April 3 First News: Govenor Martinez Unveils Improvement Plan for Child-Welfare Agency (listen)
Governor Susana Martinez has announced a three-step plan to improve the state's troubled Children, Youth and Families Department and keep New Mexico kids safer. Martinez’s plan—announced Wednesday--includes improving communication, taking a proactive approach to families with multiple cases and recruiting and retaining case workers for the under-staffed agency. On that issue, the CYFD will hire a recruiter to work with New Mexico State University and other schools to find new employees. Caseworkers will get a raise with the start of the fiscal year in July.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is asking the U-S Justice Department to complete its investigation of the city's troubled police department and help officials develop a reform plan. Berry said he wrote a letter Wednesday asking the federal agency to expedite its review and begin negotiations with the city. While defending other reforms made in recent years, the mayor called the fatal March police shooting of a homeless man "a game changer." He says the city needs to make changes soon. A publicly released video of that shooting sparked a 12-hour protest by hundreds of angry residents Sunday. Berry also detailed a number of proposed reforms that he and new Police Chief Gorden Eden want to implement, including hiring a fourth deputy chief to oversee DOJ reforms, improved officer training and mental health awareness.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is shipping barrels of nuclear waste off its property to West Texas while officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad work to re-open the usual destination for such contaminated trash. WIPP officials announced Wednesday that it's sent crews underground to investigate February's radiation-release for the first time since the incident. Los Alamos officials are working to get its waste out of town by the peak of wildfire season in mid-June.
Senator Martin Heinrich took to the Senate Floor Wednesday to push for passage of legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. The New Mexico Democrat says the wage should rise to give all workers a shot to get ahead. *****040314-Heinrich-1 :20***** Heinrich, who's co-sponsoring legislation to boost the hourly federal minimum-wage from seven-and-a-quarter an hour to ten-ten hourly by 2015, notes the current minimum has lost about a third of its value over the past four decades.
If your travel takes you on Interstate-25 north of Santa Fe between Canoncito and Glorieta, expect daytime delays starting Monday. The New Mexico Department of Transportation begins roadway re-hab work on Monday through this summer. Motorists can expect intermittent single-lane closures starting with the northbound lanes of I-25 and then moving to the southbound lanes. Price-tag for the project is close to five-million dollars.
White Sands Missile Range will see its commander fly off to a new assignment. The U-S Army has announced that Major General Gwen Bingham who's been commander at the Range since September 2012, is moving to Warren, Michigan to become commander of the Army's Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that she'll be replaced as White Sands' commander by Brigadier General Timothy Coffin, who's now at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California. Assignment dates weren't announced.
A Taos County inmate is suing the New Mexico State Police, claiming some of its officers violated his civil rights when they tased him. The Albuquerque Journal reports that attorneys for John Moya said in court documents that he was "physically attacked and tased" by officers in the Taos County jail last month. The state district court suit claims that Moya, who's 35, "was still in leg shackles" when officers used their stun guns on him. State Police spokesman Lieutenant Emmanuel Gutierrez declined to comment on the lawsuit. Perhaps he's not talking because two of the officers named in the suit were involved in the now-infamous chaotic traffic stop near Taos last year where an officer fired at a van full of children. Gutierrez did say, however, that Moya was arrested for violating probation at his home, where he was found in the attic's crawl-space.
Santa Fe Weather: Partly sunny, with a 20-percent chance for isolated showers today, and a high near 48. It'll be mostly clear tonight, with the low down to 23. Tomorrow, expect mostly sunny skies and a high of 54.