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Today's News

  • LA man arrested for DWI crash awaits sentencing for child porn conviction

    David Rael, of Los Alamos, was recently arrested for driving while under the influence in Los Alamos, which may complicate his sentencing for another crime in 2014. Rael was arrested for downloading child porn in May of that year.
    He is due to be sentenced for that crime Feb. 24.
    Rael, 38, of Los Alamos was arrested Jan. 29 for allegedly driving while under the influence.  
    Police arrested Rael at a two-car accident at the intersection of Trinity and Central Avenue at 6:51 p.m. While Rael was being transported by ambulance to the Los Alamos Medical Center for an evaluation, He reportedly admitted to police that he was driving while under the influence of alcohol.
    “I admit, I’m DWI,” Rael apparently told police, according to reports.
    Rael reportedly told police he had consumed a six-pack of an alcoholic beverage two hours before the crash.
    Rael is awaiting sentencing on child pornography charges, charges he incurred when he downloaded child pornography onto his computer in May of 2014.

  • Today in history Feb. 9
  • BPU's clarification of liaison role fails

    During a special session on Thursday primarily devoted to Code of Conduct training, the Board of Public Utilities voted on a revision to their Policies and Procedures Manual that would have clarified the board’s relationship to the council liaison. The motion failed for lack of the supermajority needed to change the manual.
    The liaison’s role became a point of contention at BPU’s regular January meeting, when Councilor Susan O’Leary – contrary to precedence – was initially asked to sit in the audience rather than on the dais and told that she should not join in the board’s discussions.
    Thursday’s motion, crafted by Chair Jeff Johnson, read:
    During meetings, the Council Liaison is invited to sit at the Dias or with members of the BPU, at Council Liaison discretion.
    When the Council Liaison chooses to sit with the BPU the Council Liaison name-placard shall be displayed.
    The Council Liaison is encouraged to participate in DPU discussion when the Council Liaison has clarifying points pertinent to the discussion. 
    The Council Liaison is discouraged from interjecting personal opinion into discussion, unless speaking as a member of the public during periods reserved for public comment. 

  • Today in history Feb. 8
  • County lobbies Legislature for LEDA expansion

    One of the Los Alamos County Council’s legislative priorities for the 2016 New Mexico legislative session is an expansion of the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) that would allow small communities such as Los Alamos to utilize local economic development funds to incentivize retail development.

    As it is currently written, state statute prohibits the use of LEDA funds for retail in any community larger than 10,000. 

    “The majority of New Mexico communities under 25,000 still lack the retail activity that they want,” said Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher, noting that the 10,000-population cap “left out a huge number of communities.”

    “We’re certainly interested in seeing that cap rise so we can at least level the playing field for our small community to attract more retail.”

    HB 139, cosponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and Rep. Jason C. Harper (R-57), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, would allow communities up to 25,000 to utilize local economic development funds for retail development. 

  • Vote for Ona!

    Ona Gartz, an eighth-grader at Los Alamos Middle School, was just like any other middle-school student at a special assembly put on by Google Friday. She was surprised when Google representatives Nicholas Maurette and Tobias Rauscher called her name, telling her that she was the only winner in the state of New Mexico of the company’s “Doodle4Google” logo contest with her entry, “Colors Of My Island (above).” Ona now moves on to the “national finalist” category, where people can vote for her logo to help make her, and Los Alamos Middle School, the national winner. Go to doodle4google.com and follow the links. Look for the story in next week’s Los Alamos Monitor.

  • Investigators ask DA to reopen LANL director’s death case

    Three people with past connections to the Los Alamos National Laboratory are urging that the U.S. District Attorney’s Office reopen an investigation into the death of Richard Burick, a former deputy director at the lab. 

    Burick died in January 2003 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Los Alamos County police. He was found near his truck at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area parking lot. 

    The three people who have requested the reopening of the case, Charles Montaño, Glenn Walp and Steve Doran, sent a formal letter to Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney for the New Mexico District. The letter was dated Feb. 2. 

    “Our concern is that a full and complete investigation is needed in order to clean house and help ensure that one of the premier nuclear weapons labs long plagued by scandal is properly managed in the future, free of any possible reoccurrence of fraud and corruption,” the letter read.

    The three also mentioned in the letter that the reason why they decided to contact Martinez is because he is also the chairman of the National Lab/Research University Working Group for U.S. Attorneys.

  • County clerk releases levy results

    The Los Alamos County Clerk’s office completed the required canvass process to certify and finalize the 2016 Special Los Alamos Public Schools All Mail Election results. The Canvass Board consisted of Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent, and County Clerk Sharon Stover.

    During the canvass process, the board reviewed and verified the accuracy of the results of the all-mail election. The final count of ballots cast in the election totaled 5,806, representing a turnout of 44.5 percent among eligible Los Alamos County registered voters.  The canvassing results also included the hand tally totals that the Absentee Board tallied on election night.  

    There were a total of 13 ballots that were hand tallied as they were not able to be read through the voting machine.  As a result, the board issued a certificate of canvass, which will be sent to the New Mexico Secretary of State and kept on file in the County Clerk’s office, and official election results have been made available on the County Clerk webpage at losalamosnm.us/clerk. The projected cost of this election is $30,000, and is paid by Los Alamos Public School District, excluding the cost of the County Clerk staff time.

  • Council tables variable gas rate

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 6−1 Tuesday to table discussion on the Department of Public Utilities’ variable gas rate. 

    The current gas rate is designed with both a fixed-cost recovery and a variable cost of gas component. When council approved the variable rate in 2013, one condition they placed on it was that DPU provide a yearly report.

    Department of Public Utilities Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt presented the report.

    According to Westervelt, the variable gas rate has fluctuated from 20 cents to 51.5 cents per MMBTU since this rate structure was implemented.

    “So by having this variable cost of gas, that meant that when the cost of gas in the San Juan Index was high, we were able to pass that cost directly through,” Westervelt said. “But for all of the months – there were a lot of months when the rate was considerably lower – we were able to not collect those funds from the ratepayer and allow them to keep that avoided cost in their bank accounts instead of in our bank account.”

  • Debate team denied entry in competition

    The Jemez Mountain Home School Speech and Debate Team was denied a spot in the New Mexico Speech and Debate Association Congressional Debate Championship last week, and according to the coaches on the team, they will likely get shut out of many more future competitions.

    The highly ranked team, made up of Jemez and Los Alamos County students, was denied entry because of recently changed rules that govern how home-schooled children participate in extracurricular activities. 

    The associations that govern the competitions, the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) and the New Mexico Speech and Debate Association (NMSDA) have recently changed how they interpreted the rules allowing the teams to participate to better match state legislation passed in 2007.

    New Mexico Legislature passed a set of laws that kept parents from pulling their kids out a school that might not have a stellar sports program, home-school them, and then enroll them in a “winning” school.