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Tequila and Turmoil

Alfredo Corchado on journalism in the US and Mexico

Local NewsFriday, September 19, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

When Alfredo Corchado talks about freedom of the press, he’s thinking about something with heaver implications than whether the local county commission has an ill-advised backroom meeting. For journalists covering the political and social scene in Mexico, press freedom is literally a life and death issue.

That’s why he threw back a shot of tequila as he kicked off the Lannan Foundation’s speaker series this week at The Lensic. The series continues with speakers including Noam Chomsky and Max Blulmenthal.  

Once part of a 13-member press corp for The Dallas Morning News in Mexico, Corchado is now the paper’s only staffer in its Mexico bureau. He’s recently published a book, part personal memoir and part journalism, called Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.

“It took a lot of music and a lot of tequila to write this book,” he tells the audience, delivering his laugh line.

It wasn't until he got to the part about the death threat from the cartel that he actually drank the liquid courage on the stage.  

A child of the border region who was born in Durango, Mexico, he then moved with his family to California and later El Paso as a young man. Now living in Mexico again and writing for the American newspaper, Corchado says he’s comfortable straddling the two nations.

“We are the same geography: one blood, two countries, dancing out of step. Two souls still clashing,” he says, reading a passage from the book. He adds later, “I’m not complete unless I’m telling stories in two countries."

While he's covered the narco wars, pervasive violence and the rise of power for the Zetas cartel, the Juarez murders, poverty, several presidents with varying degrees of corruption, and a class system with laws that "only work for the rich," to name just a few topics, Corchado says he's most interested in the stories of hope from the land he loves.

Still, Corchado—who was able to get on a plane when his life appeared in danger—knows that life for reporters in the US is very different from those in parts of Mexico. Storytellers here, he says, must take seriously their obligation to deliver the news about what’s happening south of the border. Too many journalists there have died trying. Reporters with “more protection,” he says, have a responsibility “to make sure their plight remains fresh in our minds.”

"We need to do a lot more to explain to American readers the reach of the cartel, I think it's a disservice to Mexico and it's a disservice to our colleagues to just say 'that corrupt little country south of the border.' It is not that easy. It is not that way," he says. "I'm also often encouraged by colleagues and by Mexicans themselves who will say 'yes, the United States is to blame. The United States has a huge huge blame. If the United States were to legalize drugs tomorrow, this would really change.'" 

Corchado also makes it part of his mission to ensure that murdered and missing journalists aren’t reduced to simple numbers. Here’s a list of some of their names, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists: 

Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, Notisur and Liberal del Sur

     Between February 5 and 11, 2014, in Las Choapas, Veracruz, Mexico

Adrián Silva Moreno, Freelance

     November 14, 2012, in Tehuacán, Mexico

Regina Martínez Pérez, Proceso

     April 28, 2012, in Xalapa, Mexico

Maria Elizabeth Macías Castro, Freelance

     September 24, 2011, in an area near Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

