Lawmaker Calls For Inquiry Into Investment Deals, Library Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Sep 21, 2017

New Mexico Lawmaker Calls For Inquiry Into Investment DealsThe Associated Press

A Democratic state lawmaker is calling for an investigation after questions were raised about political donations made by financial firms that were awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in investments by the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee Chairman Bill McCamley said Thursday he has written to Attorney General Hector Balderas, asking him to investigate any possible violations of state law.

A report by the International Business Times and the nonprofit MapLight says people at firms that handled state investments contributed to Republican political groups and GOP Gov. Susana Martinez.

The governor's office says the political contributions were properly disclosed.

In the past, New Mexico was shaken by an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving state investments during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.

New Mexico Library Shooting Teen Suspect Pleads Not GuiltyThe Associated Press & The Eastern New Mexico News

The teen accused of killing two people and seriously injuring four at a New Mexico library has waived a scheduled arraignment and pleaded not guilty on all charges.

The Eastern New Mexico News reported Thursday that 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett faces two life sentences and 117 years in prison for the 33 counts of murder and other crimes he has been charged for in connection with the Aug. 28 shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. Court records show he has been indicted as an adult.

Assistant Public Defender Stephen Taylor did not responded to the newspaper's request for comment on Jouett's plea.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes. It is identifying Jouett because of the seriousness of the crime and because authorities are seeking adult sanctions.

Jet Aborts Santa Fe Landing After Airport Wind Gauge ProblemThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

An American Eagle jet flying from Dallas-Fort Worth aborted its Santa Fe landing and returned to Texas.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Tuesday night landing was canceled because of a nonworking wind-speed sensor at the municipal airport. The 38 passengers reached their New Mexico destination on Wednesday morning.

Airport Manager Cameron Humphres says that it's "against the regulatory requirements for pilots to land without current wind data," and that the faulty gauge is maintained by the National Weather Service.

National Weather Service officials say technicians were able to fix the sensor early Wednesday morning although what caused it to fail is not clear.

A similar weather information failure caused a flight to be diverted from Santa Fe back to Dallas-Fort Worth in August 2016.

Insurance Rate Hike Sets Record For New Mexico Exchange Associated Press

New Mexico insurance regulators have approved the largest increases in health insurance premiums on the state's subsidized exchange since its creation nearly four years ago.

New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini on Wednesday confirmed agency estimates of average premium increases ranging from 36 percent to 41 percent on mid-level insurance plans for 2018.

Franchini attributes nearly one-third of the approved price hikes to uncertainty about whether the federal government will block or discontinue subsidies to insurers. He also says rates are rising because not enough people are buying insurance through New Mexico's federally subsidized marketplace.

About 55,000 New Mexico residents purchase insurance through the exchange.

Families Of Murder Victims Help Design Memorial ParkAssociated Press

Officials in Albuquerque are unveiling design plans for a Memorial Park in honor of the 11 women whose bodies were found in a mass grave and are believed to be victims of a serial killer.

The Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department and City Councilor Klarissa Peña will release details this week of a park after years of work securing land and funding.

Officials say the Memorial Park design was approved by the families of the victims. The families helped select trees, shrubbery, benches, and other design features.

In 2009, a mass grave was found on Albuquerque's West Mesa with 11 bodies and a fetus after a tip to police.

Authorities say nearly all the dead women worked as prostitutes before they disappeared between 2003 and early 2005.

The case has never been solved.

Roosevelt County Eyes Disaster Funds From August Storms Eastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

An eastern New Mexico county is still working on getting a federal disaster declaration from storms that caused an estimated $4.5 million in damage.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports Roosevelt County Superintendent Ricky Lovato said Tuesday he recently took representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security on a tour of roads damaged by flooding in August.

County Manager Amber Hamilton said the representatives took pictures of 75 percent of the damaged roads, and asked for information for each road.

Hamilton says a declaration could allow the county to access disaster relief funding.

Officials hope to have more information in 30 days.

