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[15 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Hispanic Cultural Foundation told to return additional $147,000 of state fresco funds (UPDATED)

State officials demanded Monday that the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) Foundation return another $147,000 of $812,500 in state funds that had been intended for completion of a fresco of New Mexico history.

The Foundation had already surrendered more than $138,000 in March.

Auditors did not ask to see Foundation bank statements for the account into which state funds were deposited, State Auditor’s Office Chief of Staff Evan Blackstone said Monday evening.

Breaking news, Corruption, Featured, Government, News, Peter St. Cyr »

[11 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
County employee accused of embezzlement

A Bernalillo County Clerk employee is being accused of stealing nearly $23,000 from taxpayers.

Clifford Valencia was arrested on Thursday afternoon and booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on embezzlement charges.

Featured, Government, Headline, Health, News, Open Government, Uncategorized »

[8 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Emergency Room co-pays ‘just one idea’ for N.M. Medicaid overhaul, HSD spokesman says

Proposed patient fees for emergency room visits sparked concern among American Indian tribal representatives at a meeting with state Medicaid officials last week.

Such measures would create new barriers to American Indians’ access to health care, several tribal officials said.

But patient co-pays are “just one idea” being considered by the Governor’s Medicaid overhaul team, Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott said Monday.

If adopted, co-pays would be imposed on a sliding scale, he said.

Featured, Government, Headline, Health, News, Open Government »

[6 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Tribal representatives concerned about Medicaid overhaul

Human Services Department (HSD) Cabinet Secretary Sidonie “Sidney” Squier got a skeptical reception at her meeting Wednesday with representatives from New Mexico Indian tribes, several of whom voiced concern that her agency’s Medicaid overhaul would create new barriers to American Indians’ access to health care.

HSD has contracted with Alicia Smith & Associates for $1.7 million to redesign the state’s Medicaid health insurance program for people with low incomes or disabilities, and to prepare the state’s application for a “global Medicaid waiver” that Squier said would allow HSD to run the program with less federal oversight and more flexibility.

Education, Featured, Government, Headline, News »

[3 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Thousands of N.M. families await child care assistance

The New Mexico Child Care Assistance Program’s waiting list, established in January 2010, has swelled to include more than 5,800 low-income families.

State Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) officials will meet with the Legislative Finance Committee in Red River August 17 to explain plans to address the problem.

Breaking news, Featured, Government, Headline, News, Open Government »

[2 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Criminal charges reinstated against PRC Commissioner Block and his father

The New Mexico Court of Appeals reinstated criminal charges Tuesday against Public Regulation Commission (PRC) vice chair Jerome Block Jr. and his father and former PRC commissioner, Jerome Block, Sr.

The pair face charges ranging from embezzlement and election code violations to evidence tampering, stemming from Block Jr.’s misuse of public campaign funds during his 2008 bid for a seat on the powerful commission.

Featured, Government, News, Open Government »

[2 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Unexplained delays for state-ordered audit of Hispanic Cultural Foundation

A state-ordered independent audit of the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) Foundation’s use of $812,500 of taxpayer money is undergoing ‘internal review’ at the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs — more than two months after it was supposed to be completed and sent to State Auditor Hector Balderas.

Balderas has yet to see the audit report.

Government, News, Open Government »

[29 Jul 2011 | No Comment | ]
State regulators slash proposed PNM rate hike

The state Public Regulation Commission (PRC) voted 3-2 along party lines Thursday to cut the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM)’s negotiated $85 million electricity rate hike by $13 million. The company, which had originally sought a $165 million rate hike, had ‘inflated’ its costs, two state regulators said.

Republican commissioner Ben Hall said he would not vote for any rate increase because he felt PNM had misled the Commission.

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

[26 Jul 2011 | No Comment | ]
Industry-funded group drafted N.M. lawmakers’ bills on climate change, hospital liability, health insurance

State lawmakers regularly introduce legislation written by the influential but little-known American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a largely industry-funded group with ties to tobacco, health care and oil corporations, legislators acknowledged Tuesday.
New Mexico lawmakers introduced several bills drafted by ALEC during the regular 2011 legislative session, Veritas NM found. The bills included proposed laws to limit lawsuits against hospitals, reduce regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and increase penalties for shoplifting. (See below.)
Corporations pay ALEC up to $25,000 apiece in annual membership fees and up to another $10,000 for their representatives …

Featured, Government, Headline, Investigation, Labor, Open Government »

[19 Jul 2011 | No Comment | ]
Hispanic Cultural Foundation pays $5,000 fine for lobbying violations

The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC)’s private fundraising foundation has paid a $5,000 fine ordered by Secretary of State Dianna J. Duran, state Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer confirmed Tuesday.
The NHCC Foundation will not contest the fine for violations of the state lobbying law, and “will endeavor to meet all requirements of the Lobbyist Regulation Act in the future,” attorney Brad L. Hays told Duran in a July 14 letter accompanying a $5,000 check.
The Foundation has also now registered as a lobbying entity for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, …