Mescalero Apache leaders suspended

Fredrick Chino, Sr.
From the Alamogordo Daily News - by Dianne Stallings - MESCALERO -- Mescalero Apache Tribal President Frederick Chino Sr. and Vice President Sandra Platero were placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday by the tribal council. No wrongdoing is alleged.
     The action was taken to facilitate an operational and programmatic review of the tribe's activities over the next month, according to information from Acting President Alfred La Paz, who is a member of the tribal council and was serving as council secretary.
     "While the vote to place the president and vice president on leave was not unanimous, the tribal council will be working unanimously over the next month to ensure the smooth operation of tribal government," La Paz stated. "It is my understanding that a number of council members had concerns about the level of communication that existed between the president and the council."
     Frederick Chino Sr. took the oath of office as president in January 2012. He recently spoke of plans to provide future employment for tribal members. Those plans included allowing exploratory drilling in the Pajarito Mountain area for possible future mining of rare earth elements, as well as acquisition of U.S. Forest Service land to bring all of Ski Apache Resort into the reservation.
     Removal of tribal administration figures is not without precedent. After the death of longtime President Wendell Chino in 1998, his successor Paul Ortega and Vice President Oliver Enjady were removed months later. In that case, Sara Misquez, who had served as administrative assistant to the elder Chino, was installed as president.
     La Paz retired as a captain from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Law Enforcement division after a 30-year career. He has served on the tribal council since 2001. Read more

State unveils new reading initiative

New Mexico children could win a trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom or ride in a hot air balloon with Gov. Susana Martinez under a program that state officials hope will encourage students to read when they aren't in school. 

The governor is to announce several reading contests on Wednesday in Albuquerque

The state is partnering with private and public organizations, including the city of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico and the Albuquerque Isotopes. 

The governor's office says the goal is to prevent a drop in the reading proficiency of students during the summer months. 

Among the top prizes for winning students is an expense-paid family trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, throwing a pitch at an Isotopes baseball game and serving as a junior zookeeper at Albuquerque's zoo.


Gov. named to health care task force

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has been named to a National Governors Association task force on health care. 

The organization announced Tuesday the panel will consider how states can improve the delivery of quality health care while controlling the costs of Medicaid, a program jointly financed by states and the federal government to provide medical services for the needy. 

Other members of the task force on health care sustainability are governors from Oregon, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, California, New York, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Maryland and Nevada

The Martinez administration has asked the federal government to approve an overhaul of New Mexico's Medicaid program, which provides health care for a fourth of the state's population. 

One goal is to better coordinate medical care in hopes of making New Mexicans healthier.


Oil production up in NM

Oil production in New Mexico has increased by nearly 50 percent over the last three years, making it one of five western states that have helped boost national production over the last three years. 
Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show onshore oil production increased nationally by more than 2 million barrels a day — or nearly two-thirds — between February 2010 and February 2013.
North Dakota and Texas have been the driving forces, but New Mexico along with Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah account for 15 percent of the growth.