- I announced on Monday that the Morning Word will soon be shutting down. The reason is that I will be running a new news website that will have a small team of reporters to cover New Mexico news and politics. It is a great opportunity and one that I would not have been able to do without my experience here at NM Telegram. And I would not have been able to keep NM Telegram running without all of you readers.
As for the Morning Word, it will not be disappearing, though I will not be writing it after this Wednesday. The Santa Fe Reporter will take over everything starting on December 1. Yes, that soon. Friend of the blog Peter St. Cyr has signed on to take over for me, and I’m sure he will do a great job.
- Associated Press reporter Barry Massey is also leaving for a new position. Massey will be the legislative liaison for the Administrative Office of the Courts as well as spokesman. Massey probably knows his way around the Roundhouse; he had covered the state legislature for 21 years.
- The state Interstate Stream Commission approved the diversion of the Gila River. The commission took the action on the controversial issue on Monday after a series of delays. This doesn’t mean that construction will start right away — or possibly ever.
The decision frees up $62 million in federal money for the project, though state officials acknowledged it could take decades before anything is built. The decision launches a major federal review, which will include analyses under the federal Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. No formal federal decision is likely until at least 2019, state staff told the commission.
Steve Pearce applauded the decision in a statement after the vote. Pearce represents southern New Mexico.
- John Fleck, talking about another massive water project, says that the state lacks the water tools to decide whether or not water should be moved from the Augustin Plains Ranch to the Middle Rio Grande Valley.
Brad Udall, a water policy scholar at Colorado State University, describes the West’s water problems as a collision among 19th century law, 20th century engineering and 21st century realities. The Augustin Plains Ranch questions are a great example.
- A Navajo Nation appeals court threw out an election grievance against Navajo Nation presidential candidate Russell Begaye. The grievance said that Begaye did not have “unswerving loyalty” to the tribe because of his work as a shareholder representative for the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Co. It will be appealed the state Supreme Court.
- Gaming compacts could very well be a theme of this year’s legislative session. The state legislature will consider seven gaming compacts during the upcoming session.
The Acoma and Pojoaque pueblos and the Navajo, Mescalero and Jicarilla tribes are seeking to renew their compacts while the Zuni and Jemez pueblos, which do not currently have gaming, are looking for new compacts to allow gaming on their lands.
At least it’s a 60-day session.
- Harvey Yates Jr., a former Republican Party of New Mexico head, is trolling the Democratic Party over campaign finance laws passed recently. He says they helped Susana Martinez in two ways: allowing Gary King to win the Democratic primary because of name recognition and allowing Susana Martinez to raise more money because of the same reason.
- Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry issued four vetoes to legislation from the city council. The situation between the Republican mayor and the new Democratic majority isn’t as cozy as when Republicans had a majority. An override of any of the legislation seems unlikely, as a Republican would need to change their mind from their original votes.
- The office of Attorney General Gary King is asking the state Supreme Court to remove Judge Sheri Raphaelson from office by the start of the year. Voters decided not to retain Raphaelson, who was appointed in 2009, but Raphaelson says that she should not have been on the ballot but put her name on the ballot anyway.
Assistant Attorney General Scott Fuqua wrote in writ of quo warranto filed Friday with the Supreme Court that Raphaelson “miscalculated the length of her term. Because she inherited a six-year term two years after it had begun, she was properly subject to retention in the 2014 general election. But even if her retention election was held two years early, [Raphaelson] voluntarily subjected herself to that election and is bound by its results.”
- The Roswell Police Department bought 60 lapel cameras for its officers. Arguments for the use of body cameras on police officers throughout the country have become more prominent following a series of high profile incidents involving police, including one in Albuquerque earlier this year.
- Las Cruces city councilors are going to debate adding exemptions to employers that will be required to pay the minimum wage at a city council meeting after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Smith said he’d like more-solid information about how many businesses would be affected by the exemptions and how many businesses earn less than $500,000 per year, one of the proposed exemptions. He noted the city doesn’t have access to state or federal tax data.
- Incoming Minority Leader Brian Egolf is making the media rounds, and told the Santa Fe Reporter that Republicans must justify their majority status.
Asked if his caucus would look to the old House Republican tactics that included filibusters and other methods to hold up Democratic legislation, Egolf responds that “it’s way too early to say what we’re going to be doing on any particular issue.” But he hints at a strategy. He says this of his role as minority leader: “Trying to define as clearly as possible what it means to be Democrat.”
- The federal government wants to expand the territory of the Mexican Gray Wolf and triple the amount of wolves in the Southwest. Those in rural areas, especially ranchers, are diametrically opposed to the reintroduction of the wolf.
- U.S. Sen. Tom Udall spoke about net neutrality at a toy company in downtown Albuquerque. Udall is a supporter of net neutrality.
- Congratulations to former State Sen. Dede Feldman for winning the award for Best Political Book at the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. Here book, Inside the New Mexico Senate: Boots, Suits and Citizens is a great read for anyone interested in politics in the state.
- Some APS bus drivers haven’t had drug tests and lack CDL licenses.
- The State Department of Health honored rural hospitals throughout the state.
“Hospitals in rural areas are very important to the health and safety of New Mexicans, and they play an important role in their communities,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “Many of the hospitals take part in very important projects to make improvements in their community.”
- A scientist who used to work at Sandia National Labs was sentenced to ten months in prison for stealing lab research and bringing it to China.
- The AG’s office is going to go through changes with Hector Balderas replacing Gary King. The Santa Fe New Mexican looks at some of the changes.
- The county of Santa Fe is proposing a sewer rate increase to pay for replacing infrastructure.
- Robert Nott wrote about the state Teacher of the Year.
- New Mexico State University named a new Athletic Director on Monday. He is Mario Moccia, who held the same position at Southern Illinois before being hired by NMSU.
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