Albuquerque Faces Ethics Beef For Pro-Bond Push On Website, Workshops Ignite Rural Employment

Nov 5, 2019

Workshops Look to Ignite Employment In Rural Communities -Associated Press

Experts in rural economic development are discussing ways to bolster employment and combat poverty in remote areas of New Mexico.

Workshops organized by the Western Governors' Association on Tuesday delved into strategies for helping people including disabled residents work remotely from home for far-away businesses.

A separate panel is exploring strategies for ensuring access to nutritious food in impoverished communities or people living far from population centers.

About one and three children in New Mexico come from homes where parents struggle to find secure employment. The workshops have brought together experts from academia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the energy industry, a homebuilders' association and anti-hunger groups.

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was scheduled to speak at the conference Tuesday.

Albuquerque Faces Ethics Beef For Pro-Bond Push On Website - Associated Press

A conservative-leaning group says it will file an ethics complaint against the city of Albuquerque for a pro-bond push posted on the city's taxpayer-funded website.

Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing told The Associated Press on Monday his group will file an ethics complaint after Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller urged city residents on the city's website to vote 'YES' Wednesday on the proposed general obligation bond.

Keller says the bond would fund a new library and give police more vehicles and equipment.

Gessing says election laws prevent cities, counties, and school districts from using tax-funded websites to push a stance on bonds or mill levies.

Mayor's office spokesperson Jessie Damazyn said Keller's staff worked to ensure communications followed the ethics ordinance and lined up with the approach of past mayors.

George Orwell New Mexico Exhibit Bares 'Doublespeak' Legacy -Associated Press

A George Orwell exhibit in New Mexico is tackling the themes of the novelist's work from "1984" to "Animal Farm."

"George Orwell: His Enduring Legacy," which runs to April at the University of New Mexico, features posters and material related to work challenging totalitarianism.

The exhibition was sparked after a longtime advocate and employee of the University of New Mexico University Libraries donated his collection of rare Orwell books.

Artifacts and posters from the Spanish Civil War are shown to illustrate how the conflict played a role in Orwell's intellectually formation. The exhibit also features artistic portrayals of Napoleon, the authoritarian pig in "Animal Farm."

The British-born Orwell was also known for "1984," which has become a best-seller in the U.S. again during the Trump administration.

Navajo Police Officer Dies Due To On-Duty Medical Complication -Associated Press

Navajo Police Department officials say a 22-year veteran officer has died after suffering a medical problem while on duty last month.

They say Sgt. Lamar Martin died Monday.

Police officials say Martin had a "medical event" on Oct. 9, but they didn't release any other details.

Martin became a Navajo Police Officer in November 1997 and was a defensive tactics instructor, a general instructor, a field training officer and a member of the strategic reaction team for the department.

Officials say Martin served in the Marines and the New Mexico Army National Guard.

He also was assigned for active duty in support of Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2009.

Funeral plans for Martin are pending and police didn't immediately have a list of his survivors.

Border Patrol Agent Shoots, Kills Gunman Who Opened Fire - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press

This story has been corrected to show that the shooting happened Monday.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a gunman who opened fire about a mile from the border with Mexico, immigration officials said.

The agent approached a group of four people early Monday, and one of them pulled out a gun and started shooting, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The agent fired back, hitting the man, who died at a hospital. No agents were hurt during the shooting in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a suburb of El Paso, Texas.

No additional information was released, including the names of the agent and gunman. The CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the shooting.

New Mexico State police and FBI also are investigating, Albuquerque FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said. He declined to say which agency would make a determination in the case.

Federal authorities blocked off the crime scene, closing a main road in Sunland Park and stretching crime tape between their patrol vehicles.

An auto shop and a car dealership on either side of the street were closed.

New Mexico GOP Sues To Halt Absentee Voting In Las Cruces - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico is seeking an injunction to halt the counting of absentee ballots in a southern county over allegations state and local officials were ignoring requirements over ballot qualifications.

State GOP chairman Steve Pearce said Monday the party filed a lawsuit Friday after the Secretary of State and the Doña Ana County Clerk dismissed Republican concerns whether the absentee ballots were following prerequisites under a new law.

According to Republicans, the law signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this year called for absentee voters to provide names, addresses and years of birth on their absentee ballots. But Pearce said Doña Ana County opened the absentee ballots without the proper information and mixed them up with other absentee ballots instead of setting them aside to be examined.

