Alibi V.25 No.19 • May 12-18, 2016 

Newscity

Air Quality Bureau Evolves Policy

News City
Robert Maestas

Convinced that the previous Democratic administration used unfair tactics and personal agendas to drive certain environmental policies in the state of New Mexico, Ryan Flynn, the current secretary of environment in this state has proposed changes to the department's Air Quality Bureau. Specifically, Flynn wants to change the way individuals and entities who do not conform to state clean air standards are managed and penalized for their missteps. Ryan wants to have more oversight on the way those penalized enact Supplemental Environmental Projects, short-term actions designed to ameliorate environmental transgressions in the communities where they took place. Although those violators also pay fines for their environmentally unfriendly tactics, Ryan says that projects undertaken during the Richardson administration were often colored by the influence of individuals in the former governor's circle. Although Ryan told the local daily that this new set of procedures is aimed at accountability, Richardson responded by telling the newspaper, “I don’t respond to absurd allegations by a political hack like Ryan Flynn.” Citizens can view and comment on the new policies.

Medical Marijuana Use Surges

Because the State of New Mexico receives an average of 2,700 applications for medical marijuana use every month, there is currently a backlog in the state system that grants access to medicinal cannabis. According to the Department of Health, there were about 14,000 New Mexico citizens enrolled in the program last May; this year the number of individuals served is closer to 24,000. All of this has resulted in a backlog in granting access to the pain-killing, non-narcotic herb. Officials at the Department of Health told local media outlets that the wait for a marijuana card has increased from 30 days to about 50. In an effort to overcome these growing pains, the DoH is adding temporary workers, moving to a larger space and working to upgrade infrastructure to make access to medical weed easier for the thousands that depend on it statewide, program spokesman Kenny Vigil recently told local teevee news reporters. Government officials continue to call for patience as these new aspects and practices are put into place for the good of patients across the state; officials say the burgeoning system and the subsequent workload has been “extremely tremendous.”

CYFD Program Garners Attention

While the Children, Youth and Families Department recently launched a high profile campaign to fight child abuse here in New Mexico, leaders of the state's Catholic Church have blanched at the new campaign. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that while CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson sees the “Pull Together” effort as a substantive way to address abuse concerns in the state, Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester and Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantú have expressed concern and skepticism. The leaders of a large number New Mexico's Roman Catholics believe that the money used for the new educational initiative would be better used to create more opportunities for early childhood education and toward programs that work to dispel the endemic poverty that continues to haunt our state, a situation they say contributes to the problem of abuse. Archbishop Wester is also concerned that while the state legislature had an opportunity to expand existing pre-k educational programs statewide, they did not. Meanwhile Jacobson, the former state tourism secretary, denied claims that the new program was an attempt to re-brand a state agency beset with a “number of high profile child abuse death cases.”