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MADD organizes Romero walk to fight DWI

In memory of Placitas resident Danielle Romero, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2002, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is organizing a 5-K walk. Funds raised by this event will be used to pursue programs to reach students both in the classroom and after school. The noncompetitive walk will begin at 8:40 a.m. on Saturday, October 15, at Albuquerque Academy, 6400 Wyoming Boulevard. For information about making a contribution or forming a team to raise funds, call Tina Romero, at 255-2955, or visit www.stridesforchange.org.


Sheriff’s Office launches boat patrol

—JOHN PAUL TRUJILLO
SHERIFF, SANDOVAL COUNTY
The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office recently acquired an eighteen-foot Mark Twain skiff equipped with a 140-horsepower Evinrude outboard motor, to be used for patrolling Cochiti Lake.
Sheriff’s personnel will be attending a two-week course in marine operations and marine law. The Sheriff’s Office lake patrols will ensure safe boating operations on Cochiti Lake. As Sheriff’s Office personnel receive additional training, they will also respond to rescue and emergency calls at the lake.
Some patrols have already taken place this summer, but according to Undersheriff Tim Lucero, full-scale patrols will begin in the Spring of 2006 and continue throughout the summer.


Human skull found in Placitas

On September 12, the Sandoval County Sheriff’s office received a call from a citizen of Placitas, reporting that they had found a human skull. Bureau of Criminal Investigations detectives took possession of the skull and transported it to the Office of Medical Investigators for further examination and determination of age and ethnicity. While this matter is under investigation, Sheriff John Paul Trujillo is not releasing details about who found the skull and where it was found. He said that he suspects that the skull is fairly old.


Attorney General Madrid proposes regulations for predatory lenders

Attorney General Patricia Madrid announced on September 14 that she is proposing rules and regulations on the extension of credit for small payday and car-title loans. Since New Mexico does not have a usury law, the short-term high-interest lending industry has grown, and payday loan interest rates have averaged 500 percent and car-title loans 350 percent.

“Recently, a natural disaster made it all too clear the precarious state in which some of our poorest citizens live. Here in New Mexico, we have a man-made disaster that takes unconscionable advantage of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Lending money at what amounts to 350 percent APR or more should not be tolerated and if the payday and car title loan industry wants to maintain that such exorbitant rates are necessary for the industry to do business, then it is business not worth doing,” Attorney General Madrid said.

Madrid’s proposal applies the state’s Pawnbroker Act and Small Loan Act limits to payday and car-title loans. Rather than allowing interest rates that soar to 350, 500, or even 1,000 percent or more, Madrid limits these loans to a cap of 54 percent, the same as under the Pawnbroker Act. She concludes that car-title and payday loans really are just a form of a pawn transaction and they should be subject therefore to the same limits as all pawn transactions.

Madrid said, “The only difference between hocking your car and hocking your grandfather’s watch is that you can still drive to work without the watch.”

If the regulations are adopted, violations could be considered unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable trade practices under New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act.


Over a third of New Mexico working families struggle to meet basic needs

New Mexico's working families are struggling financially, according to two new reports released this week. A report from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute shows that over a third of New Mexico's working families aren't earning enough to meet a no-frills, basic family budget. And a New Mexico Voices for Children report on the state of working New Mexico finds the state's economy is producing too many low-wage jobs and too little economic opportunity. Economist Gerry Bradley with New Mexico Voices for Children says it's an economic crisis—and to combat it, the state has to raise its minimum wage.

"A greater percent of New Mexicans work at or below the federal minimum wage, which is $5.15 an hour, than in any other state. Low-wage workers in New Mexico have seen the value of their paychecks reduced by at least 15 percent in the last eight years as a result of increases in the cost of living, while wages remain stuck at the same level."

To meet a basic no-frills income for a family of four, each working parent in a two-parent household would have to earn $9.85 an hour in Albuquerque, $8.70 in Las Cruces, and $10.42 in Santa Fe. The current state minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.


Free legal help line for NM residents of modest means
The New Mexico State Bar Foundation has announced a new free legal help line, the Bridge to Justice Legal Helpline, available to New Mexico residents of modest means. People of modest means—sometimes known as the working poor—now have a legal help line that will provide free legal information, advice, issue assessment, and brief services by an attorney. The help-line attorney does not represent callers.

This is the only program of its type in New Mexico to serve the working poor. Working poor are people who do not qualify for legal aid but cannot afford to pay the market rate for a private attorney.

The help line is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for intakes. To access the legal helpline, call (800) 876-6227 statewide or 797-6066 in Albuquerque.
The Bridge to Justice Legal Helpline is a program funded by the Interest On Lawyers Trust Accounts and the State Bar of New Mexico.

 

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