Sept. 13 First News: Radio ads laud/decry the Medicaid cut-off to some health providers. (listen)

Competing radio ads are airing in New Mexico regarding the Human Services Department cut-off of Medicaid payments to in-state providers of mental health and substance-abuse services pending an investigation of fraud. One by non-profit group, New Mexico Competes, lauds the Martinez administration for cracking down on Medicaid abuses.  The other, by non-profit Resources for Change Policy Works, criticizes Martinez for creating unnecessary havoc for the state's recipients of behavioral healthcare without having strong evidence of wrong-doing by providers. A fraud investigation by the Attorney General’s office is currently underway.

From Taos comes word that some forty-four employees of Holy Cross Hospital, run by Taos Health Systems, will be laid off due to budgetary concerns. The Taos News says the layoffs come as result of a strategic plan that will also see a downsizing of intensive care and observation units. That leaves the hospital with 29 beds.  The hospital's CEO says the number of patients has been declining in recent years with 23 admissions per day in 2011 now down to 17 this year. Over the past four years, staff at Holy Cross has been reduced by some 60 employees.

A new report from New Mexico Voices for Children says that New Mexico has made the 5th largest per-student, inflation-adjusted spending cuts to K-thru-12 education in the U.S. since the start of the recession. Education spending increases for FY2014 restore less than 8% of the amount cut since 2008. Meanwhile at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe next Wednesday, the president of the School Board and the School Superintendent will discuss the lack of sufficient school funding by the State as required by the state Constitution.

New Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled in favor of an Albuquerque theater whose showing of an adult film landed it in hot water for violating a Duke City zoning ordinance limiting where such films can be shown. It began with the Guild Cinema's presentation of a weekend festival of adult films billed as Pornotopia.  The city imposed a fine of $500.  The State's high court declared as the presentation was not representative of the theatre's usual fare, it could not be considered an adult amusement establishment and thus, the zoning rule did not apply.

The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners has extended the application deadline for individuals interested in being nominated for the District 50 State Representative seat.  It became vacant back in August when Representative Stephen Easley passed away. Applicants must be 21 and live within the district which spans portions of Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Torrance and Valencia Counties. Resumés and letters of interest will be accepted up to September 27 with a nomination to be made Oct. 8th.  Governor Martinez will ultimately select Easley's replacement.

Local close encounters with bears in Santa Fe continue. Santa Fe Police report that a thirteenth bear in the past nine days set up camp Thursday in a backyard on Callejon Emelia.  The young, two hundred pound female was tranquilized by NM Game and Fish Officers who will be rleasing her back into the wild. Authorities, meanwhile, are urging residents to bring bird feeders, pet food and small animals indoors especially during overnight hours.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly cloudy skies today with an 80% chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 60s.  A 60% chance for precipitation this evening. For the weekend, Saturday will be partly sunny with highs in the low 70s and a 50% chance for showers. Sunday a little drier with precipitation probabilities at just 30%.