Court Rules Fair Pay For Women Act Applies To State Employees, Dozens Injured In Deadly Bus Crash

Aug 31, 2018

Court Rules Fair Pay For Women Act Applies To State Employees- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

An appeals court has rejected the Corrections Department's argument that the Fair Pay for Women Act doesn't apply to state employees.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports female New Mexico government employees filed lawsuits against the department claiming that they were being paid less than their male counterparts.

The department had argued that a 2013 law that prohibited wage discrimination based on gender and allowing workers to seek back wages did not apply to the state.

The state Court of Appeals' Thursday decision clears the way for a lawsuit for lost wages by a lawyer who had worked at the state's prison system.

The case will go back to the state District Court in Santa Fe.

The department can still appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Trump Names Career Official To Lead National Park Service- Associated Press

On Friday, President Donald Trump named the superintendent of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park to head the National Park Service, a job that has been filled on an acting basis for nearly 20 months.

If confirmed by the Senate, David Vela would become the first Hispanic to lead the agency.

Vela is a 28-year career veteran who has worked at parks across the country and was director of the Southeast region for four years.

The agency has not had a Senate-confirmed director since Jonathan Jarvis retired in January 2017, days before Trump took office.

Vela said in a statement that he hopes to reduce the park service's multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog, "protect our national treasures and serve all who come to enjoy the parks."

New Mexico GOP Joins Petition To Stop Straight-Party Voting- Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico said Friday it is supporting a bipartisan coalition fighting a move to bring back a straight-party voting option on ballots in the November election.

The state GOP said it joined other groups in filing an emergency petition in the New Mexico Supreme Court to prevent the change.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, has said she is formatting ballots to allow an entire slate of party candidates to be chosen at one time.

That decision has drawn condemnation from Republicans, Libertarians and some Democrats who say it violates state law.

They say the option would favor Democrats because those who choose it would reduce the likelihood they cast votes for candidates of other parties.

About 46 percent of the state's 1.2 million voters are registered Democrats. About 30 percent are Republicans.

Dozens Injured In Deadly New Mexico Bus Crash- Associated Press

Dozens of passengers were seriously injured when the commercial bus they were riding in was hit head-on by a semi truck on I-40 near Thoreau, killing eight people, hospital officials said Friday.

Officials at UNM Hospital said 10 patients are hospitalized there, including three adults who are in intensive care, one of whom is in critical condition.

Some patients were expected to undergo surgery Friday and Saturday. While doctors declined to offer specifics, they said the patients that came in during the hours that followed Thursday's crash on I-40 near the Arizona border had injuries that ranged from head trauma to spine fractures and other broken bones.

The crash killed eight people and injured many of the 49 people aboard the Greyhound bus.

At Least 7 Killed In Head-On Bus Crash In New Mexico KRQE-TV, Associated Press

A blown tire on a semi-truck may be to blame for a deadly head-on crash with a commercial passenger bus along Interstate 40 in New Mexico near the Arizona border, according to authorities.

At least seven people were killed in the crash and many of the 49 passengers aboard the Greyhound bus were injured although authorities couldn't immediately provide an exact count of how many were hurt or their conditions.

KRQE-TV reported the majority of passengers were transported to hospitals. The truck driver will likely recover.

New Mexico State Police said the semi was headed east on the freeway Thursday afternoon when one of its tires blew, sending the rig across the median and into oncoming traffic where it slammed into the Greyhound bus heading to Phoenix from Albuquerque.

The National Transportation Safety Board and New Mexico State Police are investigating.

Rookie Gallup Police Officer Honored For Saving Suicidal Man- Gallup Independent, Associated Press

A rookie Gallup police officer has received an award for risking his own life to save a suicidal young man from an oncoming train that nearly missed both of them.

Gallup Police Officer Patrick Largo, who became a certified officer in May, received a Life Saving Award Tuesday for his heroic actions on Aug. 15.

He says that at the time, he didn't think about how dangerous the situation was. He says he simply knew he had to do his job.

The Gallup Independent reports that after Largo got the man to safety, Largo handcuffed the man to prevent him from trying to jump on the tracks again.

