Minimum-wage political fight gets uglier

Dan Lewis, left; and Trudy Jones
From - ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Albuquerque voters will decide next Tuesday whether to raise the city's minimum wage by a dollar-an-hour to $8.50.  In the meantime, two city councilor's filed ethics complaints against one of the groups supporting the measure.  "This is not citizens of Albuquerque doing this," said Councilor Trudy Jones. "This is an outside, national organization and, more importantly, they have not registered as we are all forced to do, required to do, when we run for office."
Jones and Councilor Dan Lewis filed complaints with the City Clerk Wednesday against the Washington, D.C.-based group Working America, which is advertising in support of the measure  They claim the group had sent out robocalls and mailers to thousands of Albuquerque residents even though the group didn't file as a committee with the city. The mailers show people claiming to be New Mexicans holding signs supporting the wage increase.
The city clerk has asked Working America to stop sending mailers while the investigation continues. Read more

New Jersey investigating reports of price gouging

Your choice: do you want to have no gas or high prices
NewsNM:Swickard - We want prices at the very top during an emergency so that people do not fill up their gas tank, they just take the four gallons they need to exit the area. Then four more cars can each get the four gallons they need to leave the area with the twenty gallons the first driver would have taken if the price had been normal. If the price does not skyrocket then the first 100 cars buy all of the gas from that station and the next 400 cars are parked on the side of the road, out of gas, with the people walking. How much is gas worth when you have none? From - Prices for gasoline, hotel rooms, electrical generators and other post-storm necessities have risen sharply from New York to West Virginia in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and many residents are complaining of gouging.
In New Jersey alone, about 100 consumers have called the attorney general’s office to complain, said Neal Buccino, spokesman for the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs.“Some gas stations have raised their prices by 20 to 30 percent in one day,” Buccino said. “Some hardware stores have doubled the price they charge for generators overnight.”
Those types of increases would appear to be illegal under New Jersey’s anti-gouging law, which prohibits price hikes of more than 10 percent in an emergency. The law does make an exception for merchants who face increased costs, but the markup is still limited to 10 percent above normal, according to the state attorney general’s office. The state has deployed teams of investigators to check out complaints against specific retailers.
Violations are punishable by $10,000 fines. At least one gas station operator paid $20,000 to settle gouging charges in New Jersey related to Tropical Storm Irene last year. Read more

Newsbreak New Mexico 5pm Webcast 10/31/12

Newsbreak New Mexico 5pm Newscast with Vanessa Dabovich

                                     Listen here:

Actor Johnny Depp gives money to Navajo Nation
Rio Rancho immigration raid
Environmentalists continue Mexican Wolves fight
Carlsbad Mental Health Center probe 


AG's office investigates fraud at Carlsbad Mental Health Center

 A search warrant was executed late Monday at Carlsbad Mental Health Center by investigators with the state Attorney General’s Office, with the assistance of the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department.
 Carlsbad Mental Health is under investigation for Medicaid fraud. 
Phil Sisneros, director of communication for the Attorney General’s Office, says the warrant was expected to be filed in court on Tuesday. He declined to provide details on the search at the nonprofit health center, citing the ongoing investigation and potential ethical and legal concerns. He also declined to elaborate on the items taken from the building Monday evening. 
The center’s board of directors issued a statement two weeks ago, stating that the agency is fully cooperating with the investigation.


Newsbreak New Mexico 12pm Webcast 10/31/12

Newsbreak New Mexico 12pm Newscast with Vanessa Dabovich

                                     Listen here:

Environmentalists continue Mexican Wolves fight
Actor Gene Hackman slaps man in Santa Fe
NM Racing Commission asks for more money
Gary Johnson pushes for %5 of election votes 


NM film industry continues to flourish, sets sights on tourism

Audio story here:

A string of movies have been shooting in New Mexico this past year with even more movie crews setting up shop in the state in the coming months.

Johnny Depp just wrapped up filming “The Lone Ranger” around Shiprock, Jane Seymour just started a movie shoot in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque areas and Eva Longoria and Ed Harris will head over next month to shoot an independent film.

Why the draw to the Land of Enchantment? Aside from the vistas and rich culture, It’s simple….tax incentives.

New Mexico continues to offer one of the most competitive incentives packages in the industry which includes a 25% Refundable Film Production Tax Credit, the NM Film Investment Loan Program and the Film Crew Advancement Program.

The state will give 25% back on whatever is spent in whether its vendors, hotels or crew members.

New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis says it not only boosts tourism, but the film industry is creating jobs.

Johnny Depp as "Tonto"
Maniatis- “If we get a large production, a 200 million dollar production, they could dump one hundred million dollars into our economy in about six months. There is something to be said for that. I think it’s important for me to create jobs and that is what I’m always trying to look to do.”

