KSFRNews podcast

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

Direct download: 042916-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:25pm MDT

Today we check in New Mexico Political Report editor Matt Reichbach to hear about some of the week’s biggest stories, including the revelation in an article last night that employees at the New Mexico Human Services Department were instructed to alter the SNAP applications of some of New Mexico’s poorest residents. Kate Powell asks Matt about this and more.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_ReichbachReportApril29.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:25pm MDT

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder said he was reforming the use of civil forfeiture to confiscate cash and property from citizens not accused of any crime. But Holder did less than he had suggested, and now even his tiny reform has been reversed. Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham sorted out for KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE Holder's apparent promise and today's reality. 

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HT-Ingraham-CivilForfeiture.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:23pm MDT

Break out the Pabst Blue Ribbon, because David Lynch's classic film Blue Velvet is back in theaters this weekend at the Jean Cocteau Cinema. KSFR Correspondent Jeremy Zeilik let's you know why you should check out this surreal masterpiece.

Direct download: 37034_NEWS_BlueVelvetReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:21pm MDT

John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 042816-NewsAtNoon.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:06pm MDT

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and journalist Peter St. Cyr have dropped a lawsuit against the New Mexico Department of Health, regarding access to information about medical marijuana producers.  KSFR’s John Calef has the story.  

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_MedicalPotFOG.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:06pm MDT

Today we hear another installment in our series of oral histories from the Embudo valley, capturing Northern New Mexico’s culture and history.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_DuckworthStorycorps.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:04pm MDT

When SandRidge Energy proposed to look for oil a few miles outside of Rio Rancho late last year, the public was quick to raise concerns about how drilling would affect them. Rio Rancho Observer reporter Antonio Sanchez told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE why community members kept Sandoval County's oil in the ground.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_HT-SanchezRioRanchoFracking.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:01pm MDT

John Calef presents Santa Fe Local News at Noon

Direct download: 04272016NewsatNoon.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 6:35am MDT

There was another protest yesterday, held by employees of Lotta Burger at the intersection of Rodeo and Zia roads. Two organizers of the gathering Yesenia Barraza and Brenda Bohorquez  spoke with Marcela Dias and Elsa Lopez yesterday on their KSFR program Nuestra America. Yesenia began by explaining to Lopez and Diaz why they decided to take action against their employer, Lotta Burger.

 

Direct download: 042716_-_LottaBurgerprotest.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 6:29am MDT

Gerald Moore, a former senior editor at LIFE Magazine, had a reporting career that took him to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.  But he started here in New Mexico. Moore told K-S-F-R's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about his beginnings  as a journalist at the Albuquerque Tribune.

Direct download: 042716_-MooreHandT.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 6:26am MDT

John Calef presents Santa Fe Local News at Noon

Direct download: 042616_Local_News_at_Noon.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:34pm MDT

Donald Trump has gotten this far by making strongman promises that appeal to a specific base. But can new campaign manager Paul Manafort make Trump appeal to mainstream Republicans? NBC News political correspondent Steve Handelsman told K-S-F-R's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE that a move to the middle by Trump is necessary but unlikely.

Direct download: 042616_-_HandelsmanHandT.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:30pm MDT

Meow Wolf's opening multimedia art exhibition, the House of Eternal Return, has become a big hit not only among paying patrons but also nearby  businesses.  They credit the art collaboration for a big jump in customers and foresee a rebirth of the southside neighborhood. KSFR's Dennis Carroll reports. 

Direct download: 042616_-_meowwolfecon.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:27pm MDT

John Calef presents Santa Fe Local News at Noon

Direct download: Apr25LocalNewsatNoon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:48pm MDT

"Miles Davis remains one of the greatest musicians of all time. KSFR Correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out whether a new movie about the man’s life can match his unbridled body work.

Direct download: MilesAheadReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:45pm MDT

Among the many tragedies of the ongoing refugee crisis is the double displacement of 700,000 Syrian children who are not only out of their homes, but out of school. RAND Corporation analyst Shelly Culbertson has seen the plight of these children in person; she told K-S-F-R's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about the struggles they face.

Direct download: HereThereCulbertson.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:42pm MDT

On this morning's edition of the Santa Fe Radio Cafe, Mary-Charlotte interviewed Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national independent news program that airs twice daily on KSFR. During the 2016 election season, Goodman and her colleague Dennis Moynihan have taken the show on the road for a 100-city speaking tour benefitting the community radio stations that bring Democracy Now! to their listeners. Democracy Now comes to the Lensic in Santa Fe Tuesday evening. Mary-Charlotte asked Goodman why Democracy Now! often has the biggest news stories days, weeks, or even years before mainstream media picks them up. 

Direct download: Amygoodmanpt.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:39pm MDT

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

Direct download: 042216-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:57pm MDT

Today Attorney General Hector Balderas kicked off Money Smart Week in New Mexico with workshops scheduled to train people on elder exploitation, cyber security for elders, and also financial literacy and employment for younger folks.

Beginning today KSFR will explore issues facing older Americans, a growing segment of the American population…and sometimes the most vulnerable.  In light of Money Smart Week, We begin with a consumer story on how con artists target older adults, whose life savings and bank accounts are perceived to be ripe for the picking.   KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper brings us the story. 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_ElderMoneyScams.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:57pm MDT

The American Lung Association has released what they call the “State of the Air 2016”.  It’s an annual report on how clean the air is across the United States, and for individual cities and counties. New Mexico’s Air Quality has dropped from an A to a B of late, indicating that our once cleanest air in the country is in danger of being polluted.  KSFR’s John Calef has details on the study, and what it means for New Mexico.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_LungAssociation.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:43pm MDT

With big film and television productions coming to New Mexico from Hollywood, one would some local film talent would rise up as well. KSFR Correspondent Jeremy Zeilik tracked down Matthew McDuffie, a screenwriter and newly minted director, to talk about his new film Burning Bodhi, and the film industry in New Mexico. 

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_McDuffieInterview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:41pm MDT

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

Direct download: 042116-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:34pm MDT

Driving through midtown Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road can be a navigation nightmare these days, as the fourth phase of a road-widening project is underway.  KSFR’s Deborah Martinez spoke with the engineer in charge of the months-long project about the timeline and the goals the city has laid out to improve traffic flow.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_cerrillosRoad.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:33pm MDT

As part of an ongoing conversation about improving Santa Fe’s schools, an interfaith group of residents joined forces and talents. They want to not only recommend ways to improve problem areas in Santa Fe Public Schools, but also to help implement their suggestions. KSFR's Dennis Carroll has this report from their most recent forum.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_Educationforum.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:32pm MDT

White America is in the midst of an addiction crisis, and at its heart are oxycontin and other black tar heroin. Sam Quinones, author of 2015 Amazon Best Book DREAMLAND, told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE how one misinterpreted letter led to the rise of painkillers in America.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_HandTQuinones.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:30pm MDT

Today we hear another installment in our series of oral histories from the Embudo valley, capturing Northern New Mexico’s culture and history. Today we hear about the art of making Chicos.

Direct download: 37034_NEWS_Chicos.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:24pm MDT

While city officials unveiled a blueprint for next year’s budget that could include reduced library hours and higher parking and recreation fees, they plan to increase spending to set up a new film office and market the Santa Fe airport.  Today’s Santa Fe New Mexican noted the proposed budget lacks much detail.  The article quotes City Manager Brian Snyder saying the proposal achieves the goal of delivering a balanced budget plan that eliminates a $15-million structural deficit.  It pledges to end the habit of taking money from the water utility surplus funds and borrowing from reserves.  Administrators plan to close some of that gap by raising parking, land use and parks and recreation fees.  The city’s spokesman told the New Mexican that details of the plan will be announced tomorrow so the City Council can review and begin discussions on Monday.

The New Mexican also reports today on the American Lung Association’s report that gives Santa Fe County a ‘B’ rating, down from an ‘A’ for its air quality.  That could be because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards that changed last fall, lowering the level at which ozone levels exceed federal limits for clean air.  The EPA lowered the bar from 75, down to 70 parts per billion.  The New Mexican says the New Mexico Environment Department looks at factors that could affect those grades, including the weather, which can fluctuate.  Over the last 17 years of studies, the lung association said Santa Fe County has shown it has the cleanest air in the country, and is even competitive by world standards.  Compared to Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Dona Ana, San Juan and Valencia Counties scored ‘F’s for smog between 2012 and 2014.

 

Environmental groups are suing the federal government for its decision to extend operations at the Four Corners Power Plant and the Navajo Mine in Fruitland.

The Farmington Daily-Times reports that the suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and other federal agencies was filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges the agencies failed to thoroughly assess the potential impacts the coal-fired plant and surface mine could have on the environment and public health before approving the 25-year extension last July.  An Interior department spokeswoman says the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Erny Zah, a spokesman for Navajo Transitional Energy Company, says the tribe is considering its own legal action to argue that the energy project is protected by tribal sovereignty and treaty rights.

A class-action lawsuit targeting a company behind a line of cigarettes touted as natural has moved to U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

Three men from California, New York and Florida are suing the maker of American Spirit cigarettes, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., and its parent company, Reynolds American Inc.

The plaintiffs say the cigarette maker's marketing deliberately tries to mislead smokers into believing their products are healthier than other tobacco products.

According to documents, the lawsuit cites a Food and Drug Administration warning that the use of words such as "natural" or "additive free" in their advertising violates federal law.

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. spokesman Seth Moskowitz said Wednesday he could not comment on the lawsuit because of company policy.

 

New Mexico is planning to take legal action against the federal government after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly revealed its intention to release more Mexican gray wolves into the wild.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish confirmed Wednesday that its lawyers have filed a notice of intent to sue over the proposed releases.

Last year, the state denied the agency permission to release wolves, but federal wildlife managers countered that they had a responsibility to help the endangered species recover and that releases were part of that effort.

The plan was posted Monday on the agency's website for wolf recovery efforts. It calls for releasing a pack with pups in New Mexico and cross-fostering pups with packs that are already in the wild.  Federal officials have argued that releases and cross-fostering are the preferred methods for improving the genetic diversity among the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona.

 

Two semi-retired New Mexico state judges have been nominated to oversee a criminal fraud case against former Sen. Phil Griego after a string of judges in Santa Fe District Court declined to hear the case.  State prosecutors and Griego's attorney agreed to recommend substitute Judges James A. Hall of Santa Fe or Michael E. Martinez of Albuquerque. Defense attorney Tom Smith says they are both active as substitute judges.

The chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court is deciding what judge will weigh allegations that Griego used his role as a legislator to profit from the sale of a state-owned building in 2014.  Griego has pleaded not guilty to charges including fraud, bribery, tampering with public records.

 

A southern New Mexico county is considering expanding its port-of-entry.

Luna County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet in special session on Friday to discuss the plan. Residents will have the chance to speak about the proposal to expand the port-of-entry in Columbus.

Officials say the expansion is needed to increase freight through New Mexico and make it easier for the city and truckers to pass through.

Port-of-Entries throughout New Mexico along the U.S.-Mexico border have reported record traffic in recent years.

 

New Mexico Highlands University and the city of Las Vegas Museum want northern New Mexico residents to preserve their family documents.  The school's library and the museum will host workshops next week in Las Vegas on ways families can save documents going back the Spanish colonial era to frontier days.  Officials say those documents tell the story of New Mexico and should be preserved.

Lynn Gates, head of Donnelly Library's Archives and Cataloging Division, says it's important that families care and record what they have so documents aren't lost to their children and grandchildren.

 

Federal officials in San Diego say they have discovered an 800-yard-long secret tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in the seizure of more than a ton of cocaine and seven tons of marijuana.

The U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday that the tunnel extends from a house in Tijuana, Mexico, to a fenced lot in a San Diego industrial area.  The tunnel was equipped with a rail system, ventilation, lights and a large elevator.  The tunnel exit on the U.S. side is about 3 feet wide and was covered by a trash bin.  About 500 yards of the tunnel are on the U.S. side of the border.  Officials say six people were arrested in San Diego on Friday and charged with crimes involving drugs and construction of the tunnel.

