Update

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Task Force: New Mexico Water Supplies At Risk Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Researchers from universities around the state say New Mexico is undoubtedly dealing with a dire situation thanks to a persistent drought and there's no telling when conditions will improve.

The task force of experts on Tuesday delivered their preliminary findings to lawmakers on the vulnerability of the state's water supplies.

yooperann via Flickr

Project Protects NM Forested Land From Development – The Associated Press

More than 11,000 acres that adjoin the Carson National Forest have been permanently protected from development through a conservation easement.

A conservation effort on the Upper Rio Chama River property in northern New Mexico began in 2009. The final and largest piece of the nearly 12-thousand-acre property became part of the easement Monday.

New Mexico Senate Has Backlog Of ConfirmationsThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The Democratic-led New Mexico Senate will convene in January with a backlog of pending confirmation decisions on dozens of appointees of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Martinez's office says the 85 first-term appointees awaiting confirmation votes include numerous members of state boards and commissions as well as three Cabinet secretaries.

Davelnman via Flickr

Rare Loon Takes Flight In Albuquerque - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A "common loon" has been making uncommon visits to an Albuquerque pond.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Bernalillo County bird watchers have been eyeing a bosque pond to glimpse the loon after it was spotted earlier this month.

Bird watcher Nancy Hetrick first spotted the bird Nov. 16 in the pond near Tingley Beach.

jmoran24 via Flickr

Regulators Approve PNM Solar Plan - The Associated Press

PNM's plan to build four more solar-powered generating stations has been approved by state regulators.

The Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the utility's renewable energy procurement plan for next year. The solar arrays will represent a more than $79 million-dollar investment.

Ed Williams

Albuquerque Activists Hold Ferguson ProtestThe Associated Press

Around 200 Albuquerque protesters joined demonstrators nationwide after a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Missouri.

The demonstration last night forced Albuquerque police to momentarily close traffic in the city's International District but the protest remained peaceful.

hugovk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Prosecutor Weighs Santa Fe Police Shooting ChargesThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A southeastern New Mexico prosecutor is considering whether two Santa Fe police officers will face any charges in the nonfatal shooting of a motorist.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Roswell-based District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks says she expects to decide on possible charges by early next year.

New Mexico House Democrats Elect Egolf As Leader - The Associated Press

New Mexico House Democrats have chosen a new leader now that they'll be the minority in that legislative chamber.

Democratic representatives over the weekend elected Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe to serve as the House minority leader when the Legislature begins its 2015 session on Jan. 20.

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Judge Lifts Restraining Order In Gila LawsuitThe Associated Press

The Interstate Stream Commission can now move forward with a meeting next week to consider the future of the Gila River.

During a hearing yesterday, state District Judge Francis Mathew lifted a temporary restraining order that had blocked action by the commission.

New Mexico faces a December 31st deadline for deciding how to manage its share of the river under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.

Robert Smith via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Audit Slams Bernalillo County Treasurer's OfficeThe Associated Press

A special audit of the Bernalillo County treasurer's office is alleging violations of state law and has uncovered a pattern of risky investment decisions and preferential treatment for some brokers.

Auditor Hector Balderas' office released the audit Wednesday. The audit questions whether more than $900 million in investment purchases were in the best interest of New Mexico's most populous county.

my_southborough via Creative Commons

Bernalillo County Inmate-Release Plan Approved - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County has a contingency plan to release some prisoners deemed to be low risk if the jail population gets too large.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the county jail's population of just under 1,900 inmates is now well below its peak and slightly below a court-ordered target.

Angel Fire Resort

New Mexico Breaks Temperature RecordsThe Associated Press

The blast of wintry weather moving across New Mexico has resulted in several broken records.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say Eagle Nest led the pack yesterday with a low temperature of minus 17. The mountain community hadn't been that cold this early in a season since Nov. 10, 1950, when the temperature dropped to 20 below zero.

Taos, Moriarty, Raton, Las Vegas and Roswell also set records.

Larry1732 via Flickr

LANL Cuts Corners On WIPP Waste - The Santa Fe New Mexican

Los Alamos National Laboratory officials took shortcuts when preparing nuclear waste for shipment to the nation’s only underground nuclear waste storage facility. That’s according to an investigation by The Santa Fe New Mexican.

The paper reported this weekend that changes in the treatment of waste went undocumented and resulted in an explosive combination of toxic materials.

cobalt123 via Flickr

Snow Dusts Northern New Mexico - The Associated Press, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe authorities are warning drivers tread carefully due to light snow making roads slippery.

The Santa Fe Office of Emergency Management said Sunday that icy conditions have already caused several minor accidents on roadways.

Officials say snow is expected to continue falling through the afternoon and temperatures will likely be below freezing.

Rita Daniels

Albuquerque Police Eye Ferguson DevelopmentsThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police say they're monitoring developments as a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, mulls whether to indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager in the St. Louis suburb.

An Albuquerque police spokesman says the city is preparing for possible protests and unrest following a decision.

Albuquerque has seen its own string of angry demonstrations following the March police shooting of a homeless camper and more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

National Weather Service

Winter Weather Hits Parts Of New MexicoThe Associated Press

Difficult driving conditions are reported on some eastern New Mexico highways due to packed snow and icy spots as a strong storm system moves into the state.

