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Local News

  • New Mexico Senate panel approves REAL ID compromise

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A key New Mexico Senate committee passed a measure Tuesday that lawmakers called a workable compromise aimed at making the state compliant under federal regulations for identification.

    After nearly a four-hour meeting where various proposals were presented, the Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to combine a bipartisan bill with a recently passed version out of the Republican-controlled House as pressure mounted to pass a fix that meets the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act.

    The combined bill would allow all New Mexico residents to apply for REAL ID-compliant licenses or obtain a "driver's authorization card."

    Under the proposal, immigrants in the country illegally would be allowed to apply for the permit card but could no longer get a New Mexico driver's license.

    Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said the move was needed to get a compromise out of the full Senate and get it back in the House in time before the 30-day Legislative session ends in less than three weeks.

    "The citizens of New Mexico are ready for us to act," said Ingle, who co-sponsored a bipartisan bill similar to the one the committee passed. "It gets us to a point."

  • Candidates vie for secretary of state post after scandal

    SANTA FE (AP) — The fall election for New Mexico secretary of state will pit Democratic Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver against Republican state Rep. Nora Espinoza of Roswell in the wake of a scandal that landed the state election agency's former chief in jail.

    A primary registration deadline passed Tuesday with no other major party contenders for secretary of the state. Aspiring candidates also filed declarations ahead of June 7 primaries to run for two high court vacancies and three U.S. congressional seats.

    Toulouse Oliver ran for secretary of state in 2014 and was defeated by Republican incumbent Dianna Duran. She supports changes designed to boost voter registration and increase campaign finance disclosures and auditing.

    Espinoza is a strong supporter of photo ID requirements for voters, and her candidacy could inject broader social issues into the election season. The five-term state representative is sponsoring legislation during the current session that would allow business owners to refuse service to customers whose sexual orientation goes against the religious beliefs of the owner.

  • On the Docket 2-3-16

    Jan. 21
    Seddrick M. Robinson was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to appear in court and failing to pay. Defendant was fined $100 and must also pay $130 in court costs.

    Jan. 22
    Elaine M. Rodriguez  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Sean E. Atchison was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding 16 to 20 miles over the speed limit in a school zone. Defendant was fined $200 and must also pay $65 in court costs.
    Daved English  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of shoplifting. Defendant must pay $41 in court costs and received a deferred sentence. Sentence deferred until April 4.

    Kilee J. Landon  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of driving with a suspended or revoked license. Defendant was fined $300 and must also pay $65 in court costs. Defendant was also sentenced to community service.

    Jan. 25
    Roberta J. Irwin was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding one to five miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $25 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

  • Storm causes 6 accidents, closes hill routes

    The winter storm that hit northern New Mexico Monday and Tuesday brought Los Alamos 13 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Commuters and residents can look forward to a calmer week ahead.
    Both routes into Los Alamos were closed temporarily Monday morning due to six fender bender accidents. Commuters dealt with icy roads and bumper-to-bumper traffic, waiting hours to get to work.
    The roads became so severe and congested that commuters to the Los Alamos National Laboratory who did not make it in by 10 a.m. were contacted by the lab and told to turn around and go home.
    Los Alamos Public Schools also closed early, and all afterschool activities cancelled, including a public forum on mental health that was due to take place at the Los Alamos High School Monday night.  
    According to meteorologist Kerry Jones with the National Weather Service, the sudden storm was brought on by an eastbound cold air mass that came into the region early Monday morning and continued on through Tuesday.
    The front brought below freezing temperatures with it, complicating commutes in and out of Los Alamos County.

  • Today in history Feb. 3
  • Senate panel approves amended measure for teacher raises

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico teachers at various levels would see minimum salaries increase under an amended proposal approved by the Senate Education Committee.

    The panel voted Wednesday to advance the measure despite concerns that legislative finance leaders may not be able to find money to pay for the salary hikes due to evaporating revenues.

