Compound disaster

Remember all those disaster declarations made by governors in times of flood, fire or freezing temperatures? They're not just PR; they are the start of an emergency funding pipeline that's supposed to help communities recover the massive amount of money it takes to respond to a disaster. Well, New Mexico's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is still having trouble distributing that money. In fact, its last audit, which is woefully late, showed it hadn't distributed some $30 million in federal disaster funding at the end of June 2016. Some of that money is years behind schedule in being sent to the people it's supposed to help.

Pearce can spend federal cash

Meanwhile, a federal judge ruled that Rep. Steve Pearce, the Republican congressman who is running for governor, can use his federal campaign money in the state race. That opens up more than $900,000 for Pearce and draws him alongside the Democratic money leader, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. She's also a member of Congress. Federal District Court Judge Judith Herrera said the money equates to free speech and can "increase the quantity of his campaign speech." TV stations are probably pretty happy about that.

Local boy leads LANL

Terry Wallace is 61 years old now, to be fair, but he's a Los Alamos local and the first such person to lead the national laboratory. Wallace takes the helm with less than a year left on the contract for the company that runs the lab through an agreement with the Department of Energy. He's a forensic seismologist, which makes him an expert at detecting nuclear tests.

Ranked-choice decision

This morning, state District Court Judge David Thomson will decide if Santa Fe must use ranked-choice voting in the March 2018 city election. A group of voters and advocates sued the city to force the use of the new system, which voters amended into the city charter way back in 2008. It's similar to an instant-runoff election and designed to ensure elected officials take office with more than 50 percent of the vote. Yesterday, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver testified that the city had enough time to make the switch and one of the city's own attorneys argued the voting system is actually unconstitutional.

Chief concern 

Former Albuquerque Police Department Commander Mike Geier is the interim chief at his old agency. Incoming mayor Tim Keller announced the appointment yesterday. He also revealed two picks for deputy chief, meaning that there will probably be some firings in the weeks ahead. Keller ambitiously called his picks "a turnaround team."

Education spending remains low

No one said Susana Martinez had a love affair with the New Mexico public school system's status quo. That goes for the Legislature, too, if you're judging by funding. A new national report says the state's education budget is almost 12 percent below what schools were getting before the recession. You might think that makes New Mexico a standout, but most of the states still haven't ramped up education spending.

No good deed

It was a front-page, feel-good story in the Thanksgiving Day edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican; a Pecos basketball coach and a player who had been living together for more than two years and making the best out of a tough life situation. Well, it may violate state high school athletic rules. The New Mexico Activities Association is investigating, citing a rule that prohibits undue influence by a coach. It might cost Pecos a state championship trophy the school won last year.

Steady as she goes

A chance of precipitation in the teens is news around here these days. It's been dry and warm, which makes for pleasant hiking, but lousy snowpack for skiers and farmers and other people who depend on water. So, you know, all of us. It'll stay relatively warm for the next few days, with a little dip tomorrow.

Thanks for reading! The Word is testing out Michael Bublé this holiday season. So cheesy, but so smooth.

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