KUNM

Results Unclear As Federal Money Flows To NM Schools, Las Cruces Officer Cleared In Deadly Shooting

May 10, 2018

Results Unclear As Federal Money Flows To New Mexico SchoolsThe Associated Press

An analysis of public school funding in New Mexico shows federal financial support is on the rise without necessarily boosting student academic performance.

The report released Thursday by staff at the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office provides an exhaustive catalog of more than a half-billion dollars in annual federal funding that supports about 6 percent of the state's public school teachers.

Federal support varies widely by school district, and the evaluation found no correlation between school performance and per-pupil federal funding.

The evaluation recognizes efforts by the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to direct state and federal money toward evidence-based initiatives including preschool for low-income families, teacher mentorship programs and an extended school year. School districts could potentially spend even more federal money on prekindergarten and a longer school year.

Las Cruces Officer Cleared In Deadly ShootingThe Associated Press

Prosecutors have cleared a Las Cruces police officer of any wrongdoing in the deadly shooting of a New Mexico man suspected of homicide.

Dona Ana County prosecutors determined last week that officer Joseph Campa's shooting of 23-year-old Nathaniel Montoya in mid-February was justified under state law.

Montoya was accused of shooting and killing 29-year-old Abraham Gomez in Las Cruces. An officer spotted Montoya in a car a day after the shooting.

Police entered into a pursuit, which ended at a Las Cruces gas station where Montoya crashed. Police say Campa commanded Montoya to show his hands.

Police say Montoya raised a gun and Campa fired several shots. Montoya was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say a rifle was recovered from the car.

House Takes Up Bill To Revive Nevada Nuclear Waste DumpThe Associated Press

The House is moving to approve an election-year bill that would revive the mothballed nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain despite opposition from home-state lawmakers.

Supporters say a bill slated for a vote Thursday would help solve a nuclear-waste storage problem that has festered for more than three decades. Used fuel from commercial nuclear power plants sits idle in 121 communities across 39 states.

The bill would direct the Energy Department to continue a licensing process for Yucca Mountain while also moving forward with a separate plan for a temporary storage site in New Mexico or Texas.

The Trump administration has proposed reviving the long-stalled Yucca project 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, but the plan faces bipartisan opposition from the state's governor and congressional delegation.

Members Of Criminal Street Gang On Navajo Sent To PrisonThe Associated Press

Three northern Arizona residents are going to prison for their roles in a criminal street gang on the Navajo Nation.

Prosecutors say members of the Red Skin Kingz are responsible for at least three murders, attempted murder, aggravated assaults, kidnappings and drug trafficking.

Authorities say the gang leader, 28-year-old Devan Leonard, and another gang member fatally shot two men in Lukachukai near the Arizona-New Mexico border in late 2014. Days later, Leonard and 26-year-old gang member Kyle Gray killed another person after a drug deal.

Leonard was sentenced in federal court this week to 50 years in prison. Gray received a 30-year sentence.

Prosecutors say a third defendant, Lucille Leonard, oversaw the gang's drug trafficking operation. The 48-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Construction To Prevent Carlsbad Sinkhole To Begin In AugustThe Associated Press & The Carlsbad Current-Argus

Work to fill a giant, man-made cavern that is on the verge of collapse in southern New Mexico is expected to begin in August.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the state hired the engineering company Amec Foster Wheeler last month to design and implement the project to shore up the brine well on the edge of Carlsbad.

Amec is planning to drill 26 boreholes around the site and pump in grout to stabilize the ground and seal the underground cavity.

The project plans are expected to be finalized by July with work to begin the next month. Construction is expected to be completed by January 2021. Amec will continue to monitor the site for nearly two years.

The backfill project is estimated to cost about $43 million.

Unions Rescind Political Endorsement Amid Harassment ScandalThe Associated Press

An alliance of construction trade unions is rescinding its endorsement of a state legislator who is the focus of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

The New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council announced its decision Thursday to withdraw the endorsement of Santa Fe-area Rep. Carl Trujillo in a Democratic primary race until harassment allegations are investigated and resolved. The council represents about 10,000 craft professionals affiliated with 15 unions.

Trujillo has been accused by former lobbyist Laura Bonar of sexually harassing behavior several years ago as the two worked together on animal welfare legislation. He says the allegations are lies.

An investigative committee of four lawmakers has been appointed to determine if there is probable cause to pursue charges against Trujillo.

Trujillo is campaigning against fellow Democrat Andrea Romero.

Mexico, 2 US States Could See Colorado River Cutback In 2020 - Associated Press

Water managers say there's a better-than-even possibility that Mexico and the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada will get less water from the Colorado River in 2020 because of a drought.

U.S. officials said Wednesday there's a 52 percent chance the river's biggest reservoir, Lake Mead, will fall low enough in 2020 to trigger cutbacks under the agreements governing the river.

The reservoir has never fallen low enough to trigger cutbacks before.

The Colorado serves 40 million people in seven Southwestern U.S. states, including New Mexico, as well as Mexico. Researchers say a 19-year drought, growing demand and climate change have overtaxed the waterway.

The shortage projection prompted Bureau of Reclamation Chief Brenda Burman to prod the seven river states to finish long-delayed contingency plans for worsening conditions.

