GALLUP, N.M. — At the end of the Howard Johnson Hotel’s orange and white hallway, Dr. Caleb Lauber paused by a mirror as if he were lost. The mirror was an invention of the crafty security guards who’d leaned it against a chair, allowing them to quickly see around the corner in case any guests, all COVID-19 positive, should leave their rooms. Lauber worked 60, sometimes 80-hour weeks, caring for the homeless that Gallup had arranged to shelter at local hotels. He’d seen 500 of these patients in the past month. And now his memory was failing. “What’s the room number?” he asked his nursing assistant for the second time as they rounded the corner.
This story originally appeared at Searchlight New Mexico and is republished here with permission.
As cases continue to grow in McKinley County, the governor invoked the state’s Riot Control Act to authorize a lockdown of Gallup, at the behest of both the outgoing and new mayor of the city. The state closed all roads into Gallup as of noon on Friday, ordered that essential businesses will be closed from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and vehicles traveling in the city can only have a maximum of two individuals. The order from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that people should remain sheltered in place at home unless they are traveling for essential or emergency outings. Gallup city police and the McKinley County Sheriff’s Department will help the New Mexico State police to enforce the emergency order. The order will run through noon on Monday, May 4.
New Mexico is one of 16 states that gave Donald Trump an approval rating of below 40 percent in 2018 according to the most recent poll by Gallup. The nationwide poll, conducted throughout 2018 as part of Gallup’s tracking poll, found that just 38 percent of New Mexico voters approved of Trump’s job performance as president, compared to 55 percent who disapproved. The numbers were actually a slight improvement from 2017, when Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico stood at 25 percent, compared to 59 percent disapproval. Nationwide, West Virginia gave Trump his highest approval ratings in 2018, at 62 percent. His lowest approval rating was Hawaii, at just 26 percent.
ALBUQUERQUE – With cuts and bruises on his face, back and shoulders, Jerome Eskeets frantically told police about the violent assault he barely survived the night before. In his 30s, Eskeets had been sleeping in an empty lot on Albuquerque’s west side with friends and relations, Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson, who like Eskeets were Dine’, as members of the Navajo Nation call themselves. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth. Soon after talking to Eskeets, police found Gorman’s and Thompson’s bludgeoned bodies. The 2014 crime shocked Albuquerque, the state and occasionally made national news as the cases against the three defendants eventually arrested in the brutal killings — youths Alex Rios, Nathaniel Carrillo and Gilbert Tafoya — worked their way through the court system.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed two bills Tuesday that passed the Legislature with overwhelming support, including legislation that would have allowed high school students to count computer science classes toward math and science credits needed for graduation. The second vetoed bill would have made what appeared to be a minor change to state law dealing with tax increment development districts. Such districts are formed by local governments as a means to finance public infrastructure, like streets and utilities, for new development
Martinez did not provide explanation in her veto messages to legislators. The governor also signed two bills Tuesday. House Bill 230 allows horse-racing tracks that are combined with casinos, known as “racinos,” to change the number of days it hosts races each week.
State Auditor Tim Keller released a financial health report card of sorts for New Mexico state and local government. The attempt is to provide a financial health report card of sorts for New Mexico state and local government. Keller said in a statement that the new, annual Findings Report is meant to make the complex subject of financial audits of public agencies “more transparent to the public, legislators and oversight bodies.”
Public entities are required to conduct and release annual audits. And while the bulk of public agencies are handling their money well, Keller said a few “are not up to par and need to address weaknesses in their financial controls immediately.”
These include five state agencies that made material misstatements—or financial reports that don’t follow adequate auditing protocol—or “undetected” misstatements. Among those five agencies is the New Mexico Secretary of State, where embattled Dianna Duran is facing criminal charges for allegedly abusing her campaign money for personal purposes.
While New Mexico still is not among the leaders in lowest uninsured rate, the percentage of uninsured since the passage of health care reform legislation has dropped more than 7 percentage points. The numbers from Gallup come from a large nationwide poll that showed uninsured rates have fallen massively in recent years, to the point where five states now have rates under 5 percent. In New Mexico, 13.1 percent are still uninsured. This is compared to 20.2 percent in 2013, before the health care overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act, became law. In other words, the uninsured rate has dropped 7.1 percentage points.