Monday News Roundup: Santa Fe Hospital Workers Reject Contract Offer

Jul 21, 2014

Santa Fe Hospital Workers Reject Contract OfferThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

An overwhelming vote by unionized nurses and medical technicians at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe rejects a contract offer.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 95 percent of the nurses rejected the offer that the hospital's administration called its best and last and that 80 percent of the techs also did so.

The rejection of the contract offer triggers a notice of intent to strike, though a union leader says they'll be seeking a return to the bargaining table. The current contract expires July 31.

The hospital says the offer had reasonable staffing and pay incentives, while the union is expressing dissatisfaction with the pay provisions and with staffing standards.

3 Teens Held In Albuquerque Homeless Killings - The Associated Press

Albuquerque police are checking open cases involving crimes against transients to see whether they're related to the killings of two homeless men over the weekend.

Three teenagers are accused of fatally beating the two homeless men, and a criminal complaint filed in the case says one of the teens told police that the teens had attacked more than 50 people in the last several months.

The criminal complaint accuses an 18-year-old with murder, conspiracy and other crimes, and police say they expect the other teens also be will be accused of murder as adults. They're 15 and 16 years old.

The victims were left unrecognizable when they were battered with cinder blocks, kicked and beaten.

1 Dead, 2 Injured In Shooting At Albuquerque Party  - The Associated Press

Albuquerque police say one man is dead and two others are wounded as a result of a shooting during a fight at a party over the weekend.

Police say 22-year-old Emilio Perez died early Sunday after being shot multiple times. The two other victims are juveniles who are expected to survive their injuries.

A police spokesman says dozens of people attended the party but that many left before police arrived.

Las Cruces Mental Health Provider Cutting Staff - The Associated Press and Las Cruces Sun-News

An Arizona company contracted to handle Medicaid-funded behavioral health care in southern New Mexico has cut nearly a quarter of its staff.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that La Frontera lost 87 of the 400 employees it inherited after being brought in by the state to replace six nonprofit mental health providers under investigation.

The Tucson, Arizona-based firm has reduced staffing and also had several workers quit.

CEO Dan Ranieri says La Frontera was losing money and needed to keep spending in line with revenues.

Employees say the staff shortage and computer system changes are affecting services for clients.

La Frontera was hired by the state in summer 2013 while the state Attorney General's Office investigated several nonprofits for alleged overbilling and fraud.

Nuke Dump Operator Received $1.9M Bonus After Fire - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The contractor that operates the federal government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico received a $1.9 million bonus just five days after an underground truck fire closed the facility.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Nuclear Waste Partnership the funds based on an "excellent" job performance in maintaining the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

Some observers say last February's fire and the radiation leak that followed nine days later show the contractor failed at its job.

Initial probes by federal regulators into both incidents identified a host of management and safety shortcomings.

The Department of Energy says it is not considering revising or terminating its contract with Nuclear Waste Partnership.

The company has a contract to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant through 2017.

Las Cruces Church Has Helped 200 Immigrants So Far - The Associated Press and Las Cruces Sun-News

Organizers behind a short-term shelter in Las Cruces for immigrants say more than 200 people have already passed through.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that at least one group of families has come each week since the shelter was established earlier this month in an event hall at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral.

The most recent group of about 23 families and 58 individuals arrived Wednesday.

The migrants are given a cot, a shower, clean clothes, hot meals and health checks.

The Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces says most stay anywhere from a few hours to two days before leaving to find family in other parts of the U.S.

Diocese officials Susan Roberts says more than 600 volunteers have been assisting at the shelter.

Carlsbad Caverns Visitors Spent $23M In 2013 - The Associated Press and Carlsbad Current-Argus

Tourists visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park spent more than $23 million last year on the surrounding area.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports a new study released by the National Park Service shows visitors to the popular tourist attraction helped support more than 300 jobs in Carlsbad.

According to the study, more than 388,000 people visited the park in 2013. About 94 percent of them were not locals.

Carlsbad Caverns is known for its underground limestone caves and rock formations.

Martinez Appoints 2 New Judges For 2nd District - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed two new judges to serve in New Mexico's 2nd Judicial District in Bernalillo County.

The governor announced the appointments Friday of Ned Fuller and Debra Ramirez, both of Albuquerque.

Fuller was appointed to fill a new position created under a law that established additional judgeships around the state.

The appointment of Ramirez fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ross Sanchez.

Report: Visitor Spending Up At NM National Parks  - The Associated Press

A new report shows visitors and spending were up last year in national parks across New Mexico.

The analysis by the National Park Service shows more than 1.5 million people visited the state's 13 national parks in 2013, spending $83.2 million and supporting 1,136 jobs in the state.

A spokesperson for the Park Service says the report confirms that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.

Santa Fe Sees More Revenue From Parking Tickets - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe officials say the city is seeing a rise in revenue despite issuing fewer parking tickets.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Saturday that the city collected more than $436,000 in parking citations last year.

That figure is far above the $13,000 gathered in 2009. But officials say the number of parking tickets issued in 2013 is half of that in 2009.

The city says the improvement is partly due to hundreds of smart meters that have been installed, making it easier for motorists to pay for parking.

Officials say increased efforts to track down those who haven't paid for tickets have led to more revenue.

Parking citations are $16. Illegally parking in a handicap spot is a $500 penalty. Both double if unpaid within 15 days.