KUNM

Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

Ways to Connect

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Sometimes people who've experienced hardship are in a unique position to know what other folks in trouble need. That’s Marion Goodluck.

Every day, weekends, in the middle of the night—she thinks about and plans for the American Indian Women’s Center. It doesn’t exist yet, but she knows from her own lived experience that Albuquerque needs a domestic violence shelter made by and for indigenous people. Her organization is hoping to secure funding from the city and state for an all-nations center that’s welcoming, that feels like a home and a site for healing. 

DoD via CC

Congress is spending billions more than it ever has to fight the opioid epidemic affecting the nation. Some of that money is going to rural areas, and there was some concern that the rural communities being targeted were almost entirely white.

West Midlands Police via Twitter / Creative Commons License

New evidence has shattered the widely believed narrative of how 10-year-old Victoria Martens was killed in Albuquerque. Right after her death in 2016, detectives interviewed her mother Michelle, and based on that, they pinned the homicide on her and two other adults. But two years later, the District Attorney says that story is false, and DNA evidence points to another killer, who’s still out there.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

People around the state are used to seeing the flows in local rivers fluctuate. But this year, sandbars have started to widen and connect, and riverbanks are growing by yards. In some places down South, it’s completely dry for miles. KUNM caught up with journalist Laura Paskus of the New Mexico Political Report in a dry patch of the Rio Grande on Thursday morning. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE: The Office of the Medical Investigator determined that the bones construction workers found are ancient and not related to the gravesite discovered in 2009.

Courtesy of Gen. Michele LaMontagne

It’s June—Pride month—and Brig. Gen. Michele LaMontagne of the Air National Guard just became the second woman ever to obtain that rank in New Mexico earlier this year. At her promotion ceremony, the general emphasized the strengths of diversity among the ranks. She spoke with KUNM about changes in the military during her 26 years of service.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Dozens of transgender people seeking asylum were part of the caravan that crossed the border about a month ago. One woman was transferred to a detention facility in New Mexico, and she died days later. Demonstrators gathered at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Albuquerque Wednesday afternoon to march, chant and demand answers.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Heavily contested primaries like New Mexico’s congressional races can sort of tear parties apart, UNM Professor Lonna Atkeson said. That’s especially true when outside organizations start pumping money into candidates. "To see the groups come in and spend a lot of money with candidates who largely have the same ideological agenda is interesting."

Courtesy of Jill Werhane of Miami, N.M.

UPDATE 6/12 7p: The Ute Park Fire is now 92 percent contained and containment lines are holding around the fire as of Monday. Some smoke and flames may be visible in coming weeks until there's rain, but the burning won't cause the fire to grow, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division. 

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UPDATE 6/9 7a: The evacuation orders for residents of Ute Park were lifted Friday, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division. The Ute Park Fire is now 77 percent contained as it burns through pockets of vegetation within the perimeters of the fire. Crews will be patrolling and chipping up debris from thinning operations. Some firefighters are being reassigned to other incidents. 

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UPDATE 6/8 8a: Firefighters have corralled the Ute Park Fire on its western edge although Ute Park remains evacuated. The fire has consumed 36,740 acres and is 66 percent contained. Its still producing some smoke that is affecting Cimarron and surrounding areas. According to the New Mexico State Forestry Division, no homes have been burned but 219 are still threatened.

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UPDATE 6/6 7a: Growth of the Ute Park Fire has slowed as hot shot crews work directly on the western flank of the fire. Helicopters are dropping water, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division, and no additional structures have been destroyed after the 14 that burnt at the Philmont Scout Ranch last week. The fire is now 30 percent contained. 

Ute Park remains under mandatory evacuation while residents of Cimarron were allowed to return to their homes on Monday. 

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UPDATE 6/4 5p: : The Ute Park fire in northeastern New Mexico spans more than 36,000 and remains about 23 percent contained. Sunday’s rain stalled the fire’s growth but didn’t stop it. The cause is still under investigation.

State Forestry Division spokesperson Wendy Mason said the good news is that lightning from the weekend’s storms did not start any new fires. But the forecast this week shows no rain in the area. "It’ll probably be going for a couple of weeks because it is so large and there is still a lot of dry fuel out there," Mason said.

People were allowed to return home to the village of Cimarron in phases on Monday afternoon, but the evacuation order was still in place for Ute Park, and the blaze was threatening 219 homes there.

It’s likely the blaze will move west, Mason said. Because most of the state is experiencing dry conditions, it’s been a busy fire season so far, she said, and there’s still a ways to go.

JESSICA7191 VIA PIXABAY / CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE

New Mexico’s been fighting the opioid epidemic for decades, but it wasn’t until last year that the federal government declared it a public health emergency. Congress just pumped up the budget for fighting the epidemic by billions, including $100 million for rural areas. But none of the rural counties in our state were targeted for that money. Now that’s changing.

Rashad Mahmood / KUNM

When Congress passed an omnibus budget bill in March, it provided $100 million to fight the opioid epidemic in rural counties. The bill includes a list of 220 counties slated to be the focus of the funding. Many counties with high rates of drug deaths weren’t on the list, like Rio Arriba County here in New Mexico.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Congress boosted the budget for the battle against the opioid epidemic this year, and a chunk of it—$100 million—is slated for treatment and prevention in rural communities. But something about how lawmakers chose to prioritize that money caught a New Mexico health official by surprise: the funding is focused on counties that are mostly white.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The federal government is distributing grant money to counties to fight opioid addiction. But Española and the surrounding area might not get any of it, even though communities there have struggled for years with some of the highest overdose death rates in the country.

