NM Set To Begin Primary Vote For Governor, Congress, Outlook Grim For Colorado River

May 7, 2018

New Mexico Set To Begin Primary Vote For Governor, Congress- Associated Press

Early voting begins Tuesday at county clerk's offices and by mail in New Mexico's hotly contested primary elections for two open congressional seats and the governor's office.

Voting at precincts does not take place until June 5th in primary races that also will help determine the balance of power in the state House of Representatives and narrow the competition for state land commissioner, lieutenant governor, and utility commission posts.

Direct early voting starts Tuesday at county clerk's offices across the state and through mail-in absentee ballots that can be ordered online. Tuesday is also the final day to register to vote in the primary.

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of Hobbs and Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham are campaigning for governor while leaving their congressional seats wide open to competition. Second-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for re-election this year.

New Mexico Reconsiders Funding Textbooks At Private Schools- Associated Press

On Monday, advocates for religious and private schools pressed the New Mexico Supreme Court to reverse its recent ban on the use of public funding for providing textbooks in private schools, as states respond to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year about state funding for religious institutions.

Two parents who say state funding for educational material at religious and secular private schools takes money away from public schools — violating a constitutional amendment prohibiting the practice, initiated the six-year court battle in New Mexico.

The state Supreme Court sided with those arguments in a 2015 ruling that was voided last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. justices declined to hear the case but asked for new consideration in light of a June 2017 ruling that the state of Missouri could not deny public money to a church for a playground because of its religious status.

A new decision from the state Supreme Court could be months away, after justices heard oral arguments on Monday.

Panel To Hear Arguments On New Mexico Uranium Mine's ReturnAssociated Press

A hearing is set to begin Monday on whether to allow an idle uranium mine in New Mexico to gain active status again.

The New Mexico Mining Commission is holding the two-day hearing after environmentalists asked the panel to review a decision by state Mining and Minerals Division Director Fernando Martinez. His decision in late December green lighted the Mount Taylor mine to return to "active," or operational, status.

The Mount Taylor Mine has been on standby status for more than 20 years. Its owner, Rio Grande Resources, announced in 2014 that it planned to ask regulators to change the status to active.

The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and Amigos Bravos filed the appeal, saying there is no realistic likelihood that mining will take place for the foreseeable future.

Outlook For Vital Southwestern US River Remains Grim- Associated Press

The outlook for the most important river in the Southwestern U.S. remains grim this summer after April storms failed to produce much snow in the mountains that feed the waterway.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the Colorado River is expected to carry only 43 percent of the average amount of water into Lake Powell, one of two huge reservoirs that store and distribute the river.

It's the fifth-lowest forecast in 54 years.

But officials have said that Lake Powell and its companion, Lake Mead, will be high enough to avoid mandatory cutbacks for water users this year.

The Colorado River serves about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in United States and Mexico.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah all use the river or its tributaries, along with 20 Native American reservations.

Nakamura Affirmed As New Mexico Supreme Court Chief JusticeSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Justice Judith Nakamura has been re-elected by her colleagues as chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported the court announced Friday that Nakamura will hold the leadership post for a two-year term.

Nakamura has been chief justice since June 2017, when she succeeded Justice Charles Daniels to fill the remainder of his term in the position.

As chief justice, she presides over court hearings and conferences and is the administrative authority over personnel, budgetary matters and general operations of all state courts. She also advocates for the judiciary branch on legislative and funding issues.

Nakamura joined the Supreme Court in December 2015. She served previously as a state district judge and was a Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court judge.

Key New Mexico Clinic In HIV Treatment To Expand ResearchSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Southwest CARE Center, a once-tiny New Mexico clinic at the forefront of HIV and AIDS research since its founding in 1996, is seeking to expand its research program.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the center's director of research Tamara Flys said last week Southwest CARE in Santa Fe is looking for partnerships to delve into geriatric, pediatric, diabetes and primary-care research.

The move comes as the center has seen rapid growth over the past five years.

In early 2013, Southwest CARE logged 600 patients, all of them HIV-positive. Today, after an institutional overhaul that saw the addition of primary care, pediatric, diabetes, women's health and other services, the center treats 12,000 patients in six New Mexico cities.

Over its 22-year history, the center has participated in 100 clinical trials.

