June 27 First News: Los Alamos The Focus Of WIPP Radiation Release Investigation (Listen)

Jun 27, 2014

A state regulator says officials investigating a radiation leak from the government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico have turned their focus to Los Alamos National Laboratory. New Mexico Environment Department General Counsel Jeff Kendall said Thursday that the Department of Energy's accident investigation team has been at the lab in northeastern New Mexico for about three weeks. Kendall said that probe is one of just nine underway into what caused a barrel of toxic waste from Los Alamos to burst at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico, contaminating 22 workers and shuttering the nation's only permanent repository for waste from nuclear bomb building. Kendall made the comments during a New Mexico Court of Appeals hearing on a dispute with a watchdog group over the permitting process for WIPP.

For nearly 53-hundred New Mexico state employees, their paychecks issued today will be bigger. State officials said Thursday that salaries were adjusted in earlier this month to reflect wage rates that should have been in place starting in 2008. There will be separate checks issued in the upcoming budget year for back pay — thousands of dollars in some instances. The state Supreme Court ruled last year that ten-thousand employees are entitled to retroactive pay increases because former Governor Bill Richardson's administration didn't follow union contracts in distributing 2008 salary money. The 53-hundred figure represents only those employees who are still working for the state.

New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Lujan marked today’s anniversary of the Senate’s passage of bipartisan immigration reform legislation. The northern New Mexico Democrat taking to the House Floor with a speech calling for his Congressional colleagues in the lower chamber to address the issue. ***062614Lujan-1 (0:21)***** Congressman Ben Ray Lujan.

New Mexico's highest court has clamped down on small consumer loans carrying quadruple-digit interest rates. The state Supreme Court on Thursday capped interest rates at 15 percent for "signature loans" by two companies that had been charging an annual percentage rate of up to 15-hundred percent. The court ordered the lenders to repay some interest charges to consumers.

The companies — Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans — made the loans from fifty to 300-dollars at offices in Albuquerque, Farmington and Hobbs. The court said the companies started offering the loans — usually to the working poor — to avoid state restrictions imposed in 2007 on payday loans, including a cap on fees. Payday loans are between 14 and 35 days, but signature loans are for a year.

As part of Santa Fe’s annual gay pride events, the rainbow-colored pride flag will fly over City Hall today. A City news release says Mayor Javier Gonzales, the city’s first openly gay mayor, was scheduled to read a proclamation designating June as Gay Pride month and raise the flag this morning according to a city government news release. The flag will be up just for the day.

The complicated case of Gov. Susana Martinez' stolen emails has a new wrinkle.  KSFR's Dave Marash has the story.  *****Q: std     RUNS:  00:54*****

TEXT:  An alleged link in the chain of emails stolen from the account of Gov. Susana Martinez and leaked to the news media, has had his trial postponed.  Democratic political consultant Jason Loera is facing child pornography charges after the FBI found sexually explicit images of children on his computer storage discs.  The FBI was searching for evidence that Loera had received and passed along stolen emails from former Martinez campaign manager Jaime Estrada and Loera is challenging that search, and the evidence found during it.  U.S. District Judge James Browning earlier this week rescheduled Jason Loera's trial from July 1 to Sept. 15. Estrada pleaded guilty last week.  For KSFR News, I'm Dave Marash.

Santa Fe Weather: Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 56.  Tomorrow: Sunny, with a high near 87.