Officials To Update Public On Jet Fuel Spill, Gila River Approval ...

Jul 23, 2015

Credit Ed Williams

Officials To Update Public On Cleanup Of Jet Fuel Spill Associated Press

Kirtland Air Force Base and state environment officials will be updating the public on the cleanup of a massive plume of jet fuel at the edge of Albuquerque.

A public meeting is scheduled Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the African-American Performing Arts Center, 310 San Pedro NE.

A pump-and-treat system began operating earlier this month. It's part of a long-term effort to keep the contamination from reaching drinking water wells.

Tons of soil that had surrounded the old pipeline at the fueling station were removed last summer and the Air Force also used a vacuum system to suck vapors from the soil at deeper levels.

State officials say two more extraction wells are scheduled to be drilled in September to bolster the pump-and-treat system.

The fuel leak was first detected in 1999 and experts believe it has been seeping into the ground for decades.

Gila River Diversion Entity Gets Approval After Long RoadThe Associated Press

The Interstate Stream Commission has approved a resolution designating a 14-member unit to design and build the Gila River diversion project in southwestern New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/Cx480V) that the resolution was approved Wednesday at an Albuquerque meeting and identified parties making up the New Mexico CAP, or Central Arizona Project, entity.

The creation of the unit was necessary to proceed with the project that provides for the annual diversion of water from the Gila River for use in Catron, Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties.

Authorized by the 2004 Arizona Water Settlement Act, the project provides for the diversion of up to 14,000 acre-feet of Gila River water each year.

An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot.

Appeals Court Dismisses Suit By Former Sunland Park OfficialThe Associated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a former Sunland Park mayor pro tem who claimed New Mexico State Police invaded his privacy.

The Denver-based U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday said Daniel Salinas "alleged insufficient facts" to show he was harmed by the alleged misconduct.

Salinas' lawsuit cited the inclusion of his birth date, Social Security number and home address in a criminal complaint filed against him and news media coverage that included publication of the complaint.

Salinas won a 2012 mayoral race but was prevented from taking office after he was charged with extortion for allegedly secretly recording his opponent receiving a lap dance from a topless woman.

New Mexico Police Chief Wants 1971 Fugitive In Cuba ReturnedThe Associated Press

The New Mexico State Police chief says he would personally pay for a return ticket for a fugitive living in Cuba wanted in the killing of a New Mexico police officer.

Chief Pete Kassetas told The Associated Press on Thursday that the agency is working with the FBI on the possible return of Charlie Hill to face charges now that the U.S. and Cuba have restored formal diplomatic relations.

Hill fled to the communist island after authorities say he killed state police officer Robert Rosenbloom in New Mexico in 1971.

Responding to President Barack Obama's move to thaw relations with Cuba, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in December renewed a request that the Obama administration try to extradite Hill, who is now 65 years old.

He is the last living suspect in Rosenbloom's death.

Veterans Alzheimer's Unit To Get More Beds The Associated Press

Construction is set to begin next month on a $23 million addition to the New Mexico State Veterans' Home, which will help serve the growing demand among veterans for memory care.

Officials say the Truth or Consequences facility will expand its Alzheimer's unit with about 60 beds. Two-thirds of those beds will be for Alzheimer's patients and the rest will be for patients who need skilled nursing.

Officials say the current Alzheimer's unit typically has a waiting list of seven to 10 patients.

According to the state Health Department, an estimated 34,000 New Mexicans are living with Alzheimer's disease.

Construction is scheduled to be complete in 2017.

The project is being funded by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs grant and state money.

Corrales Covers 'For Sale' Signs To Remind Relators To Pay Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Those looking for property in the Albuquerque suburb of Corrales need only look for homes with black trash bags out front after the city covered 35 "For Sale" signs.

Mayor Scott Kominiak tells the Albuquerque Journal that the signs were covered in an effort to enforce a local ordinance that charges a $35 fee for every sign.

He says the sign fee serves as a reminder to real estate agents that paperwork on their home sales should be filed in Corrales, not Rio Rancho or Albuquerque where most agents' offices are. It’s an effort to ensure Corrales receives gross-receipts taxes due on real estate commission fees, he adds.

Kominiak says agents had paid for the 35 bagged signs as well as some that had not been covered. The coverage was a crackdown on sign ordinance violations. Agents are responsible for removing the bags themselves.

