Morning Word: Judge Accused of Racial Slur
Public defenders want District Court Judge Fred Van Soelen removed from the benchMorning WordThursday, March 26, 2015
It's Thursday, March 26, 2015
A New Mexico judge could undergo an investigation over allegations that he found humor in the video that shows fraternity brothers singing a racist chant at the University of Oklahoma.
According to the public defender's office in Clovis, an assistant public defender overheard District Court Judge Fred Van Soelen telling an assistant district attorney that the video "would have been funnier thirty years ago." Based on that alleged comment alone, the public defender, Chandler Blair, who is African American, wants the judge permanently excused from all public defender cases.
A citizens advisory group wants the New Mexico Environment Department to consider allowing Los Alamos National Laboratories and the US Department of Energy to pay off its $54 million Waste Isolation Pilot Plant leak fines with contributions and work on other state environmental improvement projects.
Negotiations over the fines are ongoing, according to officials in Washington DC and in Santa Fe, but under a draft recommendation from the Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board, those fines could be paid to the state in projects that reduce pollution and protect the health of people living near the lab rather than an actual cash.
While lawmakers have approved a new 22-year gaming compact with most of the state’s tribes, Gov. Susana Martinez still isn’t ready to sign a tribal compact with the Fort Sill Apaches until they reach an agreement with the federal government to allow them to operate casinos on land they acquired in southern New Mexico in 1999.
Site Selection magazine says New Mexico ranks 5th in the Mountain Region for attracting new companies to the state. The Land of Enchantment is 38th overall.
Texas by far smoked the competition nationwide with 689 projects in 2014. Ohio came in a distant second place with 582. New Mexico only had 19 projects in 2014.
Maybe those out-of-state firms who moved to New Mexico liked the improvement in the state’s school graduation rate.
The 7 percentage point improvement in New Mexico’s four-year high school graduation rate between 2011 and 2013 was the third best in the United States, according to a state-by-state comparison by the U.S. Education Department. The state’s four-year graduation rate increased in each of those years, growing from 63 percent in 2011 to 70 percent in 2013 – fueled in large part by an increase in the number of Hispanic students who earned diplomas.
SFR's Joey Peters has a great story about how Santa Fe is using digital technology to help students learn.
Former Game and Fish Director Jim Lane, who resigned his position without explanation last October, has a new job at the state land office. Lane has supported ranchers' and farmers' efforts at the Roundhouse to take away the Game and Fish Department's oversight of cougars.
A fire weather meteorologist believes that seasonal precipitation may mean a shorter wildfire season in New Mexico this year.
Doña Ana County gets mixed ratings in a new health rankings study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The annual study cited the average life expectancy of county residents and quality of life. The county's premature death rate was far lower than both the state and nation. New Mexico Department of Health officials said Doña Ana County residents have an average life expectancy of 80.2 years. That is just slightly above the average life expectancy in the United States, but less than New Mexico's average.
Fifty years from now, supporters say, it could be home to 90,000 or more people, rivaling the size of Rio Rancho now. The development team says the plan would ensure smart, well-coordinated growth and make it easier to attract employers to the West Side. Opponents questioned Santolina’s fringe location and its strain on the water supply, among other criticisms.
Journalist Lauren Villagran takes a look at another water controversy in southern New Mexico, where Deming officials want to take water from the Gila River.
At least one lawmaker thinks the governor should consider calling a one-day special session to get project money approved and flowing to communities around the state.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle want Gov. Martinez to sign their asset-seizure reform bill.
The annual pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó is right around the corner, and emergency management teams are already preparing.
Old-timers around New Mexico are mourning the loss of George Fischbeck. The former Albuquerque science teacher and popular television personality died in Los Angeles yesterday. He was 92.
Morning Word: Solar Farms Get Go-Ahead Vote
Thousands of oil field jobs still on the lineMorning WordWednesday, March 25, 2015
It's Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The Santa Fe County Commission has approved the Public Service Company’s plans to build two solar farms.
“The approval of these solar centers is an important step forward as we continue to build a cleaner, more diverse resource portfolio, including renewable energy, to responsibly meet the needs of our customers in the communities we serve,” Ron Darnell, PNM’s senior vice president of public policy, said in a statement released immediately after the votes.
Bloomfield utility customers pay the city of Farmington $12 million in gross revenue for power each year, City Manager David Fuqua said after the meeting. The city owning and operating its own electric utility would lead to greater savings for customers and keep those dollars in Bloomfield, he said.
The number of drilling rigs operating in the state has dropped from 85 last spring to 60, department Secretary David Martin told participants at the annual San Juan Basin Energy Conference in Farmington on Tuesday. The rig count dropped in both the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico and the San Juan Basin in the Four Corners area as producers slashed planned production to compensate for plummeting oil prices, which fell from more than $100 per barrel last summer to less than $45 in early January.
