New professional soccer team to call Albuquerque home

The United Soccer League announced it will bring a team to Albuquerque, with the first season starting in March 2019.

Owners, supporters, and local soccer teams held a rally at the Fusion Forum, Wednesday, to celebrate the start of the team. The league’s goal is to spread that excitement across Albuquerque.

USL CEO Alec Papadakis says there’s a reason Albuquerque was picked to host a team.

“New Mexico is a soccer state and I think having this team here will build upon everything New Mexico, UNM has done, NM Youth Association and the great players they’ve produced, and they’ll be able to see one of their players in 2019,” Papadakis said.

Team co-owner Peter Trevisani says bringing the team to New Mexico is about building community.

“These are all people like myself who believe in New Mexico, want to see better outcomes here, want to put a smile on someone’s face and be an agent of change,” said Trevisani.

The team, which still doesn’t have a name, plans to play its first season at Isotopes Park. You can reserve seats now.

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Bernalillo County opens center for recently released inmates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s largest county has opened a new re-entry center aimed at helping recently released inmates find access to temporary shelters, housing, food, medicine, and drug rehabilitation.

The Bernalillo County’s Resource Re-Entry Center opened Tuesday, the Albuquerque Journal reports . It will be open 24 hours a day for men and women.

County Manager Julie Morgas Baca said most of the agencies and programs that will have some presence at the center already exist throughout the city.

It replaces a system that operated for years — one in which inmates released from the Metropolitan Detention Center were dropped off at a street corner, day or night, in downtown Albuquerque. County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins said that was a dangerous way to operate.

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The Albuquerque Innovation Team worked with the University of New Mexico and Virginia Tech on data showing criminal activity in Bernalillo County from 2010 to 2017. The study shows 42% of people arrested in the county in the past seven years have been arrested an average of 4.5 times. Mayor Richard Berry says the data will help construct a road map for state lawmakers and judges to make the best decision for people who are arrested. The current risk assessment tool judges are using to determine if a criminal should stay in jail pending trial or be released on their own recognizance isn’t working.

Media: KOAT

"This was particularly dangerous for women. That became really obvious when we had women come to speak to the commission about being dropped off in the middle of the night with no resources, no safe place to stay, no phone and walking for miles to get home in the middle of the night."

Morgas Baca said about 50 to 70 people are released from the detention center every day.

University of New Mexico Hospital employees will be at the new center to direct people to behavioral health resources. The city is providing bus and temporary housing vouchers. There are also plans to have clothing available, among other programs, Morgas Baca said.

Renovating the center cost about $800,000, and the facility will have an annual operating budget of about $1 million, according to a county news release.

Morgas Baca said most costs for the program will be paid for with proceeds of a gross receipts tax that went into effect in 2015 to fund "more mental and behavioral health services" and to provide "a safety net system that develops a continuum of care not otherwise funded" in the state.

The tax is one-eighth of 1 percent on most goods and services throughout the county and is estimated to generate about $20 million a year.

Robert Salazar, one of those former inmates at the opening ceremony, said he struggled with mental illness and addiction issues and for a period in his life he was in and out of the county detention center.

"What I see in this place is hope," he said. "Being able to have the right resources when people need them most and are at their most vulnerable will help provide that hope."

___

Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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The threads of time

SANTA FE, N.M. — At the time of her passing, Jason Ripper’s mother was living with him in his two-bedroom apartment in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Back in 2014, the artist began going through the room she stayed in while in hospice, once his studio, including her drawers full of clothes.

“Instead of embodying that piece of clothing as something like ‘Can I get rid of this?’ I shredded it and turned it into something else,” said Ripper.

It’s then that he began the process of creating “Blood and Bone,” a red-and-white skeleton made completely of shredded everyday wear. The clothes he used were not only his mother’s, but also some of his own and some from his father, who passed away in 2007.

From white shirts to the red velvet vests he said his mother often wore, he ended up with about 700 to 1,000 small pieces to create his more than seven-foot-tall work. He described the finished product as not only a way to bring him and his parents together in one piece, but also as a representation of the unity between all people and how “we’re all made out of the same stuff.”

The binding and twining of the clothes was a meditative process that helped him through his grieving. His mother’s clothes still smelled like her, he noted, from the dried flower sachets she kept in her drawers.

