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THURS: Videos in "Rust" trial show Baldwin rushing crew, Gov. signs housing bills, + More

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers her State of the State address at the opening day of an annual legislative session in the House of Representatives in Santa Fe, N.M., on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Andres Leighton
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers her State of the State address at the opening day of an annual legislative session in the House of Representatives in Santa Fe, N.M., on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Videos show Baldwin rushing crew to reload firearms on set of 'Rust' KUNM News, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Jurors in a trial over the fatal movie-set shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin were presented a video in court Thursday showing the actor rushing crew members to reload a gun.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a firearms expert who watched the video said Baldwin's behavior created an “unsafe, nerve-wracking” situation, and that rushing around firearms is unacceptable.

Baldwin had just finished an intense, energetic scene in which he exited a building firing several blanks toward the camera, and can be heard saying, quote, “Right away! Right away! Just reload it!”

The testimony came just one day after jurors saw a video in which the armorer for the film, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, admitted to detectives that she might have loaded the gun Baldwin fired in the shooting from a box of ammunition she had never seen before.

The video was recorded in Nov of 2021 just three weeks after the initial incident.

Gutierrez-Reed has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering.

Baldwin is fighting a separate involuntary manslaughter charge that is set to go to trial in July.

Gov. Lujan Grisham: ‘We’ve got to build houses’ - Damon Scott, City Desk ABQ 

This story was originally published by City Desk ABQ 

On Wednesday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed what she described as a key housing bill that will help address the state’s shortage of 40,000 homes.

The bill authorizes $125 million in housing development loans and the creation of a housing development revolving fund through revisions to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority’s “Opportunity Enterprise Act.” Officials said the bill gives local governments more control to incentivize homebuilders and developers.

“There probably isn’t a single New Mexican that isn’t wondering how their children are going to buy a house and stay in their communities,” Lujan Grisham said. “I’ve got family members that are in their 20s that don’t know how they’re going to buy a house.”

The changes also allow more leeway for speculative building — pre-built properties that a builder constructs and designs without a particular buyer in mind. Lujan Grisham said it sends a signal to businesses that their workers will have a sufficient housing stock to choose from.

“We have a lot of companies coming to New Mexico, and all those workers will need a place to live,” she said.

The governor also signed two bills related to infrastructure.

One of those, House Bill 177, creates a matching fund to make it easier for local governments — especially rural municipalities — to qualify for billions of dollars in federal funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“We’re talking about roads, water, broadband, airports. We’ve got to have that infrastructure statewide,” Lujan Grisham said. “It provides our local communities with funds to be able to secure those dollars and also help with the administration and compliance for federal grants.”

Meanwhile, House Bill 232 — the “Department of Finance and Administration Act” creates an infrastructure planning and development division and feeds more resources for such projects into the Department of Finance and Administration.

Older New Mexicans are eligible for another COVID booster - By Nash Jones, KUNM News

Following an endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Mexico Department of Health announced Thursday that people 65 and older are now eligible for another dose of the updated 2023/2024 COVID vaccine.

DOH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Miranda Durham says this age group made up the majority of deaths and hospitalizations from the virus last year and a booster shot could help provide additional protection if their immunity has waned.

People who are immunocompromised have been eligible for an additional dose of the vaccine since October.

The vaccines remain free for those with health insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare. Adults without insurance can also access vaccines at no charge through the CDC's Bridge Access Program.

An interactive map to find pharmacies and providers offering the COVID vaccine is available at VaccineNM.org. Residents who need help making an appointment or have questions about getting a booster shot can call the Department of Health’s helpline Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit KUNM.org for more information. 

Full-time faculty union presses board for higher wages - Santa Fe New Mexican, KUNM News

Several full-time faculty members from Santa Fe Community College gathered Thursday at a college governing board meeting to demand higher wages.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports they said their wages are barely enough to cover rent.

Lenny Gannes, President of the full-time faculty union, said their wages don’t match up to the cost of living in Santa Fe, so many professors work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Gannes said higher wages are necessary to retain quality staff, and they have been splitting the same workload over fewer people.

Becky Rowley, President of the college says she is aware of this issue and is dedicated to finding a way to conduct a “salary study” in hopes of finding an answer.

The Legislature did alot a 3% raise for college faculty statewide, but this was almost 5% less than what they were asking for.

Production manager testifies about gun oversight in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin in 2021 rehearsal - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A film-set manager increased oversight of firearm safety but was only partially aware of misfires in the days leading up to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin during rehearsal for the Western movie "Rust," jurors heard in courtroom testimony Wednesday.

The trial of movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering entered its fifth day with testimony from the on-set manager, as well as the lead investigator in the case from the Santa Fe sheriff's office.

