NM GOP Backs Former ICE Investigator For Statehouse, Postal Union Says ABQ Offices In Shambles

Sep 4, 2018

New Mexico GOP Backs Former ICE Investigator For Statehouse- Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico is hoping to keep control of an Albuquerque-based seat in the state House of Representatives with the nomination of a former Border Patrol agent and investigator for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Tuesday Republicans announced the nomination of Robert Godshall to run for a House district in the city's Northeast Heights.  Republican Rep. Larry Larrañaga is retiring after representing the district for nearly 24 years.

Retired physician William Pratt is the Democratic nominee for the House district where registered Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats.

Democrats currently hold a 38-32 majority in the state House of Representatives. State Senate elections take place in 2020.

State GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi called Godshall a strong candidate to keep the district in Republican hands.

School Districts Request Funds For Safety ImprovementsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Security doors, fencing, lighting and new intercom systems are among the safety improvements that New Mexico school districts have proposed to keep students safer and help prevent shootings.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Public School Facilities Authority is reviewing applications from districts requesting a portion of the $47.7 million earmarked for school security.

Lawmakers agreed in February to award up to $16 million this year for safety improvement and $10 million in each of the following three years.

The funds will only cover part of the security projects. Each district is expected to foot the rest of the bill.

Some lawmakers have expressed concerns because the funds can't be used for operational expenses such as security guards or counselors.

New Mexico Compound Residents Appear In Court- Associated Press

Five former residents of a compound in northern New Mexico where a 3-year-old boy's body was found last month have made their first appearance in federal court on firearms-related charges.

Tuesday's court hearing in Albuquerque focused on allegations against Jany Leveille of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition linked to her unlawful immigration status and conspiracy accusations against the four other defendants.

The judge scheduled a detention hearing for Leveille and the others on Wednesday.

Public defenders should be appointed soon for all five defendants.

State prosecutors also have said they plan to seek indictments in connection with the death of Siraj Wahhaj's son and living conditions at the compound.

Compound Suspects To Face Federal JudgeKOAT-TV, Associated Press

Five former residents of a compound in northern New Mexico where 11 malnourished children and the body of a 3-year-old boy were found are expected to face a federal judge Tuesday morning.

The FBI arrested the five on Friday on firearms and conspiracy charges. Local prosecutors dropped charges in the death of the boy, but Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos says his office will seek grand jury indictments in the death.

KOAT-TV reported investigators found weapons and ammunition at the compound. Those were purchased legally but defendant Jany Leveille, a native of Haiti, has been charged with being an alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition.

The other four people are charged with conspiring with Leveille. They include Siraj Ibn Wahhaj; Lucas Morton; his wife, Subhannah Wahhaj; and her sister Hujrah Wahhaj.

State Police Say 2 Found Dead After Shootings At Campground- Associated Press

The New Mexico State Police says it is investigating a fatal shooting involving Bernalillo police officers and a related homicide.

The State Police said one of two officers responding to a report of a shooting at a campground fired multiple shots Monday evening when 70-year-old Fernand "Fred" Lete of Rio Rancho opened the door of a camp trailer while armed with a revolver.

According to the State Police, Lete then barricaded himself inside trailer but eventually was found fatally wounded inside the camper along with 55-year-old Michael LaPlante of Rio Rancho, who was deceased.

Postal Union Says Albuquerque Offices In Shambles- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Members of the union that represents U.S. Postal Service workers in Albuquerque say the postal facilities in New Mexico's largest city are in shambles, without enough employees to keep offices clean or ensure mail arrives in post office boxes on time.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports union representatives blame staffing cuts and a lack of capital improvements, saying the Arizona district that oversees New Mexico's operations gives short shrift to its neighbor.

Dan Huerta of the American Postal Workers Union Local 380 says New Mexico is getting nothing and that residents are being disrespected.

Union members reported mail has been delivered late, the offices are dingy, and a rat once scampered across the counter.

Regional Postal Service spokesman Rod Spurgeon called the safety of postal facilities paramount, saying he wasn't aware of any unaddressed maintenance issues.

Former Navajo President Forced To Change VP Pick- Associated Press

A former Navajo Nation president hoping to recapture the office had to pick a new running mate.

