ABQ City Council To Vote On Decriminalizing Cannabis, Environment Dept. Expected To Fine LANL

Apr 2, 2018

Albuquerque City Council To Vote On Decriminalizing Cannabis- Associated Press

A proposal to decriminalize cannabis possession in small amounts is expected to go before the Albuquerque City Council today, as a growing number of U.S. municipalities have enacted similar measures.

The proposal put forward by city council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton would amend Albuquerque's criminal code by making it a citable offense to possess an ounce of cannabis and paraphernalia without a valid medical marijuana referral. Authorities could issue a $25 ticket but no jail time.

Under the city's current criminal code, police can issue $50 fines to first-time offenders possessing an ounce or less of cannabis. Authorities also can jail first-time offenders for a maximum of 15 days, though such instances appear to be rare. The fines and penalties increase with a second violation.

The city council's agenda shows the measure is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday evening. If it wins approval, it will be sent to the mayor.

Davis said he believes the proposal's prospects have been boosted by the change in administrations.

The measure also has backing from the city's police union.

NM Environment Department Expected To Fine Los Alamos Lab Over Waste- Associated Press & Los Alamos Monitor

The New Mexico Environment Department is expected to fine the Los Alamos National Laboratory for exceeding state and federal time limits for storing hazardous waste.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports state officials informed the lab in a letter last month that it stored two hazardous waste containers over the 90-day storage time limit in central accumulation storage areas.

State Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief John Kieling also wrote that the lab stored three hazardous waste containers over the 1-year storage time limit in permitted units.

Both are violations with fines up to $10,000 a day for noncompliance with New Mexico's Hazardous Waste Management regulations.

Patchwork Health Care For Reservation Inmates Raises Concern Associated Press

Tribal health care and corrections workers say numerous jails on reservations nationwide have no in-house nurses or other medical staff, often leaving corrections officers to scramble in emergencies to determine whether to send an inmate to the hospital, or provide basic care themselves.

Federal figures show there are some 80 tribal jails that hold an estimated 2,500 inmates.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs manages about a quarter of them. Tribes have federal contracts to operate the rest.

A review of jail records found that on average health care was sought multiple times each week within the jails.

The chief executive of the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation on the Navajo Nation says a patchwork approach to providing care within the jails has resulted in unsafe circumstances for inmates and workers alike.

Tribes See Improvements, Hurdles As They Charge Non-Natives- Associated Press

American Indian tribes have taken greater control over prosecuting non-tribal members who commit some violent crimes in Indian Country five years after Congress passed a key law, a new report shows.

But gaps remain after the Violence Against Women Act allowed tribes to bring criminal charges against non-Natives in domestic violence cases. For example, it doesn't extend to violence against children or other family members, and tribal prosecutors are urging lawmakers to expand the law to cover everyone in a household.

Tribal land was long known as a safe haven because U.S. authorities would only prosecute the most serious offenses and tribes lacked the ability to charge those who weren't Native Americans. Since the law passed in 2013, tribal communities are empowered to report wrongdoing, governments are better collaborating and tribes are updating their laws, public safety advocates say.

Fishing Season Begins, New Licenses Required- Associated Press

Fishing season started yesterday and state wildlife managers are reminding anglers they'll need to purchase a new license.

The season runs from April 1 to March 31, 2019.

Fishing licenses cost $25 for state residents, and most anglers are required to purchase a $4 state habitat management and access validation stamp as well.

Those who plan to fish on Bureau of Land Management or national forest lands will need a $5 federal habitat stamp.

Children under the age of 12 don't need a license, and anglers age 70 and older qualify for a free license. Resident active and military veterans qualify for free or discounted licenses.

Otter Reintroduction Causing Some To Worry About Trout- Associated Press & Albuquerque Journal

A New Mexico wildlife official says the lower Red River continues to have healthy fish populations after the reintroduction of otters despite concerns from trout advocates.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that river otters were reintroduced in New Mexico more than a dozen years ago.

Renowned state fly-fishing guide Taylor Streit says he initially supported the reintroduction, but now isn't sure it was a good idea.

He says the otters are decimating trout on the lower Red River leading fishers to go the Abiquiu instead.

Eric Frey with the New Mexico Department of Game of Fish says there have been concerns over the otters since 2014.

He says multiple surveys near a rainbow trout-producing hatchery have shown that there are various healthy fish populations in the river.

International Clothing Company Exhibits Santa Fe-Based ArtSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

An international clothing company based in San Francisco is introducing a spring fashion line that exhibits Native American-inspired art and designs, including a collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and work by Santa Fe-based artist Gregory Lomayesva, who is of Hopi and Hispanic heritage.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the company, Tea Collection, explores a different culture around the world each season and creates children's clothes using designs inspired or created by local artists of that region. For 2018, the company decided to focus on the United States.

Laura Boes, vice president for design, said it felt important for the company to tell the story of the cultures that make up the U.S.

Albuquerque Man Accused Of Severely Injuring Infant SonKRQE-TV, Associated Press

Authorities say an Albuquerque man has been arrested after his infant son was hospitalized with multiple injuries, some life-threatening.

Police say 30-year-old Evan Ritchey is jailed on suspicion of felony physical child abuse causing great bodily harm and felony physical child abuse not resulting in great bodily harm.

Officers were called to UNM Hospital around 8 a.m. Saturday after a 4-month-old boy was brought to the facility in critical condition.

