KUNM

Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

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The central question in a two-decade federal court case is whether New Mexico’s Human Services Department is distributing SNAP and Medicaid fast enough and to the right people. A new boss was appointed to HSD in January. KUNM heard from Secretary David Scrase about the changes he’s making.

Pixabay via CC

For years, there’s been a fight in court about whether the state of New Mexico is following federal law when it comes to distributing food and medical assistance to almost half a million people here. Advocates told a federal judge this week that the state Human Services Department is still illegally denying SNAP and Medicaid to some eligible families. KUNM spoke with Maria Griego Thursday, May 16, right after the court hearing in Las Cruces. Griego is an attorney with The Center on Law and Poverty, and she explained what the state is doing wrong.

Courtesy of Master Sgt. Charles Newman, aerospace science instructor

Thousands of students from around the U.S. are converging in Virginia this weekend for the Team America Rocketry Challenge. A junior ROTC team from Valley High School in Albuquerque qualified for the national finals of the world’s largest rocket contest and has a shot at winning thousands of dollars and a chance to compete internationally.

Marisa Demarco/KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/16 8a: All around the country, more people who are walking are hit by drivers in neighborhoods with low incomes and in communities of color. Here in Bernalillo County, one out of every five times there’s a pedestrian crash, it happens in the few square miles of Albuquerque’s International District. Residents say a big part of the problem is bad street lighting, speeding drivers, big roads, crumbling sidewalks, and not enough intersections or bus stops.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller got on a truck lift on Wednesday, May 8, and turned on a streetlight in the International District in a photo-op designed to announce that PNM will replace all of its streetlight bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs by the end of 2019. It’s still unclear when the area’s ongoing problem with broken streetlights and bad lighting will be resolved.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

At night, for long stretches of road on large busy streets and residential ones, it’s completely dark in Southeast Albuquerque’s International District. Residents say not having enough streetlights is an urgent problem, because it leads to hotspots of crime and more vehicles hitting pedestrians. Politicians failed to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for new lights in the area, leaving neighborhoods in the dark.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

There’s a part of Southeast Albuquerque that sees more than its share of people who are walking being hit and killed by drivers. In just five years, there were 26 pedestrian fatalities in the few square miles known as the International District—but none in neighboring Nob Hill. People who live in the district say a big part of this problem is broken streetlights that don’t get fixed, even though they’ve been asking for over a decade.

Courtesy of Maysie Bucklin

It’s been 50 years since Stonewall, a night when the LGBTQ community resisted a police raid in New York. It’s the catalyst for many Pride parades around the U.S., and in honor of that anniversary, students are throwing the first-ever Pride celebration in Las Vegas, New Mexico this weekend.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

For decades, people in a southeast Albuquerque district have been asking the city to light their dark streets. One neighborhood group eventually starting solving the problem by installing streetlights on their own.

So many people in America suffer long-term and dangerous illnesses that come from poor nutrition. A doctor and chef in the South Valley near Albuquerque are part of a team working on tasty solutions.

jmiller291 via flicker / Creative Commons

State lawmakers just passed restrictions on solitary confinement, the first of their kind in the state. If Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs them into law, New Mexico prisons and jails will have rules about who they can isolate. 

no author / public domain via goodfreephotos.com

For decades, legislators have repeatedly fumbled the creation of an ethics commission to stop government corruption. But voters demanded one overwhelmingly in November, and now it’s on some of the very people the commission would police—state lawmakers—to decide what it can and can’t do. They’re considering two bills this year: one where people can see what the commission’s up to and one where it’s mostly secret.

Ed Williams / KUNM

Nationally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 42,000 people in custody on average on any given day last year. People leaving ICE detention often say conditions were bad, and they were abused or didn’t get enough to eat. Some New Mexico lawmakers are carrying a bill that might create a window into ICE facilities here.

pxhere.com / Public Domain

The United States imprisons a larger portion of its population than any other country in the world, and the use of solitary confinement is widespread. Here in New Mexico, the rate has been going down, but the American Civil Liberties Union released a study Thursday, Feb. 28, saying the numbers are much higher than the state reports.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

There are headlines around the country about officers abusing their power, coercing, assaulting or trafficking sex workers. Not being able to trust police enough to report violent experiences is part of what makes people especially vulnerable to serial killers and rapists. Now, 10 years after a mass grave was discovered on the West Mesa, the Albuquerque Police Department is trying to rebuild trust and stop that from happening again. 

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