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:09am MDT

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

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:50pm MDT

Today outside the Santa Fe Courtyard Marriott Hotel, protesters gathered as millions of acres of BLM land was auctioned off across the west. It’s a monthly auction event that today drew dozens of people who wanted to speak out against fracking on public lands. KSFR’s Dennis Carroll was there and brings us this report.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_DennisBLMsale.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:49pm MDT

Since the 1980s, a wave of democracy has swept the nations of the world. But is this wave receding? Brookings Institution fellow Ted Piccone told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about democracy at a crossroads.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereTherePiccone.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:47pm MDT

The Supreme Court of the United States yesterday heard oral arguments in US v. Texas, a case that will uphold or strike down President Barack Obama’s executive action to shield about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. In 2014, Obama unveiled Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, for short. But implementation of the action has been blocked by an injunction since early 2015.

KSFR’s Kate Powell checked in with Marcela Diaz of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. Marcela explains what DAPA was designed to do.

KSFR will continue to report on this Supreme Court case as it moves forward. 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_MarcelaDAPA.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:39pm MDT

Northern New Mexico College has had a difficult few years, including the departure of their last president amid extensive criticism over management and financial mishandling. However, the new search for a president isn’t without its share of controversy.


Direct download: 37032_NEWS_NorthernNMCollege.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:36pm MDT

The FBI managed to hack into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone without Apple's help, but the battle over phone privacy is far from over. Shane Harris, national security correspondent for The Daily Beast, told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about what will likely be a long legal fight between Apple and the FBI.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_HereThereHarrisAppleFBI.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:31pm MDT

The city of Santa Fe is ending employment for dozens of workers hired as temporary employees as it finalizes its budget for the next fiscal year that starts in July.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports City Manager Brian Snyder told a reporter that the 54 layoffs are not a budget-balancing measure, but an effort to follow best practices.  Some of the people hired on a temporary basis have actually been working well beyond their terms, some even for years, across all departments.  The New Mexican says their pay ranges from almost $11 to $40 per hour.  The city has been struggling to make budget cuts as it faces a possible deficit of up to $18-million.  Administrators have cut back some programs and will charge the water division a franchise fee, among other measures, but it still needs to cut operational costs by $5.7-million.  City finance chief Oscar Rodriguez has said a hiring freeze and job cuts by attrition will help close the gap.

 

Even though Governor Susana Martinez has pulled out of a planned speech at North Carolina’s state Republican Convention next month because of what staff calls a scheduling conflict, both her office and North Carolina officials say she plans to campaign with Governor Pat McCrory as he runs for re-election later this year. That’s according to today’s Santa Fe New Mexican. McCrory has faced fierce criticism after signing a law that makes it illegal for transgender people to use restrooms they identify with, rather than the gender listed on their birth certificates.  Since then companies have cancelled plans to relocate to North Carolina, and musicians have cancelled concerts.  Santa Fe’s mayor has banned taxpayer-funded travel to that state.

 

Intel Corporation is cutting thousands of jobs from its global operations, according to the Albuquerque Journal, although the paper says it’s not clear how Intel’s Rio Rancho plant will be affected. That facility has shrunk by 42 percent over the last three years, according to the Journal, leaving 1900 working at its sprawling facility northwest of Albuquerque.  The company says it wants to direct more resources to developing its market for mobile, data service and cloud-based technology, according to the Journal.  Intel says it will notify employees of layoffs in the next two months, and the reorg will be complete by next year.  Over the years Intel has received millions of dollars in tax credits from the State of New Mexico.

Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday announced a program that will use citizen watchdogs to monitor court hearings by state judges who are routinely lenient in drunken driving cases. She says social media feeds will soon be able to tell if drunken driving offenders are let off too easy.  Staffers with Mothers Against Drunk Driving will serve as monitors.  They'll send details about lenient sentences to state officials, who will identify repeat offenders and the judges in tweets or Facebook posts.  Martinez says the program aims to show the failure to crack down on those convicted of multiple DUI violations.  It comes as police departments from New England to the Southwest have taken to social media in recent years to post booking photos of suspects.

Governor Martinez is expressing fundamental differences with presidential candidate Donald Trump on his proposal to build a bigger wall along the southern U.S. border and make Mexico pay for it.  Martinez told the Associated Press on Tuesday that building fences can impact the U.S. economy and relationship with trading partners in Mexico and farther south.  The chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association confirmed comments made behind closed doors as she traveled last week to a Republican gala in New York City attended by Trump, and a Republican Governors Association fundraiser in Florida.  Martinez is frequently mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick. She says she understands the need for a secure border as a former prosecutor who has lived near the border for some 50 years.

Two Las Cruces residents accused of possessing a pound of methamphetamine have pleaded guilty to a drug charge.  David S. Thompson, 29, and Marlene C. Sandoval, 38, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  Authorities say the drug was discovered after the vehicle Thompson and Sandoval were in was pulled over for speeding in Dona Ana County.  The methamphetamine was found in a shoe inside the vehicle.

New Mexico's board of nursing is investigating a complaint that a Planned Parenthood nurse prescribed an abortion drug in violation of state law.  The Albuquerque Journal reports the complaint says the nurse practitioner who prescribed the abortion medication violated the law that stipulates licensed physicians alone can perform abortions.  Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Whitney Phillips said in a written statement that nurse practitioners are not performing surgical abortions.  Her statement references a 2007 lawsuit ruling that said nurse practitioners who prescribe the abortion drug mifepristone do not violate the state criminal abortion law.  Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved new labeling guidelines for mifepristone that gave women 70 days from the start of their last period to begin the medication.  The previous timeline was 49 days.  A drug task force in southwestern New Mexico is facing scrutiny over the handling and storing of evidence by law enforcement officers.

The Silver City Sun-News reports that Sixth Judicial District Attorney Francesca Estevez says she is aware of possible irregularities surrounding the federally-funded Region VII High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Task Force.  Estevez says officials have been told of allegations of lack of internal controls and a lack of policies or procedures involving evidence.  Officials say some cases involved missing incident reports.  The Region VII Drug Task Force is made up of local law enforcement officers assigned to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking in Grant, Hidalgo and Luna Counties.

Royalty owners and drillers who are tired of layoffs and losses resulting from depressed energy prices in the nation's most prolific oil-producing area are embarking on a grass-roots campaign aimed at salvaging a major sector of the U.S. economy.  Their target: foreign oil imports.  The effort launched with forums this week in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, home to the Permian Basin.  Supporters are pushing for the next president of the United States to issue a proclamation setting quotas for imports — something that hasn't been done in more than four decades.  Oil fell in the past two years from above $100 a barrel to touch 12-year lows under $30 a barrel earlier this year. Quota supporters blame Middle East producers for flooding the market and fueling the price war. 

In national news:

Tennessee lawmakers are scheduled to vote Wednesday on an effort to override Gov. Bill Haslam's veto of a bill seeking to make the Bible the state's official book.  The Republican governor last week turned back the bill over constitutional concerns and because of concerns the measure "trivializes" what he considers a sacred text.  Sponsors argued that the measure seeks to honor the economic and historical impact of the Bible in Tennessee history, rather than a state endorsement of religion.  But opponents say it diminishes the significance of the Bible to place it alongside other state symbols like the official salamander, reptile or rock.  It only takes majorities in both chambers to override a governor's veto in Tennessee. The Legislature is expected to adjourn for the year later today.

 

Direct download: 042016-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:43am MDT

 

Governor Susana Martinez’s administration is not responding to questions from the Santa Fe New Mexican, which on Sunday printed a damning report on problems with healthcare for prison inmates and a lack of oversight.  The report found that Corizon Health of Tennessee – the private company responsible for prisoner health care in New Mexico – faces 150 lawsuits alleging negligent care, sexual abuse and civil rights violations.  Department employees and the state auditor have warned the state about a lack of contract auditing of Corizon’s operations.  The company won’t say how much it has paid to settle any of those cases, in response to requests from the New Mexican, and it is bidding to continue serving the corrections department when its current contract expires next month.  Corizon is responsible for the state’s 7,000 inmates’ healthcare needs.

In other news about the state’s Department of Corrections: the state’s plan to fire the three prison guards in charge of two inmates who escaped while being transported across New Mexico last month has been rescinded.  Earlier this month, according to the New Mexican, corrections officials said the three officers who’d been placed on leave, had failed to follow security protocols when they had stopped at a gas station, and the two men, Lionel Clah and Joseph Cruz, managed to get out of shackles and hitch a ride to Albuquerque.  Their escape went unnoticed for six hours.   The New Mexican also reports that Joseph Cruz’s aunt, Felice Maes, has been arrested and charged with aiding a felon and assisting the men’s escape.  She reportedly picked them up at an Albuquerque hotel and took them to an apartment on March 10th.  She’s in jail on a $25,000 cash-only bond.

A new nonprofit organization hopes to attract some of New Mexico's growing film industry to southern New Mexico.  The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Film Las Cruces has recently launched a website and is searching for a new film liaison.  State Rep. Jeff Steinborn, Film Las Cruces president, says the group wants to build a film and entertainment arts workforce in the area to attract future productions.  Under an agreement, the city of Las Cruces will pay $95,000 per year for three years to allow Film Las Cruces to employ a full-time film liaison and run a film office to work with production companies.  In recent years, studios have launched a number of productions in Albuquerque and Santa Fe including AMC-TV's "Better Call Saul" and Netflix's "Longmire."

A Los Angeles woman who acknowledged carrying more 1 ½ pounds of cocaine into a bus station in Albuquerque has pleaded guilty to a drug charge.  Niesha Necole Williams pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Albuquerque to a charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.  Williams acknowledged possessing the cocaine in May.  Authorities say the bundle of cocaine was hidden under her clothes.

The Republican Party of New Mexico is keeping the door open for national delegate applications amid a push by the Donald Trump campaign to mobilize supporters.  A spokesman for the New Mexico GOP said Monday that self-nominations to participate in the Republican National Convention will be considered for two weeks beyond the April 15 deadline.  New Mexico's 24 delegates will be free to back any candidate if no one secures the nomination in the first round. New Mexico delegates initially are bound to follow voter preferences among candidates that win at least 15 percent of the vote on June 7.  Republican state lawmaker and Cruz supporter Rod Montoya criticized efforts to extend the deadline. The national delegate director for Trump says all the campaigns are grateful for the extension.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether federal felony charges can be filed against defendants who were previously convicted of multiple domestic violence counts in tribal courts that didn't provide attorneys.  The case set to be heard Tuesday marks a critical test for tribal courts — particularly those without the money to hire public defenders — at a time when Congress has begun broadening federal authority to prosecute violent crimes in Indian Country.  In domestic violence cases, a decade-old law has sought to combat high assault rates on reservations by transferring cases involving offenders with multiple convictions to the federal courts for possible stiffer punishments.  That statute is being challenged on the contention that defendants must be guaranteed counsel in tribal courts if their cases are ultimately grounds for stiffer penalties in U.S. courts.

A New Mexico Republican congressman is attempting a solo flight around the world to honor war veterans.  The Hobbs News-Sun Newspaper reports that U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce has nearly completed a worldwide expedition but his plane was sitting in a hangar in Spain this weekend while waiting for the weather to improve.  The 68-year-old began the planned 16-day trip on March 27, departing in his 1998 Mooney M20M Bravo from Las Vegas, New Mexico.  The original 21-leg flight plan had Pearce flying West to Hawaii through Asia on to the Arabian Peninsula then to Spain, Portugal, and eventually back to the U.S.  In Thailand, he left a memorial for veterans made by the Isleta Pueblo, one of 19 American Indian pueblos in New Mexico.

An exhibit on the famed Titanic is coming to eastern New Mexico.  The Hobbs News-Sun reports that artifacts from the doomed cruise will be on display at the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame beginning in July.  "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" is scheduled for July 28-Nov. 6 at the museum on the New Mexico Junior College campus.  The museum's exhibition will showcase personal belongings and pieces belonging to the ill-fated Titanic.  Visitors to the exhibition will see pieces of the ship, the china from which its first-class passengers ate, and clothing, shoes, and other items that belonged to the 2,223 passengers and crew members on board.

