WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.
Last week I blogged about Qwest's decision to slash health care and life insurance benefits to thousands of the company's retirees, putting a pox on the House of Qwest. I believe the Pox is well deserved.
I'm told that there was once a time when Americans could cheer on Corporate America's accomplishments as they were in part our own. Sadly, that time has past.
Qwest today posted their third quarter results. After losing money for five of the past six years they've become profitable, notes Bloomberg, thanks largely to employee cuts. According to the telco, the company added 175,000 new broadband customers in the quarter. Back in June the company's CEO seemed to hint he was eager for the telco to be acquired.
Qwest Communications International Inc. , the regional U.S. telephone company, on Tuesday reported a third-quarter profit compared with a loss a year earlier, helped by cost cuts and growth in its Internet service.
The Denver-based company said earnings totaled $194 million, or 9 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $144 million, or 8 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts expected earnings of 7 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
ABQjournal: New Computer System SHARES the Pain:
State government's new computerized payroll and accounting system is called SHARE, but it doesn't share willingly. The $28 million system has stiffed many state workers, vendors and contractors since coming online July 1.
SHARE is also stiffing the State Auditor's Office. State agencies that rely on the system for accounting have been unable to finalize their reports to the auditor.
"By now, we would have already closed the fiscal year off," Auditor Domingo Martinez told the Legislative Finance Committee last week. "We are going to be late on a lot of audits." Not that anybody would be interested in those in an election year.
The LFC also learned Thursday that the contract with the company installing the system includes no guarantees and no performance clause, though the state can withhold $1.8 million if dissatisfied with implementation.
There seemed to be a bit of dissatisfaction among LFC members: "That is not reasonable in the private sector or for the state to be doing business like that," said Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose.
The state's chief information officer, Roy Soto, assured the LFC he didn't sign the contract. But he did review the contract, he said Friday. "I thought it was a good one. It went through a lot of scrutiny."
So are the credit records of all the people whose finances have been twisted in knots during SHARE's three months of malfunctioning.
If the state hadn't learned from previous such fiascos, can it learn from this one? Build strict performance measures into contracts. In the meantime, budget the $1.8 million to make SHARE's victims whole.
SANTA FE— The Secretary of State's Office will likely end up handling the canvass of results of next week's general election rather than hiring an independent auditing firm.
The office had planned to use an auditor or accounting firm to perform the canvass rather than follow its past practice of having the office staff compile the statewide election returns and check for possible discrepancies in tallies.
Two Albuquerque firms submitted bids, but neither was accepted because they didn't meet the requirements of the request for proposals, Ray Baray, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, said Monday.
The bids were reviewed last week, but Baray said he could not publicly disclose the reasons why they were rejected.
A $200,000 loan was approved in September by the Board of Finance to allow Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron to hire an independent auditing firm to canvass election results.
Albuquerque Public Schools officials haven't been turning in homework that's required as a condition of $2.3 million in grants from the city.
Students should be warned against plagiarizing the official excuses offered for the lapse— they're that weak. According to APS spokesman Rigo Chavez, the contribution of the programs toward overall goals is hard to evaluate. And the city grants didn't fund a position for program monitoring. And, anyway, it's the city's responsibility to collect the data.
Not according to how city auditors read the contracts.
For example, the city put $1.5 million into a program that provided tutoring and homework assistance for students up through elementary school.
The city can't tell what the program accomplished, auditors said, because 10 of 21 middle schools didn't prepare the required plan for evaluating results. There was even less compliance from schools in a $640,000 anti dropout program and a $155,000 mentoring program.
I know how people hate it when someone says "I told You So!" And Ched is way to modest to say it anyway, so I'll say it for him, "HE TOLD YOU SO!"
ABQjournal: Gov. Lays Out Plan for Lands:
SANTA FE— Gov. Bill Richardson outlined on Monday a six-point plan to ensure hunters and anglers have access to public lands and get more opportunities to bag trophy animals.
The governor outlined the proposals at a Capitol Rotunda news conference billed as a campaign event and with Democratic state land commissioner candidate Jim Baca at his side.
ABQjournal: Serna Deposition Ordered:
SANTA FE— A judge has ruled that former state Insurance Secretary Eric Serna and his former deputy must appear for depositions in a lawsuit that contends a Santa Fe couple paid too much for title insurance.
Serna and Joe Ruiz did not attend a hearing on the matter Friday before District Judge James Hall.
The two have asked Hall to keep the plaintiffs from asking them anything other than their names at a deposition, according to court documents. Serna and Ruiz have said they intend to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights.
If you want to know why voting on Paper Ballots in New Mexico represents a major victory in a nationwide battle for transparency in our electoral process, then watch Stealing America: Vote by Vote.
This film is not an angry rant from the left. In fact, it is a sober and patient presentation of a complicated issue that simply cannot be boiled down to sound bites.
Produced and directed by Dorothy Fadiman, Stealing America: Vote by Vote, is a comprehensive presentation of what occurred on election night in 2004, beginning with discrepencies in the exit polling and the popular vote in Ohio and ending with the success of New Mexico's election reform activists in the 2006 legislative session.
This evening KUNM will be holding a special benefit screening of Stealing America with the director, as well as Albuquerque Attorney John Boyd, who has been the chief litigator in the election reform lawsuits and is featured in the film.
There will be no advance ticket sales,
but KUNM will be accepting donations at the door.
Suggested donation is $10.
Please join us for this special screening of Stealing America:Vote by Vote on Saturday, October 28, 7 p.m. at the KiMo Theater, 423 Central SW in Albuquerque.