Rita Daniels

Reporter

Rita Daniels is an award winning reporter and radio producer who was raised off the grid in the Wild West by a pack of hippies and Pueblo Indians. She's pretty sure these unique circumstances have something to do with her love of the oral tradition as well as her unyielding obsession when it comes to to capturing stories about the human experience. Upon graduating from Emerson College in the Media Arts, Rita began recording and producing radio stories while roaming the planet. In 2010 she was invited to join NPR's Snap Judgment Team as a founding producer. Building on her previous work with The National Radio Project, Rita is now reporting the news of New Mexico for KUNM.

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Local News
5:35 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Bye Bye Birdie? Climate Change And The Natural World

Birds are caught in mist nets. Normally they are banded and released within minutes of being captured.
Credit Rita Daniels

The National Audubon Society was recently awarded Popular Mechanics’ Breakthrough Award for its comprehensive report linking climate change to a drastic reduction in future bird populations. Biologists and birders in New Mexico are already seeing major changes.

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Local News
4:26 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Supreme Court Weighs In On Dairy Rulemaking

The New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases on Monday regarding how the rulemaking hearing process to amend regulations for the dairy industry are being handled.
Credit Rita Daniels

 On Monday the New Mexico Supreme Court made two rulings that affect how proposed amendments to regulate wastewater from the dairy industry will proceed.

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Local News
4:29 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Activists Petition DOJ To Indict Police Officers

Ken Ellis II, second from the left, started a petition called No One Is Above The Law. It asks for indictments for 13 city police officers who have used deadly force.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

A coalition of people who’ve had family members killed by the Albuquerque Police Department delivered a petition on Wednesday to New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney calling for 13 police officers to be indicted. 

Activists said they were disheartened but hope their efforts are not in vain.

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Local News
5:34 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Feds Not Surprised By Nuclear Fines

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant was fined $17.7 million for accepting mislabeled nuclear waste and not appropriately filing paperwork. LANL was fined another $36.6 million for mishandling their waste.
Credit energy.gov

The Department of Energy wasn’t surprised when they were hit with tens of millions of dollars in fines by the state environment department for mishandling of nuclear waste.

A spokesperson for the federal agency said they self-disclosed that both Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were in violation of their hazardous waste permits.

Back in February a container of nuclear waste from LANL that was being stored at WIPP ruptured and at least 20 workers were exposed to radiation.

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Local News
6:07 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Santolina Plan Advances Despite Opposition

Questions around how the Santolina project would be built out over the next 50 years are still up in the air.
Credit WALH Master Plan

The Bernalillo County Planning Commission has voted to move a plan for a massive development up the chain of command for consideration. 

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Local News
5:12 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

West Mesa Development Plan Sprawls Forward

Speaking to the Bernalillo County Planning Commission opponents of the Santolina development wore bright pink and yellow shirts that said WTF-What's The Future?
Credit Rita Daniels

On Wednesday the Bernalillo County Planning Commission voted to recommend a development plan for almost 40,000 new homes and commercial spaces on Albuquerque’s West Mesa. The vote occurred despite some 75 people who spoke out in opposition citing concerns over the economic and environmental impacts.

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Local News
5:34 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Bernalillo County To Consider Huge Development

Opponents of the Santolina development say it will become a "zombie development" and compare it to the failed Mesa del Sol project.
Credit Contra Santolina

 

The Bernalillo County Planning Commission is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to approve a massive development on Albuquerque’s West Mesa.

The proposed Santolina development would spread out across 21 square miles of sand dunes just off Interstate-40, about 5 miles west of the Rio Grande.

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Local News
5:17 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Albuquerque Police Officer Involved In Shooting Fired

Attorney Thomas Grover, who represents Jeremy Dear, will appeal his termination.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

An Albuquerque officer who fatally shot a 19-year-old woman and did not record the encounter has been fired.

Today Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden released a statement that Officer Jeremy Dear was terminated after an internal investigation. 

He says the probe found that Dear violated department policies and wasn't truthful.

As KUNM's Rita Daniels reports, Attorney Thomas Grover told reporters the firing was unjust because the departments camera policy is erratic. Grover represents Dear.

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Local News
5:58 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Bosque As Wild Landscape Or Urban Park?

The City of Albuquerque proposed developing sections of the bosque but advocates are working to keep it wild.
Credit Adam Kludt

The City of Albuquerque released an environmental monitoring report for a section of the bosque they hope to develop between Central Avenue and Montaño, but advocates are focused on protecting the wildness in the area. 

The public has until November 30, 2014, to comment on the report that was supposed establish baseline data about the environmental health of the bosque that runs through the heart of Albuquerque and is important habitat for animals.

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Local News
4:49 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Obama's Immigration Action Invigorates Advocates

Credit Rita Daniels

Immigrant rights advocates gathered in downtown Albuquerque today to express support for President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

UNM student Karina Burciaga told a crowd of about one hundred that the President’s action will affect her personally.

