Sept. 26 First News: State Senator Michael Sanchez says HSD's Sidonie Squier should resign. (listen)
State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez is calling for Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier’s resignation. Sanchez says Squier’s written response to a Draft Hunger Task Force report shows a lack of understanding of both her job and the people she serves. After reading the report, Squier wrote in an email that there has never been any significant evidence of hunger in New Mexico nor is there any at present. Squier says the focus should instead be on providing proper nutrition to citizens and that expanding government food programs is not productive. Senator Sanchez says the remarks show indifference to our state’s hungry and Squier should quit her post.
Even with a statewide funding increase of 44-percent in recent years on early childhood education efforts, a study released by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee is critical of New Mexico’s oversight of taxpayer-subsidized pre-kindergarten programs. The LFC’s Charles Sallee (Suh-lee): ****Clip**** The report suggests coordinating all Pre-K programs with state standards. It also says basic child care fails to improve later school performance and literacy of students
Despite pleas from Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and Senator Tom Udall, the U-S Postal Service is moving ahead with its plans to vacate the downtown post office for new digs at either Sanbusco Market Center or the corner of West Alameda and Guadalupe streets. Today's New Mexican quotes a Postal Service spokesman saying the agency is negotiating with another Santa Fe landlord. Coss and Udall have expressed concern about the impact the move would have on the city's downtown core.
As expected and without dissent, Santa Fe City Council has given approval to expanded areas of beer sales and consumption at Fort Marcy Park’s semi-pro Fuego ballgames. Beer sales were an original requirement for having the team make Santa Fe its home base. A small, fenced-in beer garden was established that quickly earned a nickname as the "beer prison." Game-goers will now wear wristbands indicating if they’re of legal age to consume no more than three drinks per game.
In other action, City Council postponed any vote on private redevelopment of the old Manderfield School on Canyon Road. Prospective buyers have been seeking re-zoning that would permit the long vacant facility to house residential units and art studios. Original plans also called for a small cafe. Nearby residents have balked at the enterprise, saying it will change the character of the neighborhood. City Council moved to send the matter back to the city's Planning Commission.
It’s a green light from the New Mexico Environment Department for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. Their annual permitting process has been completed with the required on-site inspection. As part of that process, various records and documents such as monitoring data, training records, and calibration records were requested by the NMED. They say that WIPP takes its regulatory compliance very seriously. The facility is charged with storage of transuranic radioactive waste so toxic it requires permanent entombment.
A public hearing is set for next week in Albuquerque that could have broad ramifications for the 75 Mexican gray wolves still surviving in Arizona and New Mexico. A federal proposal would allow release of captive-bred wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico and allow wolves to roam outside of current boundaries. However, if they stray north of I-40 or south of I-10, they would be recaptured and returned to the prescribed area. Animal rights advocates say that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan denies the wolves access to suitable habitats. The hearing is set for Friday, October 4th at Albuquerque’s Embassy Suites.
New Mexico's health insurance exchange, which starts enrolling uninsured New Mexicans and small businesses next week, will offer medical coverage plans costing less than the national average. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report said individuals in New Mexico will pay an average of $282 a month for a mid-range insurance plan considered a benchmark by the federal government. That's lower than the national average of $328.
Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny today with highs in the low-to-mid 70s. Clouds on the increase tonight with a 30% chance for precipitation after midnight. Mostly cloudy Friday with a 40% chance for showers and thunderstorms and highs in the upper 60s. The first hard freeze of the season is likely for higher elevations throughout the region Friday night. Temperatures in the Santa Fe metro area in the upper 30s.