Albuquerque marred by three deadly shootings in 12 hours

David Lynch
July 29, 2018
Link to story on KOB.com: https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerque-marred-by-three-deadly-shootings-in-12-hours-/5009195/

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The weekend began on bloody terms for the Duke City, as several Albuquerque Police investigations sprouted from three deadly shootings on Saturday and early Sunday.

All three incidents unfolded over the span of about 12 hours, resulting in three dead victims, and at least one still recovering in the hospital from her wounds.

At around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, police responded to a double shooting at the Giant gas station at San Mateo and Menaul in northeast Albuquerque. According to APD Officer Daren Deaguero, investigators believe an unidentified man shot a woman before turning the gun on himself. Continue reading →

Investigation finds ‘probable cause’ NM representative violated Anti-Harassment Policy

David Lynch
July 28, 2018
Link to story on KOB.com: https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/investigation-finds-probable-cause-new-mexico-rep-violated-anti-harassment-policy/5007962/

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Formal discipline may be coming for State Rep. Carl Trujillo (D) after an investigative subcommittee found “probable cause” on allegations of sexual harassment against a lobbyist while they collaborated on legislation in 2014.

The subcommittee’s findings were outlined in a report released Saturday, in which it stated there was probable cause the New Mexico representative – in office since 2013 – violated certain portions of the Legislature’s recently overhauled Anti-Harassment Policy. The subcommittee also recommended that a formal hearing be pursued. Continue reading →

APD investigating multiple violent incidents in east Albuquerque

David Lynch
July 24, 2018
Link to story on KOB.com: https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/apd-investigating-multiple-violent-incidents-in-east-albuquerque-monday-evening/5000794/

ALBUQUERQUE. N.M. – Albuquerque Police say they are investigating multiple violent incidents Monday evening in the eastern part of the city, including a deadly triple stabbing near Gibson and San Mateo.

One unidentified victim is in critical condition following that incident at Eastern and Palomas in southeast Albuquerque. The conditions of the two other victims are not yet known, but APD says they do have a suspect in custody. Continue reading →

‘It’s on’: Bank robbery suspect shot at officers during pursuit that ended with fatal Smith’s shooting

David Lynch
June 28, 2018
Link to story on KOB.com: https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/its-on-bank-robbery-suspect-shot-at-officer-during-pursuit-that-ended-with-fatal-smiths-shooting/4967947/

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Police say concern for the public and a chaotic car pursuit involving gunfire factored into an APD officer’s decision to fire rounds at a chronic bank robbery suspect earlier this month in southeast Albuquerque.

47-year-old Richard Rivera – who had a criminal history dating back to 1995 – died when a veteran APD officer shot at him in the parking lot of Smith’s at Coal and Yale on June 16, APD Lt. Ray Del Greco said at a Thursday morning press conference.

It was the culmination of a vehicle pursuit that began when Rivera and 39-year-old Jennifer Rael held up a Verizon store in northeast Albuquerque—the pair’s third armed robbery in less than a week, Del Greco said.

Del Greco said police were able to track the pair, in a stolen U-Haul van, not far from where the Verizon store is located. Rael told investigators the pursuit began after Rivera turned to her and said “It’s on” before pulling out a firearm.

The subsequent chase involved Rivera firing so many rounds at officers that Rael told investigators “she couldn’t keep count,” Del Greco said.

When a spike strip deployed by APD failed to stop the van, they attempted two pit maneuvers. After the first attempt, lapel video shows the officer firing five rounds at the van.

The pursuit continued briefly before the van was finally stopped at the Smith’s parking lot, after the third pit maneuver. The officer can be seen in lapel video leaving his cruiser, pursuing Rivera on foot while yelling at him to stop and then firing six shots as Rivera approached the Smith’s entrance.

Surveillance camera footage shows Rivera turning back to look at the officer and reaching for his right hip before the shots are fired.

“He was afraid Mr. Rivera was going to either shoot him, an innocent bystander in the parking lot or someone inside the Smith’s store,” Del Greco said, adding multiple witnesses told investigators they heard Rivera say twice that he had a gun.

Rivera died at the scene after attempts by officers to revive him were unsuccessful. Rael, meanwhile, was taken into custody.

Police later searched the van, where Del Greco said they found a cell phone taken from the earlier Verizon store robbery, a gun legally bought by Rael for Rivera earlier in the month, and empty shell casings.

