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

Morning Word: Controversial Audit Partially Unsealed

Radioactive leak was relatively small

Morning WordFriday, December 19, 2014 by Peter St. Cyr
Open government supporters are celebrating a partial victory this morning after a judge unseals portions of the behavioral health audit, and George RR Martin isn't afraid of the North Koreans.

It's Friday, Dec. 19 2014.

A Santa Fe district court judge, according to Reporter Patrick Malone, has ordered portions of a controversial behavioral health audit unsealed.
Although open-government advocates didn’t get everything they wanted in Attrep’s ruling, the foundation’s executive director, Susan Boe, said she’s hopeful Attorney General-elect Hector Balderas will keep his campaign promise to speed up the investigation that until now has progressed slowly under outgoing Attorney General Gary King. 
Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican 

Independent researchers say the radioactive leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in February was relatively small.
Soil, sediment and surface water monitoring also showed no detectable increases over radiation levels typically measured in the area. 
That’s good news for WIPP employees and contractors, because the report says they shouldn’t suffer from radioactive related health effects.

The Journal's Lauren Villigran has more. 

State lawmakers aren't wasting any time prefiling legislation for the 2015 session: Dan Boyd reports that minimum wage is on agenda again.

Read it at the Albuquerque Journal. 

There will be another effort at the Roundhouse to end social promotion.
Gov. Susana Martinez has made such legislation a key piece of her educational agenda in recent years, but previous attempts have stalled in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. 
Read it at the Albuquerque Journal. 

State Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, wants to band DWI offenders from drinking booze.
Although consuming alcohol is legal, it’s also legal to put conditions on the privilege of driving, such as requiring drivers to pass a test and follow the rules of the road, and mandating ignition interlocks for those guilty of drinking and driving. 
Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the solvency of the state’s lottery scholarship program today.
Changes to the scholarship program were enacted earlier this year to shore up its finances because tuition increases and demand for the financial assistance had grown faster than lottery proceeds. 
Read it at the Albuquerque Journal. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to roll out new federal standards for the treatment of coal ash, which could impact the Public Service Company of New Mexico. Insiders say the agency will not classify it as hazardous waste, but more like solid waste or household garbage.
A hazardous classification would have put the federal government in charge of enforcement, which has been uneven across states which have varying degrees of regulation. 
Read it here. 

 Hobbs, New Mexico now has the state’s second largest economy and climbs pasts Santa Fe.

Read it at ABQ Free Press. 

Dan Mayfield is taking a long look back at the state’s biggest economic development deals.

Read it at ABQ Business First.  

Political blogger Joe Monahan is also starting to post year end stories. Today, he’s got the best, worst and strangest from election year 2014. It shouldn't be too hard to guess who had the worst campaign in Joe’s opinion, but I got it wrong.

Click over to the greensheet.

George RR Martin plans to open artist studios in Santa Fe. He SFR tells Enrique Limon everything, including how the movie business is threatening his sanity.

Read it at SFR. 

We’re heading into the final holiday shopping weekend, and retailers are luring shoppers with last-minute deals.

Read more here. 

Here’s to a great weekend. See you back here for the Monday "Morning Word".

George RR Martin Talks North Korea, Unveils Dragonstone Studios

Author’s latest endeavor takes over old Desert Academy space

Arts ValveThursday, December 18, 2014 by Enrique Limón

Completing the sixth installment of his epic A Song of Ice and Fire and soothing fanboys’ angst that the hugely successful HBO adaptation will catch up with it is not enough to force Santa Fe-based author George RR Martin to lock himself up in a sky cell and frantically type away on his DOS word processor.

Before posting on LiveJournal his reaction to Sony’s move to cancel distribution of Seth Rogan and James Franco’s North Korean romp, The Interview, (a move the also owner of the Jean Cocteau Cinema calls “surreal”) Martin told SFR he wrestled with Sony in the interim of major movie chains yanking the film and it being scrapped all together, in hopes of showing it at his 123-seater.

“The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me. It's a good thing these guys weren't around when Charlie Chaplin made THE GREAT DICTATOR. If Kim Jong-Un scares them, Adolf Hitler would have had them shitting in their smallclothes,” Martin continued on the post, ending it with, “Come to Santa Fe, Seth, we'll show your film for you.”

