UNM Settles Public Records Suit For $35,000, Court Fines Oilfield Waste Disposal Company

Nov 22, 2018

UNM Pays $35,000 Fine Over Public Records Violations Albuquerque Journal

The University of New Mexico is paying $35,000 to settle a suit over the state’s open records law.

The Albuquerque Journal reported independent journalist Daniel Libit, who runs the site NMFishbowl.com, sued the university and the UNM Foundation in 2017 claiming they violated the Inspection of Public Records Act, known as IPRA.

Libit sought documents related to the former naming agreement between UNM and WisePies Pizza and Salad for the Pit sports arena. The university said it had no records and directed Libit to contact the foundation, which said it was a private nonprofit not subject to the state records law.

UNM agreed to settle its part of the lawsuit by paying $35,000 in legal fees to Libit’s attorneys. Earlier this year a judge ruled the University of New Mexico Foundation is subject to IPRA, but the foundation is appealing that ruling.

Border Town Invaded By Pancho Villa Rejecting Talk Of Troops - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A small New Mexico village once attacked by Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa is rejecting talk of a wall and troops while embracing its legacy along the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last week cited Villa's 1916 raid of Columbus, New Mexico, as an example for why President Donald Trump was deploying active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

But village residents say those living on both sides of the border have co-existed peacefully since the Villa invasion.

Instead of soldiers, Columbus Mayor Esequiel Salas says residents would like to see better roads to bring tourists.

The village is about to launch a campaign called "Where Old Mexico Meets New Mexico" to memorialize Villa's assault.


New Mexico To Mark Tax-free Day On 'Small Business Saturday' - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico will mark its first "Small Business Saturday" tax holiday this weekend.

Gov. Susana Martinez made the announcement Wednesday, encouraging New Mexicans to support the state's small businesses and use the tax-free day as an opportunity to save some money during the holidays.

Under a law passed this year and signed by the governor, businesses with 10 employees or fewer can sell goods on the Saturday following Thanksgiving without charging gross receipts tax.

The tax holiday covers sporting goods, clothing, artwork, musical instruments, furniture and more, as long as the cost does not exceed $500.

John Garcia is the director of the Small Business Administration for New Mexico. He tells the Albuquerque Journal that New Mexico supports about 154,000 small businesses. Those businesses employ nearly 330,000 workers.

Court Fines Texas-based Oilfield Waste Disposal Company - Associated Press

A judge has ordered a Texas-based oilfield driller and waste disposal company to cease operations in New Mexico, pay $2.2 million in penalties and clean up polluted well sites.

The New Mexico Oil, Minerals and Natural Resources Department announced Wednesday a state district court order against Midland, Texas-based Siana Operating.

Agency spokeswoman Beth Wojahn said Siana has not fulfilled provisions of the recent court judgment. Siana representatives could not be reached for comment.

State regulators have accused Siana of failing to comply with a 2016 settlement agreement to address spills of oily salt water at well sites in southeastern New Mexico and cap an abandoned well.

Siana has been a major provider of well-water disposal services. Disposal sites inject wastewater deep underground after oil is skimmed off.

New Mexico City, Utility Proposal Solar Energy Partnership - Associated Press

Officials in New Mexico's most populous city are partnering with the state's largest electricity provider to build a new solar generating station and boost the amount of renewable energy used to power municipal facilities throughout Albuquerque.

Mayor Tim Keller said Wednesday the goal is to reduce the city's electricity bill. Right now, about $1.2 million a month is spent to power city buildings.

Under the arrangement with Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Albuquerque would commit to purchasing half of the electricity that would be generated by the proposed 50 megawatt solar plant. The remainder would be available to other interested municipalities and tribes.

PNM will be issuing a request for proposals to build the plant, but the cost and location have yet to be determined. State regulatory approval also will be needed.

New Mexico Requiring Licenses For In-Shell Pecan Buyers - Associated Press

State agriculture officials say a license is required for anyone with a business in New Mexico who plans to buy in-shell pecans that are grown here commercially or from residential trees.

The Legislature earlier this year passed the licensing rule at the request of the New Mexico Pecan Growers Association. The aim is to prevent the spread of pecan weevils to uninfested growing areas of the state.

Pecan growers also say the rule will indirectly help deter the increasing problem of pecan theft from residential and commercial properties.

The weevil was confirmed in about 200 residential pecan trees in several eastern New Mexico counties and several commercial orchards. Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties were declared quarantined areas, where restrictions were put in place to control the movement of in-shell pecans out of the area.

Residents Blame Roaming Bobcats For Slew Of Missing Pets - KOAT-TV, Associated Press

Some Albuquerque residents say bobcats could be responsible for the disappearance of several pets.

KOAT-TV reports residents say bobcats have been spotted near their homes. They say they have seen at least a female bobcat and her three kittens.

Residents say none of the bobcats have been aggressive, but they believe the animals are responsible for several missing cats, chickens and a duck.

Surveillance cameras at one home captured a bobcat walking through a yard with what appears to be some sort of animal in its mouth.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says bobcats are in every county in New Mexico. They seldom travel more than a few miles from home and adapt more easily to areas where people live.