FRI: Lawmakers say NM isn’t doing enough to end missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis, + More
New Mexico isn’t doing enough to end missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis, lawmakers say - By Bella Davis, New Mexico In Depth
This story was originally published by New Mexico In Depth
Lawmakers and advocates this week said an advisory council on missing and murdered Indigenous people Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration announced Tuesday isn’t a good replacement for a task force disbanded earlier this year, and questioned why state officials aren’t asking for more money to confront the crisis.
Asked by lawmakers Tuesday about what the state is doing, Indian Affairs Secretary-designate James Mountain pointed in part to the advisory council, which he said will hold state agencies accountable as they carry out recommendations made last year by the defunct task force.
But Mountain’s update didn’t satisfy lawmakers or Indigenous families who have lost loved ones.
“We’re fighting for our families,” Vangie Randall-Shorty told Mountain and other officials during public comment of the Legislature’s Indian Affairs Committee in Albuquerque. Her son, Zachariah Juwaun Shorty, was found dead from gunshot wounds on the Navajo Nation in July 2020. “These are human beings and you don’t take this serious. Come on, get it together for us. We’re tired of having to relive our trauma every single time we come up here and we tell our stories.”
The administration quietly ended the task force about six months ago, a decision advocates and affected families have urged Lujan Grisham to reverse, saying their work was just beginning. The Indian Affairs Department convened the group for the last time in May, just a few months after some of its members spoke out against the governor’s appointment of Mountain to lead the department.
Advisory councils “get buried in state government,” Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said, and can’t do what the task force did.
“The task force was able to bring many entities together. It was a focal point of engagement, communication,” Lopez said. “I still believe that there is a role also for a task force. … It gives a voice to our communities.”
To Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, the creation of a new advisory council sounded like the state is “starting from scratch,” adding it appears the council won’t have any authority.
A key difference between the two groups is size. While the task force had dozens of members, the council — led by Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. Jenelle Roybal and Picuris Gov. Craig Quanchello — will have nine to 11, according to Mountain.
“I understand the value of the task force,” said Mountain, a former governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo. “I understand the work they’ve done. And I hear you loud and clear on what your expectations are and I’ll be sure to take that message back to the administration.”
The department aims to have quarterly public meetings, tentatively set to start in January, so staff can give updates and community members can keep in touch with each other, said Indian Affairs Deputy Secretary Josett Monette.
The council’s mission, meanwhile, will be to guide the Indian Affairs Department as it works to enact a state response plan the task force delivered in 2022. That plan calls for mandatory law enforcement training on trauma-informed care and cultural sensitivity, financial support for families, improved data collection and expanded access to housing and other necessities, among many other proposals.
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, the former chairwoman of the House of Representatives’ powerful budget committee, asked how much money the department and the state attorney general’s office will request in next year’s state budget to carry out the plan.
The department is asking the Legislature to fund four new full-time employees, Monette told lawmakers. Their duties would include “responding to families, working in the community, giving education, doing all that work” outlined by the task force, department coordinator Melody Delmar said in an interview with New Mexico In Depth on Nov. 17.
A missing Indigenous persons specialist in the attorney general’s office is working closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, Chief Deputy Attorney General James Grayson said, but the items in the state response plan “are not part of the plan for the attorney general’s office.”
The state’s response “needs to have a real budget request to it,” Lundstrom said. “It needs to be taken seriously, and it needs to have major coordination. It doesn’t matter how great a plan is if it’s not paid for and if those services don’t exist on the ground. … I’m very disappointed.”
Mountain replied he and the department have over the last few months examined what the task force was calling for, but have yet to put together a “comprehensive plan” and a “measurable timeline of actions.”
“When some constituent of mine calls me and tells me that they’ve got an incident like this, I’m not going to say, ‘did you look at the plan on the website?’” Lundstrom said. “I want to know, what are we doing today?”
Mountain responded “education and outreach.”
“Is it enough? No. There’s not a doubt in my mind,” Mountain said.
Department staff have also met with various law enforcement agencies, participated in a federal commission hearing in June and partnered with a handful of other states and the University of Nebraska, he said. Staff also met once with the attorney general’s office, which Mountain said is also “not enough.”
“That’s on me,” he said. “Bringing those partnerships, communicating with the task force previously has not been good enough.”
