SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

Morning Word: Explosions Terrorize Churchgoers

Gov. Martinez calls bombers 'cowards'

Morning WordMonday, August 3, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Gov. Susana Martinez is calling the person or people who set off improvised explosive devices at two Las Cruces churches cowards, adding, "Whoever did this will feel the full pressure of the law. If your intention was to bring fear to those who worship, you have failed." Fortunately, no one was injured at Holy Cross Catholic Church or Calvary Baptist Church.

Read the latest from the investigation at the Las Cruces Sun-News. publisher Heath Haussamen was quick to call on residents of southern New Mexico to unite after the weekend explosion.

Read his view here. 

At the White House today, President Barack Obama is expected to announce new rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Opponents in multiple states plan to ask a federal judge to halt the implementation of the rules, intended to cut carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Democrat Hillary Clinton says she'll defend and implement the program if she's elected president in 2016. Marco Rubio says he won't.
"They will do nothing to address the underlying issue that they're talking about, because as far as I can see, China and India and other developing countries are going to continue to burn anything they can get their hands on," Rubio said at a conservative conference Sunday organized by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch.
Read it at the Farmington Daily Times. 

New Mexico has decided it isn't going to battle the new carbon dioxide caps.
The Martinez administration wants to avoid a repeat of that episode and instead devise a homegrown plan based on what’s best for New Mexico, rather than what federal regulators deem necessary regardless of costs.
“We know the consequences for failing to submit a state compliance plan from the last time, which put us at a major disadvantage and ended up hurting the state,” Flynn said. “At the end of the day, we’re in a strong position to create our own plan to meet the new standards.”
Read it at the ABQ Journal. 

Meanwhile, officials at the New Mexico Game and Fish Department have rejected a US Fish and Wildlife Service request to insert wolf pups into established dens on US Forest Service land in New Mexico.
Critics say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t need state permission to carry out its mandate for wolf recovery and should just forge ahead.
Deborah Baker has the story. 

The high price of medication used to successfully treat thousands of patients suffering from hepatitis C in New Mexico over the past few years is driving up Medicaid costs after the drug manufacturer decided to stop offering financial assistance to patients diagnosed after July 1.

Read why at the ABQ Journal. 

If you missed it on Friday afternoon, we discovered the Drug Enforcement Agency decided to ignore New Mexico's medical cannabis laws and ripped up 150 marijuana plants during its investigation into a gas extraction explosion at New MexiCann's licensed dispensary in Santa Fe last week. No one from the federal agency would answer SFR's questions about the warrantless seizure. Still no word on who called the federal agents to the scene in the first place. For now, New MexiCann founder Len Goodman told his registered patients over the weekend that he's received the green light to reopen the clinic's doors this morning.

Read it at SFR. 

After the resignation of Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Garcia last week, journalist Milan Simonich says he thinks the next chief should be an outsider to effectively repair the police force's "dissension, dysfunction and disorganization."

Read more at the Ringside Seat. 

SF Mayor Javier Gonzales thinks a leadership change at SFPD will offer the department a "fresh start."
The change “will allow for the police department to come together and focus on their number one job, which is to keep Santa Fe safe and to assure that we’re meeting on some of the broader goals that I promised the community: reduction in property crimes, a reduction in domestic violence, building a stronger presence in neighborhoods.”
Daniel Chacón has an interesting piece on the rookie mayor's other challenges.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Economic Development Secretary John Barela says the department's new policies to attract businesses and jobs to the state are starting to show progress.
Our new business-friendly environment is also putting more New Mexicans to work. In April, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported New Mexico had seen the best export-related job growth in the country. The increase of goods and services from New Mexico sold internationally has supported or created more than 16,000 jobs in our state.
Read his opinion here. 

Maybe we'll be exporting more piñón nuts this year. Summer rains appear to be helping produce a record harvest.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Fans of the Connie Mack World Baseball Series in Farmington will appreciate the Farmington Daily Times coverage and photos.

Check it all out here.

