Pay Disparity Has SF Officers Heading To Abq, Study Says UNM Adds $3B In Economic Output

Aug 28, 2018

Pay Disparity Has Santa Fe Officers Heading To Albuquerque- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The pay disparity between the Santa Fe and Albuquerque police departments, highlighted by a recent raise for Albuquerque officers, is causing alarm for Santa Fe police officers and commanders who say more members of their already short-staffed department are leaving to join Albuquerque's police force.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a starting police officer with the Albuquerque Police Department makes $29 an hour.

The same recruit would make $19 an hour with Santa Fe police.

Santa Fe police are telling the city if the force can't offer a competitive package to retain officers, there could soon be a staffing and public safety crisis.

Police Union President Tony Trujillo and members of the police force will discuss the issue with the Santa Fe City Council and Mayor Alan Webber on Wednesday.

Nuclear Safety Oversight Board Takes Aim At New DOE Policies- Associated Press

An independent safety panel charged with providing oversight of some of the highest risk nuclear facilities operated by the U.S. government is concerned that new policies approved by the U.S. Energy Department could impede transparency and compromise public safety.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board peppered department officials with questions about their intentions during a public hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

More meetings are planned but department officials rebuffed suggestions by board members and watchdog groups to put the policies on hold.

Board member Joyce Connery said now isn't the time to roll back the board's access to information or its ability to conduct independent reviews as the U.S. nuclear complex grapples with infrastructure and workforce issues along with pressure to ramp up production of key components for the nuclear arsenal.

New Mexico Jewelry Storeowner Sentenced In Fraud Case- Associated Press

A New Mexico jewelry storeowner has been sentenced to six months in prison and a year of supervised release for selling counterfeit Native American jewelry.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico says Nael Ali was sentenced Tuesday and ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution for misrepresenting goods in violation of the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

Ali's conviction followed an earlier guilty plea by jewelry supplier Mohammad Manasra on less severe charges. Manasra was sentenced to two days in jail and a year of supervised release.

The convictions stem from an international investigation that federal authorities say laid bare the breadth and sophistication of distribution networks for fake Indian-style art and crafts.

In October 2015, federal agents raided Indian art galleries in Albuquerque, Gallup, and Calistoga, California, to seize counterfeits and evidence.

Sen. Rand Paul Backs Libertarian Senate Candidate- Associated Press

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is endorsing Gary Johnson's Libertarian campaign for U.S. Senate.

In a news release Tuesday, Paul shunned the Republican nominee and announced his support for Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico who ran for president as a Libertarian in 2012 and 2016.

Johnson and Paul share an enthusiasm for extremely limited government. Rand calls Johnson a true fiscal conservative and praises his leadership in opposing government overreach.

Johnson backers are pressuring Republican Mick Rich to drop out of the race against incumbent Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich of Albuquerque.

Rich is a commercial construction contractor and political newcomer. Tuesday is the final day for candidates in New Mexico to withdraw their names from the general election ballot.

Study Says University Of New Mexico Adds $3B In Economic Output- Associated Press

Research shows the University of New Mexico is responsible for nearly 25,000 jobs, $3.5 billion dollars in annual employee compensation and another $3 billion dollars in economic output.

A study released Tuesday looked at operations, student expenditures, alumni productivity and technology transfer during the past fiscal year. University officials say the study marked the first of its kind to quantify the economic contributions of the entire university system.

The system is made up of the Albuquerque main  campus  and  Health  Sciences  Center along with  branch  campuses  in  Taos,  Valencia  County,  Los  Alamos  and  Gallup.

The report was commissioned by STC.UNM, the university's technology-transfer and economic-development organization.

University President Garnett Stokes says learning and discovery missions that are central to universities like UNM are also interconnected to the mission of driving economic and social prosperity.

Prosecutors Try To Keep New Mexico Compound Suspects Jailed – Associated Press

Prosecutors seeking to keep five men and women jailed on child-abuse charges in northern New Mexico now say they seized a document entitled "Phases of a Terrorist Attack" at the filthy desert compound where the children and a dead boy were found.

In a court filing last Friday, prosecutors said the hand-written document had instructions for "The one-time terrorist" and mentioned an unnamed place called "the ideal attack site."

The document was submitted as evidence but not made public.

Prosecutors are challenging a judge's ruling that would release the adults.

