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Luis Sanchez Saturno, Santa Fe New Mexican

Top New Mexico Public Health Official Announces RetirementAssociated Press

New Mexico's Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel on Friday announced her intention to retire once the current wave of coronavirus infections subsides.

Ichigo121212 on Pixabay / Creative Commons


COVID-19 spreads most easily in confined spaces with lots of people, so at least a dozen states have released hundreds or thousands of prisoners early to reduce outbreaks in incarcerated populations. In New Mexico’s largest state prison in Otero County, about 80% of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. In April, the governor announced that some prisoners would be released to stem the spread of COVID-19, but the state prisoners still in Otero County are not eligible for release because they have a sex offense on their record. Journalist Jeff Proctor with the Santa Fe Reporter and New Mexico In Depth published a report last week about the coronavirus outbreak in the Otero County Detention Center. He spoke to KUNM’s Kaveh Mowahed about why only 71 inmates have been released statewide, and why none of them were in Otero County.

Los Alamos National Laboratory via Flickr / Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Groups Call For Meetings As US Lab Preps For Weapons Work - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Several groups are asking state and federal officials to hold semi-annual public meetings as Los Alamos National Laboratory prepares to resume and ramp up production of key components for the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 7/2, 8a: Across the nation, people are calling for the removal of monuments and place names that glorify leaders who brutalized Brown and Black people. On Let’s Talk New Mexico this week, we’ll discuss the long history of resistance to Albuquerque’s Juan de Onate statue, the Santa Fe plaza obelisk, a White-centric mural at the University of New Mexico, and more. What do these monuments mean to you? How do they uphold narratives that contribute to the continued oppression of Native Americans and other people of color? What should be the role of public art in telling the whole truth about complex colonial histories? Join the conversation: email letstalk@kunm.org, use the hashtag #LetsTalkNM on Twitter, or call (505) 277-5866 during the show.

Luis Sanchez Saturno, Santa Fe New Mexican

Governor Keeps Restrictions In Place As COVID Deaths Reach 500 KUNM, Albuquerque Journal

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said coronavirus restrictions will remain in place and warned that if cases and the rate of spread continue to rise she may roll back openings as other states like Texas and Arizona have.

John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Tribal communities in New Mexico have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, due to deep social and economic disparities resulting from colonization. Now, the pandemic threatens to make those disparities worse by hindering the 2020 Census count that will affect how much federal funding goes to tribes over the next decade. Shaun Griswold, urban Indigenous reporter with New Mexico In Depth, reports tribes are playing catch-up after public health shutdowns along with geography and other factors have led to low Census response rates so far. He told KUNM’s Hannah Colton that an undercount could mean a difference of millions of federal dollars going to basics like housing and education.   

Canva / Creative Commons

While many in New Mexico are experiencing economic hardships during the pandemic, a new study released Tuesday, June 30, focused on its impact on Hispanic families. The results show widespread pay cuts, layoffs, and small savings accounts depleted. While some have turned to unemployment benefits or federal stimulus money to get by, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for those supports. New Mexico lawmakers are asking the state’s congressional delegation to work to include undocumented immigrants in the next round of federal relief.

Lawrence Bridges / Vimeo https://vimeo.com/47901959

Rudolfo Anaya, 'Godfather' Of Chicano Literature, Dies At 82 - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press, KUNM

Rudolfo Anaya, who helped launch the 1970s Chicano Literature Movement with his novel "Bless Me, Ultima," has died.

Wikimedia via CC

New Mexico residents who receive food assistance will continue to get the maximum amount allowed for their household size through the end of July. The state got a month’s extension on a federal program meant to keep people fed during the pandemic.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The student-run newspaper at the University of New Mexico ran an editorial last week calling out “Journalism’s problematic love affair with objectivity.” In it, the Daily Lobo’s editorial board argues that mainstream White-led news media often perpetuates racism and “actively sides with the oppressor,” and that one way reporters do that is by unquestioningly repeating police narratives.

Daily Lobo News Editor Lissa Knudsen spoke with KUNM News Director Hannah Colton about how she says a dedication to the notion of objectivity can lead reporters to obscure the truth.

Hannah Colton

New Mexico Judge Rejects Bid To Dismiss Education Case - By Cedar Attanasio AP/Report For America

A New Mexico judge has rejected a motion by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to dismiss a landmark education lawsuit that was filed against the state.

pxhere via CC


In episode 82, we discuss how the question “How are you?” is part of documenting changing people and a changing globe. The answer reveals a lot about us. Are we good? We hear from a high school athlete who is worried about going back to a crowded campus, a woman who lost her mother to COVID-19, an anti-police brutality activist who sees focused protesters demanding positive local change, a community organizer whose family was torn apart after their activism, and an advocate who networks community groups to pay people to make masks. We know everyone out there is working hard in one way or another. So, how are you?  

FreeABQImages.com

Virus Concerns Force Cancellation Of New Mexico State Fair - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico officials say they are heartbroken but that the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to cancel this year's state fair.

Wallpaper Flare via CC


In episode 81, we check back for new developments on some of the impactful stories from YNMG from the past couple of months. What opportunities have been missed to make things better in this urgent time? Who's falling through the holes in the system? And what's still in front of us to do?

Governor Puts Additional Openings On Hold As COVID Cases RiseAlbuquerque Journal, KUNM

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said current restrictions on businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in place for now.

