Saturday, May 2, 2009

Confirmed: NM Teen Recovers from Swine Flu

Department of Health Reports First Confirmed H1N1 Influenza Case.
Case is 18-year-old Valencia County Male Who Has Recovered

(Santa Fe) – The New Mexico Department of Health Department announced today that New Mexico has its first confirmed H1N1 influenza case. The Department of Health received confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this afternoon on New Mexico's first probable case in an 18-year-old male from Valencia County. CDC also reported that the 1-year-old male from Santa Fe County did not have H1N1 flu.

The Department is investigating seven new probable cases for a total of 14 probable cases and one confirmed case in New Mexico. The new cases are in Eddy, Hidalgo and Luna counties. The Department does not have any information yet on the condition of the new probable cases. The previously reported cases are all recovering or recovered. All cases range in age from 5 to 39 and are located in six counties.

Total probable cases in New Mexico:
* New probable cases

27-year-old male

Eddy County
17-year-old female
22-year-old female
*24-year-old female
*7-year-old male
*39-year-old (gender unknown)
Recovering Recovering

Hidalgo County
17-year-old male
*15-year-old female
*9-year-old male
*5-year-old female

Luna County
*11-year-old female

Socorro County
14-year-old female
15-year-old male

Valencia County
15-year-old female

The Department is investigating all cases to determine how patients may have gotten sick and find others who may have been exposed to H1N1. The Department does not have information yet about how the probable cases may have gotten sick. The investigation into all cases is ongoing. The Scientific Lab has tested 113 patient samples so far. The Department expects to receive information from the CDC on the probable cases in Socorro County next week.

"Our Scientific Laboratory is working through the weekend to test samples and be ready to confirm H1N1 influenza cases next week without sending samples to CDC," said Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil, MD. "Our Epidemiology and Response Division is also working every day to learn information about the probable cases to try to prevent anyone else from getting sick."

The Department has 140,000 treatment courses of anti-virals in New Mexico so far. The Department expects 210,000 additional anti-virals from the CDC. The Department will give anti-virals first to sick patients who need treatment. Many people who get sick will not need anti-virals.

H1N1 flu symptoms include fever (above 100) and sore throat or cough. If sick, people should stay home and call their health care provider. "The best precautions you can take are washing your hands frequently, staying home if you are sick and covering your cough with a tissue or your arm," Dr. Vigil said.

For current information please consult, the CDC website at: and or the NM Department of Health website at:

For general questions about H1N1 flu, call the state's H1N1 Influenza Hotline at 1-866-850-5893. People who have symptoms may call the Nurse Advice New Mexico at 1-877-725-2552. The Department also set up a specific hotline for callers who speak Spanish: 1-800-784-0394.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Host Leonard Maltin: We're Lean and Mean!

Last week we got into the Reelz Channel Grand Opening on the ABQ Studio lot at Mesa Del Sol.

Lots of VIPs attended the event including film critic and "Secret's Out" host Leonard Maltin. He was joined by Hubbard Media CEO and Studio Chief Stanley E. Hubbard, Lt. Governor Diane Denish, Mayor Martin Chavez, Lisa Stout from the NM Film Office and Ann Lerner from the the City of Albuquerque's film office, plus all the local employees hired to work on the lot.

Listen to our audio interview with Leonard Maltin, recorded the morning after he taped the first episode of his show "Secret's Out" on the new set in ABQ. Maltin says the studios are operating "lean and mean", but everything is going well.

By the way, if you haven't tuned in the ReelzChannel yet it's now available in Albuquerque on Comcast (Channel 161). Hubbard told us Reelz' You-Tube channel got more than 95 million unique hits last year.

Maltin told the crowd he was initially "skeptical" about Albuquerque becoming a film hub and home for Reelz. He says Reelz is building it's audience with enthusiastic people who live and work in Albuquerque.

