UP -- The Farmington Regional Animal Shelter opened its new building on Dec. 6. The new shelter on Browning Parkway is almost twice the size of the former building on South Lake Street, and it's a good opportunity for a fresh start, as a few staff members have said. The Farmington community has embraced the new shelter, holding drives and donating artwork for the new building. Donors from the community contributed about $550,000 toward the shelter's $4.6 million price tag, officials said. It's good to see people rally around the new shelter, which has been in the works for years.
DOWN -- State lawmakers will be asked to consider a revised Navajo Nation gaming compact in the upcoming 30-day session. The Nation already operates casinos near Farmington, Gallup and Shiprock in New Mexico. It has another in Arizona. The company formed to operate the casinos has said it plans to build one or two more and the revised compact would allow that in New Mexico. Gaming Pueblos in the state are arguing that the market already is saturated. We don't begrudge the Nation its ability to create jobs for its people, but, depending on location, many of those people gambling -- giving away food and rent money in some cases -- are Navajo. It's not clear to us that adding casinos here will be a positive for the majority of the Nation's residents.
UP -- The Farmington Police Department is now the proud owner of a 14-foot tall, 45,000-pound Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle that it plans to use during SWAT calls. The military built the vehicles for wars in the Middle East at more than $600,000 a pop. The police department paid only $3,000 to ship the MRAP and outfit it with Farmington police insignia. Sure, that's a bargain, and the vehicle provides unrivaled protection for our officers. But the American Civil Liberties Union cautions that giving police departments MRAPs militarizes a civilian force. We urge the Farmington Police Department to use this military equipment with restraint and common sense.
UP -- Local prosecutors have filed motions to change New Mexico's felony murder law. The motions state that prosecutors want Lawrence Kellywood and Levi Wilson -- who face several charges for their alleged involved in July's Hopi Street shootout -- to be held accountable for the death of bystander Christopher Valdez. While we certainly won't weigh in on Kellywood and Wilson's case since they haven't had a trial -- we support prosecutors' efforts to change a law that we also believe is unjust. Under the current felony murder law, it's possible that no one could be held accountable for the death of a bystander. Right now, to charge an entire group with felony murder, prosecutors have to prove that an individual from that particular group was responsible for the death. In a chaotic gunfight, that could prove impossible, and a killer could avoid responsibility on a technicality.
DOWN -- It looks like the Aztec Chamber of Commerce has yet to pull itself out of its slump. A second round of meetings to address the future of the chamber was sparsely attended. Most of the people at Monday's meeting expressed interest in rebuilding the chamber, but definitive action to fill a board, define a mission or nail down commitments from members has yet to happen. A chamber can be a major boon for a city, but if Aztec's chamber can't decide on a direction soon, it could fade from existence.