Headlines: Navajo Settlement, Juntos New Mexico Petition, Rodella, Jewish Survey...

Sep 25, 2014

Credit Photo: inkknife_2000 via Flickr / Creative Commons

Navajo Nation To Get $554 Million In Settlement With US  - The Associated Press

The Navajo Nation will receive more than $550 million as part of a settlement with the federal government that officials say is the largest of its kind.

The tribe agreed earlier this year to settle the case involving mismanagement of its resources, but it was awaiting signatures from federal agencies.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited Window Rock on Friday to mark the largest settlement of its kind for a single American Indian tribe.

The lawsuit alleged that the United States breached its fiduciary duty in managing, investing and accounting for revenue from farming, grazing, mineral development, timber harvesting and housing. The Navajo Nation originally sought $900 million when it filed the lawsuit 2006.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley says public meetings will be held to ask Navajos how they think the money should be spent. The first is scheduled for next month.

Group Delivers 'Clean Energy' Petition To PRCThe Associated Press

A group of Latino environmentalists is delivering more than 6,000 petition signatures to the state Public Regulation Commission that call for more renewable energy.

Juntos New Mexico was launched earlier this year by Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund. Organizers have spent months going door-to-door to collect the signatures.

The petition calls for electricity to be generated in a way that won't pollute New Mexico's air and water.

The commission is considering a proposal by the state's largest electricity provider, PNM, to shutter two units at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico.

The utility wants to replace the power with a mix of coal from the plant's other units, electricity generated by the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona, a new natural gas-fired plant and solar.

Prosecutors Rest Their Case Vs. Indicted Sheriff - The Associated Press

Federal prosecutors have rest their case against a northern New Mexico sheriff indicted for roughing up a motorist during a heated traffic stop.

Prosecutors called their final witnesses Wednesday in a trial involving Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella who authorities say injured a 26-year-old motorist in a March road rage fit.

Rodella is standing trial on federal charges of deprivation of rights and brandishing a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.

His lawyers says that Rodella did nothing wrong and it was the motorist who was driving recklessly and nearly struck the lawman with his car.

Defense attorneys say they plan on calling in experts to prove Rodella did not hurt the driver as prosecutors claim.

New Mexico Official Proposes Rules On Crowdfunding - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A New Mexico securities regulator wants the state to adopt rules allowing New Mexico businesses to raise capital through online crowdfunding from state residents.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Securities Division Director Alan Wilson is proposing that the state regulate websites designed to help New Mexico businesses raise capital and to allow residents to invest that way.

Wilson says the state now has what he calls "archaic regulatory limitations" that make fundraising expensive for small businesses, limit how much they can raise and restrict wealthy investors' investment opportunities.

Wilson says New Mexico now generally follows federal requirements. He says the state could establish its own rules as long as investors and businesses are based in New Mexico.

Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty In Young Boy's Death - The Associated Press

Prosecutors say an Albuquerque man has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty in the beating death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old son in April 2011.

The District Attorney's Office says Dominic Howe pleaded guilty Wednesday to child abuse resulting in death in the 2011 death of the son of Elizabeth Martinez.

Howe had called 911 and reported that the boy had drowned in the bathtub, but authorities determined that the boy had multiple bruises, burns and internal injuries.

According to the District Attorney's Office, Howe later acknowledged throwing the boy, burning him, running him over with a vacuum and hitting the child several times.

Martinez awaits trial in the case.

Federation To Survey State's Jewish Population - The Associated Press

The Jewish Federation of New Mexico has launched a survey of New Mexico's Jewish community to probe the population size and its history.

The federation recently hired a Denver firm to contact Jewish residents affiliated with a synagogue and to contact nonaffiliated Jews through random calling and identification of Jewish family surnames.

It's estimated that the Jewish population in the state is around 4,000 to 7,000. Officials say so far the survey has reached more than 300 families.

The federation's study will be to try to identify the descendants of crypto-Jews who escaped the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries to settle in the Spanish new world, but might not have openly practiced Judaism.

State Workforce Little Changed In 2 Years - The Associated Press

The Legislative Finance Committee reports that the number of state workers has changed very little in the past two years.

The committee said there were about 22,500 state agency employees this month, which is a 1 percent drop from mid-2012. The number of government workers grew by 0.1 percent from July.

There are about 3,000 vacant state agency positions, according to the committee, and it took an average of 64 days to fill a job during the most recent budget year. That dropped from an average of 73 days in the previous year.