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Local News

  • University of New Mexico considers eliminating sports

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The University of New Mexico has authorized its athletic director to eliminate programs in the cash-strapped department.

    University President Garnett S. Stokes addressed the regents Finance and Facilities Committee on Tuesday, saying athletic director Eddie Nunez has been instructed to propose sport eliminations by this summer.

    Stokes says student athletes should be given notice a year before their sport is eliminated.

    Nunez says no decision has been made yet on which sports will be cut. The university sponsors 22 varsity sports programs.

    The action comes as the athletics department entered this year with $4.7 million in accumulated deficits. The department is expecting to overspend this fiscal year's budget by a $2.1 million and is projecting another $2.3 million deficit for the next year.
     

  • Republican attorney defends Democratic political gadfly

    SANTA FE (AP) — A Republican candidate for New Mexico secretary of state has volunteered to act as defense attorney for a former congressional intern accused of disorderly conduct at a recent Democratic political convention.

    Court documents filed on Tuesday indicate that political candidate and attorney JoHanna Cox is representing Riley del Rey without pay in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.

    Del Rey is confronting allegations that she became violent as officers removed her from the March convention in Albuquerque, where police say she shouted and sounded an air horn to disrupt a speech by gubernatorial candidate and

    Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.

    Del Rey contends she was discriminated against because of her transgender identity and fired in 2015 from an internship in Lujan Grisham's Washington office. Del Rey recently launched a Facebook-based campaign against Lujan Grisham's bid for governor.
     

  • Harassment complaints increase at New Mexico Legislature

    By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press
    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature has received more complaints of sexual misconduct or harassment this year than it did over the past decade, after shoring up procedures for investigations.

    Public records requests by The Associated Press show New Mexico's Legislature received four complaints about misconduct or harassment during this year's legislative session — two against lawmakers and two against their staff.

    That's up from just one complaint over the previous decade.

    The AP filed similar records requests in every state, seeking information on sexual misconduct or harassment complaints against lawmakers, as well as any financial settlements.

    Though the process unearthed a total of about 70 complaints and nearly $3 million in settlements nationwide, the actual figures are almost certainly higher.

    That's because a majority of states released no records, with some saying they had no complaints, did not keep a tally or they aren't legally bound to disclose the information.

    Few details of the alleged harassment in New Mexico were available because the Legislature does not disclose information about complaints where there is no finding of probable cause.

  • Legislatures being pressed to produce reports of misconduct

    By MORGAN LEE and DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press
    SANTA FE (AP) — Documenting sexual harassment complaints against state lawmakers and publicly releasing the outcomes can provide encouragement for people who might otherwise be hesitant to report allegations of inappropriate behavior.

    Experts and many female lawmakers say that's true even if the complaints are ultimately dismissed, because it shows legislative chambers take the matter seriously.

    "If there's no accountability, if we don't know what the outcomes are ... it makes it really hard for them to come forward, it makes it hard for them to trust the system," said Debbie Dougherty, a communications professor at the University of Missouri who researches sexual harassment policies.

    In New Mexico, lobbyist Julianna Koob said she was harassed three years ago while working on behalf of a coalition of sexual assault programs but never reported it for fear that doing so would affect her livelihood.

    "I had no idea that there was a policy for sexual harassment, and the behavior was so in the dark that I didn't think that it should have been reported" at the time, Koob said.

  • Sessions to address immigration at border sheriffs meeting

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — As thousands of National Guard troops deploy to the Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to bring his firm stance on immigration enforcement to New Mexico, where a group of Southwest border sheriffs are meeting Wednesday.

    Sessions will speak in Las Cruces at the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition Annual Spring Meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition, made up of 31 sheriff's departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

    All of the counties their departments patrol are located within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of the U.S.-Mexico border.
    Immigrant rights activists promised to protest Sessions' visit, as they rejected his past characterization of the border region during a 2017 visit to El Paso, Texas, as "ground zero" in the Trump administration's fight against cartels, and human traffickers.

    "He treated our home like a war zone, referring to it as 'ground zero,'" said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso. "He was wrong then, and he is wrong now."

    El Paso is some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Las Cruces.

  • Sessions to discuss immigration enforcement in N.M.

     
    LAS CRUCES (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is slated to visit southern New Mexico and speak at a conference for sheriffs in border states.

    Sessions will travel to Las Cruces on Wednesday and deliver remarks on immigration enforcement at an annual meeting organized by the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition and the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition.

    Sessions’ visit comes after President Donald Trump said last week he wants to send 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard members to the border.

    Trump also has said he wants to use the military at the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall.

    The Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition is made up of 31 sheriff’s departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

  • Spending surges in governor race

    SANTA FE (AP) — Democratic candidates for governor of New Mexico went on a spending spree of more than $2 million during the past six months as the sole Republican candidate stockpiled more cash than any other contender, according to campaign finance statements filed Monday with state regulators.

    U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign for governor spent $1.2 million as it worked out of three offices in Las Cruces, Santa Fe and her home city of Albuquerque – while collecting contributions of $1.4 million.

    Lujan Grisham is locked in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination in the state’s June primary election against former media executive Jeff Apodaca and state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of the Las Cruces area.

    Cervantes injected $1 million of his own family money into his campaign in early April in the form of a loan from himself and wife Jennifer Cervantes, while collecting $54,000 from contributors over the past six months.

    Apodaca, who has been running ads on cable and network TV since December, reported spending of roughly $628,000, while raising $254,000 from donors. Apodaca previously lent his campaign $450,000.

  • Purdue confirms bid submission for LANL contract

     
    Purdue University and Bechtel Corporation publicly announced Friday that they too have put in a bid for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management and operations contract. 

    In an email to the Los Alamos Monitor Tuesday, Zink confirmed that Purdue University has put a bid for the contract, presently valued at over $2 billion. 

    “We can confirm that Purdue has submitted a proposal but there is nothing else we can share at this time,” Zink said in a written statement.  

    According to news reports, Purdue has partnered with Bechtel Corp, but a spokesman for Bechtel neither confirmed nor denied the partnership.

    Bechtel is a current partner with the University of California in the Los Alamos National Security consortium. 

    “We aren’t discussing the procurement at this time out of respect to the NNSA acquisition process and the lab workforce Bechtel Spokesman Fred deSousa said. “We are concentrating on managing and operating the lab with the LANS team.”

  • Border Patrol: Wall in N.M. to be ‘serious structure’

     
    A new wall being constructed along a 20-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern New Mexico as part of President Donald Trump’s fight against drug trafficking and illegal immigration is being advertised as a “very serious structure” made of metal and concrete.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials gathered Monday to mark the groundbreaking of the $73 million project at Santa Teresa near New Mexico’s state line with Texas. They say the new wall will be harder to get over, under and through.

    The work to rip out the old vehicle barriers and replace them with the bollard-style wall is expected to take a little more than a year, but opponents are suing in an effort to stop the work.

     

    Out with the Old

    Gone will be the old post and rail barriers that are meant to stop vehicles but have been of little use against people trying to cross on foot. Aside from being easy to breach, U.S. Border Patrol officials say the existing barriers and mesh fencing are expensive and time consuming to repair.

  • Police investigate arson attempt

     
    Los Alamos County Police opened an arson investigation April 2 after officers were called to Big Rock Loop that Monday morning on a property damage call. 

    There, officers discovered a glass jar filled with a flammable liquid and some charring on a stucco wall of a house and a nearby piece of wood. 

    “It was very minor, but it was obvious the intent of arson was there,” Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez said. The investigation is still active, and it’s not known when it will be completed. Police said they have no suspects. It is the first incident of arson reported this year.