Lt. Governor Diane Denish welcomed ReelzChannel as the state's first television network and recognized the importance of the network's move to Albuquerque as another milestone in the state's pursuit to make New Mexico a destination for the movie and television industry and a real economic development opportunity.
ReelzChannel held a successful job fair in January and has filled most of their positions with local talent just three months after our administration announced that we had lured the network to New Mexico. I am excited by the variety and quality of jobs ReelzChannel has created and expect numerous local businesses will benefit from the network's presence
Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez added:
We are thrilled to welcome ReelzChannel to New Mexico and to celebrate this historic event. We set out to make our city a world-class entertainment hub, and of all the networks to bring to New Mexico, it is particularly fitting that the first one is a TV network about movies.
Hubbard explained the reasoning behind the bold move from Los Angeles and the Twin Cities to Albuquerque, adding:
Hubbard Broadcasting was already familiar with the business-friendly climate of New Mexico as we have been operating KOB-TV for over 50 years. But when we saw what was going on here in the entertainment industry, we knew that it would be a great fit for ReelzChannel, as well. With the level of support and the warm welcome we have received here, we are now even more convinced that this is the right move for us.
Leonard Matlin talked about the network's appeal to movie fans and his passion for the "hidden gems" he highlights each week, including some of his favorite movies shot in New Mexico. ReelzChannel's other on-air talent hosted tours of the network's state-of-the-art, all-digital studios and facilities for media and film industry guests.

The Reelz Channel headquarters marks the first time that the programming, production, web development, affiliate relations, creative services, marketing and communications divisions will operate from a single location, facilitating ultimate production and operations flexibility. The streamlined operations also allow the network to operate all aspects of production and delivery in-house, including live broadcasts and post production.

While Maltin was in New Mexico he visited the Governor in Santa Fe.

On the lot we spoke with up and coming production employees Dan and Brian Gutierrez who got jobs after attending the ReelzChannel job fair in January.

They tell us they're having the time of their life.

"It's awesome," said Dan, who produces the Director's Cut Radio Show and Podcast (a movie discussion show, of course).

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Governor Richardson Recommends Termination of SIC Private Equity Advisor.

Governor Bill Richardson is recommending Termination of SIC Private Equity Advisor Aldus Equity.

Governor Orders Suspension of Alternative Investments Pending Comprehensive Investment Policy Review to Address Third Party Disclosure and Transparency Concerns
New Practices Will Require Full Disclosure of Payments Made to Marketers, Placement Agents, and All Others Who Receive Payment from Money Managers Who Invest State Funds

Governor's News Release:
(Santa Fe) – Governor Bill Richardson is ordering the State Investment Office to finalize sweeping new investment policies and bring them to the full State Investment Council for its next meeting on May 26.  If approved, the State will require its investment managers to disclose any and all placement fees, marketing arrangements and other payments these managers make, relative to their investments for the New Mexico Permanent Funds. Until a new policy is in place, Governor Richardson has ordered a suspension of alternative investments by the SIC.
"In the past few weeks, several serious questions have been raised regarding the arrangements between the state's external investment managers and the marketers those investment funds pay to represent them," said Governor Richardson.  "While this practice has been fairly common in the investment industry, the added potential for conflict of interests concerns me.  For this reason, today I am ordering broad policy and procedural changes be implemented by the State Investment Office, pending review and approval by the full Council next month."
These measures would supplement the legislation signed by Governor Richardson April 7, which requires disclosure of third party marketing agents who are hired by outside money managers to market their funds to institutional investors like the SIC.  The State Investment Office supported that legislation (HB 876) and recommended its passage.  The Investment Office neither hires placement agents nor pays their fees.
Governor Richardson has also instructed State Investment Officer Gary Bland to initiate termination of the SIC's private equity advisor, Aldus Equity Partners, due to concerns raised by an ongoing investigation in New York, in addition to significant due diligence and follow up by Investment Office staff in recent weeks.
"At this time, we believe it is the most practical step for the Investment Office to take, given the realities of the current environment," said State Investment Officer Gary Bland.  "Private equity is a critical asset class, and under existing circumstances, we feel it appropriate to forge ahead." 
In the interim, the State Investment Office will employ existing financial consultants to guide its private equity allocation, while simultaneously looking for a permanent private equity advisor.
The State Investment Office today manages $11.8 billion in state endowment funds.  Under historically challenging market environments, these Permanent Funds have seen positive investment returns of more than $2.7 billion under Governor Richardson, while also distributing more than $3 billion to state beneficiaries.  Performance data through the first quarter of 2009 ranks investment returns for the SIC's Land Grant Permanent Fund in the top 30% of public funds around the country for one and three-year periods, and in the top 5% of public funds nationwide for the quarter ending March 31st.

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Foreign Nationals Get NM Ids with Forged Documents.

