Albuquerque Preparing Proposal To Become Amazon Headquarters Site, NM Releases Latest Teacher Evals

Sep 8, 2017

Albuquerque Seeks To Become Site For New Amazon Headquarters- The Associated Press

Albuquerque is preparing a proposal to become the site for Amazon's second headquarters, hoping founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will want to return home.

Officials from the giant online retailer announced Thursday that they are looking to spend over $5 billion dollars to build another headquarters in North America that is expected to house up to 50,000 employees. Amazon has listed specific requirements for what they are looking for such as a metropolitan area with more than a million people. The Albuquerque-metro area has a total population of 909,000 between Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia counties but surpasses 1 million if Santa Fe is included.

Bezos was born in Albuquerque and officials hope that fact, and along with Albuquerque's affordable land, reliable power grid and workforce capable of handling large construction projects will sway Amazon in their favor.

US Monuments To Spanish Conquest Facing Mounting Criticism- The Associated Press

Public statues and tributes to early Spanish conquerors are facing mounting criticism tied to the brutal treatment of American Indians centuries ago by Spanish soldiers and missionaries, with activists drawing ethical parallels to the national controversy over Confederate monuments.

From California to Florida, historical markers and common-place names trace the path of the 16th century Spanish conquistadors and missionaries who explored and settled land inhabited by American Indians in what is now the U.S. Few, if any, of the monuments honoring them have come down.

The Spanish presence is particularly noticeable in parts of the Southwest, which Spaniards controlled for about 300 years. In northern New Mexico, statues and annual re-enactments recognize two colonizers who crushed armed uprisings by American Indians and meted out reprisals that included slavery and executions.

Pageantry supporters say they are honoring their Spanish heritage, paying homage to the Roman Catholic faith and highlighting reconciliation. For Native American tribes, the monuments and events often are reminders of forced religious conversions and violence against resisters of Spanish rule.

Doctor Accused Of Faking Cancer Records To Delay Sentencing- The Associated Press

A New Mexico cardiologist is accused of falsifying a cancer diagnosis and treatment documents to postpone or avoid sentencing in which he faces two years in federal prison for health care fraud.

A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges that Roy G. Heilbron, 53, of Santa Fe produced and submitted fake medical documents indicating he needed prostate cancer treatment in Costa Rica to support his request to postpone being sentenced Aug. 28.

In an affidavit included with an Aug. 9 criminal complaint, FBI Special Agent Raymond Mauk said he checked the medical documents Heilbron submitted and determined that Heilbron himself prepared the documents, which purportedly came from a doctor in Costa Rica. Mauk said he found that no such doctor practiced at the hospital listed.

Johnson added that he'd never allowed a defendant to travel to another country right before sentencing in his nearly 23 years as a judge.

The judge ordered him to appear Aug. 28 for sentencing in Albuquerque. However, Heilbron was arrested Aug. 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina on an arrest warrant based on the new allegations.

Federal authorities plan to transport him back to New Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

New Mexico Releases Latest Teacher Evaluations- The Associated Press

About 74 percent of public school teachers in New Mexico are rated as effective or better when it comes to their success in the classroom, officials announced Friday.

That's the highest percentage of effective or better teachers since Gov. Susana Martinez adopted a new teacher evaluation system four years ago.

The New Mexico Public Education Department unveiled the latest results under a much-debated system that's the focus of an ongoing court battle. Earlier this year, the Martinez administration announced changes after meetings with teachers around the state to reduce the weight that standardized test scores have on evaluations.

The new results say that the number of "highly effective" teachers rose 9 percent while the number of "ineffective" teachers statewide fell around 41 percent.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski credited the rise in effective or better teachers to school districts taking advantage of state-funded professional development programs.

Teacher unions didn't buy the latest evaluation results.

Albuquerque Mayor Hopeful Under Scrutiny Over 'In-Kind' Cash- The Associated Press & KOB-TV

A publicly financed Albuquerque mayoral candidate is facing scrutiny after his campaign manager reportedly solicited nearly $30,000 dollars in cash donations.

