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This Hour: Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment

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Democrat lags in poll, money in NM governor's race

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary King remains optimistic he can close the gap in an uphill challenge against Republican incumbent Susana Martinez.

King trailed Martinez in a recent poll and lags in fundraising.

But King says he considers himself within striking distance of the incumbent after weathering a barrage of negative TV ads by Martinez and a national GOP group.

Martinez leads the race with 50 percent of likely voters backing her, according to an Albuquerque Journal poll. King was favored by 41 percent and 9 percent were undecided in the mid-August survey.

Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff said King faces a difficult task because he must pick up undecided voters and chip away at Martinez' support.

Absentee voting starts on Oct. 7, about a month before the November general election.


Albuquerque mayor vetoes decriminalize pot bill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has vetoed a measure that would have allowed voters to decide if small amounts of marijuana would be decriminalized in New Mexico's largest city.

Berry said in a video message Friday that the proposal would contradict state and federal laws, and he couldn't "in good conscience" support the bill.

A divided Albuquerque City Council voted to put the measure on the November ballot after activists failed to collect enough signatures.

The veto comes two days after the Santa Fe City Council bypassed voters and adopted outright a similar measure that makes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a fine of no more than $25.

Berry's move also vetoes a tax increase and other proposals attached to the same bill.


$350K buyout for Albuquerque ex-school chief OK'd

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A state district judge has approved a $350,000 buyout for former Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks who resigned earlier this month.

The judge ruled Friday that the settlement was in the best interest of the public and New Mexico's largest school district.

Brooks resigned after board members said he was being investigated for a personnel matter. Both sides declined to elaborate.

The school board then approved a $350,000 settlement to buy him out of his contract.

The settlement now goes before the state's Public Education Department for final approval.


Family: Man shot by Bloomfield police unarmed

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) - The family a Bloomfield man fatally shot by police says he was unarmed.

The Daily Times reports the son of Jonathan Rogers said Thursday his father did not have a firearm in his hand when he was killed.

Authorities say Bloomfield police fatally shot the 61-year-old Rogers following a report of a domestic dispute.

New Mexico State Police say two Bloomfield police officers responded to a domestic and were confronted with a suspect with a deadly weapon.

State police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez says the agencies won't comment on the family's remarks and will continue to investigate the shooting.

Authorities say no officers were injured.


2 arrested in fatal shooting in SW Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Authorities have arrested a man and a woman in connection with a fatal shooting at a southwest Albuquerque gasoline station earlier this week.

Bernalillo County sheriff's officials say 21-year-old Samir Rodriguez and 21-year-old Frankie Esquibel were taken into custody Friday.

Both are being held on suspicion of an open count of murder

Two other suspects in the case are being questioned by police, but haven't been charged yet.

Authorities say the body of 20-year-old Kenneth Perez was found early Tuesday at the gas station.

Sheriff's officials say Perez was shot and killed during a fight.


Police: Lovington student dies from accident

LOVINGTON, N.M. (AP) - Authorities say a 17-year-old Lovington high school student has died after falling off a moving vehicle on campus.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that the that the female teen suffered injuries to her head Wednesday and was airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas

Lovington Municipal Schools Superintendent Darin Manes announced the student's death Thursday after visiting with the family.

Lovington police Det. David Miranda says the specifics as to how the student fell from the vehicle are still being investigated and he doesn't expect it to be complete until sometime next week.

The student's name has not been released.

Miranda says that no arrests have been made.


Costs of NM coal power plant proposal challenged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Renewable energy advocates say the state's largest electric utility is underestimating the costs that will be passed on to customers under a proposal to shut down part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

The Santa Fe-based group New Energy Economy in a filing with the Public Regulation Commission on Friday accused the utility of withholding from regulators key information about the plan's price tag.

The group says PNM didn't include more than a half-billion dollars of ongoing capital expenditures in the calculations and failed to weigh the costs of environmental regulations and the disposal of coal ash waste generated by the power plant.

PNM says it stands behind the science used to craft its plan.

State regulators have scheduled a hearing in October to consider PNM's proposal.


US official airs 'myths' on Colorado River water

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A top federal water administrator says several myths stand in the way of broad agreements needed to deal with increasing demand for water in the drought-stricken and "over-allocated" Colorado River basin.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle told a "Business of Water" conference on Friday in Las Vegas on there's no one-step way to avoid the possibility of cuts in water deliveries to states including Arizona and Nevada in the next few years.

She says it'll take multiple, incremental efforts

Castle is a top federal water administrator.

She says other myths are that cities just need to stop wasting water and that water is too valuable to use on farms.

Castle says cooperation is needed on all sides, and myths can be dangerous if they lead people to complacency.


Complaint: 3 New Mexico guard had sex with inmates

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) - Three Sierra County Detention Center jail guards are facing charges they harassed and threatened female inmates into having sex with them.

KOB-TV reports a criminal complaints filed Thursday says 38-year-old Virgil Eaton, 22-year-old Miguel Herrera and 23-year-old Joshua Corley had sex with inmates and harassed them in spots hidden from security cameras at the Truth or Consequences jail.

According to the complaint, Eaton sought oral sex from inmates in exchange for prescription pills, and in one case, told an inmate he would get her charges dismissed if she had sex with him.

Documents say Corley and Herrera had separate sexual encounters with inmates both in and out of jail.

All three face criminal sexual penetration and other charges.

It was not known if the men had attorneys.


AG: Santa Fe within rights to decriminalize pot

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King's office says Santa Fe is within its right to decriminalize marijuana and it has no plans to challenge the city's new ordinance.

Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for King, said Thursday that the attorney general supports decriminalizing marijuana laws and believes Santa Fe acted within its authority.

Those comments come after Santa Fe city councilors voted 5-4 this week to decriminalize marijuana, making the city the first in New Mexico to make possession of small amounts of pot a civil infraction.

The new ordinance makes possession of an ounce or less punishable by a fine of no more than $25. Previously, it was a criminal misdemeanor.

King, a Democrat, is running for governor against Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican.


UNM to use grant to help student journalists

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - University of New Mexico will use a $35,000 grant to help student journalists get their work published and read throughout the state.

The Daily Lobo reports the school's Communication and Journalism Department recently received the Online News Association grant and have used it to build an online news portal called New Mexico News Port.

Michael Marcotte, a visiting associate professor, says the portal will serve as a platform where students can experiment with the new tools of journalism.

She says students will cover the upcoming New Mexico elections and will partner with KUNM, KNME and the Daily Lobo.


Mayor appoints Navajo to homelessness task force

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has appointed Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly's former chief of staff to chair the city's new Native American Homelessness Task Force.

Berry says Sherrick Roanhorse joins the task force with extensive knowledge of Native American affairs. In addition to his role with Shelly, Roanhorse has worked as a policy analyst for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department and as and a government and legislative affairs specialist with the Navajo Nation in Washington, D.C. He currently works in the state government affairs office of PNM.

Berry and Shelly agreed to create the task force following the brutal beating deaths in July of two homeless Navajo men in a vacant lot on Albuquerque's southwest side.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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