Nearly two years after a radiation leak closed down the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in southern New Mexico, federal negotiators are just now beginning the process of signing and implementing a settlement. That settlement would provide money for state infrastructure based on penalties assessed by the New Mexico Environment Department after a chemical reaction with cat litter caused a safety breach in February 2014. While the state originally called for payment of over $54 million in penalties due to the toxic spill, the federal Department of Energy has continually kept the outcome in limbo, due to debates about “how much money and over how much time,” New Mexico Environment Department General Counsel Jeff Kendall reported to the state legislature last week. With congressional staffers serving as negotiators, the state officials and DOE expect to be in agreement soon, according to Kendall. The settlement calls for the DOE to spend more than $73 million on road improvements and projects designed to benefit the environment in New Mexico. Of that penalty spending, $34 million has been earmarked for projects in the Carlsbad, N.M. area, where WIPP is located.
McClesky has a shadow
This past weekend, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that federal investigations into Governor Susana Martinez' administration do indeed focus on the campaign money trail managed by long-time Republican operative and Martinez advisor Jay McCleskey. Apparently, control of Martinez' campaign cash—and that of other Republican candidates who worked with and were advised by McClesky—took place through the creation and use of so-called “ghost” or front companies designed to avoid detection by opponents and the public. Whether these elusive yet moneyed shell organizations and the political action committees they served violated campaign finance laws is the subject of the investigation, according to insiders who have spoken with representatives of the press at the New Mexican. Although various campaigns and politicians paid more than $7 million to McClesky's company, McClesky Media Strategies, hundreds of thousands more may have gone to phantom organizations under McClesky's direction, according to investigative reporters at the New Mexican.
Officer Dear is Reinstated
News of the reinstatement of an Albuquerque Police Officer who killed 19-year old Mary Hawkes during an auto burglary investigation has reached national and internet outlets. APD Officer Jeremy Dear was reinstated by the city personnel board by a vote of 3-2 after his representatives convinced authorities that city policies regarding the use of police lapel cameras were inconsistent and that further, Dear's camera inadvertently came unplugged from its power source during the fatal chase. Dear claims that the absconder, teenager and alleged petty criminal Mary Hawkes, pointed a gun at him during the fracas, resulting in her untimely death. Dear was originally dismissed for insubordination for not using the camera, according to published reports. While Boing Boing and ARS Technica merely reported the latest in the on-going controversies involving the Albuquerque Police Department, Mathew Feeny's blog at the Cato Institute's website took a more critical tack, with Feeny writing, “Dear’s reinstatement is a reminder that officers who do not have their body cameras on when they are supposed to should face harsh disciplinary consequences … I and the ACLU's Jay Stanley think that in such circumstances there ought to be “Direct disciplinary action against the individual officer.”