89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

MON: New Mexico governor orders safeguards for abortion access, + More

MLG signs EO on abortion protections
Facebook page of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs an executive order that aims to safeguard abortion access in New Mexico on June 27, 2022.

New Mexico governor orders safeguards for abortion access - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico's Democratic governor took steps Monday to ensure safe harbor to people seeking abortions or providing abortions at health care facilities within the state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that prohibits cooperation with other states that might interfere with abortion access in New Mexico, declining to carry out any future arrest warrants from other states related to anti-abortion provisions. The order also prohibits most New Mexico state employees from assisting other states in investigating or seeking sanctions against local abortion providers.

"Residents seeking access will be protected, providers will be protected, and abortion is and will continue to be legal safe and accessible, period," said Lujan Grisham, who is running for a second term in November.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision and ended constitutional protection for abortion, the battle over abortion rights has shifted to lower courts around the country, as one side sought quickly to put statewide bans into effect and the other tried to stop or at least delay such measures.

Lujan Grisham has signaled her steadfast support for continuing legal access to abortion in New Mexico.

She also ordered a review to ensure that reproductive health care providers won't be disqualified or disciplined by state professional licensure provisions under criteria from other states.

"It means we will not cooperate for any criminalization attempt," Lujan Grisham said at a news conference at her Capitol offices. "I think you will see a coalition of states that really work to shut off access" to abortion.

Last year, Lujan Grisham signed legislation to repeal a dormant 1969 statute that outlawed most abortion procedures.

New Mexico is likely to continue to see a steady influx of people seeking abortions from neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. It already hosts patients from Texas and Oklahoma, where strict abortion bans were adopted earlier this year.

Albuquerque is home to one of only a few independent clinics in the country that perform abortions in the third trimester without conditions. An abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, is just a mile from the state line with Texas near El Paso.

US makes more wildfire recovery aid available for New Mexico - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday authorized an increase in funding for debris removal and other emergency measures being taken as a result of a historic wildfire season in New Mexico that stemmed partly from missteps by federal forest managers in starting a prescribed burn.

The additional funding comes through an amended disaster declaration signed by the president that calls for direct federal assistance to be increased to 100% of the total eligible costs for 90 days following the declaration.

The wildfire still smoldering in the Rocky Mountain foothills of northern New Mexico grew to become the largest in the U.S. this spring after it was sparked in April by two planned government burns meant to reduce wildfire danger.

The U.S. Forest Service acknowledged in a recent report that managers underestimated how dry things have become in the Southwest over the last two decades and that modeling and training needs to improve to account for the extreme conditions.

Thousands of residents were displaced by the blaze, hundreds of homes were destroyed and now officials are warning of post-fire flooding.

Burn scars in both New Mexico and neighboring Arizona have been hit over recent days with rain as the Southwest region marks a robust start to the monsoon season.

Scott Sterns, a meteorologist assigned to the big fire in New Mexico, said Monday that up to 3 inches of rain fell over the last three days on some parts of the fire — which spans more than 533 square miles of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

The potential for runoff is high now that the soils are saturated and the vegetation is moist, Sterns said.

"There's really not a whole lot more good we can do with more moisture at the moment," he said during a briefing. "The nice thing is so far on the incident we've had fairly consistent long duration moisture and that's always good to keep the (relative humidity) higher, which really helps us out in terms of the fuel situation."

There has been much criticism of the federal government in New Mexico for causing the largest wildfire, with some residents saying they have been left to wade through a bureaucratic maze as they look to be reimbursed for their losses.

Biden vowed during a visit earlier this month that the federal government would cover the full cost of the emergency response and debris removal, a responsibility that was previously shared with the state government.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than $3.5 million in assistance for housing and other needs have been approved for residents so far.

The agency also is considering disaster requests for several other states from Minnesota to Tennessee because of wildfires, tornadoes and flooding since late April.

Scientists and government officials have warned of more severe weather as the world keeps getting hotter. In the United States, there were 20 weather or climate disasters last year with losses exceeding $1 billion a year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In southwestern New Mexico, a half-inch of rain has fallen each day, stalling efforts to rehabilitate fire lines around a massive blaze that has burned through the rugged Black Range.