A Creative Boost

Santa Fe City Council discusses handing off 5 acres for affordable housing for artists

Local NewsMonday, August 3, 2015 by Elizabeth Miller

City councilors have apparently privately pledged to use city-owned land on Siler Road for an affordable housing artist complex and now await more details on what the project will entail.  

The governing body talked about the deal during a closed-door, late-night executive session on July 29 and then voted in the empty City Council chambers to take action on whatever they agreed on during that meeting. 

Cyndi Conn, Creative Santa Fe's executive director, says officials gave her permission to proceed with an environmental assessment, preliminary engineering work and conceptual designs for the proposed "Arts + Creativity Center." Project partners plan to keep working on the idea and return to City Council in October with a more precise estimate for how much public land the project needs. 

Early concepts say it would occupy somewhere close to 5 acres of a 20-acre parcel on Siler Road near Agua Fría Street. The city also met with project planners today to go over the details for moving forward with an application for the tax credits expected to carry much of the $12 million to $14 million cost of building the center. 

The Arts + Creativity Center project is an effort to chip away at the city’s short supply of affordable housing and commercial space and create a facility to foster artists. Of 70 units, 60 would be rented at a price affordable to those making the current Santa Fe Living Wage, $10.84 an hour, and who have an annual income that is 30 percent to 60 percent of the area's median annual income of $50,000. Livable space would be combined with studio space, exhibition space and commercial retail space.

The search for an architect for the development could begin in the next few weeks, according to Daniel Werwath, a developer and chief operating officer with New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing. The City of Santa Fe, Inter-Faith Housing and Creative Santa Fe plan to jointly oversee the project, which is expected to include shared spaces to house workshops, studios, micro-retail shops, and rehearsal space.

"It's not just an affordable housing project, but it's also an economic development project, so you're not only supplying affordable housing for artists and creative people, but you're also giving them the skills and training and that leg up they need in order to be sustainable in their careers as entrepreneurs and small businesspeople," says Conn. 

The Department of Cultural Affairs sponsored a statewide study by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research that found that 1 in 18 jobs in the state come from arts and cultural industries. If cultural tourism, arts and cultural education and other industries linked to arts and culture are included, the number jumps to 1 in 10 jobs, more than construction and manufacturing combined. That study also found a “persistent” gap in terms of the supportive infrastructure for artists, including health care services, affordable housing, tax benefits and compensation policies, among other safety nets, and that freelancers run short in opportunities for services from high-speed Internet to financial advice and retirement support. 

Mayor Javier Gonzales previously has been vocal about the need to support the arts industry, which he says provides primary employment for 1 in 10 people in Santa Fe, and to nurture artists, naming this specific project as one the city hopes to help drive to completion. 

“Every day, I talk to Santa Feans with exciting new ideas for cultural programs. Sometimes all these groups need is a little help getting started,” Gonzales said in his 2015 State of the City address. In addition to asking the Arts Commission to develop programming that would support new markets, events and collaborations that would “build the Santa Fe arts brand,” he said that the city was “getting serious about making Santa Fe an easier place for artists to live and work.” 

To that end, he said, the City Council would be partnering with Creative Santa Fe to make the Arts + Creativity Center a reality. The center may price spaces as low as $500 a month for people making well below a full-time living wage, in hopes of addressing what’s seen as a major gap for below-market housing.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program recently announced that Creative Santa Fe will receive a $150,000 grant to go toward the design fees and community engagement for the affordable live-work space for artists. An event series with groups that may include After Hours Alliance, MIX, Make Santa Fe and Meow Wolf may follow as well. 

“I hope that this NEA grant can be leveraged into some bigger community visions,” Werwath says, “using this project as a catalyst to think about some bigger issues and some bigger forward-thinking for the community to address some issues about housing and economic opportunity.”

The Siler Road area has seen some recent additions that diversify the existing industrial character of the neighborhood, including Duel Brewing, a second location for Java Joe’s and Fresh Santa Fe, a public multimedia space that launched in June with a performance by artist and activist Jil Love. The area now houses Wise Fool New Mexico and Teatro Paraguas, as well as some underground music venues and in-home studios. The location was selected after a year and a half looking at sites throughout the city, Conn says, in a search for the right mix of the required qualities for low-income housing tax credits and a "catalytic area" the project could fuel.

