Today's News

  • LA County GOP chair, vice chair resign after bond election

    The chair and vice chair of the Los Alamos County Republican Party abruptly resigned this week immediately after voters rejected the county’s recreation bond Tuesday.

    County Chair James Robinson resigned a few minutes after the polls closed. First vice chair James Chrobocinski resigned Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

    Second vice chair Lisa Shin is now acting chair of the county party.

    Robinson cited personal reasons for his resignation. Chrobocinski cited personal attacks against him and his family over his advocating for the bond funding as his reasons.

    “I believe there is too much hate and vitriol in politics today from both parties,” Chrobocinski said in a written statement to the Monitor Thursday. “Unfortunately, during this rec bond vote I had an incredible amount of personal attacks against me and my family.”

    Robinson said he resigned for more personal reasons.

    “My decision to resign was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with the rec bond,” Robinson said. “I was asked by both those for and against to wait until the bond was finished before resigning.”

  • Recreation bond fails

    The $20 million recreation bond did not pass muster with the those that voted in the mail in the ballot election. The vote was 3,446 for and 3,932 against the recreation bond. A large number of voters, 7,378, voted in in the election, making it a little over 50 percent of the county voting, with the the county getting back 7,383 ballots returned out of the 13,480 that were sent out.

    In February, County Council, after a year and half long vetting process that included the public and community partners, voted for five capital improvement projects to fund with the $20 million bond. The county also had $13 million in funding reserves it was going to use to fund the five projects.

  • The Latest: New Mexico Legislature approves gas tax hike

    SANTA FE (AP) —A tax hike on gasoline has been approved by the New Mexico Legislature despite opposition by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

    The state House and Senate gave final approval Thursday to tax increase on gasoline and diesel of 5 cents per gallon and a $55 registration fee on interstate freight trucks. Proceeds would help rebuild depleted general fund reserves and pay for road maintenance and construction.

    Martinez vetoed similar tax proposals in April and has vowed to do it again. She has denouncing gasoline taxes in particular as a burden on working families. All Republicans on the Senate committee voted against the tax increases.

    Lawmakers are trying to resolve a budget crisis linked to a downtown in oil prices and a weak local economy, and restore $765 million in state spending that was vetoed by the governor.

    A bill that would impose new taxes on online retail sales and nonprofit hospitals in New Mexico has also been approved by the Legislature for consideration by the governor.

    The state House and Senate gave their final approval Thursday to the budget-balancing measures. It was unclear whether Martinez would sign the bill.

  • Tax reforms sidelined by New Mexico Legislature

    SANTA FE (AP) — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico's sales tax has been blocked by Democratic lawmakers and will not be voted on during a special legislative session.

    A House panel on Thursday voted 6-5 along party lines to end consideration of the Republican-backed bill to do away with a variety of tax breaks and lower overall tax rates.

    Without the reforms, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has indicated she will not approve any other tax revenue increases. Democratic lawmakers say the tax reforms were drawn up hastily and could undermine state revenues without further study.

    Lawmakers are grappling over how to end a budget crisis linked to a downturn in oil prices and a weak local economy.

    Martinez last month rejected a variety of tax hikes, while vetoing $765 million in state spending for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

    The Democratic-led Legislature has approved bills to restore that funding to state universities and the legislative branch, using money from severance tax bonds to fill a budget shortfall. Many lawmakers say additional tax revenue increases are needed.

  • New Mexico lawmakers move to restore vetoed funding

    SANTA FE (AP) — Despite resistance from the governor, New Mexico lawmakers pushed forward with a string of tax and fee increases Wednesday during a special legislative session to restore funding for higher education and the Legislature.
    The Democratic-led Legislature sent a bill to the governor's desk that would suspend infrastructure projects and tap severance tax bonds to fill a budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year. Lawmakers outlined additional tax increases to protect the state's credit rating and stave off further spending cuts to public schools and state agencies.
    Two-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislature have been feuding for months over how to fill a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Martinez last month rejected a variety of tax hikes, while vetoing $765 million in state spending. Democratic lawmakers unsuccessfully petitioned the state Supreme Court to rescind the governor's spending cuts.
    On the first day of the special session, votes to override the governor's actions by a two-thirds majority failed in both the House and Senate. Sen. Majority Leader Peter Wirth said the override attempts were necessary to show every effort had been made in case they have to appeal to the state Supreme Court for a second time.

