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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

$12.5M claim filed against Phoenix for body-cavity search

PHOENIX — A woman has filed a $12.5 million claim against Phoenix, alleging she was subjected to a body-cavity search that amounted to sexual assault.

Attorneys filed the notice Monday for Erica Reynolds.

The Associated Press does not name people who allege sexual assault, but Reynolds openly outlined her allegations last week at a City Council meeting.

A city spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation.

The claim says Reynolds was pulled over Dec. 26 in a drug-trafficking investigation and taken to a station where a female police officer conducted a body-cavity search.

Read more: https://www.abqjournal.com/1332588/12-5m-claim-filed-against-phoenix-for-body-cavity-search.html
(Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico governor reverses policy that asked union members to waive First Amendment rights

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration is reversing a policy imposed by her Republican predecessor by allowing state employee union members to have dues deducted from their paychecks without declaring that they are waiving their First Amendment rights.

The Democratic administration that took office this year is issuing new sign-up forms for the payroll deductions which differ from ones that former Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration issued last year in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that curbed the power of public employee unions.

In a 5-4 decision in August, the high court ruled that states no longer could collect “fair share” fees from workers who aren’t union members to help cover costs of negotiating contracts, which the court majority found violated those workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

However, the Martinez administration also stopped collecting union dues from paychecks for hundreds of workers who are union members, requiring them to file forms saying they were waiving their First Amendment rights.

Read more: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/new-mexico-governor-reverses-policy-that-asked-union-members-to/article_36588b94-a550-50da-9445-9f0e6d486481.html

Liability claims cost Santa Fe millions to settle

The first time Donald Bell ran a red light in a city-owned vehicle and crashed into another motorist, the 83-year-old Senior Services Division employee told Santa Fe police “the sun was in his eyes and he did not notice the red light.”

The November 2016 accident, which happened on Cerrillos Road near Second Street around 4:30 in the afternoon, cost the city $1,000 to settle after the other motorist, a 38-year-old Santa Fe woman who was “extremely shaken” by the event, filed a claim alleging negligence.

Less than two years after the first crash, Bell again ran a red light. This time, he slammed a city-owned senior services transport van into a driver who had a green left-turn arrow. The June 2018 crash on St. Francis Drive and San Mateo Road was much more serious than the first.

Bell had three passengers, including Patsy Herrera, a 75-year-old disabled and legally blind woman who suffered internal bleeding and other injuries in the crash. Police said Bell shouldered the blame, admitting he was driving so fast “he just drove through the red traffic light.” The city paid a combined $50,000 to settle claims filed by Herrera and the other driver.

Read more: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/liability-claims-cost-santa-fe-millions-to-settle/article_fcf60d16-905d-52d2-9700-d7d3a8f1c7f7.html

New Mexico seeks better oversight of prison health contract

The New Mexico Corrections Department is inviting new vendors to take a crack at providing health care to the about 7,000 men and women held in the state’s prison system.

The current provider, Centurion LLC, won the contract away from Corizon Health in 2016, amid a flurry of medical malpractice lawsuits from inmates and an investigation by The New Mexican that revealed the latter had largely operated without state oversight for years.

But as Centurion’s contract — worth more than $41 million per year — nears its November expiration date, the state still has not completed a comprehensive audit of Centurion’s services at each of New Mexico’s 11 prisons, making it difficult to find an objective measure of the company’s performance.

Newly appointed Corrections Secretary-designate Alisha Tafoya Lucero declined to rate her level of satisfaction with Centurion, saying she wasn’t “comfortable” doing so.

Read more: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/new-mexico-seeks-better-oversight-of-prison-health-contract/article_a7e30edf-7d84-520e-b90a-daf59da96cd6.html

Los Alamos National Laboratory cleanup costs continue piling up

The U.S. Department of Energy in 2016 drafted a list of 17 projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in the surrounding town to clean up soil and groundwater that remained contaminated decades after the Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons work.

At the time, more than $2 billion had been spent in a decade on environmental cleanup projects. The Department of Energy estimated it would cost another $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion to finish the job — and up to 25 more years.

The work is far from complete.

A mile-long, creeping plume of highly toxic hexavalent chromium rests beneath Sandia and Mortandad canyons. At the western edge of the national lab’s campus, groundwater is rich with RDX, an explosive chemical, exceeding state water safety standards. And dozens of acres of land, known as material disposal areas, are pock-marked with pits and trenches holding barrels of radioactive waste — some of which sit above ground, waiting to be shipped away.

Federal and local advisory groups and nuclear watchdogs say the lab has long lacked a true accounting of how it is spending vast sums of money allocated for cleanup projects, or a true record of progress and setbacks.

Read more: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lanl-cleanup-costs-continue-piling-up/article_af9e64a6-d388-5b6a-b30b-382a015ae381.html

Bishop's Lodge still in debt

HRV Hotels Partners, the Atlanta-based firm that owns Bishop's Lodge, the monumental resort north of Santa Fe, has yet to pay off its significant debts as a spokeswoman had promised, according to records held by the Santa Fe County clerk.

