August 26 First News: Bernalillo County may begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses today. (listen)

Same-sex marriage licenses may begin to be issued today in a 3rd New Mexico County.  Progressive advocacy group Progress Now New Mexico says its heard of 1000 new gender-neutral marriage licenses ordered by Bernalillo’s County Clerk.  A hearing in district court there this afternoon may order their issuance. If so, Bernalillo County will join Doña Ana and Santa Fe counties in asserting marriage equality since last week.

Santa Fe City Council meets tomorrow, Tuesday, instead of the usual Wednesday schedule. They'll hear public comment as they consider banning the use of plastic bags by city retailers. The ordinance would encourage merchants to offer re-usable bags and place a fee on single-use paper bags.

Also to be discussed is putting recommended changes to the City's charter before voters in a special election to take place concurrent with the March 2014 municipal election. The Charter Review Commission proposes that the mayoral post be given a vote on all matters that come before city council. It would also deem the job a fulltime position with commensurate pay and prohibit other employment. If put before voters next spring and approved, the changes would be implemented in 2018.

Santa Fe County begins a number of public forums today on capital improvement projects, such as roads, parks and public facilities.  The meetings have been scheduled with both midday and evening sessions in all five districts, with a final presentation to the Board of County Commissioners on September 10th.  The first meeting takes place today at 11:30AM at the Edgewood Senior Center. The County is also seeking citizen members for a capital improvements committee. Details can be found on the county website.

The New Mexico Mining Commission begins a hearing today in Santa Fe to consider a request to change state rules and regulations governing humate mines up to 60 acres. Humate is a coal-like substance often added to soils and fertilizers to increase crop yields. Mining company Mineris Vitae LLC has a humate mine that has exceeded its permitted 10 acres. Beyond that range, New Mexico’s 20-year-old Mining Act requires environmental impact studies, a public hearing on pending permits and an annual inspection once in operation. Environmental watchdog group Amigos Bravos is arguing against the requested rule changes.

The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center is on target to decrease its jail population to the authorized capacity of 2,236. Some 2300 inmates are currently housed there and 118 of those are scheduled to be relocated this week to other jails in Texas and New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal reports that a federal judge stands at the ready to impose substantial daily fines come next month if Bernalillo County does not provide a plan for addressing safety and overcrowding concerns. In May, the County authorized some $7 million for temporary inmate transfers.

A popular attraction at our nearby Bandelier National Monument partially reopens to visitors today.  The Alcove House is an ancestral kiva located in a niche high above Frijoles Canyon and reached by an extensive series of ladders. The ascent route and cave was found to be unstable and has been closed for repairs throughout the summer months.  As of today, park visitors will once again be able to scale the ladders though the kiva itself remains closed for further repairs.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny skies forecast today and through the workweek with highs in the lows 80s. Most monsoonal moisture has been displaced westward into Arizona and so just slight chances here each day for isolated thundershowers.