Police Say Man Killed In Shootout With Detective, Health Officials Warn About Mosquito Season

Jul 3, 2019

Albuquerque Police Say Man Killed In Shootout With DetectiveAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say a man is dead following a shootout with a police detective who suffered minor injuries.

A Police Department spokesman says the gunfire occurred late Tuesday night when an armed man approached the vehicle of the detective who was conducting a surveillance operation.

The spokesman, Officer Simon Drobik, says the detective wasn't transported to a hospital and that the shooting occurred after a surveillance operation began in one part of the city and shifted to another area.

No identities were released and no additional information on circumstances of the incident were immediately available.

Appeals Court Rules Trump Can't Use Pentagon Cash For Border WallAssociated Press

An appeals court has upheld a freeze on Pentagon money to build a border wall with Mexico, casting doubt on President Donald Trump's ability to make good on a signature campaign promise before the 2020 election.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with a lower court ruling that prevented the government from tapping Defense Department counterdrug money to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona and New Mexico.

Wednesday's decision is a setback for Trump's ambitious plans. He ended a 35-day government shutdown in February after Congress gave him far less than he wanted. He then declared a national emergency that the White House said would free billions of dollars from the Pentagon.

The case may still be considered, but the administration cannot build during the legal challenge.

Sandoval County Treasurer Enters Race For US House SeatAssociated Press

A New Mexico county treasurer has entered the crowded race for Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján's seat.

Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya announced her candidacy Tuesday for the 3rd Congressional District.

She was elected treasurer in 2012 and reelected in 2016. She previously worked as a constituent services representative for former Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman

The other Democratic candidates include First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serna, attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez, state Rep. Joseph Sanchez, and former CIA operative and author Valerie Plame.

Luján plans to run for Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall's seat.

New Mexico Lawmaker Pleads Not Guilty To Drunken DrivingSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A New Mexico lawmaker who was arrested on a drunken driving charge after a crash has pleaded not guilty.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Tuesday that the lawyer for Democratic state Sen. Richard Martinez entered the not guilty plea to misdemeanor charges of aggravated DWI and reckless driving.

Martinez did not appear for his arraignment in Rio Arriba County Magistrate Court.

Martinez was arrested Friday after police say he crashed his Mercedes SUV into the back of a vehicle stopped at a red light in Espanola, north of Santa Fe.

Police say he smelled of alcohol and later said he had three glasses of wine. He refused a Breathalyzer test.

Martinez declined to comment. His attorney, David Foster, did not return the newspaper's call for comment.

Attorneys General Weigh In On LGBTQ Employment CasesAssociated Press

A coalition led by the attorneys general of Illinois and New York that includes New Mexico has filed a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring.

The brief comes ahead of oral arguments on three cases that may determine whether gays, lesbians and transgender people are protected from discrimination by existing federal civil rights laws.

Maine is among the states joining the brief filed Wednesday. State Attorney General Aaron Frey said the brief's argument is "rooted in the fundamental principle of equal treatment" and that discrimination is unacceptable.

More than 200 corporations have issued a similar call.

Others joining the brief are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

McAleenan Calls Facebook Posts DisturbingAssociated Press

Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has called some of the derogatory and sexually explicit posts in a secret Border Patrol Facebook group "disturbing" and "inexcusable."

In a tweet Wednesday, McAleenan reiterated that an investigation into the page was planned and that "any employee found to have compromised the public's trust in our law enforcement mission will be held accountable."

The Facebook group included sexual posts about New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and insensitive comments about recent deaths of immigrants in custody. Members also questioned the authenticity of a recent photo of a father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande.

New Mexico Governor Reaches Out To Nike Amid Arizona Flap Arizona Republic, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has reached out to Nike to "explore whether there's a potential fit" after the governor in neighboring Arizona withdrew financial incentives for a factory amid a flap about an American flag-themed shoe.

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said Tuesday the Democratic governor contacted Nike because she wants the jobs in New Mexico that would go to a planned $185 million factory in Goodyear, Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reported Gov. Doug Ducey called Nike’s decision a “shameful retreat” on Twitter and he pulled a financial incentive package for the plant. It's not clear whether the move would derail Nike's plans for the Arizona factory.

The Wall Street Journal reported Nike pulled the colonial-era American flag shoe after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained.

Stelnicki says New Mexico in recent months has attracted employers like Netflix and NBC Universal. He says Nike would find a friendly business climate in the state.

Xcel Energy Seeks Rate Hike For New Mexico Customers - Associated Press

Xcel Energy is asking New Mexico regulators to approve a rate increase so the utility can recover investments in power plants, transmission lines and other infrastructure.

The company filed its application with the Public Regulation Commission this week.

The utility has invested more than $1.6 billion in the regional power grid since the latter part of 2017. Xcel officials say the investments are helping sustain a booming economy in eastern New Mexico.

If approved, residential customer bills would increase by about $7.80 starting in mid-2020.

Xcel says natural gas will continue to be part of its portfolio as fuel costs have hit historic lows.

Wind turbines make up about 20% of the supply. The utility says the Sagamore Wind Project near Portales is expected to be completed next year.

