Governor Issues New Clemency Guidelines, Albuquerque Police Chief Plans Overtime Reforms

May 1, 2019

New Mexico Governor Signals New Approach To PardonsAssociated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is taking a new and more holistic approach to requests for pardons and other forms of clemency.

Revised clemency guidelines appeared Wednesday on the website for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Her Republican predecessor issued just three pardons during eight years in office, ruling out any clemency for people convicted of sexual offenses or repeatedly driving while intoxicated.

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki says the new guidelines provide the governor with more flexibility and discretion in issuing pardons. No pardons have been granted since she took office Jan. 1. Holdover applicants have been encouraged to re-apply.

The power to pardon resides solely with the governor. A pardon restores citizenship rights such as the ability to vote and run for public office without expunging public records.

Report Dings Feds' Consultation With Tribes On Projects - By Mary Hudetz Associated Press

A group of U.S. lawmakers and tribal leaders are calling attention to a watchdog report that says federal agencies need to improve their process of consulting with tribes on major infrastructure projects.

The Government Accountability Office began its review of federal agencies at lawmakers' request following criticism three years ago over the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

A top complaint was that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to properly consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe before initially approving a pipeline route that ran beneath a source of drinking water.

The GAO report says numerous tribes told federal officials that they were consulted only during the late stages of a project.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, said Wednesday he's sponsoring legislation that would establish a mandatory tribal consultation process for federal agencies.

New Mexico Woman Wanted By FBI, Accused Of A Fatal ShootingAssociated Press

The FBI says a New Mexico woman is being sought on a federal criminal complaint charging her with murder.

Officials in the FBI's Albuquerque division say 28-year-old Trudy Martinez is accused of fatally shooting another adult in Twin Lakes last Friday night.

They say Martinez fled the scene with her three children, ages 5, 9 and 10.

The FBI says Martinez is also accused of using a firearm in a crime of violence and crimes occurring on the Navajo Nation.

Authorities say the 5-foot-3 Martinez should be considered armed and dangerous.


US Government To Give DNA Tests At Border To Check For Fraud - By Colleen Long Associated Press

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin DNA testing in cases where officials suspect adults are fraudulently claiming to be the parents of children as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border together.

Department of Homeland Security officials said Wednesday the testing will be limited and voluntary. A pilot program will begin soon, but the locations along the border weren't released.

The testing will happen after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials refer possible instances of fraud to ICE.

It will take about two hours for a result, and the test will be done with a cheek swab. Officials say the results will be destroyed and won't be used as evidence in any criminal case that may arise.

ICE officials say they have identified 29 families suspected of fraud since April 18.

Hospital First In New Mexico To Join Mayo Clinic Network – Associated Press

A New Mexico hospital has become the first in the state to join the Mayo Clinic Network.

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe announced Monday it has become a member of the health care nonprofit group, and officials said the Santa Fe hospital will be able to use various resources within the widespread network.

The Minnesota-based clinic began the network in 2011 and currently operates about 40 health systems, including facilities in Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Montana.

Christus St. Vincent will be able to offer e-consultation with Mayo Clinic specialists and access the network's medical research and archived educational materials for patients and hospital staff.

Patients also can request second opinions from Mayo Clinic physicians at no additional cost.

Padilla Seeks Dismissal Of Charges Over Coffeepot RecordingAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's former tax chief says her due process rights were violated when investigators with the state attorney general's office used a coffeepot outfitted with a recording device to secretly record a conversation with her attorney.

The allegation is outlined in a court filing that seeks the dismissal of public corruption charges against Demesia Padilla.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the conversation happened before Padilla was arrested in December 2016.

The motion accuses the attorney general's office of outrageous conduct. Prosecutors argue they had a law enforcement interest in recording the agents' interview of Padilla.

The attorney general's denies surreptitiously listening in, saying the coffeepot recording device — which was on loan from the Albuquerque Police Department — stopped recording while Padilla was talking with her attorney.

A ruling on the motion could come later this month.

Valencia County Deputies Fatally Shoot Suspect In Gun TheftAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Police says Valencia County sheriff's deputies investigating the theft of a gun fatally shot a suspect when he pointed a rifle at them.

A State Police statement said deputies went to the Los Lunas home of 37-year-old Isaac Pineda early Wednesday morning after another person reported that Pineda had stolen the victim's gun.

The statement said Pineda told deputies upon their arrival at his home that he had a rifle pointed at them and that the deputies backed away and Pineda's family safely left the residence.

According to the statement, deputies shot Pineda when he left the home and pointed a rifle at them.

State Police Officer Ray Wilson said it wasn't immediately known whether the rifle brandished by Pineda was the stolen gun.

New Mexico Offers State Facility To Asylum Seekers - Associated Press

New Mexico is offering dormitories at a state exposition hall in Albuquerque to asylum seeking immigrants in search of temporary shelter.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced Tuesday that beds and kitchen space on the grounds of New Mexico's annual state fair will be available to immigrants.

Thousands of Central American migrants have been dropped off in New Mexico by U.S. border Patrol in recent weeks as asylum seekers overwhelm shelters near international ports of entry in West Texas.

