August 8 First News: Jolt To The System? Albuquerque Dems Propose Open New Mexico Primaries (Listen)

Aug 8, 2014

If legislation proposed by two Albuquerque lawmakers succeeds, New Mexico’s political landscape might be in for quite a jolt. State Representative Emily Kane and Senator Bill O’Neill, both Democrats, plan to introduce a bill that would allow voters who decline to state their political party preference to vote in primary elections, and choose to cast ballots in a primary of their choice. That’s Republican or Democrat—the current “major” New Mexico parties. Representative Kane telling KSFR: *****080714-Kane-2 :33***** Kane says the concept that people unaffiliated with  party are not involved in politics is wrong. She adds that like any new idea, it may take some time for people to understand its validity. Kane and O’Neill plan to introduce the bill during next year’s 60-day legislative session.

Consumer spending in New Mexico grew 11 percent from 2009 through 2012, matching the national average. Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that per capita consumer spending in New Mexico was higher than in most other Western states in the first few years after the Great Recession, which ended nationally in 2009.  University of New Mexico economist Jeff Mitchell says the recession was less severe in New Mexico than in other states but New Mexico also has been recovering more slowly because it's heavily dependent on federal spending. Mitchell said the consumer spending data reflects New Mexico benefiting from 2009 to 2012 from federal economic stimulus spending. But since then, he said, New Mexico's economy has lagged as federal spending slowed.

A Federal Judge has dismissed charges brought against the Albuquerque Police Department and city officials over an allegedly bungled investigation into the death of a prominent civil rights attorney.  KSFR's Dave Marash has details: *****Marash 1:20*****

TEXT:  There is no Constitutional right "to a police investigation,” says U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Carmen E. Garza, and she adds, there is “no right to know the cause of a family member’s death.”  On that basis, Judge Garza has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the daughter and sister of late civil rights attorney Mary Han against the Albuquerque Police Department and city officials.  Han, at the time of her death, which was officially ruled a suicide by APD investigators, had several cases filed against then Chief Ray Schultz and then-deputy chief Allen Banks and several city officials.  Further, an examination of the investigation after her death drew harsh judgments from State Attorney General Gary King who said: the  investigation “was terribly mishandled due to inappropriate directions from high-ranking police and civilian administrators with the city of Albuquerque.” City Attorney David Tourek's response, like Judge Garza's was more or less, "so what?"  He told the Albuquerque Journal “bad police work, if it allegedly occurred, is not a constitutional violation.”  For KSFR News, I'm Dave Marash.

Remains of a prehistoric elephant-like creature have been found in southern New Mexico. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports White Sands Missile Range recently announced the discovery of a fossilized mastodon skeleton on the expansive military installation. Stan Berryman, an archaeologist at White Sands, says the mastodon was first found in January in the foothills of the San Andres Mountains to the west of U.S. 70. He says a 10-person crew was searching for remnants of early Native American cultures. Officials say the team was led to the specimen via a trail of tooth fragments. Preliminary information says the mastodon fossil, dubbed "Chompers," may have lived around 30-thousand years ago. A descendant of earlier elephant-like animals, the American Mastodon lived across all of North America during the Ice Age.

Federal immigration officials have asked Congressman Steve Pearce to moderate the first town hall meeting in southeastern New Mexico since a temporary Artesia center began housing immigrants. Pearce spokeswoman Jill McLaughlin said Thursday the Republican is happy to moderate the town hall, which could happen within two weeks. She says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked Pearce about the possible meeting during his recent visit to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. The center currently is holding around 600 immigrant women and children from Central America. They remain under quarantine because of two chickenpox cases.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today and tomorrow with highs both days, 81 with a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Tonight, partly cloudy with the low, 58. There’s a 10-percent chance for precipitation today and tonight, it rises to 20-percent tomorrow.