Mar. 17 First News: Opposition Mounts to Sale of New Mexico Gas Company (Listen)
Opposition against a Florida company's bid to buy New Mexico Gas Company is growing amid concerns about layoffs and costs to consumers. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state attorney general and other New Mexico stakeholders have expressed concern about Teco Energy Incorporated gaining approval to purchase the gas company. Teco reached an agreement last May to buy the utility in a deal worth close to one-billion dollars. The company needs approval from the Public Regulation Commission. Opponents say Teco is paying too much for the deal and has plans to cut 100 jobs in New Mexico. Teco President and CEO John Ramil says the positions being cut are "back-office" jobs that won't affect the quality of service. New Mexico Gas serves more than one-half million mainly residential, customers.
New Mexico's heavy reliance on oil and gas is detailed in a new report from the New Mexico Tax- Research Institute. The New Mexican reports that the study shows nearly one-third of the state's five-and-a-half billion dollar general fund last year came from oil and gas revenues. Much of the funding helps support schools and colleges. The report finds counties such as Santa Fe, where there is little oil and gas developed, benefit from the industry. Critics note the report doesn’t address downsides of oil and gas drilling, including groundwater pollution, air emissions or water use.
The Santa Fe Public Schools are planning to allow a private Florida-based firm to boost its graduation rate. The New Mexican reports Atlantic Education Partners will be using state funds for the District's effort to recruit high school dropouts and assist them in graduating. The program will allow the students to attend class at a location away from existing high schools, with hopes of enrolling a minimum of 75 students by the fall.
A man accused of fatally shooting two men at a Santa Fe-area Christmas party in 2012 has been found guilty of the slayings. The New Mexican reports a jury convicted 19-year-old Joe Rivera on Saturday of one count each of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say Rivera shot 23-year-old John Griego and 29-year-old Nicholas Baker outside of Griego's home on Christmas Day. Jurors also found him guilty of evidence tampering and conspiracy to tamper with evidence. David Silva, Rivera's attorney, says his client faces more than 30 years in prison. Rivera says he was defending himself and his 16-year-old brother from Griego and another man.
Two New Mexico tribes have approached the governor about gambling compacts, making for a crowded field in the world of Native American gambling operations. The Albuquerque Journal reports that officials with Zuni Pueblo and Jemez Pueblo said that fewer federal and state funds and the economy's downturn factored into their decision. According to New Mexico law, the state must negotiate gambling compacts with every tribe that requests it.
The number-seven seed University of New Mexico Lobos will meet tenth-seeded Stanford in St. Louis in their first game in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. After becoming champions of the Mountain West Tournament for the third year in a row, the Lobos have high hopes for the NCAA Tournament. In years past, the team has never made it past the second game. Meantime, the 13th seeded New Mexico State University will meet the fourth-seeded San Diego Aztecs on Thursday in Spokane, Washington. The Aggies on Saturday took home their third Western Athletic Conference title.
Santa Fe Weather: Sunny and windy today with a high of 61, with gusts as high as 40 miles an hour this afternoon. Tonight will be partly cloudy and windy, with a low of 27. Tomorrow, expect sunny skies and a high of 46.