KUNM

Democrat Tim Keller Takes Helm As Mayor Of Albuquerque, NM Priest Facing Sexual Contact Charge

Dec 1, 2017

Democrat Tim Keller Takes Helm As Albuquerque's New MayorThe Associated Press

Democrat Tim Keller took over as mayor of New Mexico's largest city Friday amid rising crime and a struggling economy.

The former New Mexico state auditor officially became mayor ahead of a ceremonial inauguration and promised to immediately make changes to Albuquerque's troubled police department.

"As your mayor, I'm dedicated to making the city of Albuquerque a safe, innovative and inclusive community," Keller wrote on the city's website. Keller has already made appointments including tapping former Rio Rancho Police Chief Mike Geier as Albuquerque's interim chief and civil rights lawyer Oriana Sandoval as deputy city attorney. Keller held a private swearing-in ceremony Thursday. An invitation-only ceremony was scheduled for Friday evening at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Keller replaces Mayor Richard Berry, a Republican, who did not seek re-election after eight years in office.

The Albuquerque-born Keller is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He takes over a city experiencing one of the largest number of homicides in decades and a rising violent crime rate.

The city also is under a federal court order to revamp its police department following more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

New Mexico Priest Facing Criminal Sexual Contact ChargeThe Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico pastor faces charges of criminal sexual contact.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports an arrest warrant was issued for Rev. Ricardo Bauza, pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church, following a report to Hobbs police.

According to a 15-page criminal complaint filed last month, Bauza got into a shower with an adult male, and washed the victim's body with a loofah in the church rectory.

The complaint says two male church members also told police Bauza showed them cell phone photos of his genitals.

Hobbs police Chief Chris McCall says authorities are working on taking Bauza into custody.

Diocese of Las Cruces chancellor David McNeill, Jr., says he hadn't seen the report on Bauza.

It was not known if Bauza has an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

New Mexico Governor Appoints Commissioner As State Auditor – The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson as the new state auditor.

Her office made the announcement Friday after calling earlier this month for applications to fill the remainder of the term vacated by Democrat Tim Keller, who was elected mayor of Albuquerque. Johnson, a Republican, was unsuccessful in his mayoral bid.

Keller stepped down as auditor Thursday. Johnson will hold the office until the next general election in 2018.

Johnson is a two-term county commissioner, a business owner and member of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

Martinez says Johnson has championed transparency, ethics and accountability during his time on the Bernalillo County Commission and she's confident he will bring those standards to the auditor's office.

The governor's office did not say how many people applied for the post.

New Mexico Cities Break Temperatures Records For November – The Associated Press

Albuquerque and Roswell have shattered records for November after logging high temperatures way above seasonal averages.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque on Friday released data for the month that just ended, saying such temperature records are typically broken by a tenth or two rather than whole degrees as was the case this year.

The warmest November on record for Albuquerque resulted in an average temperature of 52.8, beating the 51 degrees marked more than a century ago in 1909.

For Roswell, November's average was 55.4 degrees. The previous record was set in 1927 with an average high of 54.6 degrees.

Aside from the warm weather, the western half of New Mexico is dealing with varying degrees of drought according to the latest map . Albuquerque has gone nearly two months without measureable precipitation.

New Mexico Jury Acquits Illinois Man In 2003 Killing – The Associated Press

A New Mexico jury has acquitted an Illinois man in a 2003 killing.

William Wilbur Hadix was acquitted of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in the shooting death of Jessie Clyde "J.C." Tucker at his Clovis storage business.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports that jurors deliberated about 90 minutes before issuing their verdict Thursday night.

Authorities alleged Hadix stole more than $2,500 from Tucker.

Now 69, Hadix was arrested in 2015 in Illinois' Cumberland County where he'd moved from Clovis soon after Tucker's death.

Juror Jamaal Williams said jurors concluded they lacked enough evidence to convict Hadix.

Williams said jurors questioned the credibility of a Louisiana woman who testified that Hadix pointed a gun at Tucker and demanded money before she heard a bang and ran away.

Report: US Agency Holding Nuke Bombs Grapples With OversightThe Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy has its share of challenges as it conducts some of the world's most high-tech research, maintains a stockpile of nuclear weapons and cleans up after decades of bomb-making.

A report released this week outlines some of those management struggles while providing a look at the expansive scope of the department's responsibilities and costly liabilities.

According to work over the past year, the agency's inspector general says a growing problem is oversight and management of more than 11,300 contracts to keep operations humming at 17 national laboratories, dozens of contaminated sites and other facilities.

Most of the agency's $30 billion budget goes to contracts.

The report identifies millions of dollars in losses related to quality assurance and other problems at sites from Washington state to New Mexico and South Carolina

Records: Dem New Mexico Gov Candidate Late On Property Taxes – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Records show Jeff Apodaca, a Democrat running for New Mexico governor, failed to pay his property taxes in Santa Fe County for eight consecutive years.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports records show Apodaca accumulated nearly $15,300 in back taxes that didn't get paid until he sold the vacant lot in Las Campanas last year.

Documents also show the former media industry executive acquired the 2.68-acre parcel in 2004 and racked up a number of liens for delinquent subdivision assessments and fees and unpaid utilities.

Apodaca spokesman Eric Martinez says the unpaid property taxes came amid a dispute over the value of the land.

Apodaca says he's running for governor of New Mexico to turn the state around from years of mismanagement.

