Racino Owners Gave To Governor's Campaign, Teachers Union Leader Sues Over Statehouse Tumble

Jan 5, 2019

New Mexico Tracks, Owners Gave To Governor's Campaign– Associated Press, The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico's five horse racetracks and casinos and their owners contributed at least $60,000 in political donations to the campaign of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the racinos are opposed to the state awarding a sixth and final license for a new track and casino, saying increased competition for horses and wagers would threaten the industry. 

It'll be up to Lujan Grisham to decide if the licensing process that was started under the previous administration will continue. As governor, the Democrat oversees the state Racing Commission and appoints its members.

Lujan Grisham's office says the governor will evaluate the situation before setting a course on the licensing issue.

Campaign finance records also show that the tracks and their owners contributed far less to Lujan Grisham's general election opponent, former Congressman Steve Pearce.

Teachers Union Leader Sues Over New Mexico Statehouse Tumble– Associated Press

A leader of a prominent New Mexico teachers union is suing the state Legislature's administrators after she claims she was hurt when she fell down a statehouse staircase.

The Albuquerque Journal reports American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico President Stephanie Ly filed the lawsuit this week in state District Court and is seeking damages to covered medical bills stemming from the fall.

According to the lawsuit, Ly says she suffered injuries walking down the Capitol stairs in February.

The statehouse has multiple stairways and elevators.

The lawsuit does not describe exactly how the fall occurred. However, it says the injuries Ly suffered were caused by hazardous conditions and the Legislative Council Service's negligence in failing to maintain the stairway.

The Legislative Council Service declined to comment on the lawsuit.

New Mexico lawmaker to bike 300 miles to State Capitol– Associated Press

A state lawmaker from southern New Mexico is embarking on a nearly 300-mile journey to the State Capitol for the upcoming legislative session.

Angelica Rubio will be riding her bicycle from Las Cruces to Santa Fe over the course of the next week. She will be stopping along the way for meetings with fellow lawmakers and community leaders.

The Las Cruces Democrat is starting her trip Saturday. She hopes that by cycling to the capital city she can encourage a greater sense of connection between southern New Mexico and the legislative process.

One of Rubio's priorities will be establishing an Outdoor Equity Fund, which could be tapped to provide funding to disadvantaged communities for outdoor activity programs.

Rubio expects to arrive in Santa Fe on Jan. 12. She'll be documenting her journey on social media.

Ruling Revives Woman's Lawsuit Over Son's Cancer Treatment– Associated Press

A federal appeals court has revived a woman's negligence lawsuit over alleged substandard treatment provided to child cancer patients at the University of New Mexico Hospital in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Wednesday overturns a trial judge's order to dismiss the claim on grounds that the hospital didn't receive required notice of the circumstances of Maria Cummings' legal claims before she joined a lawsuit following her 5-year-old son's death in 1983.

The appeals court says the circumstances were disclosed in detail for the hospital and its lawyers in an affidavit attached to a court filing about Cummings joining an existing case.

The decision notes that the hospital was already investigating the alleged substandard treatment but didn't contact Cummings about her son's treatment.

Sex Abuse Charges Dismissed Against Woman Accused In Killing– Associated Press,Albuquerque Journal

Prosecutors dismissed sex abuse charges against a woman accused in the 2016 killing of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl because there isn't enough evidence to connect her to those charges.

District Attorney's Office spokesman Michael Patrick told the Albuquerque Journal that Jessica Kelley still faces other charges, including murder, in Victoria Martens' death.

The girl's mother, Michelle Martens, and Martens' boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, were indicted on rape and murder charges along with Kelley. Over the summer, the District Attorney's Office dismissed many of those charges.

Martens pleaded guilty to reckless child abuse resulting in death and faces 12 to 15 years in prison, with the possibility to cut that in half for good behavior.

Gonzales still faces charges of child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence.

1-Year-Old Girl's Body Found At Albuquerque Home– Associated Press

Albuquerque police say they have found the body of a 1-year-old girl after her father told relatives that she had drowned in a bathtub last month.

Police had been searching for the girl and her family since at least Wednesday after receiving the report, saying the parents were last seen in Farmington.

Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said in a statement Friday that officers had found the body of Anastazia Zuber at an Albuquerque home.

He says that officers also located the girl's parents, David J. Zuber and Monique Romero, and that they are facing charges that include child abuse resulting in death.

Two other children found with the parents have been placed in the custody of the state Children, Youth and Families Department.

New Mexico May Reconsider Decision On More Natural Gas Wells– Associated Press

New Mexico oilfield regulators are considering whether to reopen a decision to ease restrictions on natural gas well locations for a Texas-based company operating in the northwest corner of the state.

Newly arrived state Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard announced Friday a special hearing of the state's Oil Conservation Commission at her request on whether to reconsider an approved application from Hilcorp Energy to increase the well density for some areas. Hilcorp had no immediate comment.

Longstanding density limits have prevented the company from tapping more of a formation called the Blanco-Mesaverde gas pool.

Approval of the application late last year prompted an outcry from conservationists and a rebuke from the previous land commissioner.