A KOB-TV in Albuquerque investigation into Tim Keller's campaign reports found dozens of individuals contributed thousands of dollars, and the campaign listed them as "in-kind" contributions.

Records show some contributions came from high-profile Democrats like former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

A letter obtained by the station had Keller's campaign manager and Rio Strategies partner Jessie Lane Hunt asking supporters to "make a check out to Rio Strategies" to support Keller.

Hunt says the money goes to buying water, clipboards and office space.

The city charter defines an in-kind donation as "a good or service other than money."

By receiving public financing, Keller cannot legally raise any more money.

New Mexico Adopts Disclosure Rules For Political Dark Money- The Associated Press

Nonprofit advocacy organizations that spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections in New Mexico will have to disclose the names of contributors under rules adopted by state elections officials.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced on Friday the adoption of rules for so-called dark-money groups, following a comment period and several public hearings. The requirements are set to take effect Oct. 10.

Several conservative-backed groups with a statewide and national presence say Toulouse Oliver is overstepping her authority. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill in April containing many similar provisions.

Proponents of the rules include New Mexico chapters of the League of Women Voters and the campaign finance policy group Common Cause.

Prosecutors Take Clovis Library Shooting Case To Grand JuryAssociated Press

Prosecutors are taking their case to a grand jury as they pursue adult sanctions against a high school sophomore accused in a deadly shooting inside a New Mexico public library.

The proceedings are scheduled for Friday in Clovis.

Sixteen-year-old Nathaniel Jouett is facing charges of first-degree murder, assault, aggravated battery and child abuse in the Aug. 29 shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. Two employees were killed and four others were wounded.

According to court records, Jouett told investigators during an interview that he initially intended to target his high school and that he somehow ended up at the library. He told investigators he was mad and had been thinking "bad things" for some time but kept his feelings from his family, girlfriend and friends at church.

Troubled Española Gets A New Police Chief -- AgainSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A troubled northern New Mexico city is getting its third police chief this year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the city of Española has hired Raymond Romero to take over a department days after its new chief retired following a domestic violence indictment.

Española Mayor Alice Lucero says she hopes Romero's leadership will help bring down crime in the Espanola Valley. The area for decades grappled with one of the highest opioid overdose rates in the nation.

According to an analysis by The Associated Press, Espanola has one of the New Mexico's highest violent crime rates.

New Mexico GOP Congressman Urges Action On DACAAssociated Press

The sole Republican member of New Mexico's congressional delegation is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to work across party lines to find a permanent solution for those immigrants who were brought to the country as children and are living here illegally.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce sent a letter to Ryan on Wednesday. He accused Congress of staying idle for decades while the executive branch imposed temporary fixes and a patchwork of policies to address immigration issues.

Pearce, who is running for governor of New Mexico, says Congress has a responsibility to find a fair and just solution.

President Donald Trump is ending the Obama-era program that gives immigrants temporary work permits and deportation protections. He has given Congress six months to come up with an alternative.

The state's congressional Democrats have voiced opposition to ending the program.

New Mexico Files Suit Against Opioid Makers, WholesalersAssociated Press

The New Mexico attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit accusing major manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid medication of exacerbating the state's drug addiction crisis.

Attorney General Hector Balderas on Thursday announced the filing of the lawsuit in state district court against five of the nation's largest opioid manufacturers and three major wholesale distributors.

The suit accuses opioid manufacturers of aggressively pushing highly addictive and dangerous drugs and falsely representing to doctors that patients would rarely succumb to addiction. It accuses distributors of failing to monitor, investigate and report suspicious orders of prescription opiates.

Balderas said the lawsuit is modeled after past litigation against tobacco companies to funnel private profits toward drug treatment and law enforcement.

New Mexico's drug overdose death rate is far above the national average.