The work took about a year and allowed him to separate himself from the memories attached to her clothes, he said. Instead, he was able to “archive” those memories as a way to heal.

“I don’t need that physical object as a memory anymore,” he said. “It’s embedded in me.”

The fiber artist has been using old clothes and fabric in his work for years, though usually it comes from places like thrift stores. His “Blood and Bone” is one of more than 20 fiber artworks selected for an exhibition using memory as its theme, opening at Tansey Contemporary gallery tonight.

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The exhibition is being staged in conjunction with the Española Valley Fiber Art Center’s second annual fiber arts crawl this weekend, in various galleries and studios throughout Albuquerque and Northern New Mexico.

The Tansey Contemporary show, the crawl’s largest event, was designed to showcase the fine art side of fiber work by Southwestern artists, said Olimpia Newman, EVFAC’s director of development and co-organizer of the show. The approximately 20 artists juried into the exhibit are from New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Arizona.

Newman said the theme of memory was selected to attract a diversity of works. “From personal, specific memories, to we have a couple of artists that are addressing the collective memories of humanity from the history of the earth,” said Jen Tansey, owner of Tansey Contemporary, who collaborated with Newman on the show.

Abiquiú-based Amanda Speer made a 36-inch-square linen weaving to honor the 36 people who died in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire in 2016, including her friend Joey ‘Casio’ Matlock. Texas-based artist Catherine Hicks used the memory of famous artists to create her own take on a 1919 Alfred Stieglitz photo of Georgia O’Keeffe mixed with M.C Escher’s 1948 “Drawing Hands.”

Instead of tapping into her own memories, Rio Rancho textile artist Kelly Butterman took inspiration from the imagined memories of an entire village of people: the Kuaua Pueblo.

Butterman, who has been a volunteer at the Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo for the past year, analyzing 400- to 800-year-old found pottery and working in the gift shop, has been mesmerized by working within the ruins of the pueblo. While pottery and paintings on kiva walls discovered in the early 1930s gave archeologists a “glimpse” into the people who lived there, Butterman said there are still so many unknowns. Her piece, “The Traveler,” a sculpture of a woman made from an old crutch covered by fabric and rope, is “in some ways” her effort at filling gaps of their history.

“All I could think of is she would travel from place to place and teach the people, and tell them stories so they could appreciate not only the beauty of (life’s) journey, but the challenges of the journey,” said Butterman.

The narrative she provides for the piece says the stories of the traveler who came to the pueblo 800 years ago have been passed down through generations. “They took her words to heart,” Butterman adds. “Once she felt they knew what she knew, she went on to teach other people.”

“Recall, Recapture, Remember” will be on display in Santa Fe until June 17. It will move to Tansey’s Denver gallery July 7-August 5.

If you go
“Recall, Recapture, Remember”

WHERE: Tansey Contemporary, 652 Canyon Rd.

WHEN: Opening reception is tonight from 5:30-8 p.m. The show will stay up until June 17.

The New Mexico Fiber Arts Crawl

WHERE: Various galleries and studios in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Española, Los Alamos, Tierra Amarilla and Taos. For locations, go to nmfibercrawl.org.

WHEN: Today through Sunday

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PNM tallies energy-efficiency savings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Public Service Co. of New Mexico says its energy efficiency programs over the past decade have helped generate enough electricity savings to power 470,000 homes for a year.

The programs, which launched in 2007, have helped customers cut consumption by nearly 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity as of year-end 2017, PNM reported this week. That equals about 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions avoided over 10 years, or the equivalent of taking nearly 373,000 cars off the road, said PNM Vice President of External Affairs Becky Teague.

“Helping both residential and business customers save money by becoming more energy-wise is an important part of what we do, and they’ve done an incredible job over the past ten years,” Teague said in a prepared statement. “There are many reasons for customers to be energy efficient, including lowering energy bills and improving the environment in which we all live.”

The company spent more than $80 million since 2007 on a variety of programs to help customers lower consumption, including rebates for replacing energy-hog refrigerators, cooling equipment and appliances with more modern, efficient models. It’s offered partial reimbursements to business customers for upgrades to buildings and new energy-efficient home construction, plus home energy “checkups” for residential consumers in which utility representatives do on-site assessments to show homeowners how they can reduce consumption. During the walkthroughs, they install energy-efficient gadgets like light bulbs and smart power strips.

