Stars in the Dark pays tribute to the refugee filmmakers who bled for film noir, and your pals at the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival provide film, cabaret, salons and more at the CCA and various other venues. See Film for more info.
Medical pot patients who want to know who has applied for a license to grow their medication in New Mexico may not get a chance to learn about applicants before licenses are awarded by New Mexico Secretary of Health Retta Ward later this year.
Medical Cannabis Program managers tell SFR they will not make public any part of the 86 applications submitted to the department after Ward reopened the application process in February. Ward has indicated she’ll award up a dozen nonprofit licenses.
Patient groups and open government supporters say that’s not fair. They want the opportunity to screen the applicants and provide the health department public comments before any new licenses are issued.
“For one thing, we want to know who is committed to testing their marijuana and who has the strongest experience growing cannabis,” says patient Sarah Dolk.
She says communities have a legal right to screen finalists for university presidents, police chiefs and school superintendents and she wants the right to screen new pot growers.
Getting access to the records will be an uphill battle. Requests for information about the current 23 licenses producers have been consistently denied over the years, so this week’s decision to deny a request filed under the state Inspection of Public Records Act wasn’t a surprise.
Originally, lawmakers and regulators worried that a conflict with federal law would trigger raids and arrests and shielded participants names.
“When the rule was created the political landscape was quite different. New Mexico was the first state to regulate medical cannabis at the state level and when regulations were created there was still great fear that federal agents would crack down on this pioneering program,” says Jessica Gelay, a Drug Policy Alliance program coordinator. “Now, other states have implemented similar regulatory models and there are Department of Justice guidelines that seemingly protect participants in well-run state programs.
Still, Andrea Sundberg, a cannabis program coordinator, says state regulations prohibit access to any identifying information about current producers or new applicants.
“A pending application for licensure as a non-profit producer shall be confidential and not subject to disclosure.” Accordingly, the requested materials are deemed confidential and not disclosed,” writes Sundberg in an email to SFR.
But that public records exemption isn’t completely spelled out in state statute. Instead, the health department regulators, cite a “as otherwise provided by law” provision in the Inspection of Public Records Act and claim their rules become “other laws” once they’re published in the state register.
“I’m unaware of any other drug manufacturers being able to sell and distribute their products without being publicly identified,” says Williams. “There is no reason for the names of these producers not to be public.”
Regulators' concerns about conflicts with federal laws do not override the public’s right to know who is involved in a public health program, according to Williams.
“Specifically public agencies should not be able to create barriers to public access to records by passing regulations that insulate themselves from public records request,” Williams tells SFR. “If public agencies are allowed to pass their own confidentiality regulations then the purpose and intent of IPRA is completely undercut.”
Others say current producers, who have published websites and purchase newspaper ad space, have forfeited any privacy protections.
Patients registration in the program is automatically protected from public disclosure because individual medical records are not public documents. But, the state’s health department is a public agency running a public health program. The licenses that are issued, by rule cannot be sold, exchanged or bartered, and must be returned to the department on demand.
Larry Love, a medical pot patient and industry analyst, says that makes them public licenses and subject to public review.
The health department isn’t the only agency using regulatory rules to bypass public records law.
The New Mexico Correction Department recently denied SFR’s written request to review prison inmate grievances at the state prison in Santa Fe and at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility.
The claim a department policy prohibits the release of the grievances because they're now considered "legal mail."
The corrections department did provide SFR monthly statistic logs showing grievance by category for all their state facilities.
There might not be any capital outlay money for state construction jobs in New Mexico this year, but the economy in Clovis could be getting a big boost if Congress approves funding for big dollar projects at Cannon Air Force Base. That plus the Tapia-Padilla family feud continues.
It's Friday, May 22, 2015
US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, voted to advance funding for big-dollar projects at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis.
The money breakdown: $7.8 million for a new entry control gatehouse; $20.4 million for new pump house and fuel storage; $11.65 million for a new operations and training center for trainers; $13.14 million for a new building to train special operations forces; $480 million for remotely piloted aircraft missions at Cannon and Holloman AFB. There’s also a provision in a new Senate bill requiring the secretary of defense to submit a comprehensive 5-year plan for the Melrose Bombing Range.
The New Mexico Board of Finance has decided to provide the Office of the Public Defender an emergency $400,000 loan they need to continue to provide defendants legal representation through the end of June. But the courts have denied funds for magistrate courts, which will have to solve their budget crunch another way.