Gutierrez-Reed has pleaded not guilty, and defense attorney Jason Bowles highlighted in cross examinations that Baldwin was allowed to walk and talk with crew members in the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Oct. 21, 2021, while Gutierrez-Reed was confined to police vehicles and supervised even while going to the bathroom.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer on "Rust," was indicted by a grand jury last month and has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. That trial is scheduled for July.

Gabrielle Pickle, who helped hire the crew and oversaw spending on gun safety and training, told jurors Wednesday that the number of "armorer days" — that is, with a dedicated weapons supervisor on set — was expanded from five to 10 as Gutierrez-Reed lobbied for more time to focus on firearms rather than her lower-paid duties as a props assistant.

Producers reduced paperwork requirements for Gutierrez-Reed to help her keep up with responsibilities that included the oversight of real guns and fake ammunition, Pickle said, though live ammunition would find its way onto the set in violation of industry guidelines. She added that she confronted Gutierrez-Reed about complaints that guns were left unattended and negotiated for improved monitoring.

Gutierrez-Reed told investigators in November 2021 that she trained Baldwin in weapons handling for at least a day but wanted more time and was concerned about his proficiency with drawing a revolver from a holster. Video of that interview was played before the jury, but she has not testified at trial.

Pickle testified that she received a request from Gutierrez-Reed for more time as an armorer to train a child actor, with Baldwin in attendance.

"She requested training that would involve Brady, which was a minor who did not fire weapons in the movie, and I denied that for insurance purposes," Pickle said. "The request was not because Alec needed more time."

Baldwin was pointing the gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when it went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer but not the trigger.

New Mexico workplace safety regulators say production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set before the fatal shooting.

Under cross examination by the defense, Pickle acknowledged that she was told of one accidental discharge but said the other one was never reported to her and did not appear in a daily log of significant events. She said she only learned of it after the shooting of Hutchins.

"Whose responsibility would it be in the chain of command to report those accidental discharges?" Bowles asked her.

"Anyone on set," Pickle responded.

Defense attorneys say problems on the set were beyond Gutierrez-Reed's control and have pointed to shortcomings in the collection of evidence and interviews. They also say the main ammunition supplier wasn't properly investigated.

Prosecutors say Gutierrez-Reed is to blame for bringing live ammunition on set and she treated basic safety protocols for weapons as optional. They say six live rounds bear identical characteristics and don't match ones seized from the movie's supplier in Albuquerque.

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home - Associated Press

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona, according to New Mexico State Police.

The 13-year-old turned up at a Walmart in Deming on Tuesday after going missing the night before from his family's home in Tucson. In hopes of identifying the young man, authorities in New Mexico posted a picture on social media seeking the public's help.

New Mexico State Police said that within minutes, someone recognized the teen from an earlier post by the Tucson Police Department. They confirmed Wednesday that the teen had been reunited with his family and was safely back at home.

"Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible by sharing, commenting, and spreading the word," New Mexico State Police said in a social media post.

The family shared their gratitude for police and the community on social media. They have no idea how the teen was able to get to Deming.

"My mom woke up, and he was no longer in the house. The front door was unlocked, and he was just gone," the boy's brother, Mikel Desmond, told Albuquerque television station KRQE.

The family contacted police, searched nearby areas and created a missing person flyer that they shared online. As the hours passed, Desmond said he started to lose hope of finding his brother. He said even if someone would have given the teen a phone and told him to call home, he wouldn't be able to because he can't communicate verbally.

It was Tuesday evening when the family got the call from authorities in New Mexico after the boy had been checked out at a local hospital.

Desmond said his brother ended up at the Walmart, where he tried to buy food and drinks but didn't have any money. The teen then reportedly went to hide in the bathroom and was later found by law enforcement.

"It's amazing how fast news can spread through social media," Desmond said. "And we never would have thought that we would have had so many people reach out and ask ways they can help."

Desmond told The Associated Press that he and his mother made the drive to New Mexico after getting the call, traveling three hours each way to pick up the boy and bring him home. They shared a photo of their reunion at the hospital in Deming.

Tucson police said they are investigating the boy's travels.

APS announces new environmental STEM program to train future farmers - KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools unveiled yesterday a new free K–12 magnet program based in environmental STEM education largely focused on agriculture and cultivating future farmers.

In a news release, APS said four schools in the south valley have been chosen to host the new pathway program, called “Sustaining the Future,” which will use inquiry based and hands-on learning experiences.

APS officials told the Albuquerque Journal that a 12.8 million grant will fund the program, which should support about 2,500 students, as well as paying for training for teachers, student curricula, hands-on equipment, and new facilities.

