KUNM

Judge Quashes Congresswoman's Restraining Order, Proposed Rate Hikes Draw Fire In NM

Mar 26, 2018

Judge Quashes New Mexico Congresswoman's Restraining OrderThe Associated Press

A state district judge has quashed a restraining order obtained by New Mexico Congresswoman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham against a former intern.

Lujan Grisham applied for the restraining order after Riley Del Rey disrupted her speeches at the recent state Democratic Party's preprimary convention and another event.

In an order issued late last week, Judge Clay Campbell wrote that Del Rey has a constitutional right to political speech and isn't accused of making any threats of violence against the congresswoman.

Del Rey is facing allegations that she became violent as officers removed her from the convention, where she shouted and sounded an air horn to disrupt the congresswoman's speech.

Del Rey contends she was discriminated against and fired from her internship in 2015 for being transgender.

Proposed Xcel Energy Rate Hikes Draw Fire In New Mexico The Associated Press

A proposal by Xcel Energy to raise electricity rates is drawing oppositions from residents in southeastern New Mexico.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports many Hobbs residents last week said at a town hall meeting that they strongly opposed the plan to raise rates.

Officials with Southwestern Public Service Company, a subsidiary of the Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, asked for rate reviews in October from New Mexico regulators. Xcel says the rate increase would help fund recent power lines, substations and power plant upgrades.

New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Patrick Lyons says if approved rates would jump between 6.2 percent and 17.7 percent, depending on the time of year and rate class.

Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb says the rate hikes would create hardship for residents and small businesses.

New Mexico AG Endorses Water Lawyer In Key Congress RaceThe Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is throwing his support behind a water attorney who is running for Congress in a closely watched race in southern New Mexico.

Balderas announced Sunday he is endorsing Xochitl Torres Small over U.S. Coast Guard veteran Madeline "Mad" Hildebrandt in the Democratic primary for New Mexico's open 2nd Congressional District seat.

The race is one of many expected to draw national attention in 2018 since it may help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrats have long targeted the heavily Hispanic district along the U.S.-Mexico border where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. But it has remained in GOP hands thanks to the popularity of incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for New Mexico governor.

Feds Seize Millions In Gaming Revenue From New Mexico Tribe – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press & The Hobbs News-Sun

The federal government has seized a bank account with more than $10 million in gambling revenue from New Mexico's Pojoaque Pueblo.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that it's part of a years-long dispute over the share of earnings the state receives from Pojoaque's casinos north of the city.

The tribe set aside the funds after its previous gambling agreement with the state expired in 2015.

The tribe was allowed to keep its casinos open without an agreement in place as long as Pojoaque Pueblo would abide by a few conditions.

They included a requirement that the tribe place the same share of proceeds it would have been required to turn over to the state into a bank account until a legal battle over the gambling compact was finally resolved.

Thousands Participate In Gun Violence Protest In New Mexico - Associated Press

Thousands of people protested gun violence and called for safer schools and gun control during protests Saturday in New Mexico's major cities.

March For Our Lives protests were held in several cities, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.

The protests were organized in the wake of last month's school shooting in Florida in which 17 people were killed and after a gunman killed two students in December at Aztec High School in northwestern New Mexico.

Media outlets report the New Mexico crowds included nearly 4,000 people in Santa Fe and hundreds in Albuquerque.

New Mexico AG Endorses Water Lawyer In Key Congress RaceAssociated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is throwing his support behind a water attorney who is running for Congress in a closely watched race in southern New Mexico.

Balderas announced Sunday he is endorsing Xochitl Torres Small over U.S. Coast Guard veteran Madeline "Mad" Hildebrandt in the Democratic primary for New Mexico's open 2nd Congressional District seat.

The race is one of many expected to draw national attention in 2018 since it may help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrats have long targeted the heavily Hispanic district along the U.S.-Mexico border where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. But it has remained in GOP hands thanks to the popularity of incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for New Mexico governor.

Feds Say 2 Eagles Found Shot On Navajo NationFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Federal authorities are offering a reward for information regarding two eagles who were shot — one fatally — on the Navajo Nation.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a bald eagle and a golden eagle were found shot in different areas at the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry headquarters this month with their tail feathers removed.

The bald eagle, found March 13, died of its injuries.

The golden eagle was found March 21 with injuries that led to the amputation of its left wing tip.

Bald and golden eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Eagle parts and feathers are used in cultural and religious ceremonies in many Native American cultures.

Bataan Memorial March In New Mexico Draws Largest Crowd Ever Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A record number of more than 8,400 people have participated in a memorial marathon to honor World War II veterans who fought in the Philippines.

The Bataan Memorial Death March on Sunday honored members of the military who in 1942 were forced by Japanese captors to make a grueling 65-mile march across the Bataan Peninsula to prison camps.

The 75,000 U.S. and Filipino troops endured harsh conditions including lack of water and food along with torture and executions at the hands of Japanese soldiers. Thousands died along the way.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ROTC cadets at New Mexico State University started the first memorial death march in 1989.

White Sand Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard began sponsoring the event in 1992 and it moved to the range.

New Mexico Sees Slight Growth As Population Shrinks In Areas Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

U.S. Census Bureau population estimates show that areas of New Mexico that were once the fastest growing were the fastest shrinking last year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state's population stayed mostly flat last year, growing by less than 1 percent.

Officials say the population around the Permian Basin's oil fields in southeast New Mexico declined, indicating a possible industry trend.

New Mexico State University economist Jim Peach says employment in the industry has been slow to come back as oil and gas prices recover. He says part of that could be technological changes in drilling.

Companies are automating more practices, requiring fewer employees.

Lea and Eddy counties, which are in the heart of southeastern New Mexico's oil and gas industry, both had population declines last year.

Public Defender Hires Man Convicted In Courthouse ScamAssociated Press

One of the men sent to federal prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution for a courthouse corruption scandal that rocked New Mexico politics has been hired by the state Law Offices of the Public Defender.

Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur is defending the hiring of Toby Martinez, former administrator of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse.

Baur says Martinez was the most qualified applicant for the paralegal position.

Martinez along with former Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon and others were accused of bilking the state out of $4.2 million in the construction of the $83 million courthouse a decade ago.

Martinez pleaded guilty to taking more than $2 million. He was released from prison in 2013.

The general counsel for the New Mexico Attorney General's Office is questioning the hiring.

New Mexico Border Village Sees Anger Over New Mayor's MovesDeming Headlight, Associated Press

The mayor of a New Mexico border village is facing criticism amid recent firing, budget irregularities and allegations of open meetings violations.

The Deming Headlight reports Columbus Mayor Esequiel Salas faced angry residents last week in a meeting filled with several interruptions and loud heckling.

The rage came after Salas abruptly fired the village's municipal clerk and public works director and did not say why.

An agenda about a Columbus Village Council meeting also to have been botched with hand-written corrections that some residents say violated the state's open meetings laws.

The mayor also has faced scrutiny for proposed cuts to various programs.

Salas blamed the previous administration for budget problems.

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