Friday News Roundup: Democrats Assail GOP Governor Over Chopper Flight

Oct 11, 2013

Democrats Assail GOP Governor Over Chopper Flight - The Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is drawing fire from Democratic campaign challengers for using a state helicopter to fly to Albuquerque so she wouldn't miss a commercial flight to Texas to attend political fundraisers.

Attorney General Gary King's gubernatorial campaign manager said Thursday the Martinez campaign should reimburse the state for the helicopter flight in 2011. The helicopter costs about $800 an hour to operate. State police typically drive the governor to events.

A Martinez campaign spokesman said the governor used the helicopter for official purposes because it allowed her to attend a state meeting that ran several hours late.

Democratic Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, who's also running for governor next year, said she'll question State Police Chief Pete Kassetas about the helicopter use during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Youth Ranch Sues Over Abuse Probe - The Associated Press


The operators of a southern New Mexico ranch for troubled youth are suing the state, accusing investigators of illegally interviewing students and threatening parents with abuse charges if they fail to remove their children from the program.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Sierra County by Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program. Last week, the Albuquerque Journal reported state investigators were looking into allegations teenage boys were beaten and forced to wear leg shackles and handcuffs for minor infractions of ranch rules.

The suit claims the ranch was targeted following a fatal car crash involving students. It also alleges Gov. Susana Martinez was among the officials who called to direct parents to withdraw their children.

Martinez's office denies she made any such calls, but says she has been briefed on the investigation.

Attorney General, Others Appeal Copper Mine Rules - The Associated Press

Attorney General Gary King, environmentalists and a New Mexico ranch owned by billionaire Ted Turner are appealing new state regulations on groundwater pollution by copper mines.

King, the Gila Resources Information Project, Amigos Bravos and Turner Ranch Properties filed their appeal on Thursday with the state Court of Appeals. They're objecting to rules adopted last month by the Water Quality Control Commission.

Critics say the rules provide mining companies too much leeway to pollute groundwater and violate state law prohibiting water contamination above certain standards.

A spokesman for the state Environment Department said the commission's rules are the most stringent of any in a copper producing state.

Turner owns a New Mexico ranch near a copper mine in Sierra County that a company wants to reopen.

Several Empty Boxcars Derail West Of Albuquerque - KOB-TV

Authorities say several empty freight cars have derailed west of Albuquerque.

New Mexico State Police say the BNSF train was traveling near Interstate 40 on Thursday when strong winds seemed to cause a few boxcars to tip over.

KOB-TV says track sensors alerted an approaching train of the derailment and it was able to stop in time.

Television footage showed several freight cars on their sides off the tracks.

Authorities say nobody was hurt in the derailment and no roads were affected.

BNSF Railway officials are waiting to hear about the condition of the track before they resume train services.

Gallup Named 'Most Patriotic Small Town' - The Associated Press

The map and atlas publisher Rand McNally has named Gallup, N.M., "America's Most Patriotic Small Town."

Gov. Susana Martinez applauded the award, noting the city's ties to the Navajo code talkers, Medal of Honor winner Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura and the many young people from Gallup who choose to enter the armed forces. She says Gallup epitomizes American patriotism.

Rand McNally's judges said the northwestern New Mexico city's submissions for the title showed a place "that acknowledges the heroic contributions of diverse cultures; that sees patriotism in small, everyday acts as well as in monumental, historic deeds; and that has an overall patriotic philosophy of its very own."