Today's News

  • Fake news: An old problem is new again

    Despite what some may think, fake news is not something new to the 21st Century. Then again, neither is the best way to combat fake news.

    The unfortunate twist is that the lack of use of the latter is allowing the former to rage out of control.
    Journalist and author James McGrath Morris discussed that matter Monday night at the monthly meeting of Voices of Los Alamos.

    An audience of approximately 70 people met at the Unitarian Church to hear Morris speak on the topic of “Journalism Ethics and the War over Fake News: A Guide for Citizens Wanting to be Media Literate.”

    He said the status of fake news today is as big an issue as it was back in the dawn of newspapers.

    “It is a seismic tremor comparable to that in the 19th century when the modern mass media emerged from the debris in that we’re going through a period of immense change in journalism,” he said. “And what will come out of it we don’t know.”

    Morris said there’s a “huge danger” in fake news today.

    "The fact that people are ready to believe what you and I know is not real news, and a large part of the population is believing it, undermines your work as a journalist and undermines our work as citizens because what can we trust?" he said.

  • LANL Coalition in disaray after audit

    Los Alamos Monitor

    As of today, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities may be operating without an executive director.

    The contract with Executive Director Andrea Romero officially expired today, leaving the regional group without someone at the helm.

    Meanwhile, the coalition remains entangled in an organizational mess and seeking legal advice following an internal audit completed earlier this month that uncovered questionable expenditures made by Romero.

    The internal audit was published by Los Alamos County Feb. 21 was prompted by a complaint by a state group seeking information on travel expenditures.

    During a review of the audit Monday, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities was told it never had the authority to hire Executive Director Andrea Romero, and her supporting staff through Romero’s consulting company, Andrea Romero Consulting. 

    The audit of the travel expenditures was prompted by a complaint from Northern New Mexico Protects, which requested the organization’s internal emails and receipts for examination. The audit found Romero spent $1,850 on a dinner in Washington, D.C., $307 for a dozen Major League Baseball ticke

    ts and other gatherings where alcohol was purchased.

  • Utility reaches agreement in Texas over proposed wind farms

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A utility has reached an agreement with rural electric cooperatives and others as it looks for regulatory approval to build two massive wind farms along the Texas-New Mexico border.

    Xcel Energy on Tuesday announced the proposed deal with several parties in Texas, which would guarantee customers see a positive net benefit from the wind farms for the first 10 years of operation. The agreement also caps related construction costs that could be recovered through customer rates.

    A similar agreement was reached in recent months with the New Mexico attorney general's office, consumer advocates and others in New Mexico. It's now up to utility regulators in both states to approve the $1.6 billion project. Final decisions could come as early as March.

    Xcel officials say the proposed wind farms would take advantage of what has become the least expensive generating resource in the region to reduce fuel costs and ultimately save customers money on their monthly bills.

    "We know these projects will deliver lower-cost electricity, protect the environment and stimulate local economic development," David Hudson, Xcel's New Mexico and Texas president, said in a statement.

  • Police ID victims found near roadside as missing roommates

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police say the two people whose bodies were found near a rural New Mexico roadside have been identified as a 70-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman who had been renting a room from him in Albuquerque.
    Both Eugene Carrell Ray and Zakaria Fry were reported missing last month.

    Officer Simon Drobik confirmed Tuesday that the roommates were the two victims who authorities say were found last week in Stanton, a small town in southern Santa Fe County and more than 40 miles east of Albuquerque.

    Fry, a transgender woman, previously was known as Zackary Fry.

    Albuquerque police have taken over as the lead agency on the case, which is being investigated as a homicide.

  • Interim university president to return to provost job

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The acting and then interim president of the University of New Mexico will return to his former post as the new president enters the office.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports Chaouki Abdallah will return to his job as university provost when Garnett Stokes assumes the presidency Thursday.

    The university honored Abdallah for his contributions in the top role with a reception Monday. The regents also recognized his work by officially naming him the 22nd university president earlier this month.

    The board of regents selected Abdallah to take over the presidency after former university President Bob Frank left the position in December 2016.

    Abdallah says he is happy to return to "the heart of the university," a role that he considers to be possibly the most vital.

  • BPU has doubts about nuclear power project

    Some members of the Board of Public Utilities voiced doubt about a possible investment in a small-scale nuclear power project Wednesday during a meeting with the Department of Public Utilities.

    The meeting was a preview of a joint public meeting the board will have about the project with the County Council at 6 p.m. March 6 at the county Municipal Building. 

    The board was expecting answers about what the risk would be to the county if the project went sour.

    The project is proposed and designed by Nuscale and consists of 12 50-megawatt light water, nuclear reactor modules. The units would be installed in Idaho.

    The Board of Public Utilities is expected make a decision about whether to invest $500,000 in the project in late March.
    BPU member Stephen McLin wanted to know why they haven’t given them more definite answers, since the initial Jan. 25 meeting explaining the project.

  • N.M. threatens funding over 4-day school schedules

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico is threatening to cut off funding at public schools that try to switch to a four-day week as the practice has spread to more than four in 10 school districts across the state.

    State lawmakers this month placed a moratorium on additional four-day school scheduling within a general fund spending bill that has yet to be signed by the governor.

    Education officials and legislators say it’s not clear that student academics and working families are helped by fewer, longer school days, even as teachers and administrators embrace compressed schedules.

    School administrators in far-flung districts have pushed back, noting that four-day weeks have become a tool for attracting teachers who can improve academic results at schools with limited financial resources.

    “They shouldn’t be telling us how to structure our day,” said Ron Hendrix, superintendent of Socorro Consolidated Schools, a cluster of six public schools with 1,500 students in central New Mexico. Socorro school board members are scheduled to vote Monday on switching to a four-day week.

    “I know how to get student achievement, just let me loose,” said Hendrix, who said he previously improved student test scores while moving to a four-day week at another New Mexico school district.

  • LAPS board briefed about Chamisa

    The Los Alamos School Board paid a visit to Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock Thursday, with policy updates and a report from the school’s principal among the items on the agenda of the work session.

    Chamisa Principal Suzanne Lynne briefed the board on some of the many things going on at the school, including updates on reading program milestones, the third-graders’ pen pal program and the school garden.

    Lynne was also pleased to announce that 70 percent of the Chamisa students will be proficient in math for the state-mandated Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers test and that 70 percent will also be proficient on the PARCC English Language Arts test.

    Later in the meeting Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Accountability Kelly Taylor presented the latest policy changes ,as part of the ongoing process of keeping the district’s policies current.

    “We have a three-year review cycle of all board policies,” Taylor explained after the meeting. “I go through and make initial changes and recommendations based on input from anyone else whose job is directly guided by that policy. Then I present both the policy and the regulations to the board for a first reading.”

  • Picture Perfect
  • Whitehead aims to bring respect to sheriff’s office

    If he’s elected to become the next sheriff of Los Alamos County, James Whitehead, a Republican, plans to restore dignity and respect to the office that he says it deserves.

    Whitehead has declared his intention to run for the office of sheriff of Los Alamos County. Independent Greg White and Libertarian Chris Luchini. Sheriff Marco Lucero is unable to run for a third term.

    Whitehead discussed his priorities for the office with the Los Alamos Monitor this week. He said other issues, including the sheriff’s office’ entire staff and most of its services the county and the council took away from the office in its efforts to reduce costs, he’s confident the courts will eventually restore. Whitehead said he expects a lengthy appeals process from the county though.

    “Unfortunately, the county has inexhaustible resources and they’re using funds generated from the taxpayers of this county to fight the will the citizens of this county,” he said.