Arguments In TX-NM Water Right, Lawsuit Says Silver City Hired Cop Who Killed Ex

Nov 18, 2017

Oral Arguments Scheduled In Texas-New Mexico Water RightAssociated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in a lengthy battle between New Mexico and Texas over management of one of North America's longest rivers.

Oral arguments in the Rio Grande case are scheduled Jan. 8.

All sides say the stakes are high given uncertainty about the future sustainability of water supplies throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Farmers, water policy experts, city officials and others have been working behind the scenes to build a framework for a possible settlement.

Texas took its case to the Supreme Court in 2013, asking that New Mexico stop pumping groundwater along the border so that more of the river could flow south to farmers and residents in El Paso.

New Mexico has argued in court documents that it's meeting delivery obligations to Texas.

Lawsuit: Silver City Hired Violent Cop Who Later Killed Ex Associated Press

The family of a woman killed by a Silver City police captain during a violent domestic rampage is suing the town and its police department for failing to stop him from stalking.

The lawsuit, which moved to U.S. District Court in Albuquerque this week, alleges that the Silver City police hired Mark Contreras despite his history of violence. After Contreras was hired, court documents say the police department did little to stop his physical abuse toward his ex-girlfriend, Nikki Bascom, and eventually promoted him to captain.

Authorities say Contreras shot and killed the 31-year-old Bascom then turned the gun on himself in April 2016.

The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Cody Rogers, an attorney for Silver City, did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press.

Lujan Grisham Tells Senate Leader To Leave Race Associated Press

New Mexico Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham says Democratic Sen. Michael Padilla should end his bid for lieutenant governor over claims he harassed women as a city of Albuquerque supervisor.

Padilla has long denied the claims from 2007, but Lujan Grisham said Friday that he was wrong and "there is no room for excuses" for the alleged abuse.

Two federal lawsuits say Padilla harassed women while managing the Albuquerque's 311 Call Center. Padilla was accused of making inappropriate comments and often asked women out on dates despite their repeated rejections.

The city ended up settling sexual harassment claims stemming from Padilla's tenure overhauling the problem-plagued 911 center.

Padilla said he will speak with Lujan Grisham, who is now a U.S. congresswoman. He called her a great candidate.

Former New Mexico Tax Worker Pleads Guilty In Extortion Case Associated Press

A former agent with the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department has pleaded guilty to extortion charges.

Federal prosecutors announced Larry Mendoza's plea on Friday. He could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

He was accused earlier this year of abusing his position to extort $2,500 from a business owner in return for reducing the owner's tax liability.

Mendoza also admitted that he engaged in a similar pattern with other business owners and that his criminal conduct was responsible for tax revenue losses in excess of $40,000.

Mendoza worked for the tax department for a decade. He was placed on leave in May and eventually fired.

He told authorities he used the money for personal benefit.

New Mexico Sees Over-The-Year Job Growth In Private Sector Associated Press

New Mexico's unemployment rate edged lower in October to 6.1 percent, slightly less than the previous month and nearly a percentage point less than the same period last year.

The state jobless rate is still higher than the national rate, but labor officials say New Mexico over the past year has recorded gains in the private sector that have resulted in 13,900 jobs, or 2.2 percent growth.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector was up 4,000 jobs, or 4.2 percent, representing the most substantial numeric gain of all industries.

Over-the-year job losses in mining have ranged of 100 to 800 jobs in the last seven months.

Among the state's 33 counties, Luna had the highest unemployment rate — 10.3 percent — for October, followed by McKinley and Torrance counties.

2 Dead After Pursuit Of Stolen Car In Albuquerque Associated Press

Two suspects in a stolen vehicle have been killed after a pursuit by deputies in Albuquerque.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said at a news conference Friday morning that the incident began shortly before 4 a.m.

A sheriff's office helicopter located a pick-up truck that had been reported stolen.

According to Gonzales, the truck began driving erratically and was stopped near Coors and Glen Rio NW.

He says at that point the deputies felt threatened and at least one shot was fired.

Authorities pronounced two people in the truck dead. Two others were uninjured and taken into custody.

Gonzales did not say why the deputies felt threatened or identify the dead suspects.

This is the second fatal deputy-involved shooting in a week.


New Mexico Posing Quarantine To Stop Pecan Weevil Bug Associated Press

New Mexico agriculture officials are issuing a quarantine in hopes of stopping the spread of an invasive bug threatening the state's pecan industry.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture says an emergency pecan weevil quarantine will take effect Monday and last for 180 days.

No pecan shipments from Chaves, Curry, Eddy and Lea counties will be permitted.

Meanwhile, the agency is also working with pest control companies to remove the weevil from residential and commercial trees.

In late 2016, and January of this year, the weevil was found in pecan orchards in multiple counties in southeast New Mexico.

Pecan producers worry the quarantine could prevent them from trading to the west where New Mexico's $180 million pecan industry is most lucrative.

Judge Rebukes Albuquerque Regarding Police Reform Monitor Associated Press

A judge presiding over federally-mandated reforms of the Albuquerque police force is taking the city to task for trying to disqualify an independent monitor.

U.S. District Judge Robert Brack Thursday denied a motion Thursday in which the city questioned monitor James Ginger's objectivity.

The motion cited comments Ginger made in 2016 that were caught on a police body camera and a remark from his staff that he "has an ax to grind."

Brack says neither was evidence of bias.

The judge also chastised the decision to secretly record Ginger with a body camera as "unacceptable."

He ordered recordings and transcripts secretly obtained of the monitor and his team be turned over.

The department has been undergoing an overhaul since the Justice Department found a pattern of excessive force in 2014.