APS Seeks State Funding For School Security Upgrades, Albuquerque Makes Progress On Rape Kit Backlog

Aug 20, 2018

APS Seeks State Funding For School Security UpgradesAssociated Press

Seventy schools in the Albuquerque Public School district could get security upgrades if state lawmakers approve the district’s application for additional funding.

The Albuquerque Journal reports APS is seeking over $7 million dollars from the state legislature. The district would pitch in almost $6 million more for the projects that include classroom door locks, fencing, front door card access and secure front entry-ways.

APS officials say the district’s share of the money would come from the APS capital master plan budget.

Jonathan Chamblin of the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority says up to $16 million dollars is available for security upgrades at schools statewide. Awards could be announced in October.

Ex-New Mexico Senator Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement, Perjury- Associated Press

A former New Mexico state senator who's already serving a prison sentence for public corruption convictions has pleaded guilty to two felony counts each of embezzlement and perjury.

State prosecutors say Phil Griego entered the pleas Monday to avoid another trial.

Griego was sentenced to an additional year of prison, to be served consecutive to his current sentence.

He began serving an 18-month prison term in March after being convicted by a jury of fraud, bribery and other charges stemming from allegations that he misused his position to profit from a real estate deal.

A judge waived all but 18 months of a 12-year sentence.

The 70-year-old Griego is currently incarcerated at a state prison in Los Lunas that has special units for elderly inmates and those in poor health.

SunZia Transmission Project Faces More Opposition - Associated Press

The SunZia project's road to commercial operation is facing a new round of controversy, this time from community groups that fear the transmission line will inflict irreparable environmental damage, fundamentally disrupting wildlife and the livelihood of residents along the central Rio Grande.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the $2 billion project, first proposed in 2008, looks to build two 1,500-megawatt high-voltage lines running 520 miles from central New Mexico to Arizona to carry wind-generated electricity to Western markets.

Opponents of the project question how much renewable energy it would actually transport, whether wind developers using the line can realistically find markets for the electricity, and whether the benefits for New Mexicans are worth the costs.

Bystander Struck By Stolen Car In Albuquerque Chase Has Died - Associated Press

Authorities say a bystander struck by a stolen car that was being chased by Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies has died.

They say Robert Chavez died Friday, 11 days after he was severely injured in a multi-car pileup.

Sheriff's officials have yet to release the name of the driver of the stolen car.

They plan to pursue homicide by vehicle charges against the driver.

KRQE-TV reports sheriff's officials are conducting an internal investigation to determine the deputies' involvement in the crash.

New Mexico Candidates Clash On Labor, Business ReformsAssociated Press

The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are offering contrasting visions for changing the state's labor and business climate at a public forum.

Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce said Monday that businesses are showing an interest in expanding to counties in New Mexico that want to limit compulsory union fees by ordinance. Pearce praised right-to-work reforms as a way to give workers greater choice.

Rival Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham described right-to-work reform as a divisive, partisan issue that doesn't address the state's economic challenges.

New Mexico's Democratic-led Legislature has consistently defeated proposals to outlaw compulsory fees for workers who decide not to belong to a union.

Albuquerque Makes Progress On Rape Kit Backlog- Associated Press

New Mexico's most populous city has made some progress to clear its backlog of untested rape kits as state public safety officials are close to erasing their own backlog.

An update from a Legislative Finance Committee shows the city of Albuquerque had tested 1,050 of 4,543 unprocessed sexual assault evidence kits as of the end of July.

The city has plans to clear the backlog by 2020.

A review in 2015 and 2016 by the Office of the State Auditor found there were 5,440 untested kits across the state, with nearly 75 percent of those in Albuquerque. That total gave New Mexico the unwelcome distinction of having more untested kits per capita than any other state.

Legislative analysts say the state Department of Public Safety is within 100 kits of completing its backlog of 1,388.

Suspect Shot By Albuquerque Police Expected To Survive- Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a suspect who was shot by officers after firing a rifle is expected to recover.

Police spokesman Tanner Tixier says authorities were responding to reports Sunday afternoon of a man banging on the doors of other residents and threatening to kill them.

Tixier says responding officers spent two hours trying to talk with the man.

He says the suspect then took a rifle and opened fire. It's not clear if he was aiming at police.

Officers returned fire.

Tixier did not disclose how many shots were fired during the incident.

The suspect's name was not released pending notification of family.

Univ. Of New Mexico Paid $600K In 'Fetal Tissue' Legal Bills- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico racked up more than $600,000 in legal bills as it navigated a special congressional committee's investigation into how it procured fetal tissue for research, according to documents obtained by the Albuquerque Journal.

University officials say the expenses were necessary to protect the university, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

Documents obtained through a public records request by the Journal showed the university used the Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery, spending $611,446 on what the invoices call the "fetal tissue inquiry."

In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to convene the "select investigative panel" to investigate fetal tissue transfers and related matters. The Republican-led committee's $1.5 million investigation ultimately alleged that UNM violated state law.

The committee sent what it called "criminal referrals" to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas in June 2016. Balderas announced earlier this year that his office's review found UNM had not broken the law.

Albuquerque Police Arrest Suspect After Bomb Threat At Store - Associated Press

Police in Albuquerque say they've arrested an armed robbery suspect at a convenience store after he claimed to have explosive devices in two backpacks.

Authorities blocked off a section of northeast Albuquerque and put Kaseman Hospital on lockdown as a precaution.

Police responded to a call at the store about 9 p.m. Saturday.

A police department explosives ordinance disposal team checked out the backpacks and took the suspect into custody.

The suspect's name and age weren't immediately released.

The area was reopened around 11:30 p.m.

It's unclear if the backpacks contained any explosive devices.

EPA Waits To Release Comments On Colorado Mine Cleanup Plan- Durango Herald, Associated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it won't release public comments on its interim cleanup plan for southwestern Colorado mines until it has reached a final decision on the plan.

The Durango Herald reported the EPA's position Sunday.

Last June, the EPA outlined the next steps it plans to take to protect rivers from toxic metals flowing out of the Gold King Mine and other sites while it comes up with a longer-term solution.

EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Peterson said the agency usually doesn't release public comments on this type of plan until a decision is reached.

The EPA inadvertently triggered a spill from the Gold King in 2015, tainting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The agency designated the Gold King and 47 other sites a Superfund district in 2016.

Teen Becomes Town's First Female Football Player - Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Miracle Rey is about to make some history in her southeastern New Mexico town.

The Roswell Daily Record reports she'll be the first female football player to don pads at Hagerman High School when the team starts the season Friday.

Rey says she has always loved watching football with her brothers and asked them to teach her. Her father was initially against her playing football, she says, but he came around after watching her in action.

Her dream is to become the first woman to play in the NFL.