Sheriff's Office Says Wrong-Way Driver DiesAssociated Press

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office says a 17-year-old boy who was driving a wrong-way vehicle that collided with a sheriff's deputy vehicle has died.

Deputy Felicia Maggard said the boy who died was driving a vehicle westbound in eastbound lanes of Rio Bravo Boulevard when it collided head-on with the deputy's vehicle before colliding with a third vehicle early Saturday morning.

The Sheriff's Office said a 16-year-old girl who was a passenger in the wrong-way vehicle had non-life threatening injuries. The injuries to the deputy and the driver of the third vehicle also are described as non-life threatening.

No identities were released.

The wreck occurred near the Rio Grande.

Colorado State Makes Changes To Campus ToursAssociated Press

The president of Colorado State University has outlined several steps the school will take after two Native American teenagers from New Mexico were pulled from a campus tour by police.

Tony Frank said in an email to students and faculty Friday that the university will start using badges or lanyards to identify tour guests. Police will also be able to contact guides if officers need to talk to participants, and guides will establish themselves as the first point of contact for any concerns.

Two officers searched 19-year-old Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and his 17-year-old brother, Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, on Monday after a woman on the tour called police to report that the teens were acting "really odd."

The school has called the incident "shameful on so many levels" and says that the teens did nothing wrong. The Grays had traveled from their home in New Mexico to Fort Collins for the tour.

Scientists Say Fossilized Footprints Tell Tale Of Sloth HuntLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Researchers studying fossilized footprints on a New Mexico salt flat say a trail of tracks tells the story of Ice Age hunters stalking a huge sloth.

Park naturalist David Bustos says the tracks found at White Sands National Monument show someone deliberately followed a now-extinct giant ground sloth.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the team studying the prints detailed their findings in the latest edition of the journal Science Advances.

They say the sloth was 7 to 8 feet tall and had long, strong arms and razor-like claws.

It would have had a distinct advantage in close-quarter encounters. However, scientists say more human tracks were found a safe distance away, telling them the hunt was a community action.

The researchers estimate the footprints are at least 11,700 years old.

Albuquerque Zoo Has Newborn Calf, The Fourth Born Into HerdAlbuquerque Journal,  Associated Press

The Albuquerque zoo has a new baby elephant.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the 200-pound male calf was born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo early Friday morning to Rozie, a 25-year-old Asian elephant.

Elephant manager Rhonda Saiers says Rozie carried her baby for 659 days, which is exactly how long she carried her two previous calves.

The calf's father is Samson, who has the same May 4 birthday and who turned 20 on Friday.

The new calf is the fourth born into the zoo's herd. Rozie was the first in 1992.

CYFD Had Many Complaints About Couple Accused Of Prostituting GirlAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The state Children, Youth and Families Department received numerous complaints of possible abuse and neglect of a girl and her brothers in the years before the arrest of a couple last week accused of prostituting the 7-year-old girl.

The Albuquerque Journal reports CYFD received 25 calls over the years about the girl and her two older brothers.  Teri Lee Sanchez and James Stewart Sr.  were arrested last week. Sanchez was charged with abuse of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Stewart is facing multiple charges, including human trafficking and promoting prostitution.

Stewart is accused of prostituting his daughter and forcing the girl and her brother to panhandle and pick pockets.

A criminal complaint states the girl told investigators she and her mother would "hustle" and that she was required to dress up in high-heeled shoes and makeup and accompany her mother to "special parties" where she was left unsupervised.

CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson said she is concerned her department did not do enough to protect the children, who are now in CYFD custody.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Sanchez's first name is spelled Teri.

Texas Company Recalls Nearly 25 Tons Of Smoked Sausage Items- Associated Press

A Texas company has recalled nearly 25 tons of smoked sausage products due to possible contamination with plastic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the recall by Eddy Packing Co. of Yoakum

A USDA statement Friday says the recall involves smoked sausage products ranging from 2½ pounds to 30 pounds that were processed April 5 with packing dates of April 5-6.

The products have "EST. 4800" inside the USDA mark and were shipped to California, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

The problem was discovered when Eddy Packing Co. received complaints from a restaurant about white, hard plastic found in some sausage during slicing. No one has reported getting sick or hurt.

The recalled products should be discarded or returned to the store.