New Mexico Sues Trump Administration, Albuquerque Introduces Anti-Crime Plan For Downtown

Jul 6, 2017

California, New Mexico File Environmental LawsuitAssociated Press

The attorneys general of California and New Mexico are suing the Trump administration for delaying new rules to reduce methane leaks on federal lands.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday is the latest in a string of legal challenges by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra against the administration on environmental actions.

He and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas say the new rules will ensure cleaner air.

The regulations require natural gas and oil producers to update equipment and take other actions aimed at stopping methane leaks. They also say companies must pay royalties on leaked gas.

Opposition from energy companies and several states, including Wyoming, has prompted the U.S. Department of the Interior to delay pieces of the rule. The postponed pieces are not set to take effect until January 2018.

Ex-US Attorney Martinez Joins New Mexico Law FirmAssociated Press

Former U. S. Attorney Damon Martinez has joined the Albuquerque law firm, Modrall Sperling.

The law firm recently announced that Martinez was joining to the firm as Of Counsel.

Martinez served as the top federal law enforcement official in New Mexico after his confirmation in 2014.

He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

The law firm says Martinez will offer his legal services to businesses concerned about cyber-security and other issues relating to national security.

New Mexico Traffic Crackdown Nets Citations, DWI ArrestsAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say a crackdown over the holiday weekend resulted in hundreds of citations and dozens of drunken driving arrests.

With the increased volume in traffic over the Fourth of July holiday, state police conducted high intensity traffic operations around the state through Tuesday evening in the hopes of curbing bad behavior and thus reducing the number of crashes.

Officers issued more than 2,765 traffic citations, including 236 to people who were not using seatbelts. Thirty-seven people were arrested on suspicion of driving drunk.

Officers handled a total of 65 crashes and arrested 16 people for drug-related offenses.

More than 280 citations were issued to commercial vehicles as officers conducted over 480 vehicle inspections.

Body Of Albuquerque Man Pulled From Lake South Of Santa FeAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say the body of an Albuquerque man has been recovered from Cochiti Lake south of Santa Fe.

They say 34-year-old Ariel Gonzalez-Vasquez reportedly drowned Saturday after large waves and wind made the swimming difficult and he sank and never resurfaced.

Sandoval County Sheriff's officials asked the State Police dive team to locate the body in the lake.

It took sonar-equipped boats to find the victim and Gonzalez-Vasquez's body was pulled from the water Wednesday.

The body was transported to the Office of the Medical Investigator, where an autopsy will be conducted.

Immigrant Rights Group Cites Delays In Tax-Refund SettlementAssociated Press

Attorneys for an immigrant rights group say the state of New Mexico is taking too much time to review past tax filings that could result in refunds to thousands of foreign nationals.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund attorney Marisa Bono on Wednesday told a district court judge that eight months have passed since the state signed an agreement to automatically return tax refunds that were wrongfully withheld in 2015.

The agreement has ended a lawsuit against the Taxation and Revenue Department alleging a practice of withholding tax refunds owed to foreign nationals starting in 2012 based on mismatched tax identification numbers.

An attorney for the agency says that complying with the agreement is a complicated task made more difficult during tax filing season and by a management shakeup.

New Mexico Unveils New Tourism Numbers - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says about 1 million more trips were made to the state in 2016 than the previous year, breaking another tourism record for the southwestern state.

The Republican governor said Wednesday 34.4 million trips were taken in New Mexico last year and that surpassed the previous record set in 2015.

The numbers are based on survey data from research firm Longwoods International. They point to a steady increase of travel to New Mexico over the past several years.

But the latest figures come as Albuquerque has been plagued by property crime and New Mexico continues to struggle with a high unemployment rate.

New Mexico True advertisements, spotted in airports around the country, have been credited with helping attract more visitors to the state.

New Mexico Gov. Martinez: Trump's Tweets 'Not Appropriate'Associated Press

The nation's only Latina governor says recent tweets from President Donald Trump about an MSNBC female host and a mock video attacking CNN were "not appropriate" and "not helpful."

