KUNM

New Mexico Senate Braces For Debate On Preschool Funding, Judge Delays Defamation Trial

Feb 9, 2018

New Mexico Senate Braces For Debate On Preschool FundingThe Associated Press

Members of the New Mexico state Senate are bracing for a heated debate about whether to increase funding for early childhood education by distributing more money from a multibillion dollar sovereign wealth fund.

An education committee meeting was moved on Friday to a larger venue on the Senate floor to provide room for a large audience.

The House has endorsed a constitutional amendment to increase annual distributions from the $17 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education programs. If approved by the Senate, the measure would go to a general election vote in November.

Critics say the plan risks drawing too much money each year from a fund seen as a trust for future generations.

Judge Delays Start Of Defamation Trial Against State PoliceThe Associated Press

A judge has delayed the start of a trial on a couple's defamation lawsuit against New Mexico State Police officers who were members of Gov. Susana Martinez's security team.

The Headlight reports Judge Timothy L. Aldrich refused the defense's motion to dismiss the case at a hearing in Deming on Monday, but he delayed the trial to April after previously undisclosed financial data was handed to the defense.

Scott and Colette Chandler filed the suit against the three officers over a June 2014 incident in Deming. The Chandlers claimed defamation after they and others were ejected from an event where the Republican governor was to appear.

At the hearing, defense attorney Jeffrey Mitchell claimed the case warranted dismissal because the plaintiffs' files were not produced in a timely manner.

Albuquerque Museum To Open Large Da Vinci ExhibitThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is getting ready to unveil a long-awaited Leonardo da Vinci exhibit.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the exhibit, which opens to the public Saturday, will be the Albuquerque museum's largest in five years.

The Da Vinci —The Genius exhibit will cover the entire second floor of the museum and a gallery area on the first floor.

The 15,000 square-foot (1,394 square-meter) exhibit will showcase more than 200 works including 75 large-scale or interactive models of da Vinci's inventions and designs.

The exhibit will run through July 29.

New Mexico Football Coach Faces Heat Over Slur AllegationsThe Associated Press

New Mexico football coach Bob Davie continues to face questions after a report says witnesses reported him using racial slurs.

A report from the school's Office of Equal Opportunity released Thursday said witnesses told the office Davie used some variation of the N-word at a practice and told four black players on a golf cart they were sitting on "a white man's tractor."

Davie told investigators through his attorney that he never used the racial epithet and didn't remember the golf cart comment at a camp in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

The school announced Thursday it was suspending Davie without pay for 30 days following multiple investigations that examined whether he and coaching staff interfered with criminal investigations or misconduct cases involving players.

Davie is expected to speak to reporters Friday.

Appeals Court Upholds Ruling In $165M Lawsuit Against FedExThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has upheld the ruling in a $165 million lawsuit against FedEx filed after a deadly accident involving a contracted FedEx truck.

Las Cruces Sun-News reports the 2011 crash west of Las Cruces killed three people including the truck driver and left a baby severely injured.

Alfredo Morga filed a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx over the loss of his wife, Marialy Venegas, and his daughter, Ylairam Morga.

Venegas' parents also joined the lawsuit.

According to court records, after a Santa Fe jury ruled in a favor of the family, FedEx filed an appeal arguing that the verdict was "tainted by passion, prejudice, partiality, sympathy, undue influence, or a mistaken measure of damages."

The Appeals Court rejected the company's argument on Tuesday.

Texas Governor Lends Support To New Mexico Candidate Associated Press

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to speak at a fundraising event for Congressman and New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce.

Pearce campaign staff confirmed Abbott's planned attendance Thursday at the fundraiser in the southern New Mexico city of Hobbs. An announcement describes an evening round-table discussion, cocktail reception and dinner.

A Democratic New Mexico lawmaker is highlighting Abbott's hard-line stance on immigration enforcement and criticizing Pearce for campaigning alongside the Texas Republican. Rep. Angelica Rubio says the meeting speaks to Pearce's values.

Abbott last year signed an immigration enforcement law empowering police to inquire about people's immigration status during routine interactions like traffic stops. The law is being challenged in federal court.

Pearce campaign manager Paul Smith says the congressman sets his own course on immigration and other issues.

Regent Suggests Forgiving UNM's Athletics Department's DebtAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A University of New Mexico regent is recommending erasing the athletics department's $4.7 million debt to the university.

