KUNM

Santa Fe Mayor Tells Trump Administration Where To Find Him, Agreement Is Reached In Rate Case

Jan 19, 2018

Santa Fe Mayor Tells Trump Administration Where To Find HimThe Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales says the Trump administration knows where to find him in response to a U.S. Justice Department threat that politicians who run so-called sanctuary cities could be criminally charged.

In social media posts on Wednesday, Gonzales listed his office hours, saying he will "stand up for all New Mexicans keeping their families together."

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the posts on Facebook and Twitter by Gonzales elicited hundreds of reactions including a comment by Santa Fe City Councilor Signe Lindell, saying she would be "just down the hall."

Gonzales is running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, and he has been an advocate for Santa Fe's status as a safe place for immigrants.

Parties Reach Agreement In New Mexico Rate CaseThe Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electric utility and other parties are throwing their support behind a rate increase proposal adopted by state regulators.

A divided Public Regulation Commission approved the revamped proposal earlier this week. It calls for spreading out a roughly 1 percent increase over two years.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico estimates the average increase would be closer to 1.4 percent when other adjustments are factored in.

The commission had set a deadline of noon Friday for the parties to sign off. With their acceptance, the contentious case is expected to be closed soon.

Part of the negotiations among the utility, state attorney general's office, consumer groups and others focused on coal-related investments. The federal tax overhaul also ended up playing a role as the utility plans to pass along savings from lower corporate tax rates.

New Mexico Considers Switch To Redistricting CommissionThe Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are considering a proposal to cede their direct authority over redrawing legislative districts and create an independent redistricting commission.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have proposed a constitutional amendment to create a redistricting commission in time to redraw congressional and state legislative districts following the 2020 U.S. Census. Approval by the Legislature would send the proposal to voters in November general elections.

Republican co-sponsor Sen. Mark Moores says the current redistricting system discourages competitive elections and fosters political apathy as incumbents lawmakers cling to territorial advantages.

Redistricting in New Mexico begins with lawmakers touring the state to gather public comments and hiring consultants to devise district boundaries. In the last two efforts, final boundaries were decided by judges amid standoffs between Democrat-led Legislatures and Republican governors.

Clues Sought In Copter Crash That Killed Zimbabwean Leader - By P. Solomon Banda And Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press

A husband and wife who pushed for political change in Zimbabwe, an adventurous Texas investor and a pair of decorated pilots died in a fiery helicopter crash in a remote area of New Mexico.

Friends and family members confirmed Thursday that Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett and his wife, Heather, had traveled to New Mexico to spend their holiday with friend and wealthy businessman Charles Burnett III at his ranch.

Despite frigid temperatures Wednesday evening, the weather appeared to be clear and the wind was mild as they headed east over a rugged area toward Burnett's ranch east of Raton.

The only survivor was Andra Cobb, the co-pilot's daughter and Burnett's long-term partner. She was able to escape before the helicopter burst into flames.

Bennett was the treasurer-general of Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change opposition party. He won a devoted following of black Zimbabweans for passionately advocating political change. A white man who spoke fluent Shona, he drew the wrath of former President Robert Mugabe.

Weather service: Hazardous Conditions Expected From StormThe Associated Press

Forecasters say a storm this weekend may cause difficult to severe driving conditions in northern and western New Mexico and severe to damaging winds in other parts of the state.

The National Weather Service says hazardous travel conditions will develop Saturday evening and continue into Sunday, particularly in higher terrain of mountains in northern and western New Mexico.

Strong winds are expected Sunday for areas between the Texas border on the east and the Sandia, Manzano and Sacramento/Capitan mountains on the west.

The weather service says the crosswinds may cause dangerous travel conditions along Interstate 40 and U.S. 285 and that icy road conditions are possible in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas.

Another Arrest Made In Mora Schools Forgery ScandalLas Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A New Mexico former special-education coordinator has been arrested in connection with an educational licensure forgery case linked to an embattled former northern New Mexico superintendent.

The Las Vegas Optic reports Vanessa Sidransky-Montano was charged last week with forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery regarding a falsified K-12 education license.

The charges stem from a multi-year New Mexico State Police investigation involving more than a half-dozen K-12 educators.

The 40-year-old's case is connected to the fraud charges against her ex-boss, former Mora superintendent Charles Trujillo. He's facing multiple felony counts of fraud and forgery.

It was not known if Sidransky-Montano had an attorney.

A 10-month Optic investigation discovered seven instances where the state education department's Professional Licensure Bureau awarded licenses to individuals who didn't qualify for them.

GOP Albuquerque Attorney To Enter Secretary Of State RaceAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An Albuquerque attorney says she will challenge incumbent New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in November.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Republican JoHanna Cox said this week she's jumping into the secretary of state race over the concerns about "the integrity of New Mexico elections." She's the first GOP candidate in the race.

Cox previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Valencia County and held a similar position in the Santa Fe-based 1st Judicial District Attorney's office.

