Wednesday News Roundup: Recordings Surface In New Mexico Governor Race

Apr 16, 2014

Recordings Surface In New Mexico Governor Race - The Associated Press

Democrats are calling on Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to apologize after a liberal publication released recordings in which she and aides used profanity and offensive names to describe political opponents.

Martinez said the tapes are stolen recordings of private debate prep sessions when she was running for her first term four years ago. She called their release by Mother Jones "the absolute height of desperation" by liberals trying to unseat her. But she does admit having "to fund the cuss jar a few times."

Martinez responded to the tapes in a letter to supporters. Her campaign spokesman called them "cheap political attacks."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to demand an apology and the removal of key aides.

Santa Fe Police Officer Named In Claim ResignsThe Sante Fe New Mexican and The Associated Press

A Santa Fe police officer has resigned after being accused of using excessive force against a taxi driver who was arrested during a traffic stop.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Police Department spokeswoman Celina Westervelt says Jose Gutierrez resigned Friday and did not give a reason for his resignation.

A lawyer for 40-year-old Dawn Bourgeois last week filed a claim that is a precursor to a possible lawsuit in connection with the March 30 traffic stop.

Westervelt says the department is conducting an internal review of the incident, which resulted in Bourgeois getting a black eye.

New Mexico Prisons To End Overnight Family Visits - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Corrections has announced that it is ending overnight family visits for inmates.

The agency said Wednesday inmates will no longer be allowed conjugal visits beginning May 1.

Officials say the policy change comes after two years of "careful consideration."

The policy recently drew scrutiny after it was revealed last year that convicted killer and rapist Michael Guzman fathered multiple children while serving a life sentence.

Officials say only a small portion of the nearly 7,000 New Mexico prison inmates qualified for overnight family visits.

Currently, only four other states — California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington — allow conjugal visits. The practice is forbidden in federal prisons.

Mississippi ended its conjugal visit policy earlier this year.

Rio Rancho Voters Select Hull As New Mayor - The Associated Press

Greggory Hull will be Rio Rancho's new mayor.

City voters chose Hull over Michael Williams for a four-year term as mayor of the Albuquerque suburb in Tuesday's runoff election.

According to unofficial results released by the city, Hull had 4,250 votes while Williams had just under 2,300 votes.

The election results in the mayor's race will be canvassed by a Sandoval County judge on Friday. The swearing-in is scheduled for April 21.

Hull and Williams advanced to runoff from the March 4 election during which two other candidates were eliminated.

Incumbent Mayor Thomas Swisstack is leaving office.

NM Town Hall To Yield Water Recommendations - The Associated Press

Hundreds of New Mexico officials, business leaders and others are expected Wednesday to hash out recommendations for improving the way the arid state uses its water and plans for the future.

The recommendations will be the result of two days of discussion.

New Mexico First's town hall on water started Tuesday in Albuquerque. The goal: Develop 16 recommendations on a range of topics that include water shortages, water rights, conservation and regional planning.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn says one of his top concerns is water quality. He pointed to more than a dozen federal Superfund sites around New Mexico and cases of contamination at Kirtland Air Force Base and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

He also says more than one-third of the state's rivers and streams are considered impaired.

Albuquerque Police Oversight Members Resign - The Associated Press

Half of the members of Albuquerque's Police Oversight Commission have resigned, citing a lack of independence and inability to provide any real citizen oversight of the troubled department.

The resignations Tuesday by three members of the civilian review board comes less than a week after the Department of Justice issued a scathing report on what it called excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression at the department. Albuquerque officers have shot at 37 men since 2010, killing 23.

The report also criticized the city's oversight system and limited powers in investigating cases of questionable police conduct.

Oversight commission members Jennifer Barela, Jonathan Siegel and Richard Shine sent their letters of resignation to Mayor Richard Berry Tuesday. That leaves just three members on the nine-member panel, which had three vacancies.

Feds Condemn Anti-Police Fliers In Albuquerque - The Associated Press

Less than a week after the U.S. Justice Department blasted Albuquerque police for a pattern of excessive force, the federal agency is condemning threats of violence against officers in anti-police fliers that have surfaced in the city.

The Justice Department urged Albuquerque residents on Tuesday to "participate in the critical dialogue" after releasing Thursday the findings of its investigation into a string of police shootings since 2010, the majority of which were found to violate constitutional rights.

Federal officials also criticized the Police Department's policies on use of force against those with mental illnesses.

Fliers that read "save a life, kill a cop" were found in newspaper distribution boxes near the University of New Mexico on Friday. The leaflets also were found on light poles and electronic boxes.

12-Year-Old Hiker Rescued From Jemez Mountains - KOB-TV

Authorities say a 12-year-old boy who fell off a cliff while hiking in the Jemez Mountains has been rescued.

Sandoval County Sheriff's officials say the boy was hiking with his father and friends about 20 miles north of San Ysidro on Tuesday morning.

KOB-TV reports that the young hikers got separated from the adult and the boy fell off a 30-foot cliff.

Paramedics located the boy and moved him slowly to safety due to the serious nature of his injuries.

A medical helicopter transported the boy to UNM Hospital.

Sheriff's officials say the boy is listed in stable condition.

His name hasn't been released.

Concession Stand Closures Eyed For Chimayo Walk - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Transportation is asking law enforcement agencies to stop all concession and roadside stands along the annual Good Friday pilgrimage route to the El Santuario de Chimayo.

The state agency said Tuesday to move to close concession stands is a safety measure aimed at protecting crowed walking areas.

Beginning Thursday through Good Friday, crews will work around the clock to provide the various accommodations for pilgrims.

Some pilgrims will make the 90-mile, three-day walk from Albuquerque to the shrine that houses "el pocito," a small pit of holy adobe-colored soil that some believe possesses curing powers.

Chimayo is a National Historic Landmark, and some 200,000 people are estimated to visit each year, with the bulk occurring during Holy Week.

Gov. Susana Martinez's PAC Raises $210K - The Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's political action committee has raised about $210,800 in the past six months.

According to the latest campaign finance disclosure, Susana PAC had cash-on-hand of about $68,000 as of last week.

The oil and gas industry was a leading contributor to the PAC, providing $85,800. That included $10,000 each from five companies based in Artesia.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who owns a house in Taos, contributed $10,400.

Martinez uses the committee to help influence state and local races, including for the Legislature. The PAC contributed $500 each to two House Republican incumbents. The PAC is separate from the governor's re-election campaign.

House Speaker Ken Martinez's PAC raised about $68,700, and had cash-on-hand of $114,000. The Democratic legislative leader donated $500 each to three House Democratic incumbents.