NM Gov Candidate Pledges Not To Raise Taxes, Santa Fe And Carson National Forest To Re-Open

Jul 9, 2018

New Mexico Candidate For Governor Pledges Not To Raise Taxes- Associated Press

The Republican candidate for governor has signed a pledge to oppose any tax increases if elected, even as the state struggles to shore up its credit rating and address public pension liabilities.

Congressman and gubernatorial contender Steve Pearce confirmed Monday his commitment to conservative activist Grover Norquist's famous pledge against any net tax increases if elected governor.

A spokesman for Pearce said any tax increase would threaten efforts to boost employment opportunities and broaden the state economy.

"With an outflow of people, businesses and jobs, raising taxes would make a desperate situation even worse," Kevin Sheridan said, a spokesman for Pearce. "His first priority will be creating jobs while growing and diversifying New Mexico's economy."

GOP Names Ex-Trump Officials As New Mexico SOS Candidate- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A former Trump administration appointee who recently came in third in a GOP congressional primary is now the Republican candidate for New Mexico secretary of state.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Republican Party's State Central Committee voted Saturday to place Gavin Clarkson on the ballot after previous GOP nominee JoHanna Cox dropped out amid mounting lawsuits.

The 49-year-old Clarkson served as deputy assistant secretary in President Donald Trump's U.S. Interior Department. He resigned in late 2017 after the department's inspector general released a report critical of a tribal loan program he ran.

Clarkson recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against New Mexico State University, saying officials unfairly fired him from his position as a business professor when he started his congressional campaign.

Oil Company Close To Finalizing 3,000 Leases In Carlsbad- Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

An Artesia-based oil company is close to finalizing numerous leases with mineral rights owners in Carlsbad as it moves ahead with plans to drill under the southeastern New Mexico city.

Santo Petroleum got approval from city councilors in 2017 to go door to door and offer residents five-year leases for their mineral rights.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the company has obtained about 3,000 leases in the last year, covering the majority of the planned leasing area.

Owners were offered a signing bonus up front and a percentage of the subsequent revenue, should the wells prove productive.

Yates said Santo hasn't published a specific timeline for drilling development due to the complexity of readying such a large number of leases and tracts to drill.

Management Shift Begins At US Nuclear Weapons Lab- Associated Press

The U.S. government has cleared the way for a new management team to begin taking over one of the nation's top nuclear weapons laboratories.

The National Nuclear Security Administration issued an official notice to proceed to Triad National Security LLC on Monday, marking the beginning of a transition at Los Alamos National Laboratory that will take four months.

Triad is made up of Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University and the University of California.

The group was announced in June as the winning bidder of an estimated $2.5 billion-a-year contract to manage the lab, which has been grappling with safety lapses and missed goals.

Triad has named Thomas Mason as the lab's director designate. He currently serves as senior vice president for Battelle's global lab operations and he's a former director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Prosecutors Say New Mexico Officer Preyed On Woman, Teen- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico state police officer is facing charges after prosecutors say he tried to give methamphetamine to a woman and marijuana to a 16-year-old girl.

The Albuquerque Journal reports New Mexico State Police Officer Daniel Capehart is being held at the Cibola County Detention Center on suspicion of distributing marijuana and methamphetamine.

An FBI agent says Capehart pulled over two teenage girls in June and issued citations for marijuana possession. The agent says the 33-year-old Capehart gave a 16-year-old his business card with his personal cell number and started sending the girl flirtatious text messages and pictures of marijuana.

Investigators later arrested Capehart after an undercover sting where authorities say he tried to steal drugs from an officer posing as a drug dealer.

Navajo Nation Company Buys Partial Ownership In Power Plant- Associated Press

Navajo Transitional Energy Company has acquired a 7 percent ownership interest in units 4 and 5 of the Four Corners Power Plant.

NTEC purchased the partial ownership from an affiliate of Arizona Public Service, which operates the coal-fired power plant.

The Navajo Nation owns the energy company.

