NM Senators Call On EPA Chief To Resign, APD Seeks Exemption From Border Deployment

Apr 6, 2018

New Mexico Senators Join Call For EPA Chief To ResignAssociated Press

New Mexico's two U.S. senators have joined fellow Democrats and environmentalists in calling for the embattled chief of the Environmental Protection Agency to resign.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich issued statements Thursday, taking aim at Scott Pruitt's policy decisions and recent suggestions that he may have abused his power.

A review of Pruitt's ethical conduct by White House officials is underway. Other probes are being conducted by congressional oversight committees and EPA's inspector general regarding spending on luxury air travel and unusual security precautions.

Heinrich suggested that Pruitt has been plagued by conflicts of interest and that the agency needs a leader who bases decisions on the best available science.

Udall said he would introduce a resolution calling on Pruitt to resign.

Federal Judge Sets Reform Deadlines For New Mexico Agency- Associated Press & Albuquerque Journal

A federal judge in an opinion that outlines the New Mexico Human Services Department's "lack of accountability" has set a series of reform deadlines for the agency.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Judge Kenneth Gonzales on Thursday imposed deadlines on tasks that include training employees and appointing experts in immigration, food assistance and Medicaid.

The judge did not order the removal of five department administrators as recommended by a court-appointed official.

The action is a part of a 30-year-old class-action lawsuit that accused the state of several violations in how department programs were operated.

Department spokeswoman Mary Elizabeth Robertson says that while the agency disagrees with some of the judge's statements, the court recommendations align with its efforts to resolve the litigation.

Virgin Galactic Reaches Milestone With Successful Test Flight- Albuquerque Journal

The first rocket powered space flight by Virgin Galactic in many years proved to be successful.  The spacecraft Unity reached supersonic speeds and landed safely in the Mojave Desert yesterday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a large plane called White Knight Two lifted Unity up to 46,500 feet and released the craft.  Unity’s rocket engine burned for half a minute and was able to exceed the speed of sound.

The flight was a first since a test flight crash in 2014 that proved fatal.  Unity has been fitted with better safety controls than the 2014 craft to ensure the highest degree of security.

What this successful flight means for New Mexico is that Virgin Galactic is that much closer to moving its setup to Spaceport America which is located not far from Truth or Consequences.

There have already been more than 600 tickets purchased for future trips out into space from Virgin Galactic.

New Mexico Lawmaker Didn't Disclose State Contracts -  Associated Press

Documents show a New Mexico GOP state lawmaker and congressional candidate failed to disclose that her real estate company earned nearly $500,000 in state contracts.

An analysis of campaign financial disclosure records by The Associated Press found Rep. Yvette Herrell's company took in $440,000 by renting property to two state agencies since 2013.

However, Herrell did not disclose that income on ethics disclosure statements but listed herself as the company's owner.

Herrell says she's a partner in a company that leases property to the state but has never personally been paid by the state.

Herrell is seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Congressional seat in southern New Mexico. The race is one of many expected to draw national attention in the 2018 midterms.

Albuquerque Police Seeks Exemption From Border Deployment- Associated Press

Albuquerque police officials are requesting for  Gov. Susana Martinez to prevent the city's police officers that serve in the National Guard from being deployed to the border.

Police Chief Mike Geier is requesting the exemption from the Republican governor, citing the department's low staffing levels and the potential risk to residents' safety.

President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he wants to send up to 4,000 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border to help federal officials fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Albuquerque police say between 50 and 60 officers are members of the National Guard.

The Albuquerque Police Officers Association says the department has an officer shortage, which has increased the workload for current officers. The police union says the deployment could worsen the problem.

Martinez To Work With US Officials On Border DeploymentAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez's office will work with the federal government in the coming weeks to determine how many National Guard troops could be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border and what their duties will involve.

The Republican governor was on a call Thursday with other border governors and federal officials to discuss efforts to bolster border security.

Martinez again expressed her support for National Guard troops assisting the Border Patrol in New Mexico to combat illegal crossings and drug trafficking.

She also talked about the need to keep law enforcement officers who are members of the National Guard on the job in New Mexico's cities and counties.

President Donald Trump has said he wants to send between 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard members to the border, but it wasn't clear who would be called up.

GOP Candidate Wants Medicaid Work RequirementAssociated Press

The sole Republican candidate for governor of New Mexico says he favors work requirements for many people enrolled in Medicaid.

U.S. Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce said Thursday at a candidate forum that he would require "able-bodied" people go back to work if they are on Medicaid.

The Trump administration in January said it would allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It has already approved proposals from Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas.

Pearce was responding to a question about how to address workforce shortages at health care provider organizations.

