- LEGISLATURE-CONFLICTED INTERESTS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — It has taken three years for the New Mexico Legislature to answer a request for advice about ethical conduct by one of its members.A legislative ethics panel on Monday endorsed a six-page opinion that lawmakers can rely on to provide immunity from sanctions.It says that a lawmaker must assiduously avoid using a legislative position for professional advantage and that public disclosure is the "polestar" for managing conflicts of interest.Legislative Council Service Director Raúl Burciaga says the request was submitted three years ago by a lawmaker who wishes to remain anonymous.It asks about appropriate conduct for a legislator who works as an attorney at a law firm that has state contracts and has partners who are registered lobbyists, as well as other situations.
- THREATENED OWL-TIMBER PROJECTS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It will be up to a federal judge to sign off on a proposed order that would clear the way for a tree to be cut and displayed outside the U.S. Capitol building over the holidays.The proposal the result of an agreement reached Monday between environmentalists and the U.S. Forest Service in a case centered on the threatened Mexican spotted owl.The plan allows personal Christmas tree-cutting permits, prescribed fires with stipulations and commercial firewood gathering in certain areas.It's unclear when the judge might issue a final ruling.A September order drew criticism for imposing a tree-cutting ban that spanned five national forests in New Mexico and one in Arizona.The judge later narrowed the order to allow personal firewood permits, but other timber management activities remain sidelined.
- FLU-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel will be getting her flu shot as the state kicks off its campaign to get more people vaccinated this season.Kunkel and Deputy Secretary Abinash Achrekar will be visiting a public health office in Albuquerque on Tuesday. They'll be talking about the importance of annual vaccinations.Kunkel says flu can be fatal if left untreated.More than 200 New Mexicans died of flu and flu-related pneumonia during the 2018-2019 flu season.Earlier this month, the Health Department confirmed the state's first cases of the season. Those included one in Bernalillo County in which a 90-year-old patient died.Officials say young children and older adults are the most vulnerable.The flu season typically runs through the end of April.
- SWAT BREAKS UP BIRTHDAY PARTY
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A SWAT team looking for a suspected accomplice in a forged-check case was forced to break up a birthday party for an 8-year-old Albuquerque boy.KOAT-TV reports the armed SWAT team on Saturday surrounded Christina Rain's home as she held a birthday gathering for her son and had to try to corral the young attendees inside.A suspect had fled police from a Walmart and eventually barricade himself in the storage shed in Rain's backyard.Police then ordered Rain and the rest of the party-goers out of the house and to a nearby park.Authorities say the man was taken into custody.After the excitement, Rain told a KOAT-TV reporter the young party-goers were heading back to the house to have some birthday cake.
- NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE-TRIBES
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Native American leaders from New Mexico are opposing plans that call for storing in the desert Southwest tons of spent nuclear fuel from power plants around the U.S.The All Pueblo Council of Governors in a resolution adopted late last week affirmed its commitment to protecting tribal natural and cultural resources.The council — representing 20 sovereign pueblo nations — is worried about risks associated with transporting the waste to New Mexico and West Texas from sites around the country.New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and others also are opposed to the plans because the federal government has yet to develop any long-term solutions for handling the fuel.The pueblos also pointed to a lack of consultation regarding transport routes and emergency response training in case of an accident.
- CALIFORNIA TRIBE-COMING HOME
A California tribe is regaining much of the land it lost after a massacre more than 150 years ago.The Wiyot Tribe has been making small strides to regain land on Indian Island, which it considers the center of the universe.The city of Eureka will deed more than 200 acres to the tribe Monday.Tribes nationwide have lost millions of acres of land through treaties broken by the U.S. government, by force and in exchange for federal services such as health care and education. Rarely has it been restored.The Wiyot Tribe was decimated in 1860 when scores of tribal elders, women and children were killed in a raid by settlers.Tribal administrator Michelle Vassel says the return of the land reflects healing and a community coming together.
- FARMINGTON POLICE-EXCESSIVE FORCE
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A northwestern New Mexico police officer shown on a lapel video roughing up an 11-year-old middle school girl has resigned.Farmington police announced Sunday that officer Zachary Christensen stepped down after an internal use-of-force investigation was launched following the Aug. 27 episode.The lapel video shows Christensen throwing the 6th-grade student on the ground after accusing her of talking more pints of milk than allowed from the cafeteria. The video also shows school employees pleading with Christensen not to use excessive force.Farmington Police Chief Steven Hebbe says the use of force did not comply with department standards.The case has been referred to the New Mexico State Police for possible criminal charges.It was not known of Christensen had an attorney. No phone number for Christensen was listed.
- ENERGY EFFICIENCY JOBS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Executives with New Mexico's largest electric utility are touting energy efficiency, pointing to a recent report from a clean energy group that shows more than a quarter of energy sector jobs in the state are related to improving efficiency.Statistics compiled by the energy industry group E4TheFuture indicate New Mexico led all states with an 11.5% increase in energy efficiency jobs in 2018. Nevada followed with growth of just over 8%.The group predicts the sector will show more growth by the end of 2019.Most of these jobs are in the construction industry and involve the design and installation of improved heating and cooling systems.PNM Resources, the parent company of Public Service Co. of New Mexico, says the report solidifies that the energy workforce is woven throughout New Mexico's economy.