Albuquerque council OKs civilian police panel plan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The City Council has approved a plan for greater civilian oversight of Albuquerque’s police department, which has faced criticism over recent shootings.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the bill was approved 8-0 late Thursday and sent to the mayor, who has said he would carefully review any such proposal.

The ordinance is aimed at creating a more powerful agency to decide on civilian complaints against police.

The city has been rocked by angry protests and a U.S. Justice Department investigation over more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

The police union predicted that final approval of the ordinance will result in litigation for jeopardizing the rights of officers and violating the terms of their contract.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal

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Clovis police: Officer in probe after traffic stop

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — Clovis police have launched an investigation following a YouTube video of an officer slamming a handcuffed man into the asphalt during a traffic stop.

The Clovis New Journal reports the officer from the Aug. 3 stop was placed on limited duty this week and is under an internal investigation for use of force. Clovis police did not identify the officer.

According to the YouTube video, the officer is seen throwing to the ground a handcuffed 26-year-old Jorge Corona after Corona told the officer he didn’t even ask for his name.

Dan Lindsey, an attorney for Corona, says his client suffered a broken cheek and other injuries. He says Corona was a passenger in the back seat of a vehicle.

Court records show Corona was charged with concealing identity and resisting arrest.

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Information from: Clovis News Journal

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Grand jury to get evidence on Espanola shooting

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A northern New Mexico prosecutor says she’ll present evidence to a grand jury to determine whether an Espanola police officer’s fatal shooting of an El Rito teen-ager was justified.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco says she received the case from the New Mexico State Police about a month ago.

An officer shot 16-year-old Victor Villalpando on June 8 after the youth called 911 and said there was a suspicious person who needed help.

Authorities have said the youth was shot after he pointed a toy cap gun at officers who responded.

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Marijuana legalization behind in New Mexico poll

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A newspaper’s statewide poll of likely voters finds that a proposal to legalize marijuana in New Mexico could face tough going if a measure was placed on the ballot.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 50 percent of the respondents to its poll were opposed to Colorado-style legalization while 44 percent supported it. Half of the rest they had mixed feelings while the other half wouldn’t say or said they didn’t know.

The poll’s margin of error was 4.4 percent points. The poll was conducted Sept. 9-11 and was based on telephone interviews with 500 voters who voted in the 2010 and 2012 elections and who said they would likely vote again this year.

A proposed constitutional amendment was introduced in this year’s legislative session but didn’t emerge from the Legislature.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Man fatally shot after vehicle chase in New Mexico

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Police say an officer fatally shot a 33-year-old man in Las Cruces who had led authorities on a 68-mile chase and then refused to get out of his vehicle.

New Mexico State Police say William Smith of El Paso, Texas, was pronounced dead Friday at the scene.

Authorities say Smith refused to pull over when he was spotted speeding on Interstate 10 near Deming and continued until he reached Las Cruces, where the pursuit ended once Smith exited the interstate.

Two passengers exited the vehicle, but Smith, who had pistols in the vehicle, remained inside as police spent hours trying to negotiate with him. Eventually, Smith stopped talking to police.

At some point, a State Police officer who believed there was a deadly threat shot Smith.

No officers were injured.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press

Governor names government retiree to parole board

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A retired state government official has been named to the state Parole Board by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Laura Chavez of Albuquerque recently retired from the Department of Corrections as a probation and parole officer supervisor.

Chavez fills a vacancy on the 15-member board, which can grant or deny parole for adult offenders.

Chavez received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University.

Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate. The governor’s office said Chavez’s term runs through June 2015.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ebola burial team attacked in Sierra Leone

ROBBIE COREY-BOULET
Associated Press

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) - A police official says health workers in Sierra Leone have come under attack while trying to bury the bodies of five Ebola victims east of the capital.

Sgt. Edward Momoh Brima Lahai said there was a confrontation Saturday between a group of youths and the burial team in the Waterloo district.

A witness told state television the burial team initially had to abandon the five bodies in the street and flee. Lahai said the burial was successfully completed after police reinforcements arrived.

Sierra Leone is in the middle of an unprecedented three-day lockdown intended to stop the spread of Ebola. The World Health Organization says the deadly virus has killed more than 560 people in Sierra Leone and more than 2,600 across West Africa.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Nuke dump cleanup plans still under review

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Officials working to reopen the federal government’s troubled nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico say their recovery plan is under review.

Department of Energy officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad had earlier indicated they would be releasing details of the plan Thursday. They reviewed the major work that needs to be done, but Carlsbad DOE Field Office Manager Joe Franco told a community meeting Thursday evening that the full plan is still awaiting approval from Washington. The plan is expected to detail cost estimates and a timeline for cleaning up radiological contamination and resuming operations after a mysterious February leak that contaminated 22 workers.