The film office is also partnering with the Tourism Department to create film tourism. Maniatis says the popularity of shows like “Breaking Bad” have sparked the curiosity of television buffs from around the globe.

Maniatis-“We’re going to try to tap into that need for people to see where things were made. Breaking Bad was such a big hit and now they have a trolley up here that does a tour and people come from Europe to see it.”

The long term goal for the film office is to create itineraries, maps and movie listings on their website to show people what actors and New Mexico locations are in films. Mianiatis says if enough funding can be secured there are plans for an Iphone and ipad app that allows users to select their location and see clips of a movie shot where they are standing.

For Newsbreak New Mexico, I’m Vanessa Dabovich.  


Santa Teresa Industrial Park reopens, hazardous material still a mystery

The Santa Teresa Industrial Park near the U.S Mexico border reopened Wednesday following a mandatory evacuation due to a hazardous material spill.

Around 200 people were sickened Tuesday by an unknown substance reporting difficulty breathing, light-headedness, nausea and dizziness.  

A 1-mile area surrounding the Dona Ana County Industrial Park and Mexico border crossing at Santa Teresa was evacuated for a few hours and the county airport was closed. Evacuees were taken to Santa Teresa High School.

An Albuquerque-based civil support team from the New Mexico National Guard headed to Santa Teresa to try to identify the hazardous materials and their source. The investigation initially centered at the FoamEx plant on the industrial park campus but was later expanded to other areas in the park.

Vice president of the Border Industrial Association, Jerry Pacheco, says FoamEx Innovations owns a building about 298,000 square feet in the industrial park that makes polyurethane foam products. Pacheco also says there are a variety of different kinds of companies in the three industrial parks in the Santa Teresa area, around fifty in all.

Dona Ana County emergency officials say the cluster of factories and warehouses in Santa Teresa was reopened at 6 a.m. this morning after testing for hazardous materials was negative. The Dona Ana County Airport also reopened.

Investigations to identify the substance continue.

For Newsbreak New Mexico, I’m Vanessa Dabovich. 


Actor Johnny Depp gives Navajo Nation scholarship funds

Johnny Depp as Tonto

Actor Johnny Depp filmed scenes in New Mexico for an upcoming movie and now has given the Navajo Nation $25,000 for scholarships. 
Tribal president Ben Shelly accepted the donation and the Navajo Nation's Health Education and Human Services Committee voted Monday to accept the money so it can be appropriated for vocational scholarships. 
Depp's spokesperson says the donation is supposed to be private and no further statement will be released on his behalf. 
Depp will play Tonto in the movie version of "The Lone Ranger," which is expected to be in theaters in June. 
The Shiprock monument in New Mexico can be seen in the movie's recently released trailer and Monument Valley near the Arizona-Utah border also is featured.


Feds conduct immigration operation at Rio Rancho restaurant

Federal agents took four people into custody after storming a Rio Rancho business and home on Monday morning. 
Homeland Security agents wasted little time when they moved in, quickly throwing handcuffs on the owner of the Double Dragon Chinese restaurant.  
The agents and police were looking for computers and other records that could help bust open an illegal immigration operation that centers partly on fraudulent documents. 
Agents also searched at least one Rio Rancho home. Investigators are staying tight-lipped on specifics related to Monday morning's raids. 
The four people detained Monday are expected to be dealt immigration charges shortly.


Serious crash closes highway 70 and Bataan Memorial East

A Wednesday morning rollover crash has closed a portion of Highway 70 in both directions and Bataan Memorial East at Sonoma Ranch Boulevard.

The crash was reported shortly after 8 a.m. today and appears to involve two vehicles.

Highway 70 westbound is being diverted to Bataan Memorial West at the Mesa Grande Drive exit and traffic on Highway 70 eastbound is directed to exit at Rinconada Boulevard, head northbound and take surface streets east past Mesa Grande Drive.

If at all possible, motorists are asked to avoid the area or seek an alternative route.


Environmentalists continue to fight Mexican wolves proposal

Environmentalists and a group of scientists are criticizing a draft proposal that outlines options for releasing Mexican gray wolves into the wild.  
The plan deals with releasing wolves from captive breeding facilities into the wild in Arizona to replace wolves that are either killed illegally or die from natural causes.  It suggests the replacement wolves be selected to maximize genetic diversity of the wild population in Arizona and New Mexico.  
The scientists and other critics have sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying releases are needed, but the plan doesn’t do enough to boost the wild population.  They also argue that release decisions should hinge on the federal agency rather than guidelines from the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.  
There are around 58 wolves in the wild along the New Mexico-Arizona border. 