In the meantime, ever the entrepreneur, Martin has set his sights on refurbishing the old Desert Academy space on Camino Alire (a move, that he says grew out of storage needs) and transforming it into artist studios.

313 Camino Alire, the new home of GRRM's Dragonstone Studios.
Enrique Limón

The space is named after an island located at the entrance to Blackwater Bay and the castle thereon in the Game of Thrones universe. The nod is echoed in other non-page endeavors, such as the LLC he formed to purchase the Cocteau, Faceless Man, and the Westeros Pack he supports at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.

In a candid chat, the Bayonne, NJ, native opened up about his ever-growing memorabilia collection, his plans on taking Game of Thrones’ Sibel Kekilli for a night on the town and Monopoly.

What prompted you to take over the old Desert Academy?
Well, that’s a long story. I was actually just looking for storage space. I told my realtor to find me some because I have things that need storage, but all these storage unit facilities around town, none of them are for sale because evidently they’re, like, gold mines, you know? They’re a bunch of sheds and you charge people rent, so all the people that have them are determined to hang on to them. Meredith, my realtor, told me that I might be interested in the Desert Academy. I went and looked at it and yeah, I was interested. It’s a huge space, and I saw a lot of potential in it. We’re converting it and calling it Dragonstone Studios.

"We actually had three storage units that we were renting…I thought, ‘Well, I’d rather own the building and have other people pay me rent.’"

What’s your vision for it?
It’s primarily gonna be artist studios, with some offices. There’s actually three buildings side by side there. There’s a little casita that we’ve already refurbished and is for rent now, the main building and a prefab building on the lot next to it that I’ll use for my own storage and stuff. We’ve already got three tenants lined up and have 20 more spaces. [I’d like to] put some sort of restaurant in there, too. It’s zoned to have a restaurant, but only a very small restaurant—it’s limited to 1,000 square feet—but if we find someone who’s interested, I think that would be a really nice addition to the neighborhood. There’s the Tune-Up Café, which is right around the corner, but other than that, there’s nothing in that whole area.

So you’re not looking to open up the restaurant yourself and serve up dragon eggs and Cersei biscuits or anything like that.
No, no. I’m not interested in getting into the restaurant business. The movie theater business in enough to threaten my sanity.

What is the criteria for artists who wish to have a space there?
The criteria is that they pay me rent [laughs]. Obviously, there would probably be some limits. We’re looking for painters, photographers, maybe some sculptors that work in clay, something like that. I don’t think we’re looking to anyone that is working with acetylene torches or, you know, anything that is too dangerous and/or toxic because these are basically former classrooms. The artists I’ve shown them to say that they will work very nicely as studios because the light is great in most of them. Also, Dirk Norris and the New Mexico Film Foundation will be moving in there.

So, how much stuff do you have? When you said you were looking to buy storage, I figured you were referring to a unit and not a whole building.
A couple of years ago, we actually had three storage units that we were renting. We did get that down to two at a certain point [laughs]. Those units are not that cheap, it seemed like a waste to me. I thought, ‘Well, I’d rather own the building and have other people pay me rent.’ A lot of this is just my books, my author’s copies. I get all these copies of my books; they’re published all over the world. I’ve got, like, 40 languages, they send me 10 copies each—it doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be surprised at how quickly it fills up a house or a bookshelf and another bookshelf. The other thing is, my wife and I are both packrats. I don’t think we really want to focus on that in the article though, otherwise, I’ll have the people from Hoarders calling me up to see if I want to be the focus of a segment.

I come from a long line of proud hoarders myself, so no judgment here. Now, you’re about a year and a half into your relaunch of the Cocteau. How would you describe the experience thus far?
Well, it’s certainly been interesting. I’ve learned an enormous amount, I’ve had a lot of fun and I’m very pleased with what we’ve done. The people who come there seem very excited to have it back. I remember when I did my first press conference, I mentioned ‘Santa Fe’s most beloved theater’ was something I’d read online, and that’s certainly has been confirmed by my experience. We’ve done a lot of events and we’ve had a lot of fun with it. There are certainly challenges. You’re never gonna get rich running an independent, single-screen theater, and the competition for films is intense. We, of course, have Regal, which is the big bully on the block, taking everyone else’s lunch money because they can, and we also have the CCA and The Screen, which sometimes want to show the same films we want to show, so we’re competing with each other in terms of distributors and all that, but there are a lot of films out there, there’s no doubt about that.

