Bernalillo County

Generation Justice

Inmates and their relatives pay steep phone bills to keep in touch, and prison phone companies rake in billions. The Federal Communications Commission moved to cap those rates last week because it isn’t only the inmate who pays the price.

Rita Daniels

People living on Pajarito Mesa may have an easier time getting help in the case of an emergency. That’s because Bernalillo County has a new system set up to serve the settlement west of Albuquerque.

Billy Wilson Photography via Flickr / Creative Commons License

You can let the fireworks fly in Bernalillo County this Fourth of July, as long as they don’t fly too far. Abundant rain this year kept Bernalillo County from banning fireworks and other fires.

Bernalillo County Commissioners voted to approve the Santolina development agreement in a contentious meeting Wednesday. The plan could bring about 40,000 new homes to a privately owned development on the West Mesa outside of Albuquerque.

The 3-to-2 vote to approve Santolina came after hours of debate over the language in the agreement. 

Protesters and acequia farmers sat through the hearing with tape over their mouths—a symbolic objection to the commission’s decision not to allow public comment.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

  Since the ’70s, people have been homesteading on the mesa near Albuquerque, just south of the proposed Santolina development. Bernalillo County says without official roads and permits, these Pajarito Mesa structures are illegal, but families are fighting to keep their homes.  

Scattered across Pajarito Mesa’s 18 thousand acres are gutted trailers, piles of tires battered by the sun and sandy dirt trails. Somewhere around 800 people are making a go of it here, despite the lack of modern conveniences like running water or an electrical grid. But there’s another side to the mesa. 

insunlight via Flickr / Creative Commons License


For hundreds of people in New Mexico, getting out of jail or prison hinges on whether there’s a bed in a halfway house, a slot in a treatment program or space in a mental health facility. Until a spot opens up, they remain behind bars, and it costs taxpayers thousands of extra dollars while they wait.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

On a huge stretch of mesa to the Southwest of Albuquerque, people have built dwellings. These homesteaders on Pajarito Mesa say when they call for emergency services, help isn’t always on its way.   

There are questions about the legality of land-ownership or even whether people should be living in this part of Bernalillo County. Some county officials say they don’t want to encourage anyone to move there by providing services.   

The public comment period ends Saturday, April 4, about an asphalt plant that could go in near a wildlife reserve in the South Valley. Albuquerque Asphalt applied for a permit to build at hot-mix asphalt plant, and neighbors are concerned that the site for the plant is too close to the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge. It’s a little more than half a mile away. / Creative Commons License

The Bernalillo County Commission voted last night to postpone a tax hike for a special session that will likely happen next week. The one-quarter of 1 percent tax increase on goods and services would be divided up as follows: Half of it would go to mental health and substance abuse treatment services, and half of it would go to the county’s operational budget.

PunchingJudy via flickr CC

A drug called naloxone reversed more than 700 overdoses in New Mexico last year. But hurdles remain for making the drug more widely available. 

Naloxone—brand name Narcan—can be prescribed by pharmacists, not just doctors, and Medicaid covers the cost. In 2014, those big policy changes resulted in a spike of overdose reversals. 

Bernalillo County

Bernalillo County is hosting an event Saturday afternoon to educate young people about suicide, bullying and other youth issues.

All ages are welcome at Youth Jam 2014 at Warehouse 508 from 2-6 p.m.  The County’s Analisa Montoya says the event will highlight over 40 types of resources for young folks - such as Agora, a crisis call center.

woodleywonderworks via Flickr

University of New Mexico researchers are estimating one-third of Bernalillo County residents with mental health problems didn’t get the care they needed last year.

Researchers at UNM say over 150,000 people in Bernalillo county had mental health issues that needed treatment in 2013, but only 98,000 of those people received care from local providers.

ChristopherElison via Flickr

A federal judge has refused to referee a legal fight over whether two New Mexico counties can put nonbinding questions about marijuana and taxes on the November general election ballot.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen Thursday said the court lacks jurisdiction in the dispute between Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

The counties have approved advisory ballot questions to ask voters whether they support decriminalizing marijuana.

Steve A Johnson via Flickr

New Mexico's top election official says she won't place nonbinding questions about marijuana penalties on the November general election ballot for voters to decide in two counties.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran said in a statement Wednesday that state law doesn't authorize ballot questions that only ask voters their opinions on issues such as lessening penalties for possessing marijuana.

Santa Fe and Bernalillo county commissioners approved proposals this week to poll voters about their support for making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction.

What Is Public Health?

Feb 20, 2014 / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 2/20 8a:  What is public health?  Maybe the term makes you think of vaccinations or controlling and preventing diseases like diabetes and influenza.  But the field is much larger than that.  

Call 277-5866 in Albuquerque or toll-free 1-877-899-5866.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former administrative assistant for Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston has filed a lawsuit claiming the sheriff created a hostile workplace for women.

Deborah Garcia provided a copy of her Aug. 28 complaint to the Albuquerque Journal ( this week.

In the filing, Garcia alleges Houston made comments about female employees' clothing, body size and breast size. She also says he made negative remarks about her religion.