The vast majority of immigrant children arriving at the U.S. border alone are placed with adults who are in the country illegally. That's according to federal data reviewed by The Associated Press. The government has long said it places the children with family and friends regardless of immigration status. But since more children began arriving on the border in 2014, officials have not revealed how often those sponsors lack legal papers. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 7:52am MDT

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

Direct download: 041816-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:30pm MDT

Recently we explored the topic of New Mexico’s acequias, or ditches - how they are maintained, and what the governor’s veto of funding for every repair project means. For a podcast of that feature, Click Here.  Today KSFR’s Deborah Martinez talks with young members of a Colorado leadership class who’ve been getting to know Northern New Mexico’s farmers and their centuries-old tradition of irrigation.

Direct download: 041916Ditches2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:25pm MDT

In this week's edition of The Sporting Life, host Dan DeFrancesco reflects on Jackie Robinson's role at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. 

This will be the last Sporting Life for a time as our correspondent Daniel DeFrancesco heads to warmer southern climates.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_SportingLifeApr18.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:22pm MDT

Disney's reimagined Jungle Book has swung into theaters this weekend.  KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik went to see if the new version stands up to the original.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_JungleBookReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:20pm MDT

 

Santa Fe’s high school graduation rates went up over the last year, although one-third of students in the capital city still fail to graduate, or they don’t get their diplomas on time, according to the Albuquerque Journal.  Santa Fe’s graduation numbers climbed 2.4 percentage points under the leadership of Superintendent Joel Boyd.  Since he took the helm in 2012, the Journal found, the rate has gone up by 5-percent.  Overall, though, New Mexico’s grad rate dropped 7/10th of a percent.  Other districts that saw a drop from the 2014 to 2015 school year, include Albuquerque Public Schools, Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho.  Santa Fe’s went up, along with Belen Public Schools, and schools in the Los Lunas district, south of Albuquerque. 

New Mexico health officials are looking into the ability to do their own tests for the Zika virus as early as next month.  KOAT-TV reports that the New Mexico Department of Health recently started running test samples in its Albuquerque lab.  States have been sending potential samples to the Centers for Disease Control's lab in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Officials say having the state conduct its own tests means New Mexicans could receive results much quicker.  Department spokesman Dr. Paul Ettestad says the state lab is still trying to make sure it can adequately perform the testing.

National parks and monuments across New Mexico saw sharp increases in visitors last month.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns are among the parks that saw a rise in March.  Carlsbad Caverns National Park spokeswoman Valerie Gohlke says people have come despite the broken elevators.  Carlsbad received more than 51,000 visits, the best for the month of March since 2008.  White Sands near Alamogordo recorded more than 71,000 visits, the highest since 2002.  The National Park System is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  Gohlke says the marketing tied to the centennial, including an offer of free admission to fourth-graders and their families were likely factors.  The U.S. Geological Survey estimates New Mexico's national parks annually draw 1.6 million visits.

Santa Fe is considering establishing a program that would allow impaired drivers to leave vehicles overnight without the threat of a parking ticket.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Mayor Javier Gonzales is pushing a proposal for a parking voucher program aimed at inebriated motorists.  Under the initiative, a driver would be able to leave their vehicle in the downtown area until 10:30 a.m. the following day.  Parking enforcement officers typically start issuing tickets for meter violations around 8 a.m.  The idea was introduced to the City Council on Wednesday.  It is part of a larger effort to reduce drunk driving while encouraging people to spend more money downtown.

Researchers who studied a river in Colorado after a massive mine spill say runoff from fall storms kicked up the levels of some contaminants in the water but not others.  A report released Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency may offer clues about what will happen this year when melting mountain snow makes the Animas River run higher, potentially stirring up pollutants that settled to the bottom.  An EPA cleanup crew inadvertently unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater from the Gold King Mine in August. The spill polluted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.  The Mountain Studies Institute in Silverton monitored the river about 60 miles downstream from the mine for the EPA. Its report said concentrations of six contaminants increased after some storms, while the levels of five others decreased. Seven didn't change.

A Farmington family is featured in the latest episode of a National Geographic Channel series produced by actor Morgan Freeman.  Michele Peterson tells the Farmington Daily Times that she and her family got to work with the star for an installment of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman," which airs Sunday.  The program follows Freeman as he travels around the globe to explore different cultures and religions.  Peterson says her 12-year-old daughter re-enacted parts of the Kinaalda, a four-day womanhood ceremony for Navajo girls.  She says meeting Freeman was a delight and he asked a lot of questions.  Executive producer James Younger says filming took place near the Shiprock pinnacle in November.  He says the Petersons appear in about eight minutes of the 50-minute episode.

A former U.S. Postal Service employee in New Mexico has been sentenced to one year of probation for opening and destroying mail.  Federal prosecutors say 33-year-old Phillip Duran, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Thursday.  After entering his guilty plea, Duran also was ordered to pay an $800 fine.  Duran was charged last month with unlawfully opening other people's mail while employed as a U.S. Postal Service officer.  Prosecutors say Duran committed the crime between November 2015 and January 2016 in San Miguel County.

State and federal officials will be gathering in northern New Mexico next week to begin discussions about restoration projects aimed at offsetting damage stemming from mining operations in Questa.  The state, the U.S. Forest Service and Interior Department will be seeking public comment during a meeting next Wednesday regarding projects that would benefit groundwater and other aquatic resources in the area.  The ideas will be evaluated and included in a draft environmental assessment.  Any projects that are selected would be funded from a natural resources damage settlement that was approved by a federal judge in September 2015.  The agreement required Chevron Mining Inc. to pay $4 million for restoration work and transfer 225 acres of land in Taos County to the Bureau of Land Management.

 In national news:

Dead turtles have recently washed ashore along the Gulf Coast, and members of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies are working find out why.  A TV station in the area reports officials are trying to determine if the turtle deaths are linked to the BP oil spill in the Gulf that happened in 2010.  Wendy Hatchett, IMMS veterinarian technician, says the spike in deaths has officials concerned. She says whether its red tide or deaths left over from the oil spill, they really don't have a clue until tissue can be analyzed.  So far this year, 48 dead Kemps Ridley turtles have washed ashore across the Gulf Coast; including one turtle recovered Sunday and three on Saturday. 

The Supreme Court is taking up an important dispute over immigration that could affect millions of people who are living in the country illegally.  The Obama administration is asking the justices in arguments Monday to allow it to put in place two programs that could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and make them eligible to work in the United States.  Texas is leading 26 states dominated by Republicans in challenging the programs President Barack Obama announced in 2014 and that lower courts have put on hold.  The high court is expected to decide by late June whether the efforts can move forward in the waning months of Obama's presidency. A ruling will come amid a presidential campaign that has been marked by harsh Republican rhetoric over immigration.

 

 

Direct download: 041816-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:14am MDT

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

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:24pm MDT

First we’ll bring you this week’s roundup of the biggest news stories from NewMexicoPoliticalReport.com. Editor Matt Reichbach talks to KSFR’s Zelie Pollon about Gov. Susana Martinez's popularity as a potential vice-presidential nominee, transgender discrimination in Albuquerque schools, and more.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_MattReichbachApr15.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:23pm MDT

The Embudo Valley in Northern New Mexico is home to many cultural treasures—not least among these, its award-winning community library. Producer Judy Goldberg brings us this report on a library that’s expanded its services to become an immersive learning environment for community members of all ages. Library staff reflect on their work during National Library Week, and Judy introduces the first installment in a series of oral histories from the story-rich Embudo Valley.  

Tune into KSFR’s AT NOON on Thursdays to hear further installments in this series of oral histories.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_JudyTake2dy.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:21pm MDT

In 1952, sculptor Frederick Sommers was picking through a garbage dump in Jerome, Arizona, for objects to use in his artworks. Among the trash, Sommers found a collection of manuscripts by Spanish composer Manuel Areu. Sommers turned his find over to the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico. For the past few years, researchers have worked diligently to restore these works and bring them to a new audience. The New Mexico philharmonic will be making a world debut of this effort Sunday, with the never before heard music of Manuel Areu. KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik caught up with a UNM student who helped make this concert happen. 

For more information, or to purchase tickets to this event, visit nmphil.org.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_JeremyAreuFeature.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:19pm MDT

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Santa Fe is using even less water than it did in previous years, and new stats show the city is still the most conservative of many others across the country.  City officials told the public utilities committee that residents used 90 gallons per day in 2015, down from 95 gallons a day the year before.  By comparison, the Journal says, Albuquerque consumed 127 gallons per day last year.  Santa Fe water bosses say the reduction could be linked to the tiered rate system here where people who use less are charged less per gallon, and higher water users pay more.  The city also uses rebates to encourage low-water use appliances and toilets, plus rain barrels and water catchment systems.

Democrats in the race for district attorney in northern New Mexico are decrying a high number of out-of-state donations to one of the candidates whose father has been in politics here for decades.  Marco Serna has reported taking in $34,321 in the first campaign finance reports as of Monday, according to the Albuquerque Journal.   That’s almost three times the amount raised by the incumbent, Jennifer Padget, who was named to the position several months ago by Governor Susana Martinez.  The other Democrat, Maria Sanchez-Gagne raised $16,514, while the Republican in the DA race, Yvonne Chicoine, raised $3,436.  Serna, the top money raiser, is the son of Eric Serna, former state insurance superintendent who retired during a controversy 10 years ago and is now the attorney for a large, Florida-based insurance company.  Several of that company’s executives have donated a combined several thousand dollars to Serna’s campaign.  He says they simply share his vision for the DA’s office, according to the Journal.

New Mexico energy conservation officials have been hit with a flood of applications for the state's solar tax credit and are on track to meet the $3 million cap way before the end of the year.  The cap has been met each of the last four years, but officials say it'll likely happen by the end of July this year.  This marks the last year for the 10-percent tax credit. A measure that called for extending the incentive through 2024 stalled during the last legislative session.  State budget concerns were among the reasons. Some critics also argued the industry no longer needed the help, but supporters vowed to push again next year.  Energy Conservation and Management Division Director Louise Martinez says the program has stimulated the industry in New Mexico.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attended a fundraising gala on Long Island in New York as about 100 people protested outside.The event Thursday was held just blocks from where an Ecuadorean immigrant was stabbed to death in 2008 by a gang of teenagers who targeted Latinos. Protesters have said the event is a slur on the memory of the slain immigrant.  Trump told his supports he has a "great relationship" with Mexico and Hispanic people. He made no mention of the protesters who had gathered outside during his 20-minute speech.  Outside the event, police had established separate barricaded areas for Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators. Police said there were no arrests.  Trump said he anticipates Suffolk County will be "my single biggest margin" in the New York's Republican primary on April 19.

Meanwhile NM Governor Susana Martinez was honored at a Republican National Committee event in New York City.  Governor Martinez spoke immediately before Donald Trump, and the speech delivery did not demand the attention of the room, although she did receive polite applause as she spoke and guests dined. The Governor stuck to Republican talking points without the naming support for any of the Republican presidential candidates. 

Debra Haaland, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico said, “The policy priorities New Mexico has been suffering through the past five years under Governor Martinez are exactly in line with the reckless and racist priorities of Trump and other Republican candidates.”

Managers of the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico have earned positive marks and nearly all of the $13 million in performance pay that was available for the last fiscal year.The U.S. Department of Energy released documents Thursday that detailed the $11.7 million in fees earned by Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.  The plant has been shuttered since February 2014, when a radiation release contaminated part of the underground facility. As a result, the Energy Department's multibillion-dollar cleanup campaign has been derailed at defense sites across the nation.  Watchdogs called the fees outrageous, saying the contractor should have been docked for missing deadlines related to the installation of an interim ventilation system needed for reopening the repository.

New Mexico oil field regulators are providing evidence that a Texas-based driller spilled oily salt water repeatedly at waste-water injections sites without properly reporting it, and ignored initial warnings to stop.  The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division on Thursday provided testimony, photographs and a video at public hearing to back up allegations that Siana Operating of Midland, Texas, failed to report spills of contaminated water. The spill took place at a cluster of wells outside Eunice in the southeastern corner of New Mexico.  A newly hired attorney for Siana asked for more time to respond and was given two weeks until another hearing.  A violation finding from the adjudicatory panel would give enforcement officials authority to ensure compliance or declare wells abandoned, plug them and access security bonds.

