Hispanic Ranchers Seek Intervention In Forest Plan, Rep. Haaland Faces Lawsuit From Teen Viral Video

Aug 8, 2019

National Forest Planning Spurs Worries For Hispanic RanchersAssociated Press

Hispanic ranchers in New Mexico are asking President Donald Trump and top federal officials to ensure the latest round of forest management planning considers traditional values and land uses that date back centuries.

The Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association contends local managers have been unwilling to address their concerns about a proposed management plan for the Carson National Forest.

They're pushing for the president to intervene, citing a long history in which they claim the federal government has ignored the property rights of Hispanic ranchers in the Southwest.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a recent letter to the ranchers that forest officials in New Mexico have acknowledged the region's unique history and its traditional and cultural ways of life.

Meetings on the plan are scheduled for the coming weeks.

New Mexico Denies ICE Request For Access To Workforce DataAssociated Press

New Mexico has denied repeated requests by federal immigration authorities for direct access to an employment-records database.

New Mexico Workforce Solutions Department Secretary Bill McCamley said Thursday that he has twice notified officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the state will not provide direct, complete access to an unemployment database with extensive records about employees and employers throughout the state.

McCamley says the state will consider requests by the federal immigration authorities for specific information about employers that include an explanation and justification.

In email correspondence, an ICE investigative assistant based in El Paso, Texas, said that access to New Mexico's workforce database was needed to quickly fulfill requests by case agents.

An ICE spokeswoman had no immediate comment and the investigative assistant did not return calls.

Autopsy Shows FBI Agent Shot Man 8 Times In AlbuquerqueAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An autopsy report indicates that an off-duty FBI agent shot a Utah veterinarian eight times when he entered an Albuquerque brewery with a gun.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator report shows 43-year-old Cody Wrathall was shot in the chest, arms and back on June 8.

The FBI has released little information about the brewery shooting, saying it's still under investigation.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to discuss the case Wednesday.

The state report says Wrathall had sat at a table with two agents and later exited the brewery.

The report say he went back inside, brandished a gun and possibly fired it before he was shot.

Plane Spins On Runway While Landing At Santa Fe AirportAssociated Press

Authorities say the Santa Fe Regional Airport was closed for up to two hours Thursday after a small plane spun on a runway while landing.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said two people were aboard the single-engine plane and that nobody was injured.

Lunsford said the plane spun when the pilot "lost directional control while landing."

Airport Operations Manager John Dickinson said the plane "was a little banged up" and that closure curtailed flights for over 90 minutes.

Dickinson said he didn't have details on the affected flight operations.

Congresswoman Haaland Faces Lawsuit From Teen Viral VideoAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Parents of Kentucky teens are suing one of the nation's only Native American congresswomen over comments she made about a viral video of the teens and a Native American drummer.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the parents of eight Covington Catholic High School students filed suit on behalf of their sons last week in Kenton County Circuit Court in Kentucky against Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of Albuquerque.

The lawsuit claims Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo member, and 11 others libeled the minors over the events shown in the video.

A federal judge last month threw out a similar lawsuit accusing the Washington Post of falsely labeling one of the teens a racist.

Haaland's office says the congresswoman has not seen the lawsuit.

Governor Says Utility Commission Needs To Be ReformedSusan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is questioning recent decisions of a powerful regulatory commission that oversees the state's largest electric utility, rural cooperatives and other companies.

The first-year governor says reforming the Public Regulation Commission is needed to ensure the success of landmark legislation that sets new renewable energy goals and charts a course for closing a major coal-fired power plant.

Lujan Grisham on Tuesday announced her intention to have lawmakers consider reforms during the next legislative session.

Her office didn't propose any specifics but plans to hear from stakeholders.

The Legislature already has cleared the way for voters to consider a constitutional amendment that proposes reducing the commission from five to three members. Instead of being elected, they would be chosen by the governor from a list of qualified candidates compiled by a nominating committee.

New Mexico To Issue Contract For Security Master Plan Associated Press

New Mexico is close to hiring a private firm to develop a security master plan for state government buildings in Santa Fe.

General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz said Wednesday his department will soon award a contract for the work to one of three firms that were issued price agreements last month for security master planning.

The selected firm will work with the state Department of Public Safety and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to assess the buildings and address vulnerabilities.

The company will have to come up with security policies and procedures, lead training exercises and develop a three- to five-year plan to implement recommended security measures.

State officials say recommendations could include more security cameras and guards, better outdoor lighting, security badges for access and fencing.

New Mexico's Medical Pot Program Sees More Growth - Associated Press

Enrollment in New Mexico's medical marijuana program has increased by more than 30% over the past year.

The latest monthly report from the state Health Department shows the number of active patients in the program topped 76,000 at the end of July.

Participation in the state's medical cannabis program has grown rapidly since chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder were added to a list of qualifying conditions.

In June, the list was expanded to include opioid use disorder, Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder and several degenerative neurological disorders.

Producer Ultra Health suggested Wednesday that the state needs to do more outreach to boost patient participation for the new qualifying conditions as only 25 people have qualified under the new conditions collectively.

New Mexico City Rejects Federal Border Security GrantLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A New Mexico city has rejected a more than $48,000 grant that supports cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agents on security efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the Las Cruces City Council voted Monday against participation in the federal program known as Operation Stonegarden, citing concerns about its connection to immigration policy and its lax accountability standards.

City officials have vowed to find local funding to replace the federal dollars to the police department.

Police Chief Patrick Gallagher advocated for the acceptance of the grant, saying the money is mostly used for narcotics enforcement and to intercept human traffickers.

He says the money has also covered overtime and mileage costs and the purchase of three patrol vehicles. 

New Mexico Releases Plan For Contaminated Phillips 66 Site - Associated Press

New Mexico environment officials are reviewing a plan that details options for investigating contaminated groundwater at an industrial site on the edge of Albuquerque.

The state Environment Department on Wednesday made public the plan for the Phillips 66 fuel facility.

Officials say groundwater collected from monitoring wells at the site contains contaminants that are typically associated with fuel releases — such as ethylene dibromide and benzene.

Two distinct plumes of contamination have been documented at the site. Both are less than an acre in size.

Officials say no drinking water sources have been impacted.

If the Stage I abatement plan is approved, another plan outlining cleanup strategies to remediate the contamination will be required.

Smokey Bear, Fire Prevention Icon In US, To Turn 75

Smokey Bear, the icon of the longest-running public service campaign in the U.S., is set to turn 75 years old.

Birthday parties are scheduled to take place this week in honor of the bear used to promote forest fire prevention.

Smokey Bear was born on Aug. 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear would be the symbol for a fire prevention campaign.

A badly burned cub found in the aftermath of a fire in New Mexico's Capitan Mountains later became Smokey Bear.

The Gila National Forest in Silver City, New Mexico, and Wingfield Park in Ruidoso will hold community birthday parties for the bear.

Birthday parties also are scheduled in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Entiat, Washington.