NM Special Session Ends, Lawmakers Relieved

May 30, 2017

New Mexico Legislature Concludes Special SessionThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Legislature has concluded a special session after Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation that resolves a state budget crisis for the coming fiscal year.

The Legislature adjourned on Tuesday as Democratic lawmakers expressed lingering concerns about the health of state finances.

Martinez restored funding Friday to all state colleges and universities that she had vetoed earlier by tapping money from suspended infrastructure projects.

The Republican governor has rejected a string of tax increases proposed by the Democratic-led Legislature that were designed to further bolster state finances and protect the state's credit rating.

New Mexico Lawmakers Express Relief At Budget CompromiseThe Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers expressed relief Tuesday that a budget agreement has been reached to restore funding to public colleges and universities and shore up state finances for the upcoming fiscal year that starts on July 1.

Legislators converged on the state Capitol after a three-day recess to complete special legislative session. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez last Friday vetoed proposed tax increases and agreed instead to use severance tax bonds to shore up the state's finances.

The budget compromise appears likely to quiet a months-long feud between Martinez and the Democrat-led Legislature over how to resolve a budget crisis from a significant drop in state revenue linked to the downturn in the oil sector and a weak state economy.

Martinez rejected several tax hikes, while vetoing $745 million in annual general fund spending to state universities, community colleges and specialty schools.

Pueblo Applies To Rename Mesa 20 Miles West Of BernalilloThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The people of the Santa Ana Pueblo want to rename a mesa about 20 miles west of the town of Bernalillo as part of an effort to reclaim ancestral lands.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the San Felipe Mesa was likely named by Spanish conquerors to honor King Philip II of Spain.

Under the proposal, it would be known by the name used by used by ancestors.

The pueblo has applied to have the name changed on all federal maps to Kene-ewa.

It's a process that requires approval from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, though local maps can be changed without such a process.

Nationally, other Native American communities and others have been working to rename locations to fit with their history or overturn cruel or exploitative names.

New Mexico Budget Compromise Comes Under ScrutinyAssociated Press

New Mexico financial analysts say legislation approved by Gov. Susana Martinez last week will provide state government with an additional $83 million — just enough to avoid a deficit in the coming fiscal year.

Credit rating agencies on Tuesday were combing through revisions to New Mexico's financial plan for the fiscal year starting July 1. The state's Republican governor reached a budget compromise Friday with the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats.

Martinez also vetoed a series of tax increases approved by the Legislature in a special session that reconvenes on Tuesday afternoon.

The governor has agreed to tap bond funds from suspended infrastructure projects to close a budget shortfall last estimated at $70 million. The Legislative Finance Committee says that plan will provide the state general fund with an additional $83 million.

Suspect In Hatch Officer's Death Pleads GuiltyThe Associated Press

The suspect in the fatal shooting of a Hatch policeman has struck a plea deal in federal court that will send him to prison for the rest of his life.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Jesse Denver Hanes of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempted carjacking and four other charges. He still faces a first-degree murder charge in New Mexico state court and an unrelated murder charge in Ohio.

Authorities say Hanes fatally shot Office Jose Chavez during a traffic stop on August 12. Police say he fled the scene and tried to carjack two people at a rest stop. They say he then carjacked a man after shooting him in the leg.

Hanes is scheduled to go on trial in New Mexico in September. Chavez was a two-year veteran of the Hatch police force.

Former Inmate Files Lawsuit Against County JailDaily Times, Associated Press

A man claims he suffered permanent injuries after being deprived of medical care for months while detained at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

The Daily Times reports Elbert Anderson filed the lawsuit May 16.

Court records state the suit is against several defendants, including the county jail, the San Juan County Commission and the San Juan Regional Medical Center.

According to Court documents, Anderson, who was incarcerated at the county jail from March to December 2015, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from defendants and attorney's fees.

An arrest warrant was issued after he failed to check in with his parole officer shortly after undergoing surgery. Anderson was on probation after being convicted of an attempted child abuse felony charge and driving while under the influence.

