KSFRNews podcast

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 033116-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:59pm MST

Yesterday we heard from Chainbreaker Collective director Thomas Rivera on his organization's new campaign, Operation Elephant, to combat transportation cuts in Santa Fe. Chainbreaker members launched that campaign in City Council chambers last night. KSFR’s Kate Powell takes a look into last night’s discussion about balancing the City's commitment to equity with the necessity of distributing $4 million in service cuts.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_CityCouncilUpdate.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:59pm MST

The New Mexico Public Education Department has been named in a lawsuit filed this week on behalf of four Albuquerque Grade School teachers, a parent from the Duke City, and a special education teacher at a public school here in Santa Fe.  The issue, according to the suit, is whether a new regulation violates the free speech of public school teachers.  KSFR’s John Calef has the story.

Direct download: ACLU-NM_Free_Speech_Suit.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:53pm MST

Dozens of students, school officials and proud parents gathered recently to dedicate one of the first large-scale solar array projects in the city’s Historic District at Acequia Madre Elementary School. After months of lobbying, mainly by the student climate activists at the small elementary school, the array project was approved and installed. Elizabeth Miller spoke to some of those who made the project happen.

Direct download: 37034_NEWS_solar_array.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:50pm MST

This week, world leaders are gathering in Washington DC for President Obama’s fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit with a stated goal of preventing nuclear terrorism by securing nuclear materials. Among those heading to DC is Santa Fe-based activist Jesse Guillen with the group Global Zero, which seeks to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world. KSFR's Zelie Pollon spoke to Gullien just as he arrived in Washington DC. 

Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:45pm MST

Direct download: 033116-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:15am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 033016-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:18pm MST

At tonight’s City Council meeting, the Chainbreaker Collective, an advocacy organization focusing on transportation equity and civil rights, will be launching "Operation Elephant" to oppose possible transportation service cuts that may disproportionately affect poor Santa Feans of color. KSFR's Zelie Pollon spoke with Chainbreaker director Thomas Rivera to hear about the campaign.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_Operation_Elephant.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:17pm MST

A new law allows 17-year-olds to vote in the June 7 New Mexico primary elections if they will be 18 by the November 8 general elections.  KSFR's Dennis Carroll sat in on a government-politics class at Capital High School to assess the reaction of young first-time voters to this raucous and sometimes tawdry presidential campaign.

 

Direct download: 37034_NEWS_DennisSchoolCivicsStory.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:13pm MST

NINE HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION dollars. That's how much money the Federal government owes Native American tribes after it failed to deliver on a series of government contracts. Associated Press reporter Mary Hudetz told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE how the tribes won the settlement.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereHudetz.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:10pm MST

New Mexico environmental regulators plan to roll out a revamped proposal for governing cleanup of Cold War-era waste from one of the federal government's premier nuclear laboratories.  State Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn is scheduled to outline the changes to the consent order with Los Alamos National Laboratory during a meeting there this afternoon.  The presentation will kick off a public comment period.  The previous agreement ran out in December as cleanup at the northern New Mexico lab and other national defense sites were derailed.  Work had to be halted because of the closure of the federal government's underground nuclear repository – WIPP - due to a radiation leak.  State officials have been working on the revisions for months. Goals included an agreement that would result in actual cleanup and the remediation of radioactive and other hazardous wastes.

The Ruidoso Moon Mountain Fire has claimed about 125 acres since it was sparked Monday afternoon.  About 143 people are assigned to the fire – still at 30-percent containment with no injuries.  But crews have had man-made challenges. Now that wildfire season is in full swing in New Mexico, land managers are warning people not to fly drones while crews are trying to battle flames.  There was a report of a drone flying near Ruidoso where firefighters and air tankers have been busy trying to douse a blaze that has charred an area at the edge of the mountain village.  Loretta Benavidez with the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday the report of the drone came in after aircraft assigned to the fire flew their missions.  Had the report come in sooner, officials would have been forced to ground any air support.  Benavidez says the message is clear: If you fly, we can't.  She says a temporary flight restriction is in place over the fire so no drones allowed.

Game and Fish managers in the state want to reintroduce the Gila trout to the Gila National Forests’s waterways in southwestern New Mexico, but the pesticide they plan to use is the subject of concern.  Today’s Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the pesticide, Rotenone has been selected by the NM Game and Fish Department to kill off rainbow and brown trout along the Whitewater Creek so as to give the Gila trout a better chance of survival.  The fish were wiped out by a huge wildfire in 2012.  The author of a study on Rotenone says there is a link between ingestion of the pesticide, and Parkinson’s disease.  Game and Fish staff say a person would have to take in 23,000 gallons of water treated with Rotenone before it would pose a health threat to humans.

New Mexico's governor and economic development secretary are hoping to lure businesses and jobs home with them during a three-day trip to Southern California.  Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela says the mission ending today includes meetings with site selection consultants to California businesses.  He says many of New Mexico's corporate tax rates and wage provisions compare favorably to California from an employer's standpoint.  New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is not the only Republican governor to court California businesses in recent years. Governors Rick Scott of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas have made high-profile visits there touting home-state advantages on taxes and regulation.  New Mexico's unemployment rate has hovered near 6.4 percent for the past year, while the national rate declined to 4.9 percent in January.

The board of directors for one of New Mexico's major irrigation districts has voted to intervene in a lawsuit concerning decades-old permits and the authority to pull water from the Rio Grande.  Environmentalists are challenging the office of the state engineer, saying New Mexico's top water managers have failed to force the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to prove it's putting the water to beneficial use.  The district's counsel, Chuck DuMars, contends the irrigation district demonstrated that water rights were placed into beneficial use through the construction and operation of the district's diversion and distribution system under a plan approved in 1928.  DuMars says the lawsuit should be dismissed.  WildEarth Guardians argued in its suit that the state engineer has effectively given the district a blank water check for decades.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has joined a coalition of 17 state attorneys general to combat global warming by examining whether fossil fuel companies misled investors or the public on the impact of their business.  State Deputy Attorney General Tania Maestas met Tuesday in New York with other prosecutors in the coalition. New Mexico depends heavily on the oil and natural gas industries to fund government operations and endowments.  New York, California, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands are actively investigating whether Exxon Mobile deceived shareholders and the public about the effects of climate change.  Those investigations follow news reports by Inside Climate News and others about internal Exxon documents from the late 1970s.  Those records showed an awareness that global warming might threaten the company's existence.

In national news:

U.S. officials say the Pentagon will be deploying an armored brigade combat team to Eastern Europe next February as part of the ongoing effort to rotate troops in and out of the region to reassure allies worried about threats from an increasingly aggressive Russia.  The officials say the Army will announce today that it will be sending a full set of equipment with the brigade to Europe. Earlier plans had called for the Pentagon to rotate troops into Europe, where they would use a set of training equipment that had been pre-positioned there.  There are about 4,500 soldiers in an armored brigade, along with dozens of heavy vehicles, tanks and other equipment.

Many relatives and friends providing financial support or care to people with dementia have dipped into their retirement savings, cut back on spending and sold assets to pay for expenses tied to the disease.  A survey by the Alzheimer's Association also finds that about one in five go hungry because they don't have enough money.  Keith Fargo, the Alzheimer's Association director of scientific programs and outreach, says the survey shows that people are not prepared for the high costs of home care or nursing home care. The median cost of a home care aide is $20 per hour and the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300 per year.  Nationwide, there are 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's, the most common cause of dementia.

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:59am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:04pm MST

This month the Albuquerque Journal reported that New Mexico is among six states facing potentially dangerous shortages of prison guards, as prison populations throughout most of the United States are projected to grow in the coming months. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico’s prisons will reach 98% capacity by July of 2016. The state’s prison population grew 6% between 2011 and 2016, and is expected to rise another 5% in the next two years. The Department of Corrections hopes to use targeted raises to attract and retain officers at its public facilities.

I called Steve Allen, a corrections reform advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico. I asked Allen about the problem, its causes and consequences, and the strategies that advocates for corrections reform hope to see employed to combat the twin issues of overcrowding and high staff vacancy in New Mexico prisons.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_ACLUcorrections.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:03pm MST

They serve our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. So why can't our veterans get jobs in the civilian workplace? Chaitra Hardison of the RAND Corporation advises the Pentagon on how to ease the transition of service members into civilian life. She told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE why the skills of veterans are overlooked by potential employers.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereHardisonMilitary.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:55pm MST

 

7:29

Students at public schools in Ruidoso will not have classes today, as firefighters tackle a fire in town.   Numerous crews are fighting the Moon Mountain Fire that was sparked yesterday afternoon above Gavilan Canyon in Ruidoso.  A news release from the city says aircraft made several drops of fire retardant into the evening Monday.  No injuries have been reported, and the fire has been 30-percent contained.  Schools in Ruidoso are closed today.  Winds forecasted in the area and across the state will pose challenges for firefighters working to fully contain the blaze.

Managers at New Mexico retirement and permanent funds say balances are recovering somewhat this month after a punishing start of the year.  Balances at funds overseen by the Public Employee Retirement Association and Education Retirement Board fell by roughly $750 million in January.  For the Public Employees Retirement Association, that represents a 5.5 percent decline since the start of the fiscal year in July.  Legislative analysts say the retirement funds are unlikely to meet their growth targets this year. Recent declines largely reflect trends in global capital and debt markets.  Funds overseen by the New Mexico State Investment Council had a negative 3.4 percent return on investment during January and February. The council oversees nearly $20 billion, including the state's Land Grant Permanent and Severance Tax funds.

A judge has assessed $605,000 in civil penalties against two brothers accused of running a methamphetamine-trafficking operation between New Mexico and Arizona.  Prosecutors say Alamogordo judge James W. Counts assessed the penalties Monday against Joe Chavez and Robert Chavez.  The brothers were convicted in 2014 at trial of felonies including racketeering, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and multiple counts each of money laundering.  Both are serving prison terms and have been fined a total of more than $600-thousand.

If you’ve missed the sounds of roosters and their morning wake-up calls in Eldorado, take heart, the roosters are back.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Court of Appeals has reversed a previous judgement banning the fowl from Eldorado residents’ back yards.  The decision reignites the fight between residents who keep chickens and roosters, calling them pets, and those who say the division’s covenants prohibit them.  The homeowners association can now take the case to the State Supreme Court.

Navajo Nation officials are looking into the process for removing a tribal lawmaker who has been found guilty of misusing funds.  The Farmington Daily Times reports that Mel Begay will remain on the Navajo Nation Council until the process is addressed by the Navajo Election Administration.  Begay was convicted Wednesday of 10 criminal counts related to giving more than $30,000 in tribal funds to his family.  Begay's trial was the first of two in a years-long investigation of a discretionary fund meant for Navajos facing extreme hardship.  More than two dozen other current and former lawmakers have resolved their criminal or ethics cases, many through plea agreements.  Begay’s lawyer says he will appeal the conviction.

If you’ve had to miss work because of the flu, you’re not alone.  New Mexico health officials say flu activity is widespread around the state and is expected to continue for several more weeks.  The Department of Health says elevated flu activity started a bit later than in the previous three seasons but that flu-related hospitalizations and deaths have increased in recent weeks.  The department also says the flu vaccine for this season appears to be a good match with strains that are circulating.  This flu season New Mexico has identified 115 influenza and pneumonia-related deaths.  Of those 115 deaths, 13 were flu-related deaths among adults.  The department says many of the pneumonia-related deaths may have been related to complications from having flu because pneumonia is a known complication of influenza infection.

A teenage boy has been arrested in the theft of a fiberglass and metal version of a spaceship from outside the UFO Museum in Roswell.  Police say they're still searching for two other suspects.  The model spaceship has been a fixture in downtown Roswell, where it was long-mounted outside the UFO museum before a recent snowstorm damaged it.  It was being stored behind the museum before it was stolen March 19.  Roswell still stirs debate about extraterrestrials seven decades after the 1947 crash of a flying object.

