Critics Of Science Standards Plan Protests, NM Water Agency Without Officials

Oct 13, 2017

Critics Of New Mexico Science Standards Organize Protests – The Associated Press

Critics of New Mexico's proposed changes to public school science standards are gathering to protest the deletion or omission of references to global warming, evolution and the age of the earth.

Santa Fe Public Schools board member Steve Carrillo organized the "teach-in" protest on Friday afternoon outside the Public Education Department. The agency has suggested several additions and deletions to a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states.

The edited standards have generated opposition from school boards, science teacher associations and leading scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Carrillo says the proposed changes undermine efforts to upgrade the way science is taught and engage students.

State Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski has said the department is open to feedback and the proposed changes are not set in stone.

New Mexico Water Agency Adrift Without Officials, Key StaffThe Associated Press

Three members of a powerful New Mexico commission charged with conserving and developing water resources across the arid state have resigned, the result of what critics describe as a simmering conflict with the state's top water regulator.

The departures mark the latest turmoil for the Interstate Stream Commission, which has been hit in recent years with complaints about transparency related to the development of plans for managing the state's share of the Gila River.

Commission Chairman Caleb Chandler and fellow Commissioners James Wilcox and Jim Dunlap submitted their resignations to Gov. Susana Martinez earlier this week. Several other key staff members also have left in recent months, including the commission's director and its legal counsel.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to questions regarding plans to fill the vacant seats on the commission.

Owners Of 'Breaking Bad' House Build Fence Around PropertyThe Associated Press

A fence is going up around the real Albuquerque house made famous by the methamphetamine-making character Walter White.

The owners are installing a 6-foot wrought iron fence on the front of the house used in the TV series "Breaking Bad," which has been plagued by countless fans wanting a snapshot.

Joanne Quintana tells KOB-TV that she loses count of the number of weekly visitors to the house that her mother owns. She says the tourists have caused disruptions that have made them fearful to leave the property unattended.

Quintana says some have even told them "to close our garage" and "get out of the picture."

Construction on the fence in underway, and Quintana says people have already tried to climb around the construction to snap a photo.

Roswell Allows City Employees To Carry Guns At WorkplaceThe Associated Press

Roswell city employees who have concealed-carry permits may now carry concealed weapons in the workplace.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that the City Council voted 9-1 Thursday night to approve a resolution allowing the city manager to permit workers with concealed-carry permits to carry a concealed weapon on city property.

Councilor Jason Perry says he proposed the resolution so employees can protect themselves. He cites an August shooting in the city library in Clovis in two people were killed and others wounded.

Councilor Juan Oropesa cast the sole dissenting vote. He said having guns in the workplace can be dangerous if people get angry.

Roswell previously prohibited its employees from carrying firearms on city property or their vehicles while on duty, except for police officers, firefighters and some others.

Chicago Cubs Plane Diverted To Albuquerque For Medical IssueThe Associated Press

A flight carrying the Chicago Cubs to Los Angeles was diverted to New Mexico early Friday due to a medical issue on board.

The plane was on its way to California again within a few hours.

Albuquerque International Sunport spokesman Daniel Jiron said the plane landed in Albuquerque around 5:30 a.m. Friday and a passenger was taken to the hospital. The Cubs said the person was a player's family member.

Jiron said the crew flying the plane "timed out" and didn't have any more flying time left, so a second crew had to be brought in to take the flight to Los Angeles. He said the plane left Albuquerque around 10:30 a.m.

The Cubs are set to play the Dodgers on Saturday in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.

Sale Finalized For New Mexico RacetrackThe Associated Press

The sale of a southern New Mexico racetrack and casino that plays host to one of the nation's most prestigious quarter-horse races has been finalized.

Officials at Ruidoso Downs announced the closure of the sale Friday as state gaming regulators approved license applications for the new owners.

The ownership group — All American Ruidoso Downs, LLC — is made up of Stan Sigman, John Andreini, Narciso "Chicho" Flores and Johnny Trotter. All are horse owners and breeders.

Former owner R.D. Hubbard first announced the proposed sale last spring. He had been an owner of the track since 1988 and became sole owner in 2016.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but the new owners say they will continue with state-of-the-art testing for illegal substances and enhanced security measures to defend against cheating.

New Mexico Insurance Regulators Urge Caution On Trump Order – Associated Press

New Mexico insurance regulators are warning that consumers may need to be more vigilant as they buy health coverage in the future, under President Donald Trump's executive order for cheaper and less-regulated health plans for individuals.

A spokeswoman for state Insurance Superintendent John Franchini on Thursday said the president's order could lead to benefit caps and exclusions for medical conditions as it creates new low-cost insurance options.

Trump's order aims to broaden the use of "association health plans" to encourage competition across state lines. It also seeks to loosen restrictions on short-term policies of under a year that already are exempt from certain consumer protections.

Spokeswoman Heather Widler echoed concerns of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners about expanding low-premium plans that reduce consumer protections and solvency requirements.

Former National Guard Leader Running For Congressional SeatSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The former head of the New Mexico National Guard is running for the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

Andrew Salas tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that if elected, he would focus on building up the industries that have been drawn to the southern New Mexico district by its military installations. The district is home to White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base.

The seat has been attracting attention since Pearce announced his intention to run for governor.

This marks Salas' first run for political office. A Bernardo resident, he rose to the rank of brigadier general in 2012 and took charge of the state's national guard. He led the force until August and remains a guardsman.

