NM Rebuffs White House Request For Voter Information, More Crews Help Fight Arizona Fire

Jul 1, 2017

New Mexico Rebuffs White House Request For Voter Information Associated Press

New Mexico's top election regulator is refusing most of a request to provide voter information to a White House commission that is investigating unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse-Oliver announced Friday that she will never release personally identifiable information for New Mexico voters that is protected by law, including social security numbers and dates of birth.

She also declined to provide information such as names and voting histories unless she is convinced the information is secured and will not be used for "nefarious or unlawful purposes."

Other states that have refused to provide information to President Donald Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity include Democratic strongholds New York and California and largely Republican states including Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The Latest: Mild Winds, More Crews Help Fight Arizona FireAssociated Press

Another day of mild winds and 300 added personnel gives firefighters a good chance of building a larger perimeter around a northern Arizona forest fire.

About 1,100 firefighters are now attempting to contain a fire that forced the evacuation of thousands of residents from six Prescott-area communities and an additional 1,400 children from local summer camps.

Yavapai County spokesman Robert Church said containment remained at 43 percent. Officials lifted evacuation orders in one community and reopened a section of a state highway Friday morning.

The fire has since charred almost 40 square miles (104 square kilometers), though a fire official at a community meeting Thursday night estimated 45 square miles (109 square kilometers.) Local officials guessed about four or five structures have been destroyed, but they don't know whether the structures are homes.

Navajo Housing Authority Appoints Roberts As Interim CEOAssociated Press

The board that oversees the Navajo Housing Authority has appointed an interim chief executive officer while the search begins for a permanent CEO.

Board officials announced Friday that Roberta Roberts will be interim CEO.

She has nearly 16 years of housing experience and served as executive director for the Southern Ute Housing Authority from 2001 to 2003.

Roberts replaces Aneva Yazzie, whose last day was Friday.

Yazzie stepped down as the Navajo Nation looks to rebuild its reputation after concerns were raised about the lack of housing on the vast reservation.

In recent weeks, Navajo housing officials have defended themselves against accusations they overspent millions of dollars in federal grant funds.

The allegations spurred a congressional investigation, but federal regulators have found no evidence of fraud or other criminal conduct.

New Mexico Investigators Confirm ID Of Dead Treasure Hunter – Associated Press

New Mexico medical investigators have positively identified a body found in the Rio Grande as that of a Colorado pastor who went missing while searching for a supposed hidden treasure.

State Police announced the findings Friday, nearly two weeks after rafters spotted the remains of 52-year Paris Wallace about seven miles downstream from where he was last believed to have been.

Family members told authorities that Wallace had come to New Mexico to search for the treasure of Forrest Fenn, who announced several years ago that he hid a small bronze chest containing gold, jewelry and artifacts somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

Thousands have hunted in vain across remote corners of the Western U.S. Another Colorado man died in 2016 searching for the treasure.

Following Wallace's death, authorities called on Fenn to end the treasure hunt, but he has not done so.

Smokejumpers Prepare To Parachute In To Fight US Wildfires – Associated Press

Smokejumpers who parachute to remote wildfires with enough firefighting gear to last a few days in the backcountry are practicing their skills over a desolate stretch of New Mexico desert while they await their next mission.

They're stationed in the state right now to help with any new blazes that pop up in the most difficult of spots as fire danger increases through the Southwestern U.S.

There are about 450 smokejumpers stationed at bases throughout the West and in Alaska.

Smokejumping dates back to the 1930s, when a forester first suggested it as an effective way to make initial attacks on fires.

Nearly 30 wildfires are currently burning in the U.S., including an Arizona blaze that forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

From Hardship To Hard Time: Female Prison Rate Rises In US Associated Press

The incarceration of women nationwide has increased more than sevenfold over the last three decades due in large part to drug prosecutions and other factors.

The most recent federal figures show 113,000 women were held in the nation's federal and state prisons in 2014.

The following year brought a slight dip for both men and women. But those numbers could again climb in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement earlier this year that federal prosecutors should seek the toughest sentences possible, including in drug cases.

The move has been viewed as a clear rollback of Obama-era sentencing policies that sought to reduce incarceration numbers.

In New Mexico, the rise in the women's prison population is so profound that a state sentencing commission predicts their numbers within the next fiscal year will surpass the number of beds.

Police: 2 Found Dead In Vehicle On I-40 Were Shot In Head – Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say a man and a woman found dead inside a vehicle west of Albuquerque both were shot in the head.

Police say they're still investigating the suspicious deaths and trying to determine a motive.

They say the dead man in the driver's seat of the pickup truck had a handgun between his legs.

The woman's body was in the front passenger's seat.

Police say the names of the man and woman are being withheld until their identities are confirmed and relatives have been notified.

A State Police officer saw the truck with a camper shell parked Thursday morning on a shoulder of Interstate 40 and found the two occupants dead.

Authorities say the man and woman appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

New Mexico to run new anti-texting while driving ad in July – Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has announced the state will run a new anti-texting while driving ad in July.

The Department of Transportation released Friday the ad features a woman who answers a text message while behind the wheel and kills a child crossing the street.

The new ad comes amid an advertising blitz aimed at combatting drunken driving in the state.

Martinez signed a measure in 2014 that prohibits texting while driving in New Mexico, except when seeking medical or other emergency help.