The NM basketball rivalry is back. University officials say it’s safe. — Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News
After a year-long hiatus following a deadly shooting on the University of New Mexico campus, the UNM and New Mexico State men’s basketball teams will meet on the court Saturday, Dec. 2. The Albuquerque Journal reports officials at both universities say it’s safe to resume the rivalry games.
Lobos Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said he is confident in UNM’s security plans, which include a stepped-up police presence and metal detectors. He recommended the nearly-sold-out crowd arrive at The Pit early enough to navigate the extra steps.
Aggies Athletic Director Mario Moccia told the Journal that he is also positive the New Mexico rivalry games can again be safely held at either campus.
Last November, NMSU basketball player Mike Peake and UNM student Brandon Travis exchanged gunfire outside of a UNM dorm the morning of a rivalry game. Peake was injured and Travis was killed. Peake was ruled to have been acting in self-defense and was not charged in the shooting.
More information about federal Indian boarding schools out in January - By Austin Fisher, Source New Mexico
More information about the atrocities committed at boarding schools run by the federal government that were designed to eradicate Indigenous people is expected in the new year.
In May 2022, the U.S. Department of Interior released a report based on the federal government’s first-ever investigation of the boarding school system in the country. It identified 408 federal Indian boarding schools which dispossessed Indigenous people of their lands and forcibly assimilated their children, including 43 schools in New Mexico.
The report’s second volume is expected to be published in early January 2024, said Heidi Todacheene, a senior advisor to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna). Todacheene could not give a specific date of publication.
The upcoming report will contain new information on the total number of Indigenous children who attended federally run boarding schools, including their names and tribal affiliations, Todacheene (Diné) said.
It will also identify their marked and unmarked burial sites, the schools’ affiliations with religious organizations, and federal money spent on the boarding school system, Todacheene said.
Todacheene was speaking via Zoom from Washington D.C. on Tuesday to the New Mexico Legislature’s Indian Affairs Committee in Santa Fe.
Since the first volume on the U.S. boarding school initiative came out, Todacheene said, officials from Interior and other federal agencies have continued researching and collecting data, including through Road to Healing listening sessions across the country. The second-to-last session was held in Albuquerque on Oct. 29, according to Native News Online.
During the sessions, Todacheene said, Interior “has come to realize that the United States forcibly removed Indian children and relocated them hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their original tribal communities to prevent runaways or those from returning at home.”
“Federal laws have also forced parents to give up their children through punishment, imprisonment, or withholding food rations to families and communities,” Todacheene said. “The deliberate federal disruption of tribal communities through the removal of Indian children to off-reservation boarding schools will never be completely healed, nor that the loss of community or language or culture can adequately be replaced.”
The listening sessions are over but Todacheene said Haaland and Interior assistant secretary Bryan Newland (Ojibwe) still welcome anyone to share their story or experience.
About half of the federally run boarding schools “received support or other involvement” from religious organizations, the report found, and the federal government paid those schools using money from Indian Trust Funds to take children away without their parents’ consent and force them into environments designed to destroy generational bonds by eliminating language and culture.
Sen. Benny Shendo (D-Jemez) asked if the Interior Department plans to pay reparations to survivors, but Todacheene’s presentation ended before she could answer.
“I believe that’s illegal, because those are accounts that are held in trust for people,” Shendo said. “For the federal government to dip into that fund to pay for the annihilation and dispossession of tribes of their land, I think it’s pretty egregious.”
Rep. Harry Garcia (D-Grants) asked what the federal government is doing to make up for the damage it did to survivors.
“There’s gotta be long-term effects on these children who are adults now,” Garcia said.
Todacheene said the second volume will contain Newland’s recommendations “on how to move forward and help elevate those issues.”
“All of our leadership at the Department and other federal agencies, and of course in Indian Country, we know that we could have some improvements to our health care and mental health services,” Todacheene said.
Movie armorer in 'Rust' fatal shooting pleads not guilty to unrelated gun charge - Associated Press
The weapons supervisor on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer in 2021 waived her arraignment in a separate case, pleading not guilty to a charge of carrying a gun into a Santa Fe bar.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had been set to appear in court next week on the charge, but a state courts spokesperson said Friday that her attorneys opted instead to waive her appearance. Her attorneys did not immediately respond to a message that The Associated Press left Friday seeking comment.