"There are so many great groups that are in that area already," Conn says. "We felt like this was really doing something in a neighborhood that already naturally was growing that direction and was a really good anchor project to support that district."

The proposed site housed the city's sewage treatment facility until the 1980s. 

"That’s why we’re funding all of this environmental assessment work right now. We want to make sure that if there’s any contamination at all, it’s stuff that we can mitigate through a cleanup process and make sure that we can get a good clean site," Werwath says. 

Assuming all goes well with that assessment and they’re able to put in an application to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority for low-income tax credits this year, Werwath says, people could be moving into housing there as early as summer 2017. A city contribution of cash, land and/or fee waivers of 10 percent of the total project cost, or up to $1.4 million in this case, is "critical" for qualifying for a low-income housing tax credit. 

This. Goddamn. Film Series.

It’s become Mission: Impossible to see an end to this nonsense

MehFriday, July 31, 2015 by David Riedel

Considering how little Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation cares about a coherent story, exciting action set pieces or jokes that aren’t eye-rollers, it’s worth noting that this film is the fifth in a series that has an uncharismatic lead and absolutely jack shit to contribute to the spy genre. Couple that with the fact that the bad guy (Sean Harris) looks like one of the good guys (Simon Pegg), only with a weak chin, and you have the blah-be-de-blah-blah, OH FUCK IT, WHO CARES?


Seriously, is there a guy with less charisma than Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt? What hero is named Ethan, for the love of God? Paste eaters are named Ethan.


Anyway, all Cruise’s fading star power can’t make this guy worthy of audience goodwill. Hunt is an empty vessel who runs a lot. Hot shit! Brian De Palma’s big screen update of the faded TV chestnut at least had some tense moments (the silent break-in, for example), but M:I 2 would be one of the worst action movies ever made if it weren’t for M:I 3, which was like watching hack auteur J J Abrams direct an episode of Alias with an unlimited budget.


Brad Bird breathed life into the franchise with Ghost Protocol, but director Christopher McQuarrie, helmer of the much better Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher and the weirdo-good The Way of the Gun, has decided to leave any semblance of giving a rat’s ass on the cutting room floor. For example, the villains are called the Syndicate.




Action-wise, there’s a decent motorcycle chase, and Hunt nearly drowns—if only—but bring a pillow because you’ll be nodding off like my grandfather on a warm summer afternoon. I’m sure someone made this joke—but considering how few of Pegg’s land, who gives a whoopie fuck?—but the fact there are five of these things means the missions are entirely possible, no?



Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

With Cruise and whatever

Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14; Violet Crown

131 min. (WHY??)


DEA Destroyed Medical Cannabis

Santa Fe dispensary had state permission to grow marijuana, but the feds took all its plants after a workplace accident

Local NewsFriday, July 31, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr

When federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents visited a Santa Fe medical cannabis dispensary after an explosion last week, they seized what local police originally described as “evidence” for an investigation. SFR has since learned that the federal agency yanked all the marijuana plants that were growing there and hauled them away for destruction. 

Without more information, the seizure seems to be a shift in the understanding that the DEA would turn a blind eye to producers who have permission from a state to cultivate the plant that is still considered a banned substance by the federal government.  

As investigators try to determine more details about what caused the explosion, suspected to have occurred during an extraction process at New MexiCann Natural Medicine's compound on West San Mateo Lane, attorney Marc Lowry says the management and staff are more concerned about the health and recovery of Nick Montoya, 29, and Aaron Smith, 28, who received third-degree burns and remain hospitalized. 

Yet the loss of the 150 plants—conservatively valued at $750,000—will impact New MexiCann’s fall harvest and ongoing operation.

The US Department of Justice and DEA would not answer questions about why they seized plants during a gas explosion investigation, and a public affairs representative with the US Attorney’s office in New Mexico says they’re prohibited from commenting during an ongoing investigation. 

