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Jan 8, 2020
  • Tree thinning in northern New Mexico causes uproar

GLORIETA MESA, N.M. (AP) — An effort by New Mexico officials to trim the density of piñon and juniper trees near Cañoncito is drawing criticism from some residents. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports state officials say the Ojo de la Vaca Meadow Restoration Project is designed to "encourage the growth of desirable understory vegetation." But residents say the tree-thinning project is doing more harm than good. Stephen Dubinsky says the trees anchor the soil and prevent erosion. State Land Office spokeswoman Angie Poss says the state treated more than 48,000 acres (19,424 hectares) last year in a range of projects similar to the work near Cañoncito that are meant to improve the health of the land.

  • State senator gets 5-day prison sentence for drunken driving

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state Sen. Richard Martinez was sentenced to serve five days in jail on drunken and reckless driving convictions. He was involved in a June wreck in which he rear-ended a car that was stopped at a red light. State District Court Judge Francis Mathew told Martinez that by driving while intoxicated the senator had violated the trust of political constituents whom he was supposed to protect. Martinez also was ordered to serve 85 days under supervised probation. Prosecutors had recommending 180 days in jail for the former magistrate judge and Democratic senator.

  • Republican TV meteorologist joins New Mexico Senate race

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M, (AP) — A television meteorologist in Albuquerque is joining the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico. Republican Mark Ronchetti announced Tuesday he is entering the contest for the GOP nomination after stepping down from his job as chief meteorologist for Albuquerque's CBS affiliate. Ronchetti calls himself a "proud conservative New Mexican" who opposes abortion and supports gun rights. Ronchetti says he doesn't support some of President Donald Trump's tweets and comments but endorses his economic and energy policies. Ronchetti joins a crowded  GOP field that includes anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, shooting range owner Louie Sanchez, building contractor Mick Rich and college professor Gavin Clarkson.

  • New Mexico eyes stashing away more oil money for future

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Leading lawmakers in New Mexico are recommending a 6.5% increase in state general fund spending that stashes away some oil and natural gas revenue in trust funds to ensure future spending on early childhood education initiatives. The Legislative Finance Committee recommended a $464 million increase in sustained spending to about $7.5 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Another $325 million would be set aside for endowments to underwrite early childhood schooling. The endowment plan is supported by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Pay increases are scheduled for public school teachers and state employees under the budget proposal.

  • City council in New Mexico to vote on removing mayor

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — City officials in the northern New Mexico city of Las Vegas have scheduled a meeting to discuss the removal from office of the mayor indicted on bribery charges last month. Authorities say Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron pleaded not guilty Monday to all six criminal charges including engaging in an official act for personal financial gain and demanding or receiving a bride by a public officer or employee. The attorney general of New Mexico says the mayor allegedly rigged city contracts so her boyfriend's contracting company could get them. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday inside Council Chambers and is open to the public.

  • Man fatally shot during encounter with Albuquerque police

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police say at least one officer fatally shot a man who allegedly was waving a handgun in the air while crossing a street. Police say officers were on patrol on in the area of Central Avenue and San Pedro Drive when the incident occurred Monday. According to police, the man was waving the gun in a "dangerous fashion" and that the shooting occurred when officer identified themselves as police and walked up to him. Police didn't immediately say how many officers fired or release other information about circumstances of the encounter.

  • New Mexico House GOP seeks answers on Albuquerque 'surge'

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico House Republicans are seeking answers around a so-called surge last year of state police fighting crime in Albuquerque. Seven House Republicans sent a letter Friday to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham requesting an investigation into the much-criticized "Operation Surge." A KOAT-TV analysis in December found that 52% of those cases were tossed for a variety of reasons, including shoddy paperwork or a lack of evidence. The Republicans say the "disappointing anti-crime operation" sent a message to criminals that they likely won't be prosecuted for crimes.

  • Suspended New Mexico professor sues to return to work

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A University of New Mexico professor who was suspended for all of 2020 after the school found he violated sexual harassment policies is seeking a return to work. The Albuquerque Journal reports Anderson School of Management associate professor Nick Flor last week filed a lawsuit to halt his yearlong suspension without pay. The suspension also prohibits Flor from working elsewhere for more than 39 days during the suspension. The lawsuit says the university violated Flor's due process rights during its investigation into a relationship between Flor and a graduate student. Flor denied that he violated any policies, and his attorney said he wasn't given a fair chance to defend himself. University officials declined to comment on Flor's case.