The state of New Mexico has reached a settlement with two advocacy groups, which claimed people with developmental disabilities were denied access to care.
Jim Jackson, executive director of Disability Rights New Mexico, said that under the agreement, program participants who are denied or have limitations on services imposed will have a better appeal process. “In the meantime, people can regain access to therapies and other services that had been denied under the current system.”
Despite testimony that shows renewable energy sources are a reliable and cost-efficient energy source, business leaders are rallying behind the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s plan to continue using coal and imported nuclear power.
A Terrier Black Brant missile test was aborted at White Sands Missile Range on Thursday after its flight trajectory failed.
"It was brought down over the range, where no damage to anyone or anything could be done," said Cammy Montory, WSMR spokeswoman. "A sweep of US [Highway] 70 was also conducted to make sure no debris from the rocket fell on the road. No debris were found on the highway."
The US Air Force wants to incinerate targets such as incoming missiles with laser weapons mounted on C-17s by 2023, and a lot of the development on the weapon’s system is being done in New Mexico.
The High Energy Laser, or HEL, is being tested by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base. Ground tests are slated for later this year [at White Sands Missile Range] as part of a plan to precede air-launched laser weapons firing evaluations, Mica Endsley, Air Force Chief Scientist, told Military.com in an interview.
Those new state-mandated teacher evaluations are supposed to help educators improve and develop their classroom skills, but close to two dozen teachers in Taos have burned their evaluations, claiming they’re riddled with errors.
The widow of boxing champ Johnny Tapia continues to battle the Padilla family in Albuquerque. She’s suing them for trademark infringement. Yesterday, Tapia admitted to felony drug convictions and told reporters she’s in fear for her life. She didn’t list any specific threats or mention that her cousin Pamela Chavez testified in court earlier this week that she believed that Tapia has forged her notary signature on legal documents.
It has been a little over a year since Santa Fe’s regional drug tip hotline has been in operation, and now the city councilor behind it is asking for a review of all tips to see how effective they’ve been.
Councilor Bill Dimas, who also chairs the city’s Public Safety Committee, wants Ken Martinez, the director of the Santa Fe Regional Emergency Center, to look into hundreds of tips that have come in since April of last year and whether they have led to any arrests or convictions.
“It’s something that’s near and dear to my heart—stopping drug trafficking,” says Dimas, a former judge and police officer who lost his daughter, Brandi, four years ago, to drug abuse at the age of 32.
“You name it, she used it,” adds Dimas, who made the hotline a part of his platform in his unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2014. “I don’t know if you know this, but Santa Fe has a huge heroin problem, as does much of the country, and it’s time we tried to put a stop to it.”
In the last 13 months, about 400 calls have come into the hotline, averaging roughly 30 calls per per month, Martinez told members of the committee on May 19.
Yet Martinez says it’s going to take some detective work to track down how many tips have actually resulted in arrests, something he plans to look into in the coming months before reporting back to Dimas and the committee.
“What we do know for sure,” Martinez tells SFR, “is that when a tip is called in, if it’s in progress, then we try to send an officer over there right away.”
But if the tip deals with something along the lines of, “I think my neighbor is selling drugs,” then the complaint is forwarded to the investigations unit of the appropriate law enforcement agency, Martinez says.
Sgt. Andrea Dobyns, a public information officer for the Santa Fe police department, says narcotics investigators usually conduct surveillance based on the tip if it seems credible. Everything takes time when it comes to drug busts, she says, especially if deals are not in progress and officers are going off a tip.
“It’s not like we can go in and bust a door down based on a tip,” says Dobyns, who uses the police department Facebook to advertise the hotline. “But the hotline is definitely helping in determining places where there might be suspicious activities.”
Seven dispatchers answer the hotline, which is run out of the RECC. The service area includes the city of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and the town of Edgewood. The line has a distinctive ring to it, and dispatchers on duty tend to it over the course of their shifts.
“There was no cost implement it,” Martinez notes. “The only costs really are personnel costs; answering it is factored into their job duties.”
Martinez says he thinks the hotline is an important law enforcement tool because it gives the public “an avenue” to call law enforcement on suspicious activity as it relates to drugs.
“We’re talking about everything and anything,” Martinez says, adding: “It’s important for the citizens to reach out to us if they think something illegal is going on.”
This is not the first time the center has used a special hotline, Martinez says. He says about seven years ago officials called for a rape hotline to deal with what seemed to be an increase in sexual assaults in the city and the county. That hotline has since been disconnected, and it didn’t last as long as the drug tip hotline, Martinez says.
