MON: Tribes to receive less accurate census data, + More
Tribal nations face less accurate, more limited 2020 census data because of privacy methods — Mike Schneider, Morgan Lee, Associated Press
During the 2020 census, Native American leaders across the U.S. invested time and resources to make sure their members were tallied during the head count, which determines political power and federal funding.
But the detailed data sets from the 2020 census they will receive this month are more limited and less accurate than they were in the previous census — and it isn't because the COVID-19 pandemic severely limited outreach efforts.
Rather, it's due to new privacy methods implemented by the U.S. Census Bureau in order to protect the confidentiality of participants, one of which introduces intentional errors, or "noise," to the data.
At stake is the availability and accuracy of data helping tribal leaders make decisions about where to locate grocery stores or schools and estimate future population growth. Census numbers determine funding for social programs, education, roads and elderly care for tribes that have been historically undercounted.
"It was never clearly articulated to them by the Census Bureau that this would be the case, that they wouldn't receive the level of data that they received from the previous census," New Mexico State Demographer Robert Rhatigan said. "In those tribal conversations it was never made clear that the data would not be available, or that it would be so noisy in these smaller areas."
In fact, more than 80% of tribes in the U.S. won't receive the full suite of detailed demographic data from the 2020 census at tribal-area levels they had in the 2010 census because of the changes, according to a report released in August by the Center for Indian Country Development, which is part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Many leaders in Indian Country are unaware they are going to get fewer tables when the detailed data sets are released Sept. 21, said Brandi Liberty, a consultant who helps tribes get federal and state grants.
"It's going to be difficult for a lot of tribes when they need the data," said Liberty, a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.
The 2020 census put the American Indian and Alaska Native alone population at 3.7 million people; it was 9.6 million for those who identified as American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with another race. The Census Bureau provides detailed data for 1,200 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.
The privacy changes to the detailed census data "will harm the ability of self-governing tribes to meet the needs of their citizens," the Federal Reserve report said.
The Census Bureau told The Associated Press that it doesn't comment on outside reports but acknowledged the number of tables for tribes in 2020 were reduced from 2010 because of the privacy concerns.
The privacy changes arrive during heightened sensitivities about who controls data from Indian Country.
"The concept of tribal data sovereignty and just data sovereignty in general has been kind of elevated. In a sense, this is their data," Rhatigan said. "You can say that it's a problem for the smaller tribal communities that won't even get the detailed age data. It's possible that the bigger problem comes from the tribes that do receive the data. Nobody knows … how inaccurate those data are."
That's because of the privacy method, known as "differential privacy," uses algorithms to create intentional errors to data by adding or subtracting people from the actual count in order to obscure the identity of any given participant in a particular area.
The Census Bureau has said the differential privacy algorithms are needed because, without them, the growth of easily available third-party data combined with modern computing could allow hackers to piece together the identities of participants in its censuses and surveys in violation of the law.
The statistical agency already has released 2020 census data used to draw political districts and determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets.
Differential privacy's impact on accuracy is greatest when population totals are broken down by race, age and sex, making it harder to understand demographic changes in individual tribal areas, the Federal Reserve report said.
Also complicating the availability of detailed tribal census data are new population thresholds by the Census Bureau. The thresholds determine how much data tribes, or racial or ethnic groups, get for a particular area.
In 2010, in order to protect people's identities, a tribe or a racial or ethnic group in any particular geography like a county needed at least 100 people to get all 71 available data tables. In 2020, "dynamic population thresholds" are being used, with the size of the tribe or racial or ethnic group in a location determining how many data tables they get.
For national or state level data, the 40% of all tribes with less than 500 people across the U.S. will receive only country or state-wide population totals, keeping them from getting the more detailed data they got in 2010. At the tribal-area level, 80% of tribes will only receive population totals instead of breakdowns of age data reported by sex, according to the Federal Reserve report.