 

 

 

UNM provost to leave for Georgia Tech; had briefly served as president

David Lynch
June 28, 2018
Link to story on KOB.com: https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/unm-provost-to-leave-for-georgia-tech-had-briefly-served-as-president/4968055/

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The administrator responsible for helping to navigate the University of New Mexico through some turbulent waters while serving as president has landed another gig.

Chaouki Abdallah will be returning to his alma mater of Georgia Tech as the executive vice president for research later this summer. He recently was at the forefront of UNM’s administrative affairs for over a year while the university sought a new permanent president—first as the acting president, then interim before the board of regents officially recognized him as the university’s 22nd presidentContinue reading →

Hundreds fill Civic Plaza in support of undocumented students, DACA policy following announcement it would be “rescinded”

By David Lynch

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Now faced with the very real possibility that some of their friends, family or even themselves will lose some of the benefits they were granted under the DACA policy, hundreds flocked to Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque Tuesday afternoon in a show of solidarity.

Supporters of all ages and demographics – from UNM professors to high school students to retired citizens – were on hand for the rally, organized by the New Mexico Dream Team. It followed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ official announcement that the Donald Trump administration was going to rescind DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, affecting nearly 800,000 children and young adults across the country who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age. Continue reading →

Small business owners fear Rapid Transit system will kill businesses

This story originally appeared in the Daily Lobo on February 15, 2015, and can be viewed here

Now that nearly $70 million in federal funding has been approved for Mayor Richard Berry’s passion project, it’s full steam ahead on a new bus rapid transit system that will run down Central Avenue from Unser to Tramway Boulevard.

However, many small business owners along the proposed route believe the Albuquerque Rapid Transit, or ART, spells an end to their shops, as well as the quirky personality of the Nob Hill area in particular.

“I’m thankful for living in a country where I don’t go to jail for fighting my government, but on the other hand, I shouldn’t have to fight my government. So that’s what we’re doing…because they’re not listening to us,” said Steve Schroeder, owner of Nob Hill Music.

Joe Annabi, manager of Astro-Zombies comic book store on Central — one of many businesses sporting a “No Albuquerque Rapid Transit” banner — said local politicians have downplayed the side effects of ART, including higher traffic congestion along the corridor, and are now denying the possibility of consequences from the new system.

“They care about having a lasting legacy in their final run in office,” Annabi said. “It’s going to be … a big drain on the city. Local business should be a part of local culture and should be on the minds of all politicians, but it’s not.”

Berry, who at a Friday press conference said ART is awaiting approval from the FTA, said the project has been in the works for five years and it could ultimately bring in $2 to 3 billion.

On a larger scale, Berry said the $119 million project is, in essence, the culmination of his transportation agenda, which included keeping Uber in Albuquerque and increasing bike trails.

“We’re talking about the next logical step,” he said, adding that it will be the gold standard for bus rapid transit in the country.

Pending FTA approval, construction will start in May, with plans to finish in late 2017. But many along the route are pessimistic that their business will survive that long.

Susan Ricker’s Off Broadway Vintage Clothing and Costumes has been in business for 32 years, and despite overcoming a fire in 2000, she said ART is the biggest threat her store has seen.

“I really don’t think they want (car) traffic on Central anymore, which goes against the beauty of Route 66,” she said.

Ricker said there is nothing quite like the Nob Hill portion of Route 66, which is traditionally renowned as a car corridor. She said she believes the project is built on ego, an attempt by Berry to secure his legacy before he leaves office, regardless of the opinions held by those whom ART will affect most.

“It’s obvious…we really don’t have a voice. Our voice doesn’t matter,” she said.

In fact, she said, the vast majority of business owners she has talked to share her sentiments, save for a mere pair who are in favor.

Schroeder’s experience was similar, as he said out of over 200 businesses he has talked to, only six are pro-ART.

After finding out many other businesses owners shared his opinion of ART, he formed savert66.org, where visitors can find updates about the project and a letter of petition to sign.

Schroeder said he believes ART would affect the integrity of the area, as well as tourism to the longest stretch of Route 66 in the country.

He said recently-elected City Councilor Pat Davis arranged meetings for public input, only to refrain from asking small business owners a single question.

“Pretty consistently the city has been lying in every place. But we’re a very small entity and we don’t have money, so we can’t broadcast like the mayor can,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said the city is rushing the project, likening the mayor’s attitude regarding ART to the rhetoric surrounding the Titanic.

