Today's News

  • Warrants point to allegations of fraud at MLK Commission

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Search warrants targeting bank records, invoices, emails and other documents related to the financial activities of the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission are shining new light on accusations of possible fraud and embezzlement by the commission's executive director.

    The warrants were made public Wednesday, a day after special agents with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office seized documents and computers from the commission's office in Albuquerque. Also searched were executive director Kimberly Greene's home and the offices of the nonprofit Educational, Research, Evaluation and Design Inc., or eRead.

    State prosecutors have yet to file any charges related to the case, but investigators detailed checks issued to Greene and what they believe is a forged invoice for more than $51,000.

    "This is an active investigation, and we will update the public with a final determination as soon as possible," Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement.

    The New Mexico State Auditor's Office also is investigating the commission for possible fraud, waste and abuse, noting that the commission has been on the state's "at-risk" list for two years.

  • School bus route added

    Los Alamos Public Schools has added an afternoon high school bus route to North Mesa. Route 10, Bus 123 will begin serving the community starting today.

    Here are the initial routes:

    Route 10  Bus 123

    2:42 p.m.   Leaves High School

    2:49 p.m.    San Ildefonso Between Camino Redondo and Durasnilla

    2:52 p.m.    San Ildefonso S @ Broadview

    2:53 p.m.    La Mesa Trailer Ct/945 San Ildefonso S

    2:57 p.m.    San Ildefonso S @ Alamo

    2:59 p.m.    Stoneview

    3:02 p.m.    San Ildefonso Transit Stop by Tsikamu

    Contact the transportation department at 663-2255 if you have any questions about the route. Check the LAPS website to find out the latest times and changes here: laschools.net/busroutes

  • Preventing Conflict on Backcountry Trails webinar Thursday at Nature Center

    All interested community members are invited to "Preventing Conflict on Backcountry Trails," a live webinar from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday. American Trails at the Los Alamos Nature Center, 2600 Canyon Road. Attendance is free.

    Conflict has come into focus in the trail world during the past few years. The webinar will address principles can be applied to any type of trail conflict. Presenters will include representatives from the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and Back Country Horsemen of Montana. American Trails is a national trails education and advocacy non-profit.

    There will also be a brief discussion of work being done on the Los Alamos Community Wildfire Protection Plan and its relation to trails and open space.  Public input is being sought into work being done by Los Alamos Fire Department to update and implement this plan.

    “Places and Spaces Los Alamos,” Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), and Eric Peterson, Trail and Open Space specialist with Los Alamos County are collaborating in offering this activity.  This is part of a series of trail-related webinars offered on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

  • Community Calendar 1-27-16

    Green Hour Hike at 10 a.m. Join other families for a kid-centered hike. Free.
    Author, conservationist and environmental activist William deBuys will speak at 7 p.m. at the Mesa Public Library, 2400 Central Ave. deBuys is the featured author in Mesa Public Library’s ongoing Authors Speak series for January. In recent months, deBuys has had two books published.
    Gentle Walks at 9 p.m. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Free. More information at peecnature.org.

    Los Alamos Little Theatre presents “Once A Ponzi Time” at 7:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 1670 Nectar. Sly Investments and double-dealing abound in this hilarious madcap comedy. Tickets are available at CB Fox, BrownPaperTickets.com or at the door half an hour before curtain time. For more information, visit lalt.org.

    Fourth Friday Fractals at 7 p.m. at the Nature Center. Be mesmerized by this award-winning fractal show every fourth Friday by the Fractal Foundation. Journey into the never-ending world of fractals as a full-dome show featuring original music. 7:00 p.m. Suitable for ages 4 and up. $10 for adults, $8 for children. More information at peecnature.org.

  • 36 people get nod for CA awards

    So there’s good news and there’s bad news, but either way, I hope to leave you with something to think about.
    Thirty six individuals, couples, clubs and organizations have been nominated for the Community Asset Awards.
    The seventh-annual event will be held on Feb. 7 and yes at this point, I know it is on Superbowl Sunday, must be why the room was available. More details on that later.
    Ironically every year, the very last email from former County Councilor Jim West rolls across my desk, as if a reminder from him about why we do this event in the first place.
    Since this column is usually on the opinions page and Councilor West isn’t able to respond to my column, I’ll just note again that it is on the opinion page.
    Sadly this is the first in the seven year history that not a single youth has been nominated for a Community Asset Award and that makes me very sad. Don’t worry, I know there is at least one person out there that is uttering the phrase, “Well Bernadette, why didn’t you nominate one?”
    Trust me, every year I, all by myself, could fill the room with plenty of folks that deserve kudos, but the truth is I do the legwork to allow you the opportunity to let your voice be heard.

