July was the first month that stories about problems in the Taxation and Revenue Department began to come to light. The month also saw movement on the Jaquise Lewis case—prompted by NM Political Report stories—and a number of laws going into effect.
State Auditor Tim Keller said that the TRD tried to “obstruct” an investigation. The allegations against TRD would continue for months and the Attorney General is looking into the allegations from Keller’s office.
The Tax and Rev Department also botched a redaction of a taxpayer’s name when trying to discredit the investigation by the Auditor’s Office. The department then blamed NM Political Report for revealing the mistake.
Our senior reporter Joey Peters spoke to two witnesses of the Los Altos Skate Park shooting, which left Lewis dead and others injured, who said after initial contact with police, they were never again questioned. Their stories differed from what was publicly released on the case. Lewis’ mother, Munah Green, filed a lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque over their refusal to release records, including an obtained cell phone video. A judge ruled against the city in December.
Concerns about Confederate imagery, after a mass shooting in a South Carolina church, reached Albuquerque and many said the imagery at the city’s Old Town Plaza told an incomplete and misleading story.
The Summer of Santolina continued and NM Political Report looked at legal challenges to the approval of the deal.
Reporter Andy Lyman looked at the uncertain fate of New Mexico AIDS Services in the wake of the non-profit losing crucial state contracts.
Just before the school year started, some worried about the job vacancies at Albuquerque Public Schools.
A judge ruled that the Public Education Department broke the state Inspection of Public Records Act on a request from a teachers union about teach evaluations. This came just a few days before the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government held its annual Dixon Awards.
A number of laws that passed during the legislative session and were signed by Gov. Susana Martinez went into effect on July 1—including the high profile law banning civil asset forfeiture in the state.
The city had to pay another big dollar settlement for a shooting. This time, it was $5 million to the family of James Boyd, the homeless camper who was shot and killed by two police officers who are now facing murder charges. Meanwhile, APD and the Department of Public Safety said there was nothing to worry about in the training of officers. This came after concerns that some weren’t properly certified.
July was when the Donald Trump campaign kicked into high gear (and it has seldom left that gear since). And he made some comments about someone who said they couldn’t get a job in New Mexico, telling them to learn Spanish. A Santa Fe County official didn’t like Trump’s comments and was traveling around town with a pinata (which was later knocked down). Gary Johnson got in on the talk about marijuana.
- The State Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the Copper Rule.
- Matt Chandler got appointed to a judgeship by the governor.
- President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of John M. Wyatt—a New Mexico man who was in prison on marijuana charges.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Albuquerque and had lunch with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry at Flying Star downtown.
- U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham demanded answers for problems at the Albuquerque Social Security office.
- U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich landed on a most beautiful in D.C. list.