News, February 7: “Lopsided Enrollment”
Keep the Buildings
No matter which school is considered for closing, I believe that closing a school and replacing it by building another creates tremendous losses in long-term costs, compared to changing bus routes to deliver kids to different schools and changing the current use of the facility. Land and building costs will go up, as well as the disruption of everyone's attention from other important school issues. Those additional costs by closing and later rebuilding are much better spent on current school expenses, be they teacher salaries, building repair and upgrade, or basic classroom supplies.
Making the school administration a portable arm to move to underutilized schools for a limited period could also be a possibility. In the past, some schools have been closed and sold, which could now be re-used as schools.
Remodeling classrooms to admin offices is not as expensive and retains the school for future school use when demands change. The national trend is for apartments … bringing residential [buildings] back to the downtown. This could be in the future for Santa Fe also. Lastly, renting facilities for limited terms is another option to avoid the costs of building new schools.
News, February 7: “Pop Quiz: Mayoral Candidates”
Not so Hot-Shot
It seems I'm always reading letters singing the praises of high-caliber, soft-touch mayoral candidate and leading fund-raiser Alan Webber. Yours last week from Kim Perry is an extreme example. Sufficiently left-wing to have campaigned with Gloria Steinem, she touts Webber because he has not worked in government; he's "not part of the problem." It was a surprise to see hot-shot Webber finishing last in your pop quiz competition, with zero out of five questions answered correctly, but maybe it should not have been. It's not just his campaign platform; his quiz results look a bit like Trump's too.
Current councilors Joseph Maestas and Peter Ives received full marks, while Kate Noble dropped one; well done to them. Obviously, they are experienced and care enough about city government to pay attention to details. Shockingly, three-term councilor Ron Trujillo flunked four out of five questions; it looks like he missed all five but bought time to Google an answer. As for Webber, a UCLA management-guru PR job is not enough. We need a competent local who knows the place.
A for Ambiguity
[With regards to what SFSWMA stands for:] Although "Agency" is the A on their web site, you can find "Authority" all over city and county documents. A change in name? Confusion? Who knows?
[Hums “Deck the Halls”]
Many Eastside folks back a man whose business success took place outside Santa Fe, and long ago. Alan Webber's responses to your questions show an outsider's distant understanding of Santa Fe. His progressive counterpart, Peter Ives, is knowledgeable, but he seems out of touch with ordinary taxpayers. Both men represent the "We Know What's Best For You" Party.
Do we want a replay of the divisiveness the sugar-tax fiasco amplified?
On another side, we have born-and-bred New Mexicans who are familiar with How-Things-Work in Santa Fe. As his answers show, Joe Maestas is surprisingly well-informed, but his background as mayor of Española gives one pause. Ron Trujillo's answers show a paltry knowledge of city matters—especially for a three-time city councilor.
In reporting Kate Noble's replies, you note her "Geez" and "Oy Vey."
Perhaps you thought this cute; but it was disrespectful. Your text suggests that not one of the four men uttered an "um" or "that's a tough question." Really?
Your article reveals a truly biased point of view. Kate Noble merits serious consideration. A native Santa Fean, she is the only candidate who can bridge the divide in our city.
Editor's note: Webber said, "Oh geez, I can't answer that," Ives said, "I apologize, I'm not sure what that figure is off the top of my head" and Trujillo said, "I don't know the answer to that one," among many other quips; all of which we reported.
As usual, the Pop Quiz feature was revealing in its focus on Santa Fe's mayoral candidates. Only three of the five candidates had what I'd call a passing score—and it was both of the allegedly leading candidates who had the worst grades.
I admire that Joe Maestas and Peter Ives are clearly more caught up in the details of governance than in the platitudes of possibility or in "making Santa Fe great again"—and the capable and ready answers from those two, along with Kate Noble, should encourage some voters to double-check their priorities.
For me, there's one candidate who combines remarkable institutional knowledge of the city, an inside view of what's most broken, a record of working to fix it, a natural innovator's expansive vision, and a deep compassion for the needs of our city and the plights of its most underserved populations.
Santa Fe gets a tiny mulligan from our national shame here.
Let's not miss the (second) opportunity to elect the super-qualified woman with a smart, tangible policy plan and the unflagging commitment to making Santa Fe better for everyone.
And if Kate can't be your first choice—I respect that—ranked-choice voting means you can pick her for second. That's an option that would have changed the outcome of the last presidential race.
Cover, January 31: “The G-Word”
It’s Called Fashion
Alicia Guzmán's otherwise interesting article blurs the distinction between artists and "the art world," and in doing so glosses over a familiar urban cycle: Artists move into a low-rent district, where they can afford living and studio space; their presence attracts the fashionable folks, whose influx drives up property values, forcing the artists and other low-income people to move elsewhere—until that place in turn becomes fashionable.
Santa Fe itself is a model of this cycle: Its artistic and cultural charisma attracted the "cultured," who have long since colonized the place and made living there unaffordable for nearly everyone else.
So how to break the cycle? Perhaps the graffiti writers have shown the way: Not only are their venues even less secure than those of studio artists; not only can their work not be commodified, bought, and sold, they can go to jail for it: traits underscoring the properly outlaw character of art in relation to society and the culture as a whole.