“This victory gives us the energy and the hope to continue to organize," she said, "until all of our families are free from the fear of deportation, the tension and family separation.”

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Local News
9:21 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Obama Action Doesn't Include Parents Of Dreamers

Students at UNM who have been demanding President Obama reform immigration watched him address the matter on television.
Credit Rita Daniels

A group of university students who have been petitioning for immigration reform gathered to watch President Obama’s televised address as he announced an executive action that will protect nearly 5 million people from being deported. 

The group, mostly made up of students who call themselves the UNM Dream Team, listened intently as President Obama touted that most immigrants are a net plus to the nation's economy and society.

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Local News
6:16 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Teacher Evaluation System Remains A Source Of Contention

The teacher evaluation system that has been unpopular with with educators went into effect last year.
Credit alkruse24 via Flickr

 

Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera defended New Mexico’s new teacher evaluation system on Monday before lawmakers. She told the Legislative Education Study Committee that her department is working on fixing technical glitches in the system, but that there is no need to alter how teacher evaluations are calculated. As of now, 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on how students perform on standardized tests.

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Local News
6:03 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

New Rules May Stymie Endangered Wolf Program

The approved changes to the permitting process for importing carnivorous wildlife has advocates for the Mexican gray wolf worried.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

The state Game Commission approved a controversial proposal Thursday that critics fear will harm efforts to reintroduce the Mexican grey wolf. The reintroduction program depends on bringing wolves into New Mexico from other states. 

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Local News
4:26 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Udall Wins Second Senate Term

Republican challenger Allan Weh closed the margin in the days leading up to the election but Udall managed to retain his seat.
Credit Rita Daniels

Democrat Tom Udall was re-elected to serve another 6 years as New Mexico’s senior Senator in Washington D.C. Tuesday night.

The crowd cheered emphatically when Udall took the stage as Tom Petty’s Won't Back Down blasted through the sound system.

Pointing to what he considers a recent victory, Udall highlighted expanded health care coverage and the Affordable Care Act, and described how they benefit people here.

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Local News
4:25 am
Wed November 5, 2014

King Loses Bid For Governor

Although King lost to incumbent Martinez he said he still believes there is a lot of work to do in New Mexico.
Credit Rita Daniels

Despite the loss, Democrat Gary King was upbeat Tuesday night. 

He said education and the economy are two of the biggest issues facing New Mexicans and though he has no plans to hold public office come the new year, King said both he and his running mate, Deb Haaland, are dedicated to carrying on the fight.

“She is a ground breaker, she is the highest ranking Native American woman to be running across the country," King said of his running mate. "I’m really glad that I’ve been hanging around with Deb Halland for the last while.”

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Local News
4:25 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Lujan Grisham Keeps First District House Seat

Lujan Grisham gave her victory speech Tuesday night with her mother at her side.
Credit Rita Daniels

First District Representative Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham celebrated her re-election Tuesday night for a second term in Washington.  

In her victory speech at Democratic headquarters in Albuquerque, Lujan Grisham spoke of ending hunger in New Mexico and ensuring that everyone has access to healthy organic locally grown food. She also touched on protecting the native chile seed.

 

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Local News
6:59 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Dept. Of Justice Announces Plan For Albuquerque Police Reform

Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden joined Mayor Richard Berry and members of the U.S. Department of Justice to announce a settlement they have reached on police reform.
Credit Rita Daniels

After months of negotiations with the City of Albuquerque, the U.S. Department of Justice released a binding agreement today that spells out exactly what court-enforced reform of Albuquerque’s police department will look like.

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Local News
6:33 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Voices Behind The Vote: Energy Worker Watches Minimum Wage Issue

Rodrigo Aguilera opposed Susana Martinez in 2010, but he thinks she'll be re-elected this year because of her support from the oil and gas industry.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

Rodrigo Aguilera of Carlsbad spent decades working as a lab technician, first in the potash mines and then at a natural gas plant. A registered Democrat, he prides himself on not voting the party line.

One of the issues in this year's gubernatorial campaign is how much to raise the state minimum wage. Republican Governor Susana Martinez doesn’t want as big of an increase as her democratic challenger Gary King.

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Local News
6:24 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Voices Behind The Vote: Educator Questions Her Party Affiliation

Republican Jo Ann Goodwin is an educator and questions some of the changes she has seen under the the Martinez administration.
Credit Olympia School District, State of Washington

 

Jo Ann Goodwin lives in Carrizozo where she says she follows politics year round. Even though she's a registered Republican she has not been pleased with the initiatives of Education Secretary-Designate Hannah Skandera.

Goodwin is a special education teacher and she says the student testing and new teacher evaluation system is ridiculous and has her questioning who to vote for.

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Local News
6:15 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Time Is Running Out For Early Voting

Credit KCIvey via Flickr

 

The November 4th mid-term election is on Tuesday, but if you want to cast your ballot at an early voting center, you’ve got to do that before 8p this Saturday night.

