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Local News

  • Teen seeks to document WWII veterans' disappearing stories

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — While most 19-year-olds are enrolling in college, working their first full-time job or considering what's next in life — all of which keeps their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts buzzing 24/7 — Rishi Sharma is on a far different quest. The 19-year-old Californian has been interviewing at least one World War II combat veteran a day for more than a year, recording their stories and learning all he can from that quickly disappearing "Greatest Generation."

    To date, he's interviewed more than 260 such veterans, including several from New Mexico, reported the Albuquerque Journal.

    "My best friends are World War II veterans," said Sharma, the son of Indian immigrants who was raised in Agoura Hills, California.

    Armed with a video camera, a lengthy list of questions and a razor-sharp focus on the job at hand, Sharma has already traveled thousands of miles in his Honda Civic to interview any combat veteran with the mental acuity and time — typically four to six hours — to spare.

  • FBI asks for help to find WR bank robbery suspect

    It’s been three years and three days since a woman walked into the White Rock branch of the Los Alamos National Bank and robbed a teller of the all the cash in the teller’s drawer.
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is again asking for the public’s help in tracking the suspect down.
    “I can tell you we have chased down every lead we got,” said FBI spokesman Frank Fisher of the Albuquerque Office. “We take bank robberies seriously and want to get this person off the street. Somebody out there knows who this person is.”
    The robbery happened just before 1:30 p.m. Feb. 5, 2013. The suspect is described as a Hispanic or Native American female in her late 20s or early 30s, approximately 5-feet-4 and about 150 pounds. She may have a scar or tattoo below her left eye.
    The suspect wore a black jacket over a black or gray hooded sweatshirt. She also wore winter gloves.
    The FBI office in Albuquerque is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest and conviction.
    No one was injured during the robbery.

  • Group hopes to start art museum

    While everyone knows about the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos’ historic role in it, Los Alamos County has another history hidden in the art collections of its many residents that hasn’t been told yet.
    A group of residents is working to start the Los Alamos Museum of Art in an effort to change that. They want to save, keep and eventually present those collections to the public.
    The group will present their concept and progress at an “Art on Tap” event at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Unquarked Wine Room, 145 Central Park Square.
    For about a year, LAMOA Executive Director Ruth Tatter and others have worked and documented collections within the community they would like to display. The group does not yet have a building.
    “Los Alamos has a science history that’s pretty well documented,” Tatter said. “But there’s also a parallel history of art, music, donors, and that hasn’t really been documented. The collections these people have are pretty incredible.”
    LAMOA is looking for a building, volunteers and funds to help keep those collections in Los Alamos.

  • Low turnout for Tuesday’s elections

    Voter turnout was low for Tuesday’s elections as the community decided who would take seats on the Los Alamos Public Schools School Board and University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Advisory Board.
    Only 1,432 voters cast ballots for the election, according to the unofficial results Tuesday issued by the Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office.
    This election decided four races in a nine-candidate race. The only candidate not challenged was UNM-LA candidate Michelle Hall, who was renewing her term for Position 2 on the UNM-LA Advisory Board.
    In the race for seats on the UNM-LA Board, incumbent David Sutton defeated challenger Michael Redondo for Position 1, and Sheila Schiferl received more votes than James Robinson for Position 5.
    Stephen Boerigter defeated opponent Darryl Sugar for District 2, a seat vacated by Matt Williams. District 2 includes Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock. In District 1, incumbent and school board chairman Jim Hall was facing a challenge by Ellen Ben-Naim. District 2 is where Piñon Elementary School is located.
    Ben-Naim said she couldn’t wait to hit the ground running. “I’m excited about continuing to have great schools and making improvements where we can,” she said. “This was the result of a lot of people working together to bring about change.”

  • Nation's only Latina governor denounces 'racist' charge

    SANTA FE (AP) — The nation's only Latina governor is denouncing a claim by a white former mayor of Santa Fe that she is a racist because of her effort to make it more difficult for people in New Mexico illegally to get driver's licenses.

    During a rally Monday for immigrant rights advocates, former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss told activists that moves by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez were based on racism and compared her to President Donald Trump – who Martinez sharply criticized during the presidential campaign.

