Emergency Cash For NM Courts Approved, Santa Fe Reconsiders "Sanctuary" Label

Feb 8, 2017

Emergency Cash For New Mexico Courts Approved – The Associated Press

Emergency funding has been approved to ensure jury trials can continue in New Mexico state courts and to stave off unpaid furloughs at the state Supreme Court.

The New Mexico Board of Finance led by Gov. Susana Martinez approved a $600,000 infusion to a fund that compensates jurors and another $83,000 for operations at the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Judith Nakamura said the decision will extend funding for jury trials through April 14. She says that gives the Legislature time to address an additional $1 million shortfall in funding for juries, witnesses, court interpreters and other expenses.

Board members questioned Nakamura for more than two hours about court spending and suggested implementing user fees on court filings to bring in more money.

Santa Fe Reconsiders "Sanctuary" Label In New ResolutionThe Associated Press

The city of Santa Fe is reconsidering using the term "sanctuary city" in a resolution reaffirming immigrant-friendly policies as President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds.

Drafters have removed the word "sanctuary" from a proposed resolution designed to emphasize Santa Fe's positions on using law-enforcement resources to question citizens' immigration status and other immigrant-friendly policies.

The move to back away from specific language comes in an effort to gain support among city council members who don't want to go head-to-head with the Trump administration.

The resolution is scheduled to be considered by the Finance Committee Feb. 13. At that time there will be a public hearing. The earliest it could come before the full City Council is Feb. 23.

New Mexico AG Asks For More 'Cooperation' To Fight CrimeThe Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says community-based efforts and better cooperation can be used to prevent crime in one of the nation's poorest states.

Balderas told a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature on Wednesday that more resources for officers and increased funding for prosecutors and judges could help tackle rising violent crime rates.

The FBI says the number of murders reported by New Mexico law enforcement agencies jumped by nearly 16 percent in 2015 from the year before.

The attorney general is a new addition to the list of speakers that address the Legislature in even years. The list traditionally includes the New Mexico delegation to the U.S. Congress and Senate, as well as the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Santa Fe Sees Near-Record Turnout For School ElectionSanta Fe New Mexican

About 8,300 people in Santa Fe voted Tuesday for a $100 million bond in an unusually high turnout for school-board elections.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports nearly 10 percent of all eligible voters went to the polls, about double the number who voted four years ago in school elections. Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García attributed the spike to the bond issue and an anonymous mailer that tried to derail it.

The bond will add about $80 to property tax bills for homes valued at $300,000 in the district. Voters elected Kate Noble and Lorraine Price to the Santa Fe Public Schools Board in uncontested races. George Gamble beat out incumbent Pablo Sedillo Jr. for a seat on the Santa Fe Community College governing board.

Federal Court Denies Re-Hearing Of Ten Commandments CaseThe Associated Press & The Daily Times

A federal appeals court in Denver has denied a petition asking it to review a lower court ruling requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments monument in New Mexico.

The Daily Times reports that a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit had previously left in place the lower court ruling regarding the monument outside Bloomfield's City Hall. Petitioners asked the full court to review the case, and it has declined to do so.

City Manager Eric Strahl says the City Council will likely meet next week to decide the next step. The city could either remove the monument or appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the 2012 lawsuit on behalf of two Bloomfield residents who objected to the monument.

Memorial To Halt Chaco Area Fracking Fails In CommitteeAssociated Press

A symbolic measure aimed at trying to halt oil and gas drilling around Chaco Cultural National Historical Park has failed to pass out of a New Mexico Legislative panel.

The House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee voted 6-6 on Tuesday on memorial about drilling in the greater Chaco area. The memorial requests the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to consider a temporary moratorium on fracking-related lease sales and permit approvals in the northwestern New Mexico territory many tribes say is sacred.

Despite passionate pleas from some homeowners and tribal leaders, the memorial failed to get out of committee on a tie vote.

Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Michael Chavarria urged lawmakers to help give Mother Nature "a time out."

But oil and gas officials said concerns about fracking should go through the proper channels.

Eddy County Officials: Plot Targeted Officers, FamiliesArtesia Daily Press, Associated Press

Authorities in Eddy County say a drug investigation unveiled a plot to harm law enforcement officers and their families.

The Artesia Daily Press reports that 17 arrests were made Feb. 1-2 as authorities went to dozens of homes and interviewed approximately 100 people during the drug investigation.

Officials said information turned up by the multi-agency investigation indicates the alleged plot to harm officers and their families targeted specific Artesia and Carlsbad police officers and county sheriff's deputies and their families.

District Attorney Diana Luce says the alleged plot is of "grave concern and the highest priority for investigation and prosecution."

New Mexico Bill To Spare Wild Bears Stalls In LegislatureAssociated Press

The New Mexico Legislature is showing little interest in rewriting regulations that can require the euthanizing of wild bears and other wild animals that attack humans to test for rabies.

The proposal responds to public outrage over the decision to kill a mother black bear last year following an attack on a marathon runner in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico.

A committee in the state House of Representatives declined Monday to act on legislation that would allow a case-by-case review of whether wild animals involved in attacks should be euthanized and tested for rabies based on animal behavior and likelihood of rabies.

The bill drew opposition from the New Mexico departments of Health and Game and Fish. State officials say the current rules ensure public safety.

Navajo Nation President Vetoes Funding For Disaster ReliefFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has vetoed a resolution that would have provided funding for disaster assistance.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports that Begaye on Sunday line-item vetoed the resolution, which would have provided $242,576 in supplemental funding to 33 chapters to help residents respond to recent winter weather. The funding would have come from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance.

In a memorandum sent to Speaker LoRenzo Bates and the council, Begaye said the resolution did not comply with tribal law. He said the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance would drop too low if the resolution were passed.

He also wrote that tribal law requires any distribution to be divided in a manner so that 50 percent of the funding is equally distributed among the tribe's 110 chapters.

Report: Only 1/3 New Mexico Families Access Child Care Help  - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A new report says only around a third of families eligible for child care assistance take advantage of the program in New Mexico — one of the nation's poorest states.

Children, Youth, and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson says a new report looking into child care in the state found that more families could be signing up for the program but the state is doing better than others.

The report released Wednesday says New Mexico ranked 10th nationally on eligible families signing up for child care assistance. It also says New Mexico is first in the nation in eligible Hispanic families taking advantage of the federally-funded program.

Allen Sanchez, president and CEO of CHI St. Joseph's Children, says he believed the need was even greater than state officials suggest. He says some eligible families are getting turned away.

Albuquerque Opening New Immigrant Affairs OfficeAlbuquerque Journal

Albuquerque will open a new office to serve immigrants and refugees under a $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Mayor Richard Berry said the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will drive home the idea that newcomers are welcome. The announcement comes after a city council meeting Monday night where speakers urged councilors to affirm an existing resolution declaring Albuquerque immigrant-friendly.

Berry said the new office will open in July in city hall with the goal of alleviating fears among immigrants and refugees at a time when rhetoric is heating up around the country as well as New Mexico.

The role of the office is not to check immigration status, Berry said.

Albuquerque School Elections See Strong TurnoutAlbuquerque Journal

Early voting in the Albuquerque Public Schools board election topped total turnout in school elections two years ago.

The Albuquerque Journal reports more than 8,800 people voted early, topping the total of 6,567 votes cast in 2015. School board President David Peercy and Vice President Lorenzo Garcia were re-elected.

Newcomers Candy Patterson and Elizabeth Armijo were elected to the board.

In the race for the Central New Mexico Community College Governing Board, incumbents Pauline J. Garcia and Nancy Baca held on to their seats. Newcomers Annette Chavez y De La Cruz and Michael Glennon won seats. Thomas Swisstack ran unopposed.