State 49th In Child Well-Being; Navajo Election Focuses On Language Requirement

Jul 21, 2015

New Mexico Stalled At 49th In Annual Kids Count RankingAssociated Press 

The number of children living in poverty in New Mexico is on the rise, and advocates say that doesn't bode well for the state.

An annual report on the well-being of American children finds an increasing number living in poverty even as the nation's economy continues to recover from the 2008 recession.

The latest Kids Count Data Book issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows 31 percent of New Mexico's children are living in poverty. That's up from 24 percent in 2008.

And more than one-third of New Mexico children have parents who lack secure employment.

Overall, the state remains stalled at 49th in the nation again this year.

The advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children says the solutions include ensuring children have quality learning experiences and that parents have opportunities to better their own situations.

Ex-Inmate Must Follow Judge's Orders In Santa Fe Prison DigThe Associated Press

A state judge has set limitations on an ex-inmate's search of a now-closed state penitentiary for evidence he says would prove that prisoners had been abused.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that under District Judge Sarah Singleton's order filed last week, Samuel Chavez and his search team will be given a 30-minute time limit and one shovel for their dig in the Old Main’s recreation yard.

Chavez has also been permitted to search the cells he may have been confined in.

Chavez, who was convicted of murder in Las Cruces in 1988, claims he buried evidence that proves the state conducted medical experiments on prisoners, tortured them and sold their organs and blood.

The Department of Corrections has denied Chavez' allegations.

New Mexico Lawmaker Election To Civil Rights Board Draws IrkThe Associated Press

A New Mexico Democratic lawmaker has been elected to the board of the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group despite concerns over partisanship and bylaw violations.

Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero became national treasurer for the League of United Latin American Citizens last week at the group's convention in Salt Lake City.

Yet LULAC's bylaws prohibit elected officials from serving on the national board if they receive "wage compensation."

The Albuquerque Democrat is a member of the New Mexico House but receives no annual salary. However, she receives per diems and is eligible for a pension.

Former New Mexico LULAC state director Pablo Martinez says allowing Caballero to serve sets a dangerous precedent and she should resign.

In an email to The Associated Press, Caballero said she was in meetings all day and could not respond.

New Mexico Prison Inmate Program Restoring BicyclesThe Associated Press

Inmates at a New Mexico state prison in Las Cruces are helping restore bicycles for low-income residents.

Department of Corrections officials say the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility's Bicycle Restoration Program is being used to teach inmates needed skills and to help residents who need bikes.

So far, officials say 40 bikes have been restored and 20 have been given to low-income families.

The program is one of many new efforts aimed at teaching inmates new skills while serving time in New Mexico prisons.

Navajo Nation Leaders Sign Off On Priorities For TribeThe Associated Press

Leaders of the Navajo Nation have signed an agreement detailing a commitment to enhance the quality of life for Navajo people.

The Daily-Times reports that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Speaker LoRenzo Bates and acting Chief Justice Eleanor Shirley signed the agreement on Monday in Window Rock, Arizona.

The three-page document prioritizes nine areas for leaders to address during their terms in office. Among the focus areas are water rights, housing, education, and natural resources.

The final agreement came about following a series of meetings between tribal leadership and council delegates.

At Monday's signing, Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez delivered the State of the Nation address, which focused on the appointments of the attorney general, division directors, office directors and commission directors.

Election Focuses On Navajo Language Fluency Requirement -
Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Navajos are voting Tuesday in a rare referendum that could loosen the requirement for presidential hopefuls to speak the tribe's language.

Candidates for president and vice president must understand Navajo and speak it fluently. It's a requirement that can be enforced by tribal courts.

A "yes" vote on the referendum lets individual Navajos decide if those candidates speak and understand Navajo well enough to hold office, starting with the 2018 election.

Lawmakers approved the vote after changes to the fluency requirement failed through other legislation. A candidate in the most recent presidential election had been disqualified for failing to prove he met the requirement.

More than 122,000 Navajos are registered to vote Tuesday. Tribal members have voted on a handful of referendums in the past.

