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.

Ways To Connect

Moon Man Mike via Flickr

New Mexico’s craft beer and winemakers will be able to sell their products in more places come July 1st, 2015.

So this summer when you stop by a brewery you may be able to order a glass of local wine. And if you're visiting a tasting room at a winery, you might be able to order a pint produced at a local brewery.

That’s because New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed a few bills expanding markets for breweries and wineries around the state.

Nico Ortiz of Turtle Mountain Brewing Company is excited to sell his beer outside of his taproom.

fallsroad via Flickr

 

New Mexico’s largest electric utility plans to appeal a Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner’s decision to reject a rate hike proposal

Public Service Company of New Mexico has two weeks to file objections with the PRC after their request to increase rates by more than $ 100 million was dismissed on Friday.

Two coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station will be shuttered in 2017. To replace that coal-generated power, Public Service Company of New Mexico has proposed investing mostly in other coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. The utility, which provides power to half a million customers in New Mexico, says it’s the most cost effective, reliable option. 

Courtesy San Juan's Citizen Alliance

On Wednesday, a Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner recommended against part of PNM’s energy replacement plan for 132 megawatts of coal-generated electricity.

PNM has been looking for a way to replace the energy that will be lost when two coal burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station are shut down in 2017.

flikr2570 via Compfight CC

For years, dairymen, the state and environmental watchdogs have been trying to reach an agreement about how to deal with the waste that comes from hundreds of thousands of cows in New Mexico. The Water Quality Control Commission held a hearing Monday afternoon to consider proposed amendments to the Dairy Rule. But that’s not what they ended up talking about.

Rita Daniels

People dropped off children’s books by the carload Thursday at a bus stop on Albuquerque’s west side.

The goal was to literally stuff a city bus with tens of thousands of kids’ books as part of the Discover a Book program. They will be used to resupply the cubby of free books found on all of Albuquerque’s buses.

Nick Manole works with ABQ Ride and says since they started putting kids’ books on the buses almost 10 years ago they realized that many adults were reading them, too.

Karen Roe via Compfight

Watering restrictions are officially in effect for many New Mexicans.

Starting Wednesday, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority customers are prohibited from using sprinklers between 11a and 7p. 

Katherine Yuhas, Water Conservation Officer at the utility, said predictions for a moist spring and summer mean they could bank water in the aquifer by leaving it in the ground instead of pumping it.

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief passenger train route through northeastern New Mexico will not be altered. The train is the economic lifeline for many people in the affected service area.

Raton Mayor Sandy Mantz says Amtrak’s decision not to stop service is wonderful news, because every summer thousands of passengers arrive in town by train and are responsible for almost half the yearly sales at local shops.

Rita Daniels

The Bernalillo County Commission kicked off hearings Wednesday on a huge proposed development southwest of Albuquerque.

Tractors cruised through downtown Albuquerque on their way to city hall where the commission began hearing testimony on the Santolina plan to build 38,000 new homes over the next four or five decades.

Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The Bernalillo County Commission will hear testimony this week about a controversial proposal to build a huge planned community west of Albuquerque.

If approved, Santolina developers would turn about 14,000 acres of sprawling sand dunes into a mini-city complete with industrial parks and schools.

plantronicsgermany via compfight

T-Mobile’s corporate policies violated the rights of their employees, including those who work in New Mexico, according to a court ruling this week.

There are 550 people working at a T-Mobile call center in Albuquerque.

Several of them complained to the National Labor Relations Board saying they were prohibited from talking to each other about how much they get paid and other things.

Sierra Club

    

The Public Regulation Commission is continuing to seek input on PNM’s energy replacement plan. More than 200 people showed up to a meeting in Albuquerque Wednesday night.

Commissioner Valerie Espinoza took a moment during public testimony to say she had received almost 100 written comments opposing PNM’s plan from her constituents in Taos and Las Vegas.

Brian DePalo via flickr

New Mexico is on track for some much needed drought relief according to the National Weather Service spring forecast.

Andrew Church is an NWS meteorologist and said a combination of warm coastal waters and a shift in trade winds from last week’s tropical cyclones will deliver higher than average precipitation across the state.

“It’s a wet scenario for us, something we haven’t seen in at least four years so,” Church explained. “If you were thinking about investing in rain barrels, this would be a good year to do it!”

Wild Earth Guardians

The Public Regulation Commission held weeks of public hearings earlier this year on PNM’s plan to shut down two coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Station. But this week people in Albuquerque will have one more chance to weigh in.

