Solar Innovation Could Mean Jobs For NM, Santa Fe Man Sues Dave Chappelle

Apr 3, 2018

Report: Solar Innovation Could Mean Jobs For New Mexico- Associated Press

New Mexico has the potential to add several thousand more jobs over the next decade if it leverages its existing capacity to create high-tech innovations for the evolving solar industry, according to a California-based public policy group.

The American Jobs Project released its report Tuesday, touting New Mexico's connection to two national laboratories, research universities and abundant sunshine.

The nonprofit group's recommendations include improving access to capital and bolstering commercialization of innovations made at the labs and universities such as coatings and small flexible solar cells known as "solar glitter."

The report is based on dozens of interviews with members of the state's business community and those in the solar industry. It concludes that as energy development transforms and demand grows, New Mexico could support more than 6,800 direct jobs from manufacturing and materials development, indirect jobs from suppliers and jobs that result from spending in the local economy.

Man Who Threw Banana Peel At Dave Chappelle Sues Comedian- Associated Press

A man who threw a banana peel at Dave Chappelle during a 2015 performance in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is suing the comedian and a man presumed to be his bodyguard.

Christian Englander's lawsuit filed Friday contends the presumed bodyguard struck Englander twice as he was being restrained.

Englander, who is white, has said he had no racial motivation when he threw the banana peel at Chappelle, who is black, but was angered by something Chappelle said during the show.

Englander faced charges of battery and disturbing the peace, but they were dropped because Chappelle was unwilling to participate in the prosecution.

Englander's claim he was assaulted wasn't mentioned in the police report, but his lawyer said it would have been raised if Englander went on trial.

Chappelle's publicist Carla Sims did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

US Museum Stalls Hiroshima Exhibit Over Nuke Weapon Ban Push - Associated Press & Albuquerque Journal

A museum in a once-secret New Mexico city that developed the atomic bomb has put an exhibit from Japan on hold because of its theme of abolishing nuclear weapons.

The Los Alamos Historical Museum recently announced it won't be hosting a traveling exhibit organized by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum until all parties can work out their differences over the theme.

The move comes as the Los Alamos National Laboratory is competing with the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to continue production of plutonium "pits."

Heather McClenahan, executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society, told the Albuquerque Journal  the museum never had official plans to host the exhibit and the museum board wanted more time to address issues it brings up.

McClenahan did not rule out working with the exhibit organizers in the future.

Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project. The bombs were later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Albuquerque Town Hall To Focus On Oil And Gas DrillingAssociated Press

Two elected officials in New Mexico's largest metropolitan area want to talk about oil and gas development and whether there's a need for an ordinance to govern drilling in the Albuquerque area.

City Councilor and Democratic congressional candidate Pat Davis along with Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins are sponsoring Tuesday's town hall. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at 1 Civic Plaza.

An industry group that represents producers around the state says there's no interest in the area as no major oil and gas basin exists in Bernalillo County.

Most drilling occurs in New Mexico's share of the Permian Basin in the southeastern corner and in the San Juan Basin in the northwest.

Robert McEntyre with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association called the town hall a political ploy, saying it will distract from economic and public safety concerns facing the metro area.

New Mexico Snowpack Measurement Lowest In YearsAssociated Press

The median amount of water contained within New Mexico's snowpack statewide for the start of April is the lowest on record since at least 2000.

Officials with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say the measurement — known as the snow-water equivalent — at the Hopewell site in Rio Arriba County had the lowest value since records began in 1980.

They also say the snowpack in southern Colorado is at about 50 percent now and just trace amounts remain in New Mexico's basins.

The grim statistics come as more than one-third of the state contends with extreme drought.

The weather service also reports that Albuquerque, Clayton and Roswell were all significantly warmer and drier than normal last month as was most of New Mexico.

Judge Approves Settlement Over New Mexico Campaign CashAssociated Press

A settlement agreement has been approved that allows Congressman Steve Pearce and other federal politicians to bring stockpiles of campaign cash home to run for New Mexico state offices.

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Herrera on Monday signed a settlement between Pearce and the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office that allows federal campaign contributions to be transferred to a state campaign if state contributions limits were not exceeded.

Pearce sued last year for access to more than $900,000 in a federal campaign account to use in his run for New Mexico governor as the lone Republican candidate, and won a preliminary injunction in November allowing transfers.

The office of Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says the settlement aims to prevent loopholes around New Mexico campaign finance law.

Albuquerque City Council Votes To Decriminalize PotAssociated Press

The Albuquerque City Council has voted to decriminalize marijuana possession in small amounts and send the measure to the mayor for final approval.

The City Council's vote Monday night came after lengthy testimony, mostly from citizens urging council members to approve the change to the local criminal code.

The proposal put forward by city council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton would make it a citable offense — not a criminal one — to possess an ounce of pot and paraphernalia without a valid medical marijuana referral.

Authorities could issue a $25 ticket but no jail time.

Under Albuquerque's current criminal code, police can issue $50 fines to first-time offenders possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Authorities also can jail first-time offenders for a maximum of 15 days, though such instances appear to be rare.

Court Orders US Wildlife Managers To Revisit Wolf RuleAssociated Press

U.S. wildlife managers will have to revisit a contentious rule that governs management of Mexican gray wolves roaming the American Southwest.

The revision was ordered Monday by a federal judge in Arizona who determined that the rule adopted in 2015 fails to further the conservation of the endangered predators.