Voters who want to cast their ballots early can visit any early voting location in the county where they’re registered. Albuquerque voter Diahndra Grill pulled up the Bernalillo County Clerk’s website on her phone to find the early voting location closest to her office.

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Local News
6:42 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Voices Behind The Vote: Medical Marijuana Program Sparks Enthusiasm

Credit eggrole via Flickr

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Robert Pack is a fourth generation cotton and alfalfa farmer from Eddy County. Although a registered Democrat, Pack says he has never voted party line in his life.

Pack says he's not thrilled with either gubernatorial candidate. But he is a medical marijuana patient and is basing his vote on the fact that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said she would shut down the state's medical cannabis program when she was campaigning four years ago.

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Local News
6:15 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Voices Behind The Vote: Film Tax Credit Not A Black And White Issue

Independent filmmaker Jacob Roebuck.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

On location at a film shoot in the Lincoln National Forest, KUNM's Rita Daniels caught up with independent filmmaker Jacob Roebuck. The self-described social conservative moved to Roswell from Los Angeles four years ago and has benefited from the state's film production tax credit

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Local News
5:05 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

NMED Open To Suggestions For Kirtland Fuel Cleanup

The public was invited out on a field trip to learn about the jet fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

The New Mexico Environment Department took about 50 members of the public on an informational tour of the Kirtland Air Force jet fuel spill this week.  The tour group spent the day learning about the parts of  Albuquerque’s aquifer that have been contaminated.

Geologists said one of the issues that makes cleanup of the site so complicated is that the water table has risen in recent years, trapping some of the liquid jet fuel beneath the top of the aquifer.

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Local News
6:09 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Regulatory Limbo For La Bajada Mine Proposal?

Credit gato-gato-gato via Flickr

A land developer who wants to strip mine La Bajada mesa for basalt rock has filed a lawsuit against Santa Fe County.

Developers of Buena Vista Estates and Rockology Limited say their project is being targeted by county commisioners who placed a year-long moratorium on approving any new projects that would involve blasting through the earth.

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Local News
5:19 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

New Agency Accepting Applications To Oversee Albuquerque Police

A new independent civilian oversight agency will be in charge of investigating complaints against the Albuquerque Police Department.

The application process is now open for people who want to serve on Albuquerque’s new Civilian Police Oversight Agency. The independent board will investigate complaints against the Albuquerque Police Department and review APD policy.

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Local News
4:25 pm
Sat October 4, 2014

Featured On All Things Considered: Where Activists See Gray, Albuquerque Police See Black And White

Protesters gather outside the Albuquerque Police Department following the shooting deaths of James Boyd and others on March 25. The Justice Department accused the police of engaging in a pattern of excessive force.
Credit Rita Daniels

The Justice Department is investigating 26 police departments across the country. Among them is Albuquerque, N.M., where police have shot dozens of people in the past few years, 25 of them fatally. KUNM's Rita Daniels and NPR's Kelly McEvers report.

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Local News
1:00 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Candidates For Bernalillo County Sheriff Face Off

D- Manuel Gonzalez and R- James Scott Baird both have strong backgrounds in law enforcement.
Credit Rita Daniels

On Thursday candidates for Bernalillo County Sheriff faced off in a public forum hosted by the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico.

The rules of the evening were laid out to the 40 or so members of the audience. No applauding, no booing. They were told it wasn't a debate and to be sure to frame questions in such a way that both candidates could answer.

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Local News
5:59 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Educators Sue Martinez Administration

Charles Bowyer is the executive director of NEA New Mexico. He says the lawsuit against Skandera is no small thing.
Credit Rita Daniels

An education labor union has filed a lawsuit in state district court against Public Education Secretary Designate Hannah Skandara.  The National Education Association of New Mexico says they are at their wits’ end over the teacher evaluation system and are asking the courts to intervene.

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Local News
5:21 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Air Force Will Miss Cleanup Deadline

Cleanup of the fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base is beginning to pick up steam.
Credit NMED, not to scale

 

On Monday a legislative committee heard updates from stakeholders about progress on the fuel spill cleanup at Kirtland Air Force Base.  

At the end of the day lawmakers said it's important to focus on the present moment and look at what's being accomplished, instead of lamenting mistakes from the past.

In the 90's the Air Force acknowledged that millions of gallons of carcinogenic aviation fuel had been leaking underground for decades, oozing into Albuquerque's aquifer.

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Local News
7:55 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

EPA Chief Visits NM, Praises Flood Control Efforts

The Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Control Flood Authority has been developing a plan to manage storm runoff by mimicking nature.
Credit Floyd Muad'Dib via Flickr

 

 

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy made her way through central and northern New Mexico Monday to check out how $2 million from a federal clean water fund is being used.  She applauded a flood control project that replaces the concrete used to line arroyos with things like boulders and native plants.

 

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