ABQ Mayor Introduces Anti-Crime Proposal, 500,000 Acres Of Land Returned To Tribes

Oct 13, 2016

Albuquerque Mayor Introduces Anti-Crime ProposalsThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The Albuquerque mayor has put forward an anti-crime agenda that focuses on keeping repeat offenders locked up longer.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Mayor Richard Berry's proposals include better screening of people released from pretrial detention and changes in procedural rules that authorities say lead to charges being dismissed.

Berry says he hopes to contract a retired team of police officers to handle lower priority calls to free up the city's understaffed police department. He is also advocating state-level measures, such as reinstating the death penalty for some cases and strengthening the three strikes law.

Some officials, however, say Berry might be oversimplifying the cause of a recent crime increase. County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins says reasons behind the increase are complex and require a carefully considered response.

Feds: 500,000 Acres Of Land Returned To Tribes – The Associated Press

Federal officials say more than 500,000 acres have been returned to the control of tribes under the Obama administration, which made restoring tribal homelands a key part of its Indian Country policy.

The Obama administration says it surpassed the half-million acre benchmark last week with the transfer of a 71,000-acre swath of federal land to tribal control in Nevada.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the administration's goal of returning 500,000 acres, or roughly 780 square miles, of land represented a shift from federal policy that historically resulted in U.S. tribes losing millions of acres of land over hundreds of years.

The government's move to place land into trust for tribes essentiallly ensures the tracts can't be taken from them or sold because only a congressional vote can remove the land from tribal ownership or jurisdiction.

Watchdogs Concerned About Readiness Of New Mexico Nuke DumpThe Associated Press

A series of recent ceiling collapses at the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository has watchdogs calling on officials to ensure safety before moving ahead with a planned reopening later this year.

U.S. Energy Department officials and the contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico will update the public on the collapses during a meeting Thursday evening.

A radiation release forced the closure of the repository in February 2014.

Since then, shipments of waste from federal facilities around the country have been on hold.

The waste is meant to be entombed in storage rooms carved out of a salt formation deep underground.

Contamination and limited ventilation has made maintenance of the walls and ceilings difficult.

Officials have reported three collapses in recent weeks.

Roswell Developing Park Near International UFO MuseumThe Associated Press & The Roswell Daily Record

The city of Roswell is developing a $100,000 city park near the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

UFO Museum Executive Director Jim Hill told the Roswell Daily Record this week that work began a few weeks ago on the improvement project.

The park will be adjacent to the museum building, which is one of the city's major tourist attractions.

Officials say the unfenced park will use the flowering plant vinca as ground cover because it requires relatively little water and is hearty enough to survive winters.

The park also will have walkways for people to travel through the area.

The museum also has plans to redesign the interior of the museum.

Alamogordo Officials Vote To OK Off-Road Vehicles On StreetsThe Associated Press & The Alamogordo Daily News

Alamogordo officials have voted to allow the use of off-road vehicles on city streets.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that city commissioners voted in favor of the change but it won't be official unless it is finalized at the Nov. 1 commission meeting.

Southwest Suzuki Kawasaki owner Tyler Johnson says many of his customers have asked about Alamogordo's law. He says he supports the change, explaining that it simplifies things for ATV users who need to go slightly down a paved road to access another dirt trail.

Johnson says the change might also help with tourism, pointing out that the practice has long been legal in other states, like Arizona.

New Mexico May Eliminate Some Sports Amid Budget CrisisAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico may be forced to eliminate some sports amid budget cuts and reduced state funding.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the school's athletic director Paul Krebs told a Board of Regents committee this week that slashing some sports from the school is a last option if the athletics department isn't able to fight off another deficit.

Krebs says athletics will soon have to make some tough decisions after the department came off a deficit in fiscal year 2016 of $1.54 million. He says it is off to a dismal start financially this fiscal year.

The announcement comes as district attorney's offices and other agencies are seeing a reduction in staff and funding due to a state budget crisis.

New Mexico lawmakers recently passed a revised budget to close an estimated half a billion dollar shortfall.

Activists Protest In Albuquerque After MistrialAssociated Press

Activists have protested outside the Albuquerque courthouse where the case against two former New Mexico police officers charged in the death of a homeless man ended in a mistrial.

Protesters made their way up Central Avenue downtown and toward the University of New Mexico before the crowd appeared to disperse around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Some protesters wore masks and others yelled profanities at the police.

Officers in riot gear blocked off large swaths of downtown while helicopters circled overhead.

Western New Mexico Signs Another Deal With A Mexico CollegeAssociated Press

Western New Mexico University has entered another agreement with a university south of the border.