Luis Emanuel Ruiz Carrillo, La Prensa

     March 25, 2011, in Monterrey, Mexico

Noel López Olguín, Freelance

     March 2011, in Chinameca, Veracruz, Mexico

Carlos Alberto Guajardo Romero, Expreso Matamoros

     November 5, 2010, in Matamoros, Mexico

Luis Carlos Santiago, El Diario

     September 16, 2010, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

Valentín Valdés Espinosa, Zócalo de Saltillo

     January 8, 2010, in Saltillo, Mexico

Bladimir Antuna García, El Tiempo de Durango

     November 2, 2009, in Durango, Mexico

Norberto Miranda Madrid, Radio Visión

     September 23, 2009, in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico

Eliseo Barrón Hernández, La Opinión

     May 25, 2009, in Gómez Palacio, Mexico

Armando Rodríguez Carreón, El Diario de Ciudad Juárez

     November 13, 2008, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

Alejandro Zenón Fonseca Estrada, EXA FM

     September 24, 2008, in Villahermosa, Mexico

Amado Ramírez Dillanes, Televisa and Radiorama

     April 6, 2007, in Acapulco, Mexico

Rodolfo Rincón Taracena, Tabasco Hoy

     January 20, 2007, in Villahermosa, Mexico

Roberto Marcos García, Testimonio and Alarma

     November 21, 2006, in Mandinga y Matoza, Mexico

Bradley Will, freelance

     October 27, 2006, in Santa Lucía del Camino, Mexico

Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla, Stereo 91

     April 16, 2005, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

Gregorio Rodríguez Hernández, El Debate

     November 28, 2004, in Escuinapa, Mexico

Francisco Arratia Saldierna, freelance

     August 31, 2004, in Matamoros , Mexico

Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco, Zeta

     June 22, 2004, in Tijuana, Mexico

José Luis Ortega Mata, Semanario de Ojinaga

     February 19, 2001, in Ojinaga, Mexico

Philip True, San Antonio Express-News

     December 15, 1998, in Jalisco, Mexico

Luis Mario García Rodríguez, La Tarde

     February 12, 1998, in Mexico City, Mexico

Víctor Hernández Martínez, Como

     July 26, 1997, in Mexico City, Mexico

Benjamín Flores González, La Prensa

     July 15, 1997, in San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico

Jesús Abel Bueno León, 7 Días

     May 22, 1997, in Chilpancingo, Mexico

Ruperto Armenta Gerardo, El Regional

     February 5, 1995, in Guasave, Mexico

Jorge Martín Dorantes, El Crucero

     June 6, 1994, in Morelos, Mexico


Supreme Court Says Yes to Pot Question

Court says Santa Fe and Bernalillo County clerks can add advisory question to ballot

Local NewsFriday, September 19, 2014 by Joey Peters

The pot vote is back on. Ballots in Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties are set to feature an advisory question on marijuana decriminalization per a Friday ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The high court held an emergency hearing, then said the Secretary of State Dianna Duran had refused to perform her mandated duty when she told both counties that she wouldn't be placing questions on their ballots despite orders from the respective commissions.

The 3-0 decision comes from justices Barbara Vigil, Petra Jimenez Maes and New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge Michael Bustamante. Justices Edward Chavez, Richard Bossen and Charles Daniels weren't present at the hearing, and Bustamante filled in to make sure an odd number of judges decided the motion.

The decision should put an end to the seemingly endless ping-pong between the counties and the New Mexico secretary of state's fight on the issue. Both county commissions voted earlier this month to place a non-binding advisory question on the Nov. 4 general election ballot to ask voters whether the counties should support lowering penalties for possessing of one ounce or less of marijuana.

The questions won't carry the force of law with them. In other words, they're symbolic. Small marijuana possession is already decriminalized in Santa Fe's city limits. Efforts to bring the issue to voters in a ballot initiative failed in Albuquerque and halted in Santa Fe after the City Council passed decriminalization outright last month. 

Some Republicans have criticized the decriminalization initiative as an attempt to get liberal-leaning voters to the polls. Both county commissions are controlled by Democrats.

Duran, a Republican facing a tough election this fall, last week told both counties that she wouldn't be placing the questions on the ballots based on legal advice that counties don't have the right to put "poll questions" on statewide general election ballots. The counties then each filed a writ of mandamus to the state's highest court for an emergency hearing. The court consolidated both cases into one hearing, which was originally scheduled for next Tuesday but was moved up to Friday over concerns that all offices in charge of elections are able to send out absentee ballots by tomorrow. During the hearing, attorney Maureen Sanders, who was contracted by both counties to represent them, implored the court to consider Duran's authority to reject county questions.

"If somebody believes that advisory questions are not allowed in New Mexico, then they can take other methods of challenging a commission," she said. "In this case, though, to allow the secretary of state within days of the election to make that decision is inappropriate. She does not have the power to make the decision or to determine whether or not a particular resolution passed by two county commissions is in fact legal or illegal under the laws of the state of New Mexico." 

"So we don't even have to get to the propriety of the question in this case this afternoon," Vigil responded. "We can narrow our determination to whether she has the authority under our laws to make this decision."

Sanders responded in the affirmative, and added that the court could "leave for another day and another case, perhaps, the whole issue of whether or not advisory question questions are allowed in the state of New Mexico."

