Economist Testifies That New Mexico Skimps On Poor Students – Associated Press
An economist is testifying that the state of New Mexico provides only a tiny financial boost to school districts with high percentages of children who live in poverty or are learning English as a second language.
Public-finance economist Stephen Barro testified in state district court Thursday that the New Mexico's per-student funding formula provides districts in impoverished areas with funding that is 2 percent or 3 percent above average.
New Mexico is defending itself from allegations that the public education system is not meeting its responsibilities to Native American students, low-income students and those who speak English as a second language. The lawsuit was filed by parents, school districts, and advocacy groups.
Education officials under Gov. Susana Martinez say state educational spending is more than adequate.
Crews Battle Blaze Near Communication Towers On Sandia Crest – Associated Press
Crews are battling a new wildfire near Sandia Crest.
Authorities were flooded with 911 calls from Albuquerque residents early Thursday as the column of smoke could be seen from the city. The fire was first reported about 7 a.m. and had burned a couple of acres by midmorning.
Forest officials say the flames are less than a mile north of the communication towers on the crest.
Several crews with the U. S. Forest Service and Bernalillo County are on scene. They're getting help from two helicopters.
Cibola National Forest spokeswoman Donna Nemeth says the fire is burning in mixed conifer in an area with a lot of dead and down woody debris.
The fire has forced the closure of the Sandia Crest Trail north of the Crest House.
KOB-TV reports that city officials said the smoke will move towards the west, just over the northern Albuquerque metro area. No further information is available at this time.
Native Americans Say Grizzly Bear Decision Violates Religion – Associated Press
Native American tribes, clans and leaders from seven states and Canada say the U.S. government's recent decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area violates their religious freedom.
They are suing to block the government from allowing Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to hold grizzly bear hunts. They say government officials did not consult with them adequately and should have considered their religious and spiritual beliefs when making the decision.
The tribes consider the grizzly sacred. Ben Nuvamsa, a former chairman of Arizona's Hopi Tribe, said Thursday that the grizzly is both a deity and uncle to his clan.
He says he does not trust the states to prevent the bears' extinction through hunting.
U.S. Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to a phone message and email for comment.
Order: Faster, More Efficient Oil, Gas Drilling On US Lands – Associated Press
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is pushing for more oil and gas development on federal lands with faster permitting and more frequent sales of drilling rights.
Zinke signed an order Thursday requiring federal oil and gas lease sales be held in each state at least quarterly. Sales lately are occurring less often than that.
The move could end a lawsuit filed by a petroleum group. The Denver-based Western Energy Alliance says four times a year is the minimum required by law, but the group might be willing to settle depending on how the order is carried out.
Zinke's order also calls for faster and more efficient oil and gas permitting to clear a backlog of federal drilling permits.
Environmentalists criticize Zinke's order as a giveaway to oil and gas interests.
New Mexico City Takes Ten Commandments Case To Supreme Court – Associated Press
A New Mexico city is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a lower court ruling requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall.
Bloomfield city councilors had voted earlier this year to appeal the case to the nation's highest court. Their lawyers followed through Thursday.
A federal appeals court in February let stand a lower court ruling that concluded that the monument violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on the government endorsing a religion.
The American Civil Liberties Union had sued in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents who objected to the monument.
Attorneys with the group Alliance Defending Freedom are representing the city. They argue guidance from the Supreme Court is needed because various circuit courts are using different standards to evaluate whether such monuments are permissible.
New Mexico Traffic Crackdown Nets Citations, DWI Arrests – Associated Press
New Mexico State Police say a crackdown over the holiday weekend resulted in hundreds of citations and dozens of drunken driving arrests.
With the increased volume in traffic over the Fourth of July holiday, state police conducted high intensity traffic operations around the state through Tuesday evening in the hopes of curbing bad behavior and thus reducing the number of crashes.
Officers issued more than 2,765 traffic citations, including 236 to people who were not using seatbelts. Thirty-seven people were arrested on suspicion of driving drunk.
Officers handled a total of 65 crashes and arrested 16 people for drug-related offenses.
More than 280 citations were issued to commercial vehicles as officers conducted over 480 vehicle inspections.
Police Credit Bystanders With Stopping Intoxicated Woman – Associated Press
Santa Fe police are crediting bystanders with stopping an intoxicated woman who tried to drive away with her infant granddaughter dangling outside the rear door of a pickup truck.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the 9-month-old girl was strapped in a safety seat as it hung outside the moving truck and was not injured.
Police arrested 64-year-old Bertha Boling on suspicion of aggravated battery, child abuse, aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving. She was booked into the Santa Fe County jail Tuesday evening.
Court records show Boling's blood-alcohol level was 0.22 percent, more than twice the limit for a driver in New Mexico.
In 2009, records show Boling pleaded no contest to a first offense of drunken driving and was sentenced to community service and a year's probation.
Albuquerque Mayor Unveils Plan To Clean Up Downtown – Associated Press
The mayor of Albuquerque has unveiled a plan to clean up crime in the city's downtown.
The unveiling comes two weeks after a prominent downtown business publicly condemned a plague of crime, homelessness, drug addiction and trash in the area.
Mayor Richard Berry says his five-point plan is in response to this business and others that came to the city and asked for change.
The plan includes a greater police presence in the area, as well as additional street sweepers, graffiti control and trash cleanup. It also includes services for people suffering from homelessness, substance abuse and mental health issues.
Berry says the administration wants to make sure the effort is sustainable and can be carried over to the city's next leaders.
Ex-US Attorney Martinez Joins New Mexico Law Firm – Associated Press
Former U. S. Attorney Damon Martinez has joined the Albuquerque law firm, Modrall Sperling.
The law firm recently announced that Martinez was joining to the firm as Of Counsel.
Martinez served as the top federal law enforcement official in New Mexico after his confirmation in 2014.
He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
The law firm says Martinez will offer his legal services to businesses concerned about cyber-security and other issues relating to national security.
19 Ags Sue Devos For Delaying For-Profit College Rules – Associated Press
Democratic attorneys general in 18 states and the District of Columbia are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over her decision to suspend rules meant to protect students from abuses by for-profit colleges.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington and demands implementation of borrower defense to repayment rules.
The rules aim to make schools financially responsible for fraud and forbid them from forcing students to resolve complaints outside court.
They were created under President Barack Obama's administration and were to take effect July 1.
On June 14, DeVos announced the rules would be delayed and rewritten, saying they created "a muddled process that's unfair to students and schools."
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is leading the lawsuit and says DeVos' decision is "a betrayal of her office's responsibility and a violation of federal law."
2 Dead, 1 In Custody After Reported Shooting In Albuquerque – Associated Press
Authorities say two people are dead after a reported shooting in southwest Albuquerque.
Albuquerque police say the shooting occurred at a home around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Responding officers reported finding one man with a gunshot wound and he later died at a hospital.
Police also found a deceased person at the residence.
The names and ages of the two dead weren't immediately released.
Police say they have one person in custody for questioning in the shooting case.