News

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New Mexico Regulators Adopt New Rules For Lyft, Uber - The Associated Press

State regulators have approved new rules to allow ride-booking services Lyft and Uber to operate in New Mexico.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday on new regulations that clear the way for the companies to operate under guidelines separate from those that govern traditional taxi services.

Commissioners were divided on drug testing requirements for ride-booking drivers and voted 3-2 to require testing only after accidents.

fws.gov

  

Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department is going to hold hearings on a proposal to build an around-the-clock hot-mix asphalt plant less than half a mile from the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in the South Valley. The department received 156 public comments on the plan. 

Ed Williams-KUNM

About one hundred people showed up to a City of Albuquerque public meeting Tuesday on a proposal to build a trash transfer center in the North Valley.

Under the proposal garbage trucks would drop the city’s trash at a 75,000 square foot waste transfer station at the corner of Edith and Griegos - then larger trucks would haul the trash off to the dump.

Jane Foster lives in the neighborhood and, like many who attended, says she worries the plan will harm people living nearby.

Russell Begaye on YouTube

Tribal Businessman Upsets Former Navajo President In Race - Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press

Russell Begaye easily beat a former Navajo Nation president Tuesday for the top post on the country's largest American Indian reservation.

Begaye led Joe Shirley Jr. by about 10,000 votes, according to unofficial results.

Begaye's victory came nearly five months after the original election was scuttled amid court battles sparked by a candidate's ability to speak fluent Navajo.

Kirtland AFB Bulk Fuels Facility Spill Project

Kirkland Fuel Spill Plume Seems To Bypass Albuquerque Wells - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A fuel spill that officials worried might pollute Albuquerque drinking water seems to be bypassing the city's wells.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that leaders of the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill cleanup team say the plume appears to be headed north rather than northeast.

The direction means the fuel will likely bypass two of three nearby wells. It is unclear whether it will pollute the third.

Green MPs via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show 4/23 8a:  

The sun shines most days of the year in New Mexico. How can we harness that power for our energy needs? What does it take to set up a solar power system for a home or business? What are the costs and benefits? How much money could be saved over time?

We'd like to hear from you! Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online or call in live during the show. 

Panelists:

triller14 via CC

Before you try a new restaurant, you might check out reviews to see what other customers thought of the place. Now you can do that with hospitals, too. But our state’s hospitals aren’t stacking up so well.

fallsroad via Flickr

 

New Mexico’s largest electric utility plans to appeal a Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner’s decision to reject a rate hike proposal

Public Service Company of New Mexico has two weeks to file objections with the PRC after their request to increase rates by more than $ 100 million was dismissed on Friday.

Photo: inkknife_2000 via Flickr

Navajo High Court Says Voters Will Choose President Tuesday – The Associated Press

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court has overturned a lower court's ruling that called for Tuesday's presidential election to be canceled.

The high court justices issued the brief order Monday and said they would elaborate on their decision later.

Window Rock District Judge Carol Perry had granted a request last week to halt the election, saying a referendum on language requirements must be held before Navajos choose their next leader.

Navajohistory via Wikimedia Commons

Court: Navajo Presidential Election Cannot Be Held Tuesday The Associated Press

A Navajo Nation judge says election officials cannot move forward with Tuesday's presidential contest.

Window Rock District Judge Carol Perry says the law is clear that a referendum vote on language requirements for the presidency must be held before Navajos choose their next leader.

Calls to election officials went unanswered late Friday, and their attorney didn't immediately respond to messages. An appeal to the tribe's Supreme Court is likely.

Screenshot from video provided by APD through an IPRA request

Private Attorney To Prosecute NM Officers In Fatal Shooting - The Associated Press

The prosecutor removed by a New Mexico judge from the case of two Albuquerque police officers charged in the shooting death of a homeless man last year has tapped a private attorney to handle the case.

Randi McGinn has agreed to prosecute officers Dominque Perez and Keith Sandy, who were charged earlier this year with murder in the March 2014 death of James Boyd during an hourslong standoff.

Two coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station will be shuttered in 2017. To replace that coal-generated power, Public Service Company of New Mexico has proposed investing mostly in other coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. The utility, which provides power to half a million customers in New Mexico, says it’s the most cost effective, reliable option. 

DOE Photo

Los Alamos Radiation Release Could Have Been PreventedThe Associated Press

Investigators say officials could have prevented the poor management and lapses in safety that led to radiation contamination inside the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

The shortcomings were outlined in a final report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy's Accident Investigation Board.

Investigators spent more than a year looking into the cause of the radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Using audio and video files obtained from the Albuquerque Policy Department, KUNM's public health project is investigating officer-involved shootings with an eye on mental health, substance abuse, poverty and post-traumatic stress disorder. It's part of a larger conversation about where health intersects with the criminal justice system and public policy.