Pixelmaniac Pictures via Wikimedia Commons CC


We come back to life’s essentials like housing and education in episode 80, and the systemic problems that can easily slip past us if we’re not vigilant. As we continue to endure, it's easy to drop the ball on issues New Mexico has been battling for years. Today we hear from journalists from around the state on how the pandemic is affecting schools and teachers, the affordability of housing, and whether the corrections system is fulfilling its human rights obligations. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 6/25, 8a: Teachers, parents and students are facing tough questions about what classes will look like as the pandemic stretches into the fall. The struggle for equity in the system is ongoing; a judge next week could decide whether the state will stay under court order to fix racial and socioeconomic disparities. And some programs meant to serve marginalized students had their budgets cut in this week’s special legislative session. This week on Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’re talking K-12 education, and we want to hear from you. What systemic changes do you want to see in public schools? Email letstalk@kunm.org, or call in live during the show at 277-5866.

San Juan Citizens Alliance/EcoFlight / with permission

Navajo Nation President: New Mexico Still Failing Students - By Cedar Attanasio. Associated Press/Report For America

The leader of one of the largest Native American tribes in the U.S. has called on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to end efforts against a court ruling ordering education improvements for members of his tribe and other vulnerable groups.

Tony Webster via Flickr / Creative Commons

A bill that requires all law enforcement officers in New Mexico to wear body cameras passed out of the state legislature Monday and now awaits Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signature. Research out of George Mason University last year, which reviewed 70 studies on the body-worn cameras, found that the devices don’t have a significant or consistent impact on most officer behavior, or how community members view the police. KUNM’s Nash Jones spoke with Barron Jones, Senior Policy Analyst with the ACLU of New Mexico, about whether mandating police body cameras statewide is a meaningful step for New Mexico to take as it seeks to reform policing in response to renewed calls for change here and across the country. 

Gina McCaleb via Flickr

New Mexico Releases Plan For Reopening Public Schools - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press/Report For America

New Mexico's Public Education Department is outlining a path for how schools will reopen this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Under a plan made public Tuesday, the state is requiring schools to open at 50% capacity. Students will alternate between time in the classroom and continuing with online lessons at home.

The youngest stars are shown as red while more evolved stars are shown as blue.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA / Creative Commons

It’s a weird time. We’ve got a global pandemic, an uprising against racist police violence and a special legislative session dropped in the middle of it—the likes of which no one’s ever seen before. Maybe one that people still aren’t seeing because there have been so many access issues. In episode 79, we dig in to bring you what’s new and developing with the emergency legislative session. What bills have been passed, what is on the way and what is being held until January are just a few of the topics we cover. We talk with journalists from New Mexico PBS and the NM Political Report. We also hear from an advocate who is on the forefront of voting rights in tribal lands.

Yasmin Khan / KUNM

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free, almost two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate Juneteenth in Albuquerque this weekend, filling Roosevelt Park with music, dancing and barbeque. 

Common Dreams / CREATIVE COMMONS

New Mexico Legislature Backs Mandatory Police Body Cameras - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico's Legislature has approved a proposal to make police body cameras mandatory for nearly all state and local law enforcement officers. 

In episode 78 we discuss what’s happening in Santa Fe at the legislative special session. It’s a unique situation up there; COVID-19 precautions have led to a locked-in session with no opportunity for citizens to attend in person. But first, we hear from organizers of the Albuquerque Juneteenth celebration commemorating 155 years since the official end of slavery in Texas, with the entire United States following soon after. 

Shaun Griswold

Firearms and other deadly weapons are prohibited in Albuquerque parks and recreation facilities under a new administrative order issued Friday by Mayor Tim Keller’s office. The rule excludes law enforcement officials and applies to any city property used for public school-related activities, including Civic Plaza.

Granger Meador via Flickr / Creative Commons

The New Mexico Legislature encountered many technical hurdles during its first day of the emergency special session called to patch up a budget thrashed by coronavirus. But the Roundhouse is also closed to the public due to concerns about viral spread; lawmakers, staffers and the media are the only ones allowed in the building. The doors are locked. There was a small group of protesters outside on Thursday wanting to go in and see their lawmakers in action. KUNM’s Nash Jones spoke with Khalil Ekulona, host of Your New Mexico Government, about a session that’s hard to access in every way.

Matt Dahlseid, Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico Official Says No Room For Relaxing Amid Virus Threat - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

One of New Mexico's top health officials said about one-quarter of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state involve people who had no symptoms.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

In episode 77 we dive into the state’s special legislative session that started today. The primary reason for the emergency meeting is to address the unexpected budget shortfall brought on by COVID-19 and the decimation of oil and gas markets that provide much of New Mexico’s public funding.

Mark Harris via Flickr / Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

New Mexico Water Managers End Work On Gila River ProposalAssociated Press

A panel of New Mexico water managers has voted to end work on an environmental review related to a proposal to divert and store water from the Gila River.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In episode 76, we discuss criminal justice reform, from policing to prisons. We get a preview of the Albuquerque mayor and a city councilor plans to remake the public safety system. A criminal justice reporter tells us about COVID-19 in state prisons and reminds us that there is little race or ethnicity data to show us who is affected. But first, YNMG Executive Producer Marisa Demarco tells us what it was like to be at a protest this week where someone she knows was shot by a man trying to protect a statue of a genocidal Spanish conquistador. 

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