KUNM

NM Gov Tense Tenure With Lawmakers Nears End, City Must Pay ACLU's Legal Fees

Feb 19, 2018

New Mexico Governor's Tense Tenure With Lawmakers Nears EndThe Associated Press

The rocky relationship between New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and state lawmakers is coming to a close as she prepares to leave office and both sides ponder what could have been.

Democratic leaders say they wish there was better communication with the Republican governor and wonder if they could have done more.

Martinez says her only regret is that lawmakers didn't pass more of her legislation during her eight years in office.

Lawmakers wrapped up work Thursday after approving a bipartisan package of public safety reforms and spending bills.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says the latest legislative session was Martinez's best because she communicated more with lawmakers.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth says he believes Martinez lacked the leadership to work with lawmakers on solutions for the struggling economy and crime.

City Must pay $700K For Lawyer Fees In Ten Commandments CaseThe Associated Press & The Farmington Daily Times

A northwest New Mexico community is considering using online fundraising to pay the $700,000 it owes from a lawsuit that stemmed from a dispute over a Ten Commandments monument that was formerly located outside of Bloomfield City Hall.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 sided with a lower court that ordered the monument's removal, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and represented a government endorsement of religion.

The city of Bloomfield must now pay the legal fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the complaint in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents, Janie Felix and Buford Coone.

City Manager Eric Strahl says Bloomfield has until June 30, 2021, to pay the $700,000 it owes for the American Civil Liberties Union's legal fees.

Search Continues For Last Suspect In Fatal Edgewood ShootingThe Associated Press

Authorities say they're still searching for the seventh and final suspect in a robbery killing of an attendant at an Edgewood gas station along Interstate 40.

New Mexico State Police arrested a sixth person in connection with the case Saturday.

Five others were arrested previously in the Feb. 11 shooting of 62-year-old Michael Pelkey at a Smith's Fuel Center.

The suspects were identified thanks to tips from the community.

State Police say the lone remaining suspect is a 30-year-old man who remains at large.

Investigators still aren't sure what suspect fatally shot Pelkey.

Edgewood is 24 miles east of Albuquerque.

City Must Pay $700K For Lawyer Fees In Ten Commandments CaseFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A northwest New Mexico community is considering using online fundraising to pay the $700,000 it owes from a lawsuit that stemmed from a dispute over a Ten Commandments monument that was formerly located outside of Bloomfield City Hall.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 sided with a lower court that ordered the monument's removal, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and represented a government endorsement of religion.

The city of Bloomfield must now pay the legal fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the complaint in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents, Janie Felix and Buford Coone.

City Manager Eric Strahl says Bloomfield has until June 30, 2021, to pay the $700,000 it owes for the American Civil Liberties Union's legal fees.

Agency Managing Vast US Lands Experiences Year Of UpheavalAssociated Press

A year of upheaval at the U.S. Interior Department has seen dozens of staff members re-assigned, key positions go unfilled, rules governing industry shelved and a sweeping reorganization proposed for its 70,000 employees.

The agency's evolving status quo has met with praise from energy and mining companies and congressional Republicans.

They welcome the change from perceived heavy-handed regulation under President Barack Obama.

But the realignment has met resistance from Democrats, conservation groups and some Interior employees.

They say Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has elevated corporate desires above the agency's duty to safeguard public lands and resources.

Zinke says he wants more decisions made at regional levels to streamline an agency that oversees more than 780,000 square miles of public lands and much of the nation's natural resources.

Homicide Suspect Fatally Shot By Las Cruces Police OfficersAssociated Press

Authorities are investigating a fatal officer-involved shooting involving a homicide suspect in Las Cruces.

Las Cruces police were looking for 23-year-old Nathaniel Montoya in connection to the death of a 29-year-old man found unconscious Friday night after some sort of fight between the two men.

Police spotted the suspect's vehicle Saturday afternoon and they say Montoya was the driver and failed to stop for officers.

A high-speed chase ensued until police say Montoya crashed his van into vehicles at a gas station.

At least one officer fired several rounds and police say Montoya died at the scene.

They say a pedestrian was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The shooting will be investigated by a task force that includes New Mexico State Police.

US Senate Confirms Appointment Of State's Next US AttorneyAssociated Press

The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's appointment of John Anderson as U.S. attorney for New Mexico.

