KUNM

Ed Williams

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.

Ed Williams

We recently published the first two stories in an ongoing series on pollution and the Rio Grande in which we plan to explore a range of topics and issues.

Rita Daniels

Businesses, military bases and city utilities have dozens of permits to release pollution into the Rio Grande watershed. Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest sources of discharges into the river.

The plant has had trouble with regulators and neighboring communities in the past, but they’re making some headway. 

On a recent sunny day in Albuquerque’s South Valley, water utility workers bent over a grate taking readings of the city’s treated wastewater as it rushes from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant into the Rio Grande.

Ed Williams-KUNM

 

Editor's Note: After we published this story, a spokesperson for Kirtland Air Force Base wrote with a series of objections to the story. Kirtland did not allege any factual inaccuracy in our story but we did make a change to reflect that Kirtland's lead discharges into the Rio Grande watershed are not in violation of environmental laws. You can read all of their objections and our responses here

***

NOWCastSA via flickr

School districts in New Mexico are stepping up their enforcement of vaccination rules in the wake of recent measles outbreaks in other parts of the country. Santa Fe Public Schools will begin turning away students who haven’t met the requirements Tuesday. School Board President Steve Carrillo says the district is enforcing state policy that’s already in place. 

bewellnm

New Mexico residents have only a few days left before the February 15 deadline to sign up for health insurance and to be covered by March 1, 2015.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Wednesday was the last day for homeless people living in a tent city to leave their camp on 1st Street in downtown Albuquerque. Most of the camp’s occupants have already moved out.  

About five occupied tents remain just north of Albuquerque’s rail yards. Not long ago 35 tents had spread along this strip of city property, prompting complaints from neighbors and support from advocates.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Navajo Nation is set to receive over a billion dollars to clean up abandoned uranium mines on tribal land. The money comes after years of court battles with mining companies.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Two local nonprofits are leading a survey of the Albuquerque’s homeless population this week. Teams of volunteers are canvassing the streets in the pre-dawn hours to count homeless residents and interview them.

There were almost 1,200 homeless Albuquerque residents last time the count took place, and organizers are hoping there are even fewer people to count this year.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Lawmakers are set to consider a proposal that would give homeless people protection under the state hate crimes act. Under the proposal anyone convicted of violent crimes against a homeless person—for example someone who lacks a regular place to sleep or is living in a homeless shelter—would be subject to a longer jail sentence.

El Avi via flickr

Five New Mexicans  have died so far this year from flu related illnesses, ranging in age from 29 to 92. The announcement from the state Department of Health comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of epidemic levels of flu activity nationally. 

Anna Dashkova via Flickr / Creative Commons

Democratic State Senator Michael Padilla of Bernalillo County plans to introduce legislation that would require pharmacies to set up programs to take back unwanted medications from residents. A recently changed federal law had previously prohibited such programs.

elycefeliz via flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with the City of Albuquerque to install a state of the art parking lot at a municipal facility that will reduce pollution flowing into the Rio Grande. 

The city is spending $61,000 to replace an old parking lot at Pino Yards, a municipal maintenance and fueling facility. The project is part of a settlement with the EPA, coming after toxic runoff from the site drained into the Rio Grande, resulting in violations of the Clean Water Act.

@BeWellNM on Twitter

New Mexico residents have until midnight to sign up for health insurance in order to be covered by Jan. 1. The final deadline for the open enrollment period is Feb. 15. The Obama administration is urging everyone to go online and check the available coverage options, even those who signed up last year. 

Arianna Sena

The US Department of Justice announced today Friday that it is opening an investigation into the University of New Mexico’s policies on dealing with sexual assaults on campus. It’s the latest in a number of DOJ investigations into university sexual assault policies nationwide.

The Justice Department review is a first for the university, and administrators say they still don’t know the details of the student accusations or the planned investigation.

lu_lu via flickr

New Mexico health officials are reporting the first confirmed case of measles in the state since 2012. The one-year-old victim was released from the hospital yesterday, but health officials are taking the opportunity to remind residents to get vaccinated.

@BeWellNM on Twitter

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 12/4 8a: 

The Affordable Care Act's second open enrollment period is underway, and officials are reporting positive developments in early enrollment numbers.

What has your experience with the health care law been? Do you have questions about coverage?  We'll be talking about the progress and process of the enrollment period in New Mexico with experts from the state insurance exchange and local outreach workers.

Guests:

wikimedia commons

The Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period is entering its third week, and so far over a million Americans have applied for health insurance on the federal exchange.

