Wednesday News Roundup: Police Union Decry Use Of 'Cop Shooter' In Protest

Jun 25, 2014

Police Union Decry Use Of 'Cop Shooter' In ProtestThe Associated Press

The Albuquerque police union president has called demonstrators' recent use of a violent suspect who shot four officers an "offensive" act.

Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Stephanie Lopez said Tuesday that it was wrong for protesters to put the name of 35-year-old Christopher Chase on a tombstone among those depicting victims shot and killed by Albuquerque police. The tombstones were put of a police shooting protest that attracted around 500 people Saturday.

Authorities say Chase shot four officers during the 16-mile chase in October that ended when the police car he was driving slammed it into a gas pump. All the officers survived, but a sheriff's deputy was badly wounded.

Chase died from gunshot wounds.

Protest organizer Bill Bradley declined to comment on the Chase tombstone.

Board Oks $26M In Special Education Dispute - The Associated Press

The State Board of Finance has approved $26 million as a safety net if New Mexico loses a dispute with the federal government over special education funding.

The board yesterday agreed to a transfer of the money from this year's budget accounts.

The Legislature provided the money as part of a contingency plan for an ongoing fight over whether New Mexico met requirements for federal aid since 2010.

Federal officials contend New Mexico has improperly trimmed state funding available for special education.

Lawmakers Question Federal Water Proposal - The Associated Press

A coalition of more than three dozen lawmakers is raising concerns about a U.S. Forest Service proposal that would establish policies for managing and using groundwater resources on national forest land.

The lawmakers say the proposed directive seeks to further federalize water resources at the expense of state authority.

The lawmakers, including U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce detailed their concerns in a letter sent yesterday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

They say the directive could interfere with the property and water rights of states, municipalities and private landowners who are adjacent to national forests.

The lawmakers say the proposal was crafted without initial input from states, farmers, ranchers and forest visitors.

A public comment period is currently underway.

Roof Erected To Attract Music To Santa Fe Downs - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A new summer stage with a roof is being erected at The Downs at Santa Fe in preparation for a summer season.  

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that QuickBeam Systems, an event-production firm in Albuquerque, is working with Heath Concerts in Santa Fe and AMP Concerts in Albuquerque to put up the 35-foot-high roof in anticipation of the first summer event at the site: Michael Franti and Spearhead and the Soulshine Festival on July 5th.

The concert stage is located on the infield of The Downs racetrack. Concertgoers will sit on the grassy infield.

The Downs opened in the early 1970s as a racetrack. Pojoaque Pueblo purchased the property in the mid-1990s but closed it after a few years, citing millions in losses.

New Mexico Player Gets Rape Charges Dropped - The Associated Press

Rape charges have been dropped against a University of New Mexico football player and a community college student.

The Bernalillo County district attorney's office says prosecutors won't pursue charges against Crusoe Gongbay, a Lobos running back, and Ryan Ruff, a CNM student.

But they say charges may be refiled pending an investigation.

Charges against New Mexico cornerback SaQwan Edwards in the same case are also expected to be dropped later this week.

The three were arrested in April in connection with an alleged rape of a female student.

Taos Extends Talks On Kit Carson Park Name Change - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Taos residents will have another opportunity to weigh in on changing the name of Kit Carson Park.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Taos Mayor Daniel Barrone said Tuesday that the proposal would be addressed again July 8.

Barrone made the announcement after the town council listened to public comments for more than an hour.

Council member Andrew Gonzalez says he regrets voting earlier this month to change the park's name to Red Willow Park.

Gonzalez says he should have waited to hear more opinions.

The council voted 3-1 for the name change after hearing from Indian American activists.

Carson, who died in 1868, is known as a scout and explorer. But 200 Navajo people died after he marched 8,000 of them on what is known as the "Long Walk."

Roads Around Navajo Nation Wildfire ReopenThe Associated Press

Firefighters have reopened all roads around a wildfire that has scorched nearly 23 square miles of terrain on the Navajo Nation just east of the Arizona-New Mexico border.

Navajo Nation officials say roadways reopened Wednesday morning, but only for those with certain permits.

Officials say others will still have to stay out of the area until the Navajo Nation can do a more complete assessment.

Crews say the Assayii Lake Fire is now 80 percent contained.

Firefighters are still clearing hot spots and tree debris and burned areas are considered unsafe.

Authorities say anyone driving in the area should proceed slowly for firefighter and public safety.

The human-caused fire began July 13 and forced evacuations from the rural communities of Naschitti and Sheep Springs.