Newscity: Griego Sentence Protested, Kellys Brew Pub Sued And State Tops Medicaid List

August March
5 min read
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News is the news is the news. In these parts, the news continues to provide a picture of the general shape and direction of the thing called New Mexico. Here’s what we’re looking at this week, here is what caught our eye at Weekly Alibi.

Griego Sentence Protested

Back in January 2013, then 15-year-old South Valley resident Nehemiah Griego killed five members of his family. Griego shot his mother, brother and two sisters to death with a .22 rifle before lying in wait for his father and killing him with an AR-15 when the old man returned from work. Griego’s father was an ex-con who had converted to evangelical Christianity and worked as a social worker and preacher.

Nearly three years later, the state, Griego’s relatives and city citizens are still dealing with the consequences of the lost son’s heinous crimes. In February, Children’s Court Judge John
Romero decided Griego was to be sentenced as a juvenile. The result was to be a five year sentence to be served in a treatment facility, followed by the murderer’s release. In April, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office filed an appeal, asking that Romero’s decision be overturned and that Nehemiah be sentenced as an adult for the crimes he committed. Under current sentencing guidelines, Griego could face up to 120 years in a penal facility, a marked difference from the five year rehabilitative stay the youth now faces.

On Sunday, members of Griego’s extended family
including several members who flew in from out of state to question the punishment meted out to him by New Mexico’s criminal justice systemheld a protest rally near the University of New Mexico. They contend their wishes were not taken into account at sentencing hearings held by Judge Romero, and that as a convicted mass murderer, Griego should spend the remainder of his life behind bars. Though some of Griego’s remaining relatives support the current terms of his continued incarceration, protesters are scared for their safety. Neighbor Judith Wyman, a protest participant, told the local daily, “A mass murderer, especially one that kills little children, should never be let out.”

Kellys Brew Pub Sued

Days after the local daily reported that Nob Hill dining establishment and beer repository Kellys Brew Pub might be sold to a Santa Fe company, current and former employees filed a lawsuit against the former filling station and current watering hole.

They claim the owners, Dennis and Janice Bonfantine, kept tip money earned by workers and also violated the City of Albuquerque minimum wage ordinance.
According to published reports, the New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty has joined with seven plaintiffs and a private law firm in this legal action.

According to the lawsuit, employees had to pay for their minimum wage rate by dipping into their own tip money when they made more than what the rate provided. In addition, workers allege that they weren’t paid for off the clock work and that credit card tips were withheld from them.

Besides back wages, the lawsuit seeks to reclaim lost tips as well as damages incurred in the misappropriation of funds process. When asked about the allegations by a reporter from the local daily, owner Dennis Bonfantine denied them; the new potential owners of Kellys, Santa Fe Dining, declined to comment.

State Tops Medicaid List

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that New Mexico is at the top of the list for states whose population receive Medicaid. According to the latest research, 36% of the state’s population (more than 750,000 N.M. residents) are enrolled in the federal government program. This huge increase in service means that there will be a budget shortfall that begins with a $85 budget deficit at the state level, a decrease that could lead to $500 million in federal funds never reaching the state or its neediest patients.

While several government officials have suggested various cuts to make up the loss in funding, hospital executives are discussing another strategy to keep the program functioning and moving towards health. They say provider fees
assessed to doctors, clinics and diagnostic servicespaid for by health and wellness institutions themselves can infuse the system with money, cover the state funding shortfalls and help keep federal funds coming into the state for use by Medicaid patients.

Officials at Santa Fe hospital Christus St. Vincent say the surge in Medicaid enrollments is a direct result of of the Affordable Care Act, but that the funding plan advanced by hospital executives like St.Vincent’s Patrick Carrier would be a boon for the state. Carrier told the
New Mexican, “I think we’re in an extraordinary circumstance now … you have a group who’s willing to step up and contribute dollars to get the state out of a bind.”
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