KUNM

AG Investigates Nonprofit Over Pay Disparities, Native Americans Seek End To 'Redface'

Mar 18, 2019

New Mexico Investigates Nonprofit Group Over Pay DisparitiesAssociated Press

The New Mexico attorney general's office has launched an investigation into a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities find work.

Attorney General Hector Balderas said Monday his office is looking into allegations that Adelante Development Center was grossly under paying employees.

Balderas' announcement follows a lawsuit filed Friday against Adelante. In the complaint, Disability Rights New Mexico alleges violations of state and municipal minimum wage laws.

Adelante spokeswoman Jill Beets said the company hasn't had an opportunity to review the allegations but that it has been honest and transparent about its work with all disability groups.

Headquartered in Albuquerque and governed by a board of directors, Adelante has been in business for 40 years. It's funded through Medicaid dollars, state and federal grants, donations and revenue generated by its social enterprises.

New Mexico Lawmakers Call For Wage ReviewAssociated Press

Six Democratic lawmakers are voicing their concerns about pay disparities among workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New Mexico.

The lawmakers sent a letter to state Attorney General Hector Balderas, asking that he review the regulatory framework that governs pay for such workers in light of new allegations that some are being grossly underpaid.

Representatives Deborah Armstrong, Karen Bash, Joanne Ferrary, Angelica Rubio, Liz Thomson and Christine Trujillo signed the letter Friday. They say they want to ensure the state is adequately protecting a vulnerable population of workers.

Rubio and Ferrary sponsored legislation in 2017 that would have required at least minimum wage for workers with disabilities. That effort spurred the creation of a task force to examine the issue.

Adelante Development Center says it welcomes the review by the attorney general.

University Of New Mexico To Partner In Moon Rock Studies Associated Press

Researchers at New Mexico's flagship university are among nine teams selected by NASA to study pieces of the moon that have been carefully stored and have remained untouched for decades.

The University of New Mexico says it will share in a total of $8 million that has been awarded to the teams.

Thomas Zurbuchen is with NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. He says studying the lunar samples will help a new generation of scientists advance the understanding of the moon and prepare for the next era of lunar exploration.

One of the samples that will be studied has never been exposed to Earth's atmosphere. It was collected and vacuum-sealed by Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan in 1972 from a landslide deposit on the moon.

Fort Lewis To Start Program For San Juan College TransfersFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Fort Lewis College in Colorado is set to start a new scholarship transfer program for graduates of San Juan College in New Mexico.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the Durango, Colorado college is launching this fall a new reciprocal program for San Juan College graduates that could award them with a merit-based scholarship to pay in-state tuition rates.

Currently, New Mexico students who graduate with an associate degree and have a 3.0 GPA can apply for the New Mexico Reciprocal Scholarship.

San Juan College students starting in the Fall 2019 semester with a GPA of 2.75 or higher can apply to transfer to Fort Lewis College at the in-state tuition rate.

Officials say around 500 students in the last 10 years have transferred from San Juan to Fort Lewis.

New Mexico Legislature Approves Indigenous People's Day BillAssociated Press

A proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day has won final approval in the New Mexico Legislature.

The Senate voted on the bill after a lengthy floor debate Friday, sending it to the governor.

Numerous cities nationwide, including Albuquerque, have moved to shift the October holiday's focus away from honoring Christopher Columbus by passing resolutions and measures that instead call for celebrating indigenous cultures.

But only a small handful of states so far have removed Columbus Day from their calendars and replaced it with Indigenous People's Day.

Sponsors of the bill include Rep. Derrick Lente, of Sandia Pueblo, who said during this year's legislative session that Columbus' expeditions of the Americas five centuries ago had resulted in a violent legacy.

New Mexico is home to 23 tribes.

Probe Of Albuquerque Homicide Shuts Down I-25 StretchAssociated Press

Albuquerque police are investigating after a man was found dead in a vehicle off a busy interstate.

Authorities shut down southbound Interstate 25 near the Montaño on-ramp for hours Sunday after reports of an armed suspect and a victim lying on the ground.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik says officers responded after 6:30 p.m. and found a sedan on the side of the road and a man fatally injured.

According to Drobik, officers found two other men in the car and determined the victim had been riding with them.

The two men were taken into custody but are being treated as witnesses.

Drobik says there are no signs that this was an incident of road rage.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact them.

