their Nation.

Read his view here.

New Mexico is on track to becoming a leader in ending veterans’ homelessness.
New Mexico communities are defining success as the point at which the number of veterans waiting to be housed is less than or equal to the number the state has been able to house in an average month – in other words, the point when no veteran will be homeless more than a month.

Read it at the ABQ Journal.

A state district court judge wants the New Mexico Supreme Court to determine if a law that allows teenagers to be tried as adults is constitutional before sitting a jury to hear murder charges against two teenagers accused of killing two homeless men in Albuquerque last year.

Read it at the ABQ Journal.

The New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops will oppose a proposal to impose new work requirements on residents who received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) benefits.

Deborah Baker reports.

US Rep. Steve Pearce thinks the best way to stop ISIS is to curb its ability to sell oil on the world markets.

Read his take here.

New Mexico State University is breaking down the science of our state’s favorite fruit.
"Early on, chile peppers were used mostly for medicinal purposes," said Danise Coon, a senior research specialist at the Chile Pepper Institute. "Later, people started integrating them into their food and they started selecting for bigger pods, for different flavors, for colors, and from that is why we have so many different ones today."
Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

The founder of Burt Bee’s has died. Burt Shavitz’ famous lip balm has been a favorite of Santa Feans, warding off dry desert heat, for decades.

Read it at the Daily Beast.

Finally, Forbes magazine lists Las Cruces as one of the Top 25 places to retire in the United States because the cost of living is 8 percent lower than the national average. Two drawbacks: the low number of doctors per capita and the city’s low walkability ranking.

Read more here.

“Growing up Transgender in America shouldn’t mean growing up to hate your body”

Read local activist Polina Smutko’s empowering (and undelivered) Pride speech

Local NewsFriday, July 3, 2015 by Enrique Limón

Along with a fantastic turnout and a heightened sense of joy thanks to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage just a day earlier, Santa Fe’s recent Pride parade was an affair to remember. Joining a barrage of colorful balloons, beads and tender signs of affection that added to the already celebratory mood, several guest speakers, including Mayor Javier Gonzales, took the Plaza stage to address the crowd. 

Among them was to be local activist Polina Smutko, who due to a scheduling gaffe was bumped from the program. This week, Smutko shared her undelivered speech on her Facebook page. 

Her words were honest, heart wrenching and uplifting. “I am proud that I no longer feel less a woman because I am trans and not cis,” Smutko wrote.

Below, you’ll find the entire, unedited text reprinted with permission.

I am proud to be here today proud to honor the day marriage became equal

the day love won

Proud to live in a town where the Mayor respects our small community enough to put his career on the line to make Santa Fe a safer place for us.

Proud the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance has elected me the first transwoman on its board

Proud to be T in their LGBTQ

Proud to come after Martha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and every other trans woman who started the Stonewall riots in 1969 by refusing to be arrested, by refusing to be part of the gender binary

This is my first pride celebration and I am proud to stand up here as a trans woman

Proud that I am no longer too intimidated to stand up and self-identify

revealing something so private something most trans people have been trained a whole life time to be ashamed of.

I am proud that I no longer feel less a woman because I am trans and not cis.

Growing up Transgender in America shouldn’t mean growing up to hate your body

To feel less than, because you are not like others

girls can have penises too and boys can have a vagina.

Growing up transgender in America shouldn’t mean that you may someday be murdered because you defied the gender binary

Somewhere in the world a transwoman is murdered every 35 minutes

It shouldn’t mean that you have more than a 41% chance of committing suicide like Leelah Alcorn and so many other children because people tell you are not real.

It shouldn’t mean you will be four times as likely to live in extreme poverty. and and have a 40% more likely to remain unemployed.

Growing up transgender shouldn’t include experiencing alarming rates of harassment physical violence , and sexual violence in school . or that you will be one of the 15% of trans youth that leave school and never graduate because of that violence

It shouldn’t mean you will receive unequal health care. That doctors and EMTs would refuse you treatment because of who you are.

