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WED: Dust up at the Bernalillo County Commission meeting, + More

Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada storms out of a meeting Tuesday night, April 9, 2024.
Bernalillo County Commission livestream
Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada storms out of a meeting Tuesday night, April 9, 2024.

Dust up at the Bernalillo County Commission meeting - By Carolyn Carlson, City Desk ABQ

Drama dominated the Bernalillo County Commission meeting Tuesday night after one commissioner — Steven Michael Quezada — left the governing table in a huff.

In doing so, a couple of pieces of legislation he had introduced, including his version of a county manager selection process and a message to the governor, were not debated and died for lack of a second.

On Wednesday, Commission Chair Barbara Baca told City Desk ABQ that she was disappointed in Quezada’s behavior at the commission meeting. Baca said robust discussions and disagreements are part of the democratic deliberative process.

“I am saddened that he feels walking out of a commission meeting is a way to make policy. People can judge for themselves if that is a way for a commissioner to behave,” she said.


The dust up started with a debate over two choices for how to go about picking the next county manager, as Julie Morgas Baca will retire at the end of June.

Last month, Commissioners Quezada and Walt Benson proposed a selection process that would include securing an outside professional recruitment firm. He proposed that all information be presented to the commissioners, so they can select and interview finalists. Quezada said this process was based on what Albuquerque Public Schools did during its superintendent search. This was deferred at the March 19 meeting but was back on the dais for Tuesday’s meeting.

However, Baca had her own version of a selection process up first. Her proposal includes a national search, establishing a local search committee and public engagement. Baca said Juan Vigil, former Bernalillo and Sandoval county manager, will serve as the search committee chair alongside Tim Cummins, Maggie Hart-Stebbins, Yolanda Cordova-Montoya and Venice Caballos.

Quezada asked for a friendly amendment to the bill to allow each commissioner to appoint one person to sit on the five person vetting committee, instead of having Baca pick all five.

“You have to give a voice to the people who voted me in and you have to give a voice to the people who voted Commissioner Benson in,” Quezada said.

But Commissioner Eric Olivas said that Quezada’s amendment — to allow each commissioner to pick a member — politicizes the vetting selection process.

“The individuals that are in this resolution on this proposed search committee are just in my opinion the best and most qualified, most competent to get this done,” Olivas said.

Quezada’s amendment went nowhere, causing a heated exchange between commissioners.

“We are following best practices,” Baca said. “This resolution is quite thorough and more than we are required by the charter.”

Benson said he was not contacted by the chair about the selection of the vetting committee. He said he found out about the vetting choices from a constituent who called him to tell him about the five member vetting committee.

“I just want you to put yourself in those shoes if you had found out by one of your constituents. How would you feel? How would your constituents feel?” he said.

Quezada asked for a point of personal privilege to express his discontent.

“This commission has missed the point,” he said. “Why am I here? I can represent my constituents better in my office than I can do from here. My time is better served at my commission desk in my office.”

That’s when Quezada stormed out of the chambers.

In the end, Baca’s resolution was approved on a 3 to 1 vote, with Quezada not present for the vote.


In response to allegations by Quezada and Benson that they were not contacted, Baca said she reached out to the commission before putting together her proposal.

“I am trying very hard to include the whole commission in this process,” she said. “We looked at the breadth of issues. It was not done in a vacuum and it does not usurp the commission in the process.”

Quezada continued to disagree and issued the following statement to City Desk ABQ, saying he made the decision to walk out of the meeting because “I refuse to stand idly by while my constituents’ voices are ignored.”

“I am deeply disappointed by the actions of Commissioners Baca, Olivas, and Barboa, who persist in silencing the voices of residents in District 2 and District 4,” he said. “Their habits for backroom deals and decisions made without transparency is unacceptable. The selection process they’ve crafted for the new county manager lacks inclusivity and raises concerns of a rigged outcome aimed at installing someone who will serve their interests, neglecting the voices of those who disagree with them, and silencing the residents of the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County.”


Since Quezada left the table, his vote was not taken on some important county issues.

The commission:

· Did not approve a message to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham giving county support for the building of a Netherwood Park Playground. This was sponsored by Quezada, but he was not there for the agenda call, so it died for a lack of a second.

· Approved the biennial budget of $442,239,755 for FY25 and $456,271,745 for FY26.

· Approved a memorandum of understanding between Bernalillo County, the city of Albuquerque and Vital Strategies for the development of an Opioid Settlement Fund Strategic Plan.

