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Morning Word: Slow Your Roll

July 27, 2017, 7:30 am

Santa Fe taps brakes on return of speed SUVs
Big brother isn't watching. Yet. The Santa Fe City Council voted to postpone for a month a proposal to bring back unmanned speeding ticket-issuing SUVs that had been snapping pics of drivers and automatically mailing out tickets from 2008-2013. The program had been paying for most, if not all, of its cost, but it scratched many people the wrong way—and not just those caught speeding.

Meow! Arts installation wolfs down $1.1 million public grant
Half a million people have wandered their way through Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return exhibit. Now, as the arts collective gets set to expand to Denver, Austin and potentially other cities that are nearly as cool as Santa Fe, it has more than $1 million from private investors and public economic development grants to help it along. The Santa Fe City Council unanimously approved its chunk of a $1.1 million state/city grant last night. Meow Wolf promises 250 jobs at a new fabrication facility.

Council shelves instant-runoff voting again
City councilors in Santa Fe voted to reconsider their latest action on what's called ranked-choice voting. The system eliminates the need for a runoff campaign, but it's a new way to vote and the majority of councilors—along with the Santa Fe city and county clerks—worried it would be too much to teach voters before the March municipal election. The system has recently become affordable, a key part of a 2008 citywide vote that binds Santa Fe to use ranked-choice voting ... eventually.

Santa Fe SWAT killing is a first
When Santa Fe's tactical police squad shot and killed Anthony Benavidez, who was living with schizophrenia, it was the SWAT team's first fatal shooting in its 40 years of existence. Body camera video from the standoff shows police were aware of Benavidez' mental illness and had dealt with him barricading himself in his apartment before.

SFPD officer's body cam may not have been on during shooting 
As review of the police shooting of Anthony Benavidez continues, it appears the officer who fired the vast majority of shots—16 of 17 by the Albuquerque Journal's count—at the 24-year-old didn't have his body camera recording the interaction, which came after a lengthy standoff. It wasn't among the video provided to the media by the department earlier this week.

'Are we crossing a border?'
Border Patrol agents detained a Southern California middle school teacher and her children on their way through New Mexico after the woman refused to answer citizenship questions at a checkpoint. The checkpoint was within the 100-mile zone along the border allowed for such posts, but the teacher says she protested because she's talked to Latino friends who have been peppered with more than just a single question about citizenship.

State gets good revenue report
New Mexico's revenue jumped 32 percent year-to-year in May, with travel and construction industries leading the way to a $141 million annual increase. That's welcome news at the Capitol, where lawmakers have met three times in the past year to shore up a wobbly state budget. That number is likely to fall, as it's based on projections, but the Legislature and governor will take every last dime they can get.

Supreme Court will decide on public defenders' plea for help
New Mexico's high court is considering the plight of the state's public defenders. Especially in southeastern New Mexico, defenders appointed for people accused of a crime who cannot afford an attorney say their caseloads are so high that they often can't mount an effective defense. That would violate their duty, but not providing a defense would also violate the Constitution. Prosecutors say acquittal numbers are high enough to refute that claim.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that there's a free party Friday night at the Railyard in Santa Fe. It's our annual Best of Santa Fe bash and there's food and libations and happy people! Get some.

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