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.

Pages

Local News
5:29 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

City Council Halts Bosque Development

The Bosque
Credit 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. 

Read more
Local News
6:28 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Kids, Parents To March For Early Childhood Education

A huge amount of childhood brain development takes place during the preschool years.
Credit Donker Dink via Flickr

 

A ton of little kids and their parents will take to the steps of the Roundhouse on Friday. The 1000 Kid March is calling for lawmakers to fully fund early childhood education.

It would cost nearly $400 million a year to pay for things like childcare and preschool for all eligible low-income families in New Mexico. The state spends just a fraction of that now.

Read more
Local News
5:52 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Albuquerque Quietly Moves Forward With Bosque Plan

The City of Albuquerque bulldozed a half mile stretch through the Bosque north of Central. They are building an ADA compliant multi-use trail.
Credit Rita Daniels

The City of Albuquerque quietly started bulldozing a six-foot wide trail through sensitive areas of the Rio Grande bosque on Tuesday.

Advocates with the Bosque Action Team (BAT) who want to preserve the area’s wildlife habitats are up in arms about the new construction, calling for protection of the delicate ecosystem in the forest along the river.

Read more
Local News
8:28 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Universal Background Checks At Gun Shows Off The Table, For Now

Three hours into the hearing Representative Smith (R) of Sandia Park motioned to table HB44.
Credit Rita Daniels

National Rife Association members joined Quakers and a slew of other people at a committee hearing at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe this weekend to comment on a bill that would have required universal background checks at gun shows in New Mexico. The bill was defeated on a party line vote, but the issue is likely to stick around.

Read more
Local News
5:31 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Stash of Momaday Prints Found In Old Meth Lab

The recovered pieces of Al Momaday's artwork are thought to be worth $33,000.
Credit Courtesy Albuquerque Museum

Curators at the Albuquerque Museum identified artwork that police found while boarding up a condemned meth lab. 

Titus O’Brien is the museum's Art Program Specialist. He says it was peculiar earlier this week when police brought in 72 signed prints by the late renowned Kiowa artist Al Momaday.

Read more
Local News
8:07 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Background Checks Back On The Agenda In Santa Fe

Sixteen states require background checks on anyone wanting to purchase a firearm at a gun show.
Credit akahawkeyefan via flickr

Lawmakers will hear public comment this weekend on a proposal to require background checks  at gun shows. 

Shopkeepers in New Mexico are required to run background checks on anyone who tries to buy a gun - convicted felons or people deemed mentally unstable are turned away.

Read more
Local News
7:38 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Tech Experts To Streamline Access To Jobs And Services

Members of the Code For America team in Albuquerque.
Credit Rita Daniels

Albuquerque welcomed a crew of techies on Tuesday as part of a fellowship program. Over the coming year the team will focus on connecting the people of Albuquerque with services and opportunities to make money.

The Code for America fellows are cutting-edge computer designers and developers.

They’ve come to town to help Albuquerque develop an online hub where people can more easily tap into some of the city’s underused services.

Read more
Local News
3:24 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Ballots To Be Cast For School Board

New Mexico's school board elections occur on odd number years.
Credit dfirecop via flickr

Folks scattered throughout New Mexico will have the opportunity to cast their votes February 3rd in school board elections.

On Tuesday voters will elect school board members in 89 school districts across the state.

The non-partisan candidates must live in their district and be willing to serve a four year term without receiving payment for their work.

School boards hire superintendents, craft school policy and keep tabs on how a district's money is spent.

Read more
Local News
3:54 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

PNM's Energy Future At A Crossroads

The El Segundo Coal Mine in Northwestern New Mexico is the second most productive open-pit coal mine in the country.
Credit Rita Daniels

New Mexico’s largest utility company has a plan to use fossil fuels and nuclear power for the next 20 years. But opponents of the plan want to see the utility shift to wind and solar.

Two coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station will be shuttered in 2017 in order to reduce emissions.

PNM, which provides power to half a million people in New Mexico, wants to use a mixture of coal, nuclear and natural gas energy, plus a little bit of solar energy to make up for the loss.

Read more
Local News
5:12 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

A Threat To Public Land?

Cabezon Peak Wilderness Study Area in central New Mexico
Credit Rita Daniels

Outdoor enthusiasts will be rallying at the Roundhouse Thursday, opposing legislation they say poses a threat to millions of acres of public lands in New Mexico.

A Senate memorial would ask the state to consider claiming U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land.  

Joel Gay is with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and says this would be a losing proposition for anyone who uses public land.

