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Tuesday News Roundup: Department Of Justice To Hold Meeting On Albuquerque Police Probe

NMED Hearing Officer: Deny Permit To Horse PlantThe Associated Press

A hearing officer is recommending that the New Mexico Environment Department deny a wastewater permit for a Roswell company that wants to slaughter horses.

The hearing officer cited what she called the company's record of "willful disregard" of the state's environmental laws.

Valley Meat Co. and the groups trying to block its opening now have 15 days to respond to the report before the environment secretary decides whether to renew the company's permit. The permit doesn't impact whether Valley can slaughter horses, but rather how it disposes of waste.

Valley Meat is a former cattle slaughterhouse that has been fighting for two years to convert its operations to horses. The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007.

Its efforts have sparked an emotional, national debate over whether horses are pets or livestock, and has prompted lawsuits by national animal protection groups and the state attorney general.

Department Of Justice To Hold Meeting On Albuquerque Police ProbeThe Associated Press 

 The U.S. Department of Justice is set to hold an invite-only meeting with community activists over its pending investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.

Federal authorities have scheduled the closed-door gathering today in Albuquerque after the number of shootings by officers jumped at the end of 2013.

Advocates say federal officials are expected to give an update on the year-long investigation amid allegations of high-profile abuse cases. The Justice Department launched the probe at the end of 2012.

The department has seen close to three dozen shootings by officers since 2010. Critics have blamed the shootings on a departmental culture that fosters brutality.

Jewel Hall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Board, says she's hoping federal authorities outline a plan for improving Albuquerque police.

Ex-legislator Lynda Lovejoy ToRun For Public Regulation Commission Seat - The Associated Press

Former state legislator Lynda Lovejoy plans to run for the Democratic nomination for the Public Regulation Commission.

Lovejoy served on the five-member regulatory agency from 1999 through 2006, and her campaign issued a statement saying she will formally announce her candidacy on Thursday in Gallup.

She intends to run for the District 4 seat held by Commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, who like Lovejoy is a member of the Navajo Nation.

The district covers northwestern New Mexico.

Lovejoy was appointed to the state Senate in 2007, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Democrat Leonard Tsosie. She lost her bid for another Senate term in 2012.

She served in the state House of Representatives from 1989 through 1998. Lovejoy ran unsuccessfully for president of the Navajo Nation in 2010 and 2006.

Bureau Of Land Management To Prepare Plan For Rio Grande Del Norte The Associated Press

Federal officials are taking initial steps to develop a management plan for one of New Mexico's newest national monuments.

The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was designated by presidential proclamation last March. It covers nearly 380 square miles in northern New Mexico.

The Bureau of Land Management says it will be accepting public comments through Feb. 18. The agency is looking for suggestions on what issues and concerns it should consider as it develops the plan.

The idea is to ensure the protection of the monument's cultural, ecological and geologic assets. The plan will also consider opportunities for continued uses such as wood gathering, grazing and creation as well as potential ways to accommodate utility transmission.

The BLM is also planning public scoping meetings for surrounding communities.

Deteriorating Kirtland School Gets $16.5 MillionThe Associated Press

Michelle Lujan Grisham says a deteriorating school on Albuquerque's Kirtland Air Force Base is getting much needed help.

The Democrat announced Monday that Wherry Elementary School is getting a $16.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment.

The school was ranked 11th on the deputy secretary of defense's priority list for public schools on military installations that need improvement.

Lujan Grisham says the crucial investments will help ensure that Wherry can provide its students the top-notch education.

Horse Slaughterhouse To Sue Attorney General For SlanderThe Associated Press

A spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says a threatened lawsuit by a company that wants to open a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell is an attempt at intimidation.

Spokesman Phil Sisneros says King has taken "a very strong stance" against horse slaughter.

Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn yesterday sent letters to the state risk management division, giving the required 30-day notice of its planned legal filing.

King has filed a lawsuit that has blocked Valley's planned opening this month, alleging the horse slaughter plant would violate state environmental and food safety laws.

Dunn contends the state lacks jurisdiction over the federally regulated plant.

He says King is conspiring with animal protection groups to block a lawful business with a frivolous lawsuit to further his gubernatorial bid.

Senate Gets Martinez Nomination For U.S. PostThe Associated Press

President Barack Obama's nomination of a federal prosecutor to be the next U.S. attorney for New Mexico is now pending in the U.S. Senate.

The previously announced selection of Albuquerque native Damon Martinez is included among numerous Obama nominations that the White House announced yesterday.

The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced Obama's selection of Damon Martinez in November. The two had recommended Martinez for the post in April.

Martinez has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 2001 and currently supervises the organized crime and gang section in Albuquerque.

Before joining the U.S. attorney's office, Martinez served as an assistant state attorney general.