Santa Fe Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day, Agrees To Negotiate Over Conquistador Controversy

Oct 9, 2017

Santa Fe Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day Amid TensionsAssociated Press

Santa Fe is celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day with a series of Native American dance performances on the city's downtown plaza. Last year Santa Fe began honoring Native Americans on the federal Columbus Day holiday.

The performances Monday take place amid simmering tensions over a separate annual local tribute to Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas, who led the 1692 return to Santa Fe of colonists who were driven out by a Native American revolt in 1680.

In September, eight people were arrested at protests of the ceremonial reenactment of de Vargas' arrival. Critics of the pageant say it obscures the cruelties inflicted by de Vargas.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales has ordered a comprehensive survey of historical monuments and cultural events that is overdue for publication.

Santa Fe Agrees To Negotiations In Conquistador ControversyThe Associated Press

Native Americans leaders from pueblo tribes across New Mexico are taking their grievances about an annual conquistador pageant in Santa Fe directly to the mayor and Roman Catholic officials, city officials announced Monday.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said he has accepted an invitation to meet with the All Pueblo Council of Governors that represents 19 pueblo tribes in New Mexico and one in Texas to discuss the public tribute to Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas. Santa Fe's Roman Catholic archbishop, John Wester, also has accepted an invitation to the meeting.

De Vargas led the 1692 return to Santa Fe of colonists who were driven out by a Native American revolt in 1680.

The costumed reenactment of de Vargas' arrival portrays a peaceful reconciliation with small, scattered pueblo tribes in shared reverence for a wood-carved Virgin Mary, an account disputed by an official state historian.

Tribal leaders say the pageant on Santa Fe's downtown plaza obscures cruelties inflicted on Native Americans by de Vargas. In September, the reenactment was met with protests and a heavy police presence, with eight people were arrested on charges ranging from trespassing to assault on a police officer.

From Florida to California, public statues and tributes to early Spanish conquerors are facing mounting criticism tied to the brutal treatment of American Indians centuries ago by Spanish soldiers and missionaries, with activists drawing ethical parallels to the national controversy over Confederate monuments.

Santa Fe's mayor has ordered a comprehensive survey of the city's historical monuments and cultural events that is overdue for publication.

Court: Woman Unconstitutionally Punished For Refusing TestThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled an Albuquerque woman was unconstitutionally punished for refusing a blood test at a checkpoint in 2011.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy enhanced Larissa Vargas' DWI charge because she refused the test.

She scored a 0.04 blood alcohol content in breath tests and was suspected of being high on drugs.

The state Supreme Court cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says a person arrested for DWI may be punished for refusing breath tests, but may not be punished for declining blood tests unless officers get warrants or there are emergencies in cases involving great bodily harm or death.

Vargas didn't injure anyone. The deputy didn't have a warrant.

On Thursday, justices sent Vargas' basic DWI case back to a lower court.

State's Pension Funds Expected To Fall Short Of 2013 GoalsThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

New Mexico's pension funds aren't on quite as solid financial ground as was hoped four years when lawmakers approved fixes intended to shore up two large retirements systems.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Public Employees Retirement Association and the Educational Retirement Board will not be 100 percent funded by 2043, falling short of goals previously set by officials.

Officials predict the Educational Retirement Board, which covers over 105,000 active school employees and retirees will not reach 100 percent funding until 84 years from now.

Some state lawmakers are considering reducing or revising annual cost-of-living increases for retired members of the association — which covers state employees and law enforcement officers — similar to actions taken in 2013.

University Of Texas Explores Bid To Manage Nuclear LabThe Associated Press

The University of Texas is among the educational and business institutions considering bids to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The university system's regents recently approved spending up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to run the northern New Mexico facility.

The birthplace of the atomic bomb and still one of the nation's premier nuclear research facilities, the lab has struggled in recent years with a string of safety lapses involving the handling of plutonium and radioactive waste.

The current multibillion-dollar management contract expires in 2018. It was first announced in late 2015 that Los Alamos National Security LLC would be losing the contract since it failed to earn high performance reviews.

Los Alamos National Security's partners include the University of California and Bechtel National Inc. Both entities have expressed interest in bidding for the new contract.

New Mexico Official's Airport Gun Charges Dropped In TexasEastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

A Dallas grand jury has declined to indict an Eastern New Mexico city official for bringing a loaded gun into an airport.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports a grand jury in Dallas County returned a no-bill vote last month against Paul Nelson, the information technology director for the city of Clovis.

Dallas police records show Nelson was arrested on a work-related trip June 11 after a Transportation Security Administration employee at Love Field Airport found a loaded semi-automatic .380 caliber handgun inside Nelson's backpack at the main security checkpoint.

The report says Nelson claimed he forgot that the weapon was in the backpack.

City Manager Justin Howalt declined to say if Nelson would face any disciplinary action.

