Radical Environmentalists Have Made Sure Burrowing Owls Are Exempt from "Eminent Domain"

KRQE - The discovery of a nest of protected burrowing owls has brought work on a trail extension in Las Cruces to a screeching halt. The 4.5 mile extension of the pedestrian and bike path bike was expected to be done by this month but the discovery forced city officials to stop work immediately.
Burrowing owns are considered a protected species in New Mexico and are listed as endangered in Canada. Assistant city manager Brian Denmark tells the Las Cruces Sun-News that New Mexico State University biologists are evaluating the site. They will tell the city when the birds' young are old enough that the nest can safely be disturbed so the path can be completed. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Dianna Duran Still Cleaning Herrera's Big Mess

New Mexico Watchdog - The audit covering the last six months of Mary Herrera’s time as New Mexico Secretary of State found that she failed to maintain an accurate inventory of the state’s voting machines and caused the state to lose $100,000 in federal voting funds. The audit also reported that when the current Secretary of State Diana Duran defeated Herrera and moved into office, her staff found many problems overlooked in prior audits. Always passionate in her own defense, Herrera has questioned the auditor’s competency and taken a few shots at the woman who put her out of her job.
Dianna Duran
The Santa Fe accounting firm of Zlotnick, Laws and Sandoval audited the 2011 fiscal year of the Secretary of State’s financial statements and practices. The 2011 fiscal year spanned the last six months of Herrera’s and the first six months of Duran’s terms. The prior years of Herrera’s term had been audited by the Albuquerque firm of Atkinson and Company.
Upon taking office, Duran and her staff “encountered issues of great concern related to agency financials and governance,” according to a statement included in the 2011 FY audit. “The incoming administration also reviewed prior year agency audit reports and noted that no findings had been issued. The agency chose to contract with a neutral third-party independent public accountant that could provide a thorough audit of the agency’s financials and internal controls.” That independent audit was conducted by the Zlotnick firm and recently published on the website of the State Auditor. The full audit is available at this link.
Duran says she found the following problems that had been missed in prior audits: Read full story here: News New Mexico

Brandenburg Hasn't Filed Charges In Child Death

Kari Brandenburg
KOB - There are new developments surrounding the case of the woman who left her nephew in a hot car last week, causing him to die. Sandra Rodriguez-Miramontes left her nephew, Gabriel Torres-Rodriguez, 2, inside her car for 8 hours outside the day care where she worked.
She told police she forgot the boy was there. Police say temperatures inside the car reached up to 120 degrees. Kari Brandenburg's district attorney's office has until Tuesday to file charges against Rodriguez-Miramontes, who is 19. Right now she in jail on an immigration hold. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Bill Evans Lake Has Ash Problem

KOB - The Game and Fish Department says ash from a wildfire in southwestern New Mexico is creating problems at a lake that produced the state's record largemouth bass. The agency says Bill Evans Lake in Grant County may drop by 40 feet because its source of water can't be tapped in the aftermath of the Whitewater-Baldy fire. The lake is 300 feet above the Gila River and it is filled by pumping water up a mesa. However, the department said a mining company's pumps can't be used because of ash in the river. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Books Bought Out of State a Sore Spot

Susana Martinez
KRQE - Gov. Susana Martinez, known for touting support for local businesses, is taking heat from book dealers for going out of state for books handed out to every New Mexico first-grader.
The issue for local booksellers and publishers is not just that much of the $200,000 worth of books came from distant sources. They also say they're upset because they didn't even get a shot at the business.
"I'm very offended," Barbe Awalt of LPD Press said. "The governor's office is not promoting local businesses, and they should."
For the recent book purchase, Martinez needed 30,000 books for her first-grade reading initiative. Some books she delivered herself taking the time to read to the kids.
Ten thousand books were bought through UNM Press; the rest came from out of state.
"So we're sending tax money from New Mexico to Illinois and Arizona, and I don't see them coming here to buy books," Awalt said. "It makes me wonder if this is what's happening to the book community, is it also happening to other things, that they go outside of New Mexico?" Read full story here: News New Mexico

Los Alamos Pays $800,000 to Settle Suit

KOB - A former top Los Alamos County official who claimed she was wrongfully fired because of her gender will receive $800,000 to settle her case.
Diana Stepan was fired from her assistant county administrator job in early 2011 after filing a grievance against the county administrator.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined earlier this year that she had been treated differently because she was a woman and was fired for complaining about that treatment. Stepan filed a claim against the county last year. The settlement was announced on Friday. The county will pay $175,000 and the state-wide municipal self-insurance fund the rest. Read rest of the story here: News New Mexico



Center for Biological Diversity Seeks Jaguar Zone

Tucson Sentinel - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that 838,000 acres near the U.S.-Mexico border be designated as critical habitat for jaguars. While a small section of the proposed zone is in New Mexico, most of the land is in Southern Arizona, including the area of the proposed Rosemont Mine.
The move was hailed by the environmental group that has long worked for jaguar protection.
"Jaguars once roamed across the United States, from California to Louisiana, but have been virtually extinct here since the 1950s," said KierĂ¡n Suckling, executive director of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, which sued to push a recovery plan for jaguars.
The agency is set to publish its findings in the Federal Register on Monday, said spokesman Jeff Humphrey, which will trigger a 60-day public comment period.
The proposed critical habitat—outlined in a 126-page document—will help protect the jaguar, which was declared an endangered species in 1997, from extinction, Humphrey said. Read full story here: News New Mexico