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Over-serving cases in DWI deaths drag on

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Follow-ups to previous columns:

  • More delays in cases against two bars accused of over-serving killer drivers.
  • U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce wants money back from brother’s super PAC.
  • Colorado unveils new marketing slogan and logo.

Hearings before a state Alcohol and Gaming Division hearing officer have been rescheduled for late October for Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery in Santa Fe and one of its servers. The hearings had been set for this month.

Deshauna Peshlakai, 17, left, and sister Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, were killed in March 2010 when James Ruiz crashed his truck into their car. (Courtesy of KOAT-TV)

Deshauna Peshlakai, 17, left, and sister Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, were killed in March 2010 when James Ruiz crashed his truck into their car. (Courtesy of KOAT-TV)

An attorney for Blue Corn sought the delay, saying he had a scheduling conflict and wanted additional time to try to reach a settlement in the case or, in the alternative, engage in discovery. Discovery is the formal way that parties in a legal proceeding obtain information from each other.

Blue Corn is accused of over-serving James Ruiz, who in March 2010 crashed his pickup into a car not far from the bar, killing Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, and sister Deshauna, 17, of San Juan County, who were in Santa Fe for a high school basketball tournament.

Hearings for El Alto Bar & Station, just off Interstate 25 in rural San Miguel County, and one its servers have been rescheduled for late September. They had been set for July.

An attorney for El Alto sought the delay, saying no discovery had been conducted and that more time would be needed for the hearings than originally planned.

El Alto is accused of over-serving Cecilio Jaramillo, who in March 2010 drove his car the wrong way on I-25 and crashed into a vehicle driven by Mariah Arguello, 18, of Las Vegas, N.M., killing both of them. Arguello was headed home from college in Albuquerque.

Within a few months of the crashes, the State Police issued over-serving citations against Blue Corn and El Alto, but the Alcohol and Gaming Division didn’t file charge documents until last May – more than three years after the crashes.

Gov. Susana Martinez, whose appointees oversee the Alcohol and Gaming Division, took part in two events last spring to mark the anniversary of the deaths of the Peshlakai sisters.

The Department of Regulation and Licensing, the parent agency of the Alcohol and Gaming Division, has blamed the delays in the cases on defense lawyers and vacancies and turnover at the division.

RUIZ: Involved in fatal crash near bar

RUIZ: Involved in fatal crash near bar

Pearce refund

Pearce, R-N.M., has asked Goal WestPAC to return a $10,000 contribution made by Pearce’s campaign committee, according to a report by Texas-New Mexico Newspapers.

The congressman’s brother, Philip Pearce, is the treasurer for Goal WestPac, which was formed in January as an independent expenditure-only committee. Such so-called super PACs operate free of state and federal limits on contributions.

As of June 30, Goal WestPac had received only one other contribution – $5,000 from an oil company.

According to Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, the chairwoman of the Doña Ana County Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging the congressman essentially had set up and was in control of Goal WestPAC in violation of federal law.

A Pearce spokesman said the congressman has done nothing wrong but asked for the money back out of an abundance of caution.

Branding time

Colorado’s new marketing slogan is “It’s our nature,” and its new logo is a green triangle with the letters CO in white and an image of a snow-capped peak at the top of the triangle. Colorado is in green letters outside the triangle.

The slogan and logo are the result of what Colorado has called the most ambitious effort by a state to develop a marketing brand. The state solicited ideas from the public and put together teams of creative talent, business representatives, youths and others to help in the effort.

The new slogan and logo will be used across government, including in tourism promotion and business recruitment.

New Mexico’s tourism marketing brand is “New Mexico True.” A Colorado official had suggested we go with “New Mexico … just south of Paradise!” He later apologized.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at tcole@abqjournal.com or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.

 

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