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Local News

  • Some New Mexico delegates give Clinton a second chance

    SANTA FE (AP) — Some New Mexico political delegates to the Democratic National Convention who traveled to Philadelphia in support of Bernie Sanders are giving Hillary Clinton a second look amid a deluge of testimonials highlighting the presidential nominee's record of public service.

    Sanders delegate John Meade of Santa Fe said Wednesday that the convention has helped him appreciate Clinton's record of community service, and that he plans to vote for her in the fall despite reservations about ties to corporate interests.

    Clinton won the New Mexico primary in June, earning 18 pledged delegates and all 9 superdelegate votes from party leaders. Sanders earned 16 pledged delegates in New Mexico before endorsing Clinton.

    U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico are speaking to the convention tonight. They support Clinton.

    Bernie Sanders delegate Kathleen Burke, from Bernalillo County, is calling on fellow delegates to protest President Barack Obama when he addresses the Democratic National Convention tonight.

    In a Facebook posting, Burke says Obama is "highly complicit in the silencing" of liberals because he supported Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination.

  • Los Alamos gets closer to ‘super school’ goal

    Members of a group looking to change the way high school is taught in Los Alamos County got a big win this week when they learned they’re one of 50 finalists. The XQ Super School Project team is competing for a $10 million grant that will help them build a high school that offers another way of learning.
    The team entered the contest at the beginning of the school year. The contest was organized by the “XQ Institute,” a California-based organization looking to modify the way public school is taught, with a preference for more academic freedom for students over traditional classroom learning.
    The Los Alamos team, called the “Odyssey Team,” proposes to put a priority on the mental health and wellness of students as they pursue the academic subjects of their choice.
    If the team wins this round, they will be one of five groups in the nation that will each receive a $10 million grant to design and fund their new high school. The announcement of winners will be Aug. 4.
    Odyssey Team member Marvel Harrison congratulated the community and the students for helping them get this far.

  • Barranca Mesa passed over for state funding

    This year, Barranca Mesa Elementary School will not receive funding from New Mexico’s Public School Capital Outlay Council, the district learned Monday.
    The news was revealed during a council session at the capitol building in Santa Fe.
    Los Alamos Public School Board can choose a different school to rebuild in the future.
    When the school board selected Barranca Mesa Elementary to be the next school for renovations, Barranca Mesa was ranked 14 out of a list of 100 on the council’s list of state schools in need of structural improvement.
    The school board’s plan was to use $11 million in general obligation bonds, approved in February, in combination with about $8 million from the council. That gave the district about $18 million to rebuild the school.
    One of the council’s functions is to distribute funding through the Public School Capital Outlay Act to help New Mexico’s school districts maintain their infrastructure.
    The amount of funding a school district receives is determined by a matching funding formula, and a ranking system.
    At Monday’s council meeting in Santa Fe, Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus learned the school’s state ranking slipped from 14 to 38, dashing any hopes that the school would receive funding from the council this year.

  • Bear-y busy on Orange Street
  • Locals host DNC watch parties

    The Democratic Convention was off to a rocky start Monday, with Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters booing any mention of Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But that was not the tone at a convention watch party hosted by the Democratic Party of Los Alamos Monday evening.
    Approximately 25 citizens who turned out for the watch party listened politely and applauded at the end of speeches by Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sanders.
    Many expressed hope of party unification.
    “It reminds me a lot of Hillary and Barak Obama in 2008. There was that going on, and then we eventually came together,” said Los Alamos party Chair Robyn Schultz.
    “The people there, their feelings are running very high and they really feel strongly about his platform. We got a lot of it incorporated into the Democratic Party platform, but someone is the top vote getter and it was Hillary.”

  • Ex-pastor waives hearing in child porn case

    Former Los Alamos Baptist Church pastor Paul Cunningham waived his right to a preliminary hearing in court Tuesday. His case for allegedly downloading child pornography will be sent to district court.
    In Los Alamos Magistrate Court, Cunningham, 54, dressed in an orange striped jail uniform, sat quietly in the back two bench rows away from the other inmates. He was taken back to his cell shortly after court began.
    Cunningham’s attorney, Stephen Aarons, did not appear with him in court, and could not be reached for comment.
    Cunningham did not have a district court date as of Tuesday. He is also still being held on a $5,000 cash surety bond. He’s been in custody since his arrest. Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist said that he would be filing Cunningham’s new court appearances later this week.
    Cunningham, 54, was arrested June 16 after an investigation by Los Alamos Police Department and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. According to investigators,  sexually explicit images of child pornography were discovered that had apparently been downloaded onto a computer allegedly owned by Cunningham.

  • Survey: County lacks in communications

    This year’s citizen survey shows the greatest need for improvement in the area of government communications.
    Overall scores for how the county communicates with citizens rose this year, with “excellent ratings” jumping by nine to 11 percent in several instances. Results showed that good or excellent ratings were
    • 70 percent for communicating information about county news, meetings, and events in a timely manner (25 percent fair or poor).
    • 59 percent for providing information that citizens need to participate in county decisions (34 percent fair or poor).
    • 58 percent for providing opportunities for citizen involvement in county decision-making (34 percent fair or poor).
    • 57 percent for openness of the county decision-making process (32 percent fair or poor).
    • 52 percent for fairness in the county decision making process (38 percent fair or poor).
    “So you’ve got about a quarter to a third of the population who are rating you fair to poor on communications issues or feelings of efficacy or being part of the process,” said Brian Sanderoff from Research and Polling, Inc., the company that conducted the survey.

  • County gets high marks on survey

    Los Alamos’ biannual citizens’ survey shows the county ranking higher in several categories than it did two years ago. According to Brian Sanderoff and Matt Hughes from Research and Polling, Inc., the company that conducted the survey, Los Alamos is rated better by its citizens than many of the communities they work with.
    Sanderoff and Hughes presented the results to the Los Alamos County Council July 19. Their executive summary states, “Residents of Los Alamos County enjoy a high quality of life and appear to be very appreciative of the services that are offered by the County. In fact, 92 percent of residents rate the overall quality of life in Los Alamos County as being either good (36 percent) or excellent (56 percent).
    “Furthermore, over the past two years residents have grown increasingly pleased, as the percentage who rate the quality of life as excellent has risen from 42 percent to 56 percent.
    “Residents also express a high level of satisfaction with the overall quality of services provided by the County with 86 percent rating the services as being either good (49 percent) or excellent (37 percent). Just 3 percent of residents rate the County services as being poor.”
    “This is almost to the level of resort towns…These scores are very good,” Sanderoff said.

  • Authorities ID remains as those of missing treasure hunter

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A treasure hunter who disappeared this year while searching for an author's cache of gold and jewels in the New Mexico wilderness was confirmed dead by authorities Tuesday after his remains were discovered west of Santa Fe.

    Santa Fe Police spokesman Greg Gurule said medical investigators confirmed the remains found along the Rio Grande north of Cochiti Lake were those of Randy Bilyeu, a 54-year-old grandfather from Colorado.

    Gurule said the investigation ito the death remains active, and declined further comment.

    Bilyeu disappeared in early January while searching for antiquities dealer and writer Forrest Fenn's $2 million trove of gold and jewels in northern New Mexico.

    Fenn dropped clues about the treasure in a cryptic poem in his self-published 2011 memoir, "The Thrill of the Chase," inspiring tens of thousands to search for it.

    Fenn, an eccentric 85-year-old from Santa Fe, has inspired a cult following since his announcement several years ago that he stashed a small bronze chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

  • Gov. Martinez seeking solution on budget crunch

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez provided new indications Tuesday that the state may be headed toward a special legislative session to address dwindling state operating reserves.

    The Republican governor told members of the State Investment Council that her office has been working for weeks with executive agencies and a key legislative committee on how to resolve the state's fiscal imbalance.

    New Mexico is one of several states dealing with general fund declines linked to reduced energy prices and production. Where some states have tapped rainy day funds or raised taxes, New Mexico has allowed its operating reserves to plunge.

    Martinez said a solution may involve a short, pre-negotiated Legislative session, without indicating exactly how the state would meet spending commitments. The governor has called the special sessions of the legislature before to resolve issues of electoral redistricting and spending on public works projects.

    "I'd really like to see this resolved, as we did, (at a) special session over at the capitol before we walk in, and it's a four-hour session," Martinez said.