Failures In Alleged Trafficking Case Prompt CYFD Reforms, Pres Launches Pancreas Transplant Program

May 15, 2018

CYFD Internal Review Leads To ReformsAlbuquerque Journal

The case of a 7-year-old girl who was allegedly sex trafficked by relatives has prompted a review that found problems in the Children, Youth and Families Department.

The Albuquerque Journal reports CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson told the Journal an internal review looked at 25 referrals to the agency about the girl or members of her family. She said the response was not thorough or diligent, and CYFD employees did not talk to enough people and should have done more to connect the family with social services.

The secretary said Gov. Susana Martinez has ordered a joint CYFD/State Police Child Safety Strike Force to investigate cases with 10 or more referrals.

CYFD has placed four investigators on administrative leave and will continue the discipline process. Jacobson said the agency would ensure supervisors get involved after three referrals on one family, per a standing order that was not followed in this case.

Staff will also get training on sex trafficking and the agency will report possible sex trafficking to the Attorney General. CYFD also plans to restructure its Bernalillo County offices.

20 AGs Back Lawsuits By Family Planning Groups Against Trump- Associated Press

Twenty attorneys general are challenging Trump administration rule changes they say will reduce access to family planning services.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that the president is playing politics with patients by changing rules that would shift federal family planning funds toward organizations that stress abstinence.

The AGs filed a brief supporting lawsuits filed in Washington two weeks ago by Planned Parenthood groups in Wisconsin, Ohio and Utah, and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

The lawsuits target proposed rule changes for about $260 million in family planning funds.

Prosecutors in an additional 19 states including New Mexico also signed the supporting brief.

New Mexico Hospital Launches Pancreas Transplant Program- Albuquerque Journal & Associated Press

An Albuquerque hospital has begun offering pancreas transplants, a procedure that previously was not available in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a medical team with Presbyterian Healthcare Services successfully performed the first pancreas transplant in the state last year.

Dr. Hannah Choate, the transplant surgical director for Presbyterian, says the procedure is not new but it's new to the state.

The pancreas produces insulin that's vital for the body in processing carbohydrates. When the organ doesn't operate properly, it can cause kidney failure and Type 1 diabetes.

Choate says the pancreas transplant program was developed over about two years.

Choate says Presbyterian expects to perform only two or three pancreas transplants each year due to patient risks and the organ-screening process.

Judge Rules To Keep Parents Jailed In Trafficking Case- Associated Press

A New Mexico judge has ruled that the parents of a 7-year-old girl who authorities say was abused and sexually exploited must remain jailed as they await trial in the case.

The girl's father is charged with human trafficking, promoting prostitution and other counts, while the mother was taken into custody on charges of child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The ruling came Tuesday after attorneys gave closing arguments in a detention hearing for the couple that unfolded like a mini-trial over several days.  Multiple witnesses gave testimony, including law enforcement and a teacher, who spoke emotionally about reporting her concerns about the girl to authorities.

The couple's attorneys questioned the reliability of the state's evidence.

Air Force Base Begins Construction On Helicopter Simulator- Albuquerque Journal & Associated Press

Kirtland Air Force Base is building a simulator facility to train pilots and crews for a new helicopter model.

The Albuquerque Journal reports construction on the $14.8 million project began Monday at the base in Albuquerque.

The three-bay simulator facility will be used to train personnel from the 58th Special Operation Wing on the new HH-60W, a combat rescue helicopter that will replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk.

Air Force officials say the first of the aircraft to be stationed at the Albuquerque base should be delivered by March 2020. The simulator facility should be completed by June 2019.

Officials say the new helicopter model can be deployed for evacuations, search and rescue missions, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and insertion or extraction of combat troops.

Agriculture Secretary Tours Rockies Amid Farm-Aid DebateAssociated Press

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue kicked off a four-state listening tour in New Mexico as House Republicans on Capitol Hill push for a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy.

Perdue visited Department of Agriculture employees at the headquarters of the Santa Fe National Forest and later joined Republican Gov. Susana Martinez for a tour of public land that provides drinking water to residents of the state capital city.

Vising the New Mexico Statehouse, Perdue applauded Republican welfare-reform efforts.