PNM and New Mexico’s other utilities have adopted energy efficiency measures to comply with the state’s Efficient Use of Energy Act, which requires them to achieve 5 percent savings off 2005 retail sales by 2014 and 10 percent by 2020.

Customers pay for PNM programs through a rate rider on bills, currently equal to about 3.2 percent of the total bill, or about $2.31 for an average residential customer using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, said Steve Bean, PNM manager for energy efficiency design.

While the rate rider pays for customer rebates and other program expenses, the drop in consumer electric use has hurt PNM’s bottom line, since the utility’s fixed costs for things like transmission and distribution infrastructure remain unchanged.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has ordered a hearing to address those issues next fall.

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Diverse Business Leader Awards by Albuquerque Business First nominations open – Albuquerque Business First

Albuquerque Business First is seeking nominations for its annual 2018 Diverse Business Leader Awards.

Launched in 2016, the Diverse Business Leader Awards shine a spotlight on New Mexico’s successful, innovative leaders who are ethnic minorities (nationally — New Mexico is a minority majority state, with a 49 percent Hispanic population, the state’s largest group) or who identify as LGBT.

New Mexico was named the sixth most diverse U.S. state last year by WalletHub.

Applicants for the Diverse Business Leader Awards should be ethnic minorities or identify as LGBT and lead fast-growing, successful or innovative companies in New Mexico. Each will be evaluated by a panel of community leaders on leadership, success, impact and community service.

The deadline to submit nominations is June 1.

The LGBT community is a big contributor to New Mexico’s economy, both as sellers and consumers. The leading six companies on Business First’s list of LGBT-owned businesses in New Mexico submitted 2016 revenue figures that totaled about $19 million.

The top four companies on New Mexico’s Largest Hispanic-Owned Businesses list each submitted 2016 revenue figures of over $50 million.

Click here to see last year’s Diverse Business Leader Award honorees.

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Editorial: NM lawmakers, new governor must respect what’s currently up will ultimately go down

After two years of belt tightening and difficult austerity measures implemented to plug nine-figure holes and balance the state budget, revenues for New Mexico are once again soaring.

Revenue for the current budget year was up by $672 million through January compared to the same period last year, according to the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

That’s great news for our state. And while Roundhouse lawmakers will no doubt be tempted to go on a spending spree when they convene in January, they should hold off on that impulse because, as Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith points out, the state’s economy is still heavily reliant on a market-driven fossil fuel industry.

“We’re on the roller coaster of oil and gas,” says Smith, a Deming Democrat.

While revenues are up right now, they can just as easily tank. Given the boom in the Permian Basin, specifically the production occurring in Lea, Eddy and San Juan counties, we doubt revenues will sink in the near future, but it’s a boom-bust industry so what goes up eventually comes down. And as the state revenues of 2017 vs. 2018 show – what a difference a single year can make.

Realizing that, lawmakers and the governor last year created a true rainy day fund to help the state ride out some revenue lean years. And there will be more than $15 million flowing into that fund thanks to the uptick in revenue this year.

Lawmakers and the next governor should consider pumping more money into that rainy day fund. It’s not sexy, but it’s the financially responsible thing to do, and they and taxpayers will be glad they did it when the roller coaster that is our state’s revenue source takes a downturn.

Yes, we’re riding high now, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that our revenue stream is volatile and the highs don’t last.

Of course, pouring more money into the rainy day fund doesn’t mean lawmakers won’t be able to tackle other priorities. Now is the ideal time to move forward on efforts like tax reform and expanding proven early childhood education efforts.

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New Mexico desperately needs tax reform – from lowering and broadening gross receipts taxes, to eliminating pyramiding and local government double dipping on GRT, to establishing equity between brick-and-mortar and internet sales. Lawmakers began working on that project in the midst of the budget crisis in 2017, but those efforts went nowhere during this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers shouldn’t wait for another budget crisis to try to get tax reform across the finish line.

The new revenues also give lawmakers the opportunity to continue investing in data-driven early childhood education. New Mexico already ranks 16th in the nation on 4-year-olds’ pre-K participation rates and 20th on spending. And a record number of students will start elementary school five weeks early this summer as part of the K-3 Plus program. Indeed, a record $28.8 million has been awarded to schools this summer for the program.

