April 29 First News: Outgoing Archbishop Sheehan Reflects On Tenure (Listen)
Retiring Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan says he's leaving the archdiocese a better place more than two decades after taking over in the wake of sexual abuse scandals. Sheehan says there's more accountability in addressing allegations of abuse and that the archdiocese now has a "zero tolerance" policy. Sheehan, who is 75, is retiring in June as head of New Mexico's largest diocese due to age requirements. Pope Francis has appointed Salt Lake City bishop and immigration-reform advocate John Wester as Sheehan's replacement. Albuquerque Attorney Brad Hall, who represents around 20 or so alleged victims of priest abuse, says he's not sure there was a zero tolerance policy under Sheehan. But Hall says Sheehan did work the stop the widespread sexual abuse occurring before he took over.
Santa Fe residents won’t be paying any extra fees or taxes under a budget proposal being considered by the Santa Fe City Council. The New Mexican reports, however, that the City will dip into some 11-million dollars in reserve funds to balance the books during the fiscal year that starts July first.
New Mexico's Democratic leaders are in talks with both officials from Governor Martinez's office and Republican leaders to come to an agreement on passing a 264 million dollar capital outlay bill that did not make it through the legislative session. On Monday, nearly 100 mayors from across the state put their signature on a letter urging the governor to call a special session, but there has not been any confirmation at this point.
Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque will have to pay about two-million dollars annually under a Bernalillo County tax hike taking effect this summer. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Sandia Labs has not made any budget decisions yet. Spokeswoman Nancy Salem said the federally-funded lab will have to cut costs to come up with the tax payment. Most goods and services will be subject to the 19-cent tax per 100-dollars purchase that starts July first. The increase is estimated to generate 30 million dollars to balance the county budget and pay for behavioral health services.
A transparency group and an association of New Mexico newspapers want the state Supreme Court to revisit whether a State Investment Council subcommittee can meet behind closed doors to settle lawsuits. The Albuquerque Journal reports the state subcommittee has settled cases for a total of 30 million dollars in connection with millions of dollars in "finder's fees" paid out to people close to then-Governor Bill Richardson. The practice resulted in huge losses to the investment council and a teachers' pension fund, which the settlement talks seek to recover. The funds are being held in escrow while the case plays out. An investment council spokesman said public discourse could eliminate any return for state taxpayers. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and the New Mexico Press Association want those settlements voided.
An Albuquerque-area state park has grown by 12 acres. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District's board has designated a parcel known locally as "Dog Biscuit Hill" as part of Rio Grande Valley State Park. The parcel is a popular access point to the Bosque and it's been designated the Patrick J. Baca Open Space Unit. The new unit of the state park will be retained and owned by the conservancy district. It will be maintained and managed for conservation, education, and recreation by the city of Albuquerque under policies of the Rio Grande Valley State Park Management Plan and Joint Powers Agreement.
Santa Fe Weather: Sunny today and tomorrow—today’s high, 69 rising to 75 tomorrow. Tonight: Mostly clear with the overnight low down to 40.