Tribal Leaders Combat Oil And Gas, Clergy Sex Abuse Case Ends In Settlement

Nov 21, 2017

Tribal Leaders Take Aim At Oil And Gas Development Associated Press

Tribal leaders from throughout New Mexico are taking aim at oil and gas development — this time spurred by a proposed ordinance that would regulate drilling across hundreds of square miles of one sparsely-populated county.

Sandoval County, home to a dozen tribal nations, currently doesn't have any rules for the industry. The commission has been working for the last two years to craft regulations that would apply to drilling in unincorporated areas.

After a contentious meeting last week, a final vote is set for January.

Tribal leaders have joined with environmentalists to voice their frustrations.

The opposition comes as tribes around the U.S. organize around land-use issues, from a pipeline in North Dakota and a disputed national park designation in Utah to a battle over cultural sites in New Mexico.

Clergy Sex Abuse Case Ends In Monetary Settlement Associated Press

A clergy sex abuse lawsuit against the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and an Arizona school has been settled.

The Gallup Independent reports Phoenix attorney Robert E. Pastor, who represents the woman who filed the suit, says "the agreement has been finalized."

The lawsuit, which was filed in Coconino County Superior Court in 2015, centered on the childhood sexual molestation of the plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit as Jane L.S. Doe.

The plaintiff, a member of the Navajo Nation, says she was abused by Brother Mark Schornack, OFM, when she was a student at St. Michael Indian School and Schornack, a Franciscan friar, was her bus driver.

Peter C. Kelly II, the Phoenix attorney representing the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the school, declined to comment on the settlement.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Addresses Fatal Home Shootout Associated Press

The Bernalillo County sheriff says he doesn't know if deputies knew the mental health history of a man who died following a shootout in Albuquerque.

Sheriff Manuel Gonzales released more details Monday about the Nov. 10 shooting which killed 50-year-old Matthew Scudero.

Scudero's family says authorities visited him before to provide mental health resources.

Deputies were called to a mobile home after Scudero's father reported his son had pointed a gun into his mouth.

Upon their arrival, Scudero threatened to shoot them.

Gonzales says Scudero then fired two shots and five deputies returned fire.

A SWAT team later found him dead of gunshot wounds.

The fatality came a week before deputies shot and killed two people in a stolen vehicle.

Gonzales also denied that deputies need to wear body cameras.

New Mexico State Finances Shows Signs Of Improvement Associated Press

New Mexico is rapidly rebuilding financial reserves that may help state government withstand future economic downturns.

Chief Economist Jon Clark of the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee said Monday that the state's recently depleted savings have substantially grown.

He says the state had set aside an estimated $500 million as of the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

That is equal to about 8 percent of New Mexico's annual general fund spending obligations. A leading credit ratings agency recommends 10 percent reserves or greater to weather recessions.

The estimate signals a potentially rapid financial turnaround for state finances that were hit hard by a 2015 downturn in the oil sector.

Spending was slashed at public colleges and several state agencies earlier this year to offset faltering tax revenues.

Grandmother Gets Probation For Drunken Driving With Baby Associated Press

A Santa Fe woman was sentenced to three years of supervised probation after police say she drove while intoxicated with her 9-month-old granddaughter in a car seat dangling from an open car door.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports 65-year-old Bertha Boling was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated and no contest to a child abuse charge.

Police say Boling's daughter was going to drive her mother home in July, so she placed the baby in the car seat. After the women entered into an argument, Boling got into the pickup truck to drive away.

Police say the daughter attempted to pull her child out, but the seat became stuck. Other drivers blocked the pickup's path a short distance away, and the baby was unharmed.

New Mexico State Senator Seeks Advice On Political Future Associated Press

New Mexico state Sen. Michael Padilla says he is seeking advice from friends, family and advisers on whether to continue his campaign for lieutenant governor.

The Democratic senator on Tuesday said that he has been attending previously scheduled campaign events.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham has urged Padilla to end his campaign for lieutenant governor in light of decade-old allegations that he harassed women at a prior job.

Padilla has long denied the allegations. The city of Albuquerque ended up settling claims of a sexually hostile work environment linked to Padilla's work as a supervisor at an emergency call center.

Council Approves Audit Of Court-Appointed Police Monitor Associated Press

The Albuquerque City Council has authorized an audit of the court-appointed monitor overseeing reform efforts for the city's police department.

The council on Monday approved a resolution to appropriate $25,000 to the city's Office of the Internal Audit to review the work by James Ginger.

The city hired Ginger in January 2015 after a federal judge appointed him as an independent monitor under the settlement reached between Albuquerque and the U.S. Department of Justice.

As of June 2017, the city has paid Ginger more than $3 million.

City attorney Jessica Hernandez tells KRQE-TV that the audit will help the council determine a budget for Ginger moving forward.

The action comes a week after a federal judge dismissed the city's motion claiming that Ginger was bias against the police department.

Navajo Woman Pleads Guilty To Fatally Hitting Man With Car Associated Press

A Navajo Nation woman has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for running over a man while driving drunk.

Bryana Agnes Henio of Little Water, New Mexico, entered the plea Monday in federal court in Albuquerque as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

The 30-year-old admitted to killing the victim man by driving recklessly while under the influence of alcohol.

According to court documents, Henio was driving Sept. 8 on tribal land in western New Mexico's McKinley County when she ran over the victim.

She faces a maximum sentence of eight years in a federal prison.

She will remain in custody pending a sentencing hearing that has yet to be scheduled.