ABQ Mayor Vetoes Budget, Med Pot Producer Sues NM State Fair

Jun 1, 2017

Albuquerque Mayor Vetoes Budget - Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has vetoed the city’s budget.  He says it’s not in the best interest of the city.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Berry is concerned that the bill leaves the general fund imbalanced while reducing the city’s police force budget by $2.4 million. 

He said in the veto message that he and Councilors Pat Davis and Brad Winter will present a compromise budget for consideration to the full council on Monday.

Berry says the new budget provides funding for public safety and for modest raises for “valuable employees.”

Medical Pot Producer Sues Over New Mexico State Fair DisplayThe Associated Press

One of New Mexico's licensed medical marijuana producers is suing Expo New Mexico officials over refusal to let the company display its products at the state fair later this year.

Attorneys for Ultra Health Inc. filed the lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, alleging that the company's constitutional rights to free speech and due process are being violated.

Ultra Health says it sought permission from fair officials to put up an informational booth featuring diagrams and photos of cannabis plants as well as lists and other information about medical cannabis products.

Fair officials informed the company via email that any plants, products or images of the restricted items would be prohibited.

Expo New Mexico officials did not immediately respond Thursday to a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Mexico for a decade.

Dem Gets Calls To Resign On Trump Facebook PostThe Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is calling on a Democratic public education commissioner to resign over his social media post supporting a bloody, beheaded image of President Trump.

Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said Thursday that Tim Crone crossed the line when he applauded and encouraged "a sick stunt." Lonergan says the governor is demanding that he apologize and step down from the commission.

Democrat Tim Crone wrote on Facebook late Wednesday that he endorsed comedian Kathy Griffin's posting of the Trump image and called the Native American-owned Route 66 Casino a "loser, redneck" venue for canceling an upcoming Griffin show over the video.

The 70-year-old Crone told The Associated Press his remarks "were intended as a joke" and were directed at friends.

He later edited the Facebook post.

Judge Rejects Challenge To Albuquerque's Minimum Wage LawThe Associated Press

A challenge to Albuquerque's voter-approved 2012 law setting a minimum wage for New Mexico's most populous city has been rejected by a judge.

State District Judge Alan Malott's ruling Tuesday rejects a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by employees of the business.

Malott's ruling say the business' former owners should have filed their challenge right after the election, not years later.

Malott's ruling also says alleged procedural flaws with the 2012 ballot measure either weren't valid or significant enough to warranted overriding the decision by voters.

The employees' lawsuit centers on the minimum wage law's increase in the hourly wage for tipped workers. The law currently requires $8.80 an hour for employees without benefits.

Another lawsuit challenging the minimum wage law remains pending.

Busy New Mexico Courts To Implement Risk Assessment ToolAssociated Press

Judges in New Mexico's most populous county will soon be using a new risk assessment tool to help determine conditions of release for defendants awaiting trial.

State and metropolitan court officials gathered Wednesday to discuss the new initiative, which will begin later this month.

The assessment will take into account several factors, including the likelihood that a defendant will commit a new crime if released and whether that person will show up for future court hearings.

The tool also flags defendants who present an elevated risk of committing a violent crime.

Officials say the tool is more up to date than the risk assessment that the courts have been using since 2015.

The assessment system is being used or is in the process of being implemented in nearly three dozen jurisdictions across the country, including in neighboring Arizona.

New Mexico Police Make Arrests In String Of Deadly RobberiesThe Associated Press

Authorities have arrested two people suspected in a string of deadly robberies in New Mexico's largest city.

State police officers arrested 34-year-old Yoan Pena Santiesteban and 26-year-old Gloria Chavez in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, after spotting them Tuesday in a car that belonged to a man who had been killed May 14 at an Albuquerque motel.

A criminal complaint states the two allegedly used that car for two more robberies that ended with shootings.

Police say Santiesteban and Chavez are facing charges of murder, robbery with a deadly weapon and tampering with evidence. It's not immediately clear if they had attorneys.

Investigators say they linked the two suspects to three separate killings in May through interviews and bullet casings found the scenes.

Police also are investigating whether the two might be connected to other crimes.

Institute Of American Indian Arts Acquires Harjo ArchivesAssociated Press

The Institute of American Indian Arts has acquired the archives and art collection of longtime Native American historian and advocate Suzan Harjo.

The institute made the announcement Wednesday, noting that Harjo recently decided to make the donation following decades of advocacy for Native arts and culture.