Lowry says he understands that federal agents are in an impossible position in this case, because federal law still considers all cannabis to be illegal.

“The DEA is in unchartered territory as it tries to reconcile federal policy with state-run programs,” says Lowry.  “Historically the DEA has always confiscated contraband, and under federal law all cannabis is contraband, medical or not.”

A spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health was out of his office Friday and did not respond to SFR’s inquiry about the DEA's seizure of medicine from a state-licensed program.

In the meantime, SFR has also learned inspectors from the city’s fire marshal office visited New MexiCann’s facility after the producer filed a certificate of occupancy, but Fire Marshal Rey Gonzales Jr. says the gas extraction equipment was not in place during his team’s original site visit.

Gonzales says businesses are required to request a new inspection if the use of a space changes. For now, Gonzales’ staff is reviewing hazardous material regulations in the city’s fire code to determine if New MexiCann violated any regulations.

Meanwhile, Lowry says that Len Goodman, the founder of New MexiCann, is engaged in open dialog with all law enforcement and government agencies and is waiting to get a green light after the investigations are concluded before reopening his Santa Fe location. 

Other state-licensed producers tell SFR they’re in discussions and plan to provide New MexiCann new plants so Goodman’s patients have a consistent supply of medication and he’s set back up in time to plant a new winter crop.

“The timing of this accident is bad. It hurts everybody,” says Rachael Speegle, director of operations at Verdes Foundation, an Albuquerque-area dispensary. 

Speegle, who is also a registered nurse with experience in public health policy, says the conflict between federal and state laws needs to be worked out.  

“It’s impossible to operate in this country when we still have this divide between the two regulatory bodies,” she says.

Earlier this year, Speegle helped potential new growers apply for producer licenses. She says many of the new groups have been calling her with concerns about the DEA seizure. 

“They want to know if they should invest money in this business because federal agents can seize plants at their whim,” she adds. 

R. Greenleaf Organics founder Willie Ford says everyone should be concerned about the seizure, but he claims he understands the DEA’s action. 

“It’s in their DNA,” says Ford. “These guys are just doing their jobs. They’re required to investigate gas explosions, and when they see all the plants, they have to take them.” 

This Weekend

Celebrate the Best of Santa Fe!

Weekend PicksFriday, July 31, 2015 by SFR

Full Moon Roots Music Madness: Jono Manson and Man No Sober

Two bands with two awesome dudes (and then some) make you wish you had more than two ears with which to hear the tunes.

More Info >>

Needles & Seams

Four artists engage with some of our most ancient art forms: sewing, knitting and felting. Through Aug. 23

More Info >>

42nd Annual Girls Inc. Arts & Crafts Show

Jewelry, painting, pottery, sculpture and lots more enter in the 42nd year of the org's annual show.

More Info >>

SFR's Best of Santa Fe Party

Come celebrate the best and brightest from your community as voted by you—the readers of SFR. Food, drinks, partying indoors and out...sold!

More Info >>

2015 Festival of Song

A showcase of luminous and emerging talent from the opera world, the first concert features Quinn Kelsey and Marjorie Owens.

More Info >>

SFO Civil War Symposium

Deepen your understanding of the Civil War with presentations from authors including Harold Holzer, Hampton Sides, Kirk Ellis and music by Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout. Visit for more info

More Info >>

Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.


Party like a winner

Music FeaturesFriday, July 31, 2015 by Alex De Vore

Once our Best of Santa Fe party has been thoroughly enjoyed and provided you with enough hometown pride you could just barf, you’ll realize that the good times have just begun and the after-party is going to be a blast.

And though Portland's Unknown Mortal Orchestra and L.A.'s Vinyl Williams will be on hand to keep it goin’, the most exciting part of the night will come in the form of Cymbals Eat Guitars.

The Staten Island-based act will transport you back to the glory days of melodic indie rock, as the quartet reminds us all that feeling feelings is great and that Barsuk Records sure knows how to pick ‘em.

Think Pavement meets Braid but leaning a little more toward the sonic soundscapery of Pelican, sans the super-serious attitude.

