Monday News Roundup: Abq City Council Eyes Ways To Select New Police Chief

May 5, 2014

City Council Eyes Ways To Select New Police Chief The Associated Press

The Albuquerque City Council is meeting to discuss whether the police chief should be chosen by the council or by voters.

Monday night's meeting comes just two days after a fatal police shooting and weeks after a U.S. Justice Department report faulted the Police Department over excessive use of force.

Albuquerque police have shot nearly 40 people since 2010.

The proposals were near the bottom of the agenda, but activists armed with signs critical of the police department showed up early.

Some told the councilors during a public comment session that those officers who consistently use excessive force need to be fired and they asked that Police Chief Gordon Eden resign.

Others said the city's response should not be a knee-jerk reaction.

 New Mexico Four Corners Seeking TeachersThe Farmington Daily Times and The Associated Press School districts in New Mexico's Four Corners area are going the extra mile to hire new teachers and looking at the mid-West for help.

The Farmington Daily Times reports several school districts in San Juan County have increased recruiting efforts as the number of students graduating from New Mexico teacher education programs has dropped.

For the Farmington district, that has meant sending representatives to Minnesota, Montana and Michigan to recruit teachers.

Officials of the Aztec and Bloomfield school districts report that they face similar recruitment challenges.

New Mexico State University Education College Dean Michael Morehead says the number of graduates from four-year teacher education programs has declined since 2007.

Morehead cites pay and accountability mandates as factors.


New Mexico Schools Seeing Tuition Raises, Cuts – The Santa Fe New Mexican, The Associated Press

A new report shows the amount of money New Mexico spends per university student is dropping as tuition continues to rise.

The Santa Fe New Mexican says a study from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates per-student spending has declined by more than $4,500 dollars since the start of the recession in 2008.

Meanwhile, tuition at four-year universities in the state has climbed more than 25 percent.

Education officials say all state programs have been hit with budget cuts in a proportional manner.

The study says the pressures of an economic downturn and increased enrollment in the last six years have forced states to scale back funding and depend on more tuition.

USDA: Drought Taking Toll On New Mexico Farms – The Associated Press

New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates New Mexico farmers are trying new approaches to stay afloat in the midst of an ongoing drought.

Officials on Friday released the 2012 Agriculture Census which showed that the average net income per farm has fallen sharply in the last five years.

The agency says net cash income dropped from more than $17,500 dollars in 2007 to $9,500.

But the report showed more participation from small farms in the Census in 2012.

Officials say farmers have been planting more pecans, melons and specialty vegetables and there is a 56 percent increase in farms using a nursery or greenhouse.

New Mexico is entering its fourth consecutive year of drought following one of the driest winters on record.

Police Investigating Man's Death During Standoff – The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

Albuquerque police said Sunday that an officer shot a man during a long SWAT standoff, but it remains unconfirmed if that caused the man's death.

Police said 50-year-old Armand Martin walked out of an Albuquerque home Saturday and fired two handguns.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that police said at a news conference that he fired at least 11 shots from inside and outside his West Side home before a SWAT team member fired a single shot that struck his chest.

The paper says that as of Sunday, police had not confirmed if Martin, an Air Force veteran, died from police fire.

The shooting occurred as police face pending U.S. Justice Department reforms over excessive force. It is the second such incident since the federal officials issued a scathing report over the Albuquerque Police Department's use of force.

Search Helicopter Crashes In Southwestern Colorado The Associated Press

Federal authorities are investigating after a helicopter involved in the search for a missing skier crashed in southwestern Colorado.

San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters says the Bell 407 helicopter with three crew members and a sheriff's deputy on board crashed near Lizard Head Pass after it lost power at about noon Saturday. No one was injured in the crash.

The team was looking for Robert Blake of Corrales who was reported missing after he failed to return from an afternoon of cross-country skiing Friday. Blake's body was found by ground crews at about the same time the helicopter crashed.

Masters says it appears the man died of natural causes.

The helicopter was contracted out of Moab, Utah.

New Mexico University Gets $300K Research GrantThe Las Cruces Sun-News, The Associated Press

The physics department at New Mexico State University has received a $300,000 research grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Sunday that the grant was awarded to a team of faculty led by Professor Stefan Zollner.

Zollner says the grant was given by the DOD's Army Research Office and that the funds will go toward buying a new high-resolution X-ray diffractometer and reflectometer.

He says the instrument can measure distances between atoms and can be applied to a range of materials.

University officials say the device will help in a variety of research areas at the university.

Pecos Man Named To New Mexico Water Trust Board The Associated Press

A northern New Mexico farm manager has been appointed to the Water Trust Board by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Ralph Vigil of Pecos will serve a term expiring in June 2015, and his appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

The 16-member board recommends water projects to the Legislature that should be financed with a portion of state bond proceeds.

Vigil is the president and farm manager of Molino de la Isla Famers' Cooperative.

He also is chairman of the New Mexico Acequia Commission.