Parts of northern Arizona, where a series of wildfires burned homes and forced evacuations over recent months, saw flooding over the weekend as storms brought rain, hail and wind. The National Weather Service reported that some roads in the Flagstaff area were closed as creeks and washes filled up with storm runoff.

New Mexico inks trust land leases for massive wind project - Associated Press

New Mexico's public land commissioner on Monday signed nearly a dozen leases that will clear the way for a major renewable energy developer to erect wind turbines across 230 square miles of state trust land.

Officials are billing Pattern Energy's planned development in Lincoln, Torrance and San Miguel counties as the largest wind energy project in the western hemisphere.

The company at the end of 2021 brought online four wind farms in central New Mexico totaling more than a gigawatt of capacity for utility customers in California. The new leases will be part of the larger SunZia project, which will ultimately have a capacity of 3,000 megawatts to power homes in more populated markets in the West.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said that together, the 11 leases signed Monday mark the largest leasing of state trust land for renewable energy development in the state's history.

"Tripling renewable energy may have sounded like a lofty goal, but we have made it there by executing these leases and we won't stop now," she said in a statement.

Pattern Energy has said it plans to invest $6 billion in upcoming wind energy and related infrastructure projects in the state over the next decade.

The company had a total winning bid of nearly $9.3 million for the parcels. State officials said they expect revenue from the planned project to bring in at least $196 million over its lifetime to benefit public schools and other state institutions.

In all, the State Land Office oversees 26 wind energy leases and 12 solar energy leases. The agency said it also has several dozen applications for new renewable energy leases in the pipeline.

NM demonstrators look for next steps in preserving abortion rights - Shaun Griswold, Source New Mexico

The rains washed over Old Town Albuquerque and brought hundreds of people to Tiguex Park to share anger and grief at federal reproductive rights taken away earlier in the day by a Supreme Court ruling.

For some, the event was a place to understand how the court’s ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade ends federal protection on abortion services and triggers bans or severe restrictions in 13 states over the coming weeks. But the ruling does not restrict abortion access in New Mexico.

In fact, people at the event said they want more from legislative leaders in Santa Fe to preserve abortion rights in New Mexico, including protections for patients who travel from areas where abortion is newly illegal or where access is restricted.

As the event was harnessed at times for the 2022 election cycle by New Mexico candidates who support abortion rights, people in the crowd like Adlemmy Molina said they want to make sure politicians keep their promises to make abortion protections stronger.

“I really hope we push for that, we stay like a protective state,” that people know is safe to come for abortion care, she said. “Like, ‘OK, we’re protected. We’re supported. We’re good to go.’ And that’s definitely someone I would vote for. If they’re willing to keep that threshold there.”

Molina made her comments after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke to the crowd at the park promising, “we’re going to do more in the 60-day session. We’re going to continue to expand and protect access.”

New Mexico alternates between 30-day and 60-day legislative sessions. During the previous 60-day in 2021, Lujan Grisham and a majority Democratic Legislature repealed an outdated 1969 statewide abortion ban that was overruled by federal protections but was still on the books. Advocates for the bill argue removing the state ban made sure abortion care would be legal in N.M., even if the Supreme Court changed the position it had upheld for decades as we saw Friday.

If Lujan Grisham wants to expand abortion access during the 2023 60-day session, she’ll have to win re-election first. On Friday, her Republican opponent Mark Ronchetti announced that if elected governor, he would compromise with state Democrats and propose a ban on abortions after 15-weeks.

It’s still too soon to understand what the Legislature is likely to do on this matter. N.M. Sen. Linda Lopez, (D-Albuquerque), who sponsored the repeal in 2021, said she wants to continue having conversations about possible legislation with service providers and other groups working on access issues.

“I think we need to take a step back,” Lopez said, “work with our partners here in the state and do thoughtful legislation, if it’s needed at this point in time. I know that we’re still talking, and I believe that we will do this together.”

For people at Tiguex Park, action is expected of anyone they vote into office, and it’s clear that many ballots will be cast for candidates that seek to protect reproductive rights in New Mexico.

