Saturday, September 24, 2005

Santa Fe New Mexican

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

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New Mexican (Newspaper) - September 24, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico THE SANTA FE SATURDAY 50 CENTS ENVIRONMENT Report As world warms West loses water ByBenNeary The New Mexican Bolstered by a report concluding that global wanning threatens New Mexicos water supply state and local officials are joining with environmen talists in saying the nation needs to take immediate steps to address the The report Less Snow less Water was released Fridayby the New Mex ico Public Interest Research Group The study concludes that tem peratures are rising around the world as a result of automobile emissions and other human factors As ar result precipitation that used to fall as snow is increasingly falling as rain in the West Government snowpackmeasure rrieht records going back to 1961 indi cate that snowpack levels have been below average for 11 of the past 16 years in the Colorado River Basin and for 10 of the past 16 years in the Rio Grande Basin the study says The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization based in Colorado prepared the study using information from the National Oceanic and Atmo spheric Administration The Pew Charitable Trusts funded the study If steps arent taken to reduce emissions that cause global wann ing the study predicts temperature increases in the West are likely to be even greater than the 3degrees to Please see WATER Page A8 TREASURERS OFFICE SCANDAL Court urged to let governor choose Vigils replacement Staff and wire reports Democratic state officials urged the state Supreme Court on Friday to quickly endorse a plan allowing Treasurer Robert Vigil to step aside with pay and have a gubernatorial appointee run the Treasurers Office while Vigil defends himself against federal charges that he extorted kickbacks from financial advisers However no action by the court was expected until at least early next Attorney General Patricia Madrid submitted a written document to the Supreme Court asking the justices to issue an order that would ratify an agree ment worked out by her Gov Bill Richardson and Vigil all Democrats The Supreme Court members were at a conference in Ruidoso Meanwhile a Public Regu lation Commission member announced Friday that he was returning a campaign con tribution from Vigils campaign organization Commissioner Jason Marks an Albuquerque Democrat also called upon Vigil to resign from office I cannot in good conscience keep money that came from the Vigil campaign fund when it now seems it was generated with an improper Marks said in a news release Marks was not one of 37 Democrats most of them legislative candidates who received money from Vigil or his campaign last year according to the Web site Almost all the donations were and none exceeded The proposed agreement among Richardson Madrid and Vigil would move the treasurer out of his elective job without requiring him to resign or give up his salary The governor would name a replacement who would serve until the federal charges are resolved or a new treasurer is elected next year when Vigils fourterm term ends Under the state governor can appoint a replacement for the treasurer when there is a vacancy such as if a treasurer resigns or dies in office However there is no clear direction in the law as to what happens if a treasurer agrees to give up running the office daytoday almost like taking an administrative leave of absence but wont resign A provision in state law says that if the treasurer dies the deputy treasurer runs the office until a replacement is named Currently Deputy Treasurer Elaine Olah is run ning the office Madrid told the court Friday that there will be a de facto vacancy if Vigil is temporarily recused from his job Vigil expressed support for the proposal hi a separate filing with the court Friday but his law Pleasesee COURT Page A4 Robert Vigil INSIDE The governor wants make the treasurer position an appointive rather than elective office PageA4 New Orleans Dallas Texas targets Levees break flooding Bus explosion kills 24 Officials fear refineries recently drained areas nursinghome patients iri hurricanes path Rita soaks Gulf Coast Charlie RiedelAhe Associated Press Water rises in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans after a repaired levee along the Industrial Canal was breached Friday allowing water to flow into neighborhoods that were just getting dry from Hurricane Kairina Rescuers helpless as flames engulfed bus By Sheila Flynn The Associated Press WKMER Texas A bus ferrying nurs inghome residents away from Hurricane Rita caught fire and exploded Friday while stuck on a gridlocked highway south of Dallas kill ing as many as 24 people Early indications were that mechanical problems possibly with the vehicles brakes sparked the fire which was then fed by explo sions of passengers oxygen tanks Dallas County sheriffs spokesman Don Peritz said Authorities believed 24 people were killed but that number could change Peritz said The medical examiners office was still working to determine the numberof fatalities The bus was carrying 38 residents and six employees of the Brighton Gardens nursing home in Houston according to Sunrise Senior Please see BUS Page A2 Gabriel B Louis PostDispatch A Texas State Trooper emerges from the charred wreckage of a bus that caught fire and exploded in Wilmer Texas while carry ing Houston nursinghome evacuees Friday By Tim Whitmore The Associated Press BEAUMONT Texas Hurricane Rita steamed toward refinery towns along the TexasLouisiana coast with 120 mph winds Friday creating havoc even before it arrived Levee breaks caused new flooding in New Orleans and as many as 24 people were killed when a bus carrying nurs inghome evacuees caught fire in a traffic jam Rita weakened during the day into a Cat egory 3 hurricane after raging as a Category 5 175mph monster earlier in the week But it was still a highly dangerous storm The hurricane was expected to come ashore early today on a course that could spare Hous ton and Galvestonbut slam the oilrefining towns of Beaumont and Port Arthur Texas and Lake Charles with a 20foot storm surge towering waves and up to 25 inches of rain Thats where people are going to said Max Mayfield director of the National Hur ricane Center All these areas are just going to Please see RITA Page A2 C1 Opinion C2 Police notes C2 Sports C7 Local E1 Lotteries Dl Movies C7 Obituaries Crossword Drive E4 Health Science D6 Horoscope Annies Mailbox Calendar Classifieds Comics n MCSHQf POT PRIORITY Telluride cant legalize marijuana but it might declare possession of pot the towns lowest law enforcement PageC4 DINE OUT WITH SAVVY Grab a head start on your next meal with The New Mexicans newest special section Find out whats on the menu at your favorite restaurant and learn how to choose a fine wine to complement your entree Menus appears inside todays edition UNCHARTED TERRITORY Subaru sets sail for the land ofSUVsona benign Tribeca Plus read all about the extravaganza that is the 2005 Frankfurt auto show where excess is the name of the game Drive El TODAY Sunny to partly cloudy High 83 low 54 PageC8 OBITUARIES Martina Herrera Sept 22 PageC2 Main 9833303 Late News Five sections 40 pages TV Book 56 pages 156th year Issue No 267 Publication No 596440 Serving New Mexico for 15C years