State Vets Harassment Allegations Against Lawmaker, Struggling Schools May Lengthen School Year

Sep 29, 2018

New Mexico Vets Harassment Allegations Against Lawmaker – Associated Press

A public hearing has been scheduled on sexual harassment accusations by a former political lobbyist against a New Mexico state lawmaker who lost his re-election primary in June.

In documents published Friday, a bipartisan ethics subcommittee of eight House lawmakers scheduled two days in December to vet allegations by Animal Protection Voters staffer Laura Bonar that Democratic state Rep. Carl Trujillo of Nambe made inappropriate advances toward her in 2013 and 2014.

Trujillo denies the allegations and said Friday he is hoping to have authority to subpoena communications records and summon witnesses to testify. Bonar's attorney could not be reached immediately.

A report from a special counsel has backed up two allegations of harassment.

Any potential reprimand, censure 

Struggling New Mexico Schools May Lengthen School Year – Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are studying ways to extend the typical school year by 10 days or more, with longer summer extensions at schools catering to low-income families.

A report from the Legislature's lead budget writing committee released on Friday puts a price tag on efforts to extend instructional time and shorten long summer gaps that increase disparities in learning.

Public education reforms are taking shape as the state judiciary threatens intervene and shore up New Mexico's struggling school system — potentially by injunction if the Legislature and executive branch do not act.

A July district court ruling is under appeal by departing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, while two candidates to replace her in November elections are showing little or no enthusiasm for disputing a judge's guidance.

Defense Questions Plans For New Charge Against Ex-Deputy– Associated Press

An attorney for a former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy says he questions prosecutors' motivation in planning to bring a voluntary manslaughter charge against the officer after two juries cleared him of murder in the shooting death of a fellow deputy.

Tom Clark's comments Friday came a day after District Attorney Mark D'Antonio in Las Cruces said his office will seek a grand jury indictment for voluntary manslaughter against Tai Chan. Clark questioned whether justice or ego is driving the decision.

Juries twice have been unable to reach unanimous verdicts on murder charges against Chan in the 2014 shooting of Deputy Jeremy Martin at a Las Cruces hotel.

Chan maintains he opened fire in self-defense after a night of drinking and arguing.

D'Antonio says he's seeking the lesser charge after consulting with police and Martin's family.

Artist Sues Val Kilmer Over Tumbleweed Sculptures– Associated Press

A Texas artist is suing Val Kilmer, saying the actor co-opted his work.

Bale Creek Allen says in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that he had been creating golden-laden tumbleweed sculptures for years and selling them in galleries in Austin, Texas, and Santa Fe when he noticed Kilmer had begun selling "identical" pieces.

Before the discovery, Allen says Kilmer had approached him about the sculptures, which the "Batman Forever" and "Tombstone" star ultimately said he could not afford. When the artist asked Kilmer to stop selling the pieces, the actor did not respond.

Kilmer, who used to own a ranch outside of Santa Fe, began selling his own artwork a couple years ago. He could not immediately be reached late Thursday for comment.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in New Mexico seeks unspecified damages.

Michigan Man Fatally Shot While Walking In Santa Fe – Associated Press, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe police say they have made no arrests in a fatal shooting that killed a Michigan man.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the family of Richard Milan, who fatally shot Wednesday night, says he was on a cross-country road trip with his wife from California to their home in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The 64-year-old man was fatally shot in the leg by an unknown attacker while he walking his dog by an abandoned McDonald's.

Santa Fe police announced Tuesday that Milan died at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

On Thursday, Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said officers had made no arrests in Milan's death.

Police say the motive behind the shooting and how many people were involved is unknown.

Milan is the fifth homicide victim in Santa Fe this year.

New Mexico Woman Gets 15-Year Prison Term In Infant's Death– Associated Press

A New Mexico woman has been sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison in connection with the death of her infant daughter in 2007.

Prosecutors say 36-year-old Sophia Zayas was sentenced Thursday after her conviction on a charge of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm.

Her husband, Peter Zayas, is scheduled to sentenced Oct. 2 on a negligent child abuse conviction.

At the time of his April 2012 arrest, Peter Zayas was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base.

Authorities say Sophia Zayes and her husband caused the October 2007 death of their 2-month-old daughter, who suffered fractures in her skull, ribs and arms.

In his plea agreement, Peter Zayas admitted he left the child in his wife's care despite knowing she had a history of alcohol abuse.

New Mexico To Monitor National Labs Under Renewed Grant– Associated Press

New Mexico environmental regulators will continue monitoring two national laboratories in the state under a grant renewed by the U.S. Energy Department.

The renewal helps to fund ongoing environmental oversight and monitoring by the state at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

Federal officials say the five-year grant provides a mechanism for independent monitoring at the labs and assures information is made public about the health, safety and environmental effects of certain activities at the labs.

The state Environment Department and the Energy Department have a similar agreement for monitoring the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico.

Ranchers, National Park Service Square Off Over Fencing– Associated Press

Ranchers in northern New Mexico are squaring off with federal land managers over miles of unmended fencing along the boundary of Valles Caldera National Preserve.

They say park rangers last week rounded up cattle that had crossed the boundary without posting a notice of their intention to impound the animals. 

They say more than 300 cows and calves were corralled without hay and with little water for days until they could make the 300-mile roundtrip to trailer the livestock home.

The ranchers say the preserve has failed to maintain fencing to keep cattle out, but officials at Valles Caldera argue that New Mexico's fence-out laws are pre-empted by federal law and the responsibility belongs to the ranchers.

The dispute comes as the region grapples with drought, which has left pastures barren and watering holes dry.