Albuquerque attorney Rob Doughty, who argued on behalf of Duran's office, implored the court to consider otherwise.

"Ms. Sanders is talking about change and change and change and change," he said in his opening statement. "The only change that's going in New Mexico right now is the fact that Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County—they're trying to do something that's never been done in the history of New Mexico: to put a poll question on statewide ballots."

He argued that state statute gives Duran the authority to act on her interpretation of the election code. State statute doesn't specifically address advisory questions, but Maes pointed out how it contains words allowing "other questions." 

"My question, and I know your question is, what does this mean?" Doughty responded. "What does it mean on questions other than proposed constitutional amendments? We just do not know what it means ... there is no definition of what 'other questions' means." 

Doughty argued that the secretary of state has the power to interpret "other questions" to not include advisory questions. The three judges didn't buy the argument. Bustamante added that the state constitution itself doesn't address all the types of questions that are often included in elections, such as municipal bond issues. Interpreting the broad language to not include certain types of questions would mean "we would have to go back and change how we define the constitution," he argued. 

Doughty also brought up the concern that allowing advisory questions on the ballot could confuse voters into thinking that they'd carry legal weight and "open a can of worms" of allowing multitudes of poll questions on future election ballots. In her rebuttal, Sanders countered that argument by saying that voters "have the ability to understand" advisory questions. 

The court's unanimous decision came as a sigh of relief to the organizers who spent the summer pushing for a decriminalization ballot initiative. 

"We have a campaign," said Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico. "We can go to work."

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat running to unseat Duran for secretary of state this year, accused Duran of violating state law in her actions earlier this month.

“The Supreme Court has upheld that the secretary far overstepped her authority and manufactured a crisis for our state when none existed," Oliver said in a statement. 

Bobbi Shearer, who works in Duran's office director of the Bureau of Elections, told reporters that she was concerned that advisory questions would now become a trend.

Meanwhile a poll in Friday's Albuquerque Journal asserted that 50 percent of likely voters in the state oppose marijuana legalization, but says the number of registered voters who favor legalization outnumber those who oppose it. Stay tuned on whether those trends bear out in Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties, where the first absentee ballots are due to be mailed out Saturday.

BREAKING: Commission Advises No Retention of SF Judge

Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission says attorneys rate Sheri Raphaelson poorly

Local NewsFriday, September 19, 2014 by Justin Horwath
The New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission announced a rare “do not retain” recommendation after evaluating the performance of First Judicial District Court Judge Sheri A Raphaelson.

The nonpartisan group’s evaluation, released today, says low scores in surveys of attorneys, court staff, jurors and other participants who interacted with Raphaelson factored into the 15-member commission’s decision to recommend to voters that they should not retain the judge in the upcoming November election.

“Attorneys give her low ratings when it comes to treating all participants equally and for displaying fairness and impartiality toward each side of the case,” the 15-member commission’s evaluation says. “They also rate her lower for not always exercising sound legal reasoning and for not conducting herself in a manner free from arrogance.”

After being elected to the bench, district court judges are also subjected to nonpartisan retention elections where they don’t face opponents. They must receive approval of 57 percent of voters to stay on the bench.

The commission issued two “do not retain” recommendations this year out of 85 judges judges standing for retention across the state.

The commission, established by the state’s Supreme Court and known as JPEC, has issued recommendations to voters on whether they should retain judges and justices for nine elections. At least eight of the commission’s 15 members must agree on a recommendation. The 15 appointees, which include seven lawyers and eight non-lawyers, rely on surveys of the judges to issue recommendations. It doesn’t release vote tallies or confidential midterm surveys of judges.

But it does release final surveys filled out by three different categories of citizens who might interact with a judge: attorneys, including defense and prosecutors; court staff; and resource staff, which can include police officers, probation officers and social workers.

Out of 124 attorneys surveyed, 45 percent either strongly recommended or somewhat recommended Raphaelson should not be retained. Roughly 42 percent of  54 court staffers said the same, while 78 percent of resource staff leaned toward “do not retain.”  