That insurance companies will openly discriminate against you forcing you to pay exorbitant prices for lifesaving medication and surgical procedures

Growing up transgender in America shouldn’t mean that you be required to have your body invaded to have surgery in order to make your birth certificate match who you are. Why can’t a woman have a penis and still be a woman.

Our community is dedicated to changing it’s future. Right now We are concentrating on our school children. You will see people circulating among you asking you to sign a petition. That petition asks the Santa Fe School Board to implement a policy that offers a safe place for Transgender children to learn. To give them an equal chance at staying safe in school and getting the same education as any other child.

In time these things can and will change. There is hope for the future and that future begins with education. And in families. It begins with educating prospective parents to stand up against the gender binary and accept and love all of their children. Parents who know enough and care enough to let go of the gender binary’s social construct when they have a child who defies it. Schools willing to give transgender and gender non conforming students the same opportunities regardless of its inherit challenges.

Today we have come so far. Marriage equality is now law and the trans population of santa fe can now use public rest rooms in peace with out worry over being assaulted. Today love triumphs over bigotry equality in marriage is the law but true equality For the transgender community is still a long way off.

For more information on New Mexico transgender resources click here.

This Weekend

Happy birthday, America!

Weekend PicksFriday, July 3, 2015 by SFR

The Wizard of Oz

Movies at the Railyard presents the all-time family favorite and one you can sing along with.

More Info >>

The Long Road: From Selma to Ferguson

A Civil Rights exhibition showing the work of photojournalists that displays both how little and how far we've come. Through Sept. 27

More Info >>

4th of July BBQ and Party

DJs 12 Tribe and Guttermouth ring in the day of our independence and you make Will Smith jokes and feel like a genius. Also there's a barbecue and dancing. Swish.

More Info >>

Greg B. & The Gunsels at The Farmers Market

Celebrate our nation's independence with fresh produce and some of the best Americana around.

More Info >>

Cowgirl Brunch: Boris McCutcheon

Nothing says brunch like Americana. And nothing says you've got a hangover that could slay a walrus like the 5th of July...go ahead and get the bloody mary.

More Info >>

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Luis Buñuel's surrealist masterpiece follows as an upper-class sextet sits down to dinner but never eats, being thwarted by events real and imagined.

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: Drivers Take Advantage of Low Gas Prices

Prices are down close to a dollar compared to last Fourth of July

Morning WordFriday, July 3, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Friday, July 3, 2015

If you’re planning a little road trip this Fourth of July weekend, you'll find gas prices down almost a dollar a gallon from last year’s price. SFR checked this morning, and it looks like the average price in New Mexico right now is $2.65 a gallon. In Santa Fe, if you shop around, you can find fuel for $2.42 a gallon. That’s 35 cents lower than the current national average.

Compare prices at Gas 

It looks like Rio Arriba County has the highest number of drunk driving cases dismissed. Only 36 percent of people busted for DWI are convicted there.

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal. 

Reelz Channel, an Albuquerque-based cable network,  plans to air the Miss USA pageant now that NBC and Univision have decided to drop the show owned by Donald Trump, after he made ridiculously disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants. Reelz CEO Stan Hubbard told reporter Steve Terrell that he disagrees with Trump’s statements, but pageant fans shouldn’t have to pay for Trump’s comments.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Catholic church leaders want 2016 Republican presidential candidates like Trump (who’s still polling second among likely GOP primary voters in some national surveys) to heed Pope Francis’ words on climate change and make the environment as big an issue as they have opposing marriage equality and abortion. 

Read the AP story here. 

With veterans still facing long waiting periods to get appointments at VA hospitals around the country, including Albuquerque, US Sen. Tom Udall (D, NM) says he is glad that a new clinic is being built to serve vets in southern New Mexico.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

A teachers union still doesn’t have the public documents it wants from the Public Education Department showing how it calculates teacher evaluations, and a state district judge has fined the agency for $485 for its slow response to the union’s requests.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

KUNM’s Rita Daniels talked to local National Education Association officials about their lawsuit and how the new grading system is driving teachers out of the classroom “in droves.”

Listen to her story here. 

Friends of the Mexican gray wolf are suing the federal government. They claim not enough is being done to protect the animals from being killed by private landowners.