Wikimedia Commons via CC


Let’s Talk New Mexico 5/10 8a: About one in four New Mexicans has an EBT card in their wallet that they use to buy food. We’re continuing the conversation this week about food assistance and new work requirements that Congress is considering in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Wikimedia via CC

Only a small handful of lockups around the country let new moms who are behind bars breastfeed their infants. But the Bernalillo County jail—the biggest in the state—rolled out a policy that allows female inmates to feed their babies, or to pump milk for them.

pexels via CC

Let's Talk New Mexico 4/26 8a: Call 277-5866. We're talking about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and whether people in our state can access it. We'll also talk about the Farm Bill proposed in Congress, which would increase work requirements for people using SNAP, along with other changes. Have you applied for SNAP? How did the process go for you? Or what do you think of work requirements for people participating in this programs? How can people in New Mexico get the food they need? Email letstalk@KUNM.org, tweet #letstalkNM or call in live during the show. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

For decades, families in New Mexico have been missing out on food and medical assistance that they’re eligible for under federal law. Records show that things have gotten better in recent months. Still, the issue’s been in court for 30 years, and a federal judge says one problem is a lack of accountability within the state’s Income Support Division

Katharine Egli for the Solutions Journalism Network

What if big telecom isn’t the only game in town for internet service? Member-owned cooperatives and community networks are springing up around the country. And what’s more, they’re making net neutrality—unthrottled access to an open net—a core value.

Katharine Egli for the Solutions Journalism Network

Quality internet service is key to overcoming poverty, according to studies worldwide. But all over the U.S., people of color and folks with low incomes are less likely to have access to an affordable, reliable connection. Plus, big corporations are often unwilling to lay line through tough terrain without a lot of customers.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

All around the United States, students filed out of their classrooms on Wednesday, March 14, to stand for school safety. It’s been a month since the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

In New Mexico, school administrations had mixed reactions to the planned walkouts. Over the last couple of weeks, KUNM followed the students at an arts charter school in Albuquerque, as they organized with the support of school staff.

Lorie Shaull via Flickr CC


Let’s Talk New Mexico 3/15 8a: All around the country, students are walking out of classrooms to call for gun control after a decades of deadly shootings in schools. Young folks are saying they can’t keep waiting, and there is widespread support around the country for some gun control, but lawmakers have made little progress. We’ll hear from students around the state about what it's like to go to school in an era of mass shootings.

pxhere via CC

New Mexico is still too slow in delivering food and medical assistance to the many people here who need it—and the problem is the people in charge. That’s according to a court appointed expert – a special master – who spent a year working inside the state Human Services Department’s Income Support Division.

Pixnio via CC

New Mexico’s been chasing technology firms, but this question always comes up: Are there people here who can do those jobs? A community college program is working to answer that question by helping nontraditional students get fast, intensive training, and get to work—whether it’s for a big company or at a business of their own. 

Courtesy of Lalo Alcaraz

Lalo Alcaraz is a nationally syndicated cartoonist and author of “La Cucaracha,” a daily comic strip that appears in the Santa Fe New Mexican. He was also a cultural consultant for the new Pixar-Disney movie Coco, and he'll give a talk at the University of New Mexico's Woodward Hall, Thursday, March 1, at 5:30 p.m. 

Tom Wind Energy via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The State Land Office has been working with a private company on a wind energy project in Torrance County for years. But more than half of the wind farm can’t be built because the Air Force uses the area for low-altitude flight training.

U.S. Embassy in the Philippines via CC / Creative Commons

Funding for public early childhood programs is tight around New Mexico, and it’s disproportionately students of color who miss out. Allen Sanchez of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops sparked debate last week when he told an Associated Press reporter that systemic racism is a factor in why legislation that could have fixed the problem didn’t get a fair shake. 

Pixabay via CC

The vice president of the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute has been accused of sexual assault by a staff member. Other complaints about Eric Christensen’s behavior have been filed over the course of his long federal career, according to a recent news story in Government Executive, an independent news publication.

Marisa Demarco

A short-term federal budget is set to expire at midnight on Thursday, and there could be another government shutdown. Some lawmakers in D.C. refused to support the budget bill if protections for young people who were brought to the U.S. as children were not included. Here in Albuquerque, college professors, Dreamers and allies gathered outside the Downtown offices for Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to demand that they fight for a Dream Act in Congress.

Highways England via CC

New Mexico’s criminal justice system gets clogged. The courts, the public prosecutors and defenders, they’ve all said they don’t have enough money or staff to process cases fast enough. Growing backlogs, people and details falling through the cracks—those complaints are common. Lawmakers are weighing a bill that would pull minor offenses out of the court system.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

New Mexico has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the U.S. There’s no waiting period to buy a firearm, and there aren’t any state laws restricting what kinds of guns people can own. It is llegal for someone convicted of a felony to have one here, and legislators are working to increase the penalty. But that may not be the kind of law gun-control advocates are looking for. 

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