Judge Raphaelson’s survey scores among resource staff improved from her 2011 interim evaluation, the commission says, but her scores among attorneys decreased or stayed the same since that confidential evaluation.

“During this final retention evaluation,” the commission says, “Raphaelson did not take responsibility for her survey scores and the negative comments by survey participants. The commission feels her attitude and demeanor are reflective of her judicial temperament and are an accurate reflection of the survey results.”

Judges are able to see comments from survey respondents, says Brian Sanderoff, President of Research and Polling Inc., the Albuquerque firm that conducts the surveys. But, he adds, those comments are confidential.

From May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013, parties excused Raphaelson “at a significantly higher rate than any other judge in the district (537 times),” says the commission, “requesting their cases be reassigned to a different judge.”

She was appointed in 2009 and elected in 2010 to the bench on the First Judicial District Court, which includes Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. The group recommended the retention of four other district judges in the court: T. Glenn Ellington; Raymond Ortiz; Sarah Singleton; and Mary Marlowe Sommer.

The group also recommended voters in the area should retain state Supreme Court Justice Edward Chaves. 

Cynthia A. Fry, Linda M Vanzi and Jim Wechsler, members of the state’s Appeals Court, also received “retain” recommendations from JPEC.

Do-not-retain recommendations are rare. 

“It’s not an easy thing to do,” says Karen Cortese, a commissioner since 2008, "but we’ve done it in the past.”

Yet she and Denise Torres, chair of JPEC, says they’ve seen judges be elected after JPEC’s do-not-retain recommendation. Torres says one judge reacted positively to the “jolt.”

“We continued to work with that judge and we saw significant improvement,” she says.

The group distributes guides to educate voters about the records of judges and justices up for retention. You can view the reports at

Climate March

People are encouraged to bring their energy to two green events this weekend

Local NewsThursday, September 18, 2014 by Joey Peters

In anticipation of next week's United Nations Climate Summit, New Mexican residents will have plenty of opportunities to join in on local "People's Climate Marches" this weekend.

The first event will be on Saturday in Albuquerque starting at 9 am at the Immaculate Conception Church (619 Copper Ave.). That march will go to the Federal Court Building and end at Robinson Park around 11 am. Santa Fe's climate march starts at noon that same day at the Plaza. It is planned to go past the Roundhouse and end at the Railyard.

Attendees are encouraged to bring signs and banners addressing "concerns and solutions" about climate change.

"By marching together, we amplify the message that it is past time to take significant action to eliminate human impacts on the climate," reads a statement from Positive Energy Solar, which is co-sponsoring both marches.

At least four local students will be marching in the People's Climate March the next day in New York City. Tammy Harkins, an English teacher at Santa Fe High School, is taking the four students—two from Santa Fe High and two from the University of New Mexico—to the march after winning a contest though the Energy Action Coalition that will pay for their airfare to New York City this weekend.

The contest had them each make a video about their thoughts on fighting climate change while Harkins submitted a brief essay on the topic. Members of the group will also have 20 minutes to share their thoughts and concerns with a UN representative. Harkins says they'll also be spending the weekend attending workshops concerning the issue. 

But perhaps the biggest event will be the march, which is said to bring a big turnout.

"They're expecting anywhere from 250,000 to half a million people," Harkins says.

Emails Contradict AG's Con Man Account

Gary King and defense in the Michael Soutar case negotiated terms, records show

Local NewsThursday, September 18, 2014 by Justin Horwath

Internal emails contradict the account given Wednesday by a top official at Gary King's office who told reporters that "the attorney general did not negotiate any kind of agreement with [Michael] Soutar"—a con man prosecuted by King's office but released early from a 34-year prison sentence.

"It's my understanding that you and Raymond [Sanchez] discussed the terms of the motion to reconsider the sentence concerning the securities related convictions," against Soutar, Eleanor Brogan, the con man's public defender, wrote to King on Feb. 21, 2012.

"I've told [Brogan] I'm comfortable that what you and I agreed to will stand," Raymond Sanchez wrote on Soutar's behalf to Gary King in a March 12, 2012 email.

