New Mexico Student Scores Up, Judge Backs Food Aid Supervision

Aug 18, 2016

New Mexico Student Scores Up, But Less Than 1/3 Proficient – The Associated Press

New results show New Mexico student tests scores are up across the state, but only less than a third of students are proficient.

The numbers released Thursday show around 20 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in math and about 28 percent are proficient or better in reading. Both results are slight improvements from the 2014-2015 when officials first gave assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

The tests are designed to show how well schools helped students meet Common Core standards.

New Mexico and 10 other states administer the PARCC.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera says the state still "has a long way to go" but praised schools for improvements in almost every category.

Judge Backs Outside Supervision Of New Mexico Food AidThe Associated Press

An attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says a federal judge is in agreement that a court-appointed supervisor is needed to help ensure federally funded benefits are administered properly by the New Mexico Human Services Department.

Attorney Sovereign Hager says U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales indicated Thursday he will move forward with the recommendation for a "special master" to help oversee the administration of food aid and Medicaid benefits by the state agency. The Human Services Department previously agreed to that component of a July recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza.

Gonzales is still weighing a recommendation that Human Services Sec. Brent Earnest be held in contempt over failures by his agency to comply on time with court orders concerning benefits.

New Mexico Governor Seeks To Reinstate Death PenaltyAssociated Press

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will push to reinstate the death penalty in response to the killing of a municipal police officer in the south of the state and other recent events.

The Republican governor and former district attorney announced her plans Wednesday in a passionate appeal for justice in the wake of the shooting death of Hatch police officer Joseph Chavez.

New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009 by replacing provisions for lethal injection with a sentence of life in prison.

Martinez unsuccessfully backed legislation to reinstate the death penalty shortly after taking office in 2011.

Martinez said Wednesday that "a society that fails to adequately protect and defend those who protect all of us is a society that will be undone and unsafe."

Lyft Resumes Ride-Booking Service In New MexicoThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is welcoming the ride-booking company Lyft back to New Mexico.

Regulatory uncertainty had forced the company to pull the plug on its New Mexico operations in 2015, but legislation signed by the governor earlier this year cleared the way for Lyft and other ride-booking companies, like Uber, to offer services.

The governor stopped in Albuquerque on Thursday to meet with Lyft officials.

She says ride booking provides New Mexicans with an easy way to hail rides, keeps drunken drivers off the road and brings New Mexico's transportation services into the 21st century.

Martinez also says the industry will help tourism by providing more access to the state for visitors.

Lyft is operating in Albuquerque, but company officials will be evaluating opportunities for expansion to other parts of the state.

Judge Orders Corizon To Release Inmate Settlement DetailsAssociated Press, The Santa Fe New Mexican

A New Mexico district court judge has ordered Corizon Health to release settlement agreements it made with inmates who have filed lawsuits against the company.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that on Tuesday the judge sided with two newspapers and an advocacy group that the provider of inmate medical services was not protected by confidentially agreements made with the prisoners who had sued.

Until recently Corizon held a $37.5 million-per-year contract with the Department of Corrections to provide medical services at 10 New Mexico prisons.

In June, Corizon settled claims filed by 59 inmates at two New Mexico facilities for nearly $4.6 million.

The Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government had requested the settlements be made public.

New Mexico Approves Facebook Power PlanAssociated Press

New Mexico state utility regulators have approved a power-supply plan for a proposed Facebook data center in the village of Los Lunas.

The social media giant also is considering a location in West Jordan, Utah, for the facility.

Members of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a power plan for the data center that would offset new electricity demands with solar energy.

Investor-owned utility Public Service Co. of New Mexico says it would build three industrial-scale solar arrays in central New Mexico if Facebook chooses the Los Lunas site.

Plans to lure the Facebook data center to Utah with $240 million in tax breaks hit a snag this week as the Salt Lake County council voiced opposition.

Police: New Mexico Man Falsified Ids, Made $90K In PurchasesAssociated Press

A New Mexico man is facing felony charges after authorities say he falsified identification documents to purchase vehicles and thousands of dollars in merchandise during a weeklong spending spree.

A Las Cruces police spokesman said Wednesday that 29-year-old Ronald Murray, of Rio Rancho, is charged with identity theft, forgery, fraud, and fraudulent use of a credit card.

According to authorities, his fraudulent purchases in June included a Harley Davidson motorcycle and a Jeep Wrangler, and totaled nearly $90,000. Surveillance photographs released by police led to a tip that identified him as the suspect.

Police say Murray had a flash drive with more than 1,300 names from a University of New Mexico database that they suspect was used to create false identifications.

Santa Fe Police Arrest 2 Suspects In $40,000 Jewelry RobberyAssociated Press

Police in Santa Fe say two people have been arrested in connection with a $40,000 jewelry robbery last weekend.

Detectives interviewed 40-year-old Jacob Paquin, who's jailed on a probation violation.

Police say Paquin admitted being in the surveillance footage but doesn't remember Saturday's theft or where he put the jewelry.

They say Paquin's girlfriend initially denied involvement in the theft but offered to check the trailer home she shares with him for stolen jewelry.

Linda Herrera told police she found a purse in the home with several rings, watches and other items with price tags still attached.

Police say charges of shoplifting, receiving and transferring stolen property, tampering with evidence and conspiracy against Paquin are being forwarded to the Santa Fe County District Attorney's Office with Herrera facing lesser charges.