  • Passing laws, avoiding traps as campaign season opens

    In 2000, the Republicans painted a target on House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, who was as much of an irritant to Republican Gov. Gary Johnson as his brother, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, is to this one.
    The GOP hoped to take control of the Legislature. Running against the powerful House Speaker was John Sanchez, a political newbie who didn’t appear to have a chance.
    That campaign could be a chapter in political science textbooks.
    An over-confident Raymond didn’t take his opponent seriously until it was too late. In November, John Sanchez unleashed a flood of radio ads accusing Raymond Sanchez of resisting efforts to toughen laws against sex offenders and child pornography. His campaign made phone calls and mailed letters to Raymond’s constituents asking them to call him if they think, “families have a right to know if a convicted sexual predator is living next door.”
    Raymond countered with his own radio ads saying the accusations were lies and mudslinging. He lost.
    John Sanchez’s campaign manager, by the way, was Jay McCleskey, the governor’s Rasputin (or puppeteer, critics say).

  • Public policy institute could offer solutions

    Conferences, policy institutes and the like are useless when it comes to considering nasty problems such as the New Mexico economy, argue many people, including some action-oriented types in Albuquerque.
    They are wrong.
    The action types have recently grabbed the initiative, providing money to push specific agendas such as right to work. But this totally commendable argument for short-term specifics misses the point of considering the longer term.
    Perhaps the action types are motivated in part by the failure of talk efforts such as New Mexico First and the long-gone Business Leaders Forum at New Mexico State.
    A market for longer term, broader scope policy consideration clearly exists. The Albuquerque Business First newspaper lured 300 “business leaders” to a January conference to hear a national economist say nothing new about New Mexico, as best as I could figure from the newspaper’s stories about the conference.
    “The crowd was searching for some solutions,” one story said. None appeared.
    The annual Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces is less talk fest than listen fest with presentations from national and a few regional policy leaders. There are no coffee breaks, a serious limit on communication among people attending.

  • County seeks letters to fill probate judge vacancy

    Los Alamos County reminded residents this week that those interested in the upcoming probate judge vacancy should send in letters of interest by 5 p.m. Feb. 5.
    The county has not yet received letters to fill the vacancy left following the resignation of Probate Judge Christine Chandler. 

    The council is responsible for filling the vacancy. Chandler’s resignation takes effect Feb. 20, 2016. The successful applicant will fill the unexpired term, which began in 2014 and expires in 2018. Under state law, any qualified person over the age of 18 who is a resident of Los Alamos County may serve. Interested applicants should submit a one- or two-page letter indicating why they would be interested in serving.
    Letters of interest should be mailed or hand-delivered by the deadline to: County Manager Harry Burgess, Los Alamos County Municipal Building, 1000 Central Avenue, suite 350, Los Alamos, New Mexico, 87544.
    Candidates who submit a letter will be expected to attend the Feb. 16 council meeting to respond to questions from the council about their letter and qualifications. The council meeting begins at 6 p.m.
    For more information about the duties of the probate judge or responsibilities of court, visit losalamosnm.us/clerk/Pages/ProbateCourt.aspx.

  • Council updates strategic priorities

    The Los Alamos County Council held a work session Saturday to update its priorities for 2016. The end result – to be voted on at and upcoming session – was the adoption of three new goals, one new priority and two modifications.
    Councilor Steve Girrens suggested the three new goals.
    Two related to Department of Energy land transfers to the county.
    In the category of Economic Vitality, “Maximize utilization of county-owned land” was added as both a focus area and a strategic goal. Under Quality Governance/Intergovernmental Relations, “Actively pursue land transfers” was added as a strategic goal.
    According to Girrens, his third proposal addressed “the elephant in the room.”
    Under Quality governance/Operational Excellence, Girrens suggested adding “Establish and implement a mechanism for effective utility policy review and setting.”
    “We’ve got major utility policy things that need to be addressed, and I think we need to make that a priority,” Girrens said.

  • LAPS to revisit consolidation in White Rock

    The Los Alamos School Board recently came to the conclusion that if any decision is made about school consolidation in White Rock, it will have to include Mountain Elementary, in Los Alamos.
    Piñon Elementary School, Chamisa Elementary School and Mountain Elementary Schools are the last schools in need of renovation. Since the mid-2000s, the county has held bond elections to fund school renovations. Schools renovations so far have included Los Alamos High School, Aspen Elementary School and Los Alamos Middle School. All three are in Los Alamos.
    This fall during public input sessions, one option considered was to combine Piñon Elementary and Chamisa Elementary in White Rock.
    Though the school board eventually decided in favor of funding an “education specifications” study with an eye instead toward renovating Barranca Mesa Elementary in Los Alamos, the board publicly made a promise to White Rock residents that it would revisit the consolidation, since many White Rock residents were concerned and upset that the consolidation option was being considered.
    At the time, many White Rock residents spoke out against consolidating the two schools, fearing it would lead to overcrowded classrooms, limited education resources for their children and other problems.