Wednesday News Roundup: NM Hospital Implements Water Protection Plan

Sep 4, 2013

NM Hospital Implements Water Protection Plan - Associated Press

The Veterans Administration Medical Center in Albuquerque has implemented a water protection plan in response to a jet fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base.

State environment officials say the hospital's well is less than 1,000 feet from a plume of contaminated groundwater.

The plan announced Tuesday includes contingencies for supplying the hospital with safe water.

The hospital's chief of engineering says the facility is now connected to the system operated by the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. If the well becomes contaminated, the hospital can switch to the utility's system.

Other options include drilling a new well or connecting to Kirtland's water system.

The spill was first discovered in 1999. State officials said in August they were stepping up efforts to treat groundwater contaminated by the jet fuel.


NM Governor Accused Of Open Records Violations - Associated Press

The Santa Fe Reporter has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Susana Martinez, alleging violations of the state's open records laws as well as retaliation by her office against the alternative weekly.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in state district court. It alleges seven instances where the governor's office failed to produce calendars, emails, documents about pardons and other material sought by the Reporter under the state's Inspection of Public Records Act.

Martinez's administration is alsoaccused of violating the state's constitutional guarantee of a free press with "unlawful selective withholding of public information and retaliatory and discriminatory conduct."

The lawsuit asks that Martinez, who ran on a campaign of transparency, be ordered to implement a system for adequately responding to public records requests.

The lawsuit also seeks attorneys' fees and fines.

Martinez's office called the suit "baseless" and said the publication's records requests "are treated the same as every other citizen in New Mexico.""

NM Court To Hear Case Over Educator Pension Cuts - Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court is considering whether the state can cut cost-of-living increases for retired educators to help shore up the pension system's long-term finances.

The state Supreme Court is scheduled Wednesday to hear from lawyers in a case brought by four retirees, who contend the state Constitution protects their pensions from reductions such as those required under a law enacted earlier this year.

The retirees say they have a property right in their retirement benefits, but the attorney general's office contends that pensions can be changed to preserve the solvency of a retirement plan.

The educational retirement system covers nearly 100,000 educators and retirees.

Retirees saw their pensions go up by just under 2 percent this year after the cuts were implemented in July.

Search Continues In For Missing NM Firefighter - Associated Press

A search resumed Wednesday in northern New Mexico's Santa Fe National Forest for a firefighter missing since Friday.

Engine crew Capt. Token Adams vanished while checking on a report of smoke east of Jemez Springs, where he lives with his wife and young son.

Adams, who was on an ATV, failed to return to a pre-arranged meeting point with two other firefighters.

No details are immediately available on the scope of Wednesday's search. On Tuesday, hundreds fanned out looking for Adams.

Spokesman John Helmich says a regional incident management team assumed command of the search Wednesday morning.

The search is being conducted in an area with mesas, canyons and steep cliffs as well as heavy timber.