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New Mexico News This Week
In this week’s Chile Street:
National newspaper company’s antics mean fewer journalist covering New Mexico and readers without coverage of their communities
Man linked to two gangs and several acts of violence in the summer of 2019 sentenced for murder
Man arrested for attacking a bus passanger with a sword
Former state senator sues Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham over alleged threats
Community health advocates push state to keep PCR test sites open
AG sues hospital in northern New Mexico alleging deficient services, overcharges
And much more!
Good morning! Today is Friday, Dec. 16. Here’s a look at the past week in New Mexico news.
Gannett’s slashing tactics leave fewer journalist covering New Mexico communities
Since the 1800s, the Deming Headlight has delivered the day’s news to people across Luna County. In more recent history, through a series of mergers, newspaper giant Gannett became the owner and operator of the storied paper. This fall, the Virginia-based mass media holding company laid off the last Headlight employee and shut down the paper, turning Luna County, home to about 20,000 people, into a news desert.
Perhaps it’s easy to think that nothing newsworthy happens in small areas of the state like Luna County, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For instance, in 2011 in Columbus, New Mexico, federal agents arrested the mayor and police chief, accusing the officials of running guns for drug cartels.
This particular story is one full of hope though. The Deming Headlight was purchased by an independent publishing company, and Algernon D’Ammassa, who has lived in Deming for the last 14 years and spent much of that time covering all of Luna County, has returned as editor, Andrew Oxford reported for the Santa Fe Reporter.
But now, consider the Las Cruces Sun-News, which is still owned by Gannett. Journalists at the Sun-News cover Las Cruces and all of Doña Ana County’s 220,000 residents. After a series of layoffas and buyouts implimented by Gannett, just three news reporters remain to cover the state’s second-biggest city — a community at the intersection of some of New Mexico’s most pressing stories, including immigration, a perennially close congressional race, drought and more.
Drive to nearby Alamogordo and Ruidoso and you’ll find no reporters left at the local Gannett-owned papers, either.
In New Mexico, Gannette owns five newspapers covering counties with a combined population of nearly half a million people. This month, as Gannett slashes more jobs at its newspapers around the country in the latest round of cost-cutting measures, the company is furloughing the few journalists it has left in New Mexico for one week heading into the holidays.
All of this means even fewer journalists are on the beat than usual, watchdogging city halls and police departments around New Mexico, or telling the stories of a culturally rich and biologically diverse part of the country.
For more, read Oxford excellent story here (no paywall): sfreporter.com/news/coverstories/2022/12/14/gannetts-gut-punch/
Man at center of violent summer in Las Vegas sentenced for 2019 murder
Multiple shootings and murders rattled Las Vegas in the summer of 2019. That fall, agents with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration raided twelve homes and a bank in Las Vegas as part of an investigation into the recent bloodshed. Authorities linked some of the violence to a notorious prison gang, and some of it to a drug trafficking organization, but law enforcement officials assert that one man was connected to all the events that summer.
By September 2019, local police and federal agents had begun investigating Marcos R. Ruiz, an alleged member of the Westside Locos street gang and an “associate” of Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico, a powerful and often violent prison gang. Now, years later, with plea agreements in a federal drug case and a separate state homicide case settled, Ruiz is set to spend the next several years behind bars, Ryan Lowery reported for the Las Vegas Optic.
Ruiz, now 43, appeared in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque this March where he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a drug trafficking organization that federal law enforcement agents allege was behind the majority of illegal drug sales in Las Vegas.
By signing the plea agreement, Ruiz avoided going to trial. He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of unlawful use of a communication facility for using a telephone to “facilitate the commission of a drug felony,” according to the plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in August.
Ruiz avoided a separate trial in state district court as well by accepting a plea agreement this fall. By pleading no contest to second-degree murder, other charges were dropped, but Ruiz will still serve several years behind bars for a fatal shooting in August of 2019.
Read Lowery’s story here (no paywall): lasvegasoptic.com/news/crime/man-at-center-of-violent-summer-sentenced-for-2019-murder/article_36db8366-7ca2-11ed-bb7b-3b9eed81e450.html
Man arrested after sword attack on city bus passenger
A man is accused of attacking a person with a sword aboard a city bus in the North Valley on Tuesday, Aubrey Hovey of the Albuquerqu Journal reported.
A Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy was called to the area of Edith and Montaño NW around 4:30 p.m. after a bus driver reported that a male was wielding a sword, according to a criminal complaint.
Read the story here (paywall): abqjournal.com/2557343/man-arrested-for-cutting-mans-face-with-sword-on-city-bus-tuesday.html
Los Lunas police seek suspect, off-road vehicle in fatal hit-and-run
Los Lunas police are looking to identify and find an off-road vehicle they say was involved in a fatal hit-and-run Monday around 8:35 p.m. in the area of South Los Lentes Road near Lopez Road. On the west side of the ditch, they found a man who died of severe head trauma, KOB-TV reported.
Watch or read the story here (no paywall): kob.com/new-mexico/los-lunas-police-seek-suspect-off-road-vehicle-in-fatal-hit-and-run/
With social safety nets about to shrink, HSD asks for more staff and tech
After as many as 100,000 New Mexicans get kicked off of Medicaid when the Covid health emergency is declared over, 30 days later, nearly everyone getting food benefits in the state will see that payment drop by one-third, Austin Fisher of Source New Mexico reported.
Read the story here (no paywall): sourcenm.com/briefs/with-social-safety-nets-about-to-shrink-hsd-asks-for-more-staff-and-tech/
Former state senator files lawsuit against Lujan Grisham over alleged threats
Former state senator Jacob Candelaria who vowed to bring a lawsuit against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for allegedly threatening him with “escalating consequences” unless he withdrew a request he filed under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act made good on his promise Thursday, Daniel Chacón of the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
Community health advocates push state to keep PCR test sites
New Mexico is preparing to no longer provide easily available, community-wide, free diagnostic testing for Covid, worrying community health advocates that it could affect New Mexicans’ ability to get treatment.
Read the story here (no paywall): sourcenm.com/2022/12/09/community-health-advocates-push-state-to-keep-pcr-test-sites/
AG sues Alta Vista hospital alleging deficient services, overcharges
The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Alta Vista Regional Medical Center last week, alleging the hospital was misleading patients with deceptive advertising about medical services and safety while pursuing “unconscionable” billing tactics, Danielle Prokop reported for the Las Vegas Optic.
Las Vegas teacher charged with abusing 13-year-old student
A West Las Vegas Middle School physical education teacher was arrested Friday, accused of grabbing a student, forcing him into the locker room and preventing him from leaving, Ryan Lowery reported for the Las Vegas Optic.
Read the story here (no paywall): lasvegasoptic.com/news/crime/wlv-teacher-charged-with-abusing-13-year-old-student/article_d4437bf8-7a46-11ed-9dd7-7358210094b7.html
The 8th Annual Humble Holiday Market is set to take place Saturday at Humble Coffee’s Nob Hill location from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More that 100 artisan vendors from New Mexico are set to come together to celebrate the season, with a portion of proceeds supportting Saranam and Cuidando Los Niños.
Entry will cost you $5 and tickets are available at the door.
Humble Coffee is located at 4200 Lomas NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110.
That’s it for now. Have a great weekend!
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