Wednesday News Roundup: Rally Planned For Gun-Buyer Background Checks

Jan 22, 2014

NM Rally Planned For Gun-Buyer Background Checks - The Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and gun safety advocates plan to rally at the Capitol in support of a proposal to require criminal background checks of more people who buy firearms at gun shows.

The rally is scheduled Wednesday at the Capitol and supporters hope to increase pressure on Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to add the gun proposal to the Legislature's agenda.

The Legislature is restricted to considering the budget, tax measures and proposals allowed by the governor.

A bill failed in the Legislature last year to mandate background checks for firearms purchased at gun shows from private sellers. Federal law requires those checks for sales by licensed dealers in their stores and at gun shows.

Opponents contend that background checks won't stop shootings like one at a Roswell school.

County Officials Criticize Critical Report - The Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County officials are critical of a report that's critical of the county.

The report prepared by a consultant hired and since terminated by the county finds many faults with the county's criminal justice system.

Those include jail crowding that the report blames on large numbers of non-violent offenders jailed after being arrested for minor crimes.

Consultant Alan Kalmanoff also says the bail-bond industry holds away over officials in the criminal justice system.

County officials held a news conference Tuesday to respond to Kalmanoff's report.

They'd already terminated his contract before his report was complete, but the Albuquerque Journal reports that Kalmanoff finished it anyway.

Deputy County Manager Tom Swisstack said the report's findings aren't justified.

Change In Weather Could Bring Moisture To New Mexico - The Associated Press

It has been a month since New Mexico's largest city has had any rain or snow, and more than one third of the state continues to be entangled in severe to extreme drought.

Temperatures have been unseasonably warm and dry, but forecasters with the National Weather Service say that's about to change.

A mass of cold air is expected to reach the northeast part of the state Wednesday night. It's expected to press west and south through Thursday and bring with it some moisture.

Forecasters say the upslope precipitation isn't looking significant, but anything will help.

As for snowpack in New Mexico's mountain ranges, every basin — except for the high Sangre de Cristos and the headwaters of the Pecos River — are worse off than last year.

Los Alamos Stable Owners Facing Thefts, Vandalism - The Los Alamos Monitor

Stable owners in Los Alamos say they are facing a rash of thefts and cases of vandalism.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that members of the Los Alamos Stable Owners Association told authorities last weeks that owners need help with random thefts and problems with coyotes.

Owners also said they are battling speeding and teenagers doing "doughnuts" with their cars in lots where owners exercise their horses.

Stable owners shared their concerns during a meeting with Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone.

The group says they are trying improved lighting, more neighborhood watches, and a gate system to fight the various problems.

WNMU Facing Layoffs, Cuts Amid Budget Crunch - The Albuquerque Journal 

Western New Mexico University is facing layoffs, higher tuition and consolidation of classes amid a budget crunch.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Silver City-based university plans to slash spending by 4 percent and eliminate less popular courses.

WNMU President Joseph Shepard says the changes are needed because a projected 5 percent increase in student enrollment did not materialize. He says the university by the end of this month will cut spending for the remainder of this budget year by more than $1.3 million.

Officials say cuts will probably be a combination of layoffs and letting some vacancies remain unfilled.

Panel To Consider Digital Signs Along Highways - The Santa Fe New Mexican

State officials may allow digital billboards along interstate highways and other federal routes in New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the state Transportation Commission on Thursday is scheduled to consider rule changes that could legalize electronic billboards.

States oversee off-site outdoor advertising along federal highways under agreements with federal agencies.

Outdoor advertisers already use digital signs in some places in New Mexico, including within the city of Albuquerque.

Critics say the signs are visual blight that damage the night sky. Outdoor advertising companies deny that their signs lighten dark skies.