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Local News
10:20 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Los Alamos Co. settles with ex-official in firing

A former top Los Alamos County official who claimed she was wrongfully fired because of her gender will receive $800,000 to settle her case.

Diana Stepan was fired from her assistant county administrator job in early 2011 after filing a grievance against the county administrator. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined earlier this year that she had been treated differently because she was a woman and was fired for complaining about that treatment. Stepan filed a claim against the county last year.

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Local News
3:10 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Bingaman hears New Mexico climate change testimony

2011's Las Conchas fire in the Jemez Mountains
Wikipedia

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, D, was in Santa Fe today, listening to testimony about the impacts of climate change. During a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the senator heard what’s happening on the ground in New Mexico.

In his testimony, Governor Walter Dasheno of Santa Clara Pueblo pointed out that climate change contributed to last year’s Las Conchas fire. That fire burned more than 150,000 acres in the Jemez Mountains.

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Local News
1:59 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Proposed horse slaughter plant fined

 The Roswell-area meat processing plant that has made national headlines for its proposal to begin slaughtering horses is being fined for its handling of cattle waste.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Valley Meat Co. is being fined $86,4000 for failing to register a composting facility next to the slaughterhouse and for failing to properly dispose of solid waste. One federal inspector wrote that one pile of rotting cow renderings stood about 15 feet tall.

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Local News
1:56 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

State revises Medicaid overhaul plan

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is seeking federal approval for a revised plan to overhaul a program providing health care for a fourth of New Mexico's population.

The Human Services Department forwarded its Medicaid proposal to the federal government on Friday, nearly six months after initially unveiling a blueprint to improve health care for needy New Mexicans while slowing the growth rate of a program costing nearly $4 billion a year.

The state hopes to implement the Medicaid overhaul in January 2014.

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Local News
1:53 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Forest Service now tries to tamp out every flame

For years, federal land managers in New Mexico have allowed many forest fires to burn to keep the land from growing into a tangled mess. This season is different.

Now firefighters are trekking deep into the Gila National Forest with pack horses and one overriding goal: snuffing out all fires, no matter how small or remote. The U.S. Forest Service says its decision is a temporary move to save money because it's cheaper to put out fires than to spend weeks monitoring them as they burn.

Local News
7:39 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Fake audit raises questions of NMFA oversight

A scandal over a fake audit is raising questions about oversight of the New Mexico Finance Authority, and attendance records for the authority's 11-member governing board show several of Gov. Susana Martinez's cabinet secretaries regularly missed meetings but sent staffers to represent them on the board.

Nearly all of the board is appointed by the governor or serve in her cabinet.

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Local News
7:37 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Bernalillo-Santa Fe Rail Runner service out

Rail Runner service between Sandoval County and Santa Fe is cancelled Friday because high water may have damaged a bridge in Santo Domingo Pueblo.

New Mexico Rail Runner officials say crews are working to check the bridge and shore it up and hope to have full service on the line restored by Saturday.

Trains will operate normally from Belen through Albuquerque to the U.S. Highway 550 station in Bernalillo. Passengers are being advised to check nmrailrunner.com for updates.

Local News
7:26 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Albuquerque police officer charged with battery

A still image from the officer lapel camera video released Thursday by APD.
Albuquerque Police Department

An Albuquerque police officer is facing battery charges for using a stun gun on one suspect and punching another after he had surrendered.

Police Chief Ray Schultz said Thursday the charges were filed after investigators reviewed video from the lapel cameras of officers involved in a May 31 drug bust. He announced the charges the same time he publicly released the video.

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Local News
10:42 am
Thu August 16, 2012

'West Mesa Murders' tipline helping police on other cases

Albuquerque police say efforts to solve the 2009 West Mesa serial killings are helping police find evidence in other serious cold cases.

KRQE-TV reports that police say calls to a tip line about the mystery are encouraging people to provide new information.

For example, thanks to new tips investigators have linked a slew of rape test kits to the same serial rapist who preyed on Albuquerque women in the 1990s. Police do not know who he is, but now his DNA profile is in a national database.

Local News
10:39 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Governor finds new spot to post workers' salaries

Gov. Susana Martinez has begun posting the names and salaries of classified state employees at a new online location after a judge ruled last month that she remove the names from the online New Mexico Sunshine Portal.

