Elaine Baumgartel

News Director

Elaine volunteered to answer phones during a KUNM pledge drive in 2003 and she's been unable to drag herself away from public radio ever since.  And why would she want to?  She wore many sets of headphones at the station before becoming KUNM's News Director - local anchor of NPR's Morning Edition, reporter in the KUNM newsroom, and host and producer of the KUNM Call In Show.  

As a graduate student in the Communication and Journalism MA program at UNM, Elaine completed her thesis project on the West Mesa murders and coverage of violence against women in the media.

In her spare time, Elaine likes to garden and work with ceramics in addition to spending time with her family.  

Ways To Connect

US Department of Energy

UPDATE 3/10 7a: The U.S. Department of Energy says new air testing in the nation's only underground nuclear repository shows no detectable radioactive contamination from a leak last month.

Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad said Sunday that instruments used to measure air quality and radioactivity were sent underground Friday and Saturday in the first step to resuming operations at the plant.

They say initial results indicate no contamination in the air or on the measuring equipment.

Public domain image.

UPDATE 7:20p 02/21:

Department of Energy officials say radiation levels detected in and around the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository are consistent with a leak at the southeastern New Mexico facility.

Carlsbad field office manager Jose Franco said Thursday that readings from sensors above and below ground indicate the radiation is coming from waste stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. But officials won't know what caused the leak until they can get underground to investigate. That could be weeks.

Courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Drought conditions across the Southwest have gotten significantly worse over the last few weeks, including in New Mexico.

Take a look at the newest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor map, and you’ll see orange and red smears all across the southwest showing where the drought is impacting the country the most.

Albuquerque hasn’t had a drop of rain for 40 straight days. Chuck Jones is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

New Mexico’s Democratic Congressional delegation cheered President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and his announcement yesterday that new federal contract workers would see an increase in their minimum wage. 

Senator Martin Heinrich for an increase in the minimum wage across the board, saying people who work full time shouldn’t be living in poverty. Heinrich noted an increase would disproportionately affect women.

UPDATE 10:20a: UNM Police say classes can return to normal after an anonymous bomb threat was called in Tuesday morning. The LoboAlert system sent an "All Clear" message at 10:15a thanking the campus for its cooperation.

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UNM's Mitchell, Ortega and Popejoy Halls were evacuated at 8:20a Tuesday. According to a UNM Emergency Alert text message sent to staff and students, police are investigating an anonymous bomb threat. 

Police have asked people to avoid these areas of the Albuquerque campus until further notice. 

Storm Dumps Snow, Leaves 1 Dead In New Mexico, 7 Others Dead Across West

Nov 21, 2013
National Weather Service

UPDATE Mon 6:30a: Snow accumulation with gusty winds are expected today as wintry weather tapers off through tonight.

 

Snow showers crossing into New Mexico will continue through much of the morning. Local accumulations could reach 1-2"

 

North winds will develop over the northeast plains in the wake of the departing storm system this afternoon, with gusts expected to reach 50 miles an hour. 

 

New Mexico's highest court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a historic case that could decide whether same-sex marriage is legal in all counties across the state. One of the key issues is what the fundamental right to marry consists of. 

Justices, and lawyers from both sides, agreed that a fundamental right to marry does exist under state law, but that's where the agreement stopped short. 

Jim Clark

The team of agencies managing the Mexican grey wolf recovery program has a new player, or rather, a returning one.

The New Mexico Game and Fish department was ordered this week by the state Game Commission to return to the negotiating table nearly two years after pulling out of discussions about proposed rule changes.

Photo by The White House

We're carrying NPR's live coverage of President Obama's statement on Syria, and providing analysis. The President is expected to take the podium shortly.

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE 8/27 12p:  Two more New Mexico counties say they'll begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The clerks in San Miguel and Valencia counties say they've ordered gender-neutral forms so they can follow the state's three population centers in recognizing gay and lesbian marriages.

The decisions come a day after a state district judge in Albuquerque declared gay marriage legal, and ordered the Bernalillo County clerk to join Santa Fe and Dona Ana counties in issuing the licenses.

AG Releases Heavily Redacted Audit Protocol Document

Aug 23, 2013
opensourceway via Flickr

The State Attorney General's Office released parts of  an audit Thursday of 15 behavioral health providers who have been accused of over-billing and Medicaid fraud by the Human Services Department.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 8 of 13 pages of the "Audit Protocols" document were completely redacted while 4 other pages were almost completely redacted.

A Health Blog via Flickr

There are still a lot of questions about the New Mexico Human Services Department's abrupt halt of Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health providers and the state's contracts with Arizona firms to take over provider management.

Here's some of what we do know.

There are still many unanswered questions about the state Human Services Department's decision to freeze funding for 15 behavioral health service providers after an audit found evidence of alleged Medicaid fraud. 

jeffwilcox via Flickr

A transfer of over $10 million to Arizona behavioral health contractors has been put on hold by the state Legislative Finance Committee. 

NMInDepth.com reports LFC Director David Abbey has stopped the transfer so that the committee can review the request from the Human Services Department. 

Laura Paskus

A coalition of local groups is planning to rally Saturday morning in Albuquerque to call for immediate action to stop human-caused climate change.