Molina, an Army veteran who recently returned from South Korea, was disturbed the Supreme Court decision created another battle she will have to take on.

“I am embarrassed that I served for the country that’s taking rights away,” Molina said. “And it hit very, very deep to the core. I feel very, for lack of better words, I felt very betrayed. (New Mexico) is a spot where people can flourish and thrive and be healthy. I’m really hoping that we’re going to stand our ground, and we’re going to keep it safe here.”

Rebecca Haskins recently moved to New Mexico from the east coast. She said the state’s reproductive rights were one reason she chose to move here. Not only does she want to see reproductive rights codified into state law, but she said she wants further protections for body autonomy.

“It needs to be amended into state constitutions so it cannot be repealed,” she said. “It’s nobody’s business what adults do with their own bodies. It’s nobody’s business who adults love.”

Marisol Brito and her friend Kelly Ann also said they want to see state lawmakers act on their promises to preserve abortion rights in the state and more support for out-of-state patients.

Brito said she was sad, angry and confused by the Supreme Court ruling but maintains the sense of relief so many at Tiguex Park felt because New Mexico leaders today value access.

“I’m not just voting for the right for abortion or Roe v. Wade,” she said. ”I’m voting for autonomy for my physical being. People cannot tell me what to do with my body. Period. And it’s not just me.”

Paid sick leave law to take effect - KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal 

A law mandating that all private businesses large or small give paid sick leave to all of their employees––whether they be full, part time, or seasonal will go into effect July 1.

As the Albuquerque Journal reports, the law has been years in the making and employees will earn 1 hour of sick leave every 30 hours of work, or, up to eight days annually for full-time employees.

New Mexico will become one of the 16 states that require businesses to make this shift, meant to help employees take more sick time for illness or injury for themselves or to take care of a family member.

Champions of the Healthy Workplaces Act said this law could have a dramatic impact on workplace retention and on employees' lives in the workplace. Though, sponsor Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos told the newspaper that it could pass more costs onto consumers.

Albuquerque mayor: Pandemic erased much of progress vs crime - Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said much of the progress made against crime was erased by the COVID-19 pandemic, but believes the city's police department has made improvements.

In his first State of the City address of his second term, Keller also announced Saturday that the Albuquerque Police Department is seeking release from at least some of the federal oversight it has been under since 2015.

He said police are aiming to show compliance with about a quarter of the terms inside its U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Keller had made a similar announcement during his 2020 State of the City address, but the release never happened.

Keller didn't announce any new solutions for homelessness, but said the city is revisiting its approach to encampments.

"We need to be given permission and the approval to clear Coronado Park and create places for folks to go," he said. "We need zoning approval for the Gateway Center and every idea in between."

Keller also discussed plans to revitalize downtown Albuquerque, a new career experience program for kids and climate action initiatives.

Some cities nix July 4 fireworks for shortages, fire dangers - By Anita Snow Associated Press

The skies over a scattering of Western U.S. cities will stay dark for the third consecutive Fourth of July as some major fireworks displays are canceled again this year, this time for fire concerns amid dry weather, along with pandemic related supply or staffing problems.

The city of Phoenix said it canceled its three major Independence Day displays because it couldn't obtain the necessary fireworks due to supply chain problems. Displays in several other Phoenix metro cities are still on.

Flagstaff in northern Arizona will carry out its annual Independence Day parade through the city's historic downtown, but a new laser light show will replace the standard pyrotechnic display because of concerns about sparking wildfires.

A wildfire skirted the mountainous city in recent weeks while another burned farther north, prompting hundreds of people to evacuate.

"The decision was made early because we wanted people to be able to make plans with their families," said Flagstaff city spokesperson Sarah Langley.

Fire officials in some cities worry that the cancelations could prompt some people to ramp up their use of consumer fireworks in residential areas.

"We are typically worried about exposure of sparks and fire to homes and dry brush," said Phoenix Fire spokesperson Capt. Evan Gammage. "We get so many calls around this time of year."

In New Mexico, the most destructive wildfire season in modern history won't stop that state's major cities including Albuquerque and Santa Fe from holding Fourth of July fireworks displays under fire department supervision.

