In features after today's local news headlines: New Mexico Attorney General Gary King talks about his release of a redacted Human Services Department audit as his office continues investigation of fraud allegations against multiple mental health & substance abuse service providers. We also catch up with Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and his thoughts about his tenure as he prepares to deliver his 8th & final "state of the city" address. These items and more plus 60 seconds with Christopher Hagen.
New Mexico's Supreme Court takes up the marriage equality issue on Wednesday. The high court is being asked to provide a state-wide, binding resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can legally wed. The ACLU of New Mexico says it hopes the justices will issue a writ to resolve all claims on constitutional grounds. A number of county clerks have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying nothing in the state constitution prohibits them from doing so. All 33 county clerks in New Mexico have petitioned for a state Supreme Court ruling.
Among today's features after local news headlines: We hear about the UNM and NM Health Insurance Exchange campaign to make college students aware of affordable healthcare insurance options available to them. We also speak with the founder of a new initiative to ensure New mexico's public buildings are not "sick." Those items and more plus 60 Seconds with Christopher Hagen.
Los Alamos National Laboratory employees are getting back to normal routine today in the wake of the re-opening of the federal government. However, LANL’s Fred de Sousa says resumption of all Lab operations will take several days to perform in a safe, deliberate and methodical manner. De Sousa expressed relief to KSFR that Lab employees will be spared the hardship of a closure, at least for the time being. De Sousa says while no regular Lab employees were furloughed during the government shutdown, nearly 300 environmental contractors were.
In features after our local news headlines: We catch up with Congressman Ben Ray Luján in Washington, DC for his thoughts post-shutdown. We also speak with Santa Fe Community College's Scott Whitaker about the worsening rate of student loan default. Those items and more plus 60 Seconds with Christopher Hagen.
Furlough plans at-the-ready for thousands of employees at our state’s Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories can now be set aside as the U-S government re-opens. That after both the Senate and House approved funding through January 15th and lifted the debt ceiling until February 7th. Thousands of federal civilian employees at our state’s military installations will now be among those returning to work. All four democrats from New Mexico’s congressional delegation voted to end the stalemate in Washington.
In today's features after local news headlines: A conversation with former West Virginia governor Bob Wise, now with the Alliance for Excellent Education. Wise talks about how improving New Mexico's high school graduation would boost the state economy.
Santa Fe Police say the switch from officers working four ten-hour days to five eight-hour shifts is paying off and helping cut crime. Numbers released by SFPD show savings of 106-thousand dollars. Police spokeswoman Celina Westervelt adds the change ensures there are about eight more officers on the street during a 24-hour period and that there is more coverage during shift changes when criminals are most likely to strike.
In features after local news: Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham speaks with KSFR about activity and inaction in Washington. And a spokesperson for Health Action New Mexico talks about the health insurance exchange in our state and some of its glitches. Those items and more plus 60 Seconds with Christopher Hagen.
Despite the lack of progress in Washington, there will be no furlough of 55 civilian state workers for the New Mexico National Guard. Governor Susana Martinez's administration is halting any such furlough by using state dollars to cover their salaries this week while the federal government shutdown goes on. A National Guard spokesman says the state will pay more than 53-thousand dollars to cover the federal share of salaries. Should the shutdown continue into next week, funding sources will be reviewed.
Santa Fe City Council holds a special meeting tomorrow to review proposed city charter amendments. Such changes are likely to be the focus of a special election held concurrently with the March 2014 municipal election. Among changes being considered is an expansion of mayoral power along with designating the post a fulltime position with higher pay and barring other employment. Another meeting at the end of the month will seek to codify the final charter amendment questions to be put before voters.
Western Refining Company of Gallup is now saying batches of contaminated gasoline were delivered to Giant stations in Santa Fe, Gallup, Farmington, Kirtland, Jamestown as well as Albuquerque. Originally, the refiner said it sent water-contaminated fuel to two gas stations in Albuquerque, but later conceded the number was 11. It says at least 100-motorists complained of serious mechanical issues after filling up with the tainted gasoline. Western Refining says it will reimburse anyone with a legitimate claim.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory will begin full shut down preparations one week from tomorrow if there is no further progress on the budget stalemate in Washington. Lab Director Charles McMillan notified LANL's 10-thousand employees of the closure in a Wednesday memo. A small number of workers would be retained to keep nuclear materials secure. The budget impasse has already sidelined the Lab's shipments of nuclear waste to southern New Mexico's WIPP site. Sandia Labs has previously stated their eight-thousand employees will be furloughed as of October 21st.
Officials at Sandia Labs have announced that they will be forced to begin to shut down and furlough much of the lab’s workforce by Oct. 21 if the federal budget impasse is not resolved. LANL officials, too, have told their employees that the lab has a limited ability to stay open during the government shutdown. The two labs employ some 18-thousand New Mexicans. New Mexico’s congressional delegation has called on the U-S Department of Energy Secretary to offer Lab workers assurances they will be compensated if furloughed.
Voters in Albuquerque are going to the polls today to elect a mayor and city council members as well as weighing in on ten bond issues. Incumbent Mayor Richard Berry is facing two challengers. If no candidate pulls 50-percent of the total vote, the top two placeholders will square off in a November 19th run-off election. That date is also set for a special Duke City election on an ordinance that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. If there is no mayoral run-off, however, the abortion matter will be decided by a mail-in ballot only.