The New York Times best-selling author and MSNBC web series host Janet Mock is scheduled to visit New Mexico State University to speak on gender identity.  The transgender activist is slated to appear on campus April 19 as part of the university's Pride Season.  Zooey Sophia Pook, coordinator of LGBT+ Programs at NMSU, will moderate the discussion. Mock will speak about her book, her experiences and the issues of identity and inclusion.  Mock is the author of the 2014 book "Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More." She is also the host of MSNBC's So POPular! weekly web series about culture. 

Anyone  missing their pet tortoise? That's what the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society wants to know.  Animal control officers with the Santa Fe Animal Services say they picked up a stray tortoise around 6 p.m. Wednesday in the downtown area.  The shelter's director of adoptions, Dylan Moore, has a background in working with exotic creatures.  He says the tortoise is likely an African spurred tortoise, a popular breed that does well in Northern New Mexico. Moore says the tortoise is about 2 feet long, 1 ½ feet wide and likely several years old. They have a lifespan of between 50 and 150 years.  Moore says tortoises are notorious for pushing through a fence or digging under a fence.  The wayward tortoise likely wandered off from its owner.

President Barack Obama is supporting an effort to give consumers more choice when it comes to the cable boxes that control which television channels they watch.  Most TV subscribers lease boxes from their cable service provider. The Federal Communications Commission is pursuing new regulations giving consumers more options to buy elsewhere. Obama will formally back that effort Friday.  One of Obama's economic advisers, Jason Furman, says the administration sparingly weighs in on FCC rulemaking. When the president gets involved, Furman says the issue is of "real great importance in his mind to consumers, to competition and to the economy more broadly."  The White House says the average household pays $231 annually to rent cable boxes. While the cost of making boxes has gone down, consumers are paying more.

 

Direct download: 041516-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:15am MDT

John Calef brings you local news at noon. 

Direct download: 041416-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:56pm MDT

Germany has become the most refugee friendly nation in Europe under Angela Merkel's guidance. Demetrios Papademetriou of the Migration Policy Institute told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE how Merkel's policies are benefiting not just refugees, but Germany, as well.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereTherePapademetriou.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:56pm MDT

State environment officials and leaders of Christus St. Vincent hospital are pointing fingers at each other about notifying the public that its private well was still in use, possibly causing high lead level readings over the last few years at the hospital.  Today’s Santa Fe New Mexican reports environment department records show the hospital’s well has not been in use for five years, but a spokesman for the hospital yesterday said it has continued to use that well since the mid-1980s, except for a short time in 2011 when it was shut down for repairs.  The New Mexican cites other deviations from rules that required the state regulators to issue notices of violation to the hospital for several years when it exceeded acceptable lead levels in its water.  The story follows Sunday’s investigative article in which the New Mexican found the hospital has had unacceptable lead levels in tests taken since 2011.  If the facility was using water both from city sources and its own well, that could account for the high sample levels found, according to the newspaper.

Plans will move forward to build an affordable apartment project in an industrial area off of Siler Road, now that city councilors have voted to donate five acres of city-owned land and waive fees for the complex.  The governing body took the unanimous vote after an hour of discussion.  Councilor Signe Lindell asked several questions about whether to put a cap on the donation.  In the end the Council gave the land to the proposed live-work group and waived $400-thousand in development fees for the project.  The land is worth $1.5-million, and the Arts and Creativity Center’s contribution will be about $2.2 million.  Lindell’s amendment puts a cap on Santa Fe’s contribution at the land’s appraised value.  Fifty of the 60-unit apartments will be rented to low-income residents.

Peabody Energy, the nation's largest coal miner, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, as a crosscurrent of environmental, technological and economic changes continue to affect the industry.  Peabody, a company founded in 1833 by 24-year-old Francis S. Peabody, will continue to operate as it moves through the bankruptcy process; however, Peabody's planned sales of its New Mexico and Colorado assets were terminated.  New energy technology and tightening environmental regulations have throttled the industry and led to a wave of mine closures and job cuts.  Coal still powers about a third of the U.S. electrical grid.  Peabody is the fourth major U.S. coal company to file for bankruptcy over the last twelve months.  Environmental groups warn the recent bankruptcy of Peabody and the other major coal companies could leave taxpayers responsible for billions in reclamation costs should coal mines start closing nationwide.  A key issue is a practice called self-bonding.  Self-bonding allows coal companies to promise to pay for mine cleanup instead of posting bond for mine reclamation up front.  Peabody has more than $1 billion in self-bonding obligations in Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado and New Mexico.  Company officials in a statement said the goal is to reduce its debts and position itself for long-term success. The coal company’s debt is said to be in excess of $6-billion.  Its Kayenta coal mine in northeast Arizona employs 430 people, according to its website.

Regents for New Mexico Highlands University have voted for steep double-digit tuition hikes.  The Las Vegas Optic reports that regent voted last week to increase the annual cost of attending Highlands by between $582 and $976. Regents also signed off on a new $150 per year student fee to improve campus life for students.  The 12.5 percent increase means tuition and fees for a full-time undergraduate who is a New Mexico resident will range from $4,800 a year to $5,550.  Highlands President Sam Minner says the tuition increase was not an easy decision.  Minner says the new student fees will fund the launch of a new outdoor experience program. 

Sandia Peak owners want to build a mountain roller coaster to attract tourists to one of Albuquerque's top spots.  Sandia Peak Ski Company and Peak Dining LLC are asking for a $9 million Industrial Revenue Bond to build the roller coaster. The money also would be used for a new restaurant, bistro and bar.  Sandia Peak president Benny Abruzzo says coaster riders would start at the top of the tram, and zip down the mountain.  Bernalillo County commissioners agreed Tuesday to consider financial incentives.  The bond would be sold to investors and the company would pay that money back.  If Sandia Peak gets the funding, they hope to complete the mountain coaster and restaurant by 2018.  The U.S. Forest Service would have to approve any plans for a roller coaster.

New Mexico officials say Medicaid patients are resorting increasingly to emergency room visits for routine medical issues amid some gaps in provider networks.  The Human Services Department overseeing the state's Medicaid program for the poor and disabled said Wednesday that the spike in emergency room use for routine medical conditions should not be seen as a long-term problem.  Human Services Secretary Brent Earnest cites a study of California Medicaid patients that shows a spike and subsequent large decline in emergency room use. He expects to see a similar outcome in New Mexico.  Emergency room costs for Medicaid patients increased by 17 percent in 2015 to $116 million from the previous year. 

Legislative analysts estimate New Mexico has spent an extra $5.4 million for Medicaid and cash food assistance benefits since 2014 as a result of a long-running class action lawsuit.  Staff for the Legislative Finance Committee announced Wednesday that additional benefits of $2.4 million have been paid out as a result of the 2014 ruling, with additional administrative costs.  The committee warned that upcoming court hearings could result in more significant sanctions and a partial takeover of the Human Service Department.  The so-called Debra Hatten-Gonzales lawsuit against the Human Service Department was brought in 1988 regarding eligibility for food stamps and Medicaid benefits. 

An energy equipment company has taken steps toward opening a long-term storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.  The News-Sun reports that Holtec International has submitted a letter of intent to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission about its bid to open a $5 billion Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in Lea County.  Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb says the formal notice to the NRC is the latest development in a years-long process.  The company's letter to the NRC says it hopes to submit a site-specific license application by the end of November.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is traveling to New York to join GOP presidential candidates at a fundraising gala ahead of that state's Republican primary.  A spokesman for Martinez says she left on Wednesday for New York City. The Republican Party of New York is paying for her trip.  Martinez had campaigned briefly for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before he dropped out, and has not indicated which remaining candidate she favors.  On Friday, Martinez plans to travel on to Palm Beach, Florida, for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. She is the chairwoman of the GOP fundraising group. The governors association will pay for travel to the event.

 

A former Japanese ambassador to Brazil and Spain is leading a delegation to New Mexico to talk about investment in the state.  Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi is scheduled Friday and Saturday to visit Albuquerque and speak about increased trade opportunities.  He also is expected to talk about changes in Japanese society, and how Japan is tackling the issue of its aging society.  Officials say Japan is the 4th largest export destination for New Mexico with exports to Japan totaling $74 million. 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:33am MDT

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

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:56pm MDT

In January, KSFR News broadcasted reports on a policy by the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department under Secretary Demesia Padilla, of withholding state income tax rebates from foreign national taxpayers who use Individual Tax Identification Numbers instead of Social Security Numbers to identify themselves in tax filings. We now bring you an update on that story.

Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:54pm MDT

Santa Fe Public Schools has taken the first step toward creating a new middle school by consolidating existing Capshaw and Devargas middle schools’ boundaries. KSFR’s Dennis Carroll brings us this report.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_DennisMiddleSchools.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:53pm MDT

Reforming the Albuquerque Police Department has been underway for more than a year, and the Federal Monitor in charge says he's not happy with how it's progressing. New Mexico In Depth reporter Jeff Proctor told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE why the process is proving so difficult.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_HereThereProctorAPD.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:53pm MDT

 

Immigrant advocates headed to court Tuesday after requesting an injunction against the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department to prevent it from withholding tax refunds from certain foreign nationals. They say the state practice targets people who file taxes using Individual Tax Identification Numbers. That practice by Taxation and Revenue is the subject of a lawsuit filed on behalf of immigrant families by Santa Fe-based immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.  State Senator Jerry Ortiz Y Pino compared the state’s action to accusations of fraud it levied against behavioral health providers three years ago.***#1Ortiz Y P: just like BH where they accused providers of fraud and then none of charges were founded.***Asked by the Santa Fe New Mexican about Senator Ortiz Y Pino’s statement, Tax and Rev Secretary Demesia Padilla said she has no idea why he would compare the two issues. In court Tuesday, attorneys for Taxation & Revenue argued the immigrant plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies to recover their tax rebates before filing their suit. Somos Un Pueblo Unido and Maldef were joined by Democratic State Representative Miguel Garcia and Senator Ortiz Y Pino, at a press conference at the Santa Fe District courthouse.  The lawmakers plan to be added as plaintiffs in the suit against the state.

US Senator Tom Udall is joining with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats in filing legislation that would require the IRS to develop a free, online tax preparation service.  The idea is that taxpayers could then file returns directly with the federal government.  The bill also would let taxpayers download third-party-reported tax information and ban the IRS from entering into agreements restricting its ability to provide the tax preparation services.  Warren will file the bill Wednesday.  Warren says taxpayers spend an average 13 hours preparing their taxes, paying about $200 for tax preparation services — almost 10 percent of the average federal tax refund.  The bill is co-sponsored by Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders and Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Al Franken of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

Authorities say the mother of a 9-month-old girl who was inside a vehicle when an acquaintance sped off in the SUV is jailed and charged with child abuse.  Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies say in court records that 23-year-old Karen Arviso was intoxicated and unable to provide information Monday afternoon to help authorities find her daughter when the vehicle went missing.  Authorities accused her of appearing unconcerned for the well-being of her daughter, who was found in the SUV after suspect Lorenzo Benally allegedly abandoned it.  Authorities say a detective had to break a window to get the child out of the vehicle.  Jail records indicate Benally was booked yesterday on suspicion of child abuse, kidnapping and unlawful taking of a vehicle.

Former New Mexico Sen. Phil Griego is keeping a political campaign account open even as he fights criminal fraud and bribery allegations linked to his tenure as a lawmaker.  Griego filed a campaign finance report this week with state election officials that shows no contributions or expenditures since six months ago, when his account had a $42,000 balance.  New Mexico politicians can keep campaign accounts open for years on end without actually running for office as long as they file periodic reports.  Griego resigned from the Senate in March 2015 after acknowledging constitutional violations. The Secretary of State's Office has flagged several campaign account expenditures by Griego last year for possible violations.  Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico says the situation "makes a joke out of our elective process."

Hawaii is looking for solutions to its homelessness crisis, and lawmakers are considering a program to help connect homeless people with day jobs.  They're modeling the three-year program after a similar approach in Albuquerque, and Tucson, Arizona.  The bill passed by the state Senate Tuesday also would provide workers with a lunch and a ride back to a shelter at the end of the work day.  Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the nation. The program would begin on the island of Oahu, where most of Hawaii's homeless people live.  Many homeless people don't have internet access or cars, and The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii says the bill could help overcome those barriers.

