Headlines: Hospital Says Talks Are Over, PNM To Request Rate Increase...

Sep 2, 2014

Credit Justin Horwath/SFReporter.com

Santa Fe Hospital Says Face-To-Face Talks Are OverThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A Santa Fe hospital says face-to-face contract talks with a union representing nurses and medical technicians are over because there's an impasse on a key issue.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that administrators at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center told the union in an email Friday that there's an impasse on staffing.

The hospital said it will continue to communicate with the union through email, phone and fax but that it's considering legal options to unilaterally implement parts of the hospital's latest contract proposal.

President Fonda Osborn of New Mexico District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees says the hospital's move is frustrating and disappointing.

The contract between the union and the hospital expired July 31.

New Mexico Utility Plans To Request Rate Increase - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Public Service Co. of New Mexico plans to ask state regulators for a rate increase for the utility's electricity customers.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that PNM wants to recover costs for investment in power plants and other infrastructure, and to make up for a decrease in power consumption.

The drop in consumption is attributed to such factors as the state's weak economy, energy conservation and renewable sources such as rooftop solar.

Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Gerard Ortiz says PNM expects to file a rate case with the Public Regulation Commission by December, but he says PNM hasn't yet decided how big of an increase it will request.

PNM last got a rate increase in 2011 when the commission approved a 9 percent increase in customers' bills.

Man Convicted For Role In Phoenix Meth Ring - The Associated Press and Alamogordo Daily News

A New Mexico man has been convicted of racketeering and conspiracy for his role in an interstate methamphetamine trafficking ring.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that a Chaves County jury found Matias Loza guilty last week for working with AZ Boys' — a criminal syndicate authorities say brought large amounts of methamphetamine from Phoenix to Otero County.

The 33-year-old Loza was then sentenced to nine years in prison for second-degree felony racketeering and three years for third-degree conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Loza's trial was moved to Roswell because of pretrial publicity.

Loza also is charged with one count of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony conspiracy to commit murder in the 2011 death of 31-year-old Richard Valdez. He has pleaded not guilty.

Bernalillo County Seeks Funds For Animal Shelter - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County will be seeking voter approval in November for $4.5 million in bonds for a new animal shelter and adoption center.

The county already has $1.5 million and needs the bonds for the rest of the project, which would include a 25,000-square-foot shelter with space for a veterinary clinic.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the animal services department currently operates out of a converted fire station in the South Valley. In the truck bay, temporary kennels hold small dogs.

The county impounds nearly 2,000 dogs a year. The converted fire station acts as a temporary shelter until the animals are transferred to facilities operated by the cities of Albuquerque and Aztec or privately run rescue organizations.

County officials say construction on a new shelter could begin early next year.

Santa Fe Schools To Launch Tech Program - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Students at one Santa Fe elementary school soon will be sharing about 250 iPads.

The move marks one of the first steps in the district's $55 million plan to provide every one of its 14,000 students with a digital device.

The New Mexican reports the Santa Fe school system is contracting with Apple and Pearson, an educational services company that provides a curriculum on the devices. It's also working with IT Connect Inc., a local company that will provide the hardware, software and other support.

The district says it plans to implement the technological infrastructure at a gradual pace of six or seven schools per year.

The school board voted 3-2 earlier this year to impose an additional property tax to raise the money needed for the program.

San Juan County Workforce Shrinks - The Associated Press and The Daily Times

A measure passed by state lawmakers that calls for New Mexico counties to funnel more gross receipts taxes to a fund that helps hospitals pay for uninsured care is forcing San Juan County to consider cutting services and raising taxes.

The county has already frozen or abolished nearly 8 percent of its workforce in recent years, and County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter says the county is considering more reductions as a result of the legislation.

Carpenter tells The Daily Times San Juan County is close to having 10 percent fewer workers than in 2009.

The county's payment to the statewide safety net fund is about $3 million. In addition to other obligations, the county's health care assistance program would experience about a $6 million deficit in fiscal year 2016.

Author, Journalist Charles Bowden Dies At 69 - The Associated Press and Las Cruces Sun-News

Southwest author and journalist Charles Bowden has died at the age of 69.

Bowden's partner, Molly Molloy, says she found Bowden dead in their Las Cruces home Saturday evening. She told the Las Cruces Sun News he had recently fallen ill but did not want to speculate on what caused his death.

Bowden worked for years as an investigative journalist in Arizona and wrote many books and articles. He's credited with helping to bring national attention to the violence and corruption that has permeated the Mexican border city of Juarez.

Writer Barry Graham told The Arizona Republic Bowden was most proud of his ability to be a witness and to give a voice to those people who did not have one.

Bowden's books include "Murder City" and "Down by the River."

Fargo Is Site For National Ag Research Center - The Associated Press

The National Corn Growers Association has selected Fargo as the site for a national research center.

The St. Louis-based association considered North Dakota's largest city and Decatur, Illinois, for the National Agricultural Genotyping Center. Fargo was picked after visits by a selection committee.

The center will start operations in October at the federal Biosciences Research Laboratory on the North Dakota State University campus.

The center is a collaboration of the corn group and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Its main goal will be to develop on-site tests for diseases in corn and other crops and for food-borne illnesses, enhancing both food production and food safety.