Thousands of New Mexicans took part in the Women’s March this Saturday. Some traveled to the massive march Washington D.C., while others stayed closer to home and participated in marches and rallies in cities throughout the state. According to Vox, the rallies may have added up to be the largest demonstration in U.S. history. Democratic members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation marched in Washington D.C., the day after they each attended the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/Michelle4NM/status/822824672488288258
The numbers from around the globe are in, and it’s official: 2016 was the hottest year on record, again. According to independent analysis from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016 was the third year in a row to break temperature records. The New York Times collected AccuWeather data for more than 5,000 cities, including Albuquerque, to illustrate temperature and precipitation changes. Albuquerque’s average temperature last year was 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, while precipitation fell 2.8 inches short of normal. Globally, the average temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s.
As Democrats gear up for a legislative session after retaking the state House of Representatives and expanding their majority in the state Senate, several members are looking at ways to increase New Mexico’s minimum wage. Two lawmakers have already pre-filed legislation to do so ahead of the session, which begins Jan. 17. One measure would double New Mexico’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $15 an hour by January 2018. Another more cautious bill ups the minimum wage to $8.45 an hour.
In a debate characterized by a negative tone not unlike the recent showdowns between presidential candidates, both candidates for New Mexico Secretary of State laid out their visions for the office. Democratic candidate and current Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver started by invoking the only reason the office is up for grabs this year in the first place. “We had a secretary of state who violated the very laws and ethics that she was charged with upholding,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’m running to restore integrity, transparency and trust in the Secretary of State’s office.”
Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican who beat Toulouse Oliver in the election for the office two years ago, last year pleaded guilty to using her campaign funds to fuel a gambling habit. Duran, a Republican, resigned from office, spent 30 days in jail and is currently on five years of probation.
The Republican Vice Presidential nominee will make two campaign appearances in New Mexico in addition to a previously-reported fundraising event. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who is Donald Trump’s running mate on the Republican ticket, will make an appearance in Albuquerque and one in Roswell, both on Tuesday. Pence’s Albuquerque appearance will be at the Sandia Ballroom at Sandia Casino at 1:00 p.m. In Roswell, Pence will appear at New Mexico Military Institute at 8:00 p.m.
It’s not clear if Pence will hold a fundraiser in Roswell as well as Albuquerque. The rallies will be the first public events by major political figures in the general election. Ahead of the primary, Trump himself held a rally in Albuquerque, as did U.S. Senator and then-Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
The requirement that diesel-powered vehicles in Bernalillo County get bi-annual emissions tests is just about gone. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board voted Wednesday night to kill the three-year-old program because it wasn’t authorized by state law. Now, the city’s Environmental Health Department will send the board’s decision to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for formal approval to end the program. The department’s deputy director, Danny Nevarez, said it shouldn’t take too long—maybe a few weeks—for the EPA to give that approval. In the meantime, owners of diesel-powered vehicles still have to get their vehicles tested until the program is officially junked, Nevarez said.
When it comes to the court of public opinion, Mayor Richard Berry’s $119 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project down Central Avenue is in big trouble. Only 28 percent of the city’s registered voters support ART, while 79 percent say it should be put to a public vote, according to a poll by Carroll Strategies, an Albuquerque public relations firm. In addition, only 25 percent believe that ART will boost the city’s economy, and only 23 percent said they would use it after it is built.
This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website and is reprinted with permission. The poll also made it clear that pretty much everyone knows about ART. Of the 2,020 people surveyed, 87.5 percent said they were aware of the project, which would put dedicated bus lanes in the middle of Central and mostly reduce automobile traffic to one lane in each direction along a 10-mile stretch of the street.
UPDATE 7:25 pm: APD spokesman Tanner Tixier is telling reporters that the man in the tie is not suspected to be related to the investigation. Tixier said reports started with a call to the police about a man running around in city hall saying someone was shooting and people had been shot. More calls with scattered information came in what Tixier called “a really bad game of telephone.” When asked if this was a possible prank call situation, he answered that it’s “very possible.” Tixier says search will continue for a few hours, room by room, floor by floor.
An intimate crowd in Albuquerque supporting Hillary Clinton watched anxiously Tuesday night as the former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State declared victory as the first female Democratic Party nominee for president. While the internet connection at the watch party in uptown Albuquerque was spotty, prompting her victory speech to stream choppy on a large monitor, supporters still clapped whenever they could make out Clinton’s comments. “It’s beyond words,” Lisa Hannah, a Clinton campaign volunteer from Albuquerque, said of Clinton’s historic victory. “I’ve been waiting for this moment. It’s been something that’s been meant to be and for it to happen is incredible.”
Hannah, 45, volunteered for Clinton’s first run for president in 2008 and participated in early draft groups before the launch of her current campaign.
To some, it was a waste of scarce and precious police resources. In what could be a metaphor for the plight of Albuquerque, the May 9 reverse sting drug operation by Albuquerque police officers resulted in the arrest of eight low-level drug users and homeless people, $23.10 in cash, a computer tablet, cell phone, police radio, jacket and colic medicine. For that, police deployed around 15 to 20 officers and support staff for the operation near Central and Pennsylvania Northeast. And considering all the other support services connected with the operation, the reverse sting probably cost taxpayers between $5,000 and $10,000, experts said. This piece originally appeared in the ABQ Free Press.