APS Opposes State Education Proposal, NM Supreme Court Denies Petition From Public Defenders

Oct 11, 2017

Albuquerque School Board Opposes State Education ProposalThe Associated Press

The board for New Mexico's largest school district is opposing the state's proposed changes to science teaching standards that substitute references to rising global temperatures and climate change with statements about climate "fluctuations."

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the policy committee of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education voted on Tuesday to send a letter to the Public Education Department criticizing the proposal.

The Public Education Department has suggested several additions and deletions as it moves forward with adopting a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences. The state's proposal also omits references to evolution and the age of Earth.

Board member Barbara Petersen says the letter will show teachers that they have support to "teach real science." 

Supreme Court Denies Petition For Help From Public DefendersThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court says it will not intervene on behalf of public defenders who say they are overwhelmed by cases from poor defendants.

Court officials on Wednesday confirmed the Supreme Court's unanimous denial of a petition for relief from the state's chief public defender.

The Law Offices of the Public Defender has said its attorneys in various parts of the state are wrongfully being forced to take on more cases than they can handle without neglecting indigent defendants who cannot otherwise afford an attorney.

State and local prosecutors insist the concerns are overblown, and a district judge has rejected attempts by defense attorneys to refuse new cases in southeastern New Mexico.

During oral arguments in July, public defenders suggested several ways to limit caseloads.

Swiss Team Shatters Distance Records In Gas Balloon RaceThe Associated Press

A Swiss team has won the annual America's Challenge gas balloon race, traveling the farthest and shattering previous distance records for the annual competition.

Based on tracking and landing coordinates provided by the team of Nicolas Tieche and Laurent Sciboz, their balloon covered 2,278 miles while aloft for nearly 60 hours. They landed in a remote area of Canada near the Newfoundland border after taking off Saturday from the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival in New Mexico.

The previous America's Challenge record of 1,998 miles was set in 2000 by brothers David and Alan Levin. The Swiss team also beat the longest distance flown in the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett championship of nearly 2,113 miles set in 2005.

Eight teams competed in this year's challenge.

District Attorney Drops Charges Against Protest LeaderThe Associated Press

Prosecutors have dropped felony and misdemeanor charges against a California woman accused of striking two Santa Fe police officers with a cardboard sign while protesting a re-enactment of Spanish conquistadors reclaiming the city from Pueblo Indians.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Jennifer Marley's attorney says the charges were dropped on the eve of a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, at which prosecutors would have had to detail evidence against Marley and try to convince a judge to let the case against her proceed.

Prosecutors may still refile the charges against Marley in a higher court or seek a grand jury indictment, but Marley's attorney, Dan Cron, says it is unlikely charges will be refiled.

District Attorney Marco Serna did not respond to messages seeking comment after business hours Tuesday.

New Mexico Regulators Move Ahead With Clean Energy ProposalThe Associated Press

A New Mexico regulatory panel has narrowly cleared the way for more discussion on a proposed clean energy standard supporters say would protect utility customers and shareholders from the costs of future environmental regulations.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to host workshops in Santa Fe next week.

Commissioner Patrick Lyons argued that the meetings should be held in northwestern New Mexico, where electric utilities are looking to retire their coal assets. The area is bracing for the partial closure of the San Juan Generating Station later this year.

Lyons says the economic effects on the region should be part of the discussion.

The proposed standard calls for utilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that serve customers in the state by 4 percent a year through 2040

Albuquerque School Board Member Resigns Amid Funding ProbeAssociated Press

An Albuquerque school board member has resigned following an investigation into her role at a charter school under scrutiny in an embezzlement case.

Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Tuesday that Analee Maestas resigned from her position effective immediately.

Balderas says Analee Maestas was no longer qualified because of concerns regarding misuse of public funds at La Promesa Early Learning Center.

Earlier this month, the state auditor's office said La Promesa's former assistant business manager — Maestas' daughter — had deposited over 500 checks worth more than $475,000 into her personal bank account.

Maestas founded La Promesa in 2008. She was accused last year of altering a receipt for maintenance work she had done at her home so she could be reimbursed as if it had been a school expense.

Her attorney, Marc Lowry, did not immediately return an email.

New Mexico AG: Transgender People Deserve Equal ProtectionsAssociated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says gender identity discrimination threatens millions of people living and working in the United States and that they deserve every protection under the law.

Balderas, a Democrat, made the comment in a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in response to a memo issued last week that said federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work.

