Judge Orders Release Of NM Clergy Sex Abuse Records, State Medical Pot Program Making Changes

Oct 19, 2017

New Mexico Judge Orders Release Of Clergy Sex Abuse RecordsThe Associated Press

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has released hundreds of pages of court records related to sexual abuse allegations against clergy members in response to an order from a New Mexico judge.

Church officials said in a statement issued after Wednesday's release that they hope the disclosure along with the recent publication of a list of clergy accused of sexual misconduct will serve as an additional step in healing for survivors, their families and parishioners.

The documents include letters showing church leaders knew of allegations of sexual abuse that had been leveled against three priests from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Judge Alan Malott's order stems from a request by KOB-TV. The Albuquerque television station argued that much of the information should no longer be guarded by a court-protected confidentiality order.

New Mexico Medical Pot Program Making ChangesThe Associated Press

New Mexico's booming medical marijuana program is undergoing changes.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a state Department of Health official told lawmakers this week the tweaks are intended to alleviate growing pains.

The changes that are either being considered or are already in the works include allowing patients to submit online applications — they're currently required to be submitted by mail — and the hiring of seven new staffers, including an investigator and an environmental scientist.

The new hires would bolster the Medical Cannabis Program's authorized staff positions by 33 percent — from 21 to 28 positions — for the budget year.

New Mexico launched its medical marijuana program in 2007. There were 9,950 active patients around the state in September 2013. There were 48,861 as of last month.

New Judge Appointed To Case On Clovis Library ShootingThe Associated Press

Court documents say a Chaves County judge will preside over the case against a teen accused of killing two and injuring four in a deadly shooting at a Clovis public library in August.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports Judge James Hudson of the Fifth Judicial District Court was appointed to the case after all local judges recused themselves.

According to court documents filed Monday, Hudson accepted the reassignment designation in the case of 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett.

The teen has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and four counts of aggravated battery. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes, but is using Jouett's name because of the seriousness of the crime and because authorities are seeking adult sanctions.

Farmington, San Juan County To Intervene In PNM CaseThe Associated Press

The city of Farmington and San Juan County have decided to intervene in the Public Service Company of New Mexico's Integrated Resource Plan case.

The Farmington Daily Times reports both the City Council and the County Commission met Tuesday in closed executive session during their meetings to discuss intervening.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission is hearing arguments in the case. State legislators who represent San Juan County intervened in the case earlier this year.

The integrated resource plan calls for the Public Service Company of New Mexico pulling out of the San Juan Generating Station at the end of 2022 and being coal free by 2031.

The local governments are concerned about the economic impact the Public Service Company of New Mexico's plan will have on the area. 

Guilty Pleas Entered In Sweeping Indian-Art Fraud ProbeBy Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A New Mexico art gallery owner and a jewelry supplier have pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges in the sale of fake Native American jewelry that was manufactured in the Philippines, representing the first convictions in a sweeping international investigation.

Art gallery owner Nael Ali pleaded guilty Wednesday to misrepresenting fake Indian-produced goods in violation of the Indian Arts and Craft Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque confirmed Wednesday. His conviction followed an earlier guilty plea by jewelry supplier Mohammad Manasra on less severe charges under the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

In October 2015, federal agents raided Indian art galleries in Albuquerque, Gallup, and Calistoga, California, to seize counterfeits and evidence.

Ali and Manasra have agreed to forfeit 5,268 pieces of jewelry, while acknowledging that Manasra passed off jewelry made in the Philippines as the work of Navajo and Zuni Pueblo artists, court documents indicate.

Sentencing hearings are still months away. Ali faces possible jail time of up to 18 months, according to court documents. An attorney for Manasra declined Wednesday to discuss the case. Ali's attorney could not be reached immediately.

Ex-Rival Endorses Democrat Tim Keller For Albuquerque MayorAssociated Press

A former rival has endorsed New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller for Albuquerque mayor.

Brian Colón announced Wednesday he was throwing his support behind Keller because of his "strong message."

The move comes after Colón came in third in an open mayoral race behind Keller and City Councilor Dan Lewis earlier this month. Keller and Lewis are set to face each other in a run-off on Nov. 14.

