Investigator Says APD Officer Violated Hawkes' Rights, NM Weighs Tax Code Overhaul

Mar 15, 2017

APD Investigator Says Officer Violated Hawkes’ Rights – Albuquerque Journal

A police sergeant investigating the 2014 shooting death of Mary Hawkes said her constitutional rights were violated and officers mishandled evidence.

The Albuquerque Journal reported the testimony of Sgt. Scott Norris came to light when a deposition was unsealed this week in a lawsuit by Hawkes’ family against the city of Albuquerque and Jeremy Dear, an APD officer at the time who shot Hawkes.

Norris said the search of a cell phone left by Hawkes in a truck was unconstitutional. Officers used the phone to identify Hawkes as a possible car thief and that prompted officers to hunt for her.

Norris also said police failed to collect all the property from the truck abandoned by Hawkes. Police said Hawkes pointed a gun at Dear, but lawsuits questions that account.

Dear did not record the shooting on his lapel camera. He was later fired over other issues. The city personnel board reinstated him after he appealed. A city appeal of that reinstatement is still pending.

New Mexico Weighs Tax Code Overhaul Amid Budget CrisisThe Associated Press

Members of the New Mexico Senate are listening to public comments on a proposal to overhaul much of New Mexico's tax code.

The House-approved initiative would eliminate a wide array of tax exemptions, deductions, credits in an effort designed to stabilize state revenue streams and lower overall tax rates.

Republican Rep. and bill sponsor Jason Harper of Rio Ranch told a Senate panel Wednesday that the plan is designed to improve the overall business climate in New Mexico. Legislative Finance Committee economist Jon Clark says the reforms would have a major impact on nonprofit entities.

Lawmakers are racing to craft a balanced budget before they adjourn Saturday amid a sustained downturn in tax revenues linked to a downturn in the oil sector and a sluggish economy.

Ethics Commission Proposal Advances In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A proposal to create an independent political ethics commission in New Mexico is headed to the Senate floor for a vote after winning a crucial committee endorsement.

The Senate Rules committee on Wednesday endorsed a constitutional amendment to create a seven-member ethics commission with the authority to issue subpoenas and civil penalties. Full Senate approval would send the initiative to a statewide vote in November 2018.

Last-minute revisions to the amendment removed transparency provisions that would have ensured complaints are made public once a response if filed. Last year, Rules Committee members voted down an ethics commission over concerns it would become a forum for false accusations.

If voters approve the amendment, the Legislature would then decide whether complaints are made public and exactly how the commission is appointed.

Albuquerque Group To Give Anti-Deportation Training - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

New Mexico activists are joining advocacy groups across the country in providing training to people seeking to help immigrants avoid deportation.

The SouthWest Organizing Project is holding a training session Wednesday on accompanying immigrants to court and supporting them when immigration authorities arrive. Participants also will learn how to advise immigrants of rights and how to record interactions.

Similar sessions called "know your rights" training in New York and California have been pushed by some groups as a way to prepare for a possible crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump.

Organizers say the idea is to give immigrants guidance on how to legitimately push back against attempts to detain them.

Tactics revolve around keeping agents from learning anything they don't already know.

Albuquerque Quaker Church Gives Sanctuary To Immigrant Woman Associated Press

A Quaker church in Albuquerque says it's joining churches across the country giving sanctuary shelter to immigrants facing possible deportation.

The Friends Meeting House announced Tuesday volunteers will help give Emma Membreno Sorto around-the-clock protection from federal immigration authorities while she stays in church facilities.

Her attorney Roderick DeAguero said the Honduran woman has lived in the U.S. for 25 years and previously had sought political asylum. He says immigration authorities contacted Membreno Sorto while she was going through cancer treatment.

Membreno Sorto told reporters in a statement she is no longer going to any federal immigration appointments for fear of deportation.

Advocates say other Albuquerque churches are discussing offering shelter to immigrants facing deportation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa says she is checking on the case.

Air Force: 3 Killed In New Mexico Crash Of Military Plane Associated Press

Officials at an Air Force base in eastern New Mexico say three service members are dead following the crash of a single-engine reconnaissance and surveillance plane during a training flight.

Cannon Air Force Base officials say the U-28A crashed Tuesday night in a field about a quarter mile from Clovis Municipal Airport, which is about 3 miles east of Cannon.

A statement released by the base says the cause of the crash is under investigation and that identities of the victims will be withheld until 24 hours after families are notified.

Officials say the crash caused a fire that was extinguished by local firefighters.

