New Mexico delves into soda tax fight
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — It's being pitched as an educational lifeline for impoverished preschool-aged children and condemned as the latest example of local government overreach sweeping progressive cities from coast to coast.
Voters in New Mexico's capital city have until Tuesday to decide whether to levy a new 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary soda and other sweetened beverages.
The citywide tax would provide Santa Fe an estimated $7.5 million in its first year to expand early childhood education to roughly 1,000 children whose families cannot afford quality prekindergarten and don't qualify for state programs.
If approved, the proposal would add Santa Fe to the flurry of U.S. cities that have adopted soda taxes since late 2014. Opponents question whether the tax can provide a sustainable source of revenue if it truly discourages consumption of sugary drinks.
TRUMP-NATIONAL MONUMENTS-NEW MEXICO
Trump order could scuttle New Mexico land swap
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says a federal-state land swap could be derailed by an executive order from President Donald Trump to review designations of national monuments by recent presidents.
Dunn said Wednesday that Trump's order could hold back efforts to consolidate federal and state holdings within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico.
He says the State Land Office has been negotiating with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to transfer 65 square miles (165 square kilometers) of state-owned land to the federal government in exchange for property elsewhere that can generate lease revenue for the state. The trade also involves the Sabinoso Wilderness Area.
Dunn says the trade could generate about $50,000 in annual state revenues for education.
ALBUQUERQUE SCHOOLS-BUDGET CUTS
APS: Plan being developed to save middle school sports
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Middle school students still will be able to compete in volleyball, basketball and track and field under a plan being developed by Albuquerque Public Schools.
APS officials say the district is working with principals, coaches and community partners on the plan that would keep competitive sports in middle schools for another year.
They say middle schools will continue to offer physical education, intramurals and programs that are funded by grants such as flag football, lunchtime basketball, archery, tennis and soccer.
APS officials had announced April 13 that it had decided to drop its middle school athletics program to save up to $750,000 per year.
They say the district continues to look for ways to address a budget shortfall that's projected to be as much as $26 million next school year.
GATHERING OF NATIONS
Prominent powwow set to begin in wake of pipeline protests
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One of North America's most prominent powwows is set to begin in New Mexico.
The Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque comes in the wake of pipeline protests in North Dakota that became a historic display of Native American solidarity.
Last year's powwow attracted about 3,000 dancers from hundreds of tribes in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It routinely draws at least 80,000 visitors.
The event, which opens Thursday, is intended to be nonpolitical, but Larry Yazzie, its official announcer, said people will be reminded why they are coming together, and that the "water protectors" — those who joined the pipeline protests — will be acknowledged.
The Gathering of Nations will be held at Expo New Mexico after the organization parted ways in a public spat with its longtime host — the University of New Mexico and its basketball arena.
Albuquerque school district's 'mistake' retweets attacked
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Political retweets from the official Twitter account of Albuquerque Public Schools are coming under fire from the New Mexico Public Education Department.
The recent retweets that have since been deleted invited residents to a campaign event for a Democratic mayoral candidate, urged residents to oppose the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch and called for the support of LGBTQ rights in North Carolina.
Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta says the retweets likely came from her and were "an honest mistake." Armenta says she thought she was retweeting from her personal account and deleted them once she realized the error.
PED spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg says it was disappointing the district would use taxpayer dollars to spread political messages.
WINTER WEATHER-NEW MEXICO
'Significant late season winter storm' to sock New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Spring officially began over a month ago but the National Weather Service says much of New Mexico can expect another strong dose of winter weather this weekend.
A special statement issued Wednesday by the Albuquerque's forecast office says a "significant late season winter storm" will hit northern and central New Mexico late Friday through early Sunday.
Forecasts say impacts of the system will include rain turning to snow Friday night and Saturday morning even in lower elevations, with significant snow accumulation expected in the northern mountains and across northeastern New Mexico.
Accumulating snow is expected along Interstate 25 in northern New Mexico and possibly along Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico.
To cap it off, a late-season freeze is forecast Saturday night and Sunday morning at some lower-elevation locations.
Albuquerque prosecutor: Fewer criminal cases to go to court
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Albuquerque area's chief prosecutor says his office is going to focus on the worst offenders and only try about half the criminal cases referred by law enforcement.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the approach announced Wednesday by District Attorney Raul Torrez will significantly reduce the number of criminal cases sent to Bernalillo County criminal courts.
Torrez says the office in recent years has tried to prosecute three-quarters of the cases referred by law enforcement and only got convictions in 44 percent.
Torrez says his office will try to prosecute the most dangerous offenders and try to put many other defendants into drug treatment or diversion programs.
According to Torrez, the office's poor conviction rate has allowed violent offenders to avoid lengthy prison sentences and commit additional crimes.
MAN KILLS WIFE
New Mexico man tells police voices told him to kill wife
(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)
PLACITAS, N.M. (AP) — A mentally ill New Mexico man says he hit his 76-year-old wife in the head with a rock until he was sure she was dead because voices told him to kill her.
The Albuquerque Journal reports 72-year-old Thomas Goodridge called police Saturday and confessed he had killed his wife, Anna Goodridge.
Thomas Goodridge has been arrested and charged with murder.
He suffers from bipolar disorder, but says he took his medication the night he killed his wife.
He told police that voices said he had to kill his wife if he did not want her to be harmed.
His bond has been set at $500,000 cash only.