New Mexico Ranks 50th In Child Well-Being, Senators Push For Hearing On Chaco Protection

Jun 17, 2019

Report Ranks New Mexico Last In Child Well-BeingKOB-TV, Associated Press

A new report ranked New Mexico at the bottom among the 50 states for child well-being.

KOB-TV reports the 2019 Kids Count Databook, released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks states on 16 indicators. Those include child poverty, teen pregnancy and teen birth rates.

For the third time since 2013, New Mexico placed last nationwide for child well-being, although the state did see improvement on the rate of child poverty, which dropped from 30% to 27%.

The report shows improved overall chances for U.S. children to thrive based on broad measures of economic circumstances, education and community support.

But the same advances weren't seen in the Southwest, where many children are Native Americans, Latinos and immigrants who have long faced disadvantages.

It also finds that the number of children living in poverty has swelled over the past three decades in fast-growing, ethnically diverse states such as Texas, Arizona and Nevada as the nation's population center shifts south and west.

In Texas, about 26% of children live in households where at least one parent struggles to find secure employment. In New Mexico, more than one in three children were in that situation.

About 18% of the nation's children live in poverty, down from 22% in 2010 during the Great recession.

Since 1990, however, the national rate of childhood poverty has remained unchanged as the number of impoverished children swelled border and Southwest states.

Deadline Arrives For Clergy Abuse Claims In New MexicoAssociated Press

Monday marks the deadline for filing sexual abuse claims as New Mexico's largest Roman Catholic diocese wades through bankruptcy proceedings.

Lawyers for the hundreds of people who will be submitting forms are hopeful the proceedings will shed more light on the decades-old scandal that shaken the church.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed for bankruptcy in 2018, with Archbishop John Wester saying it was the equitable thing to do as church reserves dwindled. The archdiocese has said $52 million in insurance money and its own funds have gone to settling 300 claims over the years.

Officials expect to make public this week the total number of claims filed as part of the bankruptcy case.

Wester on Friday issued a request for prayers, acknowledging the need for emotional and spiritual healing.

Report Finds Man Killed By Uber Driver Had Drugs In SystemKOB-TV, Associated Press

A toxicology report says a New Mexico passenger shot and killed by a ride-hailing driver had drugs and high levels of alcohol in his system.

KOB-TV reports an autopsy report released Monday showed James Porter had in his system a blood alcohol concentration level of .23 and traces of the drug known as ecstasy.

Court documents show a March 17 fatal shooting in Albuquerque stemmed from "a large amount of vomit" in an Uber vehicle.

Police say a driver Clayton Benedict shot and killed 27-year-old Porter along Interstate 25 following an argument. Benedict has not been charged and has declined to comment.

District Attorney's Office spokesman Michael Patrick says a charging decision may come in the next few weeks.

In April, Porter's family filed a lawsuit against Uber and Benedict.

New Mexico Mural Focuses On Missing Native American WomenAssociated Press

A new mural in southern New Mexico seeks to honor missing and slain Native American women amid a nationwide push to bring more attention to the issue.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports artist Sebastian VELA Velazquez recently erected the mural in Las Cruces in conjunction with the city's eighth annual "Illegal" graffiti art show.

The work is part of a large-scale mural wrapping around the entirety of the Cruces Creatives building.

Last month, federal lawmakers re-introduced legislation that calls for the Justice Department to review how law enforcement agencies respond to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans.

The legislation is named Savanna's Act for 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, whose body was found in a North Dakota river in 2017.

Velazquez says the mural also honors missing indigenous Mexican women.

Manhattan Project Park To Offer Tours Of Los Alamos SiteAssociated Press

Federal officials will be offering tours of portions of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Los Alamos.

The National Park Service has teamed up with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Nuclear Security Administration to organize tours during a weekend in July.

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Each day will consist of two tours of 25 people each, each lasting three hours.

Not all sites that make up the park are open to the public.

On the tours, visitors will see Pond Cabin, which served as an office for the scientists who were studying plutonium; a bunker used to protect equipment and staff during explosives testing; and the building where a deadly plutonium accident took place.

Officials say more tours will be planned later this year.

CIA Officer To Be 'Embedded' At University Of New MexicoAssociated Press

The Central Intelligence Agency is setting up a presence at New Mexico's largest university.

The Albuquerque Journal reports an active-duty CIA intelligence officer will be embedded on the University of New Mexico's campus. Under an agreement with the school, the officer will carry a teaching or research load comparable to his faculty colleagues.

In addition, the officer will participate, if possible, in the academic life of the university just like other professors.

CIA spokeswoman Chelsea Robinson says the officer will teach at the school beginning this fall as part of the agency's Visiting Intelligence Officers Program.

According to copies of two Memoranda of Understanding agreements between the university and the CIA, University of New Mexico president Garnett Stokes recently decided to keep the school involved in a CIA recruiting program.

Actress Jennifer Garner Visits Migrant Shelter In New MexicoDeming Headlight, Associated Press

Actress Jennifer Garner has paid a visit to an emergency migrant shelter in southern New Mexico to meet with migrant families.