Joan Brown is the Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, a multi-faith based organization focused on climate change issues. "We need to act and do our individual part but we also need to act collectively," Brown said. "The very future of our living here in this beautiful state with our family and friends depends upon it."

Astronomy Picture of the Day for July 31, 2013 / http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

KUNM Call In Show 8/1 8a: We've known about climate change for 30 years, why are we still debating the topic?

This week on the KUNM Call In Show we'll discuss the challenges climate change activists face in their work.

We'd like to hear from you! What do you do with your knowledge of climate change? Do you change your habits? Do you feel powerless in the face of such a huge global process? 

Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online, or call in live during the show!

Guests: 

Elaine Baumgartel

The thunderstorm that ravaged areas of Albuquerque on Friday night clocked 90mph winds at the Sunport, downed power lines, cut electricity to over 27,000 PNM customers, and caused dangerous flooding. 

In SE Albuquerque, neighbors helped each other clear downed trees and make use of what the storm left behind. 

Many clients of the providers who've had their funding frozen are considered some of the most fragile residents of the state. Gay Finlayson's son Neil was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 20. Doctors told the family it was one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat.

NMPBS

New Mexico has long struggled to make sure that children get access to healthcare. The state has lingered at the bottom of nationwide state rankings on a series of child welfare factors. We ranked dead last in the latest Kids Count report. Meanwhile, the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid, and creating a state health exchange are some big changes coming to the state soon. 

Martinez Urges July 4th Fireworks Ban Amid Drought - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has announced that all fireworks and campfires will be banned on state lands as July 4th approaches and crews continue to battle wildfires across New Mexico.

Martinez urged residents not to use any fireworks and instead to attend any number of professional fireworks shows around the state.

Providers of mental health and drug abuse counseling targeted by a state audit are expressing concern about interruption of services.

NMInDepth.Com reports 15 behavioral health providers are having their Medicaid payments suspended while the state investigates over-billing, potential fraud , and other violations.

New Mexico Human Services Department officials say they're working to line up assistance for the organizations, but no details are yet available.

Jaroso Fire Races Towards Pecos River Headwaters

Jun 26, 2013
Deborah Martinez

The Jaroso Fire that is raging uncontrolled in the Pecos Wilderness grew aggressively over the last 24 hours, devouring 5 square miles of forest. The wildfire is encroaching on the headwaters of the Pecos River which is known for its fishing and scenic camping areas.

Wikimedia Commons

Advocates of same sex marriage are celebrating the US Supreme Court's ruling today that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has added three more couples, for a total of five, to a same sex marriage lawsuit against the state of New Mexico.

Peter Simonson is the Executive Director of the ACLU-New Mexico. "Our case is asking the court to rule on the constitutional question," he says, "of whether or not same sex couples can be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation."

onecle via Flickr

The US Supreme Court ruled today that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and that supporters of Proposition 8 in California had no standing to defend that law in court. What do these rulings mean? If you missed our live broadcast you can stream the program from our Two Week Archive, 6/26, 7p. 

Steve London via Twitter

UPDATE 6/18 9a: The Silver Fire grew to over 30,000 acres overnight. 

 

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New Mexico's largest wildfire this year is expected to grow significantly today. The Silver Fire, which is burning in the Gila National Forest, is threatening the small historic mining town of Kingston, although so far fire crews have been successful at protecting the town.

Smoke from the blaze created a 30,000 foot column of smoke on Tuesday that was visible from El Paso, Texas, over 100 miles away.

zpeckler via Flickr

New details have emerged about changes that were made to a grant proposal the state submitted to the federal government related to the state's Health Insurance Exchange.

liliasdad via Flickr

UPDATE 6/21: Starting at 8a on Monday, June 24th the Santa Fe National Forest will be closed to public entry. 

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Some people, especially many in Santa Fe may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the ring of fire that has surrounded the state's capitol city. 

But State Fire Information Officer Dan Ware wants everyone to know that, really, the whole state is not on fire.

Avelino Maestas via Flickr

With each dry thunderstorm that moves across New Mexico, the chance of another wildfire breaking out goes up.

Crews are battling a handful of blazes in the Santa Fe National Forest, on private land near Whites Peak and in rugged territory in southern New Mexico.

The flames are being fueled by overcrowded forests, the terrain and dry conditions.

However, New Mexico State University wildland fire management specialist Doug Cram says the wind hasn't been as big of a factor. In 2011 and 2012, the state broke records with three massive wind-driven wildfires.

Maryland GovPics via Flickr

Live NPR Coverage of Presidential Speech Thu. 5/23 12p: President Obama will give a major speech today on drone airstrikes overseas and issues with detainees at Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

We'll bring you live NPR coverage of the President's speech followed by analysis from NPR's counter-terrorism reporter Dina Temple-Raston and Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving. 

State of the RE:Union Thu. 5/30 8a: In this American Graduate special, State of the Re:Union takes a closer look at school, community, and the drop out crisis in this country.

With reporting from both urban and rural schools, and interviews with education experts, State of the RE:Union goes “ back to the basics”, looking at strategies that get to the heart of what makes students want to learn. 

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