State Senator Mary Jane Garcia reacts to charges

State Senator Mary Jane Garcia
State Senator Mary Jane Garcia reacted to an inquiry by the New Mexico Secretary of State about double-dipping the reimbursement process in the State Senate and writing checks to herself for cash from her campaign account. She wrote:
"The campaign funds were not transferred to my 'personal account and used for personal gain, or expenses' as alleged by Mr. Stegall," Garcia wrote. "My normal practice is to pay cash for my travel expenses while attending interim committee hearings...I do not believe my actions violate New Mexico's campaign finance laws. However, in an effort to remove even a hint of impropriety, I will reimburse my campaign fund if your office deems it appropriate."
The story is at - By Samantha Manning - A complaint was filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office Sept. 10 against state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana, accusing Garcia of paying herself money from campaign funds.
The complaint was filed by Bryan Stegall, the treasurer for Lee Cotter, the Republican candidate running against Garcia in the state Senate race in November.
"Madam Garcia has consistently withdrawn campaign funds as 'cash' from her account, paid directly to herself," Stegall wrote. "These multiple 'cash' payments are in excess of $5,000.00," the letter continued. "There is no information as to what, or where this 'cash' expenses was paid to, or for what purpose."
KFOX14 called Garcia several times, but she has not returned phone calls Read more

Obama, Romney clash over economy, health care

From - (CNN) — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney described differing tax and economic plans at their first presidential debate on Wednesday night, arguing the other's proposals won't work in a continuation of major themes from their campaigns.  In exchanges full of policy proposals, facts and figures, Romney was more aggressive in the 90-minute encounter in criticizing Obama's record and depicting the president's vision as one of big government while Obama firmly defended his record and challenged his rival's prescriptions as unworkable. "America does best when the middle class does best," Obama said in response to a question on job creation, adding that Romney's plan of tax cuts for the rich had failed before and would fail again now.Romney, however, said Obama still pushed the same policies as when he took office four years earlier, and those steps had failed to bring down high unemployment and get the economy surging again. Read more

Just retired Judge Vigil wins $1 million lottery

Michael Vigil - Photo by Kerry Sherck
From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Nico Roesler - Michael Vigil, who retired Friday as a state district judge in Santa Fe, will have some extra money for his retirement. A day after he stepped down from the bench, he bought five Powerball tickets. On Sunday morning, Vigil compared his tickets with winning numbers posted at the lottery’s website and realized he won a $1 million lottery prize. “I couldn’t believe it,” Vigil, 59, said. “I checked it five times.” The win beat odds of 1 in 5.2 million by matching the five white ball numbers in Saturday’s Powerball drawing. A lottery representative said 31 percent of the prize will be withheld for federal and state taxes, which drops the expected payout to $690,000. The last number on his ticket was only one digit above the winning red Powerball number, which would have allowed him to claim the jackpot in the multi-state drawing, which now stands at an estimated $50 million Read more

Santa Fe University of Art & Design lowers tuition

NewsNM:Swickard - good news that an educational group is looking at the market and reacting to it. From the New Mexico Business Weekly - The Santa Fe University of Art and Design is lowering its tuition. The private school, formerly the College of Santa Fe, said it is lowering tuition in four of its nine programs by $11,000 a year beginning in the spring of 2013, the school said in a news release. The tuition will drop from $28,836 to $17,800 per year in four course areas: graphic design, creative writing, digital arts and arts management. The reduction will be in effect for the 2013-14 school year. Tuition in the school’s five other course areas will not be reduced, but will remain at $28,836 a year, said school spokeswoman Lauren Eichmann. Additionally the school will  eliminate course material fees for all programs beginning spring 2013. Read more


PERA solvency problem continues

The solvency challenge faced by the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association could be on the verge of becoming even more daunting. 
PERA Executive Director Wayne Propst told members of an interim legislative committee Tuesday the pension fund posted a negative return – nearly 0.4 percent – on its $12.1 billion in investments during the fiscal year that ended in June. 
The Public Employees Retirement Association has an annual pension return assumption of 7.75 percent. 
The investment loss will likely mean an increase in PERA’s unfunded liability, which is already pegged at $4.9 billion, when its annual accounting is released later this month.


Man jailed for threatening Gov. plans billboard

Photo- not actual billboard
James Sanchez is in jail accused of threatening Governor Susana Martinez. But that hasn’t stopped him from taunting her. 
Sanchez sent a jailhouse letter to KOB Eyewitness News 4, saying he plans to put up a billboard between Santa Fe and Albuquerque that pokes fun at the governor. 
His drawing tells people to vote the governor in as dog catcher in Juarez, Mexico. Sanchez previously mentioned he wants to politically destroy the governor. 
Sanchez has been upset with the governor, and others, over what he says has been a lack of help to deal with cows roaming freely on roads around Valencia County
Officials with Governor Martinez said Sanchez left threatening phone messages at her office. Governor Martinez told KOB that Sanchez threatened to kill her.
Sanchez goes on trial in about a week for phone intimidation charges. His attorney plans to ask prosecutors to give Sanchez probation instead of jail time, in exchange for Sanchez moving to Hawaii. Attorney Thomas Esquibel said Sanchez lived in Hawaii for years and did well with V.A. counseling there.


New proposal for San Juan Generation Station

Part of an aging coal-fired power plant that provides electricity to more than 2 million customers in the Southwest would be shuttered under a plan unveiled by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration. 
The New Mexico Environment Department unveiled details of the proposed settlement Tuesday. 
It calls for retiring two units at the San Juan Generating Station. The remaining units would be outfitted with equipment designed to curb haze-causing pollution. 
State officials say the proposal is a compromise meant to address pollution concerns while ensuring the costs of environmental upgrades at the plant are not unbearable for ratepayers.


Rail Runner accident fatal

A woman was hit and killed by a Rail Runner Express train in Waldo Canyon Tuesday night. 
Officials say the woman, later identified as 37-year-old Veronica Aguilar, was killed by the southbound 517 Rail Runner between the 599 and Kewa rail station around 6:15 p.m. 
They say the woman was walking along the tracks and then tried to cross as the Rail Runner hit her at 79 mph. They are not sure if she intentionally crossed as the train passed.
 Police have yet to confirm if alcohol was a factor or if it was a suicide. 


Former pueblo governor indicted on embezzlement

Bruce Sanchez
The former governor of the Santa Ana Pueblo has been released from jail but still faces serious federal charges. 

Authorities arrested Bruce Sanchez after he was indicted on federal embezzlement and tax evasion charges. Federal investigators also arrested real estate developer Thomas Keesing. 
Authorities say Sanchez and Keesing ripped off a group meant to develop valuable land where the Albuquerque Indian School used to be. 
Authorities said they embezzled more than $3.5 million.