NBCUniversal Building Film Studio In Albuquerque, N.M. Bans Criminal Histories From Job Applications

Jun 14, 2019

NBCUniversal To Build State-Of-The-Art Studio In New MexicoAssociated Press

NBCUniversal has announced plans for a state-of-the-art television and film studio in a warehouse district just north of downtown Albuquerque.

The announcement Friday comes as state officials are offering more than $10 million in incentives and promising that the economic impact from the venture will top $1 billion over the next decade.

The media giant said it has entered a 10-year venture with a developer to redevelop an empty free-span warehouse in Albuquerque into a studio with two sound stages, offices and a mill.

NBCUniversal will be joining Netflix, which solidified its footing in New Mexico last year.

In recent months the state has experienced a big jump in film productions. The state is set to more than double its annual spending cap on film incentives.

Migrants Complain Of Poor Conditions At US Holding CentersAssociated Press

The Trump administration is facing growing complaints from migrants about severe overcrowding, meager food and other hardships at border holding centers.

Some people at an encampment in El Paso, Texas, have been forced to sleep on the bare ground during dust storms.

The Trump administration has blamed the worsening crisis on inaction by Congress.

The U.S. is seeing a record surge of migrant families coming into the country from Central America.

Advocate Says Immigrant Mom And Premature Newborn DetainedAssociated Press

Advocates were shocked to find a teenage mom and her premature newborn daughter huddled in a Border Patrol facility in what they say was another example of the poor treatment immigrants receive.

The mother is a Guatemalan teen who crossed the border without a parent and was held at a facility in McAllen, Texas.

Hope Frye, a volunteer who visits detention centers to ensure they comply with federal guidelines, said the baby was born in Mexico in early May has a head the size of her fist. She says the baby should have immediately received medical care.

Frye said the mom was in a wheelchair and in extreme pain.

Advocates say they are being sent to a facility for underage immigrants on Friday.

Customs and Border Protection has not commented.

New Mexico Delegates Want Postal Problems AddressedAssociated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation want the U.S. Postal Service to implement recommendations prompted by an independent audit of postal facilities serving the state's largest city.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Deb Haaland wrote a letter this week to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, referring to what they described as troubling conditions and serious deficiencies.

The recommendations include filling staff vacancies, maintaining safe and secure facilities, and ensuring the timely delivery of mail.

Concerns were first raised by local postal union leaders. Requests for an investigation followed last year.

The subsequent audit found that postal facilities in Albuquerque failed to meet necessary building maintenance, safety and security standards.

The lawmakers also are requesting regular updates on the Postal Service's efforts to implement the audit's recommendations.

New Mexico City Cancels Fireworks ShowAssociated Press

A New Mexico city is cancelling its Fourth of July fireworks show after an explosion critically injured two firefighters while they were moving fireworks for the event.

Roswell officials announced Friday there will be a concert and other activities but no fireworks in light of the June 5 accident. The two firefighters remain hospitalized.

The city was forced to destroy the remainder of the fireworks for safety reasons. Related city equipment also was damaged.

Officials say they do not plan to manage fireworks through the Roswell Fire Department or any other city department in the future.

Whether fireworks — through hiring a contractor or using another option — will be part of future city Fourth of July events has yet to be decided. A laser light show is another possible option.

2 Firefighters Remain Critical After Fireworks ExplosionRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Officials say two New Mexico firefighters remain in critical condition after they were injured in a fireworks explosion last week.

The Roswell Daily Record reported Thursday that 46-year-old Jeff Stroble and 36-year-old Robert "Hoby" Bonham have undergone multiple surgeries following the explosion at a fireworks storage area in Roswell.

Roswell Fire Chief Devin Graham says Stroble is experiencing complications, but he is doing better than expected. He is expected to undergo additional surgeries.

He says Bonham is able to walk around but is still experiencing severe pain.

Graham says the 10 other firefighters injured in the blast are recovering and did not need extended hospital stays.

Authorities say firefighters were packaging the fireworks for the city's Fourth of July celebration.

Albuquerque Pays Nearly $4M To Family Of Man Shot By PoliceAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Albuquerque has agreed to pay $3.75 million to the family of a man who was left disabled after being shot about seven times by police.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday the city has reached a settlement with the family of 24-year-old Rodrigo Garcia, who was unarmed when police fired dozens of times at him in May 2015.

A lawsuit filed in federal court last year claimed excessive force and civil rights violations.

Attorney Shannon Kennedy says Garcia is not expected to live much longer.

Kennedy says officers waited about 90 minutes before giving him medical aid after the shooting.

