NM Moves Forward With Bail Reform, Water Crisis Continues In NW New Mexico

Jun 5, 2017

New Mexico Moves Forward With Bail ReformsThe Associated Press

New Mexico's judiciary is taking final steps toward overhauling its bail and pretrial detention system by adopting detailed rules for determining whether defendants remain in jail as they await judgment.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued comprehensive procedures for district, metropolitan, magistrate, municipal and appellate courts to determine if and when defendants can be released.

New Mexico has joined a growing number of states in adopting risk-based approaches to releasing defendants that put less emphasis on money and bail.

New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment in November allowing judges to deny bail to defendants considered extremely dangerous. The constitutional amendment also granted pretrial release to those who are not considered a threat but remain in jail because they can't afford bail.

The new procedures go into effect July 1.

Water Crisis Continues In Northwestern New Mexico CommunityThe Associated Press & The Daily Times

A Farmington, New Mexico-area water crisis is continuing amid another boil-water advisory over turbidity issues.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports a year after residents were warned by state officials that their tap water wasn't clean, many residents of the Harvest Gold subdivision are still afraid to use the water.

The New Mexico Environment Department last week issued a boil-water advisory for the Harvest Gold and the Morningstar water systems, which serves the Crouch Mesa area. Both systems are owned by the AV Water Company.

State regulators said in September they would fine AV Water Company for failing to restore safe drinking water.

The emergency order imposed a $1,000 per day fine on AV water for each directive from the state that is not accomplished by certain deadlines.

New Mexico Lawmakers' Expenses Top $68K For Special SessionThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

A three-day special session for the New Mexico Legislature cost taxpayers more than $68,000.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Monday that the 70-member House of Representatives received $42,294 and the 42-member Senate received $26,212 in expense and mileage reimbursements for a trip last month to the New Mexico State Capitol.

Gov. Susana Martinez called legislators in after she vetoed the entire budgets for higher education and the bill to balance the operating budget with a menu of tax and fee increases.

Lawmakers met May 24-25 to adopt a new budget and then again on May 30 to sign the budget.

The special session was the second in eight months for the New Mexico lawmakers. A seven-day special session last fall cost about $264,400.

New Mexico Looks To Boost Enrollment In Child Care ProgramThe Associated Press

The number of low-income families tapping into government-funded child care assistance is steadily increasing, but New Mexico officials say two-thirds of those who are eligible have yet to enroll.

Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson says her agency is working to raise awareness about the program as New Mexico's elected leaders look for ways to tackle generational poverty issues.

The state has among the nation's highest poverty rates, and both agency officials and advocates see the program as an opportunity to help parents with continued education or employment while keeping children safe.

Jacobson says some progress is being made, pointing to data that shows more children are being served through the child care assistance program now than just two years ago.

Still, advocates are worried about future state and federal funding for the program.

Theft Suspect Dies After Struggling With Albuquerque OfficerAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say a man who ran after an officer found him breaking into cash registers at a mall has died after a scuffle that included being shocked with a Taser stun gun.

Police say Friday's incident began when they got a call of a shoplifter at a department store at the Cottonwood Mall just after noon. When an officer arrived, another call came in about a man breaking into cash registers at a second store with a screwdriver.

The officer tried to contact the 45-year-old man, but he ran out of the store with the officer close behind. A passer-by tried to help the officer catch the suspect, but he and the officer were threatened.

Police spokesman officer Fred Duran says the officer used a Taser to subdue the man and he had some sort of medical episode. He died at the scene, and his name will be released once relatives are notified.

Richardson Helped Broker Deal To Provide Care For ChimpsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson helped broker a deal that provides long-term care for chimpanzees in northern Liberia that were part of a research colony.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that funding for the chimps' care had dwindled and was then cut short by the New York Blood Center, which for decades had used the animals to test hepatitis B vaccines and other treatments.

The Humane Society of the United States and the New York Blood Center announced last week that they had reached a $6 million agreement to provide long-term care for the chimps.

As governor, Richardson fought against medical testing on chimps, worked to ban cockfighting in New Mexico, supported the Mexican wolf reintroduction program and sought to prevent wild horses from going to slaughter.

Plane Makes Hard Landing Near Double Eagle AirportAssociated Press

A small experimental plane made a hard landing Sunday morning near the Double Eagle Airport in Albuquerque.

New Mexico State Police say the airplane was located three miles southwest of the airport.

Officials say the pilot was forced to land after he discovered a piece of equipment on the airplane had broken.

The pilot walked away without any injuries.

No one else was on board.

Federal aviation authorities will be conducting an investigation.

Alabama Organization Raises Flag For New Mexico War HeroGallup Independent, Associated Press

Gallup neighbors can now recognize the house of a local American hero by new flag pole erected in front of his house.

The Gallup Independent reports an Alabama organization travelled to New Mexico last month to raise the flag in recognition of Korean War Veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura. The veteran says he has always wanted to fly an American flag, but worried that putting the flag up and down each day would become too hard for him.

The Flag for Vets organization installed Miyamura's new flag with lights it could fly at any time of day.

Founder and fellow veteran Jamie Popwell says the organization plans to return to the area in the future to recognize more New Mexico veterans.

