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Local News

  • Lawmaker wants hearing on Cabinet firing

    SANTA FE (AP) — Republican State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado of Valencia is asking for a special legislative hearing about the recent dismissal of New Mexico's top public education official.

    Baldonado said in a letter Wednesday that the governor's decision to dismiss Karen Trujillo as public education secretary was drastic and has triggered confusion and concern across the state. He wants to know more about why the secretary was removed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and how soon a successor may be named.

    It was unclear if the Legislative Education Study Committee would agree to a hearing.

    Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque is emphasizing the need to name a new secretary quickly amid multiple statewide education reform efforts.

    She says the Cabinet change reflects a "gung-ho" attitude by the governor toward changes in public education.

     

  • New Mexico aims to have new ed chief before schools starts

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico is conducting a nationwide search for a new public education chief, and officials with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration said Wednesday they're optimistic they will find a candidate before the start of the school year.

    The search was announced Monday when Lujan Grisham abruptly fired Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo. She was picked for the job just months earlier by the first-year governor.

    Lujan Grisham expressed dissatisfaction with progress on sweeping reforms.

    Trujillo says she was blindsided and disappointed that the governor's office didn't really give her a reason.

    The dismissal is reverberating through the department, with chief of staff Daniel Manzano submitting his resignation Tuesday. State lawmakers also have voiced concerns.

    The shake-up comes as the administration deals with court-ordered mandates and a push to roll out extended learning times for students.

    Sen. Craig Brandt (R-Rio Rancho) was in Santa Fe Wednesday attending the Legislative Education Study Committee meeting. He commented on the surprise removal of the education secretary this week.

  • Wife of candidate Joe Biden to raise money in New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is scheduled to visit New Mexico for a campaign fundraising events.

    The campaign said Jill Biden plans to attend fundraising events on Friday in Santa Fe and Saturday in Albuquerque. Further details were unavailable.

    In 2016, Hillary Clinton narrowly edged out Bernie Sanders in New Mexico’s Democratic presidential primary and went on to beat Donald Trump in the state’s general election.

  • FBI arrest man on federal firearm, drug charges

    A multi-agency task force arrested an Albuquerque man on federal firearm and drug charges Tuesday.

    Henry Felix, 49, was charged in a federal complaint with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; being a felon in possession of a firearm; and possession of heroin with intent to distribute, according to the FBI.

    Officers found a loaded, stolen firearm and about five ounces of heroin in Felix’s home, according to the federal complaint.

    The FBI Violent Crime Task Force, comprised of investigators from the FBI, New Mexico State Police, Albuquerque Police Department, and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, arrested Felix after executing a search warrant of his Albuquerque home.

    Felix had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Tuesday and was ordered detained pending a preliminary/detention hearing on Wednesday.

  • Campaign videos serve as backdrop to state websites

    SANTA FE  (AP) — Redesigned websites for two independent state agencies are blurring the lines between governance and politicking by using video footage from the campaign trail as a backdrop for information about government services.

    State House Republican minority leader James Townsend on Tuesday called the agencies’ use of campaign-related video unfortunate, saying that “political aspirations should not cloud our duty of service.”

    The backsplash for the Office of the State Auditor’s home page is the same video footage from a 2018 campaign ad for newly elected State Auditor Brian Colón that was paid for by the campaign committee New Mexicans for Colón.

    The video footage shows Colón high fiving a child at a public park and conversing with young men and women at a boardroom table and again outdoors.

    Agency spokeswoman Stephanie Telles said the video footage was donated by Colón without any cost to taxpayers and is appropriate because it communicates the state auditor’s goal of protecting New Mexico families.

    She said an overhaul of the website this month makes it easier to search for independent audits of local government agencies and help agencies communicate with public accountants.

  • County works with rodeo, others to stop virus

    As health officials and livestock owners grapple with the latest outbreak of Vesicular Stomatis, county officials are monitoring the situation closely.