George R.R. Martin To Headline Film Forum In New MexicoAssociated Press

Author and producer George R.R. Martin will be among the experts participating in an upcoming forum on the film industry and its effects on New Mexico.

The discussion is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, the Santa Fe venue purchased and renovated by Martin a few years ago.

U.S. Congresswoman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham will be a part of the panel along with Tony Mark, the executive producer of "The Hurt Locker," and producer and documentary filmmaker Andrea Meditch.

State officials announced earlier this year that the movie and television industry generated a record $505 million for New Mexico's economy over the last fiscal year. They say more than 60 film and television productions were shot in the state during the period.

NMSU Board Schedules 6 Forums On Search For New ChancellorAssociated Press

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has scheduled six public forums in communities across the state as the board prepares to search for a new chancellor to lead the Las Cruces-based university.

The first three sessions are scheduled Monday in Carlsbad, Tuesday in Alamogordo and Oct. 20 in Las Cruces. The next two are scheduled Nov. 2 in Grants and Nov. 7 in Albuquerque and there will be one for faculty and staff on Nov. 7 in Las Cruces.

Current Chancellor and President Garrey Carruthers will retire in July when his contract ends. Carruthers has served as chancellor since 2013

The regents expect to announce the new chancellor in May.

Texas Man Is Sentenced For Threatening Police In New MexicoAssociated Press

A Texas man has been sentenced to time served in custody for threatening telephone calls to police officers in New Mexico.

Federal prosecutors say 33-year-old Sean Stinson of El Paso now will be on supervised release for three years after being in custody for 406 days.

They say Stinson was arrested in September 2016 for making telephone calls from El Paso to the Las Cruces Police Department and some were recorded.

He allegedly threatened to shoot, kill and otherwise injure specific police officers.

Stinson was indicted on seven counts of transmitting interstate communications with intent to threaten or injure another person.

He pleaded guilty two months ago and acknowledged that he intended his calls to be perceived as threats.

Border Patrol Tests Camera-Toting Balloon - By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press

The U.S. Border Patrol is considering another type of surveillance balloon that can be quickly moved to spot illegal activity, part of an effort to see if more eyes in the sky translate to fewer illegal crossings.

Agents in south Texas recently finished a 30-day trial of the camera-toting, helium-filled balloon made by Drone Aviation Holding Corp., a small startup that named former Border Patrol chief David Aguilar to its board of directors in January. The 3-year-old, money-losing company gave Aguilar options that may prove lucrative if it gets more orders for its proprietary model.

The trial comes as agents test hand-launched drones, which are relatively inexpensive but hampered by short battery life and weight limits. The Border Patrol has also used six large tethered balloons in Texas since 2012.

Albuquerque Dealership Settles Workplace Racism ComplaintAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An Albuquerque car dealership has reached a settlement with a federal agency over employee complaints that claimed two managers repeatedly used racial slurs, posted racist pictures and made offensive jokes about Native American and Muslim employees' religious practices.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Wednesday that Reliable Nissan will pay $205,000 to the three employees who filed the complaints and 11 other minority employees who experienced a hostile work environment.

Dealership officials say the complaints date back to 2011, and Reliable Nissan investigated and took action. They say the company has "long-standing policies in place that prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliation in our workplace."

The dealership has also agreed to provide annual training for two years for its employees and to review its policies.

Teenager Accused Of School Threats Remains On Home ArrestAssociated Press

A judge rejected a request by an eastern New Mexico district attorney's office to jail a Clovis teenager on allegations that she violated court orders.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports that the 16-year-old girl, accused of posting shooting threats on social media last month against two Clovis schools, was barred from accessing communication devices as a condition of her release last week. The teenager remains in the custody of her parents and on home arrest.

District Attorney Andrea Reeb says the teenager violated court orders by posting to Snapchat. Officials from the Juvenile Probation Office saw the posts and requested an arrest warrant.

Reeb says her office will file a motion to review the conditions of her release so the matter can be brought back to the court.

New Mexico State Police: Offender Left FacilityAssociated Press

New Mexico authorities are looking for a young man who left a state facility for juvenile offenders.

The State Police say 20-year-old Gustavo Alvarado was last seen leaving the Albuquerque Boys Reintegration Center in a white Chevrolet Suburban with silver rims, dark tinted windows, and unknown registration.

Alvarado is described as 5-foot-6 and 225 pounds with brown eyes and black hair.

The State Police say he was convicted of a violent felony offense as a juvenile, may be armed and dangerous and should not be approached if seen.

He has ties to the Las Cruces area.

Probate Judge Resigns Amid Criminal ProbeAlbuquerque Journal

A probate judge in southern New Mexico has resigned, accused of accessing a dead man’s bank account.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Pamela Smith stepped down rather than face additional disciplinary actions from the State Judicial Standards Commission.

Smith was the only probate judge in Sierra County and also works for the Office of the Medical Investigator. The New Mexico State Police are investigating Smith for fraud.

Last March, Smith investigated the death of 82-year-old Dominic Domingo and listed her husband as Domingo’s next of kin, according to the Journal. The commission says in May she appointed her husband, Randy Smith, as special administrator for Domingo’s estate.

Randy Smith subsequently transferred $280,000 from Domingo’s estate to an account controlled by the Smiths, according to the commission.

Pamela Smith resigned Wednesday before a scheduled hearing on her case in front of the state Supreme Court.