Abducted Girl Found Dead, Bishops Slam Anti-Child Abuse Campaign

May 3, 2016

The Latest: Navajo Authorities Say Abducted Girl Found Dead – The Associated Press

Federal authorities are trying to find the man suspected of killing an 11-year-old girl after abducting her and her younger brother from the Navajo Nation.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade said during a news conference Tuesday in Shiprock, New Mexico, that authorities will leave no stone unturned as they search for justice for the family of Ashlynne Mike.

Authorities say a man driving a maroon van kidnapped the girl and her brother Monday afternoon.

The boy was found later Monday, and a frantic search ensued as authorities issued an Amber Alert for the girl overnight. Her body was found Tuesday near the rock outcropping named after the Shiprock community.

Authorities described the man as a light-skinned Native American with a teardrop tattoo under his left eye. He's believed to be in his 20s or 30s.

Archbishop 'Concerned' As Primaries Head To New Mexico – The Associated Press

Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester says he is "concerned" about the political rhetoric surrounding immigration as the presidential primary campaign heads to New Mexico.

Wester told The Associated Press on Monday candidates who seek to blame immigrants for nation's problems are diverting attention from other issues like poverty and inequality.

The Roman Catholic leader in the state with the highest percentage of Latinos didn't mention any candidate by name. But Wester says some of the immigration policy proposals suggested have been "deplorable" and should alarm voters.

GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump has drawn the most scrutiny from immigration advocates for saying he would push for the mass deportation of an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

New Mexico will hold its primary on June 7.

New Mexico Prison System Fights Fair Pay Claims – The Associated Press

The New Mexico prison system is arguing it's exempt from a state law requiring employers to pay women and men the same amount for comparable work.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Fair Pay for Women Act in 2013, but her administration is fighting claims filed under the law.

The Corrections Department is challenging claims from former female employees who say they earned less than men in similar positions.

Former Corrections Department lawyer Melinda L. Wolinsky says she earned $8,000 less a year than a male colleague in the same job, while former deputy warden Alisha Tafoya-Lucero says she was paid $29 an hour while a male colleague earned $39 per hour.

A department spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation.

New Mexico Lobbyists Report Greater Spending – The Associated Press

New Mexico political lobbyists are reporting a nearly 20 percent increase in spending in the first four months of 2016 over last year.

Financial statements filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State's office before a Tuesday deadline show lobbyists spent $269,000 to influencing public officials between the start of the year and April 25, including a 30-day legislative session. That was up from $226,000 in 2015.

The spending includes direct campaign contributions as well as meals at Santa Fe restaurants. Lobbyists must report expenditures of $75 or more, and sometimes report smaller transactions.

Legislation approved in February will raise the reporting threshold to $100 and add an additional reporting deadline in October ahead of general elections. The entire New Mexico Legislature is up for election in November.

Feds Reviewing Proposed Wolf Legislation – The Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials say they'll be doing a thorough review of legislation introduced by two U.S. senators that would affect endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest.

Arizona Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake have introduced a measure that would push the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work more closely with states to revamp a decades-old recovery plan for the wolves.

The agency has already agreed as part of a settlement with environmentalists to have a recovery plan crafted by the end of 2017.

Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman John Bradley says the agency appreciates the senators' interest in the wolf and that the goal remains the recovery of the species.

He says the agency will support growth of the population, improvements in genetics and the eventual transfer of management of the species to the states.

New Mexico Bishops Attack Anti-Child Abuse PushAssociated Press

New Mexico Catholic leaders are expressing skepticism about a new "Pull Together" state campaign aimed at tackling child abuse.

Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester and Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantu said Monday that state resources should instead be placed toward expanding early childhood education and programs fighting poverty.

The new state-funded campaign features slick commercials and a new website to draw residents to revamped Children, Youth and Families Department programs like foster care and parenting tips.

Wester says the campaign underestimates the lack of internet access for people living in poverty.

He also says he questions the state's intention with the campaign while New Mexico children rank among the nation's poorest and state lawmakers refused to allow voters to decide on expanding pre-K programs.

FBI Issues Amber Alert For San Juan County GirlKOB-TV

The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert for a girl abducted in San Juan County on Monday afternoon.

KOB-TV reports Ashlynn Mike is 11 years old, Native American and about 4 feet 8 inches tall. She weighs about 80 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair, according to New Mexico State Police. Mike was wearing blue jeans, a pink pullover and purple shoes.

The FBI said Mike was taken by a Native American man in a maroon van around 4 p.m. Monday near Navajo Route 36 Mile Post 13. Police had no information on the make or the license plate number.

Anyone with information should call the FBI at 505-889-1300.

City Council Rejects Plan To Dock Pay For APD Leadership – Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque City Council rejected a proposal to ensure compliance with mandatory reforms by cutting the pay of top police officials.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Rob Perry, the mayor’s top executive, asked councilors to vote against the bill, sponsored by Diane Gibson and Isaac Benton. It was defeated on a 6 to 3 vote.

