UNM Names 1st Woman President, School District Settles Teacher Sex Abuse Suits

Nov 2, 2017

University Of New Mexico Names 1st Woman PresidentThe Associated Press

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents made history Thursday as it named Garnett Stokes the first woman president to lead the state's flagship school.

Stokes, the provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, was among five finalists chosen as part of a national search. She is scheduled to begin her new job in March.

The announcement was made during a special regents' meeting that marked the culmination of a 10-month process that included surveys, public forums, listening sessions and other meetings between the finalists and members of the university community and administration.

Stokes, 61, accepted a five-year contract with a salary of $400,000.

She takes over as the University of New Mexico and other New Mexico colleges grapple with funding shortages and enrollments that have generally trended downward. The University of New Mexico also faces accusations of financial mismanagement in its athletics department.

Before being hired at Missouri, she served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University. In 2014, she served as that university's interim president and created a task force to address sexual and domestic violence. She also led the school's diversity and inclusion committee on recruitment and retention while she was provost.

New Mexico School District Settles Teacher Sex Abuse SuitsThe Associated Press

A New Mexico school district has agreed to settlements of nearly $8 million from two out of three lawsuits filed against the district over sexual assault complaints involving a former teacher.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Espanola Public Schools settled the suits that claim 61-year-old Gary Gregor sexually abused female elementary school students and that the school did not report the teacher.

The Fairview Elementary teacher was fired by the district in 2010, but he was accused of inappropriate behavior at schools in Utah, Montana and Santa Fe years before he was hired.

Gregor awaits trial after charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual contact of a minor were filed in April.

A third civil suit is pending in federal court.

Attempts by the newspaper to contact school officials were unsuccessful.

Grant Supports New Mexico Research On Brain Injury TherapyThe Associated Press

The University of New Mexico and the New Mexico VA Health Care System will use a $3.1 million federal grant to study a new approach to use electrical stimulation as therapy for mild traumatic brain injuries.

The university's announcement Thursday of the Defense Department's grant says clinical trials with veterans and military service members will begin this winter.

The collaboration between the VA system and the UNM Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is aimed at investigating whether electrical stimulation teamed with rehabilitation training can reduce symptoms from concussions and improve quality of life.

The study will involve 120 participants from the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque __ some with brain injuries and various symptoms and others without.

Typewriter Enthusiasts Gathering In AlbuquerqueThe Associated Press Typewriter enthusiasts are gathering in Albuquerque for another public event to celebrate the classic writing machines. Organizers have scheduled a "Type-Out" on Nov. 12 for curious fans who want to experiment with vintage typewriters in public. The event is slated to take place at Pennysmiths Paper and will feature typewriters similar to those used by novelist Ernest Hemingway and "The Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling. From public "type-ins" at bars to street poets selling personalized, typewritten poems, typewriters are emerging as popular items as aficionados hunt for the latest finds in thrift stores, online auction sites and antique shops. Actor Tom Hanks recently released a collection of short stories about typewriters. 

Monitor Remains Critical Of Police Reform EffortsAlbuquerque Journal

The independent monitor charged with overseeing reform in the Albuquerque Police Department released his latest report Wednesday and it continued to criticize progress in APD.

The Albuquerque Journal reports James Ginger did note some improvements. Those included its crisis intervention programs and community engagement as well as recruiting efforts.

Ginger also found police are 97 percent compliant with the key parts of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice and that means policies are in place. Nearly three quarters of officers have been trained to the policies and about half are following the settlement terms he said.

But Ginger wrote that high-ranking officers are still looking at police accountability and the use of force “through the same lens that got them into the current situation.”

The reform effort is part of an agreement between the city and the DOJ, which found a pattern of excessive force in APD.

Patrick Nagatani, Japanese-American Photographer, Dies Associated Press

Patrick Nagatani, an educator who was born to Japanese-American parents imprisoned in internment camps during World War II and who became an internationally renowned photographer, has died.

The University of New Mexico announced that Nagatani died Friday after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 72.

Nagatani taught photography at the university from 1987 to 2007.

Born in Chicago days after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nagatani was known for capturing images of New Mexico's nuclear legacy.