Anderson is a former assistant U.S. attorney who more recently practiced law in Santa Fe.

Once he takes office, Anderson will replace Damon Martinez, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. Martinez was dismissed in March by the new administration.

James Tierney has been acting U.S. attorney in the meantime.

The Senate signed off on Anderson's appointment with a voice vote Thursday on a slate of presidential appointees.

State Agency Plans To Increase Plugging Abandoned WellsCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

The New Mexico agency that regulates oil and natural gas development says it has a plan to start plugging more of the hundreds of abandoned wells located across the state.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the state Oil Conservation Division is seeking to plug 41 wells on state land and 19 on private land during the current fiscal year.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says the remediation of an abandoned well and the reclamation of the land costs about $100,000. Dunn challenged the division last month to increase plugging the 600 wells he says are abandoned on state trust land.

Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Secretary Ken McQueen says many of the 600 wells are compliant. He says the division is committed to monitoring wells and addressing problematic operations.

Nonprofit Behind Santa Fe Indian Market Names New DirectorAssociated Press

The nonprofit behind the nearly century-old Santa Fe Indian Market has appointed a new executive director.

A spokeswoman for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts says Ira Wilson will take the helm of the organization, replacing Dallin Maybee.

Maybee, an artist and attorney, announced recently that he was stepping down from the position.

The annual Santa Fe Indian Market in August has been touted as one of the nation's most prestigious art markets.

Each August, it draws about 1,000 jewelers, potters and other artists, as well as roughly 150,000 people, to downtown Santa Fe.

The juried art market on the city plaza lasts two days.

Wilson, who is Navajo, joins the organization after 26 years with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Water Managers Along Rio Grande Prep For Irrigation SeasonAssociated Press

Federal water managers say they're preparing for the upcoming irrigation season in southern New Mexico.

The Bureau of Reclamation said Friday water releases from Elephant Butte Dam will begin on Feb. 23 and releases from Caballo Dam to the south will follow on March 16.

Officials are warning that dry riverbeds below both reservoirs will take on water quickly. They're asking the public to stay out of the river channels for their safety.

Flows are expected to fluctuate through the spring and summer months according to downstream irrigation demands.

Due to a dismal snowpack in the mountains that feed the Rio Grande, little inflow is forecast for Elephant Butte this spring. The latest map shows snowpack levels in New Mexico are far below normal for this time of year.

New Mexico City To Dedicate Women Veterans MonumentAssociated Press

The city of Las Cruces soon will be dedicating what officials are billing as one of only a few monuments that focus solely on women veterans.

The dedication ceremony for the collection of six life-sized bronze statues is planned for March 10 at Veterans Memorial Park in Las Cruces.

The statues honor each branch of the military and their uniforms represent different eras.

Officials say the special guests for the upcoming ceremony will include Captain Betty Somppi, a centenarian who served as an original member of the first Women Auxiliary Army Corp from 1942-1945.

A temporary photo exhibit of local women veterans also will be on display.

New Mexico Authorities: 6 Charged In Sex-Trafficking RingAssociated Press

Authorities say six people have been charged in connection with running a New Mexico-based sex trafficking operation.

Felicia Maggard, a Bernalillo County Sheriff spokeswoman, said Friday that online and cellphone records indicate that three Albuquerque juveniles were forced into prostitution between February 2017 and January as part of the operation. She says 12 adult sex workers also were pulled into it.

According to the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, the investigation into the ring began in mid-January with the finding that a 16-year-old girl was being sold for sex online in Phoenix.

Four of those charged in the case have been arrested. They have been identified as Camara Cherry-Amos, Jason Jackson, Andrew Wyatt, and Chante Bickham.

Arrest warrants are outstanding for suspects Destiny Way and John Dompierre.

Canadian Squadron Heading Home After Training In New MexicoAssociated Press

A Royal Canadian Air Force squadron is headed home to Alberta after visiting Holloman Air Force Base to take advantage of more favorable weather conditions in southern New Mexico.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that F-18 jets flown by 401Tactical Tactical Fighter Squadron from Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake trained alongside Holloman's F-16s to learn about each other's air combat tactics.

Royal Canadian Air Force Lt. Col Forrest Rock says the cold and snow in Canada limits the unit's training at home during winter.

Rock says the squadron exceeded the number of flight hours and sorties it had planned and was able to re-qualify several types of missions thanks to training facilities at Holloman.

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