Archbishop Vows To Oppose Food Tax, James Boyd Police Shooting Case To Get Review

Dec 20, 2016

Roman Catholic Church Denounces New Mexico 'Food Tax' Idea  - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The Roman Catholic church is calling on New Mexico residents to reject a proposal to reinstate a food tax.

Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester said he will oppose efforts to restore a food tax in New Mexico, especially since the majority Hispanic state ranks the highest nationally in child poverty.

Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, says his proposal would reinstate a food tax but lower the sales tax rate from 8 percent to nearly 4. He says the plan would not force New Mexico residents on food stamps to pay food taxes.

Former Gov. Bill Richardson vetoed a food tax in 2010 passed by a Democratic-controlled Legislature.

That proposal would have reinstated the tax on groceries and food staples at rates levied by cities and counties.

James Boyd Police Shooting Case To Get ReviewThe Associated Press

Metro Albuquerque's incoming district attorney has announced plans for an independent review of the case involving two former Albuquerque police officers accused in the shooting death of a mentally ill homeless man during a 2014 standoff.

It will be up to District Attorney-elect Raul Torrez to eventually decide if former Officer Dominique Perez and now-retired Detective Keith Sandy should be retried in the fatal shooting of James Boyd following an October mistrial due to a hung jury.

Torrez says the case needs a prompt, thorough review and that it'll be conducted by a team of senior trial prosecutors from around the state.

The review is expected to be done early next year. The team will then make a recommendation to the 2nd Judicial District Attorney's Office.

2 Arrested After Police Find 21 Stolen CarsThe Associated Press

Authorities say they've arrested two men after an investigation led to the recovery of 21 stolen vehicles in Albuquerque's south side.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department says 32-year-old Gilbert Sanchez was arrested on a felony warrant and probation violation. The department also says 43-year-old Jerry Frazier is facing 21 counts of receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, along with felon in possession of a firearm and drug possession.

Sherriff's spokeswoman Felicia Romero said the department's property crime unit served a search warrant on Tuesday morning at a property on Prosperity Avenue and Williams Street Southeast.

Photos show several cars in a commercial lot.

Fed Up With Tough Talk, Civic Groups To Grade Crime BillsAssociated Press

A coalition of civil liberties, human rights and faith-based groups in New Mexico has created a new litmus test for criminal justice legislation designed to encourage evidence-based proposals and question highly politicized calls for harsh penalties.

New Mexico ACLU Public Policy Director Steven Robert Allen says members of New Mexico Safe coalition plan to assign letter grades to major criminal justice bills before proposals reach initial committee hearings early next year.

He says the group's four-point evaluations are designed to focus conversations on crime-reducing strategies that have a proven track record for improving public safety and make fiscal sense amid a state budget crisis.

Participants in the effort include the League of Women Voters, the Albuquerque NAACP, the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Social Workers and more.

Roswell Asked To Take Over Long-Disputed CemeteryThe Associated Press & The Roswell Daily Record

Descendants of some of Roswell's founding families are asking the city to take over ownership of a cemetery where their relatives are buried.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that a letter from the descendants' attorney Jimmy Craig was hand-delivered to the City Council on Dec. 7, asking that officials take over ownership of the long-disputed Memory Lawn Memorial Park.

The City Council's Infrastructure Committee on Monday afternoon was formally asked to take ownership of the cemetery. The committee voted to investigate the topic further before making any recommendations.

Memory Lawn was placed in receivership with Chaves County commissioner Bob Corn in 2011. Corn was charged to maintain the property and take care of it through its legal and financial struggles.

Albuquerque Police Seek Suspect In Man's Gruesome DeathAssociated Press

Police in Albuquerque say they are seeking suspects connected with the death of a man whose decapitated and mutilated body was found behind a store on the city's northeast side.

Police spokesman officer Fred Duran said at a Monday news conference that investigators have tentatively identified the victim as a 42-year-old man and they are trying to locate his family.

The body was found early Saturday behind a Walmart store. The man was nude and had been castrated.

Duran said the cause of death isn't yet known.

US Environmental Groups Critical Of Jaguar PlanAssociated Press

Environmentalists say a proposed recovery plan for the endangered jaguar falls short when it comes to offering a strategy for restoring a breeding population of the elusive cats in the United States.

