UNM Police Get 13 Percent Pay Raise, Ethics Watchdog Gives New Mexico Low Marks

Oct 5, 2018

University Of New Mexico Police Get 13 Percent Pay RaiseAssociated Press

While most University of New Mexico employees received 1 percent raises, campus police got a 13 percent increase in pay under the administration's new agreement with the university police union.

The Albuquerque Journal reports officials say the university needed to compete with the Albuquerque Police Department.

A University of New Mexico Police Department spokesman says the force lost two people to the Albuquerque department in recent months, and others are contemplating a similar jump.

The University of New Mexico Police Department's current starting compensation is $23.41 per hour, while Albuquerque police recently raised starting hourly pay to $29.

Veteran officers can earn more with the Albuquerque force — $31.50 with at least 15 years of experience. The Albuquerque department also will offer "longevity" bonuses that kick in at five years.

Man Killed In Shooting Appeared In Dem AdAssociated Press

A man who died in a shooting that wounded three others in northern New Mexico recently appeared in a commercial for New Mexico Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham said in a statement Friday her heart broke upon hearing about the death of Cameron Martinez.

The 18-year-old recently appeared in her campaign commercial entitled "Two Paths" but the ad never shows his face.

Lujan Grisham says Martinez just started a job at Los Alamos National Lab and called him "remarkable young man."

Martinez, another male and two females were found wounded Thursday night in a car near the Ohkay Casino, just north of Espanola.

Police say the three others found in the car are expected to survive their injuries. No arrests have been made.

47th Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Ready For Weekend Launch - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The 47th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is set to start Saturday and will feature nearly 600 hot air balloons.

The event is expected to draw around million visitors to central New Mexico but comes as Albuquerque continues to struggle with crime. According to FBI statistics released last month, the Albuquerque metro area had the highest per capita robbery rate in the country in 2017.

This year's balloon festival theme is "Carry Me Away." The fiesta's morning mass ascensions launch this weekend, Wednesday and the weekend of Oct. 13-14.

Of the 600 hot air balloons, around 100 will be special shapes. Those special shaped balloons will include those in the image like a pirate, impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, a smiling emoji, Buster the Bulldogg and a rat eating cheese.

Tribe Mourning Death Of Navajo Nation LawmakerAssociated Press

Navajo Nation officials say a tribal lawmaker has died.

Steven Begay represented a handful of communities in northwestern New Mexico on the Navajo Nation Council.

The tribe says the 43-year-old died Thursday. He lived in Naschitti with his wife and two children.

Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates said Friday his office will not release any other information until an investigation is complete.

Bates called Begay a dear friend and said he and his colleagues are processing how to move forward.

Officials called on Navajo citizens to pray for Begay and his family.

Begay served on the council's Health, Education and Human Services Committee. He previously worked in historic preservation for the tribe.

Navajo President Russell Begaye says the lawmaker often used tradition to guide his decisions on the council.

New Mexico Courts Receive $7.7M Grant For Family Program – Associated Press

State court officials say they have received a multimillion-dollar federal grant to help fund a family welfare program over the next five years.

The Administrative Office of the Courts said Thursday that the $7.7 million will go toward the Family Advocacy Program in Sandoval, Valencia, Bernalillo, San Juan and McKinley counties.

Officials say the counties targeted have large abuse and neglect caseloads.

The program creates teams of attorneys, social workers and mentors to serve families at the center of abuse and neglect cases. The goal of the program is to reunite families.

It began in 2013.

Eighty-two cases have been handled under the program and resolved. Of those cases, officials say four families were the subject of child protection cases again afterward.

Ethics Watchdog Gives New Mexico Low Marks – Associated Press

A watchdog group on ethics in government is giving the state of New Mexico low marks for safeguards designed to discourage corruption.

The Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for Integrity on Thursday ranked New Mexico among the 10 worst states when it comes to ethics oversight, restrictions on gifts to public officials and disclosure of political spending by independent groups.

New Mexico voters will decide in the November election whether to create an independent ethics commission to evaluate complaints against elected and appointed officials amid a string of corruption scandals.

The state received high marks for restrictions on gifts to public officials.

Complaints against top public officials currently are reviewed initially by agencies overseen by partisan elected officials such as the attorney general, secretary of state or state auditor.


Workers Return To Mine Following Evacuation – Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Employees of a New Mexico mine returned to work after the facility was evacuated for three days following a possible gas leak from a nearby oil and gas well.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the air quality was tested on Tuesday at the Mosaic Company's Carlsbad potash facility after employees were evacuated Monday, and the mine was again cleared as a "precautionary" measure.

It was kept closed Wednesday as the company continued to test the quality of the air in the underground mine.

Mosaic spokesman Tyler Hopson says the facility received a warning call from a nearby operator Monday evening of a safety "concern" at the nearby well.

Hopson refused to name the operator, and was unsure about the well's distance from the mine.

Hopson says no safety incidents were reported at the site.


Navajo Court Rules In Favor Of Former Two-Term President – Associated Press

Former two-term Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. can continue his run for the tribe's top elected office.

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court made the decision Thursday after hearing an appeal on term limits.

One of Shirley's primary challengers, Vincent Yazzie, had argued the court erred in previously ruling that Navajos who have served two consecutive terms as president could sit out a term and run again.

Yazzie's initial grievance was dismissed as untimely and for failure to state a violation of the election code.

The high court justices upheld that ruling by the tribe's Office of Hearings and Appeals.

Shirley faces current Vice President Jonathan Nez in next month's general election.

The court hearing had forced the tribe's election office to shift its schedule for printing ballots.