Compound Defendants To Be Released Pending Trial, Taos Judge Receives Threats After Ruling

Aug 14, 2018

Compound Defendants To Be Released Pending Trial - Associated Press

A state judge has denied a request by prosecutors to keep in jail the two men and three women who were arrested during a raid at a New Mexico compound as they await trial on child abuse charges.

Prosecutors provided more details about the accusations during a court hearing Monday, including that children who were found at the compound were trained to use firearms by Siraj Wahhaj, and that they learned other tactical techniques as they prepared to get rid of teachers, law enforcement and other institutions that were considered corrupt.

Public defenders argued that they didn't have enough time to review the evidence, but Judge Sarah Backus allowed the hearing to continue and found prosecutors failed to articulate any specific threats to the community.

She set a $20,000 bond for each and ordered that they wear ankle monitors and have weekly contact with their attorneys.

Taos Judge Receives Threats After Ruling- Associated Press

New Mexico court officials say a the Taos judge has received threats of violence after the ruling that allows the release of defendants accused of child abuse in connection with a raid on a ramshackle compound near the Colorado border.

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Artie Pepin said Tuesday said that Judge Sarah Backus has come under attack through social media, emails and telephone calls.

Officials said one caller threatened to slit the judge's throat, while others leveled insults.

Backus says prosecutors presented troubling information Monday in court about the defendants but failed to articulate any specific danger to the community.

Pepin says a judge's responsibility is to make impartial decisions based on evidence in court and not popular sentiment from other information.

UNM Regents To Vote Again On Cutting Sports Teams- KOB-TV, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents will meet to satisfy claimed violations of state open meeting laws when it decided in July to cut four sports programs.

The regents voted unanimously July 19 to eliminate men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball. They also voted to cut diving from the women's swimming and diving program and reduce the men's track and field roster.

Attorney General Hector Balderas accused the board of not properly giving the public notice that it would be discussing the cuts at last month's meeting.

KOB-TV reports the next meeting will be Friday. It will include a presentation on a plan to discontinue the sports and time for public comment.

Ahead of the previous vote, regents heard emotional testimony from players, coaches and community members about the importance of the programs.

Tribal Officials Celebrated The Navajo Code Talkers- Associated Press

Tribal officials held an annual celebration of the Navajo Code Talkers.

The Navajo Nation Office of the president and vice president said this year's annual event was Tuesday morning in Window Rock, Arizona, at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds.

There was a parade, a wreath ceremony and a 21-gun salute in the morning. A Gourd Dance and a screening of the movie, "Navajo Code Talkers: Journey of Remembrance" took place in the afternoon.

Monument Damaged By Storm Closed Temporarily For Repairs- Associated Press

A national monument in north-central New Mexico is closed temporarily due to storm damage to the access road, trails and other facilities.

The Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument will be closed until further notice while roads are repaired and trail segments are reconstructed.

The monument is located 42 miles north of Albuquerque on the Pajarito Plateau and features cone-shaped tent rock formations produced by volcanic eruptions.

Johnson To Make Libertarian Bid For Senate Seat- Associated Press

Former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson began his campaign Tuesday to unseat New Mexico's junior Democratic senator, seeking political opportunity in the space between Democrats and voters loyal to President Donald Trump.

His campaign manager said a formal announcement would come soon.

Johnson remains popular in New Mexico and his entry into the U.S. Senate race that Democrats have been favored to win could complicate the party's national effort to hold seats or make gains in the chamber.

Johnson's 2016 presidential bid as a Libertarian sputtered after a live-television gaff on foreign policy. Democrats saw the presidential run, with currents of social liberalism, as a bane to their party, even as Johnson criticized Trump for his treatment of women and border-wall proposal.

Elected and re-elected governor of New Mexico as a Republican, Johnson stayed true to a small-government philosophy while vetoing more than 700 bills. His open advocacy for legalized marijuana broke mainstream 1990s political taboos and made him a national curiosity.

New Mexico Education Officials Adopt Changes To State Test- Associated Press

New Mexico school districts now will get student test scores by the end of the school year and will have 15 more days to prepare for statewide exams, according to changes announced by the state's Public Education Department on Tuesday.

State Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said the revisions, adopted immediately, come after he and other education officials received feedback from teachers on New Mexico's required statewide exam — a test that has drawn strong criticism from teachers unions.