The Deming Headlight reports the actress visited the Southwestern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Deming, New Mexico, Wednesday and was later seen playing with the children.

Luna County Detention Center Director Chris Brice, who is overseeing operations, confirmed her appearance during a regular county meeting on Thursday. Brice said the actress is a national board member of Save the Children, a charity organization that helps children.

Garner is best known for the television series "Alias." Garner also starred in "Daredevil" and its spin-off "Elektra."

Police Say Man Fatally Shot, 3 Officers Injured In Las CrucesAssociated Press

Police say a man was killed and three law enforcement officers injured after he fired authorities in Las Cruces.

Police spokesman Danny Trujillo says two Las Cruces officers and a Dona Ana County sheriff's deputy suffered non-life threatening injuries. The man killed early Monday has not been identified.

Trujillo says a local business owner reported a suspicious person, and a responding officer shined his vehicle spotlight onto the man — who fired at the officer through his windshield before fleeing on foot.

Trujillo says state, local and federal agencies responded to reports the officer had been shot and injured, and helped in the search for the suspect.

In a statement, U.S. Border Patrol says its agents fired at the man and struck him after he shot at authorities.

Senators Push For Hearing On Chaco Protection LegislationAssociated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are pushing for a Senate hearing on legislation that would withdraw federal holdings from oil and gas development around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The legislation was reintroduced earlier this year as environmentalists and Native American tribes seek to make permanent a 10-mile buffer around the park.

Supporters say it would protect culturally significant sites located beyond Chaco's boundaries. Most of the land surrounding the park belongs to the Navajo Nation or are allotments owned by individual Navajo people. The legislation would not affect development of those lands.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are asking that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee take up the bill at its next meeting. Once the committee acts, the full Senate could consider the measure.

Money From Oil, Gas Revenues Gushing Into State CoffersAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

State Senate Finance Committee Chairperson John Arthur Smith says if the price of oil doesn't drastically change, the state could receive more than $1 billion in additional tax dollars next year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the oil boom in southeastern New Mexico still going strong and money from oil and gas revenues continuing to gush into state government's coffers.

Smith told an interim legislative subcommittee on transportation that there will be a windfall of between $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion unless the international scene changes and the revenues fall.

Crude oil prices dipped earlier this week to less than $50 a barrel, partly credited to fears of a trade war with China. But oil prices rallied late in the week to more than $52 a barrel.

New Mexico Film Industry Up Amid Abortion Fights ElsewhereAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's film industry appears to be on the brink of a boom thanks to abortion law controversies in other states.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a recent rise in film productions in the state as Hollywood targets Georgia and Louisiana over recently passed restrictive abortion laws.

The jump comes as New Mexico is set to more than double its annual state spending cap on film incentives.

The New Mexico Film Office says the coming Amazon TV series production "The Power" reached out to New Mexico because of Georgia's political climate.

New Mexico has on its books a 1969 state law that banned abortion in most cases.

But the law became unenforceable after it was superseded by the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Report: Santa Fe Losing Millions Thanks To Airbnb, OthersSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A new report says Santa Fe is missing out on about $3.8 million in lodger and gross receipts taxes annually thanks to short-term rental units.

The Albuquerque Journal says the report issued Wednesday by the nonprofit group Homewise Inc. says hosts from apps like Airbnb aren't following city's ordinances and the city should do more to enforce the laws.

Homewise CEO Mike Loftin says Santa Fe should enforce its registration requirements for short-term rentals and require them to contribute their fair share of taxes.

The report says that the number of short-term rentals skyrocketed from roughly 300 to 1,444 in four years from 2015 through 2018.

A spokeswoman for Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber acknowledged the city needs to do a better job with enforcement and educating the public.

Attorney General Says University Dodging Public Records Law—Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's attorney general says the state's flagship university is violating public records laws by withholding documents that should be readily assessable.

A letter sent Friday to the University of New Mexico noted that the school has repeatedly violated records laws and did so yet again this year by refusing to release documents requested by the Albuquerque Journal.

University spokesperson Cinnamon Blair told the Journal they received the letter and plan to release the records.

The Journal requested self-assessment reports created by university officials as part of the accreditation process. The university called them privileged and blocked public access.

The letter said that clearly "disregarded clearly-established New Mexico precedent" and violated the law.

Last year the attorney general found a "disturbing pattern of concealment and deliberate misrepresentation," by the university.

Migrants Complain Of Poor Conditions At U.S. Holding Centers—Associated Press


The Border Network for Human Rights issued a report Friday based on dozens of testimonials over the past month and a half, providing a snapshot of cramped conditions and prolonged stays in detention.


The report comes a day after an advocate described finding a teenage mother cradling a premature baby inside a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso.


The advocate said the baby should have been in a hospital, not a facility where adults are kept in large fenced-in areas that critics describe as cages.


Five children have died since late last year after being detained by Border Patrol, including a flu-stricken teenager who was found dead in an area notoriously known as the "icebox" because of the temperatures inside.


Customs and Border Protection responded to the complaints by saying that allegations aren’t facts, and that the government is devoted to treating migrants with—quote—utmost dignity and respect.