Today's News

  • 2018 State Legislature: Senate committee agrees to more police pay, DA funds

    By Andrew Oxford

    The New Mexican

    A Senate committee bent Saturday to calls by Gov. Susana Martinez for more funding for state police pay and the District Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, as well as calls from some fellow lawmakers to restore at least some of the funding cut from school districts last year.

    In announcing its version of the budget passed by the state House of Representatives late last month, the Senate Finance Committee seemed intent on maintaining the tenuous peace that has set in at the Roundhouse in the wake of the partisan clashes of the last few years.

    The budget would amount to about $6.3 billion and, according to the Senate Finance Committee, leave reserves around 10 percent. It would amount to about a 4 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year.

    The House passed its version of the spending plan by a vote of 65-3 on Jan. 31. But aides to Martinez were quick to call it "soft on crime."

    And the Senate Finance Committee's version would ratchet up a few of the pay raises approved by the House.

    State police and corrections officers would see an 8.5 percent pay increase instead of 6.5 percent.

    The Martinez administration had argued the House budget did not do enough to address public safety, a priority amid rising crime rates.

  • Valentine’s Day ideas bloom in LA

    The hours are counting down to Valentine’s Day, which means couples may spend the next day or two frantically scrambling to come up with the perfect way to celebrate the romantic day.

    Here’s one suggestion: jousting. Or how about singing amorous songs? Or maybe even a good, old poetry competition?

    That’s evidently how the special day started out. According to “Debate of the Romance of the Rose,” by David F. Hult, the earliest description of Feb. 14 as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love.

    The charter, allegedly issued by Charles VI of France at Mantes-la-Jolie in 1400, describes lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court. Those festivities included a feast, amorous songs, poetry competitions, jousting and dancing.

    Sprinkled amidst the festivities was a process in which the attending ladies would hear and rule on disputes from lovers.

    This may not be advisable. Perhaps keeping the day’s celebrations in the happy, feel-good theme would be best.
    But details of the first celebration get a little sketchy at that point. Evidently there are no other records of the court’s existence, and none of those named in the charter were present at Mantes except Charles’ queen, Isabeau of Bavaria.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative roundup, Feb. 11, 2018

    The New Mexican

    Days remaining in session: 5

    Fender bender: Legislators hear from constituents on all manner of issues.

    But several lawmakers said Saturday they had gotten more emails about a proposal to require two license plates on each vehicle than about any other piece of legislation this year.

    The inconvenience seemed to outweigh the potential public safety benefits as the House voted down the idea by a vote of 27-38.

    Sponsored by Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, a Democrat and former Albuquerque Police Department officer, House Bill 158 would have raised the vehicle registration fee by $2 a year starting in 2018 and require a front-end license plate starting in 2022.

    New Mexico is one of 19 states that require only a single license plate on each vehicle. And as crime has risen, Ruiloba has argued the bill is a commonsense measure to address crime.

    Backers, including the New Mexico State Police, argue the requirement would help law enforcement identify vehicles involved in crimes.

    Still, others questioned the merits of raising the fee and about the hassle for New Mexicans who do not currently have a place on their vehicles for a front license plate.

    And there is no accounting for taste, as they say.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Bills earmark funds for school security

    By Andrew Oxford

    The New Mexican

    As gunshots rang out in Aztec High School one morning last December, a substitute teacher was left to improvise.

    She did not have a key to lock the door to her classroom, but ushered her students into a neighboring room and barricaded the door with a couch.

    The gunman entered the classroom the students had just left and fired several rounds through the wall that stood between them. The bullets did not hit any of the students, and the substitute teacher's swift thinking was credited with saving lives.

    The shooting left two students dead elsewhere on campus, and the gunman – who did not attend the school – killed himself.

    "It absolutely could have been a lot worse," Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter told a legislative committee last month.

    Coming at a time when there seems to be another school shooting somewhere in America at least once a week, the episode has become a call to action at the Legislature this session for funding to pay for security improvements on campuses around the state.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Committee blocks bill shielding law enforcement officers

    By Andrew Oxford

    The New Mexican

    A legislative committee on Sunday tabled a bill that could have extended greater legal immunity to law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing, snubbing a proposal touted by Gov. Susana Martinez amid heightened scrutiny of police misconduct in Albuquerque and beyond.

    Critics of House Bill 279 pointed to what the Department of Justice has called a pattern of excessive force by officers at the Albuquerque Police Department and the death just last year of a 6-year-old boy in a car crash involving an officer at the agency, contending there is plenty of reason to be wary of legislation that could make law enforcement less accountable.

    In an interview with The Albuquerque Journal before the legislative session, the governor said lawsuit settlements were being awarded to what she characterized as "crooks and thieves who are hurt or injured by police officers who are doing their job."