Do note this thing is going down inside the Farmers Market Pavilion and has a separate cover. But seriously, though—it’s more than worth it.

BoSF After-Party
8 pm Saturday, Aug. 1. $15
Farmers Market Pavilion
1607 Paseo de Peralta,

Morning Word: PNM Agreements Sidestep PRC Review

Advocacy groups want ownership transfer agreements ruled null and void

Morning WordFriday, July 31, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
PNM has spent months trying to restructure ownership agreements of the aging coal-fired plant near Farmington before it shutters two of the units. In May, they signed acquisition agreements with the City of Anaheim and M-S-R Public Power Agency in Modesto to acquire their portions of the San Juan Generation Station. The only problem: The investor-owned utility never got the Public Regulation Commission's required review or approval for the transfer. Now, New Energy Economy has filed a petition declare the secret "deal null and void."  
According to a July 16 memo from the M-S-R Public Power Agency’s attorney and general manager to its commission, divesting from the San Juan plan would save its members tens of millions of dollars in the next seven years.
The memo says that M-S-R drew on the expertise of an independent consulting company to determine that by divesting in the San Juan plant, the power supply costs to its California members would be lowered by $81 million beginning in 2015 and continuing through the final retirement of the agency’s San Juan Project Revenue Bonds in July 2022.
The memo also states that the restructuring agreement with PNM “avoids $28 million in [San Juan Generating Station] retrofit costs” and allows ongoing power cost savings valued in a study conducted in 2015 by Navigant Consulting Inc. at $20 million during a 20-year period. Further, it “avoids the timing risks and legal uncertainties associated with litigated or arbitrated exit plans or renegotiation of issues which have consumed exhaustive negotiation.”
PNM, which has scheduled its Second Quarter conference call with financial analysts this morning at 9 am, calls the petition meritless.

Margaret Wright has the details. 

Journalist Joey Peters was able to determine the name of the business at the center of an investigation into whether the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Secretary gave a former client preferential treatment. After brightening his computer screen, Peters was able to see right through a blacked out portion of the email meant to hide the name of Harold's Grading and Trucking of Bernalillo. The owner of that company told Peters that Tax and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla had been his CPA years ago but claims she didn't offer any special treatment during a recent audit. .

Read it at the New Mexico Political Report. 

The Albuquerque Journal talked to the tax department about their incomplete redaction. A spokesman didn't deny the business in question is Harold's Grading and Trucking but instead blasted the journalist for revealing the name.
“The fact that a left-wing blogger manipulated the public record to out the small businessman underscores how this has become a pathetic example of manufactured political theater led by the most partisan state auditor in New Mexico history,” TRD spokesman Ben Cloutier said in a statement.
Cloutier was referring to Auditor Tim Keller, whose office oversaw a preliminary investigation into whether Padilla inappropriately pressured employees to give preferential treatment to a taxpayer she had previously worked for as a CPA.
Read it at the Albuquerque Journal. 

Former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella will be getting another day in federal court. He wants Judge James O Browning to halt prosecutors' plans to seize $70,000 from his bank accounts to pay court fines after he was convicted of beating up a motorist and violating the man's civil rights.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Donald Trump has a commanding lead in the Republican presidential campaign polls despite making outrageous comments about war heroes and undocumented workers. Before heading to Scotland to golf and deliberately not prepare for next week's debate, Trump proposed mass deportations.

Read it online here. 

A few state prosecutors who got fired by Attorney General Hector Balderas may be heading to state district court if their administrative appeals are dismissed.

Deborah Baker reports. 

New Mexico Health Connections, a nonprofit health insurance cooperative, continues to struggle financially. It posted a $4.3 million loss last year.

Rosalie Rayburn has the story. 

Lauren Villagran has the latest on Virgin Galactic's plans to take tourists into space from its Spaceport America base in southern New Mexico. Despite setbacks, Sir Richard Branson appears to be adopting his mother's "just keep going" motto.