Joe Shirley Jr. announced the selection of high school principal Peter Deswood III at a news conference Tuesday in Window Rock.

But Shirley's campaign manager, Patrick Sandoval, says Deswood isn't a registered voter and isn't eligible to join the ticket. Sandoval says the campaign must pick another vice president.

Deswood says he believed he was registered but was among more than 55,000 Navajos recently purged from the voter rolls. Tribal law says that's done when voters do not cast ballots in two consecutive major elections.

Shirley will face current tribal Vice President Jonathan Nez in the general election.

Shirley is from Arizona and Deswood lives in New Mexico.

Doña Ana County Opposing Straight-Party Voting- Associated Press

Commissioners in New Mexico's second largest county have voted not to include a straight-party voting option in November's general election.

Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 at a special meeting Tuesday to reject an effort by Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to bring back a straight-party voting option.

San Juan, Curry and Roosevelt county commissions also are taking up measures to oppose straight-party voting.

Toulouse Oliver is facing criticism after she announced last week she was formatting the ballots to allow voting in which a slate of major party candidates can be chosen all at one time.

Doña Ana County spokesman Jess Williams says the county doesn't plan to have the straight-party voting option on its ballots.

Water Levels Continue To Drop At Lake Mead, Lake PowellArizona Republic, Associated Press

Scientists say water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell are dropping to dangerous levels, reflecting the Colorado River's worsening "structural deficit."

The Arizona Republic reports scientists from the Colorado River Research Group say Lake Powell has declined because of extra water releases flowing into Lake Mead.

Doug Kenney, the group's chair and a professor at the University of Colorado, says Lake Powell is being drained to maintain Lake Mead. Lake Powell sits at about 48 percent full, and Lake Mead is about 38 percent full.

Powell's levels are projected to fall 94 feet (29 meters) by the end of the year below where the reservoir stood in 2000, when it was nearly full.

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water for about 40 million people.

5 Of 8 Killed In New Mexico Crash IdentifiedKOB-TV, Associated Press

The Albuquerque Journal reports that authorities have identified five of the eight people who were killed when a semi-trailer veered across a median and smashed into a Greyhound bus.

The state Office of the Medical Investigator says Saturday night that five of the people killed in Thursday's crash near Thoreau, New Mexico, are Sadie Thomas, 50, Charla Bahe, 34, Terry Mason, 45, Veronica Williams, 49, and Greyhound bus driver Luis Alvarez, 50, the Journal reports. The office did not release information about their hometowns.

Earlier Saturday, federal investigator said he is sending the front tires of the semi-trailer to Washington, D.C., for further examination.

KOB-TV reported relatives identified a sixth victim, 27-year-old Raymond Albrecht from Missouri. His family says he was on the bus because he was moving back from California to Missouri.

Advocates Call For $43M For Universal Pre-KSanta Fe New Mexican

A policy group is calling on lawmakers to invest $43 million more per year for five years to ensure more children get quality prekindergarten education.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports New Mexico Now made the case to lawmakers at a committee hearing last month. The group said adding the extra money to the state’s per-student funding formula would cover about 80 percent of eligible 4-year-olds and half of 3-year-olds.

The money would also pay for salary increases for pre-K teachers of $24,000 per year.

The nonprofit does not say where the new funds would come from, but the uptick in oil and gas revenues is expected to make $1.2 billion in additional money available when the next legislative sessions starts in January.

However the state is also facing a court ruling that it must come up with more resources to ensure all students are getting an equitable public education.

Slot Revenue Up For New Mexico TribesSanta Fe New Mexican

Most of New Mexico’s 14 American Indian gaming tribes saw healthy growth in revenues from slot machines for the 2018 fiscal year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state Gaming Control Board found the net slot machine win for all gaming tribes was more than $756 million.

The Mescalero Apache Tribe had the biggest gain with eight percent growth. Taos, Tesuque and Ohkay Owingeh pueblos also saw sizable increases.

Only the Jicarilla Apache Nation saw a decline in slot revenues.

The state, which gets a share of slot revenues in return for limiting gambling outside of reservations, received $66.2 million from those overall winnings.