NM Congressional Race Gets Libertarian Candidate, Gov. Martinez Unveils Tough-On-Crime Proposals

Jan 8, 2018

Congressional Race In New Mexico Gets Libertarian CandidateThe Associated Press

A Libertarian Party candidate is running for Congress in New Mexico's Albuquerque-based district.

Business consultant Lloyd Princeton announced Monday that he is seeking the Libertarian nomination for the 1st congressional district that is currently held by Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham won't run for re-election to Congress as she seeks the nomination for governor against several Democratic rivals.

Princeton is touting his professional experience in devising growth strategies for small businesses. He wants to foster a state economy with less reliance on federal government and to improve education and health care.

Libertarian candidates are expected to have ready access to the general election ballot in New Mexico in November because of a strong local showing in 2016 by presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Gov. Martinez Unveils Tough-On-Crime ProposalsThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is making a final push for lawmakers to pass a series of tough-on-crime bills in her last year in office, including measures to expand the state's three-strikes law for violent felons and restore the death penalty.

The governor unveiled the legislation Monday ahead of the 30-day session that begins next week in Santa Fe.

Her proposals include a bill to toughen penalties for people who commit crimes while on probation or parole, as well as the capital punishment and three-strikes measures — which have both been rejected by lawmakers in recent years.

The capital punishment legislation would restore the death penalty for people convicted of murdering children and law enforcement. The three-strikes proposal would require life sentences for repeat offenders convicted of a third violent felony.

US Senator Proposes Delisting Mexican Gray WolfThe Associated Press

A wolf that once roamed parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico would be removed from the list of federally protected species under legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

The Arizona Republican introduced the measure last week. He's a critic of the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan, calling it a regulatory nightmare for ranchers and rural communities.

The bill calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if a population of fewer than 100 wolves has been established along the Arizona-New Mexico border. If so, the predator would be considered recovered and removed from the endangered list.

Environmentalists say it's an attempt to sidestep the Endangered Species Act.

According to the most recent survey, an estimated 113 wolves roam parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

Trump Appointee Who Quit After Probe Is Running For Congress In NMThe Associated Press

A former Trump administration appointee who resigned after a harsh report into a tribal loan program he oversaw is running for Congress in New Mexico.

Gavin Clarkson filed documents with the Federal Election Commission to seek the Republican nomination for a seat that represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Clarkson said in a campaign statement that he believes running is the "best way to help President Trump stop the swamp" and protect New Mexico.

The Washington Post reported that Clarkson resigned from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in November following an inspector general report into the loan program he directed. That report alleged the bureau's division of capital investment didn't have adequate controls and managed the loan program with limited oversight.

Clarkson is New Mexico State University business professor and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Western Ski Resorts Struggling With Snowless WinterThe Associated Press

A snowless winter has pushed much of New Mexico into drought conditions and has left many ski resort workers unemployed or underworked.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the lack of snow has raised concerns about the volume of water it will take to keep slopes covered throughout the season if storm systems don't arrive.

Outside of the man-made snow officials have been dumping on ski areas since November, most slopes in the West remain dry.

A manager at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in Los Alamos says the workforce has been cut in half, with just two of six lifts running.

Snow conditions have been so bad in parts of Colorado, the Aspen Skiing Co. set up a soup kitchen last month to provide free meals to underworked employees.

Former State Dems Chair To Run For New Mexico State AuditorAssociated Press

Former New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Brian Colón is running for state auditor.

Colón announced his bid in a statement late Sunday.

Colón says he is running because he is "fed up" and wants to ensure taxpayer money goes to the right places. He says his background in finance and law make him the right candidate.

Colón earned an undergraduate degree in finance from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and graduated from law school at the University of New Mexico.

Republican Wayne Johnson was appointed auditor by Gov. Susana Martinez in December after former State Auditor Tim Keller resigned in November to serve as Albuquerque mayor. Johnson’s term expires in November 2018.

Colón ran against Keller in that mayoral race but failed to make the runoff.

Lawmakers Propose Pet Food Tax To Help Spay, Neuter PetsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Two New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a special tax on pet food to raise money for spay and neutering fees for dogs and cats, but critics are concerned the additional fee could be passed on to consumers and deter pet food companies from doing business with New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Democratic State Reps. Carl Trujillo and Debbie Rodella sponsored a bill that would impose an increase on commercial pet food registration fees from $2 per label to $100 per label of food each year.

Trujillo says the increase from the current $2 per label fee would raise over $800,000 to help impoverished citizens pay to have their pets spayed and neutered. He estimates the fund could pay for services for some 8,000 to 10,000 pets annually.