Read Villagran's report at the ABQ Journal

Santa Fe baseball fans will have to wait a while longer for the Fuego playoff games. A soggy field postponed the game for the second night in a row. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the team's manager has resigned abruptly.

Read why Will Webber calls Bill Moore a quitter. 

Morning Word: Prison Guards Fire at Inmate During Target Practice

Prisoner screamed in pain after getting hit by a nonlethal bean bag

Morning WordThursday, July 30, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Thursday, July 30, 2015

This story just seems unreal. A prison inmate in Grants is suing the New Mexico Corrections Department after he says a guard shot him in the foot with a bean bag during target practice.
Prisoner Robert Vasquez filed the suit in state District Court in Santa Fe. He alleges that administrators at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Grants conducted a training exercise for officers with targets taped to the wall and floor of a building next to cells. “The guards intentionally pointed their weapons and fired at the cells of various inmates,” Vasquez’s lawsuit says.
A spokeswoman says the department contends their nonlethal training exercise didn't injure Vasquez.

Robert Nott has the shocking details. 

New Mexico Tax and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla continues to deny she pressured two staffers to give a former client preferential treatment. Her office gave Heath Haussamen an email that shows officials told the workers the audit was not changed, but the attorney general's office continues to investigate information turned over by the state auditor's office. For now, Padilla says she remains focused on her work.

Read it at 

Daniel J. Chacón reports a plan to build a controversial assisted-care living facility on Old Pecos Trail remains in limbo after a wild City Council meeting last night.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Even with illegal border crossings on the decline, a report from the Homeland Security Advisory Committee suggests systemic changes at the US Customs and Border Protection agency and says the country's largest police force needs to be more transparent and develop a use-of-force policy that prioritizes human life. Information in the report about racial profiling exceptions, according to Brian Erickson, are alarming.

Read more at NM 

Meanwhile, the state's US senators want to know more about a labor dispute at the federal law enforcement training center in Artesia.

Matthew Reichbach reports. 

While the New Mexico Occupational Safety and Health Bureau investigates that fiery medical cannabis dispensary explosion in Santa Fe, the bureau has leveled a big fine against the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority for exposing employees to toxic chemicals.

Joey Peters has the details. 

With six key jobs vacant at the Public Regulation Commission in Santa Fe, the chief of the regulatory group says the agency is struggling to move cases through the docket. But hiring new staffers would increase the PRC's budget deficit.
When questioned about the PRC’s ongoing staffing shortfall and a possible agency request for a funding increase, Michael Lonergan, a spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez, said, “It’s worth noting that for last fiscal year, the PRC received a budget increase of 10.7 percent, more than twice the average percent increase for other state agencies.”
Margaret Wright has details. 

Piecemeal Money Reform

City Council approves portion of proposals on campaign finance rules and kicks discussion of Morningstar senior complex to next meeting

Local NewsThursday, July 30, 2015 by Elizabeth Miller

City Council candidates who take public money for campaigns in the next municipal election will have more clarity on the legal definitions of terms such as “coordination” and “disclosure.” Yet, they won’t be allowed to raise additional funds to compete against privately funded candidates. That’s after Santa Fe City Council approved some proposed revisions to campaign finance regulations late Wednesday.

But some of those following the issue closely say the changes won’t really do much to stop the influence of political action committees.

Ethics and Campaign Review Board members had proposed rule changes to address what constitutes coordination between candidates and independent groups and what kinds of election activities require disclosing who has paid for them, and those measures passed. What failed were revisions that would have allowed publicly financed candidates to raise money privately and receive matching funds from the city for those efforts.

During the 2014 mayoral election, some alleged that local unions acted in coordination with candidates, Zachary Shandler, assistant city attorney, said in his introduction to the ordinance.

“These citizens asked, what does coordination really mean?” Shandler said. “If citizens are confused [about] what coordination means, let's give them examples.”

The proposed ordinance changes arrived before the governing body without a recommendation from the Finance Committee, which reviewed the proposal on July 13 and determined, as Finance Chairman Carmichael Dominguez told SFR earlier this month, “in order to do this right, we needed to have the entire City Council chime in on it and debate it.”