State officials are letting a New Mexico man take a road kill mountain lion to a taxidermist.  KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports the New Mexico Game and Fish Department recently gave the OK for Arcy Vigil to keep the big cat after he found it dead along Interstate 25 in northern New Mexico.  State officials took the cat after he called to report it. Officials say the cat appeared had died from injuries from a vehicle.  New Mexico law prohibits residents from picking up a trophy animal without reporting to authorities first.  Vigil says after getting the cat back he took it to a taxidermist and will likely put it on a full mount.

An annual independent audit of finances at the office of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has taken note of a peculiar, century-old fund used for social events that is off limits from review.  State Auditor Tim Keller highlighted results Tuesday of the independent audit that shows excess balances in the governor's so-called contingency fund are rolled over from year to year without legal justification.  Public accounting firm Axiom LLC was chosen by the governor's office to perform the audit for fiscal year 2015. It says an excess balance of $66,000 was rolled over into the current fiscal year.  Auditors recommended unspent funds be returned to the state’s general fund instead.  A spokesman for the governor's office says no audit has raised the issue before and that the governor follows longstanding precedent.

A local Texas union of Border Patrol agents narrowly voted down a motion to break from the National Border Patrol Council's endorsement of presidential candidate Donald Trump.  The El Paso Times reports Local 1929 in El Paso voted 14-13 Tuesday night to support the union's national endorsement and reject a proposal to take a neutral stance in the presidential election.  The GOP hopeful has drawn criticism for a pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and launch mass deportations of an estimated 11 million immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally.  The local represents about 1,700 agents — about 10 percent of the union's total membership — in the Border Patrol's El Paso sector, which covers New Mexico and West Texas.

An animal welfare group says it hopes undercover video filmed at a Pennsylvania farm showing how poorly hens are treated will get more U.S. food sellers to support cage-free eggs.  Mercy for Animals says video clips show chickens trampling each other, dead hens being pulled from cages and carcasses littering the floor. It says on Wednesday it's releasing clips recorded by an investigator who posed as a farm employee.  The Alpharetta, Georgia-based United Egg Producers group says a lot of its members believe cage-free is the future.

Direct download: 041316-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:17am MDT

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

Direct download: 041216-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:54pm MDT

Farmers in northern New Mexico were shocked to learn Governor Susana Martinez vetoed almost $1 million in funding for water projects that lawmakers from both parties had approved during this year’s session of the New Mexico State Legislature.  In her veto message the governor said acequias – or irrigation ditches for which the money had been appropriated – don’t contribute to economic development or create jobs.  KSFR’s Deborah Martinez visited an acequia in northern New Mexico, where the produce we buy from farmers gets its start. 

Direct download: AcequiasRemix.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:53pm MDT

It's known that driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence are common crimes on the road. But driving while black? University of Kansas scholar Chuck Epp told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about the trend of police targeting minority drivers for what they call "investigatory stops."

Direct download: 041216-HereThereEppDrivingWhileBlack.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:47pm MDT

A man has been convicted in the death of a 14-month-old Albuquerque boy he was babysitting last year.  Prosecutors say a 2nd District court jury Monday found Christopher Garcia guilty of child abuse resulting in death of a child under age 12.  The 30-year-old Garcia had been babysitting 14-month-old Isaac Arevalos with his wife when he said the child fell out of bed and lost consciousness on March 25, 2015.  The Albuquerque Journal reports paramedics weren't called until the child's mother took the boy to the home of his father.  By then, authorities say the brain damage was so severe that the baby died within two days.  Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced June 16.  Prosecutors say Garcia's wife is scheduled to stand trial in August in the case.

Authorities say a 9-month-old girl who was abducted while inside a vehicle stolen in Albuquerque has been located along with the vehicle.  Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy Felicia Romero says Ariana Smith was last seen in an SUV that was stolen around 2 o’clock yesterday. Romero says the child was found several hours later and was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.  The vehicle allegedly was taken by 23-year-old Leighraughnzo (loh-REN-zoh) Benally.  Deputy Romero says Benally is an acquaintance of the baby's mother and he allegedly took the SUV "with the full knowledge that the child was in the vehicle."

 

 

Farmers in New Mexico are already facing the unpredictable effects of climate change, and this year they have also had to digest a blanket veto of all infrastructure project money by Governor Susana Martinez.  The governor said no to almost $1-million in capital outlay money that had been approved by Republican and Democratic legislators alike, with Martinez calling the projects “pork” that didn’t produce jobs in the state.  But the head of the state’s Acequia association, Paula Garcia, disagrees with the governor’s assessment that ditches don’t contribute to the state’s economy.

PaulaG#2: “Agriculture is still a vibrant part of the economy in NM, including in my county of Mora-where the per capita income is $18K and the money they raise on their cattle and alfalfa is huge.”

Garcia says tourism also benefits from the verdant fields and orchards where the state’s fruits and vegetables are cultivated and fed by the Acequias.  She says farmers might have to dig deeper into their own pockets to finance some of the badly needed projects like concrete diversions that are crumbling and for which Acequias will have to wait at least a year to request legislative funding again.  You can hear more on New Mexico’s Acequia system and how it works, today on our At Noon news program.

 

Another judge has recused himself from the public corruption case against former New Mexico state Sen. Phil Griego.  Now that District Judge David Thomson has withdrawn from the case, all nine judges in the Santa Fe-based judicial district have either been excused or recused themselves.  That puts the case on hold until a retired judge can be brought in, or until the chief Supreme Court Justice assigns one from outside the 1st Judicial District.  State Attorney General Hector Balderas has filed 10 criminal counts against Griego including fraud, perjury, tampering with public records, and bribery.  Prosecutors say Griego used his role as a senator to orchestrate the sale of a state-owned building near the state capitol in downtown Santa Fe.  Griego resigned last year, after several terms as a state senator and a Santa Fe city councilor before that. He has pleaded not guilty to fraud, bribery and other charges.

The New Mexico Tourism Department says it will allow some state businesses to use the popular "New Mexico True" brand on their products.  State officials said Tuesday it will launch a New Mexico True certified program to highlight businesses that are uniquely New Mexican.  To earn a certification, products must be 100 percent made in New Mexico, animals and livestock must be raised in New Mexico, or products must be grown in the state.  Gov. Susana Martinez says the program is aimed at drawing more attention to products from the state.  Four years ago, the New Mexico Tourism Department unveiled the New Mexico True campaign, which promised tourists that they would encounter "adventures steeped in culture."

A northern New Mexico city hopes a "so damn authentic" campaign brings in new tourists.  The Las Vegas Optic reports the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico is set next month to launch a new marketing effort that highlights everything from the city's recreational hot spots and the ghosts that allegedly roam the town.  City officials and Santa Fe-based Cisneros Design unveiled the new "so damn authentic" advertising campaign last week and said the slogan will be used on everything from print ads and billboards. The city also will revamp its tourism website and push a social media campaign.  The campaign plans to collect hundreds of stories about Las Vegas and post them on a new DamnAuthentic.com website that is scheduled to go live on May 1.

Federal officials say a fatal airplane crash in in northern New Mexico doesn't appear to have been caused by mechanical problems.  The Los Alamos Monitor reports that a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found no mechanical issues with the single-engine rental plane that crashed near Ohkay Owingeh Airport near Espanola in March.  Los Alamos residents Karen Ann Young and Thomas Spickermann were killed in the crash. Authorities say Young was the pilot.  State Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Armijo says there were no other people aboard the plane.  The NTSB is expected to follow up the initial report with a more thorough report that includes the cause of the crash.

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:57am MDT

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

Direct download: 041116-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:35pm MDT

For two days on April 8th and 9th, Santa Fe's convention center was transformed into an enormous dental office, providing free, no-questions-asked services ranging from tooth cleanings to complete dentures. For the past five years, New Mexico Mission of Mercy has provided dental services in sometimes critically underserved areas. This was the first mission of mercy event to be held in Santa Fe. KSFR's Kate Powell was there and brings us this report. 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_DentalPiece.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:34pm MDT

The Democratic party of today has been shaped by its support for the idea of meritocracy. Thomas Frank, author of Listen, Liberal, told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE why this has not made the Democrats a better party.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereFrankMeritocracy.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:28pm MDT

In this week's edition of The Sporting Life, host Dan DeFrancesco considers the Golden State Warriors' impressive record this NBA Season.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_SportingLifeApril11.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:21pm MDT

Even though Mayor Javier Gonzalez issued a statement after a state audit of the city’s $30.4-million parks bond spending, saying no fraud was committed, the Albuquerque Journal says it has found some procurement irregularities.  State Auditor Tim Keller did a special audit after a general audit found problems with the way the parks bond money was spent.  The Journal report shines a light on audit findings that a city worker whose relatives owned a company profiting from bond money had authority to decide who would be awarded contracts for parks work. The total of those contracts over several years, according to the Journal’s investigation, was more than $115-thousand.  The money was awarded to Ulibarri Landscaping, and the employee – Ben Gurule – is married to the daughter of the late Alfonso Ulibarri, the owner of the company. The Journal found Gurule was directly involved in executing the bond. The city’s spokesman says City Councilors will be looking at tightening the purchasing manual so as to avoid potential conflicts of interest in the future. The audit stated city leaders were aware of a potential conflict of interest, but records don’t indicate the city took action, according to the Journal.

The founder of a mail-order green chile club says he has every intention of getting people their money back since the business never heated up.  Jaime Dubuar Dean said Sunday that he is working on securing capital to give out refunds and owed chile shipments to dozens of subscribers. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/1VgrobQ) that people purporting to be customers recently posted accusations on Facebook that they never received orders from Dean's Green Chile Club after paying into it.  Dean told The Associated Press that he suspended all shipments in December when it became clear his subscriber base was not big enough. Dean says he owes about 80 customers between $35 and $100 each, depending on if they had signed up to receive chile for one or three months.

Last week Mayor Javier Gonzales banned city travel to North Carolina and other states where laws have been passed endorsing discrimination.  But on Friday the mayor’s spokesman told the Santa Fe New Mexican that he is headed to the country of Qatar – a country the US State Department says discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people “under the law and in practice.”  After questions about that discrepancy, the spokesman said the mayor wasn’t sure yet whether he actually would travel to Qatar, according to the New Mexican – but he added that the trip was to be funded by the government of that country, not Santa Fe taxpayers, and that if he did go, he would raise the issue of inequality with government representatives he’d be meeting with there.

 

Utility regulators are launching three weeks of hearings today to decide if Public Service Company of New Mexico can charge customers nearly 15 percent more on their electricity bills.  The Albuquerque Journal reports environmental and consumer groups have opposed the plan as an attempt to push more rate responsibility from industrial and institutional customers to residential and commercial users.  Public Service Company of New Mexico says the new revenue will pay for electric system investments it has made since the last rate hike was approved in 2010.  Only a few members of the public gave comments to the PRC last Thursday.  Those who spoke mostly said they didn’t want to see a hike in rates.

Control of the New Mexico House and Senate are at stake as candidates and political committees stockpile cash in advance of a June primary and November general election.  Political candidates and committees are filing campaign finance reports as a midnight deadline approaches for disclosing contributions and expenditures for the past six months. The filings give the public its first glimpse at campaign fundraising accomplishments since candidates for statewide and local elections registered in March.  Republicans hold a 37-33 majority in the state House or Representatives, while Democrats control the Senate 24-18.  The November election also will decide on a new Secretary of State to complete the 2015-2019 term started by disgraced Republican Dianna Duran. Duran resigned in October and pleaded guilty to felony fraud and money laundering charges.

A system that provides drinking water for a Santa Fe hospital is among several in New Mexico where testing has turned up elevated levels of lead.  An Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Environment Department found that 20 small water systems across the state have exceeded the federal lead standard at least once in the last five years.  Nationally, nearly 1,400 water systems serving 3.6 million Americans have exceeded the federal standard at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015.  In New Mexico, the systems include St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, elementary schools in Santa Fe and Quemado and the state prison in Roswell. Other private systems that serve neighborhoods in rural areas also are on the list. 

Dona Ana County Treasurer David Gutierrez has pleaded not guilty to charges related to public corruption.  The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that court records indicate that Gutierrez's attorney filed a waiver of arraignment, allowing Gutierrez to formally plead not guilty.  A grand jury indicted him last month.  He now faces one of three possible violations of the state statute on ethical principles of public service.  He is charged with using public office to obtain personal benefit or failure of a public official to disclose a conflict of interest or a lack of integrity.  In a separate hearing, a grand jury last month formally accused Gutierrez of corruption in office or gross immorality by a public official.  If found guilty, he could be removed from office.