Harjo will be 72 on Friday. She says the institute was the appropriate place for her records and that the donation reflects her long-term relationship with the Santa Fe-based institution.

The Harjo papers stretch back to 1965 and relate to everything from the passage of several significant pieces of federal legislation to a lawsuit over a professional football team's trademarks and her time at the National Congress of American Indians.

The art collection includes pieces by Kelly Church, Leonard Peltier, Roxanne Swentzell, Tony Tiger and others.

New Mexico Reduces Lottery Scholarships - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico is reducing college scholarships linked to state lottery proceeds from 90 percent of tuition to 60 percent for in-state students for the coming school year.

Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron on Wednesday announced the changes in lottery-based scholarships. Roughly 26,000 students at universities, four-year colleges and two-year community colleges receive the assistance.

Liquor excise tax revenues are being phased out after bolstering scholarship funding in recent years, as the demand for financial aid outpaced revenues from lottery sales.

State lawmakers who oversee funding of the lottery scholarships have been left with few other options for sustaining the scholarships that once paid for 100 percent of in-state tuition.

With the change, tuition assistance for students at New Mexico's three research universities is decreasing by more than $700 to $1,721 in the fall.

New Mexico Launches Summer Meal Program For ChildrenAssociated Press

Officials say nearly 3 million meals will be served to New Mexico children over the summer as part of an annual program aimed at helping low-income families.

Gov. Susana Martinez and Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson kicked off the summer meal program Wednesday during a visit to a school in Albuquerque.

Martinez says access to good meals ensures children have the fuel their bodies and minds need.

More than 16.5 million meals have been served in New Mexico through the federally-funded program since 2011. The state was ranked No. 1 last year by the Food Research and Action Center for serving meals to low-income children over the summer months.

Albuquerque Attorney Enters Race For Congressional SeatAssociated Press

Attorney Damian Lara is the latest person to run for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District.

Lara announced Tuesday he is running for the seat as a Democrat.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat, is not seeking a third term in Congress because she is running for governor. Lara is a lawyer who focuses on immigration and family law.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports he is the sixth Democratic candidate. He is running against former state Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland, Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, physicist Dennis Dinge, Edgewood Mayor Pro Tem John Abrams and former law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

No Republican has formally announced a bid for the seat, which the party has not won since 2008.

New Mexico Casino Cancels Kathy Griffin PerformanceAssociated Press

A casino in New Mexico has scrapped a scheduled performance by comedian Kathy Griffin after she posted online a bloody image that resembled President Donald Trump.

Route 66 Casino, a casino operated by Laguna Pueblo, announced late Tuesday on social media that the July 22 performance by Griffin was canceled.

Griffin, who helped with CNN's New Year's Eve coverage, has apologized, saying that the brief video was "too disturbing" and wasn't funny.

Griffin appears in a video posted online Tuesday holding what looks like President Donald Trump's bloody, severed head.

She described the project as an "artsy fartsy statement" on Instagram and says she does not condone causing harm to others.

Clock Ticks Down For Health Insurance Changes In New Mexico Associated Press

New Mexico's subsidized health insurance exchange is confronting an uncertain future as the state begins accepting 2018 rate requests from insurance providers.

The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance on Thursday opened a 10-day period for insurance companies to revise their rates for 2018 or bow out of New Mexico's state-run exchange. About 55,000 people rely on the exchange.

In many regions of the country, people shopping for insurance under the Affordable Care Act could see higher prices and fewer choices next year.

New Mexico insurance companies have been left to guess whether the federal government will continue subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses like copayments.

New Mexico Health Connections CEO Martin Hickey says it is unclear whether the Donald Trump administration will require that taxpayers maintain health coverage or pay a penalty.

Gary Johnson Plans To Ride Bike To Mexico Border From CanadaSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is preparing for what he's calling his greatest physical challenge yet.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Johnson is planning to ride a bike 2,800 miles through the Continental Divide. He plans to ride from Alberta, Canada, to Southern New Mexico.

He says his life has become "eat, sleep, ride" to train for the mountainous trek.

Johnson has taken part in Ironman triathlons and climbed Mt. Everest a few months after breaking a leg skiing. But the 64-year-old says this bike ride might put him completely off his "rocker."

Johnson says he expects to be on his mountain bike for eight to nine hours a day for about 40 days. He says he plans to carry about 40 pounds of supplies.