Given N.M.’s struggles with child well-being, there’s certainly more our state must do. The additional revenues give lawmakers the opportunity to build on what’s already been done and to expand early childhood services like pre-K and even in-home visits with new parents. But funding these initiatives is not the end-all, be-all some would claim: key will be finding enough qualified individuals to deliver the services, then tracking their implementation to ensure the public is getting a meaningful return on its investment.

CHI St. Joseph’s Children, an Albuquerque nonprofit, has come up with a blueprint for rolling out these services. Part of the windfall New Mexico is experiencing could and should be invested in these programs – but it must include a mechanism for tracking outcomes not only to justify this spending but any expansion down the road.

It’s ironic that a year ago, state leaders were fretting about how to plug a massive budget deficit and this year, the state is flush with cash. Given that level of volatility, it’s incumbent on lawmakers and whomever is elected governor to invest any new money wisely.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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Downtown Albuquerque standoff ends with five people taken into custody

It was a long SWAT standoff as two men ended up at a small duplex and hid somewhere inside.

Monday around 4:00 p.m. officers with New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department were working a tact plan and spotted a stolen car.

"The attempted to stop that vehicle, and that vehicle immediately rammed the State Police officer and crashed into his car," APD Officer Simon Drobik said.

As they fled from officers, APD says they fired shots at police, then led them to an apartment complex in downtown Albuquerque near 11th and Coal.

Two men were immediately taken into custody, but the other two took off on foot.

Police locked down the ara, not letting anyone through for hours.

People whose families live across the street from the scene were calling to let them know they were safe.

Neighbors who live close by say it was a scary scene.

Before officers could safely get the other two men into custody, both department’s SWAT teams were called out to negotiate.

"We come across these guys all the time. They don’t care, they’re firing at officers, they’re in a stolen car and we’ve talked about this before," Drobik said.

Police say a woman was also arrested at the scene. Police say she was in the car with the man who rammed the officer before fleeing to the apartment complex.

Five people were taken into custody, however, police say it appears not all of them will be charged in this case.

APD has not said where they tried to stop the stolen car in the first place. Officers did not return fire when they were shot at.

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Armed Burglar Entered House Just to Face Man With Pistol — Now He Has a Bullet in His Butt

A New Mexico homeowner’s boyfriend whipped out his gun and shot a knife-wielding burglar who left the scene with literal butthurt.

Carlos Vasquez, the boyfriend, said he shot 57-year-old burglar Michael Dunn when he pulled a knife and tried to attack him last Thursday. Police later discovered the stolen items in Dunn’s vehicle and charged him with burglary and aggravated assault, according to KOB4.

Dunn was trying to escape after the homeowner’s boyfriend reportedly trapped him between the front door and a locked security door.

Dunn, according to the Albuquerque Journal, was homeless and went to jail after his release from the hospital.

He said it appears the homeowner was protecting himself and he will not be charged. He didn’t identify him. https://t.co/qerV7lUqbq pic.twitter.com/KeVOZSDPKQ

— Albuquerque Journal (@ABQJournal) April 4, 2018

Police said that Vasquez only intended to scare Dunn, not to shoot him.

“(Dunn) happened to jump in front of him when the shot was fired," an officer wrote. ”[Vasquez] did not have any intention of actually shooting (Dunn)."

As the Journal noted, Albuquerque previously saw other similar incidents:

In November, police say Warren Wild shot 21-year-old Rodolfo Serrano-Urais in both legs when Serrano-Urais tried to flee after burglarizing his property with another man.

Others weren’t so lucky.

Two days before Christmas, 24-year-old Edward Ortega-Landros was shot to death, in what police called a justifiable homicide, by another man after breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s apartment.

“The guy pulled a knife on him and took a swipe at his face that homeowner decided to defend himself,” the Albuquerque Police Department said.

“We don’t advocate shooting anybody, of course,” Simon Drobik, the department’s public information officer, said. “But in this circumstance, he was defending himself.”

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NM legislator sues challenger over residency

Idalia Lechuga-Tena, ousted from the state House of Representatives in the 2016 Democratic Party primary election, is running again in her Albuquerque district.

Rep. Debra Sariñana, who unseated Lechuga-Tena two years ago and is seeking re-election, is suing her challenger, arguing Lechuga-Tena does not live in the residence she has listed as home.

