Governor Calls For Bail Reform Repeal, ABQ Sells Sunshine To Amazon

Oct 18, 2017

New Mexico Governor Seeks Repeal Of Bail ReformsAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is calling for the repeal and replacement of a constitutional amendment approved last year to overhaul the state's bail system.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Martinez said the state judiciary was using the constitutional provisions and new court rules to "return criminals to our neighborhoods." Her office did not return calls.

Martinez urged lawmakers to approve new reforms to the state's pretrial release system.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November 2016 to ensure dangerous defendants remain incarcerated as they await trial, while allowing for the release of nonviolent suspects who would languish in jail because they cannot afford bail.

New rules for pre-trial detention hearings went into effect in July. District attorneys say the hearings have turned into ineffective mini-trials that strain their agencies.

Albuquerque Sells Sunshine, Diversity As Amazon Shops AroundThe Associated Press

New Mexico might not have the biggest check book, but officials say nearly limitless sunshine, hazard-free weather and a diverse population should put the state's largest city on Amazon's list for consideration.

State Economic Development Secretary Matt Geisel says sunsets and vistas might not win the project but they'll certainly play a big role in determining quality of life.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has already pointed to the city's 310 days a year of sunshine and other attributes in a letter to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Berry's chief of staff, Gilbert Montano, also says Albuquerque has been laying the groundwork by investing in the workforce, infrastructure and entrepreneurial ecosystem to attract big employers like Amazon.

Without offering too many specifics, Montano confirmed this week the city is putting forth a proposal that includes some creative real estate solutions.

New Mexico School District Settles Suit With Book PublisherThe Associated Press

Las Cruces Public Schools has agreed to settle a lawsuit that claimed the district posted publicly accessible copies of a teaching book online without a license or authorization.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the New Mexico school district will pay $10,000 to Stenhouse Publishers in a settlement that was finalized in late June.

The lawsuit claims the book "Everyday Editing" by John Anderson was posted to the district's website sometime before late March. Suit documents are unclear on how long the book may have been on the website.

Under the settlement, the Maine-based publishing company will give the school district a $5,000 credit toward the purchase of works by the same author after the company receives the settlement check.

Guilty Plea Signed In Sweeping Indian-Art Fraud ProbeThe Associated Press

A defendant pled guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor criminal charge in the sale of fake Native American jewelry that was manufactured in the Philippines.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque confirmed Wednesday that art supplier Mohammad Manasra pleaded guilty to misrepresenting fake Indian-produced goods in violation of the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

The guilty plea represents the first conviction in a sweeping international investigation into bogus Indian art sales at galleries stretching from Albuquerque to California and Virginia.

In October 2015, federal agents raided Indian art galleries in Albuquerque, Gallup, and Calistoga, California, to seize counterfeits and evidence.

Manasra has signed an agreement to forfeit 5,268 pieces of jewelry. A sentencing hearing is still months away. An attorney for Manasra declined Wednesday to discuss the case.

New Mexico Land Official Sued Over Water PolicyAssociated Press

Two southeastern New Mexico companies are suing Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn over a policy that governs how much water oil and gas producers can pump from a regional aquifer for their operations.

Loco Hills Water Solutions, LLC and Steve Carter, Inc. argue that Dunn has overstepped his authority and is compromising more than $15 million in recent investments in water wells and pipelines.

Dunn said earlier this year that parts of eastern New Mexico are facing a crisis as the Ogallala Aquifer is depleted and the policy was aimed at easing pressure on the underground water supply.

The policy limits the use of water from the aquifer for drilling operations and allows for a royalty fee. It also calls for a hydrological assessment before water easements are approved or renewed.

New Mexico Will Restore Evolution To Science StandardsAssociated Press

New Mexico's proposed school science standards are being revised after a public outcry against the deletion or omission of references to global warming, evolution and the age of the Earth.

Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski announced Tuesday several changes to the final version of the state standards that incorporate suggestions from the public.

The Public Education Department says final standards will restore references to the 4.6 billion-year age of the Earth, the rise in global temperatures over the past century and the process of evolution due to genetic variation. A complete version of the final standards was not released.

Public comments at a packed public hearing Monday were overwhelmingly critical of state revisions to a set of standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences.

University Of New Mexico Reports Required Training ProgressAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Nearly 16,000 University of New Mexico students have participated in training intended to curb sexual misconduct as the university works toward compliance with a U.S. Department of Justice agreement.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the numbers were released on Monday as part of a progress report sent to the department after the university signed the agreement last year.

The agreement came in the wake of a 16-month investigation in which the department determined the university was not complying with laws that prohibit sex discrimination.

The agreement requires the university to conduct trainings for all undergraduate students by the end of the 2017. More than 26,000 students are currently enrolled at the university, and some students are exempt from the training.

University officials say dozens of training sessions are still scheduled.

Miners To Make More Room For Nuclear Waste At US RepositoryAssociated Press

Federal contract workers are expected to begin mining operations at the nation's nuclear waste dump in New Mexico for the first time in three years following a radiation release that contaminated part of the underground repository.

The U.S. Energy Department announced Tuesday that the work to carve out more disposal space from the ancient salt formation where the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is located will begin later this fall.

The contractor that runs the repository says the work is expected to be done in 2020.

In all, workers will remove more than 112,000 tons of salt, making way for a total of seven disposal rooms. At 300 feet long and more than 30 feet wide, a room can generally hold the equivalent of nearly 10,400, 55-gallon drums.

Technology Guides Small Donations To Democratic CandidatesAssociated Press

An online fundraising platform in the vein of PayPal is helping Democratic congressional candidates in New Mexico round up small contributions.

Campaign finance disclosures filed with federal regulators this week show individual candidates using ActBlue to raise as much as $59,000 from July through September.

State Democratic Party Chairman Richard Ellenberg said Tuesday that the fundraising platform makes it easy for people to make political contributions in small amounts at any time. He says that fits into the party's strategy for widening its base of financial support.

Democratic candidates appeared to be reporting sources of small individual donations under $200 collected through ActBlue, though it is not required under federal campaign rules.

Candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham Unveils Economic AgendaAssociated Press

A prominent Democratic candidate for New Mexico governor says she would push if elected to increase the statewide minimum wage, lift a cap on film-industry subsidies and ramp up renewable energy requirements for electric utilities.

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday unveiled a 10-point plan to increase job opportunities and stimulate the state economy, as she seeks the Democratic nomination for governor.

The plan calls for a constitutional amendment to increase funding to per-kindergarten education with money from a state sovereign wealth fund.

Two-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for re-election in 2018.

Congressman Steve Pearce is the only candidate seeking the GOP nomination for governor. Pearce spokesman Greg Blair emphasized the need to attack poverty in New Mexico with better paying jobs and educational improvements.