Bernalillo County Latest To Sue Opioid Makers, Judge Declines Injunction From Land Commissioner

Sep 6, 2017

Bernalillo County Latest To Sue Opioid Makers Over MarketingThe Associated Press

New Mexico's most populous county is planning to sue opioid manufacturers over marketing practices officials say have led to soaring numbers of overdoses.

Bernalillo County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to sue the drug-makers. The move comes just days after Mora County became the state's first local government to sue in hopes of collecting cash from pharmaceutical companies.

Bernalillo Commission Chair Debbie O'Malley says in a statement that her county has been heavily impacted by the opioid crisis, with increasing crime related to opioid addiction and related policing costs. The county will seek changes in marketing and prescribing practices as well as cash to help cover its higher costs.

Mora County sued 20 of the largest drugmakers last week on similar grounds.

New Mexico Judge Declines Injunction Barring Candidate's AdsThe Associated Press

A New Mexico judge declined to grant an injunction barring a state land commissioner candidate from airing radio ads against the incumbent.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn asked for the injunction in a lawsuit he filed against Democratic candidate Garrett VeneKlasen that District Judge Matthew Reynolds refused at a Tuesday hearing.

VaneKlasen began his campaign in May with an ad insinuating Dunn's ranch purchase was a scheme to cash in on the construction of a power line. Dunn argued the ads are false and defamatory.

The judge says he did not see evidence showing Dunn suffered from the ads.

Dunn's lawyer says they intend to take the case to trial.

Dunn is running for a congressional seat instead of seeking re-election as land commissioner.

New Mexico And Other States Will Sue Over Immigration MoveThe Associated Press

Washington state's attorney general says he will file a lawsuit involving multiple states over President Donald Trump's plan to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation — an act he said was "a dark time for our country."

Bob Ferguson, who earlier this year sued Trump over a travel ban affecting mostly Muslim nations, said at a news conference Wednesday that 11 states and the District of Columbia were involved in the legal action, which will be filed in the Eastern District of New York.

Ferguson said more states could join in the future.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, will end in six months to give Congress time to find a legislative solution for the immigrants.

The participants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.

New Mexico Woman Suffers More Than 1,000 Bee StingsThe Associated Press & The Deming Headlight 

A New Mexico family is recovering from a bee attack where one woman suffered more than a thousand bee stings.

The Deming Headlight reports 85-year-old Angela Ortiz was attacked by a colony of bees last Friday as she was outside a trailer home. A Luna County Sheriff's Office report says a deputy and family members were also attacked by the bees as they helped Ortiz. Authorities were able to rescue the family by using a fire extinguisher.

The Luna County Sheriff's Office says Ortiz had not noticed the bees that lived in a hive under the home. She was taken to a Las Cruces hospital where she currently is recovering.

Attorney General Vows Help For 'Dreamers'Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is joining several state attorneys general in vowing to challenge plans by the Donald Trump administration to undo legal protections for young immigrants.

Balderas on Tuesday announced plans to "build a strong case" to protect beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump has begun to dismantle the program also known as DACA that allows young people who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children to work legally in the U.S.

Balderas says Trump's actions put at risk the safety of thousands of New Mexico residents who contribute to classrooms, public safety and the economy.

DACA was created under President Barack Obama. Trump has given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix if it chooses.

New Mexico Students 'Walk Out' Over DACA End – Associated Press

Students in the most Hispanic state in the U.S. have participated in a walkout to protest the Trump's administration's decision to end Obama-era immigrant protections.

High school students across Albuquerque, New Mexico, walked out of class Tuesday to protest the administration's announcement it would wind down a program protecting young immigrants from deportation.

Several hundred from Albuquerque High School left class Tuesday afternoon and held a rally outside of campus while motorists honked in support.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday called the program known as DACA an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch."

Yelitza Salgado says she needs the DACA program to continue her education and left Mexico as a child. The 17-year-old says she hasn't been to Mexico since.

Feds Close Office Of New Mexico Guardianship FirmAssociated Press

Federal authorities say they are closing the offices of an Albuquerque guardianship firm whose owners have been charged with embezzling millions of dollars from their clients' trust accounts.

The announcement from the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. attorney for New Mexico comes nearly seven weeks after federal official took over operations of the company, Ayudando Guardians, Inc.

Company founders Susan Harris and Sharon Moore have pleaded not guilty to federal charges. They're accused of a decade-long scheme to siphon money from disabled veterans and people with special needs who relied on Ayudando to manage their finances.

The announcement says the vast majority of the approximately 1,400 clients who receive Social Security or veterans benefits have had their cases transferred to other providers.

The Marshals Service remains responsible under a court order for overseeing the firm's business affairs and ensuring clients are served.

Miss Navajo Nation Contest Is Parting Ways With Fry BreadAssociated Press

The Miss Navajo Nation contest is parting ways with fry bread.

Contestants vying for the title this week in Window Rock will be preparing traditional foods instead.

The change aligns with a movement in Indian Country to refocus on traditional foods and reinforce native languages.

Fry bread was born out of government rations that Navajos received during a forced relocation to eastern New Mexico in the 1860s. Former Miss Navajo Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw says making it taught Navajos about survival and being productive.

Navajo chef Brian Yazzie welcomed the change, saying it challenges young people to pursue ancestral knowledge and ancestral roots.

Visitors to the Navajo Nation Fair still can see fry bread makers in action. Dozens of people compete for cash prizes in a separate contest.

Most Visited State Museum Needs $2 Million In ImprovementsAssociated Press

New Mexico's most visited state museum needs more than $2 million in improvements.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque needs a fire-retardant curtain, smoke detectors, fire-alarm panels, improvements to heating and air conditioning systems, and other repairs.

The Department of Cultural Affairs received only $300,000 for the needs of the entire department this fiscal year from the Governmental Gross Receipts Tax.

Money from the tax is used for capital emergencies within the DCA.

The department oversees eight state-run museums and seven historical sites.

DCA Secretary Veronica Gonzales says the agency is interested in increasing the percentage it receives from the tax.

Cultural Affairs is working closely with the Finance Authority to appeal to state authorities for more capital building repair funds.

Director Of Los Alamos National Laboratory RetiringSanta Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal

The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory will retire at the end of the year after leading the scientific complex for six years during a time of growth and also turmoil.

The Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal report Charles McMillan has led LANL since 2011 and is CEO of Los Alamos National Security, a consortium that manages the lab.

More than 10,000 people work at the lab, which has faced increased scrutiny over safety issues following the shipment of a waste drum to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant that was packed improperly. It subsequently leaked in 2014. That caused WIPP to shut down and nuclear waste to pile up at sites around the country.

There have been other health and safety problems as well, including an improper shipment of plutonium and a fire at the lab’s plutonium facility.

The Department of Energy said in 2015 it would not renew the management contract of Los Alamos National Security and put it out for bid. New management will take over in September 2018.

McMillan previously worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He told the Journal he has never seen a large organization that is perfect and that includes LANL.