ABQ Transit Construction Begins, NM Supreme Court To Consider Arrest Record Erasures

Oct 17, 2016

Construction On Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project BeginsThe Associated Press & KOAT 

Drivers in Albuquerque can expect lane closures and some delays as crews begin heavy construction on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.

KOAT-TV reports that the city has begun work to construct a dedicated bus lane along 9 miles of Central Ave. and work is expected to run into late 2017.

Pre-construction work began over the summer, but full construction is now underway. At least one lane will remain open at all times during construction.

New Mexico Supreme Court To Consider Arrest Record ErasuresThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal 

The New Mexico Supreme Court will consider whether the state's courts should be able to erase court and arrest records, and, if so, when it is appropriate to do so.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that New Mexico has been grappling with the question for a decade. Lawmakers have passed four bills on the topic since 2005, but two were vetoed by former Gov. Bill Richardson and the others by current Gov. Susana Martinez.

The case headed for the Supreme Court began when paramedic Christine Stump was arrested eight years ago for grabbing an Albuquerque police officer's arm while both were responding to an attempted suicide. The charge of battery on a police officer was later dismissed and Stump is fighting to have her record expunged.

Debate Highlights Stakes In Race For NM Secretary Of StateAssociated Press

Two candidates vying to become New Mexico's top elections and campaign finance regulator used a debate on Sunday morning to present sharply different visions of how to run the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office.

Republican Nora Espinoza, a former teacher and member of the state House of Representatives for the past decade, emphasized her intention to safeguard the integrity of the voting system against concerns of voter fraud.

She attacked her Democratic opponent's administrative record as a county clerk at nearly every turn in an hourlong debate.

The Democratic candidate, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, accused her opponent of attempting to suppress voter participation in a state where registered Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans. She touted her knowledge and experience in administering elections in New Mexico's most populous county since 2007.

The Secretary of State's office oversees a balloting system that relies heavily on elected clerks in 33 counties to run elections and update voter registration rolls.

The victor in the polls will fill the remainder of a term vacated by former Secretary of State Dianna Duran. Duran resigned last year after pleading guilty to felony counts of embezzlement.

New Mexico Base IDs Airman Found Dead; Foul Play Ruled OutAlamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

Holloman Air Force Base officials have released the name of an airman found dead on base.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that the body of 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Nathan Wilson-Ross was discovered in the base dormitories Oct. 11.

Base spokesman Arlan Ponder says no foul play is suspected.

No possible cause of death was given.

Wilson-Ross, of San Angelo, Texas, was an F-16 aircraft maintenance specialist assigned to the 54th Fighter Group.

Ponder says Wilson-Ross was deployed to Holloman from Aviano Air Base in Italy a year ago.

He is survived by his mother and a brother.

Developer Resumes Work On Massive New Mexico Wind FarmAssociated Press

After years of planning and delays, work is resuming on what officials are billing as one of New Mexico's largest wind farms.

Officials are gathering in Torrance County on Monday to celebrate the restart of construction on Avangrid Renewables' El Cabo Wind Farm.

The 56,000-acre project spans private property and state trust land. It will be made up of more than 140 wind turbines.

Supporters say the project is expected to provide at least $2 million in lease and payments in lieu of taxes each year over the 30-year life of the project.

Last year, Avangrid acknowledged that construction had slowed while transmission-related constraints were addressed. Construction first started in 2013 as companies raced to get projects underway to take advantage of federal incentives.

Federal Judge Denies Navajos' Request For More Polling Sites Salt Lake Tribune, Associated Press

A federal judge has struck down a Navajo group's request for a court order requiring San Juan County to open additional polling places.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish denied the Navajo Human Rights Commission's motion Friday.

In her opinion, Parrish says the plaintiffs failed to show why the county's switch to a mail-only voting system put Navajo voters at a disadvantage if there will still be polling places within reach.

The judge cites how the county opened three polling sites on the reservation for the primary election in June.

The county argued it brought sites closer to Navajos than they are for most white voters.

Parrish also writes that making the county open even more sites at this stage would be ineffective.

New Mexico's Elephant Butte Dam Celebrates 100 YearsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Elephant Butte Dam officially turns 100 years old Sunday and officials are celebrating with everything from tours to a fireworks show and pie-eating contest.

Neal Brown operates Elephant Butte Lake's three marinas and the Dam Site Recreation Area.

Brown tells the Albuquerque Journal it's fitting to celebrate the dam's centennial because the structure has had a lasting impact on the state.

The celebration started Friday and runs through Sunday. Events are being held in locations around the reservoir.

When completed in 1916, Elephant Butte Dam was the second-largest dam in the world, surpassed only by the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

The dam provides flood control for the lower Rio Grande and irrigation water to 178,000 acres of farmland in New Mexico and Texas. It also created the state's largest lake and has been a playground for boaters, anglers and hikers for decades.

Hearing On Albuquerque Police Mistrial Set For Next MonthAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Prosecutors will have to decide by next month if they will retry two former Albuquerque police officers in the death of a homeless man.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that State District Judge Alisa Hadfield's office issued notice Friday that she will conduct a status hearing Nov. 14 on the criminal prosecution of Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy.

A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday after jurors deadlocked over whether to convict them in the death of James Boyd.

The officers fatally shot the 38-year-old Boyd after an hours-long standoff in the Sandia Mountain foothills in 2014.

The jury listened to 12 days of testimony.

It was not immediately clear if attorney Randi McGinn, who was appointed as a special prosecutor for the case, would continue in the case.

Santa Fe May Try To Regulate Residents' Sugar IntakeSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The city of Santa Fe may look at how to cut down on how much sugar residents consume.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Mayor Javier Gonzales introduced a resolution Thursday calling for the city manager to "explore active ways of reducing sugar intake."

The proposal also asks state lawmakers to enact legislation in the next session that deals with the impact of excess sugar consumption among residents statewide.

The city also wants the federal Food and Drug Administration to eliminate fructose from the Generally Recognized as Safe, or GRAS, list.

The resolution must go before three city council committees before it reaches the full council in December.

New Mexico's Corrections Chief To Step Down At End Of MonthAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez says the top corrections official for New Mexico is retiring at the end of the month after nearly five years at the helm of the state's prison system.

Corrections Department Secretary Gregg Marcantel says he is leaving his job to spend more time with his ailing mother.

His retirement comes amid an especially tumultuous year for the department that included the escape of a convicted murderer and another violent felon from a prison van in March, and revelations that probation officers had not monitored a suspect charged in August in the assault and killing of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl.

Those incidences were not mentioned in the governor's statement announcing Marcantel's resignation.

She says Marcantel had a three-decade law enforcement career.