That approach, however, fueled a confusing flurry of amendments and motions for changes.

“That fine-tuning should come from the professionals that do it…Us making legislation on the fly is not a good idea,” said Councilor Chris Rivera. “I'm planning on running again, so these changes would really benefit me, but I think there's more important things than what would benefit me.”

Members of the ECRB suggested that if councilors couldn't comfortably adopt all of the proposed changes during Wednesday evening's meeting, they could adopt the definitions and disclosure provisions and table the remainder, with a set deadline to reconsider the proposals.

Following a motion from Councilor Signe Lindell to that end, the council voted 6-3 in favor of that approach, with councilors Peter Ives and Joseph Maestas and Mayor Javier Gonzales opposing.

The ECRB recommendations that were approved define coordination, expressly list coordinated expenditures and outline the boundaries that need to be maintained for professional services, like perhaps a polling service, to work with multiple entities in a campaign without combining resources or using voter information in a way that would constitute real coordination, like sharing materials, phone scripts or voter lists.

The changes also add examples and definitions to rules stating that entities spending $250 or more on any campaign communication, including advertisements, mail campaigns, billboards, signs or phone banks, also have to disclose their expenditures and contributions. A representative for that organization must certify that these expenses were not made at the request or suggestion of the candidate.

Some have questioned whether it would remain possible, under what’s called the "nesting doll” effect, that the only contributor a group could disclose would be another political action committee that’s not required to list its donors. To take their best shot at that issue, the ECRB added language that says if an entity does not have to disclose its contributors, then their campaign materials need to state that.

“We concluded that, with the limited staff that we have at the city, there was not a way of really tracking that back,” said Ruth Kovnat, a member of the ECRB.

“These will not stop PACs,” former councilor Karen Heldmeyer said during public comment. “I think the public needs to be aware of that, or they're going to be very upset with the outcome of this.”

The definition of coordination is basically unenforceable without a mole, a disgruntled employee or a misfired email,  Heldmeyer said.

The portion of the ordinance that was postponed would have allowed publicly financed candidates, funding for whom is capped at $15,000 for City Council and $60,000 for mayoral races, to raise money privately and receive matching funds from the city's coffers at a four-to-one rate. The intention was that those additional funds might better allow publicly funded candidates to compete with those who are privately funded or are benefiting from independent groups campaigning on their behalf.

“I will tell you being a participant in that election and being the individual where people were casting lots of stones, I think that it would have been good for that campaign if there were other funds that were available to be used,” Gonzales said.

But councilors expressed concern at the possible expense the city could face by spending so much on campaigns, and what remedy these revisions really would provide.

“In the last mayoral election in 2014, all three candidates, in an effort to level the playing field, used public campaign financing," Councilor Bill Dimas said in a prepared statement when council discussion opened. When outside groups, including unions, started spending money for a certain candidate, Dimas said, "that's when the concept of a level playing field went to hell."

He added, “Public campaign financing will be nothing more than supplemental financing to PACs. I'm not sure this is what the voters wanted. I'm not naïve enough to believe these will fix anything…I know some campaign finance changes will probably pass tonight because it's the politically correct thing to do, but I don't always do the politically correct thing.”

Maestas, who opposed the motion to pass just the definitions and disclosure requirements and not the change to publicly funded candidates, said he was sorry to see these “progressive concepts” removed from the ordinance, and Gonzales echoed that it was a missed opportunity. They said they expect to revisit the matter in January.

Because postponements were the theme of the evening, City Council also reopened the July 8 vote in favor of a senior living community on Old Pecos Trail, but were unable to come to a decision on how to handle the matter. Weeks after casting the tie-breaking vote, Mayor Javier Gonzales asked council to remand the decision to the Planning Commission to see if the Colorado-based developer Morningstar and the Southeast Neighborhood Association that had opposed the project could mediate a compromise that might alleviate some of the visual impacts of the project on the historic access route to Santa Fe. 

