AG Wants Procedure For Police Use-Of-Force Cases, Hundreds Of Teacher Positions Vacant

Dec 12, 2016

AG Wants Procedure For Police Use-Of-Force CasesThe Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and a group of district attorneys plan to develop a procedure for handling the prosecution of police officers who are involved in shootings.

Balderas said Monday that it's the responsibility of his office and the district attorneys to come up with a transparent process that promotes timeliness and accountability.

The group also expects to push legislation to ensure adequate funding for such cases, including those where independent prosecutors are needed.

Balderas announced last week that another subcommittee would review how police agencies investigate deadly force by officers after questions were raised about the handling of body camera video by Albuquerque police.

A review by The New Mexican and New Mexico In Depth also found the state has a patchwork of policies for reviewing and prosecuting such cases.

New Mexico Has Hundreds Of Vacant Teacher Positions – Associated Press

The number of students enrolled in teacher training programs in New Mexico has dropped while the state struggles to fill hundreds of vacant teaching positions across the state.

Researchers at New Mexico State University's College of Education reviewed vacancy data from all 89 school districts around the state through mid-October.

They found nearly 600 open positions. Most were teaching jobs, but there were also vacancies for counselors, social workers, speech therapists and administrators.

Karen Trujillo helped compile the report. She describes the shortage as dire.

In Albuquerque, public schools need more than 200 substitute teachers to fill the gap. The district started a hiring push last week.

The report recommends that lawmakers direct state education officials to study teacher recruitment and retention and conduct an analysis to see where graduates of New Mexico teacher training programs go to work.

Republican Party Of New Mexico Elects A New ChairmanThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal 

An executive at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center has been elected as the new chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Ryan Cangiolosi won the two-year chairmanship over Albuquerque businessman John Rockwell in a 251-156 vote by party central committee members.

He replaces Debbie Maestas, who did not seek re-election.  Cangiolosi is a former executive director of the state party.

He says he planned to convene a meeting of top elected GOP officials, after the party suffered heavy state-level defeats in last month's election.

Cangiolosi also vowed to increase the GOP's base, ramp up fundraising, and convince Democratic and independent voters to register as Republicans.

New Mexico Democrats will elect their new party leaders in April 2017.

Funeral Home That Handled Officer's Services Hit By GraffitiThe Associated Press & KOB

A funeral home that handled the services for a Valencia County sheriff's deputy killed last week in a vehicle crash has found itself the victim of anti-police graffiti.

KOB-TV reports that Noblin Funeral Service home and other businesses in Belen and Rio Communities were hit with anti-police graffiti message.

The graffiti began with acronym for a profane insult toward police officers and finished with the words, "Crash harder next time."

Deputy Ryan Thomas was responding to a call Tuesday night when the single-vehicle crash occurred in the Belen area.

The 30-year-old officer was ejected after losing control of his vehicle.

New Mexico Delegation: Bill Has Provisions On Mine SpillAssociated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation say a newly approved water bill includes provisions to expedite reimbursements to state, local and tribal governments for a 2015 mine spill.

A joint statement Saturday by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham says provisions deal with the aftermath of the Gold King Mine spill in southwestern Colorado.

The lawmakers say provisions force the Environmental Protection Agency to extend the date for reimbursements to governments' emergency responses, direct the EPA to quickly address farmers' claims and authorize the EPA to coordinate with governments and pay for water monitoring efforts.

The EPA said Friday it will pay $4.5 million for state, local and tribal governments' emergency responses. The agency turned down $20.4 million in other requests.

Navajo Nation To Improve Sewage Treatment After Violations Arizona Daily Sun, Associated Press

Six sewage treatment plants in Arizona portions of the Navajo Nation have been violating federal standards by discharging wastewater that exceeded pollutant and bacterial limits.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports the Navajo Nation will spend $6 million on improvements.

Tribal utility agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Nation EPA say the six treatment facilities have years of Clean Water Act violations.

