Legislative Committee Recommends Holding Funds For Future, Sen. Martinez Gets 5-Day Prison Sentence

Jan 7, 2020

New Mexico May Stash Away More Oil Money For Future Needs - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

The New Mexico Legislature's lead budget-writing committee has recommended a 6.5% increase in state general fund spending that stashes away some oil and natural gas revenue in trust funds to ensure future financial stability.

The Legislative Finance Committee recommended a $464 million increase in sustained spending to about $7.5 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Another $325 million would be set aside for endowments to underwrite early childhood schooling.

The endowment plan is supported by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Pay increases are scheduled for public school teachers and state employees under the budget proposal.

City Council In New Mexico To Vote On Removing MayorAssociated Press

City officials in the northern New Mexico city of Las Vegas have scheduled a meeting to discuss the removal from office of the mayor indicted on bribery charges last month.

Authorities say Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron pleaded not guilty Monday to all six criminal charges including engaging in an official act for personal financial gain and demanding or receiving a bribe by a public officer or employee.

The attorney general of New Mexico says the mayor allegedly rigged city contracts so her boyfriend's contracting company could get them. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday inside Council Chambers and is open to the public.

Republican TV Meteorologist Joins New Mexico Senate Race - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A television meteorologist in Albuquerque is joining the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

Republican Mark Ronchetti announced Tuesday he is entering the contest for the GOP nomination after stepping down from his job as chief meteorologist for Albuquerque's CBS affiliate.

Ronchetti calls himself a "proud conservative New Mexican" who opposes abortion and supports gun rights. Ronchetti says he doesn't support some of President Donald Trump's tweets and comments but endorses his economic and energy policies.

Ronchetti joins a crowded GOP field that includes anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, shooting range owner Louie Sanchez, building contractor Mick Rich and college professor Gavin Clarkson.

Man Fatally Shot During Encounter With Albuquerque PoliceAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say at least one officer fatally shot a man who allegedly was waving a handgun in the air while crossing a street.

Police say officers were on patrol on in the area of Central Avenue and San Pedro Drive when the incident occurred Monday. According to police, the man was waving the gun in a "dangerous fashion" and that the shooting occurred when officers identified themselves as police and walked up to him.

Police didn't immediately say how many officers fired or release other information about circumstances of the encounter.

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.

State Senator Gets 5-Day Prison Sentence For Drunken Driving - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico state Sen. Richard Martinez was sentenced to serve five days in jail on drunken and reckless driving convictions in connection with a June wreck in which he rear-ended a car that was stopped at a red light.

State District Court Judge Francis Mathew told Martinez that by driving while intoxicated the senator had violated the trust of political constituents whom he was supposed to protect.

Martinez also was ordered to serve 85 days under supervised probation. Prosecutors had recommending 180 days in jail for the former magistrate judge and Democratic senator from Ojo Caliente.

Prosecutors Seek To Jail State Senator For Drunken Driving - Associated Press

Prosecutors are recommending a six-month jail sentence against a state senator convicted of aggravated drunken driving in connection with a June car wreck. 

State Sen. Richard Martinez of Ojo Caliente is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday afternoon by a state district court judge. 

Martinez was found guilty during a two-day trial in December of drunken driving and reckless driving after rear-ending a vehicle that was stopped at a red traffic light and refusing an intoxication test. 

Prosecutors for the attorney general's office say Martinez was intimately aware as a lawmaker and former magistrate judge of rules he ignored by drinking and driving. 

New Mexico House GOP Seeks Answers On Albuquerque 'Surge' - KOAT-TV, Associated Press

New Mexico House Republicans are seeking answers around a so-called surge last year of state police fighting crime in Albuquerque. 

Seven House Republicans sent a letter Friday to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham requesting an investigation into the much-criticized "Operation Surge." 

A KOAT-TV analysis in December found that 52% of those cases were tossed for a variety of reasons, including shoddy paperwork or a lack of evidence. 

The Republicans say the "disappointing anti-crime operation" sent a message to criminals that they likely won't be prosecuted for crimes.

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.

Suspended New Mexico Professor Sues To Return To Work - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A University of New Mexico professor who was suspended for all of 2020 after the school found he violated sexual harassment policies is seeking a return to work. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports Anderson School of Management associate professor Nick Flor last week filed a lawsuit to halt his yearlong suspension without pay. The suspension also prohibits Flor from working elsewhere for more than 39 days during the suspension. 

The lawsuit says the university violated Flor's due process rights during its investigation into a relationship between Flor and a graduate student. Flor denied that he violated any policies, and his attorney said he wasn't given a fair chance to defend himself. 

University officials declined to comment on Flor's case. 

Rob Dean, Former Editor Of Santa Fe New Mexican, Dies At 65 – Santa 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.