    But that comment came against the backdrop of ongoing controversy surrounding misconduct at the Albuquerque Police Department, which is in the midst of an ongoing reform process overseen by the federal government.

  • Golf course to open earlier than expected

    Due to the unseasonably warm weather in the area, the Los Alamos County Golf Course will open for the season earlier than expected, on Feb 16.

    The full course will be operational, with tee times scheduled from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday-Sunday, as well as holidays, throughout the rest of February.

    Tee times are available by booking online at least 10 days in advance, or three days in advance by calling the golf shop directly at 662-8139.

    The practice range will have the same hours of operation. Golf carts must be returned to the clubhouse by 4 p.m.

    Season passes will go on sale Feb. 16, and anyone without a pass will pay applicable rates.

    Los Alamos County Golf Course offers a challenging 6,500 yard, par 72, 18 hole layout. The golf course, built in 1947 by the Atomic Energy Commission, is one of the oldest 18 hole golf course in New Mexico.

  • US stocks swing back to gains, Dow up 330 on turbulent day

    By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer

    Wall Street capped a day of wild swings Friday with a late-afternoon rally that reversed steep early losses and sent the Dow Jones industrial average 330 points higher. Even with the rebound, this was the worst week for the market in about two years.

    Stocks struggled to stabilize much of the day as investors sent prices climbing, then slumping in unsteady trading a day after the market entered its first correction in two years.

    The up-and-down swings followed a drop of 10 percent from the latest record highs set by major U.S. indexes just two weeks ago. At midday, the market was on pace for its worst weekly decline since October 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.

    The Dow briefly sank 500 points in afternoon trading after surging more than 349 points earlier in the day. The blue chip average suffered its second 1,000-point drop in a week on Thursday.

    The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the benchmark for many index funds, also wavered between gains and losses.

    As of Thursday, some $2.49 trillion in value had vanished from the index since its most recent peak on Jan. 26, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

  • New Mexico football coach appealing 30-day suspension

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico football coach Bob Davie said Friday he will appeal a 30-day suspension in connection with multiple investigations involving misconduct.

    In a statement released by the school, Davie said none of the three investigations conducted over a nine-month period found he violated any school policy.

    "I fully cooperated in every respect and met multiple times with the investigators, but was never asked to meet with or provide information" to a Chicago-based law firm conducting one of the probes, Davie said.

    Davie said investigators from that firm, Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose, never asked him about one allegation in which he was accused of asking his players to "get some dirt" on a victim of sexual assault. "So there is no misunderstanding, never did I make that or any similar comment," Davie said.

    The school announced Thursday it was suspending Davie without pay for 30 days following multiple investigations that examined whether he and coaching staff interfered with criminal investigations or misconduct cases involving players.

    Reports released Thursday also said witnesses reported Davie using racial slurs directed at black players — a charge he denies.

  • Trump signs budget deal, government reopens

    By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $400 billion budget deal that sharply boosts spending and swells the federal deficit, ending a brief federal government shutdown that happened while most Americans were sleeping and most government offices were closed, anyway.

    The House and Senate approved a bill to keep the government funded through March 23, overcoming opposition from liberal Democrats as well as tea party conservatives to endorse enormous spending increases despite looming trillion-dollar deficits. The House voted 240-186 to approve the bill just before dawn Eastern time, hours after the Senate had approved the measure on a 71-28 vote.

    Trump tweeted Friday morning that he had signed the bill, writing that the U.S. military "will now be stronger than ever before." The budget bill "also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!" Trump tweeted.

    The twin votes put to rest a brief federal freeze that relatively few would notice. Many who did quickly labeled it a pointless, head-scratching episode. The shutdown was the second partial government shutdown in three weeks.

  • US flu season still worsening; now as bad as 2009 swine flu

    By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) — The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S. This season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago.

    A government report out Friday shows 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That ties the highest level seen in the U.S. during swine flu in 2009.

    And it surpasses every winter flu season since 2003, when the government changed the way it measures flu.

    This season started early and has been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths than other more common flu bugs.

    But its long-lasting intensity has surprised experts, who are still sorting out why it's been so bad. Flu usually peaks in February.

    Some doctors say this is the worst flu season they've seen in decades. Some people are saying that, too.

    Veda Albertson, a 70-year-old retiree in Tampa, was sick for three weeks with high fever and fluid in her lungs. She said she hadn't been this sick from the flu since the 1960s, when she was a young mother who couldn't get out of bed to go to the crib of her crying baby.

    "It was like 'Wham!' It was bad. It was awful," she said of the illness that hit her on Christmas Day.