Mayor's office spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn says the settlement was among the last few remaining cases pending from the previous administration.

A police spokesman did not respond to the newspaper's questions.

Grand Jury Probe Urged On New Mexico Trash-Collection GroupSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A Rio Arriba County man has filed a petition in the state's First Judicial District alleging fraudulent practices by a regional trash-collection organization.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Antonio De Vargas filed papers this week requesting a grand jury investigation into the North Central Solid Waste Authority. He says a grand jury probe was necessary because he sees a conflict of interest for District Attorney Marco Serna, who is running for the state's 3rd Congressional District in northern New Mexico.

The 72-year-old De Vargas is accusing the authority of misappropriating public money, billing customers for services not rendered and fraud.

Solid Waste Authority officials did not immediately respond to emails.

New Mexico Bans Criminal Histories From Job ApplicationsAssociated Press

New Mexico has made it illegal for private employers to ask about a person's criminal history on an initial job application. Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said the new law goes into effect Friday, June 14, under oversight of the state Human Rights Bureau.

Private employers are allowed to discuss prior arrests or convictions later in the hiring process. State agencies already leave out criminal history questions on initial employment applications.

Democratic state Sen. Bill O'Neill and Republican Rep. Alonzo Baldonado sponsored the legislation in an effort to give formerly incarcerated residents access to face-to-face interviews and the opportunity to provide for themselves and family.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says people deserve the opportunity to rebuild their lives after a criminal incident.

Lawsuit: Black Student Faced Racial Taunts And Called A 'Snitch'—Associated Press

Court documents say a Black elementary school student endured months of racial taunts in New Mexico.

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque this week said the boy faced "escalating race-based and physical harassment" early this year at Parkview Elementary School in Socorro, New Mexico, and teachers often did little or nothing to stop it.

According to the lawsuit, other students used a racial slur toward the boy and made racist jokes about his family. Court documents say one student repeatedly called the boy a "snitch" after he reported an episode to a teacher.

Socorro Consolidated Schools Superintendent Ron Hendrix says the district couldn't comment on pending litigation.

Oil, Nuclear Technology Firms Visit N.M. GovernorAssociated Press

A major shale oil producer and developers of advanced nuclear reactor technology have held discussions with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as the state overhauls pollution regulations and electricity production.

The Office of the Governor confirmed on Thursday recent meetings with executives from Denver-based natural gas and petroleum producer Cimarex Energy and California-based Kairos Power. Kairos is developing a molten-salt cooled reactor.

Lujan Grisham's administration is drafting regulations to reduce emissions of heat-trapping methane gasses by the energy industry, and a state law enacted this year requires that utilities shift to carbon-free electricity production by 2045 that could include nuclear reactors.

U.S. Considers More Options For Detaining Transgender Migrants—Associated Press

About 300 transgender asylum-seekers have been booked into the custody of U.S. immigration authorities since Oct. 1, marking the highest number since officials began keeping track in 2015.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering opening a second permanent facility where transgender migrants can be detained amid the influx of Central Americans crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico has the only permanent detention unit specifically for transgender people seeking asylum in the U.S. Lawyers and advocates criticize ICE for poor health care and mistreatment at the facility.

Three transgender people have died while in U.S. custody over the last year, one woman in Albuquerque.

Parched U.S. Southwest Gets Reprieve As Snowmelt Fills RiversAssociated Press

A welcome surge of melting snow is pouring out of the Rocky Mountains and into the drought-stricken rivers of the southwestern U.S.

Enough snow fell last winter to delay a water shortage in the region, but the runoff is threatening to push some streams over their banks.

Much of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming had above-average snowfall. As it melts, an abundance of water is rushing into the Colorado River, the Rio Grande and other waterways.

It's a big change after a desperately dry 2018.

Federal officials said last winter there was a better than 50 percent chance of a shortage in the Colorado River in 2020. 

Officials now say the shortage might be put off until after 2021.

Regulators Put Off Decision On Line To Power Facebook Site—Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico regulators put off a decision on whether to force the state's largest electric utility to charge Facebook nearly $40 million for a new transmission line to power the social media giant's new data center near Albuquerque.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 5-to-0 on Wednesday to revise an order that would have stopped PNM from charging customers for the line.

Now PNM will be allowed to present its case to the commission the next time the company files for a rate increase, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The decision might let California-based Facebook off the hook for $39 million dollars, and the cost could be passed along to PNM ratepayers instead.

The line would run from Clines Corners to a new substation in Sandoval County, carrying electricity from a 166-megawatt wind farm being built east of Estancia to provide renewable energy to Facebook.