“They said ‘I’ve got an unsinkable ship.’ Well that’s the same with Captain Berry and the USS City of Albuquerque. He wants to get there in a hurry and he’s not paying attention,” he said. “There are just so many unanswered questions.”

Schroeder said he expects to be out of business before ART is completed.

Not all Nob Hill businesses are hesitant about ART. At Berry’s press conference, O’Niell’s Restaurant owner Robert Munro said new amenities, including better landscaping and wider sidewalks, will help pedestrianism in the area.

“I’m excited for this project, especially in Nob Hill (where) we have grand opportunities that ART is going to help us with,” he said.

David Silverman of Geltmore, LLC said ART is just the first part of a long-term plan for the area.

“We have a great opportunity in this community to plan for the future,” Silverman said. “A lot of other cities have gone this direction, and they’ve experienced much success because of it.”

Berry said one lane will always be open during construction.

According to route renderings on brtabq.com, ART will take Central down to one lane in each direction from just west of Bryn Mawr Drive to San Mateo Boulevard. From University Boulevard to that point west of Bryn Mawr, Central will be two lanes.

Annabi said although he is all for public transit, he has yet to receive answers justifying ART.

He said he doesn’t see how ART is going to be a substantial improvement over the two current systems — Rapid Ride and the city bus. He said remarks made about ART’s efficacy reminded him of the things being said about the Rapid Ride.

“I don’t know what the difference is other than they’re going to make this into a less functional road,” he said. “Reducing it from two to one lane in each direction is going to be a huge killer for the usability of this road.”

He said he is worried about the visibility of businesses, but also the space in the area that is needed for popular events like the Twinkle Light Parade and Summerfest.

The city raised signs along Central marking likely spots of future ART stations almost immediately after federal funding was approved.

Annabi said he believes that to be suspicious, and that the installations served as an omen for what it will be like to commute Central alongside a completed ART.

David Lynch is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at managingeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

Evicted eatery petitions to stay

Here’s the original story on The Daily Lobo’s website

Which is why Sahara’s owner, Helen Nesheiwat, and the restaurant’s employees were caught completely off guard when they received a notice early last week saying they are being replaced, and have until May 22 to pack up and leave.

“We were shocked when we received the letter,” Nesheiwat said. “We never had any problems [with UNM]. We had good numbers and very very good service.”

Chartwells, UNM’s food service contractor, is planning to replace Sahara and Times Square Deli, both local businesses owned by the Nesheiwat family, with Subway. Nesheiwat said the move confounds her.

“If another local business was going in, that’s okay. Give a chance to other people. But a chain? We’re supposed to support the community,” she said.

Kristine Andrews, communications director for Chartwells, said that the contractor is constantly thinking about staying up do date with what UNM students want.

“Local, regional and national brand vendor relationships are reviewed once per year by a number of measure, including but not limited to faster service, student preferences and food trends,” she said.

According to a statement form Chartwells, on Friday, April 17, the Student Union Board Retail Subcommittee considered options for changes before voting unanimously to the switches, along with replacing Saggio’s with WisePies.

The changes were then approved on April 20 by the SUB Board.

According to the statement, “A mix of national brand recognition and continued support of local brands was important to the student and campus leadership.”

But Nesheiwat said that if students have been desiring something else, she has seen no signs of it.

“We’re always on the code, we’re always on the spot, we always give our best service,” she said. “You can check with thousands of students, and they will tell you the same thing.”

And not just students, as a matter of fact. Scott England, a professor at UNM’s School of Law, said that he rarely comes to the SUB but when he does Sahara is his preferred option.

“From my perspective, it’s a great place. They serve great food, the service is outstanding. It’s the best place to get food in the SUB, and it’s a great local business. So I’m disappointed that the University is choosing to get rid of a local business in favor of a national chain,” he said.

Nesheiwat said that her business itself won’t suffer. There is another Sahara on Central across from the University, as well as a location on North Campus. There will also be a new Sahara opening soon on the west side, Nesheiwat said. But that isn’t the issue that upsets her.

“What about the employees we have at the SUB? What’s going to happen to them? They have children, they have their bills, they have responsibilities, they have mortgages to pay or rent,” she said. “You just have no idea how upset they are.”

She said she sees the move as unfair, due to the scarcity of Middle Eastern cuisine on or near main campus. She said the University shouldn’t remove a restaurant that caters to a specific group on campus.

