- LACK OF POLICE STAFF
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – The chief of staff of the outgoing Albuquerque Chief of Police has been cleared of charges of misusing a city credit card and getting an inappropriate pay raise. The Albuquerque Police Department announced Friday the results of an internal investigation into John Ross, Chief of Staff to Chief Mike Geier. Geier’s secretary in July accused Ross of using the city-issued card for personal purchases such as a $ 2,500 laptop. According to the investigation, Ross only committed a minor offense. He did not list the purchase of two items on the card within the three days required of their acquisition.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration’s chief public land administrator served illegally and prevented him from continuing in the position. US District Judge Brian Morris said Friday that acting director of the Bureau of Land Management William Perry Pendley was never confirmed in the post by the US Senate as required by the Constitution and served illegally for 424 days. The ruling marks the latest pushback against the administration’s practice of holding key positions without US Senate approval. The Democratic governor of Montana sued to remove Pendley. The agency oversees nearly a quarter of a billion acres of land, mainly in the western United States.
BERNALILLO, NM (AP) – The New Mexico state climatologist says the fingerprints of climate change are evident in the persistent drought afflicting the American Southwest. Dave DuBois says drylands are getting drier due to a semi-permanent high pressure system in the West that has gotten stronger in recent years. During an online briefing on Thursday, he also warned that the region should be prepared for warmer temperatures and less rainfall in the fall and winter. In Nevada, forecasters continue to track a record dry streak for Las Vegas as their colleagues in Arizona hope for a break from record heat next week.
ZUNI PUEBLO, NM (AP) – A hand-carved figure held sacred by a Native American community in New Mexico has been returned to the tribe from an Ohio auction house. Cowan’s Auctions announced Thursday that the 15-inch sculpture of a war god Zuni Pueblo was returned in late August after it was discovered in a property collection that had been delivered to the auction house. The wood carvings of the god of war are ceremonially brought to the shrines of the tribal lands where they are left to return to the elements. Over the years, many have been illegally removed and made their way to museums and private collections. Zuni Pueblo has recovered more than 100.
- 2020 ELECTIONS-JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS
SANTA FE, NM (AP) – Democratic Senators from New Mexico have suspended the judicial confirmation process for two vacancies in the United States District Court until after the November 3 election. They say the president politicized the process, so they will wait until the voters have spoken. Using their home state consultation authority, sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall confirmed Thursday that they have discontinued control of the two lifetime appointments. They say they took action even before the death of Liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in response to a White House press conference in which President Donald Trump rallied his base talking about his judicial appointments.
SANTA FE, NM (AP) – President Donald Trump hints at a visit to New Mexico without giving further details in a tweet about protecting gun rights and building a border wall. Trump tweeted on Friday: “Working hard in New Mexico … will be there soon.” The Trump administration has completed 20 miles of border wall construction along the 185-mile section of New Mexico’s southwestern border with Mexico. Trump last visited the state a year ago and this year highlighted the trends of violent crime in Democratic-led Albuquerque. Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016 by a margin of 8 percentage points.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Faced with opposition from six states that rely on the Colorado River for water for their towns and farms, Utah has asked the federal government to delay an expedited approval process for construction of an underground pipeline that would carry billions of gallons of water to the southwestern part of the state. Utah cited the need to consider about 14,000 public comments on the proposed Lake Powell pipeline project. The project would provide water 140 miles from Lake Powell in northern Arizona to the growing area surrounding St. George, Utah. In a recent letter, officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming have warned of litigation if the project proceeds.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, NM (AP) – Voters across New Mexico have filed nearly 250,000 absentee ballots, with demand especially strong among Democrats for alternatives to in-person voting amid the pandemic. State election regulators on Thursday also said initial vote counts could extend beyond election day if voters wait until the end of the cycle to mail or hand-deliver ballots. Fewer than 8,000 absentee votes were cast statewide in the 2016 presidential election. In other pandemic developments, the governor cited a slight increase in the statewide spread of COVID-19 and more substantial signs of spread. in areas including Albuquerque and Sandoval County.