· Approved an award for a 4-year $1,000,000 contract to the Partnership for Community Action to provide workforce and entrepreneurial development services to Black, Indigenous, people of color, women-owned and underserved businesses in the county.

Arizona can enforce an 1864 law criminalizing nearly all abortions, court says - By Jacques Billeaud and Anita Snow Associated Press, KUNM News

Arizona will soon join 14 other states that have banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy after a state Supreme Court ruling Tuesday found that officials may enforce an 1864 law criminalizing all abortions except when a woman's life is at stake.

The court said enforcement won't begin for at least two weeks. However, it could be up to two months, based on an agreement reached in a related case in Arizona, according to state Attorney General Kris Mayes and Planned Parenthood, the plaintiffs in the current case.

The law provides no exceptions for rape or incest.

Under a near-total ban, the number of abortions in the state is expected to drop from about 1,100 monthly — as estimated by a survey for the Society of Family Planning — to almost zero. The forecast is based on what has happened in other states that ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

Arizona Sen. Eva Burch, who has had an abortion since announcing on the Senate floor last month that she was seeking one because her pregnancy wasn't viable, criticized GOP lawmakers who back the ban.

"The fight for reproductive rights is not over in Arizona," she said, referring to a statewide petition campaign to put the issue on the ballot this fall. "This moment must not slow us down."

According to AP VoteCast, 6 out of 10 Arizona voters in the 2022 midterm elections said they would favor guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.

Planned Parenthood officials vowed to continue providing abortions for the short time they are still legal and said they will reinforce networks that help women travel out of state to places like New Mexico and California to access abortion.

"Even with today's ruling, Planned Parenthood Arizona will continue to provide abortion through 15 weeks for a very short period of time," said Angela Florez, president of the organization's Arizona chapter.

On social media, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the decision “a draconian step backward” and assured continued access to services in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, state Attorney General Raúl Torrez called the decision “alarming and deeply concerning.” In a statement, he reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring “New Mexico continues to be a safe haven” for those seeking reproductive healthcare.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, the number of abortions performed in New Mexico more than tripled due to demand from out-of-state patients.

Arizona State University student Katarina White welcomed the ruling.

"I was overcome by joy and happy to know that all these babies that could potentially be aborted aren't going to be aborted," the Tempe resident said. "It just made me really proud to be an Arizonan."

Brittany Crawford, a mother of three who owns a hair salon in Phoenix, said the high court's ruling could have far-reaching consequences.

"You are going to have a lot of desperate girls doing whatever they can to get rid of their babies," Crawford said. "Some could end up dead."

She herself had an abortion at 18, right out of high school, and said she suffered extreme emotional trauma.

"I still think I should have the right to decide whether I do have a child, or whether I don't have a child," she said.

The Center for Arizona Policy, a longtime backer of anti-abortion proposals before the Legislature, said the state's highest court reached the appropriate conclusion.

"Today's outcome acknowledges the sanctity of all human life and spares women the physical and emotional harms of abortion," the group said in a statement.

Nearly every state ban on abortions has been challenged with a lawsuit. Courts have blocked enforcing some restrictions, including prohibitions throughout pregnancy in Utah and Wyoming.

The Arizona ruling suggests doctors can be prosecuted for performing the procedure, and the 1864 law carries a sentence of two to five years in prison for doctors or anyone else who assists in an abortion.

"In light of this Opinion, physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman's life, are illegal," the Arizona Supreme Court said in its decision, adding that additional criminal and regulatory sanctions may apply to abortions performed after 15 weeks.

Jill Gibson, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Arizona, said that means legal considerations are now likely to weigh heavily on any decision about abortion.

"It just creates this environment that makes it really impossible for a physician to understand her risk in taking care of her patients," Gibson said. "Rather than, you know, making clinical decisions based on what my patients are telling me, I will be phoning my lawyers for guidance on what I can do."

Planned Parenthood said it will continue to offer abortion services up to 15 weeks for at least two more months, in line with an agreement in the related case not to immediately enforce a near-total ban if upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, most Republican-controlled states have started enforcing new bans or restrictions, and most Democratic-dominated ones have sought to protect abortion access.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, persuaded a state judge in Tucson to lift a restriction on enforcing the state's 1864 law. Mayes, Brnovich's Democratic successor, had urged the state's high court to hold the line against it.