Horsemen are pleased with a decision by the New Mexico Racing Commission to add one more race per day to the schedule at Sunland Park track.  The commission made the decision after meeting for more than two hours yesterday in Albuquerque to weigh options for disbursing the purse money that had accumulated while live racing was on hold due to an equine herpes outbreak.  But not everyone was pleased.  Gary Roybal of the Santa Fe chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens had asked the commission to amend the rules to ensure the extra purse money is equitably distributed.  Roybal argued that trainers, breeders and jockeys should also share in the money and that owners who haul in their horses have been left out this season due to the quarantine imposed at the track in January.

A Missoula, Montana-based foundation has announced it has teamed up with two New Mexico state agencies to provide hunter access to 81 square miles of public and state trust land in Catron County in west-central New Mexico.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said Monday the effort will provide an easement for hunters to use a road that provides the only access to state trust land that is wildlife habitat in the Luera Mountains. The New Mexico Land Office and the state Department of Game and Fish are providing funding for the project.

Federal scientists say the chance of damaging earthquakes hitting east of the Rockies has increased significantly, much of it a man-made byproduct of drilling for energy.  Oklahoma now has a 1 in 8 chance of damaging quakes in 2016, surpassing California as the state with the highest probability.  In a first-of-its-kind effort, U.S. Geological Survey Monday released a map for damaging quakes in the current year.  USGS seismologists said 7-million people live in areas where the risk has dramatically jumped for earthquakes caused by disposal of wastewater.  The substance is a byproduct of drilling for oil and gas that is mostly concentrated in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas.

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 7:28am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:04pm MST

Emmett Garcia of the Santa Ana Pueblo has traveled the world telling stories of mischievous coyotes, rascal rabbits and snarky snakes. All in an effort to stave off the demise of storytelling as a way of preserving the traditions and mores of indigenous cultures. KSFR's Dennis Carroll talked with Garcia  about his latest project, passing on the art of storytelling to children at schools and in communities across New Mexico. 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_DennisStoryteller.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:03pm MST

In this week’s edition of The Sporting Life, host Dan DeFrancesco catches us up on Lobos basketball and baseball spring training.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_TSL032816.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:56pm MST

The biggest film of the year so far, "Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice", was released this weekend. KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out if this clash of titans is worth your time.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_BatmanVSupermanReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:56pm MST

 

 

 

Two Mexican nationals are facing time in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a heroin trafficking case.  Prosecutors say 22-year-old Ignacio Nieblas Jr., who was living in southern New Mexico, and Bryan Gabriel Marquez-Flores Jr., a 19-year-old resident of Phoenix, entered their pleas in federal court in Albuquerque on Friday.   The two men each face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. Nieblas and Marquez-Flores were arrested in February after federal agents seized more than 10 pounds of heroin from them at a train station in Albuquerque.  Authorities said the heroin was concealed inside the men's luggage.

Authorities are investigating possible drug smuggling at the Santa Fe County jail.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a corrections officer found 170 Suboxone strips with a pair of hair clippers being brought to an inmate last week. According an affidavit filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court, the clippers were brought by 31-year-old Lauren Herrera.  Herrera had been instructed by another woman who had spoken on the phone with an inmate.  A sergeant monitoring inmate phone calls searched the clippers and found the drugs.  Suboxone is a drug used to treat opiate dependency.  Investigators believe the delivery was for several inmates.  Herrera was arrested Monday on several charges including bringing contraband into a jail.

The state won't be relying on the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center and its $200 million in reserves for help covering Medicaid funding.  The Albuquerque Journal reports that UNM refused a request to give $50 million to New Mexico's Human Services Department to help with Medicaid.  UNM executive vice president David Harris says university officials heard the request at a meeting in mid-February.  He says the state indicated it could not guarantee repayment.  Human Services Department spokesman Kyler Nerison confirmed the meeting with the university; and according to Harris, it's not unusual for the state to ask the university for financial assistance.  The state says the department is $86 million short of its projected need for the next 15 months.

And while a subcommittee of the state’s Medicaid Advisory Committee is quietly looking at ways to shore up a projected $417-million shortfall, one legislator is scolding the group for shutting the public out of its discussions.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that finance committee chairman John Arthur Smith, a democrat from Deming, wants all discussions on the $6-billion Medicaid budget to be open to the public – the advisory committee shut out reporters and others from a meeting at the capitol last week.  The head of the Human Services Department shot back by saying in an email that lawmakers have underfunded the Medicaid program, and he’ll be seeking a supplemental appropriation for the current fiscal year.  The federal government funds most of the program for the state’s indigent and disabled population through matching funds of about three-to-one. 

A Massachusetts college student has been arrested in Santa Fe after drunkenly entering the wrong home.  According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, police say 22-year-old Garrett Curran of  Bolton Massachusetts, wandered into a home around 3 a.m. Saturday.  He then fell asleep at the foot of a bed occupied by a 7-year-old girl.  The child woke up and got her father.  Curran allegedly initiated a fight with the father, who called police.  Curran, a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was booked on suspicion of breaking and entering, criminal trespass and child abuse for fighting in front of the girl. 

New Mexico's state land commissioner is ordering a broad examination of easements for injection wells used by the oil and natural gas industry to dispose of waste water, in response to environmental damage at a site in the southeast of the state.  As of Friday, state regulators still were negotiating with a Midland, Texas-based company to clean up a spill of oily water at an injection site 20 miles southwest of Eunice, New Mexico.  Public Lands Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is instructing his agency's district managers to look at each of about 60 waste-water disposal sites on state trust land. Administrative reviews of leases also are planned.  State regulators accuse Siana Operations of trespassing and damaging the site outside Eunice after it stopped making lease payments. Siana is not commenting.

A group from Los Alamos, once the building site for an atomic bomb, is making an unprecedented trip to a country that was devastated by the weapon.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Los Alamos Historical Museum representatives are traveling throughout Japan to gain that country's perspective on the impact of nuclear warfare.  The team will visit several cities including the two that were targeted with the bomb — Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Museum director Judith Stauber says they will meet with a bomb survivor, researchers and leaders of two museums.  The trip has been in the works for two years and is partially funded by a $10,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In national and international news:

Belgian prosecutors say three people have been ordered held on charges of participating in terrorist group activities.  Prosecutors have not released details on the allegations against the three, or whether they're linked to last week's terror attacks on the Brussels airport and subway system.  A fourth person has been released without being charged.  Meanwhile, officials will be testing today whether the Brussels international airport is capable of resuming passenger service. There's no word on when that service will resume.  Four more people wounded in last week's terror attacks in Brussels have died.  The Belgian minister says the death toll is now 35.  Meanwhile, U.S. authorities have confirmed that four Americans were killed in the attacks, including a husband and wife who were dropping someone off at the Brussels airport.

Hillary Clinton wants voters to consider what Republican front-runner Donald Trump might do to shape the Supreme Court.  Clinton plans to say in a speech in Madison, Wisconsin, today that Trump could roll back the rights of individuals, empower corporations and undo some of the nation's progress.  Clinton is campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the state's primary and plans to speak today at the University of Wisconsin about President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.  Clinton's campaign says the Democratic presidential candidate plans to call on Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa to commit to giving Garland a hearing.  And she also intends to rebuke Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who is among the Republicans blocking the Garland nomination.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:18am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:47pm MST

Most of us anticipate tax season with the same enthusiasm we show for root canals. But for crooks and con artists, it’s a wonderful time of the year—a time to steal your identity, and your tax refund. Today’s topic is tax-related identity theft, which is the number one scam on the Internal Revenue Service’s Dirty Dozen list of con games.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_MaryLouTaxScams.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:45pm MST

Following its  nuclear deal with American and its allies, and the election of more moderates to Parliament, some pundits believe the Iranian government seems to be moving in the direction of more pragmatic political policies. But RAND Corporation analyst Alireza Nader told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE there may be less to this than first meets the eye.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereNader.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:40pm MST

Art house master Terrance Malick returns with his latest feature, Knight of Cups. Does his newest piece of abstract filmmaking stand with the rest? KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_KnightOfCupsReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 11:59am MST

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Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 032416-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:39pm MST

Tax season is in full swing, and many in Santa Fe—about 15% of the city’s population—will get tax help this year from AARP tax aid volunteers on the campus of Santa Fe Community College. Believe it or not, Santa Fe’s branch of the national AARP tax assistance network is the largest in the country—processing about 13 million dollars in Santa Fe residents’ tax returns, on an annual operating budget of around 1000 dollars.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_HeinrichTax.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:39pm MST

Throughout tax season, KSFR has presented a series of reports from consumer protection correspondent Mary Lou Cooper, to help listeners avoid pitfalls and practices that can get them in trouble. Today’s report covers what’s new in 2016, how to avoid being audited and more.  Mary Lou talks with the Internal Revenue Service to find out just what Uncle Sam has in store.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_MaryLouTaxMarch24.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:37pm MST

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Category:general -- posted at: 8:27am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 032316-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:49pm MST

In part 2 of our wide-ranging interview with new Santa Fe Police Chief Patrick Gallagher, KSFR’s Dennis Carroll sat down with Gallagher to discuss, among other things, issues surrounding the use of deadly force here and in Albuquerque, new ways of addressing domestic violence and police encounters with the mentally ill, and the increasing problem of recruiting new officers. 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_DennisGallagherPt2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:48pm MST

Digital data collection and surveillance are major resources for police work in the TWENTY-FIRST century. In fact, some police departments prepare officers for tactical assignments by giving them threat scores based on this information. Washington Post reporter Justin Jouvenal joined KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE to explain how this works and why it has some people concerned.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereJouvenal.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:47pm MST

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:07am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 032216-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:13pm MST

Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return is the talk of the town the week after its opening. KSFR’s Jeremy Zeilik caught up with Meow Wolf co-founder Corvis Brinkerhoff to discuss the project.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_JeremyMeowWolf.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:12pm MST

In a wide-ranging two-part interview, Santa Fe’s New Police Chief Patrick Gallagher, reveals his views on such topics as officers’ encounters with the mentally ill, the homeless, use of deadly force, a persistent rash of burglaries  and his ultimate goals for the department.

In part one, Dennis Carroll asks Gallagher about his background in police work.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_DennisCarrollPoliceChiefIntvu.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:09pm MST

Santa Fe’s only bowling alley space has been transformed into an interactive art exhibit created by arts collective Meow Wolf.  The exhibit on Rufina Circle opened to a preview audience yesterday, and visitors are giving it rave reviews.  The Santa Fe New Mexican and Pasatiempo are reporting on the event today, noting that there are no guides for the exhibit.  Instead visitors must explore the winding staircase, spaceships, refrigerators and crawl into domes on their own.  The exhibit will be open most of the week, and later on Friday and Saturday nights.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is acknowledging the concerns of officials in New Mexico and elsewhere.  Those worries include the stirring up of contaminants left behind by the Gold King Mine spill in southern Colorado once spring runoff begins.  EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry wrote in a letter to the state's congressional delegation that the federal agency is providing $2 million for long-term monitoring and planning. States and tribes can apply their share to begin monitoring this spring.  Curry also confirmed the agency is reviewing the state's most recent request to be reimbursed $1.5 million for expenses related to the August 2015 spill.  In early March, the New Mexico congressional delegation told the EPA it had concerns over delays in compensation for expenses and damages caused by the spill.  That environmental calamity fouled rivers in three Western states.

An environmental group is accusing a New Mexico utility regulator of misconduct for asking the state's largest electric provider to make a political donation to a Democrat running for the state treasurer's office.  New Energy Economy filed the complaint against Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya with the Secretary of State's Office on Thursday.  The Santa Fe-based group had called out Montoya last year and questioned her relationship with Public Service Co. of New Mexico.  The group argued that Montoya was not impartial toward the utility and should have recused herself from a major case that involved the future of PNM's coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.  Montoya previously dismissed the criticisms. She did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday about the new complaint.