Many local jurisdictions still prohibit the private use of fireworks amid a punishing drought that continues despite the recent arrival of summer monsoon rains.

Some national forests in the U.S. Southwest eased or rescinded fire restrictions, and welcomed back visitors to vast tracts that temporarily were closed because of wildfire danger. Fireworks are always prohibited in national forests

In Sacramento, Cal Expo officials announced they won't have a fireworks display because of staffing and resource shortages. Instead, they are focused on the California State Fair & Food Festival to be held the last two weeks of July.

In Lompoc, on California's central coast, the annual Fourth of July fireworks show won't be held because of concerns about potential fire hazards.

A popular northern San Joaquin Valley fireworks show that in pre-pandemic times brought tens of thousands of people to Lake Don Pedro, California, was canceled because of drought concerns, including the lake's projected low level.

"The safety of our guests and being good stewards of the land entrusted to us are our highest priorities," the Don Pedro Recreation Agency said in a statement.

The fire danger also prompted Lakewood and Castle Rock in Colorado to cancel their pyrotechnic displays. Still, an Independence Eve fireworks show with live music by the Colorado Symphony is planned July 3 at Denver's Civic Center Park.

The Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana, canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show without giving a reason.

Elsewhere in the U.S., some North Carolina towns canceled displays after a recent fireworks-related explosion killed a man on a small farm and a large cache of fireworks were destroyed in a related fire.

In Minneapolis, a fireworks display over the Mississippi won't be held because of staff shortages and construction at a nearby park.

'Dispatch' from 1947 offers another look at UFO incident - By John Dilmore Roswell Daily Record

The Roswell incident has been one of the most thoroughly researched and debated mysteries in the history of the UFO phenomenon and among the most enduring.

Barring a major revelation between now and July, Roswell will mark the 75th anniversary of the alleged 1947 UFO crash with the debate over what occurred here far from settled.

That hasn't been for a lack of digging. For decades now, journalists, authors, documentary film crews and others fascinated by the incident have unearthed and publicized countless bits of information and artifacts of that time.

Along the way, they've brought attention to many pieces of Roswell history, such as the July 1947 front pages of the Roswell Daily Record that recorded initial reports of the incident along with a follow-up version of events presented by the military that some now view as one of history's greatest cover-ups.

The intensity of focus placed on the Roswell incident for three-quarters of a century has led some to posit that most contemporaneous records have already been scrutinized. But one piece of local history recently uncovered provides an interesting companion to those iconic 1947 headlines the public has become familiar with — while adding yet more pages to a still-growing historical record.

The Roswell Morning Dispatch, a long-defunct sister newspaper of the Roswell Daily Record, was published in the mornings from 1928-1950. The Dispatch covered the news of the day, and as such, it carried accounts in July 1947 of the unfolding events related to the alleged recovery of a crashed "Flying Disk" outside Roswell, along with the military's explanations for what had occurred.

Its historical headlines were discovered among archived editions of the newspaper, the Daily Record reported.

Of interest to UFO research enthusiasts: The July 9, 1947 headline in the Morning Dispatch read, "Army Debunks Roswell Flying Disk As World Simmers With Excitement," followed by a sub-head bearing a familiar assertion that would help fuel future accusations of a cover-up: "Officers Say Disk Is A Weather Balloon." A sidebar describes then-sheriff George Wilcox fielding calls from media around the world as journalists sought information on what would come to be known as the Roswell incident.

Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the UK Ministry of Defense, said discovery of the old headlines holds significance for researchers and others interested in the phenomenon.

"It's a fascinating piece of history that time had forgotten," Pope said. "It just shows that 75 years after the Roswell incident, there are still discoveries to be made in the archives."

He added, "Any historian will tell you that going back to the original sources is priceless when it comes to getting an insight into what happened and how those people involved were reacting and perceiving things, and what the feeling was in the local community.

"This is just an amazing glimpse into Roswell in 1947 — which was ground zero for this mystery that still endures to this day."