Officials in New Mexico are also reporting progress in enrollment, after a problematic rollout last year.

Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and one of President Obama’s senior advisors on health care, says the problems that besieged consumers in 2013 seem to have been resolved.

Jeff Adair via Flickr

Residents of the Navajo Nation will now be paying more for junk food. Last week Navajo President Ben Shelly signed the Healthy Dine' Nation Act into law, adding a tax on unhealthy food sold anywhere on Navajo land. Deswood Tome is Special Advisor to President Shelly. He spoke to KUNM about the law's implications. 

"The law imposes a tax on junk food as a deterrent, so when people go to the store they'll make a conscious decision to buy nutritious food," Tome said.

clevercupcakes via Flickr / Creative Commons

The organization managing health insurance signups in New Mexico is reporting positive numbers one week into the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period. 

"We are seeing some response," said Linda Wedeen of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange. "Our goal this year that's going to be different from last year is we're working very hard to let people know we're there to assist them through this process. We know it can be complicated."

Kaiser Family Foundation

New Mexico is faring better than most states with health care costs under the Affordable Care Act. Our state experienced the third-largest drop in insurance premiums nationwide since last year.

Runs With Scissors via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The number of kids who are homeless is at an all time high in America, according to a new report by the National Center on Child Homelessness, and New Mexico has one of the most severe child homelessness problems in the country.

The report says nearly one in three kids here live in poverty, and while progress has been made in reducing homelessness among veterans and chronically homeless people, children have not received the same attention.

Ed Williams-KUNM

A cold snap hit New Mexico Wednesday and prompted an Albuquerque homeless shelter to open its doors early. 

Albuquerque Rescue Mission was scheduled to start taking in homeless residents this weekend, but freezing temperatures have moved the clock forward.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Bernalillo County voters overwhelmingly called for reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession Tuesday night.

The marijuana decriminalization question is non-binding and won’t change the law. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered to watch the election results last night.

Progress Now Director Pat Davis, who spearheaded initiatives in both Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties, says this is a first step towards big changes in New Mexico’s drug policy.

Art by Nani Chacon courtesy of Young Women United

Bernalillo County voters overwhelmingly came out on Tuesday in favor of a tax increase to pay for more mental health services. 

Bernalillo County residents with addictions or mental health problems may be closer to having more access to treatment, now that voters here have showed their support for a one-eight percent tax increase to fund more behavioral health services.

woodleywonderworks via Flickr

University of New Mexico researchers are estimating one-third of Bernalillo County residents with mental health problems didn’t get the care they needed last year.

Researchers at UNM say over 150,000 people in Bernalillo county had mental health issues that needed treatment in 2013, but only 98,000 of those people received care from local providers.

Alex E. Proimos via Flickr

A new analysis of insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act shows New Mexico has one of the highest rates of newly-insured people in the country. That’s good news for the residents here who now have access to health care, but the higher number of new patients is posing some challenges to doctors in the state.

    

New Mexico has seen a drastic reduction in uninsured residents since last year. Data shows the rate of people covered by health insurance has more than doubled in many counties.

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM Public Health Reporter Ed Williams met with Julie Martinez in the courtyard of Holy Cross Hospital in Taos. Martinez manages the hospital’s substance abuse prevention program and works on drug issues with local youth for the non-profit Taos Alive.

Martinez wouldn’t say who she was voting for because of her work. She did explain that the entrenched problems of addiction and substance abuse in her community are shaping her views of candidates this year.

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM public health reporter Ed Williams traveled north to Taos County where he met with Marty Michael, a conservative voter in Questa. Michael is an active member of the community, and has worked with the county on water issues. 

“Drought, global warming’s affecting it, lack of rainfall, mother nature. It’s something that can’t be measured," Michael said. "The conservatives are interested in keeping our water here. No more water transfers.”  

Check out the other Voices Behind The Vote profiles!

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM public health reporter Ed Williams spoke with Santa Fe resident Allegra Love, a former public school teacher who now works as a lawyer for ADELANTE, a Santa Fe Public Schools program that provides help for families experiencing homelessness.

Love is also an immigration attorney. Since this summer she’s been working on asylum cases for refugees held in the federal immigrant detention center in Artesia. 

Al Hikes via Flickr

Wednesday is National Student Pledge Against Violence Day, and school administrators in Santa Fe are encouraging students to sign a pledge promising not to use guns to resolve conflicts.

Both the Santa Fe School Board and City Council signed resolutions to join in the national observance of gun violence in schools.

Pages