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

Sodanie Chea via Flickr CC

The Human Services Department announced it would not begin demanding more New Mexicans on food stamps meet work requirements. The rule change was slated to go into effect at the beginning of this month, but a lawsuit filed by two nonprofits threw a wrench in the works. 

The lawsuit charged HSD with not following proper procedure in alerting people to the rule change—or posting the full and correct version of the work requirement—before it was adopted.

Arianna Sena

Two New Mexico Republicans hoping to oust incumbents in Congress were handed big defeats on election night despite their efforts. 

When we spoke Tuesday night in his campaign headquarters, Allen Weh was still hoping to overtake Sen. Tom Udall and win his Senate seat. Instead, the retired Marine colonel ended up trailing in the polls. He said he’ll be happy to get back to work as the head of CSI Aviation after the election, and he mused, briefly, on the political system in America. 

Marisa Demarco

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez secured a second term last night, beating her Democratic challenger Gary King handily. Martinez emphasized bipartisanship during her acceptance speech at the Marriott in Albuquerque, which was packed with Republicans from around the state.

As Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela introduced Gov. Martinez late Tuesday night, he focused on her heart—perhaps a nod to opponent Gary King’s maligned comment about the governor’s not being Latino enough. 

Theresa Thompson via Flickr CC

Polls are open today until 7 p.m., and registered voters in Bernalillo County can cast their ballots in any of the polling locations around the city. There's a great map and an app [Google Play or iTunes] that can show you where all the vote centers are and how long the wait is at each.

Courtesy of Amber Royster

Amber Royster is a sixth-generation New Mexican and Navy veteran who served in the Iraq War and was deployed twice overseas. She said Bernalillo County’s advisory mental health ballot question and the secretary of state’s race are her main interests this year.

She’s a registered Green Party member, and said she generally prefers to vote on issues instead of candidates. She’s voting for Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver for secretary of state because that office can allow direct issues-based questions onto the polls.

Denicia Cadena

Christina Dominguez is a single mother of three kids in Albuquerque. Her primary interest in the election is the mental health poll question on the ballot in Bernalillo County. The question is only advisory, which means it wouldn’t become a law if passed, but it’s intended to allow the public to weigh in on mental health funding.

danielle_blue via Flicr CC

Two New Mexico nonprofits filed a lawsuit this week against the state that could halt changes to the state’s food assistance program.

The Center on Law and Poverty and the Southwest Organizing Project, along with three people who rely on food stamps, are asking for a temporary restraining order that would stop a work requirement for certain SNAP recipients that’s slated to go into effect on November 1.

Courtesy of Pete Comstock

Veteran Pete Comstock was wounded in Vietnam—once by a hand grenade and once by an AK-47—and he’s recovered physically. “I have some combat trauma issues that I had to deal with as I was recovering coming back. But today, most days I’m pretty normal.”

Comstock, a Republican from Cedar Crest, relies on VA health services and said he zeroes in on issues affecting veterans during every election cycle. In particular, he wants to ensure candidates will commit funding and support to medical care for returning soldiers, address military sexual trauma and work to stop the wars.

Marisa Demarco

People affected by mental health issues in Albuquerque gathered for a meeting on police reform on Monday night. 

Only people who’d signed up online in advance of the forum were allowed to participate in the discussion about the Albuquerque Police Department and mental health. A handful of participants sat in two separate circles with concentric rings of observers radiating from the center.

Rosemarie Sanchez and her 39-year-old daughter Nannie are disability rights advocates and hard-line Democrats. Rosemarie adopted Nannie, a child born with Down syndrome, when she was an infant. KUNM Public Health New Mexico reporter Marisa Demarco caught up with them at their home in Albuquerque’s Clayton Heights to talk about how their lives and their politics intertwine. 

Both women are concerned about changes to the developmental disability waiver in New Mexico.

Rita Daniels

Tuesday marked the first of 10 meetings of the Collaborative on Police-Community Relations in Albuquerque. Police officers and commanders attended, along with grieving families, mental health advocates and neighborhood association representatives.

Mayor Richard Berry said the process should yield a document that outlines expectations for effective community policing.  The Department of Justice investigated APD after a high-number of officer-involved shootings, and findings indicated city police use excessive force.

Marisa Demarco

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week that it’s decreasing the beds available at Albuquerque’s VA Medical Center—the only such inpatient facility in New Mexico.

The news that the VA is cutting the number of inpatient beds from 150 to 120 doesn’t sit right with Mike Gallegos, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart Medal recipient from Los Lunas.

Public Health Image Library via CC

Earlier this week, there was a brief Ebola scare at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. A patient was isolated, and though it turned out to be a false alarm, hospital workers are questioning whether the hospital is ready to handle the disease.

Bill David Brooks via CC

A nonpartisan think tank in New Mexico released a report on health care costs this week suggesting that providers should be more transparent about the price of procedures up front.

Fred Nathan is the founder and executive director of Think New Mexico. The group’s report says New Mexicans are spending more out of their pockets for health care than ever before, and most of that extra money is going to administrative costs—not to doctors’ salaries or improved care for patients.

about.me/ReidAboutSex

UNM is hosting its inaugural Sex Week next week, and this year’s theme is preventing sexual assault.