Any snags?
There are some things that haven’t been as successful as we hoped. I’m still trying to work on those. I’m not giving up by any means. I thought the midnight movies would be bigger than they proved to be. Santa Fe, I guess, is just a sleepy little town, and it’s hard to get people to stay up past 9 o’clock [laughs]. I thought, perhaps wrongly, that the reason nobody stayed up past 9 o’clock is because there is nothing to do, and if you gave them something to do, they would come out for it in fairly significant numbers. Thus far, this has not proved to be case. But we’re gonna keep trying. You know, I’m doing this German show with Sibel in a couple of days. She’s coming in to present her movie, but the other thing is that we’re filming this German travel show called Into the Night.

Ooh, I hadn’t heard that.
It’s a show that goes around the world and goes to various tourist locations and explores the nightlife, so I’m supposed to show Sibel the nightlife of Santa Fe.

Oh my God! What’s your plan?
Fortunately it’s Christmas, so we have the farolitos. We’ll take a walk along Canyon Road and we’ll go to a few bars and restaurants. I’ll introduce her to New Mexican food and, of course, the Cocteau will be part of it. You have to admit that Santa Fe’s nightlife is not quite the equal to, you know, New York City, Hamburg or London, so the whole concept of ‘Into the Night’ is a little harder to achieve.

Anson Stevens-Bollen

With the purchase of the theater, the academy and rumors about your involvement in another local flagship property, is George RR Martin turning into the Santa Fe equivalent of the Monopoly man?
[Laughs] I hope not. I have no pans to build any hotels or railroads. Wait a minute, if I could acquire all the railroads that would be good. The railroad stops right next to the Cocteau, so perhaps I should acquire that too, yes.

Morning Word: Local Cuban Community Welcomes Surprise Announcement

US Senate confirms Lopez

Morning WordThursday, December 18, 2014 by Peter St. Cyr
Cuban immigrants in New Mexico welcome new ties with the island nation where isolation has shaped the country's politics, identity and economy. Santa Fe reviews its campaign finance laws, and after this week's snow, it's time to hit the slopes.

It's Thursday, Dec. 18 2014.

President Barack Obama’s surprise decision on Wednesday to normalize relations with Cuba after five decades gets a mixed reaction, but for local communities it’s a welcomed announcement.

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal.

US Sen. Tom Udall, who traveled to Cuba in November, says he also supports lifting the embargo.
This is a sea change as our nation is finally embarking on a 21st century approach with Cuba, one that will open opportunities for New Mexicans and other American interests in Cuba. 
Read more at the Los Alamos Daily Post.

After winning the state vote recount, Republican Aubrey Dunn is ready to move into the State Land Office.

Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

SFR’s Joey Peters looks at how Santa Fe’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board may tweak the city’s new public campaign finance laws.

Read more at the Santa Fe reporter.;

The US Senate has confirmed New Mexico’s Estevan López to be the next commissioner of the federal Bureau of Reclamation.
López’s appointment adds to the ranks of New Mexicans appointed by Obama to high-level positions at the Department of the Interior. Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate confirmed Michael Connor, a Las Cruces native, as deputy secretary of the Interior Department. Kevin Washburn, a former UNM Law School dean, is assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Hilary Tompkins, a Navajo and former chief counsel for then-Gov. Richardson, is the Interior Department’s chief solicitor.
Read more at the Albuquerque Journal.

A Santa Fe jury has convicted the owner of Advantage Asphalt on bribery and dozens of other corruption related charges.
Milan Simonich has the story. 

Democracy is best practiced in the open, so it should be no surprise that New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Susan Boe has mailed Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales a letter suggesting that a closed door city council meeting to discuss a homeless shelter’s lease last week probably violated the New Mexico Open Meetings Act.
A 2012 SFR investigation found that the Santa Fe City Council called executive session more frequently than similar public bodies and when high-dollar deals or sensitive issues are concerned.
SFR’s Justin Horwath reports.

Recruiting companies to New Mexico could be even more difficult next year due to the steep decline in oil prices, according to House Speaker-nominee Don Tripp, R-Socorro.
Tripp and the state Economic Development Department are pushing for a new $50 million fund that would use the Local Economic Development Act to entice businesses to move to the state or help growing businesses here.
Funding the act could be problematic as new state revenues decline. 

