Friday, September 25, 2009

Albuquerque Radio Station Wins Top Marconi Award

770KKOB AM, the radio station where I work as a political reporter, and which began as a student run radio station in Las Cruces, picked up the top Marconi Award, which is similar to a TV Emmy, last night in Philadelphia, at a National Broadcasters Association Radio Show ceremony, hosted by Laura Ingraham.

770KKOB is being honored as "Legendary Station of the Year."

"The Legendary Station Marconi represents 87 years of KKOB's service not only to Albuquerque, but to the entire state of New Mexico," General Manager Milt McConnell said while accepting the award. "This recognizes that KKOB-AM is the ‘GO TO’ station when it comes to important news, information and public service to our community.”

KKOB was nominated, in July, along with four other radio stationsfrom around the country, including KQRS-FM in Minneapolis, WGY-AM in Albany, NY, WMJX-FM in Boston, and WSBT AM in South Bend.

Established in 1989 and named after inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, the NAB Marconi Radio Awards are given to radio stations and outstanding on-air personalities to recognize excellence in radio.

And, Legendary it is.

Over the years News Radio 770 KKOB has become one of the most honored ratio stations in the country. For it’s commitment to local, state and regional issues and interests KKOB has won two Marconi “Station of the Year” Awards from the National Association of Broadcasters. KKOB is one of only thirty-two stations nationwide to be honored more than once.

KKOB’s news and programming has earned countless other national and local awards in recognition of its contributions to the community.

Just last month, the New Mexico Broadcaster's Association honored News Director Pat Allen as Newscaster of the year. Craig Kennedy was honored for outstanding news coverage of a single-topic story, and the morning News Team, with Larry Moehlenbrink, Judith Jenkins, and Peter St. Cyr was recognized as the top newscast.

View the station's photo-illustrated history online.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Unemployment Rates Still Headed Up in NM

New Mexico's unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent in August, up from a 7 percent rate in July and 4.3 percent in August 2008.

The national unemployment rate in August was 9.7 percent. The state's labor department, the Department of Workforce Solutions, says New Mexico has lost 30,900 jobs over the year.

The agency says the state's job growth is at a 65-year low. The decline in the number of jobs in the state is the worst since January 1944.

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Less Splish More Splash

From the morning pile:

Bernalillo County has completely retrofitted their facilities with low water use toilets and fixtures.

“This is part of the Water Conservation Plan for County Facilities that was developed as a means for the County to set a good example for the public and reduce our own use,” says Commission Chair Alan B. Armijo, who running for Albuquerque City Council in District 3.

A total of 580 toilets were replaced with high efficiency or low flow toilets, 700 low flow faucet aerators were installed as well as 220 low flow shower heads, and 50 low flow urinals installed. It took more than two years to complete the retrofits in all of the County’s facilities.

All of this will save almost 4 million gallons of water per year (3,936,890 gallons/year) and we believe that is a conservative estimate. Total cost of the project was $171,250, and after the $77,000 in rebates are applied that total cost will drop to $94,250.

More water could be saved after the Water Resources and Parks Management group completes its plan to Xeriscape outdoor areas.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Udall Highlights Cost of Inaction on Health Care Reform

On Wednesday, as the Senate Finance Committee continued marking up Max Baucus' legislation to reform health insurance, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, joined eight fellow freshman senators on the floor of the U.S. Senate to highlight the high cost of inaction on health insurance reform.

“Health insurance reform is one of the defining challenges of our time. Every person in our country has a stake in what we do at this moment, in this place,” Udall said. “And while there are a lot of proposals out there, there is one thing we know for sure: Maintaining the status quo is not an option.”

Udall said a new report released last week that found family health insurance premiums have already increased by about 5 percent in 2009, and over the past decade have gone up 131 percent.

Udall said he believes failure to act on health insurance reform would mean:

  • The number of uninsured Americans would increase from more than 46 million in 2008 to more than 53 million in 2019.
  • U.S. spending on health care would climb from almost $2.4 trillion in 2008 to almost $4.3 trillion in 2017.
  • Insurance companies would continue to profit at the expense of America’s health and America’s pocketbooks.

“If we do nothing, if we maintain status quo, more Americans will be uninsured or under-insured. More Americans will become sick. More will die because of lack of care. And more families will experience financial ruin,” Udall said.

In New Mexico, nearly one-in-four residents lack health insurance, making it the second-highest uninsured state in the nation. During the last two years, 709,000 New Mexicans under age 65 went without health insurance for some time – which is 41.4 percent of the under 65 population.

The other freshman senators participating in the floor remarks on health care reform were: Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Roland Burris (D-IL), and Kay Hagan (D-NC).

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do Secret Video Tapes Reveal Mayoral Retaliation?

Photo by: MG Bralley
As you've probably already heard before, former Albuquerque Police Officer John Bode, who currently owns and operates Bode Aviation and Bode Aero at Double Eagle Airport, is suing Mayor Martin Chávez and the City of Albuquerque, because a contract negotiated between him and the city was never signed and returned to him.

Bode has claimed City Hall has deliberately delayed signing his contract because he refused to offer the mayor free flights, both for the city and for the Chávez for U.S. Senate campaign, and because he raised concerns about safety at the airport and questioned federal grant money spending on a long-delayed airport tower. And because he refused to donate to some of Chávez' favorite charities, including the Boo Ball.

Now, one of Chávez' opponents, Richard Romero, has released video surveillance tapes made during the contract negotiations. Last month, Albuquerque Journal City Hall Reporter Dan McKay reported on the tapes.

Watch them and judge them for yourself here.

Bode Surveillance- Long Version from Richard M. Romero on Vimeo.

These compiled surveillance tapes are mentioned by Bode, during his deposition, by City Attorneys ahead of a federal trial. The videos were also released to 770KKOB after a request for inspection of public records.

