New Mexico Spaceport To Host Drone Summit In 2016 – Associated Press
Spaceport America will be hosting a drone summit next spring.
Officials with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority say the three-day event in March is expected to draw more than 1,000 people, from drone pilots and enthusiasts to film professionals.
They're billing it as an educational event. It will include races, demonstrations and skills workshops that will cover how small drones can be used for aerial cinematography, ranching and farming, energy development and construction.
Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson says the taxpayer-financed facility in southern New Mexico is the perfect spot for the summit, with its 12,000-foot runway, mild weather and restricted airspace.
Holly Holm In High Demand – Albuquerque Journal
Since winning the women’s bantamweight title, Albuquerque native Holly Holm’s dance card has been full.
The Albuquerque Journal reports she’s in Los Angeles today for a round of media appearances and interviews. She’ll be in Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend for a boxing match. And she’s slated for a series of interviews in New York next week and an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in the second round with a kick to the head in a stunning upset last weekend in Australia.
Lawsuit: Albuquerque Flouts Law Limiting Asset Forfeiture – The Associated Press
A pair of state senators are suing to stop Albuquerque authorities from auctioning off vehicles seized during DWI stops without first obtaining a criminal conviction, saying the ongoing practice violates a new law that restricts civil asset forfeiture.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of state Sens. Lisa Torraco, a Republican, and Daniel Ivey-Soto, a Democrat, on Wednesday says Albuquerque and other New Mexico cities not named in the lawsuit are flouting legislation enacted this year that overhauled state civil asset forfeiture laws.
The reforms made New Mexico's limits on when police can seize assets some of the toughest in the country. It requires authorities to obtain a criminal conviction before auctioning off seized assets.
City attorney Jessica Hernandez says Albuquerque's DWI vehicle forfeiture program is carried out under a local ordinance and is exempt from the new state law.
Roswell Mayor Files Petition To Create Grand Jury – The Associated Press & The Roswell Daily Record
The mayor of Roswell has filed paperwork to create a Chaves County grand jury, which he hopes will save time for police officers.
The Roswell Daily Record reports that Mayor Dennis Kintigh on Wednesday presented Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko with a petition calling for the convening of a grand jury.
The state Constitution allows citizens to create a grand jury if at least 2 percent of a county's registered voters request it.
Kintigh says the next step is to take his petition, which has 47 pages of signatures, to district judges.
The mayor says a grand jury could greatly reduce the amount of time officers spend waiting to testify at preliminary hearings.
He said in late August that a grand jury can also compel reluctant witnesses to testify.
New Mexico State Senator Says Money Taken From Her Accounts – The Associated Press & The Las Cruces Sun-News
New Mexico's highest-ranking state senator has confirmed that money is missing from her Senate and campaign accounts and says personal items have also been taken from her home.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that 83-year-old Sen. Mary Kay Papen, a Las Cruces Democrat, says she discovered missing money in early September during a separate investigation involving the fraudulent use of her son-in-law's credit card.
Papen says she's working with a certified personal accountant and an attorney to figure out how much money was stolen from the two accounts.
She didn't provide an absolute figure but says "a lot of money" is missing.
Papen serves as the president pro tem of the Senate.
State officials and local authorities would neither confirm nor deny the investigation.
New Mexico Exchange Targets Hispanics, Native Americans – The Associated Press
Officials with the state's health insurance exchange say New Mexicans have until the end of January to sign up for coverage during an open enrollment period.
The exchange has boosted its Spanish-language ads and is reaching out to Native Americans as well as faith-based, school and civil groups.
Officials say the exchange has been cleared by federal officials to shift some of the grant money it receives for technology to focus on outreach since the exchange relies on the federal platform to register people.
Exchange CEO Amy Dowd says there has been strong interest in the first two weeks of the enrollment period and that traffic on the exchange's website has grown significantly since 2014.
The exchange also is opening enrollment centers in Farmington, Las Cruces, Gallup and Santa Fe.
New Justice Supports Changes To New Mexico Bond Law – KOAT-TV, Associated Press
A newly appointed New Mexico Supreme Court justice says she supports amending the state constitution to give judges more leeway when setting bonds.
KOAT-TV reports that several people have been killed by repeat offenders in the past year, spurring a push allow judges to set higher bonds.
