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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Hospital physicians seek to unionize amid pandemic turmoil

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Physicians at Rehoboth McKinley Christian hospital in Gallup have taken the first major step toward unionizing to pursue collective bargaining on employment provisions. Union of American Physicians and Dentists spokeswoman Sue Wilson said Tuesday that a majority of the roughly 30 physicians at the hospital have signed and submitted union authorization cards to the National Labor Relations Board. The push to unionize follows both financial turmoil and harrowing encounters with COVID-19 at the hospital on the edge of the Navajo Nation. Hospital spokeswoman Ina Burmeister said notice of union organization was received late Tuesday and is being evaluated.

  • New Mexico diocese to sell off properties in online auction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Archdiocese of Santa Fe will be auctioning nearly 140 parcels of property next month as it seeks to settle a raft of sex abuse claims. Church officials announced Tuesday that an online auction will begin Sept. 21. Opening bids will start as low as $500. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2018 to deal with a surge of claims. A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled last October that lawyers for survivors could file lawsuits alleging that the archdiocese fraudulently transferred millions of dollars in property and other assets to avoid bigger payouts. That decision opened the door to what could result in a massive payout by the archdiocese.

  • Navajo Nation reports 16 new COVID-19 cases, 1 more death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 16 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's pandemic totals to 31,666 cases and 1,384 known deaths. Based on cases from July 23 to Aug. 5, the Navajo Department of Health has issued a health advisory notice for 19 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • Retired court justice to take reins of child welfare agency

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The head of New Mexico's foster care and child welfare system has been replaced by a retired state Supreme Court justice. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday that Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Brian Blalock is stepping down. Retired Justice Barbara J. Vigil will take charge Oct. 1. Lujan Grisham highlighted Vigil's roots in the community as a native of New Mexico and her past work on juvenile justice policy and child wellbeing. New Mexico has reduced a backlog of investigations into child neglect reports, while Blalock's tenure also was marred by concerns about the agency's use of an auto-deleting messaging app.

  • New Mexico hospital officials push for more vaccinations

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Top officials with New Mexico's largest hospitals are making another plea for more people to get vaccinated. They said during a briefing Tuesday that they want to avoid the staffing and bed shortages that hospitals in other states are seeing as COVID-19 cases rise nationwide. Officials with University of New Mexico Hospital, Lovelace Health System and Presbyterian Healthcare Services said they already are full with patients needing care for other illnesses and medical needs. They are worried that if the latest surge worsens, resources could be be stretched thin again. While most patients needing hospitalization for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, they noted that about 7% had received their shots.

  • Legal group backs US review of Indigenous boarding schools

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The American Bar Association's policymaking body is supporting the U.S. Interior Department as it works to uncover the troubled legacy of federal boarding schools that sought to assimilate Indigenous youth into white society. The resolution was adopted Monday at the bar association's annual meeting. It calls for the Biden administration and Congress to fully fund the initiative and provide subpoena power to the Interior Department as it gathers and reviews reams of records related to the schools. The resolution stems from a recent visit by the association's president to the Navajo Nation, where she met with tribal officials and members of Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

  • Navajo Nation reports 6 COVID deaths; 1st deaths in 9 days

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Monday reported 15 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths. It marked the first time in nine days that the tribe reported any coronavirus-related deaths. The latest numbers pushed the Navajo Nation's pandemic totals to 31,650 cases and 1,383 known deaths. Based on cases from July 23 to Aug. 5, the Navajo Department of Health issued a health advisory notice for 19 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • Prosecutors offer plea deal to Cowboys for Trump founder

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have offered a confidential plea agreement to Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin that might resolve misdemeanor criminal charges against him linked to the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. The proposed pleading for the county commissioner from New Mexico was discussed Monday at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington. Griffin still denies federal charges that he knowingly entered barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds with the intent of disrupting government as Congress considered Electoral College results. Griffin reached an outside terrace of the Capitol without entering the building and used a bullhorn to try to lead a tumultuous crowd in prayer.