The use of solitary confinement on people with mental illness is costing counties millions of dollars. The most famous example is Stephen Slevin, who was awarded $22 million after spending nearly two years in solitary in the Doña Ana County jail. KUNM's Public Health New Mexico Project developed a three-part series on the use of segregation around the state, looking at jails, prisons, mental health and incarceration, and recidivism. 

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KUNM Reporting Series

Apr 15, 2015

The Rio Grande runs through three states, and all along the way communities use the river’s waters for drinking, crop irrigation, and for Native American religious ceremonies. But with New Mexico’s biggest urban centers and military bases—and the substantial pollution they generate—near to the riverbanks, how safe is the Rio Grande for people and wildlife?

Images Money via CC

New Mexico legislative leaders say talks are underway to try to forge a compromise on a funding bill for building work and other projects across the state.

The regular session ended without agreement on a capital outlay bill amid partisan finger-pointing, but the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that leaders of the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-controlled House hope to reach an agreement.

jsj1771 via Flickr

Allegations Against Albuquerque Police Officers Investigated - The Associated Press

Allegations of excessive use of force by two Albuquerque police officers are the subject of a New Mexico State Police investigation.

The State Police said its Investigation Bureau is investigating a March 20 incident and that details will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

The State Police didn't release any additional information but city officials said the two officers are on paid leave.

Shehan 365 via Flickr

 

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court has settled the question of how to fund a belated presidential election.

The court says the tribe's controller can use money from a fund used to satisfy legal judgments and claims against the Navajo Nation.

The opinion came after the tribe's Department of Justice asked the court to clarify how $317,000 legally could be transferred to the election office.

Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said Tuesday that his office is evaluating the court's opinion.

J. N. Stuart via Flickr

A duck at a national wildlife refuge in southern New Mexico has tested positive for a bird flu strain that's deadly to waterfowl and poultry.

The case is the latest in a growing outbreak of bird flu, especially the highly contagious H5N2 strain affecting poultry in multiple states. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people to be low.

New Mexico wildlife officials said Tuesday this marks the first time the highly virulent strain has been confirmed in the state.

Jean-Rémy Duboc via CC

  LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Another Arizona-based nonprofit has confirmed it plans to cease providing Medicaid-funded mental health services in southern New Mexico.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Tucson-based La Frontera plans a staggered transition to phase out its operations in Doña Ana County and several counties in southwestern New Mexico.

photo: US Forest Service

Wetter Weather Tames Wildfire Fears In New Mexico Somewhat - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

An expected wetter-than-normal spring and possible more active summer monsoons have some fire managers hoping for a calm fire season in New Mexico this year.

The Albuquerque Journal report the predictions of less wind than usual also have fire managers hopeful that the state can avoid large wildfires but they say those conditions can change rapidly.

APS

Albuquerque Schools Names California Educator As New Leader - The Associated Press

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education has named a California educator as superintendent.

The board picked Luis Valentino for the superintendent's job on Saturday from three finalists for the job. The district has nearly 88,000 students

Heath Haussamen / New Mexico In Depth

Martinez Approves Majority Of Bills Passed In Legislature The Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has wrapped up action on about 190 bills passed during the recent legislative session.

Martinez approved nearly 160 bills by a Friday noon deadline, signing several of them during public appearances in Albuquerque. She vetoed about a dozen bills outright and did not take action on about 20 others, resulting in pocket vetoes.

Martinez signed the key $6.2 billion budget Thursday.

Leo Reynolds via CC

Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill today that makes it so people seeking health care can find out what different routine procedures cost at hospitals around the state. Fourteen other states have these websites.

Patients will be able to shop around and find the best deal on medical procedures—and see which hospitals perform them best—when a new public website goes up. Prices of vary drastically from hospital to hospital, according to Think New Mexico’s Fred Nathan, and unveiling the price tags actually drives costs down.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The Associated Press looked at data from medical facilities for veterans around the U.S. and reported that four in New Mexico were among the worst when it comes to long waits for appointments. 

Veterans using VA clinics in Farmington, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, and the hospital in Albuquerque, might be waiting a long time for health care. Those facilities were near the top of the AP’s list, with Farmington coming in No. 6—out of 940. 

KUNM

This week Governor Susana Martinez signed a pair of bills aimed at addressing New Mexico’s nurse shortage by making more financial aid available for educators. 

Registered nurses who will become medical instructors can now use the Nurse Educators Fund to get a higher degree.

Rita Daniels

Court Takes Albuquerque Prosecutor Off Police Shooting Case - The Associated Press

A judge has removed the prosecutor from the case of two Albuquerque police officers charged in the shooting death of a homeless man last year.

Defense lawyers wanted prosecutor Kari Brandenburg disqualified because they believe she has a conflict of interest.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Alisa Hadfield agreed in a ruling Thursday. A special prosecutor will be appointed to handle the case of officers Dominque Perez and Keith Sandy.

Ed Williams

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced Wednesday that it’s building more backup safety systems at the wastewater treatment plant following a massive spill of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande.

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