Federal forecasters said Monday the river is expected to carry only 43 percent of the average amount of water this year into Lake Powell, another big reservoir upstream from Lake Mead.

House Takes Up Bill To Revive Nevada Nuclear Waste Dump - By Matthew Daly, Associated Press

The House is moving to approve an election-year bill that would revive the mothballed nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain despite opposition from home-state lawmakers.

Supporters say a bill slated for a vote Thursday would help solve a nuclear-waste storage problem that has festered for more than three decades. Used fuel from commercial nuclear power plants sits idle in 121 communities across 39 states.

The bill would direct the Energy Department to continue a licensing process for Yucca Mountain while also moving forward with a separate plan for a temporary storage site in New Mexico or Texas.

The Trump administration has proposed reviving the long-stalled Yucca project 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, but the plan faces bipartisan opposition from the state's governor and congressional delegation.

US To Decide Best Site Option For Nuclear Weapons Production - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile is expected this week to release a report on the best site option for the United States as it looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear warheads.

New Mexico's U.S. senators have pushed to keep the work at Los Alamos National Laboratory — the northern New Mexico site where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago.

The other contender is the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

At stake are hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in federal funding needed to either revamp existing buildings or construct new factories.

The core production mission has been based at Los Alamos for years but not a single core has been produced since 2011.

The lab has been dogged by a string of safety lapses and accountability issues.

2 Plead Guilty To Operating Counterfeit Air Bag BusinessAssociated Press

Two Albuquerque residents who are siblings and Mexican nationals illegally in the United States have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit air bags.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 24-year-old Dina Gonzalez-Marquez and 22-year-old Emilio Gonzalez-Marquez pleaded guilty Wednesday under plea agreements which recommend five-year unsupervised probation terms but which also state that the guilty pleas will result in deportations.

According to the office, the two operated the counterfeit air bag business out of their home while ordering counterfeit air bags and air bag covers from overseas and then listing them for sale on internet sites.

Air Force Says Use Of Training Device Started Kirtland WildfireAssociated Press

The Air Force says an investigation has determined that use of a military training device that simulates the noise and visual flash of ordnance explosions started a March wildfire on a Kirtland Air Force Base range.

Base officials say training procedures have been changed so that ground burst simulators aren't used or are replaced by non-hazardous equipment during periods of high fire hazard.

Also, when ground burst simulators or similar devices are used, Air Force personnel must have fire prevention and containment equipment on hand.

The fire occurred March 4-5 it burned over 100 acres.

New Mexico Authorities Ask For Tech Company's User PracticesAssociated Press

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says it has sent a letter to a data sharing company, asking for information on user practices as prosecutors investigate how technology is used to distribute child pornography.

In a statement Tuesday, Attorney General Hector Balderas says his office sent a letter to BitTorrent Inc. last week.

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer protocol that allows users to share files, and is used legitimately by academics and artists.

But it also has been known to be used by child pornographers and other criminals because large amounts of digital content can be moved and sorted.

New Mexico authorities say they are seeking information from BitTorrent by June 8.

A spokesman for BitTorrent says the company is reviewing the letter, and says it cooperates with "law enforcement agencies to the full extent of the law."

Alabama Man Accused Of Making Child Porn Found In New MexicoAssociated Press

An Alabama man wanted on child pornography charges has been arrested in New Mexico.

News outlets cite a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement release that says 35-year-old Kenneth Earl Hooks was arrested Monday.

Authorities say Hooks has been on the run since his girlfriend was arrested at a Walmart in California, accused of filming children in the store's bathroom. A search of her phone revealed videos of Hooks sexually assaulting multiple children. Investigators determined the videos were produced in Alabama.

ICE spokesman Bryan D. Cox says Homeland Security Investigations special agents and U.S. Marshals Service deputies took Hooks into custody near Las Cruces. He'll have a court hearing in New Mexico before extradition to Alabama.

He's also wanted on multiple charges in California.

It's unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Utah Sex Abuse Suspect May Have Had Victims In Other StatesDeseret News, Associated Press

Police say a man accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing women and teenage girls in northern Utah may have committed other crimes across the southwestern United States.

Ogden police said Tuesday they're searching for possible victims in other parts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California.

The Deseret News reports 42-year-old Genaro Gabino De Jesus of Ogden is accused of sexually assaulting his victims after offering them rides at bus stops, parking lots and other places in Ogden.

He was booked into the Weber County Jail last month on suspicion of kidnapping and forcible sexual abuse. No formal charges have been filed. It's not clear if he has an attorney.

Detectives say he offered the victims rides as recent as last month in a green Chevrolet Cavalier, a brown pickup truck and a 2004 white Ford Freestar van.

Santa Fe Opera Taps Creator Of Operatic 'Handmaid's Tale'Associated Press

The Santa Fe Opera will hold the world premiere in 2019 of a suspenseful fairy-tale from a Danish composer who created the operatic version of "The Handmaid's Tale."

Directors of the Santa Fe Opera on Wednesday announced the new work from Poul Ruders that is inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. "The Thirteenth Child" is described as a down-to-the wire thriller for audiences of all ages.

Santa Fe's open-air summer opera stage in the foothills of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the backdrop this year for "Doctor Atomic," an opera about the dawn of the atomic age in 1940s New Mexico.

Last year the Santa Fe Opera provided the world premiere of a techno-infused opera about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

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