According to federal monitors, New Mexico has finally seen some relief from a drought that lasted nearly 18 years. Local water expert, former Albuquerque Journal environment reporter and current director of UNM’s water resources academic program John Fleck is excited about the current conditions, but warns they might be the short-lived results of this year’s bountiful monsoon season. Fleck told local media outlets that, “It's a lot warmer, and so for a given amount of rain and snow that falls, less of that ends up in the river. We're clearly seeing a decline in the water supply as a result of climate change in New Mexico—there's no question about that." Fleck argues that despite the higher average rainfall totals this year, the real danger remains rising temperatures. These changes will affect our landscape the science writer argued, telling the press, “One of the things that we're seeing, especially in the forests of northern New Mexico, is a die-off of trees because they're just being hammered by these warmer temperatures.”
McCulloch’s Success Report
Frank McCulloch, the Principal at Albuquerque’s Amy Biel High School has some news for local citizens concerned about the quality of education available at the charter school. Writing in the Albuquerque Journal as a guest columnist, McCulloch characterizes the latest ranking produced by the State of New Mexico Public Education department to be out of sync with the reality of success at the school he directs. The principal notes that although the school has been designated as an “urban, high poverty, high minority school,” data gathered by the state and by the school still indicates success. According to McCulloch, 96 percent of Biel graduates apply to and attend college, and 86 percent of these young scholars are still attending two years later. This is evidence that the school is closing the achievement gap found at some schools that suffer from endemic student poverty, McCulloch concludes.
HUD’s Grant Report
A very harsh federal audit of grants issued to the City of Albuquerque for urban development was recently published. That’s bad news for the city because federal investigators say the city may have to pay back $3 million in federal funds due to problems the audit uncovered. The Inspector General at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded that poor management, in particular the city administration’s inability to “implement an effective grant administration” may result in forfeiture of millions of dollars that were distributed as block grants to the Albuquerque’s Community Development Block Grant Program, which was overseen by our municipality’s Department of Family and Community Services. Department director Douglas Chaplin says he takes the recommendations and conclusions in the report seriously, and will use them to make improvements. Chaplin says that after meeting with HUD over these issues, the government agency will likely give the city time to come into compliance before any bills are sent our way.