Group wants to feed bears in Sandia Mountains

From - Members of the Sandia Mountain Bear Watch want to put out food in the mountains to help the animals survive. — An organization is calling the bear population in New Mexico a crisis situation. "We've got a big problem. I think we are on the verge of losing our bear population in the Sandia," said Jan Hayes, of Sandia Mountain Bear Watch.
     Hayes believes the drought plays a big role. "When it gets to this point, we don't believe there is anything here for them to eat. That's why everyone is seeing bears," said Hayes.
     Hayes is going straight to the governor and asking that the Department of Fish and Game start giving the bears supplemental food. "What will help is diversionary feeding. That means to divert them away from the homes, and just to feed them to get them over this starvation hump," said Hayes.
     The Department of Fish and Game does not support supplemental feeding of wildlife. Officials said they are concerned that supplemental feeding is not a long-term solution. Read more

ABQ Mayor looking into homophobic bus incident

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Albuquerque’s mayor is ordering an official inquiry into a strange incident on an airport shuttle bus involving a driver who ordered a gay couple to sit in the back of the bus. 
The story is getting national attention. The couple’s offense? They were holding hands. Now the two men, from Portland, Oregon, are considering legal action.
 It happened June 28 aboard a Standard Parking shuttle bus at the Sunport. The driver told the Alibi weekly newspaper that he didn’t want women and children to see the couple’s “inappropriate” behavior. 
Mayor Richard Berry says the driver was the one who was inappropriate.
Berry says this does not reflect Albuquerque, New Mexico, and as the mayor he’s upset about it and wants to make sure they get to the bottom of it. 
Standard Parking is a private business working under a vendor contract with the city. The company has issued a public apology to the gay couple. 
The driver has been suspended since early July.


State to see food assistance cuts

This fall, hundreds of thousands of New Mexico residents could see a cut in their food assistance benefits. 
The USDA released data showing 442,000 residents would be impacted when a temporary boost to a supplemental nutrition assistance program, known as SNAP (formerly food stamps), expires this fall. 
Across the country, an estimated 47 million Americans will see a reduction in their benefits. 
According to New Mexico Voices for Children, 42 percent of the state's children are on food stamps. The news comes on the heels of another report by Feeding America that found New Mexico has the highest rate of child hunger in the nation. 
When the benefit boost expires on Oct. 31, NM Voices for Children says a family of three would see a reduction of $29 a month, averaging less than $1.40 per person per meal.


NMSU Pres. wants alcohol at Pam American Center

New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers is voicing support for the possibility of selling beer and wine during sports events at the Las Cruces school's Pan American Center
According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, that possibility is expected to be up for discussion this fall. 
Carruthers says selling beer and wine at the center would be a good revenue-maker for NMSU and shouldn't have a downside if handled appropriately.
 On the other hand, Carruthers says he'd oppose alcohol sales at Aggie Memorial Stadium. He says that's because the university would be liable if people who drink while tailgating before the game purchase a single drink inside the stadium. 
The Pan American Center is the venue for NMSU home basketball and volleyball games as well as special events.


NM health providers lose appeal

Behavioral health providers under investigation for possible overbilling, mismanagement and fraud have lost an appeal of a court ruling that allows New Mexico to continue to withhold Medicaid payments.
 The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday dismissed the appeal by eight nonprofit providers. A federal judge in Albuquerque last month denied the providers' request for an order stopping the state from freezing payments for mental health and substance abuse services.
 A lawyer for the providers said the lawsuit against the state remains pending in district court. 
A legislative committee last week sent a letter to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department seeking assurances that New Mexico won't lose Medicaid funding.