KUNM

New Mexico Gets Facebook Data Center, Assault Charge Tossed In Police Shooting Case

Sep 14, 2016

Facebook Chooses New Mexico For New Data Center Over Utah – The Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich says Facebook is choosing New Mexico for a new data center over Utah after questions arose about a tax-break deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Wednesday's announcement that the social media giant will build in Los Lunas, south of Albuquerque comes after a roller-coaster contest between the two states to attract the facility.

While the project has enjoyed broad political support in New Mexico, local leaders in Utah pushed back against a tax-incentive plan they saw as too generous.

Utah supporters of the deal said it would bring a high-tech cachet that could draw other companies, but critics said the $240 million cost was too high.

In New Mexico, Los Lunas agreed to give up all property taxes for 30 years in exchange for annual payments starting at $50,000 and topping out at under $500,000.

Assault Charge Tossed In Albuquerque Police Shooting CaseThe Associated Press

Prosecutors have agreed to drop an aggravated assault charge against a former Albuquerque police officer who is scheduled to stand trial next week in the on-duty shooting death of a homeless man.

Former Officer Dominique Perez and now retired Detective Keith Sandy were both charged with second-degree murder and other counts in the death of the 38-year-old James Boyd, who was shot after an hours-long standoff in the Albuquerque foothills.

A court filing Tuesday shows Perez's defense attorney and special prosecutor Randi McGinn agreed to have an aggravated assault charge against him dropped.

A motion to have an aggravated battery charge against Sandy dismissed will be argued at a hearing this week.

Opening statements in the former officers' trial are expected to start Monday.

Luna Community College Hires President's Son For Coach JobThe Associated Press & The Las Vegas Optic

The hiring Luna Community College President Leroy "Huero" Sanchez's son as a full-time assistant women's softball coach is raising eyebrows.

The Las Vegas Optic reports the Luna Community College's Board of Trustees signed off last week on the hiring of Roy Sanchez for the $33,566 a year position.

The decision to hire the president's son comes as the college is facing increased scrutiny from the state Higher Education Department. The school disclosed last month that it had launched a special audit after receiving complaints about improprieties at Luna.

Board member Abelino Montoya says he found it interesting President Sanchez wanted to move forward with hiring his son given the intense scrutiny the college faces.

College attorney Marc Grano says President Sanchez wasn't involved in the selection process.

Census: Fewer New Mexicans Going Without Health InsuranceThe Associated Press

More New Mexicans have access to health care than ever before thanks to the expansion of a government program aimed at helping low-income people.

A report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the number of residents going without health insurance dropped nearly a quarter in 2015. The share of people in the state who were uninsured for the entire year was 10.9 percent, down from 14.5 in 2014.

New Mexico is one of the states that opted to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law. More than 879,000 people are now on the rolls in New Mexico.

Despite improvements in coverage rates, some state lawmakers are concerned about the price tag as federal aid for Medicaid is scaled back. New Mexico already is facing a budget shortfall.

UNM To Freeze Staff Hiring To Address Possible Budget Cuts Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

University of New Mexico President Bob Frank says the school will freeze staff hiring in an attempt to address possible budget cuts from the state.

Frank also told the Board of Regents on Tuesday that UNM may hire fewer faculty, which could affect the number of classes offered.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Frank also has instructed officials with academic affairs, the administration and the Health Sciences Center to prepare for a 5 percent budget cut in anticipation of a potential state cut to the current budget.

Last month, Gov. Susana Martinez ordered state agencies to reduce their spending by at least 5 percent. However, that directive didn't apply to public schools and universities.

Martinez is expected to call a special legislative session on the budget shortfall later this month.

Jury Selected For 2 Officers Charged In Homeless Man's DeathAssociated Press

A jury has been selected in the trial of two former Albuquerque police officers who are scheduled to stand trial next week in the on-duty shooting death of a homeless man in 2014.

The 12 jurors were agreed upon Tuesday by the special prosecutor in the case and the attorneys representing each of the officers charged. Four alternate jurors also were selected.

Now-retired Detective Keith Sandy and former Officer Dominique Perez are charged with second-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old James Boyd, who was shot following a stand-off with nearly 20 officers. Authorities say he had two knives with him during the stand-off.