ABQ Business First has the story.

Speaking of jobs, Las Cruces has the highest percentage of government jobs in New Mexico according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
… followed by Santa Fe, which had 26.8 percent of its jobs in the government sector, and Farmington, which came in at 22.9 percent.
Read more at ABQ Free Press.

Mid-year strategic budgeting for the City of Santa Fe may have to wait until a new finance director is able to get up to speed on the city's revenues and expenses.

SFR Editor Julie Ann Grimm reports.

Guest rooms at Hotel Santa Fe will soon be completely powered by solar energy.

Reporter Dan Mayfield has the details.

Mayfield also has a story about a new economic impact study that shows art and culture in New Mexico is huge.
The last time a statewide study was done of the economic impact of arts and culture, the industry was worth $3.2 billion. But a new study commissioned by the department shows it's now a $5.6 billion industry that employs nearly 77,000 people.
New Mexico's Bureau of Business and Economic Research Director Jeffrey Mitchell says the state needs to do a better job of leveraging arts assets.
Read more at ABQ Business First.

If you need a a little time to say just chill out a little before the holidays, perhaps a 'powder day' is in order. Here’s some good news: 66 percent of the Ski Santa Fe is open.

Check the snow report here.

On your drive up the mountain, tune into KUNM radio. Call-In Show Host Kathleen Sabo has invited a few journalists, including Laura Paskus, Russ Contreras, Floyd Vasquez and me to talk about the year's big stories.

Listen here at 8 a.m.

Campaign Reform

Ethics board says young public campaign finance system need work

Local NewsWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Joey Peters

Remember the city election? And how spending by political action committees counteracted the first mayoral test of public campaign financing?

It's been nine months since city voters elected a new mayor and new councilors to office. The election saw all three mayoral candidates, including winner Javier Gonzales, opt into public financing to presumably limit special interest money in the election. Instead, multiple political action committees backed by organized labor spent nearly $60,000—the same total amount the mayoral candidates got from public financing—supporting Gonzales and giving him what some criticized as a lopsided edge to winning the race.

Gonzales publicly denounced the outside spending and after being elected said he'd work to strengthen the city's public finance laws to prevent some of these problems in future elections.

Now, the city's Ethics and Campaign Review Board is reviving that discussion.

Things are still pretty preliminary. In a meeting Wednesday afternoon, the board appointed a subcommittee—a move that shouldn't surprise people familiar with how the ECRB does business—to brainstorm ideas to reform the city's public campaign model.

Board members floated some of these perceived problems at the meeting. 

"I want to prioritize what went wrong," board member Ruth Kovnat told her colleagues.

Kovnat said there's still a lack of clarity over when a public financed campaign begins. This issue came up in the election when mayoral candidate Patti Bushee paid her former campaign manager money owed from before her campaign decided to seek public financing. 

Kovnat also said she's concerned with whether the city's campaign code is adequate in attracting candidates to public financing. All of the members expressed concern over how to tackle the issue of outside political action committee spending.

The ECRB subcommittee, which board members Kovnat, Tara Lujan and Paul Biderman will serve on, is next set to meet and come up with a list of issues to bring to the the full board in January.

Former city Councilor Karen Heldmeyer, a familiar face in local civic issues, raised concerns about subcommittee's potential to take the conversation of campaign reform behind closed doors.

"Subcommittees do not meet in public," she told the board. "I think you need to hear a wide-ranging set of ideas from the public." 

Chairman Justin Miller says the board plans to do just that. He and other members say they want the public to bring as many ideas for reforming the campaign finance code to them at future meetings as possible.

The ECRB's goal to come up with a list of recommendations for City Council to pass into law. The matter could take months or even longer, and Heldmeyer urged the board to move quickly.

"Only by discussing and facing the issues that came up during the last election can we prevent similar problems from occurring in 2016, which will be here faster than we think," she wrote in a prepared statement to the board before the meeting.

Kovnat suggested the board start meeting as frequently as every two weeks until it figures the reforms out.