Read it here. 

Lincoln County officials have finally received $3 million in federal emergency funds to repair roads washed out in summer rainstorms last year.

Read it here. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is spending part of his summer vacation in New Mexico. The Democrat even had lunch with Albuquerque’s Republican Mayor Richard Berry.

Read it at New Mexico Political Report. 

Enjoy the holiday and see you back here on Monday for another big news roundup.

Wolves in Court

Conservation groups sue Fish and Wildlife Service, arguing failure to protect endangered species

Local NewsFriday, July 3, 2015 by Elizabeth Miller

A federal plan that's supposed to help restore populations of endangered wolves doesn't give the animals a fair chance for a real future, argues a new lawsuit filed by Western Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, Friends of Animals and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance against the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

One big issue in the litigation is just how many wolves there should be.

The feds have been working to revise the rules governing management of both gray wolves in the northern half of the country and Mexican wolves found in New Mexico and Arizona. In January, the service released a revised rule for Mexican wolves that expands the area wolves are allowed to occupy and the area they can initially be released from captivity. It also lists the Mexican wolf subspecies separate from the gray wolf for the first time for protections under the Endangered Species Act. The target population for Mexican wolves was increased from 100 to 300-325.

The rule allows for “take of” Mexican wolves to protect livestock and domestic dogs—as in, wolves can be shot if seen attacking either. Wolves can also be killed or removed to protect elk and deer from unacceptable impacts.

Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director for the service, said at the announcement that the increased area will allow a larger, more genetically diverse population to be established while providing “necessary management tools to address negative interactions.”

The coalition of conservation groups that has filed the lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service and its director, Daniel Ashe, also naming Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the United States Department of the Interior in the lawsuit, argues that the plan fails to give Mexican wolves a decent chance at recovery. 

When the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 11 captive-bred Mexican wolves to New Mexico and Arizona in 1998, there were no Mexican wolves left in the US. In the 17 years that followed, wolves climbed slowly toward what was thought, when the plan for recovery was crafted in 1982, a goal so ambitious it might never be attained: 100 wild Mexican wolves in the US. The number of wolves in the recovered population crept slowly toward that number, hovering in the 40s and 50s for most of a decade, before finally reaching 109 in 2014.

A scientific panel convened around 2011 estimated a healthy, sustainable and genetically diverse population of wolves would be 750 wolves in three distinct population areas, connected by corridors. The Fish and Wildlife Service itself reported in 2012 that the struggle toward recovery in part stemmed from too few wolves having been released from captivity to reintroduce the wild population.  

The population of Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona is the world’s only wild population, the groups contend, and argue that as such, it deserves protection as an “essential experimental population,” rather than its current designation as “nonessential experimental population,” which allows for more flexibility in management. 

“The problem with that is that there’s only one wild population, so losing the one wild population would mean there are no more wild ones,” Judy Calman, staff attorney with New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, tells SFR. 

As relief, the lawsuit asks the Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the population as essential, acknowledging that if these Mexican wolves are eradicated, there will be none left in the world; use the best available science, which calls for higher population counts; and further provide for the conservation of the species.

“It doesn’t seem like recovery was really the objective,” Calman says. “It seems like a sort of political compromise among factions was the objective, and that’s just really not what Fish and Wildlife is charged with doing.”

The lawsuit was filed Thursday, July 2, in US District Court. Hearings will take place in Tucson.

Bittersweet Soup

Chinese brothers receive federal probation for hiring undocumented immigrants at their Double Dragon restaurants

Local NewsThursday, July 2, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

It was business as usual at the Double Dragon II in Santa Fe on Thursday, two days after the owner was sentenced to two years of probation for hiring and harboring nearly a dozen undocumented immigrants and failing to pay them minimum wage. 

The rice was still being served, the soup was still being ladled out and the place was packed for lunch, despite the sentence handed down to owner Wen Qiu Chen, 31, in US District Court in Albuquerque on federal charges stemming from his May 2013 arrest.

His younger brother, Wen Ping Chen, 30, received the same sentence for the same charges in connection with his restaurant in Rio Rancho, Double Dragon I.