  • Special session starts with failed bids to override vetoes

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers on Wednesday kicked off a special session aimed at resolving a fiscal crisis with failed attempts to override Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's vetoes of spending proposals that were approved by the Legislature earlier this year.
    The two-term governor and the Democratic-led Legislature have been feuding for months over how to fill a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Martinez last month rejected a variety of tax increases, while vetoing $765 million in state spending.
    Some lawmakers have said the vetoes have had devastating effects on the state, but efforts to overturn the governor's action failed in both the House and Senate and set the stage for hashing out a new spending plan.
    Without an agreement, all general-fund expenditures on the Legislature as well as state colleges, universities and specialty schools are scheduled to run out July 1.
    In May, leading Democratic lawmakers unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to rescind the cuts. They say the focus now is on restoring the funding in as little time as possible.
    "Priority No. 1, priority No. 2, priority No. 3 — it's all reinstating funding for higher education," Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said.

  • Sheehey seeks to define sheriff’s duties in new resolution June 6

    County Councilor Pete Sheehey wants to restore what he called a reasonable set of duties to the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s office, and has crafted a resolution reflecting what he wants those duties to be.
    He plans to introduce the resolution at a June 6 council meeting.
    “I support returning a reasonable set of duties to the Sheriff’s Office: process and writ serving, sex offenders tracking, court security, and some transportation of prisoners,” he said in a written statement Tuesday. “It makes sense to assign enough duties to the Sheriff’s Office to justify a full-time deputy Sheriff.”
    The Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero was officially stripped of most of his duties, personnel and budget in a council vote last year. The majority of councilors wanted to end the office, calling it a redundancy in a county that practices home rule.
    However, when the question went out in a referendum this year to eliminate the office all together or keep it, voters voted to keep it.
    Sheehey also included in his resolution that council include a big enough budget so the sheriff can carry out those duties.
    When reached for comment, Lucero would like to see Sheehey’s resolution adopted then expanded on.

  • Hearing looms for troubled plutonium facility

    As LANL continues toward its goal of ramping up plutonium production at Tech Area 55, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has called for a June hearing in Santa Fe regarding LANL’s troubled plutonium manufacturing facility, known as “PF-4.” LANL wants to boost its production of plutonium cores from 20 a year to 80 by 2027, but safety issues connected to work procedures and the age of the facility has caused concern with some government agencies.
    In April a fire broke out at the facility during “housekeeping day,” when workers attempting to dispose of materials that were capable of igniting through contact with air caught fire when they emptied them into a bag.

  • Civil complaint filed against WR dog owner

    A case involving a vicious dog attack in White Rock has been closed and reverted to a civil case instead.
    According to Magistrate Judge Pat A. Casados, the original criminal case was dismissed because the dogs in question had not been previously officially deemed dangerous.
    An amended civil complaint was filed May 11 against White Rock resident and owner of the two dogs involved in the attack, Leslie Sherman. Casados ruled if the dogs are ruled as dangerous, a criminal complaint may then be filed.
    The incident that sparked the original criminal complaint occurred on Acoma Lane March 29 when “…A witness observed (two) large dogs, one brown and the other black, come into the yard where a smaller dog was,” according to LAPD Commander Preston Ballew. “The (two) large dogs killed the smaller dog and left the area.”

  • LANL Foundation kicks off scholarship campaign

    The annual Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF) Kickoff Reception took place last Thursday at the Oppenheimer Study Center on the Los Alamos National Laboratory campus.
    This kickoff event included several current and past scholars to talk about how the scholarships they received made an impact on their lives. The LAESF is a part of the LANL Foundation whose mission is to inspire excellence in education and learning in northern New Mexico through innovative programming, collaboration, and advocacy.
    Since 1999, $6.1 million has been awarded to students, most of which has been donated by the Laboratory workforce, with a $250,000 employee match from Los Alamos National Security.
    This year’s fundraising campaign champion, Jeff Yarbrough, associate director for Plutonium Science and Manufacturing, addressed students, parents and donors at the Lab, emphasizing the fundraising theme, “Education: Mission Critical.” John McDermon, LANL Foundation scholarship program manager, and LANL Director Charlie McMillan were also in attendance.