A judge has set a $5,000 bond for one of the women accused of helping two convicts after they escaped from a prison transport van last week.  A public defender argued in Albuquerque Metro Court that police didn't have probable cause to arrest Michelle Abeyta and suggested she was probably scared for her well-being.  The Albuquerque Journal reported that the judge dismissed the claim and imposed the bond after hearing from prosecutors about Abeyta's criminal history.  Abeyta is accused of letting escaped convict Lionel Clah stay at her northeast Albuquerque apartment for two nights before turning him in.  State police have also charged the sister of one of the escapees with helping in their escape.  Olivia Cruz is already in jail on unrelated charges.  Police are not saying how the pair got to Albuquerque from where they escaped in Artesia last week.   

New Mexico election regulators have disqualified at least eight aspiring legislative candidates after reviewing applications and signature petitions, leaving several certified candidates unopposed in primary or general elections or both. The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office confirmed the disqualifications Thursday.  The developments are unlikely to tip the balance of power in the Legislature because they mostly concerned districts dominated by one party or a popular incumbent. Republicans currently control the House by a 37-33 seat advantage. In the state Senate, Democrats outnumber Republicans 24 to 18.  Democratic Senator Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo is running unopposed after former state Rep. Sandra Jeff was disqualified for failing to follow state campaign finance rules.  Home-address discrepancies knocked out Democrat Dell Washington of Belen, who sought to challenge Republican House Speaker Don Tripp of Socorro.

Attorney General Hector Balderas is holding a cooperative event between government, nonprofits and businesses, bringing them together to extend the reach of their services to the public.  The event at the Albuquerque Roadrunner Food Bank is called, “Extend Your Reach New Mexico,” and will include a presentation by Balderas on the current state of youth in New Mexico.  The Attorney General’s office says more than 20,000 youth and families received trainings on collaboration last year, and some of them attending today’s event will talk about what they gained from the trainings.

In International News:  South Korea says North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the sea.  South Korea's government says the missile flew 800 kilometers (500 miles) before crashing off the North's east coast this morning.  It wasn't immediately known what type of missile was fired.  The launch came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered tests of a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of carrying warheads. North Korea had also said it succeeded in a simulated test of a re-entry vehicle aimed at returning a nuclear warhead safely back to the atmosphere from space during a missile launch.

A new Associated Press analysis finds that the U.S. government set a record last year for the number of times it could not find files requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act.  In one in six cases, government searchers said they came up empty-handed.  Justice Department spokeswoman, Beverly Lumpkin, said the administration answered more records requests and reduced its backlog of leftover requests, which should be considered good work on the part of the government in fulfilling information queries.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says Hillary Clinton is still beatable for the Democratic presidential nomination.  He's predicting the upcoming calendar of races in several Western states, including Arizona and Washington, and April contests in Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania offer him the chance to catch up.  Clinton holds a lead of more than 300 committed delegates but Sanders rejects the notion she's got it all but sewn up.

 

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When a governing body permanently tables an item, it means the issue won’t be taken up again.  That’s what the Public Regulation Commission did this week to the nonprofit New Energy Economy’s request for a probe into the purchase of a coal mine with a loan from a subsidiary of PNM.  The Santa Fe New Mexican says the motion had sought review of the implication of the buy for ratepayers, as well as the $125 million purchase of the San Juan Coal Mine. Because the buy was made by a company borrowing money from a subsidiary of PNM and not the utility itself, the PRC agreed with its general counsel that it didn’t have the authority to undertake an investigation.  The New Mexican says PNM had initially proposed buying the coal mine itself, but faced objections from the community.  In December PNM notified the PRC that it had formed a subsidiary company, and that firm made a loan to Westmoreland Coal Company for purchase of the mine. 

A veterinarian helped save the life of an ailing New Mexico dog after discovering the source of the pup's pain — a 6-inch long, 2-inch wide stuffed polar bear.  Santa Fe Animal Humane officials told KRQE-TV that the bear was discovered in the dog's stomach during surgery.  A veterinarian said the dog named "Honey" had been sick for about a week and would have likely died within two days.  The dog is now expected to survive.

Presbyterian Healthcare Services is pursuing plans to construct a hospital in Santa Fe County.  Presbyterian is submitting project plans to the city next month for a 277,000-square-foot hospital and outpatient complex. The $135 million project would be built on 40 acres owned by the health care system.  Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center has been the only general hospital in the city for decades. The center notified Presbyterian Healthcare Services affiliate Presbyterian Health Plan last year that it would no longer serve 1,000 Medicare Advantage patients. Presbyterian officials on Tuesday say they've also started to expand a 32,000-square foot clinic near Christus.  The company also operates the Presbyterian Espanola Hospital some 40 miles north of Santa Fe.

Two women have been arrested by New Mexico State Police for allegedly aiding and harboring two escaped convicts last week.  Police have announced the arrests of 40-year-old Michelle Abeyta of Albuquerque and 51-year-old Patricia Petrushkin of Humble, Texas.  They say Petrushkin allegedly harbored Clah and Cruz in her Albuquerque hotel room and also gave them money and clothing.  Abeyta was the woman who turned in one of the fugitives last Saturday.  The three-day manhunt was launched after Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah escaped from a prisoner transport van in southeastern New Mexico.  State Police say Abeyta allegedly allowed Clah to stay at her apartment for several days.  Because she is charged with harboring Clah, police say Abeyta is not eligible for a reward for turning him in.  Authorities say Cruz was convicted of first-degree murder and Clah was serving time for armed robbery and other crimes.   

An Arizona man was sentenced Wednesday to nearly six years in federal prison for a methamphetamine conviction in New Mexico.  Records show 29-year-old Ricardo Salcido of Avondale had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  He has acknowledged that he had transported nearly three pounds of the drug.  Authorities said they found three bags of methamphetamine under the spare tire of a vehicle driven by Salcido back in October of 2014.

 

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission is asking the Legislative Council Service to weigh in on how recusals should be handled by the agency.  The request comes in the wake of a power plant case last year in which four of the commission's five members faced recusal challenges. The New Mexico Supreme Court eventually ruled the recusals weren't warranted.  Because the issue could arise again, the commission says a determination should be made regarding what circumstances would warrant recusal of a commissioner and how that member would be replaced in order for a case to continue.

In a resolution adopted this month, the commission acknowledges that legislation is needed for clarification. The Legislative Council Service is the legal research arm of the Legislature and helps to draft bills.

Authorities say a man being transported to a Bernalillo County detention facility briefly escaped police custody before being caught.  Albuquerque police say 22-year-old Joseph Maestas was arrested by U.S. Marshals task force officers Wednesday morning on four felony and two misdemeanor warrants.  Police say Maestas also had heroin on him when he was arrested.  While being taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center, authorities say Maestas slipped his handcuffs to the front of his body while still in a transport van.  Once the van arrived to the secure parking lot outside the jail, he fled past transport officers as they unloaded the inmates.  Authorities say Maestas was able to climb over a 25-foot fence surrounding the parking lot and run into the mesa south of the jail before being captured.

The U.S. Army will be stationing an air defense testing unit at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich confirmed the announcement Wednesday. The New Mexico Democrat say the range is a national treasure for the U.S. military due to its terrain, airspace and expertise.  The Air Defense Artillery Test Detachment will be made up of 143 soldiers. They'll be supporting Army missile defense programs that work to put the best equipment in the hands of soldiers deployed around the world.  Heinrich said in a statement that adding a new active duty mission at White Sands is a "big deal" and that he will continue to advocate for a larger active duty presence at the missile range.

 The New Mexico Film Office says production of the television pilot "Midnight Texas" is beginning this month in Albuquerque and Las Vegas.  The Film Office says production will run through early April and employ approximately 150 New Mexico crew members and approximately 90 New Mexico background talent.  The pilot is set in Midnight, Texas, which the Film Office described as a small town where the real world and the supernatural collide.  Principal actors in the production for NBC by Universal Television and David Janollari Entertainment include Dylan Bruce, Sarah Ramos and Arielle Kebbel.

In National News:  SeaWorld says it's ending its practice of killer whale breeding. The decision, which SeaWorld says will take effect immediately, follows years of controversy over keeping orcas in captivity. The company also says it will partner with the Humane Society and introduce "new, inspiring natural orca encounters."

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland plans today to meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.  Democrats hope to put unbearable election-year pressure on Republicans who are refusing to consider any Supreme Court Justice candidate nominated by President Barack Obama.  Following a two-week Senate recess, Garland will meet with the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley.

Michigan's governor is on Capitol Hill today, testifying at a Congressional hearing about the Flint water crisis.  In prepared testimony, Gov. Rick Snyder says he didn't learn that Flint's water was contaminated with lead until nearly 18 months after the city began drawing its water from the Flint River in April 2014.  Today's hearing is the second session the oversight panel is conducting this week on the Flint water crisis.

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KSFR’s Radio Café host Mary Charlotte Domandi was one of the people who got no advance notice that the Santa Fe Baking Company’s doors would be locked yesterday.  Mary Charlotte arrived to produce her daily show, heard here on KSFR every morning, when she saw a sign that read “closed” on the front door.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports other regular customers had a look of shock on their faces as they showed up for their usual coffee klatch at the Cordova Road eatery.  Santa Fe Baking Company underwent a change of ownership recently, and the New Mexican says the establishment owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes to the state.  Two other long-time Santa Fe restaurants have shuttered their doors recently: The Zia Diner, and Burt’s Burger Bowl.

The federal government is giving states money to help fight homelessness.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that in Santa Fe, there are about 50 people living on the streets, and another 200 in emergency shelters.  US Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced the award totaling $7.4-million  nationally.  The New Mexican reports that more than $1-million from the money distributed to the state will go to the City of Santa Fe for its homelessness initiatives.  Some of the local nonprofits that will also benefit from an additional $600,000 include St. Elizabeth’s Shelter, Casa Milagro and the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

School attendance at Santa Fe’s public schools is up over last year’s numbers.  A story in today’s Santa Fe New Mexican notes a slight increase over last year’s daily attendance.  For this year the report shows 91.3-percent of students made it to class on average.  High school students’ attendance rates aren’t as good, though.  Those numbers are still near the bottom, according to the New Mexican, and district officials didn’t even include numbers from its dropout recovery program called Engage Santa Fe.  Through a state grant, the district has hired new truancy coaches at several schools, which has made for the higher attendance rates overall.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says he'll be accompanying President Barack Obama on his visit to Cuba next week. Udall will be among a group that will include several other members of Congress, beginning Sunday.  Udall is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he has traveled to Cuba several times over the years to meet with Cuban officials, religious and business leaders and others.  Discussions have included the effects of the 50-year US embargo and travel restrictions.  Udall told reporters that the president's trip signals a new relationship with Cuba, but that Congress still needs to repeal outdated laws that restrict business and tourism.

The New Mexico Legislature has refused to turn over records subpoenaed by the Attorney General's Office earlier this month.  The Albuquerque Journal reports that Attorney General Hector Balderas wants the records for his office's criminal case against former Sen. Phil Griego.  Griego was recently charged with nine crimes related to a real estate deal, including bribery, fraud and perjury.  The Legislative Council Service filed a motion last week arguing that the records are confidential, but Balderas' office is now asking a judge to order the group to hand over the documents.  Balderas' office says the legislative group's request is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and the state's power to investigate and prosecute crimes.  Griego has previously maintained that he didn't realize his actions violated a state constitutional provision.

New Mexico's state auditor is highlighting major financial control problems at state-sponsored charter schools overseen by the state's Public Education Department.  State Auditor Tim Keller said Tuesday that problems include missing files on teacher background checks and licenses. At six charter schools, auditors conclude that financial statements are unreliable.  The information comes from an annual financial audit of the Education Department from an outside accounting firm. The state auditor is asking for a corrective action plan from the Education Department. The number of state-chartered charter schools has grown to 59 last year from just two in 2008.  Combined with school district-charters, the number is about 100 now. Beyond charter schools, the state auditor says the education department under-reported infrastructure spending by $21-million.

