Santa Fe Starts Examination Of Its Monuments And Events, Court Gives Pearce Access To Cash

Nov 28, 2017

Santa Fe Starts Examination Of Its Monuments And EventsThe Associated Press

The city of Santa Fe has compiled a list of its monuments and events supported with public funds in the hopes of spurring a conversation about the city's cultural history.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the city on Monday released the list that includes plaques, events, monuments and murals.

City officials say residents can contribute to the inventory until the end of next month when the officials will then compile a final report.

Mayor Javier Gonzales proposed an examination of the city's historical and cultural markers as discussions continue across the country over Confederate monuments.

An event listed on the inventory is the Entrada, the annual re-enactment during the Fiesta de Santa Fe that depicts the Spanish conquistadors' 1692 reoccupation of the city. The event has elicited staunch opposition.

Court Gives Congressman Steve Pearce Access To Campaign CashThe Associated Press

A federal court is allowing Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce to access nearly $1 million in campaign funds that he collected while in Congress to use in his run for governor of New Mexico.

A U.S. district court judge on Tuesday blocked enforcement of limitations on campaign transfers from Pearce's federal campaign account to a state one. The preliminary injunction gives Pearce access to the stockpile of campaign cash while underlying issues are litigated.

The Secretary of State's Office has said that only $11,000 can be transferred by Pearce, based on a New Mexico law that limits campaign contributions to $5,500 in a primary election and again in the general election.

Pearce spokesman Greg Blair says the ruling affirms arguments that the transfer of funds complies with existing New Mexico law.

Albuquerque Mayor-Elect Names Interim Police Leadership TeamThe Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor-elect Tim Keller has named a team that will oversee the transition of law enforcement in New Mexico's largest city as he prepares to take office.

Police reforms and rising crime fueled the mayoral campaign, and Keller said during a news conference Tuesday that his interim team will be focused on turning around the beleaguered police department.

Heading the effort will be interim Police Chief Mike Geier, who stepped down earlier this year as the chief in neighboring Rio Rancho.

Keller said Geier has the respect front-line officers and knows the Albuquerque Police Department well after serving with the force for about 20 years.

Keller said a national search is planned for a permanent police chief and that the long term goals will be to reduce crime, restore public trust and hire more officers.

New Mexico Sheriff Details Shooting Deaths Of 2 SuspectsThe Associated Press

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales says the deputy who fired several rounds at a driver who tried to flee in a stolen pickup truck feared for the safety of his colleagues as the suspect revved the engine after being cornered.

Gonzales released more details Tuesday about the Nov. 17 shooting that resulted in the deaths of driver Isaac Padilla and passenger Martin Jim.

Two other men got out of the truck unharmed and were not charged following a night of reckless driving that spanned 20 miles.

Authorities say another man who got out of the vehicle before it was stopped by deputies was armed but that no other weapons were found in the truck.

The 23-year-old Padilla had a criminal history that included aggravated assault, battery, shoplifting and other charges.

Los Alamos National Lab To Get New Director Jan. 1The Associated Press

Los Alamos National Laboratory will have a new director at the start of the year.

Officials with Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the contractor that manages the northern New Mexico lab, announced Tuesday that Terry Wallace will take over as director and company president Jan. 1.

Wallace will replace Charles McMillian, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

Officials say Wallace's national security expertise makes him the right person for the job. He will oversee a $2.5 billion budget and thousands of employees.

Los Alamos National Security's multibillion-dollar contract to manage the lab expires in 2018 and federal officials have started the bidding process.

The lab also has come under increased scrutiny for a series of safety lapses that included the mishandling of nuclear material.

New Mexico Man Pleads Guilty In Guardianship Fraud CaseAssociated Press

A New Mexico man accused of embezzling more than $4.8 million from trust accounts he managed for elderly and disabled clients has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges.

Authorities say 62-year-old Paul Donisthorpe entered his plea Monday. As part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, he faces eight to 12 years in prison and will have to pay restitution.

Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade called it a heartbreaking case, saying the victims depended on Donisthorpe's company to manage their finances so they could pay their rent, medical bills and other living expenses.

Authorities say Donisthorpe transferred money from client trust accounts into accounts he controlled. He used the money to pay for vehicles, credit card expenses and mortgages.

Charter Schools Want To Move To Albuquerque Public SchoolsAlbuquerque Journal

Four charter schools with low marks from state officials are turning to Albuquerque Public Schools for reauthorization instead.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Public Education Department has given the schools D and F grades and PED says fewer than five percent of students at the schools are proficient in reading or math.

The schools are the Architecture Construction and Engineering Leadership High School, Health Leadership High School, Technology Leadership High School, and Academy of Trades & Technology.

