This week on New Mexico in Focus, Producer Megan Kamerick speaks with Marina Oborotova of the Albuquerque International Association about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea by Russia and what steps the West should take next to stabilize Ukraine and address actions by President Vladimir Putin.
Correspondent Gwyneth Doland sits down with State Rep. Rick Miera, the Democratic majority leader who announced after the end of this year’s legislative session that he is retiring. Miera has been in the Legislature for 24 years and has pushed forward numerous bills on education and dealing with DWI laws.
The Line opinion panel discusses the protests that erupted recently against the Albuquerque Police Department after officers shot and killed a homeless mentally ill man several weeks ago. APD officers donned riot gear and used tear gas last weekend after protests that started out peacefully became increasingly disruptive. The story has been carried by media around the country and internationally, raising concerns about the impact this could have on Albuquerque’s economy. Mayor Richard J. Berry is pushing for more training funds in the city budget to train APD officers in “de-escalation” practices, and officials with the state’s Law Enforcement Academy are revising parts of the institution’s curriculum in the face of so many officer-involved shootings. Meanwhile, New Mexico State Police have been told by Gov. Susana Martinez’s office to turn over recordings of the shooting that sparked the protests directly to the FBI.
The Line also looks at behavioral health issues in New Mexico. One of the five Arizona companies brought in last year by New Mexico to care for people with mental illness and substance abuse problems announced recently it is cutting salaries for hundreds of employees because it’s losing money. Agave Health Inc. and four other Arizona firms took over mental health services last year following allegations of fraud after an audit commissioned by the Human Services Department. The state suspended Medicaid funding to 15 organizations as a result of the audit, and many went out of business. However, there have been questions about the audit since then and federal officials said in a report that there has been a drop in the number of people receiving services since the Arizona firms took over.
HOST/COMMENTATOR: Gene Grant
Gwyneth Doland, NMiF Correspondent
Megan Kamerick, NMiF Producer
State Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, House Majority Leader
Marina Oborotova, President, Albuquerque International Association
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group
Sophie Martin, Attorney
Rob Nikolewski, Editor, Capitol Report New Mexico/New Mexico Watchdog
Laura Sanchez, New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce
The Producer of NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS is Megan Kamerick. Associate Producer is Kathy Wimmer. Funding for this program was provided in part by the McCune Foundation.
Episode 740 for air April 4, 2014