Man Dies After Shooting Involving Albuquerque PoliceAssociated Press

Authorities say a man has been killed in a shooting involving Albuquerque police.

They say an officer opened fire after responding to a residential burglary call near east Central early Sunday.

Police say officers were confronted by a man with a weapon and at least one officer shot the man.

A multi-jurisdictional task force is investigating the officer-involved shooting.

Police say investigators are obtaining search warrants and interviewing officers and witnesses about the shooting.

The name of the man who was killed hasn't been released yet.

Legislature Would Spend More On Public SchoolsAssociated Press

Leading New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a nearly 3 percent increase in state general fund spending that would go mainly to public school education, Medicaid health care, early childhood programs, courts and state police.

The Legislative Finance Committee on Friday announced a proposal to increase general fund spending by $178 million for the coming fiscal year to nearly $6.3 billion.

The plan from the lead budget-writing committee in the Democrat-led Legislature would devote an additional $51 million to public schools, which rely on state funding for a majority of spending.

The proposed increase includes new money for salaries of all full-time teachers and for a program that extends the school year for some young students. Childcare and prekindergarten programs also would get a major financial boost.

The state would devote an additional $35 million to Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled, a multibillion-dollar program supported mostly by the federal government. An average pay increase of 1.5 percent is proposed for state employees.

New Mexico Teacher Develops Braille Code For NavajoDaily Times, Associated Press

A public school teacher in a New Mexico town situated near the nation's largest American Indian reservation has developed a braille code for the Navajo language.

The Daily Times reports Carol Green, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired at the Farmington Municipal School District, developed a system of raised dots that enables people to read and write the Navajo language through touch.

Green says she developed the code for herself at first so she could continue to learn how to speak, read and write Navajo after her vision continued to decline. She says she also wanted the Navajo students she teaches to have an opportunity to learn the language.

The Navajo Nation Board of Education adopted the Navajo braille code in a resolution approved in October 2015.

EPA Wants To List New Mexico Creek Basin As Cleanup PriorityGallup Independent, Associated Press

Federal environmental regulators want to add a northwestern New Mexico creek basin in an area with a history of uranium mining to a list of priorities for cleanup.

The Gallup Independent reports the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking concurrence from the state and local governments to add the San Mateo Creek Basin in McKinley and Cibola counties to the Superfund National Priorities List.

The basin comprises approximately 321 square miles within the Rio San Jose drainage basin, which contains numerous legacy uranium mines.

Water from many of the mines was discharged into San Mateo Creek.

A Nov. 16 EPA letter to the New Mexico Environment Department says there's evidence that hazardous substances have impacted private drinking water wells and threaten to impact public water supplies.

New Mexico State Police: 1 Person Dead In Los Lunas ShootingAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Police says a shooting involving Valencia County sheriff's deputies has left one person dead but no injuries to deputies.

The State Police says the incident occurred Saturday in El Cerro Mission in Los Lunas.

The dead person's identity was not released nor did the State Police provide any information on circumstances of the shooting, including whether the person was armed and what prompted at least one deputy to fire.

Utah Adds EPA, Contractor To Lawsuit Over Mine Waste SpillAssociated Press

Utah has added the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a contractor as defendants in the state's lawsuit over a mine waste spill in Colorado that polluted rivers in three states.

The Utah Attorney General's Office said Friday it is still negotiating with the EPA and the contractor, Weston Solutions Inc., over damages from the spill, but it added them as defendants to preserve the state's legal rights.

Neither the EPA nor Weston Solutions immediately responded to after-hours emails seeking comment.

Utah sued mine owners and other contractors in August seeking unspecified compensation for the 2015 spill at the Gold King Mine. An EPA-led contractor crew inadvertently triggered the spill while excavating at the mine entrance.

The spill tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with heavy metals.

Bleak Forecast For Colorado River Supplies Las Vegas Review-Journal, Associated Press

The first forecast of the year for Colorado River water supplies is a bleak one.

The river that serves as a key source of water for seven states including California, Colorado, Utah and Nevada is expected to flow at only about 54 percent of its average volume during the key runoff period from April to July.

The National Weather Service's Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City released a report Wednesday showing December snow totals as low as 20 percent of average in some areas.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the discouraging forecast comes on the heels of some welcome news for the drought-stricken and overdrawn river.

Lake Mead ended 2017 almost 2 feet higher than a year ago, as use of Colorado River water by Nevada, Arizona and California hit its lowest level since 1992.