A Four Corners college that borders the Navajo Nation is joining the ranks of higher-learning institutions across the country in recognizing "Indigenous Peoples Day."  The Daily Times in Farmington reports San Juan College recently approve the change following a resolution by the Associated Students of San Juan College.  The action came after a group of students approached the student government last year with concerns about Columbus Day and shared its reasons for recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day on campus.  The college does not list Columbus Day on its academic calendar, and the campus in Farmington remains open during the federal holiday.  According to the student government resolution, adopting Indigenous Peoples Day is "not to be misconstrued as an effort to supplant any existing federally recognized holidays."

A University of New Mexico medical student says the school unfairly punished him for a Facebook post that was critical of President Obama's re-election and compared Democrats to Nazis.  A lawsuit filed last week in federal court claims Paul Hunt's free speech rights were violated after the school forced him to revise his profanity-laced, ant-abortion rant in 2012 and still left negative references about the episode in his academic file.  His lawyer says the references could jeopardize his chances at getting into a good residency program after graduation.  But attorneys for the University of New Mexico School of Medicine say Hunt violated the school's social media and professionalism policies. The lawyers say he was given due process to address the complaints.  Hunt is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Fifteen former presidents of the American Bar Association are joining the push to urge Republicans to consider President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee.  In a letter to Senate leaders, the 15 argue that the GOP blockade is injecting politics into the courts that "materially hampers the effective operation" of the judiciary.  The group calls Chief Judge Merrick Garland, Obama's pick, as "one of the most outstanding judges in the country."

Direct download: 041116-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:22am MDT

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

Direct download: 040816-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:08pm MDT

From Political corruption in court to the state’s behavioral health crisis, we speak to Matt Reichbach with New Mexico Political Report about some of the week’s biggest news stories.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_ReichbachApril8.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:08pm MDT

The newly renovated museum at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque is already drawing visitors from near and far. KSFR's Dennis Carroll toured the museum on its opening day last Saturday. 

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_PuebloCultural.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:00pm MDT

Hardcore Henry is one of the first films to be entirely shot in first person from a go-pro camera. Does the thriller rise above the gimmick? KSFR film correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_HardcoreHenryReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 12:55pm MDT

Early this morning, volunteer dentists began working on patients who have neglected their dental health.  The event is at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center downtown, where for the first time in Santa Fe, the Mission of Mercy is providing free basic care today and tomorrow – no questions asked.  The Santa Fe New Mexican says volunteer dentists expect to serve about 600 northern New Mexicans each day.  Despite the fact that dental health is key to overall health, people who can’t afford regular exams put off getting them.  And that can lead to gum disease, losing teeth, and stomach and heart ailments. The New Mexican reports about 57-hundred people have received acute care from the Mission of Mercy since its free dental clinics began in New Mexico six years ago.  It is sponsored by the New Mexico Dental Association Foundation.  It says the problem is not a lack of dentists in the state, but rather the cost, and the rural nature of New Mexico that results in the lack of dentists and doctors outside of metropolitan areas. The event at the convention center runs until 5:30 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Also planned outside the convention center this morning at 10:00 is a rally in support of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  Supporters will gather at 10 on the lawn in front of the main Post Office on Federal Plaza – a short distance from the convention center – and march from there, accompanied by percussionist and chanting.  The event is called “Flash for Bernie.”

Health care workers are raising concerns about closed-door meetings as New Mexico forges a plan to rein in spending on Medicaid by some $400 million under a new state budget.  An advisory group is scheduled to deliver its first recommendations Friday on reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates for medical procedures to health care providers.  Union representatives say they were shut out of a meeting of the advisory group this week, as tensions rise over cost containment measures needed by July.  The state has underfunded Medicaid by $85 million between now and mid-2018, and will forgo more than $300 million in federal matching funds as a result. The Human Service Department that oversees the state Medicaid program says recommendations by stakeholders will be made public — though meetings were kept closed.

The U.S. Postal Service has announced it will commemorate Bandelier National Monument on a forever stamp his summer.  The stamp image was previewed yesterday, as the fourth of 16 stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.  Tucked into northern New Mexico's ancient canyons, Bandelier has a long human history that stretches back more than 11,000 years. It is located near present-day Los Alamos. Other National Park forever stamps unveiled feature Acadia National Park, Arches National Park and Assateague Island National Seashore.

A 56-year-old New Mexico man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for transporting a 13-year-old Missouri girl across state lines to engage in sexual activity.  U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson says Raymond C. Vallia III of Albuquerque was sentenced Wednesday in Kansas City. He pleaded guilty in November to transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.  The Henry County, Missouri, Sheriff's Office responded to a home in March 2015 to investigate a report of a missing girl. Officers determined the girl met Vallia on the Internet, and he had picked her up at her home.  New Mexico State Police stopped a vehicle matching a description of Vallia's the next day. The girl was found in the vehicle, and Vallia was arrested.

Authorities say shots were fired during a road rage dispute near an Albuquerque elementary school, prompting a lockdown at the school.  Deputy Felicia Romero, a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, says no one was injured in the dispute Thursday afternoon, which authorities are continuing to investigate.  The sheriff's office has not released names in connection with the road rage dispute, but says it involved a blue Nissan Pathfinder and a white, four-door Buick. Authorities say the road rage incident began near a busy intersection about two miles from Sierra Vista Elementary School.  The lockdown was lifted later Thursday afternoon, and parents were then able to sign out their children.

An Arizona woman who served prison time in connection with the 2009 disappearance of her baby has been extradited from New Mexico where she was arrested for a probation violation.  Authorities say 29-year-old Elizabeth Johnson was booked into a Phoenix jail Thursday and awaits a court hearing.  Johnson was arrested last week for violating the terms of her probation. None of the allegations stem from the case of her missing 8-month-old son Gabriel, who has never been found.  Among other things, Johnson is accused of failing to get approval before traveling out of New Mexico or associating with a person with a criminal record and not notifying probation officials when she got married last December.  Johnson was released from Arizona's Perryville prison in July 2014 after serving about 17 months.

New Mexico's attorney general is stepping up pressure on administrative staff at the Legislature to turn over subpoenaed documents in a criminal corruption investigation of former Sen. Phil Griego.  The attorney general's office filed a rebuttal Thursday to the continued refusal to release records by the Legislative Council Service. The council service helps lawmakers draft legislation and says it is duty-bound to protect correspondence with legislators and other documents to preserve the integrity of the legislative process.  Griego has pleaded guilty to charges including fraud and bribery. Prosecutors allege he used his role as a senator to arrange a $51,000 commission on the sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe.

Pope Francis has insisted that individual conscience should be the guiding principle for Catholics negotiating the complexities of sex, marriage and family life in a major document that rejects the emphasis on black and white rules for the faithful.  In the 256-page document "The Joy of Love," released today, Francis makes no change in church doctrine.  But in selectively citing his predecessors and emphasizing his own teachings, Francis makes clear that he wants nothing short of a revolution in the way priests accompany Catholics. He says the church must no longer sit in judgment and "throw stones" against those who fail to live up to the Gospel's ideals of marriage and family life.  will forgo more than $300 million in federal matching funds as a result.He said of the church: "We have been called to form consciences, not replace to them."

 

Direct download: 040816-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:06am MDT

KSFR's John Calef presents Santa Fe's local news at noon

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:14am MDT

Last night at St John’s College, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke to an audience a thousand people strong about her life, obstacles she overcame to join the country’s highest bench and how people need to be involved in the political process. KSFR’s Dennis Carroll was there and brings us this report.

Direct download: 040716_-Dennis_on_Sotomayor.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:03am MDT

A crisis in public health makes headlines, but, Rich Hamburg, the deputy director of the Trust for America's Health, told K-S-F-R's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE, when it comes to set budgets,  public health has to scramble for every dollar.

Direct download: 040715-HereThereHamburgPublicHealth.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 7:59am MDT

7:29

The superintendent of the Espanola School District won’t be in that office anymore because she resigned last night. The Espanola School Board appointed Bobbie Gutierrez to the northern New Mexico schools post a year ago with a goal of raising its graduation rate and test scores.  The 59-year old Gutierrez, who had also headed Santa Fe Public Schools for four years prior to current superintendent Joel Boyd, resigned during an executive session of the Espanola board last night.  The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the school board meeting room at Carlos Vigil Middle School was filled with parents who voiced concerns for over an hour.  The New Mexican story says a teacher at Espanola High School saw Gutierrez secure a $300-thousand dollar grant to hire counselors, and that she made other advances to set the Espanola schools on secure footing for the future.  Neither school board President Pablo Lujan nor Gutierrez would say why she stepped down.  It’s not clear if it had anything to do with her placing head basketball coach Richard Martinez on leave several weeks ago.

The Albuquerque Public School Board has postponed a discussion about whether to extend the contract of acting Superintendent Raquel Reedy or open up the job to other candidates.  The board had been set to discuss the matter Wednesday, but delayed any action until April 20 because a board member had a death in the family.  Reedy's contract with the district runs through June.  Members of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the Albuquerque NAACP have voiced their support for Reedy, who they describe as a strong leader.  Reedy took over as superintendent on Aug. 31 after Luis Valentino resigned. Valentino had faced criticism after the district failed to complete its background check on then-deputy superintendent Jason Martinez, who had been charged with sexual assault on a child in Colorado.

The National Weather Service says last month marked the driest March for New Mexico in more than 100 years.  The agency said New Mexico saw its driest March since 1895 as drought has returned to the state.  Close to 20 percent of New Mexico is in moderate drought.  Almost all of the remainder of the state is classified as abnormally dry.  A dry spell that started in January and continued through February and March has permitted drought and very dry conditions to creep back into the state.  The wet El Nino that was predicted fizzled out after a couple of early winter snowstorms raised hopes that the drought was over. 

A member of the Supreme Court says U.S. law has become too complex for someone without extensive legal experience to work on the nation's highest court.  A student at St. John's College in New Mexico asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor last night whether there is still a place on the court for non-jurists like Earl Warren and Louis Brandeis.  Sotomayor says the law has become exponentially more complicated since their time and that a lot of that is the Court's own creation. She said legal experience is a must.  Questions were not allowed regarding Supreme Court appointee and federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland and the Republican effort to delay the current confirmation process.

A judiciary committee has redrafted state district court rules to bar judges from setting a bail bond higher than a defendant can afford for the sole purpose of keeping the person behind bars before trial.  The move Wednesday came less than two months after state lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment with similar language that will go before voters for final approval in November.  Officials say the changes approved by the state Supreme Court's Pre-trial Release Committee at a meeting yesterday aren't tied to the proposed constitutional amendment. The amendment also would allow judges to deny bail to defendants who are considered a danger to the public.  The committee's proposed changes must still be approved by State Supreme Court justices.

Nearly 50 mining sites in southwestern Colorado, including one that spilled a torrent of wastewater into New Mexico and Utah last summer, are a bit closer to getting funding for a comprehensive cleanup.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the sites, along with seven other locations nationally, to its list of sites with priority to get Superfund funding Wednesday.  The EPA has proposed a Superfund designation for the Gold King Mine and other nearby sites before but residents feared it would hurt the tourist-dependent economy. Local governments along with Gov. John Hickenlooper now endorse it.  The EPA will take public comment on the proposal before deciding whether to add the sites. If they are, cleanup work could still be months or years away after studies and planning.

Santa Fe officials will consider an updated plan to bring water to the city through a pipeline from eastern New Mexico.  Roswell rancher Ron Green proposed a similar plan in 2007, causing widespread opposition in the southern part of the state. The controversial idea was the subject of 35 protests before the Office of the State Engineer rejected it in 2011.  Green says Santa Fe officials invited his company Berrendo LLC to discuss the new proposal. A City Council committee meeting will continue the discussion on Wednesday.  A memo by city water resources coordinator Andrew Erdmann says the new pipeline route would take water from Fort Sumner to Encino, then north along U.S. 285 to Interstate 40, east on I-40 and north into Santa Fe.