The current rule will remain in effect until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues a revamped version or addresses deficiencies outlined in the court order.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the order.

Environmentalists had argued the rule arbitrarily limited the population, banned the animals from suitable habitat and loosened provisions against killing them in the wild.

A survey done over the winter showed there were at least 114 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

Lawsuit May Disqualify New Mexico Democrat In Governor RaceAssociated Press

A Democratic candidate for governor of New Mexico is seeking to disqualify a rival candidate from their party's June primary election.

Court records obtained Monday show gubernatorial candidate and former media executive Jeff Apodaca has accused state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of failing to submit enough petition signatures to run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

The lawsuit alleges that about 1,400 signatures submitted by Cervantes are not valid, leaving him shy of registration requirements to run.

Apodaca says the signatures were checked against state voter registration records and included duplicate names, non-Democrats and unregistered individuals.

Cervantes campaign officials had no immediate comment on the challenge.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham also is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Congressman Steve Pearce. Pearce has no primary challengers.

New Mexico Expected To Fine Los Alamos Lab Over WasteLos Alamos Monitor, Associated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department is expected to fine the Los Alamos National Laboratory for exceeding state and federal time limits for storing hazardous waste.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports state officials informed the lab in a letter last month that it stored two hazardous waste containers over the 90-day storage time limit in central accumulation storage areas.

State Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief John Kieling also wrote that the lab stored three hazardous waste containers over the 1-year storage time limit in permitted units.

Both are violations with fines up to $10,000 a day for noncompliance with New Mexico's Hazardous Waste Management regulations.

A lab spokesman said it will continue to observe the rules of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and comply as best it can.

Airmen Accused Of Rape Released On Bond- Associated Press Eastern New Mexico News

Three airmen at a New Mexico Air Force base who are awaiting trial on rape charges were released on bond.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports defense attorney Ben Herrmann said Monday he is glad his client, Senior Airman Thomas Newton, and his two co-defendants, Airman First Class Isiah Edley and Airman First Class Rahman Buchanan, of Cannon Air Force Base, were out of custody after spending the past two months in jail.

Court records say the three were arrested in January and charged with second-degree criminal sexual penetration after a female airman told police they assaulted her at a house party in Clovis.

All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

A five-day trial is tentatively set for mid-October.

New Mexico Lab Stops Shipping After Sending Mislabeled Waste- Associated Press & Santa Fe New Mexican

Officials at a New Mexico laboratory halted all shipments of hazardous and mixed low-level radioactive waste for nearly three months after realizing they transported mislabeled refuse to a facility near Denver.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the labeling incident, which apparently happened in November, was the third time in 13 months Los Alamos National Laboratory shipped waste to the Henderson, Colorado, facility, Veolia ES Technical Solutions, with incorrect information about the chemicals inside.

It also set into motion a series of events that could cause the lab to incur up to $1 million in state penalties.

Under state regulations, a violation can result in as much as a $10,000-a-day fine. The five containers were in violation of the permit for at least 20 days.

The lab paused shipments between Dec. 18th and Feb. 28th.

Otter Reintroduction Causing Some To Worry About TroutAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico wildlife official says the lower Red River continues to have healthy fish populations after the reintroduction of otters despite concerns from trout advocates.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that river otters were reintroduced in New Mexico more than a dozen years ago.

Renowned state fly-fishing guide Taylor Streit says he initially supported the reintroduction, but now isn't sure it was a good idea.

He says the otters are decimating trout on the lower Red, River leading fishers to go the Abiquiu instead.

Eric Frey with the New Mexico Department of Game of Fish says there have been concerns over the otters since 2014.

He says multiple surveys near a rainbow trout-producing hatchery have shown that there are various healthy fish populations in the river.

Report Details Impacts Of Tribal Authority Over Non-Natives - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Tribal land long was known as a safe haven for non-Native Americans who committed crimes there.

Federal authorities would prosecute only the most serious offenses. And, tribes lacked jurisdiction over offenders who weren't Native American.

For at least 18 of the country's 573 federally recognized tribes, that concern has eased.

Those tribes have implemented a federal law passed in 2013 that lets them prosecute non-Natives for some domestic violence crimes or violations of protection orders.

Public safety advocates say those communities now are empowered to report crimes and governments are collaborating.

But the law is limited and doesn't extend to violence against children, victims' families or law enforcement.

Bills pending in Congress seek to address some of those gaps and ensure tribes that haven't implemented the law can access funding.

Writer Mohsin Hamid Is Set To Visit AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

British-Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid is set to visit Albuquerque.

The author of the migration saga "Exit West" is scheduled to give lecture at the University of New Mexico on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Woodward Hall.

Hamid was finalist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

"Exit West" was named a best book of the year by Time, GQ Magazine, O the Oprah Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. He also wrote “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”

Doña County Sheriff Appoint Office's 2nd Female UndersheriffLas Cruces Sun News, Associated Press

Doña County County's Sheriff Office has appointed its second female undersheriff.

The Las Cruces Sun News reports Sheriff Enrique Vigil announced Liliana McDowell-Schnell's appointment on Friday.

She will be the second woman to serve in that position.

Kathy Fuller became the southern New Mexico county's first female undersheriff in 1998.

McDowell-Schnell currently serves as the undersheriff for the Otero County Sheriff's Office in south-central New Mexico.

The Doña County Sheriff's Office says she has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement and has previously worked for the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies.

McDowell-Schnell will start work on April 30.