Lobbyist Says Former Lawmaker Offered Vote For Sex, State Oil And Gas Lease Sale Nets $3OM

Dec 9, 2017

Lobbyist: Former Lawmaker Offered Vote In Exchange For SexAssociated Press

A female political lobbyist in New Mexico has accused a former state lawmaker of requesting sex in exchange for support of a bill during a legislative session in 2009.

Lobbyist Vanessa Alarid said Friday that she met with former Rep. Thomas Garcia in March 2009 to discuss proposed legislation and that he offered his support if she would have sex with him.

Contacted Friday, Garcia vigorously denied the allegation, saying he never made a proposition to exchange a vote for anything to anyone.

Garcia is a Democrat and former public school superintendent who left the Legislature in 2012. He has been exploring a new run for the state House of Representatives.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf said he believes Alarid's account and that Garcia should not run for office.

Oil And Gas Lease Sale Nets $30M For New Mexico Associated Press

The Bureau of Land Management's latest quarterly oil and gas lease sale has netted more than $30 million in competitive bids for parcels in southeastern New Mexico.

The federal agency says the parcels up for bid covered more than 2,100 acres in Eddy and Lea counties, which include portions of the Permian Basin.

The highest bid per acre was made by Federal Abstract Co. of Santa Fe at $40,001.00. This set an agency record for the highest bid per acre.

Leases are awarded for a term of 10 years and as long thereafter as there is production of oil and gas in paying quantities.

Officials say each state government receives a 25 percent minimum share of the bonus bid and the royalty revenue from each lease issued in that state.

Delegation Asks That Helicopters Go To National Guard Unit Associated Press

New Mexico's congressional delegation is urging the Air Force to transfer some older combat search-and-rescue helicopters to the state National Guard when new models enter service with an active-duty unit at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Steve Pearce and Ben Ray Lujan advocate shifting the HH-60G helicopters to the 150th Special Operations Wing, a Kirtland-based Guard unit that currently doesn't have its own aircraft to operate.

The lawmakers also say the acquisition of new HH-60W helicopters by the active-duty 58th Special Operations Wing also operating other aircraft would pose challenges of having enough flight instructors hangar and classroom space.

The delegation made their pitch in a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, a former New Mexico congresswoman.

The Latest: Sheriff: Heroes Saved Lives In School Shooting Associated Press

Authorities say heroes helped save lives during a deadly shooting at a New Mexico high school.

San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen told reporters Friday that a substitute teacher heard the gunshots Thursday morning at Aztec High School but didn't have a key to lock the door to the computer lab.

So she took students into an office or storage area and barricaded the door with a couch.

He says 21-year-old William Atchison came to the room and yelled that he knew they were in there and then fired multiple shots into the room.

Christesen says a custodian also heard the gunshots and yelled for classrooms to lock their doors.

Western New Mexico Athletics Director To Resign Associated Press

Western New Mexico University's athletics director is stepping down.

Mark Coleman made his announcement late Friday, saying his last day at the helm of Mustang athletics will be Dec. 31.

He said his resignation comes with mixed emotions, as he has enjoyed his time at the university. He said it's time to move on to a new challenge that will benefit his family in the long run.

Coleman spent the past several years as director, with his first two years being split as head coach of the men's basketball team. In his 10 years as coach, he had over 100 wins.

As director, he helped oversee the transition from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference to the Lone Star Conference, several facilities upgrades and the raising of the department's overall GPA.

New Mexico Man Convicted Of Burglary In 2013 Pharmacy Case Associated Press

A man has been convicted of burglary and other charges in a case stemming from a 2013 break-in at a pharmacy in southern New Mexico.

Prosecutors announced Friday that 39-year-old Tareeq Munir was convicted following a two-day trial.

Authorities say Munir set off a motion detector during the break-in. Police responded to find the electricity, internet and phone lines cut and the back door pried open.

Munir was found hiding in the ceiling with 1,700 tablets of Hydrocodone, testosterone and other controlled substances that had been taken from within the pharmacy. He tried to escape but was unsuccessful.

Prosecutors say the case had been pending for some time because Munir jumped bond and fled. He was eventually caught in El Paso, Texas, where he was convicted in two similar cases.

Health Care Options Expanded For Some New Mexico Vets Associated Press

Specialized care for some veterans in southern New Mexico will be more accessible thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation say the agency is giving veterans in Alamogordo the new option to seek advanced care at the VA medical center in El Paso, Texas.

Until now, veterans in Alamogordo needing specialized care have been referred to the Albuquerque VA hospital, which is more than three hours away.

U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich urged VA officials to make the administrative changes after hearing from veterans who said they were delaying or foregoing care because the drive to Albuquerque was too difficult.

Several members of the state Legislature also advocated for the change.

New Mexico Elementary Teacher Accused Of Voyeurism Associated Press

Authorities say a teacher from southwestern New Mexico is facing a felony charge of voyeurism over allegations he used his cellphone to take inappropriate photos of students.

New Mexico State Police say 38-year-old Frank Ramos Arias of Bayard was arrested Friday and booked into the Grant County jail.

Arias, who teaches at Stout Elementary School in Silver City, denied the allegations in an interview with police. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Police were first notified about the allegations in October. They followed up by conducting interviews with students, and an examination of Arias' phone revealed videos that corroborated victims' statements.

School District Superintendent Audie Brown said the teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Brown also said it's a priority to provide a safe learning environment for students.