NTEC owns the Navajo Mine south of Fruitland, New Mexico.

Tribal officials say ownership of a power plant is a first for a Navajo Nation enterprise.

APS also entered into an amended and restated coal supply agreement that will govern the power plant's fuel purchases from NTEC.

The deal gives NTEC more flexibility in the sale and purchase of coal from the Navajo Mine.

New Mexico Forest To Open As Forecast Calls For More RainAssociated Press Another New Mexico forest will reopen as recent rains and the start of the monsoon season have helped to ease dry conditions and the threat of wildfire.The Carson National Forest says trails, campgrounds and other areas across the northern New Mexico forest will open Tuesday morning but restrictions that prohibit campfires will remain in place.The Santa Fe National Forest opened Monday, and state officials are planning to open Fenton Lake and Hyde Memorial state parks by midweek.The National Weather Service in Albuquerque reports more afternoon and evening thunderstorms are expected Tuesday in the western and southern portions. That activity is likely to intensify later in the week thanks to a monsoon surge coming up from Mexico.Still, forecasters acknowledge that the start of the monsoon season has been spotty. 

Man Accused Of Vandalizing 11 Mexican Food RestaurantsAlbuquerque Journal

A man was arrested Sunday after police say he vandalized 11 Mexican-themed restaurants around Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Edelidio Wallace will mostly likely face numerous misdemeanor and felony charges and a charge of assault.

Police say Wallace threw a hatchet at a police car when officers responded to reports of glass breaking at La Cabanita restaurant and a man riding away on a bike.

There were handwritten notes at each restaurant with references to hopes that God would kill the Mexican Mafia.

New Mexico Nuclear Weapons Laboratory Marks 75 YearsLos Alamos Monitor, Associated Press

The once-secret city of Los Alamos, New Mexico, is marking 75 years since J. Robert Oppenheimer invited top scientists to the state in 1943 to build the world's first nuclear weapon.

The anniversary comes as Los Alamos National Laboratory prepares for a shift in leadership.

The U.S. Energy Department recently awarded the multibillion-dollar contract to manage Los Alamos to a company made up of the University of California, Texas A&M and Battelle Memorial Institute.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports the lab celebrated its anniversary this month with a day of speeches and activities.

Lab director Terry Wallace talked about what Oppenheimer's plans meant to the world and New Mexico's future.

He says the United States has been served ever since by that initial blueprint for bringing together a talented workforce to solve some of the world's most difficult problems.

Trump Administration Takes Another Swipe At 'Obamacare' - By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press

Health care insurance customers could be in for some sticker shock over next year's prices now that the Trump administration says it's freezing payments under an "Obamacare" program that protects insurers with sicker patients from financial losses.

The move is expected to add to premium increases next year. At stake are billions of dollars in payments to insurers with sicker customers.

Officials said Saturday that the administration is acting because of conflicting rulings in Massachusetts and New Mexico in lawsuits filed by some smaller insurers who question whether they're being fairly treated.

The program takes payments from insurers with healthier customers and redistributes the money to companies with sicker enrollees. No taxpayer subsidies are involved.

The idea is to remove the financial incentive for insurers to "cherry-pick" healthier customers. Medicare private insurance plans also use the strategy.

Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma said the Trump administration was disappointed by a New Mexico court ruling that questioned the workings of the risk program for insurers.

Groups Vie For Sixth And Final New Mexico 'Racino' LicenseEastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

Supporters of an effort to bring New Mexico's sixth license for a horse racetrack and casino to Clovis say such a business venture would result in jobs and boost the quality of life in the eastern New Mexico community.

Vision 2020 is one of the groups promoting Clovis as the optimal site for the state's next "racino." The Eastern New Mexico News reports representatives of the Vision 2020 committee made their pitch to local business leaders this week.

The groups are looking at sites on the city's east side and all are estimating similar workforce needs — up to 450 jobs during racing season and as many as 750 jobs during construction.

There's also interest in taking the license to Tucumcari, Raton, Deming or Las Cruces.

