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New Mexico Telegram » Morning Word » Morning Word, 01-21-13

Morning Word, 01-21-13

Just about all news over the weekend was wiped out by the tragic shooting in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

The Word generally stays away from crime stories — there are other places to find much more information on this (the Albuquerque Journal did a great job of updating their story as new information came in). But with a story of this scope with massive attention it would be hard to ignore mentioning it.

After all, the story has gone national; the Los Angeles Times covered the story. So did CNN. The website Buzzfeed did as well.

So here’s the basics: Police say that 15-year old Nehemiah Griego was arrested for allegedly shooting his parents and three of his siblings. His father, Greg Griego, was a pastor at Calvary Chapel as well as at the Metropolitan Detention Center. He was the brother of former state Senator Eric Griego according to KOB.

From the Albuquerque Journal’s newspaper report:

The Journal also has learned that authorities believe Nehemiah then put several loaded weapons, including the assault rifle, in the family van with the plan to drive to the nearest Walmart, gun down more people and eventually die in a shootout with police.

Thankfully, he called a friend first and agreed to meet the friend at Calvary Church first.

Griego reportedly used an AR-15 rifle, the same type of rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and the Aurora movie theater shooting.

There are six other siblings that were not at home at the time and are now left without a mother or father.

The Journal looked at the history of Greg Griego who was once a gang member and turned his life around and became a pastor.

Nehemiah Griego has arrested and is in custody. He has been charged with two counts of murder ad three counts of child abuse resulting in death.

On to the Word:

  • Former State Senate Majority Leader Fabian Chavez, Jr. passed away at the age of 88.
    The former state Senate majority leader and assistant U.S. Commerce secretary, a colorful Santa Fe native who was the subject of a 2008 biography titled “Taking on Giants,” had been living at Ponce de Leon senior living center and recently had fallen ill.

    Chávez, born Aug. 31, 1924, was 88. His wife, Coral Jeanne, died in 2006, and friends believed Chávez never recovered from the loss.

  • Steve Terrell has his own legislave round-up. Here is the January 19 edition.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican profiles the new Speaker of the House, Ken Martinez, D-Grants. Martinez’s father, Walter K. Martinez, served as Speaker of the House in the 1970s.
    From the beginning, it was obvious that Kenny Martinez wanted to go straight to the top in the Legislature.

    He became chairman of the House Judiciary Committee not long after he arrived at the Roundhouse. By the end of 2004, he had become majority leader, successfully challenging then-leader Danice Picraux for the job. Moments after she lost, Picraux told reporters, “People have been looking at Kenny to be a leader. This is the moment he chose.”

    Two years later, he tried to unseat Luján from the speaker’s chair. But he couldn’t find the votes to oust Luján.

  • The Albuquerque Journal also had a profile:
    Newly installed Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, who just wrapped up six terms in the House, said he expects Martinez as speaker to demonstrate a commitment to inclusiveness – of ideas as well as people.

    “I think it’s his nature to want to bring people together. … I came into the Legislature as an attorney and a litigator, and learned a lot from Kenny about achieving goals without necessarily being combative,” said Cervantes, a friend who worked closely with Martinez on the Judiciary Committee.

  • One argument over voter ID is that it does nothing to combat the most likely place for fraud to occur– on absentee ballots, which are filled out and mailed in far away from any polling place or officials. This was brought into sharp relief as the news broke that Gov. Susana Martinez signed the absentee ballot request for her husband in a 2011 school board election. This was not illegal at the time, the Albuquerque Journal reported:
    New Mexico law currently requires that an absentee ballot request be signed by the actual voter, not a spouse or parent.

    However, that law did not take effect until July 2011, after Martinez had sent in the signed ballot requests for herself and Franco.

  • Meanwhile, Capitol Report New Mexico says Voter ID laws are expensive and a threat to the constitutional right to vote.
    The doubters will never believe that the election system works well and is mostly honest. Many of them have told me they personally have witnessed voter fraud. But when pressed for details, they retreat and their stories shrink to nothing.

    Smart politicians know there is an easier way to win than stealing a vote or two and risking prison time for doing it. They try to connect with the apathetic masses, the way Obama did in 2008.

  • Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry spoke about proposals to change gun laws. Well, kind of. He only addresses one small portion of the proposed changes:
    “There are some things in the particular organization that I can agree with particularly the need for federal prosecution of gun crimes, we can do a lot better than we’re doing in the country, along those regards and of course additional resources for mental illness,” Berry said.

  • Sheriffs from around the state don’t like the idea of banning assault rifles or large clips.
    The sheriffs do support the President’s call for improved background checks for gun buyers , not just at gun stores but at gun shows and in private sales. But it’s the proposed gun ban that sticks in their craw.

    I do agree with some points the President has brought forward,” said Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia. “But until a law is passed banning those guns, I’m sure we’ll have to deal with that. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

  • The Los Alamos Monitor takes a look at new gun control laws in the first part of a two-part series.
  • New Mexico Capitol Report says Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, will again introduced a bill to allow concealed weapons in bars.
  • Milan Simonich says that a repeal of the law that allows undocumented immigrants to have drivers licenses could pass the House again — but it faces a tough road in the Senate.
  • The Albuquerque Journal reports on the Albuquerque Martin Luther King, Jr. day parade which was held on Sunday.

