Thu September 5, 2013
Sept. 5 First News: NM's Tom Udall votes "no" on military action in Syria. (listen)
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is among those on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voting to oppose a resolution authorizing military action in Syria. Still, the resolution passed the committee Wednesday by a vote of 10-7. Udall says that he’s heard from hundreds of New Mexicans on the matter, the majority of them opposed to US military involvement in Syria. Udall’s vote was consistent with his previously stated opposition to sending heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels and further involving the US in the Syrian civil war.
PNM's plan to shut down two of its four coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Plant near Farmington will be presented to the state's Environmental Improvement Board today. PNM first announced back in February its plans to bring San Juan into compliance with a federal visibility rule. If the Environmental Improvement Board approves it, the proposal then goes to the federal EPA. If accepted there, the two units would be retired by the end of 2017.
Progressive advocacy group Progress Now New Mexico has launched a public effort to raise money for a legal defense fund for the Doña Ana County clerk facing suit by Republican legislators seeking to stop the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. County Clerk Lynn Ellins says he has already incurred about $10,000 in preparatory legal fees in anticipation of the lawsuit filed by republican state senator Bill Scharer of Farmington and others. In just the last two weeks, seven counties have issued same-sex marriage licenses to some 500 couples. Meanwhile, Grant County will begin issuing licenses next week.
When the New Mexico Legislative Health & Human Services Committee meets today in Las Cruces, local and national oral health experts will testify in support of using dental therapists to ameliorate the effects of the state’s chronic shortage of dentists. The state ranks 39th worst in the US in dentists per capita with some 63% of our population without nearby access. Advocates will propose that dental therapists be employed to work under the supervision of an off-site dentist in the state’s underserved communities. Supporters want to lobby the state legislature to make such an effort part of the next session’s agenda.
A psychiatrist whose Medicaid payments were suspended by the state's Human Services Department back in early 2012 has had a state district court judge order that he be granted a hearing on fraud allegations. The judge ruled Wednesday that Dr. Babak Mirin is entitled to know what information the HSD gave to the Attorney General and offer rebuttal. Today’s Albuquerque Journal reports that the Human Services Department's legal representative is inclined to appeal the ruling, saying the sharing of the information would negatively affect the criminal investigation. Dr. Mirin's case is not among the more recent stop-payment actions to 15 in-state providers of mental health and substance abuse services.
The 89th annual burning of Zozobra takes place tonight at Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Park. As usual, the event is expected to draw tens of thousands to that part of town beginning at 2PM when the gates open. There are many road closures and detours in effect. A new prohibition this year is the barring of pedestrian and vehicle traffic on Artist Road starting at 5PM from Fort Marcy Park east to Avenida Primera South. Also, pedestrians will not be allowed to loiter along the road to watch the show. A full list of other closures and restrictions can be found on the city’s website.
Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny skies with highs in the mid 80s today through Sunday. Little to no chance for any precipitation until monsoonal moisture returns to the area next week.