Report Finds UNM Ranks #1 In Nation's Schools For Vehicle Thefts – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico reportedly ranks among the top schools in the country for vehicle thefts.

The Albuquerque Journal reports UNM had 140 stolen vehicles or attempted vehicle thefts in 2016, the most recent year for compiled numbers.

That ranks the school ahead of the other 11,250 post-secondary campuses that report data to the federal government.

The University of South Carolina in Columbia was a distant second to UNM with 65 stolen vehicles with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas third at 50 thefts.

UNM officials say the number is likely to rise in the 2017 report expected this fall.

They say the indications point to an uptick of around 30 percent.

Lawmaker Says Tent Shelter For Migrant Teens Open IndefinitelyAssociated Press

A state senator says he has been told the temporary tent shelter in far West Texas for immigrant minors will stay open indefinitely.

Texas Democratic Sen. Jose Rodriguez told the El Paso Times that he toured the Tornillo facility Friday morning. More than 300 teens are being housed at Tornillo, which the U.S. government opened last month because its existing shelters were at capacity. More than 2,000 children have been put in government shelters after being separated from their parents under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy.

Rodriguez says an official at the facility told him it would stay open past a previous July 13 deadline on the facility's initial contract.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to questions Saturday.

New Mexico School District Revisits Option Of Armed SecurityLas Vegas Optic, Associated Press

One northern New Mexico school board is revisiting the option of having armed security guards on campus.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that the West Las Vegas school board recently discussed its campus weapons policy and got an update on efforts to revamp security for the district.

District Superintendent Chris Gutierrez says there have been talks about having level III security, which would mean armed security staff on campus.

Gutierrez says he's received a lot of feedback and many in the community are in favor of armed security.

He says regardless of what the board chooses, former police chief Juan Montano will continue to be proactive and eliminate potentially dangerous situations through threat assessments and other analyses. Montano leads a staff of five security personnel and is helping revamp procedures.

NASA's Bradford Smith, Tour Guide For Voyager Missions, DiesAssociated Press

Bradford Smith, a NASA astronomer who interpreted the stunning images beamed back from Voyager missions, has died.

Smith's wife, Diane McGregor, says he died on Tuesday at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of complications from myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder. He was 86.

Smith headed the NASA team that interpreted pictures taken by Voyager space probes in 1977 as they passed Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and presented them to the public. He was a retired research astronomer at the University of Hawaii in Manoa.

Known for his dry humor, he once quipped at a press conference showing a multi-colored, pockmarked moon of Jupiter, "I've seen better looking pizzas than this."

His is survived by McGregor, his wife of 34 years, three children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Agreement Allows Hobbs Police To Patrol Outside City LimitsHobbs News-Sun

A new agreement will allow Hobbs police to conduct law enforcement operations and investigations outside city limits.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the Hobbs City Commission this week approved an agreement with the Lea County Sheriff's Office to give the southeastern New Mexico police department the authorities to expand its reach.

Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall says the cross-commissions benefit both the Hobbs Police Department and the Lea County Sheriff's Office. He says the agreement also allows police to respond to issues outside of the city limits with police authority.

Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton says similar agreements are in effect with Eunice, Jal, Lovington and Tatum.

Researchers Study What Happens To The Dead In Arizona DesertArizona Republic, Associated Press

A team of researchers is trying to better understand what happens to migrants who die crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, including many whose bodies never are recovered.

The Arizona Republic reports the team is monitoring dead pigs in the Arizona desert, studying things like their decomposition rate and exposure to the elements, along with scavenging by animals.

Jason De Leon is an associate professor and director of the Undocumented Migration Project at the University of Michigan. He says the study shows how challenging it is to find and identify deceased migrants, particularly when their remains have been separated from any identifying personal items.

The Arizona Republic reports that an investigation found the U.S. Border Patrol's official tally significantly undercounts migrant deaths because the agency tracks only bodies encountered by its agents and not those found by others.