Now test results, from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, will be available for school districts by May instead of the summer. The window for school districts to administer the test also will be reduced.

Ruszkowski said state officials also hope to shorten the time needed to take PARCC tests by 2020.

New Mexico Gubernatorial Candidates Prepare For Debates- Associated Press


New Mexico's gubernatorial candidates will be sparring in a series of televised debates ahead of the November election.

Republican Steve Pearce confirmed Tuesday that he has accepted invitations from New Mexico's three major network affiliates as well as the Public Broadcasting Service to debate his opponent this fall.

The debates will be held in September and October.

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham's campaign says she will participate in at least three of the televised debates along with forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters and other groups.

Pearce said voters deserve to hear firsthand from the candidates on the issues facing New Mexico before going to the polls.

Police ID 6-year-old Girl Who Died In Her Home - Associated Press

Police in Rio Rancho have identified a 6-year-old girl who died in her home and they say they're investigating it as a homicide.

They say an autopsy will be done to determine how Ariana Romeo was killed.

Police said Monday that no arrests have been made in the case yet, but detectives have executed search warrants with help from the FBI and residents of the home have been interviewed.

Rio Rancho police spokesman Ron Vigil told the Albuquerque Journal that the girl's mother was in the home when officers responded to a 911 call Saturday and the child's father lives out of state.

Vigil says police and the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department had been called to the home in the past, but dates and details weren't immediately released.

EEOC Files Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Ojos Locos - Associated Press

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a complaint against a Texas-based sports bar over allegations managers sexually harassed female workers at an Albuquerque location.

The complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque last week said women employees at Ojos Locos Sports Cantina were regularly subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct by supervisors and co-workers.

Court documents say since 2014 the women received a text message of a supervisor's private parts, received requests for sex and endured constant derogatory comments about their bodies.

The commission says at least one woman was fired after she refused advances. It is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and reforms within the company.

The Plano, Texas-based Ojos Locos Sports Cantina did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.

McDonald's To Spend Around $43M In New Mexico For Updates - Associated Press

McDonald's says it and its franchisees will invest around $43 million in New Mexico on construction and renovating 60 restaurants.

The Chicago-based fast-food chain said Tuesday the investment is part of a $6 billion effort to modernize most U.S. restaurants by 2020.

Under the plan announced for New Mexico, construction will take place throughout 2018 and 2019.

Restaurants will see modernized dining rooms with globally and locally inspired décor, new furniture and refreshed exterior designs. New digital self-order kiosks also will be installed.

Navajo Code Talkers Day Celebration Planned For Tuesday - Associated Press

Navajo officials say a celebration of the Navajo Code Talkers will be held Tuesday in Window Rock.

There will be a parade, a wreath ceremony and a 21-gun salute in the morning. A Gourd Dance and a screening of the movie, "Navajo Code Talkers: Journey of Remembrance" will take place in the afternoon.

New Mexico Local Districts To See Election Cost Jump - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Lea County school districts, hospital districts and the New Mexico Junior College all will likely see jumps in local election costs next year thanks to the state's new local election law.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the Hobbs Municipal Schools’ next election will cost more than twice as much as previously budgeted.

State Sen. Daniel A. Ivey-Soto says the jump comes because each local government taxing entity will be assessed $250 for every million dollars of general fund expenditures annually to pay for the Regular Local Election. Ivey-Soto, an Albuquerque Democrat, sponsored the bill that sparked the changes.

Local government taxing entities — school districts, community colleges, soil and water conservation districts, water and sanitation districts and hospital districts — will be held in November of odd-numbered years.

Criminal Probe Sought On Pro-los Alamos Agency Over Spending - Associated Press

An environmental group is asking the New Mexico attorney general to launch a criminal investigation into an agency that promotes the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Northern New Mexicans Protecting Land, Water and Rights asked state Attorney General Hector Balderas in a complaint Saturday to look into the spending practices of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

That agency is made up of nine northern New Mexico cities, counties and pueblos surrounding the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. The group promotes the economy in connection with the lab.

A recent state auditor report found that the agency approved improper reimbursement for alcohol, food, travel and baseball tickets.

The agency's former executive director Andrea Romero, who is running for a state lawmaker seat, has drawn criticism for her spending habits.