Albuquerque's mayor and police chief say they support legislation that would make animal cruelty a federal crime.  Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden have sent letters to the Humane Society expressing support for bi-partisan legislation. The Humane Society is advocating for the new law.  Eden and Berry say the legislation would close a loophole in federal law, which prohibits profiting from animal fighting and videos that show animal cruelty but doesn't ban the actual act of cruelty itself.  Malicious animal cruelty already carries felony penalties in the criminal codes of all 50 states. The proposed federal legislation would outlaw animal cruelty and torture in areas where federal authorities have jurisdiction.

State officials are seeking applications from New Mexico lawyers to fill an upcoming vacancy for a Roswell-based judgeship in the 5th Judicial District Court.  The vacancy will be created by the March 31 retirement of Judge Steven L. Bell.  The state Judicial Nominating Commission will consider applications during an April 28 public meeting at the Chaves County courthouse in Roswell.  Gov. Susana Martinez will then make the appointment to fill the vacancy.

 

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The state's top Corrections Department official says all of New Mexico's prisons are on lockdown and no prisoners are being transported between correctional facilities as state police investigate what led to the escape of two inmates last week from a transport van.  Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel also said Monday that all inmates in the state are being interviewed amid a broad, in-depth review of the state's prison system.  He said charges will be filed this week against people who aided in the escape.  The escape of inmates Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah has raised a series of questions about prison security. Authorities say the two fled a fortified prisoner transport van last week as guards stopped at an Artesia gas station.  Cruz was convicted of first-degree murder, and Clah is serving time for armed robbery and other crimes.  They were taken back into custody over the weekend in Albuquerque and are being held at the state prison facility in Santa Fe.

 Authorities say two state transportation workers have died after being struck by a motorist while working in northeastern New Mexico.  State police say the workers were repairing potholes along State Road 120 in Harding County when they were hit by the vehicle Monday.  The New Mexico Department of Transportation identified the workers as Anthony Rivera of Rainsville and David Eggert of Wagon Mound. Both were stationed with the department's Roy patrol.  Transportation Secretary Tom Church says the tragedy is reminder that transportation workers have difficult jobs and are at risk each day.

 Two Mississippi probationers on the run for two weeks are in custody now in Las Cruces.  Multiple news outlets report 25-year-old Christopher Brown and 23-year-old Christopher Livingston were convicted in Warren County and assigned to the Hinds County Restitution Center when they fled supervision.  The two are being held in Dona Ana County on fugitive warrants and as suspects in a carjacking and aggravated assault on March 5. They were arrested in New Mexico Saturday.

 The New Mexico Environment Department wants the federal government to reimburse the state for what it spent responding to the Gold King Mine spill.  The department announced Monday that it has sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a request for more than $1.5 million — the money New Mexico spent on emergency activities in the wake of the spill.  The EPA has assumed responsibility for a cleanup crew that triggered the release of 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater at the mine in southwestern Colorado last August. Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were fouled.  Local and state emergency workers, specialists, engineers, scientists and others teamed up to respond to and monitor the plume that deposited heavy metals as it progressed downstream.

 The New Mexico Supreme Court says that private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America may be held liable for compensatory damages to three victims who were raped by a guard.  The opinion was released on Monday and could influence an appeal of damages against the company pending before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.  A federal jury in 2012 awarded more than $3 million in damages to three former inmates at the Camino Nuevo Women's Correctional Facility that was run by the Nashville, Tenn.-based company.  The New Mexico Supreme Court is affirming that the prison company can be held vicariously liable because private corrections officer Anthony Townes was aided in the sexual assaults by virtue of his job position. Townes is serving a 16-year state prison sentence.

New Mexico's unemployment rate is still near the bottom nationally, improving only slightly in January.  The state now has the third worst rate.  The Department of Workforce Solutions reports that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in January, down from 6.6 percent in December.  The department says total non-farm payroll employment shrank by 1,800 jobs between January 2016 and January 2015. That decrease represents a fifth of a percentage point.  According to the agency, the global decline in oil prices continues to result in layoffs in businesses that serve that industry throughout the US.  Industries that produce goods lost 8,100 jobs over the year, with the mining industry alone losing 7,700 jobs.  The good news: jobs in the service industries increased by 6,300. The education and health services industry had the biggest gain at 7,300 additional jobs.

A collection of rarely seen watercolors painted by Georgia O'Keeffe during her time in West Texas will be part of a new exhibition at the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.  The artwork will be on display next month.  The watercolors were created about a century ago when O'Keeffe was teaching art at what is now Texas A&M University. The artwork includes landscapes, abstractions and nudes and curators say the pieces mark a defining moment in the American painter's commitment to the abstraction she came to be known for. The O'Keeffe Museum says it holds the majority of work she created during this period, but the show will also include pieces on loan from the Amarillo Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and others.

In National News: U.S. retail sales slipped last month, pulled down by sharply lower gas prices, and Americans spent much less in January than previously estimated. The figures suggest that consumers remain cautious about spending despite steady hiring.

The U.S. is loosening rules on travel to Cuba and the Cuban government's use of the dollar. And that removes some of the obstacles to closer ties between the two countries, five days before President Barack Obama makes a historic trip to Havana.  The Obama administration announced today that Americans can now take "people-to-people" trips to Cuba on their own instead of on expensive group tours. That means any Americans can legally go to Cuba as long as they fill out a form asserting that their trip was for educational purposes instead of tourism. The measure is expected to help fill demand for direct flights that U.S. airlines hope to launch in coming months. The new measures also allow U.S. banks to process Cuban government transactions that pass even momentarily through the U.S. banking system. A ban on those transactions crippled Cuba's ability to buy and sell goods internationally. It became one of Cuba's biggest complaints about the U.S. trade embargo on the island.

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Authorities have released the identities of two people who were killed in a small plane crash in northern New Mexico. New Mexico State Police say 46-year-old Karen Ann Young and 47-year-old Thomas Spickermann, both of Los Alamos, died when the single-engine plane went down Friday near the Ohkay Owingeh Airport near Espanola. Police say Young is believed to have been the pilot and Spickermann the co-pilot. Federal Aviation Administration investigators are looking into the cause of the crash.

Drag racing apparently led to a crash that injured several people and knocked down a power line in Albuquerque. APD Officer Fred Duran says the crash happened early yesterday. According to Duran, at least three vehicles were drag racing. Several people were taken to the hospital but police did not know the nature of their injuries.

The escapade of two convicted felons came to a peaceful end Saturday, when Albuquerque police responded to a tip and found the second escapee at a northeast apartment complex. Lionel Clah's capture came less than a day after the capture of the other inmate, convicted murderer Joseph Cruz.  Cruz was also found in Albuquerque. The two inmates were able to slip away from prison guards while traveling Wednesday night between Roswell and Las Cruces in a prison transport van.  Two guards in charge of the pair and 3 others that night have been placed on leave as corrections department officials investigate. The head of the agency has not said how the two men ended up in Albuquerque early Thursday morning, free of shackles and handcuffs and dressed in street clothes.  Clah and Cruz can be seen smiling on hotel video surveillance.  US Marshals captured Cruz on Friday in Albuquerque, and his sister, Olivia Cruz, has been arrested on other charges.  State police say they’re investigating whether she had anything to do with her brother’s escape. Meanwhile the woman whose apartment Cruz companion Lionel Clah was staying at says she was afraid he would harm her or others.  The Albuquerque Journal reports Michelle Abeyta met Clah at a neighbor’s house Thursday night and then let him stay at her apartment until Saturday, when she called police to say he was there.  Abeyta was questioned by police, but the Journal says she has not been charged with harboring a fugitive.       

A records request by The Associated Press finds that New Mexico legislative leaders rarely if ever communicate by work email and keep private details of breakfast and dinner appointments with industry and special interest groups. The Legislature's top leaders provided their appointment calendars and hundreds of emails from the first week in February in response to the request. Nearly all of the emails came from constituents; only three were outgoing messages. A small share of the work-related calendar appointments included names of individuals and none described the content of conversations. But the state’s top official hasn’t agreed to turn over her emails, yet.  Gov. Susana Martinez's office says staffers have been busy reviewing legislation passed during the recent session. The AP sent open-records requests to the top lawmakers in all 50 states and most governors.  

Emails about the governor’s inaugural ball fund have been published by the Santa Fe New Mexican, and they indicate the people in charge of the event didn’t want anyone to know how the money was spent.  Sunday’s New Mexican revealed that more than $130-thousand dollars of the roughly $1-million the committee raised went to the governor’s top political man, Jay McCleskey and his wife.  The documents were given to the newspaper by the inaugural committee’s executive director, Andrea Goff, who noted that she had questions about what happened to more than $366-thousand dollars the committee raised.  The New Mexican quotes the governor’s spokesman blasting Goff in response to questions from the newspaper.  Michael Lonergan said “Goff has proven to be a liar and a fraud who will desperately say anything to smear her political adversaries.”  You can read more about this story in Sunday’s Santa Fe New Mexican. 

A Santa Fe High School assistant boys basketball coach who was placed on paid administrative leave last week while an alleged hazing incident was being investigated has been cleared of any wrongdoing and is eligible to return to his teaching position today. That’s according to a district spokesperson.  E.J. Lucero, a first-grade teacher at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, was placed on leave March 4 pending the outcome of an investigation into events that occurred on a bus while the Santa Fe High Demons boys basketball team was returning from a game in Rio Rancho last month. He is not subject to any disciplinary action and is eligible for re-hire. Head coach David Rodriguez, who teaches at the high school, remains on paid leave. The school district spokesperson says the school district hopes to wrap up the part of the investigation involving Rodriguez “in the near future.” Video of the Feb. 5 incident taken from inside the bus shows several boys apparently voluntarily leaving their seats to go to the back of the bus where they were lightly pummelled by older boys in what has been described as a “freshmanizing” ritual, while coaches at the front of the bus appear oblivious. However, at one point the dark and grainy video shows the action in the back of the bus become more physical, and one boy ended up with a broken nose. Coach Rodriguez has said he wasn’t made aware of what had really transpired until a few days later, and he then voluntarily benched himself for one game. Superintendent Joel Boyd placed the coaches on leave last week pending further investigation into the incident and pulled the team out of the state tournament.

 

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KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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Still on the loose, but now on video. New Mexico State Police say two violent escaped convicts were spotted on surveillance video in Albuquerque hours after they managed to flee from a prison transport van. Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo says surveillance video shot at around 4:30 a.m. Thursday shows 32-year-old Joseph Cruz and 29-year-old Lionel Clah at an Albuquerque hotel. Both men were last accounted for by corrections officers around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at least 200 miles away between Roswell and Las Cruces. They were shackled and wearing white jumpsuits. Court records show Cruz was serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction while Clah pleaded guilty in 2009 to armed robbery. In the video, Clah is wearing a maroon or red shirt, blue jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. Cruz is wearing a tan or brown shirt or jacket, jeans and glasses.  Anyone with information on the pair’s whereabouts should call 9-1-1.

 

Amid the focus on those escaped prisoners, Governor Susana Martinez has appointed Scott Weaver to lead the Public Safety Department. The governor announced Weaver’s promotion from acting secretary after Greg Fourrat quit to take another job several weeks ago. Weaver will oversee the State Police, Motor Transportation Police and the Law Enforcement Academy. He previously managed state forensics laboratories in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Hobbs, and was a State Police officer from 1994 to 2015. Weaver helped brief reporters Thursday on the search for the two fugitive prison inmates and the State Police investigation into their escape.

