Santa Fe City Officials this week wrapped up a months-long process of identifying issues to prioritize during the upcoming New Mexico 2014 Legislative Session. City Councilor Peter Ives:
*****Dec. 27 Ives-1 :13***** Ives says the legislative priorities for 2014 are: Changes to the hold-harmless gross receipts tax issue; Funding to expand the Santa Fe Airport Terminal; Funding for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion—or LEAD—Program; and city water priorities.
A nearly three-decade old cold-case in the murder of an Albuquerque man got hot Monday with the west Texas arrest of a man accused of using aliases for 27 years to avoid apprehension. Albuquerque police say 47-year-old Ramone Astorga-Ramirez was identified in 1986 after the shooting of 27-year-old Paul Dubose during a Duke City altercation. He was indicted in the case in 1987, and faces first-degree murder charges when he’s returned to New Mexico. The Albuquerque Police Department's Cold Case Unit recently took the case and received help from several agencies, including the FBI.
Teachers unions and some state lawmakers opposed to the New Mexico Public Education Department's teacher evaluation system are asking the state Court of Appeals to reconsider its contention that the program is invalid because it violates state laws. The Albuquerque Journal reports the request comes after a state District Court judge last month refused to block Governor Susana Martinez's administration from continuing to implement a new system for evaluating teachers. The coalition’s point of contention centers on state laws that require school principals to conduct the evaluations.
The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously affirmed on Thursday the right of same-sex partners to marry, reasoning that the “protections and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally” to them and to opposite-sex couples. With the ruling, which takes effect immediately, New Mexico becomes one of 17 states and the District of Columbia to permit same-sex marriage.
Santa Fe Police say a crash involving a wrong-way driver on I-25 near the St. Francis Drive exit sent four people, including the errant driver, to the hospital. Law enforcement officials suspect drunk-driving in the crash that occurred just before eight-pm. Santa Fe police say the driver was a 52-year-old local man whose Dodge Stratus crashed into a truck carrying three people – two men and a woman. All four were taken to the hospital, where one is listed in critical condition and another’s in serious condition. The Dodge driver was headed south in the northbound lanes.
A Santa Fe County Grand Jury will determine whether there was justification in the fatal State Police shooting last month of 39-year old Jeanette Anaya of Santa Fe. Anaya was shot early November seventh in a Santa Fe residential area following a high speed chase. Santa Fe Police would normally have been on the scene, but didn’t follow-up because the state police officer in pursuit of Anaya didn’t provide SFPD with a reason for the chase. State Police Officer Oliver Wilson says he fired at Anaya as she aggressively backed her car toward him.
An ethics complaint charging Santa Fe City Councilor and Mayoral Candidate Patti Bushee with violating the city’s public finance code has been rejected. Reports says the City’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board voted 4-0 to dismiss the charges that emanated over the summer over a private check Bushee wrote to her former campaign manager. Bushee has since qualified for public campaign financing. The City ethics panel found no violations.
The Santa Fe School District is one of 31 finalists selected for a federal education department grant worth a portion of 120 million-dollars. The Albuquerque Journal reports SFPS is still in the running for a 10 million dollar “Race to the Top” grant. Meantime, Albuquerque Public Schools didn’t make the final cut for a 25 million dollar grant for which it applied. School districts and states do not compete against one another for the grant money. The U-S Department of Education will announce between five and ten winners later this month.
A report from the Legislative Finance Committee criticizes New Mexico’s termination of behavioral health providers resulting from findings in an as-yet unreleased audit of providers receiving Medicaid funding through the Human Services Department. The LFC report released this week says patients suffered as a result of the changes. Citing law enforcement considerations, two judges recently refused in separate cases to order release of the audit, meaning providers weren't told of specific allegations or given a chance to rebut them before funding was cut off.
When Santa Fe voters go to the polls on March fourth, they will decide on nine separate city charter amendments, including two proposals that would make the mayor’s job a full-time post with more authority and a 74-thousand dollar annual salary. City Councilors originally proposed sixteen separate amendments, but combined eight of them into one, all dealing with mayoral power. Councilors on Wednesday also unanimously approved a resolution requesting the state environment department to not permit a permanent nuclear waste dump at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Area G.
Santa Fe County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a new sustainable land development code to guide future county growth. The new code will go into effect after the County Commission approves an accompanying zoning map. County Commissioner Liz Stefanics:*****Dec. 11 SLDC Stefanics-2 :19***** The lengthy document spells-out standards for future County development
Adoption of a sustainable land development code is an item before the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners later today. The draft document includes a growth management element requiring developers to determine whether existing public facilities and services are adequate to support their developments. Commissioners will also consider a resolution supporting legislation to prohibit the sale of E-cigarettes to minors.
Santa Fe received a bit more snowfall Sunday night, but the light dusting of powdery snow has not prompted any closures or delays—thus far—this morning. Major city arterials are snow packed and slick in areas, and drivers are urged to use caution.
Two Santa Fe Mayoral candidates are seeking to halt the flow of public campaign finance money to opponent Patti Bushee until a city review board hears a complaint filed by a woman who’d briefly worked as Bushee’s campaign chief. The issue involves Bushee paying the former employee an 18-hundred dollar check from a personal account. The candidates—Javier Gonzales and Rebecca Wurzburger—have asked the Ethics and Campaign Review Board to hold an expedited hearing on the matter. Bushee maintains the payment occurred in June, when she was still running on private funds.