NM House Nears Vote On Cuts, US Marshal Deputies Cleared In New Mexico Shootings

Oct 5, 2016

New Mexico House Nears Vote On Agency CutsThe Associated Press

A budget solvency plan that would slash spending at most New Mexico agencies is under discussion on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Republican-led House introduced new amendments Wednesday to a Senate-approved budget solvency bill that would cut agency spending this year by $175 million.

House Republicans initially proposed steeper overall cuts to state agencies that would spare the Departments of Public Safety and Children, Youth and Family.

A sustained downturn the oil and natural gas sector has rippled through the New Mexico economy, eroding state government revenues from royalties and a variety of taxes. Lawmakers are attempting to close a nearly $600 million shortfall and restore depleted operating reserves. A major credit rating agency is reviewing the state's finances for a possible downgrade that would increase borrowing costs.

GOP Gov. Susana Martinez steadfastly opposes any new taxes.

US Marshal Deputies Cleared In New Mexico ShootingsAssociated Press

Two U.S. Marshal deputies won't face charges in connection with two separate shootings of suspected fugitives in central New Mexico.

The Second Judicial District Attorney's Office in Albuquerque said Tuesday that prosecutors won't pursue charges against U.S. Marshal deputies Sean Cozart and Kenneth Daniel.

Authorities say Cozart shot 32-year-old Gilbert Angelo Serrano twice in his vehicle outside of Albuquerque during an arrest attempt in April 2014. Serrano was wanted on a probation violation and child abuse charges. He later survived.

Authorities say Daniel fatally shot 27-year-old shot Anthony Chavez during a July 2014 arrest attempt. Officials say Chavez had threatened the deputy U.S. marshal with a BB gun.

The Office of the Medical Investigator later said Chavez had a large amount of methamphetamine in his bloodstream.

Man Gets 26 Years In Prison For Killing 2 Homeless MenThe Associated Press

An 18-year-old man convicted of bludgeoning two homeless men to death will spend more than 26 years in prison.

Nathaniel Carrillo on Tuesday was sentenced to 45 years in prison with 18 ½ years suspended in connection to the deaths of 44-year-old Allison Gorman and 46-year-old Kee Thompson.

Carrillo pleaded no contest in July to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

Authorities say Carrillo, who was 16 at the time of the 2014 attacks, 20-year-old Alex Rios and another teenager attacked the victims as they slept in a vacant lot and beat them with cinder blocks and other objects before stabbing them.

Rios was sentenced to 67 years in prison earlier this year. The other teen has not been sentenced yet.

Death Penalty Expected To Go Before Full New Mexico House Associated Press

A proposal to reinstate the death penalty in New Mexico is expected to go before the full House of Representatives.

The GOP-controlled House could take up the proposal Wednesday amid objections from Democrats who say lawmakers should be spending time during a special session to tackle the state's budget crisis.

The House Appropriations and Finance Committee recommended approval Monday of a bill to reinstate capital punishment for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Legislative allies are pushing to revive the death penalty in response to the recent killings of two police officers and the sexual assault, killing and dismemberment of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl.

Committee members voted 8-6 along party lines to advance the bill, with Democrats in opposition.

Tyson Foods To Pay $1.6 Million To Settle Hiring ChargesAssociated Press

Tyson Foods Inc. will pay $1.6 million to settle federal allegations of hiring discrimination at six plants in Arkansas, New Mexico and Texas.

Tyson and the U.S. Labor Department announced the deal Tuesday.

The agency alleged the Springdale, Arkansas-based company's hiring and selection procedures at the six plants discriminated on the basis of sex, race or ethnicity. The company said in a statement that it disagrees with the claims and settled to avoid the cost of going to trial.

Tyson will pay back wages, interest and benefits to 5,716 applicants who were turned down for jobs from 2007-2010 at plants in Rogers and Russellville, Arkansas; Santa Theresa, New Mexico; and Amarillo, Houston and Sherman, Texas.

Tyson will also extend job offers to 474 affected people as positions become available. It also will revise hiring and training practices.

Lawsuit Argues UNM Mishandled Rape CaseAlbuquerque Journal

A lawsuit filed by three men accused of rape in 2014 argues several officers with the University of New Mexico Police Department violated their civil rights.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the suit contends police focused on these men to prove the university was handling rape cases appropriately. The U.S. Department of Justice had announced it would investigate the school’s handling of sexual assaults.

Attorney George Bleus says UNM police saw his clients --  Gongbay Crusoe, SaQwan Edwards and Ryan Ruff – as a “convenient solution” to their problems. Crusoe and Edwards were UNM football players at the time. All three are African-American.

The woman who reported the sexual assault has filed a Title IX complaint against UNM arguing the university mishandled the investigation because it wanted to protect football players.

A UNM spokeswoman said the university will defend its officers.

New Mexico Governor Gets Bill Cutting 119 Capital ProjectsAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is getting a bill that slashes 119 capital projects amid efforts by state lawmakers to close a half-billion dollar shortfall.

The GOP-led House approved Monday a proposal by the Democratic-controlled Senate that moves around $90 million in unspent state funds to New Mexico's general fund.

Projects planned for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the National Hispanic Cultural Center are among those facing the chopping block. In addition, road projects and improvements to water systems around the state could be cut.

The projects are mostly from stalled construction projects first funded in 2014 or earlier.

A spokesman for Martinez said the governor has not seen the bill yet.

Ceiling Collapse Causes Concern In Carlsbad's Waste PlantCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Officials say a portion of the ceiling in a closed area of New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has collapsed.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that WIPP President Phil Breidenbach said Friday that the fall was at the entrance to Panel 4, which has been sealed since 2010.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the fall was discovered during a Sept. 27 inspection but it's not clear when it actually occurred. The letter says the area became "prohibited" two weeks before the inspection and was "restricted" before that.

Prohibited areas have significant safety concerns and personnel are not allowed to enter. Breidenbach says restricted areas have ground control and air quality issues and can only be entered with management approval.

Breidenbach says no workers are believed to have been in that area for the last six months.