The head of the US Veterans Affairs Department says he has visited two dozen medical schools to recruit more employees and his agency has hired more than 1,400 doctors over the last two years. VA Secretary Robert McDonald was questioned Thursday by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall during a budget hearing in Washington, D.C. The New Mexico Democrat wanted to know what the agency was doing to regain the trust of veterans in the wake of a scandal sparked by allegations of secret waiting lists and scheduling concerns at VA facilities across the country.

New figures released by the VA show wait times at clinics in New Mexico have improved since the beginning of the year. As of March 1, fewer than 6 percent of appointments were delayed 31 days or longer. Another arrest has been made in the fatal drive-by shooting of an Albuquerque teenager last summer. Albuquerque police say 19-year-old Dominic Conyers turned himself in and was booked into jail Thursday on a warrant. He's being held on suspicion of an open count of murder, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit a first- or second-degree felony. Police say shots were fired from a vehicle at a home last summer, and 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver was killed. The arrest comes as two other teens and an adult await trial in the shooting.

Correction from yesterday’s story on the city’s budget woes and the mayor’s change of plans to close a projected $15 to $18-million dollar gap:

Gonzales also said he is withdrawing his proposal to invest $50 million in cash reserves from the Water Division with the State Investment Council and use the proceeds to combat poverty and climate change. But Gonzales spokesman said he is not giving up on his proposed Santa Fe Verde Fund, rather, he will look for other means to fund the concept.  Our report yesterday said he was eliminating the plan.

Westmoreland Coal Company has laid off workers at its San Juan Mine.  The Farmington Daily Times newspaper reports that Westmoreland Executive Vice President of Operations Joe Micheletti on Wednesday confirmed that there was a workforce reduction at the Farmington mine.

 

Gov. Susana Martinez says she’ll work with lawmakers to fix the New Mexico Lottery’s financial troubles. This week the governor vetoed legislation that would have allowed for unclaimed prize money to be transferred to New Mexico's lottery tuition fund. Lawmakers in bipartisan House and Senate votes had approved the unclaimed prizes measure.  They said it had the potential to boost the fund by up to almost $3-million, putting a dent in the lottery’s funding gap.

In her veto message, the governor said she supported the spirit of the legislation but that signing it would result in less money for lottery officials to invest in new games and offer higher payouts.  More players could increase revenue for the scholarships, she said.  New Mexico is one of several states where lottery revenues haven't kept up with tuition increases and demand for financial aid.            

The U.S. Department of Energy is investing nearly $7 million in 33 small businesses across the country.  The DOE says the investment comes in the hopes of building partnerships with national laboratories, including those in New Mexico, that can speed up the development of clean energy technology. Officials with the department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced the businesses selected for the first round of the pilot project Thursday. Another $13 million in vouchers will be awarded in subsequent rounds, and officials have asked for a budget increase for the next fiscal year. Aside from doubling the number of small businesses that are working with the national labs, Assistant DOE Secretary Dave Danielson says the goal is to bring game-changing technology to the market faster. The companies selected represent 20 different states. They'll be working with nine national labs.

 

In National News:

Officials in northern Louisiana are warning that some levees could overflow today because of continuous rain. Record-setting flooding already has prompted numerous high-water rescues and has killed three people in the state. If the weather lets up today, Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to tour Shreveport and Bossier City and Monroe. Some areas near Bossier City are under a mandatory evacuation.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan will be buried today beside her husband on a scenic hilltop that contains the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Family and hundreds of friends from Hollywood, Washington and beyond will join in a private service. Forecasters predict rain and a tent has been erected over the service site. Nancy Reagan was 94 when she died Sunday.

 

 

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KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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Category:general -- posted at: 11:38am MST

The snowpack is melting sooner than usual, but remains just above normal in many mountain areas of the state. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the early snow melt could impact spring and summer river flows. A water supply forecast for March from the Natural Resources Conservation Service says the western New Mexico snowpack was hit hardest. Data shows a 40-percent loss of mountain snow that had been above average in many areas last month’s dry weather, including several days with record-breaking heat. National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Shoemake says the snow is melting like it does in May and is about 45 days ahead of schedule for runoff. Heavy rains this year have helped keep reservoirs at healthier levels than in the last two years.

Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed legislation that would have allowed for unclaimed prize money to be transferred to New Mexico's lottery tuition fund. Lawmakers failed to address the solvency of the lottery scholarship program during the recent 30-day session. But they did approve the unclaimed prizes measure, saying it had the potential to boost the fund by more than $2 million.  That's not enough to close the funding gap, though. In her veto message, the governor said she supported the spirit of the legislation but that signing it would result in less money for lottery officials to invest in new games and offer higher payouts that could increase revenue for the scholarships.  The legislature’s analysis of that claim disputed its accuracy. As in other states, New Mexico lottery revenues haven't kept up with tuition increases and demand for financial aid.

 

The governor has signed a bill that would require some state residents with severe mental illness to receive court-ordered outpatient treatment. Martinez signed the bill Wednesday after advocates for years have tried to get lawmakers to pass a similar, but controversial measure. New Mexico was one of only five states that didn't have a version of a Kendra's Law — a bill named after Kendra Webdale. She was a 32-year-old woman who was pushed in front of an oncoming New York subway train in 1999 by a man battling untreated schizophrenia. The new law here orders some patients to participate in assisted outpatient treatment if the court finds that the patients are a danger to themselves and others.

And some building and road projects will not go forward, now that Governor Martinez has rejected more than 150 capital outlay projects which she called "pork." The Republican governor issued the line-item vetoes Wednesday.  Then she signed a number of bills that authorized funding for hundreds of projects around the state. In her executive message, Martinez said she struck down the items because they didn't create jobs or develop the state. Among the rejected projects was an $8 million request for a new health education building at the University of New Mexico's Rio Rancho campus.

Santa Fe’s mayor still wants to cut the budget and hike fees and collections to tackle the $15 to $18-million deficit, but he also wants to enact other measures he detailed to city councilors last night. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports today that Mayor Javier Gonzales’s plan would delete one gross-receipts tax that was passed to pay off bonds and improve the water system.  Then the city would enact a new gross receipts tax – same rate of 8.3125-percent – but the money would go directly to the general fund that pays a majority of city expenses.  The New Mexican says the tax is projected to generate almost $8-million. 

Another switch in the mayor’s cost-cutting plans previously announced: elimination of the Verde Fund.  That fund would’ve been created to take $50-million in cash reserves in the water division, and invest it with the State Investment Council to use for fighting poverty and climate change in Santa Fe.  You can read more on this story in today’s Santa Fe New Mexican. State regulators are ordering a Midland, Texas-based company to clean a spill of oil and water on state trust lands in Lea County in southeast NM at a waste-water injection site serving the area's oil and natural gas industry.

The State Land Office on Wednesday accused Texas-based Siana Operating Company of trespassing under an expired lease of state trust lands in southeastern New Mexicoand delivered a cease and desist order. The agency says Siana's lease expired in December 2011 for the skim facility that separates oil from excess water delivered from oil and gas drilling operations. A Siana representative says the is considering its response. The State Land Office has given Siana until march 18 to obtain an entry permit to remediate damage.

A tearful goodbye for New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward in Santa Fe yesterday.  Colleagues friends and family attended a memorial for the 62 year old executive who had run the state’s largest agency for two years.  She was found unresponsive in her car on the side of hiway 599 in Santa Fe last week.  Medical examiners have not revealed the exact cause of her death, but Santa Fe sheriffs said it appeared to be a medical episode.

In National News:

A second round of rain is hitting an already inundated north Louisiana, where flooding in some places was up to the rooftops and forced evacuations. Three people drowned in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.  Another round of rain began early this morning, and is forecast to end by tomorrow afternoon. Several Louisiana parishes have declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was sent in to help.

The federal panel that sets sentencing policy is weighing changes to a program that permits an early prison release for certain elderly and sick inmates. The US Sentencing Commission held a hearing last month about the Bureau of Prisons' compassionate release program, and is expected to take up the issue again next week. The issue is important since federal prison officials have said inmates 50 and older are their fastest-growing demographic. Despite studies showing that older prisoners are far less likely to re-offend after release, prison officials have struggled to define who should be considered.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 11:06am MST

During this year’s 30-day budget session, conservation issues did not appear high on the list of lawmakers' concerns, though some important bills were introduced. KSFR wanted to know how the session treated the environment this year.

Direct download: 021916_-_conservation_voters.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 10:59am MST

We hear from Matt Reichbach, editor of New Mexico Political Report, about his review of this year’s 30-day legislative session.

Direct download: ReichbachLegisFinal.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 10:54am MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 030916-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:34pm MST

March is Women’s history month and we’ll be looking at important new mexico women and issues throughout. As we heard yesterday in our interview with New Mexico Women dot org, the theme of this year’s International Women’s day event is equal pay for women. One of the organizations working toward pay equity for women in our state is the Southwest Women’s Law Center. I spoke with executive director Pamelya Herndon, the to find out how they passed a fair pay act for women in the New Mexico legislature.

Direct download: 020916_-_payequity.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:33pm MST

The Supreme Court's decision in the 2010 Citizens United case to allow unlimited campaign spending has fundamentally changed America's political landscape. Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, told KSFR's Dave Marash about how the flow of secret political contributions affects our political system.

Direct download: 030916-HereThereMayerDarkMoney.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:31pm MST

The financing of Campaigns is clearly a national issue but it’s also a topic of passionate discussion right here in northern New Mexico. Santa Fean and long time political operative Sandra Weschler will launch this week, her response to a system that benefits large donors at the expense of every day citizens who’d like to be involved in the political process.

Direct download: 030916-MyChangePreLaunch.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:29pm MST

A federal court has shot down Governor Susana Martinez’s rules forcing some food stamp recipients to look for work in order to get assistance.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that means up to 17,500 low-income New Mexicans won’t have to abide by the state-imposed guidelines. The state’s Human Services Department issued a statement saying it disagrees with Judge Kenneth Gonzales’s ruling.  The Martinez administration has argued since last year that the rules are simply federal government mandates imposed by former President Bill Clinton’s administration, but Judge Gonzales said this week that the state did not have to impose stricter rules than the feds. Those rules are not as draconian. The judge agreed with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty’s contention that the state has broken the law by denying benefits to some food stamp recipients.     

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a bill revising the state's immigrant driver's license law after years of pressuring lawmakers to pass legislation eliminating them altogether. The Republican governor held a signing ceremony Tuesday at the Albuquerque airport. The measure puts New Mexico in compliance with tougher federal identification requirements. The REAL ID Act requires proof of legal U.S. residency for those who want to use state identification to access certain areas of federal facilities. New Mexico had no such requirement. The new law stops the practice of providing driver's licenses to immigrants regardless of legal status. Immigrants in the country illegally will be able to get driver's authorization cards by submitting fingerprints if they are first-time applicants.  Immigrants who already have licenses can skip the requirement. Residents will be able to get REAL ID compliant licenses.

New Mexico's statewide immigrant's rights organization Somos Un Pueblo Unido issued this statement after the bill was signed: HB99 is REAL ID compromise that keeps undocumented immigrant drivers licensed, safeguards current immigrant license holders from ever being fingerprinted, and gives New Mexicans a choice to opt out of getting a federal ID card. "We are proud that both Republican and Democratic leaders in the state Senate stood up to Governor Martinez' long campaign to divide New Mexicans on this issue,” Somos said.             

Gov. Martinez is expected to sign a measure that would allow San Francisco-based ride-booking companies Uber and Lyft to operate in the state. The legal status of the companies has been in limbo in the state since they began offering services in 2014. The companies say the state's Motor Carrier Act does not apply to them because they do not operate as commercial taxi businesses. Uber and Lyft use smartphone apps to connect their drivers with people seeking rides. Lyft had stop operating in the state after the state regulators couldn't come up with a solution. The new regulations include background checks for drivers against criminal and sexual offender databases.  Some Uber drivers have complained that the company isn’t consistent in its wages or contracts.

