Legislative Leaders Take Command Of Campaign Resources, Some Vow To Fight Prairie Chicken Lawsuit

Legislative Leaders Take Command Of Campaign Resources Associated Press

New rules for funneling resources to political campaigns in New Mexico may provide legislative and party leaders with a stronger hand in influencing the outcome of elections, as Democrats assert their control over the Legislature and governor’s office.

The Democratic House speaker and Republican minority leader have registered specialized political committees this month that can command vast resources through unlimited non-cash contributions.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says his legislative caucus committee is likely to provide campaign strategy services and door-to-door canvassing in key legislative races.

The committees are one outcome of legislation aimed at disclosing more about the sources of political contributions by independent expenditure groups and others.

Transparency advocate Austin Graham of the Campaign Legal Center describes some provisions as a “power grab by legislative leadership.”

New Regulations Limit Experienced New Mexico Sub TeachersAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A new law and regulations are requiring more retired New Mexico teachers to limit the amount of time they spend in a classroom or take off a year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports legislative and Educational Retirement Board rule changes altered eligibility requirements for retirees who go back to work in education while collecting a pension.

New Mexico Educational Retirement Board Executive Director Jan Goodwin says retirees who collect their pension can’t work more than a quarter of full-time equivalent hours unless they are part of the “return to work program.”

Under the program, which is already in place, retirees can work as many hours as they like, but can’t join the program until they take a year off from education.

New Mexico’s Journalism Department To Lose Accreditation – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico’s Department of Communication and Journalism soon will no longer be accredited by an outside agency that evaluates the nation’s journalism departments.

The Albuquerque Journal reports department chair David Weiss said last week faculty members were in favor of not seeking reaccreditation, saying the process was expensive and not worth the time and resources.

That means the department won’t meet the requirements set by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

The council says the University of New Mexico is one of 113 journalism programs around the country, and the only one in New Mexico.

Peter Bhatia, the executive director at the council and the editor of the Detroit Free Press, says accreditation is about holding everyone to a high standard of teaching. 

Ruling May Open New Mexico’s Private Waterways To Public Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A state commission’s decision may reopen New Mexico’s private waterways to recreationists.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Game Commission last week handed fishermen and other recreational boaters a partial victory by temporarily halting a program for private property owners. Under the 2017 program, private property owners have say over whether the public can access waterways on their land.

The current commission, appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, decided last week to impose a 90-day moratorium on the rule until it can receive advice from Attorney General Hector Balderas as to whether it is legal under state law.

A previous commission, appointed by Republican then-Gov. Susana Martinez, implemented a program in 2017 that allowed landowners to certify rivers and streams that cut through their property as “non-navigable.”

Fired New Mexico City Manager Says Settlement Exonerates HimKVIA-TV, Associated Press

A former New Mexico city manager who says he was fired without cause is receiving a $211,000 settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports former Sunland Park city manager Bob Gallagher received the payout last week. He described it as vindication following his August 2017 firing.

Sunland Park is not admitting to any fault and officials declined to comment on the settlement.

Gallagher says he was fired after he refused to comply with several directives from three city councilors who wanted him to engage in questionable actions.

An independent investigation did not to turn up evidence of corruption and no charges were brought.

Gallagher also faced allegations of sexual harassment as the city manager of Jal in southeast New Mexico. But a lawsuit there was dismissed.

Appeals Court Agrees With Tossing Lawsuit Over Power Plant – Associated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit aimed at shutting down a coal-fired power plant and adjacent mine near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

Environmental groups had targeted a 25-year lease extension for the Navajo Mine and the Four Corners Power Plant in northwestern New Mexico. They alleged the U.S. government did not consider clean-energy alternatives or possible effects on endangered species.

A lower court had tossed the case because the mine is owned by a Navajo Nation corporation, meaning it is shielded from legal challenges.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed Monday, saying the case cannot move forward without the corporation as a defendant.

The power plant is one of three in the region that are scaling back operations as utilities shift toward natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Some In New Mexico Vow To Fight Prairie Chicken Lawsuit –  Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Officials in southeastern New Mexico say they won’t stop fighting to keep the lesser prairie chicken off the federal protected list despite a pending federal lawsuit.

The Roswell Daily Record reports Chaves County Board of Commissioners chair Will Cavin said last week officials protest the listing because it could affect grazing rights and other issues in New Mexico.

Three conservation groups are suing the federal government to force it to protect the lesser prairie chicken and its habitats.

The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service has not done enough to protect the bird. The groups want the agency to determine whether the lesser prairie chicken is a threatened or endangered species.

The bird roams parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

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