Headlines: NRA Shooting Contest, King Refunds Sex Offender Money...

Sep 10, 2014

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Albuquerque Police Shooting Contest To Draw RallyThe Associated Press

Activists say they will protest a planned police shooting contest in Albuquerque — with water guns.

A coalition of groups has scheduled a march and rally Sunday where advocates are slated to shoot mock targets with water guns and Nerf darts.

The city and its police department are hosting the National Rifle Association competition Sept. 13-17 for law enforcement members who can "select to fire in just one match or fire in all of the championship match events."

Advocates want the event canceled.

In recent months, the city has been rocked by angry protests and a U.S. Justice Department investigation over more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

Gary King Refunding Sex Offender's Contributions - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Democratic gubernatorial challenger Gary King says he's returning more than $30,000 in contributions from companies affiliated with a wealthy financier who is a convicted sex offender in Florida.

King says his campaign fundraising staff missed the connection between the contributions and Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to a charge of soliciting prostitution.

The Santa Fe New Mexican first reported the contribution link to Epstein, who owns a ranch near Stanley and bought the land from King's family two decades ago.

Former Navajo Legislative Leader Due In Court - The Associated Press

Five former and current Navajo Nation lawmakers accused of misusing tribal funds are set to go on trial next month.

Window Rock District Judge Carol Perry has set aside more than two months for the trial, starting with jury selection on Oct. 14.

Perry says consolidating the trials of Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize, Delegate David Tom, and former delegates George Arthur, Leonard Teller and Ernest Yazzie Jr., will save money.

Prosecutors say the defendants schemed to funnel money to each other's families from the council's discretionary fund. The fund was intended for delegates to help tribal members facing emergencies or financial hardship.

Naize's predecessor, Lawrence Morgan, is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a plea hearing.

Dona Ana County Oks Immigration Enforcement Plan - The Associated Press

New Mexico's most populous border county has joined a movement prohibiting local officials from going out of their way to enforce federal immigration laws.

Dona Ana commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to make their area a "safe county" and restrict county employees from asking residents about immigration status.

The move comes after commissioners received a petition in February with 10,000 signatures.

The resolution calls for county departments and employees not to enforce federal immigration laws unless required by federal and state statues.

Counties across the nation have passed similar measures following a federal court ruling in April. The court ruled a woman's constitutional rights were violated after Oregon authorities kept her beyond her release date so she could be transferred to immigration agents.

Indicted Sheriff Accused In Another Traffic Stop - The Associated Press

Federal prosecutors allege a New Mexico sheriff accused of roughing up a motorist made a third questionable traffic stop.

Rio County Sheriff Thomas Rodella has pleaded not guilty to federal civil-rights charges accusing him of dragging a motorist from his car and throwing him to the ground during an off-duty traffic stop.

Prosecutors alleged in August that Rodella tailgated and pulled over a 52-year-old woman two months earlier, and in a new filing allege that Rodella assaulted an Espanola man during a March traffic stop.

Prosecutors are hoping to introduce a pattern of road rage encounters during Rodella's trial. A defense response says Rodella would demand a separate hearing on the other cases before he stands trial.

A federal judge will hear motions in the case next week.

Governor's PAC Has Cash-On-Hand Of $93,000 - The Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has stockpiled more than $90,000 in a political committee that helps other candidates and pays for some of her political travels.

According to a new fundraising report, Susana PAC raised $59,675 during the past two months. Among the contributors giving $5,200 were pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., the American Beverage Association and United Healthcare Group.

One of United's businesses, OptumHealth New Mexico, has a multi-million dollar contract to manage non-Medicaid behavioral health spending by state agencies.

The governor's PAC, which is separate from Martinez's re-election campaign, reported cash-on-hand of $93,139 at the start of the month. That's after spending about $87,000 since late June, including $25,000 for polling.

The committee contributed $2,500 to Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran.

Ranchers Sue Feds Over Access To Mouse Habitat - The Associated Press

New Mexico ranchers are suing the federal government over its attempts to limit their cattle's access to water and grazing areas after a tiny mouse won endangered-species protections in the Southwest.

Ranchers, the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, and several cattlemen groups filed their lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

They contend their private property rights as well as the ranching traditions of some rural New Mexico communities near the Santa Fe and Lincoln national forests are at stake.

In the latest dispute over public lands in the West, the U.S. Forest Service has closed off some areas this year to prevent damage to the habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Habitat protections have also been proposed for parts of Arizona and Colorado.

Medical Flight Got Wrong Fuel Before Crash - The Associated Press

Federal safety investigators say an air ambulance got the wrong fuel at a New Mexico airport before it took off and crashed, killing all four people aboard.

A National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report says the twin-engine aircraft was refueled with 40 gallons of jet fuel instead of aviation gasoline at the Las Cruces airport on Aug. 27.

The plane crashed after taking off on a flight to Phoenix. All three crew members and one patient were killed.

The NTSB preliminary report issued Monday does not say whether the wrong fuel caused the crash.

However, it says a crew member reported they were returning because smoke was coming from the right engine.

A Las Cruces city spokesman said the airport contracts for fueling services. The contractor, Southwest Aviation Inc., had no immediate comment.

New Mexico's Green Chile Harvest In Full Swing - The Associated Press

The sweet aroma of roasted peppers is wafting throughout New Mexico, signaling that fall is near and the green chile harvest is in full swing.

The annual ritual has everyone from farmers, chefs and hot pepper aficionados professing their love for all things green chile. They're quick to argue that the quality of New Mexico's signature crop is unmatched.

The seasonal attention highlights a growing demand for the New Mexico-grown hot peppers, even as the number of acres planted and harvested each year has been shrinking.

Labor costs, international competition and concerns over long-term water supplies — in a region that's no stranger to drought — have worked against chile producers.

But state agricultural officials are working with the industry in an effort to reverse the trend through researcher, marketing and certification programs.

New Mexico State Fair begins - The Associated Press

The New Mexico State Fair is starting Wednesday with a round of baking contests and other exhibits.

The fair's general manager, Dan Mourning, says this year's event will include local and regional entertainment and educational and interactive events aimed at honoring the state's diverse cultures and agriculture.

The fair will run through Sept. 21.