Police Protest After Mistrial, Governor Highlights Growth In Tourism Industry

Oct 12, 2016

Albuquerque Police Protest Scheduled After MistrialThe Associated Press

Activists have scheduled a protest outside the Albuquerque courthouse where the case against two former New Mexico police officers charged in the death of a homeless man ended in a mistrial.

A coalition of groups says it will hold a demonstration Wednesday afternoon outside the Bernalillo County Courthouse, and advocates likely will march nearby to the Albuquerque police headquarters.

Rev. Frank Quintana of the Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community says the case shows Albuquerque still doesn't care for residents suffering from mental illness or for the poor. He called on Albuquerque residents to "rise up" and protest against police.

Now-retired Albuquerque Detective Keith Sandy and former Officer Dominique Perez fatally shot 38-year-old James Boyd after an hourslong standoff in the Sandia Mountain foothills in 2014.

The shooting sparked protests that shut down Albuquerque and its city government.

New Mexico Governor Highlights Growth In Tourism IndustryThe Associated Press 

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is highlighting the impact of tourism on the state economy in a series of appearances across the state.

The second-term Republican governor told an audience Wednesday in Albuquerque that growth in the tourism sector is helping New Mexico trim its economic reliance on the federal government.

In a news release, she cites a state-commissioned analysis from consultant group Tourism Economics. The analysis says the number of travelers to the state in 2015 increased by more than 2 percent to 34 million. Visitors generated an estimated $629 million in state and local taxes. Growth in the visitor economy is led by leisure trips.

New Mexico state government is confronting a major budget deficit tied in large part to a downturn in oil and natural gas markets.

Suspect Sought In Fire Near Albuquerque Broadcast TowersThe Associated Press 

Authorities are searching for a suspect accused of setting fire to infrastructure towers used by local and federal government as well as Albuquerque-area media.

Bernalillo County sheriff's officials said Wednesday investigators have obtained an arrest warrant but they are not yet releasing that individual's name.

According to deputies, a call came in Oct. 2 about a fire at a structure on Sandia Crest Road.

Deputies say the suspected arsonist had already fled the scene.

Deputies say the structure holds critical broadcasting and communications towers for the city's major media outlets and government entities.

Sheriff's detectives have since served several search warrants.

They say the suspect's identity is being withheld as they continue to gather more information from numerous sources.

Los Alamos Eyes Grabbing Solar Power From Building WindowsAssociated Press

A Los Alamos National Laboratory team is trying to develop a project that would grab solar power from building windows.

Team leader Victor Klimov said this week researchers are developing solar concentrators that will harvest sunlight from building windows and turn it into electricity.

Klimov leads the Los Alamos Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics.

The team currently is taking quantum dot, solar-powered windows from the laboratory to test at a construction site. It is trying to prove that the technology can be scaled up from palm-sized demonstration models to windows large enough to put in and power a building.

Their study will be published this week in the journal, Nature Energy.

Study Finds Decline In Jail Population Brings Increase In CrimeAlbuquerque Journal

A new study by a retired professor finds a direct relationship between the drop in the number of people at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque and a rise in crime.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Peter Winograd was hired by the city of Albuquerque to study the spike in crime. He found that changes in the legal system and the release of people from the MDC were top factors in rising crime rates.

The city’s property crime and violent crime rates are trending higher then many cities of similar size. But the jail population has decreased.

Winograd found that repeat offenders who cycle in and out of jail were behind the large increase in auto thefts.

Mayor Richard Berry will discuss the study at a lunch event Wednesday hosted by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, and outline strategies the city is taking to address the problem.

Gary Johnson: Gov. Martinez Has Not Asked For Budget AdviceAssociated Press

Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson says the state's current governor has not asked him for advice on the state's budget crisis.

Johnson told The Associated Press this week that Susana Martinez has not sought his guidance though he left New Mexico with a $1 billion surplus. Johnson also said he has not offered to give any tips either.

He did say if New Mexico opted to legalize marijuana, the state would benefit from taxing it and would spend less money on law enforcement.

Johnson was New Mexico's last Republican governor before Martinez. As a former prosecutor, Martinez has said she could not support Johnson for president because of his stance on legalizing marijuana.

Absentee Voting Begins In Politically Fractured New Mexico Associated Press

Absentee voting has begun in New Mexico ahead of the November general election.

County clerks started issuing and collecting absentee ballots Tuesday across a state that was an early flashpoint for Republican concerns about Donald Trump. Support runs relatively high in New Mexico for the state's former two-time governor, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Well over half of New Mexico voters cast ballots before election day in the past two presidential elections.

In statewide and local elections, Democrats are challenging Republican control of the New Mexico House of Representatives and the Secretary of State's Office. Republicans won a House majority in 2014 for the first time in 60 years.

Local candidates and political committees were filing campaign finance disclosure statements Tuesday under a newly enacted October deadline.

Study: Human-Caused Warming Burns More Western ForestsAssociated Press

A new study on Western forest fires confirms what is already apparent — wildfire seasons are getting longer and more destructive.

But researchers with the University of Idaho and Columbia University also say humans are to blame for much of that increase.

The study says human-caused global warming contributed an additional 16,000 square miles of burned forests from 1984 to 2015.

Researchers say the 16,000 square miles represent half of the forest areas that burned over the last three decades.

The study found that longer and hotter dry spells are causing Western forests to dry out and become more susceptible to wildfires over a longer period of time.

The study says the trend is likely to continue for decades while there are enough trees to fuel the flames.

Ex-Navajo Nation Council Delegate Gets 90-Day Jail SentenceAssociated Press

A former Navajo Nation Council delegate accused of misusing the tribe's discretionary fund has been sentenced to 90 days in a Window Rock jail and ordered to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution.

George Arthur also was sentenced Monday to three months of supervised probation and ordered by a District Court judge to write a letter of apology to the tribal chapters he represented.

After his release from jail, Arthur must pay the Navajo Nation about $540 per month to cover the $25,900 in restitution.

He earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in official and political matters.

Arthur was one of 17 former Navajo Nation lawmakers accused of abusing a financial assistance program designed to help tribal members facing hard times.

Ten of those delegates were sentenced in August.