Martinez Gets Bill Cutting 119 Projects, Ex-Officer In James Boyd Trial Takes The Stand

Oct 4, 2016

New Mexico Governor Gets Bill Cutting 119 Capital ProjectsThe Associated Press 

Governor Susana Martinez is getting a bill that slashes 119 capital projects amid efforts by state lawmakers to close a half-billion dollar shortfall.

The GOP-led House approved Monday a proposal by the Democratic-controlled Senate that moves around $90 million in unspent state funds to New Mexico's general fund.

Projects planned for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the National Hispanic Cultural Center are among those facing the chopping block. In addition, road projects and improvements to water systems around the state could be cut.

The projects are mostly from stalled construction projects first funded in 2014 or earlier.

A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez said the governor has not seen the bill yet.

Prosecutor Questions Former Albuquerque OfficerThe Associated Press

The prosecutor has begun cross-examining a former police officer on trial on murder charges in the death of a homeless man in Albuquerque that touched off unrest in the city in 2014.

Dominique Perez calmly answered questions from special prosecutor Randi McGinn about how he killed an erratic homeless camper with a knife with his rifle at close range. She asked him how he placed James Boyd in the scope of his rifle and fired the weapon with .223-caliber bullets.

She also quizzed Perez about the fact he wasn't interrogated about the shooting until a two full days later, and she pointed out that the questioning was done by an Albuquerque officer he knew.

Perez and now-retired Detective Keith Sandy shot Boyd at the end of an hourslong standoff. The former officers' attorneys argue they were obligated to shoot to protect the life of a K-9 handler who came within 10 feet of Boyd.

Ex-Officer Charged In Homeless Death Testifies – The Associated Press

A former police officer on trial in the on-duty killing of a homeless camper says he was concerned when the man began gathering his belongings to walk down a hillside with them because officers didn't know what was in the man's bags.

Dominique Perez also testified that there was potential for James Boyd to leave a contained area that Albuquerque officers had established during a standoff. If that happened, Perez says, officers ran the risk of Boyd breaking away in an open-space area.

Perez's testimony Tuesday marked the first time either he or another former officer charged in Boyd's death has spoken publicly about the 2014 shooting.

Video from Perez's helmet camera shows Boyd telling officers he'll walk down with them before a flash-bang goes off, he draws his knives and is shot seconds later.

New Mexico Planned Higher Ed Cuts Raise EyebrowsThe Associated Press 

University officials in New Mexico are expressing concern over a GOP-led House proposal that would slash around 6 percent from state colleges.

House Republicans proposed Monday to replace Senate Democratic cuts in K-12 education with reductions in higher education.

Eastern New Mexico University President Steven Gamble told The Associated Press the proposal wouldn't "totally undermine" the school but would come close. He says the Eastern New Mexico likely would have to raise tuition but not see layoffs.

New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers says the reductions will be difficult for state colleges after the 2.5 percent cuts passed in January.

Western New Mexico University spokesman Abe Villarreal says the school is looking at a hiring freeze and restructuring programs with the looming cuts.

Martinez’s Approval Rating Drops To 42 PercentAlbuquerque Journal

Approval for Gov. Susana Martinez has dropped according to a new poll of New Mexico voters.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 42 percent of voters disapprove of the way Martinez is handling her job and 44 percent approved. The rest were unsure or declined to answer.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff said the dip in the governor’s previously high ratings is likely due to the anemic New Mexico economy. The state’s joblessness rate is among the highest in the country.

When asked the same question about the state legislature, 46 percent said they disapproved of the job it was doing.

Sanderoff said it’s not unusual for institutions to have lower approval ratings than individuals, but most voters want officials to work together on issues.

Tyson Foods To Pay $1.6 Million To Settle Hiring ChargesThe Associated Press

Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle federal allegations of hiring discrimination at six plants in Arkansas, New Mexico and Texas.

The U.S. Labor Department announced the settlement Tuesday after previously alleging the Springdale, Arkansas-based company's hiring processes and selection procedures at the six plants discriminated on the basis of sex, race or ethnicity.

