KUNM News

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New Mexico Campuses Seeing Drop In Student Enrollment - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

College campuses across New Mexico have had the sharpest decline in enrollment compared to other states in the past year, according to a new study.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit focused on research and education policy, has ranked New Mexico with the largest enrollment drop nationwide.

USGS

Feds To Help Farmers, Ranchers In Ogallala Aquifer Region The Associated Press

Federal officials say farmers and ranchers who depend on the Ogallala Aquifer will benefit from $6.5 million in funding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it would be investing in projects in a handful of states with the goal of conserving billions of gallons of water to extend the life of the aquifer.

Rita Daniels

AG: Insufficient Evidence To Charge Bernalillo County DA - The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says there's insufficient evidence to prosecute the district attorney of the most populous county in the state for bribery or intimidation of witnesses.

But Balderas is criticizing Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and the Albuquerque Police Department for their actions in connection with two pending investigations of Brandenburg's son.

NMFO

Health Department Facing Projected Deficit Of $6 Million - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

The state health department is facing a project deficit of nearly $6 million.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the department had a $27 million surplus only two years ago and its practice of contracting with private nursing services may have contributed to budget problems.

pascalk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

New Mexico Attorney General To Review Police Training Goals - The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has announced he will review the much-debated curriculum of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.

Balderas said Tuesday as chair of the board that oversees the academy he also will examine if the academy is following state transparency laws and wants to make sure officer discipline is handled appropriately.

Creative Commons

Report Details Problems Impacting Teacher Retention Santa Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico is struggling to retain teachers and one reason is low pay.

steev hise via Flickr

Hatch Valley Farmers Strive To Protect Chile Brand - The Las Cruces Sun-News, The Associated Press

Hatch Valley farmers are banding together to protect their brand, which to them represents a long heritage of local, home-grown food.

Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Officials Buzzed Over Proposed Marijuana Farm Near Roswell The Associated Press

A proposal to turn a former dairy processing plant near Roswell into a place to grow plants, specifically marijuana, isn't getting high praise from local officials.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that a joint city-county commission will meet next week to consider Pecos Valley Pharmaceuticals' request to rezone the facility as a "pharmaceutical manufacturing site."

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

UNM Researchers Challenge Gila River Studies - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Two University of New Mexico researchers say state water managers based their decision to pursue a multimillion-dollar diversion and storage project along the Gila River based on studies that lacked credibility.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the researchers outlined their concerns in a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Albuquerque Police Department

Prosecutor In NM Police Shooting Wants More Ballistics Tests - The Associated Press

A special prosecutor reviewing the case of two Albuquerque police officers who have been charged with murder in the shooting death of a homeless man wants more ballistics testing to be done.

Randi McGinn says the scientific testing is to address defense attorneys' question about which of the two officers fired the most immediate fatal third shot into the man's back.

AllenS / Wikimedia Commons

Albuquerque Releases Internal Audit Of Taser Contract - The Associated Press

City auditors say personnel at Albuquerque's troubled police department bypassed purchasing regulations and compromised the integrity of the city's procurement process when purchasing body cameras from Taser International in 2013.

The city's Office of Internal Audit released the findings Tuesday.

They follow an equally scathing report by New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller, which uncovered a cozy relationship involving Taser and former police chief Ray Schultz.

BCSO

Man Dies After Being Shot By Bernalillo County DeputyThe Associated Press

A Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy is on paid administrative leave following a south valley shooting that left one man dead.

The Albuquerque Journal reports deputies responded to a neighbor's call that an argument was taking place in a parked car. Deputies talked to the woman and tried to talk to the man, who then produced a weapon.

Environmental Protection Agency

US To Pay $13.2M For Navajo Nation Uranium Mine Evaluation The Associated Press

Navajo Nation officials say the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to provide $13.2 million for a cleanup evaluation of 16 abandoned uranium mines across the vast reservation.

Tribal officials say the investigation of the sites is a necessary step before final cleanup decisions can be made.

The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles within Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

MoDOT Photos via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Review: No-Bid Deal For Police Body Cameras Was 'Greased' - The Associated Press

A New Mexico review has found that Albuquerque's former police chief potentially violated ethics rules by influencing a $1.95 million contract to purchase body cameras and then going to work as a consultant for the supplier.

State Auditor Timothy Keller released a report Thursday that says former Chief Ray Schultz and his subordinates gave Taser International an unfair advantage for the 2013 contact.

Skarz via Wikimedia Commons

Shake-Up Hits Albuquerque Police Records DepartmentThe Associated Press

An internal investigation has prompted a shake-up within the public records unit of the embattled Albuquerque Police Department.

Three employees have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Department spokeswoman Celina Espinoza says investigators are looking at allegations of unprofessional conduct, workplace safety and inadequate supervision.

Senate Democrats via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Jon Jones Stripped Of UFC Title, SuspendedThe Associated Press

Jon Jones has been stripped of his UFC light heavyweight title and suspended indefinitely following his arrest in New Mexico on a hit-and-run that police say left a pregnant woman with a broken arm.

The UFC announced the penalties Tuesday night for violations of its athlete code of conduct policy.

Jones was scheduled to face No. 1 contender Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in Las Vegas on May 23. Instead, No. 3 contender Daniel Cormier will face Johnson for the title.

New Mexico In Depth

NM Senator Wants Answers From Mental Health Care Officials - The Associated Press

A key Democratic state senator is asking Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration for answers as a mental health provider prepares to pull out of southern New Mexico.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen says she's concerned about the thousands of people who currently receive care from Arizona-based La Frontera. The provider is set to stop services June 1.

National Nuclear Security Administration / Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico Lobbying To Be Storage Site For Nuclear Waste - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A rural area of southeastern New Mexico is being touted as an interim storage site for the country's high-level nuclear waste.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Gov. Susana Martinez reached out to the Obama administration earlier this month to consider the 1,000-acre parcel as a place for storing spent radioactive fuel rods from power plants.

Smithsonian Institution via flickr.com

New Mexico Democrats Choose Haaland As New Party Chair - The Associated Press 

A Democratic activist and tribal administrator from Albuquerque is the new leader of New Mexico's Democratic Party.

Debra Haaland became the first Native American to lead a state party in New Mexico on Saturday following a Democratic State Central Committee meeting at a high school gym in Albuquerque.

The 54-year-old, who ran for lieutenant governor last year, beat Santa Fe County party chairman Richard Ellenberg by a vote of 214 to 168.

Meredith Nierman / WGBH News

Boston Marathon Winner Rotich To Get Santa Fe Parade - The Associated Press

The city of Santa Fe is holding a parade for a Santa Fe resident who won the Boston Marathon.

Officials announced this week the city and other groups will sponsor a parade on Monday in honor of Caroline Rotich.

Rotich, who has lived and trained in Santa Fe for about five years, used a late kick to bust through the tape first among the women runners in the 119th running of the prestigious event.

Garrett Heath of SA Flavor via Flickr / Creative Commons License

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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