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Today's News

  • 2018 State Legislature: House passes bill to ease coal plant closing impact

    By Steve Terrell
    The New Mexican

    In a case of strange political bedfellows, a conservative lawmaker from San Juan County and the leader of a Santa Fe environmental group not known for compromising came together Tuesday to back a bill aimed at easing the economic woes of New Mexico communities hit by the closing of large coal-burning power plants.

    The House of Representives voted 44-25 to pass Rep. Rod Montoya's House Bill 325, designed to help a large school district keep most of its tax base if Public Service Company of New Mexico closes the San Juan Generating Station by 2022.

    To become a reality, the measure would also have to clear the Senate before the Legislature adjourns at noon Thursday.

    "Are you going to refer to me as an environmentalist activist," Montoya joked with a reporter Tuesday.

    Endorsing the bill was Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy, a Santa Fe-based non-profit that has fought many PNM rate increases and other proposals before the state Public Regulation Commission.

    That support was the result of hours of negotiating between Montoya, Nanasi and representatives of other environmentalist groups over the past several days.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative roundup Feb. 13

    The New Mexican

    Days remaining in the session: 2

    Out front: Call that first vote a false start. A state House of Representatives vote Tuesday to require front-end license plates on vehicles registered in New Mexico came a just few days after the chamber rejected the very same bill.

    Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, a Democrat and former Albuquerque Police Department officer, had presented House Bill 158 as a public safety measure. He said requiring two license plates on each vehicle would help law enforcement identify vehicles involved in crimes.

    But the issue -- which would raise the annual vehicle registration fee by $2 -- proved to be a lightning rod, with some House members reporting that they had received more emails from constituents on this bill than on any other.

    The House voted down the bill on Saturday, and when members moved to bring it back up again, the House also voted down changes presented as something of a compromise.

    The ensuing debate again proved to be one of the most impassioned of the session, with some arguing the measure is effectively a tax increase or at the very least an afront to the car culture of a state that is one of just 19 not to require front-end license plates.

  • Travel: Discover a southern jewel in Oxford

    By Debbie Stone

    Special to the Monitor

    Visitors entering Oxford, Mississippi’s historic Square will come nose-to-nose with its famed Courthouse. The stately white building stands in the heart of town, creating a scene that looks like it came right out of one of John Grisham’s legal thrillers.

    The well-known author is actually one of many writers who lived in Oxford, a town with an impressive literary heritage and more published writers per capita than most big-time American cities.

    As a state, Mississippi boasts such distinguished wordsmiths as Richard Ford, Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, Donna Tartt, Jesmyn Ward, Larry Brown and Curtis Wilkie. Perhaps the most acclaimed, however, is William Faulkner. Regarded as one of the greatest writers in the twentieth century, Faulkner made Oxford his home after briefly attending the University of Mississippi, and lived in his antebellum-style house, Rowan Oak, from 1930 until his death in 1962.

  • A Love Story: A man, his wife and his girlfriend

    This is a Valentine’s Day love story about a man, his wife and his girlfriend.

    The man is Doug Pippin, 75, who lives in White Rock with Phyllis, 74, his wife of 56 years. Phyllis is, in fact, the one who introduced Doug to his girlfriend when he turned 70, six years ago.

    The “girlfriend” is actually a bright yellow 1931 Ford Model A, five-window coupe he received as a surprise gift from his wife.

    “We call it ‘his girlfriend’ because that ‘girlfriend’ is costing him money (in repairs),” Phyllis laughed.

    Doug’s love affair with that kind of vehicle started when he was in high school in Española. Another young man had a 1932 Ford Model A, five-window coupe and Doug offered to buy it. They made a “handshake agreement,” and soon after Doug towed the car to his house and was making payments to the young man at a rate of $8 a month, money he collected while working at a full-service gas station for 50 cents an hour.

    “I was going to hot rod that car,” Doug grinned.

    In the meantime, Doug found his real love the day in 1960 when Phyllis rode into the gas station where he worked.

    “That’s how I met her,” Doug said, “working at the gas station.”

  • LANL explosives test scheduled for this afternoon

     The Los Alamos National Laboratory will conduct an explosives test today between 1 and 3 p.m. that may be heard by Los Alamos residents, according lab officials. Unusual conditions today may cause residents to hear sounds from the explosions.  

  • APNewsBreak: New Mexico Dem Party hit by misconduct claims

    By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Democratic Party of New Mexico vice chairwoman says she has been the target of unwanted sexual advances by an elected Democratic official who also is active in the party in southern New Mexico.

    In a letter dated Monday, Neomi Martinez-Parra wrote that she's been a victim of inappropriate sexual misconduct by Dona Ana County Commissioner and Dona Ana County Central Committee member John Vasquez.

