Republican NM Gov. Attacks GOP Nominee For Congress, APD Changes Policy On Investigations

Jun 7, 2018

Republican Gov. Martinez Attacks GOP Nominee For CongressThe Associated Press Republican

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says the GOP candidate in a closely watched Congressional race in southern New Mexico may not fairly represent the state.

Martinez told the Albuquerque Journal on Wednesday, Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican who won the GOP nomination in the 2nd Congressional District, faces questions "with reference to her ability to . represent New Mexico in a fair and reasonable way."

She made the remarks after testifying on oil and gas leasing in a U.S. House committee in Washington, D.C.

Herrell beat former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman in a heated GOP primary. Jay McCleskey — a longtime ally of Martinez's — did media consulting work for Newman's campaign. Herrell faces Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres Small in the general election.

A Herrell spokesman declined to comment.

APD Change Policy On Abuse InvestigationsThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police have issued policy changes on child abuse investigations as an internal probe continues into the department's handling of an encounter last year with the family of a 7-year-old girl who authorities say was a victim of abuse and sexual exploitation.

Police Chief Michael Geier issued three special orders Wednesday that require officers to collect and preserve any possible evidence on calls of suspected child abuse.

Officers must keep all body camera footage and access a state portal that has information on previous contact between the family and social workers.

The department launched an investigation last month to examine the steps taken or missed when officers interviewed the girl, her parents and school teacher.

The girl's parents have been arrested on charges that include human trafficking and child abuse.

New Professional Soccer Team Coming To New MexicoThe Associated Press

The United Soccer League, the second-highest professional soccer level in America behind Major League Soccer, announced it will bring a team to Albuquerque.

USL Commissioner Jake Edwards and USL New Mexico President and Owner Peter Trevisani said Wednesday that the team will begin play in March.

Public input will establish the formal club name.

New Mexico is one of five new USL teams for next season. It will join expansion clubs in Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas to bring the league to 40 total teams in the United States and Canada in 2019.

Larry Espinoza, the general manager and interim president of the Albuquerque Sol, a Premier Development League soccer team, says the Sol could become a feeder program to the new USL New Mexico team.

New Mexico Public Pension Foresee Headwinds – The Associated Press

Administrators of New Mexico's main public pension fund for state and municipal workers say the $15.5 billion trust is struggling to catch up with unfunded obligations and to ensure long-term solvency.

Chief Investment Officer Dominic Garcia of the Public Employees Retirement Association said Thursday odds are against the pension fund catching up soon with its financial obligations to current and future retirees.

He told a panel of lawmakers that combined retirement plans are 75 percent funded, and that there is an 11 percent chance that assets will catch up with liabilities over the next decade.

The fund's oversight board is evaluating whether its predictions for future investment returns are too rosy.

The boards at New Mexico's two major pension funds for teachers and public employees are weighing possible solvency reforms.

Native Americans Cheer Possibility Of Milestone In Congress - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

New Mexico, a state with deep historical ties to American Indians, has moved closer to electing the first Native American woman to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Deb Haaland won a Democratic primary Tuesday for an open congressional seat that represents Albuquerque. Native Americans from Washington state to Oklahoma celebrated the possibility of a landmark in U.S. political history.

Haaland, a tribal member of the Laguna Pueblo who was born in Winslow, Arizona, defeated a crowded field of mainly Hispanic candidates to advance to the general election.

Republican opponent Janice Arnold-Jones says Haaland's "far left" stances won't resonate with moderate voters in November.

Primary Upends New Mexico Political LandscapeAssociated Press

Primary elections have upended the political landscape in New Mexico by setting up general-election showdowns between women in two open congressional seats and casting aside a Statehouse Democrat who is embroiled in sexual harassment accusations brought by a female lobbyist.

Victorious Democratic primary candidates appealed for unity within party ranks and respect for the decisions of voters at a celebratory breakfast Wednesday in Albuquerque.

Democratic voters nominated Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham to face Republican Congressman Steve Pearce for the governor's seat in November. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot seek a consecutive third term.

Former state Democratic Party chairwoman Debra Haaland was nominated for the Albuquerque-area U.S. House seat, seeking to become the first Native American woman in Congress. State Rep. Carl Trujillo denied sexual harassment allegations and still lost.

EPA Finds Space To Store Sludge From Mine Wastewater PlantDurango Herald, Associated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found a place to store sludge from a treatment plant cleaning up wastewater from a southwestern Colorado mine.