When SFR contacted the company last month to ask for comment on the $3 million of outstanding liens, or claims on a property, the firm said that the liens would be settled within a week.

That was more than two weeks ago.

Most of the money owed is to the general contractor HRV Hotels hired to manage a renovation effort of the property the company maintains will be complete in 2020.

Last week, SFR inquired with HRV about the status of the liens. Heidi Hanna, president of the Houston-based marketing firm HILL Strategic Brand Solutions, responded, writing in an email that "it's all in process."

Read more: https://www.sfreporter.com/news/2019/06/19/bishops-lodge-still-in-debt/
(Santa Fe Reporter)

Santa Fe police department union approves pay plan

The Santa Fe Police Officers Association has ratified a contract for a series of pay increases within the police department, setting up likely approval by the City Council.

"The vote by the police union is a big win for the members, for the Santa Fe Police Department, and for our community," Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber says in a news release. "Our goal is to make the City of Santa Fe the employer of choice for talented officers who want to make a difference through their work in our community. This contract is another big step in getting that done."

The proposal will appear before the city council during its next meeting on June 26.

The pay increase, totaling $930,000, will focus on new officers who are "at the highest risk of being pulled to other higher paying departments" and follows a number of understaffed years within the department, the mayor adds in the release. It's part of an attempt to attract and retain younger officers in a department that has shed personnel over the past few years.

Read more: https://www.sfreporter.com/news/2019/06/19/police-department-union-approves-pay-plan/

'Italia! Italia!' IOC awards 2026 Winter Olympics to Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo

Excited members of the Italian delegation erupted with shouts of “Italia! Italia!” as the International Olympic Committee announced Monday that Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo would host the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The decision, which came down to either Stockholm and Are in Sweden or the northern Italian region, was announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, and marks the Games’ return to Italy for the first time since 2006, when they were held in Turin. Cortina d’Ampezzo, an Alpine ski resort, hosted the Winter Games in 1956.

Monday’s choice reflects a move to split hosting duties between regions or countries rather than confining them to a single city as the cost of staging the Games skyrockets.

Representatives from Milan believed after last month’s evaluation by a panel that they had the strongest bid, but Italy has had serious economic problems and is carrying a debt load that is the second highest in Europe, behind only Greece. By selecting Italy, the IOC handed a significant challenge to a country saddled with aging infrastructure and weakened by years of economic stagnation. Italy’s government has recently unnerved investors — and the European Union — with its populist spending plans, which threaten to increase one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/06/24/ioc-will-vote-monday-site-winter-olympics-choosing-between-sweden-italy/?utm_term=.09370ac598b8

Bernie Sanders faces a new kind of threat in Elizabeth Warren

By Sean Sullivan, Washington Post

The Bernie Sanders campaign, facing a new challenge in the rise of Elizabeth Warren, has settled for now on a careful if sometimes awkward strategy: emphasizing Sanders’s unique position in the liberal movement, while avoiding direct attacks on Warren and rolling out plans that overlap with her attention-grabbing ideas.

That approach was on display Monday as Sanders introduced a proposal to cancel all student debt across the country. His plan came about two months after Warren announced her own idea for scrapping student debt, one that would cover fewer people than Sanders’s would. “Under the proposal we introduced today, all student debt would be canceled in six months,” Sanders said.

But doubling down on his ideological purity and socialist credentials carries risks for the senator from Vermont, other Democrats say. It’s enabled Warren to position herself as impassioned but reasonable, while Sanders holds down the leftward flank of the Democratic Party and serves as the ideological outlier in the race.

“They both have a crusader mentality around correcting what is wrong,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who knows both and has not yet endorsed in the contest. “They understand they are speaking to a similar vision of the country, and obviously they are trying to distinguish themselves from each other.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bernie-sanders-faces-a-new-kind-of-threat-in-elizabeth-warren/2019/06/24/f4972f78-9613-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html

Baltimore City Council considers awarding up to $1.7 million in public funds to mayoral campaigns

The Baltimore City Council began Monday to consider allowing mayoral campaigns to receive up to $1.7 million each in public money, part of an effort to diminish the influence of corporations and wealthy individuals over government.

Legislation being introduced by Democratic Councilman Kristerfer Burnett would set rules and benefits for candidates to use taxpayer money from a fund voters authorized last year. To receive money, campaigns would have to agree to cap donations from private backers at $150 apiece.

Burnett said on the council floor Monday that the fund is designed to “reduce the impact that big money from big donors has on our elections here in Baltimore city.”

The idea behind the push — set forth in a preamble to the legislation — is to free candidates from having to seek big-dollar donations from corporations or other interests, who might then expect special treatment in return. It’s designed to give candidates more time to focus instead on persuading voters.

Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-ci-elections-fund-20190624-story.html
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