In New Mexico, for instance, only the Navajo Nation — the tribe with the largest reservation, extending into Arizona and Utah — will receive the full suite of data with almost two dozen age categories by sex. Sixteen of the state's 22 populated tribal areas are likely to receive limited data sets breaking down populations into only four age groups per sex. Two Native American pueblos will receive no age breakdowns at all, Rhatigan said.
American Indian or Alaska Native people on reservations were among the most undercounted populations in the 2020 census, with an estimated 5.6% of residents missed, according to an evaluation by the Census Bureau.
The COVID-19 pandemic severely limited the outreach efforts many tribal communities had planned. Many tribes closed their borders in an effort to stop the virus' spread, severely restricting the ability to get a head count. Plus, the digital divide in some tribal communities made responding to the head count difficult during the first census, in which participants were encouraged to answer census questions online.
It might have been worse. The Census Bureau earlier contemplated eliminating detailed tribal tables altogether, said James Tucker, a voting rights attorney for the Native American Rights Fund.
"It could have been really bad," said Tucker, who is a former chair of a Census Bureau advisory committee. "But they took it to heart to make the data as accurate as possible while balancing that against the privacy concerns."
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP
Follow Morgan Lee on Twitter at @MLeeAP
New Mexico regulators want feds to excavate LANL unlined waste pit – Santa Fe New Mexican
Officials with the New Mexico Environment Department have rejected a federal proposal to cap and cover an unlined waste pit at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported the plan by the U.S. Energy Department has a $12 million price tag. But the Environment Department says the best option is to excavate the site at an estimated cost of $805 million. It says that removes the source of contamination and the need for long-term monitoring.
Federal officials want to cover the pit with a 2-foot-thick rock and dirt cap and contend that would be safer than digging up radioactive waste. State regulators argue excavation would remove the hazards completely, including the threat to groundwater, and if done correctly would not endanger workers.
There will be a public comment period, and at least one hearing, before the state decides on a final plan. The dumpsite opened in 1948 and was shut down in 1974.
Federal authorities announce plan to safeguard sacred tribal lands in New Mexico's Sandoval County — Associated Press
In an effort to safeguard sacred tribal lands, federal authorities announced a plan Monday to protect more than 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) within the Placitas area in New Mexico's Sandoval County.
The U.S. Department of the Interior and federal Bureau of Land Management said a proposed mineral withdrawal would bar new mining claims and oil and gas development in the area for 50 years, subject to valid and existing rights.
The Pueblos of San Felipe and Santa Ana have long sought protections for the Placitas area, which they consider ancestral and sacred lands.
Authorities said the federal proposal would help protect, preserve and promote the scenic integrity, cultural importance, recreational values and wildlife habitat connectivity within the Placitas area near Albuquerque.
The proposed withdrawal is on four separate tracts and contains known archaeological resources that range from as early as the prehistoric Paleoindian period through the historic Statehood period and beyond.
"We're responding to call from tribes, elected leaders and community members who want to see these public lands protected," Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
A 90-day public comment period on the proposal began Monday. The BLM will host a public meeting at the Placitas Community Library on Nov. 14.
State Supreme court overturns woman’s conviction citing warrantless search—KUNM News
New Mexico Supreme Court today overturned a Clovis’ woman’s drug conviction, saying her constitutional protection against unreasonable searches was violated when police conducted a warrantless search of the woman’s purse.
In a unanimous decision, the Court said both prosecutors and district courts have “obligations to make a sufficient record when considering the propriety of warrantless searches and when taking judicial notice” of the facts of a case, according to a news release.
Warrantless searches are always considered unreasonable, and the burden is on the state to prove the search was reasonable under the circumstances.
Clovis Police arrested Kaylee Ortiz on a warrant for criminal trespass. After handcuffing her, they searched a purse that had been hanging off her shoulder and found methamphetamine.
The District court in Curry County originally said the search was proper because the purse would have been inventoried and searched at the jail anyway, but the Supreme Court said there was no evidence in the record from prosecutors or the judiciary that the search , “would have inevitably discovered the methamphetamine.”
