KUNM

Judge Oks Albuquerque's Rapid Transit Route, State Environment Secretary Steps Down

Jul 30, 2016

Federal Judge Oks Albuquerque Route 66 Transit PlanAssociated Press

A federal judge says Albuquerque's plans for building a rapid transit route along a stretch of Historic Route 66 can proceed.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales declined to issue an injunction Friday night. The Rapid Transit route is a $119-million project backed by the city's Mayor Richard Berry it will build a system of express buses and canopy-covered stations up Central.

Berry says the project is an investment that will spur development along the corridor and get people on the bus. He says the buses mimic the concept of light-rail trains that run through larger cities, like Phoenix and Denver.

But business owners say the project would spark traffic congestion and ruin the car-friendly persona of the largest urban stretch of Route 66 in the country.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Flynn ResignsAssociated Press

New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn is stepping down.

Department spokeswoman Allison Scott Majure confirmed Friday that Flynn is resigning Aug. 12.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Flynn in 2013 to lead the state's environment department after a retirement forced her to reshuffle her cabinet.

Flynn previous had been the agency's top lawyer for two years. He was the administration's main negotiator for an agreement earlier in 2013 with federal regulators and the state's largest utility for reducing pollution from a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

During his confirmation hearing, Flynn faced objections of some lawmakers and public-interest groups who questioned his role in the crafting of regulations they said would allow groundwater pollution by copper mines.

New Mexico Studies Inefficiencies In Aid Dispersal To PoorAssociated Press

Advocates for recipients of food aid and Medicaid health care are urging the New Mexico Legislature to keep tabs on wasteful bureaucratic problems that can cause aid beneficiaries to submit applications repeatedly and unnecessarily.

An attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty that represents aid beneficiaries on Friday briefed members of a legislative committee that oversees the state Human Services Department.

The center says the Legislature can help monitor the agency's progress in accurately and efficiently disbursing Medicaid health care benefits and emergency food aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps.

Separately, a federal judge recently has recommended the Human Service Department be held in contempt and pay for a court-appointed monitor to ensure better handling of federally funded benefits.

Poor New Mexico Town Gets Roads Paved With Recycled MaterialAssociated Press

A poor New Mexico town along the U.S.-Mexico border is getting three roads paved with recycled material.

The nonprofit group Communities in Action and Faith received this week more than 60 tons of recycled roofing shingle material to begin paving three roads.

Residents have long complained that the unpaved roads were dangerous and hard for emergency vehicles to pass.

The group says a recycling company out of El Paso, Texas, partnered with the regional EPA office to donate the materials to Vado.

The roads are privately owned and Dona Ana County is not responsible for maintaining them.

Sandra Cisneros: New Mexico Needs 'Truth And Reconciliation'Associated Press

Noted Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros says New Mexico needs a "truth and reconciliation commission" like South Africa to address its history of violence between Hispanics and Native Americans.

Cisneros told The Associated Press this week that such a commission could help bridge divisions between descendants of Spanish settlers, Mexican immigrants, and American Indians.

Her comments come as Native American students are seeking to change the seal of the University of New Mexico. The students say the seal with a Spanish conquistador and white settlers refers to the state's violent past and makes American Indians students feel uncomfortable.

Cisneros says she considered relocating to New Mexico but changed her mind because she felt some of the state's Hispanics looked down on down on Americans of Mexican descent.

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