The siblings, both of whom were born in China, are US citizens, and neither had a criminal background, which led to the “light sentence,” said Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque.

Martinez said the potential for criminal activity came to the attention of federal investigators nearly three years ago and led to the execution of search warrants at the siblings’ private residences and their restaurants in Santa Fe and Rio Rancho.

In all, nine people working in the pair of restaurants or living inside the brothers’ residences between October 2012 and May 2013 did not have authorization to work in the United States, Martinez said.

The arrests of all nine subjects and their subsequent deportations led to a seven-count indictment levied against each brother on charges ranging from harboring illegal aliens to failure to paying minimum wage and overtime, in violation of US labor laws.

The Santa Fe restaurant is located in the vicinity of St. Francis Drive and Zia Road, in a strip mall anchored by an Albertsons.

The brothers will pay a fine of at least $120,000, and the younger brother was forced to forfeit a residence he owned on Aztec Court in Rio Rancho. 

Doggone It

Animal shelter reports break-in and costly damage

Local NewsThursday, July 2, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm

Someone stole cash and caused damage to one of Santa Fe’s favorite nonprofits late Wednesday or early this morning. 

Investigators with the county sheriff’s department are looking for information about the break-in at the Santa Fe Human Society and Animal Shelter on Caja del Rio Road, and shelter officials say they are increasing security measures as a result. 

Workers arrived today to find an adoption center window broken and damage to several cash drawers and a donation box, according to a press release. Areas where dogs and cats are sheltered remained secured. 

Dylan Moore, the shelter’s director of adoptions, says shelter workers are reviewing security-camera footage in an attempt to identify those involved. An employee lives on the facility's campus, but that person didn’t report anything unusual or hear any vehicles, according the the release. 

“We’re so thankful that our animals are safe and sound,” Moore says. “While it’s unfortunate someone would consider stealing from a nonprofit that needs every cent it raises for the care of homeless animals, we’re grateful that the damage is minimal and that everyone is accounted for.”

The shelter has a locked gate at its entrance, but it appears the person jumped over or cut through a low section of the fence. That is being repaired and reinforced, he said.

Sheriff's department spokesman Juan Rios says detectives are on the case, reported as a theft of about $200. 

"We'll see if we can identify any suspects," Rios tells SFR, noting, "it's a common burglary that we see over time."

Moore estimates the costs of repairing the window and the damaged cash boxes could exceed $3,000.

Those who have information about the break-in are asked to call investigators at the sheriff’s office at 986-2490.  

Morning Word: Glass Recycling Hits Roadblock in SF

Bushee skeptical people will use drop-off locations

Morning WordThursday, July 2, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Thursday, July 2, 2015

A plan to streamline glass recycling with five new convenient drop-off sites in Santa Fe hit a roadblock, but the proposal isn't dead yet.

TS Last reports. 

Santa Fe's Public Utilities Committee, according to Daniel Chacón, shot down a request to borrow money from the Water Division to offset the recycling program's implementation costs.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Meanwhile, KRQE's Alex Goldsmith has an interesting story about Santa Fe trying to change the perception that it doesn't have a nightlife. 

See his story here. 

Donald Trump's derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants aren't going over well with Gov. Susana Martinez.

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal. 

Russell Contreras has a big story on some of the state's newest laws that went into effect on Wednesday, including the changes to civil forfeitures.

Read the AP story here.

After seeing a tough new vaccination law get passed in California, State Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, tells New Mexico Political Report's editor that she plans to rewrite her legislation to make exemptions harder to get in New Mexico.

Matthew Reichbach has the quick read. 

A Santa Fe cardiologist is facing serious felony charges after being accused of fraudulent Medicaid billing.Dr. Roy G. Heilbron, 51, entered a not guilty plea in federal court on Wednesday.

Mark Oswald has the story. 