    Coss told the audience that he was proud to live in New Mexico, a state "that rejected the racism of Donald Trump, that rejected the racism of Susana Martinez."

    The former mayor then said people had suggested that he not call anyone a racist. "Well, you know what? When you're a racist, and you try to implement racist policies in my community, it makes me angry," Coss said.

    The white liberal said the effort by Martinez, a Republican, to change New Mexico's law that allowed immigrants already in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses was "racist, and that was wrong."

    Chris Sanchez, a spokesman for Martinez, criticized Coss' remarks late Monday.

  • 2017 State Legislature; Senators halt proposal to revive state school board

    By Robert Nott

    The New Mexican

    Five Democrats joined four Republicans on Monday to block a bill that would have eliminated the job of Cabinet secretary of public education and resurrected a statewide board to oversee schools in New Mexico.

    The Senate Rules Committee voted 9-2 to table Senate Joint Resolution 2, a proposed constitutional amendment to create a 10-member school board that in turn would hire a secretary of education. In the existing system, the governor appoints someone to run the Public Education Department.

    Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, introduced the resolution, saying it would return power to school districts and would allow the state board to hire or fire a secretary of education at will.

    "If the individual [secretary] does a poor job, the state school board can take that individual out of the position," Padilla told the committee. Otherwise, he said, even if a secretary of education is doing a good job, a newly elected governor could "turn it upside down" by hiring his or her own person for the job.

  • 2017 State Legislature: New Mexico Legislature, Congress diverging on gun sales checks

    By Steve Terrell

    The New Mexican

    A House committee on Saturday advanced a bill that would expand required background checks to include most gun purchases in New Mexico.

    After a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-1 along party lines in favor of House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos. The committee's action mirrored that of a Senate panel that last week approved an identical proposal, Senate Bill 48.

    While the New Mexico Legislature is moving toward expanding mandatory background checks, Congress is heading in the other direction.

    The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted 235-180 to scuttle an Obama-era rule requiring background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities. If this measure passes the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, Republican President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

    In presenting her state bill Saturday, Garcia Richard said her family owns guns. But, she said, "New Mexico has a problem, a problem that contributes to New Mexico being the deadliest state for domestic violence."

  • 2017 State Legislature: Bills to stop contract buyouts die in House committee

    A state House committee on Friday tabled two pieces of legislation aimed at stopping public school superintendents, college presidents and university coaches from getting what some lawmakers referred to as a “golden parachute” when their contracts are terminated early.
    The House Education Committee action effectively killed both bills, sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque.
    The decisions came on bipartisan votes, with some lawmakers and members of the education community arguing that the measures would hinder the ability of school districts and colleges to recruit high-quality candidates for top jobs.
    Much of the discussion Friday centered on recent controversy involving Robert Frank, the former president of The University of New Mexico who agreed to step down in December under a deal with the board of regents that allows him to continue collecting his annual salary of $350,000 through May.
    Under the agreement, Frank can continue working at UNM in a $190,000-a-year tenured position. In the meantime, he has been job hunting. Frank is one of four finalists for the president’s position at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

  • 2017 State Legislature: Panel OK’s ban on conversion therapy

    BY STEVE TERRELL
    The New Mexican

  • 2017 State Legislature: House committee advances bill allowing doctor’s aid in dying

    A parent tries to starve herself to death. A cancer patient wonders how long she will have to suffer before the disease destroys her. And across the state, New Mexicans hear the pleas of ailing loved ones to let them die.
    Hours of personal stories Friday about sickness, pain, dignity and death moved lawmakers to tears. Then a committee of the House of Representatives voted along party lines to advance a bill that would allow medical professionals to assist terminally ill patients in ending their own lives.
    The 4-3 vote came only months after the New Mexico Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the case of a cancer patient who wanted the option to end her own life with the help of a doctor. The state’s highest court decided New Mexico law does not expressly provide patients the right to medical assistance in dying, and suggested the Legislature should clarify the issue.
    House Bill 171, endorsed Friday by the House Health and Human Services Committee, would change a 1963 law that made it a fourth-degree felony for anyone to assist in a person’s suicide. The law would allow medical professionals to aid in an adult’s death by prescribing lethal drugs, provided that the patient meets certain criteria.