The trial for the former officers comes as shootings by police have sparked debate in cities nationwide.

Opening statements in the trial are expected to begin Monday.

LULAC: Albuquerque School Mistreating Bilingual Teachers Associated Press

A Latino civil rights group says an Albuquerque middle school is mistreating its bilingual education teachers who face discrimination and harassment.

The New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens said this week that former and current bilingual education teachers at Jimmy Carter Middle School have repeatedly complained about mistreatment. But LULAC state director Dennis Montoya says those complaints have been ignored.

Montoya says white principals have "harassed, belittled, and humiliated" former and current Hispanic teachers and the district fails to give teachers property material.

Montoya says LULAC has requested a meeting with district officials but have not gotten a response.

Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta says Superintendent Raquel Reedy hopes to meet with LULAC in the immediate future to hear and address their concerns.

Kansas Governor Vows To Fight Relisting Of BirdAssociated Press

Oil and gas groups along with Kansas officials are vowing to fight an effort to relist the lesser prairie chicken as a federally threatened species.

Found in pockets throughout the Great Plains, the grouse was removed from the threatened and endangered species list earlier this year following court rulings in Texas. Government lawyers decided not to pursue an appeal.

Environmentalists are now pushing for federal biologists to review the bird's status and impose emergency protections.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that relisting the bird is unwarranted. He argued that drought caused a decline in the lesser prairie chicken's numbers and that the birds have come back now that the rain has returned.

He says there's habitat for the bird.

Oil and gas groups say a conservation partnership developed by states and private landowners has also helped to boost lesser prairie chicken numbers in recent years.

Judge Finds No Probable Cause In Fake Bomb CaseKOB-TV, Associated Press

A judge said a criminal complaint against a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist did not support a felony charge of having a hoax bomb or explosive.

KOB-TV reports Jeremy Danielson had an initial court appearance Tuesday. Judge Courtney Weaks dismissed the felony charge against him, saying Danielson would have had to believe others would think the mockup technical device was real.

Danielson was headed to Washington, D.C., on Sunday to present the technology at a Department of Energy conference. When he arrived at the airport, Transportation Security Administration officials shut down the airport as they believed the device was a fake bomb.

The District Attorney could still seek an indictment against Danielson.

CYFD Interviewed Victoria Martens Before Her MurderKRQE-TV, Albuquerque Journal

Staff from the state Children, Youth and Families Department interviewed Victoria Martens before she was brutally murdered after the girl’s elementary school contacted them with concerns.

KRQE-TV reports Albuquerque Public Schools officials contacted CYFD twice about Martens and the girl was interviewed three months before she was raped, stabbed and strangled. Three people are charged in her death, including her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson said state law prevents her from going into details on Victoria’s case, but she said the agency is conducting an internal investigation and may release a summary of its findings.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, told police she solicited men, including a co-worker, to have sex with her daughter.

She also used online sites and one of the men she found, Fabian Gonzales, now faces charges of murdering Victoria. Also charged are his cousin, Jessica Kelley, and Michelle Martens.

Census: Fewer New Mexicans Going Without Health Insurance - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

More New Mexicans have access to health care than ever before thanks to the expansion of a government program aimed at helping low-income people.

A report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the number of residents going without health insurance dropped nearly a quarter in 2015. The share of people in the state who were uninsured for the entire year was 10.9 percent, down from 14.5 in 2014.

New Mexico is one of the states that opted to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law. More than 879,000 people are now on the rolls in New Mexico.

Despite improvements in coverage rates, some state lawmakers are concerned about the price tag as federal aid for Medicaid is scaled back. New Mexico already is facing a budget shortfall.

Piro Pueblo Press Las Cruces Council On Fed Recognition Help Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A group of American Indians who are seeking federal recognition also want support from Las Cruces.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports representatives of Piro Pueblo de Las Cruces told city councilors this week they wanted their endorsement in getting the federal government to recognize them.

In March, the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe of the Pueblo of San Juan de Guadalupe went before city council seeking support for its quest for standing as a federally recognized tribe.

The Las Cruces City Council also heard from tribal members and members of Los Indigenes de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, another tribal group in the area.

But infighting among the different groups has stalled efforts to receive federal recognition.

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