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a fellow Republican, said Wednesday the country needed to focus on more important issues like education and the economy.

Martinez says she's more worried about the national labs in New Mexico being protected.

This weekend, Trump tweeted a mock video showing him pummeling a man in a business suit outside a wrestling ring. The man's face is obscured with the CNN logo.

Last week, Trump tweeted that MSNBC morning show host Mika Brzezinski was "bleeding badly from a facelift" when he saw her around the New Year.

Martinez was critical of Trump during the presidential campaign.

About $5,000 Worth Of Illegal Fireworks Seized In Las CrucesAssociated Press

Authorities say some $5,000 worth of illegal fireworks has been seized in Las Cruces.

They also say city firefighters responded to more than 250 fire or fireworks-related calls for service during the first four days of July.

Las Cruces police say the illegal fireworks included several varieties prohibited for use or possession within city limits, including aerial and ground audible devices.

Two citations were issued for the possession or use of illegal fireworks.

No major injuries or fires related to fireworks use were reported within city limits.

But of 255 fire or fireworks-related calls for service between July 1-4, police say 223 were calls or complaints about illegal fireworks.

Firefighters also responded to 10 brush fires and two trash can fires that were likely attributed to the use of fireworks.

Panel Considers Salaries Of New Mexico JudgesAssociated Press

An independent panel of legal experts is considering the salaries of New Mexico's judges in hopes of making recommendations to lawmakers and state finance officials for an increase in the 2019 fiscal year.

The six-member Judicial Compensation Commission is meeting Wednesday in Santa Fe.

A survey by the National Center for State Courts shows the annual salary for a district judge in New Mexico ranks lowest in the nation. Pay for a state Supreme Court justice ranks next to last. Only justices in Maine earn less.

The salaries of New Mexico judges have remained unchanged since 2014 when a 5 percent increase was enacted.

The commission in 2016 had recommended a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment and a 5 percent base salary increase, arguing that improved salaries were needed to recruit experienced attorneys for judgeships.

New Mexico High Court Upholds Convictions In Double KillingsAssociated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the murder convictions of two men in separate 2011 double killings.

A unanimous decision upholds Carlos Carrillo's convictions in the killings of Christopher Kinney and Lyndsey Frost in Albuquerque. The victims were found fatally shot in a pickup parked at a park in the Old Town area following what police believed was a disagreement and a possible confrontation between Carrillo and Kinney.

A separate ruling also issued last week by the state high court upholds Enrique Deleon's convictions in the fatal shootings of Joe Valero and Guadalupe Castaneda at their Clovis home following an argument during a backyard barbeque.

Both men were sentenced to life terms on their murder convictions.

Sheriff: Man Shot In Encounter With Deputies Was Gang MemberAssociated Press

Authorities say a man a fatally shot during an Albuquerque-area encounter with Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies was a gang member with a violent criminal history.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales said during a Wednesday news conference that 28-year-old Miguel Gonzales was released from prison just last month.

Officials said Miguel Gonzales was shot by at least one deputy early Tuesday morning after he allegedly pulled a gun on deputies who pursued him after learning that a license plate on a car driven by Gonzales was stolen.

The encounter began when deputies on patrol saw what officials called suspicions activity at a car wash around 1:30 a.m.

Officials said a gun was found at the scene but they haven't said whether Gonzales allegedly fired at deputies.

Albuquerque Rolls Out Plan To Address Downtown CrimeAlbuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry introduced a plan to address crime and homelessness in Downtown after numerous complaints from business owners and residents.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Berry outlined the plan Wednesday. He was joined by Police Chief Gorden Eden and Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

The five-point plan will add more police to the area and will also include efforts to clean graffiti and clear trash. There will be additional efforts to connect the homeless and those with mental health and addiction issues to services. Law enforcement will also work more closely with private security firms.

Residents and businesses in Downtown said there has been growing crime over the last few months, but the issue became more prominent when tech firm Lavu Inc. sent a letter to Berry and the Gov. Susana Martinez outlining crime problems and warning it may have to leave the Downtown area.