Court Sides With Efforts To Certify Hatch Chiles, Probe Targets High Crime In ABQ

Aug 12, 2016

Court Sides With Efforts To Certify Hatch Chiles - The Associated Press

A federal appeals court is refusing to reconsider a decision in favor of an association of green chile growers in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico in a dispute over the use of the renowned Hatch name on food labels.

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a rehearing request by the Hatch Chile Co. in a potential setback to the company's efforts to protect its stylized "Hatch" brand logos.

The court is backing efforts by the Hatch Chile Association and allied Albuquerque food distributor El Encanto to subpoena records that may indicate whether Hatch Chile Co. products contain purely Hatch-grown chile.

Chile association member Preston Mitchell said Thursday that a lower court will review the subpoenas. The association is seeking a certification mark for Hatch-grown chiles. 

Probe Targeting High-Crime In Albuquerque Nets 98 ArrestsThe Associated Press

Authorities say 104 people have been charged with violating federal firearms and drug trafficking after a four-month, multi-agency investigation that aimed to curb high violent crime rates in the Albuquerque area.

The investigation also led to the arrests of four people on state charges, with two of the defendants accused in separate in killings that happened in May and June.

Authorities say 94 of the 104 suspects in the federal firearms and drug cases have been arrested. Ten are considered fugitives.

The defendants in federal court are accused of crimes ranging from distributing meth and heroin to being felons in possession of firearms.

The investigation was led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and involved more than a half-dozen other law enforcement agencies, including the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.

Tougher Tribal Antiquities Legislation Comes Under CriticismThe Associated Press 

A push for federal legislation that would prohibit Native American items protected by U.S. laws from being exported to international markets has come under scrutiny from dealers and collectors as tribal leaders try to defend the proposals.

At a press conference Friday, Gov. Kurt Riley of Acoma Pueblo said misconceptions about the proposals in Congress have led to fears that dealers who collect and sell tribal antiquities will have to relinquish their entire inventories. He says there is also a misconception that the proposals will prohibit the export of all U.S. tribal art and antiques.

A proposed resolution introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce urges federal agencies to seek the return of certain tribal items from international auction houses.

Legislation proposed by Sen. Martin Heinrich seeks stiffer penalties for stealing and trafficking tribal religious and cultural objects.

Elevators At Carlsbad Caverns Out Of Service AgainThe Associated Press

Officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park say the elevators are out of service again.

The temporary outage stems from a safety test Thursday morning during which one of the secondary elevator cars unexpectedly stalled in the hoist way with no passengers aboard.

For safety reasons, the elevators were taken out of service while mechanics assessed the situation.

Technicians from an elevator company are being called out to determine the cause of the malfunction and what repairs might be needed.

Officials say the elevators will be placed back in service as soon as it's safe.

The elevators came back online in May after being down for months while crews installed new steel reinforcing beams and wall anchors in a hoist way. Structural engineers signed off on that work.

Feds Go After New Mexico State University Over Pay Disparity - The Associated Press

The U.S. Justice Department is suing New Mexico State University and its regents over alleged pay inequities among male and female track coaches.

The lawsuit announced Thursday accuses the university of discriminating against former assistant track coach Meaghan Harkins on the basis of gender by paying her less than male colleagues with similar responsibilities.

Prosecutors say the disparity amounted to a civil rights violation and thousands of dollars less per year for Harkins.

The university says it shares the Justice Department's commitment to equal pay for equal work but disputes the allegations. NMSU says Harkins did not hold the same position as the other coaches.

NMSU general counsel Liz Ellis says Harkins was the spouse of a full-time assistant coach and had been volunteering when her husband requested a third-tier paid position be created to compensate her for her work. 

New Mexico Village Celebrates Rebirth of Church, Community - Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Fueled by faith and determination, volunteers worked tens of thousands of hours over the last several years to rebuild the heart of one mountain village in northern New Mexico.

On Sunday, they'll gather in Questa to celebrate their efforts with the rededication of the San Antonio Catholic Church, one of the oldest churches in the nation.

One of the church's main adobe walls collapsed almost a decade ago, prompting the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to call for the building to be torn down. Community members wouldn't have it and fought for permission to rebuild the historic structure on their own.

The project included the laying of 29,000 adobes, the stabilization of existing walls and the creation of numerous stained glass windows and special carvings.

The volunteers were focused Thursday on finishing touches in preparations for the weekend celebration. 

New Mexico Attorney General Likes Facebook Power Plan - The Associated Press

New Mexico's attorney general is urging utility regulators to approve a power-supply contract for a proposed Facebook data center after reviewing potential costs to other electricity consumers.

Attorney General Hector Balderas submitted a three-page memo on Thursday to the Public Regulation Commission. The commission may decide as soon as next week on an application by Public Service Co. of New Mexico to build new solar energy facilities that would offset much of the power consumption at the data center in Los Lunas.

Facebook also is considering a location in Utah for the facility. Electric utilities in New Mexico and Utah are urging quick approval of power-supply plans.

Balderas says the additional renewable energy sources would diversify power supplies without burdening residential or small-business utility customers with additional costs.

Oil And Gas Group Says Feds Illegally Canceling Lease Sales
-Matthew Brown, Associated Press

A trade group for the energy industry is accusing federal officials of illegally canceling or postponing the sale of more than two dozen oil and gas leases over the past two years.

The Western Energy Alliance sued the Obama administration in U.S. District Court on Thursday to force it to hold lease sales four times a year.

The group says sales have been called off in Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

U.S. officials say at least some cancellations stem from companies' limited interest. Of more than 2.2 million federal acres offered for sale last year, just over a half-million acres received bids.

The government expects low oil and gas prices will reduce drilling on public lands by 40 percent versus historical levels in coming years. 

State Rejects Proposal For Drive-thru Medical Pot Dispensary - The Associated Press

Medical marijuana patients in Albuquerque will not be cruising through to get their prescriptions as the state has rejected a proposal for a drive-thru dispensary.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that pot producer Organtica had planned to open a drive-thru this year to help serve post-traumatic stress disorder patients, who often say they are uncomfortable with crowds in retail stores.

The state Department of Health, however, ruled on Wednesday that a drive-thru would not be feasible due to safety concerns. Spokesman David Morgan says the department has not approved any requests for drive-up windows.