The court ordered the case back to the district court to vacate Ortiz’s felony conviction and sentence for possession of a controlled substance
Objections to Rio Grande SCOTUS settlement could drop in October - Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico
The clerk of the Supreme Court granted an extension for parties to submit arguments against a settlement proposal in the decade-long lawsuit over Rio Grande water.
U.S. 8th Circuit Judge Michael Melloy – overseeing the case as a special master – gave the nod in early July to a plan proposed jointly by attorneys from New Mexico, Texas and Colorado to settle the dispute.
The federal government argued for Melloy to toss the settlement, saying that issues about the administration of the terms would violate their status as a party to the lawsuit and would impose new burdens on federal agencies.
Melloy’s 123-page report recommended the Supreme Court accept the lawsuit over the U.S. Department of Justice’s objections.
In a Sept. 5 letter to the court, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar requested the date for arguments taking exception to the special master’s report to be pushed back to Oct. 6. Then other parties have a chance to reply in December, with one final round of arguments in January.
All parties agreed with the schedule changes according to the letter.
What happens next depends on the high’s court’s opinion of any objections to the special master’s report – which would most likely come after all arguments are filed in early January.
THE LONG HISTORY AND NEW SETTLEMENT
This leg of the dispute started in 2013 when Texas sued New Mexico in the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case officially called Original No. 141 Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado . Texas alleged groundwater pumping from farming and other uses below Elephant Butte Reservoir shorted Texas of its fair share of Rio Grande water.
The river was split by the 1938 Rio Grande Compact signed by Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
Texas’ lawsuit was an escalation of decades of lawsuits in different layer of court, which intensified as the megadrought’s grasp on New Mexico’s water supplies has intensified in the last 30 years.
In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the federal government to join as a party. The federal government’s argument’s mirrored Texas’ claims, saying New Mexico’s pumping threatened a U.S. treaty with Mexico and contracts with irrigation districts in southern New Mexico and far west Texas.
In 2022, after pivoting between settlement talks and heading back to trial, the state’s presented an eleventh-hour settlement proposal, which laid out how the Rio Grande would be split below Elephant Butte Dam. New Mexico would receive 57% of water, and Texas would receive 43% (all excluding Mexico’s share). A new index based off of the drought period from 1951-1978 would factor in groundwater pumping. The agreement lays out penalties if deliveries are above or below the agreed amount.
It also would require establishing the El Paso Gage, just past the Texas-New Mexico state line.
New Mexico governor amends order suspending right to carry firearms to focus on parks, playgrounds - By Morgan Lee Associated Press
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday narrowed an order that broadly suspended the right to carry firearms in and around Albuquerque to apply only to public parks and playgrounds where children and their families gather.
The governor's announcement came days after a federal judge blocked part of the order with criticism mounting over the Democratic governor's action and legal challenges by gun-rights advocates.
Gunfire and violent crime in Albuquerque have continued unabated in the week since Lujan Grisham issued the temporary public health order, she said at a news conference Friday, adding that she will continue to pursue a "framework that will pass legal muster" to rein in gun violence.
"Last night, we saw violent crime move through the city that resulted in a gun injury, two car hijackings and a kidnapping with suspects not yet in custody," said Lujan Grisham, appearing in Albuquerque alongside leading Democratic state legislators and her administration's secretary of public safety. "We have a very serious situation in our communities that requires serious, immediate results."
She said the temporary order "is amended to be focused now (on) no open or concealed carry in public parks or playgrounds, where we know we've got high risk of kids and families."
Amended restrictions on firearms do not apply to parklands overseen by the State Land Office and the state parks division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, the governor's office said. The agencies oversee dozens of recreation areas, from a nature center in Albuquerque to remote mountain and lakeside campgrounds.
U.S. District Judge David Urias said Wednesday that the governor's original order was likely to cause irreparable harm to people deprived of the right to carry a gun in public for self-defense, granting a temporary restraining order to block the suspension of gun rights until another hearing is held in early October. Further deliberations are scheduled in U.S. District for early October.
