KUNM

Lawmakers Try To Keep Teen Addiction Center Open, Water Project Funds Go Unspent Around State

Aug 1, 2016

New Mexico Treatment Program For Teen Addicts To Close Albuquerque Journal

Lawmakers are trying to postpone the closure of New Mexico's only major treatment program for adolescent addicts.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that several legislators intend to send a letter next week to the state Department of Human Services asking the treatment facility at Turquoise Lodge Hospital stay open through Sept. 23.

That is when state officials are scheduled to discuss the closure of the 20-bed program with the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee.

Advocates say teens with severe substance abuse issues will be left on their own.

Department of Health spokesman Kenny Vigil says the agency will close the program next month as planned.

In a written response, Vigil says an analysis shows there is a greater demand at the facility for adults.

Shootings Increasing In AlbuquerqueAlbuquerque Journal

Albuquerque is seeing a major increase in shootings in the first half of 2016.

The Albuquerque Journal reports there were 130 shootings reported to the Albuquerque Police Department in the first six months of this year. That’s up from 105 for the same period in 2015, which also saw a big uptick in shootings.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control show New Mexico tied for seventh place in the nation for deaths related to firearms in 2014. But no agency tracks non-fatal shootings.

An APD spokesman many of the shootings are related to angry confrontations that turn violent as well as drugs and alcohol.

Report Finds Most Of Money For Water Projects Goes UnspentSanta Fe New Mexican

A legislative report finds that most of the money the state has allotted for water projects has not been spent.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that despite a need for water and sewage treatment infrastructure projects around the state, nearly 80 percent of funds already marked for water projects has not made it to communities.

The report is fueling renewed calls to reform how capital construction projects are funded and coordinated. Fred Nathan with Think New Mexico, a public policy nonprofit, says the report illustrates that spending on infrastructure tends to be driven by politics rather than merit-based criteria.

The report notes that water project investments could add thousands of jobs annually to the economy.

Ranchers, Mice Lead To Headaches For New Mexico Engineer Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's state engineer says he is caught in the middle of the ongoing tension between ranchers and the federal government over the fencing of watering holes on national forest land to protect an endangered mouse.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that federal officials have been fencing off areas to protect the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse's habitat from cattle on adjacent federal grazing allotments, blocking streams that New Mexico State Engineer Tom Blaine says ranchers depended on.

Blaine says ranchers have asked him to remove the fences, but he doesn't have the authority. He says all he can do is pipe water from fenced-off streams to areas accessible by livestock, a step that was not necessary before.

Court Rules For Middle School, Officer In Teen's Burp ArrestAssociated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld the arrest of an Albuquerque student accused of repeatedly disrupting his middle-school class with loud burps.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision was handed down last week. The judges ruled that the officer and educators named in the lawsuit were entitled to immunity, and the arrest was justified under a New Mexico law that prohibits anyone from interfering in the education process.

The student who was arrested was a seventh-grader at Albuquerque's Cleveland Middle School at the time of the 2011 arrest. He is not named in court documents.

His mother filed the lawsuit against the then 13-year-old's principal and teacher, and the police officer who patted him down and cuffed him before taking the student to a juvenile detention center in his patrol car.

Federal Judge OKs Albuquerque Route 66 Transit PlanAssociated Press

A federal judge says Albuquerque's plans for building a rapid transit route along a stretch of Historic Route 66 can proceed.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales declined to issue an injunction Friday night in a lawsuit over the $119-million project backed by Mayor Richard Berry that would include a system of express buses and canopy-covered stations. The buses will run along the city's historic highway's original roadbed.

Berry says the project is an investment that will spur development along the corridor and get people on the bus. He says the buses mimic the concept of light-rail trains that run through larger cities, like Phoenix and Denver.

But business owners say the project would spark traffic congestion and ruin the car-friendly persona of the largest urban stretch of Route 66 in the country.

Justice Department To Review Fatal Arizona Police ShootingAssociated Press

The U.S. Justice Department will investigate the fatal shooting of a woman by a Winslow police officer.

Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said Friday that the Civil Rights Division will review the local investigation into the March 27 shooting death of Loreal Tsingine.

Tribal officials have been urging federal officials to look into the treatment of American Indians in towns that border the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Nation representatives were not immediately available to comment Saturday.

Maricopa County prosecutors announced last week that Officer Austin Shipley would not be charged.

Shipley was responding to a shoplifting at a convenience store when he shot 27-year-old Tsingine on a nearby sidewalk.

Body camera video released shows Tsingine walking quickly toward him with a pair of medical scissors in her left hand, pointed down.

Security Guard Who Was Fatally Shot Lacked State License KOAT-TV, Albuquerque Journal

A company is under investigation after one of its security guards was fatally shot on patrol at an apartment complex.

KOAT-TV reports Stephen Wills was not a licensed security guard at the time of his death in mid-July.

