NM advocates, patients push against Obamacare replacement

A coalition of healthcare advocacy and poverty rights organizations wants Congress to dump the Republican-backed replacement for the federal Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, Parents Reaching Out held a press conference in Albuquerque encouraging people to call their representatives and senators to urge them to oppose the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the federal House of Representatives may vote on as early as this Thursday. “We are concerned about upcoming Medicaid cuts and the potential devastation to our community,” said Lisa Rossignol, the healthcare liaison at Parents Reaching Out, which organized the Wednesday press conference. The bill, backed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, would end the Medicaid expansion under the ACA by 2020. It would also cut money to Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for the poor, by $370 billion over 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

ABQ Free Press ceases print publication, goes online-only

The ABQ Free Press is ceasing print operations and will go to an online-only format. Jyllian Roach, now the managing editor of FreeABQ.com, made the announcement in a short video on the website. Editor Dan Vukelich told NM Political Report he’s taking a step back from his daily duties, citing “burnout.” Vukelich said they are still figuring out changes to the editorial staff, but that reporter Dennis Domrzalski would remain at the paper. Roach, a former editor of the Daily Lobo and the CNM Chronicle, was the arts and entertainment editor for the Free Press. The staff has been notified of the changes.

Berry admin not worried, but federal funds for ART not set in stone

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s administration is voicing confidence that $50 million in federal funding will come their way to help finance the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project. That’s at least what the city’s Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan said Monday evening at a city council meeting. He mentioned that former President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations include “a $50 million earmark” for the bus rapid transit project and that even though Congress hasn’t approved a budget, the money is still “currently on the legislative docket to be passed.”

ART, now well into construction with torn roads and narrow lanes that hold back traffic in the heart of Central Avenue, is projected to be 10 miles of dedicated lanes in the street for a rapid bus system with 20 stations. The project is slated to be up and running this fall, but it’s drawn controversy among some residents and business owners along the route, who have blamed slow sales on the project’s construction. More controversy came last week when President Donald Trump released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2018, which freezes all funding for a Federal Transit Administration grant program for local public transportation projects—including ART.

ICE enforcement surge makes some ‘live in constant fear’

Every morning before he leaves to go to work, Yalil scans the street outside his home to see if any unusual cars are parked outside. “If it’s something, we do have to plan not to go to work and stay the whole day home,” he said. Yalil’s little brothers, both still in school and born in the United States, are too young to understand why their family needs to be so cautious. But they’re instructed every day to never answer the door, “not even to the missionaries, the people who are talking about God,” Yalil said. “We just let them know they cannot open the door because my dad and my mom could be detained and we might not get to see them again,” he said.

Lujan Grisham calls for congressional hearing on fed sting against alleged ABQ cop shooter

After a year of “stonewalling” by federal law enforcement officials, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling for congressional hearings to get to the bottom of why a man who allegedly shot an Albuquerque police officer to death in 2015 was still on the streets at the time. The fourth-year congresswoman, an Albuquerque-based Democrat who is running for governor of New Mexico, also vowed to sponsor a bill that would require the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other agencies to make regular reports to Congress on their policies for undercover operations and those operations’ outcomes once they’re closed. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and appears on NM Political Report with permission. Lujan Grisham laid out her plans in an interview with New Mexico In Depth after a town hall meeting in Albuquerque on Feb. 25.

‘He Will Not Divide Us’ livestream shut down after reported gunshots

That didn’t take long. Less than a week after artists, including actor Shia LaBeouf, put up an art installation called “He Will Not Divide Us” with a livestream of video, the stream was taken down. LaBeouf announced on Twitter early in the morning Thursday that he and the other two artists behind the installation were taking the livestream offline “after shots were reported in the area.”

An Albuquerque Police Department spokesman says there were gunshots near, but were not connected to the installation. “We had an incident a block away occur however it is NOT connected to the camera being there but may have been the same incident heard on the camera,” Fred Duran said in an email. “We have no proof that it was.”

State Sen. wants parents to have access to investigations into school police

Laura Gutierrez has been trying to get public records from Albuquerque Public Schools for more than a year. In 2014 a school law enforcement officer allegedly used force against her autistic son. APS opened an investigation and soon cleared the officer of any wrongdoing. Gutierrez wants to see all the documents from this investigation. In the fall and winter of 2015, Gutierrez filed four public records requests with APS for the district’s internal investigation of the officer, an employee of the school district.

ABQ Jewish Community Center again part of wave of bomb threats

For the second time in two months, Albuquerque’s Jewish Community Center was targeted with a bomb threat today. It was one of at least 10 bomb threats to different JCCs across the country. Fred Duran, a spokesman with the Albuquerque Police Department, said the bomb threat to the Albuquerque location “came through the phone.” JCC staff evacuated the building after the threat came, and APD officers found no bomb inside, according to Duran. Everything at the JCC is currently operating “back to normal,” Duran added. Similar bomb threats were directed against JCCs today in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, New York and Alabama, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

ABQ Jewish Community Center one of over a dozen targeted with bomb threat

Albuquerque’s Jewish Community Center is functioning back to normal Tuesday afternoon after a scare from a phoned bomb threat. The threat came in a phone call to the JCC earlier in the day, according to Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Simon Drobik. The JCC responded by quickly evacuating staff. “We then sent over the bomb squad and deemed the area safe,” Drobik said. The bomb scare came on the same day threats were made against at least 17 other JCCs in five other states, according to a report in Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Citing right to free speech, UNM president rejects calls to bar provocateur

An online provocateur associated with the “alt-right” will speak at the University of New Mexico this month as originally scheduled, according to UNM acting President Chaouki Abdallah. The “alt right,” an offshoot of right wing ideology that generally embraces racism and white nationalism, leaped into the mainstream last year during Donald Trump’s run for president. In an email to students sent Monday, Abdallah wrote that his decision is meant “to protect the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and in the University’s mission.”

Abdallah’s decision comes as student groups have been pressuring UNM administrators to ban Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus later this week. Yiannopoulos, who writes for Breitbart News, was invited by the UNM College Republicans. Despite being openly gay, Yiannopoulos has argued that gay people should “get back in the closet.” His current speaking tour is called “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.” He’s also made statements like, “I think birth control was a mistake and women are happier in the kitchen” and written articles with headlines like, “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews.”

Last summer, Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter after his followers attacked comedian Leslie Jones.