Morning Word: Pay-to-Play Allegations for Martinez

Pay-to-play pop-up
Gov. Susana Martinez was elected in part on a campaign that railed against the perceived pay-to-play operations of the Bill Richardson Administration. No more, candidate Martinez promised. An investigation by the International Business Times and Maplight, a campaign finance tracking group, shows firms that made contributions to Martinez-favored causes or, in some cases, whose executives made donations to Martinez herself, earned millions in fees off investments. The governor's office didn't think much of the story.

Family of motorcyclist sues city
Just this week, SFR recalled the story of Jerry Hicks in our cover story on distracted driving. Hicks was killed when a driver who told police she was distracted ran into his motorcycle as he sat at a dark stoplight during a power outage. Now, the Albuquerque Journal reports Hicks' family is suing the city, claiming plans for the Southside intersection called for a battery backup to be installed in the light. They say it never was. 

Diversionary tactics
An American Airlines flight from Dallas to Santa Fe had to make the trip twice on Tuesday night after a faulty wind sensor at the airport didn't give pilots the proper reading. The equipment is owned by the National Weather Service, which says it's been reliable except for two incidents in roughly a year. That's cold comfort for passengers on the flight, who ended up getting in on Wednesday instead. No word on whether American doubled their frequent flier miles.

A lesson for the kids
State police say 23-year-old Gabriella Uzueta was drunk when she rear-ended an Española school bus yesterday. The bus was stopped, lights on, picking up kids. It was 7:30 am. Uzueta apparently got out and argued with the bus driver before taking off. The Española Police Department caught up with her half an hour later after they say she caused a second accident in town. State police say one of the kids on the bus caught her license plate in a cellphone video.

Medicaid angst
The ballooning cost of the federal health care program, which the state partially pays for and for which it also gets a large federal money infusion, is creating a crisis at the Roundhouse. State lawmakers assailed a plan to defray some of the rising cost by charging premiums and co-pays and by reducing some benefits. The governor also voiced some concerns about the Republican Graham-Cassidy bill that aims to replace Obamacare. 

Wild fire season
New Mexico has had a quietly active fire season, but it's nothing compared to some of the massive wildfires the state has seen in the past. Meanwhile, it seems nearly everywhere else in the West is on fire. So, New Mexico fire crews numbering about 100 people strong have been sent to help out, including on blaze burning in the Columbia River Gorge.

Bandana man
In a police report filed 10 days after protests at the Entrada during Fiestas, officers say Julian Rodriguez, of California, wore his bandana as a mask. That violated a hasty ban on masks worn on the Plaza, put into place just days before the event. Police say Rodriguez refused to stay in so-called free speech zones and to get off the Plaza, which an officer told him had become private property because of the Fiesta Council's permit.

A really lame record
New Mexico's Insurance Superintendent just approved the highest premium increases in the four years of the state's health insurance exchange. The average rate will go up a whopping 40 percent next year for the 55,000 New Mexicans who buy their insurance on the exchange. The superintendent says his financial staff doesn't see any excess profits generated by the rate hikes.

Thanks for reading! The Word encourages you to go for a walk, because we would not be surprised if banks soon start offering health insurance loans that you can roll into your mortgage.

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