Governor Wants Pay Raises For Teachers And State Workers, Santa Fe PD Awaiting Evidence Room Audit

Jan 6, 2020

New Mexico Governor Seeks Raises For Teachers, State Workers - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico's governor is proposing more pay raises for public school and state government workers plus new subsidies to expand early childhood schooling and provide tuition-free college.

In budget recommendations delivered Monday to the Legislature, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham seeks a 4% teacher pay boost. State employees would get 3% raises. Other proposed spending increases would expand child care subsidies to 4,200 more children.

To pay for the plan, the Democratic governor is proposing an 8 percent general fund spending increase to about $7.7 billion for the fiscal year starting July 1.  The Legislature, which is led by Democrats, convenes Jan. 21 to craft the budget.

Shooting Range Owner Joins US Senate Race In New MexicoAssociated Press

Louie Sanchez, a health care businessman and a shooting range owner, is jumping in the race for an open U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico.

Sanchez announced Monday he will seek the Republican nomination for a spot currently held by retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Sanchez says he is running because others have refused to "take action" to tighten immigration and drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border.

He will face anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, contractor Mick Rich and college professor Gavin Clarkson in the Republican primary. Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is running for the seat in the Democratic primary.

Rob Dean, Former Editor Of Santa Fe New Mexican, Dies At 65Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Rob Dean, a former editor who led the Santa Fe New Mexican for more than two decades, has died. The paper announced that Dean died Sunday unexpectedly at his Santa Fe home. He was 65. The cause of death has not been determined.

Born and raised in Harlowton, Montana, Dean served as metro editor at the News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, and taught journalism at Pacific Lutheran University before coming to Santa Fe.

He took over the New Mexican after former owner Robert McKinney won a court decision returning control of the newspaper to him from conglomerate Gannett.

Dean retired in 2013. A few years later, he was chosen to lead Searchlight New Mexico, an investigative journalism project co-founded by former New Mexican editor Ray Rivera. 

Santa Fe Police Waiting On Audit Of Troubled Evidence Room - Associated Press

Santa Fe police's poor handling of its evidence room may have affected several cases. But just how many remains a mystery. 

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the department is awaiting the results of an evidence room audit conducted by a consultant. Santa Fe Deputy Chief Ben Valdez says the department will not attempt to determine if more evidence is missing until that audit. 

The audit comes more than six months after the Santa Fe Police Department told the District Attorney's Office it had lost evidence in a first-degree murder case.

State Wants Judge To Reconsider Charges Against Ex-Sheriff - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

State prosecutors want a judge to reconsider his decision to drop embezzlement charges filed against a former New Mexico sheriff-turned-judge accused of using taxpayer dollars to buy personal items. 

KRQE-TV reports the New Mexico Attorney General's Office filed an appeal last week of Judge Charles Brown's decision to toss charges against former Torrance County Sheriff Heath White. 

Brown said in October there were omissions in the search warrant as well as some misleading information and evidence from the search allegedly was suppressed. 

The Attorney General's Office says investigators with New Mexico State Police found several sheriff's office-owned items on White's property during a raid in April, including guns, surveillance equipment, and tools.

Marijuana Farms May Be Straining New Mexico Water Supplies - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

More medical marijuana plants are being grown in New Mexico than ever and the crop could be straining local water supplies. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports two rural water systems in Sandoval County say the crop may be depleting local water supplies. And they say they have been left powerless to stop it. 

The Peña Blanca Water and Sanitation District and Sile Mutual Domestic Water and Sewer Association sent a letter last month to state agencies and legislators describing their concerns over their disappearing water resources. 

The water system representatives say New Mexico's patchwork of medical marijuana regulations has not kept up with the increased strain on rural water supplies.

New Mexico Settles 2017 Medical Cannabis Lawsuit For $69K - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Officials at a New Mexico event venue have agreed to settle a lawsuit with a medical cannabis producer over what type of products could be displayed at the state fair. 

The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that Expo New Mexico officials agreed to drop a pending appeal and pay $69,600 to Ultra Health LLC to avoid further legal expenses. 

Officials say the legal dispute began after Expo New Mexico told Ultra Health it could not display any paraphernalia related to cannabis use or cultivation in its 2017 State Fair booth. 

Court officials say Expo New Mexico violated the medical cannabis producer's First Amendment rights.

Company To Shut Down Inactive New Mexico Uranium Mine - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

A Texas-based company says it plans to begin to close an inactive uranium mine in New Mexico and begin activity to reclaim the site. 

The Gallup Independent reports that state officials Friday confirmed Hobson, Texas-based Rio Grande Resource Corp. provided formal notice in December of its plan to close the Mount Taylor Mine near Grants. 

A state official says the company previously said the price of uranium meant Rio Grande couldn't justify anticipated capital spending to resume mining. 

Grants Mayor Martin Hicks works at the site and called the closing "a death blow to Grants and Milan." Environmental activists hailed the closing announcement. 

Navajo Nation Eyes Proposed Department Of Medical Examiners - Associated Press

The Navajo Nation says it is working with Congress to fund the tribe's proposed Department of Medical Examiners. 

The Gallup Independent reports Navajo Law and Order Committee Chairwoman Eugenia Charles-Newton says the panel is seeking full funding amid overworked criminal investigators. 

Navajo criminal investigators have been handling deaths on the sprawling Navajo Nation that is located in three states. Navajo criminal investigators have been devoting about 40% of their time to serve as coroners. 

This has also created a problem when it comes to recruiting criminal investigators because candidates turn down the job discouraged by the extra duty of coroner.

Councilor's Removal Sought Over Text Messages, 'Being Rude' - Hobbs News-Sun,  Associated Press

A city manager of a southeastern New Mexico town is seeking to remove a councilor over attendance and for "being rude." 

The Hobbs News-Sun reports City Manager Jordan Yutzy of Eunice, New Mexico recently sent a letter to the state Attorney General's office seeking guidance on how to remove Councilor Terry Bettis from his seat.

Yutzy wrote that the 15-year veteran councilor keeps sending critical text messages and social media posts. 

Bettis dismissed the concerns over his attendance rate and his text messages. He says he's just trying to protect residents and taxpayers.