A Not-So-Modest Proposal
Asenath Kepler has vowed, in a sort-of white paper (19k .pdf) released on Nov. 12, that she will reclaim Santa Fe's lost sense of family "as a candidate for Mayor."
We don't even have to elect her—she's going to do that just as a candidate. I guess we'd better make sure she gets the required signatures to be on the ballot.
Kepler's copyrighted white paper, "Affordable Housing Opportunities & Options: A Sense of Family," proposes that affordable housing is at the core of many of Santa Fe's woes and that resolving related issues will be like planting a magic bean that alters the civic ecosystem for the better.
I couldn't agree more. I also agree entirely with Kepler's sense that Santa Fe needs to promote infill, plan according to "smart growth" principles, build grassroots engagement with city planning and strategies, and end the incessant infighting at City Hall. What I'm not convinced of is that Kepler's plan would look any different in practice than what's happening currently. Former Mayor—and Kepler supporter—Debbie Jaramillo recently cautioned that it takes a mayor and "at least four city councilors" with a common vision to get much of anything done around here. True enough, which makes me wonder: Why do people who are sick of the stalled progress bred by infighting set themselves up in adversarial positions?
If you care about the city, why not work with different constituencies to align priorities and develop mutually beneficial action plans? I suppose that's what everyone believes they're going to do—just as soon as they wrest power and control from the other guy.
Kepler also spoke at length, when she released the white paper, about how neighborhood youth centers will be at the core of forging a new sense of neighborhood pride and involvement.
To me, this indicates the fantasy element involved in the idea of "the way it used to be." In fact, the way it used to be was never that great—if the older generation was really so wholesome and cared about youth and families, how'd they raise all of us to be such a bunch of screwups? Right now, Santa Fe has excellent youth centers that draw youth from all over the city into common, shared spaces. Neighborhood-specific youth centers might mean neighborhood pride, but they usually mean a sense of territory.
Stronger neighborhoods? Yes. The way it used to be? Not so much, please.
In Need of a Trim
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced last week his intention to permanently remove 1,000 of the current 2,900 unfilled jobs at the state. It's a good move, because if there's anything that's endemic to New Mexico bureaucracies—from the municipal to the state level—it's duplication of effort, redundancy of duties and very dead weight. It's going to be a good haircut, but what about trimming some actual fat, like bloated governor-appointed positions?
I hate to beat an overpaid horse, but the people of New Mexico still have no clue what the New Mexico Film Museum is doing for any of us. Executive Director Sharon Maloof is paid a celluloid layer less than $100,000 per year, which she earns, near as I can tell, by having good hair. She's not a film historian or a filmmaker or a film curator or a film anything—she's a transfer from the Department of Tourism. Presumably she and her hair keep a shiny veneer on New Mexico's film industry—an activity that may have its economic merits but one that is hardly justifiable under the Legislature's decree to create the Film Museum as a cultural resource and amenity.
The "museum" is housed in the former Jean Cocteau cinema, which Trans-Lux closed after it was scandalously passed over as a potential builder/operator of the Railyard theater complex. And, um, look where snubbing Trans-Lux got us: an unfinished Railyard, a shaky company looking for city financing of its development scheme [News, Oct. 21: "Get the Picture?"] and a beloved cinema inhabited by a so-called museum that behaves more like a marketing tool for industry.
It was great that the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute film series screened at the Film Museum this past year, but Santa Fe Film Festival Executive Director John Bowman's recent announcement that the Film Festival could not maintain weekly screenings at the museum because "the arrangement didn't work financially" suggests that public service may not be at the core of the museum's—or Maloof's—motives.
We (usually) staff the state's other museums with professionals in the field. It's a frank embarrassment to run the museum flag over something that is clearly a smokescreen for something else entirely. True, there's no programming budget for the museum—but we could create a modest one real quick by hiring an exceptional film talent to direct the museum for $40,000 a year, thus freeing up $58,000 from Maloof's salary for programming. I'll bet such a person would have little trouble mixing with industry types as well—and I would imagine we could narrow the position to candidates with good hair if that proved genuinely necessary.
A Not-So-Modest Proposal