Oct. 7 First News: New Mexico Reps vote to assure retroactive furlough pay. (Listen)

  New Mexico's federal employees sidelined by the government shutdown have been assured they will receive any back pay owed them. Such an assurance can only be made by an act of Congress and New Mexico representative Michele Lujan Grisham co-sponsored such legislation that passed the House unanimously Saturday. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan also sent a letter to the Department of Energy Secretary that stresses that retroactive pay is intended for all federally-contracted workers at both the state’s two National Laboratories.

The officers who manage the Santa Fe Police Department received pay raises averaging close to 68-hundred dollars a year. The seven lieutenants, three captains and two deputy chiefs received the salary increases earlier this year, with union approval but without public discussion. The Journal North reports that over the past three years, rank and file officers received one three-percent raise, while non-commissioned employees, including public safety aides received slightly more. Regular Santa Fe city employees got a single two-percent during the same time period. Both police and union officials defend the raises, saying they were need to provide more pay for supervisory employees over their subordinates.

After two fine days of flying in near-ideal weather conditions, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes a lower profile today and tomorrow, with a multitude of events later in the week. A Fiesta news release says the America’s Challenge gas balloon race is underway as five of the gas balloons departed around 3 p.m. Sunday.  The object of the race is to land the farthest from Balloon Fiesta Park than the other competitors. Flights of more than one-thousand miles are common as the pilots stay aloft for three days.

The New Mexico Legislature's Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, chaired by Santa Fe State Senator Peter Wirth, meets in Carlsbad today and tomorrow. Among the agenda items are an update on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant--or WIPP--and a discussion of the waste repository's mission that will include comments from Dan Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center of Albuquerque. Hancock has been a persistent WIPP critic.

The awarding of a one-point-three million dollar contract to Albuquerque Asphalt for a runway extension project at the Santa Fe Municipal Airport comes up today at the Santa Fe Public Works and Land Use Committee meeting.  Monies for that project were recently announced by the federal government.  Also being looked at is the proposal for providing public transportation to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. The North Central Regional Transit District will be asked to look at financing options. The Committee meeting is set for this afternoon at 4:45 in the City Council Chambers.

Weather for Santa Fe –Sunny today with a high near 70 and light northerly winds. For tonight, expect most clear with a low around 37.  Tomorrow is forecast to be Sunny, with a high near 71.