The Journal's McKay reported:
The recordings show a series of meetings in 2007 and 2008 between the plaintiffs and city officials in a Bode conference room at Double Eagle. The room had surveillance cameras because it's part of an airport.

Bode has also said there's a sign notifying people of the surveillance and that the cameras' operation is routine. His attorney said the cameras are visible.

Bode's suit alleges the City of Albuquerque stalled and manipulated an extension of his fixed based operator's contract at Double Eagle II Airport.

Bode has said the tapes prove mayoral retaliation. Bode contends Chávez is solely responsible for stifling the contract process.

The mayor has said that he's reviewing all city contracts and will not offer any long-term, no bid contracts.

*The female voice on the tape has been wrongly identified as Cara McNitch(sic), the female voice is actually Christine Pica, a partner at Bode Aero Services.

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"Sunset" Clause Resolution May Not Be Binding on Transporation Infastructure Tax

Last night, Albuquerque City Councilors approved a resolution, which stipulates a 10 -year expiration date on a proposed one-quarter cent Transportation Infrastructure Tax, unless re-approved by voters in 2019.

Councilors passed the resolution because the current language, printed on the city's municipal election ballot, does not reflect an expiration date.

770KKOB Morning Show Host Bob Clark says he thinks the councilor's resolution may be meaningless.

District 5 City Councilor Michael Cadigan, who's running for re-election himself, told Clark, in an email, that he believes the council's resolution is valid, because councilors already have the authority to impose taxes and can limit them in time.

In his email to Clark, Cadigan writes that he would not support raising or extending a tax without a public vote. He says, however:
The 10 year limit is not; however binding on future city councils. A future city council could extend the tax without voter approval, as the Mayor sought to do last year. So, even if the ballot measure (which was written by the Administration) had said the tax ends in 10 years, the Council could, in theory, vote at a later time to impose a new tax beyond the 10 years.
The current transportation tax had a clearly written sunset clause. It expires in December.

We checked the city clerk's website and found the current proposal online. There is no language mandating a 10-year limit.

Mayor Chavez, who a court toss term limits for the Mayor's office last year, has said the tax is needed to continue to build and maintain the city's tranpsortation city, including new bike trails. The measure does not authorize any money for light rail or trolley systems.

Albuquerque Journal Reporter Dan McKay check with the city attorney's office. This morning he write,
City Attorney Bob White said there is no legal problem with putting a 10-year limit on the tax this year, even though that language doesn't appear on the ballot. He said that, even if voters approve, the council has to pass an ordinance enacting the tax, so putting the deadline in that legislation is fine.
Revenue generated from tax would be dedicated to specific transportation projects including 31% for road rehabilitation, 15% for road deficiencies, 13% for road maintenance, 5% for trails and bikeways, and 36% for transit buses.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Attorney General Targets Environmental Crimes


One of the most important jobs I have as Attorney General is to help protect, preserve and enhance New Mexico’s environment, water and natural resources. This is accomplished through litigation, cooperative efforts with stakeholders and enforcement of environmental laws. Many of these laws impose criminal penalties on conduct that presents a serious harm or risk of harm to human health and the environment.

To help protect New Mexico families, I am pleased to report that we are beefing up the public education and outreach efforts of the Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) within our Water, Environment & Utilities Division. This unit is dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and ensuring that those who violate them are held accountable.

We are providing several ways for the public to help report violations to the ECU. These tips are important and could prove valuable to the ECU as it investigates and helps prosecute violations of New Mexico's environmental protection statutes. Additionally, a new publication is in the works that provides information about environmental crimes and how to report them. This new tri-fold brochure will be available to the public and other governmental agencies. The following is some of the information that will be contained in the publication.

New Mexico is a large state and just learning about potential environmental law violations can be a difficult task. That is where you come in...with the help of the general public, the ECU can cover a lot of ground throughout the state.

What Are Environmental Crimes?

Air Pollution: burning of commercial or industrial waste; release of hazardous substances into the air; illegal removal of asbestos from buildings.

Hazardous Waste: improper storage, disposal, or transfer of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste can generally be described as any material that threatens public safety and the environment. It includes degreasers, acids, metals, paint waste, solvents, cyanides and pesticides.

Water Pollution: discharge of waste into streams, rivers, lakes, including farm drainage and waste generated by construction sites and factories.
Solid Waste: improper dumping of large quantities of garbage or refuse

What to Look For:

  • Containers or drums that appear to be abandoned (for example you find them in a forest, along a roadside or otherwise in a place where it appears they do not belong), especially if they are corroded or leaking.
  • Dead fish in streams or waterways, particularly if the water appears to contain foreign substances (such as detergent, bleach, chemicals or has a strange color).
  • Dead animals alongside a river bank or in a field.
  • Discolored and/or stressed, dying plant life.
  • Visible sheens on the ground or in the water.
  • Foul smelling or oddly colored discharges onto the ground or into a stream or waterway.
  • Foul smelling or strange looking emissions into the air.
  • Pipes or valves that would allow for discharge from a plant that appear hidden.
  • A truck dumping materials into a manhole or sewer drain.
  • A person burying drums on business or residential property.

There is more information on our Web site about examples of environmental crimes, what steps you should take to report suspected violations and some cautionary measures to be taken by anyone who encounters potential environmental waste contamination.

With the help of citizens who report environmental crimes to our ECU and the new publication, the Attorney General's Office can better protect New Mexico and work to keep it forever, The Land of Enchantment. Thank you.

Gary K. King
New Mexico Attorney General


The Environmental Crimes Unit has established ways for you to report suspected environmental crimes:

Environmental Crimes Telephone Tipline: (505) 827-6629

Environmental Crimes E-mail:

Fill out an on-line form.

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