Ideas for reforms are already surfacing. Jim Harrington, state director of Common Cause New Mexico, suggests that publicly financed candidates be allowed to raise more money when outside money supports their opponents. Under Harrington's suggestion, publicly financed candidates would be able no more than $100 per individual donor. The city would then match those donations by a four-to-one ratio. The city would stop matching the donations once it spends $120,000—which itself would require the candidate to raise privately from at least 300 different people.

Nonprofit Says City Council's Secret Discussions Violated Law

Discussion of homeless shelter lease precisely type of executive session law intended to prevent, says nonprofit

Local NewsWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Justin Horwath
City Council's "extensive discussions concerning possible relocation" of the emergency homeless shelter from its current 2801 Cerrrillos Road location that took place in a closed-door executive session on Dec. 10 were "impermissible" under the Open Meetings Act, New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Susan Boe writes in a Dec. 16 letter to Mayor Javier Gonzales.

"Where and how services and shelter for the homeless are available in the Santa Fe community is of concern to all citizens as shown by the large attendance at the City Council meeting on November 12, 2014," Boe writes, "when the Council discussed the homeless shelter and approved a renewal of the shelter lease in a public session." 

She writes it is the Albuquerque nonprofit's "understanding" that during City Council's Dec. 10 executive session, it had "extensive discussions concerning possible relocation" of the shelter.

A 2012 SFR investigation found that the Santa Fe City Council called executive session more frequently than similar public bodies and "when high-dollar deals or sensitive issues are concerned."

Gonzales said in his inaugural interview with SFR as mayor that City Council should only call executive session "when there’s an absolute need and a requirement."

"I want to see more transparency in the noticing of executive sessions and only go in when there’s an important need to do it," he said. "Hopefully, as we go in the future, regardless how many times there will be [an executive session], there’s a transparent process that allows the public to know why we’re in executive session."

Boe's letter alleges the city did not properly let the public know what would be discussed in the executive session on the meeting agenda.

District 1 Councilor Patti Bushee tells SFR she left the executive session because she didn't feel the discussion topics were appropriate for a closed-door meeting.

The Open Meetings Act provides public bodies "a limited number of exceptions to the statutory requirement of open meetings," writes Boe, including discussions about pending litigation and purchase offers.

"Our understanding is that on December 10 there was no pending litigation or purchase offer" regarding the building, Boe writes, "and any discussion of the lease in executive session was not warranted, especially after it had been discussed and voted on in a public session a few weeks earlier." 

"It appears that the city may have wanted to continue the November 12 discussion in private," she writes, "without the possible political fallout of the public being present to listen to and react to that discussion." 

"This kind of executive session is precisely what the [Open Meetings Act] is intended to prevent," she adds.

City spokesman Matt Ross tells SFR he needs more time to get in touch with the mayor, who is traveling, before issuing a comment on the FOG letter. We'll update this post if Ross comments. He issued a press release earlier this week explaining that Gonzales was traveling to Las Vegas, Nev.

Boe's letter calls on the City Council to "bring before the public all issues regarding the shelter that were privately debated during the December 10 executive session."

"The purpose of the OMA is to formulate public policy and conduct public business in public, not behind closed doors," Boe writes. 

Christmas for the Birds

Local Audubon holds state’s oldest citizen science project with winter bird count

Local NewsWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Zoe Baillargeon

Forget about partridges in pear trees. Bring on the juncos in junipers.

Between now and Jan. 5  a dedicated group of local volunteer bird enthusiasts will brave the pre-dawn cold to participate in the Santa Fe chapter of the national Audubon Center’s Christmas Bird Count.

“There’s always that moment when your alarm first goes off and you forget why you’re getting up so early, but once you remember why you’re doing this, there’s this rush of excitement because you don’t know what you’re going to see,” says Wyatt Egelhoff, the leader of the Santa Be bird count.

The youngest leader in the state at 18 years of age, Egelhoff first got interested in ornithology thanks to classes at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe, and has been participating in the bird count for the past 3 years.

“It’s a really nice way to network with other people, you get to meet other birders, and other people end up finding neat birds that you can later go out and see.”

Audubon says the Santa Fe Christmas Bird Count first took place in 1953, making it the oldest such event in the state. Experienced and novice volunteers joining this “citizen’s science project” work with bird experts and a compiler to identify and track local bird populations.

