Legal connections

State Rep. Monica Youngblood's lawyer, Paul Kennedy, was once represented by the wife of the supervisor for her DWI prosecution. At least, the former supervisor for her case. After SFR and New Mexico In Depth started asking questions, Jason Greenlee apparently took himself off the case. But Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torres won't explain why—or even go so far as to disclose how the prosecutors in his office avoid conflicts of interest.

Cibola set to close

Fire danger has forest officials set to close the Cibola National Forest from the East Mountains to Mount Taylor starting this weekend. The closure follows that of the Santa Fe National Forest, which was announced last month. Cibola officials say they'll close areas closest to Albuquerque first, with the Mount Taylor district scheduled to shut down for recreation on June 22.

New Mexico pays Pearce’s legal bills

Congressman Steve Pearce sued the state of New Mexico over its decision to block him from using campaign cash for his federal office in his run for governor. Pearce argued successfully that he could convert the money and sued the state over the matter. Part of the settlement in the case was that the state would pay Pearce's legal bills ($), which could cost more than $130,000. That's more than the governor makes in a year.

SF union sues city for raise money

Last year, the city of Santa Fe set aside $409,000 to try out a new merit-pay plan for its union employees. Unions generally aren't wild about that sort of thing, preferring protection for members and a predictable path to more senior positions. But the caveat that came along with that money was that Santa Fe didn't have a merit-pay plan in place. It never developed one. Now, with just a few weeks left in the fiscal year, the money's still around, but will revert to the general fund if it isn't used. The union wants it to go to city workers and is suing to force that ($).

Publisher admits tax evasion

The publisher of the glossy Trend magazine says she owes more than $113,000 in gross receipts taxes and pleaded guilty to five felony charges of tax evasion. Cynthia Canyon entered a plea deal ($) with DA Marco Serna's office, where she got 43 other charges dismissed. She'll get five years of supervised probation and, if she completes it cleanly, will get the case wiped from her criminal record. She's been ordered to pay restitution. A former investigator with the state Tax and Revenue Department said Canyon collected tax from others, but never paid it, and sharply criticized the plea deal.

A fifth provider

Unlike the legend of the fifth Beatle, the story about New Mexico getting a fifth health care provider on the New Mexico exchange is true. It appears Presbyterian is jumping back into the mix, as the company has completed early application work to sell health care plans on the public exchange next year. Like many states, New Mexico has seen the number of insurance providers offering plans on its public site dwindle.

Not in my backyard

A Santa Fe neighborhood association is appealing a Planning Commission decision that allows a residential development atop the steep hillside that ends in their backyards. TS Last at the Albuquerque Journal weaves that into a nifty lede for his story on the planned Estancias del Norte development. The neighborhood group says the city is bending over backwards to approve the plan, which could end with a muddy mess on their back patios.

A hot one

The Word counted no less than half a dozen utterances of that phrase, or something similar to it, in the office yesterday. The chances are good that number will be exceeded today. It's going to top out in the low 90s for Santa Fe and around 100 degrees in Albuquerque. The good news is that the sun sets before doing it again tomorrow. There's still rain in the forecast, but it's leaking further toward the end of the week, when tropical moisture could set up a temporary monsoon pattern.
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