State Police Shootings Raise Concerns, Health Officials Confirm Measles Case In Sierra County

May 17, 2019

2 Shootings By State Police In Albuquerque Spur ConcernAssociated Press

Police reform advocates say they're concerned state police patrolling Albuquerque are not being held to the same use-of-force and training standards as Albuquerque police.

The group APD Forward, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, issued its statement Friday, following two shootings a day earlier by state police. The shootings happened within an hour of each other.

APD Forward noted the shootings came less than a week after Mayor Tim Keller outlined a coordinated public-safety push in the city across agencies amid a crime wave. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham assigned 50 state police to bolster law enforcement's presence in Albuquerque.

APD Forward called for the mayor and governor to ensure state police follow the same protocols as Albuquerque police.

Albuquerque police in recent years have undergone an overhaul of their policies as a result of a federal settlement agreement.

New Mexico Police Say 1 Injured After Separate ShootingsAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say officers were involved in separate Albuquerque shootings within a one-hour span, and one suspect was injured.

State Police Chief Tim Johnson said an officer fired at a stolen vehicle Thursday night after the driver fled an attempted traffic stop and led police on a pursuit before coming to a stop in southwest Albuquerque.

Johnson said the driver appears to have a gunshot wound to his right shoulder.

No officers were injured in that shooting.

Police had said suspects fled on foot.

Johnson said a suspect was captured and two others were detained.

Johnson also said an officer fired shots in a separate chase in northeast Albuquerque, and authorities are looking for those suspects.

An officer who crashed during the chase has a shoulder injury.

New Mexico Awards Funding To Schools To Extend Learning TimeAssociated Press

The Public Education Department says more than 101,000 New Mexico students will gain access to a variety of extended learning opportunities beyond the traditional school year starting this summer.

Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo announced Friday funding approval and enrollment figures for two programs at the core of state reforms to improve student achievement.

A second program that extends the elementary school year by five weeks is expected include nearly 24,000 students, up from 18,000.

State legislators set aside enough money for 90,000 students to participate in that "K-5 Plus" program if school districts, teachers and parents are willing.

State lawmakers and education officials say low-income students consistently miss out on enriching educational activities, and that research demonstrates the effectiveness of more learning time with their year-round teachers.

Measles Case Confirmed In Sierra CountyKOB-TV, Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed Friday a case of measles in a one-year-old child from Sierra County.

In a media release, the department noted this is the first measles case in New Mexico since December 2014. KOB-TV reported state officials said the child is all right.

Measles is highly contagious. Symptoms include fever, red eyes, running nose and cough. That is often followed by a rash. State health officials urged people to ensure they have been vaccinated against measles.

The state's Vaccines for Children program offers vaccines free of charge for any child in New Mexico.

U.S. health officials say this year's count of measles cases has surpassed 800, a growing tally that is already the nation's highest in 25 years.

A total of 839 cases were reported as of last week. That's the most since 1994, when 963 were reported for the entire year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the latest numbers Monday.

Measles was once common in the U.S. but gradually became rare after vaccination campaigns that started in the 1960s.

New Mexico Panel Rejects Reconsideration Of Facebook BillAssociated Press

New Mexico regulators have declined to reconsider their decision for the state's largest utility to bill Facebook $39 million for a new transmission line.

The state Public Regulation Commission unanimously voted Thursday to reject motions by the Public Service Company of New Mexico and two other groups asking regulators to rehear arguments.

The commission in mid-April ordered the utility to charge Facebook nearly half the cost of the $85 million transmission line to its data center in Los Lunas.

The commission said ratepayers could not be charged for the project because the line wouldn't benefit retail customers.

The utility says the transmission line upgrades its network, so it does benefit wholesale and retail customers.

The utility says it's disappointed by the decision and is reviewing options for how to proceed.

Court Rejects Navajo Nation's Lawsuit Over Police Shooting - Associated Press

A federal court has dismissed the Navajo Nation's lawsuit against the U.S. government and Winslow, Arizona over the police shooting of a tribal member.

The Gallup Independent reports Judge G. Murray Snow ruled last week that the tribe lack standing and "did not suffer a legally cognizable injury" from the March 2016 death of Loreal Tsingine.

The tribe filed suit last year, claiming Tsingine's civil and constitutional rights were violated. It also faulted the U.S. Justice Department for not prosecuting former Winslow Police Officer Austin Shipley.

The department said it could not prove that Shipley willfully used excessive force and did not act in self-defense.

Navajo Nation spokesman Jared Touchin says the tribe is reviewing the ruling and has not yet decided if it will appeal.

Group Raises Concerns Over New Mexico's Landmark Energy Law - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Natural gas and coal proponents say emails exchanged among environmentalists and a key member of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's cabinet represent a conflict of interest as the state was creating landmark legislation that set ambitious new renewable energy goals.

In one email, state energy secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst asked a renewable energy trade group to review some of the bill's language.

Officials with the organization Power the Future say the emails show the secretary was coordinating with several groups that included the same renewable energy firm she led before taking her job with the state. They argue the Energy Transition Act will result in higher electricity prices and cost industry jobs.

