KUNM News

timmenzies via Flickr

Valles Caldera Looks To Future As National ParkThe Associated Press

The management experiment at Valles Caldera National Preserve is coming to an end as the National Park Service prepares to take over the 140-square-mile property in northern New Mexico.

The transition is among dozens of public lands measures squeezed into the half-trillion-dollar defense bill approved by Congress and signed by the president last week.

N salazar

New Mexico Lawmakers Propose Minimum Wage HikeThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico legislators are again proposing increases in the state's minimum wage.

Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez has introduced a bill to raise the current hourly minimum wage of $7.50 to $8.30. Democratic Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela of Santa Fe has one to raise the minimum to $10.10.

Varela told the Albuquerque Journal that the current minimum wage isn't a livable wage.

N.M. News In 2014

Dec 18, 2014
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

 

KUNM Call In Show 12/18 8a: 

New Mexico was in the national spotlight a lot this year. What are the story threads journalists followed? Local reporters join us in the studio to talk about topics like: the Albuquerque Police Department shootings, the immigration center in Artesia, transparency, the Roswell school shooting and mental health. 

What do you think are the top stories of 2014?

Rae Allen via Flickr.com

Santa Fe Paving Company Convicted Of CorruptionThe Associated Press

The owner of a paving company accused of embezzling $1 million from Santa Fe County has been found guilty of multiple corruption charges.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that jurors convicted Joe Anthony Montoya yesterday of bribing public officials, committing fraud and engaging in conspiracy.

The jury also convicted Montoya's company, Advantage Asphalt, of charges involving bribery, fraud and conspiracy. Montoya and his company faced more than 30 charges combined.

New Mexico Dept of Taxation and Revenue

Another NM Immigrant Licenses Repeal Effort BeginsThe Associated Press

Two New Mexico lawmakers have launched a new effort to repeal a state law that allows immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses.

Rep. Paul Pacheco, of Albuquerque, and Rep.-elect Andy Nunez, of Hatch, pre-filed a proposal yesterday just as Republicans were preparing to take control of the House. Pacheco and Nunez are both Republicans.

City of Albuquerque

Major Albuquerque Construction Project FinishedThe Associated Press

Dignitaries attended a ribbon-cutting last night to celebrate the completion of the $93-million dollar reconstruction of the I-25 and Paseo del Norte interchange.

This morning the flyover that takes drivers headed northbound on I-25 to westbound Paseo del Norte is open.

Government officials had to piece together money from city, county and state bonds to pay for the project.

14 Cities Get Bloomberg 'Innovation Team' Grants - The Associated Press

Fourteen cities ranging from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Jerusalem are getting money from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation to create "innovation teams" to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth and other issues.

New York-based Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the winners Monday. They'll receive from $400,000 to $1 million annually for three years.

timmenzies via Flickr

Congress Clears Way For New Mexico Land Measures The Associated Press

A new swath of wilderness would be designated in northern New Mexico and management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve would be transferred to the National Park Service under a defense bill that has cleared Congress.

The U.S. Senate voted in favor of the legislation Friday. The House passed the bill earlier this month. It now goes to President Barack Obama for approval.

prensa420 via Flickr

DOJ Says Tribes Can Decide Whether To Legalize Pot  - The Associated Press

The U.S. Justice Department says Indian tribes can grow and sell marijuana on their lands, even in states that haven't legalized pot. 

Oregon U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall was co-chair of a group that developed the policy announced yesterday.

Marshall says the policy was developed after a handful of tribes asked how legalization of pot in states like Oregon and Washington would apply to them.

HBO

Tapia Documentary Set To Air On HBO On Dec. 16The Associated Press

A documentary on the rise and fall of Albuquerque-born, world champion boxer Johnny Tapia is slated to air on HBO next week.

The network says 'Tapia,' using first-person narration and archival footage, will be shown Dec. 16.

The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last year and was shown at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Award for best documentary.

hugovk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Albuquerque Police, DOJ Hold 'Frank' Meetings  - The Associated Press

Albuquerque police and U.S. Justice Department officials have held a series of private but contentious briefings following a signed agreement on reforms.

Officials say officers and federal authorities gathered Tuesday for the last of five meetings on how reforms will be adopted. But some officers expressed anger on how the Justice Department investigated Albuquerque police and pressed federal officials on why they only focused on certain excessive force cases.

Screenshot from YouTube video courtesy of Martin Heinrich.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which released a damning report today on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation techniques after the September 11, 2001, attacks under President George W. Bush.

Foodie In Disguise via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Santa Fe County Ex-Official's Guilty Plea RevealedThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico prosecutors in a fraud case against a contractor have disclosed that a former Santa Fe County official previously pleaded guilty to taking a bribe.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the 2012 guilty plea by former county road supervisor James Martinez was revealed for the first time yesterday as testimony began in the fraud case.

US Department of Energy

Senators Welcome Fines For Nuke Repository MishapsThe Associated Press

New Mexico's two U.S. senators are welcoming more than $54 million in penalties being levied against the U.S. Department of Energy for numerous violations that resulted in the indefinite closure of the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository.

The state Environment Department on Saturday announced it was imposing the penalties for 30 state-permit violations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico and at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Romana Klee via Flicker.com

Alcohol Abuse Focus Of Meeting In Troubled Gallup The Associated Press

State officials are looking into solutions at tackling alcohol abuse in one of the most violent cities in the state.