"Today's decision to reimpose a law from a time when Arizona wasn't a state, the Civil War was raging, and women couldn't even vote will go down in history as a stain on our state," Mayes said Tuesday.

Former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who signed the state's current law restricting abortion after 15 weeks, posted on the social platform X saying that the state Supreme Court's ruling was not the outcome he would have wanted.

"I signed the 15-week law as governor because it is thoughtful policy, and an approach to this very sensitive issue that Arizonans can actually agree on," he said.


This story corrects the day of the week that the Arizona Supreme Court issued its decision. It was Tuesday, not Thursday.

Associated Press writers Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Laura Ungar in Louisville, Kentucky; and Geoff Mulvihill in Chicago contributed to this report.

A year later, Southern N.M. still waiting on location for state reproductive health clinic - Leah Romero, Source New Mexico 

Little progress has been made with the $10 million New Mexico lawmakers secured in 2023 to fund a reproductive health clinic in Doña Ana County.

As the money sits mostly untouched in an account at the University of New Mexico, the project’s principal fiscal agent, the statewide interest groups insist the planning stage is moving along and expect more progress this summer.

For the last year, leaders in government, health care, nonprofit and community services that assist people with reproductive health access have met to design the clinic in Southern New Mexico. To date, discussions about location and the types of services the clinic will offer are underway, but nothing has been publicly released.

“I know it seems like there was the announcement of the $10 million and you know, ‘where the heck is the center? Where did the money go?’” said Charlene Bencomo, executive director at Bold Futures. “I want people to know that this is definitely something that behind the scenes is definitely getting worked on, talked about consistently, being addressed by all four of the committed partners.”

The Bold Futures nonprofit is one of four organizations statewide currently involved in the planning stage of building the facility.

“This year, we’re really looking at moving into what it looks like to get an actual space, a real building,” Bencomo said. “What type of square-footage are we going to need, what are equipment needs, who’s going to be in the building physically, what is our referral network going to look like?”

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed anexecutive order directing the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration to designate capital outlay money for the clinic in Doña Ana County.

The clinic would be established to provide abortion access and address other needs of pregnant patients in Southern New Mexico. The region was chosen to increase access to care for rural New Mexicans and people traveling from out of state, supporters argued.

Lujan Grisham’s office said the facility remains a priority but did not provide any specific examples about recent actions taken.

Meanwhile, demands for reproductive health services continue to increase and providers in New Mexico are feeling the strain. According to AbortionFinder.org, New Mexico has seven abortion providers in northern New Mexico. There are only four clinics in the southern half of the state – three clinics in Las Cruces and one in Santa Teresa.

Reproductive health advocates like Bencomo predict the Doña Ana County facility is still at least two more years away from its doors opening.

The state designated the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center as the fiscal agent for the $10 million appropriation. The state recently transferred $9.9 million to the university, said Henry Valdez, Department of Finance and Administration spokesperson. Valdez said that 1% of all capital projects, including the clinic, is set aside in accordance with the Arts in Public Places Act, for acquiring or commissioning art to accompany public places.

University spokesperson Chris Ramirez said the groups are close to picking a specific location for the clinic, with a possible update by the end of the month.

None of the other three organizations, state departments or governor’s office involved in the project would verify any further details about a location announcement.


The four organizations in the planning committee include the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center, Bold Futures, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Strong Families New Mexico.

Bencomo said the four organizations have been in planning talks for a year. No location has been chosen for the clinic, Bencomo said, and executives are still meeting to discuss specifics of clinic services.

The planning team is also still deciding whether to fully construct a new facility or renovate an existing building that will fit their needs and also be cost effective, she said.

Last year, the organizations created a smaller advisory board, separate from the planning team, to tour several existing clinics and discuss the vision for the future clinic.

Bencomo said that while the state’s $10 million investment will help get the clinic up and running, there will need to be further fundraising to sustain it for future patients, particularly those who do not have insurance coverage.

“We know that reimbursement rates through Medicaid or even private insurance don’t always cover the full needs of a health care center,” she said. “We also want to make sure that we are providing care for folks that may not be able to pay or for whatever reasons don’t qualify for Medicaid, folks coming from other states that might do self pay or might have difficulty paying.”


Lujan Grisham spokesperson Michael Coleman, said the reproductive clinic remains a priority for the governor and expects project development to begin this summer.

The clinic remains a plan, and sits as one of two directives issued by the governor’s executive order in 2022.

The second part requires changes to the current systems that connect people to reproductive health services in the state.

