Democrats Seek Repeal Of State Abortion Ban, Santa Fe Shelving Plan To Review Contentious Monuments

Nov 19, 2018

New Mexico Democrats Seek Repeal Of State Abortion Ban - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature are laying plans to end a decades-old ban on abortion that came before the landmark Supreme Court case.

State Rep. Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces said last week that removes the state's criminal ban on abortion in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns a 1973 decision that made the procedure legal nationwide.

She says her cause has taken on new urgency with the addition of Republican-appointed justices under President Donald Trump.

A 1960s-era New Mexico law makes it a felony for an abortion provider to terminate a pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, birth defects and serious threats to a woman's health.

The revived proposal has the public support of Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Republican Minority In New Mexico House Choose New LeaderAssociated Press

New Mexico House Republicans, who lost multiple seats in this month's election, have chosen a new minority leader.

Rep. James Townsend of Artesia was elected Sunday to lead Republican lawmakers.

Republicans came away with 24 seats in the 70-member chamber after the Nov. 6 election. It's the party's smallest House caucus since 1996.

Townsend, a 63-year-old retired oil industry executive, replaces House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, who did not run for re-election.

Majority Democrats plan to nominate Brian Egolf of Santa Fe to continue as House speaker when the session begins in January.

College Sees Spike In Donations Since Announcing Tuition CutCapital Gazette, Associated Press

A private liberal arts college with campuses in New Mexico and Maryland has seen a spike in donations since announcing plans to decrease tuition.

St. John's College reported more than 1,000 small gifts in its annual fund, totaling more than $750,000 since September. The Capital Gazette reports the amount is nearly twice as much what the annual fund raised during the same period in 2017.

Officials say the influx of gifts have come in since the school launched a $300-million campaign to fund its new philanthropy-centered financial model Sept. 12. St. John's is one of a few U.S. colleges that pivoted to a philanthropy-centered financial model that relies more on donor dollars.

Officials say it's too soon to tell if the tuition decrease will produce more applicants.

Immersive Art Project Finds Permanent Home In Oklahoma CityThe Journal Record, Associated Press

An interactive art experience modeled after Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has found a permanent home in Oklahoma City.

Factory Obscura will have its first permanent location in a building known as The Womb, a project co-founded in 2011 by Flaming Lips frontman and Oklahoma City native Wayne Coyne.

The Journal Record reports that Factory Obscura's first exhibit attracted more than 20,000 guests from November 2017 to February.

Factory Obscura cofounder Kelsey Karper says its second exhibit opened in September and has attracted 3,500 visitors.

Factory Obscura's goal is to have a business operation similar to Meow Wolf, which opened in 2016 and reported about $7 million in revenue that year. It includes a maze of glowing passageways, lasers, and odd musical instruments that respond to touch.

Endangered Fish Are Making A Comeback In San Juan RiverDaily Times, Associated Press

U.S. officials say biologists have captured more yearling razorback suckers this fall in the San Juan River than they have captured in one season in more than 20 years.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports that the findings in the San Juan River this spring signify the fish are reproducing in northwest New Mexico.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Nate Franssen says wildlife officials have been stocking razorbacks and managing the river for many years hoping to see these signs of recovery.

The fish's population was depleted as dams were installed in the Colorado River basin, water was withdrawn for various purposes and non-native fish were introduced.

In 1991, federal officials classified the razorback sucker as an endangered species.

Santa Fe Shelving Plan To Review Contentious Monuments -Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The capital city in the state with the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the United States is shelving a plan to review its contentious monuments.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports aides to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said last week he is not focusing on a proposal to re-examine monuments connected to the city's bloody past.

Some of the monuments like a statue of Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas at Cathedral Park has drawn criticism from some advocates who view him as a figure who violently subjugated Native Americans.

The monuments have been compared to Confederate memorials in the American South.

Former Mayor Javier Gonzales asked city officials to draft a list of possible contentious monuments.

