NMSU Faculty Explore Unionizing, Board To Meet To Consider Funding For New Mexico's Courts

Feb 6, 2017

Tight Budgets Spark Talks Of Unionizing University Faculty – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Faculty members are talking about setting up a union at New Mexico State University as budget issues persist and departments prepare to reorganize.

Emails provided to the Albuquerque Journal show the faculty discussing the possible union in various departments at the university.

Professor Ken Hammond says efforts to unionize have fizzled out at least three times in about two decades.

He said faculty members are now concerned and even threatened by state-level funding issues as well as how budget decisions will be made.

University system Chancellor Garrey Carruthers is spearheading reorganization efforts to make management and colleges more efficient.

It's unclear what the restructuring entails or if colleges would combine programs and eliminate others.

He said the academic restructuring process planned for the spring will include faculty.

Board To Meet To Consider Funding For New Mexico's Courts Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The New Mexico Board of Finance is scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider emergency funding to ensure the state's court system doesn't run out of money for jury trials.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the meeting was called by Gov. Susana Martinez, who serves as president of the seven-member board.

The board will consider a proposal to add up to $600,000 to the fund that pays jurors and up to $82,000 for other costs.

Last week, Martinez vetoed about $800,000 in emergency funding approved by the Legislature.

New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels says the courts would have to stop conducting jury trials March 1 without new funding.

New Mexico Senator Sees Risk In Obamacare Repeal – The Associated Press

U.S. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is highlighting the risks and uncertainties of efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.

Udall told a joint session of the New Mexico state Legislature on Monday that a substantive repeal of the Affordable Care Act would confront a filibuster by Senate Democrats.

He wants to preserve coverage of pre-existing conditions without lifetime benefit limits, as well as free preventative health care services.

Udall told state lawmakers that New Mexico is confronting enormous financial uncertainties with no clear plan from Republicans on what might replace President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

He called on Democrats and Republicans to work together on any changes and not to "throw it in the garbage."

State Organic Certification Program Faces Funding CrunchSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico's program for inspecting and certifying organic farms is struggling financially, leaving the state agriculture department to identify options for saving the program.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Organic Certification Program has operated with a $100,000-a-year deficit since the state cut its funding in 2010 and capped the fees the agency collects from farmers.

The Department of Agriculture has proposed five alternative funding options that all involve raising fees for the state's 150 organic processors and farmers or cutting the program. An analysis of those options was released last month by the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association.

Department officials say they're working with the Legislature to find a funding solution.

Many farmers say the state certification program is critical to the growing organics industry.

2 Albuquerque Officers Injured When Vehicle Was Rear-Ended – The Associated Press

Two Albuquerque police officers were injured when a speeding vehicle rear-ended their police vehicle in a parking lot.

The crash occurred early Monday morning as both officers were assisting another officer who was trying to make a traffic stop of a stolen vehicle.

Authorities say the driver who crashed into the police vehicle had multiple drunken-driving arrests and was believed to have been under the influence of alcohol in Monday's collision.

The injuries suffered by the officers weren't life-threatening.

The officers were brought to a hospital for treatment.

2 Men Arrested After Shot Was Fired At Roswell RestaurantAssociated Press

Authorities say two men were arrested after one of them fired a gun at a Roswell restaurant where two police officers were taking a meal break.

Police say no one was injured in Saturday afternoon's shooting.

A single gunshot was fired and went through a restaurant window above where the officers were seated.

Candido Andazola, 29, and Raymond Gonzales-Sedillo, 19, are each charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and shooting at or from a motor vehicle.

Authorities say the two men were inside the restaurant when the officers entered and later exited the business.

After the shot was fired, both men returned to the restaurant and were arrested.

Investigators are trying to determine which of the men fired the shot.

Lawmakers Consider Options For Cavern That Could CollapseCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated PressPres

Measures are moving forward in the Legislature deal with a cavern that could collapse under Carlsbad.

The Current-Argus reports one measure allocates $25 million toward remediation while the other establishes government oversight for the project.