While quiet in its response to discussions about the Doña Ana facility, New Mexico Department of Health and the Human Services Department officials shared in detail how they are addressing at least half of Lujan Grisham’s order.

The agencies are shortening wait times for people receiving care, offering abortion medication by mail and have altered the billing procedure for abortion services to process insurance claims faster.

Department of Health spokesperson David Morgan said a new hotline (1-833-796-8773) coordinating with both clinics and telehealth providers in the state has shortened wait times for patients seeking “any number of health services.”

Morgan said more telehealth providers offer patients remote services and abortion medication by mail, based on individual patient’s needs and the local laws in their area.

A new pilot program recently launched in Grant and Luna counties opens local public health offices to people who are uninsured in rural areas to attend their telehealth appointments. In some cases, people can direct their medications to be delivered to the same office for pick up.

The program is expected to expand to all public health offices across New Mexico in the future, Morgan said, although no timeline was provided.

As for the Human Services DepartmentD, spokesperson Marina Piña said changes to consolidate some billing code procedures simplified the process for providers and insurance companies to process claims.

“This efficiency can lead to reduced administrative costs for providers, which, in turn, has the potential to contribute to lower overall healthcare costs,” Piña said in an email.

The new process reduces an “administrative burden” to reimburse providers. If it’s easier to get paid, then they could be more likely to continue working in underserved areas, Pina argued.

The state also expanded contraception access at school-based health clinics and with private insurance companies to ensure contraception is reimbursed, allowing Medicaid patients to pick up a year’s supply at a time.

Man shoots himself outside of MDC - KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal

A man shot himself outside of the Bernalillo Metropolitan Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon and is now in the hospital.

Candace Hopkins, a spokeswoman for MDC told the Albuquerque Journal that no one else was injured in the shooting and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating.

According to an MDC press release, there was no threat to any staff, inmates, or the public.

Details on the man’s condition and motive are currently unavailable. He was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Two tribal nations sue social media companies over Native youth suicides - By Graham Lee Brewer, Haleluya Hadero and Shawn Chen Associated Press

Two tribal nations are accusing social media companies of contributing to the disproportionately high rates of suicide among Native American youth.

Their lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles county court names Facebook and Instagram's parent company Meta Platforms; Snapchat's Snap Inc.; TikTok parent company ByteDance; and Alphabet, which owns YouTube and Google, as defendants.

Virtually all U.S. teenagers use social media, and roughly one in six describe their use as "almost constant," according to the Pew Research Center.

But Native youth are particularly vulnerable to these companies' addictive "profit-driven design choices," given historic teen suicide rates and mental health issues across Indian Country, chairperson Lonna Jackson-Street of the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota said in a press release.

"Enough is enough. Endless scrolling is rewiring our teenagers' brains," added Gena Kakkak, chairwoman of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. "We are demanding these social media corporations take responsibility for intentionally creating dangerous features that ramp up the compulsive use of social media by the youth on our Reservation."

Social media companies accused of 'deliberate misconduct'

Their lawsuit describes "a sophisticated and intentional effort that has caused a continuing, substantial, and longterm burden to the Tribe and its members," leaving scarce resources for education, cultural preservation and other social programs.

A growing number of similar lawsuits are being pursued by USschool districts, states, cities and other entities, claiming that TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube exploit children and adolescents with features that keep them constantly scrolling and checking their accounts.

New York City, its schools and public hospital system accuse the platforms of fueling a childhood mental health crisis that's disrupting learning and draining resources. School boards in Ontario, Canada, claim teachers are struggling because platforms designed for compulsive use "have rewired the way children think, behave, and learn."

The Associated Press reached out to the companies for comment. Google said "the allegations in these complaints are simply not true."

"Providing young people with a safer, healthier experience has always been core to our work," Google spokesperson José Castañeda said in a statement. "In collaboration with youth, mental health and parenting experts, we built services and policies to provide young people with age-appropriate experiences, and parents with robust controls."

Snap Inc. said it provides an alternative to a feed of online content. "We will always have more work to do, and will continue to work to make Snapchat a platform that helps close friends feel connected, happy and prepared as they face the many challenges of adolescence," the company's statement said.

Native children are uniquely stressed out

Native Americans experience higher rates of suicide than any other racial demographic in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, jumping nearly 20% from 2015 to 2020 compared with a less-than 1% increase among the overall U.S. population.