New Mexico Democrats Push Feds To Limit Drilling Near ChacoAssociated Press

Democratic members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are pushing federal officials to uphold an agreement that limits oil and gas leasing on public land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The Bureau of Land Management previously agreed to defer all leases within a 10-mile radius around the park as the agency works to update its resource management plan for northwestern New Mexico.

The agency is also working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on how to best protect archaeological and cultural sites in the region.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján say the Bureau of Land Management recently began the process of leasing areas within the buffer zone. They're asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to maintain the buffer until the planning process is complete.

Judge Denies Bid To Block New Rules On Pretrial ReleaseAssociated Press

A federal judge on Thursday denied a bid to block rules governing new constitutional provisions in New Mexico on pretrial release.

Judge Robert Junell says those seeking to block the rules didn't show they were likely to succeed on their claims.

Voters approved a measure in November that lets judges deny bail to defendants considered extremely dangerous and grants pretrial release to those who aren't considered a threat but remain in jail because they can't afford bail.

The Bail Bonds Association of New Mexico and five lawmakers claimed the rules modified statutory law without legislative approval and violated constitutional protections such as due process.

Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, says a ruling is expected soon on a request to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the rules.

Ohio Man Gets Life In Prison For New Mexico Officer's DeathAssociated Press

A 39-year-old Ohio man who pleaded guilty to killing a New Mexico police officer last year has been sentenced to life in prison.

State District Judge Douglas Driggers on Thursday to sentenced Jesse Denver Hanes for the Aug. 16 shooting death of Hatch policeman Jose Chavez during a traffic stop.

Under the terms of a guilty plea agreement, Hanes will serve the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hanes also recently pleaded guilty in federal court to federal firearms and carjacking charges.

Chavez was a two-year veteran of Hatch police and a father of two children.

Chavez pulled over a vehicle in the farming village of Hatch that was carrying Hanes and two other people.

Authorities have said Hanes fired at Chavez and fled.

New Mexico Governor Looking To Appeal Ruling On Vetoed BillsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is asking for time to appeal a ruling overturning vetoes on bills before they become law.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a district court judge had overturned the governor's 10 vetoes last month and ruled that Martinez did not follow the proper constitutional procedures when she vetoed the bills. Martinez says she plans to appeal the ruling before Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver can chapter the bills into law. Martinez's lawyers say if the bills are enacted before the appeal, some would release "chain of events" that would be difficult to undo.

The Secretary of State's Office has said it will wait for legal direction before it enacts the 10 bills. Legislators have until Friday to file a response to Martinez's latest motion.

Doña Ana County Jail Director Resigns Under FireLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

The longtime director of the Doña Ana County Detention center has resigned as he faced marijuana possession charges and a move to fire him.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Wednesday that Chris Barela resigned after an administrative hearing where he was contesting a move to fire him.

Barela has pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor marijuana possession charges and has a court date later this month. Local narcotics detectives launched an investigation in April after receiving a tip that Barela had regularly been buying marijuana. Detectives then set up a sting and Barela allegedly purchased pot from undercover operatives.

Barela told the Sun-News he resigned under "eminent threat of termination" after being told the hearing officer would order him fired.

Barela has overseen the county jail since 2005.

New Mexico State Fair Opens ThursdayAssociated Press

Say welcome to green chile apple pie and deep fried chile relleno chile cheese dogs as the New Mexico State Fair kicks off its 10-day run in Albuquerque.

Thursday's noon-hour competition to judge the fair's most unique foods is likely to be the big opening day draw. Competitors are also offering up unusual, New Mexico-centric items like deep fried taco green chile cheese curds and bacon wrapped deep fried green chile pigs in a blanket.

Other surefire crowd-pleasers include barrel-racing dogs and pig and duck races.

The day features free admission for all current law enforcement personnel, $2 general admission for everyone and $12 wristbands allowing unlimited carnival rides starting at 2 p.m.

The fair opens at 10 a.m. and runs through Sept. 17.