Want to narc you neighbor? The drug hotline number is 428-3737.
A national debate is heating up over who should determine energy policies in the future. New Mexico's two senators support a national standard with more renewable sources, but critics say that takes regulatory power away from the states. Despite the cool temperatures, it's almost be time for summer and that means baseball is back in Santa Fe. Go Fuego!
It's Thursday, May 21, 2015
US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, a co-sponsor of a bill that would require utilities like the Public Service Company of New Mexico, to generate 30 percent of their energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources, says that a new national standard would slow electric rate increases and create thousands of new jobs.
“Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES,” Udall said. “More than half the states — including New Mexico — have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”
Debra Haaland, the chairwoman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, wants Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate the state GOP’s use of the state seal on a controversial email.
The state’s Republican Party wants all of State Auditor Tim Keller’s emails and expense reports since taking office in January, but claims their request is being ignored. Keller’s staff says it’s responding to the “burdensome” request.
Former Educational Retirement Board Chairman Bruce Malott’s civil racketeering lawsuit against financial firms and investment advisors has been dismissed.
State District Judge Matthew J. Wilson of Santa Fe threw out the case with prejudice, which means it can’t be refiled unless the ruling is overturned on appeal.
Wilson said in an order filed last week that many of the wide-ranging alleged criminal activities alleged in Malott’s lawsuit were not directed at him or directly caused harm to his reputation. The judge also said none of the defendants in Malott’s case has been charged with a crime because of the alleged schemes he outlined.
A new report found that a large portion of New Mexico’s seniors live in poverty. America’s Health Rankings Senior Report ranked New Mexico 47th in the country for the number of seniors living in poverty, at nearly 12 percent.
A national nursing home wants Balderas to dismiss a lawsuit pushed by private lawyers exposed in TheNew York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning article.
The suit against the Texas-based Preferred Care Partners Management Group — one of the largest nursing home chains in the country — alleges the business has skimpy staffing levels that make it impossible to provide good care to residents of the nursing homes.
New Mexico Highlands University regents have decided which of the six finalists they want to hire as the school’s next president, but they’re keeping their selection quiet until negotiations with the individual have been completed.
After meeting behind closed doors for several hours on Monday, regents emerged to announce that board chairman Leveo Sanchez and board member Frank Marchi had been given authority to begin negotiations with the individual selected.
A group of Millennial business leaders wants the PRC to reconsider their recents votes on Uber and Lyft’s ride-sharing services.
"We're all under 35. We're the future of business, and we're trying to take a leadership role," said Josh Rogers, the development project manager for Titan Development and leader of the NAIOP group. "As young developing leaders of the business community, we'd like to see the PRC make regulations that are appropriate in the market, and let the market decide the restrictions on Uber and Lyft that have caused Lyft to already leave the market, and lets let the market decide what transportation options are available and not let a regulation decide that.”
A national law journal has laid out its analysis of what “Breaking Bad” character Walter White’s trial might have looked like if he had survived and had been convicted. In New Mexico, he wouldn’t have faced the death penalty, since that law was repealed a few years ago.
State employees say they want back pay awarded to them in a settlement sooner than later. But officials says calculations are difficult to sort out. That, plus Santa Fe police will be getting 90 new body cameras soon.
It's Wednesday, May 20, 2015
A few thousand state government employees are still owed back pay, and it doesn’t look like anyone is in a rush to cut checks.
Las Cruces police officers will also be equipped with body cameras, and the folks at the Las Cruces Sun-News think that’s a great idea.
"They help build trust between police and the community. Now, when there is a dispute as to what happened during a search or an arrest, it will no longer be the officer's word, backed up by fellow officers, against the suspect's word, backed up by his or her friends and family. Cameras provide an objective perspective.”
Administrative Office of the Courts Director Artie Pepin will appear before the state Board of Finance Thursday to request emergency funding of $750,000 for operations of magistrate courts through June.
In April, the governor vetoed a $750,000 supplemental appropriation approved by the Legislature to address underfunding partly caused by a loss of revenues from vetoes in 2014.
The Albuquerque Journal is defending its decision to release information about a confidential investigation into District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.
The Journal took the position that releasing the file was the right decision under the law and something APD was required to do. Stonewalling would only have prompted [an] outcry about flouting the law and a coverup.
Under the alternative reality, conduct by the DA that Balderas found to be out of line possibly would have been buried forever.