Albuquerque Museum To Display Work Of Zuni CarversAssociated Press

The work of one of Zuni Pueblo's most famous fetish carvers will go on display this summer at the Albuquerque Museum.

Officials say it will be the first retrospective exhibit of Leekya Deyuse's work.

His carvings began gaining notoriety in the early 1900s thanks to the marketing of regional traders in the American Southwest. By the 1950s, his work was sought out by museums and was part of private collections worldwide.

The exhibition — titled The Leekya Family: Master Carvers of Zuni Pueblo — will be on display from June 24 through Sept. 24.

More than 350 works will make up the exhibit and will include pieces made by his contemporaries and descendants.

The family's story will be presented through the voices of his grandsons, Freddie and Francis Leekya, and his daughter, the late Sarah Leekya.

UNM Regents Extend Contract For Interim PresidentAlbuquerque Journal

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has extended the contract of the current acting president and changed his status to interim.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Chaouki Abdallah’s term is now extended through May 2018. He has been serving as acting president since January after Former President Bob Frank left.

Regent Rob Doughty praised Abdallah’s work over the past five months and said regents could decide on a permanent president by October. Abdallah will be paid $315,087 while in the role of president.

Abdallah was previously provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. He told the Journal he does not want the presidency on a permanent basis.

Grand Jury Indicts Former Gallery OwnerSanta Fe New Mexican

The former owner of a gallery on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road has been indicted for embezzlement over his alleged failure to pay five artists.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a grand jury indicted Steve Brennen for felony embezzlement. He pleaded not guilty and is currently living in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

The total amount of the alleged theft is not clear, but one Texas artist says Brennen owes her more than $100,000 for bronze sculptures. Another artist based in Canada says Brennen never returned eight paintings and she said their values range from $900 to $20,000.

Another gallery took over the space at 555 Canyon Road where Brennen’s former gallery was located. Brennen is facing more than 30 years in prison and up to $40,000 in fines if he is convicted on all charges.

ABQ Newscast Delayed After Man Tries Breaking Into Newsroom – KOB-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque news station had to delay its Saturday night newscast after a man breached the back lot of the station and tried to enter the building just as it was about to start.

KOB-TV reports the man was first pounding on the front door demanding to be let in. The unidentified man then went through the back and tried to enter the building.

Newscasters said the man was yelling their names. They said Albuquerque police responded quickly and arrested the man on site.

Officers told the station the man may have had mental health issues.

The newscast was delayed by a few minutes.

County Commission Approves Tax Break For Shopping CenterAlbuquerque Journal

The Bernalillo County Commission approved tax breaks worth $1.7 million for a shopping center on the Albuquerque’s West Side and an industrial revenue bond worth up to $4 million, despite questions over zoning and other issues.

The Albuquerque Journal reported the vote was 3-2 and drew opposition from two neighborhood associations and Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins, who wanted to postpone action.

The Journal reported just before the vote it was revealed the property does not have a zoning designation required for a brewery onsite. Also, an analysis by staff incorrectly estimated the size of the tax break, which was corrected just before the meeting. The lease agreement commissioners approved had an incorrect tax rate.

A spokesman for Bernalillo County said County Manager Julie Morgas Baca is revamping the process for approving tax breaks to ensure these mistakes do not happen in the future.

Jet Owned By Elvis Auctioned After Sitting 30 Years – Associated Press, KOB-TV

A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley has been auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for more than 30 years.

GWS Auctions Inc. says the plane sold for $430,000 on Saturday at a California event featuring celebrity memorabilia.

The auction house says Elvis designed the interior that has gold-tone woodwork, red velvet seats and red shag carpet. But the red 1962 Lockheed JetStar has no engine and needs a restoration of its cockpit.

A previous owner disputed the auction house's claim the king of rock 'n' roll designed its red velvet interior to KOB-TV.

But a former GWS spokesman told The Associated Press the auction house is confident Elvis designed the interior, which photos show has red velvet seats and red shag carpet.

Liveauctioneers.com says the 1962 red Lockheed JetStar was owned by Elvis and his father, Vernon Presley.

It has been privately owned for 35 years and sitting on a tarmac in Roswell, New Mexico.