Alibi V.27 No.9 • March 1-7, 2018 


Gov. Martinez Ordered to Give Deposition

The News Monkey

A state district court has ordered Gov. Susana Martinez to submit a deposition answering questions in a defamation lawsuit.

According to the Deming Headlight, Sixth District Judge Timothy L. Aldrich issued a subpoena to Martinez earlier this month requiring she answer written questions pertaining to a defamation case. The case involves a 2014 incident at a political event in Deming, when a group of ranchers were physically removed from the venue by law enforcement officers.

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff, Scott Chandler—who was accused of abusing at-risk teens while acting as the head of Tierra Blanca Ranch in 2013—was removed by state police officers assigned to Martinez' security detail while he and a group of supporters attempted to deliver a petition to the governor. The petition was related to abuse allegations leveled against the Tierra Blanca Ranch—including claims that children were being chained and beaten.

The lawsuit alleges that the group's eviction constituted defamation and assault. It names the police officers involved in the incident as defendants as well as the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, journalist Rene Romo—who wrote about the ranch—and San Diego attorney Steve Cowen, who reported allegations of abuse to the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

Martinez is not a defendant in the case. The judge ruled that the governor has relevant knowledge about the incident and said she cannot refuse the order to answer questions in a written deposition on any basis. The case is set to go to trial in April 2018.

Fourth Extraction Well Installed at KAFB Leak

Officials at Kirtland Air Force Base announced last week that they have installed a new extraction well to slow the progress of a jet fuel leak that has contaminated groundwater in the area for decades. The new well is located on southeast Ridgecrest Drive, the closest of four extraction wells that have been installed in recent years.

Air Force officials said the well went online earlier this month. More than 330 million gallons of contaminated groundwater have reportedly been pulled from the plume and purified since cleanup efforts began. The fuel leak was caused by four dime-sized holes in a pipe that appeared sometime after 1953. The leak was not discovered until 1999.

The Air Force is also planning to install a set of new monitoring wells to measure EDB levels in the groundwater. A rapid rise in the water table last year caused a large number of monitoring wells to be lost, and officials say they plan to repurpose 12 wells that were previously used to monitor soil vapor as well as drilling 6 new monitoring wells. Not all of the lost wells need to be replaced, say officials, as many were placed before the plume's reach was fully known and were in uncontaminated areas.