Lujan Grisham chose not to repeal gun restrictions entirely, noted Hannah Hill, executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, which is challenging the order in federal court.
But the governor "is still trying to suspend public carry by executive order, and this should not be seen as a good-faith attempt to comply with the court's restraining order," Hill said in an email.
At least a half dozen lawsuits are challenging provisions of the governor's original order, including a petition to the New Mexico Supreme Court filed Thursday jointly by Republican state legislators, the state Republican Party and the National Rifle Association.
Republican state Rep. Randall Pettigrew of Lovington said he's still committed to that legal challenge aimed at defending gun rights, accusing the governor of a deliberate "attack on the Constitution."
"This is them trying to figure out how far they can take a public health order," said Pettigrew, a plaintiff to the challenge in state court. "I'm not going to stop. I can't, my constituents won't let me and I don't believe we should" end litigation.
Earlier in the week, scores of demonstrators defiantly wore holstered handguns on their hips or carried rifles during a rally by gun-rights advocates.
The second-term governor on Sept. 8 imposed the emergency public health order that suspended the right to openly carry or conceal guns in public places based on a statistical threshold for violent crime in Albuquerque and the surrounding area. She cited recent shootings around the state that left children dead, saying something needed to be done.
Republican lawmakers threatened impeachment proceedings and even some influential Democrats and civil rights leaders warned that the move could do more harm than good to overall efforts to ease gun violence.
State Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced he could not defend the 30-day prohibition against carrying firearms in and around Albuquerque, widening the divide between the state's top-ranked elected Democrats.
Lujan Grisham said Friday that legal proceedings affirmed her calls for urgent action to stem gun violence.
"There was no disagreement in that courtroom that gun violence is a problem," she said.
The governor was accompanied at Friday's news conference by legislators including House Speaker Javier Martínez of Albuquerque, one of four local lawmakers whose homes were targeted in drive-by style shootings in December 2022 and January of this year. Martínez spoke in general terms about the Legislature's commitment to combating crime and its root causes.
The local Catholic archbishop has been among the few joining longtime gun-control advocates in support of the order.
New Mexico is an open carry state, so the governor's order affects anyone in Bernalillo County who can legally own a gun, with some exceptions. Bernalillo is the state's most populous county and home to Albuquerque.
This version corrects the description of a judge's order that found gun restrictions would likely cause irreparable harm. The judge did not rule the order unconstitutional.
Family files lawsuit after police fatally shot New Mexico man while at wrong address - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
The family of a man shot and killed by police in New Mexico after they responded to the wrong address is suing the city and three officers.
The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court alleges Robert Dotson and his family were deprived of their civil rights when the officers in the northwestern New Mexico city of Farmington mistakenly showed up at their home the night of April 5. The officers responded to the wrong address after getting a domestic violence call from a home across the street.
The lawsuit contends the officers acted unreasonably that night and created a risk for Dotson and his family. The 52-year-old and his wife were upstairs when they heard what they believed was a knock. Dotson put his robe on, went downstairs and grabbed his handgun from the top of the refrigerator, given the hour and not knowing what he would find, the lawsuit states.
Neither Dotson nor his wife looked at footage from their front door Ring camera before he went down, according to Tom Clark, one of the family's attorneys.
Video from the camera system at the front door showed the officers backing away, their flashlights trained on the door as Dotson opened it. Gunfire erupted, with the officers shooting Dotson 12 times.
"Their extreme, unreasonable actions demonstrate an utter and reckless disregard and conscious indifference for the rights of plaintiffs and the life of Robert Dotson," the complaint states.
At the time, the police chief called the shooting tragic and vowed his agency would cooperate with New Mexico State Police investigators. That investigation is complete and is being reviewed by the state attorney general's office.
Luis Robles, an attorney who represents the officers, reiterated the chief's sentiments in an interview with The Associated Press.
"They all wish it didn't happen, and yet it did. And that's what's tragic about it. It didn't have to happen," he said.
Robles explained that the lead officer was using the computer-aided dispatch terminal in his patrol vehicle to find the home, and the mapping system placed the pin on the Dotsons' home rather than the residence where the call originated.
