Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Iowa governor to sign order to allow people with felonies to vote … New Jersey police must report misconduct findings … Lawsuits filed against state-run nursing homes in New Jersey.
A former city council candidate in Albuquerque, New Mexico was arrested Tuesday over a shooting at a protest over a statue of a conquistador in the city’s downtown plaza. Protesters had gathered Monday night at a statue of Juan de Oñate, a colonial governor of New Mexico, with some agitating to take it down. But a militia group was also present to defend the statue of Oñate, known for his cruelty to indigenous people as Spanish soldiers claimed New Mexico. A man was shot during an increasingly chaotic altercation, which the New York Times described as escalating without uniformed police officers at the location. After a gun was fired, police in tactical uniforms arrived and detained several people. Police booked 31-year-old Steven Ray Baca with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. “We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence," said Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier. "If this is true, we will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.” The city has since removed the Oñate statue, with Mayor Tim Keller saying they will have discussions with civic institutions about what should be done with it. [Albuquerque Journal; New York Times; KRQE; NBC News]
IOWA VOTING | Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she is planning an executive order to restore voting rights to people convicted of felonies. The state permanently bars people convicted of felonies from voting, although governors in the past have issued orders to allow ex-felons to vote. In the past couple years, Reynolds, a Republican, urged state legislators to draw up a constitutional amendment to deal with the issue. But with the coming election, and activists pushing for her to act, the governor said she will move forward on her own, although she would still like to see voters consider the amendment. [Radio Iowa; Des Moines Register]
MISCONDUCT | New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced a policy change for law enforcement agencies, saying that the departments must now publicly identify officers who they have concluded committed serious disciplinary violations. Before this change, disciplinary records were not made public unless officers faced criminal charges. “Today, we end the practice of protecting the few to the detriment of the many. Today, we recommit ourselves to building a culture of transparency and accountability in law enforcement,” Grewal said. [NJ.com]
VETERANS HOMES | Two state-run veterans homes in New Jersey were hit with a series of lawsuits over their handling of Covid-19. The cases claim that facility administration told staff not to wear masks or gloves because it could frighten the residents. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits are seeking $140 million. [New Jersey Law Journal]
TIGER KING TAXES | One of the stars of the hit Netflix reality show Tiger King has been hit with a state lawsuit over unpaid taxes. The state of Oklahoma is suing Jeff Lowe, the owner of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, for over $50,000 in unpaid taxes. [KOKH]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.