 

A former federal prosecutor and assistant district attorney has announced he is running to replace Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, saying his scope of experience working at the local, state and federal levels of the criminal justice system qualifies him for the job. Democrat Raul Torrez formally announced his candidacy in Albuquerque on Tuesday — the state filing deadline for declaring candidacies. He says he doesn't think the criminal justice system in Bernalillo County is functioning as it should, citing the high number of criminal repeat offenders who have been blamed by Albuquerque police for a significant portion of the city's violent crime.  Albuquerque is home to roughly a quarter of the state's population. Brandenburg, also a Democrat, said Tuesday morning she would not seek a fifth term. 

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation aimed at better positioning New Mexico to protect its forests from wildfires and flooding. One bill clears the way for the State Forestry Division to be reimbursed by the federal government for thinning and other conservation work done by state employees. Another measure allows New Mexico to become a member state of the Interstate Compact for the Prevention and Control of Forest Fires. The group shares strategies for preventing and fighting fires. New Mexico had back-to-back record fire seasons in 2011 and 2012. Thousands of square miles burned and communities are still living with the threat of post-fire flooding. Martinez also signed measures related to geothermal resources, natural gas vehicles and mining.

Another bill still awaiting the governor’s signature would put unclaimed lottery prize money back into the scholarship fund for college students.  That bill was sponsored by the governor’s rival, Democratic Senator Michael Sanchez of Albuquerque, who is also the majority floor leader in the Senate.  The deadline for acting on legislation passed during the recent 30-day session is today.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:29pm MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 030816-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:58pm MST

Today is International Women’s Day, a time to mark women’s accomplishments and also a time to reflect on how far we need to go. KSFR's Zelie Pollon checked in with NewMexicoWomen.org to learn about some ways to commemorate women's achievements and advance the goal of equality. 

Visit NewMexicoWomen.org to view the list. 

Direct download: 030816-InternationalWomensDay.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:57pm MST

One of the last bills passed by the New Mexico State Legislature was SB79, which would take unclaimed lottery prize money and put it into more scholarships for college students.  The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 35 to 4, and it also passed the House, but as KSFR’s Deborah Martinez reports, it has yet to gain approval from the governor, and her deadline to sign or veto bills is tomorrow.

Direct download: 030816Lottery.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:53pm MST

In a rare glimpse into Masonic rituals, members of the Scottish Rite temple in Santa Fe held an open house at the local Masonic Center this past Saturday. KSFR's Dennis Carroll was in attendance, and brings us this report. 

Direct download: 030816_-MasonLodge.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:51pm MST

In this edition of The Sporting Life, host Dan DeFrancesco considers the recent performance of men's and women's Lobo basketball teams. 

Direct download: 030716TheSportingLife.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:49pm MST

New Mexico’s high vacancy rate at its prisons could be due to low wages and high turnaround and burnout, and new laws could mean more inmates and more strain on the system.  That’s according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, reporting today that the prison system could reach 98-percent capacity by July.  Some prison guards work up to 72 hours per week overseeing an average 7-thousand prisoners – a number that’s growing every year, according to the New Mexican.  Most new guards quit after three years.  Prison guards make among the lowest pay in the US at an average of $14-dollars per hour.  With tougher sentences in store soon for drunk drivers and pornographers, more prison time is in order, creating more work and more stress for an already taxed system.  You can read more on this story in today’s Santa Fe New Mexican.

New Mexico is reducing testing requirements for ninth and tenth grade students under a new law signed by the governor. Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation Monday that removes an assessment in reading, language arts and math from state requirements. Democratic Rep. Andres Romero of Albuquerque sponsored the legislation.  The governor’s action comes as a district court judge moved back a hearing on the state’s teacher assessments until October.  The state’s public education department had sought the delay.

The governor also signed several other initiatives into law Monday. One makes it easier for out-of-state workers to repair energy and telecommunications infrastructure when a disaster is declared by the state governor or the U.S. president. That law reduces taxes, fees and paperwork.

Drivers of commercial vehicles who are caught texting while driving will face new penalties under another new law.  And a measure introduced by retiring Senator Sue Wilson Beffort signed yesterday expands the school year for struggling students through the fifth grade.  The law is aimed at narrowing the achievement gap. The pilot project will be in 20 schools for four years.

A former New Mexico dairy worker has pleaded no contest in an animal cruelty case. entered his pleas Monday before a state district judge in Chaves County. The judge suspended a 364-day jail sentence pending the defendant's successful completion of probation. Another worker received the same sentence in December after pleading no contest to animal cruelty charges. Cases are pending against two more workers at Winchester Dairy. 

Legislative candidates are lining up in New Mexico to run for election to every seat in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democrat-dominated Senate. Incumbent lawmakers and challengers are filing petitions Tuesday to participate in party primaries on June 7. The November general election will decide all 112 seats. A handful of contested seats could alter the partisan balance of power. New Mexico is one of eight state legislatures with chambers divided along party lines. Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in Santa Fe in 2014, ending 60 years of Democratic majorities.                 

An accused leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel has been extradited to the United States to face charges in San Diego. Victor Emilio Cazares Gastellum made an initial court appearance Monday on conspiracy and money laundering charges. Prosecutors said he was extradited  nearly four years after his arrest by Mexican authorities near Guadalajara. Prosecutors say Cazares Gastellum's organization smuggled tons of cocaine to the United States.  

New Mexico officials have announced funeral arrangements for Health Secretary Retta Ward. The former state administrator died last week. The Health Department says mourners and well-wishers will gather Wednesday to honor Ward and contributions to a charity in her name. Ward died last week after her car veered off a road and came to a stop on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Deputies say the death may have been related to a medical episode, and state medical examiners have not determined the cause of death. Deputy Secretaries Lynn Gallagher and Gabrielle Sanchez-Sandoval are now overseeing the Health Department. It is not clear when a new health secretary will be named.   

New Mexico's congressional delegation has concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over delays in compensation for expenses and damages caused by last fall’s Gold King Mine spill. The delegation's five members are asking the agency to process reimbursement claims submitted by the state and the Navajo Nation and to set up a claims office to begin processing compensation for victims. The lawmakers also want EPA to approve a long-term water monitoring plan that's acceptable to state regulators. They're pushing for the cleanup of water and soil contaminated by the spill in southwestern Colorado that fouled rivers in three western states. They suggest that spring runoff could stir up heavy metals in the Animas and San Juan rivers.                     

A decorated U.S. veteran who served in the Vietnam War is now a United States citizen. Fofo Tuitele recently completed his naturalization requirements and took the oath of allegiance during a special ceremony in Albuquerque last week. The American Samoa-native who served in the U.S. Marines says he just decided "to put the icing on the cake" and get his citizenship. American Samoa remains the only place in the United States where U.S. citizenship is not granted at birth. He joined the Marine Corps when he turned 18 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Less than 24 hours after officially becoming an American citizen, the 67-year-old Rio Rancho resident registered to vote.

 

A Santa Fe man has pleaded guilty to an armed bank robbery and could be facing a 25-year sentence in federal prison. Prosecutors say 25-year-old Jacob P. Wheeler entered his plea Monday in federal court in Albuquerque. Wheeler was arrested last May 26 and charged with robbing the Century Bank in Santa Fe 11 days earlier. The complaint alleged Wheeler pointed a gun at the bank teller, demanded money and then climbed up onto the teller's counter to grab money from a cash drawer. The FBI received a tip identifying Wheeler as the bank robber. He was indicted in the case last June.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:47pm MST

Police say the U.S. Marshals Service has arrested two suspects wanted in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old Army veteran at an ATM last month. Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Daren J. DeAguero said that Matthew Chavez, 25, and Veronica Trimble, 22, were arrested in Oklahoma on Friday. An Oklahoma television station reports that the pair were taken into custody at the Winstar Casino in Love County. Albuquerque police say Chavez shot Lackey Feb. 5 after an attempted robbery at an ATM in the city, and that Trimble was with him at the time.

Santa Fe police are searching for a suspect who robbed a woman of her purse close to downtown. The Santa Fe New Mexican says the incident occurred as the victim and her husband were leaving a restaurant around 9 p.m. Friday. Police Chief Patrick Gallagher says they were approached by a man who threatened them with a 6-inch knife. The suspected robber took the woman's purse and then got inside the passenger side of a white minivan. The couple told police the license plate was covered. The suspect is described as 5-foot-6, with short black hair and a goatee. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and dark pants.

A businessman accused of misleading investors of a Kirtland hospital project has entered a plea related to embezzlement charges. The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General says Bobby Willis pleaded no contest Friday to two felony counts of embezzlement in Farmington District Court. Authorities say Willis stole gemstones and jewelry from a former business partner and embezzled from an escrow account. He also defrauded a couple of nearly $1 million, urging them to invest in the construction of a VA hospital. Willis faces up to 12 years in prison under the agreement. He has also been ordered to pay restitution to his victims. Willis is the former owner of New Mexico Title Co.

Canine search teams, a drone pilot and two hikers scoured a rugged area along the Rio Grande in New Mexico for a Colorado man who's been missing for two months. Volunteers have been looking every weekend for clues to the whereabouts of Randy Bilyeu. The father and grandfather went missing in early January after setting out in search of author Forrest Fenn's $2 million cache of gold, jewels and artifacts. Bilyeu's dog and raft were found along the river northwest of Santa Fe. Ex-wife Linda Bilyeu has been helping to organize volunteer searches from her home in Florida.

An Albuquerque woman who went missing more than six months ago has been found dead. An Albuquerque police spokesman says 35-year-old Sara Sydow's body was located this week near Golden in Santa Fe County, more than 30 miles away from where she was last seen. Investigators say her death appears suspicious but they are waiting for an official autopsy report to determine the cause. Family and friends say she never made it home after work on September 19th.

Gov. Susana Martinez has until Wednesday to sign, veto or disregard dozens of unsigned bills passed by the state Legislature. They include measures with strong bipartisan backing such as revisions to immigrant driver's licenses and a bill aimed at welcoming and regulating ride-booking companies like Uber. The fate is less certain for a bill on treatment of the mentally ill modeled after a law in New York. New Mexico'sversion would allow a state district court judge to order people diagnosed with mental illness into treatment programs for up to one year. The Republican governor has yet to endorse a bill from Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez that would funnel forfeited lottery prizes to a fund subsidizing in-state tuition. Martinez has the authority to strike Legislature-approved infrastructure projects from a $186 million bill tied to general obligation bonds. She can veto items line-by-line before the measure goes before voters in the fall. Martinez signed a variety of legislation on Friday before traveling to Kansas to campaign for GOP presidential contender Marco Rubio. 

Officials with New Mexico Highlands University are facing budget cuts totally $1.2 million. The Las Vegas Optic reports that regents were told on Friday that the university needs to trim spending during the current fiscal year by more than $100,000 and decrease spending by $1.2 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Max Baca says the school will have to increase tuition and fees as well as save money for the future budget. The $6.2 billion state budget that state lawmakers approved last month reduced funding for most state agencies and higher education.

Bantamweight fighter Holly Holm returned to Albuquerque over the weekend, but she didn’t bring along a victory belt.  KOB-TV reports Holm lost a bout to Miesha Tate in the 5th round.  Holm lost by submission.  Just a few weeks ago Holm amazed everyone with her win over Rhonda Rousey to become the UFC bantamweight champion.

An attorney for political consultant Jay McCleskey says a grand jury has dropped its investigation of the top adviser to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Attorney Paul Kennedy said Friday that an investigation into campaign finance activities by McCleskey has been terminated and that no related charges are forthcoming. Martinez issued a statement saying she was always confident that the complaints against McCleskey would be rejected and that she was glad the episode was over. Martinez previously acknowledged being questioned by federal agents in the probe of her top political adviser. McCleskey has been a consultant to Martinez since she began campaigning for governor in 2009. He has worked for other prominent Republicans in the state, including Republican Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.

