Monday Evening Roundup

Jul 15, 2013

Flash Flooding, Mudslides Close A road In Pecos- The Associated Press

Flash flooding and mudslides have shut down a portion of State Road 63 in Pecos.

New Mexico State Police say the closure is from mile post 15 northbound.

They say the flash flooding and mudslides are presenting dangerous driving conditions for motorists and residents.

State police said Monday that the affected portion of State Road 63 will remain closed until further notice.

Settlement Reached In NM Pay-To-Play Case- The Associated Press

The state Investment Council has reached a $643,000 settlement with a financial consulting firm sued for steering government investment business to political supporters of former Gov. Bill Richardson.

A spokesman for the council said Monday the defunct Dallas-based firm of Aldus Equity Partners and its three partners agreed to pay the money and cooperate with agency efforts to collect damages against others because political pressures allegedly influenced the awarding of investments.

Aldus advised the council on making some investments such as in private equity funds.

Aldus co-founder Saul Meyer pleaded guilty in 2009 to securities fraud in New York involving a pension fund there. Aldus was fired by the New Mexico agency after being implicated in the New York scandal.

The proposed settlement must be approved by a state court.

 Legislative Audit Criticizes School Repair Project- The Associated Press Legislative auditors are criticizing the state for spending $600,000 to renovate an abandoned school house in northern New Mexico and later selling it for $39,000 to a non-profit group that originally donated the building to the state.

The project began under former Gov. Bill Richardson's administration.

A report by the Legislative Finance Committee on Monday criticized the Department of Cultural Affairs for poorly managing the capital improvements to the old school in the community of Ribera.

A non-profit group that promoted the renovation plans to use the building as a community center.

Cultural Affairs Secretary Veronica Gonzales said in the report that last year's sale of the building was the best decision because it would have cost the state far more to finish improvements to make the building operable.


Auditor Orders Special Review Of Special Education- The Associated Press

State Auditor Hector Balderas has ordered a special audit of potential funding problems for special education programs that could cause New Mexico to lose millions of dollars in federal money.

Balderas told the Public Education Department on Monday in a letter that he hopes a report will be done before the Legislature meets in January.

At issue are federal requirements for states not to cut their support for services for special education students.

New Mexico potentially ran afoul of those requirements when lawmakers cut state aid to public schools to help balance the budget several years ago after the economy weakened.

The federal government has agreed to waive its funding requirements for 2010, but questions remain about other budget years.