AG Slams UNM Over Transparency Laws, Navajo Candidates Endorse Lujan Grisham

Sep 6, 2018

AG Slams University Of New Mexico Over Transparency Laws- Associated Press

The state attorney general's office said the University of New Mexico flagrantly abused the state's transparency laws while school officials asked employees to delete emails and text messages relating to athletics.

In a report released Thursday, the attorney general's office said UNM sought to actively hide information from journalists seeking details about questionable spending by the athletics department and the contentious decision to cut some sports.

Assistant Attorney General Dylan Lange wrote in the report that the numerous violations centered on the state's Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act.

He said it is clear that the university lacks proper written internal controls to ensure proper and complete compliance.

State Settles Lawsuit Over Sex Bias With Prison Workers- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Current and former employees of a state prison have reached a $2.5 million settlement with the state to resolve allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that six female correctional officers filed a civil rights complaint in 2015 describing the state prison in Los Lunas where they worked as a "sexualized, violent environment."

The plaintiffs say male colleagues would expose themselves, shared graphic pictures and videos, made derogatory comments and inappropriately touched them.

According to the lawsuit, the women say supervisors were aware of the situation, but did not take appropriate action.

The state Corrections Department has denied the allegations and said the settlement was reached to avoid a costly legal battle.

Spokesmen for the state didn't respond to requests for comment.

Scouting Mission Underway Along Proposed Rio Grande Trail- Associated Press

A couple of hikers have embarked on a 500-mile expedition that will traverse New Mexico from end to end.

The mission is to chart out the best route and identify what challenges might lie ahead as the state moves closer to establishing the Rio Grande Trail.

Following in the footsteps of other states, New Mexico is looking to capitalize on its vistas, mild weather and culture with the creation of a long-distance trail along one of North America's longest rivers.

Officials say outdoor recreation in New Mexico is already a multi-billion-dollar industry and the Appalachian, the Continental Divide and other famous long-distance trails have proven to be beacons for attracting visitors.

The Rio Grande Trail Commission just approved the official logo for the trail and a master plan should be rolled out later this year.

Man Accused Of Being Cartel Assassin Extradited To US- Associated Press

A man accused of being an assassin for a cartel was extradited from Mexico to New Mexico in connection with a 2008 slaying in which a burned body was left on a desert mesa in the state, authorities said.

Jaime Veleta Jr., 35, was recently brought to the U.S. for his role in the death of Danny Baca, who was shot 22 times with a semi-automatic assault rifle and whose burnt body was left on Pajarito Mesa the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

Baca, 53, worked for the Juarez cartel smuggling marijuana and cocaine from the Mexico border city of Juarez to El Paso, in hidden compartments in a Ford Mustang, officials say.

He is suspected of keeping some marijuana for himself and selling it for around $7,000, angering cartel leaders.

Prosecutors Say 20-Year-Old Defendant Killed 13-Year-Old BoyAlbuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Prosecutors say they now believe a 13-year-old boy found in a shallow grave in Nambé was killed by the son of his mother's boyfriend.

The Albuquerque Journal reports court documents accuse 20-year-old Jordan Nuñez of torturing Jeremiah Valencia daily with a homemade spear or a shock collar.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports prosecutors argued at a hearing Wednesday that Nuñez and the boy's mother, 36-year-old Tracy Ann Peña, be held until trial.

Both are charged in Santa Fe District County Court with child abuse resulting in death and evidence tampering.

Authorities initially suspected Nuñez's father, 42-year-old Thomas Ferguson, as the one who fatally beat the boy. Ferguson was also charged but he died by suicide in jail in April.

Defense attorney Mark Earnest says any abuse by Nuñez was under pressure from Ferguson.

New Mexico AG Seeks To Review Church Personnel FilesAssociated Press

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office is asking Roman Catholic church officials around the state to review records for any materials that may be related to past or present allegations of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Las Cruces confirmed Wednesday it received a letter from the attorney general's office requesting to review personnel files. The diocese says it will cooperate.

Bishop Oscar Cantu says having an independent authority review the files can foster greater confidence in the transparency and accountability of the diocese.

The attorney general also sent letters to the Santa Fe and Gallup dioceses.

The review follows a recent grand jury report that said more than 300 Catholic priests abused at least 1,000 children over the past seven decades in six Pennsylvania dioceses, and senior figures in the church hierarchy systematically covered up complaints.

Navajo Candidates Endorse Lujan Grisham For New Mexico GovAssociated Press

The remaining two presidential candidates of the nation's largest American Indian reservation have endorsed Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham for New Mexico governor.

Navajo Nation presidential candidates Jonathan Nez and Joe Shirley Jr. said they were supporting Grisham over Republican Steve Pearce because of her record on Native American issues.

Nez says Grisham as a member of Congress always had her door open for the Navajo residents and would continue as New Mexico governor.

Shirley says Grisham would work to strengthen the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation and preserve the tribe's language.

The Navajo Nation sits in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

Detention Hearing Delayed For New Mexico Compound ResidentsAssociated Press

A judge has pushed back a detention hearing for five former residents of a ramshackle compound in New Mexico who are facing federal firearms-related charges.

Wednesday's decision came after public defenders requested more time to prepare. The defendants will remain in custody pending the Sept. 12 hearing.

The group was initially arrested last month in a raid of the compound near the Colorado border. Local authorities were searching for a missing boy, whose body was found days later in a tunnel on the property.

The federal charges stem from allegations against Jany Leveille. She's charged with illegally possessing firearms and ammunition linked to her unlawful immigration status. The other defendants are accused of assisting her.

State prosecutors say they intend to pursue charges against Leveille and partner Siraj Ibn Wahhaj related to the boy's death.

Despite Past Reforms, Native Women Face High Rates Of CrimeAssociated Press

A wave of legal reforms in the past decade aimed at protecting Native American women from crime has proven limited.

Statistics showing high rates of victimization among Native American women prompted Congress to close legal loopholes that had prevented tribes from prosecuting many of those who harm them.

Lawmakers also passed laws to improve data collection and increase funding for training of tribal police.

Years later, a federal report found those data collection and reporting efforts are still in development, and funding for training remains limited.

Many tribes have not been able to take advantage of various reforms because of costly mandates.

Now, advocates are pushing for more changes as the disappearances of Native American and Alaska Native women and girls gain attention.

Santa Fe School Boards Rejects Armed School Guards ProposalSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Santa Fe school board members have turned down the school board's president proposal to hire armed officers for the district's two high schools this year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports school board President Steven Carrillo proposed bringing on armed officers known as school resource officers to protect students against shooters on campus.

During Tuesday's board meeting, the four other board members voted against holding a special study session to discuss the issue.

Board member Maureen Cashmon cited previous concerns that hiring armed officers only for the high schools is unfair to students at middle and elementary schools.

Board member Kate Noble agreed with Cashmon, adding that she didn't think the community support the idea.

Several board members expressed an interest in counselors for students.

Police Say Boys Broke Into New Mexico Day Care, Killed GoldfishAssociated Press

Three New Mexico boys are facing charges after police say they broke into a Las Cruces day care, mutilated the center's goldfish, and then stole the day care's van.

Las Cruces police spokesman Dan Trujillo said the boys ages 13, 12 and 11 were arrested early Sunday following the burglary of the Discovery Child Development Center.

Trujillo says the boys took out three goldfish from day care tank, stomped on them and smeared their insides across the floor. He says another fish was found smashed to death on a counter top.

Trujillo says the boys picked up another 11-year-old boy and broke windows of several vehicles.

The boys were later stopped by a New Mexico State University officer.

The boys were charged with non-residential burglary and extreme cruelty to animals among other charges.