- PANDEMIC RELIEF-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's state treasurer says the governor of New Mexico is overstepping her authority in deciding independently how to spend more than $1 billion in federal relief without legislative approval or accountability. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has tapped the funds to replenish an unemployment insurance trust and underwrite millions of dollars in sweepstakes prizes for people who got vaccinated. In court filings obtained Wednesday, Democratic State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg has sided with a pair of legislators who say that the Legislature's core spending authority is being overridden.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 11 more COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths. Tribal health officials say the case total includes 83 delayed reported cases dating back to Oct. 4. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals to 34,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll now is at 1,463. Tribal officials still are urging people to get vaccinated, wear masks while in public and minimize their travel. All Navajo Nation executive branch employees had to be fully vaccinated against the virus by the end of September or submit to regular testing. The tribe's reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- SLAIN SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Jurors in Arizona have convicted a U.S. Air Force airman of first-degree murder in the death of a Mennonite woman who was living in New Mexico. The jury reached its verdict Wednesday after deliberating for about five hours. Mark Gooch was also found guilty of kidnapping Sasha Krause in January 2020 at a church near Farmington, where she was gathering material for Sunday school. Her body was found more than a month later outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, with a gunshot wound to the head. Gooch faces life in prison on the murder charge. Sentencing is set for Nov. 24.
- CAMPAIGN FINANCES-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Political donations are pouring into special campaign-related funds for New Mexico state legislators in a nonelection year. The Brian Egolf Speakers Fund that bears the name of the Democratic House speaker on Tuesday reported contributions of just over $300,000 since late April. Labor unions representing educators and electric-utility workers figured prominently among major donors to the fund to help elect Democratic House candidates. A fund overseen by House Republicans raised about $100,000 with major contributions from the oil industry. So-called caucus committees were introduced in 2019 by state statute. They can collect five times as much cash per donor as other New Mexico political committees.
- NUCLEAR REPOSITORY
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After seven years of mining, federal officials say work to carve out the eighth disposal area at the U.S. government's underground nuclear waste repository is complete. Managers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant are planning to use the space beginning next year. Constructed in a deep layer of salt in southern New Mexico, the repository entombs the radioactive remnants of decades of nuclear research and bomb-making. Workers still need to run power to the excavated area known as Panel 8 and install air monitors and chain link to protect the walls. State regulators are weighing a permit change for the repository that some critics say could open the door to expansion.
- OBIT-WILLIAM E. DAVIS
POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — William Eugene "Bud" Davis, who was a higher education leader in Idaho, Oregon, New Mexico and Louisiana as well as a college football coach and candidate for U.S. Senate, has died. He was 92. The Idaho State Journal reports that Davis, who died Sept. 24, became president of Idaho State University in 1965, just two years after the school gained university status. Davis took temporary leave from his position in 1972 to run for the U.S. Senate. While he won the Democratic nomination, he ultimately lost the race. Davis left ISU in 1975 to serve as the president of the University of New Mexico. He was later named chancellor of the Oregon State System of Higher Education and then chancellor of Louisiana State University.
- BOY FOUND SAFE-MOTHER KILLED
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state police says a young Roswell boy said by authorities to have been taken to Mexico by his father after the killing of the boy's mother has been found safe. The State Police's announcement Tuesday said Osiel Ernesto Rico "has been located safe" and that an Amber Alert issued for him in 2020 has been canceled. The announcement said requests for additional information should be directed to the FBI. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the agency was not commenting on the case "at this time." The boy's father, Jorge Rico-Ruvira, is charged with murder in the strangulation of 27-year-old Isela Mauricio-Sanchez.