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Today's News

  • Court weighs practice of prayers at meetings

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court wrestled on Wednesday with whether local government leaders in North Carolina are violating the Constitution by holding exclusively Christian prayers at their meetings – the first time a court at that level has addressed the issue since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a town government’s favor in a similar case in 2014.
    An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union urged a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the lower court’s ruling that the Rowan County Commissioner’s practice of opening their meetings with prayers that almost always referred to Christianity was “unconstitutionality coercive.”
    But a lawyer for the Rowan County Commission said the recent Supreme Court decision supports its case and asked the judges not to engage in “difficult line drawing” between the church and state.
    The Supreme Court has already ruled that it’s appropriate for local clergy to deliver predominantly Christian prayers and town meetings in New York. At issue now is whether it makes a difference that the Rowan County prayers are being given by the commissioners themselves and whether their invitation for the audience to join them in prayer should be seen as coercive.

  • Ted and Trump take different tracks on ethanol debate

    BY MARITA NOON
    Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

  • Maybe New Mexico is finally ready for an ethics commission

    I used to joke that my late husband was the last honest man in the New Mexico Legislature.
    He was not the last, though. Most legislators do not take illicit money or otherwise profit from their public service.  
    I have known a few legislators who, after their service was over, out of the glare of publicity, quietly went bankrupt. Their years of honest volunteer service had cost them dearly.
    New Mexico’s past reputation was that there was lots of corruption but most of it was small-time.
    We were only slightly outraged when politicians did favors for their friends. If you won a local election as a county commissioner or a school board member, your reward was jobs for needy relatives. When the other guy won, his relatives might replace yours.
    In low-income counties with few good-paying jobs, this was a way to spread the wealth.
    When an influential legislator-lawyer represented clients before boards and commissions – perhaps using bullying power to influence a licensing decision - it didn’t even make the news. When legislators vote on issues that affect their own professions, we barely notice.
    After all, we rationalize, our unpaid legislators have to make a living doing something other than legislating.
    But we have been troubled by the influence of special interests on legislation.

  • Police Beat 1-29-16

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    Jan. 20
    11:10 p.m. — Kilee Landon, 21, of Los Alamos was arrested for battery and a magistrate court bench warrant at the Los Alamos magistrate court bench warrant.

    12 p.m. — Police reported that a 19-year-old Los Alamos man was the victim of a burglary from a vehicle or structure at Central Park Square.

    3:45 p.m. — Nathan Mann, 51 of Los Alamos was arrested for burglary from a house at the Los Alamos police station.

    Jan. 21
    8:43 a.m. — Police reported that a 54-year-old Los Alamos man was the victim of an accident with no injuries at Diamond Drive.

    12:36 p.m. — Kilee Landon, 21, of Los Alamos was arrested on a controlled of a possession of a controlled substance at the Los Alamos police station.

    5:18 p.m. — Police reported that a 16-year-old Los Alamos male was the victim of receiving stolen property ($500 or less) at Canyon Road.

    Jan. 22

  • Council recognizes firefighter Martinez

    Los Alamos County Fire Chief Troy Hughes presented Firefighter Daniel Martinez with a Certificate of Valor at Tuesday’s county council meeting.
    The award was in recognition of Martinez’ efforts to save his neighbor from his burning mobile home on Dec. 15, 2015.
    “In the middle of the night, Firefighter Martinez was awakened by a bright light and the noise of fire coming from his neighbor’s home. Without hesitation, he ran from his house to his neighbor’s home to render aide to his neighbor,” Hughes said.  
    Martinez found his neighbor unconscious, carried him outside and cared for him until Santa Fe County Fire Department paramedics arrived at the scene.
    “Unfortunately, the extraordinary efforts of Firefighter Martinez, the responders from Santa Fe County Fire Department and hospital staff were not enough to save the life of this man,” Hughes said.
    Santa Fe County Fire Chief David Sperling attended the ceremony. Sperling noted that Martinez began his career as a volunteer firefighter for the Santa Fe County Pojoaque Fire District.

  • Voters OK mill levy

    By a wide margin, residents of Los Alamos County voted to sustain the property tax levy that has supplied the Los Alamos School District with nearly $2 million in funds almost every year since 1988.
    According to County Clerk Sharon Stover, 4,095 Los Alamos residents voted for the levy, and 1,698 voted against it.
    Upon hearing the vote, Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus thanked the voters of Los Alamos.
    “Thank you to the parents and the voters of Los Alamos, we appreciate the support and we’ll be prudent with the money,” he said.
    Steinhaus said he sees it as a vote of confidence for the schools, teachers, administration and all involved.
    The mill levy question is put before voters every six years. It’s primary purpose is to help the school district purchase athletic equipment and educational tools that it would otherwise have to fund by using its Operational Fund monies.
    Since the last levy election, Los Alamos Public Schools has received just over $13 million in funding from the levy.
    By voting “yes,” voters agreed to pay $3.25 on every $1,000 of real, assessed property. That’s about $325 a year for a $300,000 home.

  • BPU elects officials, discusses gas rates

    The Los Alamos Board of Public Utilitieselected a new chairman and vice chairman at its Jan. 20 meeting.
    Jeff Johnson received the only nomination for the chair position. His appointment was approved by a 4–1 vote, with last year’s vice chair, Stephen McLin, abstaining.
    There were three nominations for vice chair: Paul Frederickson, David Powell and last year’s chair, Andrew Fraser.
    In the first round of voting, Frederickson and Powell each received two votes and Fraser received one. In the second round of voting, Powell was elected with four votes, with one vote going to Frederickson. Powell has previously served as both chair and vice chair.
    In other board business, Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt gave his yearly report on variable cost of gas fluctuations.
    The current gas rate is designed with both a fixed-cost recovery and a variable cost of gas component. When the Los Alamos County Council approved the variable gas rate, they requested that DPU provide a yearly report on the variable rate.

  • Redmond continues fight in court

    Former Los Alamos Police Officer Jordan Redmond is still contesting the charge of allegedly, illegally accepting payment for giving tours at the Los Alamos Justice Center in 2014, while on duty as a police officer, according to his attorney Marc Edwards.
    Redmond’s preliminary hearing in Los Alamos Magistrate Court has been delayed three times. He’s now scheduled to make an appearance in magistrate court March 1.
    “Jordan is doing well, the continuances are just routine,” Edwards said. “We are still working with the state on discovery disclosures.”
    “Discovery” is a process where the state and the defense both exchange evidence and documents relevant to their case.
    Redmond is “absolutely” fighting the charge, Edwards said.
    In October of 2015, Redmond was charged by the LAPD for illegally accepting $300 ($276.12 after taxes) from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos for giving two tours of the Los Alamos Justice Center in June of 2014, while he was on duty as a Los Alamos Police Officer.
    The tours were in connection with UNM-LA’s and Los Alamos High School’s “Early College High School Career Exploration Program.”
    After police completed an investigation, he was terminated from his position Sept. 17.

  • Council approves fire, police bargaining agreements

    The Los Alamos County Council approved collective bargaining agreements for fire and police departments on Tuesday.
    Aside from replacing holiday pay with a 2-percent increase to base pay for fire department personnel, neither agreement includes an across the board pay raise, since employees must meet certain performance standards in order to qualify for raises.
    The police department contract includes a 7.2 percent adjustment for this year, in order to achieve pay equity among employees. The adjustment will be used to adjust salaries that were found to be inequitable with other salaries, based on factors such as years of experience and education.
    The fire department contract calls for an average increase for department salaries of 2 percent in 2017, 1.5 percent in 2018, 1 percent in 2019 and 2 percent in 2020. Individual raises will be based on performance.
    Police department raises will average 3.5 percent in 2017 and 2.5 percent the following two years, with individual raises based on performance.
    This was the second time the Los Alamos Fire Department and the Los Alamos Firefighters’ Association Local 3279 have used Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) procedures during negotiations.

  • Today in history Jan. 29