Former Prison Contractor Must Release Records, Officials Seek To Stem Crime In New Mexico Oilfields

Dec 20, 2019

Ex-New Mexico Prison Contractor To Release Public RecordsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico Supreme Court has refused to overturn two lower court rulings in a public records lawsuit forcing a former state prison contractor to release settlement agreements with prisoners.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that the original lawsuit filed in 2016 stems from a refusal by contractor Corizon to release settlement agreements over alleged malpractice and sexual abuse by a physician.

Court officials say the high court decision upholds a verdict requiring Corizon to release requested public records and pay legal fees. Officials say Corizon had to comply because it was under contract with a state agency to perform a public function.

New Mexico GOP Drew Heats For 'Complexion' Remark About Dems - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico is facing criticism for urging supporters to change the "complexion" of the state's congressional delegation.

The party in an email pleaded with supporters "to work hard to change the complexion of our Congressional delegation." The email came after Democrat Ben Ray Luján voted to impeach President Donald Trump. Luján is Hispanic and is running for the U.S. Senate. He called the language "race-baiting."

GOP Senate hopeful Gavin Clarkson, who is Native American, also called the language a "careless word choice." A GOP spokesman says the email was referring to changing the state from blue to red, not about skin color.

Boeing Capsule Launches To Wrong Orbit, Skips Space Station - By Marcia Dunn AP Aerospace Writer

Boeing's new Starliner capsule is in the wrong orbit after launching for the first time and will have to skip its visit to the International Space Station.

Friday's liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, went well until a half-hour into the flight, a crucial dress rehearsal before launching astronauts next year. The Starliner, which was empty except for a test dummy and station supplies, burned too much fuel trying to get into the right orbit.

Boeing says it has no idea why the spacecraft timer failed to work properly. The capsule will land in New Mexico on Sunday. 

Prosecutors Won't Charge New Mexico Man Who Fatally Shot 2Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Prosecutors have decided not to charge a man after he fatally shot two people earlier this year.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Thursday that the district attorney's office declared the shooting "justifiable homicide" after he shot at two people attempting to rob him. Authorities are not releasing the shooter's name but have said he is 21 years old.

A prosecutor says evidence established the situation that led to the shooting was brought about by the two 22-year-old victims. Authorities say the man was driving the pair in Las Cruces before they pulled a knife on him and asked for his cell phone, wallet and keys.

Deputies Say Man Stole Car While Another Man Slept InsideLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A New Mexico man is facing charges after authorities say he stole a car without knowing that another man was sleeping inside.

Joseph Allen, 40, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was arrested in connection with allegedly taking the running car in Vado, New Mexico, on Wednesday, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

According to the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office, Ignacio Baca, of Las Cruces, told authorities the episode began after he fell asleep in the back seat of his girlfriend's 2006 Toyota Corolla. Baca said he had dropped off his girlfriend for work at a truck stop, and instead of going home, he parked the car and fell asleep.

Baca told Doña Ana County Sheriff's Detective Ileana Adame that he'd left the vehicle running while he was sleeping, and later woke up and realized the car was traveling east on Interstate 10. Baca said he asked the man who he was, and proceeded to punch and choke the stranger.

Court documents allege Allen regained control of the vehicle and pulled over.

Allen then pulled out a knife and slashed Baca on the left side of his rib, and upper right arm, deputies said.

Baca eventually took the triple-edged knife from Allen, who then fled.

Allen was taken into custody and booked into Doña Ana County Detention Center. He is facing several charges, including aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and auto burglary.

No attorney was listed for him.

Letter Says Officers Felt Unsafe Enacting Trump Asylum Crackdown - By Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press

U.S. border officers who were charged with turning away asylum seekers coming from Mexico accused their leadership of misleading the public and disregarding concerns for their own safety, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

A March 2019 letter sent to the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection demanded that he intervene to ensure its front-line employees "are not injured or killed" enforcing the Trump administration policy. 

Police Say Dad Brutally Killed Puppies In Front Of ChildrenAssociated Press

A New Mexico man is facing abuse charges after authorities say he choked his child, brutally killed his children's puppies as they watched and forced one of the siblings to bury the animals.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office said this week that Miguel Angel Sanchez, 34, was arrested following a child abuse investigation.

According to deputies, Sanchez hit one of his children with a wooden paddle, choked another, and punished another for praying over his other brothers.

The children also told investigators their father killed several of their puppies by either throwing them into oncoming traffic or shooting them in the desert. One child told detectives he was forced to bury several puppies.

Sanchez is facing several charges, including child abuse, bribery of a witness, and aggravated stalking for violating an order of protection. He was booked at the Doña Ana County Detention Center and released after posting a $2,500 bond.

It was not known if Sanchez had an attorney.

Central Michigan, San Diego State Meet In New Mexico Bowl - Associated Press

San Diego State will be making a school-record 10th straight bowl appearance when it faces Central Michigan in the New Mexico Bowl. But the Aztecs haven't won a bowl game since a victory over Houston in the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl.

San Diego State started this season with a 7-1 record then dropped two of its last three conference game to fall out of contention for a Mountain West title game berth. Meanwhile, Central Michigan completed one of the nation's biggest turnarounds following a 1-11 season.

Central Michigan won the Mid-American Conference West and reached the title game. 

Constituents Praise, Pillory Swing-District Congresswoman - By Morgan Lee,  Associated Press

A first-term congresswoman from a swing district in southern New Mexico held a town hall meeting with constituents by telephone minutes after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico received both high praise and biting criticism for her vote in favor of two articles of impeachment.