PED Secretary-designate Chris Ruszkowski said low-performing charter schools should close, but officials with the charter schools say they are serving students who might otherwise drop out of the system completely.

The APS Board of Education will vote on whether to accept the schools in mid-December.

New Mexico Lawmaker Derides Legislature's Harassment PolicyAssociated Press

A Republican state lawmaker in New Mexico is urging the Legislature to create an independent system for evaluating complaints of sexual harassment.

Rep. Kelly Fajardo of Los Lunas urged legislative leaders Monday to turn over future allegations of harassment at the Statehouse to outside legal counsel for review. Complaints currently are evaluated by legislative agency directors and chief clerks.

Fajardo calls the current harassment policy "a joke." She says it provides little assurance of impartial review or protection from retaliation.

The Democrat-led Legislature has started a review of workplace harassment guidelines as decade-old allegations of sexual misconduct roil a state senator's campaign for lieutenant governor.

Fajardo says she has encountered harassing behavior in the Legislature but does not plan to file a complaint because it could interfere with reform efforts.

Clovis Police: Firefighters Find 3 Dead Inside OutbuildingAssociated Press

Authorities have released the names of three people found dead inside a burned outbuilding in Clovis and identified a man who survived the fire.

Clovis police say the three who died have been identified as 54-year-old John Sandoval, 51-year-old Robert Elebario and 52-year-old Billie Jo Grabowsky.

They say 53-year-old Rogelio Hernandez survived the fire and was found in the backyard of the outbuilding by firefighters and was taken to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

It was unclear Monday if any of the four people were related or if they all lived inside the outbuilding.

Police say the fire's cause remains under investigation.

The small detached outbuilding was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived about 3 p.m. Sunday and were told that people were still inside the structure.

Albuquerque Mayor-Elect Announces Administrative TeamAssociated Press

State Auditor and Albuquerque Mayor-elect Tim Keller is bringing several top political appointees with him as he leaves state government for the mayor's office.

Keller on Monday appointed Sarita Nair to become the city's first female chief administrative officer. She previously served as general counsel for the State Auditor's Office and led the agency's Government Accountability Office.

The Democratic mayor-elect also appointed Sunalei Stewart as his chief of staff, Sanjay Bhakta as chief financial officer and Justine Freeman as deputy chief of staff. The interim appointments take effect Dec. 1 on Keller's inauguration day.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has yet to announce her choice to serve out the remainder of Keller's term as auditor through 2018 elections.

Forest Officials Seek Info About Vandalism At Miranda Canyon Associated Press

Officials with the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico are seeking information about vandalism in the area of Miranda Canyon.

Forest employees in mid-November installed a metal fence near the canyon's entrance. A few days later, the welded fence was found torn apart and partially dismantled.

Officials say the fence is part of an effort to manage access while community members work with the Forest Service to develop a management plan so people can recreate there and use the natural resources.

For some time, officials say the area has been used as a dumping ground for household trash, construction debris and discarded furniture.

The forest purchased 5,000 acres in the canyon from the Trust for Public Land using conservation funds to protect the watershed from private development.

Suit Filed Against Bernalillo Deputy Over ShootingAlbuquerque Journal

A deputy with Bernalillo County is facing a lawsuit over the shooting death of a man after a pursuit in July.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Concepcion Gonzales is suing Deputy Charles Coggins, Sheriff Manuel Gonzales and the Bernalillo County Commission over the death of her son.

Deputies followed Miguel Gonzales in July after they realized he was driving a car with a stolen plate. Gonzales drove to a house on the southwest side and ran into a backyard, where he was shot.

According to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Gonzales pointed a gun at officers. But the lawsuit contends he was shot in the back multiple times.

Concepcion Gonzales argues the lethal force was not justified and the county and sheriff were negligent in the hiring, training, supervision and discipline of Coggins, who is still on active duty.

A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office declined to comment on the suit.

Bernalillo deputies have been involved in nine shootings in the last four months. But Sheriff Manuel Gonzales has resisted calls for his deputies to wear body cameras, arguing such footage is used against law enforcement agencies when cases are adjudicated.

More Immigrants In New Mexico Seek Help To Become CitizensLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A New Mexico nonprofit has seen a spike this year in the number of immigrants looking to become U.S. citizens.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports staff with Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, which offers legal assistance to immigrants, says the Las Cruces-based organization helped 14 immigrants seek naturalization in the first half of 2017, and assisted 29 immigrants so far through the second half.

Applications for U.S. citizenship this year are expected to outpace last year, which was the busiest in a decade.

Imelda Maynard, attorney for Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, says the organization has been hosting more informational fairs about citizenship than it previously did.

Maynard says immigrants with authorization to be in the United States are worried about losing their legal status and being deported.