GOP Says Election Regulator's Senate Bid Problematic, Facebook Buys More Land Next To Data Center

Apr 25, 2019

GOP Sees Conflict In Senate Bid By Election RegulatorAssociated 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.

New Mexico's Top Elections Chief Joins Race For US Senate - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Democratic New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has announced the start of her campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.

Toulouse Oliver will be competing for the Democratic nomination with six-term U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. Gavin Clarkson, who lost the election for secretary of state last year to Toulouse Oliver, is seeking the Republican nomination.

Toulouse Oliver says she wants to improve economic opportunity in New Mexico and believes it's important for the state to send its first woman to the Senate.

The 43-year-old mother of two has twice won statewide election as secretary of state to oversee elections and campaign finance regulations. She made her name in politics overseeing elections as Bernalillo County clerk from 2007-2015.

Toulouse Oliver's first campaign stop will be Thursday in Las Cruces.

Powwow Plans Focus On Missing, Murdered Native WomenAssociated 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 the 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 IndustryAssociated 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.

New Mexico To Market 'Green Bonds' For Energy ConservationAssociated 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 addition of solar panels, companion battery storage, electrical inverters and more efficient door 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.

Teen Arrested In Killing Of Mail Carrier In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

Authorities in Albuquerque, New Mexico have arrested a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of murder in the fatal shooting of an on-duty Postal Service mail carrier.

Police said the teen was arrested without incident Wednesday night at a home in Albuquerque.

Police said previously that Jose Hernandez was shot Monday while intervening in a dispute between the 17-year-old and his mother in front of the mother's home.

The Associated Press does not generally identify juveniles accused of crimes.

It's not immediately known whether the boy has a defense attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Hernandez had worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Albuquerque for 12 years.

New Mexico Governor Visits Immigrant Shelters In Las CrucesAssociated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is visiting emergency facilities in the south of the state that are providing temporary shelter and humanitarian supplies to a wave of asylum seekers from Central America.

Lujan Grisham scheduled a trip Thursday to Las Cruces to visit an emergency triage center and Catholic church.

The U.S. Border Patrol has dropped off more than 1,700 asylum seekers since April 12 in Las Cruces. The city is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from a major port of entry between Mexico and the U.S. at El Paso, Texas.

Local charities and the city of Las Cruces are providing asylum seekers with temporary shelter as arrangements are made for the immigrants to reach relatives or other long-term sponsors elsewhere in the U.S.

Some Horse Advocates Buck At New Plan To Save Wild MustangsAssociated Press

Animal welfare groups have reached a milestone agreement with ranching interests that they say would save wild mustangs from slaughter but the compromise has opened a nasty split among horse protection advocates.

The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say their proposal is backed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

It would eliminate the threat of slaughter for thousands of free-roaming horses primarily by spending millions of dollars on expanding fertility controls on the range.

As part of the deal, they're willing to drop long-held opposition to controversial roundups of the animals. The American Wild Horse Campaign and Friends of Animals contend the plan will reduce wild herds to extinction levels.

New Mexico Governor Reassures Facebook After S39M BillAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

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.

Facebook Buys More Land In New Mexico Next To Data Center - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Facebook has purchased more than 400 acres in New Mexico, but the social media giant has no immediate plans for the land.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the purchase more than doubles the company's footprint in Los Lunas, where it has been building a $1 billion data center.

The company announced the completion of the first of six buildings at the data center site in February.

Valencia County records show the additional property was purchased in March. It had an assessed value of about $14,600, but the sales price was not disclosed.

The purchase comes as Facebook faces a $39 million bill. New Mexico regulators are requiring the state's largest electric utility to charge Facebook for part of a planned transmission line to power the data center with renewable energy.

Authorities Keep Distance, Yet Work With Armed Border Group - By Cedar Attanasio And Elliot Spagat Associated Press

Authorities have distanced themselves from an armed civilian group that detains asylum-seeking families at the U.S.-Mexico border. But the United Constitutional Patriots have never been shy about saying they work with Border Patrol agents.

After its activities drew widespread criticism, the group was thrown out of its camp this week for trespassing in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a suburb of El Paso, Texas.

Frequent social media posts show masked men in combat fatigues chasing migrants and ordering them to stay put until border agents arrive.

Jim Benvie is a spokesman for the group. In Facebook video, he has encouraged others to join and says the effort works with the Border Patrol.

Customs and Border Protection says it does not condone private organizations that take law enforcement into their own hands.

New Mexico University Taps Michigan Administrator As Provost - Associated Press

A senior administrator at the University of Michigan has been named provost and executive for academic affairs of the University of New Mexico.

UNM President Garnett Stokes announced her selection of James Paul Holloway following a nearly six-month search.

Stokes calls the current University of Michigan vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs a "proven collaborative leader in higher education and a strategic thinker."

The announcement says Holloway will assume his new position on July 1.

New Mexico Regulators Make Emissions Sweep In Permian Basin - Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are looking to crack down on air quality violations by energy companies operating in one of the nation's most productive oil and gas basins.

The state environment department announced Wednesday that its staff recently conducted nearly 100 inspections across New Mexico's portion of the Permian Basin. They were checking compliance with air quality regulations and permits.

Agency spokeswoman Maddy Hayden says it will take the department at least several weeks — and possibly months — to review and determine what enforcement cases should be pursued.

The inspectors used infrared cameras to detect emissions that are invisible to the naked eye.

State officials are targeting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry as part of an executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in January.

Border Group Leader Injured In New Mexico Jail Altercation - Associated Press

Authorities say the leader of a civilian group that has detained asylum-seeking migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border was injured while he was jailed in New Mexico, after being arrested on federal weapons charges.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday in a statement that 69-year-old Larry Hopkins was transferred Tuesday out of the county jail after suffering non-life threatening injuries Monday night.

The statement did not provide specifics on the "alleged battery" in which Hopkins was injured in Las Cruces, but Hopkins' lawyer, Kelly O'Connell, told the Albuquerque Journal that his client was hospitalized for rib injuries following an altercation.

The FBI arrested Hopkins on a federal complaint accusing him of being a felon in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

O'Connell has said Hopkins will plead not guilty.

'Children Of A Lesser God' Writer Mark Medoff Dies At 79 - By Mark Kennedy AP Entertainment Writer

Mark Medoff, who wrote the award-winning play "Children of a Lesser God," has died in New Mexico at age 79.

Medoff's daughter, Jessica Bunchman, confirmed that he died Tuesday in a Las Cruces hospice, surrounded by family. Medoff lived in Las Cruces with his wife, Stephanie. He reportedly had been battling cancer.

Medoff wrote 30 plays and wrote, produced or directed 19 movies. He found his greatest success with "Children of a Lesser God," the tale of a troubled love affair between a speech teacher and a deaf woman who struggle to overcome the communications gap between their two cultures.

The play earned Tony and Olivier awards. The screen adaptation co-starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt earned an Oscar nomination. Matlin won an Oscar.