Headlines: Balloon Fiesta, Gubernatorial Debate, Artesia Immigrant Detention Facility...

Oct 6, 2014

Credit Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Day 3 Balloon FiestaThe Associated Press

Day 3 of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is underway.

Yesterday’s mass ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons was called off due to wind.  More than 100 balloons had already been inflated when officials called it.  Those balloons became part of an impromptu static display.   

About 550 pilots are taking part in this year's Balloon Fiesta, which runs until October 12th.  

King, Martinez To Spar In Spanish-Language Debate - The Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic challenger Gary King are set for a Spanish-language debate aimed at the state's Hispanic voters.

The pair is scheduled to meet today in a KLUZ-TV Univision-sponsored forum.

A spokesman for Martinez say the governor will answer her questions in Spanish. King will use an interpreter.

According to the U.S. Census, around 47 percent of the state's population is Hispanic — the largest percentage of any state.

Absentee voting begins tomorrow by mail and at county clerks' offices. Early in-person voting expands to more locations on Oct. 18.

3rd Congressional District Candidate Forum Planned - The Associated Press

Candidates for the 3rd Congressional District of northern New Mexico are to appear at a forum later this month sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County.

The candidate forum is scheduled for Oct. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the downtown Santa Fe public library's community room.

Three-term Democratic incumbent Ben Ray Lujan is running against Republican challenger Jefferson Byrd, who lost a bid for the congressional seat two years ago. Republican Thomas Hook of Portales is a write-in candidate.

New Mexico Immigration Lockup Draws Criticism - The Associated Press

Trailers have been set up for a school at a federal immigration detention center in an isolated New Mexico desert town. A basketball court and a soccer field have been installed.

And detainees are pleading their cases over a video link with judges in Denver.

Officials say that the facility could remain open until next summer to house women and children from Central America who were among a wave of immigrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally this year.

The detainees at the Artesia Family Residential Center are growing increasingly frustrated that they are being held with no end in sight while earlier border-crossers were released with orders to contact immigration officials later.

The center opened as federal officials realized that the border-crossers had disappeared into the nation's interior.

Farmington To Vote On Funds For Detox Center - The Associated Press and Daily Times

Farmington officials are considering a proposal to keep San Juan County's only detox center open until a new program can start.

The Daily Times reports that the Farmington City Council will meet tomorrow to discuss approving more than $79,000 in funding for the Four Winds Recovery Center.

The Center’s executive director told officials last month that the money could keep the facility operating until its contract ends June 30.

The council will also consider allowing the city manager to work with partnering organizations to open a new program for treating chronic substance abuse and homelessness.

The center is funded by Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and the county.

The county cut its funding nearly in half because of a deficit in a program that helps pay for uninsured health care.

Shooting Threat Cancels Albuquerque School Dance - The Associated Press

An Albuquerque high school canceled its homecoming dance Saturday night in response to threats of a shooting.

An Albuquerque police spokesman says a juvenile was allegedly behind the threats, which were posted on social media, involving Cibola High School.

He says investigators found the suspect by tracking an IP address.  The juvenile was taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation.

Police received several calls about the threats just hours before the dance was scheduled to begin.

Investigators alerted Albuquerque Public Schools officials, who decided to call off the event.

Ex-Navajo Officials Plead Guilty In Criminal Case - The Associated Press

Two former Navajo Nation council delegates accused of funneling thousands of dollars in tribal funds to their families have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.

Leonard Teller and George Arthur entered their pleas Friday in Window Rock District Court.

The agreement calls for six counts each of bribery to be dismissed with prejudice.

Both men could be sentenced to probation, community service or up to 180 days in jail.

Teller and Arthur admit in court documents to conspiring with other Navajo lawmakers to unlawfully authorize payments for each other's families between 2005 and 2009.

They were originally scheduled to go on trial Oct. 14 — along with Speaker Johnny Naize, delegate David Tom and former delegate Ernest Yazzie Jr.

The other three struck plea deals last month.

Hotel Group Sued By US For Racial Discrimination - The Associated Press

A federal agency is accusing a hotel chain of breaking the law by subjecting minority employees in New Mexico, Texas and South Carolina to a hostile work environment and firing those who complained.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Friday that it had filed suit against four Whitten Inn hotels and is seeking back pay, lost benefits and damages for workers.

Federal officials say employees endured racial slurs and derogatory comments.

Businessman Larry Whitten created a firestorm in 2009 when workers at his Taos hotel say they were forbidden to speak Spanish and told to change their Spanish first names.

A receptionist at the Taos inn said Sunday that Whitten was no longer the owner.

Representatives at an Abilene, Texas, Whitten Inn declined to comment when reached by telephone.

Balloon Stolen At Albuquerque Balloon Fest - The Associated Press

A California woman wasn't able to honor her late husband at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta after a thief made off with the balloon her daughter planned to pilot.

Police say Lucinda Wallace's hot air balloon was taken sometime early Saturday morning from the Nativo Hotel. The suspect also took a trailer holding the balloon and a Chevrolet Suburban with a California license plate that reads "baluner."

Wallace says daughter Marilyn was going to fly it in memory of her father. Rick Wallace died more than two months ago of cancer.

The balloon is blue with a rainbow design and a U.S. flag on the side.

Meanwhile, the family flew back to their Santa Monica, California, home to get another balloon and drive back to the Fiesta.

New Mexico Artist's Quotation Included On Memorial - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A northern New Mexico sculptor says he's honored that his words are immortalized on a new memorial for disabled American military veterans.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Michael Naranjo attended Sunday's dedication in Washington for the American Veterans Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial.

Naranjo served in Vietnam while in the Army. He was severely wounded by a grenade blast but survived and made it home.

A quotation from him is among 18 from veterans on the memorial. His speaks of feeling invincible and immortal when young. His quotation goes on to say he thought he'd come back from Vietnam but also that he felt he wouldn't be quite the same.

He says now he's humbled because many veterans had disabilities worse than his.

'Game Of Thrones' Author To Stump For Udall - The Associated Press

George R.R. Martin is going from the game of thrones to the game of political campaigning.

The author behind the fantasy book series that inspired HBO's "Game of Thrones" will stump for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall at a youth voting rally Tuesday afternoon in Santa Fe.

Campaign representatives for the Democratic incumbent say most seats at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market Pavilion are being reserved for high school and college students.

The rally begins at 4:30 p.m. Free buses for attendees from Albuquerque will be leaving from the University of New Mexico starting at 2:45 p.m.

Martin will join Udall at a campaign fundraising reception and dinner after at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, which the author owns.

Udall faces Republican challenger Allen Weh in the November election.