Moody's Spares State Second Credit Downgrade, National Monument Hosts Citizen Ceremony

Jul 4, 2017

Agency Decides Against Second Credit Downgrade For StateAlbuquerque Journal

A lead ratings agency is not downgrading New Mexico’s credit rating but did warn about ongoing structural economic issues in the state.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Moody’s Investor Service did not change the state’s bond rating after downgrading New Mexico’s general obligation bonds last fall to AAA from AA1. Officials had feared a second downgrade, which would have raised the cost of borrowing money for long-term projects.

Moody’s gave several reasons for not dinging the state again. Those included actions by legislators and Gov. Susana Martinez in a budget special session to put more money in cash reserves and create a fund to keep the government running in difficult budget years.

Moody’s did show concern about New Mexico’s ongoing economic health by assigning a negative outlook to the state’s general obligation bonds.  The agency noted problematic financial reporting practices and wealth levels that lag much of the rest of the country.

New Mexico’s unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country at 6.6 percent in May.

3 Of 4 University Of New Mexico Health Sciences Deans DepartAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico has some hiring to do after three of its four Health Sciences Center deans have decided to accept jobs at other colleges.

The Albuquerque Journal reports deans Lynda Welage and Nancy Ridenour are leaving for the University of Minnesota and Barnes-Jewish College, respectively, and dean Deborah Helitzer is going to Arizona State University.

The last dean standing, Health Sciences Chancellor and School of Medicine dean Paul Roth, says the departures are unlike anything he's ever seen. Roth says he conducted an exit interview with each of the three women and none of them had one specific reason for leaving.

Roth says it's satisfying to see all advance professionally, and that the university has identified capable interim deans to limit any possible disruptions.

Officials are investigating an officer-involved shooting in southwest Albuquerque .

Authorities Investigate Officer-Involved Shooting - KOB-TV

Officials are investigating an officer-involved shooting in southwest Albuquerque.

KOB-TV reports the shooting took place early Tuesday morning around Arenal and Unser.  Deputies with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office shot and killed a man they say was armed.

No deputies were injured. The suspect was shot after a foot chase by deputies, who identified the car he was driving as stolen and followed the vehicle.

Couple Found Shot Dead In Pickup In New Mexico Were TexansAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say a man and a woman found fatally shot inside a pickup truck parked along Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque were a married couple from Texas.

Lt. Elizabeth Armijo identified the couple found dead Thursday as 31-year-old Jacob Kokotkiewicz and 32-year-old Ursula Tammy Kokotkiewicz, both of Flowermound, Texas. 

Armijo says both were shot in the head and that the man had a handgun between his legs.

Armijo says investigators are trying to determine a motive.

An officer discovered the bodies after stopping to check the welfare of the occupants of the vehicle, which was parked on the eastbound shoulder.

Las Cruces Activist Eyes Southern New Mexico Congress SeatLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A Las Cruces activist and veteran says he is running for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District seat now held by Steve Pearce.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Tony Martinez announced this weekend he will seek the Democratic nomination for a seat Pearce may give up to run for New Mexico governor.

Martinez, a co-founder of the group WE'RE IN: Las Cruces Indivisible, says the outcome of the 2016 election compelled him to find a way to stand against Republican President Donald Trump and his policies.

The Democratic primary is expected to draw a number of candidates.

Pearce is reportedly considering vacating his House seat to run for governor in 2018.

Salinas Pueblo Missions To Host July 4th Citizen CeremonyAssociated Press

A group of new U.S. citizens will be sworn in during a special July 4th ceremony at the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office Director Jesse Mendez is scheduled to administer the Oath of Allegiance to 15 citizenship candidates. Officials say the new citizens are from Guatemala, Kosovo, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

The Cellicíon Traditional Zuni Dancers are slated to perform for the new citizens.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is welcoming around 15,000 new U.S. citizens in more than 65 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies across the country.

State Veterans Agency Takes Over Management Of MemorialAssociated Press

Management of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in northern New Mexico is being transferred from the State Parks Division to the state Department of Veterans Services.

Officials are gathered at the memorial near Angel Fire on Monday for a ceremony to mark the transition. Veterans and their families were also invited.

A bill was passed during the recent legislative session based on an agreement among Gov. Susana Martinez's office and the two state agencies to pave the way for the change.

The State Parks Division has owned and managed the memorial since 2005, but supporters say the premise is that the memorial isn't a park but rather a sacred place of reflection.

The Veterans' Services Department plans to construct a federally supported national veterans' cemetery adjacent to the memorial in the coming years.

Ag Survey Finds Planted Land In New Mexico Is Up SlightlyAssociated Press

Federal officials say the number of planted acres in New Mexico is up slightly from last year.

Results of the annual agricultural survey were released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The survey shows corn, winter wheat, cotton and other crops cover 914,000 acres in New Mexico, up 1 percent from the previous year.

Corn producers planted 140,000 acres this year of which they intend to harvest 56,000 acres for grain. That's an increase of 37 percent from last year's harvested acreage.

The area to be harvested for hay is expected to increase from a year ago to 280,000 acres.

Peanut farmers planted an estimated 8,000 acres, unchanged from 2016.