KUNM

ACLU Suing APS Over Hair-Cutting Incident, Las Vegas City Council To Vote On Removing Mayor

Jan 8, 2020

ACLU Sues School District Over Racist Comment - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is suing the state's largest school district over a 2018 incident where a teacher allegedly cut the hair of a Native American student during class on Halloween.

The teacher is also accused of asking another student if she was dressed as a "bloody Indian." The ACLU filed the complaint Wednesday. It targets Albuquerque Public Schools, contending the teacher created a hostile learning environment and acted in a discriminatory way.

The school district at the time apologized and told parents that the teacher would not return to school. School officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Candidate Questions Rationale For Killing Iranian General - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico congressional candidate and former CIA operative Valerie Plame is wading into the discussion about President Trump's rationale for ordering the killing of a top Iranian general.

Plame on Wednesday questioned Trump's justification for ordering the attack and said the lives of thousands of American troops are at risk. She expressed her belief that Trump is willing to ignite a war to boost his reelection chances and warned that White House descriptions of secret intelligence assessments can't be trusted.

Plame is running for the Democratic nomination in a northern New Mexico district. Trump says the killing stopped attacks on Americans.

New Mexico Commissioners Appoint New House RepresentativeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

County officials in New Mexico have appointed a retired lawyer and educator to fill the seat in the state House of Representatives after the former representative passed away Christmas Day.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that Bernalillo County commissioners appointed Democrat Marian Matthews to replace Rep. Bill Pratt. Pratt represented House District 27, which includes part of northeast Albuquerque.

Officials say Matthews' term will run until Dec. 31, 2020. Matthews' says she was a former prosecutor who represented children removed from their homes and wants to address Albuquerque's violence and crime in her new position.

Company Eyes Texas-New Mexico Fracking Sand Transport SystemCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A company is seeking to build a multi-mile conveyor belt system that could bring sand for hydraulic fracturing from West Texas to southeast New Mexico.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Atlas Sand Company is hoping to erect a 16.5-mile covered overland conveyor belt system to carry the sand from an offloading facility in Loving County, Texas, to a proposed facility near Loving, New Mexico.

The company is seeking a permanent, 70-foot-wide right of way across federally managed land.

Search For Boy Begins After Mother Found Dead In New MexicoAssociated Press

New Mexico authorities have started the search for a boy and his father after his mother was found dead in a southeast Roswell home.

Authorities say the boy is believed to be with his 32-year-old father Jorge Rico-Ruvira and possibly headed to Mexico. Authorities say the death of 27-year-old Isela Mauricio-Sanchez Tuesday was ruled a homicide.

New Mexico State Police officers say the boy is missing and believed to be in danger. Authorities say the pair are believed to be traveling in a 2003 maroon GMC Yukon SUV. They urge anyone with information to contact the Roswell Police Department or call 911.

Virgin Galactic's Next Spaceship Reaches Build Milestone - By John Antczak, Associated Press

Virgin Galactic says its next passenger spaceship has reached a major construction milestone.

The company said Wednesday that all major structural elements have been assembled and the rocket plane is standing on its own landing gear at Mojave Air & Space Port in California.

Photos of the "Weight on Wheels" achievement show the craft in a hangar next to the Virgin Space Ship Unity spacecraft. It has already been to space in preparation for commercial operations based at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

CEO George Whitesides says there has  been progress on the manufacture of a third craft. The company anticipates commercial flights this year. 

State Senator Gets 5-Day Prison Sentence For Drunken Driving - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico state Sen. Richard Martinez was sentenced to serve five days in jail on drunken and reckless driving convictions in connection with a June wreck in which he rear-ended a car that was stopped at a red light.

State District Court Judge Francis Mathew told Martinez that by driving while intoxicated the senator had violated the trust of political constituents whom he was supposed to protect.

Martinez also was ordered to serve 85 days under supervised probation.

Prosecutors had recommended 180 days in jail for the former magistrate judge and Democratic senator from Ojo Caliente.

New Mexico May Stash Away More Oil Money For Future Needs - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

The New Mexico Legislature's lead budget-writing committee has recommended a 6.5% increase in state general fund spending that stashes away some oil and natural gas revenue in trust funds to ensure future financial stability.

The Legislative Finance Committee recommended a $464 million increase in sustained spending to about $7.5 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Another $325 million would be set aside for endowments to underwrite early childhood schooling.

The endowment plan is supported by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Pay increases are scheduled for public school teachers and state employees under the budget proposal.

City Council In New Mexico To Vote On Removing MayorAssociated Press

City officials in the northern New Mexico city of Las Vegas have scheduled a meeting to discuss the removal from office of the mayor indicted on bribery charges last month.

Authorities say Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron pleaded not guilty Monday to all six criminal charges including engaging in an official act for personal financial gain and demanding or receiving a bribe by a public officer or employee.

The attorney general of New Mexico says the mayor allegedly rigged city contracts so her boyfriend's contracting company could get them.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday inside Council Chambers and is open to the public.

Man Fatally Shot During Encounter With Albuquerque PoliceAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say at least one officer fatally shot a man who allegedly was waving a handgun in the air while crossing a street.

Police say officers were on patrol in the area of Central Avenue and San Pedro Drive when the incident occurred Monday. According to police, the man was waving the gun in a "dangerous fashion" and that the shooting occurred when officers identified themselves as police and walked up to him.

Police didn't immediately say how many officers fired or release other information about the circumstances of the encounter.

Tree Thinning In Northern New Mexico Causes Uproar - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

An effort by New Mexico officials to trim the density of piñon and juniper trees near Cañoncito is drawing criticism from some residents. 

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports state officials say the Ojo de la Vaca Meadow Restoration Project is designed to "encourage the growth of desirable understory vegetation." But residents say the tree-thinning project is doing more harm than good. 

Stephen Dubinsky says the trees anchor the soil and prevent erosion. 

State Land Office spokeswoman Angie Poss says the state treated more than 48,000 acres last year in a range of projects similar to the work near Cañoncito that are meant to improve the health of the land.

Republican TV Meteorologist Joins New Mexico Senate Race - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A television meteorologist in Albuquerque is joining the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

Republican Mark Ronchetti announced Tuesday he is entering the contest for the GOP nomination after stepping down from his job as chief meteorologist for Albuquerque's CBS affiliate.

Ronchetti calls himself a "proud conservative New Mexican" who opposes abortion and supports gun rights. Ronchetti says he doesn't support some of President Donald Trump's tweets and comments but endorses his economic and energy policies.

Ronchetti joins a crowded GOP field that includes anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, shooting range owner Louie Sanchez, building contractor Mick Rich and college professor Gavin Clarkson.