Bernalillo County District Judge Judith Nakamura was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez last week to take over the spot that will be left by Justice Richard Bosson when he retires.
The judge says she has personally had to deal with laws that forced her to set low bonds for suspects who end up reoffending.
Nakamura says the last thing she wants to do is release people who could be a threat to the safety of other community members.
Santa Fe Water Division Flooded With Complaints – Santa Fe New Mexican
Customers in Santa Fe are getting major sticker shock from their water bills and are flooding the city’s Water Division with questions and complaints.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that new water meters are prompting much higher bills, with some reaching hundreds of dollars.
Nick Schiavo, public utilities director for the city, said the new meters are much more accurate and the higher bills are reflecting that. They have also helped officials find leaks.
But the New Mexican reports that people are distrustful of the city because money from the Water Division helped balance the general fund budget. And the city is facing another shortfall of $15 million so officials may tap those collections again.
New Mexico Latinos Urged To Conserve Energy Consumption – Associated Press
An environmental group is urging New Mexico Hispanic families to converse energy consumption over the holidays.
The Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund is scheduled to hold a workshop Friday in Albuquerque aimed at promoting conservation among the state's Latinos.
The workshop will include interactive activities and testimonials from Latino families highlighting energy conservation, the importance of renewable energy and environmental issues.
Advocates also will offer families energy saving light bulbs and window weatherproofing kits.
Legal Experts Urge Caution As Tribes Enter Pot Business – Associated Press
Tribes across the U.S. are finding marijuana is risky business nearly a year after a Justice Department policy indicated they could grow and sell pot under the same federal guidelines outlined for states.
Federal raids on tribal cannabis operations in California followed by a South Dakota tribe's move this month to burn its crop amid fears it could be next have led some tribal leaders to take pause as they assess the risks of launching their own ventures.
At a tribal economic development conference in Santa Fe, attorneys suggested there may be more red tape for tribes to negotiate than states with legalizing marijuana.
The DOJ memo in December directed its prosecutors not to prioritize federal marijuana laws in cases where tribes legalize the drug, and take measures that include keeping pot out of the hands of children and criminals.
Man Accused Of Killing Albuquerque Police Officer Indicted – Associated Press
An ex-convict accused of fatally shooting an Albuquerque police officer last month has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Prosecutors announced Wednesday that 34-year-old Davon Lymon is charged in a four-count indictment with violating federal firearm laws.
Lymon was arrested several hours after Officer Daniel Webster was shot multiple times during an Oct. 21 traffic stop outside a pharmacy.
The 47-year-old former Army Ranger died eight days later in a hospital, having suffered gunshot wounds to his upper body and jaw.
Authorities say Lymon has been in and out of the court system for years and pleaded guilty more than a decade ago to voluntary manslaughter.
The Albuquerque resident was facing misdemeanor battery charges when Webster was shot.
A judge has ordered Lymon to remain jailed pending his trial.
Settlement Clears Way To Complete Temple In Arroyo Hondo – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press
The Santa Fe County Commission has approved a settlement that clears the way for a sect to complete a temple southeast of the city.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports members of O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal have been fighting for their right to build a temple in Arroyo Hondo for more than five years.
O Centro Espírita is a Christian-based sect that uses a hallucinogenic tea concocted from two Amazonian plants as its sacrament.
Temple opponents have voiced concerns about the project's water use, potential water contamination and traffic generated by the sect's proposed late-night worship sessions.
The County Commission voted unanimously last week to approve a settlement that would resolve two pending lawsuits over the issue and allow the sect to finish building its temple.
Census Changes Could Make Whites Less Than 50 Percent Sooner – Associated Press
The Census Bureau is considering changes to its race and ethnicity questions that would reclassify some minorities who were considered "white" in the past, a move that may speed up the date when America's white population falls below 50 percent.
Census Director John Thompson said this week that the bureau is testing new questions and may combine its race and ethnicity questions into one category. That would allow people to choose multiple races.
The possible changes include a new category for Middle Eastern and North African descent and allowing Latinos to give more details about backgrounds.
Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey says the changes would give people more options to define their race and ethnicity.
The Census Bureau has estimated that the population will have more minorities than whites for the first time around 2043 or 2044.