A Santa Fe adult nightclub owner has settled a lawsuit with a man whose leg was amputated after he was shot outside the club in 2011. The Santa Fe New Mexican says that Cheeks nightclub owner Elmo Montoya and Joe Corriz reached an out-of-court agreement. A jury trial had been set to begin this week in Corriz's personal injury lawsuit against Montoya. Attorneys for both parties declined to comment, saying the settlement was confidential. Authorities say Corriz and his cousin were shot during an August 2011 altercation in the club's parking lot. Corriz's injuries led to a leg amputation.

Miramax and El Rey Network have announced both will start production in Albuquerque on the third season of "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series." The network says filmmaker and El Rey Network founder Robert Rodriguez will direct select episodes this season.  The show begins shooting March 14. It is based on the 1996 Rodriguez-directed vampire film with the same name. Rodriguez says the network will take the series to "a whole new level." El Rey Network is a 24-hour English language network founded by Rodriguez.

San Juan County officials say they will be left holding the bag if New Mexico State Parks is allowed to stop patrolling thousands of acres around Navajo Lake. The Farmington Daily Times reports that officials are up in arms over a proposal to reduce the area overseen by parks personnel. Under the proposal, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office could potentially be forced to patrol 15,000 more acres of land by the end of the year. State Parks Deputy Director Toby Velasquez says there are not enough personnel to enforce such a large area.

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:43pm MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_TimKellerBestPractices.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:31pm MST

Last month the office of the state auditor issued a report claiming the state had 4.4 billion dollars in unspent funds. Originally earmarked for infrastructure projects these dollars have been languishing in state coffers, in some cases for up to a decade. Spending even ten percent of those funds says State Auditor Tim Keller, could create thousands of jobs and boost the economy at a time when the state is grappling with plummeting revenues due to falling oil prices. This month Keller suggested more ways for Capitol Outlay projects to avoid what he calls “being mired in red tape.” “With our state desperately in need of jobs, activating just a small fraction of these dollars could mean thousands of new jobs, roads, schools and water systems for New Mexico.” We asked Auditor Keller to tell us more.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_TimKellerBestPractices.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:31pm MST

Each year the Internal Revenue Service issues a Dirty Dozen list of tax scams and schemes.  In part three of our tax series this year, we see that padding your tax return with false or inflated deductions has made this year’s list… and the consequences can be dire.    

Less than one percent of all federal tax returns are audited…but beware, the higher your income the more likely you are to be audited. Falsely reporting expenses or downplaying your income are bright red flags to the IRS. Reporter Mary Lou Cooper brings us the story.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_MLCtaxdeductions.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:29pm MST

Orson Welles is a luminary in the history of cinema, but much of his work is rarely seen. Is the recent restoration of Welles's Chimes At Midnight worth the big rollout? KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_ChimesAtMidnightJeremyReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:27pm MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 030416-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:32pm MST

Santa Fe County is moving quickly toward building an open space trail that will expand hikers’ and bicyclists’ enjoyment of the outdoors.  KSFR’s Deborah Martinez spoke with project manager Colleen Baker about details of a new portion of the El Camino Real Trail.  It’s one of the longest stretches of trail to be completed by the county in a short time, and in coordination with local, state and federal governments.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_Open_Space_Camino_Real.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:31pm MST

It reads like a classic spy novel: Alexander Litvinenko, a renegade Russian spy in London, was silenced by a lethal dose of radiation poisoning. His murderers? Fellow Russians . RAND Corporation Senior Policy Researcher Daniel Gerstein told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about the case, and why Putin would want to kill one of his own.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereGilderstein.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:30pm MST


Disney animation has had a recent streak of box-office success with features like Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero Six. Can they keep it up with Zootopia? KSFR’s film correspondent, Jeremy Zeilik, finds out.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_ZootopiaReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:26pm MST

Authorities say two bicyclists are dead and a pickup driver arrested after a semi-truck slammed into a group of riders waiting for a red light in the northern Tucson area.  One of the victims was from Santa Fe. The Sheriff's office in Pima County, Arizona says three of 10 cyclists were also injured in the crash Thursday afternoon. Most of the bicyclists are members of Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes from New Mexico, according to a report in Tucson's Arizona Daily Star. The sheriff's office says the 28-year-old driver, Brian Lynch, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and faces various manslaughter and aggravated assault charges. Officials say 72-year old Clare Rhodes of Santa Fe died at the scene, while 68-year-old Kenneth Vieira died at the hospital. One cyclist is in critical condition; two others suffered minor injuries.        

Managers at the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository say they're making progress on the facility's new interim ventilation system. They say subcontractors completed work this week on ductwork. The new system is expected to increase airflow in the underground facility. Adequate ventilation has been a concern as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant prepares to resume some operations at the end of this year. The plant has been shuttered since February 2014, when an improperly packed drum of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory burst open and released radiation.             

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation that allows the courts to grant permanent restraining orders against convicted sexual predators to keep them from contacting their victims. Courts also will be able to grant those orders without requiring the victim to be present in the courtroom. The governor also penned a new law aimed at protecting farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits by neighbors amid encroachment of urban sprawl. The legislation was sponsored by Republican Sen. Stuart Ingle. It ensures new neighbors cannot sue agricultural producers for being too noisy.    

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and Dona Ana County District Attorney Mark D'Antonio say they're going to work together to target money laundering along the border. The two prosecutors held a briefing Thursday in Las Cruces to discuss their participation in a recent conference that brought together attorneys general from other western states, federal partners and Mexican prosecutors. By focusing on money laundering, Balderas says law enforcement can curb other types of criminal activity. He pointed to federal data that shows $300 billion a year in illicit money from human and drug trafficking and other fraud is flowing through the U.S.

New Mexico Health Department Secretary Retta Ward died yesterday after her car went off the road. Authorities say the accident was not the cause of her death. Ward had begun to implement changes at the state’s largest government agency, where she had worked for three years.  Health spokesman Kenny Vigil recalled her as an exceptional leader who was passionate about improving the health of all New Mexicans. He said department employees were heartbroken about the news. Ward was tapped to lead the department by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2013. She had previously served as secretary of the state's Aging and Long-term Services Department.

A ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court has revived a lawsuit by residents of a southeastern New Mexico neighborhood.  The group claimed operations by an oil company resulted in contamination that caused health problems. The justices say a lower court erred by preventing the residents from introducing scientific evidence and expert testimony in support of their case. The case was ordered back to district court for further proceedings. Residents had alleged there was environmental contamination in an area that became a housing subdivision in Hobbs. A jury in 2007 ruled in favor of Shell Oil Co., which had storage tanks in the area from 1946 until 1993. There also was an unlined storage pit for oilfield wastes that was buried in the 1960s. Housing development in the area started in the 1970s.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is endorsing Marco Rubio's presidential bid — support from a rising Republican star that will undoubtedly boost the Florida senator's sway among Latino voters. Rubio mentioned Martinez's name back in November when discussing potential running mates, but Martinez has largely shrugged off questions about higher political aspirations. The backing from the nation's only Latina governor comes days after Martinez refused to say whether she would support Donald Trump if he became the Republican nominee. Rubio's campaign made the announcement Thursday in a statement in which Martinez calls Rubio a compelling leader who can unite the country.

Officials at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas say there's been an increase of flu cases among inmates the last several days. Prison officials say 31 patients have flu symptoms so far. Those diagnosed, or presenting symptoms consistent with the influenza virus, are receiving medical treatment. Officials say the prison is taking precautions to isolate the affected inmates to reduce the probability of additional people being affected and to allow recovery of those already diagnosed with the flu.

In global news:

China says it will boost military spending by about 7 to 8 percent this year, the smallest increase in about five years, reflecting slowing economic growth and a drawdown of 300,000 troops as Beijing seeks to build a more streamlined, modern military. Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the National People's Congress, China's ceremonial legislature, told reporters Friday that China needs to consider its defense needs, economic development and the country's fiscal position in drafting the defense budget. The People's Liberation Army, being trimmed to 2 million troops from 2.3 million, will still be the world's largest standing military.

Economists say that today's jobless figures will likely show that U.S. workers continue to be largely insulated from a global slowdown. Economists surveyed by the firm FactSet believe employers created 195,000 jobs last month, which would keep the unemployment rate at a low 4.9 percent. Bickering among the candidates was evident again at last night's Republican presidential debate, but in the end they all said they'd support Donald Trump if he were to win the GOP nomination.

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KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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There isn’t a year when hundreds of thousands of dollars aren’t spent by lobbyists wining and dining our state lawmakers. From oil and gas companies to Ski Santa Fe, we wanted to know how much money was spent this year and by which organizations. I spoke with New Mexico In Depth’s Sandra Fish to get a rundown of the (partial) economics of this past session.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:14pm MST

Understanding the enemy is the first step in fighting a war. So why do FORTY percent of Pentagon intelligence analysts feel that their work is twisted before it gets to the President's desk? Shane Harris, a senior correspondent for TheDailyBeast.com, told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about the troubled American intelligence community in the fight against ISIS.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereHarrisIntelligence.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:11pm MST

A former corrections officer in New Mexico has been sentenced to three years of probation in a drug trafficking case. Prosecutors say 21-year-old Edward Owens, of Santa Fe, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Albuquerque. He was accused of participating in a conspiracy to distribute Buprenorphine, more commonly known as Suboxone.  The incident occured in August 2014 while Owens was a corrections officer at the Santa Fe County Adult Correctional Facility on Highway 14. An inmate at the jail allegedly paid Owens to smuggle 47 sublingual Suboxone strips into the facfility.  Owens was taken into custody in February 2015 after being indicted in the case. The inmate involved also was charged and was sentenced last October to 366 days in federal prison.                                             

New Mexico is allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long as they turn 18 by the date of general elections. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the measure into law on Wednesday. Proponents of the legislation from Las Cruces Democrat Jeff Steinborn say it will encourage civic engagement.  The law also is designed to ensure that people who turn 18 just before the general election have time to get registered. State election officials say the change does not conflict with federal law because a primary vote is part of the nomination process. Primary elections in New Mexico take place June 7 this year and the general election is on Nov. 8. The law goes into effect immediately.  People who want to vote must register in June must do so by May 10th.  You can register to vote online, or in person at the county clerk’s office, and at other locations.  

New Mexico is reducing workers compensation benefits for employees who injure themselves on the job while drunk or high. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the legislation Wednesday in Albuquerque. It reduces workers compensation benefits by between 10 percent and 90 percent based on the degree that a worker's intoxication contributes to an accident. Martinez called the legislation a matter of common sense and said employers will not be able file a compensation claim if they were aware of a worker's impairment and did not take action. The Republican governor also approved a workforce development fund designed to quickly train and certify employees in specialized fields to help companies that move into or expand operations in New Mexico. The state has set aside $1.25 million to fund the initiative starting in July.      

A new law will allow New Mexico’s communities to use lodger's tax revenue as funding for passenger air routes. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation on Wednesday that allows the use of lodger's tax dollars to meet minimum guarantees for securing passenger air service. The taxes are applied to motel and hotel stays by cities and counties and are often used to promote tourism or pay for local services. The governor's office says the new law may help attract commercial flights to communities like   Santa Fe, Hobbs, and Farmington.      

Residents of New Mexico's Boot-heel and parts of southern Arizona say human smuggling and drug trafficking is taking its toll on the region. The Deming Headlight reports that residents are scheduled to express their concerns to federal officials during a meeting at the Community Center in Animas, New Mexico today. Judy Keeler, a longtime resident of the rural border region, says her home was recently burglarized and it's not an unusual episode for other residents. They’ve said state Highway 80 has become a favorite for Mexican cartel drug runners who manage to navigate out of the mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border. Residents say they want an increased presence from  U.S. Border Patrol agents.

 

A judge has ruled a teenager who pleaded guilty to killing his parents and three young siblings will remain in state custody until he is 21. The juvenile justice division of the Children, Youth and Families Department will determine where Griego will be treated or held for the remainder of his sentence.  Authorities say that leaves open the possibility for an early supervised release. The district attorney says she plans to appeal that ruling.             