Police Say Unattended Running Car With Girl, 5, Inside StolenKVIA-TV, Associated Press

Authorities say a five-year-old girl is safe after a New Mexico man stole an unattended running car with the girl inside.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports 35-year-old Victor Castillo was arrested last week following an intense search for a stolen 2017 Chevy Cruze taken outside of Las Cruces.

According to investigators, the young girl's mother went back into her home early Thursday and left her car running with the girl inside. Police say when the mother returned the car was gone.

A New Mexico State Police officer later spotted the stolen vehicle heading east on Interstate 10 toward El Paso and Castillo was arrested after a short chase. The girl was not injured.

Castillo was charged with child abuse and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. It was not known if he had an attorney.

Moderate New Mexico Senate Dems Slow Liberal House Freshmen - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

Liberal New Mexico House freshmen lawmakers saw some bills blocked by moderate Democrats in the state Senate this session.

The Democratic first-term House lawmakers say overall they were satisfied with the results from the Democratic-controlled Legislative session that ended Saturday. But many say they were frustrated by conservative Democrats in the Senate who stalled and tabled more liberal proposals on marijuana, early childhood education and immigration.

First-term Rep. Andrea Romero, a Santa Fe Democrat, says fellow freshmen were disappointed that Senate Democrats hindered some of their initiatives. She says her class members were elected with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and have the same energy.

But Sen. John Sapien, a Bernalillo Democrat, says the Senate has a responsibility to be deliberate and examine the financial implications of all proposals.

Native Americans Say Movement To End 'Redface' Is Slow - By Felicia Fonseca Associated Press

John Little can hardly go a week without a reminder that he and other Native Americans often are viewed as relics of the past: the Indian maiden on the butter container at the grocery store, the kids' teepees sold at popular retailers and the sports fans with their faces painted doing tomahawk chops at games.

But he doesn't hear widespread outrage over these images that many Native Americans find offensive, even as the country has spent most of the year coming to grips with blackface and racist imagery following the revelation of a racist photo on the Virginia governor's college yearbook page. Since then, new examples have surfaced regularly, most recently a TV host who painted her face brown in a parody of Oscar-nominated Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio.

"These are everyday realities for Native people," said Little, a Standing Rock Sioux tribal member.

Redface may get less attention because of ingrained misconceptions and feelings of entitlement to Native American culture and land, scholars say. Native Americans also are a relatively small group, making up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population. Black people, by comparison, make up around 13 percent.

Convincing the masses that stereotyping Native Americans as savage, ignorant or humorless is insulting has been a slow movement, scholars say, and one they aren't sure will gain steam.

Governor Wants To Revive Marijuana Proposals - Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants marijuana legalization back on the agenda for the next legislative session.

Lujan Grisham said Saturday that next year's limited 30-day legislative session will include marijuana reform proposals. This year's session ended Saturday at noon.

The first-term Democrat complimented sponsors of a failed bipartisan bill this year that would have legalized marijuana sales at state-operated stores and subsidized medical cannabis for low-income patients. The House-approved bill stalled without a Senate vote.

Lujan Grisham says legalization is possible with sufficient precautions to prevent child use and impaired driving.

In New Mexico, the governor decides what major policy issues are heard during abbreviated legislative sessions in even-numbered years.

Police Temporarily Suspend Search For 4-Year-Old Utah Girl - Associated Press

Authorities say they have temporarily suspended a search for a 4-year-old girl missing since last week in the Utah portion of Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Police Department said Sunday that after three unsuccessful days of ground and water searches for Anndine Jones, they are taking a break to organize and secure additional resources. Authorities initially said the girl was 3.

Police say community volunteers will continue organizing search teams, and officers will remain in the area to investigate leads in the case.

Jones reportedly wandered away Thursday from her home.

Police say initial search efforts were focused along McElmo Creek, which feeds into the San Juan River.

Survey Finds New Mexico Tornado Traveled Path About 15 Miles Long - Associated Press

The National Weather Service says a tornado that destroyed or damaged numerous homes and other structures in the southern New Mexico community of Dexter traveled a path about 15 miles long and 150-350 yards wide.

The weather service's damage survey said the twister Tuesday night had estimated peak winds of 111-135 mph, rating it in one of two "strong" categories in the middle of a six-point scale.

The survey said six people suffered minor injuries as the twister destroyed or substantially damaged six homes and caused lesser damage to an additional dozen structures.

The survey said the twister dissipated about a half-mile from Dexter after touching down 15 minutes earlier about 15 miles away from the Chaves County community.