Protest Held Over Not Charging Man In Killing At Car WashAssociated Press

A demonstration was held in Albuquerque to protest a prosecutor's decision not to charge a man in a shooting death two months ago at a car wash.

The protest was a response to District Attorney Raul Torrez's decision not to criminally charge James Morales in the March 26 death of Earl Roybal.

Torrez called the death a tragedy, but said there wasn't enough evidence to convict Morales.

Morales claimed he shot Roybal in self-defense.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 50 members of motorcycle advocacy organizations gathered Saturday at the carwash.

Roybal was washing his motorcycle when Morales approached him and the two started arguing.

Both men were armed.

Morales told police he was punched in the face and feared for his life.

Morales stayed on scene after the shooting.

American Airlines Jet Out Of The Mud At San Antonio AirportAssociated Press

Crews have removed an American Airlines plane from the mud after it veered off a runway at San Antonio International Airport.

American spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coellou said Sunday that investigators are trying to determine what prompted the pilot of Flight 2214 to abort takeoff and slide off the runway Saturday. She says weather hasn't been ruled out as a factor.

The incident suspended flights for several hours. No injuries were reported.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson says the agency reviewed the incident and followed up with American but doesn't plan an investigation. Knudson says the Boeing 737 wasn't damaged.

The plane was heading to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport from Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Friday when it was diverted to San Antonio because of storms in Dallas.

New Mexico Institutions Work To Solve Doctor ShortageLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico and a private Las Cruces college are working to address the state's doctor shortage in hopes of improving access to care in rural areas.

Officials tell the Las Cruces Sun-News physicians are less inclined to work in rural areas where they feel isolated or see lack of activities and low pay. To help address the issues, university officials say they have created 124 new residency positions and plan to expand to 400 to 500 positions in the future. According to the university's website, its BA/MD program requires students to shadow physicians in rural hospitals and clinics over the summer.

The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine requires its students to learn Native American healing processes and medical Spanish, skills often necessary in rural practices.

New Mexico Seeking Info As It Updates State Railway PlanAssociated Press

New Mexico transportation officials are developing an online survey for people to weigh in as they work on updating the state's railway plan.

A contractor was recently chosen to complete the update, which will address the current state of New Mexico's rail system, develop a strategy for the future and identify any projects and funding that will support the vision.

Work on the plan is expected to take about 18 months.

As part of the process, the online survey will be geared toward gathering information about railroad issues that are important to the state.

The previous State Rail Plan was completed in 2014. States are required to update their plans every four years.

Attorney General Says Spending Review To ContinueAssociated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he's pleased that University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs is stepping down but that his office's look at athletic department spending will continue.

Balderas says in a statement reacting to Krebs' announcement Friday of his intention to retire June 30 that public officials who leave office "can still face legal consequences for actions they took while in office."

Balderas' office is conducting a formal inquiry into department spending, and State Auditor Tim Keller announced late Thursday that his office is expanding its own review.

The auditor was initially focused on spending related to a 2015 golf trip to Scotland that included department officials and donors.

Krebs has said the $65,000 trip was meant to strengthen relationships with donors. Critics argue that it should have been paid for by the university's independent fundraising arm.

Gallery Owner Alleges Major Us Western Art Sale Defamed Him- By Scott Sonner, Associated Press

The head of fine art galleries in New Mexico and New York City has filed a defamation suit against one of the world's largest Western American art auctions and a Nevada gallery.

Gerald P. Peters of Santa Fe is accusing them of falsely claiming a $1 million painting he sold is a fake.

He's seeking unspecified damages from Peter Stremmel Galleries, the Coeur D'Alene Art Auction of Nevada and an Idaho-based organizer of the auction.

The lawsuit centers on an early 20th century oil painting Peters says is the work of Frank Tenney Johnson.

Johnson, who died in Los Angeles in 1939, is known for moonlit, frontier scenes of cowboys and Native Americans.

More than a dozen of his paintings have sold at Nevada's massive annual Coeur D'Alene Auction, most recently "Cowboys Roping the Bear" for more than $965,000 in 2012.

New Mexico Delegation Members: F-16s Moving To Holloman AFBAssociated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation say the Air Force is giving the final go-ahead to move two F-16 squadrons at least temporarily from Hill Air Force Base in Utah to Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico.

The announcement Saturday by Democratic Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce says Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson approved the interim relocation after an environmental assessment found no significant impact.

The F-16 squadrons are being moved from Hill to make room for new F-35s.

The New Mexico delegation members' announcement welcomes Wilson's decision, saying it means the F-16s will be based out of Holloman starting in late summer this year.

The announcement says the Air Force hasn't yet decided whether to make the interim relocation permanent.

Albuquerque Police Department Gets Its Own Smartphone AppAssociated Press

The Albuquerque Police Department now has a smartphone app, one that department officials hope will help it better connect with the community.

The department says the "ABQ Police" app's many features include displays of maps of crime and alerts on missing children, traffic advisory and police activity.

Other uses for the app include reporting non-emergency crimes, submitting tips to Crime Stoppers, filing traffic accident reports and learning about subjects such as wanted suspects.