Supreme Court Justices might not decide a major case about regulation of abortion clinics in Texas until late June. But to get an idea about how the Supreme Court may decide the case it heard Wednesday, look to its impending decision in a fight over abortion clinics in Louisiana, where the issue is similar to that in Texas. An order could come any day in the Louisiana case. The clinics are asking the high court to block enforcement of a 2014 law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The clinics say the law could leave the state with just one clinic in New Orleans, down from four. The cases are at different stages in the legal process, but they involve similar laws and actions by the same New Orleans-based federal appeals court.                           

And it’s world wildlife day.  The declaration of March 3d as World Wildlife Day comes after a 2013 resolution that celebrates and raises awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. Today’s theme noted on the United Nations General Assembly website, is, “The future of wildlife is in our hands.”

 

 

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KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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DWI has made no shortage of local headlines lately. Scott Owens, formerly acquitted in a vehicular homicide case stemming from a crash that killed four teens, is back in jail on his third DWI charge. And yesterday, Governor Susana Martinez signed into law a bill that makes it a second-degree felony to be convicted of eight or more DWIs, bumping frequent offenders up into a tier of stricter sentencing guidelines. Peter Olson, DWI Prevention Specialist with Santa Fe County, says that while tougher laws for repeat offenders are a needed improvement, that’s just one piece of the piece of the puzzle.  

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_DWIprevention.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:06pm MST

As if tax season weren’t stressful enough already, it’s a golden opportunity for con artists.  According to the Internal Revenue Service, tax scammers who impersonate IRS agents are at it again, trying to steal your money.  As part of a series of stories about tax scams and schemes, KSFR’s Mary Lou brings us today’s report.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:05pm MST

For thirty-four years, students at the prestigious Horace Mann School in New York were subjected to sexual abuse by teachers and staff. Amos Kamil broke the story for the New York Times; he told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE how he reported this heartbreaking news.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_AmosKameel.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:04pm MST

As predicted, the majority of voters in Tuesday’s municipal election came from District 1 on Santa Fe's north side, where Renee Villareal beat out three rivals to become one of Santa Fe’s newest city councilors.  None of the other council races in town had more than one candidate.  In District 4 on the city’s southside, Mike Harris will be the other new face on the city council. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that about 1 in four people registered to vote actually cast ballots. Villareal, a former city planning commission member, took the race with 65.5 percent.  Her closest competitor was former city councilor Frank Montano, with 13-percent.  In the race for municipal judge, current pro-tem Judge Virginia Vigil won with almost 56-percent of the vote, while the other candidate, Ignacio Gallegos, won 44.3-percent.  The winners will be sworn in at City Hall on Monday night.                           

A former behavioral health provider in southern New Mexico is suing a company that once managed the state's Medicaid dollars. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that La Frontera's lawsuit alleges United Healthcare engineered a cover-up of its own failings by accusing 15 nonprofit providers of fraud in 2013. The lawsuit accuses United Healthcare and its subsidiary OptumHealth New Mexico of fraud and misrepresentation that led to La Frontera losing millions of dollars.  The company seeks more than 33-million dollars in damages. Arizona-based La Frontera had been brought in three years ago to replace some of the nonprofits that were accused of overbilling and possible fraud. Its lawsuit focuses on the first six months that it operated in southern New Mexico. Optum New Mexico’s spokeswoman said the company couldn't comment on the pending litigation.               

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a bill aimed at toughening penalties for drunken driving offenses. Martinez signed the measure during a visit Tuesday to New Mexico State Police headquarters in Albuquerque. The measure makes it a second-degree felony to be convicted of eight or more DWIs, meaning tougher sentencing guidelines would be imposed. The measure also substantially increases penalties for convicted drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes. The proposal was part of the Republican governor's overall public safety agenda this past legislative session. Martinez accused the Legislature of not being tough enough. Some Democrats had questioned why New Mexico needed tougher sentencing guidelines and said state officials should be turning their attention to rehabilitation and job creation. 

An Albuquerque family has filed a wrongful-death claim against that city, arguing their legal team's analysis of evidence doesn't back up officer accounts that a teenager pointed a gun at an officer before she was shot. The family's attorney reviewed police video, ballistics and other evidence. He questions police statements that 19-year old Mary Hawkes, who was a vehicle theft suspect, pointed a gun at Officer Jeremy Dear. That, police say prompted him to open fire, which the lawsuit by the girl’s family, disputes. Hawkes' death in 2014 came amid heightened scrutiny of shootings by Albuquerque police — happening just weeks after another shooting by police sparked protests and a federal investigation described a culture of excessive force among police.      

State and federal wildlife managers want to know what the public thinks about a proposal for restoring native Gila trout and other native fish to Whitewater Creek and its tributaries. Officials in the Gila National Forest in southern New Mexico say the public will have through March 25 to comment on the plan. The plan’s goal is to restore the Gila trout to about 24 miles of steam in hopes of establishing a fishable population. The majority of the project would be within the Gila Wilderness. Under the plan, Gila trout and other native fish would be stocked after nonnative fish are removed. The proposal also calls for trail maintenance and reconstruction activities to restore public access to Whitewater Creek. Officials say erosion after a fire in the Gila several years ago damaged all of the trails that provide access to the creek.          

It was a good year for New Mexico's chile farmers. Statistics released Tuesday by state and federal agriculture officials show the acreage planted, the number of tons produced and the value of New Mexico's most well-known crop all increased in 2015. Officials say the value of chile production in 2015 was estimated at more than $41 million.  That’s up from $38.7 million the previous year. Chile used for processing accounted for most of the total, while the fresh crops came in at $7.5 million. A total of 66,700 tons were produced last year, marking the most since 2012 but not as much as the nearly 90,000 tons produced a decade ago. Since then production has fluctuated.

 

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:56pm MST

A former New Mexico state senator who resigned abruptly last year is facing criminal charges related to his role in the sale of a state-owned building. The New Mexico Attorney General's Office has filed a nine-count criminal complaint against Phil Griego in connection with the real estate deal. According to the complaint, the former Democratic senator used his role as a legislator to receive personal compensation and then failed to disclose the filing as required by state law. The complaint filed in district court in Santa Fe Monday says Griego withheld the commission owed to each of his qualifying brokers and failed to disclose his interest in the deal. Griego says he did nothing wrong and was surprised by the criminal complaint. He says he'll fight the charges.          

New Mexico is drawing down its general fund reserves and pinching pennies to pay for day-to-day government operations because of plunging revenues linked to oil and natural gas production.  Other causes of shrinking state revenues include weaker-than-expected sales and income tax receipts and tax credits that have added up to at least half a billion dollars in the last few years. Lawmakers avoided tax increases by scouring agency accounts for one-time funding. Critics of the spending plan worry it could make matters worse next year if energy prices remain low.

Union organizers say hundreds of construction workers walked off the job at the Tesla Motors manufacturing plant east of Reno yesterday.  They were protesting the increased hiring of workers from New Mexico for less pay. District 16 trades council spokesman Russell James says approximately 350 plumbers, carpenters, electricians and others walked away from the construction site. More than 100 picketed outside the main gate against what they say is an unfair labor practice that undermines promises to hire mostly Nevada workers in exchange for more than $1 billion in state tax breaks. James says the work is increasingly being done by crews for the non-union, New Mexico-based Brycon Corp of Rio Rancho. Tesla said in a statement it's in compliance with requirements that Nevadans make up more than half of the workers hired by individual contractors. It said three-fourths of the entire "gigafactory" workforce is from Nevada.

 

Sandia National Laboratories has returned to accepting New Mexico driver's licenses for visitors to gain entry to its facilities. A Sandia official says that a New Mexico driver's license alone is now acceptable to verify a person's identity to access the premises. New Mexico last week was given an extension until October to meet tougher federal identification requirements after the state Legislature approved new rules for immigrant driver's licenses. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez plans to sign legislation that requires first-time undocumented immigrants to submit to fingerprinting in order to get a driving authorization card. Immigrants who already have licenses can skip the requirement.

 

An Indiana man has pleaded guilty to a methamphetamine trafficking charge in New Mexico. Prosecutors say 28-year-old Rashad Travon Woods, of Indianapolis, entered into a plea agreement Monday. They say he'll be sentenced to 11 years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Woods was arrested after federal drug agents seized more than five pounds of methamphetamine from him during an investigation at an Albuquerque train station last fall. Prosecutors say Woods remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

 

A former Navajo Nation lawmaker has pleaded guilty in a criminal case to misusing tribal funds. The plea entered earlier this month in tribal court means Young Jeff Tom Sr. will avoid an April trial. Tom says in court documents that he conspired with five former colleagues to commit bribery. He says the lawmakers agreed to provide tribal funds to each other's family members, even though he knew it was illegal. Tom faces jail time and probation. He also could be ordered to repay up to $13,750. The case is part of a larger investigation of a now-defunct discretionary fund used by Navajo Nation Council delegates.               

New Mexico has a new law that overhauls its online clearinghouse for information on political contributions and lobbying expenditures. Governor Martinez signed the legislation Monday.  It’s designed to standardize electronic reporting so that filings by candidates, lobbyists and political committees can be searched, cross-referenced or downloaded for analysis. Martinez said the public will find it easier to access campaign finance information. The law also will require lobbyists to file regular reports, as candidates already do. Funding has not yet been assigned to pay for the new system. The Office of the Secretary of State eventually would spend as much as $985,000 to set up the database, depending on bids from vendors and available funds. Registration fees from lobbyists would be reinvested in maintaining the clearinghouse.           

The New Mexico Department of Health has released the names of licensed medical marijuana producers in the state.  That’s a result of new rules taking effect this week after a lawsuit by open government advocates. The list released Monday shows that 16 of the state's 23 independent licensed nonprofit producers are based in Albuquerque and have names like Sandia Botanicals, Inc. and the Verdes Foundation. According to the lists, cities including Roswell, Clovis, Roy and Espanola have one licensed medical marijuana producer each. The confidentiality surrounding producers was challenged last year in a lawsuit filed by freelance journalist Peter St. Cyr and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. They argued the Health Department was violating public records law by keeping producers' names secret. The changes apply only to producers and producer applicants.  The names of the state’s more than 21,000 patients in the Medical Cannabis Program remain confidential.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:41pm MST

KSFR's John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:36pm MST

Emerge is an organization working in ten states to provide training to women who aspire to run for public office. According to the New Mexico chapter’s executive director Reena Szczepanski, Emerge’s mission is to “recruit, train, and inspire Democratic women to run for office and win.” Emerge has trained more than 900 women nationwide, 125 of those in New Mexico. Emerge New Mexico emphasizes diversity in recruitment; over 50% of its alumnae are women of color. KSFR's Kate Powell brings us this report on an upcoming fundraiser for Emerge, that organizers hope will spark a conversation across generations of Santa Fe women.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:32pm MST

Today is Super Tuesday and during yesterday's HERE & THERE, Newsweek's National Politics Correspondent Nina Burleigh told KSFR's Dave Marash, Donald Trump has gone into the 12-state vote after perhaps his worst debate performance of the campaign.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:30pm MST

Both sides in America’s decades-long abortion debate await a Supreme Court ruling expected this week that could shape the future of reproductive healthcare legislation nationwide. The Supreme Court of the United States tomorrow will hear a case challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law requiring abortion providers to possess admitting privileges at hospitals. Santa Fe’s branch of Planned Parenthood has organized a free event to take placeWednesday, to inform community members about the upcoming ruling’s implications, and explore the intersection of sexual healthcare and politics through activities and games. KSFR’s Kate Powell sat down with Planned Parenthood area field organizer Darcy Strayer, and brings us this report. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:28pm MST

It's time to head to 19th century Romania for that country's submission for best foreign language film, Aferim! Will this Eastern European western be worth your time? KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:25pm MST

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