New Mexico Sends Crews To Help With Western WildfiresAssociated Press

Firefighters with the New Mexico State Forestry Division are answering the call for help as states around the West are dealing with large wildfires.

At least 100 State Forestry personnel are supporting firefighting efforts around the region.

State Forester Donald Griego says the West has seen one of the worst fire seasons on record with more than 2 million acres burned. With New Mexico's fire season winding down, he says his agency has been able to share resources.

One crew made up of military veterans and civilians is helping with a fire in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. This marks the team's fifth tour and third fire in Oregon.

Crews also have been sent to California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Washington state.

Colorado Painted Orange By Large Butterfly MigrationAssociated Press, Denver Post

Colorado residents and visitors alike have noticed the state's taken on a tinge of orange due to an abundance of butterflies.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Colorado's Front Range is in the midst of a large migration of the painted lady butterfly.

Butterfly Pavilion employee Sarah Garrett says it's typical to see painted ladies migrate during this time of year, but not in such large numbers. Garrett says it's probably because of a great summer season of breeding that boosted the population.

Painted ladies, commonly mistaken for monarch butterflies, are considered a cosmopolitan species that are found across the continental U.S. But once the temperatures get colder, the butterfly makes its way to Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico to enjoy the winter.

California Sues Trump Administration To Prevent Border Wall - By Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press

California's attorney general has sued the Trump administration over its plan to construct a wall along the country's border with Mexico.

The suit filed Wednesday by Attorney General Xavier Becerra makes arguments similar to those in a lawsuit filed by advocacy groups last week arguing the federal government is overstepping its authority by waiving environmental reviews and other laws.

Both lawsuits aim to stop the design, planning and construction of the wall.

Aides to Becerra believe a victory in the lawsuit would apply to the entire border, stretching nearly 2,000 miles across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The Trump administration recently waived environmental reviews on a 15-mile stretch in San Diego where wall prototypes will be constructed and a 3-mile stretch in downtown Calexico.

Becerra is announcing his suit near the border in San Diego. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also in San Diego to discuss drug seizures.

School Board Member Denies Role In Embezzlement CaseAssociated Press

A member of the Albuquerque Public Schools education board is denying she had any role in the alleged embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a troubled charter school she helped establish.

In a statement released by her attorney, Analee Maestas said she had not been aware of any alleged criminal activity involving her daughter's role as the former assistant business manager at La Promesa Early Learning Center.

Maestas also stated her daughter's substance abuse problems were directly related to issues outlined in a recent report by the state auditor.

No charges have been filed, but auditors have accused the daughter of depositing checks worth more than $475,000 into her personal bank account after signing them over to herself.

Previously, Maestas was forced to step down as the school's executive director after auditors determined she doctored a receipt for reimbursement.

US Provides $1M Grant For Business Incubator In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

The federal government is providing a $1 million grant for establishment of a biosciences business incubator in Albuquerque.

The Commerce Department says it's estimated the grant for Innovate ABQ Inc. will create 155 jobs, retain 80 jobs and generate $2.5 million in private investment.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says in a statement released Wednesday by the department that the grant is part of efforts to "provide entrepreneurs and residents with a new opportunity to grow and develop their own businesses in their local community."

The department says the funding will support the design, development and renovation of an existing building for the incubator.

El Paso Times Editor Resigns In Effort To Save Newsroom JobsEl Paso Times, Associated Press

The executive editor of the El Paso Times is leaving the paper after being directed by its parent company to cut newsroom staff.

The Times reports that Robert Moore plans to step aside Oct. 6 in an effort to preserve reporting positions at the paper.

His resignation coincides with the departure of Lilia Castillo Jones, the president of the Times and several sister properties in New Mexico, whose position was eliminated by the USA Today Network, a division of Gannett.

The 57-year-old Moore has twice served as the top editor at the Times. He left in 2006 to helm the Fort Collins Coloradoan before returning to El Paso five years later.

He has received a number of journalism awards, including the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Foundation.