State Investigating Possible Measles Case, Officials Reject Calls For Hearing In Nuke Storage Case

May 8, 2019

New Mexico Investigates Possible Measles CaseAssociated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating a possible case of measles in Sierra County.

State health officials could not provide any details about the patient and it wasn't immediately clear Wednesday how soon officials would know whether it was indeed the measles or some other ailment.

If confirmed, it would mark the state's first case since 2014.

Nationally, officials have said more than 760 cases have been reported as of last Thursday. It's the most in the U.S. since 1994, when 963 were reported.

In all, 23 states have reported cases this year.

Measles was once common but gradually became rare after a vaccination campaigns that started in the 1960s. In New Mexico, more than 96 percent of kindergarten students are current with their vaccinations.

New Mexico Education Secretary Describes Progress On ReformsAssociated Press

The Public Education Department says a program that adds five weeks to the elementary school year will expand to include at least 23,600 children this summer, far shy of goals outlined by state legislators.

Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo gave state legislators a progress report Thursday on ambitious attempts to improve public school performance.

The Legislature and Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have approved $500 million in new annual spending on public schools as a state district court threatens to intervene on behalf of frustrated parents and school districts. Architects of the reforms wanted 90,000 students in the extended elementary school year.

Trujillo said school districts had just six weeks to apply for the so-called K-5 Plus program. She expects the program will reach 70,000 students next year.

Feds, Tribes Meet After Abuse Probe Of Reservation DoctorAssociated Press

A White House task force is holding a consultation meeting with tribal leaders in New Mexico to address systematic breakdowns within the federal Indian Health Service to prevent child sex abuse.

A U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman says the meeting is planned for Wednesday afternoon in Albuquerque. It follows the Trump administration's announcement of the task force, which officials say was established to investigate how federal workers failed in preventing Stanley Patrick Weber from sexually abusing Native American children.

Weber was an IHS pediatrician for more than 20 years.

A federal jury in Montana found Weber guilty last year of sexually abusing two boys on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in the 1990s.

He also has been accused of abusing four boys after he was assigned to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation in 1995.

New Mexico Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Dave ChappelleAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Dave Chappelle by a man who threw a banana peel at the comedian during a 2015 performance in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Christian Englander's lawsuit was dismissed late last month after the judge determined the case had no significant activity for 180 days.

The newspaper could not reach Englander for comment Tuesday.

The suit filed in March 2018 claimed that Chappelle's bodyguard struck Englander in the face twice at the show.

Englander previously said he threw the banana peel because he was angered by Chappelle's jokes. He claimed the peel-tossing was misinterpreted as a racial attack.

Englander was charged with battery and disturbing the peace after the incident, but the charges were later dismissed.

Gender-Bending Opera 'M. Butterfly' Set For 2020Associated Press

The Santa Fe Opera will stage the world premiere in 2020 of the gender-bending story "M. Butterfly" from playwright and librettist David Henry Hwang.

Opera General Director Robert Meya announced Wednesday upcoming productions at the open-air summer opera stage.

The new operatic version of "M. Butterfly" is based on the Broadway play about a French diplomat's affair with enigmatic opera star in China. It is scored by Chinese-born Huang Ruo, whose prior work "Dr. Sun Yat-Sen" ran in Santa Fe and was banned in mainland China.

The Santa Fe Opera also is preparing the premiere in 2021 of an opera set in Victorian England based in part on Bram Stroker's "Dracula." Meya says "Lord of the Cries" addressed issues of repression and human nature with contemporary touches that can appeal to younger audiences.

Updated electronic seatback translation equipment has been installed at the opera north of Santa Fe.

US Regulators Reject Calls For Hearing In Nuke Storage Case - Associated Press

U.S. regulators have denied requests by watchdog and environmental groups that sought an evidentiary hearing challenging plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a storage facility for spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board announced its decision Tuesday after hearing arguments in Albuquerque earlier this year.

The multimillion-dollar project proposed by Holtec International would allow for spent fuel rods to be transferred from sites around the nation to a temporary home in southeastern New Mexico.

