June 30th First News: Report: NM Paid Arizona Behavioral Health Provider Before Audit (Listen)

Jun 30, 2014

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. That's according to documents obtained by The New Mexican. The newspaper found the state paid Agave Health Inc. more than 172-thousand dollars over six months, and half of that was disbursed prior to an audit being done on the nonprofits. The audit spurred the Martinez administration to shake up the state's mental health system in 2013 by stripping the nonprofits of their contracts over allegations of fraud, mismanagement and billing problems. Records show the state proceeded to pay Agave over the next several months at higher rates than the ousted providers had received. A Human Services Department spokesman defended the payments.

The state is denying Los Alamos National Laboratory's request to extend deadlines for cleaning up toxic waste. The New Mexico Environment Department has sent more than 20 letters this month denying the lab for more time to meet deadlines under a 2005 consent order. In the letters, the state says past extensions were granted while the lab diverted resources to expedite the shipment of thousands of barrels of already processed waste to the government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico. But that dump has been shuttered indefinitely by a mysterious radiation leak, meaning Los Alamos's plans to remove the last of those barrels are on hold. Watchdog groups applauded the action, saying the closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant may put real cleanup back on track.

The family of a homeless camper has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Albuquerque police for a fatal shooting that sparked protests and calls for reform throughout the city. The lawsuit filed Friday in state district court says the more than 40 officers dispatched to handle James Boyd had "no meaningful control" of the standoff, and their lack of training led to his death. A helmet camera video of the March shooting showed 38-year-old Boyd, who authorities say had schizophrenia, gathering his belongings before officers opened fire. The shooting sparked widespread calls for Albuquerque police reform, and the U.S. Justice Department later released a scathing review of the agency's use of force. The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction requiring the city to take a series of actions.

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Foster has been selected as Chief of the City of Bloomington’s Police Department. The Farmington Daily-Times reports that Foster, who was among the four finalists to become Santa Fe’s Police Chief, was chosen over six other candidates by the northwestern New Mexico city. Foster was fired from Los Alamos County police last year after a federal lawsuit filed by a former corporal alleged that Foster and another officer committed him to a mental institution against his will. The county later settled but Foster filed his own lawsuit in January. Foster also served from 1995 to 1998 as a reserve police officer for the Portales Police Department.

Santa Fe Weather: Sunny today with a high near 92. Tonight: Partly cloudy with the low 60 and a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms. Tomorrow: Partly sunny and a high of 85 with a 20-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms.