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Today's News

  • Garcia Holmes, Morales enter races for lieutenant governor

    SANTA FE (AP) — Two more candidates have jumped into the race for New Mexico lieutenant governor.

    State Sen. Howie Morales is running for the Democratic nomination in a crowded primary race. Michele Garcia Holmes will seek the Republican nomination, with no other current contenders.

    A former teacher, Morales of Silver City has served in the state Senate since 2008 and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014. Garcia Holmes is a former police officer and former chief of staff to the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that other Democrats in the race are Eagles Nest resident Jeff Carr, Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett, former House Majority Leader Rick Miera, and David McTeigue, a juvenile probation officer from Rio Rancho.

  • New Mexico Legislature under scrutiny for self-enrichment

    SANTA FE (AP) — Limited safeguards against self-enrichment in the nation's only unsalaried legislature are under scrutiny in the wake of a corruption trial and felony convictions against a former New Mexico state senator.

    Former Sen. Phil Griego is awaiting sentencing after a jury found him guilty of fraud, felony ethical violations and other charges.

    The case is a central exhibit in the campaign for a 2018 ballot initiative. New Mexico voters will consider whether to create an independent ethics commission that could shift the review of complaints against lawmakers from closed-door committees to a more public forum.

    Some lawmakers say the unsalaried status of lawmakers has turned into a liability that is exploited by high-paid lobbyists. Others say citizen legislators bring needed expertise to policy debates.
     

  • LAPS board member Ben-Naim honored for training

    Ellen Ben-Naim, a school board member with the Los Alamos Public Schools, received an “exemplary” award from her fellow school board members statewide during a recent annual conference of the New Mexico School Boards Association.

    Ben-Naim, who represents District 1 in Los Alamos on the board, was recognized for earning 20 or more hours of training in leadership.

    She was elected to the local board in March.

    The school board officials from across the state participated in the annual meeting, which occurred in Albuquerque on Friday and Saturday.

  • Mysterious structures in SF National Forest pose major fire danger

    Human-built cone stick structures, some two-stories tall, are popping up throughout the Santa Fe National Forest, causing a mystery for Forest Service officials.

    A volunteer showed Española Ranger District employees this seven or eight stick structures off Tesuque Peak Road at Aspen Vista.  And at least 10 more have been reported below the Aspen Vista picnic area. The mysterious structures have also  been spotted on the Winsor Trail and in the Big Tesuque drainage, officials reported Friday.

    Officials are concerned about the significant health and safety hazards posed by these structures.

    Santa Fe National Forest staff said the structures are elaborately constructed out of 1,000 or more individual sticks or logs.

    The wood is seasoned and dry, and the design is similar to a classic kindling pyramid but on a much larger scale, according to Forest Service officials.  And to worsen the fire danger, people appear to be using fire rings inside many of the structures.

  • Citizens in Action to present code options to council tonight

     

  • Diverse team of New Mexico lawmakers drafts harassment rules

    SANTA FE (AP) — Eight New Mexico state lawmakers have been assigned to rewriting policies that guard against sexual harassment in the Statehouse amid accounts by women of entrenched misconduct.

    The working group that met this week includes a retired First Amendment-rights attorney and a millennial-generation organizer for social justice causes. Republicans and Democrats are equally represented, while women outnumber men 5-3.

    Republican Rep. Kelly Fajardo of Belen already has made it clear she wants independent investigations of future harassment complaints to safeguard against reprisals and build trust.

    She'll be working alongside GOP Rep. Jim Dines, the driving force behind a 2018 ballot measure to create an independent state ethics commission.

    Democrats in the commission include first-term legislator Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces and two committee chairwomen.
     

  • The Latest: US: More study needed on nuclear pit production

    The agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile says further study is needed to determine the best option for the United States as it looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear weapons.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday that a team of external and internal engineering experts will further analyze the two options that were identified as part of an earlier review that looked at the most efficient and cost effective means of making the pits.

    Agency spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler tells The Associated Press the options include leaving the work to Los Alamos National Laboratory or moving it to the U.S. Energy Department's Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

    It's not clear how long the extra analysis will take, but the agency said new pits must be made to ensure the nation's nuclear forces are flexible and tailored to deter 21st-century threats.

    The NNSA has yet to release a report on the risks and capabilities of LANL and other U.S. Energy Department sites when it comes to producing plutonium cores for the weapons.

    The report by the NNSA was due over the summer but nothing has been made public other than a redacted summary sheet obtained by a watchdog group in the wake of recent congressional briefings.

  • LAPS School Board approves opening negotiations with custodial contractor

    A proposal to privatize night-time custodial duties at the high school and middle school brought out several members of the Los Alamos Public Schools custodial staff Tuesday during a school board meeting.

    The board decided to give Assistant Superintendent Lisa Montoya permission to negotiate with SSC, a company headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., for a contract worth $447,000, but said they don’t want any current custodial staff to lose their jobs as a result.

    At the request of a reporter following the board’s vote, Quinn Taylor, assistant head custodian at Los Alamos High School, answered questions regarding concerns by custodial staff.

    There is at least one custodian who does not want to leave the night shift, because he or she has a day job as well, Taylor said. He’s concerned about the move, he said.

    “I’m not in favor of it – people are worried about what is going to happen,” Taylor said after the vote.

    In her presentation, Montoya said the district’s custodial staff has six to eight  vacancies, despite efforts to fill them. The current custodial staff is being asked to work overtime to cover the vacancies.

  • New Mexico state senator ends bid for lieutenant governor

    SANTA FE (AP) — Democratic New Mexico state Sen. Michael Padilla says he is withdrawing his name as a candidate for lieutenant governor.

    Padilla announced the end of his campaign on Monday amid concerns about decade-old accusations of sexual harassment at a previous job with the city of Albuquerque. Padilla has repeatedly denied accusations that he created a sexually hostile work environment.

    Padilla says he accepts responsibility for making too many changes too quickly as a supervisor at an emergency communications center in Albuquerque in 2006.
     

  • New Mexico sees rebound in tax revenues, oil sector

    SANTA FE (AP) — Surging state tax revenues and a rebound in the oil and natural gas sectors are propelling a rapid turnaround in New Mexico government finances, state economists told a panel of lawmakers on Monday.

    State government income for the fiscal year starting on July 1, 2018, is expected to surpass current annual spending by $199 million, economists told the state's lead budget-writing committee.

    The forecast signaled that state government is emerging from two years of austerity measures that resulted in slashed spending at state universities and colleges, while threatening funding for classrooms, courts and museums.

    "It's really good to be here today to present some really good news," Finance and Administration Secretary Duffy Rodriguez said.

    Economists at four state agencies told lawmakers to expect an additional 3.3 percent in general fund spending money over the current $6.1 billion budget.

    Much of the fiscal rebound comes from personal income taxes — an estimated $167 million increase during the current and coming fiscal years. Income from oil and natural gas was adjusted upward by $140 million for the same period.