Toulouse Oliver, who lost in the 2014 election, was elected secretary of state in a 2016 special election after then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned from office.

Duran pleaded guilty in 2015 to illegally diverting campaign funds to fuel a gambling habit.

New Mexico Lawmakers Move To Form Hispanic CaucusAssociated Press

State lawmakers in New Mexico have formed a bipartisan Legislative Hispanic Caucus amid declining Latino leadership numbers in the state House and Senate.

Sen. Jacob Candelaria submitted a letter Thursday to the New Mexico Senate seeking recognition of the caucus in a state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents in the nation.

Sen. John Sapien, a Corrales Democrat, told The Associated Press that he and other Hispanic lawmakers in the past had opted not to form a Hispanic Caucus since there were Hispanics in legislative leadership positions.

But Sapien says that changed in recent days after Senate Democrats selected an all-white Senate leadership team for the first time since 1986.

Candelaria says the caucus will focus on poverty and education issues around the state's Hispanic communities.

New Mexico Considers Switch To Redistricting CommissionAssociated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are considering a proposal to cede their direct authority over redrawing legislative districts and create an independent redistricting commission.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have proposed a constitutional amendment to create a redistricting commission in time to redraw congressional and state legislative districts following the 2020 U.S. Census. Approval by the Legislature would send the proposal to voters in November general elections.

Republican co-sponsor Sen. Mark Moores says the current redistricting system discourages competitive elections and fosters political apathy as incumbents lawmakers cling to territorial advantages.

Redistricting in New Mexico begins with lawmakers touring the state to gather public comments and hiring consultants to devise district boundaries. In the last two efforts, final boundaries were decided by judges amid standoffs between legislatures led by Democrats and Republican governors.

Former CFO For Albuquerque Public Schools Settles Whistleblower SuitAlbuquerque Journal

A former executive with Albuquerque Public Schools has settled his whistleblower suit against the district for $800,000.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Don Moya, former chief financial officer with APS, was placed on leave in 2015 by former Superintendent Luis Valentino after Moya questioned unnecessary audits and the audit procurement process.

Moya had questioned how the work was awarded when former Deputy Superintendent Jason Martinez tried to funnel the job to a company where one of Martinez’s friends worked.

Valentino tried to text former Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera that he wanted to “go after” Moya, but he accidentally sent the text to Moya instead.

APS will pay $350,000 toward the settlement and its insurance policy will pay the rest.

New Mexico Governor Rules Out Senate RunAssociated Press

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is addressing speculation about her political future by saying she is not interested in serving as a U.S. senator, a federal judge or even as a state university president in her home town of Las Cruces.

Martinez said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview with reporters that she won't make any decisions about her political or professional future until leaving office at the end of the year.

The former district attorney said she has "no inkling" about what comes next, specifically ruling out job titles including federal judge, chancellor and U.S. senator. She cannot run for a third term as governor in November elections.

Recent campaign-style radio ads have tied Martinez's tax cutting policies to an improved economy. The governor wants tougher criminal sentencing.

New Mexico Governor Won't Pursue Medicaid Work RequirementsAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she will not pursue state work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

The second-term Republican told news reporters Thursday that she does not support tying work requirements to health care in general and noted that some Medicaid recipients already work or study. The Trump administration last week began allowing states to impose Medicaid work requirements.

Martinez says she still supports the idea linking work or volunteer responsibilities to other government-subsidized benefits, such as housing or nutritional assistance — but won't initiate any new rules or legislation during her final year in office.

Efforts by New Mexico's Human Services Department to tie food assistance to employment for a small share of beneficiaries have been held up in court under a longstanding lawsuit that accuses the agency of illegally blocking food assistance.

New Mexico Joins Multistate Nurse Licensure PactAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation to ensure that nurses from at least 25 other states can work in New Mexico and vice versa.

The legislation was enacted Thursday within hours of a midnight expiration deadline for a previous licensure compact.

The new compact adds criminal background check provisions and creates a new multi-state rule making commission.

The governor's signature, along with unanimous votes in the state Senate and House, ensure no related disruption in health care services.

It was the first bill to be approved and signed during the current 30-day legislative session.

Arts Startup Meow Wolf Joins Entertainment Venture In NevadaAssociated Press

The New Mexico-based startup company for immersive art installations known as Meow Wolf has joined a new retail and entertainment venture slated for Las Vegas, Nevada.

Meow Wolf announced Thursday that it has signed on as a tenant in an entertainment complex that will offer live music, festivals, corporate events and e-sports video game tournaments, adjacent to retail and dining options.

Earlier this month, Meow Wolf announced it was moving forward with a stand-alone exhibit space and music venue in downtown Denver.

In Santa Fe, the for-profit company operates a popular interactive exhibit in a converted bowling alley that combines eye-popping psychedelic design work with narrative storytelling. The Santa Fe location includes a gift shop, children's art studio, food trucks, and a bar for wine and craft beer.

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