Former Statesman Manuel Lujan Jr. Dies, Powwow Highlights Missing and Murdered Native Women

Apr 26, 2019

Former US Interior Secretary Manuel Luján Jr. Has DiedAssociated Press

A former Republican congressman from New Mexico who as U.S. Interior Secretary drew fire from environmentalists for challenging the Endangered Species Act has died. Manuel Luján Jr. was 90.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was a distant cousin, on Friday announced Luján's death. He had a long history of heart trouble and underwent triple-bypass surgery after a 1986 heart attack.

Luján represented New Mexico's 1st District from 1969 to 1989. He gained a reputation as an advocate for Native Americans, business and constituents in a majority-Democratic district.

As Luján's final term wound down, President George H.W. Bush tapped him for Interior secretary. Luján remained in Bush's administration until the president left office in January 1993.

Grand Jury Indicts Leader Of Armed Border GroupAssociated Press

A federal grand jury has indicted on a weapons charge the leader of an armed group that has been detaining asylum-seeking families from Central America near the Mexican border.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque on Friday announced the indictment against Larry Mitchell Hopkins on a charge of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The indictment cites previous criminal convictions against the 69-year-old resident of Flora Vista, New Mexico, for impersonation of a police officer and firearms violations.

Hopkins was arrested April 20 in Sunland Park, New Mexico, near the U.S. border with Mexico where his group has been stopping migrants, ordering them to wait and alerting Border Patrol.

Hopkins is scheduled for arraignment Monday. Defense attorney Kelly O'Connell is representing Hopkins and says his client intends to dispute the charge.

Mayor Says Santa Fe Will Not Shelter Asylum-SeekersAssociated Press

Santa Fe won't provide shelter for asylum-seekers who have crossed the border in southern New Mexico.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said Wednesday that in conversations with leaders of local organizations and government officials, it was decided that Santa Fe would not best serve as a shelter location for some of the numerous migrants crossing the border and being dropped off in Las Cruces.

Webber says because most asylum-seekers are looking to leave the state to get to sponsors in other parts of the country, Albuquerque is considered to be a better central location because of its larger size and more transportation options.

Webber says Santa Fe will organize ways to provide money, clothes, blankets, sheets, nonperishable food, personal care items, and other goods, along with recruiting volunteers to help in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

New Mexico Governor Fills 2 District Court Vacancies - Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed two judges to fill court vacancies in northern and southern New Mexico.

The governor's office said in a statement Thursday that Lujan Grisham has appointed Thomas E. Lilley to fill a vacancy in the Fifth Judicial District Court, which includes Roswell. Melissa A. Kennelly will become a judge in New Mexico's Eighth Judicial District Court, which includes Taos.

The governor says Lilley has been a Roswell attorney in private practice since 1986. He primarily has represented clients in personal injury cases.

Kennelly is Eighth Judicial District Court attorney. The governor says she was the first female police officer in the Broadview Heights Police Department in Broadview, Ohio.

Both Lilley and Kennelly are graduates of the University of New Mexico School of Law.

GOP Sees Conflict In Senate Bid By Election Regulator - Associated Press

The Republican Party is urging New Mexico's top election regulator to resign from her job as secretary of state as she runs for the U.S. Senate in 2020.

The state GOP on Thursday said in a statement that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver should resign to avoid any doubts about the integrity of the Senate election. The party provided phone numbers for the Secretary of State's Office and urged voters of all affiliations to call and request that Toulouse Oliver resign.

In a conversation with The Associated Press this week, Toulouse Oliver said she has utter faith that the Senate election will be conducted fairly.

She says that county clerks provide an extra layer of independent oversight of the state's "robust, transparent and bipartisan" election process.

Powwow Plans Focus On Missing, Murdered Native Women - Associated Press

A two-day powwow that represents one of the largest annual gatherings of indigenous people in the United States begins Friday in New Mexico, where organizers say they want to build awareness this year around the deaths and disappearances of Native American women.

Melonie Mathews, whose family founded the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, says organizers are dedicating the Miss Indian World Pageant to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women — which has become a focus in the past year of state and federal legislation, and marches and demonstrations.

The pageant is a marquee event tied to the powwow, which has grown over the past three decades to include a parade, contemporary music venue and market.

About 3,000 singers and dancers, and 800 artisans are expected to participate.

New Mexico Has New Panel To Regulate Horse Racing Industry - Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed a new panel of regulators to oversee the state's horseracing industry.

She made the announcement Thursday as a legal battle simmers over a final decision regarding New Mexico's sixth and final license for a racetrack and casino.

The Democratic governor says she expects the new commission to be fair and equitable.

The panel includes former commissioners Beverly Bourguet and David "Hossie" Sanchez as well as current and former horse owners and breeders John Buffington, Freda McSwane and Billy G. Smith.

The previous commission repeatedly put off a vote on the racino license after concerns were raised about a feasibility study that examined the economics behind proposals submitted by the five applicants. That prompted a challenge that's still pending in district court.

Teen Arrested In Killing Of Mail Carrier In New Mexico - Associated Press

Authorities have arrested a New Mexico teenager on charges he fatally shot a mail carrier after the man tried to intervene in an argument between the teen and his mother.

Xavier Zamora, 17, was taken into custody by police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service without incident late Wednesday, Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said. He said the FBI also was involved in the investigation.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Zamora will be tried in U.S. District Court after prosecutors dropped charges in state court yesterday because the victim, Jose Hernandez, was a federal employee.

New Mexico To Market 'Green Bonds' For Energy Conservation - Associated Press

New Mexico plans to issue specialized green bonds as it borrows roughly $12 million to complete efficiency and renewable energy upgrades on a fleet of state buildings in the capital.

The New Mexico Finance Authority on Thursday approved the bond issue to help fund improvements to about 30 state agency buildings in Santa Fe. The project includes the replacement or addiction of solar panels, companion battery storage, electrical inverters and more efficient doors and windows.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislature already approved direct state spending of $20 million on the project in efforts to reduce energy consumption and limit contributions to climate change.

Thursday's decision marks the state's entry into a green bond market that can attract socially conscious investors including nonprofits and certain pension funds.

New Mexico Governor Reassures Facebook After $39M Bill - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she's not pleased about state regulators' decision to require Facebook to pay $39 million for new transmission line construction for its data center.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Democratic governor told business leaders Wednesday that she can't interfere with the Public Regulation Commission's authority, but she has been in contact with Facebook to reassure the company.

The commission last week ordered the Public Service Company of New Mexico to bill Facebook for nearly half the cost of the $85 million transmission project for its new data center. The commission said the utility cannot bill ratepayers for the project because it will not benefit retail customers.

Lujan Grisham says she believes the utility is prepared to make its case that the bill isn't justified.