Outside Investigator To Look Into APD Videos, Haaland Declines Second Term As Democratic Chair

Nov 23, 2016

Independent Investigator To Review Police Videos– Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque will hire an outside investigator to look into allegations that videos from police officers’ lapel cameras were altered.

The Albuquerque Journal reports City Attorney Jessica Hernandez made the announcement after City Councilor Pat Davis sent a letter Tuesday requesting she appoint outside counsel.

Davis reasoned that the city attorney’s office faces potential accusations of having conflict of interest. The city attorney defends civil cases against the Albuquerque Police Department.

On Monday, Hernandez and Chief Gorden Eden told city council members they were launching an investigation into the matter after a former police records custodian said APD trained certain police units and staff to edit videos of interactions with civilians since 2013.

The allegations surfaced in an affidavit in a civil suit filed by the family of a teenager shot by police.

Haaland Will Not Seek Second Term As Democratic Party Chair – Santa Fe New Mexican

The chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party will not seek a second term.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Deb Haaland made the announcement Tuesday. She was elected chairwoman in April 2015 and will continue in the role until the party elects a new leader in April 2017.

Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, is the first American Indian to lead a major political party in New Mexico. She vowed to boost voter registration, pay off the party’s debts and bring in more volunteers and she appears to have achieved those goals.

But Haaland also upset supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who say she favored Clinton’s candidacy.

Anti-Abortion Group Says Blaze Destroyed ChapelThe Associated Press 

A director of an anti-abortion organization that authorities believe was the target of arson says the fire under investigation destroyed a chapel inside the group's Albuquerque office.

Dominique Davis, director of client services for Project Defending Life, says authorities have indicated there was a break-in and fire at the organization's office around midnight Wednedsay.

The FBI says it's seeking the public's help in identifying a suspect in the case. The foyer of the one-story building was also damaged.

Project Defending Life describes itself on its website as a Catholic-based ministry that aims to support women in "unplanned and crisis pregnancies" in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and elsewhere in northern New Mexico.

It is located across the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Watchdogs Call For Review Of Nuke Dump ProposalThe Associated Press 

Watchdogs are calling on U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to follow federal environmental laws as his agency works to reopen the government's troubled nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Southwest Research and Information Center sent Moniz a letter this week, saying there has been no public process under the National Environmental Policy Act with regards to the proposal for resuming operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

A radiation release forced the repository's closure in February 2014.

Moniz has said repeatedly that reopening WIPP is a top priority.

The groups are asking for a broad environmental review that would look at everything from corrective action plans to the potential effects of another catastrophic incident. They contend the department hasn't looked at alternatives as required by law.

Massive Fire Destroys Apartments Under ConstructionKRQE-TV

Firefighters are on the scene of a fire in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill neighborhood that has destroyed a luxury housing project under construction

KRQE-TV reports the fire started around 1:30 a.m. and firefighters said there were multiple ignition points, but the cause is still under investigation. No injuries have been reported.

Power has been restored to the area after going out overnight. Firefighters told KRQE the project is a total loss.

New Mexico Considers Partial Closure Plan For Nuke Dump - The Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are now considering a proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy to close part of the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository due to safety and contamination concerns.

The plan was first announced in October but officials with the New Mexico Environment Department confirmed this week that they recently received the federal government's written request.

It's unclear when a decision will be made.

State regulators must also conduct a site inspection in the coming weeks as the federal government looks to reopen the troubled facility.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February 2014. A chemical reaction inside an inappropriately packed drum of waste triggered a radiation release.

The incident resulted in an overhaul of policies and procedures, contract penalties and a multimillion-dollar settlement with the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico Governor Says Permanent Fund Is Off LimitsAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez wants incoming state lawmakers to know that the state's land grant permanent fund should be off-limits from efforts to resolve a budget deficit.

Martinez and other members of the State Investment Council that oversee the investment of $20.8 billion in state assets discussed Tuesday ways to inform newly elected legislators that the State Land Grant Permanent Fund is an endowment and not a rainy-day fund for use in lean budget years.

Republican lawmakers this year blocked a proposed constitutional amendment to distribute more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to public education and specialty schools. Democratic lawmakers are looking anew toward state investment funds to pay for early childhood education initiatives and support small businesses after reclaiming full majority control of the Legislature.

New Mexico, West Texas Advocates Eye Immigration CampaignAssociated Press

Advocates in southern New Mexico and West Texas are launching a campaign aimed at defending immigrants amid uncertainty after the presidential election.

The Border Network for Human Rights and the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance are scheduled Wednesday to announce in El Paso, Texas, plans to educate immigrants on their rights and fight potential proposals by President-elect Donald Trump.

During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to end a program that gave immigrant students living in the country illegally temporary status. He also vowed to create a "deportation force" to remove immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally.

New Mexico and Texas advocates say they will hold a rally Dec. 10 and start petitions to protect immigrant students.

Ski Apache To Delay Opening Due To Lack Of SnowKVIA-TV, Associated Press

A ski resort in southern New Mexico won't be able to open on Thanksgiving due to warm temperatures and minimal precipitation.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas reports Ski Apache announced the lack of snow is forcing the Alto, New Mexico resort to delay opening until mid-December.

Ski Apache spokesman Justin Huffmon says the resort tried to make snow, but it hasn't been enough so far.

Officials say Ski Apache boosts Ruidoso's economy by helping it attract more than 130,000 visitors.

The lack of snow is forcing some to cancel reservations.

EPA Wants To Keep Treatment Plant Running After Mine SpillAssociated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to keep operating a temporary wastewater treatment plant near the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado while it looks for longer-term solutions after a massive spill at the mine last year.

The EPA announced its intentions last week, and a final decision will be made next month.

The move was expected.

The plant began operating in October 2015, about 10 weeks after an EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered a 3-million-gallon spill of wastewater from the mine while doing preliminary cleanup work.

The spill tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, including three Indian reservations in those states.

The EPA is looking at long-term cleanup solutions for the Gold King and other nearby mining sites. The area was designated a Superfund site in September.

No Injuries In Union Pacific Train DerailmentAssociated Press

A Union Pacific Railroad train derailed Tuesday 10 miles east of Santa Rosa near Interstate 40.

Spokesman Jeff DeGraff said a Union Pacific train carrying grain derailed 15 railcars and one locomotive.

The train was traveling from Nebraska to Tucson, Arizona.

DeGraff said there were no injuries to the crew or direct impacts in the local area.

Union Pacific crews are working to re-attach the cars and assess damage to the track, which is also owned by Union Pacific.