Ultimately, APD should not be faulted for following evidence wherever it leads–even if that is to high places – or for following the state’s IPRA law.
The Santa Fe Community College’s planetarium remains closed to the public due to a lack of funding.
Barney Magrath, who has taught astronomy as an adjunct at the college for the last five years, says that’s a shame. Even though the planetarium’s technology, from its construction in the 1980s, is out of date, the facility could still be a great resource and gathering place, Magrath says.
But he wasn’t invited to teach classes again next year, and he says that’s in part because he’s been making noise about the planetarium’s closing.
“It’s shameful and disgraceful that they can’t come up with funds to keep it open,” he tells SFR. “It just languishes with no plan. They are determined to keep it closed, from my point of view.”
Maclean’s first feature is a bit of a brooder that can’t keep from sometimes
cracking itself up. It follows a wayward teen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) through 1800s
Colorado (2000s New Zealand), chasing the girl he likes (Caren Pistorius) and
not realizing that his gruff bounty-hunter guide (Michael Fassbender) wants to
find her too, for professional reasons. So the kid’s sort of a chump, but that
doesn’t keep us from hoping things somehow might work out for him or that he’ll
at least wise up if they don’t. Being maybe a softie at heart, the bounty
hunter seems to share this view.
This territory isn't
new, of course. Maclean’s insight is to treat all his characters as random
players on the front lines of manifest destiny, half-consciously wondering if
they’re the butt of a cosmic joke. Sample dialogue: “East, what news?”
“Violence and suffering. West?” “Dreams, and toil.” Or, another exchange,
between the two main characters, as they mosey on horseback through the
barrens: “We could have taken them in.” “In where?” Good point.
The movie looks great,
in a meaningful way. Robbie Ryan’s beauty-attuned cinematography gives us a
gradual focus pull from the haze of romantic hope to the cutting clarity of
disillusionment. Not that tone control is always perfect here; the
point-of-insight moment in Slow West’s climactic shootout seems like
something Joel and Ethan Coen might have dared each other not to cut from an
early draft. It’s a gag, at the protagonist’s expense, and it goes too far,
even for a film that culminates in a wheat field whack-a-mole gunfight. But
it’s not wholly inconsistent, as other piquant bits include a felled tree
pinning the spread-armed skeleton of the man who chopped it down, and a bad guy
played by Ben Mendelsohn as if trying hard not to burst into a Gary Oldman
seems less antsy about channeling Clint Eastwood, and so he inherits the mantle
of Western anti-hero archetype smoothly, as we always knew he would.
Smit-McPhee, by now a veteran of movie frontier treks (see also The Road,
Young Ones, All the Wilderness), never puts a foot wrong. The two
of them together is an odd and compelling sight to behold, an encouraging sign
of fresh buddy-movie blood. They have a knack for making their stylized
conversations sound natural.
“Dry your eyes, kid,
let’s drift,” says the bounty hunter in one of many quotables, expounding what
we know is an unsustainable worldview. Their path proves to be a trail of
bodies, through which the movie—no longer jesting—backtracks in silence just
before it ends.
In its best moments, Slow
West manages to take the piss out of genre-mandated laconicism without
losing sight of why we like it. At other times, the tone gets garbled, as if
Maclean hasn’t yet figured out what great comment on Westerns in general he
really wants to make. That’s OK, though; it’s about the journey, right?
Managing the Who was a
means to an end: Who knew? Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp wanted to make a movie
and figured it should be about something, so they designed a superstar rock
band. As James D Cooper’s sprawling documentary reveals, this was a daunting
and thrilling prospect in war-scarred, class-stratified England of the
What it takes to
produce a great quartet of gear-smashing mod rockers is this: on the one hand,
a gay, Oxford-educated son of a composer, and on the other, yes, the kid
brother to the future General Zod. (Terence Stamp does pop up here, essentially
to affirm Chris’ East End street-tough credentials.)
And so we see Pete
Townshend and Roger Daltrey’s long journey from scuzzy London dives to Kennedy
Center honors. Along the way came casualties, including bandmates Keith Moon
and John Entwistle—and eventually Lambert and Stamp.
Townshend is the
movie’s most lucid raconteur, but Cooper lets in many voices. At times, it
feels a little like being cornered by some geezer rock snob at a party—just
when a song you like comes on, he’s all, “Interesting story about this one…”
Some of the stories are interesting, absolutely, but after a few, you
want to say, “Hey, think we could just listen to the music for a
sec?” But then what would a Who movie be without some excess noise?