But city spokesman Matt Ross says Webber is not focused on reviewing the monuments.

Report Finds New Mexico Superintendent Once Arrested In Texas - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A recently hired interim superintendent of a troubled New Mexico school district once was arrested for public intoxication and accused of leaving two preschool-age children alone while she went to a nightclub.

The Las Vegas Optic reports Carla Westbrook-Spaniel was arrested in 2010 following a scuffle with a bouncer when she was denied entry into a nightclub for her attire.

KXAS-TV in Dallas reported police later charged Westbrook-Spaniel with two counts of child endangerment when investigators discovered she left her two preschool-age children alone at the Dallas Adolphus Hotel.

Westbrook-Spaniel was a middle school principal at the time.

Texas court records aren't clear on whether any convictions resulted from the arrest.

Westbrook-Spaniel was hired after the Mora Public Schools board fired Superintendent Ella Arellano for bad school grades.

Navajo Nation President Extends Crop Insurance Amid Drought - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Outgoing Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has extended the tribe's crop insurance amid ongoing extreme drought conditions.

The Gallup Independent reports Begaye recently agreed to the protections against the impacts of extreme drought on the Navajo Nation's pastures, rangelands and forage.

Begaye says the crop insurance would lessen the impacts of low rainfall hurting the Navajo Nation.

Recent maps of the federal drought monitor show much of the Navajo Nation remains under exceptional or extreme drought — the two worst conditions.

The Office of the President and Vice President says the crop insurance is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance Program.

New Mexico Eyes Seasonal Hires Amid Low Unemployment - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico is joining retailers nationwide looking to get seasonal part-time workers amid current low unemployment numbers.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports state numbers show seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Santa Fe County was 3.8 percent in August. That's down from 5.1 percent a year earlier.

Angie Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-based Target chain, says Target stores will be looking to hire around 800 workers for 10 stores in New Mexico.

The United States Postal Service also is accepting online applications in New Mexico for the holiday season, including five customer service clerks in Santa Fe.

National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay says retailers nationwide will try to hire an estimated 650,000 seasonal workers for the 2018 holiday season.

New Mexico Dairy Concerned About Air Force Contamination - Eastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

An eastern New Mexico dairy has lost tens of thousands of gallons of milk daily since the U.S. Air Force announced that water in the area was contaminated with chemicals associated with past military firefighting activities.

Manager Ryan Schaap tells the Eastern New Mexico News that the cows at Highland Dairy need to be milked but nobody will buy their wares, imperiling the dairy and its 40 employees.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been detected in some off-base wells. Sampling by the Air Force shows contamination beyond the base ranges from less than half of the federal advisory level to more than 20 times the level.

Schaap's business is among those affected. He said water at the dairy and farm were found to be 35 and 200 times the EPA limit, respectively.

Regent's Remarks On University Of New Mexico Draws Criticism – Associated Press

A University of New Mexico regent's public proclamation that the institution offers a poor "product" is drawing criticism.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Faculty Senate President Pamela Pyle denounced last week comments made by Tom Clifford who attacked the university's failure to graduate a greater percentage of students.

Clifford's comments came as the board questioned administrators about this fall's unexpected 7.2 percent enrollment loss.

But Pyle called those comments an "endemic disrespect."

Staff Council president Rob Burford says many employees are frustrated by what Clifford said.

And former UNM Regent Jack Fortner said Clifford's harsh words were unconstructive and disparaging.

The University of New Mexico has struggled in recent years with declining enrollment, low pay for professors, and questions around spending in athletics.

Federal Reserve Says Farm Income Continues To Decline This Fall – Associated Press

The Federal Reserve says farm income continued to decline across the Plains and western states this fall because crop prices remain weak.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri, says more than half the bankers in the region say that farm income is lower than last year because the ongoing trade dispute has hurt crop prices.

The bankers say farmers are borrowing more money because their costs are increasing at the same time that they are bringing in less income.

The 10th Federal Reserve District covers northern New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, and western Missouri.