Officials said the program is designed to encourage students to pursue environment and climate science, and will provide the opportunities for students to learn coding, and attain certificates from partnered universities in everything from sustainable farming, to clean energy technology and even drone flying.

Though the full program will be rolled out over the next five years, classes will begin next school year at Los Padillas and Mountain View elementary schools, Polk Middle School and Rio Grande High School.

Climate change, cost and competition for water drive settlement over tribal rights to Colorado River - By Felicia Fonseca and Suman Naishadham, Associated Press

A Native American tribe with one of the largest outstanding claims to water in the Colorado River basin is closing in on a settlement with more than a dozen parties, putting it on a path to piping water to tens of thousands of tribal members in Arizona who still live without it.

Negotiating terms outlined late Wednesday include water rights not only for the Navajo Nation but the neighboring Hopi and San Juan Southern Paiute tribes in the northeastern corner of the state. The water would come from a mix of sources: the Colorado River that serves seven western states, the Little Colorado River, and aquifers and washes on tribal lands.

The agreement is decades in the making and would allow the tribes to avoid further litigation and court proceedings, which have been costly. Navajo officials said they expect to finalize the terms in the coming days.

From there, it must be approved by the tribe's governing bodies, the state of Arizona, the other parties and by Congress.

"We have the right Congress, we have the right president, and it's very hopeful," Navajo President Buu Nygren told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Because next year might be a whole different ballgame. It's going to be very uncertain."

The proposal comes as Native American tribes, states in the Colorado River basin and Mexico are working on a long-term plan to share a diminishing water source that has served 40 million people. Tribes, including the Navajo Nation, were left out of a landmark 1922 treaty that divided the water in the basin among seven states.

The Navajo Nation has long argued that states treat the tribe as an afterthought. Any settlement reached would be separate from that long-term plan and stand on its own.

About one-third of the homes on the Navajo Nation do not have running water. Infrastructure projects outlined by the Navajo Nation include a $1.7 billion pipeline to deliver water from Lake Powell to tribal communities. The caveat being that there is no guarantee that Congress will provide the funding.

Both the Navajo and Hopi tribes are seeking the ability to lease water and to store it in existing or new reservoirs and impoundments.

"Some of our families that still live within those communities still have to haul water to cook their food, to make lemonade in the summer for their kids, to make ice, all little simple things to make your daily life easy and convenient," Navajo Nation Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley said.

On Wednesday, the Navajo Nation cited climate change, cost, competition for water and the coronavirus pandemic as reasons to move toward a settlement. Arizona, in turn, would benefit by having certainty over the amount of water that is available to non-tribal users. The state has had to cut its use of Colorado River water in recent years because of drought and demand.

Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, said Wednesday that while progress is being made on a settlement with the Navajo Nation, the agreement isn't complete.

Sarah Langley, a spokeswoman for Flagstaff, the largest city that is a party to the settlement, said it is hopeful the negotiations are productive.

Arizona — situated in the Colorado River's Lower Basin with California, Nevada and Mexico — is unique in that it also has an allocation in the Upper Basin. Under the settlement terms, Navajo and Hopi would get about 47,000 acre-feet in the Upper Basin — nearly the entire amount that was set aside for use at the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo reservation that shut down in late 2019.

The proposal also includes about 9,500 acre-feet per year of lower-priority water from the Lower Basin for both tribes. An acre-foot of water is roughly enough to serve two to three U.S. households annually.

While the specific terms for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe remain under discussion, Congress could be asked to establish a small reservation for the tribe whose ancestral land lies in Utah and Arizona. The tribe's president, Robbin Preston Jr., didn't immediately respond to emailed questions from the AP.

The Hopi Tribe's general counsel, Fred Lomayesva, declined to comment.

The Navajo Nation, whose 27,000 square-mile (70,000 square-kilometer) reservation also stretches into New Mexico and Utah, already has settled its claims to the Colorado River basin there.

The Navajo and Hopi tribes came close to reaching a pact with Arizona to settle water rights in 2012. Both tribes rejected federal legislation that accompanied it, and the tentative deal fell through. It also wasn't broadly supported by Navajos and Hopis who saw negotiations as secretive, leading to a loose effort to recall then-Navajo President Ben Shelly and then-Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa.

Recently, the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission has been holding public hearings across the reservation to ensure tribal members are aware of what is involved in a settlement and why the tribe pursued it, tribal officials said.

"We have a united front to our chapters, our schools and even our small businesses, families," Curley said. "It's inclusive of everyone. Everybody should be able to know what the terms are."

The federal government in recent years has poured money into tribal water rights settlements. The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled the government does not have a treaty duty to take affirmative steps to secure water for the Navajo Nation, complicating the tribe's fight for water.