The firearm charge against Gutierrez-Reed stems from an incident days before she was hired to work as the armorer on "Rust." According to court records, a witness told authorities that she was carrying a gun when she walked into a bar in downtown Santa Fe.
Gutierrez-Reed also is awaiting trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering stemming from the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on the "Rust" movie set on Oct. 21, 2021.
As part of their preparation for trial, special prosecutors have issued subpoenas for documents from producers of "Rust" and any audio and video recordings held by a Los Angeles film production company that might include Baldwin on the set or his comments about the film elsewhere.
Legal experts have said prosecutors could repurpose documents or records uncovered in case against Gutierrez-Reed if a grand jury were to indict Baldwin.
Prosecutors have said they will present evidence to a grand jury against Baldwin in the fatal set shooting, but it's unclear when that might happen. It's a secretive process without public access, as prosecutors present evidence and witnesses possibly testify without a cross-examination or immediate vetting by defense counsel.
The secret sauce of the alcohol industry’s statehouse success - By Marjorie Childress, New Mexico In Depth
This story was originally published by New Mexico In Depth
A new report brings into focus the insidious nature of alcohol industry lobbying at the New Mexico statehouse. “Still Under the Influence: A Look at the Alcohol Industry and Its Influence on New Mexico Elected Officials,” by Common Cause New Mexico, underlines the entrenched power of the industry. Sadly, 20 years after the good government group issued a similar report about alcohol, New Mexico leads the country with the highest alcohol-related death rate.
Common Cause documents a decades-long history of failed efforts to raise alcohol taxes in New Mexico – a history capped with a surprising success this year when lawmakers raised the excise tax by a small amount, only to then watch Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham veto it.
The report details money flowing from alcohol interests into campaign accounts of the most powerful lawmakers and spending on food and social events for lawmakers during the annual legislative session. The industry hires the most powerful contract lobbyists, some of whom are family of legislators, or friends after years, even decades, of lobbying at the Roundhouse.
Last year, New Mexico In Depth published an exhaustive series focused on the harms of alcohol and possible strategies to address the crisis. We then followed efforts by state lawmakers earlier this year to implement key reforms – in particular, to raise the state alcohol excise tax. Raising taxes, experts across the country told us, is the single most important action for reducing consumption among the young and those who drink excessively.
Part of our reporting examined lobbying by the alcohol industry. But the Common Cause report added a new dimension, telling us it’s not just alcohol producers, distributors and restaurants/bars that go all in on keeping taxes low.
The authors of the report note that the New Mexico Petroleum Marketers Association also strongly opposed the liquor tax increase this year. Why would an association representing oil and gas companies weigh in on alcohol? The association represents retail gasoline businesses, Common Cause tells us, many of which sell beer.
The report also points to local breweries, wineries, and distilleries as a rising force in efforts to stop tax increases, in a section aptly titled Move over, Joe Sixpack: Gary Growler has arrived! These companies don’t spend the fortune on lawmakers that one sees from a company like Anheuser-Busch, and because lawmakers give them preferential treatment they don’t stand to lose from a tax increase, but they’ve aligned themselves with the industry.
Common Cause concludes that despite the severity of the alcohol public health crisis in New Mexico, efforts to pass meaningful mitigation measures have had “rough sledding” among lawmakers. “Meanwhile,” the authors state, “the alcohol industry—including its lobbyists, PACs (political action committees), and allies—have never had a bad session.”
What’s behind that success? According to Common Cause:
“We conclude that the industry’s secret sauce is its lobbyists, some of the best known and effective lobbyists in the Roundhouse. Many are second generation lobbyists, with fathers who walked the same halls; others are the daughters or spouses of legislators. Still others are contract lobbyists with scores of clients giving them influence beyond just one of them. Together these lobbyists gave $1,179,056 in contributions to legislators and statewide candidates and spent $456,388 to wine and dine policy makers from 2013-2023.”
UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico, reaches 5 million visitors - Associated Press
The International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico, is celebrating an out-of-this-world milestone: 5 million visitors.
A father and daughter from Roswell became the lucky visitors when they entered the museum earlier Nov. 21, the Roswell Daily Record reported.
Chris and Hannah McDonald received balloons, memorabilia and a lifetime family museum membership.
