Headlines: ABQ Ballot Measures, Monsoon Moisture Returns...

Sep 4, 2014

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Albuquerque Council Proposes New Ballot PackageThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque City Council now wants voters to decide three ballot questions in November, but they won't include reducing penalties for possessing marijuana or imposing a tax increase for social services.

Mayor Richard Berry last week vetoed a package of measures that included the marijuana and tax questions, and the council late Wednesday adopted a new resolution that includes three less-controversial items.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a Berry spokeswoman said the mayor doesn't oppose the new package.

It includes measures on giving the council authority over the mayor's hiring of police and fire chiefs, changing the voter-initiative process and selling bonds to pay for municipal development.

The Bernalillo County Commission would decide whether any of the questions would fit on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Monsoon Showers, T-Storms Returning To New Mexico - The Associated Press

Northern and central New Mexico will see a return of monsoon showers and thunderstorms Thursday, with the potential for heavy rainfall increasing Friday and Saturday.

The National Weather Service says a front will be pushing southward and westward across the region.

Forecasters say the greatest threat of heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding on Friday will occur in the eastern plains and south-central mountains.

Tesla Plant Decision Sparks Campaign Criticism - The Associated Press

Political finger-pointing has started over New Mexico losing out to Nevada as a site for a battery factory by electric car maker Tesla Motors.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary King said Wednesday that New Mexico wasn't selected because of "a failure of leadership" by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, his general election opponent.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the state hasn't heard officially from Tesla. An announcement is scheduled Thursday in Nevada.

The Associated Press reported that Tesla still plans a second site in case Nevada can't deliver promised incentives or possibly to build a second factory.

King said "it's not our location or lack of resources," but New Mexico needs to better fund public education to produce highly skilled workers necessary for attracting manufacturers like Tesla.

New Mexico High Court To Hear Death Row Appeals - The Associated Press

New Mexico's remaining death row inmates are asking the state Supreme Court to spare them from potential execution because lawmakers repealed capital punishment after they were sentenced to die by lethal injection.

Timothy Allen and Robert Fry contend their death sentences violate state and federal constitutional protections because New Mexico abolished capital punishment in 2009 for future murders but left it in place for them. Both men were convicted and sentenced to death for murders committed years before the repeal.

The court will hear arguments from lawyers on Oct. 1, but a decision by the justices likely wouldn't be issued until later.

No execution has been scheduled for either Fry or Allen, and both have pending post-conviction appeals in district court. The Supreme Court has previously upheld their convictions.

Navajo Presidential Hopefuls Complete Ticket - The Associated Press

Two men squaring off in the Navajo presidential race have chosen running mates from northwestern New Mexico.

Former Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. chose 37-year-old Dineh Benally. Shirley says he wanted someone who is young, well-educated and well-grounded.

Benally is a graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute who earned a degree in civil engineering from New Mexico State University. He lives in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Chris Deschene chose longtime educator Fannie Atcitty, of Shiprock, to complete his ticket for the November general election.

Deschene says he believes Atcitty will energize his campaign and collaborate on ways to improve business development on the reservation.

Both Shirley and Deschene are from the western side of the reservation. Presidential hopefuls typically choose someone from another area to better appeal to voters.

New Mexico Reports Lower Rate Of Overdose Deaths - The Associated Press

State health officials say New Mexico's rate of drug overdose deaths has now dropped a second year in a row.

The Department of Health reports that there were 449 overdose deaths in 2013 for a rate of just under 22 deaths per 100,000 population. That compares with 521 deaths and a rate of just under 26 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011.

The department says the 2013 rate is the lowest since 2009 and that the two-year drop was the first since 1990.

The department says efforts to reduce the overdose death rate included steps to curb excessive prescribing of opioid pain relievers.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff Skips License Hearing - The Associated Press

A New Mexico sheriff accused of roughing up a motorist has opted not to appear before state officials to challenge his law enforcement license suspension.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella did not attend a state Law Enforcement Academy Board hearing Wednesday for an appeal.

Officials say the move means his suspension stands.

Rodella doesn't need law enforcement certification to serve as sheriff, although he cannot perform police duties such as make arrests himself.

Rodella was indicted in federal court last month for conspiracy to violate a motorist's civil rights during the March encounter. He was pleaded not guilty.

The Rio Arriba County commission has issued a strongly worded letter calling for Rodella to resign.

Rodella says he plans to stay on.

NMSU Reinstates National Merit Scholarship - The Associated Press

New Mexico State University has reinstated the National Merit Scholarship and Hispanic Scholars Award program.

The school announced yesterday it was bringing back the program four years after budget cuts forced school officials to discontinue it.

The National Merit Scholarship Program has been active since 1955. Participants still enrolled in high school qualify by taking the Preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

National Merit semi-finalists and National Hispanic Scholars at N-M-S-U receive an award package including waived tuition and fees, on-campus housing and a $1,250 stipend each semester.

Program finalists receive waived tuition and fees, on-campus housing and a $2,500 stipend per semester.

Albuquerque Police: Man Arrested In Fatal Shooting - The Associated Press

Authorities say a man accused in a fatal shooting in Albuquerque was apparently upset over being shorted $1 in a drug deal.

Albuquerque police and the U.S. Marshals Service say 19-year-old Daryl Martinez was arrested late Tuesday.

He's being held on a $250,000 cash-only bond in the shooting death of 28-year-old James Lucero last Saturday at a northeast Albuquerque apartment complex.

Police say Lucero bought $18 worth of heroin from Martinez on Saturday.

Later at a gathering, Martinez accused Lucero of shorting him $3 on the purchase.

Police say the two men argued and Lucero gave Martinez all the cash he had on him at the time, which was only $2.

Police sat Martinez then followed Lucero outside and allegedly shot Lucero in the chest, killing him.

Taos Ski Area Buys Lodge, Restaurant - The Associated Press

Taos Ski Valley is buying a privately owned lodge and restaurant located near one of its ski lifts.

Ski area CEO Gordon Briner said Wednesday that an agreement has been reached to buy the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant and the current owners — Thomas and Jamie Schulze — will continue to manage it.

The lodge, which is built of large logs and features German cuisine, is near chairlift No. 4 in what skier's consider the backside of the ski area.

The purchase is the latest expansion announced since hedge fund owner Louis Bacon acquired Taos Ski Valley last year and began several improvements. A new lift is scheduled to be operating in the coming season to take skiers up Kachina Peak and base area improvements are under way.