    The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, says the initial proposal had called for phasing in base-pay increases over four years at an estimated cost of more than $155 million.

    Stewart is now proposing the bill cover just one year at a cost of nearly $7 million.

    She says New Mexico needs to include the salary minimums in state law as part of an effort to boost recruitment and retention. Some lawmakers voiced concerns about it being an unfunded mandate.

  • Background work can be doorway to film career

    One of the participants in Saturday’s casting call for “Longmire,” Teresa Cata, was hoping that serving as a background actor could lead to other things.
     “I’d like to see if I could get a part in the movie from a Native American’s point of view, because it will be a way to get my people out there, because I’m from San Juan Pueblo, but I’m also part Alaskan, and I think it would be good,” Cata said.
    Cata’s ideal is to someday use film to introduce people to her culture and traditional history.
    “And that would be a good point of view, to get where we’re from,” Cata said.
    According to Casting Director Robert Baxter, background work can serve as a doorway for those like Cata who want to pursue a career in film. Baxter himself was a superintendent for New Mexico Solar Homes when he was asked to bring his 40 years of motorcycle experience to bear on “Wild Hogs.”
    “And I basically came in as a consultant for motorcycles,” Baxter said. “But I liked the casting industry. I contacted the casting people and went on as a wrangler on the movie sets, worked my way to a second assistant and then finally got my own company.”

  • ‘Longmire’ looks for local talent

    More than 300 people showed up for a casting call for “Longmire” at the Santa Claran Hotel in Española Saturday. The Netflix series – which originated on A&E – was looking for background actors for its fifth season.
    Local residents had a variety of reasons for showing up.
    Jonathon Willeto had served a background actor when “Longmire” was shot at the Santa Claran Casino last year, and wants to do it again.
    Fabian Gonzales has worked background for several films, including the second “Independence Day.”
    “I have a few friends who are into it, so I decided to go one day, and found that I was into it,” Gonzales said. “I like doing the work, and hopefully it will come to something bigger, higher up there. It’s really fun. I enjoy doing it.”
    For others, this was their first casting call.
    Megan Orr – who lives near Santa Clara Pueblo – likes “Longmire’s” local connection. In one show she recognized a location along the Rio Grande, with Black Mesa in the background, that was a half-mile from her house.

  • Judge: teacher’s discrimination case OK to proceed

    A U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal judge ruled Friday to allow a case brought by a Mountain Elementary School Teacher against the Los Alamos Public Schools to proceed.
    Teacher Zeynep Unal filed the discrimination case against the LAPS, Los Alamos School Board, former Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt and Aspen Elementary School Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom in April 2013.
    In the suit, Unal claims that Vandenkieboom harassed and discriminated against her while she was a teacher at Aspen Elementary.
    In her original complaint, Unal claimed that the school principal “regularly made insensitive remarks regarding the ethnicity and national origin of both the plaintiff and other persons as well.”
    Unal also claimed the principal regularly excluded Unal from staff meetings and informal conversations, and that she did this just because Unal was of Turkish Muslim descent.
    “Defendant Vandenkieboom consistently conspired to make the plaintiff feel like an outsider for the sole reason that the plaintiff was the only foreign-born teacher at Aspen Elementary,” according to a statement in Unal’s lawsuit.

  • New Mexico House committee gives nod to anti-DWI bills

    SANTA FE (AP) — A House panel has given the nod to a pair of measures aimed at cracking down on New Mexico's drunken drivers.

    The House Judiciary Committee voted 9-1 Monday in favor of legislation that would allow judges to impose stricter penalties for repeat offenders.

    A DWI offense can be deemed a felony after the fourth conviction. The legislation would make individuals convicted of a DWI felony eligible for sentencing under the state's habitual offender law.

    The other measure that passed the committee would make it a fourth-degree felony to be charged with DWI while driving on a suspended or revoked license for a prior DWI offense.

    The bill would also increase punishments for those who lend their car to someone with a revoked or suspended license due to drunken driving.