Two days later,  Dave Pederson, a special counsel in the AG's office, 
wrote to his boss: "Gary, Soutar will cop to a plea to all remaining charges tomorrow. I agreed if he does that, no objection to running those concurrent with original sentence.”

The email traffic relating to the the case is coming to light after the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Susana Martinez began hammering away at King's role in Soutar's ultimate release with radio and now TV ads, based on a June cover story published by SFR.

That sentence was supposed to be 34 years, handed down by First Judicial District Court Judge Michael Vigil in 2007 after a jury convicted one of New Mexico's most infamous con men on ten felonies for defrauding victims who invested money in an art market he established in Santa Fe in 2004. By March 2012, Soutar, known as the Casanova Con Man, had been behind bars for nearly eight years, thanks to a joint prosecution between Attorney General King’s Office and the Regulation and Licensing Department’s Securities Division.

King's office—notably not his Democratic gubernatorial campaign—called a press conference in Albuquerque on Wednesday to combat what Pederson characterized as "factual inaccuracies" and an "attack on the professional integrity of the attorney general’s office" by Martinez' ads.

Pederson opened the conference saying the "inferences in the ad are that there was an exercise of some kind of undue influence by Raymond Sanchez on the attorney general—and that this resulted in some sort of back-room bargain that let Michael Soutar out of prison."

Pederson, Sanchez and King served in the Legislature together, he told reporters at the conference, but "that didn't enter into the equation either for Attorney General King and certainly not for me" in the position taken by the attorney general's office during a March 2012 resentencing hearing in that resulted in Soutar's release.

King's office did not oppose Soutar's release in the hearing, despite opposition to Soutar's release by the Securities Division.

Sanchez was never listed as Soutar's attorney in the case, but the Albuquerque lawyer had been lobbying King for nearly a year to pursue "mediation" with King's office as Soutar asked the state's Court of Appeals to overturn 10 felony convictions.

In February 2012, the state Appeals Court upheld all of Soutar's convictions, nullifying the ability of Soutar and King's office to enter into official "mediation." That didn't stop the recidivist felon from asking Judge Vigil to reconsider the harsh 34-year sentence. And emails obtained earlier this year by SFR show that while King noted to a colleague that the Appeals Court ruling meant Soutar lost his "negotiating position," he said he was still concerned about the victims getting their money back in the case.

The two sides continued to communicate about both the terms of the motion the defense was drafting to ask Vigil to reconsider his sentence, which he did, suspending 15 years off the sentence and ordering him to pay roughly $200,000 to various victims in the case.

Not all Soutar’s victims from the scheme got compensated, however, including James O’Hara, a market employee who says Souter didn’t pay him $5,400 in wages, and his brother, who invested $32,500 in the market.

Asked if the court could have forced Soutar to pay back his victims while keeping him behind bars, Pederson responded in the press conference that, “I don’t really know.”

“We will be able to say that justice was served,” Pederson wrote to King the day before Soutar’s March 2012 hearing, “vast sums of State money saved by avoiding future trials, full prompt victim compensation, and closure for all parties.”

Emails show Pederson telling a victims advocate with the attorney general’s office to not respond to James O’Hara’s inquiries about whether he and his brother might get restitution money from the hearing. James and his wife Linda obtained all the emails quoted here in a request made under the Inspection of Public Records Act.

“By the way, [Raymond Sanchez] tried to tell me you ‘gave up’ the escape charge,” Pederson wrote in a March 14, 2012 email to King, referring to Soutar pleading guilty to escaping from prison after his December 2004 indictment. “I told him I convinced you not to just dismiss it versus the other severed counts. He also said you felt the original sentence was too harsh! Always the spin-master.”

Peter St. Cyr contributed to this report 

Meet A Cop

Santa Fe Police will be at Starbucks to talk to community

Local NewsWednesday, September 17, 2014 by Joey Peters

Coffee will be served, but will there be doughnuts? 

Tomorrow at 5 pm, city residents can meet with members of the Santa Fe Police Department as a part of a "Coffee with a Cop" program designed to grow the police force's relations with the community. Residents are free to come ready to discuss "community issues, build relationships and further open lines of communication" with the city's cops, according to the announcement.

