Reforming the APD: Why is it Taking so Long?

Use of force continues to be an issue with the Albuquerque Police Department. Between 2010 and 2014 APD shot and killed nearly 30 of our fellow citizens. Everything changed on March 16,2014 when video footage captured the police shooting and killing James Boyd, a mentally ill, homeless man, in the back. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice, issued a comprehensive report finding that the APD had a practice of violating a suspect’s civil rights through the unjustified use of lethal force. In response, the City entered into a Federal Court Consent Decree with the DOJ and a Monitor, James Ginger, was appointed to “monitor” APD’s reform. Now, the Monitor has issued his 2nd Report to the Court on this reform, and he is “anything but pleased”. For example, only 8 of 277 reforms have achieved “operational compliance”. Why is progress so slow? Joining host Stephen Spitz to answer this question is former City prosecutor, Public Safety Director, and City Council member Pete Dinelli, who believes that the only way to truly reform the APD is by replacing its top brass. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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Why Our State Falsely Claimed $36 million in Medicaid Fraud

New Mexico’s behavioral health system was upended in 2013 when the Martinez administration froze millions of dollars in payments due 15 behavioral health nonprofits after an audit supposedly raised questions about $36 million in fraudulent Medicaid billings. Now one of the Arizona companies, brought in to replace the nonprofits, after leaving the State in disgust, has charged that the real fraud was committed by the company charged with overseeing and paying for the behavioral health services, United Health Care. Moreover, the nonprofits, which were forced out of business by the freeze, have recently been cleared of fraud by Attorney General Balderas. However, they are still owed millions of dollars and behavioral health services have yet to recover. Joining Host Stephen Spitz to discuss these developments is Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, who has chaired hearings around the State on the controversy. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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Infrastructure Projects based on Needs, not Politics

New Mexico is the only state that divides up its infrastructure budget based on a political formula unrelated to State priorities; one-third of our Capital Outlay budget goes to Senators for earmarking, one-third for House earmarks, and one third is reserved for the Governor. This Friday host Stephen Spitz will sit down with Fred Nathan, founder of the non-profit Think New Mexico, to learn about a House Bill designed to change that. This legislation would establish a planning council to prioritize, vet and monitor the way New Mexico funds its infrastructure projects, which this year will come from about$123 million in severance tax bonds. We will find out how this reform bill fared, what infrastructure projects were actually funded, how these decisions were made, and whether they were in New Mexico’s best interests. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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New Mexico’s 2016 30-day Legislative Session: Will the Governor dominate?

Our 30-day legislative session begins this month with Republicans having the upper hand, namely a Republican Governor, a Republican House, and Democrats holding a shaky majority in the Senate. So will the 2016 Session have a decidedly Republican outcome? Host Stephen Spitz will put this question to Joe Monahan, the author of the State’s go to political blog, New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan. Under discussion will be all major budget items, along with specific legislation, including: 1) repeal of drivers licenses for “illegal” immigrants; 2) anti-crime legislation; and, 3) a proposed Constitutional Amendment which would distribute 1% of New Mexico’s $15 billion Permanent Fund to early childhood programs. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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Early Childhood Programs—Are they worth the Cost?

From reducing crime to increasing educational and economic outcomes, the go-to answer seems to be “early childhood education”. But why, what is the need for outside, early intervention with our young children and is there evidence that home visiting and pre-K programs can accomplish the desired results. We will put these questions to a true expert, Allen Sanchez, the head of Chi St Joseph’s Children, which runs the largest home visiting program in the United States, now in five New Mexico counties. But, what about the rest of the State? Since 80% of New Mexico’s 28,000 births are Medicaid qualified, do New Mexico’s early childhood programs meet our existing needs or do they require additional funding from our $15B Permanent Fund as advocates contend? To learn more about the substance and financing of our early childhood programs please join host Stephen Spitz and guest Allen Sanchez. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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What’s wrong with New Mexico’s economy?

Seven years after the Great Recession our economy, previously a solid performer (2.8% growth in 2007), continues to struggle with very modest growth (1%) forecast for the next five years. Meanwhile, healthcare, and specifically the Medicaid expansion, is one of the few economic bright spots, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the State to provide medical care. But, since there was a doc shortage even before ObamaCare, are Medicaid recipients actually getting the care they need? And, when the Federal share of the Medicaid expansion drops from its current 100% to 90% in 2020, will New Mexico be able to able to afford the bill? Please join host Stephen Spitz and special guest, Dr. Lee Reynis, the former Director of UNM’s Bureau of Economic Research, as we learn why the New Mexico economy continues to underperform and how the Medicaid expansion is working. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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How to Increase Downtown Walkability by Slowing Down Traffic

Following the just completed changes to Albuquerque’s 4th Street Mall downtown, we ask urban designer Jeff Speck what else could be done to make Downtown more vital and pedestrian-friendly? Speck recently prepared a walkability analysis of our Downtown for the City, focused on what he terms the 4 components of walkability, namely is the walk useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting. Those four criteria form the basis for how a relatively small number of planning interventions, mainly slowing down traffic by eliminating and narrowing driving lanes, could influence the livability and vitality of downtown Albuquerque. So, if you are interested in how the heart of Albuquerque’s downtown can be quickly changed, at minimal cost, while still having a major impact on the amount of walking and biking Downtown, please join urban planner Jeff Speck and host Stephen Spitz this Friday morning. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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One of Science’s Greatest Mysteries: How Life on Earth First Started

How and Why Did Life Emerge? New research taking place around the globe—including here in New Mexico—suggests we are getting closer to the answer. An exhibit at our own New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, available on line, (http://nmnaturalhistory.org/emergence-introduction.html), explains how life on Earth may have emerged, transforming a world of inorganic molecules into the first living things. MIT scientist Rogier Braakman, while a fellow at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Institute, was part of a team that consulted on the science behind the Exhibit on the origin of life. It’s a complex, fascinating and amazing series of developments, so please join Dr. Rogier Braakman and host Stephen Spitz to learn what science has to say about one of our greatest mysteries – the origin of life. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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New Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye wins in a Landslide

When the oft-delayed election for Navajo President was finally held, Russell Begaye, a native New Mexican, was the overwhelming winner. Arguing that the Navajo people are tired of the old system, President Begaye’s theme has been the “awakening of a new dawn” for the Nation. The Begaye platform was based on the so-called four pillars: Navajo veterans, infrastructure, Navajo elders/youth, and employment. It’s a forward looking agenda but where is the money going to come from to fulfill these promises in what is widely considered the most impoverished Tribe in the US. President Begaye has already made the rounds in Washington and received very positive responses. But, we all know the Navajo people have heard this before. Host Stephen Spitz will explore this and much more in his exclusive interview newly elected Navajo President Russell Begaye. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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Why New Mexico is #1 in Inequality

Stark and growing income inequality between the richest and poorest Americans has become the #1 issue in the country. You might think that New Mexico’s “inequality gap” would be in the middle of the pack since our overall median income is so low. You would be wrong. According to the latest data from the Center for Budget and Policy the gap between New Mexico’s richest and poorest households is worst in the nation. Why is this and what can be done about it? Joining host Stephen Spitz to delve into our income gap and possible solutions are two genuine experts. UNM Sociology Professor Nancy Lopez is co-founder and co-director of the Institute for the study of Race and Social Justice whose purpose is to ameliorate race-based inequality. UNM Economics Professor Melissa Binder works on income security and poverty in the United States. Produced with assistance of Jefferson White and Lynn Schibeci.

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