Sessions called the interpretation a "conclusion of law, not policy," and said the move should not be construed to condone mistreatment of transgender people.

Balderas argued that interpreting the Civil Rights Act to the harmful exclusion of Americans who deserve equal protection is a policy decision that contradicts the spirit of a law that was created to prevent discrimination.

New Mexico Utility Continues Plan To Stop Burning CoalSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest utility says the Trump administration's move to repeal federal energy regulations won't derail its plan to stop burning coal.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Public Service Co. of New Mexico is still planning to wean off coal by 2031, and it will continue with its efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan, which the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday that it intended to dismantle.

The utility had agreed to shut down two coal-burning units at a power plant in northwestern New Mexico and to install pollution controls on existing units by the end this year. It plans to completely close the facility by 2022.

Company spokesman Ray Sandoval says the utility doesn't anticipate any changes to these plans.

Las Cruces Youth Pastor Accused Of Child Sexual ExploitationAssociated Press

Federal authorities say a youth pastor from Las Cruces is facing child sexual exploitation and pornography charges.

They say 30-year-old Stephen Mendoza Arellano made his initial appearance Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque.

He's being held on a criminal complaint charging him with attempted production of child pornography, enticement of a child to engage in sexual activity, and travel to meet a minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Prosecutors say the alleged crimes occurred between May and August of this year and involved a 15-year-old girl in El Paso, Texas.

Arellano remains in federal custody pending a preliminary hearing and detention hearing, which have yet to be scheduled.

They say Arellano is an ordained minister for the Apostolic Assembly Church and serves as its District of New Mexico Youth president.

New Mexico Adopts Political Disclosure Rules For Dark MoneyAssociated Press

New Mexico is requiring independent groups that spend heavily to influence the outcome of elections and ballot measures to disclose their contributors under certain circumstances.

Rules from the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office went into effect Tuesday that are designed to help voters understand what individuals and special interests are paying for political advertising outside of direct campaigning by candidates.

Disclosures apply when explicit endorsements are made and when groups spend more than $2,500 on a statewide election or ballot measure, or $1,000 for non-statewide elections that include state legislative seats.

The rules change as election day draws near to include almost any mention of a candidate or ballot measure if it is within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

Chaves County Sheriff's Deputies Petition To Form UnionRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Deputies of the Chaves County Sheriff's Office have initiated the legal process to form their own union.

The Roswell Daily Record reports the Chaves County Labor Management Relations Board is scheduled to hold a special meeting Thursday to consider the petition from the International Union of Police Association, AFL-CIO.

The petition says Sheriff's Office deputies, sergeants, detectives and animal control officers seek the certification of AFL-CIO, as their exclusive bargaining unit. The initial certification is needed to the formation of a union, and the beginning of a potential collective bargaining agreement between the deputies and the county.

The petition states about 34 Sheriff's Office employees would be in the proposed union.

Thirty percent of affected employees, pursuant to state law, must sign authorization cards to initiate the unionization process.

Sex Offender Ordered Held In New Mexico Child Porn CaseAssociated Press

A man convicted more than two decades ago in Virginia of indecent acts with a child has been ordered held pending trial on new charges in New Mexico.

A state district judge agreed Tuesday with prosecutors from the New Mexico Attorney General's Office that 61-year-old Francisco Saucedo of Rio Rancho should remain in custody without bond.

Court documents show agents arrested Saucedo last week after finding pornographic images and other documents related to children on his computer and on other digital storage devices.

In addition to three child sexual exploitation charges, Saucedo is accused of sexually assaulting a young relative, voyeurism and failing to register as a sex offender. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Authorities say the charges stem from a months-long investigation.

Suspect In Circle K Shooting Released Following DA ErrorKOB-TV, Associated Press

A district attorney's office says a suspect who robbed and fired shots inside a Circle K should not have been on the streets.

KOB-TV reports Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez says because of a mistake made by his office, the case involving Eric Reddick was misidentified, overlooked and he was released.

Police say Reddick and Allyssandre Moncayo were sitting in the parking lot of the Circle K Friday when Reddick went inside the gas station and demanded money from the clerk.

Reddick was behind bars facing similar charges in July.

Torrez says Reddick's case was mislabeled. Instead of being prioritized with other 10-day cases, it was put in the wrong pile.

Because he wasn't indicted in 10 days, a judge released him from jail and dismissed the charges.