A binational team of wildlife officials from the U.S. and Mexico released the draft plan Monday. It focuses on efforts to eliminate poaching, sustain habitat in northern Mexico and the American Southwest, and bolster social acceptance of the species.

Some environmentalists say the plan puts too much focus on recovery efforts in Mexico rather than considering translocation and other efforts to boost numbers in the U.S.

The proposal is the result of a legal fight against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that was won in 2009 by the Center of Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife.

New Mexico's 5 Electors Vote For Hillary ClintonAssociated Press

All five of New Mexico's electors have cast their votes for Hillary Clinton while expressing disappointment about the outcome of the presidential election.

The state's Democratic electors on Monday signed a certificate that will be delivered to Congress for the final certification of election results in January.

Clinton supporter and first-time elector Noyola Archibeque says she is very proud that New Mexico "stayed blue" and believes the rules of the Electoral College need to be revised to better reflect the popular vote. Clinton defeated Donald Trump by about 8 percentage points in the statewide vote.

New Mexico state law makes it a felony for a presidential elector to cast their ballot for anyone but the candidate of the party that nominated them as an elector.

4 Companies Chosen To Pursue Nuclear Waste Burial TestAssociated Press

Federal energy officials have named the four companies that will pursue the possibility of conducting a test to determine whether nuclear waste can be buried far underground.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Monday said the companies will explore potential sites for the test in South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico. Only one company will eventually carry out the field test.

Andy Griffith with the department's office of nuclear energy stressed during the announcement that the test won't involve nuclear waste. The agency also won't use any selected site for future actual storage or waste disposal.

Prospective sites in the Dakotas were abandoned after local opposition. Griffith says the agency is trying to overcome resistance by engaging with communities and emphasizing that nuclear waste won't be used in the project.

New Mexico Broadcasters Mourn Death Of Station Co-Owner Associated Press

The broadcast community in New Mexico is mourning the death of a radio personality and a station co-owner who was known for his work to improve the state's emergency alert system.

Authorities say Steve Rooney was killed Sunday when his vehicle hit a patch of ice and slid off the road near his home south of Portales. A preliminary investigation shows the vehicle collided with a tree.

The 45-year-old Rooney leaves behind a wife and four children.

Rooney and his partner, Duffy Moon, own four stations in Clovis and Portales and were known for years for their morning radio program.

Rooney recently served as president of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association and had been tapped by a national broadcasters group to serve on a committee focused on small radio stations.

Lawmakers Push EPA To Repay All Costs Of Mine Spill Response Associated Press

Two members of Colorado's congressional delegation are pressing the Environmental Protection agency to fully reimburse state, local and tribal agencies for the cost of responding to a toxic mine waste spill triggered by the EPA.

Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton said Monday a law passed this month removed some of the obstacles the EPA cited in turning down $20.4 million in requests.

The EPA says it paid $4.5 million in claims but rejected the others, in some cases because the costs came after a cutoff date set by the agency. The EPA said it was following federal law.

An EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered the spill at the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado while doing preliminary cleanup work in August 2015.

Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted.

Woman Used Dreamcatchers To Try To Smuggle Meth Associated Press

A 25-year-old woman is facing charges after U.S. border customs officials say she tried to smuggle liquid methamphetamine inside Native American-style dreamcatchers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the woman was detained Sunday at the Columbus, New Mexico Port of Entry after a drug-sniffing dog alerted customs officers. The officers found six dreamcatchers in the woman's 2000 Dodge Neon.

Officials say the dreamcatchers' rings were made of rubber tubing filled with a liquid that later tested positive for methamphetamine.

The woman from Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, was handed over to ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents.

Officials say she was traveling with her eight-year-old and one-year-old daughters.

CBP Columbus Port Director Robert Reza says it was one of the most unusual smuggling episodes agents have ever encountered.

Five Teens Charge In Death Of Man Over Stolen VanAlbuquerque Journal, KOB-TV

Authorities have charged five teenagers with murder in the death of a man run over with his own vehicle.

The Albuquerque Journal and KOB-TV report Hector Aguirre tried to stop the teens from stealing his work van three months ago. He died when they ran over him with the vehicle.

Aguirre was a church deacon and father of three.

The Albuquerque Police Department said the teens are part of a gang and APD is working to connect them to other violent crimes around the city. Those include a drive-by shooting and a break-in where intruders shot a family dog to death.