Cannon's installation commander, Col. Ben Maitre, released a statement expressing sadness about the deaths and sympathy for their families and friends.

New Mexico Senate Backs Veto Override On Teacher Sick LeaveAssociated Press

The New Mexico Senate has voted to override a veto by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez of a bill that would have allowed teachers to take more than three days of annual sick leave without being penalized on performance evaluations.

Republican Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho led the unusual override attempt Tuesday against the GOP governor. The Senate backed the override in a 34-7 vote that fulfilled a two-thirds supermajority requirement. A vote in the House is pending.

Martinez says the bill threatened to reverse recent reductions in teacher absentee rates and to increase the use of substitutes in classrooms. Brandt says teachers should not be forced to work while sick and that local school boards should set sick-leave policy.

The last successful veto override was in 2002.

Funding Falters For New Mexico Campaign Finance WebsiteAssociated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are withholding funding for a promised overhaul of the state's outdated campaign finance website that helps the public follow the influence of money in politics, even as lawmakers seek new disclosures on political spending.

The state's top campaign finance regulator on Tuesday said House- and Senate-approved budget plans leave out funding for an overhaul of the campaign finance web portal. The Legislature mandated the overhaul last year without allocating money.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says she may seek out state construction funds and money from nonprofits.

Independent political groups that spend unlimited amounts of money to influence New Mexico elections would have to report the sources of donations under a bill sent to the governor on Tuesday. Lawmakers are grappling with a budget crisis.

New Mexico May Ban Minors From Indoor TanningAssociated Press

The New Mexico House of Representatives has voted to ban indoor tanning for people under age 18 and require tanning salons to post notice of health risks.

The House on Tuesday approved the bill from Democratic Rep. Andres Romero of Albuquerque that would offset regulatory costs with licensing fees.

The bill responds to evidence of increased risks of skin cancer, especially among minors exposed to tanning facilities. Customers at tanning salons would have to sign a form indicating they read the health risks. It now goes to the Senate.

Thirteen states already ban minors from indoor tanning facilities.

The New Mexico proposal would exclude the use of tanning equipment for therapeutic purposes with a prescription.

Suspect Identified In Navajo Tribal Officer's Shooting DeathNavajo Times, Associated Press

Authorities say the man suspected of gunning down a tribal police officer on the nation's largest American Indian reservation was found hiding on a ridge not far from his rural home in western New Mexico.

The McKinley County Sheriff's Office in a report obtained by the Navajo Times identified the suspect as Kirby Cleveland.

He's in federal custody. The FBI has not commented about the suspect and its ongoing investigation.

The sheriff's office was among the law enforcement agencies that responded early Sunday when 27-year-old Navajo Nation Officer Houston James Largo was shot on a county road after stopping a vehicle.

Deputies reported that Largo was found lying about 50 yards from the vehicle with his duty pistol by his feet.

He had been shot twice.

High Temperatures To Threaten New Mexico's Snowpack Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The windy and warm weather that's forecast to hit eastern New Mexico over the next week is expected to whittle away the state's healthy snowpack.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that National Weather Service meteorologists say parts of the state will reach record or near-record highs this week.

Snowpack in New Mexico's northern mountains remained healthy Monday, but meteorologist Kerry Jones says the high-elevation winds and warm weather could cause significant melt-off.

Predicted highs on Thursday include 88 degrees in Roswell, 86 degrees in Tucumcari, 77 in Albuquerque and 67 in Santa Fe.

Strong, gusty winds on the high plains Thursday are likely to bring elevated fire risk.

Roswell Firefighters Vote To Unionize Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Roswell firefighters have voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that the firefighters voted 57-2 in favor of forming the Roswell Professional Fire Fighters Association on Monday. The election results still need to be officially certified by the city's Labor Management Relations Board.

In order for the union vote to have been successful, at least 40 percent of the 70 potentially affected employees must have cast ballots. The 59 eligible firefighters that voted Monday more than doubled the 40 percent requisite turnout.

The unionization process was initiated after a petition was filed with the city on Jan. 13.

'Longmire' Begins Filming Final Season In New MexicoAssociated Press

The Netflix series "Longmire" has begun shooting its sixth and final season in northern New Mexico.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that "Longmire" producers issued a casting call for extras last week in preparation for filming this month in Las Vegas and other northern New Mexico cities.

The contemporary crime drama is set in Wyoming and based on the "Walt Longmire" mystery novels authored by Craig Johnson. The show was picked up by A&E for a full run starting in June 2012, but was later acquired by Netflix.

The series stars Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackhoff and is produced by The Shepherd/Robin Co. in association with Warner Horizon Television.