Monitor Criticizes APD Reform, Moody's Lowers Credit Outlook For NM Schools

Nov 2, 2016

Monitor: Some Problems Persist For Albuquerque Police ReformAssociated Press

A federal court monitor says problems persist within the Albuquerque Police Department over how higher-ups handle and investigate officers' use of force on the job.

James Ginger filed his fourth report Tuesday on the police department's progress in overhauling how it trains officers to use force and handle encounters with people suffering from mental illness.

Ginger, the monitor, has taken issue with how sergeants and other higher-ranking officers investigate officers' use of force to determine whether it's justified or whether discipline is needed. He says reviews have been delayed and incomplete.

His concerns echo those outlined in a report earlier this year.

He also says inadequate training may have left supervisors confused on proper protocol for neck holds and leg sweeps — a maneuver in which officers take down suspects.

The latest report covers a four-month period ending in July.

Moody's Lowers Credit Outlook For Many New Mexico SchoolsThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

A credit ratings agency has reduced the credit outlook for 51 of New Mexico's 89 school districts.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Moody's Investors Service also revised the outlook for New Mexico's three research universities from stable to negative. The outlook change signals that downgrades are possible.

The downgrade comes a week after the credit agency lowered the state government's bond rating.

Moody's spokesman David Jacobson says universities and school districts usually have a slightly lower rating than state governments.

Santa Fe Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Carl Gruenler says the downgrade will likely negatively affect most districts by slightly increasing the cost of borrowing, including for the bond proposals currently before voters.

UNM Gallup Executive Director Under Fire For Bigfoot HuntThe Associated Press & KRQE

The head of the University of New Mexico's Gallup campus is under fire for spending money on Bigfoot-related pursuits.

KRQE-TV reports that UNM Gallup's Executive Director Dr. Christopher Dyer organized a two-day, on-campus Bigfoot conference in February followed by a Bigfoot expedition, costing taxpayers about $7,000.

Dyer is an avid Bigfoot hunter in his free time and says he only pursues the mythical creature when he isn't on the job. He says the conference was the most well-attended event in the Gallup campus's history.

Dyer says he uses discretionary funds for field work that has some kind of merit.

UNM President Robert Frank says such an expedition is not appropriate and that Dyer needs to be more thoughtful about how he pursues his hobbies.

Feds Pick Director To Run Troubled Indian Education AgencyThe Associated Press

Federal officials have appointed a new director to head a beleaguered agency that oversees scores of government-run schools for Native American students in the U.S.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Wednesday that she has named Tony Dearman to head the Bureau of Indian Education, which has been beset by scandal, funding shortfalls and safety hazards in schools in recent years.

Dearman takes the job a year after he became associate deputy director of the Bureau of Indian Education and six months after the former director resigned amid fallout from a federal watchdog report that found he had used influence to get jobs for a relative and a woman with whom he had a romantic relationship.

Dearman's appointment coincides with that of Weldon "Bruce" Loudermilk, who has been named director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Study: New Mexico Ranks 2nd In US For High Teacher TurnoverAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

A think tank has found that New Mexico has the second-highest rate of teacher turnover in the country.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that according to the Learning Policy Institute, from the 2011-2012 to the 2012-2013 academic years, 23.2 percent of the New Mexico educators left their schools or the line of work, well above the national average.

Only Arizona had higher turnover, at 23.6 percent. The lowest rate was in Rhode Island, where 7.4 percent of teachers left.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein says she isn't surprised by New Mexico's high rate of turnover. She says she often hears from teachers who love to teach, but don't love the profession of teaching. She says testing and teacher evaluations based on test results are among the reasons.

State Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera says the problem is matching teachers to the right job.

Navajo, Hopi Schools Get Big Book Donation From New EnglandDaily Times, Associated Press

Navajo and Hopi nation schools are getting a massive book donation thanks to a Massachusetts-based nonprofit.

The Daily Times of Farmington, New Mexico, reports that Reader to Reader Inc. is donating about 22,000 books to five school districts in Arizona and New Mexico.

Reader to Reader Inc. executive director David Mazor says the half million dollar donation is the group's biggest book donation ever.

Mazor attributed the large donation to the work the nonprofit has done to increased relationships with publishers.

Along with the donations made to the school districts, the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona, will receive more than 21,000 books.

Reader to Reader says it has donated more than $3 million to Navajo and Hopi schools in the last 11 years.

Money For Indian Land Buys Will Come Up ShortAssociated Press

U.S. officials say a program to return land on American Indian reservations to tribal control likely will run out of money before millions of eligible acres are addressed.

The Obama administration is spending almost $1.6 billion on a tribal land buyback program initiated under a 2009 legal settlement.

Officials use the money to purchase parcels of land with multiple owners and transfer them to tribal governments.

A new Interior Department report says more than 4 million eligible acres will remain when the settlement money runs out in 2022.

The report is scheduled for public release Tuesday. It was obtained in advance by The Associated Press.

The buyback program resulted from a lawsuit that alleged U.S. officials for decades mismanaged trust money held on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Indians.

New Mexico College Gets Commercial Driving SimulatorRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

A New Mexico college has purchased new simulation technology to enhance its 15-month Commercial Driving License program.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that the driving simulation at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell will give students the experience of driving an 18-wheeler in different conditions and circumstances, such as inclement weather or congested traffic. It will be used by people interested in entering the trucking industry.

The technology is contained inside a goose-neck trailer that can be moved to different locations.

ENMU-R's commercial driving program was started in spring 2014. Instructor and trucking veteran Pat Olguin says students are already using the simulator but won't begin formally training with the new technology until January.

Bernalillo County Settling Jail Rape Claims For $2.1 MillionAlbuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County is settling rape claims by three women against a jail officer for about $2.1 million.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Enock Arvizo has four counts of rape against him, including one by a woman who said she was assaulted in a courthouse elevator while in shackles.

Arvizo resigned in April but has pleaded not guilty. Three women have accused him and three separate trials are scheduled for next year.

Last year the county settled another case by a female inmate against another jail officer, and a third officer is currently standing trial on charges of rape.

Bernalillo County Attorney Ken Martinez says the county is making changes to improve the safety of inmates, including installing new security cameras.

State Agency Launches Campaign Targeting Underage DrinkingAssociated Press

A state agency is launching a new campaign targeting underage drinking in New Mexico.

The Department of Transportation says the "ZeroProof" campaign provides resources for kids, parents, teachers and others about the dangers of underage drinking.

The campaign is beginning with a website for teens and another for parents and teachers. They include stories and information about underage drinking, including the effects on brain development.

Plans also call for an app for students to upload and share selfies with others who choose to abstain from drinking.