Tuesday News Update: Man On Trial In Guns-Smuggling Wiretaps Tip Case

Sep 24, 2013

Man On Trial In Guns-Smuggling Wiretaps Tip Case - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

A trial has begun for a man accused of leaking word of wiretaps that were part of an investigation into a southern New Mexican border town gun smuggling ring.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Danny Burnett is on trial in federal court in Albuquerque.

Burnett has pleaded innocent. He's the husband of an assistant U.S. attorney and he is accused to telling a friend who was the chief of police in Columbus about the wiretaps.

Another man who allegedly led the gun smuggling ring subsequently fled and remains a fugitive from charges of conspiracy and firearms smuggling.

The government lawyer who is married to the defendant has denied knowing about the wiretaps or telling her husband about the investigation.

Public Paid $27K For Martinez Out-Of-State Trips - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico taxpayers are picking up thousands of dollars of costs related to political fundraisers and other out-of-state trips by Gov. Susana Martinez.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that public records indicate that the state spent more than $27,000 on 11 such trips between mid-March and June.

Just over $24,000 paid for transportation, lodging and food for the governor's security team while nearly $2,500 paid for travel expenses of Martinez aides.

Most of Martinez's own costs were paid by her re-election campaign or organizations inviting her to events.

Along with several political fundraisers, the governor's travels included a trip to Rome as part of a U.S. delegation attending the installation of the new pope and to Salt Lake City for a Republican Governors Association meeting.

NM Group Backs Higher Minimum Wage To Help Kids - Associated Press

A group advocating for policies to help children and low-income families recommends New Mexico raise its minimum wage and boost spending on early childhood programs, including child care and pre-kindergarten.

New Mexico Voices for Children on Monday outlined a broad policy agenda to address findings by a national survey this year that found New Mexico worst in the nation for child well-being.

The advocacy group said raising the hourly minimum wage to $10.10 would help a fifth of children by increasing at least one parent's income. Another proposal calls for increasing the payout from a state permanent fund to provide additional money for early childhood programs.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill this year that would have increased the hourly minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour.

Hunting Roadblocks Planned - Associated Press

Hunters beware. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says it is planning roadblocks around the state during fall hunting and fishing seasons.

Officials say they will use the stops to collect data and to detect wildlife law violations.

At roadblocks, conservation officers also will check for compliance with provisions of the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Act and the Aquatic Invasive Species Control Act. Drivers of vehicles hauling wood products will be asked to produce documentation as required by the Forest Conservation Act.

New Mexico's hunting seasons for deer, elk and small game are under way. Seasons for waterfowl and upland birds will open soon. Fishing is allowed year-round in New Mexico.

GOP Lawmakers Oppose Gay Marriage In Court Filing - Associated Press

Nearly two dozen current and former Republican legislators are urging New Mexico's highest court to declare that state law prohibits same-sex marriage.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the legislators with the state Supreme Court in a case that could resolve whether gay marriage is legal in New Mexico.

Gay marriage supporters also filed written arguments with the court on Monday.

At issue is an Albuquerque judge's ruling last month that it's unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court plans an Oct. 23 hearing in the case.

The GOP lawmakers said anti-discrimination protections in the state constitution do not provide a legal right to marriage for same-sex couples. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and other groups disagree.

NM Stipends For Teacher Transfers Stir Controversy - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

Some New Mexico teachers are bristling at a new state program that offers a $5,000 stipend for those who agree to transfer from top-graded schools to low-graded ones.

Teacher union officials say the initiative by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration will be both ineffective and disruptive.

Meanwhile, an administration spokesman says the program is "about helping students" in struggling schools.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that at least a few teachers in several northern New Mexico districts reportedly are interested in the program,

Under the program, the state will pay $5,000 stipends to teachers who agree to transfer from A- and B-graded schools to one labeled D or F.

Transferring teachers must commit to two years at their new schools.