Martinez added the names of classified workers, their titles and salaries to the Sunshine Portal last year. That added to a previously available list of employees exempt from civil service protection.

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Local News
7:15 am
Thu August 16, 2012

TorC approves well drilling ban

Truth or Consequences/Sierra Co. Chamber of Commerce

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — City commissioners in the southeastern New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences have approved a year-long moratorium on well drilling while experts study whether an increase in wells is causing the town's famed hot springs to dry up.

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Local News
5:46 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Former Elections Director: SOS Mailings Part of Normal Voter Registration Management

State officials say they are complying with the National Voter Registration Act with recent mailings sent by the Secretary of State's office to over 177,000 registered voters in New Mexico.  The federal law requires states to maintain voter registration information.  Critics are calling it voter suppression. 

The Executive Director for New Mexico County Clerks, Daniel Ivey-Soto, says mailings like these are done as a normal course of business for Secretaries of State across the country.

Local News
4:52 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Energy Department report highlights wind industry

The New Mexico Wind Energy Center is 170 miles southeast of Albuquerque.
Sandia National Laboratories

Although the wind energy industry in the United States is below the peak it hit three years ago, 2011 was still a pretty good year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual market report, last year, wind power accounted for about one-third of the nation’s new sources of electricity.  And much of the equipment installed at U.S. wind farms last year came from domestic factories.

Almost three-quarters of the wind turbines, towers, blades, and generators were made within the U.S.  That number is double what it was in 2005.

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Local News
8:41 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Rio Rancho to open water filling station

Rio Rancho officials will be looking to a new bulk water filling station to cut down on water thefts from hydrants.

The filling station is also aimed at providing a more convenient source of water for residents who live in neighborhoods without water lines and regular service. The filling station will open Monday. The cost: $10 for 1,000 gallons.

Local News
5:27 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

The Economics of Water Conservation

Randy Son Of Robert

The land of enchantment is rich in many natural resources. Water, however, isn't one of them. And while higher prices have a way of persuading people to consume less, would raising water rates cause New Mexicans to turn off their spigots? 

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Local News
11:45 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Governor Martinez to sign education agreement with Navajo Nation

Gov. Susana Martinez will be in Grants and Gallup Tuesday to distribute books to first-graders and to sign an agreement with the Navajo Nation for the sharing of education information.

Martinez says the aim of the memorandum of understanding between the New Mexico Public Education Department and the Navajo Nation is to improve education results for Navajo students.

The governor also will visit Mesa View Elementary School in Grants and Indian Hills Elementary School in Gallup.

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Local News
11:40 am
Tue August 14, 2012

New Mexico,14 Other States Back Affirmative Action

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on behalf of 14 states is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold racial preferences in college admissions.

Schneiderman says in a brief that the Constitution permits schools to consider race as one factor in policies that foster diversity.

The court's ruling will be its first on affirmative action in higher education since 2003. Arguments will be Oct. 10.

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Local News
11:38 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Democrats in New Mexico Senate launch PACs

A few Democrats serving in the New Mexico Senate have launched political action committees to counter Gov. Susana Martinez's financial clout.

Democratic Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque tells The Albuquerque Journal that PACs were created after Democrats saw the amount of cash raised this year by a pair of groups headed by Martinez's political adviser, Jay McCleskey.

At least four organizations were created in recent months by Senate Democrats who are unopposed in the November election.

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KUNM Call In Show
3:34 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Just How Messed Up Are New Mexico Voter Rolls?

@jbtaylor via Flickr Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 8/16 8a: Secretary of State Dianna Duran is following through on a U.S. Department of Justice letter calling for New Mexico's record of registered voters to be cleaned up for the first time since 2005. But critics are accusing her of voter suppression. Why the voter roll "purge" now? And what does it mean for New Mexico voters? Secretary Duran will join our panel live in the studio for the show. 

New Mexico Voter View Website

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Back To School
6:16 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Back To School

The Final Exam

As teachers and students alike gear up to go back to school in the next few days, KUNM's Rita Daniels takes a look at an innovative math class that really seems to be working.

Back To School
6:16 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Back To School

The Final Exam

As teachers and students alike gear up to go back to school in the next few days,

KUNM's Rita Daniels takes a look at an innovative math class that really seems to be working.