The initiative, a national program sponsored by the federal Department of Justice, comes at a time when the state's biggest city police department in Albuquerque has been under intense scrutiny from the public and the Department of Justice for its shootings of civilians over the past few years.  

Santa Fe's police have been more fortunate in their relationship with the community than the cops just south of here, though some officers haven't been immune to making aggressive actions that led to public relations problems. 

SFPD Police Chief Eric Garcia will be present at the community meeting, along with several higher-up city police officers. The city's police force have done well for themselves under Garcia, getting their 10-hour-a-day, four-day workweek reinstated recently. City Council also approved SFPD's request earlier this month to spend $854,000 on new cop cars. 

The coffee meeting, which will be located at Starbucks on 4960 Promenade Blvd. on the south side of the city, is designed to "break down barriers" between the cops and the residents they're sworn to protect. 

“We hope that community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know our officers,” Garcia says in a statement. 

The initiative is planned to be held on a regular basis in different parts of the city. 

Triathlon Losing Steam?

With one day of registration remaining, numbers are low for seventh annual event

Local NewsWednesday, September 17, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

Fewer people have registered for this weekend's seventh annual Santa Fe triathlon than did for last year's event, but city officials say they expect a last-minute rush of participants before the Saturday showdown.

The deadline to register is midnight Thursday, says an optimistic Liza Suzanne, manager for the city’s Genoveva Chavez Community Center.

“We have noticed last-minute registrations for all our recreational events in Santa Fe,” she tells SFR, adding later that officials from the USA Triathlon organization told her recently that participation numbers for similar events are down across the country, “but they don’t know why there is a decline in the tri trend.”

A number of local competitive athletic events recently might have also taken a bite out of numbers, she notes. (For example, on Sept. 13 more than 700 people ran the Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon from Fort Marcy to the Buffalo Thunder Casino, and Las Campanas held its triathlon on Labor Day.) 

Last year, 206 adults and 12 relay teams competed in the city event that includes a 5K run, a 12-mile bike ride and a 400-meter swim. This year, just 164 individuals and 10 teams have signed up. The footrace course traverses Rodeo Road and the Arroyo Chamiso Trail. After the run, competitors pedal bicycles down Rodeo Road to Richards Avenue, Rancho Viejo Boulevard and beyond. Finally, they jump into the center’s Olympic-sized pool.

The event is scheduled to begin at 7 am on Sept. 20 at the Chavez Center. A kids triathlon is also scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 21. Register for either event in person at the center or New Mexico Sports Online.

Government Power Disagreements Color Candidate Forum

Candidates for secretary of state, attorney general faced off in a League of Women Voters forum Tuesday

Local NewsWednesday, September 17, 2014 by Justin Horwath

Candidates for the secretary of state and attorney general disagreed on the role of the offices they're seeking in a Tuesday forum hosted by the League of Women Voters, with the two Republican contenders arguing for a more limited government than the visions proposed by their Democratic opponents.

In response to an audience-member question that asked the two attorney general candidates what they would do to ensure the protection of New Mexicans against wage theft by employers, Republican Susan Riedel argued that the office has "constitutionally mandated tasks" that it must accomplish.

"The attorney general’s office just can’t take over everything," a former judge and prosecutor in the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office told the audience at the Santa Fe Community College. "...What I am going to do is prosecute crime."

Hector Balderas, the current state auditor, had responded first that the attorney general can be "more vocal, more visible" in preventing wage theft, pledging that he'd create a labor enforcement protection division that "proactively engages employers" on the issue.

Balderas' solution to the wage theft issue mirrored several of his responses: creating task forces within the office and between the office and various authorities. He also emphasized transparency. The lights had flickered off before he could answer a question about how the candidates would deal with the behavioral health audit. "This is a perfect transition to my point," he quipped when the lights turned back on. "We need more transparency."

Balderas also said he would institute an "executive-level task force"  between the US attorney and attorney general that would tackle Medicaid fraud. Riedel proposed no such group during the forum. She emphasized the role of the state's top law-enforcement officer is to bring justice swiftly, taking a swipe at the sitting Attorney General Gary King for saying his investigation into behavioral health providers in the state might take up to seven years. "I can tell you that the one thing I really want to see happen with this situation that there is a swift decision," she said. "A criminal investigation needs to move quickly." 

