Pence, Cruz Pull Out Of GOP Event Due To Hurricane, $500K Bond Stays For Sect Leaders

Aug 25, 2017

Pence, Cruz Pull Out Of Nevada GOP Event Due To Hurricane- The Associated Press

Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have canceled their scheduled appearances at a Republican fundraiser in Nevada this weekend because of a hurricane headed for Cruz' home state.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said he talked to Pence and Cruz Friday about Hurricane Harvey and the catastrophic effects it could have on the Gulf Coast.

He said they decided it would be more appropriate for them to focus their time and attention on the people affected by the storm instead of traveling to northern Nevada to speak at the 3rd annual Basque Fry Laxalt is hosting on Saturday.

Laxalt says the fundraiser will continue as scheduled at the Corley ranch south of Carson City. Speakers will include Rep. Mark Amodei, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

UNM Basketball Suite Sales Fail To Cover Renovation Costs – The Associated Press

Figures obtained by The Albuquerque Journal reveal that the University of New Mexico's plan to cover its yearly basketball arena renovation costs is not going as intended.

The university's original strategy was to have revenue from the sale of suites cover its yearly renovation bill of $2.4 million. But the Journal reported Thursday that a document it obtained shows only about 28 percent of last season's bill was paid for by parties unaffiliated with the university purchasing suites.

University Associate Vice President Chris Vallejos says the athletics department reported generating $816,250 in suite revenue for the 2016-17 season, but the Journal states that $145,000 of that was money transferred from elsewhere within the university's domain.

Rio Rancho Police Identify Suspect Fatally Shot By Officers-The Associated Press

Rio Rancho police have identified a man fatally shot by officers during an encounter in Albuquerque.

A statement released Friday by police Capt. Ron Vigil identifies 71-year-old Henry Rivera Sr. as the man fatally shot Tuesday by Rio Rancho officers following a pursuit after an unspecified "violent crime" at a Wal-Mart store.

Vigil's statement says Rivera rammed a police vehicle and another vehicle while being pursued from an Albuquerque residence and that he threatened officers with a shotgun.

Vigil said Friday that Rivera wasn't from Rio Rancho but also said no additional information was available about Rivera or circumstances of the incident, during which no officers were seriously injured.

The officers involved in the shooting were placed on standard administrative leave pending an investigation by a multiagency task force.

Giant Marijuana Bundle Launched Over US-Mexico Border Fence- The Associated Press

Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona have seized a nearly 100-pound bundle of marijuana after spotting it flying over the border fence.

Surveillance video on Wednesday captured the large package launching through the air over the fence from Mexico to the U.S. Agents on the ground found a large, plastic-wrapped bundle worth about $48,000.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Dixon said drug smugglers are increasingly launching massive bundles of pot over the border fence, posing a danger to nearby residents and businesses because of their weight. She said she knew of one incident in which a bundle went through the roof of a doghouse.

Sending a bundle that heavy over a fence that stands between 18 and 23 feet high would require a powerful launcher. Dixon said agents sometimes hear the packages being launched.

New Mexico Restructures Bond Deal After Mistake Uncovered- The Associated Press

New Mexico finance officials say that the state will save substantially less money than anticipated as they fix a flawed effort to refinance state-issued bonds.

The state Board of Finance led by Gov. Susana Martinez held an emergency meeting Friday to revisit a bond deal designed to save the state as much as $9.5 million in interest by paying back creditors well ahead of a 2025 deadline.

Outside investment and legal advisors to the board realized in early August that the state was not allowed to pay off the bonds ahead of time and that interest would still be due for years to come.

In an embarrassing turn of events, further professional fees were waived as board members voted unanimously to restructure an escrow account to continue paying bond obligations.

$500K Bond Stays For Sect Leaders In Abuse Case- The Associated Press

A judge has refused to lower bond on two leaders of a New Mexico paramilitary religious sect who are both facing child sexual abuse charges.

Cibola County Magistrate Judge Larry Diaz said Friday he still felt that co-leader Deborah Green and high ranking leader Peter Green of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training were flight risks and he wasn't comfortable with lowering their bond or changing the conditions of their release.

Both are being held on a $500,000 cash surety bond in connection with child sexual abuse charges stemming from a Sunday raid of their secluded compound in western New Mexico.

Court records had mistakenly listed that Peter Green was being held on $5 million.

Cibola County Undersheriff Michael Munk says authorities believed were flight risks.

Sect Leader: Commune Safe, Child Sexual Abuse Claims 'Fake'KOB-TV, Gallup Independent, Associated Press

The leader of a New Mexico paramilitary religious sect rocked by child sexual abuse allegations says "hundreds of kids" have safely passed through the group's compound in New Mexico.

But James Green told KOB-TV in Albuquerque on Thursday that the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps teaches children living at a secluded compound to avoid speaking with law enforcement because members have experienced "tons of persecution" over the years in California, Oregon and New Mexico.

Green told KOB the child sexual abuse charges filed against his wife, Deborah, were "all fake."

Deborah Green and seven other members are facing various charges in connection with a child abuse and child sex abuse investigation.

Green is asking Gov. Susana Martinez to visit the commune.

Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace confirmed to The Associated Press that four members of the group were arrested late Wednesday while trying to flee the state.

The Gallup Independent reports that the members were arrested on felony warrants for failure to register the births of their 11 children.

