Governor Martinez To Meet With White House Officials, Housing Needs For Ex-Inmates

May 17, 2018

New Mexico Governor To Meet With White House OfficialsThe Associated Press

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is traveling on a state-funded trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with officials from the White House.

Martinez spokeswoman Emilee Cantrell announced the Friday-morning trip. The governor's office did not respond immediately to requests for more information about the meetings.

Martinez is showing renewed cooperation with President Trump's administration on issues including border security and management of public lands. Earlier this week, she accompanied U.S. Agriculture Sonny Perdue on a visit to northern New Mexico to meet with farming and livestock industry groups.

The second-term governor plans to travel Sunday to New York for meetings of the Republican Governors Association, a fund-raising group that seeks to elect GOP governors.

Congressman Steve Pearce is the lone Republican gubernatorial candidate to succeed Martinez in fall elections.

Parole Official: State Needs More Housing For Ex-InmatesThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Parole Board's chairwoman says the state should invest in more residential treatment centers and transitional housing for people recently released from prison.

Chairwoman Sandy Dietz's comments came during a state public safety task force meeting Thursday.

The task force of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and corrections officials convened by the Legislature is expected to recommend changes to how state spending on crime fighting.

Dietz indicated the inadequate number of supportive housing and treatment options for ex-inmates transitioning back into society has resulted in some violating their parole and quickly ending up back in prison.

Officials at the meeting also say the lack of housing options has resulted in hundreds of inmates remaining locked up past their expected release dates at an annual cost of $10 million to $12 million.

Albuquerque's Lead FBI Agent Has New PositionThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Albuquerque FBI Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade is leaving New Mexico and heading to FBI headquarters in the nation's capital.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Wade will become the bureau's assistant director for the Inspections Division at the end of the month.

The unit investigates everything from FBI employee off-duty drunken driving incidents to agent-involved shootings and any use of force by agents.

The Inspections Division conducted an investigation into the failure of the FBI to respond to a tip received on its public access line about the Parkland, Florida, school shooter earlier this year.

Wade, whose career with the FBI began in 1996, was appointed Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque office in December 2015.

Campaign Season Opens For Navajo Nation PresidencyThe Associated Press

The two-week filing period for Navajo Nation presidential hopefuls is open.

The timeframe has been shortened from 90 days to give election officials a more efficient way to review applications after they're submitted.

The race to oversee the country's largest American Indian reservation typically draws more than a dozen candidates.

Current President Russell Begaye hasn't said whether he'll seek re-election.

The race already has drawn interest from previous presidential hopefuls and political newcomers.

Economic development will be a key issue in the race with the expected closure of a coal-fired power plant next year. The tribe heavily relies on coal revenue.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 28 presidential primary choose their own running mates and move on to the Nov. 6 general election.

Suit Contends City Of Albuquerque Pays Women Less Albuquerque Journal

Four female employees with the city of Albuquerque have filed a class action suit alleging the city pays female workers less than their male colleagues.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the suit was filed by four evidence technicians in the Albuquerque Police Department. It contends rank-and-file female employees make an average of $3 less per hour and at-will female employees make $6 less per hour.

The plaintiffs argue the wage differences are not due to seniority or a merit system and the city is in violation of the state’s Fair Pay for Women Act.

Attorney Matthew Garcia is representing the women and says they want their pay to match their male colleagues. They also want the city to post notices of violations.

City spokeswoman Alicia Manzano declined to comment on the suit but said bridging the gender pay gap is a priority for Mayor Tim Keller.

Garcia said an investigation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also pending.

Koch Group 'Thanks' Lujan Grisham, Lujan For 'DREAMER' BillsAssociated Press

A Koch brothers-funded group is "thanking" two New Mexico Democratic members of Congress for supporting proposals aimed at helping young immigrants.

The LIBRE Initiative announced Thursday the group was sending out mailers thanking Reps. Ben Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham for endorsing bills seeking permanent protections for immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

This mailer is part of a seven-figure campaign effort by the LIBRE Initiative, which includes a national television and online advertisements.

Charles and David Koch help start the LIBRE Initiative to recruit Hispanic voters to conservative causes. However, the group has supported Democratic-backed proposals aimed at giving protection to young immigrants known as "Dreamers."