    The disease, which causes blistering on the lips and inside the mouths of livestock and other animals, first hit New Mexico in late June and came to White Rock in July, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

    According to the USDA, the disease can be spread to humans through direct contact with animals infected with the virus, which usually shows up as a flu. In humans, the disease can last up to a week. However, the USDA said humans getting the disease is rare.

    In August, horses and livestock from all over the region are coming to the county. The first event is the 2019 Los Alamos County Horse Show at Brewer Arena, and the second is the Los Alamos Fair and Rodeo, Aug. 10.

    Even though the USDA issued a quarantine in White Rock July 5 for the disease, both events are still scheduled to continue.

  • Local educators react to PED chief’s dismissal

    Local school officials Tuesday stood behind Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to dismiss the state’s public education secretary, Karen Trujillo.

    The announcement was made Monday night by the governor’s office.

    Trujillo was hired about six months ago by the first-year Democratic governor to overhaul the state’s public education system.

    The State Legislature delivered a nearly $500 million increase in spending to schools in April to meet a court-mandated ruling that required districts provide adequate education, especially to students from impoverished and minority households.

    Reforms backed by Lujan Grisham include the replacement of the state’s performance evaluation systems for teachers and individual school ratings. She embraced the Legislature’s plan to extend learning time for students by as much as five weeks at some elementary schools.

    Los Alamos School Board Chair Ellen Ben-Naim said she had confidence in the governor’s decision.

    “I don’t have a full understanding of the situation, but I do trust in the governor’s judgment,” Ben-Naim said. “I’m hopeful that positive changes in education statewide will continue.”

  • Police animal shelter plan concerns committee

    The Los Alamos Police Department submitted a report to council listing the reasons why it should still remain in control of the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter.

    A month ago, the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter Ad Hoc Advisory Committee submitted a report to council favoring an option that would put the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter under the control of Community Services or another agency.

    According to the advisory committee’s report, the shelter’s fundamental flaw is that police officers are trained to run the shelter from a law enforcement-perspective, rather than from an animal-care perspective.

    According to advisory committee chair Wendee Brunish, modern shelters have taken law enforcement out of shelter management and replaced it with people that are trained and educated extensively in animal behavior, with the goal of making the animal adoptable.

    “It’s all about social living, social interactions… single dog, single cage is just not a viable model in the modern shelter world, and that’s just what we have, and that’s what we’ll always have if the shelter is run by the Los Alamos Police Department,” Brunish said.

  • Esper sworn in as new secretary of defense

    By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — It took seven months, but President Donald Trump finally has a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense.

    Mark Esper, an Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, won Senate confirmation Tuesday by a vote of 90-8. He was to be officially sworn in by the end of the day, ending the longest period the Pentagon has gone without a confirmed leader in its history.

    The turmoil atop the Pentagon began when Trump's first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, stepped down last New Year's Eve after a series of policy disputes with Trump. He offered to stay another two months to get a successor in place, but Trump said no.

    Even with Esper now in charge, the problem of leadership instability at the Pentagon is not fully resolved. There still is no Senate-confirmed deputy secretary of defense, although David Norquist on Tuesday was nominated for the post and is scheduled to have a confirmation hearing Wednesday.

    The senior leadership vacancies increased again last week with the departure of David Trachtenberg, the Pentagon's second-ranking civilian policy official.

  • Senate confirms Army veteran Mark Esper secretary of defense

    By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — It took seven months, but President Donald Trump finally has a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense.

    Mark Esper, an Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, won Senate confirmation Tuesday by a vote of 90-8. He was to be officially sworn in by the end of the day, ending the longest period the Pentagon has gone without a confirmed leader in its history.

    The turmoil atop the Pentagon began when Trump's first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, stepped down last New Year's Eve after a series of policy disputes with Trump. He offered to stay another two months to get a successor in place, but Trump said no.

    Even with Esper now in charge, the problem of leadership instability at the Pentagon is not fully resolved. There still is no Senate-confirmed deputy secretary of defense, although David Norquist on Tuesday was nominated for the post and is scheduled to have a confirmation hearing Wednesday.

    The senior leadership vacancies increased again last week with the departure of David Trachtenberg, the Pentagon's second-ranking civilian policy official.