Opponents have raised concerns about the project's legality, the safety of transporting high-level waste and the potential for contamination if something were to go wrong.

Lawyers for the group Beyond Nuclear say they will continue to pursue a federal court appeal aimed at stopping the project.

US Land Managers Ordered To Review Several Drilling Permits - Associated Press

A federal appeals court says U.S. land managers should have done more to consider the cumulative effects on water resources before approving a handful of oil and gas drilling permits in northwestern New Mexico.

Tuesday's ruling comes in a long-running dispute over hundreds of permits that have been issued in the San Juan Basin. Environmental groups and some Native Americans have voiced concerns about the effects of increased development on the region's culturally significant sites.

The groups claimed in their initial complaint filed in 2015 that the Bureau of Land Management violated environmental and preservation laws in approving the permits.

A panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the preservation claims but did rule that land managers needed to do another environmental review for six of the permits.

Congressional Candidate Drops Out, Endorses Local Prosecutor - Associated Press

A Democratic contender for New Mexico's northern congressional seat in the 2020 election says he is leaving the race and endorsing another likely candidate.

Air ambulance business manager Mark McDonald of Raton on Tuesday said he's dropping out of the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. McDonald is voicing support for a possible candidacy by Santa Fe-based District Attorney Marco Serna, who has launched an exploratory committee.

The 27-year-old McDonald ran unsuccessfully in 2018 as a Democrat and openly gay candidate for a state House seat held by Republican Jack Chatfield. McDonald says he likes Serna's approach to economic and public health issues.

Candidates actively pursuing the 3rd Congressional District seat include state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde and Santa Fe-based attorney Teresa Leger. Both are Democrats.

New Mexico Pension Puts Staff Raises On Hold - Associated Press

The board overseeing a $15 billion public pension fund has placed pay increases on hold for top staff members amid recriminations over prior raises and whether they were approved properly.

The New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association board on Tuesday delayed authorization of scheduled pay raises for 11 appointed employees including the executive director of the pension plan for state and local workers.

State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg says the pension's executive director orchestrated pay increases for himself and others without full board approval in violation of state statute and fiduciary obligations.

Executive Director Wayne Propst says the accusations are misleading and that he has followed established practices of the agency for the approval of compensation increases.

The pension's unfunded obligations to retirees have negatively affected the credit rating for the state and the city of Albuquerque.

Both Eichenberg and Propst found affirmation Tuesday in an analysis from the state treasurer of procedures for staff pay increases.

State Auditor Brian Colón wrote that Propst acted reasonably and within his authority. He describes conflicting provisions of state statute and board policy on setting compensation as a "legal grey area."

Felon To Spend Life In Prison For Killing New Mexico Officer - Associated Press

A felon found guilty of killing an Albuquerque police officer during a 2015 traffic stop will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Davon Lymon was sentenced Tuesday after being convicted last month of first-degree murder in the shooting of Officer Daniel Webster after the officer pulled him over on suspicion of having stolen plates on the motorcycle he was riding.

Prosecutors said Lymon — whose prior convictions include manslaughter, fraud and forgery — chose to take the officer's life because he was a felon who had a firearm and didn't want to return to prison.

Lymon again argued self-defense, but the judge said he wasn't entitled to that claim and that he showed no remorse.

During the trial, attorneys showed police lapel video of the moment Webster attempted to handcuff Lymon to a motorcycle and was shot.

New Mexico Students Help Redesign Jemez Historic Site - Associated Press

A group of New Mexico college students is helping redesign the Jemez Historic Site visitor center using multimedia tools.

New Mexico Highlands University announced this week that 15 of its media arts students are creating floor-to-ceiling video projections of historic images and oral histories at the Native American site. The students also are adding interactive touch-screen computer tablets that focus on artifacts and an event called "Light Among the Ruins."

Supervisory archaeologist Ethan Ortega says the students used oral histories and texts written by Jemez tribal members to create the new components.

The Jemez Historic Site includes the stone remains of a 500-year-old village and the San José church, which dates to 1622.

It is located at Jemez Springs, about 50 miles north of Albuquerque.