Museum Executive Director Karen Jaramillo said it was a surprise that Roswell residents brought them to 5 million because so many guests are from out of state.
The UFO Museum, which opened in 1992, draws over 220,000 visitors each year, Jaramillo said.
Roswell has been a hub for people fascinated by space and extraterrestrial phenomenon since the 1947 so-called Roswell Incident.
Something crashed at what was then the J.B. Foster ranch, with the U.S. Army announcing it had recovered a "flying disc" but later saying the debris was merely the remnants of a high-altitude weather balloon.
Speculation about extraterrestrials and government cover-ups has existed ever since, inspiring books, movies and TV shows.
An annual UFO Festival, operating since 1996, brings as many as 40,000 people to Roswell, according to a city report.
Warden of New Mexico’s largest jail placed on administrative leave - Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News
The Metropolitan Detention Center Warden Jason Jones has been put on administrative leave.
As the Albuquerque Journal reports, jail officials confirmed the move officially happened on Monday.
When pushed on the reason, Jones’ manager Morgas Baca wouldn’t provide details and says no decision has been made on whether an investigation is warranted.
Before coming to MDC, Jones was the warden of the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa, Texas. He was then hired as warden at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center in October 2022.
In the meantime, Deputy Warden Rosanne Otero Gonzales has been named interim warden.
Santa Fe city manager won’t be suspended - Santa Fe Reporter, KUNM News
Santa Fe’s City Council and mayor have voted down a resolution to suspend the city manager for alleged ethics violations.
According to the Santa Fe Reporter, Councilors Chris Rivera and Lee Garcia proposed the unpaid suspension for City Manager John Blair after he chose not to share a letter from the state with the council. The letter, from the Department of Finance Administration to Mayor Alan Webber, was informing the city that it wouldn’t receive capital outlay funds until past-due audits are turned in.
Garcia told the Reporter that Blair kept the council “in the dark,” about the letter that would have answered questions it had about the issue. Blair has since apologized for withholding the information.
In an executive session Thursday several people defended Blair’s character, including his second-grade teacher from Chaparral Elementary. Mayor Webber also defended him, telling the Reporter “There was no news” in the letter and that Blair “has been about as transparent a city manager we’ve ever had.”
The resolution to suspend Blair was defeated on a 3-6 vote.
New Mexicans call on the state to dump millions invested in weapons manufacturer - By Austin Fisher, Source New Mexico
Protestors say the Boeing Company is a key contributor to Israel’s War on Gaza.
They want state lawmakers to divest more than $6.8 million of state taxpayer dollars that goes to a job training program monitored by the New Mexico Economic Development Department.
Public records show Boeing has for at least four years used public funds from the state of New Mexico to cover the costs of training workers at its facility near Balloon Fiesta Park.
Boeing is an American multinational corporation that makes planes, helicopters, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment and missiles. In 2022, it was the third largest war contractor for the U.S. government, according to ExecutiveGov. It is also a contractor for the Israeli government, according to Haaretz.
An hour before the facility was set to close on Nov. 27, protesters gathered at the visitor entrance and placed white shrouds visually representing the Palestinians killed by Israel. A Palestinian flag lay next to a large paper puppet depicting a missile system produced by Boeing.
“Where’s all of our money going, Boeing?” asked organizer and Albuquerque resident Tionnie Sanchez, her voice amplified by a loudspeaker. “It’s coming here. It’s not coming to our streets. It’s not coming to us, the people.”
A Boeing security guard asked the protesters to leave. When they refused, she called the Albuquerque Police Department, who arrived and watched the peaceful rally and march.
Boeing did not respond to a written request for comment.
MILLIONS AWARDED TO BOEING UNUSED
The New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) is one of two programs it uses to attract businesses to the state. Companies use the money to train New Mexicans in job skills “they can use not only with the company they are currently working with, but future companies as they move through their career path,” said Bruce Krasnow, an agency spokesperson.
Since 2019, the economic development department has awarded Boeing nearly $6.8 million to pay for a total of 220 trainees, according to data on its website.
While the program has existed for half a century, the NM economic development department only has data on the project dating back to 2019, Krasnow said.
Boeing has used less than half of the money the state granted them, according to the department. Since 2019, the state’s economic development department reimbursed Boeing $2.8 million from funds for 111 JTIP trainees, Krasnow said.