New Mexico's Most Visited Museum Seeks To Build Upon SuccessAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The National Hispanic Cultural Center is looking to build upon its recent success after it was named the most visited state-run museum in New Mexico, drawing larger crowds than similar institutions in much larger cities.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs recorded 226,793 visitors to the Albuquerque museum during the last fiscal year, which is up from 189,933 visitors the prior year.

A similar museum in New York City, El Museo del Barrio, had about 200,000 visitors last year. The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago reported 25,000 and 165,000 visitors, respectively, in 2016.

Museum officials say they want to find ways to collaborate more with similar institutions and shore up funding sources.

Suspicious Device At An Albuquerque Hospital Rendered SafeAssociated Press

A southeast Albuquerque hospital that had been placed on temporary lockdown as police check out a suspicious device has been reopened.

Albuquerque police say a bomb squad has rendered the device safe.

They didn't say what the device was or if it contained explosives.

An explosive disposal unit was called to the scene after an employee of the Presbyterian Hospital found the device around 9 a.m. Sunday.

The hospital and a segment of Central Avenue near the facility was closed by police until noon.

Police say a bomb squad did an additional search of the hospital and was continuing to investigate the device.

Motorcyclists Threaten Bernalillo County Sheriff's DeputiesAssociated Press, KOB-TV

Bernalillo County Sheriff's officials say they are searching for dozens of motorcyclists who circled deputies and threatened them with gang signs in northeast Albuquerque.

The incident Saturday afternoon resulted in one deputy drawing his gun, but no shots were fired or injuries reported.

Sheriff's officials say deputies responded to reports of about 50 motorcycles blocking traffic, driving aggressively and racing in the area of Paseo Del Norte and Coors NW.

Deputies caught up to the motorcyclists at Tramway and Paseo Del Norte NE but were unsuccessful in getting the motorcyclists to stop.

The motorcycles then completely surrounded the deputies and began directing gang-related signs in their direction.

Deputies were unable to get license plate information because motorcycles had their license plates bent upward to avoid being identified by law enforcement.

However, KOB-TV reported that a motorcyclist rights group is criticizing a deputy for pointing a weapon at a motorcycle rider from the passenger window of a moving patrol vehicle. The incident was caught on cellphone video. The Sheriff’s Office said it’s launching an investigation.

Martinez Appoints Top Lawyer For Santa Fe County As JudgeAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed Santa Fe County's top lawyer fill a state a District Court vacancy created by Judge Sarah Singleton's retirement.

The Republican governor's appointment of County Attorney Gregory Shaffer, a Democrat, to the 1st District Court bench in Santa Fe is significant statewide because the district often hears cases involving state government.

Singleton remains a judge on a temporary basis. She hasn't yet ruled on several cases, including a lawsuit over state funding for K-12 education.

Shaffer served as a senior lawyer for state agencies after previously working in the County Attorney's Office. He rejoined the office in 2014 as county attorney.

A state commission nominated Shaffer and three others from among eight applicants.

Shaffer would have to run in for election next year to remain a judge.

Eddy County Panel Sends Proposal On Man Camps To CommissionAssociated Press

Eddy County officials are advancing a proposal to regulate man camps as residents voice concerns about the temporary housing for transient workers.

The county Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously Thursday to send the proposed ordinance to the County Commission.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the committee's vote following a public hearing Thursday during which residents and lawyers spoke on either side of the issue.

Resident Clancey McMillan said development of man camps can lower property values and create problems with noise, trash and traffic, while resident Don George said concerns about buffer zones have been ignored.

An attorney for a developer says the proposed regulations unconstitutionally infringe on private property rights.

Coal Plant's Operator: No Purchase Offer From Navajo NationGallup Independent, Associated Press

The operator of a northern Arizona power plant located on the Navajo Nation says the tribe has not offered to buy the coal-fired plant as efforts continue to keep it from shutting down and shedding hundreds of jobs.

The Gallup Independent reports that Salt River Project spokesman Scott Harelson says the tribe didn't make an offer for the 2,250-megawatt plant, which SRP and other owners plan to decommission if another entity doesn't buy it.

The owners gave the tribe until Oct. 1 to identify potential qualified purchasers, and top tribal officials said Wednesday they met the deadline.

Peabody Energy supplies the plant, and a company spokesman said Monday that private equity firms and power plant operators were interested.

The plant's owners plan to use cheaper natural gas instead.

State Police: Lordsburg Officer Shoots Man Who Shot VehicleAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Police says a man is hospitalized after being shot and wounded by a Lordsburg police officer after the man fired at a police vehicle.

State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo says the shooting occurred Friday as officers responding to a domestic disturbance tried to speak with 34-year-old Winston Ford, who had a pistol in his waistband.

Ford is reported in stable condition.

No additional information was released.