State Sen. George Munoz is set to hold a public meeting Monday in Gallup on alcoholism in the troubled city.

The Gallup Democrat says he's concern about the city's high crime rate and the high number of alcohol-related deaths.

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Defeated NM Dem Governor Hopeful $690K In DebtThe Associated Press

New Mexico Democratic gubernatorial challenger Gary King not only lost by a historical margin against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Records show he was left with a nearly $700,000 debt.

Campaign finance disclosures filed Thursday showed that King's unsuccessful big left him with $691,000 in unpaid bills and an ending balance of only $6,500.

Meanwhile, Martinez reported spending more than $574,000 from Nov. 1 to Thursday and had an ending balance of $246,000.

Albuquerque Hires NAACP Leader On Police ReformThe Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque has hired a local NAACP leader to help with upcoming changes into the city's troubled police.

But some advocates are criticizing the move.

The city announced this week NAACP Albuquerque president Harold Bailey will be paid $20,000 as a consultant for a team that will oversee changes. Bailey says he will help the team with community engagement.

OpenThreads via Flickr

Task Force: New Mexico Water Supplies At Risk Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Researchers from universities around the state say New Mexico is undoubtedly dealing with a dire situation thanks to a persistent drought and there's no telling when conditions will improve.

The task force of experts on Tuesday delivered their preliminary findings to lawmakers on the vulnerability of the state's water supplies.

yooperann via Flickr

Project Protects NM Forested Land From Development – The Associated Press

More than 11,000 acres that adjoin the Carson National Forest have been permanently protected from development through a conservation easement.

A conservation effort on the Upper Rio Chama River property in northern New Mexico began in 2009. The final and largest piece of the nearly 12-thousand-acre property became part of the easement Monday.

New Mexico Senate Has Backlog Of ConfirmationsThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The Democratic-led New Mexico Senate will convene in January with a backlog of pending confirmation decisions on dozens of appointees of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Martinez's office says the 85 first-term appointees awaiting confirmation votes include numerous members of state boards and commissions as well as three Cabinet secretaries.

VEX Robotics via Flickr.com

Sandia Labs To Help Develop Museum Programs The Associated Press

Sandia National Laboratories is teaming up with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

The two have signed a memorandum of understanding in which the lab will help identify and develop programs and exhibits that focus on space exploration, renewable energy, water and nanotechnology.

The museum will evaluate initiatives of interest to Albuquerque and the region.

Davelnman via Flickr

Rare Loon Takes Flight In Albuquerque - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A "common loon" has been making uncommon visits to an Albuquerque pond.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Bernalillo County bird watchers have been eyeing a bosque pond to glimpse the loon after it was spotted earlier this month.

Bird watcher Nancy Hetrick first spotted the bird Nov. 16 in the pond near Tingley Beach.

jmoran24 via Flickr

Regulators Approve PNM Solar Plan - The Associated Press

PNM's plan to build four more solar-powered generating stations has been approved by state regulators.

The Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the utility's renewable energy procurement plan for next year. The solar arrays will represent a more than $79 million-dollar investment.

Ed Williams

Albuquerque Activists Hold Ferguson ProtestThe Associated Press

Around 200 Albuquerque protesters joined demonstrators nationwide after a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Missouri.

The demonstration last night forced Albuquerque police to momentarily close traffic in the city's International District but the protest remained peaceful.

hugovk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Prosecutor Weighs Santa Fe Police Shooting ChargesThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A southeastern New Mexico prosecutor is considering whether two Santa Fe police officers will face any charges in the nonfatal shooting of a motorist.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Roswell-based District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks says she expects to decide on possible charges by early next year.

New Mexico House Democrats Elect Egolf As Leader - The Associated Press

New Mexico House Democrats have chosen a new leader now that they'll be the minority in that legislative chamber.

Democratic representatives over the weekend elected Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe to serve as the House minority leader when the Legislature begins its 2015 session on Jan. 20.

Ricardo Ricote Rodriguez via Flickr

New Mexico Spaceport Sets Sights On New Customers - Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

There was a scramble to get everything ready for the launch of the world's first commercial flights from Spaceport America.

That came to a screeching halt last month when Virgin Galactic's spaceship broke up over the California desert during a test flight.

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Judge Lifts Restraining Order In Gila LawsuitThe Associated Press

The Interstate Stream Commission can now move forward with a meeting next week to consider the future of the Gila River.

During a hearing yesterday, state District Judge Francis Mathew lifted a temporary restraining order that had blocked action by the commission.

New Mexico faces a December 31st deadline for deciding how to manage its share of the river under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.

Robert Smith via Flickr

Audit Slams Bernalillo County Treasurer's OfficeThe Associated Press

A special audit of the Bernalillo County treasurer's office is alleging violations of state law and has uncovered a pattern of risky investment decisions and preferential treatment for some brokers.

Auditor Hector Balderas' office released the audit Wednesday. The audit questions whether more than $900 million in investment purchases were in the best interest of New Mexico's most populous county.

my_southborough via Creative Commons

Bernalillo County Inmate-Release Plan Approved - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County has a contingency plan to release some prisoners deemed to be low risk if the jail population gets too large.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the county jail's population of just under 1,900 inmates is now well below its peak and slightly below a court-ordered target.

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