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Articles Archive for May 2011

Featured, Government, Headline, Investigation, News, Open Government »

[28 May 2011 | No Comment | ]
NHCC Foundation fined for ‘serious breach of law’

Updated – Citing a “serious breach of the law,” New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran has fined the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation $5,000, the maximum allowed, for violations of the Lobbyist Regulation Act.
Duran also demanded Foundation accounting records and expenditure reports for its lobbying efforts since 2006.
Legislative appropriations secured by the Foundation are now at the center of a separate state investigation into alleged misappropriations and commingling of state funds with private money in the Foundation’s bank account.
“(I)t is clear from your own records that the Foundation engaged …

Featured, Government, Headline, Open Government, Politics »

[26 May 2011 | No Comment | ]
Cities’ water needs could deplete rural areas

Communities in rural New Mexico are watching apprehensively as the Rio Grande Valley’s growing water needs threaten to deplete their water resources, two state legislators said recently.
Attorneys for members of several of the communities have challenged applications to the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) by the developers of two large projects to transfer water from other parts of the state into the Valley.
One project, Berrendo LLC, would transfer more than 2 billion gallons of water a year from a site near Fort Sumner to somewhere near Santa …

Featured, Health, Peter St. Cyr »

[24 May 2011 | No Comment | ]
New Mexico medical marijuana growers avoid federal crackdown

Legal threats from U.S. Attorneys in at least half of the 16 states and District of Columbia that operate medical marijuana programs, along with a rash of recent Drug Enforcement Agency raids in several Western states have not put New Mexico’s program in limbo — yet.
While California, Montana, Washington and Rhode Island reassess their own medical marijuana laws after receiving ominous notices from the federal government that growers and government regulators alike could be subjected to prosecution, New Mexico Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program Manager Dominic Zurlo assured Veritas …

Featured, Labor, News, Peter St. Cyr »

[20 May 2011 | No Comment | ]
Albuquerque labor board remains stalled

Updated – With hundreds of labor cases waiting to be heard, Albuquerque’s Labor Management Relations Board, after multiple attempts, failed again to reach an agreement on who should serve as the board’s neutral chair during its monthly meeting, Friday morning.
Without a neutral chair in place, the city labor board has not heard any prohibited practice complaints for the past 18 months.
Local Attorney Justin Lesky, who serves as labor’s representative on the board, rejected three management nominees: Mark Jarmie, Bill Rhiordan, and Jeff Baker. He voted in support of former state …

Featured, Government, News, Open Government »

[20 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

The New Mexico Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Thursday from Assistant Attorney General Andrew Montgomery and attorneys for Public Regulation Commission (PRC) Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. and his father, Jerome Block, Sr.
The case against the Blocks, involving 12 criminal counts including embezzlement, evidence tampering and election code violations, is the first prosecution under New Mexico’s public campaign finance Voter Action Act.
The charges stem from the younger man’s misuse of public campaign funds in his 2008 race for a seat on the state’s powerful PRC, which oversees utilities, insurance, transportation, pipeline …

Featured, News »

[18 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

In light of Tracy Dingman’s story in today’s Santa Fe Reporter about shakeups at the New Mexico Environment Department, it seems timely to point out another issue involving Deputy Cabinet Secretary Raj Solomon.
Earlier this year, while writing for the Santa Fe Reporter about attacks on the state’s environmental laws — from within the New Mexico Environment Department — I spoke with Solomon, asking him to confirm that he had canceled the state’s participation in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Pollution Prevention Program.
(EPA designed the Pollution Prevention (P2) program to …

Featured, News, Peter St. Cyr, Politics »

[18 May 2011 | One Comment | ]

On the same day that singer Willie Nelson endorsed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson for president in 2012, Veritas NM learned that Johnson’s Our America Initiative PAC has been suspended by the Utah Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Division for failure to file its first-quarter 2011 financial report.
As a result of the May 12 suspension, it is unlawful for the PAC to “solicit, request, promote, advertise, or sponsor a charitable solicitation in Utah until the registration is reinstated.”
But as of Tuesday night, the PAC’s online website has a “donor” …

Featured, Government, Health, Investigation, News, Open Government »

[14 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

Just weeks after then-Human Services Department (HSD) cabinet secretary Kathryn “Katie” Falls signed the last of three no-bid state contracts with Alicia Smith & Associates late last year, the company hired her as a consultant.
“Ms. Falls was hired in mid-December with a start date of February 1st,” company founder Alicia Smith wrote in an e-mail to Veritas New Mexico late Friday. “She agreed to begin in mid-January in order to work on a project with another client of the firm.”
Falls resigned her state post Dec. 30, according to HSD …

Featured, Government, Health, Open Government »

[14 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

The company hired to overhaul the state’s $3.9 billion Medicaid system has no corporate clients that would currently represent a conflict of interest, state and company officials said Friday.
The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) awarded the contract to Washington D.C.-based Alicia Smith & Associates, Monday.
The award was announced Thursday, after a news media inquiry.
The contract’s details, including its price tag, are still being negotiated. A final, signed contract is expected by late May, according to HSD spokeswoman Betina McCracken.
Alicia Smith & Associates has helped several other states revamp their …

Featured, Government, Health, Open Government »

[12 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) has awarded a contract to overhaul the state Medicaid program to Alicia Smith & Associates of Washington, D.C.
The cost of the contract to taxpayers — and whether the contract will include implementation of the restructuring effort or merely its planning — is not yet clear. The decision was made Monday, but was not immediately announced to the public.
“The Department is moving forward with the award and contract negotiations with Alicia Smith & Associates,” spokeswoman Betina McCracken said in an e-mail Thursday morning.
The state …