The man was eventually taken to Gallup Indian Medical Center for an evaluation.

Former State Worker Sentenced To Prison In Extortion CaseAssociated Press

A former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department worker faces nearly four years in prison on federal extortion convictions.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced 45-year-old Larry Mendoza of Santa Fe and ordered him to pay over $43,000 in restitution.

Mendoza pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to a three-count criminal information filed that day.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mendoza solicited and accepted payments totaling $2,500 from a business owner in return for reducing the business owner's tax obligation.

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

The department terminated Mendoza after placing him on administrative leave in May 2017.

US Senate Hopefuls Vow To Help Trinity Test DescendantsAssociated Press

New Mexico's three senatorial candidates are promising to help descendants of families who lived near the Trinity Test site where the world's first atomic bomb was detonated.

Democratic U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, his Republican challenger Mick Rich and Libertarian Gary Johnson all say they would advocate for descendants to be included in a federal law that compensated families near nuclear test sites.

Currently, federal law does not include New Mexico residents and descendants who live near nuclear test sites.

Descendants say the World War II-era Trinity Test caused generations of southern New Mexico families to suffer from rare cancer and economic hardship.

Residents did not learn that the test had involved an atomic weapon until the U.S. dropped bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the war ended.

Prosecutor Undeterred By Compound Case SetbackAssociated Press

A New Mexico prosecutor says he won't give up pursuing charges against three people from a ramshackle compound where 11 children were found living in filth and the remains of a 3-year-old boy were hidden.

Taos-based District Attorney Donald Gallegos announced on social media Thursday that his office will refile charges or take the case to a grand jury.

Child neglect charges were dropped Lucas Morton, wife Subhannah Wahhaj and her sister Hujrah Wahhaj and they were released from jail.

Two other defendants are jailed on child abuse charges in the death of the boy whose remains were found.

A judge says the district attorney missed a crucial deadline to justify the child neglect charges and he was forced to drop the allegations and free the three.

US Nuke Repository Eyes 2nd New Mexico Waste Trucks RouteHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Officials at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository are hoping to designate a secondary route for waste trucks in southeastern New Mexico.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the group that manages the U.S. Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is seeking a new secondary route around Hobbs.

Nuclear Waste Partnership spokesman Bobby St. John says around 90 WIPP employees live in Hobbs.

St. John said officials are trying to avoid state Highway 128 even as a secondary route. The primary route for WIPP transportation is U.S. Highway 285.

The repository restarted operations in 2017 following a nearly three-year shutdown that resulted from a radiation release from an inappropriately packaged drum of waste that was shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Petition Aims To Limit Immigration Enforcement At CourtsAssociated Press

Immigrant advocates are petitioning the New Mexico Supreme Court to enact rules that would make it harder for federal authorities to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally at state courthouses.

A group gathered Wednesday outside Albuquerque's Metropolitan Courthouse with petitions that included the signatures of dozens of attorneys and several retired judges.

They want to prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from serving administrative warrants in and around courts. Instead, they would have to obtain judicial warrants signed by a judge.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the petition also asks for a rule that would allow a court to issue writs of protection for individuals who fear they may be subject to civil detention at or near a courthouse.

The petition includes a list of incidents in which immigrants were arrested in or near courthouses since 2017.

Woman Fatally Shot By Deputy After Stealing Patrol CarAssociated Press

Investigators say a county sheriff's deputy fatally shot a New Mexico woman after she drove away in a police cruiser with a suspect in the back seat.

New Mexico State Police released more details Thursday about the Aug. 23 shooting.

They say deputies were responding to a burglary when they encountered several people, including 45-year-old Daniel Ibuado of Belen. Belen is about 30 minutes south of Albuquerque. Ibuado was wanted on an outstanding warrant for aggravated burglary and taken into custody and placed in the back of a patrol car.

As deputies were talking with him, 34-year-old Virginia Romero of Belen got into the patrol car's front seat and began to drive away.

Deputy Ashley Martinez fired at Romero, striking her once. The patrol car crashed and Romero was pronounced dead at the scene.