“The real value in the Christmas Bird Count is that it’s over the same 15-mile radius, and it happens every year, so you get a snapshot every year of what’s happening within that circle,” explains Egelhoff.
Last year’s count totaled 224 species throughout the state. The individual count reached a new all-time high with 525,000 birds.

“It’s one of the longest-running sources of data we have for birds in the US during the wintertime,” says Carol Beidleman, Audubon New Mexico’s director of bird conservation. “It’s important to see how bird populations are changing.”  

Beidleman first participated in the bird with her ornithologist father when she was younger, spurring her belief that the winter tally is a vital tool for teaching the next generation about “the native birds that are in our backyards.”

“He took me out to do counts when I was younger, which I enjoyed even though I was cold,” she remembers.
When the national Christmas Bird Count first began in 1899 in the eastern United States, its goal was to address the issue of people hunting birds for decorative feathers for use in lady’s hats. Nowadays, local and national bird populations face a different threat.

“Climate change is the biggest issue,” explains Egelhoff. “Certain species are moving north, and they’re moving their winter ranges, such as the American Gold Finch. It’s a unique example in terms of birds because in New Mexico 50 years ago, you could only find gold finches in Taos, and now they’re breeding in Santa Fe.”

Adding to the conversation, Beidleman addressed habitat loss, citing the pinyon jay (they spell it this way on prupose) as a local victim due to the loss of piñon juniper forests from drought, conversion to rangeland, and bark beetles.

Egelhoff also expressed concern for the black rosy-finches that nest at Sandia Crest, cautioning that climate change will affect their winter populations.

So far, 15 people have signed up for the ongoing bird count, but registration is still open on the Audubon website

City's Checkbook Needs Help

Santa Fe is 'behind' on budget planning, Finance Committee chairman says

Local NewsWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

When it comes to figuring out how the City of Santa Fe is faring financially and how it might escape a gap between spending and revenue, officials have fallen behind.

Councilor Carmichael Dominguez has served on the City Council Finance Committee for more than nine years. Now in his third year as its chairman, Dominguez says he’s got more questions than answers thanks to a delay in appointing a director for the department that handles the city’s purse strings.

By this time in the calendar, the city is normally getting ready for the mid-year budget review. (The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.)

But since Finance Director Oscar Rodriguez just came on board at City Hall late last month, Dominguez says that might not happen on schedule.  Former Finance Director Marcos Tapia stepped down from the job in July.

“We’re behind, there’s no doubt about it,” Dominguez tells SFR in a recent interview, “because we didn’t have a finance director for so many months. I was hoping to go through some strategic planning this year. We’ll still do some, but I’m not sure how much substance it will have. We just need to pick up the pieces for this year.”

Dominguez says he’s not critical of the long process that the mayor and city manager used to hire the director, but he notes that the way city revenues and expenses are organized is complicated.

“I hope this person will be able to catch up and move us forward,” says Dominguez. “He understands the need to simplify stuff, and I think he will be able to give us a clear picture of the realities that exist.” 

Those realities include that the city depends largely on unstable gross-receipts taxes to fund its programs and services and that state lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to reduce the amount of cash cities will see through their repeal of a “hold harmless” provision that compensated for a long-ago axing of a tax collected on food. 

Benefits for city employees are also a factor. The city has been dipping into reserves to keep its robust health insurance package complete, but Dominguez says that practice has to end soon. And that could mean fewer benefits for labor.

Leadership will have to come into play in the next few months if the city is to make headway on a gap between what’s coming in and what’s going out, he says. 

Under the previous mayoral administration of David Coss, the mayor and city manager were heavily involved in setting budget priorities. Mayor Javier Gonzales, who took office in March just months before the last round of budget approval, and City Manager Brian Snyder, who was named to that post in May of 2013, have been less hands-on, according to Dominguez.

Morning Word: Stormy Weather Brings Rain and Snow

APD releases graphic lapel camera video

Morning WordWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Peter St. Cyr
Stormy weather. New Mexico is going to get rain, snow and winds today. Bundle up and drive safe. Republican Aubrey Dunn is headed to the state land office after a recount, and two Albuquerque Police officers may be headed to court to face murder charges.

It's Wednesday, Dec. 17 2014. 

A winter storm is headed into New Mexico. That means it’s going to be wet and morning roads could be slick. Steve Stucker says we can expect rain and 3 to 5 inches of snow in higher elevations. At 5 a.m. there were no school delays or closings.

