New Mexico Archdiocese To File For Bankruptcy, Former Tax Secretary Pleads Not Guilty Of Corruption

Nov 30, 2018

New Mexico Archdiocese To File For Bankruptcy - Associated Press

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe says it will file for bankruptcy protection next week, citing depleted reserves as the Catholic church in New Mexico has settled numerous claims of sexual abuse by clergy.

Archbishop John Wester made the announcement Thursday. He said he had been contemplating the action for years but that the archdiocese had reached a tipping point and he wanted to ensure there would be resources to provide compensation for victims.

Wester acknowledged a charged atmosphere, pointing to the clergy sex abuse investigation in Pennsylvania and other cases that have garnered national attention. He said the archdiocese has about three dozen cases and he said there will likely be more.

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

Scientists Say Capacity At U.S. Nuclear Waste Dump A Challenge- Associated Press

The lack of space at the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository is among several challenges cited by scientists who are looking at the viability of disposing of tons of surplus plutonium at the desert location.

Friday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a preliminary report on the U.S. government's plan, which calls for diluting 34 tons of weapons-grade defense plutonium and shipping it to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico.

The purpose of the work would be to satisfy a nonproliferation agreement with Russia.

Russia also would have to approve of dilution of the materials as a previous plan called for turning it into fuel that could be used for commercial nuclear reactors.

Congress requested the review by the National Academies. A final report is expected next summer.

Former Tax Secretary Pleads Not Guilty To Corruption Charges- Associated Press

New Mexico's former state tax chief has pleaded not guilty to seven corruption counts, including a charge that she embezzled money from a former client.

Former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla entered the plea yesterday. A state district judge in Santa Fe then set her trial to begin in May.

Padilla is accused of embezzling more than $25,000 from one of her accounting clients, Harold's Grading and Trucking near Bernalillo.

Padilla faces a felony embezzlement count as well as a charge of performing an official act for private gain (interfering in an audit of that client), which also is a felony. The remaining five counts are misdemeanors. They allege Padilla violated state ethics rules.

Padilla could face up to 16 years in prison and as much as $20,000 in fines if convicted of all seven charges.

New Mexico Approves Rules For Industrial Hemp Cultivation - Associated Press

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has approved a rule crafted by state agriculture officials to govern the industrial cultivation of hemp.

The effort stems from legislation that passed in 2017 and eventually became law following a veto fight.

NMSU President John Floros tells The Associated Press that hemp has the potential to revitalize farms across the state and he expects the industry to grow quickly given its profitability.

The rule approved Thursday calls for growers to be licensed and it establishes fees as well as testing and inspection requirements.

There's also a push in Congress by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make hemp a legal agricultural commodity, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. Floros said that would provide more assurances for farmers in New Mexico and elsewhere.

El Niño Teases As Southwestern U.S. Remains In Drought - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

National climate experts have been watching and waiting but El Niño has only been teasing, leaving the American Southwest to hang on longer until the weather pattern develops and brings more moisture to the drought-stricken region.

Experts with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and the National Weather Service on Thursday said the epicenter of the nation's drought has been centered for months now over the region where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet.

The latest federal drought map shows some improvements along the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico but dryness has expanded in southern California and parts of Nevada.

Senior hydrologist Royce Fontenot says the exceptionally dry conditions have affected water supplies throughout the region. He says many reservoirs throughout the intermountain west are below where they should be for this time of year.

D.C. Clerk Stalls Marriage Over 'Foreign' New Mexico ID Card- Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A District of Columbia clerk and a supervisor refused to accept a New Mexico man's state driver's license as he sought a marriage license because she and her supervisor believed New Mexico was a foreign country.

Gavin Clarkson told the Las Cruces Sun-News it happened Nov. 20th at the District of Columbia Courts Marriage Bureau as he tried to apply for a marriage license.

After approaching the clerk for a license and showing his New Mexico ID, Clarkson said the clerk told him he needed an international passport to get the marriage license.

Clarkson said he protested to a supervisor, who also told him that he needed a foreign passport.

The clerk finally concluded New Mexico was a state after Clarkson objected three times. The clerk granted the license to Clarkson and his fiancée.

Ben Ray Luján Is Commencement Speaker At Community College - Associated Press

Congressman Ben Ray Luján is giving the fall commencement address at Santa Fe Community College.

The Democratic representative will be speaking to hundreds of students on Saturday, Dec. 8. The ceremony is open to the public and will be streamed live online.

Luján says the college has been a foundation of knowledge and economic growth in New Mexico since it was founded 35 years ago.

Honduras native Rosa Turner will be the student speaker.

Nearly 500 students are eligible to graduate in the fall, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year. They range in age from 17 to 80. More than half identify as Hispanic or Latino. Four percent identify as Native American.

A majority of the graduates are from Santa Fe.