Torres Small said she was saddened by the anger and political divisions linked to the impeachment and that her vote was necessary to safeguard U.S. elections.

New Mexico Governor Seeks Sustained Pay Raises For Teachers  Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she wants sustained pay increases for public school employees after a recent round of salary hikes.

Teachers flocked Wednesday night to a town-hall style forum in Albuquerque where Lujan Grisham and three Cabinet secretaries answered questions about public education.

Lujan Grisham said state-funded salary increases this year of at least 6% for public school employees were not enough and that pay for educators "cannot be stagnant."

US House Hopeful Blames Impeachment On Herrell's Loss In '18 - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A Republican candidate in a critical Congressional race in New Mexico says her GOP primary opponent's 2018 general election loss partly resulted in President Donald Trump's impeachment.

Claire Chase's campaign said late Wednesday that Yvette Herrell's poorly run campaign and loss to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small gave Democrats one more vote.

Torres Small voted for two articles of impeachment against Trump. Herrell's campaign manager Dakotah Parshall called Chase's charge "desperate" and said conservative leaders across the country have endorsed Herrell.

Authorities Seek To Stem Crime In New Mexico Oilfields – Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Authorities in a New Mexico region that is rich in oil and gas say they have participated in a recent blitz targeting thefts and burglaries in the oilfields. 

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Eddy County Sheriff Mark Cage said detectives and deputies conducted an operation last week at various oilfields amid concerns over crime. Earlier this year, the Eddy County Sheriff's office investigated an alleged theft from Concho Resources near Carlsbad. 

The estimated loss from 139 stolen barrels of crude oil was around $7,000. The sheriff's office said an estimated $35,000 of oilfield equipment was allegedly stolen from Tiger Industrial in July 2018.

Olivia, Liam Were Top Baby Names In New Mexico During 2019 - Associated Press

Olivia and Liam were the most popular names for babies born in New Mexico during 2019. 

The state Department of Health's Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics says Ava was the second most popular name for girls while Noah was the top runner-up among names for boys. 

Other girls names in the top 10 were Sophia spelled with a "p-h" in the third spot and Sofia spelled with an "f" in the eighth spot. The other top-10 names were Isabella, Mia, Emma, Abigail, Camila and Aria. 

The other top boys names behind Liam and Noah were Mateo, Elijah, Ezekiel, Sebastian, Daniel, Ezra, Logan and Isaiah.

Medical Insurance Bypasses Native Americans In New Mexico -  By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Native Americans in New Mexico go without medical insurance at a much higher rate than other state residents and the nation as a whole.

A state-commissioned study by the Urban Institute explores gaps in medical insurance by ethnicity, age, education and location. About 16 percent of Native Americans statewide go without medical insurance. Health insurance coverage also is relatively scarce in the northwest area of the state that is home to the Navajo Nation.

New Mexico's expansion of federally subsidized Medicaid health care gave coverage in 2014 to more people on the cusp of poverty. That cut in half the number of people without insurance.

Quarantine For Invasive Pecan Pest Persists In New MexicoAssociated Press

New Mexico agriculture officials are reminding the public that a quarantine is still in place around an invasive bug threatening the pecan industry.

The state's Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that the so-called pecan weevil quarantine rule affects the movement of in-shell pecans in quarantined areas. Those areas include Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties.

Under the rules, in-shell pecans cannot be transported out of quarantined areas unless they have undergone storage requirements.

In late 2016 and January 2018, the weevil was found in pecan orchards in multiple southeastern New Mexico counties.

New Mexico Quarterback's Indecent Exposure Charge Dismissed Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The case against a New Mexico college football quarterback charged with indecent exposure has been tossed out.

The Albuquerque Journal reports charges against 23-year-old Sheriron Jones were dismissed Tuesday after witnesses failed to show up for a trial. Jones was accused of showing his genitalia to a woman in a university parking structure in October.

Jones started seven games last year when New Mexico went 3-9. He lost the starting job in preseason camp to junior college transfer Brandt Hughes. Jones played in the second half of the season opener after Hughes suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Sawmill Company In New Mexico Remains Open, Keeps 40 JobsGallup Independent, Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced that a sawmill will not shut down after a forest has become a new source of wood for the facility.

The Gallup Independent reports that the Democratic governor says the family-owned business averted a shutdown and the loss of about 40 jobs. Officials say the state forestry department signed an agreement with landowners that would enable a forest restoration project.

Officials say a judge halted fuelwood permit sales and timber management activities on all national forests in New Mexico as a result of a 2013 lawsuit. The governor says the state worked around the judge and was able to find a solution to get debris out of the forest.

Zuni Pueblo Gets $5 Million Grant To Construct Housing Associated Press

The Zuni Pueblo said it has been awarded $5 million as part of a federal grant for tribal-designated housing entities across the United States.

Zuni Housing Director Mike Chavez told The Gallup Independent last week that the tribe is in dire need of housing and that the grant will help. He says if the tribe had 900 homes available right now, it could fill all of them.

He was at a housing-related legal symposium in Las Vegas when he learned about the award.

Chavez said it is the first time Zuni Pueblo has been awarded funds for housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Competitive Indian Housing Block Grant.

Other tribes awarded in New Mexico and Arizona through the competitive grant include the pueblos of San Felipe, Santo Domingo, Nambe, Tamaya, and the Tohono O'odham Ki Ki Housing Association, the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority and both the Jicarilla Apache Housing Authority and the Mescalero Apache Tribe.