Balloonists To Get Auto Theft Trackers, Most New Voters In State Register As Independents

Oct 2, 2018

Balloonists Getting GPS Trackers For Auto Theft ProtectionKOAT-TV, Associated Press

Balloonists participating in Albuquerque's hot air balloon festival are getting GPS trackers for their cars and trailers.

KOAT-TV reports that with half a million people expected to attend Balloon Fiesta, which starts this weekend, parking lots all over the city will be packed with cars and trailers.

To prevent auto thefts, the Office of Superintendent of Insurance is offering free GPS trackers this year to balloonists.

Special Agent Mark Torrez says GPS trackers will be placed in balloonists' cars or trailers.

He says the trackers will allow agents to monitor the vehicles if they are stolen.

Participating balloonists can also hang a sign from their rear-view mirror warning thieves that the vehicle could be monitored by GPS.

The agents are also offering free VIN etching for balloonists.

New Mexico Spaceport Seeks Taxpayer Support For ExpansionAssociated Press

The CEO of New Mexico's commercial spacecraft launch facility is stepping up pressure for more taxpayer support as lead spaceport tenant Virgin Galactic inches closer to its goal of flying tourists into the lower reaches of space.

Spaceport American CEO Dan Hicks said Monday that it's not realistic for the facility near the Army's White Sands Missile Range to be 100 percent self-sufficient financially.

Hicks foresees Superbowl-sized public interest in Virgin Galactic's first passenger flight to space, which he expects could happen within six months to a year.

Virgin Galactic has hundreds of reservations but no launch date as it executes the final stages of powered testing for its winged spacecraft.

Spaceport America is seeking a $700,000 operating budget increase. Proposed near-term construction projects are worth $75 million.

New Mexico Eyes Cutting 30 Percent Of State HR JobsSanta Fe Ne Mexican, Associated Press

The state of New Mexico plans to cut full-time jobs in human resources across state government by more than 30 percent.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the State Personnel Office says the goal is part of a controversial plan to move human resources bureaus from various departments into one agency.

State Personnel Office director Justin Najaka recently told lawmakers the goal is to go from 348 full-time staff working in human resources to 240.

Najaka told the Legislative Finance Committee the state would "right size" human resources staffing by leaving vacant positions open, reassigning personnel and cutting jobs.

Robin Gould of the Communication Workers of America Local 7076 says cutting human resources employees across the state is not a good idea.

Records Show Most New Voters In New Mexico Are IndependentsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

State records show the biggest increase in New Mexico voter registration is among residents who declined to state a party affiliation.

The Albuquerque Journal reports nearly 54 percent of those who registered to vote from March 2017 through August of this year registered without stating a party affiliation or did so with a different political party besides Democrats or Republicans.

That's 23,380 of the 43,434 newly registered voters. The figure is more than the number of newly registered Democrats and Republicans combined.

Overall, about 22 percent of the state's registered voters are now classified as declined-to-state voters, commonly referred to as independents.

Voter registration for the coming general election closes on Oct. 9. Election Day is Nov. 6.

State High Court Seeks To Fill Seats Of 2 Retiring Justices Associated Press

State judicial branch officials are seeking applications to the state's highest court ahead of January.

Sergio Pareja, the chair of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, issued a call in a statement Monday.

Officials say the court must fill the positions of Justice Charles Daniels and Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, whose retirements begin Jan. 1.

Maes won election to the Supreme Court in 1998. Five years later, she became the first Hispanic woman to serve as the court's chief justice. She twice held the position, including from 2003 to 2005 and 2012 to 2014.

Daniels was first appointed to the court in 2007. He also has served two stints as chief justice.

The candidate who wins the governor's race in November will appoint their replacements.

New Mexico Deputy Appears On Felony Battery Charge ­– Associated Press

A New Mexico sheriff's deputy has made a first court appearance in Albuquerque on accusations he used excessive force when authorities say he kicked a suspect and fractured his face earlier this year.

David Priemazon, who is 48 years old and a 15-year veteran of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, has been charged with aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm, a felony.

Authorities say Priemazon in March engaged in a vehicle chase of a man suspected of driving a car with the wrong license plate. A criminal complaint says that when Priemazon kicked the suspect the act was not carried out for the "purposes of lawful arrest."

Another deputy reported Priemazon to the department.

His attorney Fred Martinez did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Lawyer Wants New Mexico Priest In Abuse Case Out Of Prison - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A lawyer for a former New Mexico priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse is seeking his release from federal prison.

Defense attorney Samuel Winder filed an appeal late last week asking a federal judge to reverse a decision to detain Arthur Perrault until his trial on sexual abuse.

A federal magistrate ordered the 80-year-old Perrault held pending trial after deeming him a flight risk.

Court documents say Perrault vanished in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleging Perrault had sexually assaulted seven children at his parish. He was located last year in Morocco.

Winder wants the Connecticut-born Perrault released to an Albuquerque halfway house under strict conditions.

Winder says Perrault suffers from diabetes and chronic hypertension.

Santa Fe Community College Sees 5 Percent Enrollment Drop – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Santa Fe Community College is reporting a more than 5 percent drop in enrollment.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that decrease means the school lost nearly 300 students this semester.

The decline in full-time equivalent students at the college this year is even greater, at more than 8 percent. The grim enrollment figures follow last year's drop of about 4 percent, a decrease of more than 250 students.

Declining enrollment has become common at colleges and universities across New Mexico and around the nation.

University of New Mexico officials said the state's flagship school has seen a 7 percent drop in students this year.

Alaska Airlines Pulls 2 Albuquerque Flights, Adds El Paso Associated Press

Alaska Airlines is pulling two non-stop flights for Albuquerque International Sunport while adding two non-stop flights to El Paso.

The airline announced last week it was ending its non-stop services from Albuquerque to San Francisco and Orange County because of a lack of demand. The Sunport says flights on the airline to Portland, Seattle and San Diego will remain.

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines says it will add direct daily flights from El Paso to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and San Diego International Airport.