Mental health care is already difficult to access from remote locations, and generations of colonization and social stigma create more barriers, particularly when the care isn't culturally appropriate, advocates say.

About 87% of people who identify as Native American don't live on an Indian reservation, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, and social media can help them connect with tradition, culture and other tribal communities.

But "they also might experience discrimination online. And social media companies don't always have great, helpful policies for managing that," said Andrea Wiglesworth, an enrolled member of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation and Shawnee Tribe who researches stress in Native populations at the University of Minnesota.

Native American identity is a complex mix of political and cultural experiences that varies from tribe to tribe and within Indigenous communities, adding a unique layer of stress onto other social pressures, Wiglesworth said.

"I won't speak for all Native people, but from my lived experience there is this sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of our community and community members," she added. She said Indigenous people need to think about how they carry that commitment into the digital world.

The teenage brain is wired for compulsive responses

The science is still emerging about how social media affects teenagers' mental health. Psychologists and neuroscientists note the potential for both positive and negative side effects, and researchers have yet to draw a direct link between screen time alone and poor mental health outcomes, according to Mitch Prinstein, chief science officer at the American Psychological Association.

What researchers do know is that as an adolescent's brain develops, it builds and strengthens the connections that guide responses for a variety of human interactions while it creates more receptors for oxytocin and dopamine. This is the brain's reward system, Prinstein said, and it manifests in adolescents a need for both positive feedback and concern about social punishments.

"In the 1980s that meant that we were suddenly talking about who's in which clique and who sits at which lunch table and are you wearing the right clothes to get positive feedback when you go to school. In 2024, we're now making it possible to kind of feed that with 24/7, 365 button-pressing for feedback and input from peers," he said.

Prinstein called for new legislation in Senate testimony last year, saying federal regulators should have more power to prohibit exploitative business practices and require social media companies to protect the well-being of children on their platforms.

Regulatory efforts focus on TikTok

A nationwide investigation by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general is focusing on whether TikTok is harming the mental health of children and young adults by promoting content and boosting engagement. Meanwhile, some Republican-led states have pursued their own lawsuits.

Utah accused TikTok in October of baiting children into excessive social media use. Indiana's lawsuit accusing TikTok of deceiving users about inappropriate content and insecure personal information was dismissed in November. Arkansas has two lawsuits pending, against TikTok and ByteDance.

And in Congress, a bipartisan group of senators is supporting the Kids Online Safety Act, which in part would require platform design changes to prevent harm. Tech industry groups have opposed the bill, and the American Civil Liberties Union has raised censorship concerns.


Graham Lew Brewer, who covers Indigenous Affairs for the AP's Race and Ethnicity, reported from Oklahoma City. AP writers Haleluya Hadero and Shawn Chen reported from New York.

Still no replacement for wildfire claims office director, FEMA official saysAustin Fisher,Source New Mexico

More than two-and-a-half months after the head of the federal office overseeing nearly $4 billion in compensation for Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon survivors stepped down, her replacement still hasn’t been named.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in “the final stages” of hiring an operations director at the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office, said Colt Hagmaier, assistant administrator of the Recovery Directorate within the Office of Response and Recovery at FEMA.

Angela Gladwell stepped down in January as part of what FEMA described as a “restructuring” of federal disaster response across New Mexico.

Hagmaier was speaking during a panel discussion at the Indigo Theater in Las Vegas, following a free screening of an unfinished version of a documentary about survivors’ experiences called “Mora is Burning” hosted by the advocacy group Coalition for Fire Fund Fairness.

New Mexico’s congressional delegation over the weekend issued statements commemorating the fire’s two-year anniversary, which was on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández on Saturday said FEMA “must find a new director who knows New Mexico, who knows the uniqueness of our communities, and most importantly, who is dedicated to fully compensating those who lost so much as quickly and as painlessly as possible and to the fullest amount the law allows.”

Source New Mexico’s Patrick Lohmann moderated the panel on Monday and asked Hagmaier if he could commit to Leger Fernández’s demand.

“I can commit to you that we are hiring someone who understands the mission in New Mexico,” Hagmaier said.

In Hagmaier’s nine visits to the state and reading about the communities around the Sangre de Cristo mountains, he said he’s learned people in the area do not have much reason to trust the federal government because “history has not been kind to this part of the country.”

“I think it’s important we hire someone who understands that history, understands the multiple cultural communities, and does not make the mistake that I did of assuming that Las Vegas and Las Alamos and Mora are all the same — because they’re not,” he said. “I’ve learned that, and I don’t want to hire somebody who doesn’t already know that.”

