Nov. 14 First News: Santa Fe City Council Backs Charter Revisions Expanding Mayoral Powers. (Listen)

  Santa Fe City Council has backed revisions to the City's charter that would expand mayoral powers. Final codification of specific ballot measures to be placed before city voters in a special election occurring simultaneously with the March 2014 municipal election will be worked out by the Council’s mid-December meeting. Among multiple changes to local governance, voters will be asked if the mayor's job should be a fulltime position with commensurate pay while barring secondary employment.

Meanwhile, in other action at last night’s meeting, Santa Fe City Councilors have unanimously approved annexation of 4100 acres of county lands. The action is expected to be completed early in the New Year and will expand city population by some 13-thousand people. The area is on the City's southwest side, near the Airport Road corridor and NM 599.

Since there’s no sign Los Alamos National Laboratory will close by 2030, the need for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will extend 25-years past its planned shutdown that year and continue accepting shipments through 2055. That’s what WIPP’s manager this week told lawmakers overseeing the more than one-billion dollar Department of Energy facility.   WIPP will also undergo a five-year de-commissioning process when it finally does close. The Carlsbad-area plant accepts plutonium-contaminated waste that is permanently entombed in chambers cut into underground salt beds.

Governor Susana Martinez has indicated that she's not enthusiastic about a plan that would have New Mexico pay four-million dollars a year for a decade to fund upgrades and maintenance of railroad tracks used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. The New Mexican reports Martinez said in a statement that while the state is willing to discuss various proposals, Amtrak is federally funded and any agreement to keep the train running in New Mexico shouldn't include sticking state taxpayers with a large tab to pay.

The New Mexico Lottery's board of directors is looking for a new chief executive officer after it voted to terminate the contract of chief executive officer Tom Romero, effective immediately. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the seven-member, governor-appointed Lottery Authority Board voted unanimously to terminate Romero's contract Wednesday. No reason was immediately given for the move and board members declined to discuss the termination after the special session.  The board did, however, issue a statement thanking Romero for his many years of service.

Santa Fe City Councilors and School Board members get together later today for a rare joint meeting. The two panels will discuss a resolution committing Santa Fe city government and public schools to continue making Santa Fe a “world class city with world class schools.”  City spokeswoman Jody McGinnis-Porter says the collaboration will benefit local youth: *****Nov. 14 Porter-1 :19***** McGinnis-Porter says the City’s youth program stands to improve as a result of the collaboration.

Santa Fe City Councilors on Wednesday approved a resolution requesting that President Obama deny the permit application by TransCanada to construct the proposed Keystone X-L Tar Sands Pipeline. Mayor David Coss said the evidence is coincides with the modeling that climate change is real: *****Nov. 14 Coss-1   :11***** The official message to President Obama observes that the Keystone Pipeline would increase carbon emissions at a time when the International Energy Administrators and World Bank are warning that 66-percent of known fossil-fuel reserves must be kept in the ground to fight global warming.

Santa Fe City Councilors have unanimously approved annexation of 41-hundred acres of county lands. The action is expected to be completed early in the New Year and will expand city population by some 13-thousand people. The area is on the City's southwest side, near the Airport Road corridor and NM 599.

According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, only 172 New Mexicans have signed up for health insurance through the troubled federal online Affordable Care Act marketplace. The agency said those individuals in New Mexico signed up for a health plan offered by a private insurer through the New Mexico Health Exchange.  Overall, more than 78-hundred New Mexicans were found to be eligible to enroll through the health insurance marketplace or qualify and can apply for Medicaid.

Mora County’s decision to prohibit oil and natural gas development—made back in April to deter the fracking process—has led a statewide industry group and others to go to federal court to challenge the ban. The Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and three landowners claim the Mora County ban is unconstitutional, and that county doesn’t have the authority to approve such rules. The County’s legislation also established a “bill of rights” giving it a say in such issues.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny today with highs in the low-to-mid 50s. Lows tonight near 30. Partly sunny Friday with winds on the increase during the afternoon and a 30% chance for showers. That increases to 40% tomorrow night with snow-showers above 8000 feet. Friday’s highs in the mid 50s and overnight lows in the mid 30s