Local News

  • New Mexico Catholic heads defend advocate over racism claim

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's three Catholic bishops said the head of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops didn't accuse anyone of racism and are defending his actions in trying to push for an expansion of early childhood education programs.

    In an open letter Tuesday, the bishops wrote that Allen Sanchez, executive director of the group, has a deep love "for the Gospel" and is an advocate for the state's poor with an extension record.

    "We Catholic bishops of New Mexico respectfully request our elected officials keep their focus on the issue at hand: the plight of our children living in extreme poverty," Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantu and Gallup Bishop James Wall wrote.

    The letter comes after 33 GOP New Mexico state lawmakers sent Wester on letter Monday asking if he agreed with remarks about racism made by Sanchez.

    Sanchez told The Associated Press he believed racism contributed to the defeat of a proposal to expand funding for early childhood education.

  • The Latest: New Mexico Catholic bishops defend advocate

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's three Catholic bishops say the head of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops didn't accuse anyone of racism and only pointed out flaws in the state's educational system.

    The three leaders wrote in an open letter Tuesday that Allen Sanchez, executive director of the group, has a deep love "for the Gospel" and is an advocate for the state's poor.

    The letter comes after 33 GOP state lawmakers sent Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester on letter Monday and asked him if he agreed with remarks about racism made by Sanchez.

    Sanchez told The Associated Press last month that "an element of racism" helped kill a proposal to expand early childhood education in the state.

    The bishop says lawmakers focus should be on combatting child poverty in New Mexico.


    12:30 a.m.

    New Mexico Republican state lawmakers are demanding a response from the Santa Fe archbishop about comments made by a head of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    The 33 lawmakers sent Archbishop John Wester on letter Monday asked him if he agreed with remarks about racism made by Allen Sanchez, executive director of the group.

  • La Cueva Street to close for emergency repairs

    Department of Public Utilities will close LA Cueva Street immediately for two days to allow crews to repair a sewer line, according to the county.

    Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities contracted with Paul Parker Construction to conduct emergency repairs to a sanitary sewer line that crosses La Cueva Street, just north of Barranca Road.

    Starting immediately, La Cueva will be closed for a period of two days at the section of road where excavation is underway. Local traffic will be rerouted on Cascabel Street to access La Cueva properties north of the closure.
    Officials with the DPU are asking for the patience and consideration of its customers as this emergency work proceeds. Questions or concerns are being directed to the DPU through the Customer Care Center at 662-8333 or CustomerCare@lacnm.us.

  • LAPD officer put on administrative leave

    A Los Alamos police officer is on paid administrative leave after a shooting incident at the Pajarito Cliffs Site on Feb. 17 in Los Alamos.

    According to a press release from the New Mexico State Police, which investigates all officer-involved shootings in the state,

    LAPD Officer Jemuel Montoya discharged his weapon while trying to stop an attempted break-in at the facility.

    The LAPD is also conducting an internal investigation into the shooting.

    “Any officer involved in any kind of shooting incident is placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is done,” said LAPD Commander Preston Ballew. “That’s just standard department policy.”

    Montoya’s leave began the day of the incident, Ballew said.

    According to the release by the state police, the officer was called to the scene after undercover officers observed a gray Jeep Patriot enter the facility’s parking lot at 3:30 a.m.

    Montoya arrived in a marked unit and parked a short distance in front of the Jeep. After engaging his emergency equipment, he exited his patrol unit and gave commands for the suspect, Antonio Trujillo, to stop.

  • NM legislators demand response from Archbishop Wester for ‘racist’ accusation

    Thirty-three New Mexico legislators sent a letter Monday to Archbishop John C. Wester demanding his response to recent comments made by Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    In his remarks, Sanchez claimed that a proposal to increase expenditures from New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood programs failed to pass because of “an element of racism” among its opponents. Sanchez also said that “opposition came from people with power and wealth.”

    In the letter, legislators wrote, “we are deeply troubled by recent comments made by Allen Sanchez, the executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since his comments were delivered as a representative and spokesperson of the Roman Catholic Church in New Mexico, we feel compelled to ask you to confirm that his statement reflects the views of you and your fellow bishops in New Mexico.”

    Legislators noted that opposition to the proposal, House Joint Resolution 1, crossed all political, ethnic, religious and demographic lines, and opponents hailed from every region of New Mexico. They also said that state leaders have worked to increase support for early childhood programs, and since 2012, funding for these programs has more than doubled to $270 million annually.

  • RCLC meeting sidelined by open meetings act violation allegation

    Regional Coalition of LANL Communities members unexpectedly halted discussion of the executive director’s contract at their meeting Monday when a Los Alamos County Councilor and coalition representative claimed the meeting did not meet a requirement of the Open Meetings Act.

    County Councilor Chris Chandler said she received a text message from the Los Alamos County Attorney Alvin Leapheart before the meeting started, questioning the validity of the meeting. “I received a text this morning from our county attorney, who asked me isn’t this meeting deemed a continuation of the previous meeting. I shared this text with the other members of the board,” Coalition member and Los Alamos County Councilor Chris Chandler told members of the coalition. “He says, if so, are they attempting to consider matters not appearing on the agenda of the original meeting. Apparently he views this in derogation of the open meetings act, because under the open meetings act you cannot add new items to a continuing meeting.”

  • High Court: Feds have role in Texas-New Mexico water fight

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A lawsuit pitting Texas against New Mexico and Colorado over access to water from the Rio Grande must be sent back to an arbitrator, also known as a special master, to resolve the dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

    Justice Neil Gorsuch noted the federal government has an interest in ensuring water commitments are kept involving one of North America's longest rivers, citing an international agreement with Mexico and the decades-old Rio Grande Compact. The federal government has said it may pursue claims for compact violations involving the dispute.

    "A breach of the compact could jeopardize the federal government's ability to satisfy its treaty obligations to Mexico," Gorsuch wrote.

    All sides say the stakes are high given uncertainty about the future sustainability of water supplies throughout the Rio Grande Valley. In dry years when there's not enough water in the river, chile and onion farmers and pecan growers in southern New Mexico are forced to rely on wells to keep their crops and trees alive.

  • Immigration audits at New Mexico businesses sow fear

    SANTA FE (AP) — Immigrant rights advocates and local officials in New Mexico's state capital city say that recent businesses inspections by federal immigration enforcement officials and additional detentions are sowing fear in the community.

    Marcela Diaz of the immigrant-advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido on Monday said that at least six businesses in Santa Fe were hit with employment audits over the past week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agency officials for the region had no immediate comment.

    Diaz is not naming the businesses because audits are ongoing but described them as locally owned and not franchises. She also said four people were detained by immigration officials.

    Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said the enforcement actions amount to bullying. Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia says students are anxious.

  • University of New Mexico's 1st female president to take helm

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — For the first time in the 129-year history of University of New Mexico, a female president is preparing to take the helm.

    Named to the top spot in November, Garnett Stokes is scheduled to be introduced to campus Monday.
    Stokes, 61, accepted a five-year contract with a salary of $400,000 and comes to UNM from the University of Missouri,

    where she was provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

    "I am honored to be selected as the University of New Mexico's new president," Stokes said. "I am enthusiastic about what we can accomplish together to benefit UNM's faculty, staff, students, and alumni."

    She takes over as the University of New Mexico and other New Mexico colleges grapple with funding shortages and enrollments that have generally trended downward. In addition, the university has faced criticism for its professor salaries and not doing enough to help some struggling programs like the journalism program.

    The University of New Mexico also faces accusations of financial mismanagement in its athletics department. UNM football coach Bob Davie is also serving a 30-day suspension following multiple investigations that examined whether he and coaching staff interfered with criminal probes or misconduct cases involving players.

  • Chamisa’s Zero Waste lunch program steals show

    Members of Chamisa Elementary School have made it to the silver screen.

    And even though it’s only a commercial being shown prior to the feature films at the Reel Deal Theater in Los Alamos, the participants must feel like stars.

    They actually are stars of Chamisa’s Green Team, which is the group that created the commercial as a byproduct of the school’s Zero Waste Lunch Program.

    “Two of our teachers, Megan Lee (fourth grade) and Deidre Thorn (fifth grade) run our Green Team,” said Chamisa principal Suzanne Lynne. “They really deserve all of the credit. They meet frequently with students during the lunch hour and talk about the reusing and recycling so there’s no waste.”

    The school’s Zero Waste Lunch Program, which has been in place for approximately three years, was started to help raise the students’ awareness about reusing and reducing waste.

    “We encourage it all of the time,” said Lynne, “but we have specific times during the year when it is a contest and students win prizes for bringing in a lunch that does not require throwing anything in the trash.”