Just two weeks until Christmas and three weeks until 2016. This year sure did fly by; stories recapping the year are already showing up here at NM Political Report and will continue to until the end of the year. You can see them all here. Anyway, here are three things to look for on Friday, December 11. If you want to add anything on future dates, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Albuquerque is using the state Inspection of Public Records Act to only its own end, according to closing arguments in the trial of a lawsuit alleging the city violated the law. Ahmad Assed, the attorney for Munah Green, contends in written arguments submitted this week that under the city’s interpretation, “IPRA becomes meaningless and subject to the pleasure and whim of governmental power.”
“Instead of IPRA being a public check and balance, or a statutory tool by which the public can extract the greatest possible information about governmental actions, IPRA can be thwarted, eviscerated and otherwise rendered meaningless by two words: ‘on-going investigation,’” Assed writes. Green is the mother of Jaquise Lewis, the 17-year-old who died from gunshots in the March shooting at Los Altos Skate Park. The shooting left six others wounded, including one who was paralyzed. Albuquerque police have said that Lewis had a gun, fired at people that night and was killed in self defense.
Was it appropriate for the Secretary of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department to get involved with the audit of a former client for whom she once did accounting work? Last week, NM Political Report wrote about how Demesia Padilla, the TRD secretary, wrote a letter asking her own department for lower tax penalties for Harold’s Trucking, a Bernalillo-based business. Before becoming a cabinet secretary in 2011, Padilla handled the business’s financials as a certified public accountant. Padilla’s agency was handling an audit of Harold’s Trucking and Padilla herself stepped in to help out the business. Padilla’s old CPA business had lost tax documents belonging to Harold’s Trucking, she wrote in the letter, and therefore the business shouldn’t be penalized for her mistake.
A Democratic state senator is urging the state Human Services Department to change its proposed work rules for federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients. In a letter to HSD Secretary Brent Earnest, state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, urges the state to change course on toughening requirements to qualify for SNAP, better known as food stamps. Earlier this month, HSD proposed to add a requirement of 80 hours of community service for SNAP recipients without jobs and aged 16-60 with children older than 6 years old. HSD has said that the proposed changes would put SNAP work requirements in New Mexico back to what they were before the recession. But the proposals have sparked plenty of backlash from community groups, including the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A handful newspapers in New Mexico and Texas, including the Las Cruces Sun-News and the Farmington Daily Times, will now be run by Gannett. The Sun-News reported on the sale, which includes seven newspapers in New Mexico, one in Texas and four in Pennsylvania. The newspapers were previously operated by Digital First Media, with Gannett holding a minority stake. “We are very pleased to welcome these well-respected media organizations to U.S. Community Publishing as we further our efforts to expand our reach as the best local media company in America for consumers and businesses,” Robert Dickey, president of U.S. Community Publishing and CEO-designate of Gannett “SpinCo,” said in a statement. Gannett runs dozens of newspapers throughout the country, including the USA Today. USA Today is the third-largest newspaper by circulation.
A union representing nurses and hospital technicians is alleging Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe has not met staffing levels negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement and fired a longtime nurse for being outspoken on the issue. The National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees Local 1199 recently filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board over the firing of Diane Spencer, a nurse who had worked at the hospital since 1997. Attorney Shane Youtz, who represents the union, said that the hospital fired Spencer on April 5 over a patient complaint that he called “a routine variety.” Youtz said HIPAA rules prevent him from divulging into details about the complaint but that it “involved absolutely no harm or no potential harm to the patient.”