The Board of Regents President Rob Doughty's suggestion comes as the university is formulating a plan for how the department will pay down its debt.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the department has been overspending for eight of the past 10 years leading the university to use its reserves to cover for its shortfalls.

The university budget office staff presented one possible repayment plan this week that would require the department to make $350,000 annual payments on its deficit.

Doughty says such a plan would be counterproductive, since he believes it could hurt the university when it tries to balance its budget.

More options are expected to come next month.

New Mexico Senate Braces For Debate On Preschool Funding – Associated Press

Members of the New Mexico state Senate are bracing for a heated debate about whether to increase funding for early childhood education by distributing more money from a multibillion dollar sovereign wealth fund.

An education committee meeting was moved on Friday to a larger venue on the Senate floor to provide room for a large audience.

The House has endorsed a constitutional amendment to increase annual distributions from the $17 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education programs. If approved by the Senate, the measure would go to a general election vote in November.

Critics say the plan risks drawing too much money each year from a fund seen as a trust for future generations.

State Forestry Says State Could See Worst Fire Season In DecadeKRQE-TV, Associated Press

New Mexico State Forestry officials say they already are anticipating an aggressive fire season, as 70 percent of the state is facing severe drought.

KRQE-TV reports Forestry Division Official Greg Hesch says conditions are very dry and the agency already is training extra firefighters throughout the state to be ready when the calls to extinguish fires start coming in.

Hesch also says the state could be facing the worst fire season in a decade.

Hesch is urging people to be extra vigilant any time they are outdoors and especially around campfires. He expects there will be plenty of fire restrictions in the coming months.

Elected Officials Decry Cartoon In Albuquerque JournalAssociated Press

New Mexico's congressional delegation is criticizing the state's largest newspaper for running a syndicated cartoon some activists say is racist.

The cartoon depicts a man telling his wife as they're being accosted by a gang member and a terrorist: "Now Honey . I believe they prefer to be called 'Dreamers' . or future Democrats ." The term "dreamers" refers to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich were among those on Wednesday who said the Albuquerque Journal shouldn't have published the cartoon by Sean Delonas.

Journal Editor Karen Moses apologized Thursday for the cartoon's role in inflaming emotions. She says the Albuquerque Journal does not condone racism or bigotry in any form.

NTSB To Determine Cause Of Fatal 2015 New Mexico Rail WreckAssociated Press

Federal safety officials plan in March to determine the probable cause of a fatal 2015 wreck involving two freight trains southeastern New Mexico.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it also plans during the March 13 meeting in Washington to issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents in the future.

A Southwestern Railroad engineer was killed and a second crew member was seriously was injured when their train struck a train parked on a siding 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of Roswell on April 28, 2015.

The NTSB in September 2015 issued a preliminary report on the wreck. It said the moving train went through a misaligned switch and that the parked train's crew went off duty about 20 minutes before the wreck and weren't present when it happened.

Police Say New Mexico Man Beat Wife For Using FacebookLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A Las Cruces man is facing charges after police say he beat his wife when he learned she was using a cell phone to access Facebook.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Jose Melendez was arrested this week following an investigation by officers who found his wife with injuries to her hands, arms, torso and face.

According to Las Cruces police, the couple got into a fight after the 35-year-old Melendez learned that his wife was using her cell phone to access Facebook and communicate with others.

Melendez is accused of strangling his wife until she lost consciousness. Police say Melendez also struck her multiple times, and bit her hands and arms.

He was arrested for aggravated battery against a household member.

It was not known if he had an attorney.

State Appeals Court Revives Hopi Lawsuit Against Snowmaking - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

The state appeals court has revived the Hopi Tribe's legal challenge over artificial snowmaking at a ski resort in Flagstaff.

Thursday's ruling extends what has been a lengthy battle by tribes to keep the Arizona Snowbowl from using treated wastewater for snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks. At least 13 tribes consider the mountain on public land sacred.

The Hopi Tribe alleged in 2011 that Flagstaff's decision to sell wastewater to the Snowbowl causes a public nuisance.

A Coconino County judge ruled in 2016 that the tribe didn't show it suffered an injury unlike that suffered by the general public.

The appeals court disagreed, saying the tribe sufficiently alleged harm to cultural and religious sites.

The case now goes back to Coconino County Superior Court.

Tags: