KUNM

New Health Services Center Opens, State To Invest In Start Ups & Local Businesses

Nov 27, 2019

New Mexico Center To Provide Behavioral Health Services Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Bernalillo County officials have opened the first 24-hour crisis triage and treatment center in to provide behavioral and mental health services.

The Albuquerque Journal reported yesterday that the 70,000-square-foot renovated space would serve people who might otherwise end up in a hospital emergency department, jail or sent back into the community.

Officials say the center has 16 beds in semiprivate rooms which could also be converted into single occupancy spaces.

County officials say the center would begin accepting clients Dec. 2nd.

Officials say the formerly named Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services center and the crisis center would now be called the Comprehensive Assessment and Resiliency through Excellence campus, or CARE.

Officials say there are plans to build a larger building in addition to the center.

New Mexico To Invest More In Local Businesses, Startups Associated Press

The state will be investing more money in state-based businesses and startup companies as it attempts to spur development and diversify the economy.

Yesterday the State Investment Council voted to adopt recommendations that will target a greater number of commitments to New Mexico and nationally-based venture capital firms actively investing in the state.

Gov. Lujan Grisham is the council's chair. She says by targeting investments in New Mexico's own backyard, the state can achieve positive financial returns while creating jobs and new industries.

The council previously funneled only 5% of the state's $5.5 billion severance tax permanent fund to local investments due to historically lower returns and higher risks.

The decision to increase that to 9% — the most allowed under state law — comes after months of analysis.

Former School Basketball Coach Pleads Guilty To Sex Charges - Associated Press

A former high school assistant basketball coach has pleaded guilty to multiple felony sex charges against two female students at Pecos High School.

Authorities say 30-year-old Dominick Baca was charged with criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact of a minor.

The students told investigators Baca had sex with them in 2017 and 2018 when they were age 14 and 17.

Court officials say sentencing is scheduled for January after a psychological examination.

Officials say Baca would be required to register as a sex offender and faces up to three years in prison and up to 20 years of probation.

The New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority agreed to pay the older of the two girls $290,000 to reach a settlement with Pecos Independent School District.

 

Accountability Report Lags On Campaign Finance Reporting - Associated Press

New Mexico election regulators have not completed a required spot check for campaign-finance compliance since the 2016 election cycle, amid escalating private spending on elections and a shifting enforcement landscape.

The Secretary of State's Office is responsible for reviewing a random sampling of filings by candidates and political committees to ensure accountability.

Agency spokesman Alex Curtas indicates that a review for the 2018 election cycle is under way. Today the State Canvassing Board prepared to certify results of this year's Nov. 5 election.

The 2016 review of 106 randomly selected candidates and political committees found that an unregistered nonprofit contributed to the campaign of the Republican House speaker, a prohibited gun raffle by the Republican Party and improper campaign spending on compression shorts and a chiropractor.

Former Foundation Director Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion - Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

A former state foundation director has pleaded guilty to tax evasion after authorities say he didn't include more than $1 million allegedly embezzled on his taxes.

The Alamogordo Daily News reported that 65-year-old former Robert W. Hamilton Foundation director Marion Ledford entered his plea Monday in Las Cruces federal court.

The Internal Revenue Service says Ledford filed tax returns for 2011 to 2016 but did not report an additional $1.7 million allegedly embezzled through more than 60 personal checks.

Ledford agreed to pay the foundation restitution for the embezzled funds.

Authorities say the plea agreement requires Ledford to pay the IRS about $629,000 in lost tax revenue. He faces up to five years imprisonment.

Albuquerque Launches Operation Targeting Violent Offenders - Associated Press

Albuquerque officials say they're launching a new operation that will target the 15 most violent criminal offenders in the city.

The "Metro 15 Operation" announced Tuesday will be conducted by Albuquerque police in conjunction with state and Bernalillo County prosecutors and investigators from multiple agencies.

According to the announcement, an apprehension team will go after offenders on a continuously updated list prepared by the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office.

Mayor Tim Keller said the operation is intended to focus on "the worst perpetrators of violent crime" with a narrowly targeted approach to reduce crime in the city.

Participating agencies also include investigators from the state Attorney General's Office, the state Office of Superintendent of Insurance and the state Office of Probation and Parole.

New Mexico's Homeland Security Secretary Steps Down - Associated Press

New Mexico Homeland Security and Emergency Management Secretary Jackie Lindsey has resigned, effective immediately.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office announced Lindsey's resignation Tuesday, saying she informed the governor that she wanted to focus on her family and health.

Lindsey said she made the decision after careful consideration and that she was honored to have served New Mexicans over the last year.

The governor's office says Deputy Secretary Kelly Hamilton will serve as acting secretary to ensure that operations continue as normal as the state braces for wintery weather.

A search will begin immediately to fill the role permanently.

Lindsey has served as secretary since Lujan Grisham took office at the start of the year. She previously worked as a captain with Albuquerque Fire Rescue, overseeing security and emergency management for that department.

Elected City Councilor Used Public Financing For Gift Cards - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A newly elected city councilor in New Mexico has spent public financing on gift cards for her volunteers raising concerns about the use of public campaign funds.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Monday that Santa Fe city councilwoman Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez purchased $220 in gift cards from a local coffee shop to hand out to her volunteers.

Officials say Cassutt-Sanchez then wrote the city a check for $3.93 for the remaining public finance dollars she didn't spend.

Cassutt-Sanchez says she didn't hesitate to buy the gift cards with taxpayer money and is open to speaking with people who don't agree with the purchases.

Officials say city code imposes multiple restrictions on public finance funds, but it is unclear if gift cards fell into any of the prohibited uses.

Permits On Sale To Harvest Christmas Trees On Federal Land - Associated Press

Christmas tree permits are now available at Bureau of Land Management offices around New Mexico.

Federal land managers say the $5 permits will be sold in Albuquerque, Socorro, Taos, Farmington and Santa Fe through Dec. 24.

For the Rio Puerco and Taos areas, Christmas tree harvesters are able to purchase a permit online.

Only piñon and juniper trees are available for harvest as Christmas trees on BLM lands.

When transporting a tree taken from BLM public land, officials say the permit must be attached to the tree.

Albuquerque Zoo Welcomes Baby Ocelots - Associated Press

Albuquerque's zoo is celebrating the births of two ocelots.

Officials at the ABQ BioPark announced Tuesday that the kittens were born in October.

Mammal Curator Erin Flynn says the births mark an important milestone for the zoo. She says it's a big deal for a first-time mom to have two kittens and be taking such good care of them.

Officials say ocelots are notoriously difficult to get pregnant.

In 2017, staff artificially inseminated the mother, named Lucy, under the direction of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's species survival plan. Although Lucy didn't become pregnant at that time, the process made her more receptive to breeding.

Officials say Lucy had not shown any signs of being pregnant such as weight gain or behavioral changes, so the babies were a surprise.

More Endangered Minnows Released In Rio Grande - Associated Press

About 15,000 Rio Grande silvery minnows are now swimming in the river as part of a decades-long effort to keep the tiny fish from disappearing.

Staff from Albuquerque's BioPark released the latest batch of fish last week. In all, more than 800,000 minnows have been released since 2000 as part of a partnership with an endangered species collaborative.

The minnow had a chance this year to rebound since the river got a boost from healthy snowmelt in the higher elevations.

The favorable flows resulted in spawning so no captive-bred fish were needed to augment the wild population.

Still, some environmentalists are concerned that without changes in the way the Rio Grande is managed, the minnow won't have a chance to make it on its own without continued human intervention.

Former Foundation Director Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion - Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

A former state foundation director has pleaded guilty to tax evasion after authorities say he didn't include more than $1 million allegedly embezzled on his taxes.

Alamogordo Daily News reported that 65-year-old former Robert W. Hamilton Foundation director Marion Ledford entered his plea Monday in Las Cruces federal court.

The Internal Revenue Service says Ledford filed tax returns for 2011 to 2016 but did not report an additional 1.7 million allegedly embezzled through more than 60 personal checks.

Ledford agreed to pay the foundation restitution for the embezzled funds.

Authorities say the plea agreement requires Ledford to pay the IRS about $629,000 in lost tax revenue. He faces up to five years imprisonment.

The Robert W. Hamilton Foundation provides scholarships to Otero County high school graduates.KUNM

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