New Mexicans Go to the Polls Tuesday

Jun 5, 2012

New Mexicans go to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on the already decided Republican presidential primary and narrow the field of candidates for U.S. Senate and Congress.

Registered Republicans can cast ballots for presidential candidates Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney, although Romney sewed up the nomination last week with a win in Texas.

Most eyes are on the Democrat primary, where Rep. Martin Heinrich and state auditor Hector Balderas are competing in a gentlemanly race for the nomination to succeed the retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

Primary Starts Fight for Control of State Legislature

Jun 5, 2012

New Mexico's primary election is deciding whether two dozen legislators can hold on to their jobs. All 112 seats in the House and Senate are up for election this year, but there are contested primary races in only 43 House and Senate districts.

Democrats have controlled the House and Senate for decades, and the outcome of the primary will set the stage for what's expected to be an aggressive general election campaign led by Republican Governor Susana Martinez to chip away at the Democratic majorities.

Crews Working on Wildfire in Santa Fe Forest

Jun 5, 2012

While firefighters in southern New Mexico continue to battle the massive and still growing Gila wilderness fire, crews in northern New Mexico are working to contain an active wildfire in the Santa Fe National Forest.

Forest officials say the 30- to 40-acre Bear Springs Fire is burning about 6 miles southeast of Jemez Springs and has no containment. They say no structures are being threatened and no evacuations are planned.

Sat, May 19, 12pm:Candidates  Michelle Lujan Grisham, Eric Griego, and Marty Chavez talk about their campaigns and about women's issues.

Federal Officials to Monitor Polls

Jun 4, 2012

Federal officials are planning to look out for any cases of voter discrimination in upcoming elections nationwide, including at polling sites in New Mexico.

The U.S. Justice Department announced it plans to send observers to Cibola and Sandoval counties to monitor elections Tuesday. Monitors are also being sent to counties in California, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Chiricahua Leopard Frog: Messing with Nature

Jun 4, 2012

All this week we're considering the Endangered Species Act in New Mexico.  Today, KUNM’s Sidsel Overgaard brings you: The Case of the Disappearing Frogs...

The plight of the Chiricahua Leopard frog begins long ago, in a medical lab when researchers devise a way to use frogs as pregnancy tests.  The African Clawed frogs used for this purpose were soon shipped all around the world, carrying with them a deadly fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd for short (at least, that's the current favorite theory). 

Lesser Prairie Chicken: Conservation Agreements

Jun 4, 2012

So far in our series, we’ve looked at some of the difficulties in recovering a species. But one of the emerging strengths of the Endangered Species Act is in its ability to spark compromise before a species ever makes it onto the list. And in the case of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush lizard, just the threat of a listing has been enough to make for some unlikely allies in Southeastern New Mexico.

New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse: A Sign of What's to Come

Jun 4, 2012

As part of our series on endangered species in New Mexico, Carrie and Sidsel took a field trip with WildEarth Guardians Executive Director, John Horning, to look for the elusive New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse (you really should listen to this's a radio geek's dream, but not so translate-able to print...).

Santa Fe Mayor Files Complaint Against Governor's PAC

Jun 1, 2012

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss is calling for an investigation into a political association committee associated with Republican Governor Susana Martinez. 

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Mayor Coss, who is running for a state legislative seat, wants state officials to see whether a PAC supporting his Democratic primary opponent failed to register two major contributions on time.

State Payroll Deposits May Be Delayed

Jun 1, 2012

Governor Susana Martinez's administration says payroll deposits for state workers may be delayed because of a processing error. The Department of Finance and Administration alerted workers to the problem in an email memo Thursday, saying paycheck deposits in employee bank accounts could be delayed up to 24 hours.

New Mexico's primary election is on Tuesday and recent scandals in southern parts of the state have refocused attention on the issue of voter fraud. 

Is there rampant abuse of the right to vote in New Mexico?  Are there barriers to voting that prevent voters from having their say and being counted?  Just ahead this morning on the KUNM Call In Show, we'll take your calls and comments.

But first, we'll hear from Steve Robert Allen, the Policy Director at ACLU-New Mexico.  Allen says there's no such thing as a flawless election.

Health Insurance Rate Hike to Take Effect

May 31, 2012

A proposed raise to monthly premiums for Blue Cross Blue Shield policyholders in New Mexico has become official. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports State Insurance Superintendent John Franchini approved the 6.9% increase Tuesday, which will take effect Friday.

Doña Ana County to Debut Voting Centers in June

May 29, 2012

Voters in Doña Ana County will be able to cast their ballots at special voting centers for the first time in the upcoming primary election. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports officials plan to debut voting "convenience" centers June 5.

Registered voters will be able to visit any one of 39 locations countywide to fill out a ballot that will be tailored to their own precinct. County Clerk Lynn Ellins says residents before would have to find the correct polling place that included their precinct or use a provisional ballot.

Young Veteran Jobless Rate Higher

May 29, 2012

Soldiers who have returned to New Mexico in recent years are struggling to find jobs, a trend that's been happening nationwide. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports state officials say younger veterans are facing higher jobless rates.

Sunport to Get More Solar Panels

May 29, 2012

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is set to announce that Albuquerque Sunport will be getting more solar panels to power elevators, lights and offices at the airport. Berry is scheduled Tuesday to unveil the final phase of a solar project for the Albuquerque Sunport and announce the amount of money already saved from solar panels atop the covered parking canopies.

Greetings From Quilt Market

May 25, 2012
Photo by: Littlelixie

KUNM's Carrie Jung invites you along on her recent trip to the 2012 International Spring Quilt Market.

