Author Archives: Stephen Spitz

Mariel Nanasi derails PNM merger

In 2020 PNM and Avangrid, an energy company with utilities and generation facilities in 24 states, announced their intentions to merge. The $8.3B purchase is worth a very healthy 20 times PNM’s projected earnings and would result in a hefty $713 million cash buyout to PNM shareholders.  PNM would then become a subsidiary of Avangrid, which is itself a subsidiary of Iberdrola, a Spanish company worth $85B, and one of the largest energy companies in the world. One lawyer stood in the way, Mariel Nanasi of New Energy Economy; 23 other parties, including the NM AG, Hector Balderas, did not. In December the NM Public Regulation Commission (PRC) sided with Nanasi.

On this month’s show host Stephen Spitz sits down with Mariel Nanasi to find out how a single lawyer obtained such an outsized victory and whether she is right on the merits.

Produced with assistance of Elias Henry, Roman Garcia and Lynn Schibeci

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Don Hancock on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Joining host Stephen Spitz this month is Don Hancock, Director of the Nuclear Waste Program for the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC). We will discuss the proposed expansion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico. WIPP is the nation’s only deep geologic long-lived radioactive waste repository.

Its mission is to dispose of transuranic waste 2,150 feet underground in an ancient salt formation. This waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, and other debris contaminated with trace amounts of radioisotopes. The Energy Department intends to dramatically enlarge this mission with the disposal of plutonium left over from the Cold War. Mr. Hancock and the SRIC oppose this change as dangerous and inconsistent with WIPP’s state certifications. We will explore the basis for this opposition and ask how and where the plutonium should be disposed.

Produced with assistance of Tristan Clum, Roman Garcia and Lynn Schibeci

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I’m Possible by UNM Professor Richard Antoine White

Growing up in Baltimore, UNM Music Professor Richard Antoine White did his best to care for his mother, who was battling alcoholism, while experiencing homelessness and hunger. Searching for his mother one night resulted in a near death experience in the snow and being taken in by his adoptive grandparents. Under the care of his adoptive family, White discovered his purpose and passion for music and began his journey to musical success.

On this month’s show Dr. White joins host Stephen Spitz to discuss his new memoir, I’m Possible, which recounts how he went from the streets of Baltimore to becoming the first Black musician to earn a doctorate in Tuba Performance and the principal tubist for the New Mexico Philharmonic.

Produced with assistance of Elias Henry, Roman Garcia and Lynn Schibeci

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Drug Addiction and Criminal Justice

How should our criminal justice system deal with crimes committed by substance abusers? 

Our guest, UNM Sociology Professor Noah Painter Davis, is presently studying drug diversion and parole/probation programs in NM. The promise of these programs is that we can both help the offender and stop the revolving door by treating the underlying substance use disorder. However, such treatment programs have a relapse rate of 40-60% even in the general population. Do these programs actually reduce crime?

Host Stephen Spitz will raise this as well as the success rate and cost of different diversion, prison, and re-entry programs.

Produced with assistance of Roman Garcia and Lynn Schibeci

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Dr. Paul Guerin, Homelessness in Albuquerque

What should the approach be to increasing homelessness in Albuquerque?

UNM’s Paul Guerin is the Director of the Center for Applied Research and Analysis and one of the author’s of a definitive study, demonstrating that for vulnerable Albuquerquians, “housing first” saves money.

Host Stephen Spitz will question how admittedly higher housing costs can be outweighed by fewer emergency room visits, prison time, and extended hospital stays. We will then look into whether the new Gibson Shelter fits with this model. Finally, a significant number of our low wage workers are homeless or are rent burdened. This is because of an increasing shortage of affordable housing.

We will examine how, if at all, this can be addressed.

Produced with assistance of Roman Garcia and Lynn Schibeci

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APD Police Chief Harold Medina, Record Homicides

Homicides in Albuquerque have soared and will likely double the high rate of 2020. But is crime really out of control? After all, the homicide rate has dramatically increased in most cities during the Pandemic. And what does the data show with regard to other violent crimes and property crimes?

Host Stephen Spitz will put these questions to newly appointed APD Police Chief Harold Medina. Other subjects will include APD’s lack of progress, according to the Court Monitor, on complying with the DOJ’s consent decree, the failure to increase the police force as the City promised, and the impact of the George Floyd protests on policing.

Produced with assistance of Tristan Clum and Lynn Schibeci

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Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Sandra Postel

Corrales resident Sandra Postel is the winner of the Stockholm Water Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for water. We are honored that she will be our guest.

Host Stephen Spitz will begin the discussion with Ms. Postel’s latest book, Replenish—the Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity. Further discussion will include: will there be enough fresh water for the ever growing world population and what is the outlook for New Mexico and the Western United States? All this and much more, with special guest Sandra Postel.

Produced with assistance of Tristan Clum and Lynn Schibeci

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Three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser Dead at 87

Bobby Unser, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and part of the only pair of brothers to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” has died at his home in Albuquerque. He was 87. In April 2010 host Stephen Spitz had the chance to sit down with Bobby Unser.

If you are interested in what it is like to first take the track at Indianapolis at speeds over 200 mph, while the owner of a million-dollar car nervously watches a rookie driver immediately go for top speeds, then you must hear Bobby tell the story of his initial attempts to qualify for the 500. We will also ask Bobby what it is about this family –individually or collectively– that makes it the most successful family in racing if not in all of sports. (Besides Bobby and Al, Al, Jr. has won Indy twice and two other family members have competed an additional seven times in the 500.)

Produced with assistance of Tristan Clum, John Burgund and Lynn Schibeci

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Representative Javier Martinez: From Juarez to Santa Fe

Albuquerque, South Valley, representative Javier Martinez has become one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, legislator in Santa Fe. On this month’s show Representative Martinez joins host Stephen Spitz to discuss his journey from his childhood home in Juarez, Mexico, to an organizer in Albuquerque’s South Valley, and then on to our Legislature.

Among other things we will discuss Representative Martinez’s sponsorship of the two most contested actions in the 2021 Session: tapping our $ 22B Permanent Fund to expand early childhood education and legalizing marijuana.

Produced with assistance of Tristan Clum and Lynn Schibeci

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Has a dramatic swing to the Left in the NM State Senate altered NM politics for years to come?

In June 2020 it was front-page headlines that two long-time Senate leaders, both conservative Democrats, had lost primary election bids along with two of their colleagues. Then in the November general election, three progressive Democrats won seats formerly occupied by Senate Republicans.

The person widely credited for these progressive victories is former State Senator Eric Griego, head of the NM Working Families Party. How and why did this happen, did it impact the 2021 Legislative Session, and what are the long-term prospects? Host Stephen Spitz will put these and related questions to Senator Eric Griego on this month’s show.

Produced with assistance of Tristan Clum and Lynn Schibeci

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