Check your school status online. 

Breaking news this morning. Sheriff's deputies in Bernalillo County are investigating a late night shooting that sent one man to the hospital Tuesday night following a traffic stop on Central near 75th Street. It's still not clear if the deputy shot the man.

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal.  

The unofficial vote recount tally shows Republican Aubrey Dunn has won race for public land commissioner. The final vote totals are 249,993 for Aubrey Dunn and 249,337 for Ray Bennett Powell, a difference of 656 votes.
Seven counties completed the recount with no changes to their previously reported vote totals, while 14 counties reported changes of less than five votes for both candidates. The largest discrepancies were in Sandoval and Colfax counties, where a combined 269 fewer ballots were accounted for than were reported on Election Night. In some counties, qualification of provisional ballots added to the vote totals for the candidates. 
The State Canvassing Board will certify the election on Thursday.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Bernalillo County commissioners have appointed Stephanie Maez to fill the New Mexico House seat vacated by Mimi Stewart after Stewart was appointed to fill State Auditor-elect Tim Keller's senate seat last week.

Dan McKay has more here.  

State Rep. Phillip Archuleta, D-Las Cruces, has died after complications from pneumonia, in Las Cruces. State Rep. Jeff Steinborn remembered his friend and colleague on Facebook:
The people lost a great public servant with the passing of my friend State Representative Phillip Archuleta. I will miss Phillip's passionate heart, tremendous wit, and comradery [sic] in standing up for causes that needed a voice. 
Archuleta, 65, lost his reelection bid to Hatch Mayor Andy Nuñez by 8 points in November.

Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

On the same day, Archuleta passed away, Nuñez and Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, reintroduced a measure to repeal New Mexico's immigrant driver's license laws.
New Mexico residents granted deferred deportation action status by the federal government would be eligible for a lower-tier New Mexico license designated as non-REAL ID-compliant. But no New Mexico driver’s licenses or permits would be available to immigrants in the country illegally who also do not qualify for a deferred action status designation. 
Read more at the Albuquerque Journal. 

After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence, anonymous sources tell KRQE that embattled District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is considering charging two officers involved with killing illegal camper James Boyd on open counts of murder at a preliminary hearing sometime next spring.
By presenting open counts of murder, prosecutors would give jurors in a trial a range of charges to choose from, all of which are predicated on the theory that the officers killed Boyd intentionally. The stiffest of those charges is first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. At the other end of the spectrum is voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of six years in prison. 
See Matt Grubs and Jeff Proctor’s report here. 

Graphic new lapel camera video, obtained by KOB 4's Caleb James, shows the innocent bystander accidently shot by an APD officer on Sunday morning slumped over and bleeding. He was hit by bullet fragments after Officer Tamas Nadas' gun discharged after he fell through an apartment window. Doctors expect Ramiro Armendariz to recover. Officer Tamas Nadas remains on paid leave during the investigation.

The video is posted on KOB 4. 

The victim shown in that brutal beating in downtown Albuquerque this weekend is speaking out after two bouncers were charged with felony aggravated assault. Action 7 News has the exclusive interview with Jose Macias.

See it on KOAT 7.

The mother who dodged New Mexico State Police bullets as she drove away from a traffic stop in Taos canyon last fall has been arraigned again. Oriana Ferrell says she's not guilty after being indicted on charges of child abuse, drug paraphernalia and aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer. That officer, Elias Montoya, was terminated after video showed him firing at Ferrell's van. Montoya sued the state and settled for an undisclosed amount. Ferrell was released on her own recognizance, but is not allowed to leave the state or discuss the case with her children.

Details on KOB 4. 

Santa Fe city councilors are divided on the city's energy future. A new energy plan for the City of Santa Fe sponsored by at least two city councilors is creating tension with supporters of a different plan that calls for the city to study replacing Public Service Company of New Mexico with a municipal utility company.

SFR's Justin Horwath reports on the 'Power Play".  

Investigative Reporter Joseph Sorrentino takes a hard look at New Mexico's giant dairy industry. Conventional farm practices, he writes, are hard to swallow.
Currently, more than half of New Mexico’s dairies are under pollution abatement plans because they’ve been cited by the New Mexico Environment Department for contaminating groundwater.

More at SFR. 

