New Mexico AG Warns Parents About 'Pokemon Go', $143M Settlement To Clean Up Closed Mine In NM

Aug 10, 2016

Attorney General Warns Parents About 'Pokemon Go' DangersThe Associated Press

New Mexico's top prosecutor is warning parents that the hit game "Pokemon Go" comes with risks for children who play it.

Attorney General Hector Balderas says the game offers the benefit of getting youth outside to exercise since it requires some walking, but the game can also bring children into contact with strangers and lure them to places that may not be safe.

The attorney general's warning comes after Dona Ana County District Attorney Mark D'Antonio warned parents to pay close attention to their children's whereabouts when they play game since some of the app's key stops are located near the homes of registered sex offenders.

The "Pokemon Go" craze that swept the U.S. this summer pairs GPS and smartphone camera technology to send players to real-world sites in pursuit of animated monsters on their screens.

$143M Settlement To Clean Up Closed Mine In New Mexico – The Associated Press

Federal authorities say the Chevron Mining Inc. has agreed to a $143 million settlement to clean up the closed molybdenum mine near Questa in northern New Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that the proposed partial consent decree, if approved by the court, will provide for the next phase of the cleanup at the Superfund site.

The mine had been in operation in Taos County on and off since 1916. It closed for good in 2014.

Under the settlement, Chevron Mining will undertake a pilot project to cover about 275 acres of mine waste, operate a water treatment plant and install groundwater extraction systems.

The company also will reimburse the Environmental Protection Agency more than $5.2 million for overseeing past cleanup at the site.

Judge Sets Date For Officer Shooting Suspect's Weapons TrialThe Associated Press 

A federal judge has set the date for the trial for an ex-convict charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm that authorities say was used in the shooting death of an Albuquerque police officer.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the trial of Davon Lymon will begin Oct. 24 in Albuquerque.

The trial originally was scheduled for Aug. 3 in Las Cruces, but the judge postponed it in response to defense concerns about publicity surrounding the fatal shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Lymon was transferred to federal custody after his October arrest in the shooting of Officer Daniel Webster. He has not been charged in Webster's death but remains under investigation in the shooting.

Police say Webster pulled over Lymon for driving a motorcycle with a stolen license plate.

New Mexico Judge Won't Allow Comments From Accused KillerThe Associated Press

A New Mexico judge will not allow several comments made by a man charged with killing a police officer to be used against him in court.

Judge George Eichwald said Tuesday that most of interview state police officers held with Andrew Romero in the wake of his arrest is inadmissible because it continued after Romero clearly said he did not want to continue talking.

Romero is charged with murder in the May 2015 shooting death of Rio Rancho officer Gregg "Nigel" Benner.

Romero's attorneys said the interrogation violated Romero's rights not to self-incriminate, but prosecutors argued that Romero kept talking to police even though he understood the consequences.

Only about six pages of the 51-page interview transcript will be allowed as evidence in the upcoming trial, which begins September 6.

Family Sues Bar After Corndog Contest Leads To Woman's DeathThe Associated Press

A New Mexico family is suing the owners of a shuttered Albuquerque night club, their former landlord and a liquor license-holder after a woman choked during a corndog eating contest and suffered fatal brain damage.

The mother, husband and daughter of 56-year-old Debra Harbeck argue in the wrongful death lawsuit that Fire and Ice staff served her multiple shots of gin the night she was rushed to the hospital in January, and allowed her to participate in the risky contest despite her level of intoxication.

The family says the contest called for female contestants to get on their knees in front of a male teammate who stood as he held the corndog in front of the woman to eat. Harbeck was out celebrating her daughter's 22nd birthday.

Harbeck died several days later at a hospital.

New Mexico Pension Funds Confront Lower ReturnsThe Associated Press

New Mexico's two major public pension funds have missed targets for investment returns for a second straight year.

The Public Employees Retirement Association that oversees pension funds for state, county and municipal workers is reporting a return on investment of less than 1 percent for the fiscal year ending in June. The Educational Retirement Board that oversees school district pensions is reporting a return of 2.6 percent after fees.

Long-term targets for annual returns are set above 7 percent at both funds.

The chairman of the state legislative committee overseeing pensions and state investment said Tuesday that the below-target investment returns are pushing up unfunded pension liabilities. Democratic Sen. George Munoz of Gallup says lawmakers are studying the idea of adding individual retirement accounts to pension plans to encourage savings.

UNM Suspends Prof Previously Accused Of Sexual Harassment – The Associated Press

The University of New Mexico has again suspended an assistant professor of anthropology.

Officials announced Tuesday that the school has received new information that has led to an emergency suspension of Dr. Cristobal Valencia.

Effective immediately, Valencia is suspended from all academic duties associated with his faculty appointment including teaching, research and service.

UNM officials didn't specifically say why Valencia is being suspended again.

But Albuquerque TV station KOB reports that Valencia was suspended last spring for allegedly sexually harassing female students.

He was reinstated to teach this semester and that reportedly outraged some of his alleged victims. UNM officials say Valencia's latest suspension will remain in place while new allegations against him are investigated or until the case is resolved.

New Mexico Governor Orders Agency Spending Reductions – The Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is directing state agencies under her control to reduce annual general-fund spending by 5 percent in response to a decline in state revenues linked to energy prices.

The Republican governor also told agencies on Tuesday to slow down expenditures during the first half of the fiscal year that began in July. Agencies were told to spend no more than 45 percent of general-fund budgets during those six months.

Martinez expects the directives to involve changes to hiring practices, overtime, travel and many other aspects of agency management.

Legislative leaders say New Mexico is confronting an estimated $150 million general-fund shortfall for the budget year that ended in June and potentially greater shortfalls this year.

NMDOT: 1 Of New Mexico's Top DWI Absconders Caught – The Associated Press 

The New Mexico Department of Transportation has announced that one of the state's top drunken driving fugitives has been captured.

Officials said Tuesday that Gallup Police Department recently arrested Rigina Johns following a statewide search.

Authorities say Johns absconded from supervision after being convicted of her fifth drunken driving conviction. Records show she also fled in 2013 after she was convicted of an aggravated DWI.

NMDOT Cabinet Secretary Tom Church says repeat drunken driving offenders who are hiding from the law pose a significant danger to New Mexico families and can create disasters on our roads.

The "Top 10 List" of DWI absconders in the state is part of an initiative enacted by Gov.Susana Martinez to crack down on repeat offender absconders.