The school announced last week that it had signed an agreement on academic exchanges with the Universidad La Salle, a university located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

La Salle professor Guillermo Garcia says students will have the option to exchange and increase their academic knowledge.

The agreement is the latest in several newly established collaborations with colleges in Mexico and Western New Mexico University.

US Declines Prosecution Of Government Worker In Mine SpillAssociated Press

Federal investigators say the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado has declined to prosecute an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency over a massive mine wastewater spill.

The EPA's Office of Inspector General said Wednesday that it found evidence the unnamed employee may have violated the Clean Water Act and given false statements.

However, office spokesman Jeffrey Lagda says federal prosecutors have declined to pursue the case. He says that in lieu of prosecution, the case will be sent to senior EPA management for their review.

An EPA-led cleanup team inadvertently triggered the Aug. 5, 2015, spill while doing work at the Gold King mine. The 3-million-gallon blowout tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with toxic heavy metals.

Gun Safety Advocates Pump Money Into New MexicoAssociated Press

Fall legislative elections are thrusting New Mexico into the national political tussle over access to firearms and whether current restrictions and background checks are sufficient to stem violence.

New campaign finance disclosures with state regulators show the group Everytown for Gun Safety made a $100,000 contribution to the Patriot Majority New Mexico political committee that is affiliated with Democratic causes.

Smaller donations have been made to several other Democrat-aligned political committees, and both the Democratic Senate and Republican House majority leaders.

National and local advocates for limited new firearms restrictions regard New Mexico as fertile ground for bipartisan reforms and want to see a loophole closed on background checks for firearms transactions at gun shows and online.

The National Rifle Association has made contributions to a long list of Republican lawmakers.

New Mexico Governor Highlights Growth In Tourism IndustryAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is highlighting the impact of tourism on the state economy in a series of appearances across the state.

The second-term Republican governor told an audience Wednesday in Albuquerque that growth in the tourism sector is helping New Mexico trim its economic reliance on the federal government.

In a news release, she cites a state-commissioned analysis from consultant group Tourism Economics. The analysis says the number of travelers to the state in 2015 increased by more than 2 percent to 34 million. Visitors generated an estimated $629 million in state and local taxes. Growth in the visitor economy is led by leisure trips.

New Mexico state government is confronting a major budget deficit tied in large part to a downturn in oil and natural gas markets.

Suspect Sought In Fire Near Albuquerque Broadcast TowersAssociated Press

Authorities are searching for a suspect accused of setting fire to infrastructure towers used by local and federal government as well as Albuquerque-area media.

Bernalillo County sheriff's officials said Wednesday investigators have obtained an arrest warrant but they are not yet releasing that individual's name.

According to deputies, a call came in Oct. 2 about a fire at a structure on Sandia Crest Road.

Deputies say the suspected arsonist had already fled the scene.

Deputies say the structure holds critical broadcasting and communications towers for the city's major media outlets and government entities.

Sheriff's detectives have since served several search warrants.

They say the suspect's identity is being withheld as they continue to gather more information from numerous sources.

Martinez Appoints Geisel As Economic Development Secretary Associated Press

New Mexico is getting a new economic development secretary with Gov. Susana Martinez's appointment of Matt Geisel to replace Jon Barela.

Geisel will take the state post as head of the Economic Development Department after serving as Rio Rancho's economic development and business relations manager.

Geisel previously served as vice-chair of the New Mexico Economic Development Partnership, which is the state agency's marketing arm.

Barela joined the state agency in 2011. He stepped town to take a job with a nonprofit group that promotes business expansion along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Agency To Begin Releases Of Water For Underground StorageAssociated Press

A New Mexico water agency is poised to begin its annual releases of reservoir water so it'll seep into the ground and be available to be pumped up later from the aquifer for consumption.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority plans Thursday afternoon to begin releasing 3,000 gallons a minute into the Bear Canyon Arroyo at Arroyo Del Oso Park in northeast Albuquerque.

The release marks the start of the authority's 2016 release season.

The authority in 2014 began releasing water obtained from the Rio Grande after being transferred into New Mexico from Colorado via a pipeline west of Chama.

It says nearly 1,600 acre-feet have been stored underground so far, with approximately 1,400 acre-feet pumped up for consumption.

Roswell Developing Park Near International UFO MuseumRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

The city of Roswell is developing a $100,000 city park near the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

UFO Museum Executive Director Jim Hill told the Roswell Daily Record this week that work began a few weeks ago on the improvement project.

The park will be adjacent to the museum building, which is one of the city's major tourist attractions.

Officials say the unfenced park will have vinca as a ground cover because it requires relatively little water and is hearty enough to survive winters.

The park also will have walkways for people to travel through the area.

There are also plans to redesign the interior of the museum.