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Facebook Expanding With $1B Investment, Groups Push For More Renewable Energy

7 hours ago

Facebook Tripling Size Of New Mexico ProjectAlbuquerque Journal

Facebook plans to triple the size of its data center in Los Lunas and invest more than $1 billion in the project.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the company will announce this morning that it plans to construct six buildings, up from the two it initially committed to develop. The data center will employ 50 people full time. However up to 1,000 workers will be onsite during construction.

New Mexico beat out Utah in the bid for the data center with a combination of incentives. Those included $30 billion in industrial revenue bonds, access to state job training funds and reimbursement each year of $1.6 million in gross receipts tax.

Facebook broke ground in October 2016 on the first phase of the project, which is slated to open late next year.

The data center will run on solar energy from three new plants. The Journal reports PNM invested $45 million in the facilities and they will be built by Affordable Solar and Array Technologies.

Board: Dem Broke Campaign Rules In Albuquerque Mayor's RaceAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An ethics board says Democratic Albuquerque mayoral candidate Tim Keller broke campaign finance rules when his publicly financed campaign accepted "in-kind" cash donations.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the city's Board of Ethics & Campaign Practices issued its ruling Monday — a day before the city's runoff election. But the board did not impose any penalties against Keller.

Republican Dan Lewis, Keller's opponent, said in a statement that the ruling was proof Keller "lied to Albuquerque voters and illegally worked with his political allies to funnel cash to his campaign."

Keller said he accepts the board decision and the ruling gave "needed clarity going forward."

New Mexico Land Commissioner May Go LibertarianAssociated Press

A family member and political spokesman says New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is seriously considering a run for governor under the Libertarian Party.

Albuquerque-based attorney Blair Dunn said Monday that his father, Aubrey Dunn, is giving "heavy consideration" to leaving the Republican Party to run for New Mexico governor as a Libertarian candidate or independent of any party. Second-term GOP Gov. Susana Martinez cannot seek re-election in 2018.

Aubrey Dunn has said he will not seek re-election as land commissioner in 2018, and briefly campaigned this year for Congress in New Mexico's southern district before withdrawing.

Support for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in the 2016 election has made it easier for Libertarian candidates to get on the ballot in New Mexico, and several other states including Iowa, Kentucky and Massachusetts.

New Mexico's Renewable Energy Standard Up For Debate - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Environmentalists and the Union of Concerned Scientists say New Mexico is at a crossroads and has an opportunity to adopt policies that will encourage the development of more renewable energy.

They presented their case Monday for boosting the percentage of electricity that New Mexico utility customers get from renewable resources from 20 percent in 2020 to 50 percent by 2030 and more in subsequent years.

The initiative would place New Mexico on a similar trajectory to California and New York, which are planning for 50 percent by 2030. Hawaii aims to shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Advocates testified before a legislative panel on possible economic and environmental benefits.

Some lawmakers questioned whether increasing the existing mandate would be necessary if market forces already are pushing utilities to invest more in solar and wind resources.

New Mexico State Senator Plans Testimony In Own DefenseAssociated Press

An attorney says former New Mexico state Sen. Phil Griego plans to testify at his own trial, as a jury considers corruption charges including fraud and bribery.

Defense attorney Thomas Clark says he anticipates that Griego will speak in his own defense Tuesday as a final witness, as the trial enters its third week.

The New Mexico attorney general's office alleges that Griego used his position as a lawmaker to profit from the sale of a state-owned building. Griego has pleaded not guilty to eight charges.

Prosecutors say Griego guided the sale through endorsements by a state agency, the Legislature and a buildings commission without properly disclosing his financial interest. He earned a $50,000 commission from the buyer.

A conviction on all counts could mean decades in jail.

New Mexico Public Safety, Judiciary Seek More Money Associated Press

New Mexico's public safety and judicial officials are seeking budget increases for the next fiscal year as crime rates remain high.

The Legislative Finance Committee is hearing this week from the agencies as the panel prepares to craft spending priorities ahead of the next legislative session in January.

Committee officials noted that New Mexico in 2016 had the second highest rate for violent crime in the Unites States and the highest property crime rate among states.

The state's overall crime rate also has exceeded the regional average for almost a decade.

District attorneys statewide are seeking the largest increase — about $11.7 million or a nearly 18 percent boost.

Public defenders want an 11 percent increase, or about $6.4 million, mostly to fill vacant positions and add staff to handle an increased workload due to pretrial reforms.

Aerospace Company CEO In New Mexico Arrested For FraudKVIA-TV, Associated Press

The head of a New Mexico company that drew national attention for developing an electronic flying vehicle has been arrested for fraud and embezzlement.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports Dumitru Popescu was arrested in Jonesboro, Georgia, last week and then extradited to southern New Mexico. He's the CEO of Arca Space Corporation — a Las Cruces company that develops commercial space launchers.

Popescu has been charged with five counts of embezzlement, 13 counts of fraud and one count of forgery.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Doña Ana County District Court, Popescu lied to the Chicago-based Anova Technologies to obtain around $20,000.

Arca Space did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press.

It was not known if Popescu, who has a Romanian passport, had an attorney.

New Mexico Man Gets Prison For Firearms And Valor ViolationsAssociated Press

A New Mexico man has been sentenced to six months in prison for violating the federal firearms laws and making false representations about having received military medals and decorations.

Prosecutors say 45-year-old Anthony Lee Gambino of Farmington pleaded guilty to the charges in February.

He admitted to being in possession of six firearms and multiple rounds of ammunition in May 2016 in San Juan County despite his status as a convicted felon prohibited him from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Prosecutors say Gambino further admitted he fraudulently held himself out to be a recipient of a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Ribbon with intent to obtain money, property or other tangible benefit.

At the time, authorities say Gambino was the owner and operator of a security company based in Aztec.

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