Anti-Trump Ads Inject Drama Into New Mexico CampaignsAssociated Press

Democratic congressional candidates in New Mexico are taking creative approaches to television ads against President Trump.

One ad broadcast for first time Wednesday portrays candidate Damian Lara as a prisoner of federal immigration agents who haul him across the desert in the back of a Homeland Security Department vehicle.

Lara is highlighting his childhood background as an immigrant fieldworker from Mexico who went on to become a legislative attorney, as he competes in a six-way race for the Democratic nomination to an open Congressional seat.

Political contenders from the progressive-leaning district in Albuquerque are promising to stand up to Trump. Candidate and former U.S. attorney Damon Martinez dramatizes his open defiance of Trump in an ad with spliced footage from the reality television show "The Apprentice."

US Agency Asked To Investigate Coal Company's Bond Capacity Associated Press

Federal officials are being asked to investigate whether a financially troubled coal company has posted sufficient bonds to cover future reclamation work at its mines in the U.S. and Canada.

The Montana-based Western Organization of Resource Councils said Wednesday that it's concerned a bankruptcy by Westmoreland Coal could leave taxpayers to cover future reclamation costs. It asked the Interior Department to investigate.

The Englewood, Colorado company told The Associated Press in a statement that it's in full compliance with mining regulations.

Westmoreland, which has a mine in northwest New Mexico, disclosed last month to securities regulators that it's considering filing for bankruptcy protection. It reported posting $673 million in reclamation bonds and letters of credit.

Westmoreland sold 50 million tons of coal last year from its mines in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Plaques To Honor Woman Killed By Albuquerque OfficerAssociated Press

Ten memorial plaques will be placed at police stations throughout Albuquerque in honor of a woman who was killed five years ago in a crash with an off-duty police sergeant.

A plaque honoring Ashley Browder was unveiled during a ceremony at the Albuquerque Police Academy Tuesday.

The plaques are part of a settlement between Browder's family and the city of Albuquerque reached after the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Browder was 21 years old and in the Air National Guard when Albuquerque police Sgt. Adam Casaus crashed into the car Browder and her sister were driving in.

Casaus was fired from the department and served 90 days in jail for reckless driving.

The settlement also includes additional driving training for officers and cadets.

Black Bear Cub Found Dead Near Southwest Kansas TownWichita Eagle, Associated Press

Wildlife experts say a male, juvenile bear found dead in southwest Kansas might have been driven into the state by drought conditions in surrounding states.

The bear died Monday in an accidental crash on Highway 56 near Elkhart in Morton County, about 1.5 miles from the Oklahoma border.

State biologist Kraig Schulz says spring wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado combined with a region-wide drought might be pushing bears toward Kansas.

He says even in those conditions, it's rare to find a black bear in Kansas. The last confirmed black bear in Morton County was in 2011. Another one was seen in 2016 just across the Oklahoma line.

The Wichita Eagle reports almost the entire Oklahoma panhandle is in exceptional drought, along with parts of southwest Kansas and northeast New Mexico.

Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office Ends Ride-Along ProgramSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A New Mexico sheriff has ended his department's ride-along program after a deputy with a passenger in his vehicle was fired upon last week.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia has decided to cancel the program that allowed people who are not in law enforcement to accompany deputies on patrol.

Garcia says he does not want to place people into danger.

According to court documents, a deputy with a ride-along passenger responded to a road rage call that turned into a high-speed pursuit last week. A man fired two shots toward the police car at one point during the chase. The man was later arrested. The deputy and the passenger were not injured.

The Santa Fe Police Department is continuing to offer ride-alongs.

Middle School Coach Charged In Rape Of TeenSanta Fe New Mexican

A coach at Pecos Middle School has been charged with raping and stabbing a 14-year-old girl when he was at another school.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Apolonio Blea was an assistant boys basketball manager at Mora High School during the 2016-17 season when he allegedly raped a student at the school.

Blea was arrested Wednesday by New Mexico State Police and charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a child between 13 and 18 by force or coercion. He was also charged with criminal sexual communication with a child and aggravated battery.

Police say Blea raped the girl, slammed her head into the floor and a wall, stabbed her and later sent her explicit messages. The Pecos head basketball coach told the New Mexican Blea was an assistant coach at Pecos Middle School in the current school year.

Another coach at that school was arrested this month on suspicion of sexually assaulting two female students.