Perdue held a discussion with about a dozen agricultural and ranching business leaders who urged the Cabinet secretary to shore up federal support for farmers through changes to crop insurance, exceptions to environmental regulations and smaller wilderness areas.

The group also voiced concern about President Donald Trump's hard-line stance on immigration enforcement and the U.S. trade deficit with China, citing the potential workforce interruptions and reliance on Chinese markets.

Stakes are high for New Mexico as Congress considers a so-called farm bill that could include new work and job training requirements for food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides food aid to about one-fifth of state residents.

The bill would renew farm safety-net programs such as subsidies for crop insurance, farm credit, and land conservation along with support for rural development.

Police Say New Mexico Salvage Yard Linked To Stolen Car Ring – KOAT-TV, Associated Press

Police say a salvage yard in a small central New Mexico town has been linked to dozens of stolen cars from Albuquerque.

KOAT-TV reports Albuquerque police say detectives recently found 15 confirmed stolen vehicles and 20 more that are possibly stolen at a salvage yard in Estancia, New Mexico.

Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says investigators believe they have uncovered a massive operation that may have been going on for years.

Detectives believe the salvage yard owner was taking vehicle identification numbers off older cars and trucks and putting them on newer, stolen vehicles.

Gallegos says no arrests have been made.

The National Crime Insurance Bureau ranked Albuquerque as having the most stolen cars per person in the country in 2016.

Bernalillo Dem Chair Bans 'Vote Or Die' T-Shirt SalesAssociated Press

The Democratic chair of New Mexico's largest county has told a voting rights group it can no longer sell its "Vote or Die" T-shirt at events.

Bill Peifer, chairman of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County, told Dave Mulryan of Everybody Votes last week that sales of the shirt won't be allowed at gatherings sponsored by the county party because it is "offensive."

Peifer says the shirt has a "very negative message."

The shirt has an image of the now-extinct dodo bird with the words "Vote or Die."

Mulryan said in a statement the group believes it has the right to sell the shirt. He says the majority of the profits are used to help register New Mexico high school students to vote.

Candidate Forum Seeks Cultural Preservation For HispanicsAssociated Press

Federal immigration policy and concerns about preserving New Mexico's centuries-old Hispanic culture are at the forefront of congressional candidate forums this week, as six Democrats compete for an open Albuquerque-based seat in primary elections.

A Tuesday-night forum at the University of New Mexico is geared toward Albuquerque's Latino community and will be moderated by Idalia Lechuga-Tena, a former state lawmaker who emigrated from Mexico as a child.

She says candidates will be welcome to speak in Spanish in a conversation likely to touch on the future of immigrants with temporary protected status and efforts to preserve New Mexico's distinctive Hispanic heritage.

The field of Democratic candidates is marked by its ethnic, racial and social diversity. The sole Republican and Libertarian candidates are scheduled to attend Tuesday and Wednesday forums.

New Mexico Candidates, Groups Report On FundraisingAssociated Press

Candidates for governor and other public offices in New Mexico are filing campaign finance reports that detail contributions and expenditures with three weeks left until the June 5 primary election.

Monday evening was the deadline for candidates and political committees to make public their fundraising activities during a recent five-week period. Candidates have unleashed ads on television, radio and social media amid early voting.

In prior reports, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham raised the most contributions among three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor, while sole Republican candidate Steve Pearce had stockpiled the most campaign cash.

Among Democratic contenders, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and former media executive Jeff Apodaca have lent money to their campaigns.

Monday's mandatory report is the second of four linked to the primary election.

Hobbs To Begin Water Restrictions Amid Severe DroughtHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Water restrictions are set to begin in a southeastern New Mexico city hit by severe drought.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports water restriction enforcement in Hobbs will start Tuesday to conserve water during what is expected to be a dangerous wildfire season.

Under its conservation period that lasts until Sept. 15, residential and commercial water use for gardens, lawns or other outside watering or sprinkling will be restricted by addresses. Residents and businesses face fines up to $300 for violations.

The city says more than 350 million gallons of water is saved each calendar year with the restrictions.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table situated under the Great Plains and underlies parts of eight states: South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The aquifer's depletion over time has been a concern.