The philosophical differences about the role of government cut down party lines for the secretary of state candidates, although to a lesser extent. Democratic candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver responded that she supports an independent ethics commission that would take on some of the secretary of state's duties, saying there's a danger in too much regulatory authority in the secretary of state's office because "you run the risk of having partisanship come into play." 

Republican incumbent Diana Duran wouldn't say whether she supports that decision—only that she'd follow the law. "As secretary of state, I serve a ministerial role," she said. "Whether or not an ethics commission is created is up to the Legislature." 

But if there's one area where the secretary of state can be more activist in Duran's mind, it's cracking down on voter fraud.

Duran repeatedly emphasized she wants to protect the "integrity" of elections by ensuring everyone's vote counts—and only once. "Voter fraud exists," she said. "I have seen it. I have investigated it."

She said her office played a role in presenting 23 names to the district attorney in Sunland Park—six of whom were convicted of voter fraud. "Too many times we have people [assert] that it must be widespread in order to be a problem." 

Her opponent, the current Bernalillo county clerk, disagreed. "It happens extremely rarely," Toulouse Oliver said, emphasizing that, as secretary of state, she would ensure an "easy and accessible voting experience," so that every eligible voter is able to "participate in the election process."

Painting a picture of widespread voter fraud, Toulouse Oliver argued, creates strict rules that disenfranchise up to 10 percent of the voting population.

In-person early voting for the Nov. 4 election begins Oct. 7, which is also the last day a voter can register to be eligible to cast a ballot in the election.

Get Connected

Bike Issue 2014Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by SFR

You can always tell a great bike shop by the techs who are outside making loops in the parking lot to check their work—popping wheelies, bouncing suspensions and pinching brakes. Almost everyone will sell you a helmet and a pack of protein goo for your next adventure, but here are some of the highlights of Santa Fe’s local pedal peddlers:

Local Bike Shops

1426 Cerrillos Road

Experienced bike mechanics are on the job at the shop that has a small collection of used bikes and upward of 200 new ones hanging from the ceiling. The store recently honored by the National Bicycle Dealers Association sports a selection of panniers, helmets, hydration packs and other accessories. One wall is devoted to maps of the city’s trails, the runs at Angel Fire Bike Park and the topography of the nearby Santa Fe National Forest.

132 E Marcy St.

Bike rentals at this downtown location regularly send out entire families of tourists on fat-tired Crushers—we know because they share our building. Three tiers of rental bikes mean you can spend as little as $20 a day to just get there and as much as $100 a day to try a late-model preium cycle. The shop owned by David Bell also caters to pros and commuters with sales and repairs.

2801 Rodeo Road, Ste. B-8

The only bike shop on the Southside comes courtesy of Clemente McFarlane, whose service is also courteous in every way, by many accounts. The tiny store named for a star has the essential accessories, and also offers repairs and custom builds along with Chrome brand bags and a wide selection of Orbea, Felt and State Bicycle Co. inventory. Se habla español.

607 Cerrillos Road, Space A

Española native Maria Archuleta Gabriele and her husband Peter opened the store in August that buys, sells and trades high-end, pre-owned road bikes. All you’ll find here are frames, parts and complete bikes, plus a setup for photographing bikes for their Internet sales plan. No merch. No repairs.

524 W Cordova Road

Loads of accessories and clothes complement oldschool repair and no-pressure high-information sales. This 21-year-old business stocks more gloves, gear and gadgets than almost any other store in town. Plus, four techs here have bike-fitting certification from Specialized. Quick tuneups and tire repairs can happen with the right timing.

1632 St. Michael’s Drive

Bike selection ranges from affordable and easy to exceptional and complicated, including BMX bikes and choices for kids. Pick up a set of valve covers in the shape of peace signs or eyeballs or a new Camelbak or just its bladder, if that’s what you’re seeking. The repair shop is always whirring. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice about which mountain trails to hit up next.