New Mexico Health Officials Warn About Mosquito Season - KOB-TV, Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are predicting one of the worst mosquito seasons in decades thanks to wetter weather earlier this year.

KOB-TV reports health officials believe the mosquito population and the threat of West Nile Virus are on the rise as monsoon season approaches.

Mark DiMenna of the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department says the city is preparing for a bad mosquito season the likes of which they haven't seen in 15 years.

Standing water along the arroyos, ditches, wetlands and even the side of the road are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

New Mexico's largest city uses larval control through water management and source reduction and with the use of environmentally friendly, EPA-approved chemicals.

Albuquerque To Chihuahua Direct Volaris Flight Scrapped - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A new direct flight between Albuquerque and the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, has been scrapped less than two weeks after it was to have begun.

Albuquerque International Sunport marketing manager Jonathan Small told the Albuquerque Journal on Monday the route was scrapped after the low-cost discount airline Volaris wanted both cities to cough up an additional $32,000 per roundtrip flight.

Small says the two cities opted not to pay after officials consulted each other. He says the city of Albuquerque is considering legal action.

The new international route was announced in February after Volaris began twice-weekly, non-stop service from Albuquerque to Guadalajara, Mexico. But that route, too, appears to be canceled.

Albuquerque has struggled to attract and retain direct flights to Mexico.

Energy Company Bids On New Mexico For New Wind Farm - Associated Press

A subsidiary of Colorado-based Scout Clean Energy is moving ahead with plans for a wind farm after winning a bid for more than 25 square miles of state trust land in New Mexico.

Great Divide Wind Farm was the sole applicant for the Grant County parcel and has plans to acquire more property from surrounding landowners, officials with the State Land Office confirmed Tuesday.

The 250-megawatt project would have the capacity to power about 250,000 households. Construction could take up to two years.

Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said the wind farm is projected to bring in $16 million for public schools and other beneficiaries over the term of the lease.

"With the number of applications pending for projects on state trust land, New Mexico will soon see a booming wind and solar economy, which means new revenue flowing to the Land Office," Garcia Richard said in a statement.

The agency's goal is to triple the amount of wind and solar generation on state trust land.

There are currently six active wind leases on state trust land totaling 193 megawatts. The agency's Office of Renewable Energy also is working on over 16 applications for new projects or expansions of existing projects.

Albuquerque Driver Charged In Uber Passenger's Death - Associated Press

Prosecutors have charged a driver in the St. Patrick's Day shooting death of an Uber passenger in Albuquerque.

Court records show Bernalillo County prosecutors charged Clayton Benedict on Monday afternoon — more than three months after the shooting death of 27-year-old James Porter occurred.

A spokesman for the district attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking further explanation on timing of the charges.

A voicemail left at the local public defenders' office seeking comment on Benedict's behalf was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Authorities say Benedict opened fire after he picked up Porter and a friend, and an argument broke out along Interstate 25.

Ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft have policies that prohibit the presence of weapons inside vehicles when they are used for transporting clients.

Santa Fe Golf Courses Temporarily Close After Water Problem - Associated Press

Santa Fe golf courses and athletic fields have temporarily closed after the treated wastewater used for irrigation was found unsafe for public watering.

The Santa Fe City Council voted Monday to spend between $60,000 and $110,000 on irrigating the turf with drinking water.

The city-owned Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe golf course and the athletic fields at the Municipal Recreation Complex closed last week, as well as the privately-owned Santa Fe Country Club.

The city stopped delivery of all treated effluent after a test showed the water contained levels of biological matter, including contaminants like E. coli, above state limits.

City Public Utilities Department Director Shannon Jones says the treatment plant experienced an "upset" sometime between June 19 and June 22 that disrupted the treatment process.

US Election Security Official Highlights Email Threat - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Beware the phishing attempts.

An election security official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday warned top state election officials nationwide to safeguard against fraudulent emails targeting state and local election workers.

The emails appear as if they come from a legitimate source and contain links that, if opened, can open up election data systems to manipulation or attacks.

Geoff Hale, director of the department's Election Security Initiative, told a gathering of secretaries of state that the nation's decentralized voting systems remain especially vulnerable to emails that can trick unsuspecting workers into providing access to elections databases.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, calls phishing the No. 1 concern when it comes to securing election-related computer systems in his state.

New Mexico Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says new federal funding is needed to bolster cyber security in counties that are too small to hire information technology specialists.

US Underground Nuclear Waste Dump Receives 12,500th Shipment - Associated Press

The federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in New Mexico has received its 12,500th shipment since operations began two decades ago.

The U.S. Energy Department made the announcement Tuesday, saying the shipment arrived at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant just before midnight on June 27.

The shipment originated at Idaho National Laboratory.

The repository is licensed to take Cold War-era waste generated by decades of bomb-making and defense-related nuclear research. The waste includes gloves, clothing, tools and other materials contaminated with radioactive elements.

In all, more than 178,500 containers have been trucked over 14.9 million miles to the repository from sites around the country since 1999. The waste is entombed in disposal rooms carved out of an ancient salt formation about half a mile down.