Judge Reduces Damage Award in Arturo Uribe Defamation Case

By Tracy Dingmann

A Las Cruces judge today reduced the punitive damages in the defamation suit against Helena organizer Arturo Uribe from $75,000 to $10,000.

Helena Chemical, which originally won a jury judgment of $75,000 in April, now has seven days to decide whether to accept the judgment or ask for a new trial.

“I feel that as we go on, what’s happening in the case speaks for itself,” Uribe said in a telephone interview today. Helena had originally sought $300,000 in punitive damages and $300,000 in actual damages against Uribe.

Helena had sued Uribe, of Mesquite, N.M. after the father and community organizer raised questions in the media and at community forums about whether operations at the Tennessee-based fertilizer company were to blame for health-related problems in the community. A number of people, including Uribe’s children, had come down with serious respiratory problems that Uribe and others suspected were caused by the plant that sits across the street from the Uribe family home.

“I welcome a new trial ,” Uribe said Tuesday. “Look what’s happened already – they went from a $600,000 suit against my wife and my attorney to having my wife and attorney dropped and most of the case dismissed. And now the judge reduced the punitive damage from $75,000 to $10,000.”

Uribe said he would like to see the case put to rest for good, for his sake and for the sake of his community.

“Do we pay $10,000 and have me and other people in the community have to keep wondering –“What can I say now, without getting sued?”

Uribe says that if Helena does not ask for a new trial, he will appeal the $10,000 judgment.

Finishing the Job: Behind the progressive win in Las Cruces

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima

It’s been two weeks since that odd beast called the off-year election (2009 edition) passed into history with GOP gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey. Here in New Mexico, politicians of the conservative tendency giddily raced to issue press releases trumpeting the east coast triumphs.

Overlooked in the excitement was the inconvenient fact of an election with a very different outcome right here in our own backyard.

It turns out that in New Mexico’s second largest city the progressive slate scored a clean sweep of the three city council seats in Las Cruces with the victories of Olga Pedroza and Gill Sorg, who toppled incumbents, and the re-election of Sharon Thomas (NM Independent).

What’s more, the progressive blowout was merely the follow-up to an equally impressive performance two years ago when they elected Ken Miyagishima, who upset a popular incumbent mayor, and two new City Councilors – Nathan Small and Miguel Silva.

What explains this success in the face of all the hype about a conservative comeback?

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Haussamen: Las Cruces residents go progressive

Recent municipal elections in Las Cruces have resulted in an historic shift of political power. NM political blogger/reporter, Heath Haussamen, provides a spot-on analysis in today’s Albuquerque Tribune.

He concludes on this provocative note:

In this traditionally conservative Democratic community, conservative Democrats and Republicans have lost significant ground to progressives in recent elections. I suspect this is reflective of the national mood and may be a sign of what’s to come in the current election season.

Read the entire piece for yourself
Las Cruces residents go progressive, boot Republican leaders