Driving on Highway 60 across the Plains of San Agustin, it’s easy to dwell on the past. The floor of the valley cradled a lake during the Pleistocene, and windmills and stock tanks fleck the green expanse that stretches for some 50 miles, west of Magdalena and toward the Gila National Forest. But it’s not the past Catron County Commissioner Anita Hand is worried about. It’s the future. A decade ago, her brother and father spotted a legal notice in the newspaper announcing that the ranch next door planned to drill 37 wells into the aquifer that provides water for the area.
Three Planned Parenthood clinics in New Mexico—one in Albuquerque, one in Rio Rancho and one in Farmington—will close by this fall. Whitney Phillips, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which oversees clinics for the women’s health provider in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada, attributed the closures to “reduced patient volume” and challenges in the healthcare industry. “There’s no secret that the reproductive health landscape right now is tough,” she said, referring to the “defund Planned Parenthood” campaigns from opponents of abortion. None of the three clinics slated to close perform surgical abortions. She also ascribed some of the troubles to the federal Affordable Care Act, which “impacted the way we operated, the way we bill things.” Still, she said Planned Parenthood still supports ACA “because the more people with insurance, the better.”
The coming closures will drop the number of New Mexico Planned Parenthood clinics from six to three by this September.
One of the key districts New Mexico Republicans need to take the state Senate back sits just north of Albuquerque in Rio Rancho, where incumbent Democrat John Sapien faces GOP challenger Diego Espinoza. Sapien, an insurance salesman who is running for his third term, won both the 2008 and 2012 elections on narrow margins—by just 121 votes and 161 votes respectively. Sapien’s latest challenger, Espinoza, has so far outstripped him in fundraising, gathering roughly $153,000 as of press time compared to Sapien’s $126,000. Both speak of job creation as the top priority of their candidacies. But each have different solutions.
A complaint accuses an Albuquerque state representative of improperly directing state money toward a charter school project overseen by his brother. The complaint names Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, of the ethics violation. David Pacheco, an architect and Paul Pacheco’s brother, designed and oversaw construction in early 2015 of a campus building for ASK Academy, a charter school in Rio Rancho. The year before, Paul Pacheco requested $900,000 of state taxpayer money earmarked for capital outlay projects be used for the charter school. The state ended up awarding $230,000 that year to ASK Academy, which became part of a $6.9 million bond issued to ASK Academy in February 2015.
Intel Corp. on Tuesday would not confirm or deny a news report that it will cut 215 jobs at its Rio Rancho plant in the coming months. Citing unidentified sources, KOB TV reported that the Rio Rancho plant would lose 215 jobs. But Intel spokeswoman Natasha Martell Jackson said she wouldn’t comment on the report. Related Story: Latest tax break for Intel didn’t stop job cuts
Speculation has been swirling about the fate of the Rio Rancho plant since Intel announced last week that it would cut 12,000 jobs worldwide, or 11 percent of its workforce, in a massive restructuring effort.
Just three years ago, the New Mexico Legislature significantly changed what manufacturers owe in taxes in the state. Legislators squarely aimed the changes at one big company: Intel. Next year, the tax changes will fully eliminate payroll and property taxes for manufacturers and instead only tax them on their in-state sales. Related Story: After report of layoffs, Intel future in NM still unclear
Over the years, the computer microprocessing giant has enjoyed at least $2.6 billion worth of state and local subsidies for its facility in Rio Rancho. But the company also fell on hard times this decade as personal computers, which Intel’s microchip is used for, ceded ground to cell phones and mobile devices.
Intel Corp. said Tuesday that it will eliminate 12,000 jobs worldwide by mid-2017, an 11 percent reduction in its work force. Those reductions are part of Intel’s attempts to transform itself “from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices,” the company said. The cuts will come “through site consolidations worldwide, a combination of voluntary and involuntary departures, and a re-evaluation of programs,” Intel said. This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website.
Legislators wrestled Wednesday afternoon with the idea of adding cops and law enforcement to the list of protected classes under state hate crime laws. State House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, is carrying the bill as part of a “tough on crime” package endorsed by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and the House Republican leadership. One GOP lawmaker expressed his skepticism of the idea in a hearing of Gentry’s bill at the interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee. “I believe we’ve got laws already on the books that should take care of this,” state Rep. Rick Little, R-Chaparral, told Gentry at the hearing. “A lot of these things go on the judge’s discretion anyway.”
The committee didn’t vote on whether to endorse the bill or not.
A Bernalillo County Commission special meeting on Monday didn’t result in a vote approving or rejecting the Santolina master plan, but commissioners said that a decision could come by the end of the month. The delay for the final vote came right before the commission began considering four appeals to the project filed by groups opposed to Santolina as well as one appeal filed by John Salazar, an attorney for the Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, the organization behind Santolina. Salazar’s appeal sought to change county recommendations in how Santolina, a planned community which would be built on 22 square miles in Albuquerque’s west side, will get its water. From the Albuquerque Journal: The Planning Commission recommended that the county set a limit on how much water Santolina could use when fully built out: about 4.7 billion gallons a year. Salazar, however, said water-conservation requirements are more appropriately addressed by the city-county water authority, an independent agency that supplies water in the Albuquerque area.
When it comes to divisive central New Mexico land development issues, the planned community of Santolina gets all the attention. But other projects to expand Albuquerque’s West Side are also quietly moving forward. Tucked in the many provisions included in this year’s reauthorization of previous year’s capital outlay projects is an extension of a bypass road west of Albuquerque. Currently, the Paseo del Volcan bypass extends from Unser Boulevard to Highway 550 in Rio Rancho. This year, the state Legislature approved funds to purchase right of way for the unfinished portion of Paseo del Volcan from Unser Boulevard to Interstate 40.