Read more
Local News
6:12 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

PNM Lost Partners, Stands By Energy Replacement Plan

Because coal-burning units at the San Juan Generating Station were violating the Regional Haze Rule, owners at the plant agreed to decommission two of the units by the end of 2017.
Credit Sierra Club

Two groups have withdrawn their support for PNM’s energy replacement plan but the utility insists their proposal is still the best choice for New Mexico.

PNM proposed adding more coal, nuclear, and natural gas energy and less than 5 percent in solar to make up for the loss when two coal-burning units are shut down at the San Juan Generating Station.

Read more
Local News
6:07 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Governor Unveils Education Reform Ideas

Governor Martinez continues to make education reform a top priority.
Credit Dystopos

Governor Susana Martinez has made education central to her agenda for this year’s legislative session.

Martinez said Tuesday in her State of the State address that she wants to increase teachers’ starting salaries by $2,000 a year and provide each teacher with a debit card pre-loaded with $100 to cover the cost of their classroom supplies.

Read more
Local News
6:19 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Kirtland Misses Another Deadline For Jet Fuel Cleanup

KAFB is in violation for not meeting a deadline to begin extracting jet fuel components from Albuquerque's aquifer.
Credit Rita Daniels

Kirtland Air Force Base missed another deadline for cleaning up some of a decades-old jet fuel spill. The New Mexico Environment Department has granted them 45 days to comply.

Read more
Local News
6:14 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Hearings On PNM's Energy Future Extended

The Public Regulation Commission will continue hearing testimony next week about PNM's energy replacement plan that includes adding more coal generated power to the utility's energy portfolio.
Credit Rita Daniels

New Mexico's Public Regulation Commission heard testimony for the 10th day on Friday about how the state’s largest utility wants to move forward. Two of the coal-burning units at the San Juan Generating Station are going to be shut down. Now the PRC hearings will be extended.

Read more
Local News
4:10 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

APD Forward Releases Top Picks To Oversee Reform

The agreement between the City of Albuquerque and the U.S. Department of Justice requires that an independent monitor oversee reform of the police department.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

UPDATE 1/15: The U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Albuquerque told KUNM Wednesday that they were planning on telling the court which candidate they had selected for the job of independent monitor.

A federal judge has to approve their choice before the information is made public. That announcement is expected early next week.

********************

Read more
Local News
7:51 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Demands For Transparency After Latest Fatal Police Shooting

Demonstrators took to the steps of Albuquerque police headquarters Wednesday after a fatal officer involved shooting the night before.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

 

Activists gathered on the steps of Albuquerque police headquarters Wednesday after police fatally shot a man Tuesday night. They’re demanding transparency in the investigation of this latest officer involved shooting.

The streets in Albuquerque were slushy when about two dozen activists showed up with picket signs. One was painted blood red with the words “This revolution will not be privatized.”

Read more
Local News
6:44 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

DA: Murder Charges Against APD Officers In Boyd Case

DA Brandenburg said Monday she believes the evidence against Albuquerque officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez is strong enough to hold up in court.
Credit Rita Daniels

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg charged two Albuquerque police officers on Monday with murder in the death of homeless camper James Boyd.

Brandenburg said this is the first officer-involved shooting case in her tenure as DA where she believes there is probable cause for indictments.

Read more
Local News
6:26 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Hearing Begins On PNM's Energy Replacement Plan

Hundreds of people rallied outside a Public Regulation Commission hearing in Santa Fe Monday in opposition to PNM's proposed energy replacement plan.
Credit Rita Daniels

 

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly addressed New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission Monday on the first day of two weeks of hearings on PNM's energy replacement plan.

Shelly told commissioners he supports PNM’s plan for replacing energy that will be lost when two coal-fired stacks at the San Juan Generating Station are shut down. He said the plan would ensure good jobs for tribal members. 

Read more
Local News
6:15 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

PNM's Energy Replacement Plan: Coal, Nuclear, Gas With A Dash Of Solar

Half of the coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station will be decommissioned in 2017.
Credit Courtesy San Juan's Citizen Alliance

 

The Public Regulation Commission is about to kick off hearings on how PNM, New Mexico’s largest energy utility, is going to replace the energy that will be lost when half of the coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station get shut down in 2017.  

The utility is proposing increasing their shares of coal in the remaining stacks at the San Juan Generating Station, and to add a heavy helping of nuclear energy imported from Arizona, a lot of natural gas and a wee little smidgen of solar. Four percent to be exact.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.”

Read more
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.

Read more

Pages