The Durango Herald reported Wednesday a landowner agreed to let the EPA store the sludge at an existing mine waste pile a few miles from the plant. The plant was running out of room for sludge.

The plant was installed in 2015 after the EPA inadvertently triggered a 3-million-gallon spill of wastewater from the Gold King Mine north of Silverton. The spill sent a yellow-orange plume of toxic heavy metals into rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah and on Native American lands.

Wastewater is still flowing from the mine.

The EPA designated the area a Superfund site in 2016 but hasn't announced long-term cleanup plans.

New Mexico Governor Says Congress Should Address 'Red Tape'Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez says the revenue that comes from oil and gas development in New Mexico is critical for funding education and other public services and that Congress needs to address what she described as bureaucratic red tape.

The two-term Republican governor testified Wednesday before a House subcommittee that's considering legislation to streamline the permitting process.

Two of the bills are sponsored by U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce, who is running against Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham in the race to replace Martinez when her term wraps up at the end of the year.

The congressional hearing comes as activists gather in New Mexico to protest any rollbacks of environmental reviews or royalty rates that oil, natural gas, mining and renewable energy companies pay the federal government. The Royalty Policy Committee is meeting in Albuquerque.

Arrests For Illegal Border Crossings Top 50,000 In MayAssociated Press

U.S. Border Patrol agents report making 51,912 arrests in May, the third month in a row the number has topped 50,000.

The Trump administration uses the arrest numbers as the best gauge of whether illegal crossings are going up or down.

Border arrests fell last year to the lowest level since 1971. But since April 2017, arrests have climbed steadily.

Curbing illegal immigration is an administration priority. Trump cited the issue as an achievement in a tweet earlier this week on his 500th day in office. But last month, he criticized the Homeland Security secretary for failing to stop rising numbers.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Tyler Houlton, said in a statement Wednesday that reversing years of political inaction takes time.

Lincoln National Forest To Remain Open To PublicAssociated Press

Lincoln National Forest officials say they considered closing the forest in southeastern New Mexico to the public but that rain Sunday and the occurrence of relatively few fires contributed to their decision to keep it open.

However, the forest's announcement Wednesday said fire restrictions remain in effect and encouraged visitors to be diligent about fire safety.

The Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico was closed to the public Friday because of extreme wildfire conditions.

Lincoln officials said their consideration of restrictions and possibly closing the forest to the public included checking indicators such as fire activity, precipitation and fuel moisture content for live and dead vegetation.

Police Will Follow New Child Abuse Investigation PoliciesAlbuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque Police Department announced changes to how its officers will deal with child abuse reports.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the shift comes in the wake of questions over how APD handled a call last November from a teacher who found a 7-year-old girl had bloody underwear when she helped her change into clean clothes. 

Police interviewed the girl, her family and the teacher but did not initiate a criminal investigation. The Journal reports an officer did not retain the underwear and threw them in a dumpster because no crime had been reported.

Months later, the Attorney General’s office brought charges against the girl’s relatives, including human trafficking and child abuse.

APD Chief Michael Geier said Wednesday three new special orders require officers to collect any possible evidence when investigating possible child abuse cases, preserve all footage from body cameras worn by police and to consult an electronic portal that logs all previous police contact with a family and social workers.

Sheriff Says Fugitive Killed In Shooting At Albuquerque MotelAssociated Press

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales says a violent fugitive wanted in armed robberies in New Mexico is dead after being shot during a confrontation with law enforcement officers at a motel in southwest Albuquerque.

Gonzales says no deputies or other law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting early Thursday morning after the U.S. Marshals Service authorities tracked the man to the location near Interstate 25.

The suspect's identity was not released.

According to Gonzales, it's not immediately clear who fired the fatal shots or how many shots were fired. He also declined to say what circumstances led to the shooting, including whether the fugitive fired at deputies.

Groups Protest Transgender Migrant's Death In US CustodyAssociated Press

A New Mexico immigration attorney contends transgender migrants often receive limited medical care at a detention facility where a woman was being held before she was hospitalized and died last month.

Joaquin Sanchez-Leal, of the Albuquerque-based Instituto Legal, says the women often arrive with medical conditions as they seek asylum in the United States, but do not always receive adequate care.

In a statement, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said detainees receive comprehensive care from the moment they arrive.

Sanchez-Leal's remarks Wednesday came as about 60 immigrant and LGBT rights advocates protested the death of Roxana Hernandez. Authorities say she developed symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV.

She was being held in a New Mexico detention center's transgender unit before being admitted to an Albuquerque hospital.