The newly submitted documents did not make clear whether there was an alleged attack plan and no terrorism-related charges have been filed.

One defendant's lawyer said Monday he had not received the new information from prosecutors and could not comment.


Protesters Block Albuquerque Streets Over Transgender DeathAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

Several demonstrators protesting the death of a Honduran transgender woman blocked traffic in an Albuquerque intersection.

The Albuquerque Journal reports more than 50 people stood Monday morning in front of the federal courthouse with signs calling for justice for Roxsana Hernandez.

The activists also called on abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Federal authorities say the 33-year-old migrant died last May at an Albuquerque hospital. She had been hospitalized after showing symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV.

Hernandez had traveled with a caravan of Central American asylum seekers and was taken into custody in San Diego.

Immigrant and LGBT rights advocates say transgender migrants do not receive adequate medical care in detention facilities.

New Mexico Says Confederate Markers Removed From Rest AreasAssociated Press

New Mexico officials say the last remaining memorials to Confederate President Jefferson Davis have been removed from rest areas along Interstate 10, the main east-west route across the state.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state Department of Transportation announced last week all memorials to the U.S. Civil War-era Confederacy were removed after people posted messages about them on social media.

Department spokeswoman Emilee Cantrell says officials want people to alert them about more Confederate monuments if they see them.

The move comes amid a national U.S. debate over removing the names of Confederate leaders from public roads and buildings.

New Mexico was the site of the Battle of Glorieta Pass, when Hispanic Union soldiers beat back the Confederate Army.

It is often called the "Gettysburg of the West."

Whistleblower Lawsuit Against New Mexico DA Can ContinueLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A state district judge has ruled a whistleblower lawsuit against a southern New Mexico district attorney can move forward.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports state Judge Jarod Hofacket last week rejected a move by Doña Ana County District Attorney Mark D'Antonio to dismiss the lawsuit.

Marylou Bonacci, a former office manager at the District Attorney's office, says she was terminated in retribution for reporting sexual harassment by an office supervisor.

She also says she was fired for providing information and testimony to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for what she alleges was an investigation into D'Antonio's conduct.

The suit further alleges an assistant district attorney appeared in court intoxicated on two occasions but was not disciplined beyond sending him home.

The District Attorney's Office did not return phone messages.

New Mexico Plateau Named For Birds Is Seeing Them Die OffSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Scientists believe a New Mexico plateau named for birds is seeing them die off due to climate change.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Jeanne Fair, a Los Alamos National Laboratory ornithologist in the BioScience Division, and other scientists at the laboratory recently released the results of a 10-year bird study on the Pajarito Plateau which shows "a 73 percent decrease in abundance and a 45 percent decrease in richness (variety of species) from 2003 to 2013."

Scientists believe a massive piñon tree die-off on the plateau may be a harbinger of things to come throughout the high-desert Southwest, where piñon trees — and the birds that frequent them — are potential markers for the effects of global warming.

The Pajarito Plateau, tucked in the Jemez Mountains, is the Spanish term for little birds.

Schools In New Mexico's Oil Region See Enrollment Spike - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A school district in the heart of New Mexico's booming oil and gas region has hit record enrollment. And administrators are wondering if the district will need more schools.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the total enrollment at Hobbs Municipal Schools has hit 10,343 students — the first time in district's history that it has started the school year above 10,000 students.

Hobbs Superintendent T.J. Parks says of the 19 school campuses within Hobbs schools, 11 were at capacity.

Officials say the district also is facing a teacher shortage.

The enrollment jump comes as southeastern New Mexico has seen a jump in oil production and oil prices, creating high-paying jobs and helping New Mexico's revenues.

Navajos To Narrow Record List Of 18 Presidential Candidates - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Navajo voters are headed to the polls to narrow a record field of 18 presidential candidates.

More than 93,000 Navajos are registered to vote in Tuesday's primary. The top two candidates move on to the November general election.

Candidates have spent the last couple of days campaigning on the radio, in tribal communities and on social media.

The field includes seasoned politicians who tout experience and newcomers who are challenging the status quo.

The reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The unemployment rate hovers around 50 percent, and many Navajos still live without running water and electricity.

Current Navajo President Russell Begaye is seeking re-election.

Navajos also will vote for candidates for legislative seats.

Polls close at 7 p.m. MDT.