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Dec. 30 First News: Santa Fe Municipal Election Candidate Forums Announced (Listen)

  The 2014 campaign season for the March fourth Santa Fe Municipal elections heats up after the New Year with candidate forums sponsored by the non-profit Santa Fe Neighborhood Network. Sherry Johansen is the neighborhood network’s president: *****Dec. 30 Johansen-2  :13***** Johansen says all three forums will take place at Christus-St. Vincent Hospital’s conference room from 7:30 ‘til 9:30pm. The format consists of candidate remarks followed by a question and answer session.


Police are trying to determine if alcohol is a factor in the crash that killed two people in Rio Rancho early Sunday. Police say a driver and a passenger of a Toyota died after being struck by an Infiniti at the intersection of Unser and Southern boulevards shortly before 2 a.m. The people in the Infiniti suffered only minor injuries. No names have yet been released.


New Mexico's land commissioner wants to buy some federal land on behalf of the state in hopes the property could generate revenue for state trust lands that help fund public schools and other institutions. The New Mexican reports the federal Bureau of Land Management is looking to sell thousands of acres it no longer wants. Land Commissioner Ray Powell hopes to acquire some of the land, especially parcels near Las Cruces and in oil- and gas-rich southeastern New Mexico. The State Land Office manages millions of acres of land and mineral resources with proceeds that benefit public schools, hospitals and universities in the state.


There have been long-term unfilled job vacancies at the State of New Mexico and that’s reflected in a report that the number of overtime hours worked and O-T wages paid-out to state employees rose last fiscal year. The Journal North cites figures showing overtime costs last year totaled about 37-million dollars. That’s leading Legislative Finance Committee Chair, State Representative Lucky Varela of Santa Fe, to wonder why some state agencies have not been using the full amount of money appropriated to them by the Legislature for filling vacant jobs. State officials blame increased overtime costs and a spike in retirements.


A recall drive targeting Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz is underway. The County Commission recently cast a vote of “no-confidence” in Ortiz, and the treasurer’s office he oversees is currently the subject of an audit. The recall petition filed in state court accuses Ortiz of mismanaging county investments and other malfeasance warranting his removal from office. The Albuquerque Journal reports Ortiz received his recall petition on Friday. 45-thousand signatures would be needed to trigger an election. Ortiz has repeatedly defended his work and says he sees no grounds for recall. A judge will consider whether the recall effort can proceed next Thursday.


The New Mexican reports that come February first, the Santa Fe--based Journal North will stop printing its Tuesday-through-Friday localized version of the Albuquerque Journal and offer instead a weekly publication. No one at the Journal was talking specifics Sunday. The paper has been publishing some form of the "North” edition since the early 1980s.


Santa Fe Weather: Today: Sunny, with a high near 41. Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 19. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny, with a high near 44.