KUNM

Tequila Bat Gets Off Endangered Species List, Las Vegas Ex-Employees Sue City

Apr 17, 2018

Tequila Bat Gets Off Endangered Species ListThe Associated Press

Wildlife managers in the American Southwest say a once-rare bat important to the pollination of plants used to produce tequila has made a comeback and is being removed from the federal endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the delisting of the lesser long-nosed bat Tuesday, making it the first bat ever removed from the nation's list of threatened and endangered species.

The decision comes a year after first being proposed in the U.S.

Mexico delisted the bat in 2015.

Federal officials say it has taken 30 years of conservation efforts by biologists and volunteers in Mexico and the U.S., as well as tequila producers in Mexico to rebuild a healthy population.

Now, there are about 200,000 of the nectar-feeding animals and dozens of roost sites.

2 Las Vegas Ex-Employees Sue Over TerminationsThe Associated Press & The Las Vegas Optic

Two former employees of a northern New Mexico city are suing after they were fired before their contracts were set to expire.

The Las Vegas Optic reports former Las Vegas, New Mexico City Attorney Dave Romero and former City Manager Elmer Martinez recently filed their lawsuits over their terminations shortly after Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron took office.

Lawyers for Romero, who had been the city's attorney since 2012, said in a complaint no reason was given for his termination.

Court documents say Gurule-Giron fired Martinez after he questioned her demands to dismiss a longstanding water lawsuit without the approval of city council.

A spokeswoman for Gurule-Giron did not immediately return an email to The Associated Press.

Officials In Favor Of Upgrading White Sands To National ParkThe Associated Press & The Las Cruces Sun-News

The Las Cruces City Council approved a statement of support encouraging the federal government to upgrade White Sands National Monument to a national park.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the council voted unanimously Monday in favor of the statement, which calls on lawmakers to pass the proposed White Sands National Park Establishment Act.

Dara Parker, field representative for U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, says the bill hasn't been introduced yet, but says she's hoping to introduce it "very soon."

Parker told the City Council the proposed bill would achieve a land swap with White Sands Missile Range and clarify some questions raised by previous congressional actions.

Parker says national parks tend to have a higher profile than monuments, which could boost tourism.

White Sands, located between Las Cruces and Alamogordo, was designated a national monument in 1933.

California Sees Agreement Near On Border TroopsThe Associated Press

California Gov. Jerry Brown says he is "pretty close" to an agreement with the Trump administration on sending National Guard troops to the Mexican border.

Brown told reporters in Washington that his troops were "chomping at the bit ready to go" to help combat drug and gun smuggling and human trafficking.

His comments came a day after federal officials said California rejected some proposed duties for the Guard. On Tuesday, Trump criticized Brown's actions, saying they will worsen crime in California.

Last week, Brown pledged 400 troops but conditioned support on them having nothing to do with immigration enforcement.

New Mexico City Digs In On Immigrant ProtectionsThe Associated Press

New Mexico's largest city has moved a step closer to enacting new policies that would bar federal immigration agents from prisoner transport centers without a warrant, and prevent city workers, including police, from asking about people's immigration status.

The City Council's vote to make Albuquerque more "immigrant friendly" Monday comes at a time when the Trump administration has sought to crack down on unauthorized border crossings and other immigration enforcements.

It also follows a federal court ruling last week that barred the U.S. Justice Department from prioritizing cities that cooperate with immigration officials for policing grants.

Dozens of people stepped forward to give emotional testimony in support and opposition to the Albuquerque measure before the City Council vote.

Reduction Of Sports On The Table At University Of New MexicoThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

University of New Mexico regents have voted in favor of a budget proposal that includes a reduction in sports and other measures as the athletic department looks to get its finances under control.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the 6-1 vote came during a meeting Tuesday. Student Regent and former football player Garrett Adcock voted against the measure.

University President Garnett Stokes said she can't imagine a scenario where the school would not have to cut sports. Calling it unfortunate, she said there's no revenue to fill the athletic department's recurring deficit.

Athletic Director Eddie Nunez has until July 1 to decide which sports to cut. He has said affected teams will be given at least one year notice.

UNM sponsors 22 varsity sports. What remained unclear Tuesday was what each sport actually costs.

Albuquerque “Immigrant Friendly” Measure Goes To Mayor – The Associated Press

The Albuquerque City Council has approved a measure that would prevent federal immigration officers from entering a prisoner transport center without a warrant, and prohibit local tax dollars from being used to enforce federal immigration laws.

The measure debated Monday seeks to bolster the New Mexico city's "immigrant friendly" status — which briefly came under scrutiny within the Trump administration last year as the Justice Department sought to pressure cities into cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The Albuquerque measure would also bar city workers, including police, from collecting information on peoples' immigration status.

It must go before Mayor Tim Keller for final approval before coming law.

The vote comes after a federal judge last week issued a nationwide injunction barring the U.S. Justice Department from giving priority status for policing grants to departments that agree to cooperate with immigration officials.

Facebook Puts New Mexico On 'Community Boost' Tour – The Associated Press

Facebook will be visiting New Mexico as part of a program to boost small businesses and build the digital skills of people both on and off the social networking site.

Facebook has opened registration for its community boost program, which kicks off April 30 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Thirty cities will be visited and Albuquerque is among the initial stops.

The kickoff comes amid a privacy scandal that has shaken the social platform, but a congressional hearing on the subject helped to solidify how intertwined Facebook has become not only in people's social lives but the economic survival of entrepreneurs.

According to Facebook, nearly half of small and medium-sized businesses in New Mexico that use the platform consider it an essential tool for running their businesses.

Soccer Advocates Rally As UNM Considers Cutting Sports Teams – The Associated Press

Administrators at the University of New Mexico are considering the elimination of multiple sports teams as part of an effort to get finances under control, but advocates for the men's soccer team at the state's flagship school are speaking out.

Coach Jeremy Fishbein on Monday said he was told his program was among those being "very seriously" considered for elimination. Fishbein and other alumni plan to address the Board of Regents regarding proposed cuts at a meeting Tuesday.

Fishbein said in a statement that no sports should be cut and that the university's new president and its athletics director need time to develop a plan to address the deficit.

Officials with the athletics department said Monday that nothing has been decided as to which teams could be cut.

State Closes Another Charter School – The Associated Press

New Mexico Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski is upholding a decision to close a charter school in northern New Mexico with 200 students.

Public Education Department spokeswoman Lida Alikhani confirmed Sunday that Taos International Charter School is having its operating charter revoked. The school unsuccessfully appealed a December vote of the Public Education Commission to close the school.

The commission opposed the school's initial charter in 2012, but was overruled by the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The state has moved to close at least half a dozen charter school based on academic results and reviews.

In a statement, the Public Education Department said it is committed to strengthening the charter school sector overall. Taos Municipal Schools has indicated it can accommodate students from the moribund charter school.

2 Las Vegas Ex-Employees Sue Over Terminations – The Associated Press, The Las Vegas Optic

Two former employees of a northern New Mexico city are suing after they were fired before their contracts were set to expire.

The Las Vegas Optic reports former Las Vegas, New Mexico City Attorney Dave Romero and former City Manager Elmer Martinez recently filed their lawsuits over their terminations shortly after Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron took office.

Lawyers for Romero, who had been the city's attorney since 2012, said in a complaint no reason was given for his termination.

Court documents say Gurule-Giron fired Martinez after he questioned her demands to dismiss a longstanding water lawsuit without the approval of city council.

A spokeswoman for Gurule-Giron did not immediately return an email to The Associated Press.

Teen Charged In Clovis Library Shooting To Undergo Evaluation – The Associated Press, The Eastern New Mexico News

A New Mexico judge has ordered that a teenager charged in the Clovis library shooting undergo a mental "evaluation and assessment."

The Eastern New Mexico News reports Fifth Judicial District Judge James Hudson recently ruled that Nathaniel Jouett must go through a treatment plan so the court can address the 17-year-old's mental health.

Hudson denied the transfer motion for Jouett to go to an adolescent treatment facility in Albuquerque.

Jouett will be tried as an adult on charges including first-degree murder. He is accused of killing two people and injuring four at the Clovis-Carver Public Library in late August.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes. It is identifying Jouett, however, because of the seriousness of the crime and because authorities are seeking adult sanctions.

Hispanic Catholics In Tijeras Protest Priest For Ending Spanish Mass – The Associated Press, KOB-TV

Some Hispanic Catholics in a New Mexico town want a priest removed after he ended Spanish Mass and allegedly told one parishioner he needed to pray for what he did in the Vietnam War.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports more than two dozen parishioners in the small mountain hamlet of Tijeras picketed outside of Hold Child Parish on Sunday to demand that Rev. Mark Granito be replaced.

Teresa Armenta says Granito has ended Spanish Mass and halted the playing of Spanish music in church. She also says the priest told her Vietnam veteran husband that he needed to pray for his actions in the war.

Leroy Gonzales says Granito also preaches his political views in church.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe spokeswoman Celine Baca Radigan did not immediately return an email.

Small Oil Producers Struggling To Keep Running Aging Wells – The Associated Press, The Albuquerque Journal

Small- and medium-sized oil and gas producers in New Mexico are struggling to keep running aging wells based on outdated technology.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that independent producers might soon be swallowed up by an unprecedented oil and gas boom in southeastern New Mexico as ExxonMobil and other industry titans pump billions of dollars into previously untapped sections of the state's oil patch.

Those smaller companies, which have flourished for decades in New Mexico's side of the Permian Basin, don't have the resources to invest in the modern drilling technology needed to dig into the oil-rich, hard shale-rock formations where the majors are now concentrated.

With oil prices well below the $100 per barrel level that kept low-volume "stripper wells" profitable in years past, many independent operators are now choosing to invest in only their most-productive ones and abandon others, said Gregg Fulfer of the Fulfer Oil and Cattle Co. in Jal, which operates about 150 marginal wells.

"I think the little guys will be history pretty soon," Fulfer said. "The low-volume wells run by stripper operators like me supplied about 20 percent of the market until recently, but it's fading away now. We'll see a lot of stripper operators disappear as they plug up the small, marginal wells."

Local government officials and economic development professionals say the flood of investment pouring in from the major players will easily make up for economic losses from the decline in traditional, or legacy operations that fueled past booms.

Many independent operators are shifting focus to provide services to the modern titans now operating in the Delaware Basin, a formation within the Permian that protrudes from southwestern Texas northward into Lea and Eddy counties.