Court Rescinds Proposed Rules On Juvenile Records, Permit Change Could Bring More Waste To WIPP

Dec 31, 2018

New Mexico Approves Permit Change For Nuclear RepositoryAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico environmental regulators have approved a permit change that could ultimately allow for more waste to be placed at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

The state Environment Department approved the change Dec. 21. It had been requested months ago by the U.S. Energy Department and the contractor that operates the southern New Mexico facility.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the approval came just days before Gov. Susana Martinez leaves office. Watchdog groups have accused the administration of rushing a decision and they plan to appeal.

The permit modification changes the way the volume of waste is calculated. Specifically, it excludes the empty space inside waste packaging containers.

Critics also are concerned that this could be a first step in expanding the repository's mission to hold other kinds of waste.

New Mexico Reports Spike In Flu-Like IllnessesAssociated Press

The latest figures from New Mexico health officials show the death of an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy while in U.S. custody followed a spike in overall flu numbers in the state.

That spike was especially prevalent in the southern region, where the child had been detained with his father earlier this month and where he was later hospitalized.

A weekly report from the New Mexico Health Department shows that from Dec. 16 to Dec. 22, people with flu-like illnesses made up 4.5 percent of reported patient visits statewide.

The figure represented a nearly 2-point increase from the week before.

According to the most recent weekly report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Mexico was among several states to see high activity during the period.

New Mexico Awaits More Appointments From Governor-ElectAssociated Press

Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham has yet to make her final round of cabinet appointments as she prepares to take over New Mexico's top executive post on Tuesday.

Still pending are decisions about key agencies that oversee public education, public safety, child welfare and the environment.

The Democrat announced Monday that John Bingaman, the son of former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, will be her chief of staff. He's the managing principal at the Santa Fe-based investment firm of Iron Creek Partners. He previously worked with the Quadrangle Group, an investment firm in New York.

A Harvard graduate, Bingaman will oversee development of policy and legislation for the new administration.

Teresa Casados was appointed as Lujan Grisham's chief operating officer. She is currently the director of senior services at Santa Fe County.

New Mexico Prepares For Newly Elected Democratic GovernorAssociated Press

New Mexico is preparing to celebrate the transition to a newly elected governor with ballroom galas in the state's capital city.

Democratic New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham is scheduled to attend ballroom celebrations Tuesday at a luxury hotel and the Santa Fe Convention Center. She will take office on New Year's Day at a private ceremony before attending morning Mass and a public inauguration.

Lujan Grisham defeated Republican Steve Pearce by a 14 percent margin in November as Democrats consolidated control over all statewide offices and New Mexico's congressional delegation by flipping a Republican controlled seat in southern New Mexico.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is leaving office after eight years marked by frequent clashes with the Legislature, which is led by Democrats, efforts to cut taxes and her expansion of Medicaid benefits.

Police Confirm Bodies Are Those Of Missing New Mexico TeensAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico authorities have confirmed that two bodies found in Sandoval County are those of two teenagers who had been reported missing in mid-December.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Keith Elder announced Monday that 15-year-old Collin Romero and 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef were found buried in a remote area west of Rio Rancho.

The two were reported missing Dec. 17 after one of their mothers reported a video on social media showed them bloodied and beaten.

Investigators with the Albuquerque Police Department had said they believed the teens were involved in a drug deal that may have gone bad.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Sandoval County deputies found clothing that contained evidence of a violent crime and began to investigate along with State Police. That led to the bodies.

The cause of death remains under investigation.

New Mexico Court Rescinds Proposed Rules On Juvenile Records - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Proposed rule changes that would have sealed records in many New Mexico crime cases involving juveniles have been rejected by the state Supreme Court.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the court on Dec. 30 rescinded amendments that the court previously approved in 2017 but suspended last January to provide more time for public comment.

A committee that drafted the proposed amendments said sealing records in delinquency proceedings was consistent with "protecting the privacy of children who come in contact with the courts, particularly in the digital age."

However, the court's latest order said it was rescinding the proposed amendments under "the general rule of transparency" guiding New Mexico courts and because the Legislature hasn't required the automatic and immediate sealing of court records filed in delinquency proceedings.

Secretary Of CYFD Wraps Up Term - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Monique Jacobson is wrapping up her tenure as cabinet secretary for New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department.

The agency has 34 offices and facilities around the state and about 2,200 employees in four divisions. Jacobson tells the Albuquerque Journal each of those divisions has made improvements in the past four years.

In Protective Services, for instance, the number of foster homes increased by 24 percent, and the number of field workers grew by 30 percent.

New Mexico Woman To Lead Mothers' Advocacy Group - Associated Press

A nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of mothers across the U.S. has tapped New Mexico's tourism secretary to be its next leader.

American Mothers Inc. announced Friday that Rebecca Latham will assume the role of chief executive officer on Jan. 1. Latham served as the state's tourism boss under outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez.

Latham has been a member of American Mothers' board of directors since April 2017.

Before being appointed tourism secretary in 2015, she served as the agency's communication director and was previously the director of tourism and economic development in the northern New Mexico community of Red River.

Latham's new duties will include growing a philanthropic initiative that supports other nonprofit organizations that help women and children.

Navajo Bill Aimed At Changing Company To For-profit Status - Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A bill proposed for consideration by the Navajo National Council is aimed at making a tribal-owned energy company a for-profit corporation.

The Daily Times reports that the legislation would authorize the tribe to petition the U.S. Interior Department to allow the Navajo Transitional Energy Co. to become a for-profit corporation under the Indian Reorganization Act.

The NTEC is a tribal enterprise company created in 2013 to purchase the Navajo Mine near Fruitland.

Besides owning the mine, the company acquired a 7 percent interest in the Four Corners Power Plant this year and is exploring options for the tribe's potential purchase of the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona.

The council on Friday began a special session scheduled to conclude Monday.

Winner Of "The Voice" To Perform At New Mexico Inauguration - Associated Press

Chevel Shepherd, the winner of NBC's "The Voice," is scheduled to perform this week at the inauguration of New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham's office says Shepherd will perform "God Bless America" at the inaugural ceremony along with other songs at the two inaugural balls on Jan. 1.

The Democratic politician says Shepherd, a 16-year-old from Farmington, has made New Mexicans proud with her remarkable talent.

Shepherd was declared the winner of "The Voice" earlier this month after weeks of competition. Singer Kelly Clarkson was her coach.

Shepherd has said she also plans to schedule a concert in January in her hometown.

New Mexico Family Stuck In Snow, Rescued After 2 Days - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Searchers rescued a family of four who "stayed hunkered down" in their pickup for two days after getting stuck in snow in mountains in southern New Mexico.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the family from Carlsbad was reported missing Thursday and that searchers on snowmobile found them safely inside their pickup near Mayhill in the Lincoln National Forest.

The search began after the Otero County Sheriff's Office contacted the New Mexico State Police upon being notified that the family didn't return to a hotel in the area.

State Police Officer David Miller said the family — a man and his three children ages 11-14 — "stayed hunkered down in that pickup truck for the last two days, waiting."

Mayhill is 98 miles north of El Paso, Texas.