Bankruptcy Filing Is Look At Church Finances, Report Says 911 Called On Student For Being 'Black'

Dec 5, 2018

Bankruptcy Filing Provides Rare Window Into Church Finances - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest Catholic diocese has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months on lawyers to fight claims of clergy sex abuse and to prepare for a potentially lengthy fight in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe's petition for reorganization provides a rare look into the finances of a religious organization that has for decades been wrestling with the financial and social consequences of a scandal that has rocked churches across the country.

Archbishop John Wester describes the filing as an equitable thing to do as reserves dwindle. He says compensating victims is a priority.

National watchdog groups say the archdiocese's actions suggest otherwise as tens of millions of dollars in real estate have been transferred to parishes in recent years. They say that tactic shields church assets from victims hoping to recover damages.

Report: Store Called 911 On Student For Being 'Black' - Associated Press

Advocates have filed a complaint in New Mexico on behalf of a college student who says a convenience store employee called police on him for "being arrogant because he's black."

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico this week filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau on behalf of Jordan McDowell, an African American university student from New Orleans, following an August episode at a Santa Fe Allsup's convenience store.

According to the complaint, McDowell, a pre-med student at Xavier University in New Orleans, drew attention from an employee at the Allsup's Convenience Store. The complaints say the employee felt McDowell was being "suspicious and sneaky."

After McDowell confronted the employee, the complaint says the employee called 911. No one was arrested.

The Clovis, New Mexico-based Allsup's did not immediately return phone messages.

New Mexico High Court Complains About Quality Of Lawyering- Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court is grousing about the quality of legal briefs filed by some lawyers, even in appeals arguing that defendants' earlier legal representation was subpar.

The Supreme Court commented Friday in an opinion that acknowledged that appellate representation of a man convicted of child abuse was deficient in some ways but still ruled that he wasn't denied his constitutional right to appeal.

The justices said it was with "a degree of irony" that they were complaining about the quality of lawyering in a case involving a brief with structural and clarity problems.

The decision said judges should order lawyers to redo briefs that are unclear or "otherwise unprofessional," and it said judges can impose sanctions on lawyers who don't meet their obligations.

New Mexico Utility Reaffirms 20 Percent Renewables Goal - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electricity provider has reaffirmed its commitment to build five new solar plants next year as it plans to obtain 20 percent of retail electricity sales from renewable sources by 2020.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the state Public Regulation Commission approved last week the 2019 renewable energy plan for Public Service Co. of New Mexico.

The utility's plan reaffirms projects outlined in this year's plan, including the construction of 50 more megawatts of solar power generation.

The utility will also increase its renewable energy rate rider, raising the monthly charge from about $3.77 to about $4.32 next month.

The increase is expected to raise revenue to $49.6 million to help fund construction costs.

The utility is currently getting more than 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

Lawmaker Launches Gofundme Legal Defense Fund - Associated Press

A New Mexico state lawmaker is raising money online through GoFundMe to offset legal defense costs after sexual harassment charges against him were dismissed.

State Rep. Carl Trujillo on Tuesday said he spent nearly $106,000 on attorney fees and that his name had been cleared by an ethics panel of the Legislature. Harassment charges by former political lobbyist Laura Bonar were dismissed after the Bonar declined to be deposed or testify before an investigative panel.

Bonar said through an attorney that a deposition would have forced her to identify other victims of unrelated sexual harassment. Trujillo disputes that and criticizes Bonar for interfering in an election by calling on him to resign.

Trujillo lost the June Democratic primary in the wake of the allegations.

Trujillo says the ordeal caused incalculable stress on him and his family, a damaged reputation and lots of money.


Air Force Cited For Groundwater Contamination In New Mexico - Associated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department has issued a notice of violation to the U.S. Air Force for failing to properly address groundwater contamination at a base near Clovis.

Chemicals associated with firefighting foam once used at Cannon Air Force Base have been detected in groundwater on and near the military installation.

That has prompted requests by state officials for more tests and a study to determine the extent of the toxic plume.

Environment Department officials announced Tuesday that it is requiring swift action from the base to comply with specific requirements of state law to protect human health and the environment.

They say failure to comply with the violation notice could result in an administrative compliance order that can assess civil penalties up to $15,000 per day for each violation.

Supplies Low For Shelters Helping Migrants As Holidays Near - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Volunteer shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border say they are getting hit with an expected surge of new migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. who need temporary housing.

Nonprofit groups and churches are racing to get donated clothes, diapers, cots and meals for Central American migrants as the holidays approach.

Christine Misquez of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Cathedral in southern New Mexico says volunteers plan to open two more shelters to accommodate the thousands of families that are expected to need places to stay. The cathedral already houses dozens of families every week after federal immigration authorities release detainees.

The Trump administration in recent weeks has been releasing detained immigrants from Central America as a quicker pace than before, putting a strain on shelters from San Diego to South Texas.