Difficult conditions are reported early Thursday on sections of Interstate 25 straddling Las Vegas and parts of Interstate 40 near Santa Rosa.

The National Weather Service says central and eastern New Mexico are enduring frigid cold temperatures.

timmenzies via Flickr

San Miguel County To Consider Drilling OrdinanceThe Associated Press

San Miguel County commissioners are scheduled to vote today on an ordinance that would impose some of the strictest requirements on oil and natural gas exploration in the country.

The measure would restrict oil and gas exploration to a sparsely populated stretch on the eastern side of the county, some 60 miles away from the county seat of Las Vegas.

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Report: Nearly $13 Million On TV Ads In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A nonpartisan government watchdog group reports that nearly $13 million was spent on television advertising in New Mexico races for governor, U.S. Senate and other state offices.

The Center for Public Integrity says the governor's race accounted for about $6.2 million in ads, with $4.6 million by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in winning re-election.

Gila National Forest

Critics Of Gila River Diversion To RallyThe Associated Press

The Interstate Stream Commission will be meeting today in Albuquerque and the agenda includes a series of presentations on proposals that call for diverting a portion of the Gila River.

The agenda does not include any time for public comment, and that's what has environmental groups upset. They plan to rally outside the meeting.

Albuquerque City Council Oks Police AgreementThe Associated Press

The Albuquerque City Council has endorsed an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department aimed at overhauling the troubled police department of New Mexico's most populous city amid accusations of excessive force.

The council approved the plan on an 8-0 vote during a special meeting Thursday evening. City officials are to sign it next week.

Floyd E. Vasquez Jr.

Judge: Parts Of County Ordinance UnconstitutionalThe Associated Press and Las Vegas Optic

A federal judge says portions of a Mora County ordinance that bans oil and gas drilling in the rural northern New Mexico county are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge James Browning says some of the ordinance's provisions are "pretty wild" and inconsistent with federal law.

His comments came during a motions hearing this week in Albuquerque as one oil company seeks to strike down the ordinance.

Photo by buschap/Flickr (Creative Commons)

US Senate Seat, 3 House Seats Up For GrabsThe Associated Press

Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Udall is seeking his second term.  Republican challenger Allen Weh is a businessman and retired Marine colonel.

New Mexico's three congressional seats are also up for grabs.

In southern New Mexico, Republican incumbent Steve Pearce is running against Democratic challenger Roxanne Lara.

In the 1st District, Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham is facing Republican Mike Frese, a scientist and small business owner.

Sergio Jiménez / The Daily Lobo

Albuquerque Police Still Face Heat On StaffingThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police have agreed to enter into a reform agreement with the U.S. Justice Department but the agency still faces scrutiny for keeping some leaders.

That's because Albuquerque police is reassigning command staff who oversaw troubled units to new positions.

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Judge Orders Fast Track For NM Water Panel Dispute - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A judge yesterday ordered a fast-track process for determining whether a New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission subcommittee violated the state Open Meetings Act regarding the future of the Gila River.

A week ago, state District Judge Raymond Ortiz issued a temporary restraining order preventing the commission from taking any action on the Gila River projects.

Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office

New Mexico Deputy In Shooting Pleads Not Guilty  - The Associated Press

A New Mexico sheriff's deputy accused of fatally shooting a fellow deputy following an argument at a hotel has pleaded not guilty.

Tai Chan entered his plea to the murder charge at his first court appearance in Las Cruces on Wednesday.

Police say Chan shot Deputy Jeremy Martin at the Hotel Encanto after the two drank at a nightspot and got into a heated argument. They were staying there after dropping off a prisoner in Arizona.

Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office

Deputy Accused In Fatal Shooting Expected In CourtThe Associated Press

Court documents say a New Mexico sheriff's deputy accused of killing a fellow deputy told police, "I shot the guy" after officers arrived to a chaotic scene at a hotel.

Records and 911 recordings released yesterday revealed new details about the shooting. Authorities allege Santa Fe County Deputy Tai Chan fatally shot fellow Deputy Jeremy Martin after a night of drinking and arguing.

Navajo Nation

Navajo High Court Orders Election Postponed The Associated Press

The Navajo Supreme Court has ordered the postponement of the tribe's presidential election and an immediate reprint of ballots without the name of a candidate who was disqualified in a language fluency case.

The decision Thursday came as a result of a petition to enforce a disqualification order against Chris Deschene.

Skarz via Wikimedia Commons

Albuquerque Mayor Wants Action To Keep Officers  - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry wants the city and the state to take action to prevent the loss of more than a fifth of the city's police force to retirements over the next two years.

Berry told the Albuquerque Journal during an interview that the city stands to lose 200 officers and still see at least 100 of them retire even if the financial incentives for them to stay are provided.

puroticorico via Flickr

New Mexico GOP Hopes To Win Legislative Majority - The Associated Press

Democrats have controlled the New Mexico House for the past 60 years, but the political landscape is giving Republicans hope for a breakthrough in the general election.

Republicans need a net gain of three seats to take control of the 70-member House. There are at least 10 competitive races, with Democrats and Republicans each holding five of those seats.

publik15 via Flickr

Report: Care Provider Needs Funding IncreaseThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A company providing some behavioral health services in New Mexico following a shake-up of the state's network says it needs more money to stay afloat.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Turquoise Health and Wellness said in an Oct. 9 report that it "is currently not a financially viable organization on its own."

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