Pearce said the mixing up of ballots could taint all absentee votes and open up the possibility of illegal votes or people voting twice.

The state GOP said some Doña Ana voters had submitted improper ballots in the Las Cruces mayoral race.

In a statement, Toulouse Oliver spokesperson Alex Curtas said the Secretary of State's office was confident Doña Ana County was following the proper procedures and state law.

More New Mexico Democrats Endorse Senate Bid By Congressman - Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján says his Senate election bid in 2020 has the support of New Mexico's two current senators.

In a statement Monday, Luján announced endorsements of his campaign by retiring Sen. Tom Udall and second-term Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Leading Democrats are falling in line behind Luján as the only Democratic contender to replace Udall after Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver dropped out of the race last week.

Republican contractor Mick Rich and college professor Gavin Clarkson are pursuing the GOP nomination for Senate. They both lost statewide elections in 2018.

Luján represents northern New Mexico and currently holds the No. 4 leadership position among House Democrats. A crowded field of candidates are vying for his seat in Congress.

Boeing Crew Capsule Completes Major Flight Test In Desert - By Marcia Dunn AP Aerospace Writer

Boeing's capsule for astronauts underwent its first major flight test Monday, shooting a mile into the air then parachuting back to the New Mexico desert.

The Starliner capsule carried no crew, just a test dummy for the 1 ½-minute shakedown of the launch abort system. Only two of the three main parachutes opened, but both NASA and Boeing said astronauts would have been safe if aboard.

The abort system is designed to provide a fast getaway for a crew, if there's an emergency on the Florida pad or in flight.

For its next test, Boeing plans to launch a Starliner to the International Space Station next month, without a crew.

All three astronauts assigned to the first crew flight — targeted for next year — were present for Monday's test.

2 Permian Basin Oil And Gas Producers Get Violation Notices - Associated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department has issued notices of violation to two Permian Basin oil and gas producers over air quality regulations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued similar notices for the violations.

During April inspections in southeast New Mexico, the EPA and state environment department reported finding violations of state and federal air quality laws at the Mewbourne Oil Company and Matador Production Company facilities.

These violations include failure to capture emissions from storage vessels, maintain pilot lights on flares, comply with closed vent system requirements and ensure natural gas is captured and not emitted into the atmosphere.

Authorities say failure to comply with air quality laws can result in uncontrolled emissions of volatile organic compounds, contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and hazardous air pollutants.

New Mexico GOP Set To Endorse Trump - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico appears set to join Nebraska Republicans and endorse President Donald Trump for re-election.

State GOP chairman Steve Pearce told The Associated Press on Monday that an endorsement "would be a mere formality" since everyone on the party's central committee is supporting the president.

Pearce says he knew of nobody in New Mexico GOP circles who wasn't supporting Trump. He also didn't know if any of Trump's Republican challengers, like former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh or former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, would even get on the New Mexico ballot.

The Nebraska GOP announced in August the party had unanimously endorsed Trump for re-election.

Four states have discussed plans to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries.

New Mexico's Top Court Examines 'Warrior-Gene' Defense - Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering whether evidence of a genetic predisposition toward violence should have been allowed in the trial of a man convicted of murder in 2015.

Oral arguments were scheduled Monday in an appeal stemming from the conviction of Anthony Blas Yepez in the killing of his girlfriend's 75-year-old step-grandfather during a domestic dispute in 2012.

The state Court of Appeals says evidence was improperly excluded at trial that Yepez had a so-called warrior gene variant linked to aggressive and violent behavior. The appeals court also found the omission was harmless and would not have had a bearing on the second-degree murder conviction against Yepez.

State prosecutors fear the appeals court decision left the door open to an unsubstantiated scientific theory in court.

New Mexico Town In Oil Boom To Get New Worker 'Camp' - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A small New Mexico town in the heart of the Permian Basin oil and gas boom is getting a new camp development to house oil workers.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports Canada-based international hospitality company Amity Lodges announced this month a groundbreaking ceremony for a new camp development under construction east of Jal, New Mexico.

Jal Mayor Steve Aldridge says the southeastern New Mexico town has been struggling in recent years to provide sufficient housing for oil and gas workers.

Amity Lodges management consultant Ryan Bullock says the camp will open in a first phase providing 558 executive style beds.

Officials say amenities at the facility will include a 26,424 square-foot kitchen and dining hall in 39 modules with up to 780 dining hall seats.