Body camera footage released by Farmington police following the shooting showed that officers walked past the address that was illuminated by an exterior light at the home as they approached the door. The officers knocked and announced themselves.
While knocking twice more, the officers can be heard asking a dispatcher to confirm the address and to tell the caller to come to the door. The dispatcher states the address of a home across the street and the officers begin to realize they were in the wrong place.
The video released by police showed a chaotic scene erupting about four minutes after officers first arrived.
According to the lawsuit, Dotson was blinded by the officers' flashlights when he opened the door.
The lawsuit states that Dotson's wife, wearing only a robe, came downstairs after hearing the shots and found her husband lying in the doorway. She fired outside, not knowing who was out there. Police fired back, each of their 19 rounds missing the woman.
Once the gunfire stopped, sirens could be heard blaring as more officers arrived. Dotson's wife could be heard pleading for help, saying someone had shot her husband.
Lawyers for the Dotson family said in the complaint that Farmington police handcuffed the woman and her two teenage children and took them to the station for questioning rather than acknowledging their error. They contend that the officers involved did not initially disclose that they were at the wrong address.
While Robles acknowledged the officers' mistake, he disagreed that their reliance on technology amounted to reckless disregard.
"I think that's fundamentally the misconception about the tragedy," he said. "It is tragic that the officers showed up at the wrong house. It's equally tragic that Mr. Dotson believed that he could point a gun at someone because they were knocking at his door at night."
The blame is squarely on the officers who decided to open fire before even advising Dotson they were law enforcement, according to Clark.
"We believe that any dispute about the legality of the officers will be answered in our favor by a jury when the time comes," Clark told The Associated Press on Friday.
Lawyers for the family have questioned training and oversight within the Farmington Police Department when it comes to the use of force. The complaint suggests damages should be awarded so that other cities and police departments are deterred from such conduct.
New Mexico State takes down New Mexico behind Pavia in 27-17 win - By Glen Rosales Associated Press
New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns and he added another 96 yards on the ground to spark the Aggies to a 27-17 win over rival New Mexico on Saturday.
New Mexico State (3-1) held a 20-10 lead until Andrew Erickson caught a touchdown pass for the Lobos (1-2). But the Aggies immediately responded with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Pavia to Jonathan Brady to restore a 10-point advantage at 27-17.
"I think the big play of the game was after they went down and scored, we hit them on a post for a touchdown to Brady and I think that really hurt," said New Mexico State's offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Tim Beck. "They had just put a nice drive together and had just scored and we answered on the very next play, so a great job by the offensive line. The offensive line played the best game they have up to this point."
This is the second straight win in the series for New Mexico State, who got 54 rushing yards and touchdown from Star Thomas.
Dylan Hopkins threw for 247 yards and a score for New Mexico and Jacory Croskey-Merritt had 83 rushing yards with a score.
The game was relatively clean, with just one turnover, but it was a big one in the first quarter with the Lobos up 3-0.
Aggies safety Myles Rowser hit New Mexico running back Sherod White after a seven-yard gain to the New Mexico State 10, forcing a fumble that Dylan Early recovered.
"The fumble was huge because after the fumble, we went down and scored," Beck said. "Great job of getting the turnover. Those are so important."
Lobos coach Danny Gonzales said it was one of the game's turning points.
"They made more plays that we did," he said. "That play that hurt us obviously. We had the opportunity to drive down there and go up 10-0 in the first quarter. Give them credit, they made a nice play and got a turnover."
Despite the loss and New Mexico's lack of recent success — its last bowl appearance was in 2016 — Gonzales said the team will still make some noise this season.
"I'm going to make a bold statement right now," Gonzales said. I guarantee this team will be in a bowl game this year. We will find five wins from here to the Utah State game."
A brawl at least year's game in Las Cruces, New Mexico, months later led to a campus shooting by an Aggies basketball player that killed a New Mexico student in the early morning hours of the schools' first of two basketball games.
