Alibi V.28 No.37 • Sept 12-18, 2019 

Newscity

Corrections Dept. Tried to Conceal Evidence

The News Monkey

Details of a 2014 report that the New Mexico Department of Corrections attempted to conceal have become public. Now the agency is facing sanctions.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, state district judge Raymond Ortiz heavily sanctioned the department for concealing and destroying evidence related to a lawsuit filed in 2017 by the department’s former Behavioral Health Bureau chief, Bianca McDermott. According to McDermott's complaint, the Department of Corrections failed to keep track of inmates' medical care contract and retaliated when McDermott raised concerns over the issue.

An 309-page independent report published in June 2014 by the McHard Accounting Consulting firm reportedly substantiated McDermott's complaints, finding that the department failed to audit inmates' medical care and retaliated against McDermott.

But according to Ortiz, the agency made an effort to conceal that report from the court and the public. When first asked to produce the report for the court, the agency claimed that the it was protected by attorney-client privilege or exceptions to the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. When that failed, Corrections Department lawyers filed a petition in May with the state Supreme Court to stop the report’s release, but their request was denied. The judge also accused the agency of destroying evidence and closing email accounts while the case progressed.

The judge said the the department's response was the worst example of “willful, intentional and bad faith attempts to conceal evidence” he'd experienced in his career. He sanctioned the agency and said the only thing left is to decide how much it will pay McDermott in damages.

Alt Energy Cars Coming to ABQ

Last week, Mayor Tim Keller announced that Albuquerque will be replacing current eligible city vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles.

According to a press release, Keller signed an Executive Instruction to shift all eligible city fleet vehicles to electric, hybrid and alternative low-emission fuels. The move is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge. The city plans to transition 50 light-duty vehicles to electric or hybrid-power by the end of 2020. The mayor said additional gas-fueled vehicles will be replaced with alternative fuel vehicles as they are removed from service.

Keller said the new vehicles will lower carbon emissions across the city and save taxpayer funds used for fuel.

APS to Reduce Energy Footprint

Albuquerque Public Schools are ready to initiate a new energy-saving plan.

According to KRQE, an APS committee is looking for proposals and designs for a battery energy storage system at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School that officials say will help reduce high monthly energy charges by storing energy for later use.

Officials say the school uses the most energy in the district, reportedly spending up to $50,000 per month in energy bills.