APD Accused Of Editing Video Footage, Union Pacific Train Derails In New Mexico

Nov 22, 2016

Albuquerque Police Accused Of Editing Video Footage – The Associated Press

A City Council member is calling for the city lawyer to arrange for an independent investigation into allegations that Albuquerque police officials erased, altered or corrupted video recordings from officers' lapel cameras.

Pat Davis' letter to city attorney Jessica Hernandez on Tuesday requests that she appoint outside counsel to investigate the allegations because her office faces potential accusations of having conflict of interest. The city attorney defends civil cases against the Albuquerque Police Department.

Davis' letter follows a City Council meeting Monday in which Chief Gorden Eden and Hernandez told council members they launched an investigation into the matter after a former police records custodian said in an affidavit that the department trained certain police units and command staff to edit videos of interactions with civilians since 2013.

Union Pacific Train Derails In New Mexico The Associated Press

Union Pacific Railroad says it was its train that derailed near Santa Rosa, New Mexico, on Tuesday morning.

Spokesman Jeff DeGraff said a Union Pacific train carrying grain derailed 15 railcars and one locomotive. Authorities had originally said 14 cars were derailed.

The train was traveling from Nebraska to Tucson, Arizona.

DeGraff said there were no injuries to the crew or direct impacts in the local area.

Union Pacific crews are working to re-attach the cars and assess damage to the track, which is also owned by Union Pacific.

State Requests Work Exemption For Food Aid RecipientsThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico officials have asked the U.S. government to continue exempting state residents from having to complete paid or unpaid work in order to receive government food assistance.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state's current waiver exempting New Mexico from imposing the work rules expires in March.

Human Services Department spokesman Kyler Nerison says the request to extend the waiver comes because of a court injunction that currently prevents the department from implementing work requirements.

A federal judge last spring blocked Gov. Susana Martinez's administration from implementing work rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty attorney Sovereign Hager says up to 20,000 New Mexicans could be subject to work rules without the waiver.

EPA Wants To Keep Treatment Plant Running After Mine SpillThe Associated Press 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to keep operating a temporary wastewater treatment plant near the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado while it looks for longer-term solutions after a massive spill at the mine last year.

The EPA announced its intentions last week, and a final decision will be made next month.

The move was expected.

The plant began operating in October 2015, about 10 weeks after an EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered a 3-million-gallon spill of wastewater from the mine while doing preliminary cleanup work.

The spill tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, including three Indian reservations in those states.

The EPA is looking at long-term cleanup solutions for the Gold King and other nearby mining sites. The area was designated a Superfund site in September.

University Of New Mexico Keeps Seal Despite Racial ConcernsAssociated Press

The board of regents of New Mexico's largest university has opted not to overhaul its half-century old seal amid concerns by Native American students.

The University of New Mexico board of regents voted last week to keep a Spanish conquistador and a frontiersman on the seal after months of forums and public input.

Native American student groups wanted the University of New Mexico to scrap the seal that depicts a rifle-toting frontiersman and a sword-carrying Spanish conquistador. They say it represents the frontier's violent era.

But some Hispanic activists oppose removing the conquistador since they say it represents the state's Hispanic heritage.

The board did approve a measure to determine how much it could cost in the future to replace the seal.

Judiciary Considers Proposal To Expand Access To Court DocsAssociated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering a proposal to allow attorneys, journalists, judges and law enforcement officers’ online access to court records 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The proposal would expand online access to court records — such as complaints, motions and rulings — to people who regularly rely on the documents for their work. The public would still be able to view and obtain documents in person at courthouses.

Under the proposal, access to documents from computers outside the court system would be restricted and managed by the Judicial Information Division.

The judiciary will take comment on the proposal during a public hearing on the morning of Dec. 8 in Santa Fe. The public can also offer comment that day by video conference from courthouses in Taos, Roswell, Farmington and Albuquerque.

