KUNM

Haaland Endorses Elizabeth Warren For President, Opponents Vow To Fight Prairie Chicken Listing

Jul 30, 2019

Native American Congresswoman Endorses Elizabeth Warren Associated Press

One of two Native American women in Congress has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland of New Mexico on Tuesday announced her endorsement in social media posts that describe Warren as a great friend and partner on policies that affect Indian Country.

On Instagram , a tinted photograph of Haaland and Warren accompanies praise for the senator's efforts related to working families, student loan debt and missing and murdered indigenous women.

Warren has been criticized for claiming Native American identity early in her career and apologized recently to the Cherokee Nation for releasing DNA test results as evidence she had Native American ancestry, albeit at least six generations back.

Haaland is a tribal member of Laguna Pueblo and represents a district centered in Albuquerque.

Tribes Train To Implement Amber Alert Under New Federal Law - By Mary Hudetz Associated Press

The mother of a Navajo girl who was abducted and killed in 2016 is urging tribal officials to take advantage of tools and funding that have been made available for responding to reports of missing Native American children.

Pamela Foster's comments Tuesday came during a training in Albuquerque for tribes to implement the alert system. Organizers say more than 20 tribes are participating in the training.

A federal law signed last year expanded the alert system to tribal land. It gives tribes direct access to grants and training long available in other jurisdictions.

The law is named for Foster's daughter Ashlynne Mike. She was 11 when she was kidnapped near her school bus stop and killed.

An Amber Alert wasn't issued for her until early the next morning.

Governor Aims To Up Oversight Of Boarding HomesAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration is working on regulations to increase oversight of boarding homes for people with mental illnesses.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that the administration is aiming to require licenses and periodic inspections of the homes.

The Democratic governor says the rules would also set standards for fire safety, staffing levels, crowding and bathroom facilities.

Grisham says the state has about 100 boarding homes that are unregulated.

Most of the facilities are near Las Vegas, New Mexico, where the only state psychiatric hospital is located.

State Department of Health spokesman David Morgan says the rules aim to ensure residents of the homes have "safe and supported" living conditions.

He says they aim to release the proposed rules in the coming weeks.

Utah County Declines Appeal In Navajo Voting-Rights CaseSalt Lake Tribune, Associated Press

A Utah county has decided not to pursue further appeal after a federal appeals court upheld newly drawn voting districts that led to the first majority-Navajo commission in the county.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports San Juan County commissioners voted Monday to not challenge the ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A lower court found the former district boundaries in the county that overlaps with the Navajo Nation amounted to racial gerrymandering and violated the rights of Navajo voters.

Republicans then contested the new districts used in last year's election.

Navajo voters make up slightly more than half the population of the county.

The case now goes to a state court judge who will assess fees to the county.

Legislative Leaders Take Command Of Campaign Resources Associated Press

New rules for funneling resources to political campaigns in New Mexico may provide legislative and party leaders with a stronger hand in influencing the outcome of elections, as Democrats assert their control over the Legislature and governor's office.

The Democratic House speaker and Republican minority leader have registered specialized political committees this month that can command vast resources through unlimited non-cash contributions.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says his legislative caucus committee is likely to provide campaign strategy services and door-to-door canvassing in key legislative races.

The committees are one outcome of legislation aimed at disclosing more about the sources of political contributions by independent expenditure groups and others.

Transparency advocate Austin Graham of the Campaign Legal Center describes some provisions as a "power grab by legislative leadership."

New Regulations Limit Experienced New Mexico Sub TeachersAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A new law and regulations are requiring more retired New Mexico teachers to limit the amount of time they spend in a classroom or take off a year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports legislative and Educational Retirement Board rule changes altered eligibility requirements for retirees who go back to work in education while collecting a pension.

New Mexico Educational Retirement Board Executive Director Jan Goodwin says retirees who collect their pension can't work more than a quarter of full-time equivalent hours unless they are part of the "return to work program."

Under the program, which is already in place, retirees can work as many hours as they like, but can't join the program until they take a year off from education.

New Mexico's Journalism Department To Lose Accreditation - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico's Department of Communication and Journalism soon will no longer be accredited by an outside agency that evaluates the nation's journalism departments.

The Albuquerque Journal reports department chair David Weiss said last week faculty members were in favor of not seeking reaccreditation, saying the process was expensive and not worth the time and resources.

That means the department won't meet the requirements set by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

The council says the University of New Mexico is one of 113 journalism programs around the country, and the only one in New Mexico.

Peter Bhatia, the executive director at the council and the editor of the Detroit Free Press, says accreditation is about holding everyone to a high standard of teaching. 

Ruling May Open New Mexico's Private Waterways To Public Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A state commission's decision may reopen New Mexico's private waterways to recreationists.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Game Commission last week handed fishermen and other recreational boaters a partial victory by temporarily halting a program for private property owners. Under the 2017 program, private property owners have say over whether the public can access waterways on their land.

The current commission, appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, decided last week to impose a 90-day moratorium on the rule until it can receive advice from Attorney General Hector Balderas as to whether it is legal under state law.

A previous commission, appointed by Republican then-Gov. Susana Martinez, implemented a program in 2017 that allowed landowners to certify rivers and streams that cut through their property as "non-navigable."

Fired New Mexico City Manager Says Settlement Exonerates HimKVIA-TV, Associated Press

A former New Mexico city manager who says he was fired without cause is receiving a $211,000 settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports former Sunland Park city manager Bob Gallagher received the payout last week. He described it as vindication following his August 2017 firing.

Sunland Park is not admitting to any fault and officials declined to comment on the settlement.

Gallagher says he was fired after he refused to comply with several directives from three city councilors who wanted him to engage in questionable actions.

An independent investigation did not to turn up evidence of corruption and no charges were brought.

Gallagher also faced allegations of sexual harassment as the city manager of Jal in southeast New Mexico. But a lawsuit there was dismissed.

Appeals Court Agrees With Tossing Lawsuit Over Power Plant - Associated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit aimed at shutting down a coal-fired power plant and adjacent mine near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

Environmental groups had targeted a 25-year lease extension for the Navajo Mine and the Four Corners Power Plant in northwestern New Mexico. They alleged the U.S. government did not consider clean-energy alternatives or possible effects on endangered species.

A lower court had tossed the case because the mine is owned by a Navajo Nation corporation, meaning it is shielded from legal challenges.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed Monday, saying the case cannot move forward without the corporation as a defendant.

The power plant is one of three in the region that are scaling back operations as utilities shift toward natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Some In New Mexico Vow To Fight Prairie Chicken Lawsuit Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Officials in southeastern New Mexico say they won't stop fighting to keep the lesser prairie chicken off the federal protected list despite a pending federal lawsuit.

The Roswell Daily Record reports Chaves County Board of Commissioners chair Will Cavin said last week officials protest the listing because it could affect grazing rights and other issues in New Mexico.

Three conservation groups are suing the federal government to force it to protect the lesser prairie chicken and its habitats.

The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service has not done enough to protect the bird. The groups want the agency to determine whether the lesser prairie chicken is a threatened or endangered species.

The bird roams parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

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