NM ranks among top for animal abuse

New Mexico once again tops an undesirable list. The latest: being named one of the best five states to be an animal abuser. 

The rankings are made in a report by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund, which does an annual analysis of animal protection laws. 

According to the report, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Kentucky are among the states where animal abusers get off easy. 

Among other weaknesses, the group says New Mexico has inadequate felony provisions for neglect, no felony provisions for abandonment, no provisions on sexual assault, no increased penalties when animal abuse is committed in front of children and no provisions for veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse.

Information from Associated Press. 


Two bars in NM fined and given liquor license suspension

Two bars in New Mexico have been fined and had their liquor licenses suspended for over-serving patrons who went on to cause fatal drunken-driving crashes. 

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department's Alcohol and Gaming Division announced the penalties Tuesday. 

The Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery in Santa Fe was fined $10,000 and had its liquor license suspended for 15 days spanning two weekends. Authorities say bar officials pleaded no contest to over-serving an intoxicated man who then caused a crash that killed two teenage girls and severely injured family members and bystanders.

 El Alto Bar and Station in Las Vegas paid a $2,500 fine and ceased serving alcohol for eight days. An administrative citation was issued for over-serving a customer who caused a fatal crash in March 2010.


PNM announces new solar plant in southern NM

The state's largest electric utility has unveiled its newest solar power plant in southern New Mexico

PNM says the Otero County Solar Energy Center in La Luz is capable of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of about 2,400 average residential customers. The 7.5-megawatt plant marks a $17.5 million investment by the utility. The plant spans 70 acres and includes more than 101,000 solar panels for converting the sun's energy into electricity.

 In all, PNM says it has made a $180 million commitment to solar energy. That includes eight solar plants that are now online and three new centers that are proposed for next year. PNM says more wind-generated power will be added in 2015, and customers will begin getting geothermal-generated power from a plant near Lordsburg next year.


Advocates want applicant information privacy

The identities of applicants for top jobs in New Mexico local governments could be kept secret under legislation being supported by an advocacy group for cities. 
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the New Mexico Municipal League is endorsing a proposal to allow names and applications of applicants to be withheld from the public at the applicants' request. 
League Executive Director Bill Fulginiti says publicly releasing the names of applicants for city manager and other top posts means some people are reluctant to apply because they don't want to lose their current jobs. 
A group that advocates for government transparency opposes the idea. President-elect Greg Williams of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says the public has a right to know who applies for jobs funded with public money.
Information from the Associated Press. 


Pojoaque Pueblo sues the state

One of New Mexico's American Indian tribes is suing the state over failed negotiations concerning its gaming compact. 
Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera says the agreement being sought by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration would further restrict tribal gambling operations and would increase taxes, fees and other charges. Rivera says such a compact would not help New Mexico's gaming industry compete with other states, especially since casino revenues have been flat since 2008 and government funding for tribes has diminished.  Pojoaque's current compact expires in June 2015. 
The lawsuit was filed Friday in state district court.  Rivera said Tuesday the pueblo intends to continue negotiations with the governor's office.