Newsbreak New Mexico 8am Webcast 10/31/12

Newsbreak New Mexico 8am Newscast with Vanessa Dabovich

                                     Listen here:

Santa Teresa Hasmat situation causes evacuation 
FBI report shows violent crime down in NM
Gary Johnson aims for 5% of the election vote


Actor Gene Hackman slaps man in Santa Fe

Gene Hackman
Police in New Mexico say Gene Hackman was acting in self-defense when he slapped a homeless man who had become aggressive toward the Oscar-winning actor and his wife. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the incident occurred Tuesday afternoon in downtown Santa Fe. Police didn't immediately provide any additional details. 
A message seeking comment was left for Hackman's publicists at Guttman Associates in Beverly Hills, Calif. 
Hackman and his wife have a home in Santa Fe. The 82-year-old actor has won two Academy Awards and been nominated for three others over a career that has spanned five decades.


Libertarian candidate Johnson pushing for 5% of the votes

Gary Johnson
Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson has several new campaign ads running in markets across the country. 

Johnson is making a push to get 5 percent of the general election vote. 
He says it would officially qualify the Libertarian Party for federal funding. He says the result would make the Libertarian Party a bonafide third party.  
The candidate supports pulling out of Afghanistan now, ending the war on drugs, balancing the budget and marriage equality.


FBI numbers show violent crime down in NM

New Federal Bureau of Investigation numbers show that overall violent crime in New Mexico fell slightly last year.

 The annual FBI Uniform Crime report released Monday showed that violent crime in the state dropped around 3 percent in 2011. 
According to the report, law enforcement agencies in New Mexico reported a total of 11,817 violent crimes. That's a decrease from 2010 when agencies reported 12,126 violent crimes. 
However, the state saw a tiny jump in the number of reported murders. Last year, New Mexico agencies reported 156 murders, a spike from 142 in 2010.


Hazardous material spill led to Santa Teresa Industrial Park evacuation Tuesday

The Doña Ana County Airport and a Santa Teresa industrial park remained closed Tuesday evening while an investigation into a hazardous material spill continued.  
Emergency personnel on Tuesday morning evacuated a one-mile radius around the site, about two miles north of the Santa Teresa port of entry on the Mexican border, after the release of unidentified chemicals caused workers to suffer difficulty breathing, light-headedness, nausea and dizziness.  
Twenty to 45 people treated at a Santa Teresa High shelter were later released, and three people who went on their own to an El Paso hospital were also released. 
An Albuquerque-based civil support team from the New Mexico National Guard headed to Santa Teresa to try to identify the hazardous materials and their source.  
The investigation initially centered on the Foamex plant, which produces flexible polyurethane foam products, but other areas were also checked. 


What happens after the election?

Commentary by Jim Spence - With six days to go until the election citizens are starting to wonder what will happen if Obama wins. They are also wondering what will happen if Romney wins.
Jim Spence
What happens if Obama wins is a pretty easy question to answer. The approach to governing we have seen for the last four years will continue.
Some who say the GOP has obstructed Obama’s budget since it retook the House in 2010 wonder if Republicans will change. We checked the votes on the Obama budget proposals. A 2011 vote in the U.S. Senate on Obama’s budget failed to secure a single vote in either party. It was defeated 97-0. A 2012 vote on the Obama budget in the House also failed to garner a single vote. It lost 411-0. It is sort of silly to wonder if an Obama victory will make the GOP more cooperative. On the last two budget votes not a single congressional Democrat has followed the Obama lead.
Fair enough. What will happen if Romney wins? This is a more difficult question to answer. The first thing that will probably happen is there will be widespread rioting in the inner cities of most major metro areas. Alarming activity on Twitter and Facebook already has law enforcement and the Secret Service scrambling. It seems that there have been hundreds if not thousands of threats on social media sites of riots if Romney wins. There have also been dozens of death threats on Twitter directed at Romney if he wins. Given the fundamental nature of a significant portion of the Obama base, on at least some level, civil unrest and violence in the inner cities seems sure to follow a Romney victory.
If there are inner city riots, expect 2nd Amendment right supporters to be prepared. Sales of guns and ammunition to suburban Americans have hit all-time records over the last four years.
In Washington following the election, a lame duck session in Congress will follow. Then in January, America will begin to see if a switch to Romney will facilitate more across the aisle cooperation. Will Romney be able to work with a smaller portion of Democrats in Washington like he did with a huge 87% Democratic majority in Massachusetts? Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to continue to stonewall all efforts at reform. As governor, Mitt Romney worked with his opponents to erase a $1.6 billion budget deficit left by his Democratic predecessor. Despite Reid’s threats Romney seems to be the only chance America has to return to some semblance of fiscal sanity.