“Lechuga-Tena’s actions in creating a sham residence are nothing less than a deliberate attempt to evade the fundamental eligibility requirements expressly provided by our constitution and statutes,” the lawsuit says.

Questions about Lechuga-Tena’s residence dogged her when she was appointed by the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners in 2015 to fill a seat in the state House.

The New Mexican reported at the time she rented an apartment in House District 21 two days before applying for the appointment.

Lechuga-Tena stirred other controversy, too. Born in Mexico, she admitted she had voted in an election before becoming a U.S. citizen.

She went on to lose the three-way primary election, finishing behind Sariñana.

Lechuga-Tena seemed to be moving on. She married Santa Fe-based lobbyist and lawyer Marco Gonzales last year. Their application for a marriage license, filed in state District Court, lists her address as a post office box.

But earlier this month, she filed to run for her old House district spanning Albuquerque’s International District, from Louisiana Boulevard along Interstate 40 to Tramway.

She listed the same address as when she first served in the House.

Sariñana’s lawsuit says Lechuga-Tena would have had to reside at that address when the governor issued a proclamation Jan. 29 setting the dates for the election this year.

Lechuga-Tena bought the property she has listed as her residence out of foreclosure in early 2016. The city of Albuquerque deemed it substandard a few weeks later, according to documents filed with Sariñana’s lawsuit.

The house is a rental property, but it did not have utilities and the ceiling was in danger of falling in, the lawsuit says.

In addition, Sariñana’s suit states, another occupant has lived in the home for at least several months. Neighbors can attest that Lechuga-Tena does not reside at the address, the suit adds.

Lechuga-Tena did not respond to a message seeking comment. In her announcement video, however, she describes herself as a homeowner in House District 21.

New Mexico law is not clear cut when it comes to determining where a candidate must live to get on the ballot.

Candidates for the state House must reside in their district. But the state Supreme Court has said this depends on a candidate’s intentions and often whether the candidate has a “significant physical presence” at a residence.

A state district judge in Albuquerque is scheduled to hear arguments in the lawsuit on Wednesday.

No Republican or Libertarian has filed to run in the district. Whoever wins the Democratic Party primary is likely to win the general election.

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ABQ multifamily housing occupancy, rents remain high, CBRE report shows – Albuquerque Business First

Multifamily housing units in Albuquerque continue to show high occupancy rates and solid rent growth, according to a January survey by commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE.

The CBRE January 2018 apartment market survey looked at both market-rate and affordable properties in the Albuquerque area and found market-rate rents increased at a rate of 2.25 percent year-over-year, from an average of $800 to $818.

The statistics were based on 194 multi-housing communities with nearly 41,000 units, including 148 market-rate and 46 affordable properties.

Although occupancy at market-rate units was down by just over a half percent from last year, it remains high, at nearly 95 percent. Affordable-rate property occupancy declined by about 1 percent, while rents rose by 1.51 percent.

Studio apartments saw the highest gains in rental rates at 3.71 percent, with rent for one-bedroom units rising 2.49 percent and for three-bedroom/one-bath apartments at 2.11 percent. Rents for two-bedroom/two-bath units rose at a rate of less than 2 percent.

The survey forecasts modest growth for the multi-unit market in Albuquerque over the next two years, with an estimated 1,200 market-rate units and about 400 affordable units expected to be built. Market-rate apartments are planned for the NE Heights, Downtown and Uptown, with affordable housing scattered throughout the city.

CBRE has conducted the apartment market survey three times annually since 2008, and has consistently found January to be the seasonal low point for multifamily housing occupancy, with an increase in May and a high point in September. Los Angeles-based CBRE is the largest commercial real estate firm in New Mexico, with $447 million in 2017 transactions, according to Business First’s List.

Nearly 40 percent of Albuquerque properties offer renters some form of concessions, including “specials” that affect first-month or ongoing rent reductions, the survey found.

Albuquerque’s apartment market contributes more than $1.3 billion to the local economy and 14,300 jobs are supported by the industry, according to Hoyt Advisory Services research.

The city also was ranked 22nd out of 50 metro areas in terms of the hardest cities in which to add needed apartments, according to that research.

However, the same research ranked Albuquerque toward the "easier" category in terms of local regulations and available land.

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