The company did not admit liability. It agreed to pay back wages, interest and benefits to 5,716 applicants who were turned down for jobs as laborers from 2007-2010 at plants in Rogers and Russellville, Arkansas; Santa Theresa, New Mexico; and Amarillo, Houston and Sherman, Texas. The Labor Department previously said the years were 2006-2012

Tyson will also extend job offers to 474 of the affected workers as positions become available. It also will revise its hiring and training practices.

New Mexico Might Reduce Film Tax CreditsAssociated Press

A proposal to reduce tax incentives to the New Mexico film industry by $20 million this year is moving forward in the state's House of Representatives.

A House committee on taxation recommended approval Monday of a temporary reduction to film production tax credits that are currently capped at $50 million a year. The Legislature is looking for ways to close a nearly $600 million budget shortfall during a special legislative session.

The bill sponsored by four House Republicans would defer some incentive claims to future years without rejecting them. Democrats on the taxation committee and film industry representatives worry the changes could jeopardize business investments and jobs.

Santa Fe County, School District Join Opioid Addiction FightAssociated Press

A northern New Mexico county near an area of the country devastated by heroin and opioid addiction is boosting access to a life-saving drug.

Santa Fe County announced Monday it is joining Santa Fe Public Schools and a prevention group to purchase Narcan.

Narcan, whose generic name is naloxone, is a prescription drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Santa Fe County has one of the highest overdose death rates in the state. Nearby Rio Arriba County as the highest rate.

The most recent federal data available shows New Mexico is second only to West Virginia in per-capita deaths primarily due to prescription and illegal opioid drugs.

Death Penalty Bill Advances In New MexicoAssociated Press

A proposal to reinstate the death penalty in New Mexico has cleared a new hurdle in the state Legislature.

The appropriations and finance committee in the House of Representatives recommended approval Monday of a bill to reinstate capital punishment by lethal injection for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers. The proposal moves next to the full House, which reconvenes on Wednesday.

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and allies in the Legislature are pushing to revive the death penalty in response to the recent killings of two police officers and the sexual assault, killing and dismemberment in August of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque. Committee members voted 8-6 along party lines to advance the bill, with Democrats in opposition.

Deliberations over the death penalty are spilling over into fall election campaigns. The entire Legislature is up for re-election in November.

Visitor To National Monument Killed By A Falling TreeAssociated Press

Authorities at New Mexico's Bandelier National Monument say a female park visitor has been killed by a falling tree.

Park rangers were notified of the incident about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Rangers responded to the scene along with the Los Alamos County Fire Department and the Los Alamos County Police Department.

It's not immediately clear what cause the tree to fall.

The name, age and hometown of the woman haven't been released yet.

Authorities say the county medical examiner and law enforcement have not completed the investigation, and no other details are immediately available.

Balloon Fiesta Grounds Pilots A Day After Power Line CrashesKOB-TV, Associated Press

High winds led Albuquerque balloon fiesta officials to ground pilots Monday, a day after two balloons hit power lines, sparking an explosion and knocking out electricity to hundreds of residents.

The explosion and outage occurred when the "Outlander" alien-themed balloon hit a line Sunday and knocked out power for about 1,200 residents.

Crews with the Public Service Co. of New Mexico had to cut the gondola from the balloon to rescue the pilot and passengers.

KOB-TV reported no one was injured. Another balloon landed on a power line to the south.

Balloon Fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity said a female passenger suffered superficial injuries after the gondola was on the ground. She was treated and released from a hospital, he said.

Albuquerque Settles Suit Over Attempted Rape for $175,000KOB-TV

The city of Albuquerque has settled a lawsuit over an attempted rape by a city worker arrested in 2010 for forcing his way into a home along his trash route.

KOB-TV reports Marcel Sifuentes Rodriguez snorted cocaine before entering the woman’s home and trying to rape her. He then left and continued his route.

Rodriguez was fired after the arrest and spent four years on probation. The 29-year-old woman sued contending the city was liable since Rodriguez committed the assault on his work time.

KOB found the suit was among 100 cases against the city from July 2014 to March 2016 that settled for a total tab of more than $12 million.