Staff attorneys and advisers to the New Mexico State Legislature are standing by their refusal to turn over documents to prosecutors in the criminal investigation of former state Sen. Phil Griego.  The Legislative Council Service said Wednesday in court filings it is duty-bound to protect privileged communications between lawmakers, including Griego and aides who help draft legislation.  New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas alleges that Greigo used his role as a senator to profit from the sale of a state owned building, and has subpoenaed background files on a legislative initiative that paved the way for the sale. Prosecutors also are seeking records from a Senate ethics committee that investigated the matter. That investigation prompted Griego's resignation in March 2015.  Griego has pleaded not guilty to fraud, bribery and other charges.

Direct download: 040716-37072_NEWS_7amNewscastSeg2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:32am MDT

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

Direct download: 040616-37057_NEWS_12pm__Newscast.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:17pm MDT

Now that the attorney general has exonerated all of the nonprofit New Mexico providers accused of fraud in the mental health upheaval of 2013, questions remain about whether the money held by government officials will be returned.  KSFR’s Deborah Martinez reports an attorney for 10 providers is demanding Governor Susana Martinez’s administration follow federal law and release reimbursement funds immediately.  Meanwhile the governor is lashing out against the attorney general.

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_BehavioralHealthDeb.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:17pm MDT

The coal industry is shrinking, leaving many former miners unsure about their future. International Business Times energy reporter Maria Gallucci joined KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE to describe how replacement jobs are being sought in places like Steubenville, Ohio.

 

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_HereThereGallucci.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:13pm MDT

Now that New Mexico’s attorney general has found none of the mental health providers accused of fraud committed any crimes, the attorney for 10 of the nonprofits suing the state wants it to pay back the money frozen three years ago.  Most of those businesses have had to close their doors since the Martinez administration stopped payments and paid $24-million to five Arizona companies to set up shop in New Mexico.  Bryan Davis says federal rules established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are clear.  *Davis: if no crime was committed, money withheld must be returned.*  Davis says some of his clients want the state to reinstate their Medicaid billing status and get back into business.  The New Mexico Human Services Department has not answered KSFR’s question of when that money will be reimbursed, now that all 15 accused providers have been exonerated.  Stay tuned to our At Noon newscast today for a full-length story on the behavioral health crisis in New Mexico.

Bronx-born Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is sharing her story with students at a private college in New Mexico that is dedicated to reading the great books of the Western canon and Eastern traditions.  Sotomayor is scheduled to speak today at St. John's College in Santa Fe.  The engagement includes an onstage discussion with St. John's President Mark Roosevelt and questions from the audience.  Sotomayor is a witness to how the high court operates with eight justices amid Republican efforts to delay the confirmation of federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland as a successor to deceased justice Anthony Scalia.  The jurist of Puerto Rican descent is providing signed copies of a recent memoir tracing her life from a Bronx housing project to the nation's highest court. 

A new complaint says U.S. Border Patrol agents are looting immigrants of possessions before deporting them to Mexico without their IDs or money.  The ACLU of New Mexico and a coalition of advocacy groups filed the administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday and say the seizures are endangering migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.  According to the complaint, immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally were deported without their belongings in 26 separate cases. Advocates say immigrants were deported to cities in Mexico where they have no acquaintances.  ACLU of New Mexico attorney Kristin Greer Love says the seizures have been occurring along the border for years.  DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen says the department has a policy of safe-guarding detainees' property.

A criminal fraud and bribery complaint against former New Mexico Sen. Phil Griego has been reassigned to a new judge for the ninth time.  Santa Fe District Court Judge David Thomson was handed the case Tuesday. Griego's attorney excused Judge Sarah Singleton without explanation under provisions designed to ensure impartiality.  Griego pleaded not guilty at a Monday arraignment to criminal counts including fraud, bribery, perjury and tampering with public records. He was released on his own recognizance without a bail requirement.  If one more judge is excused, the next would need to be called in from another district or out of retirement.  Previously, seven judges recused themselves from the Griego case. Delays in the case have highlighted ties in Santa Fe among politicians and judges.

 

State health officials say a 54-year-old man from Cibola County has died of hantavirus.  The New Mexico Department of Health says it's the second case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in the state this year.  An environmental investigation will be conducted at the patient's home to help reduce the risk to others.  The name of the victim wasn't released yesterday.  Hantavirus is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva.  People can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. Health officials say the deer mouse is the main carrier for the hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.  Since 1993, New Mexico has reported 103 lab-confirmed HPS cases with 43 deaths. That's the highest number of cases of any state.

The University of New Mexico has installed 21 "lactation stations" on campus for breastfeeding mothers, and the state's other universities may be following its lead.  KRQE-TV reports that the university also has a new lactation policy and a breastfeeding support group. Women on the campus say the lactation stations are a huge relief and prevent the need to breastfeed or pump in restrooms.  The New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force is impressed with UNM's lactation policy and wants to use it as an example for other colleges and universities in the state. The Task Force's workplace liaison, MJ Vargas, says the policy helps reduce the disparity for moms going back to school.  Central New Mexico Community College and New Mexico State University have also added lactation stations.

Residents and businesses opposed to Albuquerque's rapid transit project are suing.  Attorneys filed two lawsuits Monday that ask a judge to stop the project, arguing the city violated the National Historic Preservation Act as well as local and federal laws.  Mayor Richard Berry's chief staff member Gilbert Montaño says the city has confidence in the project's legal standing.  Construction is scheduled to start in the summer.  One lawsuit was filed in federal court while the other is in state court. Both name federal and city officials.

And just across our southern US border, the Mexican army says it has discovered almost an acre of opium poppies growing in the township of Ensenada, near San Diego.  Soldiers destroyed the two poppy plantations in the hills near the Baja California city, which is about 60 miles south of the California border.  Opium poppies are usually a mountain crop grown farther south in Mexico. But Mexican cartels have been expanding poppy production to export heroin to the United States.  The army's Second Military Region said in a press statement Tuesday that the poppies were destroyed by cutting and burning. Smaller marijuana plots found in the same area Monday also were destroyed.

 

 

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 7:56am MDT

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

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:07pm MDT

Yesterday, we brought you interviews with an attorney fighting for justice and transparency for survivors of sexual abuse within the Santa Fe Archdiocese, and with a group of survivors who have broken their silence in hopes of making change for a new generation of Catholic children. Today, Kate Powell brings us part 2 of KSFR’s special report on clergy abuse, and what people should know to protect the children of New Mexico from abuse.

Direct download: CatholicAbuse2.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:07pm MDT

The last two of 15 mental health nonprofit providers under investigation for possible Medicaid fraud have been cleared by New Mexico's top prosecutor.

Attorney General Hector Balderas is sending a letter to state lawmakers today, informing them of the outcome of his investigation. He says no patterns of fraud were uncovered.

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration froze payments to the providers after a 2013 audit alleged they mishandled $36 million in Medicaid funding.

Balderas says separate investigations found there was about $1.16 million in overbilling but no evidence of fraud.

He says it's now up to the state Human Services Department to resolve what he called a regrettable situation and ensure that New Mexicans get the care they need.  A majority of the nonprofits, some of which were put out of business, are now suing Governor Susana Martinez’s administration, alleging the state violated their right to due process.  None of the agencies were presented with evidence of fraud, and they were not allowed to see the audit.

Meanwhile a third company the governor brought in to replace those nonprofits just announced it is leaving the state, putting the future of thousands of staffers and counselors who work with mental health patients, in limbo.  The State Human Services agency said last week it was working to make sure there would be no gaps in service.

 

Officials at a northwestern New Mexico hospital say a now former employee walked off with information on nearly 7,500 patients. The information included Social Security numbers, birthdates, diagnoses and insurance policy numbers.

The documents in cardboard boxes turned up in storage units near Farmington. They had been taken from the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock last fall without authorization.

The Indian Health Service runs the hospital on the Navajo Nation. Agency spokeswoman Jenny Notah says there's no indication the information has been misused.

She says the agency is notifying patients and Navajo communities of the breach and offering a year of identity protection services. The agency also ramped up employee training.

Notah says the agency delayed notifying patients at the request of law enforcement while the investigation was ongoing.

 

Wildfire season has started early inNew Mexico.

New Mexico State Forestry Wildfire Prevention Coordinator Micaela Hester told The Albuquerque Journal that the agency is a lot busier now than it was at this time last year.

She says 45,000 acres have burned across the state so far this year, a big jump from 7,600 acres by the same time last year.

According to Hester, officials are anticipating an active fire season because of an abundance of dry grass and warmer temperatures.

Fire crews last week battled one blaze near Ruidoso and others in Catron and Otero counties. Meanwhile, a fire that started in Socorro County on March 20 burned 300 acres over four days.

 

Thousands of visitors from around the nation visited the spot of the world's first atomic test during a special one-day opening of the Trinity Testing site this past weekend.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports visitors to the Trinity Testing site were greeted by a small group of protesters Saturday who say the secret atomic blast in the New Mexico desert 70 years ago has caused lasting health problems.

July marked the 70th year anniversary since the Trinity Test in New Mexico took place as part of the Manhattan Project.  It was a top-secret World War II nuclear development program managed from the then-secret city of Los Alamos. It came as nearby Tularosa residents – calling themselves “Downwinders” - now say they were permanently affected by the test and want acknowledgement and compensation from the U.S. government.

 

The tribal community of San Ildefonso Pueblo sits in the shadow of the Los Alamos Lab, one of the nation's premier laboratories and the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

The tribe is on the front lines of a battle to rein in contamination left behind by decades of bomb making and nuclear research.

Pueblo Gov. James Mountain says he's encouraged that the New Mexico Environment Department has identified a plume of chromium contamination at the tribe's border with the lab as a priority under a revamped cleanup proposal. That plan was announced last week.

Under the draft proposal, a series of reports would be required and initial pumping and treatment could begin as early as this fall.

Officials would then have to develop a final corrective action plan and implementation could take between four and five years.

 

Supporters of a northern New Mexico school board member with a past felony drug conviction are circulating a petition seeking a pardon for him

Under state law, felons are not eligible to hold elective office unless they have secured a pardon. The Las Vegas Optics reports West Las Vegas School Board member Anthony "Leroy" Benavidez  is under scrutiny after fellow board members were notified of a previously unknown 2002 conviction.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office currently is investigating the matter at the state Public Education Department's request.

A letter obtained by the Optic showed that board chairman David Romero was informed of Benavidez's conviction in December. Other board members weren't notified of the situation until early March, when the full board was contacted by the school district's attorneys.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the high school commencement address to Santa Fe Indian School.

The White House announced yesterday that Mrs. Obama will address the school on May 26 as part of the White House Generation Indigenous Initiative.

The initiative works to improve the lives of American Indian youth by promoting a national dialogue and programs to train the next generation of leaders.

Last year, the First Lady addressed the White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington, D.C.

The Santa Fe Indian School currently is owned and operated by a coalition of  the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.

 

New Mexico State University's Board of Regents has decided not to increase tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Now the university will need to cut its budget by approximately $10.7 million for the next year.  During a town hall meeting last month, university leaders said NMSU was facing a challenging financial situation stemming from several factors.

That includes a decrease in state appropriations due to the struggling state economy and a decrease in student enrollment.

Taken together, state funding and tuition represent about half the university's operating budget.

Among the options being considered by university leaders is a reduction in administrative salaries.

Regents did approve a 5 percent increase in on-campus housing rates.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 9:19am MDT

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

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:24pm MDT

Catholic dioceses in the United States have a problem with sexual abuse. It’s no secret anymore: Spotlight, a film documenting the work of a team of Boston Globe reporters investigating clergy abuse, took this year’s Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. But in New Mexico, where Roman Catholic traditions weave through the lives of even the most secular residents, the issue is harder to talk about, and justice seems harder to come by. 

But that doesn’t mean no one is pursuing justice for New Mexicans abused by clergy. KSFR’s Kate Powell brings us interviews with an attorney who works to shed light on troubling practices by the Archdiocese, and a group of survivors who have broken their silence in hopes of making change for Catholic children today. 




David Clohessy, Executive Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says New Mexico is still a “perfect storm” when it comes to clergy abuse. First, because there’s been virtually no independent investigation into clergy sex crimes in the state. Second, of the dozens of sexual abuse cases launched against the Santa Fe Archdiocese, not one has gone to a civil trial. And third, New Mexico has a strict statute of limitations to initiate prosecution in cases of sexual abuse. 

