New Mexico has a jobs problem. We have high crime. We’re ranked 49th in the country for child well-being, showing how much our kids suffer. Our home was just ranked the second most stressed state in the nation. These are tough issues, but there are solutions.
Our children need nature. To grow up healthy, kids need a clean, beautiful, and accessible outdoors where they can play and discover the amazing world around them. Spending time with family while connecting with nature brings tremendous health and educational benefits to children. Fortunately, New Mexico has numerous spectacular and historically and socially significant outdoor areas and we must do all that we can to protect them. Much of New Mexico’s array of scenic beauty has been enhanced and protected by a relatively little-known federal program called the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast. House Democrats grilled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week about National Park Service officials deleting all references to the human cause of climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report. Zinke told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday that he and other political appointees at the Interior Department, which oversees the Park Service, have not seen the draft. And he repeated a vow that he will not censor scientific reports.
Teachers and other educators across the nation say “enough” to chronic underfunding of public education. Here in New Mexico, educators await a positive outcome to the lawsuit against the State for failing to provide public schools the supports necessary for statewide student success. The National Education Association-New Mexico applauds every parent, school district Board of Education and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund who bring the lawsuit. Our state constitution mandates State government to provide a “uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education of all the children of school age.”
New Mexican children possess the same potential, intelligence, and motivation as their peers across the country. New Mexico has loving and supportive families, committed teachers and supportive communities, but the State is starving its public schools.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Groups opposed to construction of a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s commercial reactors are on a tour this week to make sure people know what’s being proposed for southern New Mexico. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a proposal from Holtec International to build and transport the waste, now stored in casks at various nuclear power plants around the country, to southern New Mexico. Don Hancock, director of the Southwest Research and Information Center’s nuclear-waste program, said New Mexico shouldn’t be the repository for 60 years’ worth of nuclear waste generated on the East Coast. “The proposal is to bring all that currently exists,” he said, “so, if this were to happen, the place where all this waste would be is in New Mexico, as opposed to now, when it’s in more than 30 other states and none in New Mexico.” The Holtec facility could store up to 100,000 tons of nuclear reactor waste for as long as 120 years, or until a permanent repository is built. The NRC’s 60-day public comment period on the site licensing application is open until May 29.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday ordered federal prosecutors on the southwest border to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy against anyone who enters or attempts to enter the country illegally, a mandate he said “supersedes” any prior directives. “To those who wish to challenge the Trump Administration’s commitment to public safety, national security, and the rule of law, I warn you: illegally entering this country will not be rewarded, but will instead be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice,” Sessions said in a statement. “To the Department’s prosecutors, I urge you: promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens.”
The directive instructs all federal prosecutors on the southwest border to prosecute all Department of Homeland Security referrals for alleged violations of federal immigration illegal-entry laws. In a one-page memo sent to federal prosecutors on the southwest border, Sessions said the goal wasn’t merely developing more immigration cases, but instead an end to the “illegality in [the] immigration system.” He added that if the new policy requires more resources, the offices should identify and request those to the Department of Justice. The mandate comes the same week President Donald Trump has assailed Democrats for supporting what he said are “catch and release” policies where individuals apprehended by the Border Patrol are released while they await a court date.
The state’s assistant secretary for Native American education is claiming she was unfairly forced out of the New Mexico Public Education Department earlier this month. In a two-page letter sent this week to the state’s tribal elders and obtained by New Mexico In Depth, Latifah Phillips said she “was approached with a termination letter with no explanation or any known documented reasoning, and then presented with the opportunity to resign.” (To read the full text of Phillips’ letter, click here.)
Phillips chose to be fired. She described her decision as “a small act of protest to the unfairness of this action.”
A spokeswoman for the Public Education Department did not respond to requests for comment on Phillips’ firing. Attempts to speak to Phillips about her letter were unsuccessful, too. The department’s website still lists Phillips as the assistant secretary for Native American education.
ALBUQUERQUE — Clean-air advocates want the federal courts to stop a new rule that would allow major polluters to turn their pollution controls off. Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has required major sources of pollution to reduce their emissions by the maximum amount possible. However, according to Tomas Carbonell, director of regulatory policy and lead attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, a new rule issued in January, with no opportunity for public comment, allows those major polluters to reclassify themselves as smaller sources. “In doing so,” he said, “they avoid complying with the most protective emission standards that EPA has issued to reduce emissions of pollutants like mercury, benzene, arsenic and other dangerous compounds.” The Environmental Protection Agency has claimed the rule is required by its new interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
In New Mexico, 90 percent of Native American 4th graders are below reading proficiency levels. Only 61 percent of African American high schoolers graduate in four years. Hispanic/Latino households have a median annual income $15,000 less than White households. These data are consistent with countless others that make clear that there is an epidemic of racial inequity in New Mexico. What is less clear to many is that addressing these inequities would benefit the entire population of the state not just communities of color.
This past year across the country, we heard about countless stories of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. From the entertainment industry to big corporations – and yes, even in our own Roundhouse – this was a moment of reckoning for many. But for most women, this was nothing new. For too long, workplaces have protected those who have committed these acts through processes that don’t protect victims and further embolden the “that’s how it’s always been” culture. This year at the legislature, our voices ranged from #MeToo to #TimesUp, and together, we’ve changed the narrative.