Mace says seven children, believed to be ages 4-17, were turned over to the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

Wet Weather Erases Drought, Dryness In New MexicoAssociated Press

National weather forecasters are warning of more storms around New Mexico as the state celebrates the disappearance of any signs of drought or abnormal dryness from the map.

Weekly reports on the impacts of drought across the United States show New Mexico is free from any of the colors that indicate dry conditions, marking the first time that has been the case since 1999. That's when the U.S. Drought Monitor was established.

The latest map shows New Mexico is the only western state in the clear.

Like many places in the West, the arid state struggled to recuperate from an unprecedented drought that peaked in 2013. Even in March, the sting had yet to go away as a month of record-setting temperatures and little rain left dry conditions across the eastern plains and parts of southern New Mexico.

Ruszkowski Appointed New Mexico Public Education SecretaryAssociated Press

The acting New Mexico Public Education Secretary since June now has been appointed to the job.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the appointment of Christopher Ruszkowski on Thursday.

He became acting secretary in June when Hanna Skandera unexpectedly stepped down after seven years on the job.

Ruszkowski joined Martinez's administration in April 2016 as deputy cabinet secretary of the Public Education Department.

He oversaw the state's academic priorities, policy agenda and research agenda.

Earlier this year, Ruszkowski co-led the development of the New Mexico State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Bail Reforms Disrupt Court Routines Across New MexicoAssociated Press

Prosecutors, bail bondsmen and public defenders are describing a criminal justice system in upheaval as courtrooms across New Mexico adjust to new bail and pretrial detention rules.

Judicial officials told state lawmakers Thursday that the rules are requiring more work to determine whether defendants pose a danger or flight risk.

New Mexico adopted new rules for pretrial detention and release on July 1 after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that allows dangerous defendants to be held until trial without bail. The amendment also ensures people don't languish in jail only because they cannot pay money to ensure they appear at trial.

New Mexico District Attorney's Association President Rick Tedrow says prosecutors in San Juan County alone are devoting an additional 26 hours a week to initial court appearances.

New Mexico Runs Short On Public Campaign FundsAssociated Press

New Mexico's top elections regulator is warning that scarce resources at her agency could discouraged some political candidates from choosing public campaign funding over other sources.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver told state lawmakers Thursday that her agency cannot cover an estimated $2.6 million tab to fully finance campaigns for seats on the state's court of appeals and the Public Regulation Commission overseeing utilities.

Toulouse Oliver plans to pursue additional state or foundation funding but noted that it won't be clear how many candidates are running when lawmakers convene for a 30-day session in January 2018. She fears candidates may opt out of public funding design to limit the influence of special interests on elections.

The current shortfall is estimated at $1.5 million.

Supporters Of New Mexico's Monuments Vow To Push ForwardAssociated Press

Conservationists, tribal leaders, elected officials and others are vowing to keep fighting to ensure two New Mexico monuments are kept intact, saying the designations protect significant historical sites and serve as a driver for local economies.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and several dozen people packed the REI store in Albuquerque on Thursday as officials gathered on the plaza in the southern New Mexico community of Mesilla to voice their support for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak monument and the Rio Grande del Norte monument.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told The Associated Press that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments are among the recommendations forwarded to the White House.

Zinke did speak of protecting tribal interests and historical land grants, pointing to New Mexico, where Hispanic ranchers have voiced concerns about the size of the two monuments.

New Mexico Commission Supports Wolf Recovery ProposalAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Game Commission has voted to support a federal proposal to recover an endangered wolf species that once roamed parts of New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico.

The vote came Thursday after commissioners received an update from the state Game and Fish Department on the recovery planning process for the Mexican gray wolf.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court order to have a completed recovery plan by the end of November.

The plan is a long time coming as the original guidance for how to restore the species was adopted in 1982. The lack of a plan has spurred numerous legal challenges as well as skirmishes over states' rights under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Environmentalists say the proposal doesn't go far enough to boost the population or address concerns about genetic diversity.

Officials Revisiting Bond Repayment Plan After Finding ErrorSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico officials are revisiting their bonds repayment plan after learning that some bonds cannot be repaid early.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Gov. Susana Martinez has scheduled an emergency meeting with state Board of Finance for Friday to figure out how they will pay the appropriate interest on bonds that are typically protected from being paid off in full within 10 years from the date they were purchased.

The original $154 million refinancing plan had been approved at the board's June 20 meeting in a 5-0 vote. Spokeswoman Julia Ruetten with the Department of Finances and Administration, which oversees the board, could not answer questions on the refunding and its impacts on Wednesday.

NMSU Student Leaders Want Carruthers To StaySanta Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal

Student leaders at New Mexico State University are urging the university regents to allow Chancellor Garrey Carruthers to remain in his job.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports President Kevin Prieto and Vice President Emerson Morrow with Associated Students of New Mexico State University released a statement Thursday urging regents to extend Carruthers’ contract until 2020.

Carruthers said on Wednesday that he had hoped to stay in his job, but when the NMSU regents decided on Aug. 1 not to renew his contract he announced his retirement two days later.

The Albuquerque Journal reports business leaders in southern New Mexico are also supporting Carruthers in a letter to the paper praising his work at the university.

He has been NMSU’s longest serving chancellor over the last two decades. The student leaders praised Carruthers for helping the university during difficult times and they want regents to explain their decision.

Debra Hicks, chair of the NMSU regents, told the New Mexican the board will likely discuss Carruthers’ statement during its meeting next week.