Plants discharge into the Little Colorado River and a San Juan River tributary.

Rex Kontz of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority said the agency has a long history of temporary solutions.

He said old systems are beginning to struggle to meet demands of bigger communities.

Kontz said the utility plans significant changes at two facilities in addition to mandated upgrades.

7 Attorneys Apply For Appointment To State Court Of AppealsAssociated Press

Seven New Mexico lawyers have applied for appointment to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals.

The applicants hoping to replace now-retired Judge Roderick Kennedy include current Court of Appeals Judge Stephen French, Assistant Attorney General Jacqueline Medina and Daniel Gallegos Jr., a Court of Appeals associate staff attorney.

Others are Albuquerque attorneys Kristina Bogardus, Henry Bohnhoff, Emil Kiehne and Kerry Kiernan.

All except Gallegos applied to fill a Court of appeals vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michael Bustamante.

Gov. Susana Martinez will select from among a screening commission's nominees to appoint the replacement for Kennedy.

French is a Republican now serving by appointment. He ran unsuccessfully for his current seat in the Nov. 8 general election, losing to Democrat Julie Vargas.

Vote Recounts Uphold Original Results In New MexicoAssociated Press

Recounts in three New Mexico legislative races have been completed without overturning the original results.

The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office on Friday announced victories by incumbent Democratic Sen. John Sapien of Corrales, GOP Rep. David Adkins of Albuquerque and Democratic challenger Daymon Ely of Corrales.

Ely defeated Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco by 105 votes. Adkins won the recount by just nine votes against Ronnie Martinez. Sapien won by 190 votes over Diego Espinoza. The recount results are awaiting final certification.

Democrats won control of the Legislature by overtaking the GOP in the House of Representatives and defending a Senate majority. Democrats will outnumber Republicans 26-16 in the Senate and 38-32 in the House of Representatives.

Albuquerque Man Accused In Wife-Beating Plot Now Out Of Jail KOB-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque man accused of trying to hire someone to severely beat his ex-wife is out of jail.

KOB-TV says a judge allowed Christopher Tapia post bond for $50,000 cash or surety Saturday.

Tapia was ordered to wear a GPS ankle monitor while his case is pending.

New Mexico State Police say Tapia allegedly arranged to pay $2,000 to have his ex-wife beaten so badly she would be hospitalized for at least a month.

Tapia was arrested this week in the case.

In court, the judge noted that Tapia has five prior domestic violence arrests involving the same victim along with one domestic violence conviction.

Records show Tapia also has four prior temporary restraining orders and two of them are active and one of them involves the same victim.

Proximity Of Oil And Gas Parcels To Chaco Park Spur ProtestAssociated Press

Environmentalists are challenging plans by federal land managers to lease four parcels in northwestern New Mexico for oil and gas development, saying the property is too close to Chaco Cultural National Historical Park.

The world heritage site and its outlying archaeological remnants have become the focus of the fight over expanded drilling in one of the nation's largest natural gas fields as environmentalists push to curtail development in the region.

The Bureau of Land Management has already established a 10-mile buffer around the park.

Environmentalists say the parcels in question — which cover less than two square miles — are near the homes of Navajo residents and within 20 miles of the park.

BLM officials in Farmington said they will review the protest.

The next lease sale is scheduled for Jan. 25.

American Airlines Launches Phoenix To Santa Fe Flights – Santa Fe New Mexican

American Airlines begins direct daily flights between Phoenix and Santa Fe this week.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the first jet arriving Dec. 15 will be greeted by Gov. Susana Martinez and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. Shoot New Mexico, which tries to bring more film production to the state, will host a lunch.

The flight joins American flights to Dallas-Fort Worth and United connections to Denver.

Tourism officials have plans to market northern New Mexico sites and activities including skiing, as well as cooler summer temperatures when the thermometer in Phoenix begins climbing over 100 degrees.