Local News
4:44 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

FWS orders "lethal removal" of Mexican Gray Wolf

US Fish and Wildlife Service

UPDATED 8/12/12. 3:15 pm

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rescinded its lethal removal order for AF1188. The agency has agreed to allow the Arizona-based Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center to provide permanent sanctuary to the female wolf.

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Earlier this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Albuquerque ordered the killing of a Mexican Gray Wolf whose pack is responsible for the killing of four head of cattle within the past year.

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Local News
2:07 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Power plant decision could strain Navajo budget

Navajo Nation officials say the tribal budget will be strained further if three units of a northwestern New Mexico coal plant close sooner than 2014.

Tribal spokesman Erny Zah says the tribe had been prepared for the units at the Four Corners Power Plant to close in two years. But the plant's operator says decommissioning will start once it acquires ownership of the other two units, which is expected later this year.

Zah says that would mean a $9 million annual loss from coal royalties.

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Local News
2:05 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Feds order lethal removal for female Mexican wolf

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has signed an order calling for the shooting of a female Mexican gray wolf that was accused of killing too many cows in southwestern New Mexico.

Agency officials signed the order Thursday. It's the first time since 2007 that the agency will be killing a wolf due to depredation problems.

The order calls for shooting the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack.

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Local News
2:03 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Voter purge hits active voters

KCIvey via Flickr

A voting rights activist and the wife of a Democratic state representative are among more than 177,000 New Mexico voters whose status has been deemed inactive. The move is raising questions about the criteria being used by Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran as she begins a cleanup of voter rolls three months before the presidential elections.

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Local News
2:01 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

State may owe $20 million in back pay to state workers

The state Court of Appeals has ruled about 11,000 state workers are entitled to retroactive pay increases because former Governor Bill Richardson's administration didn't follow union contracts in distributing money provided by the Legislature for employee compensation in 2009.

Governor Susana Martinez's administration plans to appeal this week's ruling and says it could cost the state $20 million for back pay to workers covered by union contracts. A union lawyer estimates a lower cost.

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Local News
1:59 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Albuquerque school district to cover some students' meals

The Albuquerque Public Schools district is covering the cost of meals this year for students who qualify for reduced rates. District spokesman John Miller says a decision to start charging food providers for things like utilities has made money available for the meals.

About 7,000 students qualify for the reduced meals, which cost 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast. Miller says the district expects to spend between $300,000 and $400,000 to pay for the lunches.

Local News
10:00 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Valles Caldera Trust seeks input on preserve plan

Courtesy of Valles Caldera Trust

The Valles Caldera National Preserve is one of the most iconic sites in New Mexico. It’s a sweeping landscape of meadows and forests that sits in the massive crater of a collapsed volcano. Congress bought the former ranch in 2000 and created the preserve with a special mandate:  Become financially self-sufficient by 2015.

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Call In Show
3:23 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Tribes Get New Authority Over Leasing Lands: The HEARTH Act

Ken Lund via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 8/9 8a: President Obama signed the HEARTH Act into law this month.  The law provides for tribal authority over leasing of tribal lands for housing and commercial uses.  Will buying a home on pueblo land become easier?  What about business development for tribes?  We'd like to hear from you!  Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online, or call in live during the show. 

Guests: 

  • Floyd Tortalita, Acoma Pueblo Housing Authority
  • Arlen Quetawki, Governor of Zuni Pueblo 
Local News
8:09 am
Tue August 7, 2012

At 68, Smokey Bear's message still resonates

Dr. Ed Smith and Smokey Bear in 1950. Briefly named “Hotfoot Teddy” this five-pound bear with burned paws was found clinging to a charred tree during a fire in the Lincoln National Forest. He became the "living symbol" of Smokey Bear.
New Mexico State Forestry Division / NMEMRD

This week, an American icon celebrates his birthday: Smokey Bear is turning 68.

He’s still a spry old guy, kept alive by the Ad Council and the US Forest Service. It’s New Mexico’s forests that have been taking a hammering. In 2011, the Las Conchas Fire was the largest in state history. Then this year, the Whitewater-Baldy Fire in the Gila National Forest doubled its record. This summer also saw the state’s most destructive wildfire, the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso.

But believe it or not, there’s good news.

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