A statement from state and city officials says immigrants can stay at Expo New Mexico facilities for no more than 72 hours before leaving to reach relatives or other sponsors.

The facility is located in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse areas of Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Police Chief Plans Reforms After Overtime Flap - Associated Press

Albuquerque's police chief says the city's officer overtime system is outdated and "full of loopholes" that many officers used.

Chief Mike Geier announced Tuesday that his department would fix a system he described as a carry-over from 2015, when the force faced extreme understaffing.

The planned overhaul follows an oversight agency report that found Officer Simon Drobik, a police spokesman, was paid simultaneously for his work at the department and hours put in at private businesses.

Under what's known as the "chief's overtime" program, companies can pay the city for an officer to patrol their properties on their off hours, and officers earn overtime pay.

Drobik was the city's highest paid employee in 2018, earning $192,973.

Geier outlined reforms, including a plan to better track overtime data.

Regulators: Los Alamos Lab Nuclear Safety Effort Falls Short - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Federal regulators say Los Alamos National Laboratory has not ensured sufficient nuclear safety in its operations as the New Mexico facility prepares to increase its work with plutonium.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the U.S. Department of Energy has released a list of problems regarding the laboratory's nuclear safety management.

The report released Monday says former private contractor Los Alamos National Security LLC, which managed the lab for about 12 years, allowed safety issues to fester with "significant weaknesses."

The report also says there have been deficiencies in the work of Triad National Security LLC, which took over the $2 billion-plus annual operating contract Nov. 1.

The assessment says the safety lapses are serious enough that they could lead to a shutdown of operations at the laboratory's plutonium facility.

Groups Seek To 'Veto' New Mexico Laws By Referendum - Associated Press

Self-proclaimed patriot groups have initiated long-shot efforts at overturning progressive-minded state laws by referendum.

Michael Harris of the Eddy County Patriot Group said Tuesday efforts are underway to initiate a 2020 referendum on newly approved laws aimed at protecting wildlife, creating a state university affiliate in Mexico and renaming Columbus Day to honor Native Americans.

His group this week submitted applications with the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office to authorize four signature petitions seeking veto referendums.

Agency spokesman Alex Curtas says petition requests are under review and that the state Constitution sets a high bar for revoking laws by popular vote. If allowed, petitions still need more than 70,000 signatures from eligible voters to succeed.

The Roosevelt County Patriot Group wants referendums on three other bills.

Bernalillo County Officials Push Behavioral Health Training - Associated Press

Officials say they will expand training in New Mexico's most populous county for caseworkers and other professionals in an attempt to address the state's high rates of mental illness and substance abuse.

Bernalillo County Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins and County Manager Julie Morgas Baca say the program is crucial in helping to round out the county's behavioral health services.

Voters approved a major tax increase in 2014 to better fund the programs after a spate of deadly shootings by Albuquerque police, including the shooting death of James Boyd, a homeless man who had suffered from mental illness.

That same year, a University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center review found Bernalillo County residents with chronic mental illness and substance abuse issues lacked ongoing-care options.

The behavioral health training program was announced by county officials Tuesday.

Santa Fe To Keep Voluntary Collection Deal With Airbnb - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico's picturesque capital will keep a voluntary collection agreement with short-term lodging rental company Airbnb despite pressure.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the move comes after American Hotel & Lodging Association recently urged governments to drop such deals following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court Wayfair v. South Dakota decision ruled that states may charge tax on purchases made from out-of-state sellers.

The group has said voluntary collection agreements give Airbnb an unfair advantage by creating a tax and regulatory haven for Airbnb lodging operators.

Tourism Santa Fe Executive Director Randy Randall says he sees no harm in leaving the agreement in place.

Highlands University Student Protest Cuts To Work-Study Pay - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A group of students is showing its anger over recent changes to work-study pay at Highlands University.

The Las Vegas Optic reports about 40 Highlands students joined in a protest Monday over moves to cut work-study pay amid a budget shortfall.

The university's administration recently asked departments to dock student's pay to $7.50 an hour and set a cap at 20 hours a week until the end of the summer semester.

Highlands University spokesman Sean Weaver says the cuts were needed to balance the school's budget. He says academic departments also have been asked to hold off on purchases that aren't urgent.

Student Regent Rebekah Peoble says the administration made the decision without input from students.

Father Says Son Moved To Hawaii To Fly Tour Helicopters - By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher Associated Press

A 28-year-old man who moved to Hawaii two weeks ago from New Mexico was the pilot who died along with two passengers when a tour helicopter crashed on a street in a Honolulu suburb, his father said Tuesday.

Joseph Berridge, who moved from Albuquerque to Honolulu, was the pilot of a four-seat Robinson R44 aircraft that crashed Monday morning on a residential two-lane road in Kailua, his father, Bobby Berridge, told The Associated Press from Garfield, New Mexico, where his son grew up on a 250-acre farm.

"It was always my son's dream to go to Hawaii and fly tours for a couple of years," Bobby Berridge said. His son's girlfriend and dog were preparing to join him.