Journalist Laura Paskus has launched an ambitious radio series exploring New Mexico's natural gas drilling and burgeoning oil industry.
The industry brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the state, but it also comes with impacts to public health, the environment, communities, and water resources.
Listen to Paskus on KUNM.  

New Mexico Mercury's series on the plight of state education programs continues.

Read Part III online.  

Albuquerque Public School Board Member Kathy Korte, an outspoken critic of the New Mexico Public Education Department, is suing the University of New Mexico after being forced out of her community relations job. 

Read more at the Albuquerque Journal. 

3 Questions

with Doug Swagerty

3 QuestionsWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Emily Zak

Cigar-smoking, wine-quaffing, shoplifting children who attend church for free food are center at Christ Church’s weekend and Christmas Eve performances of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a play based on a book by Barbara Robinson. Executive Pastor Doug Swagerty explains what drew him to the seasonal comedy.

What made you choose this production?

It’s a classic Christmas book about a church putting on a pageant that’s kind of hijacked by the local kids that don’t know the story or really done anything religious in their life. The magic of the story is you get to see these kids hearing the Christmas story for the first time. We’re doing a three-part [sermon] series on it. We did the first one this past Sunday, and we’re doing the second one this coming Sunday and then the wrap-up will be at our Christmas Eve service.

What are the worst things the kids do in this play?

The older daughter in the Herdman family was quite the schoolyard bully, in the sense that she would sneak into the nurse’s office and find out the weight of all the kids and then tease the ones who were overweight and tell them they needed to go to fat camp. And if anyone ever had lice, you know, she would make sure everyone knew about it. She got the part to be Mary in the play, the mother of Jesus, and the girl who played Mary in all the subsequent years did not volunteer because Imogene Herdman threatened to stick a pussy willow down in her ear, and it was going to sprout and grow out of her ear for years and years.

What are the lessons people can derive from the play?

We’re all kind of inured to the Christmas story because we’ve heard it so often and so many years. It’s just the idea of these kids hearing it for the first time and being amazed by all the things that over the years that we tend to take for granted about the story…Part of our emphasis this last week was that the Christmas story only is amazing to us if we each see ourselves as one of the Herdmans. They stand out in relief because they’re so different than the other kids, but the point I was trying to make this past Sunday is that we all have that in us, and we’re kind of humbled by the story. Because we think sometimes that we’re not the ones that Jesus needed to come for. But we all are.

Do the Right Thing

‘Tis the season for giving back

PicksWednesday, December 17, 2014 by Alex De Vore

For many, Christmas is that time of the year where we harass our friends and family into buying us cool stuff. Come Dec. 25, the HDTVs and smartphones will be gifted, everyone will stuff their faces and then we’ll fall asleep sitting up while TBS plays A Christmas Story again and again and again. For many others, the day is another reminder that they’re less fortunate. Kids right here in your very own hometown will spend the day without gifts of any kind. And while nobody expects people to give up their own reveling, this is the time of year to think of others and doing something nice for their fellow man.

But what’s a great and relatively easy way to go about this? Easy: the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angels program.

Scattered throughout town at places like Sanbusco and Walmart are special Christmas trees upon which are special cards containing information about children, such as their ages, coat and shoe sizes and what special or fun items they’d like. You just choose your kid and get shopping for things like clothing and toys. You don’t have to go nuts on the spending (though you certainly could), you don’t have to put a whole lot of effort into it and, perhaps best of all, you’ll get that wonderful feeling that comes from helping someone less fortunate. Hell, you don’t even have to wrap the gifts, just drop them off at the SA’s location on Alameda Street.

Yes, the Salvation Army has some pretty dated ideas when it comes to sexual orientation and no, you don’t have to like them. That said, it isn’t as if you’re donating to the organization itself, and it isn’t the kids’ fault that SA insists on being so painfully close-minded. Think of it this way—while you’re unboxing gaming consoles or millionaire scarves or any number of other things you don’t need, some of these kids are desperate for any kind of gift or even just warm coat instead of a toy (this is a true fact…I saw the card myself some years ago). If this is the season of giving, it cannot hurt to look beyond your own friends and family. Trust me—it’s worth it.

Salvation Army’s
Christmas Angels

Salvation Army
525 W Alameda St.,

Morning Word: Controversial Audit Partially Unsealed

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