N.M. Joblessness worst in U.S. ... ABQ TV station poll finds pessimism ... ABQ near bottom third in 150-city 'happiness' survey
ABQ Free Press Weekly City, State News in Brief
BY ABQ FREE PRESS WEEKLY STAFF
New Mexico’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is now the worst in the country. The state added just 900 jobs in the 12 months that ended Jan. 31, for a 0.1 percent growth rate. The big jobs losers were mining and oil and gas, which lost 3,200 jobs, and the government sector, which was down 4,600 jobs. Manufacturing also continued its decades-long decline, shedding 900 jobs. New Mexico’s jobs performance was sickly compared to surrounding states. Arizona added 54,000 jobs for a 2 percent growth rate, while Nevada added 44,400 jobs for a 3.5 percent growth rate. The only good news was that the state’s civilian labor force – people with jobs and those looking for work – increased by nearly 9,000 people. It means that more people have some confidence that they can find a job here.
A poll done for KOB-TV found that only 15 percent of Albuquerqueans believe their children or grandchildren will find jobs here when they become adults. Carroll Strategies’ poll of 853 adults found that 58 percent of respondents believe their children or grandchildren will need to leave Albuquerque to find quality employment. Nearly 82 percent believe crime in the city is worse than in the past. Only about 18 percent believe Albuquerque is on the right track.
Albuquerque ranked 92nd among 150 U.S. cities in happiness, as measured by the financial research company WalletHub. The happiest people appear to live mostly in California, with Freemont, San Jose and Irvine topping the list. Denizens of Detroit are the most miserable, with Cleveland and Augusta only slightly less unhappy. El Paso ranked 42nd and Denver ranked 32nd. The survey measured everything from suicide rates to the percentage of people who feel they get a good night’s sleep.
The New Mexico Supreme Court has shut the door on medical malpractice lawsuits by state residents against Texas health care providers who work for the State of Texas. The March 13 ruling held that a former Texas Tech University surgeon accused of botching a Curry County woman’s gastric bypass can’t be sued in New Mexico. The surgeon was a Texas state employee at the time of the surgery, and Texas law bars lawsuits against individual state employees. The case was closely watched by healthcare providers and others who feared that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would cause Texas providers to refuse to treat New Mexicans.
U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez has submitted his resignation, clearing the way for the Trump administration to appoint its own person. Martinez, who had held the position since May 2014, tendered his resignation on March 10 after Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked 46 top federal prosecutors across the U.S. to resign. Martinez had been a federal prosecutor since 2000, when he started in the Las Cruces Branch Office as a special assistant U.S. attorney. He has overseen the U.S. Justice Department’s efforts to reform the Albuquerque Police Department. APD critics said they are worried that the Trump administration won’t take the reform efforts as seriously as did the Obama administration.
New Mexico is mourning the death of 27-year-old Navajo Nation police officer Houston James Largo, who was fatally shot in Prewitt on March 12 while responding to a domestic violence call. Acting U.S. Attorney James Tierney called Largo a dedicated police officer who helped many, not only as a Navajo Nation officer, but as a special federal officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said Largo and other officers “are the ones who stand guard over our nation and protect us.” Since 1975, the Navajo Nation has lost 13 police officers in the line of duty.
Bernalillo County has hired a director to head its new Behavioral Health Department. Katrina Hotrum will oversee how the county spends $20 million a year in behavioral tax money. Hotrum, who is currently the director of the county’s Department of Addiction Treatment Services, starts her new job on March 20. Since last September, more than $10.7 million has been appropriated – $9.78 million by the county and the rest by the city – for behavioral health proposals and initiatives. Most of that money has yet to actually be spent. The money comes from a gross receipts tax increase voters approved in 2015.