Estimates say up to 200 people in Carlsbad would be impacted if the cavern collapses.

The cavern formed as the result of an operation to extract salt in liquid form by injecting fresh water into the ground.

I&W had to close the brine well due to the cavern and went bankrupt.

Legislation that failed last year would have allowed the state to start looking for solutions related to the cavern.

The new bills are heading to committees for consideration.

A House committee recently moved forward similar legislation as well.

Health Department Reports First Flu-Related Deaths In NMAssociated Press

State officials are reporting the season's first flu-related deaths in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Health says that two men in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties, along with a woman in Grant County, have died during the flu season, which typically starts around October and can go all the way through May.

The deaths were reported recently.

The department says the deaths are a somber reminder that the flue can be serious, especially among at-risk people such as the elderly, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes.

The flu is widespread in New Mexico but the department of health expects activity may not peak for several more weeks.

The public is advised to get flu shots.

Pronghorns Relocated From Northern New Mexico Private RanchAssociated Press

Approximately 100 pronghorns captured on a northern New Mexico private ranch have been relocated to Santa Ana Pueblo near Albuquerque and to federal land in south-central New Mexico.

The state Department of Game and Fish says 40 pronghorns from the Express II Bar Ranch near Cimarron went to the pueblo and 66 went to Bureau of Land Management land near the Capitan Mountains.

The department says a helicopter herded the animals into a fenced area where people on the ground moved them into a corral for processing for transport.

Many of the pronghorns sent to the Capitans were equipped with radio collars so biologists can track them.

The department says it and the pueblo are working to re-establish pronghorns on historic rangeland between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

New Mexico Tribes Write Trump On Dakota Pipeline DisputeAssociated Press

Leaders of New Mexico's 23 Native American nations and pueblos are expressing solidarity with opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline project in a letter to President Donald Trump.

Tribal governors signed the letter Friday in the central rotunda of the state Capitol in a ceremony attended by Standing Rock Sioux tribal council member Robert Taken Alive.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe fear that an oil leak could contaminate its drinking water if plans move forward to lay a pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. Trump has arranged a review of an earlier federal decision to block the project.

Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley says Trump is new to governing and still needs to assess the federal government's relationship with Native Americans.

New Mexico Lawmakers Renew Push To Cap Payday Interest Rates - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Legislators are taking aim at the payday and title loan industry in New Mexico once again, seeking to limit exorbitant interest rates often charged by lenders.

Similar measures introduced in the House and Senate call for capping interest rates at 36 percent on small loans issued by lenders that are not federally insured.

State regulatory data shows interest rates on title loans can range from an average of 238 percent to more than 450 percent. Installment loans can go much higher.

Democrat Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque is one of the sponsors. She said legislators need to stand up to lobbyists and end what she characterized as unscrupulous lending practices.

The industry is defending itself, saying it's one of the few options for low-income New Mexicans who find themselves in a bind and are ineligible for traditional credit.

New Mexico Take Step Toward Joining Popular-Vote Compact Associated Press

New Mexico has taken a step toward joining a movement to elect presidents by popular vote.

A Senate committee on Friday recommended approval of a bill to join an inter-state compact that requires Electoral College voters to cast ballots for the national popular vote winner.

Senate bill sponsor Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque says she not only is concerned about political campaigns that focus on swing states but also how presidents govern.

New Mexico has sided with two presidential candidates that won the popular vote but lost the election — Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque objects to the bill because it requires a plurality of votes and not a full majority.

States representing at least 270 electoral votes must join for the compact to function.

Carlsbad Councilor Fired For Facebook Post May SueKOAT-TV

A city councilor in Carlsbad fired by his private-sector employer after posting on Facebook that women have the right to get slapped is considering legal action.

KOAT-TV reports J.R. Doporto made comments on Facebook during protest marches by women around the country and the world on Jan. 21. He also wrote women have the right to cook and clean.

He apologized after the post prompted widespread outrage, but the oil company where he was employed fired him. Doporto said he’s talking with attorneys about suing the company.

A petition calling for his resignation from the city council has more than 5,000 signatures.