Barbara Beck, publisher of the Roswell Daily Record, said that bringing a new resource to light for researchers is something the paper's staff is excited about. "It has taken over 70 years for the Roswell Morning Dispatch with its unique articles and headlines to be discovered while looking through our newspaper's archives," she said. "The Dispatch was originally owned by my family and it's very exciting that we now have a new primary resource to further understand the history of New Mexico and its undiscovered stories."

The Roswell Daily Record headlines related to the 1947 UFO incident have, for some time, been federally trademarked. Beck added that the Roswell Morning Dispatch accounts have also now been trademarked, meaning they can't be reproduced without permission.

There's much to be discovered in the archives. A look at the Dispatch records provide a reminder, for instance, of the degree to which a public fascination with UFOs had taken hold here and across the country at that time. The Roswell incident is one of four UFO-related accounts that appear just on the front page of the July 9, 1947 Morning Dispatch. The other items: "Carrizozo Man Sees Flying Disk," "Joe Massey Spots Disk Over Roswell," and an image of an unknown object in the sky over Seattle, Washington, with a caption that asks the question, "Is this a flying disc?"

Further research into the archives has uncovered many more mentions of sightings.

Readers might also notice that the Dispatch front page contains instances of language that reflect the less culturally sensitive times during which the paper was being published. Daily Record management thought it was important to present the archival front page, a piece of local history, to the public unedited and unaltered.

Pope, who will travel to Roswell in July to participate in the Daily Record's Roswell Incident event, part of the city's UFO Festival, said he hopes discovery of the old Dispatch headlines reminds people that historical records could still be out there, waiting to be discovered. Such a discovery could, as the much anticipated 75th anniversary of the incident nears, help shed new light on what happened in 1947.

"The fact that Roswell will be the focus of world attention again, is almost like ... a sort of final chance to maybe solve the mystery, one way or the other, for good," he said.

Santa Fe complex residents must move after power outage - Associated Press

More than 50 tenants at a Santa Fe apartment complex are being forced to move out because of electrical issues.

Residents of the Railyard Flats told Albuquerque's KOB-TV that they lost power Friday and were told by management to leave by July 6.

In a statement, Railyard Flats said repairing the electrical issues could take months because of back order and supply chain problems. But residents will be placed in hotels through July 8. They will also be allowed to break their leases with no penalty.

Residents are worried about finding a new home in a short amount of time. Helen Wang says she only moved to Santa Fe a couple weeks ago and it took her months to find an apartment.

Donna Huaman-Castillo and her daughter are still staying in their apartment for now. They are taking cold showers and sleeping on air mattresses.

It was not immediately clear if the outage was related to the one that left more than 10,000 Santa Fe customers without power Thursday morning.

Public Service Company of New Mexico says that outage was caused by a crow touching a 46,000-volt line at a transformer station.

Power was restored after 45 minutes.

Albuquerque police say 2 homicides cases may be connected - Associated Press

A suspect was in custody Sunday after two homicides in Albuquerque that may be connected, according to police.

They said officers responded to a convenience store 7:45 a.m. Sunday and found the body of a man who had been shot.

During their investigation, police said they received another call about a deceased woman in a southwest Albuquerque home.

Police said the shooting began with a fight inside the gas station, which moved outside to a side street.

The name of the suspect hasn't been released by police yet.

Albuquerque salon owner behind 'vampire facials' takes plea - Associated Press

A former Albuquerque spa owner has pleaded guilty to conducting unlicensed "vampire facials" that led to two clients contracting HIV.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced the plea from Maria de Lourdes Ramos de Ruiz in a news release Friday.

Ramos de Ruiz will enter a guilty plea to five felony counts of practicing medicine without a license.

The scam was discovered when a client who was diagnosed with HIV reported visiting her spa.

State licensing regulators investigated her business and found multiple health-code violations. Inspectors say there were unwrapped needles, improper blood disposal and unlabeled syringes next to food in a refrigerator.

A second client with HIV then came forward.

"Vampire facials" are when a person's blood is injected into their face to rejuvenate their skin.

Prosecutors say Ramos de Ruiz also did illegal plasma and Botox-injection procedures.

She faces more than seven years in prison.