Many businesses apply for JTIP money expecting to hire a certain number of and type of workers, Krasnow said. Businesses often have been unable to fill all their positions so some of the money goes unclaimed, he said.
New Mexico’s Economic Development Department has a focus on “economic base industries that grow the economy,” meaning those that bring money into New Mexico from outside the state, according to Krasnow.
“That is the only way to increase (Gross Domestic Product) and create jobs,” Krasnow said. “Whereas providing assistance to help someone start a coffee shop doesn’t do that, it merely moves the dollars around.”
Protesters on Monday said state officials should pull the money from Boeing and use it instead for investigating missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives, affordable housing subsidies, providing access to mental health and addiction treatment services, education, public parks, senior services, public transit or community centers.
Even if the money had created hundreds of thousands of jobs, “we reject jobs that create weapons to kill people domestically and abroad,” said Malaya Peixinho, a massage therapist in Albuquerque and a survivor of a shooting in September in Española.
“We refuse to use our state’s talents and our money to make weapons of war,” she said.
Monday’s protest was part of a yearslong nonviolent struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and self-determination which formally began on July 9, 2005 when the majority of Palestinian civil society groups issued the Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.
“We need public divestment from New Mexico’s giant military industrial complex, including Boeing,” she said. “We cannot let our politicians be influenced by war money. Why is money involved in politics? Why can they be bought? They are supposed to represent us, the people.”
Krasnow said the state is not going to comment on divestment.
“That is up to the Legislature,” Krasnow said. “We can’t favor or exclude companies based on whether they agree or disagree with administration policies. That usually doesn’t work out so well.”
Krasnow said he was not able to find any evidence showing whether the state’s economic development department provides any other public funds to Boeing other than through the jobs training program.
“Our New Mexico Legislature is subsidizing Boeing all for the sake of sending weapons to Gaza — to other places where war is ruining lives,” said Libby Schrobe, an organizer in Albuquerque.
Krasnow said the jobs training money comes from the state’s General Fund, but appears in budget documents as a special appropriation. The General Fund is the biggest pot of money used by the state government, and pays for agencies’ regular annual budgets. A “special appropriation” is an expense outside an agency’s regular budget for what should be a one-time expense.
Krasnow said his department and the Legislative Finance Committee, the agency that independently analyzes bills and advises lawmakers and state officials on the state government’s budget, “are working to move the program to the recurring budget, so we don’t have to go in and justify it every year.”
COMPLICITY IN SETTLER COLONIALISM
In October, Boeing sped up delivery to Israel of as many as 1,800 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) kits that turn bombs into “smart” GPS-equipped guided bombs, according to Bloomberg.
“Boeing makes weapons to kill people more efficiently,” Peixinho said. “As New Mexicans, we condemn you, Boeing, and we demand that you stop selling weapons to fuel Israeli genocide.”
Myrriah Gómez, an author from the Pojoaque Valley and assistant professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico, said Indigenous homelands in the state have been colonized during multiple periods of settler colonialism, and now the state government is complicit in the settler colonialism in Palestinians’ Indigenous homelands.
Gómez said national laboratories and Boeing are the common denominators between nuclear colonialism and the war crimes being committed by Israel as they relate to New Mexico.
“New Mexico is complicit in settler colonialism and genocide in Gaza,” she said. “How can our representatives stand up for Indigenous people here in New Mexico and speak against settler colonialism, and participate in the settler colonialism and genocide in Gaza?”
Gómez said Boeing helps maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal through its Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, and has for years partnered with Los Alamos National Laboratory in Northern New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.
For example, a Cold War-era nuclear missile called the B6112 has a tail kit assembly built by Boeing, Gómez said. The 12th generation of the missile has been built at Sandia, she said.
Boeing’s Apache helicopters have been used by the Israeli Air Force since 1990, according to the independent Who Profits Research Center. The company has also sold to Israel F-15 fighter jets, Hellfire missiles, MK-84 2000-pound bombs, MK-82 500-pound bombs.
Though Israel and Hamas had reached a four-day pause on Nov. 24, protesters on Monday reiterated calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire. That would be a small step toward ending Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, Peixinho said.
“New Mexico needs to divest from Boeing,” Gómez said. “Stop using our tax dollars for the genocide of Palestinians. Get out of New Mexico. Stop making nuclear weapons. Support this ceasefire. Support the end of this war, and let’s shame Boeing for doing all of this.