The conversation led to some exacerbated procedural bickering and councilors split themselves in half several times voting on multiple motions to require parties to attend mediation meetings, then allow the City Council to reconsider the proposal themselves or remand the decision to the Planning Commission, the composition of which has changed since that committee last approved the development’s special use permit and rezoning.

Gonzales argued the Planning Commission should have another chance to consider it, Councilor Patti Bushee argued the decision should fall to City Council. Councilors Rivera and Ronald Trujillo fought against the whole question of reopening the application, Rivera saying this kind of unsteadiness sends a bad message to businesses that want to move into town.  

Discussion descended into what councilors themselves deemed “a circus” and a “dog and pony show,” and, ultimately, a decision only to postpone the conversation to the next City Council meeting.

Morning Word: New Mexico Clergy Promote Solar and Wind

Interfaith leaders urge action on climate and poverty issues

Morning WordWednesday, July 29, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Religious clergy from all faiths in New Mexico are lining up in support of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, climate change and poverty.
“We do not have unrestricted freedom to misuse creation,” Rabbi Min Kantorwitz said outside St. Therese Catholic School in Albuquerque. “In our ignorance and in our greed we have damaged the world. There is no one else but us to repair it.”
Expect the state's three Catholic bishops to begin promoting wind and solar energy and increased funding to help improve child well-being in New Mexico.

Read more at the ABQ Journal.

In the meantime, it appears that oil production is on pace to match or set state records.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Even as oil production increases and fuel prices stabilize, it looks like Santa Feans are driving around town a little less than before.
Traffic counts from the regional Metropolitan Planning Office show that average annual daily traffic around the city decreased 1 percent from 2005 to 2014. Seven percent fewer cars, from just over 5,000 to just under 4,000, are making daily trips on Agua Fría Road. Meanwhile, Santa Fe’s population has grown by 13 percent between 2000 and 2014.
Elizabeth Miller reports. 

Amid allegations of cronyism and corruption, Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Garcia has decided to retire from law enforcement. Patrick Gallagher, a former New York City police officer who was a first responder on 9/11, now takes the reins as the city’s top cop. 

Thomas Ragan has the story at SFR. 

Proposed rules governing mines, landfills and junkyards in Santa Fe County are raising concerns. Some residents want new ordinances to require more regulatory reviews before new projects are built.

Justin Horwath reports. 

What a difference a good monsoon season can make in just one year. Ollie Reed Jr. has published some maps that show exceptional and extreme drought conditions are gone and only 1 percent of the state is still in severe drought. Nearly half the state has no drought after the buildup of rain water this spring and summer.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

New Mexico road construction crews are breathing a sigh of relief after the US Senate approved additional highway transportation funds for at least the next three months.

Read it at ABQ Business First. 

The National Security Agency says it will finally destroy millions of Americans' call records it had collected and stored in its computer systems.

Read more at the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

New Mexico's two US senators are planning hearings to seek relief for the state's radiation victims.
The senators have introduced legislation that would amend the so-called RECA law to cover victims of the government’s nuclear arms testing, including those living downwind of the Trinity bomb test in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin and post-1971 uranium workers in Northwestern New Mexico.
Michael Coleman reports from Washington. 

The National Park Service and US Department of Energy have agreed to jointly manage the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which commemorates the development of the atomic bomb in New Mexico.

Anne Constable has the story. 

After a fiery explosion at a Santa Fe medical cannabis dispensary last week, other producers are taking a close look at the safety of their own gas extraction manufacturing processes.

Read my story at SFR. 

Las Cruces Democrats are planning a big kickoff event for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign this week. The Vermont senator is also scheduled to deliver a personal message to the crowd via a live video stream.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Work is beginning on the first 20 miles of the new 500-mile Rio Grande trail that will follow the length of the state's biggest river.
The first miles of the Rio Grande Trail will be within the boundaries of Elephant Butte Lake, Caballo Lake, Leasburg Dam, Mesilla Valley Bosque, Percha Dam and Rio Grande Nature Center State Parks.
Staci Matlock reports. 
Morning Word: Explosions Terrorize Churchgoers

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