The state's Regulation and Licensing Department opened its investigation Friday into International Strategic Partners.

Company owner William Albrecht said it was a clerical error when the company did not finish Wills' state application. He said it would not happen again.

Albrecht said Wills received a level of training that did not allow him to carry a gun while on duty.

Police have not arrested a suspect in the shooting.

Albrecht has put up a $5,000 reward in the case.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Flynn ResignsAssociated Press

New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn is stepping down.

Department spokeswoman Allison Scott Majure confirmed Friday that Flynn is resigning Aug. 12.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Flynn in 2013 to lead the state's environment department after a retirement forced her to reshuffle her cabinet.

Flynn previously had been the agency's top lawyer for two years. He was the administration's main negotiator for an agreement earlier in 2013 with federal regulators and the state's largest utility for reducing pollution from a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

During his confirmation hearing, Flynn faced objections of some lawmakers and public-interest groups who questioned his role in the crafting of regulations they said would allow groundwater pollution by copper mines.

Appeals Court Halts Work On Albuquerque Route 66 Transit –The Associated Press

A federal appeals court has halted Albuquerque's plans for building a rapid transit route along a stretch of Historic Route 66 amid a challenge from businesses.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that it wanted both sides to argue their cases before work could begin.

Construction on project was scheduled to start this week after a federal judge declined Friday to issue an injunction against a $119-million project backed by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. The project would build a system of express buses and canopy-covered stations.

Business owners say the project would spark traffic congestion and ruin the car-friendly persona of the largest urban stretch of Route 66 in the country.

The appeals court gave the Federal Transit Administration and the city of Albuquerque until Tuesday to respond to an appeal by a coalition of businesses.

New Mexico Governor Hits Trump Over Gold Star Mother Remarks - The Associated Press

The nation's only Latina governor is joining a chorus of Republican lawmakers in disavowing Donald Trump's repeated criticisms of a bereaved military family.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday called Army Capt. Humayun Khan an American hero. He was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004.

The Republican governor says Khan's grieving parents "have every right to voice their opinions in the political process," and that disparaging them is "absolutely wrong."

Trump broke a political and societal taboo over the weekend when he criticized Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Khizr Khan strongly crticized Trump during the Democratic National Convention.

Trump stoked further outrage by implying Ghazala Khan didn't speak while standing alongside her husband at the convention because she's a Muslim woman.

Martinez, who has not endorsed Trump, previously denounced him for comments made about Mexican immigrants.

Appeals Court Halts Work On Albuquerque Route 66 Transit – The Associated Press

A federal appeals court has halted Albuquerque's plans for building a rapid transit route along a stretch of Historic Route 66 amid a challenge from businesses.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that it wanted both sides to argue their cases before work could begin.

Construction on project was scheduled to start this week after a federal judge declined Friday to issue an injunction against a $119-million project backed by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. The project would build a system of express buses and canopy-covered stations.

Business owners say the project would spark traffic congestion and ruin the car-friendly persona of the largest urban stretch of Route 66 in the country.

The appeals court gave the Federal Transit Administration and the city of Albuquerque until Tuesday to respond to an appeal by a coalition of businesses.

Data Shows Uptick In Shootings In Albuquerque In 2016 – The Associated Press

Albuquerque police data shows there have been more shootings in the city during the first six months of 2016 than there were in the top half of 2015.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 130 shootings have been reported so far in 2016, a significant increase compared with 105 for the same period last year. If shootings continue at this pace, 2016 will replace 2015 as having the highest number of shooting calls in the past five years.

Homicide Sgt. John Allen with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office says his detectives have also noticed an increase, though calls to the sheriff's office were not included in the previous figures.

San Juan College To Vote Transgender Student Policy – The Associated Press

A Four Corners college is set to vote on adding for transgender and gender nonconforming students to its nondiscrimination policy.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports the board of San Juan College is scheduled Tuesday to vote on updating the school's Student Non-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy.

Vice President for Administrative Services Ed DesPlas says the new policy would be in line with federal guidelines.

Officials say if approved, the college will provide transgender students equal access to all educational programs, activities and facilities, including restrooms, in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972.

The move comes after Office of Civil Rights in the U.S Department of Education issued a letter to school districts, colleges and universities on transgender students.

Report: New Mexico Water Projects From 2014 Remains Unspent 

A state legislative committee says nearly 80 percent of New Mexico's budget for water projects from 2014 remains unspent.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee data is triggering another call for reform in handling capital construction initiatives.

Committee staff said in a report released last week this is the highest percentage of idle money of its kind in the nation.

Meanwhile, officials say the state needs more than $3 billion to finance drinking water improvements, sewage treatment and other projects statewide.

The report says investments in water projects could add tens of thousands of jobs annually over the next 20 years.

The legislative report says seven of the capital outlay projects did not move forward because they could not be certified for readiness.

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