He also created mythical compositions using laboratories, landscapes, military sites, memorials, American Indian reservations, Japanese tourists and himself in recurring motifs.

A documentary about Nagatani, "Patrick Nagatani: Living in the Story," is slated be released next year.

New Mexico Holds Summit On Opioid Drug CrisisAssociated Press

Public health experts are looking for additional solutions to New Mexico's opioid addiction crisis at a policy summit in the state capital.

State Rep. Deborah Armstrong helped organize the Thursday gathering and hopes it will help enhance and expand successful approaches to combatting the opioid crisis, especially if more federal funding were to become available for New Mexico.

President Donald Trump last week declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency without promising additional spending.

Overdose death rates in New Mexico have hovered well above the national average, even as the state has implemented pioneering policies to rein in fatalities.

Trump's commission on the opioid crisis called Wednesday for more drug courts, more training for doctors and penalties for insurers that dodge covering addiction treatment.

President Trump Nominates Santa Fe Lawyer For US AttorneyAssociated Press

President Donald Trump has nominated a Santa Fe attorney to be the next U.S. Attorney for the state of New Mexico.

The White House announced Wednesday that Trump tapped John C. Anderson to serve as the federal government's top prosecutor in the state.

The 42-year-old Anderson served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in New Mexico from 2008 to 2013.

If confirmed, Anderson would succeed Damon Martinez, who was forced out by Trump earlier this year along with dozens of other federal prosecutors.

Anderson now works at the Denver-based law firm Holland and Hart.

Court Reverses Ruling In New Mexico Police Shooting CaseAssociated Press

Following the guidance of the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court has sided with New Mexico State Police officers in the 2011 shooting death of a man despite concerns about excessive force.

The appellate court initially sided with the family of Samuel Pauly, finding that the officers were not protected by qualified immunity when they surrounded his northern New Mexico home.

The officers appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the appellate court to take another look, prompting Tuesday's reversal.

At issue is the high bar established for filing lawsuits against police under similar circumstances. The high court has said that officers are immune from such lawsuits unless it's clear their actions violated established rights.

In Pauly's case, the lower courts failed to cite any similar case where an officer violated a person's rights against excessive force.

Woman Carrying Sledge-Ax Fatally Shot By Reserve DeputyAssociated Press

Authorities say a southern New Mexico reserve sheriff's deputy fatally shot a woman approaching the deputy while carrying a sledge-ax.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department says the woman was shot Tuesday night when she came out of a shed after officers responded to 911 calls about an unidentified woman telling Las Cruces-area homeowners that somebody was trying to kill her.

The department says investigators later located a truck driver with a puncture wound who said the woman got out after trying to stab him while they drove on nearby Interstate 10.

According to the department, the driver said the woman reportedly was discharged Tuesday from an El Paso, Texas, mental facility and had made suicidal statements.

Her identity was not released.

A multi-agency task force is investigating the incident.

Vandals Damage Memorial Honoring Fallen Police OfficersAlamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

Police have launched an investigation after a memorial honoring fallen law enforcement officers in southern New Mexico was vandalized.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that Alamogordo police say the vandals sometime between Monday and Tuesday caused up to $3,000 in damages to the memorial that contains plaques honoring 10 officers.

Rocky Galassini, who heads a local committee on police appreciation, says all of the plaques were destroyed and need to be replaced. She said it's unimaginable that someone would destroy a memorial honoring "people who have given the ultimate sacrifice."

Police and local organizations are offering rewards for information leading to arrests and indictments of the people responsible for the vandalism.

New Mexico Congressional Candidate Accused Of Stalking Woman – Associated Press

A man running for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District seat is accused of felony stalking.

Santa Fe police say 39-year-old David Alcon of Milan stalked a woman and sent her threatening messages last weekend.

Alcon is one of four Democrats running for the U.S. House seat now held by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for governor.

Online court records don't list an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Alcon is the son of Democratic state Rep. Eliseo Alcon of Milan. A woman who answered The Associated Press' call to a phone listed in the father's name said the son was unavailable to comment.

The woman didn't give her name and stopped talking after a reporter asked about leaving a message asking David Alcon to call back.