Work resumes on $10B renewable energy transmission project despite tribal objections - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
The tractors are back at work clearing land and building access roads for a $10 billion transmission line that the Biden administration describes as an important part of the nation's transition to renewable energy. But Native American leaders have vowed to keep pushing the federal government to heed their concerns about the project cutting through a culturally significant valley in southern Arizona.
Billed by California-based developer Pattern Energy as an infrastructure undertaking bigger than the Hoover Dam, the SunZia transmission line will stretch about 550 miles (885 kilometers). It will funnel electricity from massive wind farms in central New Mexico to more populated areas as far away as California.
Executives and federal officials gathered in New Mexico in September to break ground on the project, touting negotiations that spanned years and resulted in the necessary approvals from the Bureau of Land Management.
In Arizona, federal land managers briefly halted work this month along a 50-mile (80-kilometer) stretch of the line through the San Pedro Valley after the Tohono O'odham Nation, other tribes and archaeologists raised concerns that the BLM had not formally consulted them before work began.
The Bureau of Land Management lifted the temporary suspension and work resumed Wednesday. The agency scheduled a Dec. 11 meeting with tribal leaders.
Federal land managers in a letter sent Monday to the developer said the timing of the information provided by the tribes relative to the many years that have gone into planning and permitting did not support pausing work. The agency noted that the right of way through the valley was issued in 2015.
"The SunZia transmission line project is an important part of transitioning our nation to a clean energy economy by creating jobs, lowering energy costs and boosting local economies, and the BLM is committed to implementing it with as little impact as possible," agency spokesman Brian Hires said in a statement.
The BLM said it had met with tribal representatives during the pause and that it would work with tribes to evaluate whether the valley could be classified as a traditional cultural property while mitigating effects from the transmission line on cultural and archaeological sites. The agency said it has not received information on any additional cultural sites beyond those previously identified.
Tohono O'odham Chairman Verlon M. Jose said he was disappointed but not surprised that the federal government opted to move ahead before meeting its obligation to consult with the tribes.
"It's more than a slap in the face. It's a punch to the gut," he said during an interview Wednesday. "They reversed course and allowed construction to continue before the meeting could actually take place. You know, it is difficult to describe this decision as anything other than acting in bad faith."
Jose said bulldozers have been clearing roads and pads for the massive towers that will support the high-voltage lines so damage already has been done to land that contains what he described as a high concentration of sacred sites. He said tribal members are frustrated.
"This means a lot to us," he said of the rolling hills and mountains that make up the region. "There has not been true, meaningful consultation on this — all these years. And if we had worked together to address these issues, I'm sure we could have mitigated the concerns here."
He added that the Tohono O'odham people have cultural and traditional responsibilities that call for them to care for the land and for people. As part of that, he said the tribe supports efforts to address climate change but insisted that development needs to be done in such a way that cultural and historic sites are given appropriate consideration under federal laws and regulations.
Like Jose, other tribal leaders have complained that the federal government often treats the consultation process as a check-the-box practice despite promises by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland that tribes would have a seat at the table. From Nevada and New Mexico to Alaska, permitting decisions over mining projects and oil and development for example have highlighted what some tribal leaders say are shortcomings in the process.
Developers of the SunZia project argue that they have worked with tribes over the years and surveys were done to identify cultural resources in the San Pedro Valley.
Natalie McCue, Pattern Energy's assistant vice president for environmental and permitting activities, said the company will continue to support the consultation process between the federal government and tribes and will adopt mitigation measures that might result from the talks.
More than a decade in the making, SunZia's line would be capable of transporting more than 3,500 megawatts of new wind power to 3 million people in the West. It's expected to begin commercial service in 2026.
In New Mexico, the route was modified after the U.S. Defense Department raised concerns about the effects of the high-voltage lines on radar systems and military training operations. Environmentalists also were worried about impacts on wildlife habitat and migratory bird flight patterns in the Rio Grande Valley.
There are similar ecological concerns in the San Pedro Valley. The transmission line is at the heart of a legal challenge pending before the Arizona Court of Appeals over whether state regulatory officials there properly considered the benefits and consequences of the project.
Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan fails to win lawsuit against Alec Baldwin - By Mead Gruver Associated Press
Alec Baldwin didn't have to pay anything to resolve a $25 million lawsuit filed by family members of a Marine killed in Afghanistan after the actor chastised them on social media over the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Baldwin's attorney said.
U.S. Southern District of New York Judge Edgardo Ramos in August dismissed the lawsuit sought by the wife and sisters of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, of Jackson, Wyoming, When the McCollum family didn't file an amended lawsuit as Ramos invited to do before a September deadline, the judge closed the case in October.
Baldwin paid nothing to resolve the case, his attorney Luke Nikas said Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press.
The case has seen no activity since, according to court documents. Lawyers for both sides, including McCollum family attorney Dennis Postiglione, did not comment further on the case when contacted by email Thursday. Reached by email Wednesday, Postiglione declined to comment and said the McCollum family would not comment.
Rylee McCollum and 12 other Marines were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in the last days of the U.S. war in Afghanistan in 2021. Baldwin sent the family a $5,000 check to help in the aftermath.
The lawsuit, filed initially in Wyoming and then New York, alleged Baldwin exposed the family to a flood of social media hatred in 2022 by claiming on Instagram that Roice McCollum was an "insurrectionist" for attending former President Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the insurrection that day.
Roice McCollum protested peacefully and legally, was not among those who stormed the U.S. Capitol, and never was arrested or charged after being interviewed by the FBI, according to the lawsuit.
Even so, she was a "limited public figure" under the law by talking about her brother's death in the news media and by engaging with Baldwin, a well-known celebrity, on social media, Ramos ruled in dismissing the lawsuit.
To prove her case as a limited public figure, McCollum needed to show that Baldwin acted with malice toward her. She did not, so Baldwin's comments were protected under his free-speech rights, Ramos ruled.
The lawsuit was filed as Baldwin faced legal peril for the death of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set in 2021. Baldwin was pointing a gun when it went off, killing Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
Special prosecutors initially dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin but now seek to recharge the actor after presenting new information to a grand jury.
Texas judge rips into Biden administration's handling of border in dispute over razor wire barrier - By Valerie Gonzalez Associated Press
Border Patrol agents for now can cut razor wire that Texas installed on the U.S.-Mexico border under a judge's ruling that also took President Joe Biden's administration to task for its handling of immigration enforcement.
The ruling is at least a temporary defeat for Texas officials who say Border Patrol agents have repeatedly cut, damaged and moved some of the roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) of concertina wire the state installed near the border city of Eagle Pass, where large numbers of migrant have crossed in recent months.
U.S. District Judge Alia Moses, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, initially issued an emergency order in October that prevented agents from cutting razor wire in Eagle Pass, except in emergencies. On Wednesday, however, she ruled that the state hadn't met the requirements to issue a wider preliminary injunction.
At the same time, she said razor wire has proved to be effective at deterring migrants elsewhere along Texas' 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) southern border.
"The law may be on the side of the Defendants and compel a resolution in their favor today, but it does not excuse their culpable and duplicitous conduct," Moses wrote. "The evidence presented amply demonstrates the utter failure of the Defendants to deter, prevent, and halt unlawful entry into the United States."
On Thursday, Texas filed an appeal with the conservative-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"I am disappointed that the federal government's blatant and disturbing efforts to subvert law and order at our State's border with Mexico will be allowed to continue," Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.
Border Patrol agents are allowed to cut the wire in emergencies, such as when a migrant on the other side needs medical assistance. But Texas officials have argued that federal agents also were cutting it to help groups crossing illegally through the river before taking them in for processing. Moses said Texas failed to prove the wire cutting was a formal policy.
Spokespersons for U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately return an email seeking comment Thursday.
Texas also has installed razor wire around El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, where migrants have also crossed in high numbers. But the barrier has drawn the sharpest criticism in Eagle Pass, where some state troopers have raised concerns over the multiple injuries caused by razor wire.
According to Moses' 34-page ruling, the Biden administration produced documents that reflected how the wire "inhibits Border Patrol's ability to patrol the border." The documents went on to state that while Texas troopers and federal agents have coordinated in the past when it comes to the concertina wire, the "relationship has deteriorated over time."
Eagle Pass is a hub of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's massive border mission known as Operation Lone Star. He has also authorized installing floating barriers in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass and allowed troopers to arrest and jail thousands of migrants on trespassing charges.