TUES: UNM Pays $38M To Settle Child Death Lawsuit, + More

Mar 10, 2020

University Of New Mexico Settles Child Death LawsuitAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has agreed to pay $38 million to settle part of a lawsuit alleging some pediatric cancer patients with leukemia received substandard care at the university's hospital.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that the settlement would bring a partial end to a lawsuit on behalf of 250 children. The lawsuit cited practices from 1977 to 1997 where young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia were given diluted, outdated drug treatments.

The settlement offer was filed in court last week and is awaiting a judge's approval. The judge is expected to decide how the money would be administered.

University officials reported the heirs of no more than 89 children who died could be eligible to receive partial compensation from the settlement. That’s according to attorney for the plainitffs Jacob Vigil. A trial is scheduled in August for the children who survived their treatment.

The Journal reported the university has settled more than 90 cases in the past 20 years related to substandard care for childhood cancer patients for about $52 million.

New Mexico GOP Contractor Drops Out Of US Senate RaceAssociated Press

Republican construction contractor Mick Rich has announced he is ending his second run for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

Rich said a statement Tuesday he remained committed to Republicans in the state and the re-election of President Donald Trump.

His announcement comes days after he failed to gain enough delegates to get on the ballot for the New Mexico GOP Senate primary.

Navajo Nation member and anti-abortion advocate Elisa Martinez won the top ballot position in the GOP race. She will vie against well-recognized television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti. Both are seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is the lone candidate in the Democratic primary.

Rich lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich in the general election in 2018.l Torres Small for a crucial seat in southern New Mexico.

New Mexico Super PAC Forms With Massachusetts, Oil Ties - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A new Super PAC with ties to a oil trucking company owner who lives in the northern part of New Mexico has been formed to likely target candidates in a district in the southwestern part of the state.

Federal election records show that Butch Mathews, owner of the Farmington-based M & R Trucking company, recently filed documents for a super PAC called Citizens for a United New Mexico.

Records on the U.S. Federal Election Commission's website list Mathews as treasurer of the Super PAC, which has a mailing address in Carlsbad, 460 miles away from Farmington.

M & R Trucking has worked in the oil and gas industry for about three decades. The company is active in the natural gas region of the Four Corners and the oil-rich Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico.

It's unclear which candidates the Super PAC will target. Citizens for a United New Mexico "intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts," according to documents in its filing.

Mathews did not immediately return a phone message.

The creation of Citizens for a United New Mexico comes as two Republican candidates are locked in a heated primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for a crucial seat in southern New Mexico.

Filings also list Charles Gantt of Beverly, Massachusetts as “custodian of records” of the Super Pac. Gant runs a company called Bulldog Compliance, a division of Red Curve Solutions. Bulldog Compliance helps “independent expenditure-only committees (Super PACs) and other fundraising-driven organizations,” according to its website.

He has been linked to the Trump For President Committee, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, and conservative-leaning Massachusetts Super PACs.

Pedestrian Goes Through Windshield; Driver Critically HurtAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say a pedestrian was killed and a driver critically injured when a vehicle struck the pedestrian who then crashed through the windshield, striking the driver.

Police say the incident occurred Monday night when the pedestrian was standing in the far-left eastbound traffic lane of Interstate 40.

Identities weren't released and police said investigators weren't immediately able to determine why the pedestrian was standing on the highway.

The freeway was partially closed for several hours after the incident.

Governor Vetoes Spending On Oil-Price And Coronavirus Concerns - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

A plunge in world oil prices is threatening to reverse state budget surpluses that have allowed New Mexico to make major new investments. 

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed hundreds of local roadway projects in response to uncertainty over oil markets and the new coronavirus. 

The market upheaval Monday could affect the plans to shore up government salaries, public school education, health care and business incentives.

The state government relies on the oil sector for more than a third of its annual general fund income. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until Wednesday to decide on an 8% annual spending increase proposed by lawmakers.

The Senate's Finance Committee chairman John Arthur Smith

says a buildup in financial reserves gives the state time to maneuver if oil prices don't recover quickly. 

At the same time, he has recommended consideration of line-item vetoes to one-time spending on infrastructure projects.

University Of New Mexico To Raise Tuition By Nearly 3% - KOB-TV, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico will be raising students' tuition next fall.

KOB-TV reports the UNM Board of Regents unanimously approved the tuition spike in a budget meeting Monday morning.

Tuition will go up by 2.6%, according to Dan Garcia, president of the university's enrollment management.

Students from in the state will pay $200 more per semester. Out-of-state students will have to fork over an additional $600 per semester.

Garcia said the increase is not related to a 4% raise for some employees or a 6% drop in enrollment.

This decision comes after the university's announcement last month that students from households making $50,000 or less could be eligible for free tuition their freshman year.

Northern New Mexico DA Won't Seek Re-Election - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A district attorney in northern New Mexico has announced he won't seek re-election. 

The Las Vegas Optic reports Fourth Judicial District Attorney Richard Flores said last week he decided it was time to move on after four terms. 

The Democrat has been the top prosecutor in San Miguel, Mora and Guadalupe counties for the last 16 years. 

According to Flores, his office has prosecuted more than 4,000 DWI cases and around 92 homicide cases. More recently, Flores points to his office's efforts to aid the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with an operation aimed at disrupting drug trafficking operations in the area.

Current Deputy District Attorney Tom Clayton and public defender and attorney Brett Phelps say they plan to run for the post Flores will vacate at the end of this term.

University Of New Mexico Police Chief To Retire - Associated Press

University of New Mexico Police Chief Kevin McCabe has announced plans to retire.

McCabe said last week he will step down from his role as police chief of the state's largest university at the end of June. He has been with the university's police department since 2010 and served as chief since 2014.

McCabe, who holds a bachelor's degree in business administration, came to the University of New Mexico after retiring from the Albuquerque Police Department where he served for 24 years. 

During his tenure, the university's police department replaced aging apparatus and upgraded radios and dispatch equipment.

Officials say a national search for the university's next chief of police will begin immediately.