Remembering Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tso

May 24, 2012
Photo: Ashley Gross


Memorial Day is Monday.  It's a time to reflect on the sacrifices of people in the military.  Of course, here in the Southwest, one of the most enduring military stories is that of the Navajo Code Talkers from World War Two.

But the number of Code Talkers who are still alive is dwindling, and another one recently passed away.  Samuel Tso died earlier this month at the age of 89.  Reporter Ashley Gross has this remembrance.

State Takes Over Troubled Border Town

May 24, 2012

The state has appointed a veteran municipal administrator to temporarily oversee the finances of the troubled border town of Sunland Park.

New Mexico Secretary of Finance and Administration Tom Clifford said Wednesday that Michael Steininger, who has worked in Belen and Ruidoso as well as Socorro and Valencia counties, will manage Sunland Park's finances until town officials are capable of resuming control.

Rio Rancho Explores Possibility of Adding Open Space

May 23, 2012

In a newly released ranking of city park systems, Albuquerque came in 11th, just below major metropolises like Seattle and Philadelphia.  Meanwhile,  environmental advocates in Rio Rancho say its time their city starting trying to catch up.

In terms of developed parkland-- that is, space including amenities like basketball courts and swing sets-- Rio Rancho isn’t doing that badly.   The city boasts 3.5 acres of developed parkland per thousand residents, compared to Albuquerque's 5.5.

New Mexico Named 'Riskiest State'

May 23, 2012

A report has named New Mexico the riskiest state in the U.S. KRQE-TV reports Trust for America's Health released its annual survey Tuesday ranking the Land of Enchantment as the state with the highest death rate due to preventable injuries.

Prescription Drug Overdose Rate Skyrockets

May 23, 2012

State numbers show that the overdose rate from highly controlled prescription painkillers is skyrocketing in New Mexico. The Alamogordo Daily News reports a recent New Mexico Department of Health report says the overdose rate increased statewide by 61.8 % between 2001 and 2010.

Investigator in Matthew Shepard Murder to Speak at UNM

May 23, 2012

A key investigator in one of the most notorious hate crimes against a gay man is slated to speak in Albuquerque at a Federal Bureau of Investigation civil rights conference. Albany County Sheriff David O'Malley of Wyoming is scheduled Thursday to deliver the keynote address about his experience in the Matthew Shepard murder investigation.

Fire Danger Remains High Across New Mexico

May 23, 2012

Officials with the New Mexico State Forestry Division say fire danger around the state remains high. They're asking residents and visitors to be careful as the unofficial start to the summer vacation season gets under way with the Memorial Day weekend.

State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware says it's extremely dry in many areas and it only takes one careless mistake for a fire to endanger lives and communities. So far this year, nearly 170 fires have scorched closed to 5,800 acres of state and private land around New Mexico.

Kirtland Spill Could Be Much Larger

May 23, 2012

UPDATED 4:30pm:  State environmental officials say a massive jet fuel spill threatening Albuquerque's water supply could be much larger than originally thought. Officials have previously estimated the decades-old spill from Kirtland Air Force base to be about 8 million gallons.

But state geologist William Moats, who made the original calculations, recently estimated the spill could be as large as 24 million gallons -- or twice the size of the spill from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker in Alaska in 1989.

Albuquerque Gets High Score for Park Space

May 23, 2012

A new scorecard for park systems in the nation’s largest 40 cities places Albuquerque near the top of the heap.

The rating system, developed by the Trust for Public Land, considers three factors: total park acreage, public access to those parks and spending on parks.  Albuquerque missed the top ten by just one.  But TPL’s Greg Hiner says that score places it within a stone’s throw of cities like New York, Seattle and Philadelphia. 

Ex-Lawyer Fierro Gets Parole in DWI Homicide

May 22, 2012

A former Santa Fe attorney convicted in the drunken-driving death of a pedestrian has been granted parole. New Mexico Parole Board chair Sandy Dietz says Carlos Fierro was granted parole from prison Monday and is seeking to live in other state. Dietz, who was out of town and hadn't seen Fierro's application, says he could be released from prison in a few months.

Health Officials Resign After Interview Comment on Condoms

May 22, 2012

The chief medical officer for the state Department of Health says she was asked to resign after giving a television interview in which she advocated condom use to slow the growth of sexually transmitted diseases among teens.

Navajo Nation ID Cards Now Available

May 22, 2012
Photo: inkknife_2000 via Flickr

Identification cards for members of the Navajo Nation are now on sale. The tribe's Office of Vital Records and Identification had issued cards to 100 people last year during a test run of the program. Navajo President Ben Shelly says tribal members now can purchase them at the office in Window Rock. The cost is $17.

The tribe had pushed for the creation of an ID card for the last decade. The cards are designed to boost convenience, security and privacy for tribal members. Tribes increasingly are issuing such cards to members to offer easier identification of American Indians.

Astorga Juror Reports Fear For Personal Safety

May 22, 2012

Jurors serving during the sentencing trial for Michael Astorga, who was convicted of killing Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy James McGrane, sent him to prison for life.  Prosecutors were aiming for the death penalty.  

District Attorney Kari Brandenberg told The Albuquerque Journal that at least one juror said fear played a part in the decision not to sentence Astorga to death. 


Dinosaur Dig Classes Offered in Tucumcari

May 22, 2012
Photo: Sam_Wise via Flickr

Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari is offering students the chance to dig for dinosaurs. The school says it will offer three five-day classes in paleontology in June and July where students will search for and learn to excavate dinosaur-age vertabrea in the Quay County area.