Tuesday News Roundup: NM Teacher Who Said Santa Is White On Paid Leave

Dec 17, 2013

NM Teacher Who Said Santa Is White On Paid Leave- Associated Press

A suburban Albuquerque teacher who told a black student that Santa Claus is white has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Rio Rancho school district spokeswoman Kim Vesely confirmed on Tuesday that the teacher is out of the classroom while the incident is being investigated.

The teacher's comments came after students at Cleveland High School were told they could come to class dressed as Santa, an elf or a reindeer.

Michael Rougier says when his ninth-grade son, Christopher, arrived with a Santa hat and beard, the teacher asked, "Don't you know Santa Claus is white? Why are you wearing that?"

The incident happened the same week that Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly said both Santa Claus and Jesus were white.

NM Bars Penalized For Over-Serving Before Crashes - Associated Press

Two bars in New Mexico have been fined and had their liquor licenses suspended for over-serving patrons who went on to cause fatal drunken-driving crashes.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department's Alcohol and Gaming Division announced the penalties Tuesday.

The Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery in Santa Fe was fined $10,000 and had its liquor license suspended for 15 days spanning two weekends.

Authorities say bar officials pleaded no contest to over-serving an intoxicated man who then caused a crash that killed two teenage girls and severely injured family members and bystanders.

El Alto Bar and Station in Las Vegas paid a $2,500 fine and ceased serving alcohol for eight days. An administrative citation was issued for over-serving a customer who caused a fatal crash in March 2010.


Navajo Could See Funding For Uranium Cleanup- Associated Press

Navajo Nation officials estimate the tribe could receive a possible $1 billion award for cleanup of uranium contaminated sites as the result of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court finding.

Kerr-McGee Corp. operated uranium mines and a mill on the reservation. Kerr-McGee spun off a paint materials company in 2005 before itself being sold to Anadarko Petroleum Corp. a year later.

Judge Allan Gropper says Anadarko may be liable for between $5 billion and $14 billion in a legal battle over the spinoff. Gropper has ordered the parties to submit briefing materials on exact damages.

Anadarko plans to challenge the finding.

Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie (so-SEE') says at least $1 billion could be available for the cleanup of sites that Kerr-McGee had abandoned in Cove, Ariz., and Shiprock, N.M.

Tribe Sues New Mexico Over Gaming Negotiations- Associated Press

One of New Mexico's American Indian tribes is suing the state over failed negotiations concerning its gaming compact.

Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera says the agreement being sought by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration would further restrict tribal gambling operations and would increase taxes, fees and other charges.

Rivera says such a compact would not help New Mexico's gaming industry compete with other states, especially since casino revenues have been flat since 2008 and government funding for tribes has diminished.

Pojoaque's current compact expires in June 2015.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in state district court.

Rivera said Tuesday the pueblo intends to continue negotiations with the governor's office for a renewed compact that complies with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and ensures economic success for future generations.


NM Cities Group Supports Secrecy For Applicants - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

The identities of applicants for top jobs in New Mexico local governments could be kept secret under legislation being supported by an advocacy group for cities.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the New Mexico Municipal League is endorsing a proposal to allow names and applications of applicants to be withheld from the public at the applicants' request.

League Executive Director Bill Fulginiti says publicly releasing the names of applicants for city manager and other top posts means some people are reluctant to apply because they don't want to lose their current jobs.

A group that advocates for government transparency opposes the idea. President-elect Greg Williams of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says the public has a right to know who applies for jobs funded with public money.

Horse Slaughter Plants Preparing To Open - Associated Press

After months of legal wrangling and false starts in a battle to resume domestic horse slaughter, plants in New Mexico and Missouri are working to begin processing equine for human consumption.

The efforts come on the heels of an order late Friday by a federal appeals court that lifted an emergency stay on the companies' plans.

Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque who represents Valley Meat Co. of Roswell and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., says the plants Monday "are pushing full steam ahead to be ready to go as soon as possible."

Rains Natural Meats, he says, even has horses on site. But it's unclear if the plants will open before Christmas or wait until after the holidays.

The Humane Society vows "the fight for America's horses is not over."

Santa Fe School System Still In Running For Grant - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

Santa Fe's school district still has a shot at being awarded a $10 million federal grant but Albuquerque's district is out of the running for the $25 million grant it sought.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Santa Fe's school system is among 31 finalists selected from among 200 applicants from 21 states.

At stake is a $120 million pot of federal money that will be divvied up in so-called "Race to the Top" grants.

The Santa Fe district wants to use the requested grant for a variety of improvements. Those include reducing the student-to-counselor ratio, providing instruction during summer and before and after school and personalizing learning plans for each student.

Calif. Company Asks For Judgment vs Sunland's CEO - Associated Press and The Clovis News Journal

A California company suing Sunland Inc. for $1 million also is asking for a judgment against one of the top executives of the defunct Portales peanut processor.

Albuquerque attorney Nathan Mann says chocolate maker Swain Creations Inc. is accusing Sunland and CEO Jimmie Shearer of fraud, concealment and intentional misrepresentation.

Mann and Swain's California attorneys told the Clovis News Journal Shearer allegedly failed to disclose repeated health and safety violations found at Sunland.

That reportedly was years before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally shut down operations in response to a national salmonella outbreak linked to the plant in 2012.

The disclosures are among the latest filings in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection sought by Sunland. The plant was once the nation's largest producer of organic Valencia peanuts.