Albuquerque Mayor Outlines Legislative Priorities, Land Commissioner Settles Lawsuit

Dec 4, 2018

Albuquerque Mayor Details Priorities For Legislative SessionAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller's administration will focus on public safety, children's issues, addressing homelessness and creating jobs during the 2019 New Mexico legislative session.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Keller on Monday released his administration's legislative priorities. He says his administration is setting its sights on "tangible projects that can make a real difference in our communities."

Keller says he wants improved radio technology for better coordination between all emergency service providers in the city and the surrounding area.

He also wants to build two centrally located shelter facilities with onsite supportive services to help with the city's homelessness issue.

Keller says he wants more support for pre-K programs and two new child development centers.

Bankruptcy Filing Provides Rare Window Into Church Finances - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest Catholic diocese has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months on lawyers to fight claims of clergy sex abuse and to prepare for a potentially lengthy fight in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe's petition for reorganization provides a rare look into the finances of a religious organization that has for decades been wrestling with the financial and social consequences of a scandal that has rocked churches across the country.

Archbishop John Wester describes the filing as an equitable thing to do as reserves dwindle. He says compensating victims is a priority.

National watchdog groups say the archdiocese's actions suggest otherwise as tens of millions of dollars in real estate have been transferred to parishes in recent years. They say that tactic shields church assets from victims hoping to recover damages.

Supplies Low For Shelters Helping Migrants As Holidays Near - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Volunteer shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border say they are getting hit with an expected surge of new migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. who need temporary housing.

Nonprofit groups and churches are racing to get donated clothes, diapers, cots and meals for Central American migrants as the holidays approach.

Christine Misquez of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Cathedral in southern New Mexico says volunteers plan to open two more shelters to accommodate the thousands of families that are expected to need places to stay. The cathedral already houses dozens of families every week after federal immigration authorities release detainees.

The Trump administration in recent weeks has been releasing detained immigrants from Central America at a quicker pace than before, putting a strain on shelters from San Diego to South Texas.

Nevada Suing US In Bid To Block Plan For Plutonium ShipmentsAssociated Press

Nevada is suing the federal government in a bid to stop announced plans to ship plutonium from South Carolina to a former U.S. nuclear proving ground north of Las Vegas.

In a statement Tuesday, outgoing Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt repeated a vow that the state will fight the Department of Energy plan to store radioactive bomb-making material at the Nevada Nuclear Security Site.

The lawsuit was filed Friday. Sandoval says Nevada won't stand for the threat the shipments could pose to public health and safety.

Security site spokesman Gregory Wolf says the Energy Department has been ordered by a federal judge in South Carolina to move plutonium from the federal Savannah River complex by January 2020.

Wolf says the material is expected to eventually be sent to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Herrell Begins Ballot Inspection After Losing US House Race - KVIA-TV, Associated Press

A Republican who lost a closely watched U.S. House race in southern New Mexico has begun inspecting absentee ballots from a key county.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports Yvette Herrell's campaign began Monday inspecting 8,500 absentee ballots from Doña Ana County.

Lawyers for Herrell got a state district judge to agree to impound the ballots so her campaign could examine them.

Herrell lost to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small after absentee ballots from Doña Ana County put her over the top.

Herrell alleged on Fox News that she was a victim of voting irregularities but has declined to give details. She also has not returned a number of calls from The Associated Press.

Doña Ana County Clerk Amanda Lopez Askin says she has heard of no allegations of irregularities.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Settles Defamation Suit Over Ad - Associated Press

New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has reached a settlement agreement with Garrett VeneKlasen in a defamation lawsuit over 2017 political attack ads.

Aubrey Dunn's attorney and son Blair Dunn on Monday said that settlement terms are private other than a written public apology from VeneKlasen.

The ads against Dunn were launched by VeneKlasen as he campaigned unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for land commissioner. Under the settlement, VeneKlasen says he did not intend to state that Dunn was corrupt, self-dealing or dishonest.

Dunn eventually declined to run for re-election as land commissioner and briefly campaigned for Congress as a Republican and then U.S. Senate as a Libertarian before withdrawing. Democrat state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard won election in November as land commissioner against Republican Patrick Lyons.

New Mexico Lawmakers Seek To Rename Columbus Day - Associated Press

The state of New Mexico may have celebrated its last Columbus Day.

A legislative proposal to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day has cleared its first hurdle in the New Mexico Legislature with a unanimous committee endorsement.

Sandia Pueblo tribal member and Democratic state Rep. Derrick Lente is preparing a bill for the coming legislative session that renames the state holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October.

He told fellow lawmakers that it is fitting that the tribute to Christopher Columbus be dropped in a state with 23 designated Native American communities.

Tributes to European conquerors are fading or being rewritten out of consideration for Native Americans in many New Mexico communities amid enduring expressions of pride in the state's Spanish colonial heritage.

Court Reviews Fate Of Man Who Killed 5 As A TeenAssociated Press

Prosecutors are placing scrutiny on how authorities perceived the demeanor of a New Mexico man who as a 15-year-old killed his parents and three young siblings.

At a hearing Monday, a former sheriff's deputy answered questions about his interview with 21-year-old Nehemiah Griego after the 2013 killings.

The weeklong hearing for Griego is meant to determine whether he has been rehabilitated while in state custody and is prepared for release. It's the second such hearing for Griego, who three years ago pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.

A judge in 2016 determined Griego could be released at age 21, but was ordered to revisit the case after an appeal from state prosecutors.

Witnesses this week include therapists who have provided Griego with psychological treatment. That testimony is expected to remain sealed.

New Mexico's Largest Diocese Files Bankruptcy Petition - Associated Press

The largest Catholic diocese in New Mexico has filed its bankruptcy petition in federal court, beginning a reorganization process that could take more than a year.

Attorney Ford Elsaesser, who is representing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, confirmed the filing was made Monday afternoon.

The move comes as the archdiocese faces more than three dozen active cases involving clergy sex abuse.

Archbishop John Wester announced last week that he had been contemplating the action for years but that the archdiocese had reached a tipping point. Expecting more cases to be filed, he said he wanted to ensure there would be resources to provide compensation for victims.

About 20 dioceses and other religious orders around the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of clergy sex abuse claims.