Yesterday, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau and the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department’s Tax Fraud Investigations Division, in an ongoing joint investigation, arrested a fourth person, in less than a week, for providing and making fraudulent documents that investigators believe were helping foreign nationals to obtain NM Driver's licenses.

Agents arrested 36-year-old Martha M. Zamora of Albuquerque in connection with her involvement in the fraudulent scheme on Tuesday.

Zamora was arrested and charged on six (6) Felony Forgery counts. She's is the fourth individual arrested in the last week as a result of a joint investigation by the State Police and New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department’s Tax Fraud Investigations Division.

Rosa Pardo, Luis Delgado-Valdez and Jorge Alvarez were arrested on April 21. Pardo had been under investigation for several weeks by Tax Fraud Investigations Division agents prior to her arrest.

The scheme consists of individuals providing fraudulent proof of residency documents in the form of rental agreements and affidavits of residency to foreign nationals, which they in turn use to obtain New Mexico Driver’s Licenses.

Taxation and Revenue Department Cabinet Secretary Rick Homans stated,

This is an ongoing investigation that may result in more arrests. Our Department and the New Mexico State Police are aggressively pursuing additional leads and looking, high and low, throughout New Mexico for these types of schemes. The department’s goal is to bring an end to this type of criminal activity; we are dedicating as much staff as necessary to fully investigate these types of cases.
So, I wonder if anyone is getting voter registrations from these folks?

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10 Excellent Reasons for National Healthcare

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent me a compelling letter this morning. He's going to be holding Democrats feet to the fire on their pledge for health care reform.

In our opinion that's a good thing. The time to act on this issue has passed.

Recently, I not only had a medical insurance claim denied, but the provider dropped me completely. As a part-time employee my provider does not offer benefits and I obtained a "worthless" private policy.

Nader says there are no more excuses for Democrats to take action in Congress.

With the Democrats in power in Washington, Nader believes they can pass whatever health care reform they want despite intense lobbying from the health care, insurance and phramaceutical industries. Nader then wants President Barack Obama to sign legislation allowing Americans to get the treatments they need.

Everybody in. Nobody out.

Nader suggests Democrats pass a single payer system:
  1. For prevention and treatment.
  2. For free choice of doctors and hospitals.
  3. No more premiums, deductibles, exclusions, co-pays, in-network, out-of-network rigamarole.
  4. No more family medical bankruptcies.
  5. No more pay or die.
  6. No more pay or become sicker.
  7. Single payer is the only system that will work.
  8. It's the most efficient.
  9. Single payer will cut out literally hundreds of billions in administrative fat, billing fraud and unconscionable profits.
  10. These savings will be used instead to insure the 50 million uninsured and the millions more underinsured.

Saving Lives!

More than 21,000 Americans die every year from lack of health insurance.

Really, no matter where you stand on the health insurance issue that's too many people dying for being poor and uncovered. According to recent polls, the majority of the American people want single payer. So do the majority of doctors, nurses, and health economists.

Nader asks:

So, what will the Democrat leadership do?

He suggests, "they will keep single payer off the table because they fear the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry - and want their campaign money - more than they fear the American people.

Or as Speaker of the House Pelosi told reporters last week:

Over and over again, we hear single payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it's not going to be a single payer.

Along with Nader, we wonder who Pelosi is speaking for here. Certainly not for the American you are getting sicker and sicker and dying month after month.

Turning Up the Heat.

There is support in Congress for single payer and it appears to gain some traction before being stalled over and over again.

Nader says:

Already, 76 House members support HR 676 - the single payer bill in the House. But the Democratic leadership in Washington has taken single payer off the table. They meet regularly behind closed doors with insurance and drug industry lobbyists - to thwart single payer.
Nader is asking for financial support to help him keep the focus on Single Payer. You can help him with a donation here.

This is Democrat Terry Riley. For years he's helped his wife struggle with medical issues at home. He's also advocated for Bill Richardson's Health Care Solutions program. This year he testified in Santa Fe at the Senate Rules Committee.

When I saw him late last month he told me about his website What If You Knew NM . It's loaded with additional information on the single payer insurance model.

Riley says it time for health care. Not health insurance.

Photo: MG Bralley

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Great news this morning for bike racing fans.

Overnight negotiations have cleared the road for international bicycling superstar Lance Armstrong and two members of Team Astana to compete in the Tour of the Gila.

