With less community policing and an increase in meth use and social disorder, , Albquerque is seeing a return to the high crime environment of the early 90's. By the end of last year, Albuquerque had 61 murders – the highest number in 20 years. Ten months into 2017, that number has already been surpassed. This is the third consecutive year the number of murders has increased since a low point in 2014. In 2014, there were 30 murders – fewer than half of 2016’s and 2017’s totals. In 2015, there were 43.
In 2013, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation and University of New Mexico, 23 people died in wrecks related to alcohol in Bernalillo County. In 2016, the local DWI death toll had more than doubled, to 52. Each year since 2013, about half of all traffic fatalities in the county have involved alcohol. And the percentage of those not wearing seat belts has steadily climbed – from 18 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2015 and to 29 percent in 2016.
Keller and Lewis were the top two candidates in the Oct. 3 city election, with Keller receiving 39 percent of the vote and Lewis getting nearly 23 percent. But because no candidate walked away with 50 percent, Keller and Lewis will now go head-to-head in a Nov. 14 runoff. Early voting starts Wednesday.
In Bloomfield, NM the concrete block that displays the Ten Commandments sits alongside other monuments related to the Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address and Bill of Rights. The city claims it avoided endorsing a particular religion by placing disclaimers on the lawn stating the area was a public forum for citizens and that the privately funded monuments did not necessarily reflect the opinions of the city. The Ten Commandments monument was erected in 2011 and challenged a year later by the ACLU. Lower courts concluded it violated the U.S. Constitution's ban on government endorsing a religion.
A bipartisan group of Albuquerque city councilors on Monday called for the city auditor to review the performance of the independent monitor overseeing Albuquerque police reform. The federal monitor installed by the Holder DoJ under Obama, has only been in Albuquerque an average of 42 days out of the 200 required under contract while his firm has received $3 million in payment out of $10 million taxpayer dollars the city has had to pay for federally imposed reforms. "These federal monitors … tend to last a lot longer than they are supposed to,” City Counselor Don Harris said. “One of the reasons could be … that there is no real incentive for the monitor to wrap up because he’s getting $1 million a year.
Can New Mexico taxpayers continue to afford the cost of crime? With New Mexico crime skyrocketing, the costs for housing inmates is going up as well. The cost for Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington to house an inmate at northwestern New Mexico jails will increase about 20 percent in 2018. A new rate of $82.29 per inmate per day was approved by the commissioners for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. That's an increase of about 20 percent from the current rate of $68.52.
In a bi-partisan effort, a legislative committee is scheduled to hear testimony from a variety of experts on how high-speed internet can gain a more robust footprint in New Mexico’s rural communities. Nationally, 39 percent of internet users do not have access to broadband, while that number rises to 68 percent in many rural areas of New Mexico and on tribal land. The net effect is that rural families have less ability to access online education and job opportunities.
The number of New Mexico children taken into state custody because of abuse and neglect has continued to rise in the past year as the state also struggled with an increasing rate of children living in poverty and an unrelenting opioid epidemic -- issues that tend to drive up the number of children in need of care.
New Mexico is suffering a shortage of foster families, while faced with an increasing number of children who need them. With 2,674 children in CYFD custody, there are only 1,314 foster parents in the state and over-placement has become a problem.
After several stagnant years, New Mexico’s economy is finally showing signs of growth. Increased oil and gas activity has helped New Mexico post the third-highest growth in gross domestic product. “This is encouraging news for our families, communities and businesses,” Gov. Susana Martinez said Tuesday, while attributing the growth to tax cuts and streamlined regulations. “Through a relentless commitment to reforms … we’re growing and diversifying our economy and competing for jobs and investment with neighboring states like never before – and even beating them.”