'Too many benefits'
That's a scary phrase for current and retired public sector workers covered by New Mexico's Public Employees Retirement Association. But since lawmakers passed rules intended to shore up two foundering public retirement funds, the unfunded liability has grown to $4.8 billion. It could mean changes to contributions by current employees, lower cost-of-living increases for retirees and reduced benefits overall. As State Sen. George Munoz (D-Gallup) put it, "The pension funds have too many benefits."

Indigenous Peoples' Day
The feds know it as Columbus Day, but Santa Fe took a different tack on the holiday. A full slate of Native music is planned for the Plaza bandstand. City offices are closed, so are Santa Fe schools and post offices and a host of other places you might go today. A few weeks ago, Native protesters slowed the Entrada procession that was part of Fiestas. No word on any protests today.

I think I can
The Rail Runner Express commuter train has seen ridership drop by more than 20 percent in the past three years. There are a number of factors involved, the Rio Metro Transportation District, which operates the train, says. Gas is relatively cheap, jobs are scarce and the population is more or less flat. But the experience is less than promised, too. Balloon payments that are part of the train's financing are coming due in the next few years.

Hop to it
New Mexico beer brewers had a good weekend, taking home three gold medals and six awards from this year's Great American Beer Festival. Sierra Blanca, Nexus and Marble each won a gold. Santa Fe's Second Street Brewery, which just opened its third location in the Rufina/Siler Road district, won bronze for its Rod's Steam Bitter in the American-style lager competition.

That term may be able to describe just about everything that happened when a group of some 50 motorcyclists took over Paseo del Norte in Albuquerque, completely shutting down the road. They then took the opportunity to show off and otherwise be fools. A motorcycle advocacy group says the bikers' riding was dangerous and indefensible, but they also take issue with video of a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy pulling a weapon and pointing it out the window as his partner pulled up alongside a rider doing an extended wheelie down Tramway.

In a good way. Gov. Martinez has appointed Santa Fe County Attorney Greg Shaffer to the vacant judge's seat in the First Judicial District. Shaffer has been a longtime government attorney at both the state and local levels. He'll have to run to retain his seat next year.

Balloon Fiesta got off the ground this weekend with two huge mass ascensions. Conditions are a bit windy this morning, but floats are planned through next weekend. Careful with cars slowing down and necks craning if you're headed through Albuquerque at rush hour. Or at all.

Well, that escalated quickly. There's a freeze warning for Santa Fe tonight. Highs will be in the 50s here and chilly elsewhere, too. There's a slight chance of precipitation tonight, too. That could actually be snow. Snow, people.

Thanks for reading! The Word isn't ready for winter just yet. Yes, we know it's coming.

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