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Today's News

  • Rael pleads no contest to DUI

    David Rael, 36, of Los Alamos was sentenced Aug. 16 for driving under the influence and causing an accident at the intersection at Central Avenue and Diamond Drive in January.
    Rael pled no contest to the charge in Los Alamos Magistrate Court.
    Rael was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 30 days of credit for time served with 334 suspended. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation and to 96 hours of community service. He was also fined $750 and must also pay $291 in court costs.
    No one was injured in the accident on Jan. 29. Rael was out on bail for a prior offense when the accident occurred.
    In September 2014, Rael was arrested on suspicion of distributing, manufacturing and possessing child pornography. Rael is scheduled for trial for those offenses in January 2017.
    While being examined for injuries at the accident, Rael admitted to driving while intoxicated.
    “I admit I’m DWI,” he reportedly told police, according to court documents.
    Rael also reportedly told police at the scene he consumed a six-pack carton of an alcoholic beverage two hours before the crash.
    While on probation, Rael must perform community service and avoid breaking state or federal laws for the next three years.

  • Lujan in favor of more drug treatment funds

    U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3) vowed to keep fighting for $1.1 billion in federal funding that, if passed, would strengthen and create new drug treatment resources in New Mexico and the U.S.
    “Remembering that addiction is an illness and addiction is something that can be cured, I believe with that being said our members, our colleagues in the house, the Republicans, when I offered the amendment in committee and our colleagues offered the language to fund the legislative package at $1.1 billion, which is the president’s 2017 request level, it was our Republican colleagues who refused to request that. It did not pass,” Lujan said. “We’re standing to hold our colleagues accountable and to make sure we’re able to get a vote on that funding package by the end of the year. That’s our hope.”
    The announcement was made during a conference call to state media about an upcoming community forum on drug treatment in Albuquerque Thursday.
    In July, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. In May, Lujan proposed the $1.1 billion in funding for the act in House Bill 5216, The Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act of 2016. The bill is in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.

  • Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, NPS sign cooperative agreement

    Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, the friends group for the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP), will continue supporting the preserve as it has since 2007.
    The organization recently reached a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to continue serving in that capacity under NPS jurisdiction.
    “It’s an agreement so we can work together, and so they can transfer money to us. And they are giving us some money this year so we can work on restoration projects,” said Los Amigos Vice Chair Barbara Johnson. “It’s not unusual for them to have some sort of cooperative agreement with their friends group to do some variety of tasks that need to be done on the park unit.”
    Los Amigos was formed when the preserve was still held as a national trust, with a mandate to become self supporting by 2015 or be transferred to the National Forest Service. New Mexico’s congressional delegation and supporters from around the state – including Los Alamos residents and elected officials – fought to place the Valles Caldera under NPS jurisdiction.
    The bill granting VCNP national park status passed in December, 2014, and on Oct. 10, 2015, the preserve officially joined the national park system.

  • N.M. student scores up, but less than 1/3 proficient

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico student tests scores are up across the state, but less than a third of students remain proficient or better in reading and math, according to resulted released Thursday.
    The new numbers show around 20 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in math and about 28 percent are proficient or better in reading. Both results are slight improvements from the 2014-15 school year when officials first gave assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
    The tests, administered by New Mexico and 10 other states, are designed to show how well schools helped students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards.
    State data show all grades tested except third saw small increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or better in reading. All grades except 11th saw an increase in the percentage testing proficient in math, the results said.
    Albuquerque Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, had decreases in some categories. For example, only around 21 percent of the district’s third-graders scored proficient or better in reading. That’s a 10 point decline from the previous year.

  • New Mexico governor to call special legislative session

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Thursday she will call for a special legislative session to address a budget crunch that has been building because of dwindling state revenues and weak energy prices.

    The governor's office is talking with House and Senate leaders, hoping all parties will be prepared to reach quick and easy agreements on shoring up the state's finances that will make the special session brief.

    "Yes, we're going to call one for sure and we want to make sure it doesn't go on and on for days and day because it costs New Mexicans about $50,000 a day to have a special session," Martinez said.

    While the exact timing for the special session is uncertain, Martinez said it will probably take place in September.

    Legislative analysts are expected to release an updated state revenue forecast next week.

    They have said the state general fund was short an estimated $150 million for the budget year that ended in June and faces potentially greater shortfalls for the current fiscal year that ends in June 2017.