Perry said it would be difficult to gauge compliance with an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in terms of setting incentive pay. Top brass at the Albuquerque Police Department get retention bonuses of $6,000 to $12,000 a year.

APD and the DOJ reached an agreement two years ago after a federal investigation found police had a pattern of excessive force and violating people’s rights.

The city has met deadlines so far but there are many reform requirements looming. Gibson said the bill would be a good incentive for leadership to push reforms.

Clovis Woman Accused Of Practicing Medicine Without LicenseAssociated Press

Authorities say a Clovis woman has been arrested for allegedly practicing medicine without a license.

Prosecutors say 56-year-old Annette Ternes was taken into custody after an investigation by the Ninth Judicial District Attorney's Office, the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, the state Board of Nursing and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

They say Ternes owned a Clovis clinic where she represented herself to be a licensed nurse practitioner.

She's been charged with 224 felony counts for practicing medicine without a license, identity theft, forgery and controlled substances act violation.

The alleged crimes occurred from March to September in 2015.

Authorities say Ternes has bonded out of jail. She's scheduled to be arraigned in Magistrate Court within two weeks.

It's unclear if Ternes has an attorney for her case.

Hobbs Police Start Hiring Push Amid Officer ShortageAssociated Press

Hobbs police has started another hiring push despite an oil downturn in eastern New Mexico.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that the Hobbs Police Department has launched a new hiring campaign as the agency is experiencing a shortage in officers.

Captain Charles Cunningham says the department is doing an extensive recruiting effort in Hobbs and the Lea County area before an initial testing date on June 11.

Hobbs and surrounding police departments in eastern New Mexico have faced an officer shortage because of the oil boom in recent years. But despite gas prices falling, some agencies still have struggled to find qualified applicants.

New Mexico State Senator Undergoing Cancer Treatment Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico state senator says he is undergoing cancer treatments in Houston and is expected to start recovery soon.

Sen. Carroll Leavell told the Hobbs News-Sun last week that he needs around 16 more treatments before he can return home.

The Jal Republican was diagnosed with prostate cancer just before the January start of the 2016 legislative session. Although he attended and worked most of the 30-day session, he did miss a few days for treatments.

The senator says he is being provided a radiation treatment that he expects will result in full recovery.

Leavell expects to be home by May 21.

HUD Awards Some $2.9M To Homeless Programs In New Mexico Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded more than $2.9 million to homeless housing and service programs across New Mexico.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced the funding award Monday.

The Continuum of Care grants build upon the $7.3 million in funding HUD awarded throughout New Mexico through a first round of funding in March.

Nationally, HUD estimates there were nearly 565,000 people experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2015.

Since 2010, local communities around the country reported an 11 percent reduction in overall homelessness, a decline of more than 72,000 persons.

During that same time, HUD officials say veteran homelessness fell by 36 percent, chronic homelessness declined 22 percent and family homelessness dropped by 19 percent.

Judge: Former Mayor's Facebook Page Considered Public Record Associated Press

A New Mexico judge has ruled that the City of Alamogordo and a former mayor violated state public records law by denying a citizen's request to inspect a Facebook page.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that court records say Wendy Irby filed a request with Alamogordo to inspect a Facebook page established by then-Mayor Susie Galea. The city denied the request, saying Galea's Facebook page was not a public record because the mayor did not create it on behalf of the city.

But 12th Judicial District Judge Jerry H. Ritter Jr. said in his Thursday ruling that the critical question is whether the page contained a mix of public and private material.

The city attorney said after the ruling that he was working to turn over the Facebook page.

Guide Highlights Native American Link To Historic Route 66 - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

A new story is unfolding along historic Route 66 thanks to a yearlong project coordinated by a tourism group with help from the National Park Service and American Indian tribes along America's Mother Road.

The result is a guidebook detailing the histories of more than two dozen tribal communities along the 2,400-mile byway and their relationship to the road that helped change the West.

Stretching from Chicago to California, more than half of the route cuts through Indian Country.

Those behind the project say their work is aimed at filling the gap between reality and the stereotypes once used to lure travelers along the route. They say tribes now have a venue to tell their own stories.

The guidebook is being unveiled this week by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association.

State Supreme Court Considers Rules For Closed Courtrooms Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering a rule to help trial judges decide when to close a courtroom to the public.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the high court is considering a proposal that defines official guides for closures and establishes the steps and notifications that must be followed.

Closing a courtroom can help witnesses who may not otherwise testify feel safe, but since the decision to keep the public out competes with the right of the defendant to a public trial that decision can be reversed on appeal.

Currently judges rely on a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case called Waller v. Georgia that sets four criteria to consider before closing a courtroom. The state proposal would more clearly define the Waller test.