PRC Chair Karen Montoya said she received requests from her Albuquerque constituents who want their opinions taken into consideration.

“Things could possibly change a lot,” Montoya said. “Depending on what they [at PNM] bring on, it will effect a change in the mix.”

Scott via flickr

A bill passed in the House Thursday night that would ease renewable energy requirements for Public Service Company of New Mexico, El Paso Electric and Southwestern Public Service.

The bill passed by a slim margin, one vote to be exact.

Rita Daniels

A judge heard arguments Thursday on whether District Attorney Kari Brandenburg should be thrown off a high profile police shooting case. Earlier this year her office charged two former Albuquerque police officers with open counts of murder in the fatal shooting of homeless camper James Boyd.

Amigos Bravos

Should Los Alamos National Labs and Los Alamos County be held to the Clean Water Act standards for stormwater runoff that ends up in the Rio Grande? That’s the question the Environmental Protection Agency is weighing. A public comment period on the matter will begin soon.

eggrole via Flickr

People caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would be issued a citation much like a speeding ticket under a proposal that is heading to the Senate floor for a vote.

Rita Daniels

Three groups called for homeless people and people with mental illnesses to be represented in the process to reform the Albuquerque Police Department. Last week the groups filed a motion in federal court.

The ACLU joined forces with Disability Rights New Mexico and the Native American Voters Alliance to intervene in the settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Albuquerque.

Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Susana Martinez pledged her support on Friday for a 500-mile-long hiking trail along the Rio Grande intended to showcase New Mexico’s beauty.

The Rio Grande Trail would start at the Colorado border and follow the meandering river as it cascades through New Mexico before hugging Texas.

David Powell - Hawks Aloft

 A lawsuit filed against the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife challenges a planned levee system along 43 miles of the Rio Grande. Environmentalists are concerned that the project would eliminate critical habitat for some endangered species.

Rita Daniels

More than a thousand students walked out of their classrooms across New Mexico on Monday in protest of a new standardized test. Many of the students said the test robs them of valuable learning time and will ultimately hurt their schools.

Media Literacy Project

Local advocates of net neutrality are celebrating a victory. The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to change the way Internet service providers (ISPs) are regulated.

Neza Leal works with the Media Literacy Project in Albuquerque. He says the FCC’s vote to reclassify Internet service providers as public utilities is appropriate considering how Internet infrastructure works.

Ted of DGAR via comp fight

Legislation to drop the 20 percent renewable requirement for public electric utilities is making its way through committees at the Roundhouse. Current law requires that 20 percent of a public utility’s energy come from wind, solar or geothermal by the end of 2020.

The state’s largest utility, PNM, declined to comment on the House bill, saying only that they believe this is a decision for lawmakers.

Rita Daniels

High-stakes testing at schools across New Mexico begins next week. So far about 500 parents in Albuquerque have opted out of the tests on behalf of their children.

Fifth-grader Anna Gilboard goes to Bandelier Elementary School in Albuquerque. She opted out. The eleven-year old said she’d rather learn than take tests for hours on end.

“I get super stressed about these tests so I don’t do really well on them,” Gilboard said. “I feel like I’m failing my teacher when I do that.”

Fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on student test scores.

New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Legislation that would allow universities in New Mexico to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes passed through committee Monday night. The bill could reach the Senate floor for a vote later this week.

The federal government made the distinction between hemp and marijuana official last year. Hemp contains virtually none of the mind-altering compound THC and is a highly versatile material.

GoodNCrazy via flickr

The Senate Public Affairs Committee rejected legislation this week to hold back third-graders who do not perform well on a standardized reading test. The bill to end so-called social promotion failed on a party line vote.

Sen. Mimi Stewart, a Democrat from Albuquerque who opposed the bill, said thousands of third-graders would have been held back every year, regardless of their progress in subjects other than reading.

Rita Daniels

City Councilors in Albuquerque voted Wednesday to halt construction of a trail in the Rio Grande bosque. Many nature advocates say their trust was damaged when the city started cutting a six-foot wide path through the forest along the banks of the river without giving public notice.

City Council Halts Bosque Development

Feb 18, 2015
Sierra Club

UPDATE 6a: Albuquerque city councilors voted to suspend construction to widen a trail in the bosque Wednesday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mayor Richard Berry could veto the measure.

Last week, the city began cutting a six-foot wide path to replace a narrower foot path as part of a development plan for the forest along the Rio Grande.

Opponents say the city ignored public input and are calling for more time to come to consensus on a bosque plan. 

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