Rules Curb Retired Teachers' Classroom Time, Judge Rejects Proposal To Move Water

Jul 29, 2019

New Regulations Limit Experienced New Mexico Sub Teachers – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A new law and regulations are requiring more retired New Mexico teachers to limit the amount of time they spend in a classroom or take off a year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports legislative and Educational Retirement Board rule changes altered eligibility requirements for retirees who go back to work in education while collecting a pension.

New Mexico Educational Retirement Board Executive Director Jan Goodwin says retirees who collect their pension can't work more than a quarter of full-time equivalent hours unless they are part of the "return to work program."

Under the program, which is already in place, retirees can work as many hours as they like, but can't join the program until they take a year off from education.

Legislative Leaders Take Command Of Campaign ResourcesAssociated Press

New rules for funneling resources to political campaigns in New Mexico may provide legislative and party leaders with a stronger hand in influencing the outcome of elections, as Democrats assert their control over the Legislature and governor's office.

The Democratic House speaker and Republican minority leader have registered specialized political committees this month that can command vast resources through unlimited non-cash contributions.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says his legislative caucus committee is likely to provide campaign strategy services and door-to-door canvassing in key legislative races.

The committees are one outcome of legislation aimed at disclosing more about the sources of political contributions by independent expenditure groups and others.

Transparency advocate Austin Graham of the Campaign Legal Center describes some provisions as a "power grab by legislative leadership."

Fired New Mexico City Manager Says Settlement Exonerates Him – KVIA-TV, Associated Press

A former New Mexico city manager who says he was fired without cause is receiving a $211,000 settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports former Sunland Park city manager Bob Gallagher received the payout last week. He described it as vindication following his August 2017 firing.

Sunland Park is not admitting to any fault and officials declined to comment on the settlement.

Gallagher says he was fired after he refused to comply with several directives from three city councilors who wanted him to engage in questionable actions.

An independent investigation did not to turn up evidence of corruption and no charges were brought.

Gallagher also faced allegations of sexual harassment as the city manager of Jal in southeast New Mexico. But a lawsuit there was dismissed.


Correction: This story replaces a previous version that says Gallagher was fired for alleged misconduct. A city spokesman said previously that the City Council did not provide a reason for its decision.

Ruling May Open New Mexico's Private Waterways To PublicSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A state commission's decision may reopen New Mexico's private waterways to recreationists.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Game Commission last week handed fishermen and other recreational boaters a partial victory by temporarily halting a program for private property owners. Under the 2017 program, private property owners have say over whether the public can access waterways on their land.

The current commission, appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, decided last week to impose a 90-day moratorium on the rule until it can receive advice from Attorney General Hector Balderas as to whether it is legal under state law.

A previous commission, appointed by Republican then-Gov. Susana Martinez, implemented a program in 2017 that allowed landowners to certify rivers and streams that cut through their property as "non-navigable."

Attorney Says Hunger-Striking Immigrants Forced To Hydrate - By Cedar Attanasio, Martha Mendoza And Garance Burke Associated Press

An attorney for three Indian nationals seeking asylum in the U.S. says they have been forced to receive IV drips at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso, Texas as they approach their third week of a hunger strike.

A court official says the U.S. Department of Justice filed orders with federal judges last week that relate to non-consensual hydration or feeding for four men.

Linda Corchado, who represents three of the four men named in the court orders, says the men have been locked up for months and they are trying to appeal or reopen asylum claims that were denied. She says as of Sunday, they had gone 20 days without food.

Lawyers and activists who spoke with the men fear that force-feeding may be next.

Corchado says the fourth man is also Indian and is represented by another attorney. It's unclear if that man was also forced to accept an IV.

ICE confirmed that there were detainee hunger strikes at its facilities in El Paso and Otero, New Mexico, late last week, but it would not comment on the claims of forced hydration or force-feeding.

New Mexico Judge Rejects Company's Proposal To Move Water - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A judge has rejected a company's proposal to pump billions of gallons of water annually from an aquifer in west-central New Mexico to the middle Rio Grande Valley.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that state District Judge Matthew Reynolds on Thursday approved motions for summary judgment dismissing Augustin Plains Ranch LLC's's application for a permit to provide cities and businesses with water from the remnants of a lake under the San Augustin Plains.

Augustin Plains Ranch project manager Michel Jichlinksi called Reynolds' ruling unfair and didn't know whether it would be appealed or if another application for a permit will be filed with the State Engineer's Office.

The proposal to pump from the San Augustin Plains has been criticized by environmental groups, ranchers, farmers and others in Catron and Socorro counties.

Volunteers Help Steer Migrant Shelter In New Mexico Town - Deming Headlight, Associated Press

Volunteers are using translation apps and helping to raise money for a migrant shelter near the U.S.-Mexico border in a small New Mexico city.

The Deming Headlight reports volunteers are aiding in running the Deming National Guard Armory which has been set up as a temporary migrant shelter amid a humanitarian crisis along the border.

Volunteers are stuffing travel bags for migrants, helping arrange travel arrangements to sponsors in the U.S. and working to provide services for asylum seekers.

Deming migrant operation volunteer Ray Trejo says 10,000 asylum seekers from Brazil and all parts of Central America have been processed through Deming in recent months.

Witness Against New Mexico Prison Gang Killed Outside Home - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Las Vegas police are investigating the shooting death in the northern New Mexico city of a man who testified against prison gang members last year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that police made no immediate arrests in the killing Monday night of 48-year-old Leroy "Smurf" Lucero in front of his home.

Police investigator Caleb Marquez said police hadn't determined a motive but there was no reason to believe anybody else was in danger.

Lucero was a former member of Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico and a key witness for the government in the trial of seven defendants in May 2018.

Lucero testified about various crimes, including a directive that led to the 2001 killings of two inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility, a state prison in Las Cruces.

New Mexico Chile Plant Selected To Be Grown In Space - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

It'll be one giant leap for chile-kind.

A hybrid version of a New Mexico chile plant has been selected to be grown in space.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Española, New Mexico chile is tentatively scheduled to be launched to the International Space Station for testing in March 2020.

A NASA group is testing how to produce food beyond the Earth's atmosphere. The chile plant was created with input from Jacob Torres — an Española native and NASA researcher.

Torres says understanding how to grow plants to supplement the astronaut's diet would be essential to any future mission to going to Mars.

The "Española Improved" chile plant is a cross between a northern New Mexico seed and the popular Sandia seed from the Hatch Valley. It will be the first fruiting plant that the U.S. will grow aboard the Space Station.

New Mexico State Puts Domenici Conference On Hiatus For 2019 - Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

An annual policy conference named after former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico will take a break in 2019.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the New Mexico State University announced Friday it put the conference on hiatus this year and will attempt to organize its next event in 2020.

The conference, inaugurated by the university's Domenici Institute in 2008, brought policy experts, scholars, elected officials past and present, cabinet officers, military leaders and other figures of note to Las Cruces.

Attendees would engage with students and the public over two days.

Domenici, a Republican, served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.