Colón, a Democrat, had sought to make the run-off by appealing to Hispanic voters but fell short amid strong backing from liberal whites for Keller, who is also a Democrat.

Keller says he is humbled to have Colón's support.

Lewis, a Republican, came in second and is seeking to rally conservatives in the nonpartisan race to succeed Mayor Richard Berry.

George R.R. Martin Mixes Business, Politics At Film ForumAssociated Press

Proposals for expanding movie and television production in New Mexico are on the agenda at a film forum in Santa Fe.

The discussion Thursday is designed mix business and politics, as author and producer George R.R. Martin sits down with film-industry experts and Congresswoman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The congresswoman this week proposed lifting a $50 million annual cap on film-production tax credits to boost the industry.

Known for his fantasy novels that inspired the hit series "Game of Thrones," Martin owns an art-house cinema in Santa Fe and has dabbled in a local nonprofit film production project.

State officials say more than 60 film and television productions were shot in the state during the past fiscal year.

New Mexico School District Settles Suit With Book PublisherLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Las Cruces Public Schools has agreed to settle a lawsuit that claimed the district posted publicly accessible copies of a teaching book online without a license or authorization.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the New Mexico school district will pay $10,000 to Stenhouse Publishers in a settlement that was finalized in late June.

The lawsuit claims the book "Everyday Editing" by John Anderson was posted to the district's website sometime before late March. Suit documents are unclear on how long the book may have been on the website.

Under the settlement, the Maine-based publishing company will give the school district a $5,000 credit toward the purchase of works by the same author after the company receives the settlement check.

New Mexico Delegation: US Labs Can Help Rebuild Puerto Rico – Associated Press

Members of the state's congressional delegation are urging the Trump administration to tap the expertise of national laboratories in New Mexico to help with rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico.

They sent a letter Wednesday to Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Elaine Duke, acting secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

The letter says the expertise and resources at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories can be leveraged to ensure the U.S. territory is better positioned to prepare for and recover from future natural disasters. They pointed to programs that could evaluate Puerto Rico's electrical grid needs and other critical infrastructure.

The territory was hit by back-to-back hurricanes. Much of the island remains without power, hundreds of thousands of people are without running water and nearly half of the island's 51 sewage treatment plants are still out of service.

Ex-US Sen. Bingaman Endorses Damon Martinez For CongressAssociated Press

Retired U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman has endorsed former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez for an open congressional seat in central New Mexico.

The New Mexico Democrat said Wednesday that Martinez has a "thoughtful and innovative approach" to policy-making and would be a reliable addition to the state's congressional delegation.

Martinez says he was honored to receive Bingaman's endorsement and called him a mentor. He worked as an aide to Bingaman before returning to New Mexico and working in then-New Mexico Attorney General Tom Udall's office.

Martinez is running against seven other Democrats in the race — all seeking their party's nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for New Mexico governor.

University Of The Southwest Eyes Major ExpansionHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A private, southeastern New Mexico Christian university has unveiled plans for a significant expansion.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the University of the Southwest recently announced the $45 million expansion that will include a larger chapel, a new 94-bed dormitory, and a baseball/softball complex.

University of the Southwest president Quint Thurman says the expansion of facilities is called Vision 20/20.

Officials say funding for the expansion will come from donations from alumni, the general public, foundations and businesses.

They also expressed enthusiasm for a new $5 million chapel, which when it is built, will be a focal point for nearby travelers.

The on-campus population of students at USW is around 430.

Technology Guides Small Donations To Democratic CandidatesAssociated Press

An online fundraising platform in the vein of PayPal is helping Democratic congressional candidates in New Mexico round up small contributions.

Campaign finance disclosures filed with federal regulators this week show individual candidates using ActBlue to raise as much as $59,000 from July through September.

State Democratic Party Chairman Richard Ellenberg said Tuesday that the fundraising platform makes it easy for people to make political contributions in small amounts at any time. He says that fits into the party's strategy for widening its base of financial support.

Democratic candidates appeared to be reporting source of small individual donations under $200 collected through ActBlue, though it is not required under federal campaign rules.