Albuquerque Mayor To Meet With Opponents Of Confederate FlagAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said he will meet with community leaders who are urging the removal of a Confederate flag and plaques in Old Town.

State Sen. Bill O'Neill, Albuquerque City Councilman Isaac Benton and Mike Jefferson, elder and founder of Procession Ministry called for the removal of the symbols in the area, a popular tourist destination.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Berry will launch a community discussion with an “array of voices,” including members of the NAACP.

The Confederacy briefly occupied Albuquerque in 1862. The battle flag hangs in the plaza along with flags from Spain, Mexico, the United States and the State of New Mexico to represent the city's five governing entities since 1706.

The request for removal comes as many cities have decided not to fly the Confederate battle flag in the wake of the Charleston church shooting that killed nine people.

State Struggles To Fine-Tune Naloxone RegulationsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

At the same time as New Mexico is exploring naloxone as a way to decrease overdose deaths, the state's Board of Pharmacy is working to increase regulation of the drug.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state's overdose deaths increased by 20 percent last year. Meanwhile, public health workers say naloxone -- which can counter the effects of opioids -- is becoming harder for people who are at risk of an overdose to access.

The Department of Health says it is revising its guidelines on prescribing naloxone to address a procedural gray area that has complicated operations at shelters and recovery centers. Currently, rules require a direct consultation between the patient and a nurse or physician.

'Breaking Bad' Actor Runs For Albuquerque SeatAssociated Press

"Breaking Bad" actor Steven Michael Quezada is jumping in a heated race for county commissioner in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Quezada, who played DEA agent Steven Gomez in the hit AMC-TV series, told The Associated Press on Monday that he will make a formal announcement on Tuesday that he's seeking the Bernalillo County Commission seat.

The 52-year-old actor and comedian says he's joining in the race because he feels someone like him can make a difference in the district which includes the historic Hispanic South Valley and an area where developers are seeking to build new homes. At least three others are running for the seat.

The Bernalillo County Commission recently voted to approve a planned community despite activists' fears the development would take water away from nearby communities.

Quezada is a member of the Albuquerque school board.

Methane Hot Spot Prompts Delegation To Ask For Quick ActionAssociated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are pointing to a hot spot of the potent global-warming gas methane over part of the American Southwest, saying federal officials need to move quickly on upcoming standards for curbing waste in oil and gas production.

The Democratic members of the delegation sent a letter to the federal Office of Management and Budget on Monday. They're asking for prompt consideration of new rules being developed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency.

They argue that natural gas resources are going to waste through venting, flaring and leaks and that's leading to tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues for states and the federal government.

They're also concerned about methane pollution over the San Juan Basin.

Few Answers 1 Year After Albuquerque Woman's Death Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

One year after an Albuquerque woman was found dead in her home, friends and family members are still waiting for an arrest.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 53-year-old Danette Webb was found dead last summer with her hands and feet bound with duct tape.

Police say there were no signs of sexual assault, though she was found naked, and nothing was stolen from the home.

Police spokesman Tanner Tixier says the suspect is a sample of male DNA found on Webb's body. While investigators have taken DNA swabs from people connected to Webb, they have not turned up a suspect and no arrests have been made.

Webb's friends organized a memorial earlier this month, in an attempt to police more leads.

Albuquerque Homeless Man Burned When Fireworks Thrown At Him Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Police are looking for a suspect who seriously injured a homeless man after throwing fireworks at him.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the homeless man was sleeping on a street corner on July 11 when someone threw fireworks at him. The man caught on fire and suffered serious burns across his body, police said.

Police believe the person involved was driving a purple GMC Sports Utility Vehicle.

New Mexico Prison Inmate Program Restoring Bicycles Associated Press

Inmates at a New Mexico state prison in Las Cruces are helping restore bicycles for low-income residents.

Department of Corrections officials say the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility's Bicycle Restoration Program is being used to teach inmates needed skills and to help residents who need bikes.

So far, officials say 40 bikes have been restored and 20 have been given to low-income families.

The program is one of many new efforts aimed at teaching inmates new skills while serving time in New Mexico prisons.