More than one-third of New Mexico residents are enrolled in Medicaid health care for people with low incomes and disabilities.

New Mexico To Consider Approval For $2B Transmission ProjectAssociated Press

Developers of a $2 billion project that will serve as a path to get renewable energy from New Mexico and Arizona to large markets in the American Southwest are seeking approval for the location of two massive transmission lines and related infrastructure.

SunZia submitted its application to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission in March. A hearing examiner with the agency issued an order this week that sets the stage for the approval process, which will include a public hearing in June.

The project has been years in the making and not without controversy as disputes have arisen over its proximity to a U.S. military installation and potential effects on wildlife.

The proposed transmission lines would cross about 520 miles of state, federal and private land in the two states.

Ex-New Mexico Governor Criticizes Border Plan- Associated Press

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson sent National Guard units to the Mexican border in 2010 to combat drugs and violence, but the Democrat says President Donald Trump's pledge to send troops for immigration control is a "terrible idea."

Richardson told The Associated Press Friday that he had used troops in a targeted manner and at a time of emergency, versus what he described as Trump's politically based motivations meant to boost support for the Republican's proposed border wall.

Richardson says the deployment he ordered as governor involved a small number of troops and lasted "just for a few days."

News reports at the time said Richardson deployed 82 members of the New Mexico National Guard for what was scheduled to be a 10-month deployment.

Richardson says the move was effective in restoring calm along the U.S.-Mexican border and that he had worked with his counterpart at the time in the Mexican state of Chihuahua as part of a cross-border partnership aimed against drug violence.

Commission Nominates 2 For New Mexico Supreme Court SeatAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is expected to choose between two longtime judges to fill a seat on the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Only two candidates — New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge Michael E. Vigil and Chief Fifth Judicial District Judge Gary Clingman — applied for the post. The nominating commission has recommended both to the governor for consideration.

They are vying to replace Justice Edward Chavez, who retired last month.

Vigil is a graduate of the College of Santa Fe and Georgetown University Law Center, who was appointed in 2013 to the appeals court.

He lost an election bid for the Supreme Court in 2016 to Justice Judith Nakamura. Martinez appointed her to the high court that year.

Clingman has been a district judge since 1997. He's a graduate of University of Texas and Texas Tech Law School.

Arizona Tribe Says Ruling Could Help Native Students Across USAssociated Press

Lawyers for a group of American Indian schoolchildren say they've won a major legal victory in a case that could reform the U.S. agency that oversees tribal education.

A federal court sided with a tribe in Arizona that argued in a lawsuit that childhood adversity and trauma are learning disabilities.

The lawsuit filed last year alleged the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education ignored complaints about an understaffed school, a lack of special education and a deficient curriculum.

Lawyers for the students on the Havasupai reservation say the ruling could have widespread effects for Native children in more than 180 schools overseen by the Bureau of Indian Education.

The Justice Department didn't respond to a request for comment on the late March ruling that moves the case forward.

Guard's Last Border Deployments Offer Clues To The Future - By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press

The U.S. National Guard faces a vastly different environment than it did on its last two deployments to the border with Mexico, with far fewer illegal crossings and more Central Americans than Mexicans coming.

Still, its role is shaping up much the same: moving more Border Patrol agents from behind-the-scenes jobs to the front lines.

From 2006 to 2008, the Guard fixed vehicles, maintained roads, repaired fences and performed ground surveillance. Its second mission in 2010 and 2011 involved more aerial surveillance and intelligence work.

People involved in both operations say the Guard was the Border Patrol's "eyes and ears."

About 40 percent of troops went to Arizona, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings at the time, followed in order by Texas, California and New Mexico. The Border Patrol made about 1.1 million arrests the year Jump Start began, nearly four times what it did last year.

Federal law limits military involvement in civilian law enforcement, creating a supporting role for the Guard. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen expects their jobs to include vehicle maintenance and aerial surveillance.

Police Find Six Dogs Dead In CarAlbuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Police found six dogs dead in a car, apparently abandoned after a breeder hired a couple on Craigslist to transport her dogs to Texas.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the dogs were found in an SUV behind Rehm’s Nursery & Garden Center near Lomas and San Mateo. Dog breeder Annette Rosenow told police one of the people she hired claimed to have stopped at a Walmart and the SUV was stolen with the dogs inside.

A manager at the nursery found the car and called police. The dogs suffocated inside. Police are searching for a woman caught on a security camera who they say left the SUV and are asking for help in identifying her.

Another six dogs were dropped off at an animal hospital by the couple Rosenow hired and her friend is transporting them to Texas, where Rosenow is moving.

Rosenow is facing earlier charges in Torrance County on 60 counts for failure to license an animal and selling animals without a commercial permit.