Ohkay Owingeh Raising Money For Housing RestorationLos Alamos Monitor, Associated Press

A northern New Mexico Native American pueblo is still trying to raise money to finish a 12-year-old housing rehabilitation project.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo has collected about $150,000 of the $500,000 the pueblo was hoping to collect through a tax credit.

The credit will allow donors who contribute to the project to get a tax credit on any New Mexico tax obligation equal to half of one's contribution to the project.

The tribe's housing authority needs $3.5 million to complete the project.

So far, the housing authority has rehabilitated 34 houses since the project began.

The process involves restoring the interior and exterior walls of the adobe houses back to their original condition using the same adobe brick making techniques from hundreds of years.

Democrat Tim Keller Set To Take Helm As Albuquerque MayorAssociated Press

Democrat Tim Keller is set to take over New Mexico's largest city as Albuquerque's mayor amid rising crime and a struggling economy.

The former New Mexico state auditor takes the helm on Friday and promises to immediately make changes to Albuquerque's troubled police department.

Keller has already made appointments including tapping a former Rio Rancho Police Chief Mike Geier as Albuquerque's interim chief.

Keller held a private swearing-in ceremony on Thursday and takes office on Friday.

He will hold a public swearing-in ceremony Friday evening.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry did not seek re-election after eight years in office.

Former New Mexico Senator To Be Sentenced In February Associated Press

A former New Mexico state senator convicted of fraud, bribery and felony ethical violations stemming from allegations that he used his position for personal gain will be sentenced early next year.

A state district judge scheduled Phil Griego's sentencing for Feb. 16 in Santa Fe.

Griego was convicted earlier this month. He could face more than 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office accused Griego of using his elected position and acumen as a real estate broker to guide the sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe through various approvals without properly disclosing his financial interest.

Griego maintained he did nothing wrong in earning a $50,000 commission from buyers of the property.

He resigned from the Legislature in 2015 at the close of a Senate ethics investigation.

Audit: $145K In Public Funds Likely Stolen At Deming SchoolsAssociated Press

A special audit of a southern New Mexico school district has resulted in numerous findings that include nearly $145,000 in public funds that were likely stolen.

State Auditor Tim Keller released the audit of Deming Public Schools on Thursday. He said the inquiry stemmed from information from the district about the potential mishandling of money by a former employee.

According to the audit, potential criminal violations include fraud, forgery, larceny and embezzlement. The findings will be forwarded to the district attorney.

The audit covered a period between 2012 and 2016 and focused on cash receipts from laboratory and class fees, computer fees, student fines, parking fees and other activities.

Auditors identified an estimated $256,000 in cash receipts that should have been collected and deposited, but receipt tickets were issued for less than half of that.

Former New Mexico Teacher Faces New Sex Abuse AllegationAssociated Press

A former teacher awaiting trial on charges of rape, kidnapping and other counts is facing a new allegation.

A Rio Arriba County grand jury indicted Gary Gregor on Thursday on one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor. Court documents indicate the alleged touching occurred between August 2006 and May 2007.

Gregor's attorney, Jason Bowles, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Gregor already is facing 13 felony counts of sexually abusing elementary school girls.

He also was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in September that accused him of molesting three former female students in Espanola. That lawsuit echoed similar allegations made in two previous state and federal civil cases.

In 2009, the Espanola school district placed Gregor on leave. The following year, state education officials refused to renew his teaching license.

New Mexico Priest Facing Criminal Sexual Contact ChargeHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

The pastor a southeastern New Mexico Catholic church is facing charges of criminal sexual contact.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports an arrest warrant recently was issued for Rev. Ricardo Bauza, pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church, following a report to Hobbs police.

According to a 15-page criminal complaint filed last month, Bauza got into a shower with an adult male, and washed the victim's body with a loofah in the church rectory.

The complaint says two male church members also told police Bauza showed them cell phone photos of his genitals.

Hobbs police Chief Chris McCall says authorities are working on taking Bauza into custody.

Diocese of Las Cruces chancellor David McNeill, Jr., says he hadn't seen the report on Bauza.

It was not known if Bauza has an attorney.

Agency Receives Proposals To Prevent Cavern From CollapsingCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

New Mexico officials say at least four companies have submitted proposals to take on the project to prevent the brine well in Carlsbad from collapsing.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the New Mexico State Purchasing Office disqualified one proposal for the estimated $25 million project, and the Carlsbad Brine Well Remediation Advisory Authority selection committee shortlisted two companies.

The request for proposals was sent out in September and closed earlier this month. The request called for plans to backfill the cavity that experts say could collapse as early as 2020.

The two companies are expected to submit tactical proposals with their estimated cost for the project by mid-December.

The final selection is expected before Christmas, and a project design is expected to be submitted to the purchasing office in June.

Albuquerque Sets Temperature Record In NovemberAlbuquerque Journal

November was the warmest on record for Albuquerque with an average temperature of 52.9 degrees.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the city is one of many around the West with record highs this week thanks to a high-pressure system over California and Arizona that has blocked any moisture from the Pacific Ocean.

Andrew Church with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque told the Journal it’s part of a larger trend of rising temperatures in the U.S. starting in the mid-1970s and it has accelerated since 2000.

Church says in 10 of the years since 2000 Albuquerque has set or tied previous temperature records.

The city has also not had any measurable precipitation for 55 days.

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