According to KRQE-TV, police say Ritchey told officers that he used considerable force to crush his crying son at the family home and he also allegedly strangled the baby.

It was unclear Sunday of Ritchey has a lawyer yet.

Doña Ana County Court Rules Judge Can Still Run As DemocratAssociated Press

A court ruling says a Doña Ana County Magistrate Court judge can appear on the Democratic Party primary election ballot despite a change in her voter registration.

District Court Judge David Thomson ruled Friday in Santa Fe that Magistrate Judge Samantha Madrid didn't intend to change her registration to independent from Democratic when she replaced her driver's license last fall.

The registration change resulted in the lifelong Democrat being disqualified from running in the party primary for another term on the Magistrate Court bench in Las Cruces.

Thomson ruled that the registration change was not intended so the disqualification was an error, and Thompson ordered that the change be voided.

Madrid first won a spot on the bench in 2014. Nobody else is running for her seat this year.

Martinez Appoints Prosecutor To Fill District Court VacancyAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed prosecutor Jason Lidyard to fill a vacant judgeship on the 1st Judicial District Court, which serves Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties.

Lidyard has served as a prosecutor with the 1st Judicial District Attorney's Office since 2011 and his appointment Friday as a judge fills a vacancy created when Judge Jennifer Attrep became a state Court of Appeals judge.

Lidyard previously worked as an attorney in Cleveland and Portland, Maine, and as a legislator staffer for the Colorado General Assembly in Denver.

Asian-American Monument Gets County ApprovalAssociated Press

Commissioners in New Mexico's most populous county have approved a purchase agreement for a public art sculpture that will recognize a landmark Chinese-American civil rights case that predates statehood.

Bernalillo County commissioners voted unanimously earlier this week in support of a motion authorizing the county manager to approve the purchase agreement.

Artists Cheryll Leo-Gwin and Stewart Wong are the creators of "View from Gold Mountain." The sculpture will be installed near the state district courthouse in downtown Albuquerque.

Officials say the monument will commemorate the Yee Shun case of 1882, which resulted in Chinese Americans being granted the right to testify in court and have their testimony accepted.

Funded with a combination of local and state sources, the project has been in the works for a few years.

Albuquerque Mayor Pushes Police Officer RecruitmentAssociated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller wants to hire 100 new police officers in the coming fiscal year as New Mexico's largest city looks to curb crime.

Keller focused on public safety Friday as he unveiled his first budget proposal.

Nearly $13 million would be used over multiple years for the officer recruiting effort. The goal is to grow the force to 1,200 officers in four years.

The mayor contends new officers would address shortfalls across the city and would increase police presence on the streets as Albuquerque tries to stem vehicle thefts and other property crimes.

Another $2.3 million would go toward mandated police reforms.

To balance the budget, a new tax increase will start to be collected July 1 and the city is planning for an increase in gross receipts tax revenues.

US Senator To Award Medal To Navajo Code Talker's FamilyAssociated Press

One of New Mexico's U.S. senators plans to honor a deceased Navajo Code Talker posthumously for his service during World War II.

Sen. Martin Heinrich will present the Congressional Silver Medal to the family of Adolph Nagurski during a ceremony Tuesday at the New Mexico Veterans' Memorial.

Heinrich's office says Nagurksi had earned the medal but never received it.

The Navajo Code Talkers were a group of Marines who developed a code based on their language to communicate during wartime. The Japanese never deciphered it, and the Code Talkers were credited with helping win many key battles in the Pacific during World War II.

In 2000, the Congressional Silver Medals were authorized by Congress and produced by the U.S. Mint to recognize the dedication and valor of the Code Talkers.

New Mexico Begins Search For New Boss Of Wildlife Agency - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The New Mexico State Game Commission is launching a nationwide search for a new director to lead the agency that manages wildlife throughout the state and oversees enforcement of off-highway motor vehicle regulations.

The commission made the announcement late Friday, just days after it was made public that Director Alexa Sandoval would be retiring in the coming months. It's unclear when her last day will be.

As the second woman to ever lead the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Sandoval has worked for the agency for more than two decades.

She started as a game warden in Roswell and Clayton in 1994 and eventually became the chief financial officer before being appointed director in 2014.

The department has about 300 employees and an annual budget of nearly $40 million.

Some New Mexico Candidates Certified For Public FinancingAssociated Press

The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office has certified some candidates to receive public financing during this election season.

The decision announced Friday by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver involved candidates for two seats on the Public Regulation Commission and four statewide judicial seats.

Under state law, candidates for the regulatory panel or any statewide judicial seat can apply for public financing.

Interested candidates must first file a declaration of intent and then collect $5 qualifying contributions from a number of voters equal to at least one-tenth of one percent of voters from their party in the state or district.

The period to collect qualifying contributions for this year's election cycle began in October 2 and ended March 20.

New Mexico's Largest Metro Area Invokes Water RestrictionsAssociated Press

The water utility that serves New Mexico's largest metropolitan area is invoking its annual watering restrictions.

Officials with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority say the time-of-day water rules will remain in effect from April 1 through October 31.

The rules prohibit customers from using sprinkler irrigation between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to minimize losses to wind and evaporation. Those who water during prohibited times face could fines.

Conservation program manager Carlos Bustos said Friday the rules are especially important this year as New Mexico is in a severe drought.

Overall, per capita use per day in 2017 was 128 gallons. That's the target again this year, and utility officials say so far customers have used about 30 million gallons less than during the same period last year.