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Today's News

  • New Mexico governor warns of furloughs, fiscal crisis

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — State employees could face the prospect of furloughs as New Mexico considers closing museums and other cultural sites and limiting the time children are in the classroom as officials look to save cash in the midst of what Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday called a crisis.
    Martinez outlined the state's grim fiscal outlook during a luncheon attended by business leaders. She spoke about the recent legislative session and her disappointment that lawmakers crafted a budget dependent upon hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases and fee hikes.
    She vowed not to sign any of the tax measures and said she would soon be calling lawmakers back to Santa Fe to renegotiate the $6.1 billion budget for the next fiscal year and to address the shortage of operational funds for the current year.
    Cash reserves are dwindling, which will soon leave state finance officials unable to cut checks. The governor warned that will affect the state's ability to make payroll and pay contracts.
    "We are facing a crisis, and this has become truly a result of the inaction of our Legislature," Martinez said. "We are staring down the path of a government shutdown."

  • ‘Around the World’ in White Rock

    Chamisa Elementary School was buzzing with students, families and faculty Wednesday for the Multicultural Fair. This annual event unites two local schools and “celebrates the cultural diversity in White Rock.”
    Chamisa and Piñon elementary students gathered to display their cultural research projects for their friends and family.
    The event kicked off with an introduction by Piñon Elementary Principal Jill Gonzalez and Chamisa Elementary Principal Suzanne Lynne. They recognized that this was the sixth year of the Multicultural Fair and how great an opportunity it is for Chamisa and Piñon elementary to collaborate.
    Mariachi Sonidos Del Monte, a lively mariachi band from Santa Fe, performed the first show of the evening. They played original songs from their upcoming album and also a few “Santana” covers, which the crowd enjoyed.
    In addition to Mariachi Sonidos Del Monte, other groups performed including Moving Arts Española, HillStrummers, Hula Mai Kalani, Chamisa and Piñon Choirs, YMCA Dance Troupe, Chamisa Chimes, the Sikh Community and a Hawaiian dance by school staff.
    Booths spanned the hallways showcasing the diverse cultures represented by these students. Customs, food and religions from countries such as Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and many more, were present. Students carried “passports” that they filled up with stickers from each booth they visited.

  • Woman faces arraignment in hit-and-run incident at store

    Ashley Garcia left a court appearance March 9 and went to the Los Alamos Bealls department store. Her day would end in the hands of law enforcement again, a suspect in a case of shoplifting and hit-and-run.
    At her arraignment Thursday on charges related to that incident, it was revealed that her March 9 court appearance involved shoplifting charges as well.
    Garcia, 23, of Hernandez, was there for a preliminary hearing, but it was postponed due to a conflict involving her defense attorney, Michael Jones. She also told court officials she had an 11:30 a.m. court appearance scheduled in Española that day.
    “So, even though she was going to be late for that appointment, she still took the time to stop at Bealls here in Los Alamos, committed a new felony shoplifting charge, and strike a pedestrian as she made her escape,” Santa Fe Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist said to the presiding judge, Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados. “That shows a significant flight risk, a significant inability to comply with court orders.”
    Wahlquist asked Casados to set a $25,000 cash-only bond for Garcia’s release.
    “If she’s able to post that, then I would also request she be placed on electronic monitoring,” Wahlquist said.

  • Council asks DPU to rewrite water report

    Council asked the Department of Public Utilities’ on Tuesday to redo it’s Long Range Water Plan, citing faults in wording and the high priority given to acquiring San Juan-Chama water rights.
    The plan forecasts water usage and changes to the county’s water supply over a 40-year-timeline. San Juan-Chama water rights refer to those along the Rio Grande River near White Rock.
    “Earlier today, I sent the utilities department an email asking them to consider correcting the language in the plan that incorrectly identifies the utilities department as the owner of the water rights that are at issue (and related contracts). Is there a problem with doing that?” Councilor Chris Chandler said to Deputy Utilities Manager James Alarid, one of the presenters of the report at the meeting.
    Chandler said the wording suggests the DPU owns the water rights instead of the county. In other places in the report, the moniker used made it sound like the county managed its water supply.

  • 7 arraigned in LA drug raid

    The seven suspects rounded up by police Monday in a drug bust were arraigned in court Thursday.
    The suspects include Nichole Marsh, 36, Nicholas Conner, 35, Amanda Osborne, 32, Anthony Knief, 32, Allan Houle, 29, Kathy Gibbons, 54 and Byron Henderson, 49.
    Thursday was their first appearance, so they did not enter pleas. Their next appearance will be their preliminary hearings.
    Marsh was charged with trafficking in controlled substance, two counts of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and three counts of possession of dangerous drugs.
    She was released without bond on her own recognizance. When asked by Judge Pat Casados why she should be released, Marsh said she has a child to take care of.  When Casados told her she was going to be released on her own recognizance, she expressed her relief by briefly putting her head in her hands.

  • Hecker: Talk, don’t tweet, to North Korea

    BY WREN PROPP
    Special to the Monitor

  • Multi-color fare
  • Martinez to consider bill to combine local elections

    SANTA FE (AP) — A piece of legislation awaiting Gov. Susana Martinez's signature would reshape the political landscape for school boards, cities and other nonpartisan local governments in New Mexico by consolidating elections and putting them before voters in November every other year.
    Currently, such elections draw little attention, with some garnering zero ballots, The Albuquerque Journal reported.
    Political analyst Brian Sanderoff said combining school board and municipal elections could boost turnout significantly. School elections on their own draw maybe 5 percent turnout, but Sanderoff said municipalities attract up to 45 percent.
    "School board candidates are going to have to reach out to a larger proportion of the electorate in order to get their message across and be successful," he said.
    Municipalities would have the option of opting out of the combined elections. Other agencies with taxing authorities could not opt out and would have to consolidate their elections into one in the fall.
    Some cities like Albuquerque and Las Cruces already hold their elections in the fall, meaning shifting over wouldn't be too hard.

  • A Look Back

    BY WREN PROPP
    Special to the Monitor

  • New Mexico governor orders hiring freeze to save cash

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday ordered a hiring freeze for all agencies under her control, a move designed to save cash pending a political standoff over the funding of state government and public schools.
    The state personnel director outlined the freeze in a memo to cabinet secretaries, citing the need for executive agencies to take immediate action to control spending due to unprecedented budgetary challenges.
    Despite the freeze, some hiring will continue for jobs identified as critical for public safety and health as well as those related to taxation and revenue collections.
    The memo did not mention the governor's disappointment with the outcome of the legislative session that wrapped up more than a week ago. However, she has been outspoken about the Democratic-controlled Legislature sending her a budget built on $350 million in tax increases and fee hikes.
    "The fact is, state government affects every New Mexican, and passing a balanced budget is critical in funding education, public safety and service to protect abused children," she said in a statement.
    She went on to say she repeatedly called on the Senate to pass a balanced budget that didn't raise taxes on families.