Both games were ultimately canceled and relations between the schools remained strained for many months before both agreed to resume play amid increased security on both campuses.
New Mexico State: The Aggies travel to Hawai'i on Sept. 23 for a non-conference meeting.
New Mexico: Travels to UMass Sept. 23 for the teams' first-ever meeting. The two were supposed to play in Albuquerque in 2020, but UNM played an abbreviated, conference schedule that season due to the pandemic.
Albuquerque splits Department of Family & Community services into two, addressing housing and youth separately - Alice Fordham, KUNM
The City of Albuquerque is splitting the Department of Family & Community Services into two departments, in an effort to separately address big challenges around housing, and young people and families.
The new Health, Housing and Homelessness department will oversee homelessness programs, affordable housing and behavioral health.
New Mexico has seen an increase in the homeless population in the last year, according to a report in May by the Legislative Finance Committee.
The committee told lawmakers that preliminary estimates for 2023 indicated an uptick of about 48% in homelessness statewide, and that the supply of affordable rental units has declined by 50% since 2020.
Mayor Tim Keller has previously said the city is short 30,000 houses, and launched a program last year designed to create 5,000 more units by 2025. The new department will also oversee the Gateway Center, which offers shelter and help getting into housing, and is ramping up other health care.
The Youth & Family Service department will oversee things like youth programs and community centers and also a new Public Education Support division that consolidates all the city's APS-related support, like community schools partnerships and education-related philanthropy.
The overall budget for the two new departments will not increase.
NM Gas seeks a rate increase that would add 11% to the average heating bill –Santa Fe New Mexican
The state’s largest gas utility is seeking a rate hike that would result in an 11% increase for the average residential customer.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports New Mexico Gas Co. released details on the requested hike this week that notes the average home heating bill would go up by about $6.70.
If the Public Regulation Commission approves the request, the new rates would take effect in October 2024.
New Mexico Gas, a subsidiary of Canada-based Emera Inc., serves about half a million customers in New Mexico. Its most recent rate increase took effect in January.
The company’s new rate request indicates it wants to collect $49 million more annually.
The company says it has increasing costs related to operations and infrastructure improvements. The gas company is also looking to recover costs related to the ensuing rate cast and what it called increased bad debt during the pandemic.
It also has expenses related to studies for a liquefied natural gas project planned for Rio Rancho and for credit card fees.
Baby found dead in Hobbs hospital bathroom where teen was being treated - Associated Press
Authorities said Thursday they are investigating after an infant was found dead in a Hobbs hospital room occupied by a 16-year-old girl.
The teen, accompanied by her mother, was getting treated at Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital on Wednesday.
Hospital staff told police they later discovered the dead baby in the restroom.
The infant's body has been sent to the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque for an autopsy.
Investigators have not said whether the teenager or her mother will face charges. They say the investigation is ongoing.
This is the second reported time this year an infant has been found dead in a New Mexico hospital.
In May, 19-year-old Alexee Trevizo, of Artesia, was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. Four months earlier, Trevizo locked herself in a hospital bathroom and gave birth to a boy. Police say she placed the baby in a bag and left the hospital.
Trevizo is scheduled to go to trial in August of next year.
Puppy in New Mexico tests positive for rabies in state's 1st case in a dog in 10 years - Associated Press
New Mexico has its first reported case of a dog with rabies in a decade, state health officials said Friday.
A puppy in Bernalillo County is confirmed to have rabies, the New Mexico Department of Health said in a news release. The animal showed textbook symptoms, including a lack of coordination, tremors and aggression. The puppy was euthanized.
Officials say the last case of rabies in a dog recorded in New Mexico was in 2013. It's also the first incidence of rabies in the state's most populous county since 2006.
The health department suspects the puppy contracted it in Texas before recently arriving in New Mexico. The dog was not yet old enough to receive vaccines.
Officials believe there is no danger to the public. Six people were exposed to the pup and have since been getting rabies shots as a precaution. Pets that were exposed are up to date on their vaccines, the Department of Health added.