1515 5 th St.

Learn how to refurbish a bike with this nonprofit advocacy group’s Bicycle Resource Project or donate your spare parts for the cause of transportation equity.


These SOBs are road-cycling enthusiasts who meet on Thursdays for 30-mile rides grouped according to skill level, but they say you can “extend, or to turn around at any point along the way.” Informal rides also leave weekly on Tuesdays from DeVargas Mall. A detailed schedule is posted at


This road-cycling group holds weekly rides on Sundays in the Santa Fe area in three skill-level groups. The shortest, C rides, are in the 25- to 45-mile range with average speeds around 12 mph. SANTA FE FAT TIRE SOCIETY The local branch of the International Mountain Bicycling Association provides Twitter trail updates with the hashtag #sftrails. It’s hosting festivities in conjunction with National Take Your Kid Mountain Biking Day on Oct. 4. The group meets monthly on the second Monday at 6 pm at REI.



Most of the Santa Fe Trails city buses have bike racks intended to help riders make connections to further destinations. In an effort to encourage this kind of multimodal life, the city offers a free annual or monthly bus pass with the purchase of a bike or purchase of bike gear or by providing volunteer services in return for a bicycle from Broken Spoke, Chainbreaker Collective, Mellow Velo, Rob and Charlie’s or Sirius Cycles. (With the purchase of $240 or more, an annual fee bus pass is provided. With the purchase of $20-$230, a monthly bus pass is provided.) Bring your original receipt to the Transit Administration Building located at 2931 Rufina, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, 955-2010


Commuter bikers and wannabes are invited to summit where regional transportation planners will strategize and share information. A keynote lecture is planned from city Councilor Joseph Maestas. 5 pm, Oct. 10 at the 500 Market St. in the Railyard.


Illuminate your bike and join the G’Low-N-Slow 5-mile community bike cruise through the streets of downtown. The Oct. 10 festivities start at the Railyard’s water tower where there will be bike decoration supplies, food trucks, a DJ, artists, booths and decoration supplies. The loop ride starts at 9 pm and will return to the Railyard for s’mores, hot chocolate and more. Registration is $20 (kids 12 and under ride for free), and the first 100 participants to sign up will receive a long sleeve, moisture-wicking technical tee. Visit for more information.


The Santa Fe Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization is conducting a survey on addressing the transportation needs of the Santa Fe regional area over the next 25 years. English Spanish

The Lure

Officials target economic gains of outdoor recreation

Bike Issue 2014Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Julie Ann Grimm

Attracting people to Santa Fe who have a passion for the outdoors could be an economic boost for the region, says David Griscom, Santa Fe County economic development manager.

In 2010, the county identified outdoor recreation and products industries as target areas in its strategic growth plan, a facet shared by both city and state strategies. Griscom says he met with 30 business representatives at an outdoor retail trade show in Salt Lake City last month and is talking up the idea of expansion or relocation in Santa Fe. One push he’s making is that businesses “cluster” with Bicycle Technologies International, a worldwide parts distributor with a newish facility in Rancho Viejo.

“We see this as an emerging industry,” he says, noting that a trade group recently estimated the state’s economic impact from outdoor recreation is something like $6 billion per year. “We don’t know exactly how they get that number, but no matter how you shake it, it’s going to a big number.”

The other reason a company might come here, he says, is the same reason visitors come with bikes, boots, skis and boards in hands.

“We think their employees would like it here. We are really selling the quality of life here,” he says. “You can now ride or hike from the city to the ski area without getting on a paved road. That’s a big deal, and we emphasize that. How many capital cities in the country can you get on a trail basically on the outskirts of the city and access so many miles of trail like that?”

Growth Griscom calls “eco tourism” is also a ring that officials are grasping for. It might be one part reality and one part dream.

“When I’m out on the trails, I stop and talk to people, and I see more and more people from out of state who are coming here to hike and bike,” he says. “Santa Fe has long been known as a cultural center, and that is valid and that has its place, but more and more you are seeing a younger crowd come into Santa Fe with their skis and with their bikes to enjoy what we have.”

Tequila and Turmoil

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