AG Says Vote To Cut UNM Sports Violated Law, 5th Lawsuit Filed Against EPA Over 2015 Mine Spill

Aug 10, 2018

AG Says Vote To Cut University's Sports Programs Violated LawAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says a decision to cut four sports at the University of New Mexico was in violation of the state's open meetings law and could be invalid.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Hector Balderas' office is calling on the university's Board of Regents to repeat the meeting, this time with proper notice and a full explanation of the matters to be discussed.

The regents voted unanimously July 19 to approve a plan to eliminate men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball, and to cut diving from the women's swimming and diving program and dramatically reduce the men's track and field roster.

The sports were to be discontinued after the 2018-19 season.

Judge Calls For Activist To Be Extradited To New Mexico- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A New Mexico judge is asking Arizona authorities to extradite a Native American activist who was arrested on rape and other charges.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a judge ordered authorities to bring 41-year-old Redwolf Pope back from Phoenix. Pope was charged in July and has denied accusations that he drugged and raped several women.

A warrant in Santa Fe charged Pope with sexually assaulting women who appeared to have been slipped a date-rape drug and surreptitiously recording people at apartments in Santa Fe and Seattle. Police said he had residences in both cities.

His attorney had asked that Pope be released from Phoenix and allowed to return to Santa Fe on his own accord, which the Santa Fe judge denied.

Murder Case Dropped Against Former New Mexico Deputy- Associated Press

A special prosecutor dismissed a criminal case against a former New Mexico sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a colleague at a Las Cruces hotel.

Special prosecutor Troy J. Davis filed the notice Thursday. In the filing, Davis said Tai Chan "possibly needs to be re-indicted for Voluntary Manslaughter with a firearm enhancement."

Chan has been tried twice for murder in the death of Deputy Jeremy Martin on Oct. 24, 2014. Both prosecutions ended in mistrials after juries couldn't reach unanimous verdicts.

The two deputies were staying in Las Cruces on their way back from delivering a prisoner.

Chan maintains he shot Martin in self-defense after a night of drinking and arguing with Martin.

Martin died after he was shot five times in the back and arm. Ten shots were fired from Chan's duty weapon. But who shot the gun first and who was the aggressor in the struggle were disputed at trial.

5th Lawsuit Filed Against EPA Over 2015 Mine Waste Spill- Associated Press

A fifth lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a mine waste spill the agency inadvertently triggered in 2015, polluting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

295 Navajo farmers and ranchers filed the lawsuit Aug. 3 in federal court in Albuquerque. Their attorney, Kate Ferlic, said Friday the lawsuit asks for about $75 million.

The suit says the farmers and ranchers lost crops and livestock and had to pay to haul clean water because the spill kept them from using the polluted rivers.

The EPA referred questions to Department of Justice officials, who did not immediately return a phone call.

Other defendants include eight companies and subsidiaries that were involved in mining in the area or worked for the EPA.

The judge hasn't ruled on the request.

Father Recalls Compound Suspect As High-Strung, Not RadicalAssociated Press

A well-known imam whose three children were among the five adults arrested during a raid on a New Mexico compound says he doesn't understand why his son and the others disappeared into the desert, but suggests a psychiatric disorder was to blame.

Siraj Wahhaj, of New York City, says the child abuse allegations against his son and two daughters are out of character from what he had known of them. He said he hasn't had direct contact with them for nine months.

The Taos County sheriff says they and two other adults were arrested after authorities found 11 hungry children living in filth. They had been searching for a missing boy, who is Wahhaj's grandson.

Authorities have not confirmed that remains found at the compound are that of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj.

A representative of a New York mosque says the raid of a ramshackle compound in New Mexico is being used as propaganda against Muslims.

Ali Abdul-Karim Judan, a spokesman for the mosque, said in a video posted Thursday on Facebook that the incident was a domestic situation that has nothing to do with extremism.

Judan also cast doubt on a contention by prosecutors that children found at the site were being trained to use assault rifles in preparation for school shootings.

He said authorities should not have made that claim without stronger evidence.

The mosque has attracted radicals over the years, including a man who later helped bomb the World Trade Center in 1993.

Fundraising Begins In Possible Gary Johnson Run For SenateAssociated Press

Former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is inching closer to a possible run for U.S. Senate in New Mexico - his consultant has formed an independent political committee.

Ron Nielson said Thursday that the Elect Liberty PAC has started to raise money in support of a likely Johnson Senate campaign. Johnson has relied on Nielson as a consultant since his first successful campaign for governor of New Mexico in 1994.

The Libertarian Party has offered Johnson its nomination to run against incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich and Republican Mick Rich, a construction contractor and first-time political candidate.

Johnson also is stepping down from his post as honorary chairman of Our America Initiative that has pushed to open up presidential debates and ballot access in general to third-party and independent candidates.

Dem New Mexico House Speaker Defends Candidate Hit By AuditAssociated Press

New Mexico Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf is defending a Democratic House candidate slammed in a state audit for improper reimbursements as head of an agency that promotes the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Egolf told The Associated Press this week that a report released by State Auditor Wayne Johnson showed Andrea Romero acted properly to correct reimbursements as executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

The Democratic leader says he is not asking Romero to drop out of the race for a House seat in Santa Fe and looks forward to working with her.

The audit hits Romero over unlawful reimbursements. Romero said she paid them all back.

Republican Party of New Mexico Executive Director Ryan Gleason says Romero has a "chronic habit of breaking the law for personal enrichment" that should disqualify her for elected office.

Navajo Nation Official Pleads Not Guilty To $6M Theft ChargeAssociated Press

A Navajo Nation official has been accused of unlawfully transferring $6 million of Ramah Navajo Chapter funds to different investing companies without proper authorization.

Tribal officials say Ramah Navajo Chapter President David Jose was arraigned Monday on three counts of theft. He pleaded not guilty.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Prosecutors say one of the investment companies filed for bankruptcy less than a year after Jose made a $1 million transfer to the company.

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice is seeking to recover those funds in a bankruptcy proceeding.

The Ramah Chapter is located in New Mexico and is part of the Navajo Nation.

Troubled New Mexico County Facing Officer ShortageGallup Independent, Associated Press

A financially strapped New Mexico county is facing an officer and deputy shortage, and New Mexico State Police say they can't become the permanent replacement.

The Gallup Independent reports Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace said last week his department is down to four deputies, a detective, a lieutenant, and a courtroom security officer to patrol the vast 4,500-square-mile area.

Grants Police Chief Steve Chavez heads the police department in the county's largest city. He says he just lost five officers in a month.

The shortage comes as the county of 21,000 people is struggling with its budget and that officers leave for higher-paying jobs.

State Police Capt. Eric Schum says the county needs to hire more deputies since state police also have limited resources.

New Mexico Prison Is On Lockdown After Inmate DisturbanceAssociated Press

A medium-security prison in New Mexico remains under lockdown following a disturbance involving several inmates in multiple housing units.

Officials at the Lea County Correctional Facility near Hobbs say Wednesday night's disturbance was brought under control within an hour and no injuries were reported.

The New Mexico Corrections Department has started an internal investigation into the incident that began around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when several inmates in four housing units refused to follow orders to go back to their cells.

Correctional officers used tear gas to force the inmates into their cells and secured the housing units.

Prison officials say the lockdown will continue until further notice.

The Lea County Correctional Facility houses more than 1,200 inmates and is privately operated under a contract with the state.