July 3 First News: Democratic Lawmakers Focus On Behavioral Health Transition Controversy (Listen)

Jul 3, 2014

Reports that the state of New Mexico paid at least one Arizona company for salaries, travel and legal fees before it and others were brought in to replace 15 nonprofits that provided behavioral health services to needy New Mexicans has the attention of Democratic state lawmakers. Albuquerque Senator Bill O’Neill says the money spent on the state’s behavioral health transition last year shows a lack of concern for state money by those who approved payments. O’Neill points to what happened to a non-profit in his district that handled troubled adolescents for four decades. *****070314-O’Neill-2 :30*****  O’Neill is bemoaning what he terms the “arrogance” of the Martinez administration in terminating the work of New Mexico behavioral health providers. However, New Mexico Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott defends the action. *****070314-Kennicott-3 :16***** The Martinez administration cited an audit conducted last year that it claimed showed fraud on the part of the New Mexico non-profits receiving federal Medicaid dollars in terminating their contracts.

A national Republican group reports spending more than a half million dollars in the past month on advertising against Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gary King. A fundraising report by the Republican Governors Association lists expenditures of 571-thousand dollars to produce and air ads in June. The RGA started airing hard-hitting TV ads against King a few days after he won a five-way primary election contest for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Thursday is the deadline for candidates and political committees to file reports with the secretary of state's office disclosing how much they've raised and spent since late May. Martinez had cash-on-hand of about four-point-three million as of May 27. King had a cash balance of about 75-thousand a week before the primary election.

The Los Alamos contractor that packaged the radioactive waste linked to a leak at the government's nuclear waste dump is laying off workers. A Los Alamos spokesman Wednesday confirmed that Energy Solutions has reduced its workforce by 115 because its contract for packing the waste for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad expired June 30. That is the date the lab was supposed to have thousands of barrels of contaminated waste off its northern New Mexico campus. But the final shipments were halted after the February leak that shuttered WIPP was traced to a barrel packed by Energy Solutions. Scientists think a reaction in the waste was fueled by the inorganic cat litter that was packed in the barrel to absorb moisture. Investigators are looking at the process followed by Los Alamos and the contractor in switching from inorganic to organic litter.

A New Mexico judge has ordered the maximum sentence for a 12-year-old boy who opened fire in a Roswell middle school gym earlier this year, injuring two students. After a daylong hearing, state District Judge Freddy Romero ordered the boy held in state custody until he is 21. The boy pleaded no contest to the January shooting.

Santa Fe Weather: Partly sunny today with a 50-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and a high near 83. Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a 40-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and an overnight low of 57. Tomorrow (Fourth of July): Mostly sunny with a 30-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and a high of 83.