June 20 First News: New Mexico FOG Renews Request For Behavioral Health Audit (Listen)

Jun 20, 2014

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has renewed its request for the full release of an audit of 15 nonprofits that provided behavioral health services for needy New Mexicans. In a motion Thursday, the groups asked District Court Judge Sarah Singleton of Santa Fe to order the state to make the report public, saying the New Mexico Attorney General's Office has had ample time to secure information for possible prosecution against any of the providers targeted. The Attorney General already has cleared two of the nonprofits. The foundation filed suit last September after the attorney general and the state Human Services Department refused its request for the audit, which prompted Governor Susana Martinez's administration to freeze Medicaid payments to the providers while the attorney general launched the probe.

There's going to be a delay in the resolution of one of Santa Fe County's biggest controversies.  KSFR's Dave Marash has the story. *****062014-Marash-La Bajada :53*****

Text: the final smackdown in the battle over the planned strip mine at La Bajada Mesa has been put off for more than a month.  The Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners is tabling their next consideration of the planned surface mining operation until August 12.  They are doing so, "at the request of the petitioners," Rockology.  Local opposition has been intense, focused on fears that Rockology's La Bajada gravel mine will scatter dust across and drain water resources from Santa Fe County.  More than 600 people, most of them opponents of the Rockology proposal, turned up at the BCC public hearing last week.  For KSFR, I'm Dave Marash. 

Nearly two dozen refugees are scheduled to become U.S. citizens at a special ceremony in Albuquerque. Twenty-three immigrants, including 21 refugees, are slated to be naturalized Saturday as part of a "World Refugee Day" celebration at the Cesar Chavez Community Center. Amanda Michelle Orta, of Catholic Charities Center for Refugee Settlement & Support, says these candidates for citizenship come from all over the world, including Iran, China, Nepal and Rwanda. Following the ceremony, advocates will host a "World Refugee Day" celebration aimed at honoring the contribution of refugees in New Mexico and giving residents a chance to learn more about various programs. Orta says the plight of refugees is gaining more attention recently because of Central American migrant children along the U.S.-Mexico border.

U-S Representative Ben Ray Lujan and two of his congressional colleagues are pushing for the Government Accountability Office to study the current state of communication services in Native American communities. Lujan, Democrat Anna Eshoo of California and Republican Don Young of Alaska sent a letter to the GAO this week. They say the digital divide persists perhaps nowhere more so than on tribal lands. More than a decade ago, federal officials identified tribal lands as having less access to telecommunications services than any other segment of the population. Lujan and the others say nearly one-third of households on tribal lands still lack basic phone service today and broadband availability in Indian Country is virtually nonexistent.

The state's largest solar power plant has opened on 600 acres in southern New Mexico. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell visited Deming on Wednesday to marking the opening of Macho Springs Solar Facility. Built on state trust land in Luna County, the project is jointly owned by Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and by Turner Renewable Energy. Powell says the 50 megawatt solar power project provided about 300 jobs during the construction phase. The Macho Springs project will provide EPE with solar energy for the next 20 years through a purchase agreement that will impact 395,000 customers in both New Mexico and Texas. The plant was built and will be operated by First Solar.

An Albuquerque man who left high school to serve in World War II more than 70 years ago finally has his diploma. KRQE-TV reports that Dennis Baca received a high school diploma Wednesday evening during a special ceremony at Albuquerque High School. The 89-year-old, clad in a donated green cap and gown, was honored by the Albuquerque Public Schools school board. APS Superintendent Winston Brooks says it's a way to thank Baca for his service to his country. Baca was close to graduating when he opted to enlist in the army and fight in the Pacific. He returned to Albuquerque, where he started a family and worked at the VA for 30 years.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today with a high near 83 and a 20-percent chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Tonight: Partly cloudy with the low 55 and a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny with a high of 84 with a ten-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms.