UNM President Threatens Lawsuit, Man Who Killed Three Children In ABQ Had Criminal History

Dec 7, 2016

Frank Threatens Lawsuit As UNM Regents Meet To Discuss His Future – Albuquerque Journal, KRQE-TV, Associated Press

University of New Mexico President Bob Frank is threatening to sue over what his attorneys say was an unlawful disclosure of records regarding his job.

The Albuquerque Journal and KRQE-TV report Frank is threatening legal action and wants copies of reports of investigations against him. Frank says those were inaccurate and he wants to know who leaked them to the media. He’s calling for an independent investigation.

The UNM Regents have called a special meeting to discuss possibly suspending or firing Frank.

Wednesday's meeting is the latest development between Frank and the regents, who last week met in closed session for two hours.

Frank has been UNM president since June 2012.

He announced in September that he won't seek to renew his contract when it ends on May 31, 2017.

If the regents pursue termination, Frank would receive a statement explaining the grounds for his firing and be given a chance to respond in writing to the notice within 30 days.

To fire Frank, a majority of the seven regents must vote to do so.

Regents Take No Action After Meeting On UNM President's FateThe Associated Press

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents called a special meeting to discuss possibly suspending or firing UNM President Bob Frank, but wound up taking no action.

Wednesday's 3 ½-hour meeting was the latest development between Frank and the regents, who met last week in closed session for two hours.

Frank has been UNM president since June 2012.

He announced in September that he won't seek to renew his contract when it ends on May 31, 2017.

If the regents pursue termination, Frank would receive a statement explaining the grounds for his firing and be given a chance to respond in writing to the notice within 30 days.

To fire Frank, a majority of the seven regents must vote to do so.

Man Who Killed Three Children In Albuquerque Had Stalking And Assault History - The Associated Press

The man who shot and killed three children and critically wounded their mother had a history that included cases of stalking and assault. 

George Daniel Wexler pleaded no contest in 2003 to misdemeanor stalking and petty misdemeanor assault against a family member. He was also arrested in 2004 for reckless driving, but police say he had no felony record.

Authorities say Monday Wexler broke into the home of his 36-year-old ex-girlfriend and waited for her and her children to get home. He then shot them before turning the gun on himself.  The mother remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Police have said the two had a brief relationship and that Wexler offered to give Christmas gifts to the children several days before the shooting but the mother refused.

New Mexico Senator Decides Against Running For GovernorThe Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says despite the encouragement of supporters, he has decided against running for governor in his home state of New Mexico in 2018.

The Democrat made the announcement in a statement issued Wednesday, putting to rest any speculation that he might be in the lineup of fellow Democrats who will be seeking the seat.

Udall said he believes he has the experience to address issues that have plagued New Mexico, but that he can better serve the state by remaining in the Senate.

He sits on the influential appropriations committee as well as panels that oversee commerce, American Indian issues and foreign relations.

The senator said he consulted with his family, colleagues and some constituents before making the decision.

Udall was re-elected to the Senate in 2014.

Albuquerque Hispano Chamber President To Step DownThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The head of Albuquerque's Hispanic chamber is stepping down.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Alex Romero has announced he will retire after 12 years as president and CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce. His last day will be April 28.

Romero started the chamber in 2004 and it has since grown to be one of the largest Hispanic chambers in the country. The organization currently boasts more than 1,500 members and an annual budget of about $3 million.

The chamber's board of directors will determine a replacement for Romero. Chairman Rudy Beserra did not respond to requests for comment.

Audit Points To Causes Of New Mexico's Rape Kit Backlog - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

A lack of human and financial resources is partly to blame for New Mexico's backlog of more than 5,400 untested evidence kits from rapes and other sexual assaults.

State Auditor Tim Keller has released the findings from a special review aimed at identifying practices that led to the untested kits languishing in evidence vaults around the state.

Albuquerque's crime lab still carries the bulk of the backlog, with about 73 percent of the untested kits.

Some kits from elsewhere have been forwarded to the state crime lab, where they still await testing.

Keller says the audit's findings provide a roadmap to clear the existing backlog and ensure it never happens again.

He says it comes down to setting priorities, funding and overcoming troubling attitudes about victims of sexual assault.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Approves Tuition Hike – The Associated Press & The Roswell Daily Record

The Community College Board has approved a tuition hike at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.

The Roswell Daily Record reports (http://bit.ly/2hgDaFs ) that the board voted Tuesday to approve increases in both per-credit-hour tuition and fees. In-district students will pay $78 a credit hour instead of $69 an hour, a 13 percent increase. Out-of-district and out-of-state student will also see tuition increases.

The full Eastern New Mexico University system's board of regents will vote on the increase later this week.

All students will also see fees increase from $12 to $16 per credit hour. Fees primarily pay for internet service throughout the campus and for maintaining computer labs.

The tuition increase comes as the school faces increased cuts in state funding. ENMU-R President Dr. John Madden says the increases should cover about 36 percent of appropriation cuts from the state.

UNM Health Sciences Center Could Eliminate 500 JobsSanta Fe New Mexican

The chancellor of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center told a legislative committee budget cuts and revenue losses will result in the loss of 500 jobs.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Dr. Paul Roth spoke to the Legislative Finance Committee. He said most of those cuts would be through nixing jobs that were never filled and through attrition.

Roth said no layoffs were planned but added that the cuts will impact people’s lives and the quality of medical care in the state. The cuts would include doctors, nurses, hospital staff and academic staff.

The Health Sciences Center’s revenues have declined by nearly $43 million in this budget year. Much of that is due to Medicaid and managed care organization contract cuts according to the New Mexican.

The state’s universities and colleges are implementing 5.5 percent budget cuts because state revenues have been dropping due to low oil and natural gas prices.

New Mexico Colleges Seek Extension To Scholarship FundingAssociated Press

New Mexico public university presidents are urging the Legislature to extend extra funding from liquor taxes to a popular scholarship paid for mainly by state lottery proceeds.

Supplementary scholarship funds from liquor taxes help New Mexico offset 90 percent of in-state tuition for more than 30,000 public university and college students. Scholarships would fall to 60 percent if the extra funding is allowed to expire in June.

New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers on Tuesday urged lawmakers to provide a one-year extension of the extra funding while a task force develops a long-term solvency plan for lottery scholarships.

Carruthers says the state may want to increase scholarship awards each year as students advance to provide an incentive and improve graduation rates. He said the idea was proposed by students.

Ex-New Mexico Officer Acquitted In Wife's Death Eyes License KRQE-TV, Associated Press

A former Albuquerque police officer acquitted of killing his wife in 2013 wants his law enforcement license back.

KRQE-TV reports Levi Chavez asked the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy said getting his law enforcement certification reinstated would help with his personal and professional goals.

The former officer was fired in 2011 following his indictment in connection with the death of his wife, Tera Chavez.

Two years later, jurors acquitted Chavez of murder following a trial that drew national attention. During the trial, jurors learned that Chavez had a number of affairs while an officer, including one with another police officer.

Prosecutors claimed he did it to keep her from talking about insurance fraud tied to Chavez's truck.

Chavez said he was prosecuted because he was a law enforcement officer.

Ex-Las Cruces School Bus Driver Facing Prison In Rape CaseAssociated Press

Prosecutors say a former Las Cruces school bus driver is facing up to a three-year prison sentence after pleading no contest to a rape charge.

They say 27-year-old Darien Pete was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Doña Ana County District Attorney Mark D'Antonio says Pete pleaded no contest with no agreement to sentencing or reduction in charges to two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor.

Pete also will have to register as a sex offender.

According to investigators, Pete met the girl last year while driving a school bus.

The two maintained communication through social media and text messaging. The girl's mother discovered some of the messages and contacted police.

Prosecutors say Pete will undergo a 60-day diagnostic evaluation starting in early January before sentencing.

Police: Shots Fired At Officer; 3 In CustodyAssociated Press

Authorities say three people are in custody following a search after shots were fired at a New Mexico State Police officer just south of Taos.

Sgt. Chad Pierce says the officer wasn't wounded during the Monday evening incident but that several bullets struck the officer's vehicle.

Pearce says two women were arrested after a perimeter was set up Monday night and that a man was taken into custody Tuesday morning.

Pearce identified the women as 32-year-old Jenna Trujillo and 35-year-old Diana Castro and the man as 30-year-old Juan David Gonzales.

It's not immediately known if they have attorneys who could comment on the allegations.

New Mexico City Continues Ten Commandments Monument Lawsuit Daily Times, Associated Press

A New Mexico city is asking a larger panel of judges to review a decision that found its Ten Commandments monument unconstitutional.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports that the city of Bloomfield will petition all of the judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to weigh in on the case. A panel of three judges from the court on Nov. 9 upheld a previous decision that found the 3,000-pound, 6-foot-tall monument outside City Hall violates the U.S. Constitution.

Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker ruled in August 2014 that the monument constitutes government speech and is subject to the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

Albuquerque attorney Andrew Schultz is representing the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the city on behalf of two Wiccan residents in 2012.