    There was a peace walk in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day on Sunday in Las Cruces, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

  • New Mexico’s unemployment rate increased from 6.2 percent in November to 6.4 percent in December. Albuquerque Business First reported some good news in the numbers, however. The workforce increased, which means more people are seeking work. The unemployment in NM is lower than the average of the West (8.6 percent).
    The BLS numbers showed that New Mexico added about 2,000 jobs in December over November. However, the construction sector lost 800 jobs during the month and the manufacturing sector shed 100 jobs.
  • Politico profiled Congresswoman Micihelle Lujan Grisham, highlighting her thoughts on health care.
    Her top health care priorities include implementing the ACA, improving treatments for chronic care patients, maintaining access to contraceptives for women and highlighting nutrition policy. And with Kirtland Air Force Base housed in her district, Lujan Grisham said she also wants to focus on military and armed services issues.

  • Megan Kamerick looks at a push in the legislative session to beef up film incentives. It will face an uphill battle, as Gov. Susana Martinez has vocally opposed any such efforts in the past.
  • Lujan Grisham was named as a House freshman to watch by Roll Call:
    Lujan Grisham, who was elected by her peers to be freshman class president in the second term of the 113th Congress, hails from a diverse, Albuquerque-based district that could be viewed as a microcosm of the Democratic coalition: urban and suburban, with a growing minority base that values progressive politics as well as regional traditions. Her service in New Mexico’s Aging and Health departments also gives her experience into premier political issues Congress will grapple with.

  • A Santa Fe choclatier is running for lieutenant governor in 2014 as a Democrat, Capitol Report New Mexico reports.
  • A judge reprimanded an Assistant District Attorney in the 9th Judicial District for “judge shopping.” The Clovis News Journal has more:
    “The Prosecutors engaged in ‘Judge Shopping’ so that a different judge would consider the competency and dangerousness of the Defendant,” Hartley wrote. “This was made clear in a letter addressed to Magistrate Judge Linda Short … in which Assistant District Attorney Matthew Andrasko stated, ‘If Mr. Lindsey would like to raise competency, then he can do so via a motion that would allow this court (referring to Magistrate Court) to transfer this case to the Hon. Drew D. Tatum for competency review.’”

  • The Santa Fe New Mexican has the latest on the failures of the Department of Workforce Solutions new computer system.
    New Mexico’s “fully integrated tax and claims system” launched Jan. 6. Because the switchover was done Jan. 1 to Jan. 6, those collecting unemployment benefits were unable to recertify or file new claims for unemployment from New Mexico during that time.

    Because of the shutdown, the number of claims the state reported to the federal government is way down, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is showing a 75 percent decrease in New Mexico claims for the week ending Jan. 5 from the number of claims filed the previous week.

    Last week, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez took to the floor and urged a fix to the problems; he said that he hoped someone on the “fourth floor” (or the governor’s office) would hear the pleas of constituents who are still having problems with their unemployment claims.

  • The Albuquerque Journal with bank news and ex-officials of a now-defunct bank being sued for risky sub-prime mortgages:
    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. claims 11 former officers and directors of the defunct Charter Bank committed gross negligence by operating “a highly risky and speculative” subprime lending business in Denver that made loans “no reasonable financial institution would have made at any time” in the years before the bank failed.

  • The Las Vegas Optic reports on a $830,000 contract to help on the expansion of Bradner Reservoir.
  • The Rio Rancho Observer examines the gross receipts taxes in Rio Rancho.
    Even though Rio Rancho gross receipts tax revenue from construction has dropped in the past few years, health care, accommodation and food-related gross receipts income has been steadily rising, according to the city. The city measures its economic activity through GRT, which indicates slow growth.

  • John Fleck, a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal, writes about why he donated money to the non-profit New Mexico In Depth. Definitely worth a read.
  • Albuquerque’s pension plan drew praise from the Pew Center on the States, Albuquerque Business First reported.
    For pensions, the 16 best performing cities included in the Pew study are: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore, Maryland; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Los Angeles, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Wichita, Kansas.

  • The police chief in Española wants Wal-Mart to help develop a plan to deter crime since so many 911 calls are generated from Española’s Wal-Mart.
  • A battle on the Taos Pueblo over eminent domain, the Taos News reports:
    Tribal member Meko Concha alleged in a copy of his complaint that when the 2011 administration demolished his building in May 2011, it “illegally depriving me of my property and land assignment, formerly known as the Taos Pueblo Store property, without due process of law or just compensation.”

    At the time Concha’s building was demolished, The Taos News reported that the tribe gave notice that they planned to tear down the building under imminent [sic] domain powers. With the building gone, the tribe planned to expand an intersection.

  • A bill in the state legislature would restrict school district superintendents’ contracts to one year, New Mexico Capitol Report says.
  • A jury awarded a Public Regulation Commission whistleblower with more than $350,000 in damages. But, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports, since the suit was filed under the 2010 Whistleblower Protection Act, the total cost to the state will be closer to the $1 million mark.
    Because the case was brought under the state’s 2010 Whistleblower Protection Act — the first time such a case has gone to trial — damages will be doubled and legal fees, estimated at $250,000, will be added, for a total award of more than $960,000. Damages will be paid by state taxpayers.

    “In spite of all the insults against me and how tough this whole process was for my attorneys, family and friends, I can tell you, I just hope state employees get to say to themselves, ‘Oh, we can finally fix this,’ ” Feliciano after the verdict. “Ninety-five percent or whatever are hardworkers. They just need the right leadership to support that.”

  • The Rio Rancho city council will vote on an agreement between the Rio Rancho Firefighters Association and the city that “removes guarantees of annual pay raises and changes practices for excess paid time off.” This is according to the Rio Rancho Observer.
  • The much-anticipated Farmington post office news, via the Farmington Daily-Times:
    Steve Begay became the youngest, and first American Indian postmaster in the Farmington Post Office’s 134-year history on Friday.

  • The Albuquerque Journal reported on Friday that UNM hired a new lobbying firm at twice the price of the previous firm.
  • Luna County formed a wolf committee to look at a wolf management plan that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put forward.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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