    Martinez earlier this month directed most major state agencies to make spending cuts of at least 5 percent in response to a sharp downturn in tax receipts and revenue tied to oil and gas prices.

  • More charges filed in apartment explosion

    More charges have been filed in connection to a May 9 apartment explosion at Caballo Peak Apartments in Los Alamos.
    Juan Gonzales, 28, was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute marijuana (first offense). The charge was added to other charges police filed against Gonzales on the day of the explosion.
    Those charges include bribery of a witness, two counts of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.
    Police also have accused Gozales’ brother, Joseph Gonzales, of causing the explosion. Police allege that he was attempting to make a substance called “marijuana wax,” a more powerful form of the illegal drug.
    According to an online paper published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana wax requires large amounts of butane to produce.   
    The drug distribution charge against Juan Gonzales stemmed from a search warrant issued on the day of the explosion. It was for a car owned by Juan Gonzales and his wife. When the search warrant was executed, police allegedly discovered more than five ounces of marijuana inside the vehicle. They also allegedly found a black duffle bag with marijuana, a weighing scale, several small plastic bags and two mason jars.
    Police also confiscated a laptop computer and a cell phone that was inside the vehicle.

  • US says $400M payment was contingent on release of prisoners

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday that a $400 million cash payment to Iran seven months ago was contingent on the release of a group of American prisoners.

    It is the first time the U.S. has so clearly linked the two events, which critics have painted as a hostage-ransom arrangement.

    State Department spokesman John Kirby repeated the administration's line that the negotiations to return the Iranian money — from a military-equipment deal with the U.S.-backed shah in the 1970s — were conducted separately from the talks to free four U.S. citizens in Iran. But he said the U.S. withheld the delivery of the cash as leverage until Iran permitted the Americans to leave the country.

    "We had concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release," Kirby said, citing delays and mutual mistrust between countries that severed diplomatic relations 36 years ago. As a result, he explained, the U.S. "of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after the American citizens were released. That was our top priority."

    Both events occurred Jan. 17, fueling suspicions from Republican lawmakers and accusations from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump of a quid pro quo that undermined America's longstanding opposition to ransom payments.

  • Green chile peels causing messy roads in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — It's harvest time for New Mexico's green chile. And some residents say peels from the state's staple crop are creating a hot mess.

    The KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports that some trucks transporting green chile are dropping peels in Albuquerque's South Valley. Residents say the peels are sloshing and are spilling out of the trucks and onto roads.

    Drivers say one intersection even is covered in green chile.

    Andres Garcia says the wet peels are dangerous. He told KOAT-TV he recently had to hit his brakes at a stop sign because his truck kept sliding.

    The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office says it is a misdemeanor crime for any truck to spill loads.

  • New Mexico student scores up, but less than 1/3 proficient

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico student tests scores are up across the state, but less than a third of students remain proficient or better in reading and math, according to results released Thursday.

    The new numbers show around 20 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in math and about 28 percent are proficient or better in reading. Both results are slight improvements from the 2014-15 school year when officials first gave assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

    The tests, administered by New Mexico and 10 other states, are designed to show how well schools helped students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards.

    State data show all grades tested except third saw small increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or better in reading. All grades except 11th saw an increase in the percentage testing proficient in math, the results said.

    Albuquerque Public Schools, the state's largest school district, had decreases in some categories. For example, only around 21 percent of the district's third-graders scored proficient or better in reading. That's a 10 point decline from the previous year.

  • Comp plan will not address accessory apartments

    During its Aug. 6 work session on the comprehensive plan update, the Planning and Zoning Commission spent considerable time discussing accessory apartments and short-term rentals such as Airbnb, but decided those were development code issues that should be addressed at a later date.
    According to Chair Philip Gursky, the current development code “favors the broadest range of accessory and multiple unit housing. It’s a function of the history of the town and the history of the time when the ordinance was adopted.”
    The board rejected the idea of including accessory dwelling units in the comp plan by restricting them in certain neighborhoods. According to Gursky, that would be the only way to address the issue in the comprehensive plan, which deals with permanent land use.
    “The question is, do we recommend, as part of the changes to the comp plan, that we provide some more restrictive or more explanatory discussion about where they ought to be allowed,” Gursky said.