A rainbow flag representing pride in the LGBTQ community was recently removed from display in New Mexico’s capital city.
According to Las Cruces Sun News, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham hung the flag in front of her office, facing the Rotunda, this past summer. However, the state's Legislative Council Service forced the governor to remove the flag because it was against the rules.
Legislative Council Service Director Raúl Burciaga said the flag had to come down, because it had never been approved by his office. He said the walls of the capitol building are reserved for art from the Capitol Art Foundation, and allowing the flag to remain would create a precedent. “If you start saying anyone can come in and display at any time, you have a difficult time,” Burciaga told reporters. “How do you say 'yes' to one and 'no' to another?” He also said hanging the flag could give the impression that the Legislature supports a particular political cause.
Lujan Grisham wrote a letter to Burciaga, arguing that the Pride flag is not political and that “demonstrations in support of [LGBTQ] rights is a basic act of decency and humanity—not a political statement.”
The flag is now hanging inside the governor's office.
Former governor Susana Martinez was reportedly denied a similar request to hang photos of foster children on the walls of the Roundhouse in 2012.
NM Delegation: Resolve Firewood Ban
New Mexico’s congressional delegation is asking the US Forest Service to speed up a resolution concerning a threatened owl species and to allow firewood gathering and other activities to resume at six national forests.
Last week, the delegation wrote a letter to the agency, noting that several forest activities have been placed on hold following the District Court of Arizona's ruling that the Forest Service failed to take the necessary steps to track and recover the Mexican spotted owl as is required by the Endangered Species Act. Activities like timber sales, thinning projects, prescribed burns and the sale of firewood permits have been placed on hold in five forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona.
The letter encouraged the Forest Service to respond quickly and resolve issues surrounding the lawsuit so regular forest activities can resume.
ART Loans Went to Unqualified Businesses
Some of the businesses given loans during construction of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit system weren't actually eligible to receive them.
According to KOAT, a recently completed audit of three businesses that received loans from the city to offset losses incurred as a result of ART construction found that all three didn't qualify for the help.
More than $228,000 worth of loans from the city were split between 26 local businesses. The loans were meant to go to small businesses that made less than $2 million a year and were located in the construction zone for at least two years prior to construction. The city's strategic review found that of the three businesses audited, one was outside the construction area, one made more than $2 million a year and one was evicted but still received the loan.
Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton told reporters that the loans were “a good idea that was poorly administered by the previous administration.” Only $3,342 of the debt was paid back by businesses. The remaining $225,643 was reportedly covered by the McCune Charitable Foundation.