Earlier in the night, Hagmaier acknowledged it was a mistake that under the interim rules governing how survivors could make claims to FEMA that were published in November 2021, the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Claims Office restricted the amount paid for “trees and other landscaping to 25% of the pre-fire value of the structure and lot” on which they stood.

That language was copied from the Cerro Grande Fire Assistance Act, which refers to a 2000 wildfire that burned in and around Los Alamos, N.M. That fire was also started as an escaped prescribed burn on federal land.

The Cerro Grande Fire affected a very different community, one where many victims were wealthy, federal employees living in insured homes. Trees were most often used as landscaping, not for subsistence or income as they are in the burn scar of the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

“I made mistakes,” Hagmaier said. “I assumed this would be very similar to Cerro Grande. It’s nothing like Cerro Grande.”

The final rules for Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire claims, which went into effect August 2023, removed that 25% cap.

Hagmaier then apologized for the fire and the challenges survivors have faced.

“I don’t know if anyone has ever apologized to you,” Hagmaier said. “But I will tell you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry about the fire. I’m sorry about the challenges you’ve faced. I’m sorry that things have taken as long as they have.”

Hagmaier said FEMA “went through the standard recruitment process” and “anyone was free to apply.”

“We want to make sure the operations are happening here in New Mexico, and being led in New Mexico,” Hagmaier said.

Oversight and management of the compensation program will still be based out of FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C., he said, while day-to-day operations will be based out of FEMA Region 6, based in Texas.

New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said during the panel that it’s “absolutely critical that we have a director that’s named, and we have a person who understands the stories, who understands New Mexicans, and understands the generations of livelihoods that were lost.”

The film shows Gladwell explaining how survivors who are dissatisfied with an administrative appeal of their claims can file a civil lawsuit in “the United States District Court of Mexico.”

Morales on Monday reminded people about this gaffe, saying survivors need “an individual who understands that we’re not a district of Mexico, but we have a person who calls Nuevomexico home.”

Before the screening, former state attorney general Hector Balderas appeared via Zoom and said this isn’t the first time the federal government has failed the people of New Mexico.

Balderas, who is originally from Wagon Mound in Mora County, listed DEA and FDA’s failures that led to opioid pills flooding the state, the federal government siding with Texas in a water rights case, and the EPA’s failure to protect New Mexico rivers after the Gold King Mine spill.

“New Mexico has been successful in the past at recovering billions of dollars,” Balderas said. “I have no doubt that we will have to enforce law and protect our rights. This is not a place that we haven’t been before.”


Dolan, one of the survivors who also spoke during the panel, said he has seen neighbors die before they were fully compensated.

Also on Monday, two law firms representing 2,434 Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire survivors announced they have submitted documents to FEMA to preserve their clients’ rights to recover damages.

The $3.95 billion fund passed by Congress was meant to avoid lawsuits against FEMA, however, the law firms say they have no choice but to file these claims in court because the law requires people make a claim to FEMA within two years of the fire, and at this point FEMA has only given out about 10% of the money.

“While we remain hopeful that FEMA will finally get its act together and begin processing claims in accordance with the (Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act), we simply cannot allow the clock to expire on victims’ ability to recover damages through the federal court system,” said Brian Colón, a managing partner at Singleton Schreiber.

The law firms also filed on behalf of Mora County, Las Vegas City Public Schools, Mora Independent School District and the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative, Colón said in a brief phone interview.

Antonia Roybal-Mack, founder and managing partner at Roybal-Mack & Cordova, said the U.S. government “failed the people of Northern New Mexico when it put FEMA in charge of their recovery.”

“FEMA has regularly violated peoples’ right to counsel and right to swift payment for losses. This filing preserves peoples’ legal right to seek recourse if FEMA continues to disregard basic legal rights,” Roybal-Mack said.

Workforce Solutions Department to discuss challenges with Española employers - KUNM News

New Mexico Workforce Solutions is hosting a roundtable on employment challenges for local businesses in Española Wednesday. The event will feature state and city officials discussing staffing needs and challenges with local employers.

Department Secretary Sarita Nair will be joined by the city of Espñola’s Mayor Ramon Vigil and Director of Economic Development Mike Adams. Northern New Mexico College’s CEO of Finance Operations Denise Montoya will also attend the panel.

The event begins today at 11 am at the Northern New Mexico College Events Center.