A controversial lawsuit between the city of Albuquerque and electric bus company BYD over the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project was settled last week.
BYD was the first company contracted by the city to provide buses for ART, but a number of issues were discovered with the Chinese manufacturer's vehicles, including equipment malfunctions and batteries that held only a fraction of the charge that BYD promised. In November, Mayor Tim Keller announced the ART project would be placed on hold. In December, the city filed a lawsuit against BYD for failing to meet contractual obligations.
According to KOB, that lawsuit has been settled. While the city has yet to release full details on the case, the settlement reportedly allows both parties to terminate the previous contract without any financial obligations. Jessie Damazyn, public information officer for the mayor's office, told reporters that both parties in the suit are “committed to moving forward and wish each other success.”
The city reportedly ordered 20 diesel-powered buses from New Flyer to handle the ART route instead of purchasing electric buses.
NMSP Presence Scaled Back
Half of the state police officers assigned to Albuquerque as part of the Metro Surge Operation left the city this week.
Last month Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham assigned 50 New Mexico State Police officers to patrol the city in response to a recent spike in violent crime. However, the involvement of state officers in two shootings which occurred within an hour of each other on May 16 raised concerns over conflicts between city and state use-of-force policies. Hundreds of low-level arrests were also reportedly made by state officers that violated city policies. Otero County Sheriff David Black also criticized the decision, writing an open letter published by Las Cruces Sun News that said the removal of state officers from his area has placed an unnecessary burden on local law enforcement. Weekly Alibi was among the media outlets that questioned the wisdom of the state police surge.
The Associated Press reports that last week State Police Chief Tim Johnson told reporters that NMSP would be removing 25 officers from Albuquerque and returning them to their original posts. The city originally planned to keep the extra officers for at least 45 days. It is unclear how many state officers will remain in Albuquerque.
NM Child Care Eligibility Limited
The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department announced it will further limit income requirements to receive child care assistance, because it did not get the legislative funding it needs this year.
According to the Associated Press, CYFD is proposing that only families with incomes at or below 160 percent of the federal poverty level be allowed to receive state assistance with child care and preschool costs. Currently, the cap is 200 percent of the national poverty level. Under the proposed change, the new cap would only apply to new applicants. Those already enrolled in the program will only become ineligible if their income surpasses 200 percent.
Authorities say the aid program did not receive enough legislative funding during the last session, but they hope to see eligibility raised again in the near future.