    "As you are well aware, Mr. Vasquez has been accused of various inappropriate behavior(s) (toward) females," Martinez-Parra wrote in a letter to New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Richard Ellenberg. "I too have been a victim of Mr. Vasquez's inappropriate sexual misconduct, which I will address separately through my legal counsel."
    Vasquez drew condemnation last month for Facebook posts directed at a female community activist where he attacked her mother and suggested the activist had asked him for "favors."

    "They say you can take a girl out of the ghetto..." Vasquez wrote in a dig at New Mexico Comunidades en Accion y de Fe organizer Johana Bencomo.

    Vasquez didn't respond to emails from The Associated Press and his voicemail was full.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Can cannabis treat opioid addiction? Lawmakers think not

    By Daniel J. Chacon

    The New Mexican

    New Mexico lawmakers injected a dose of political pressure Monday into an unwavering but so far unsuccessful effort to add opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in New Mexico.

    State Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, both Democrats from Las Cruces, held a news conference at the Roundhouse to bring attention to companion memorials they are sponsoring, calling on Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher to allow people with opioid dependence to obtain medical marijuana to help them break the chains of their addiction.

    "It is past time that this secretary do this," Steinborn said. "People are dying every day in the state of New Mexico from opioid abuse, and medical marijuana has proven to be a safer treatment for any underlying conditions and certainly, hopefully, to step people down from opioid addiction into something safer that won't kill them."

    Twice, the state Medical Cannabis Program's advisory board has recommended medical marijuana be allowed as a treatment for opioid addiction.

    Gallagher, however, has the final say.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative roundup Feb. 12, 2018

    The New Mexican

    Days remaining in the session: 3

    White flag: Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, conceded Monday that his proposed constitutional amendment for automatic voter registration is dead.

    The Senate Rules Committee was ready to hear Ivey-Soto's proposal when he admitted defeat, telling the committee chairwoman to skip it.

    Ivey-Soto's proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 5, would have required the state to ensure that all qualified electors are registered to vote for each election.

    Consensus on crime: The Senate will get a vote on a sweeping, bipartisan piece of crime legislation that would toughen penalties for violent felons caught in possession of a firearm and ensure that a series of minor, nonviolent crimes no longer carry the risk of jail terms.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved House Bill 19, sending to the Senate floor what has emerged as the consensus criminal justice legislation of the session.

    The measures also would expand access to behavioral health services for jail inmates, provide bonuses for some police officers and stiffen requirements that drunken-driving offenders must satisfy before having an ignition interlock device removed from their vehicle.

  • Nordic ski club dominates in Colorado

    Despite generally low snow this winter, Southwest Nordic Ski Club was lucky to have two different events within reasonable driving distance on the same day and fielded 27 racers between the two venues.

    The larger group headed to Crested Butte, Colorado, for their famous and colorful Alley Loop races now in its 32nd year.

    The distances for Alley Loop range from 1.5K all the way to marathon distance of 42K. Typically all courses start and finish on Main Street and snake through town’s quaint alleys giving the event it’s name.  

    This year, due to lower snow, the race started at the Nordic Center but longer courses were still able to ski through alleys in town. Racers, as well as spectators, dress up in costumes and celebrate the event all day along the course making for colorful and fun photos of the event.

    In the 1.5K race, SWNSC girls swept the podium with Anna Simakov (age 8) in first, Harper Reid (age 7) in second and Samantha Baily (age 6) in third. Liv Niklasson (age 8) raced as well but forgot to put on her timing chip. Her finish would’ve also placed her on the podium had she been counted in the timing.

  • Aggies continue winning ways

    Balanced scoring and another 20-rebound night from Jemerrio Jones saw the New Mexico State men’s basketball team overpower CSU Bakersfield Thursday night 69-43 at the Pan American Center. The win pushed Aggie win-streak to 10-straight with an overall record of 21-3 and 8-0 mark in Western Athletic Conference play.

    Jones, who finished with six points and 20 rebounds for the second-consecutive game, added three assists and two steals to his line while Zach Lofton recorded a game-high 14 points.

    The last and only time an Aggie tallied 20 rebounds in back-to-back games was Sam Lacey during the Final Four year (1969-70). He did so against Montana State and Air Force.

    New Mexico State started the game off a little slow on the offensive end, hitting just 29-percent of its shots. 

    The visiting Runners led for short spurts in the first 10 minutes before the Aggie offense woke up out of the media timeout with 7:10 left in the half.

    CSUB scored first out of the break, but it was all NMSU after that thanks to a 13-4 run to end the half for the 31-18 advantage.

    During that stretch, the Aggies scored 10-straight, despite shooting 0-for-8 from the floor, thanks to their 11-of-11 shooting from the line.