State Tourism Advertising Director Richard Eeds tells us that officials with the International Cycling Union (UCI) had planned to enforce a federation rule that would have blocked Armstrong's team from participating.

Eeds said:
It is a rule that is apparently almost never enforced, but because Astana is a UCI sanctioned team they couldn't ride in a non UCI sanctioned event.
The Tour of the Gila race begins in Silver City on Wednesday and run several courses through Sunday.

Eeds is hopeful it will impact the local economy and good for state tourism:
The name New Mexico and Silver City is getting out there over and over. In a town that lost a lot of jobs (from the mines) and has 10% unemployment and the race almost cancelled this is very significant for Silver City.
It will be the first competition for Armstrong since he broke his collarbone last month.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

NM Senator Jumps into 2010 Race for Lt. Governor.

On Saturday, we were the first to report the chair of the NM Senate Rules Committee Chair Linda Lopez (D-11) had announced her intention to run for Lt. Governor in 2010.

Lopez told members of the Democratic Party of New Mexico's Central Steering Committee this weekend as they met in the Kiva Auditorium.

If she and current Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who's running for Governor, are both elected it will be the state's first all female executive branch.

We spoke to Senator Lopez on Saturday.

Listen to our interview here.

Lopez told us she's ready to move up.

First elected to the Senate 13 years ago, Lopez believes she has the experience necessary to take the helm of the Senate, develop budgets and told us she'll focus on economic development in the state, and improving access to health care and behavioral health.

Lopez says one issue, near and dear to her heart, is education. If her campaign is successful she said she'll work on improving educational outcomes for Latino students, who make up the majority of student populations in New Mexico.

Lopez also told us that she's pleased some ethics measures passed her committee this year and said she believe ethics measures will continue to work their way through the legislative process for the next few years.

We learned, Lopez submitted her resume to Denish and interviewed for the Lt. Gov's job when it appeared Governor Richardson was headed to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Later, we spoke with Lopez at a local restaurant where she joined the families of missing and murdered Albuquerque women who had gathered to watch John Walsh tell there story to the nation on America's Most Wanted.

Lopez says community leadership needs to take ownership of the problems that led to missing women being found murdered and buried on the a West Mesa.

Listen to her comments on the tragedy and what she's recommending to prevent it from happening again here.

Lopez says she'll work with Quantum [Optum Behavioral Health] to develop statewide programs to help drug addicts get out of the cycle of substance abuse. She says people incarcerated on drug charges shouldn't just be "dropped back into the wild," that they need to be in a treatment process for months and sometimes years.

Lopez says she's working with Lt. Governor Denish to implement new notification procedures including an adult amber alert system.

She said America's Most Wanted did a decent job of recognizing the murdered women as humans and hopes it generates leads to aid police and hopes a suspect is identified.

Lopez photo: MG Bralley

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Romero Questions Mayor on Soccer Park Costs.

On the day before Albuquerque mayoral candidates have to submit signatures to get a position on this October's ballot, former Senate President Pro-tem Richard Romero is questioning at least one of Mayor Chavez' capitol improvement projects.

On Monday, Romero called on Mayor Martin Chavez "to put an end to his legal wrangling with the City Council and stop fighting for his misguided SunCal soccer park."

"SunCal doesn't have the cashflow to build this park on their own land, so the Mayor wants the taxpayers to do it for them," said Romero. "His campaign manager is a registered lobbyist for SunCal and this $8M sports complex in the middle of nowhere just doesn't pass the smell test."

Romero says, "What the City Budget needs is the $6.6M appropriated by the City Council for the Ventana Ranch Community Park. This project will serve an area where THOUSANDS of KIDS already live. The Mayor wants to eliminate that park and build the SunCal park where NO KIDS live. Who is he looking out for? SunCal or the existing Westside residents that desperately need more parks and green space."

The Ventana Ranch project will be taken out of the CIP budget and the SunCal soccer field will be inserted into the budget if the mayor's legal opinion stands.

"The Ventana Ranch park has already been designed and gone through extensive community input and should be the priority," said Romero. "It's misguided for the taxpayers to fund an irrigation line and $8M soccer complex in the middle of nowhere."

Heath Haussamen published a guest blog today by freshman Senator Steve Fischmann regarding the SunCal TIDD. Fischmann wrote, "tax increment financing can be useful," but Fischmann says he's proud of the work he did in Santa Fe to defeat the SunCal Tidd.

Read why on Heath's blog here.

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