Cottrell Propst is defending her role, saying the administration has been clear about prioritizing its renewable energy agenda.

Rest Area Near New Mexico-Arizona Border Under RenovationAssociated Press

A rest area on Interstate 40 near the Arizona-New Mexico line is closed for renovations.

The Painted Cliffs Rest Area serves traffic in both directions.

The $2.7 million project to replace a water line, septic tanks and sewer lines, and upgrade mechanical and electrical systems is expected to be complete early next year. Crews will also paint and upgrade the area to make it more accessible to those with disabilities.

The next closest rest areas on the Arizona side are in Sanders and Holbrook.

Ex-New Mexico Teacher Gets 108 Years In Prison For Sex Abuse - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A former New Mexico teacher convicted of sexually abusing two fourth-grade girls more than a decade ago has been sentenced to 108 years in prison.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Gary Gregor was sentenced Thursday in a Santa Fe court.

The former Santa Fe and Española elementary school teacher now in his 60s faced up to 144 years in prison.

A jury in December convicted Gregor on 12 criminal counts related to the abuse and molestation of two students in an Española elementary school during the 2007-08 school year.

According to the Journal, Gregor still faces charges that he allegedly abused two female students while he was teaching at Agua Fria Elementary in Santa Fe during the 2003-04 school year before he was hired in Española.

Court: New Mexico Regulators Must Reconsider Utility Case - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court wants utility regulators to reconsider a 2016 order that cleared the way for the state's largest electric provider to increase rates.

In a ruling Thursday, the court found that regulators violated Public Service Co. of New Mexico's due process rights by denying the utility the ability to recoup future costs related to decommissioning the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona.

The court made the determination even though it said most of the Public Regulation Commission's order was reasonable and lawful.

As part of that original order, regulators found that the utility acted imprudently in deciding to repurchase part of the nuclear plant and renew leases for its power. As a result, the commission had limited the amount of spending on Palo Verde that PNM could recoup from customers through rates.

Parties To Welfare-Eligibility Lawsuit Signal Common Goals - Associated Press

Plaintiffs to a lawsuit that faults the state with improperly denying certain welfare benefits to residents in need say they will take a more cooperative approach to proposed reforms with the fledgling Democratic administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Attorney Maria Griego of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said Thursday her advocacy group plans to work directly with state officials overseeing welfare eligibility to address shortcomings.

The Center on Law and Poverty has provided new indications that the state continued last year to deny food and medical assistance to eligible applicants by insisting they fill out unnecessary paperwork, at a federal court hearing Thursday.

Human Service Secretary David Scrase says he will strive to ensure benefits are awarded in an accurate and timely fashion to eligible residents.

New Mexico High Court Suspends Lawyer For Disregarding Rules - Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has suspended an Albuquerque attorney's law license for at least 18 months for failing to obey court rules and an initial disciplinary order.

The justices' unanimous opinion Thursday says Daniel M. Salazar flagrantly and intentionally disregarded rules on filing deadlines for appeals and a requirement that he notify clients that he'd been suspended in 2018 from practicing law for at least a year.

The ruling says it's unacceptable that Salazar left a client convicted of first-degree murder in limbo for nearly three years before filing a notice of appeal after the client was sentenced. Those notices must be filed within 30 days.

The ruling says the court hopes the latest discipline salvages Salazar's "potential and ability to practice law."

Competition Heats Up In New Mexico Congressional Primary - Associated Press

Santa Fe-based attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez is launching her campaign for the Democratic nomination to an open congressional seat in 2020.

Leger Fernandez announced Thursday that she was kicking off her campaign in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where she graduated from high school.

A new campaign website describes Leger Fernandez as a mother of three and cancer survivor, who has worked on behalf of tribal communities as an attorney and serves on the board of a nonprofit affordable housing group.

The Democratic primary is likely to be decisive in the heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District. At least six contenders are vying for the Democratic nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of Nambé as he runs for Senate.

Leger Fernandez is the daughter of former state Sen. Ray Leger.

Officials Reopen New Mexico Private Prison To Hold Migrants - Associated Press

Officials have decided to reopen a private prison in New Mexico to hold local inmates as well as immigrants being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Torrance County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to open the detention center in the rural town of Estancia under an agreement with the federal agency.

The contract stipulates for ICE to pay the county nearly $2 million per month during the first year of prison use, allowing up to 714 immigrants to be housed.

The price will increase in subsequent years. Only adult men will be held in the facility.

Officials say the agreement will provide the county with 240 jobs.

Officials say the county will also sign an agreement with private prison operator CoreCivic for it to run the facility and hire staff.

New Mexico City To Fine People For Excessive Weeds, Trash - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico city says it will begin fining certain residents for excessive weeds, graffiti and extra newspapers on their properties.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the Lovington City Commission voted 4-1 this week to adopt a controversial ordinance allowing the city to levy fines of up to $500 per day for certain properties with weeds, debris and junk.

Proponents say the ordinance will require the exteriors of the properties in the economic district to be kept free of eyesores to make the city more attractive.

But some residents said the commission was overreaching and presented city leaders a petition against the ordinance.