Lawmakers Propose Renaming Columbus Day, Environment Department Accuses Los Alamos Lab Of Violations

Dec 3, 2018

New Mexico Lawmakers Seek To Rename Columbus DayAssociated Press

The state of New Mexico may have celebrated its last Columbus Day.

A legislative proposal to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day has cleared its first hurdle in the New Mexico Legislature with a unanimous committee endorsement.

Sandia Pueblo tribal member and Democratic state Rep. Derrick Lente is preparing a bill for the coming legislative session that renames the state holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October.

He told fellow lawmakers that it is fitting that the tribute to Christopher Columbus be dropped in a state with 23 designated Native American communities.

Tributes to European conquerors are fading or being rewritten out of consideration for Native Americans in many New Mexico communities amid enduring expressions of pride in the state's Spanish colonial heritage.

New Mexico's Largest Diocese Files Bankruptcy Petition  – Associated Press

The largest Catholic diocese in New Mexico has filed its bankruptcy petition in federal court, beginning a reorganization process that could take more than a year.

Attorney Ford Elsaesser, who is representing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, confirmed the filing was made Monday afternoon.

The move comes as the archdiocese faces more than three dozen active cases involving clergy sex abuse.

Archbishop John Wester announced last week that he had been contemplating the action for years but that the archdiocese had reached a tipping point. Expecting more cases to be filed, he said he wanted to ensure there would be resources to provide compensation for victims.

About 20 dioceses and other religious orders around the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of clergy sex abuse claims.

Forest Service Revokes Permit For Rancher Who Trapped WolfAssociated Press

The U.S. Forest Service has revoked a grazing permit for a rancher who trapped an endangered Mexican gray wolf and hit it with a shovel.

The agency notified Craig Thiessen of its decision late last week.

The Datil rancher held the permit for an allotment near Reserve on the Gila National Forest. The permit had been at risk after Thiessen pleaded guilty in May to knowingly taking threatened wildlife.

The 10-month-old wolf pup died in February 2015.

Thiessen has said he knew he caught a Mexican gray wolf because it had a radio tracking collar. He disputed killing it.

A group that included environmentalists had called on the Forest Service to revoke Thiessen's permit.

The Forest Service says it will offer other ranchers an opportunity to graze on the allotment.

Farmington Diner Settles Religious Discrimination LawsuitAssociated Press

A Farmington diner has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle allegations that it discriminated against a Muslim woman.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement Monday.

The agency had sued Blue Moon Diner for religious discrimination. Its lawsuit argued the diner forced Samantha Bandy to resign when she chose her religious practices over the diner's requirement that she stop wearing a head scarf at work.

Bandy will receive $2,500 in back pay and $22,500 in compensatory damages.

The settlement also requires the diner to revise its religious discrimination policy, make the reporting requirements clear and provide anti-discrimination training.

Any requests for religious accommodations have to be reported to the commission for two years.

Court Reviews Fate Of Man Who Killed 5 As A TeenAssociated Press

Prosecutors are placing scrutiny on how authorities perceived the demeanor of a New Mexico man who as a 15-year-old killed his parents and three young siblings.

At a hearing Monday, a former sheriff's deputy answered questions about his interview with 21-year-old Nehemiah Griego after the 2013 killings.

The weeklong hearing for Griego is meant to determine whether he has been rehabilitated while in state custody and is prepared for release. It's the second such hearing for Griego, who three years ago pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.

A judge in 2016 determined Griego could be released at age 21, but was ordered to revisit the case after an appeal from state prosecutors.

Witnesses this week include therapists who have provided Griego with psychological treatment. That testimony is expected to remain sealed.

Oil And Gas Boom In Permian Basin Boosts Local Charities - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

With the recent oil and gas boom in the Permian Basin, charities are seeing an increase in donations from some of the oil companies that have come in, but the number of clients being served is also on the rise as many workers can't afford rent and are looking for other help.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the boom began in about mid-2017. Linda Dodd, executive director of the United Way of Carlsbad and South Eddy County, says the boom led to a dramatic influx of workers into the area, increasing housing demands and causing housing costs to spike.

She says she still sees some families living in their vehicles because places in Carlsbad are too expensive.

Environment Department Accuses Los Alamos Lab Of Violations - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

State environment officials have accused Los Alamos National Laboratory of violating its hazardous waste permit and state regulations.

The allegations came in a letter the New Mexico Environment Department sent to lab officials in early November, days after a new contractor began operating the lab.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the allegations include sending tons of construction waste to a landfill in Santa Fe and sites in Albuquerque and Colorado between 2015 and 2017 without proper notification and labeling.

A spokesman for the lab said it shipped thousands of hazardous waste containers during that time. He said four had discrepancies in documentation and labeling, but neither the public nor the environment was at risk.

State environment and lab officials declined to say whether they're discussing a settlement.

UNM AD Says Football Coach Bob Davie Is Back For 2019 Season - Associated Press

Despite consecutive 3-9 seasons, University of New Mexico officials say football coach Bob Davie will be back next year.

Lobos Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez says he met with Davie on Friday and the veteran coach "is committed to working tirelessly to return UNM to the level of success in 2015 and 2016."

After losing records in each of Davie's first three years at UNM, the Lobos were 7-6 in 2015 and 9-4 the following season.

The 16-10 mark tied the school record for the most victories in back-to-back seasons.

Nuñez says Davie "wants to be at New Mexico and wants nothing more than a program that our university and our fans can be proud of."

If UNM had chosen to terminate Davie's contract, he would have been owed $1.2 million.

Navajo Nation Certifies General Election Results - Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Officials on the Navajo Nation have certified results from the tribe's general election.

The final counts show Vice President Jonathan Nez won the tribal presidency with 41,261 votes. Contender and former President Joe Shirley Jr. had 20,751 votes.

Nearly 63,150 ballots were cast in the Nov. 6 election for the presidency and other positions on the reservation. About 94,900 Navajos were registered to vote, putting turnout around 67 percent.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors certified the results Thursday.

Tribal members also elected representatives to the Navajo Nation Council, the election board and other offices.

The tribe allowed some Navajos who left their information at polling places to vote late after experiencing widespread ballot shortages. That didn't change the outcome of any races.

Lawsuit Says Dog Attacked Man, Service Dog On Albuquerque Bus - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico man is suing the city of Albuquerque after he says he and his service animal were attacked by a dog on a city bus.

The Albuquerque Journal reports an attorney for Vernon Lewis recently filed a lawsuit in state district court against the city stemming from an alleged attack last year.

According to the lawsuit, Lewis, who has one leg and uses a wheelchair, boarded a city bus in April 2017 with his small dog, Rocco, on his lap.

The lawsuit says moments later another person boarded the bus along with an "unmuzzled pit bull" that attacked Rocco and Lewis.

Lewis' attorney, David Berlin, says Rocco died weeks after the attack.

Albuquerque Transit Department spokesman Rick De Reyes says it appears the bus driver did not properly follow procedure when he let the pit bull on board.

Albuquerque Day Care Apologizes After Girl Found On Street - KOAT-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque day care center is apologizing but has been temporarily closed while the state conducts an investigation after a driver found a 2-year-old girl standing in a traffic lane of a nearby busy street.

KOAT-TV reports that a Hope Head Start and Nursery employee retrieved the girl after the driver stopped and picked up the child Thursday.

Assistant Director Gely Flores says the day care loves its children and is asking parents and the public for forgiveness for the lapse.

Worker Judith Cabalero says she lost track of the girl while tending to another child while two other workers were on break.

The day care has installed a new door lock, is appealing its suspension and faces a hearing Thursday with a Children, Youth and Families Department hearing officer.