New Mexico Democratic Lawmaker To Stay On LULAC Board Associated Press

A New Mexico Democratic lawmaker says she will not resign from the board of the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group despite calls to step down.

Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero said this week she has the support from members of the League of United Latin American Citizens and looks forward to her role as the group's national treasurer.

Caballero, who was elected last week, faced calls to resign since LULAC's bylaws prohibit elected officials from serving on the national board if they receive "wage compensation."

The Albuquerque Democrat is a member of the New Mexico House but receives no annual salary. However, she receives per diems and is eligible for a pension.

A LULAC lawyer ruled that Caballero was eligible to serve.

Balderas: New Mexico Regulators Reject Study On RenewablesAssociated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says state regulators have turned down his request to study the costs and benefits of renewable energy within the state.

Balderas made the request last month, asking the Public Regulation Commission to investigate the value of distributed generation systems, such as rooftop solar.

He says the state's current electricity system is dysfunctional and that reforms should ensure renewable energy is an affordable option.

PRC Chairwoman Karen Montoya says the request to look into distributed generation was prompted by a rate proposal floated by New Mexico's largest electric utility, PNM.

Now that the rate case has been rejected, Montoya says the PRC decided to table the study.

The attorney general's office argues that distributed generation is a statewide issue and needs to be studied.

Albuquerque Police Say Carjacking Suspect Ran Over OfficerAssociated Press

Police in Albuquerque have arrested a man suspected of running over a police officer Wednesday during a series of carjackings.

The officer's injuries weren't considered to be serious.

Police say Thomas Martinez, 26, is suspected of carrying out the carjackings and was taken into custody after he eventually crashed a vehicle into a tree.

Investigators say an undercover officer was run over when trying to rescue a hostage in one of the carjackings.

Governor Orders Review Of National Guard Security PoliciesAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has called for a review of security policies at all the New Mexico National Guard recruiting sites and armories as a response to last week's deadly shootings at two Tennessee military facilities.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a governor spokesman says Brig. Gen. Andrew Salas will oversee the review and make recommendations about possible policy changes and security measures.

The Republican governor has yet to authorize members of the National Guard to carry weapons while on duty. Seven other GOP governors have called for such security in the days following the Chattanooga, Tennessee attacks that left four Marines and one sailor dead.

The New Mexico National Guard maintains five different offices around the state and 27 "readiness centers," including training sites and armories.

Pojoaque Pueblo Sues New Mexico Over Vendor LicensesSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Pojoaque Pueblo is accusing the New Mexico Gaming Control Board of illegally interfering with its casino operations since the tribe's gambling compact with the state expired last month.

Pojoaque has filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking that state gambling regulators be prohibited from taking any action against licensed vendors who do business with the tribe.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the tribe is also seeking millions of dollars in what it says could be lost revenue if the regulators fail to renew licenses for those vendors.

At a meeting last week, the Gaming Control Board voted to defer action on some gambling companies' license renewals because they weren't certain if those manufacturers planned to continue doing business with Pojoaque.

Gov. Susana Martinez's office calls the lawsuit baseless.

U. Of New Mexico Contracts Former Lobbyist With 3 DWIs – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A former lobbyist with three DWI arrests is under contract with the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a third DWI arrest and pressure from university officials prompted Marc Saavedra to resign in September of last year from directing the government and community affairs department, a job that came with $156,000 in annual salary.

Following his second arrest for DWI in 2006, Saavedra signed an agreement with the university that said he could be fired if another incident occurred.

A statement from the university's health sciences center says the department is aware of Saavedra's past legal troubles and that he's been rehabilitated.

UNM President Bob Frank said the million-dollar question is whether Saavedra is ready to be back.

Saavedra is the son of former state Rep. Henry "Kiki" Saavedra.

Veterans Alzheimer's Unit To Get More Beds Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Construction is set to begin next month on a $23 million addition to the New Mexico State Veterans' Home, which will help serve the growing demand among veterans for memory care.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that administrator Lori Montgomery says the Truth or Consequences facility will expand its Alzheimer's unit with an additional 59 beds. The project is meant to cut down the waiting list for the existing 20-bed facility.

The addition is scheduled to be completed in early 2017, with 39 beds for Alzheimer's patients and 20 beds for skilled nursing care.

Montgomery says the current Alzheimer's unit typically has a waiting list of seven to 10 patients.

The project is being funded by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs grant and state money.