That means it's still up to adults to do everything they can to keep children in their lives safe. Tomorrow, KSFR brings you resources for talking to children about their rights, their bodies, and their safety. 

 

Direct download: 37031_NEWS_CatholicAbuse1.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:23pm MDT

In today’s Sporting Life, host Daniel DeFrancesco advocates a new national holiday devoted to baseball. 

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_TheSportingLifeApril4.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:11pm MDT

The new film Eye in The Sky features one of the last performances by Alan Rickman. Does the film support such a great actor, KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out.

Direct download: 37033_NEWS_EyeInSkyReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 4:09pm MDT

Former New Mexico State Sen. Phil Griego is scheduled to appear in court today to answer to fraud and bribery charges in a long-simmering scandal over his role in the sale of a state-owned building.  State prosecutors say the Democrat used his job as a senator to orchestrate the sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe, and later earn a sales commission from a private company without proper disclosure.  Griego says he did nothing wrong.  Today is his first opportunity to enter a plea since charges were filed by the New Mexico attorney general's office in February.  Griego is confronting 10 criminal counts for fraud, perjury, tampering with public records, bribery, and other violations.  Seven state district court judges have recused themselves from the case.  Today Griego will appear before Judge Sarah Singleton, but his attorney also has the right to have her removed from the case.  If that happens, a retired judge or one from another district could be assigned to the case.

 

A coalition of New Mexico environmental groups and community leaders are pushing for more electricity to come from renewable energy sources.  The head of the University of New Mexico's Sustainable Studies Program, Bruce Milne, says it's both desirable and feasible for the U.S. to shift to 100 percent renewable energy and that technological innovations in the industry could be exported globally.  Milne was among the representatives from Environment New Mexico and other groups who gathered recently in Albuquerque for a panel discussion regarding a new white paper on renewable energy.  Supporters said New Mexico is well positioned to be a leader in the transition.  That’s because it's the second sunniest state in the nation and has significant wind resources.

 

 

Another Arizona behavioral health company brought in to replace New Mexico nonprofits accused of Medicaid overbilling and fraud has announced it will stop providing services in New Mexico at the end of June.  Agave Health Inc. runs treatment programs in Bernalillo, Santa Fe and about 10 other counties. The company cited ongoing financial hardships along with Medicaid rate reductions as reasons for its decision.  Agave said in a statement issued Friday that it regrets having to take such as drastic measure.  The move means three of the five Arizona providers brought in by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration in 2013 to replace the New Mexico nonprofits have pulled up stakes in the state.  It’s the first company to abandon operations in northern New Mexico. Two other firms brought in by the Martinez administration to serve southern New Mexico behavioral health patients have pulled out over the last two years.  The state Human Services Department says it's working to ensure there are no gaps in coverage.

 

Police say two brothers who ran a Vietnamese restaurant in Albuquerque were gunned down by an estranged family member.  Police spokesman Tanner Tixier identified 24-year-old Jerry Nguyen and 31-year-old Anpha Nguyen as the two victims killed in Friday's shooting at the House of Pho restaurant.  Their father, Hung Nguyen, was also injured. Tixier says the shooter fatally shot himself after being pulled over by police.  Authorities say the suspect has not been positively identified but is believed to be a relative of the victims.  The afternoon shooting resulted in a chaotic scene with numerous witnesses calling 911.  Tixier says detectives are still conducting several interviews and have not determined a motive. 

The University of New Mexico is denying a claim by Lt. Gov. John Sanchez that it bought or sold fetal tissue.  The school's Health Sciences Center issued the statement Sunday, a day after Sanchez posted the allegations on Facebook.  In the posting, Sanchez says a congressional investigation determined that the center allegedly harvests and infant body parts through its relationship with Southwestern Women's Options Clinic.  KOB-TV reports that center officials say any fetal tissue was obtained from women who agreed to donate for research.  The center also says it has followed all federal laws involving fetal tissue research.  According to the school, a House panel has issued subpoenas for depositions from two faculty members and related documents.  The school terminated its relationship with the clinic in December.

 

The New Mexico Department of Corrections is inviting a team of outside law enforcement and prison experts to review what went wrong in the recent escape of two violent felons from a transport van.  Agency spokeswoman Rose Bobchak said Friday that initial input from the group suggests the escape is linked to failures to adhere to existing protocols, and to a lesser extent with existing policies and controls.  The Corrections Department says its review will look at possible security breakdowns extending from corrections guards to top prison administrators.  State Police have not concluded a criminal investigation into the escape and say more arrests are possible.  A corrections union representative says the state of New Mexico plans to fire two guards who were in charge of a transport van when two violent felons escaped.

AFSCME union spokesman Miles Conway said Friday the two corrections officers received notices of contemplated action for termination from the state Corrections Department.

State officials have declined to state how the shackled inmates slipped by transport officers Taracina Morgan and Michael Ortega during a fuel stop March 9 along a remote New Mexico highway. The escape went undetected for hours before the transport van arrived in Las Cruces.  Authorities re-apprehended inmates Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah on March 11 and 12.

 

The Albuquerque Sunport police chief and three officers are on leave over confiscated drugs that went missing.  KOAT-TV reports that Aviation Police Chief Marshall Katz, Deputy Chief Timothy Esquibel and officers Johnny Moraga and Lisa Cheromiah are all on paid administrative leave while the city investigates.  According to attorneys for Katz, Sunport police seized drugs during a traffic stop last month.  Attorneys say the officers attempted to take the drugs to an Albuquerque police substation but could not get inside, so they put them in a Sunport police locker.  Some of the drugs later went missing.  City officials declined to go into detail about the city's investigation.  In a separate case Katz was suspended last year for misusing official resources for personal benefit.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 8:38am MDT

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

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:03pm MDT

This weekend is the biannual opportunity for civilians to visit the Trinity Test Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated. KSFR’s Dennis Carroll gets an update on studies by downwinders impacted by the blast.

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Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:02pm MDT

A year of war in Yemen has killed 6000 people and devastated much of the country.  Now both a cease-fire and a peace conference are at hand.  Adam Baron, for years based in Yemen, but now in Jordan, told KSFR's Dave Marash on HERE AND THERE about what the war has done, and the prospects for peace. 


Direct download: 37033_NEWS_HereThereBaronYemen.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 2:01pm MDT

The film Embrace the Serpent was a best foreign language nominee at this year's Oscars, and the first nomination for a film from Colombia. So is this Jungle adventure worth the trip? KSFR correspondent Jeremy Zeilik finds out.

Direct download: 37032_NEWS_EmbraceSerpentReview.mp3
Category:KSFR News -- posted at: 1:58pm MDT

7:29

A state senator from southwest New Mexico wants Attorney General Hector Balderas to weigh in on whether parents can legally opt out their children from taking an upcoming standardized test.  Democrat Howie Morales of Silver City says parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children and that includes whether they take assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.  Morales sent a letter to Balderas on Thursday, asking for a formal opinion.  Testing will begin for some students next week, while others will start taking the exams later in the month.  Morales says there's confusion because some school districts are telling parents they don't have a right for their children to opt out.

New Mexico has seen more fires this year than last, with the latest reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican burning 750 acres of tall grass east of Las Vegas.  That fire was quickly doused, according to the New Mexican, and it’s part of 132 small fires across the state so far this year.  Last year there were 63.  Several other fires have scorched bosque areas and are mostly contained this morning. They include the Brown Fire southeast of Socorro; the Dump Fire on federal land in Grant County, and the Moon Mountain Fire.  About 200 firefighters assigned to that blaze are being released today.  The fire burned 125 acres and is now 70-percent contained.  Snow falling in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico this morning is contributing to reduced fire warnings today. 

A new wireless communication system will enable workers at the federal government's underground nuclear waste dump in southern New to signal officials aboveground in the event of an emergency.  The U.S. Department of Energy and the repository's manager announced the installation of the system Thursday. It includes audible and flashing alarms and allows for two-way voice and text communication.  The system also provides for real-time tracking of all personnel entering the underground facility.  The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has adopted a host of changes aimed at improving safety in the wake of a radiation release in February 2014 that forced the closure of the repository.  The release was caused by a container of waste that had been inappropriately packed and shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A Mexican journalist got the scoop of a lifetime when she spotted two suspected drug smugglers scaling a tall border fence from Mexico into the U.S. and then promptly climbing back after they realized they were being filmed.  Journalist Carolina Rocha of Azteca Noticias in Mexico City was in Nogales, Arizona, reporting on the U.S. Border Patrol's use of force March 16 when she spotted two young men climbing down the fence. Footage shows them carrying large backpacks and turning back once they saw the camera.  Rocha says there were three Border Patrol trucks parked within yards of the incident.  The Border Patrol says it's not uncommon for smugglers to scale the fence. A spokesman says it's not clear why the agents around the fence didn't try to arrest the men.

Authorities say a small plane crashed yesterday eight miles south of Shiprock and the pilot was airlifted to a hospital.  New Mexico State Police say the plane was landing at the Shiprock airport about noon Thursday when it got caught in a crosswind and was pushed off the runway.  The plane caught an edge and flipped. The Cessna 180D reportedly is registered to a company out of Durango, Colorado.  Authorities say the pilot was airlifted to the San Juan Regional Medical Center with back pain while the passenger walked away from the crash and was treated at the scene.  Federal officials will investigate.

The national immigrant rights group known by the acronym MALDEF is asking a state district court for an injunction against New Mexico’s taxation and revenue department.  The request seeks to stop TRD from withholding money from immigrant taxpayers who use federal ID numbers to file their returns.  A news release from Santa Fe’s Somos Un Pueblo Unido – an immigrant rights group joining in the request – says it wants TRD to end its policy of denying tax refunds to immigrants who use the federal ID, and in some cases, Somos says, immigrants have been double-taxed.  Two pending lawsuits by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, charge the state tax and revenue department with violating the federal law by withholding tax refunds and requiring additional documentation simply because they are immigrants using the federal ID numbers.

The Santa Fe Police Department says it has made a third arrest of a drug trafficking suspect during the month of March.  And they say this man is also a person of interest in the homicide investigation of David Dickerson, who was found in a water tank last year in Santa Fe.  SWAT and narcotics unit detectives arrested 35-year old Richard Daniel Castillo on Wednesday.  He faces drug charges after a search of his home and person discovered cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Authorities say they are finished exploring the famed Blue Hole near Santa Rosa after an experienced California diver who was helping with the exploration of the underwater passageways died.  They are recommending closure of the Blue Lake.  A member of a diving team died last week during the survey from what authorities say appears to be an accidental drowning at the popular water hole.  An autopsy is underway to find the exact cause of death. Curt Bowen, head of the ADM Exploration Foundation says the team explored every cave passage they could fit through and the system ended in a tight rock breakdown at a depth of 194 feet.  Due to the extreme environment, the city has accepted the group's recommendation that the cave system remain off-limits to the public.  The divers have covered and secured the grate at the bottom of the swimming hole to prevent untrained divers from entering.  Bowen plans to complete a three-dimensional map illustrating the entire Blue Hole system.

A New Mexico man must serve 25 years in federal prison over a crime spree and gun battle with law officers in Texas that left him wounded.  Enrique Sanchez Quiroga of Lovington, New Mexico, was sentenced Thursday in Pecos, Texas. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to impede or injure officers, plus several firearms and assault-related charges.  Officers in 2014 tried to stop a stolen vehicle near Sierra Blanca. Sanchez Quiroga and two other people were inside.  Authorities say the trio began shooting at officers, who returned fire — wounding Sanchez Quiroga. The other two suspects ran but were caught in the desert.  Investigators say the trio, over several days in New Mexico, stole guns, a vehicle and carried out a burglary.

 

Volkswagen is recalling about 91,000 Passat cars with diesel engines because wiring under the body can corrode, overheat and potentially start fires.  The recall covers midsize Passats from the 2012 through 2014 model years. VW says wire seals in an electrical connector weren't properly assembled and can let water touch electrical terminals. This can cause a short that in rare cases can cause a fire beneath the cars.  The problem was discovered when a Volkswagen factory reported some underbody fires.  Dealers will replace the connector with new ones that are properly sealed. Customers will be notified to bring their cars in for service starting in June.

 

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