Oil Well Regulator Defends Its Oversight Of CleanupAssociated Press

The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division is defending its handling of cleanup efforts by an out-of-state driller at an oil waste injection site on state trust land, in response to criticism from an another state agency.

The Oil Conservation Division that oversees oil and natural gas well permits said Monday that it has been working with Midland, Texas-based Siana Operating to address violations and hold the company accountable for spills of oily salt water at a well site in southeastern New Mexico.

The New Mexico State Land Office that oversees state trust lands says it will prevent Siana from using trust lands until the company agrees to its stringent cleanup requirements.

Oil Conservation Division Director David Catanach says that move is obstructing responsible cleanup efforts and could cost taxpayers more.

New Mexico State Parks Provides Free Black Friday Admission Associated Press

New Mexico is providing free access to its network of 33 state parks on the Friday after Thanksgiving as encouragement for families to friends to spend time outdoors.

New Mexico State Parks announced Monday announced that it would waive fees on a day that many people otherwise spend shopping in anticipation of year-end holidays.

States including California, Colorado and Minnesota are holding free Black Friday programs for their state park systems. Facilities in New Mexico span from Pancho Villa State Park near the Mexico border to high-altitude lakes and canyons near the Colorado state line.

New Mexico State Parks is encouraging people to share their outdoor experiences on social media through the hashtag #NMTrueParkFriday.

Director Of New Mexico Spaceport Ready For Next Phase - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The new chief executive of Spaceport America says New Mexico couldn't be in a better position as the commercial space tourism and transport industry matures.

Daniel Hicks has had a week now to settle into his new job. He replaced Christine Anderson, who retired after guiding construction and the installation of key infrastructure at the taxpayer-financed spaceport.

Hicks said in an interview Monday that it's good timing to have Spaceport America ready for service as the industry makes progress on developing reusable rockets and transport systems, including Virgin Galactic's efforts toward commercial flights.

Virgin Galactic is the spaceport's anchor tenant. Hicks will be visiting the company's testing facility in California next month.

Virgin announced earlier this month that it's planning for the first glide tests of its latest spaceship.

Proposed New Mexico Waste Oil Disposal Plant Draws CriticismHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A proposed waste oil disposal plant in southeastern New Mexico is drawing criticism from local officials and uranium enrichment giant URENCO USA.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the criticism came after news had spread that the Lubbock-based CK Disposal wanted to build a 317-acre surface waste oil management plant in eastern Lea County.

The proposed site is across from the URENCO USA facility.

Six state legislators representing Lea County had signed a recent letter expressing concerns about that location and the potential for contaminating the URENCO site with "significant atmospheric discharge, primarily in the form of hydrogen sulfide."

CK Disposal engineers say the maximum possible release would be below require levels.

Dog Escapes Jaw Trap Placed Near Popular Cibola Forest TrailAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A Bernalillo County man had to free his dog from a jaw trap placed near a popular hiking trail in the Cibola National Forest, raising questions about how trapping is managed in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that John Ussery was hiking Saturday when his 25-pound dog Cub became trapped in a metal animal trap. The device didn't break Cub's skin and by Sunday he was playing with no clear sign of injury.

Ussery says he worries that other dogs or even children could step on the trap, which was close to a popular trial and hard to spot in the dirt.

In New Mexico, trappers can place traps on national forest land, but not nearby picnic areas, dwellings or public roads or trail.

New Mexico College Gets $2M To Help Native StudentsFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A northwestern New Mexico college has been awarded more than $2 million in federal grants to help Native American students complete their degrees and to fund scholarships for students in the nursing program.

Officials say the funding will be used by San Juan College to remove obstacles that Native American students face in completing their educations.

The Daily Times reports the college has one of the nation's highest graduation rates for Native American students.

The college plans to expand its use of instructors to lead study sessions and create academic advising for at-risk students. A Native American new student orientation program also will be created.

For students in the nursing program, scholarships will be aimed at increasing the number of Native American nurses working within the Indian Health Service.