Call To Abolish National Monuments Includes Two In NM, State Spends $40,000 On Wrong Festival

Nov 25, 2016

Congressman Calls On Trump To Abolish National MonumentsAlbuquerque Journal

A Republican congressman from Utah is urging President-elect Donald Trump to abolish national monuments created by President Barack Obama, including two in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and is targeting monuments created by presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act.

Those would include the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in Taos County and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico.

The idea is being rejected by some Democratic members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich promised the action would only happen over his dead body. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján also condemned the idea.

But Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce wants Trump to revisit how much acreage was put into protection under the designations. Pearce pushed for protecting 60,000 acres in the Organ Mountains rather than the 496,000 set aside by Obama.

State Accidentally Sponsored Wrong Film FestivalThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican 

Officials with the New Mexico Tourism Department say the state spent $40,000 to sponsor the wrong film festival in Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that state officials say the accidentally gave the funds to the Santa Fe Film Festival in 2015 instead of the similarly named Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.

The Tourism Department also paid the Independent Film Festival $40,000.

Santa Fe Film Festival chairman Omar Hamid says the group spent the money on the festival's expenses and therefore cannot give it back.

State officials say the money went to the wrong film festival because of a clerical error.

Starbucks Awaits Details About VandalismThe Associated Press

Starbucks officials say their team in Albuquerque is working with federal and local law enforcement agencies as they investigate vandalism at three of the company's locations in New Mexico's most populous city.

Authorities say suspicious devices were placed at the shops sometime after midnight and that one of the devices caused minimal damage.

Company officials say they can confirm what they understand to be incidents of arson at the three stores but they're still waiting for more details.

Starbucks said in an email Friday that officials are relieved there were no reported injuries as the stores were closed at the time.

The stores were cordoned off and surrounded by police vehicles early Friday as residents began to hitting the stores around Albuquerque for one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Equipment Failure Blamed For Fire At New Mexico Oil SiteAssociated Press

Investigators say an apparent equipment failure is likely to blame for a fire that shut down an oil production site in northwestern New Mexico in July.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based WPX Energy announced the findings of a three-month review on its website this week. The company says the investigation included interviews with a dozen people.

Officials say evidence suggests the fire started at a transfer pump that was used to move oil between temporary storage tanks that were onsite for the startup of new oil wells.

At the onset, 36 temporary storage tanks caught fire and it took a few days for the last of the flames to burn out. There were no injuries but the fire forced the evacuation of nearby residents.

WPX says it has taken steps to reduce the possibility of a similar incident.

University Releases Video As Part Of Rebranding EffortAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico has released a promotional video as part of a $2 million rebranding campaign.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the video is part of a broader effort to recruit more students and promote the school's offerings.

Enrollment and tuition dollars have been down at the university in recent years.

Officials say a 1.5 percent increase in enrollment can translate to nearly $3.5 million in new revenue.

The video includes aerial shots of the main campus, features students dancing and building a race car, and shows New Mexico sights such as snow-covered mountains.

The university currently has about 27,500 students. There's usually a slight decline between the fall and spring semester, so the effects of the campaign on enrollment likely wouldn't be visible until next fall.

Albuquerque Police Seek Missing 15-Year-Old Wisconsin GirlAssociated Press

Police say they are searching for a 15-year-old Wisconsin girl who disappeared while visiting in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Police Spokesman Fred Duran says in a news release that Synderelia Trujillo was at her grandfather's house Thursday morning when she said she was going to the family vehicle.

He says that she never returned inside.

Duran says Trujillo knows Albuquerque well, but hadn't made arrangements to meet anyone. Her hometown wasn't provided.

He asked anyone with information to call police.

New Mexico Mayor Becomes Public Face Of Us Sanctuary Cities - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

The telegenic Hispanic mayor of the nation's oldest state capital has become a public face of "sanctuary cities" following Donald Trump's presidential victory.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales sat down with Fox and CNN anchors last week to denounce Trump's renewed vows to deport millions of immigrants. Trump has also promised to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities that defy immigration authorities.

Santa Fe isn't the typical U.S. sanctuary city. Its population is about 70,000, and its immigrant communities are dwarfed by those in major cities with sanctuary-like policies, like Los Angeles and Chicago. It also has a unique immigration history, dating to the Spanish conquest.

Trump Victory Revives Aspirations For Oil-Rights TransferAssociated Press

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says his proposal to boost early childhood education funding has a better chance of approval with the election of Donald Trump as president.

Dunn is seeking support from state and federal lawmakers to transfer federal mineral rights underneath private lands to the state of New Mexico. The State Land Office would lease the subsurface holdings to oil and natural gas developers and deposit revenues in a trust fund for early childhood education.

The initiative faces resistance from ranchers and environmentalists and lacks a sponsor in the state Legislature. It also would require congressional approval.

Dunn says he has had supportive conversations with Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Governor: Officers Aim To Crack Down On DWI Over HolidayAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez says law enforcement across the state is stepping up patrols over the holiday season to crack down on drunken driving.

She says state police officers will be placed every 20 miles along Interstate 40 over the Thanksgiving weekend to patrol for drunken drivers, and to catch other traffic violations. The boost in officers on the highway is part of a nationwide project that other state highway patrols and police in the U.S. are participating in.

She says that during last year's "holiday superblitz," officers in the state made almost 300 arrests. About 125 of those arrests were for driving while under the influence. More than half of those arrests — or 172 total — were drug related.