After a fuel-cost adjustment, we should see our electric bills drop a couple of bucks each month. But don't plan on racking up a bunch of summer vacation money; the Public Service Company of New Mexico still plans to file an updated rate hike application.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

In the meantime, PNM officials don't want their new coal supply agreement made public.
In the order requiring PNM to file those documents by July 1, the commission said the agreements would become part of the “public record.” But PNM is now asking the PRC to keep them under seal, meaning that commission staff and other parties in the case could review them, but not the public. The company says the documents contain proprietary information — such as the amount paid by Westmoreland to BHP for the mine, and the price that PNM has agreed to pay for coal supplies — constituting trade secrets that could damage PNM and the other companies if made public. 
Kevin Robinson-Avila has more. 

Robinson-Avila also covered an oil- and gas-funded energy summit in Albuquerque on Wednesday, and reports environmentalists were there to protest the lack of opposing views represented on the panel. According to Rep. Steve Pearce (R, NM), the state needs to “balance environmental goals while protecting economic development and jobs.”
“I believe government at all levels is running out of control, and nowhere is that clearer than in the energy sector,” Pearce said. 
Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Speaking of summer vacations, if you're still looking for something to do over the Fourth of July weekend, you might want to head to Roswell for the 20th anniversary of its infamous UFO Festival.

See more at KRQE. 

For most of us, a trip to the Gila Wilderness would make a perfect summer vacation; for a young bear, getting relocated to the Gila is just part of the risk of rummaging through homeowners' trash cans in Deming.

Check out the bear's cute face as he was caught posing for a surveillance camera. 

Morning Word: Businesses Clamor for Literate Workforce

Recruiting qualified employees a struggle in New Mexico

Morning WordWednesday, July 1, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gov. Susana Martinez is getting an earful from business owners about how difficult it is for them to recruit a qualified workforce in New Mexico.

Read more at ABQ Business First. 

Debbie Johnson, director of the Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Office at Central New Mexico Community College, says part of the problem is the literacy rate in New Mexico.

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal. 

Jobs and economic development are also on the minds of New Mexico Jobs Council members. State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, suggests that the state’s tax code needs a complete overhaul.

Read it at the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, wants more money for early childhood development because it will help prepare kids for the future workforce. He continues to support a proposed constitutional amendment to tap the state’s permanent fund to pay for the programs.

Dan Boyd has the story.  

Speaking of work, thousands of New Mexicans stand to benefit from proposed changes to overtime rules.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Top archaeologists from universities and organizations around the nation are urging the US Interior Department to protect the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and gas development.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, they talked about the countless hours they’ve spent in the field, the dozens of books they’ve published about the Chaco society and their decades of collective experience studying its connection to modern Native American tribes in the Southwest. They call Chaco a distinct resource. 
The Associated Press has details. 

The National Weather Service says the drought is “loosening its grip on New Mexico.”

SFR’s Elizabeth Miller has the story. 

The New Mexico Department of Finance has rejected the City of Santa Fe’s 2016 fiscal year budget, which includes a proposal to transfer almost $4 million from the Water Division to the general fund.
Meanwhile, as the idea of raiding the Water Division’s surplus for other city operations continues to be a controversial issue for the City Council, the city’s Environmental Services Division wants to borrow $4.1 million from water funds at no interest to pay for an automated single-stream recycling program and build a fill station for its fleet of natural gas-fueled vehicles. 
TS Last has more. 

Santa Fe County commissioners are considering stricter rules for mining and landfill operations.
A draft ordinance presented to commissioners Tuesday would impose regulations similar to those the county adopted for reviewing applications for oil and gas ventures. The proposal would classify such developments as having “the potential to affect the environment and public heath, safety, and welfare beyond the impacts on immediately neighboring properties.” 
Justin Horwath reports. 

Journalist Steve Terrell, who has been covering the state’s gambling compacts with New Mexico tribes, reports US Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez has decided not to shut down Pojoaque Pueblo’s casinos while a lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Read more here. 

Heath Haussamen has written an interesting commentary about how memorializing Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate’s violent conquest of Native Americans with statutes and school names is on the same par as flying the confederate flag over the South Carolina State Capitol Building. 

Read his thoughts here. 

Racial slurs may have led to that tragic shooting at the Los Altos Skate Park in March.

Read more at New Mexico Political Report. 

This is cool: Residents in Madrid now have their own new low-power FM radio station.

Read about it at SFR.
Wringing Out the Budget

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