“There’s a lot of Arab students – they pay fees, they pay tuition, there’s an Arab crew that works there. And they want Sahara, they want the Middle Eastern food,” Nesheiwat said. “It’s not okay to put a chain in there, but that’s their business. But [to] take out Sahara, I think this is discrimination.”

Andrews said that Chartwells has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination, and that they actually tried to continue their partnership with Sahara.

“We offered Sahara the opportunity to license some menu items so that we could offer them at locations across campus but they declined,” she said. “Chartwells will still integrate Middle Eastern dishes into retail and residential menus.”

But that isn’t enough for supporters of Sahara.

The restaurant has been taking signatures all week from students petitioning for the business to stay. The comments on the petitions range from “Keep business local!” to “Awesome place!” and “Great food!”

Nesheiwat said that at noontime on Monday they had already over 500 signatures from students who support Sahara. By late Tuesday afternoon, Sahara’s employees in the SUB said they had at least twenty pages of student names that they plan to present before the University at some point.

Raul Ayala, a sophomore double majoring in history and Spanish, was helping out Sahara on Tuesday by taking a petition sheet and going around the SUB getting signatures.

Ayala said that while taking away Sahara would partially eliminate the diversity of food options that the SUB offers, he also said he just wants to support them for the personable service he consistently receives.

“I eat there literally three days a week and I really like the service that they give me, they know me well, they know what I get every time,” he said. “I’m really just trying to help them out because they’re really nice guys.”

Nesheiwat said that the SUB is Sahara’s busiest location, and that 18 percent of their profits go to UNM. Andrews said that that commission is in place of rent that Sahara or any other restaurant in the SUB pays.

Andrews was unable to say whether the other restaurants in the SUB pay the same percentage of commission, because “sales information is confidential and not released publicly,” as well as contract details.

However, Andrews did say that termination clauses are a standard part of contracts, so that they can cater to students’ needs as they see fit.

“A 30-day termination clause allows parties to separate with 30-days’ notice so subcontractors can leave if their business needs dictate,” she said.

David Maile, a graduate student studying American studies, said that the move to bring in Subway oppresses local businesses in favor of capitalistic ventures.

“Choice is good, but providing better choice of options between corporate businesses like Subway here in the SUB is damaging to smaller companies like this that make better sandwiches than Subway, to be honest,” Maile said. “I think it goes to show the nature of capitalism is incredibly violent, and the University is complicit in that.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

UNM’s sports district plan gains motion with partner

Marble Development’s proposal is essentially a 1.4 acre plaza that will house a restaurant, a coffee shop and a taproom, according to a UNM press release. There will also be a stage for entertainment and live music before big events.

There is currently no estimated cost for the project, but Thomas Neale, director of financial transactions for LDC and director of UNM Real Estate, said the University itself won’t have to pay a single penny.

“There will be absolutely no cost to the University, it will all be through the ground lease,” Neale said.

The terms and conditions of that contract are currently being worked on by both parties. Neale said they hope to come to an agreement by mid-May.

Jabez Ledres, a junior majoring in athletic training, said the project has the potential to benefit UNM in more ways than one

“I think having an entertainment district is probably going to be cool for the students,” he said. “Obviously it will be something to draw people to UNM, and [it will] boost morale. We’ll have more to do around Albuquerque.”

At a time when the University is facing a budget crisis partially due to a drop in enrollment numbers, the project has the potential to not only generate revenue, but to attract students and sports fans alike to UNM.

ASUNM President Rachel Williams said the University will have to do some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to making up an expected $3.6 million shortfall in the budget for next year.

“Academics haven’t been a great return on investment [for UNM]. We’re working on it, but we can see maybe more of a return on investment if we start putting money into things that accrue revenue, things that attract students to the University,” she said.

Williams, a senior, said she looks forward to how the plaza turns out.

“I’m kind of sad that I’m leaving because I think it’s going to be really exciting,” she said.

The area to be developed, on the corner of University Boulevard and Avenida Cesar Chavez, is currently used for parking for surrounding sports venues, including University Stadium and WisePies Arena.

The project is just one of many that comprise a master plan for South Campus development and renovation. Other potential future projects can be found at lobodevelopment.org.

Such plans, according to the LDC’s website, work towards “continue[ing] its mission of investing in UNM for the betterment of the students. Through its unique position as a private entity owned by the University, LDC has the support of the University and capability to create new successful developments in the future.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.