Daniel Schwen / CC-BY-SA 4.0 / Creative Commons

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Reform Committee met on Wednesday to talk about bail, among other topics. According to one speaker, the high cost of bail creates a system where people who can pay are released, while people in poverty remain behind bars. 

Arthur Pepin has a lot of work in front of him. He’s the director of the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Review Commission, a group tasked with figuring out how to decrease the population at the county jail.

Marisa Demarco

Wednesday’s town hall was heated, as veterans gathered in Albuquerque to raise concerns about VA health care with the state’s administration.

Hands in the audience were still raised as the two-hour meeting drew to a close. Scores of veterans who got a chance to speak complained of extremely long wait times, rushed care and bad communication with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Marisa Demarco

The acting U.S. Surgeon General was in New Mexico Tuesday to talk about ways schools and parents can work together to prevent skin cancer.

Boris Lushniak and New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward met with school officials, parents and students at Bandelier Elementary School in Albuquerque. 

Lushniak said there used to be a time when a tan was a good thing.

lyzadanger | flickr.com | CC BY SA 2.0

The state’s Human Services Department held a hearing in Santa Fe this morning about changes that would add work requirements to the food stamps program. 

Faith leaders from around the state—along with AARP, family advocates and representatives from food banks—spoke against new requirements for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They emphasized that hungry people in New Mexico are already looking for work: There just aren’t jobs to be had.

josemanuelerre via Creative Commons

The number of babies born addicted to drugs has risen sharply over the last decade or so in New Mexico. KUNM’s Public Health reporter Marisa Demarco brings us this story of how stigma surrounding addiction and pregnancy is contributing to the increase.

Mia just gave birth to a healthy baby boy even though she was addicted to methamphetamine until about a month and a half before he was born. Her name has been changed in this story to protect her identity. "My number one fear when I was using while pregnant was to lose him or him being born with something wrong," she said

Dr. Randal J. Schoepp via Army Medicine / Creative Commons

The Department of Health sent clinical samples to the CDC today to make sure a New Mexico patient doesn’t have the Ebola virus. 

A 30-year-old woman in Albuquerque went to the hospital this weekend with a sore throat, headache, muscle aches and a fever after returning from a trip to West Africa, where an Ebola epidemic this year has killed more than 1,000 people.

A still from the Town Hall video

Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz hosted a town hall meeting in Carlsbad last night to talk about recovery efforts at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It's the nation's only underground nuclear waste storage facility, just 26 miles east of the town. WIPP has remained closed since the radiation leak in mid-February, and the cause of the leak remains unclear.

Secretary Moniz promised the crowd that WIPP will re-open, and members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation talked about their efforts to get WIPP the funds it needs to operate safely.

WGN America

KUNM Call In Show Thur. 7/31 8 a.m.

July marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first detonation of an atomic bomb, in New Mexico. And on Monday, “Manhattan,” a fictional show about the scientists who made the bomb, premiered on WGN America.

We’ll be talking about this moment in U.S. history with an eye on how it affected New Mexicans. Did you know there were people living nearby when the Trinity test took place? What are the long-term effects of the Trinity test? What does it mean to us today that the first atomic bomb was detonated right here in our home state?

Public Domain

One year ago, KUNM reported on the effects of the Trinity Test. Thursday, July 16, 2015, is the 70th anniversary of the day the world's first nuclear bomb detonated in New Mexico.

teofila via Compfight cc

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced today that the City of Albuquerque will charge no more than $6.75 for DVDs and $2.75 for CDs for public records requests. This is a big win for not just journalists but everyone with an interest in accessing records that are available under the law. The change provides fair, consistent rates and lets people know what prices to expect in advance.

Dusty J via Compfight cc

Reports of drug-facilitated sexual assaults are on the rise in Albuquerque. People who work with victims aren’t sure whether that’s because date rape drugs are being used more often or people are more aware of them.

Gail Starr is the clinical coordinator for SANE, a collaborative of medical professionals that helps victims of sexual assault. She said a variety of substances—including designer drugs—are being used these days. “There are so many drugs that we as nurses, we’re not focused on exactly what drug. The law enforcement can worry about that,” she said.

Laura Tenorio

Young scientists from Taos High School won the top prize at eCYBERMISSION, a national army-sponsored contest that asks students to come up with real-world solutions to problems in their communities. 

Ninth-graders in Taos figured out how to create inexpensive filters to remove antibiotics from drinking water. On Friday, June 20, they won $20,000 for their efforts, plus an additional $5,000 grant for the next phase of their work—implementation.

PunchingJudy via Creative Commons

  New Mexico has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the country, according to the CDC. Now, a life-saving drug called naloxone is not only available by prescription, the cost of it is covered through Medicaid.

Laura Tenoria

Taos High School students are pitching a water-cleaning project in a national science competition called eCYBERMISSION this week in D.C. The prize? $25,000 and the chance to help the U.S. get antibiotics out of its water supply.

Students at Taos High have figured out how use crushed blue crab shells to create filters that remove antibiotics from water. They used the crustacean shells to create Chitosan, which is commonly used in agriculture, medicine and industry. 

Art by Nani Chacon courtesy of Young Women United

A local advocacy organization is looking at reforming the way the judicial system treats women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Young Women United traveled to Santa Fe last week to make four recommendations to the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee. Among them, judges should acknowledge pregnancy and lactation status when determining the conditions of bond or release.

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