Albuquerque Mayor Rejects Buses For Transit Project, Losing Republican Files Suit In US House Race

Nov 14, 2018

Albuquerque Pulls Plug On Electric Buses For Transit Project Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Albuquerque is rejecting and returning the electric buses supplied by a Chinese manufacturer for the city's long-delayed transit project.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mayor Tim Keller announced Monday the plan to pull the plug on all 15 of the 60-foot electric buses manufactured by Build Your Dreams for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.

Keller says city officials have no confidence that issues regarding battery life can be mitigated.

Officials have also found brake failures and other equipment malfunctions in the buses built at the company's California-based subsidiary.

Keller says the city is planning to acquire 15 non-electric buses from a "well established American company that makes buses all the time."

Under the contract, the city did not have to pay the company until the final delivery of buses.

Prison Group Faces Lawsuit Over Immigrant Wages - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The operator of one of the largest private prison systems in the United States is facing a class action lawsuit from formerly detained immigrants who say they were paid as little as $1 per day as part of "volunteer" work programs.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Maryland says three detained men from Cameroon who came to the U.S. seeking asylum were paid the low wages at the CoreCivic-run prison in Cibola County, New Mexico.

Attorney Joe Sellers says the men were not facing criminal charges and were being held while they sought asylum. Sellers says the men, who are now U.S. residents living in Maryland and Ohio, should have been paid prevailing wages.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press.

Report Cites Weak Reporting On Missing, Killed Native Women - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

A study released by a Native American nonprofit says numerous police departments in cities nationwide are not adequately identifying or reporting cases of missing and murdered indigenous women.

In a report released Wednesday, the Seattle-based Urban Indian Health Institute says researchers found some 500 missing persons and homicide cases involving Native American women in 71 cities. The cases were identified through limited police data that researchers obtained through public records requests and media reports.

Researchers say they expect their figure represents an undercount because some police departments in cities with substantial Native American populations, including Albuquerque, did not respond to their requests for figures, and because Native American women are often identified as belonging to another race.

The report recommends measures for better data collection training and requirements.

US Warns Travelers Of Long Waits At Some Border Crossings Associated Press

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection office that oversees West Texas and New Mexico is warning travelers that wait times at ports of entry in the region could get longer.

Officials said Wednesday that specially trained officers from the El Paso and Tornillo ports in Texas and New Mexico's Santa Teresa port are being deployed to California and Arizona in preparation for the arrival of an approaching caravan of migrants.

El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha says the deployment will have an effect on the agency's travel and trade operations in West Texas and New Mexico.

Some lanes at the ports will close and processing times are expected to increase.

Thousands of Central American migrants are speeding their journey to the U.S. border. The first group reached Tijuana on Tuesday.

Albuquerque Open Space Agency To Be Led By WomanAssociated Press

Colleen McRoberts has been selected as Albuquerque's first female open space superintendent.

McRoberts' appointment was announced Tuesday. She'll oversee more than 45 square miles of major public open space in New Mexico's most populous city.

McRoberts served as an open space coordinator for Bernalillo County for more than a decade. She also was a Peace Corps volunteer for three years and a research assistant for the World Wildlife Fund.

McRoberts' appointment comes as communities around the state look to attract more visitors and expand New Mexico's multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation economy.

Organizers already are planning for next year's New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Silver City and a push is underway for New Mexico to join other western state in creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Work On Feature Film 'Rattlesnake' Underway In New MexicoAssociated Press

The feature film "Rattlesnake" is being filmed at a handful of locations around northern New Mexico.

The New Mexico Film Office said Tuesday that the work will continue through mid-December in Santa Fe, Espanola, Las Vegas, Cochiti and Abiquiu.

About 100 New Mexico crew members are working on the film, along with dozens of extras from the state.

The film is directed by Zak Hilditch and produced by Ross M. Dinerstein. The stars include Carmen Ejogo, Theo Rossi and Emma Greenwell.

Set in a desert town, the film tells the story of a single mother who accepts the help of a mysterious woman after her daughter is bitten by a rattlesnake. She finds herself forced to pay back her debt by taking the life of a stranger.

Losing Republican Files Lawsuit In US House Race – Associated Press

A New Mexico Republican who lost her bid for a U.S. House seat is seeking to impound absentee ballots in a key county that decided the race to the Democrat.

Yvette Herrell filed a lawsuit late Tuesday in New Mexico state district court and is asking a judge to impound the absentee ballots so her campaign could inspect them.

Court documents filed by Herrell's lawyers cited "chain-of-custody issues and other improprieties" but didn't give details.

Herrell told Fox News on Saturday there were "over 100 documented complaints" about voting irregularities. She didn't provide evidence and her campaign has not returned repeated voicemails, text messages and emails from The Associated Press seeking details about her accusations.

The AP called the race for Democrat Xochitl Torres Small after the absentee ballots from Dona Ana County tallied Wednesday put her over the top.

Advocates For Open Primary Elections Target New Mexico – Associated Press

Advocates for opening primary elections to independent voters are asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to block public funding of the state's closed primary election system.

The petition was filed Tuesday on behalf of four registered New Mexico voters by attorneys for the Open Primaries Education Fund.

It argues that New Mexico election regulators are violating the constitution by using taxpayer dollars to fund primary elections that exclude hundreds of thousands of voters who are not affiliated with major parties.

At least 22 percent of registered voters in New Mexico decline to choose a party affiliation.

Advocates for the current system say it ensures distinct ideological choices in general elections and helps voters make informed choices.

New Mexico's Democratic secretary of state and governor-elect support a switch to open primaries.

Albuquerque Police: Suspect In Workplace Shooting Found Dead – Associated Press

Authorities say the suspect in a workplace shooting that injured three people used a forklift to block one of the doorways at the New Mexico food distribution warehouse where the shooting took place.

Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said at a news conference Tuesday that it appeared 30-year-old Waid Anthony Melton had some issues with his employers and that investigators also were hearing about possible mental health concerns.

The chief said he could not speculate about a motive.

4 Dead, 1 Wounded In Apparent Murder-Suicide In New Mexico – Associated Press

The FBI says four people are dead and a woman wounded after an apparent murder-suicide on the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico.

They say one of the dead is the suspected shooter.

A spokesman for the FBI in Albuquerque says the incident occurred inside a residence Tuesday morning in the community of Tsayatoh (say-yah-TOH'), which is near the New Mexico-Arizona border.

Authorities say it appears the shooting was an act of domestic violence.

Autopsies are pending on the four adults who died.

An adult woman was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds and Navajo police say she's in critical condition.

The names of the four dead and the wounded woman were not immediately released.

The FBI and the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety are investigating the incident.

Work Underway On Massive Fans For Nuclear Waste Repository– Associated Press

The U.S. Energy Department says a New York-based company is building several massive fans to be used in a new multimillion-dollar ventilation system for the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

Officials say the six fans being made by the Encorus Group will significantly increase the amount of air in the underground portion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico.

Each fan will stand 20 feet tall and weigh 44,000 pounds.

Construction of the ventilation system is expected to wrap up in early 2021.

The ventilation overhaul was prompted by a radiation release in 2014 that contaminated portions of the repository and forced its closure for nearly three years. The release resulted from an inappropriately packed drum of waste that came from Los Alamos National Laboratory.