Officials have said it could be three years before WIPP completely reopens.

It’s still unclear exactly what caused the leak from a barrel of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

WIPP is the government’s only permanent repository for legacy waste such as contaminated gloves, tools and clothing from decades of nuclear bomb building.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Federal court refuses to referee pot dispute

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to referee a legal fight over whether two New Mexico counties can put nonbinding questions about marijuana and taxes on the November general election ballot.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen Thursday said the court lacks jurisdiction in the dispute between Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

The counties have approved advisory ballot questions to ask voters whether they support decriminalizing marijuana.

But Duran contends state law doesn’t allow ballot questions that poll voters and don’t have the force of law.

Duran went to federal court after the counties asked the state Supreme Court to allow the ballot questions. Duran contends the legal dispute will improperly delay the sending of absentee ballots to overseas voters.

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Man guilty in deaths of Albuquerque woman, child

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man has been convicted of killing a woman and her infant son in 2010 before setting their southwest Albuquerque home on fire.

Jurors found 26-year-old Jesus Joaquin Arredondo Soto guilty Thursday on two counts of first-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with evidence and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.

Prosecutors say Arredondo Soto faces up to two life prison terms when he’s sentenced Oct. 29.

Albuquerque police say Arredondo Soto went to the home of 21-year-old Yuriko Santana-Hernandez in August 2010 with the intention of robbing her.

Arredondo Soto was accused of fatally stabbing the woman, slashing the throat of her 1-year-old son and then setting the mobile home on fire.

He stole a vehicle and fled to Mexico, where he was later captured.

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Governor criticizes challenger for tax increases

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — With early voting set to begin in a few weeks, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic challenger Gary King are sparring over the economy and taxes.

King and Martinez outlined their campaign views Thursday in separate appearances at a public policy conference at New Mexico State University.

King said New Mexico has been going down “the wrong path.” He pointed to a Census Bureau report showing the state’s poverty rate had increased last year. He also said it’s unacceptable that New Mexico ranks at or near the bottom nationally in child well-being.

Martinez said state government’s finances are on “solid ground” because of her fiscal policies and she criticized King for supporting tax increases to close a budget gap two decades ago as a legislator.

Absentee voting begins Oct. 7.

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Poll: 66 percent support tapping NM permanent fund

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new poll says nearly two-thirds of New Mexico likely voters believe the state should tap its $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to expand early childhood programs.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the poll conducted for the newspaper found 66 percent said they would support tapping the permanent fund. The fund currently pays out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for New Mexico K-12 and higher education programs.

Twenty-four percent of voters said they opposed tapping the fund for more money for early childhood programs.

Some Democrats state lawmakers for years have pushed for tapping the Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for expanding of early childhood programs.

The Journal’s poll was conducted Sept. 9-11 and was based on telephone calls to 500 likely voters. The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Air Force unveils plan on Kirtland wells for 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force has unveiled a proposal to start drilling wells next year to try to intercept groundwater contamination from a Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill.

The Albuquerque Journal reports plan released Wednesday is aimed at stopping contamination before it can reach Albuquerque municipal drinking water wells.

Under the plan, eight new cleanup wells will be operating by August 2016.

But a top Air Force official acknowledged that the first of the wells will not be installed until mid-2015, missing a December deadline to get that phase of the work completed.

The spill was discovered in 1999 when Kirtland officials found a leaking pipe. It contaminated groundwater beneath Kirtland and southeast Albuquerque.

Two years later, base workers found contamination in a groundwater monitoring well.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Study: Carlsbad brine will collapse in decade

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — New data shows that Carlsbad’s I&W Brine Well will collapse in 10 to 25 years.

The Carlsbad Current Argus reports a new report on the brine well was presented Wednesday to a legislative committee and officials were urged to act.

John Lommler, a principal geotechnical engineer for AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, says the brine well’s roof is shifting in an arch-like formation to try and create a dome on the upper part of the cavity.

He says workers could manually collapse the underground cavern, but the groundwater could potentially be contaminated by the brine water sitting in the well.

Lommler says another option could be filling of the cavern with a mixture of aggregate fill that could include sand, gravel and cement.

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus

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Funding to boost training for Alzheimer’s care

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Training for family caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will be getting a boost thanks to $100,000 in state funding.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the funding Wednesday. She says the investment will triple the number of Alzheimer’s caregivers in New Mexico.

About 50 new teachers are expected to complete a seven-week course offered through the Alzheimer’s Association. The course focuses on practical strategies for caregiving and helps decrease caregiver stress.

With more teachers able to host classes, the number of caregivers receiving training is projected to expand to 1,000 by 2016.

The funding for the effort comes from the state Aging and Long-Term Services Department. It’s targeted at increasing the knowledge and skills for caregivers in New Mexico’s rural and underserved communities.

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