BP’s onshore business chief says the company has decided not to sell its assets in the San Juan Basin after all. He says the company is focused on becoming more efficient. Other industry executives attending an energy conference in Farmington are expressing frustration with fracking bans imposed by local government and by the lack of a railroad to transport crude oil for refining and sale, as well as receiving industry goods.
Speaking of “oil trains,” KRQE’s Matt Grubs discovered most but not all volatile crude oil shipments are bypassing New Mexico.
Just what’s on the freight trains that rumble across the state is a closely held secret. Railroads have fought attempts to force them to disclose manifests publicly, citing trade secrets and safety concerns.
KUNM’s Ed Williams reports new federal fracking rules will impact about half of the state’s wells, because they’re drilled on public lands.
Wally Drangmeister, of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said that could put New Mexico at a disadvantage in attracting energy development. “Just to have another layer of regulation, the biggest impact is not necessarily an environmental protection, it’s just an increased cost,” he said.
A New Mexico Environment Department geologist says plans are set to start building a groundwater remediation well on an Albuquerque church’s property to start cleaning up the decades-old Kirtland Air Force Base gas plume leak.
Both of New Mexico’s US Senators want Los Alamos National Laboratory to be able to set aside up to 10 percent of its budget for Laboratory Directed Research and Development. That program advances frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions and helps recruit and retain staff for national laboratories.
It will cost more to shop in Santa Fe after County Commissioners agreed to increase gross receipt taxes.
The increase, which will add almost 13 cents to every $100 purchase, is intended to make up for revenue reductions due to the state phasing out payments intended to reimburse local governments for money they lost when New Mexico exempted groceries and medicine from the gross receipts tax in 2004.
The Doña Ana CountyCommission has also voted to increase gross receipts taxes 3/8 of 1 percent. The increase starts July 1.
A good case is being made to require that video recordings of legislative committee meetings be archived after Phil Griego’s resignation from the Senate this month. A video from a Senate Rules Committee last year shows Griego offering what appears to be misleading testimony in support of a resolution to sell a state building he later earned a sales commission for help brokering.
Even before Griego collects his first state retirement check, two people who want to replace him in the Senate are sharing their vision of how they can best serve the district.
New Mexico’s Republican Party is already gearing up for the 2016 election. Dan Boyd reports the state GOP has hired four new executives to lead next year’s state campaigns, which will be focused on keeping control of the House and trying to win control of the Senate.
A longtime New Mexico artist and philanthropist donated $50,000 to the Western New Mexico University Foundation to establish an artist lecture series that will promote women in the arts.
with Alice Anne Thompson3 QuestionsWednesday, March 25, 2015
On Wednesday, at the St. Francis Auditorium, author and historian Alice Anne Thompson presents excerpts from her upcoming book, The Women of the Santa Fe Trail, and speaks about the women who braved the treacherous
Who were the people who traveled the trail from Missouri to SF, since so few women were included?
Most of the people who traveled to Santa Fe were single men who went on a lark, like for spring break. Some of them were actually English college students. They were just going out there to see the Indians before they all died off, or to see New Mexico and see what pure Hispanic culture was like before it was contaminated by Americans. These were young, very wealthy snips. When they got out there, they were very ethnocentric and almost misogynistic. They were very contemptuous of what they saw. They were all male; they were all around 18. What did they know about life?
In your book, American Caravan, you write about the life of your great-great aunt, Sr. Mary Alphonsa Thompson, who followed the trail. What were her reasons for making the journey?
My father’s side of the family is very English. But they were one of the few families who remained Catholic after the Revolutionary War, so they didn’t get their heads chopped off. Four of the girls in the family joined a Catholic convent founded by two of my other great-great aunts, the Sisters of Loretto. I guess the reason they joined was, they would rather live in a beautiful abbey with tapestries, stained glass, paintings and beautiful songs than be married to a farmer and have 14 kids and die.
What do you see as the legacy of the women of the Santa Fe Trail?
I don’t know what they did, but they all lived into their 80s, while everyone else in Victorian America didn’t make it through their 40s. They were beautifully educated women. The most tenacious and resilient women. They had to pick themselves back up and carry on, fix lunches in the morning, put on four little pairs of mittens and comb hair and put in ribbons. They had to just pull themselves together. And every single woman I know has had to do the same thing. The women in my book were chosen not because they shaped history, but because they reflect it and in many cases inspired it.
Author brings NM-centric tome homePicksWednesday, March 25, 2015
There are many words of praise revolving around Kirstin Valdez Quade’s Night at the Fiestas: Stories. A collection of state-centered tales heavily influenced by her upbringing and local lore, Fiestas, a 2014 National Book Foundation “5 under 35” honoree, has led its author into a sort of cultural whirlwind. One that propels her to a Santa Fe stop on Thursday.
SFR: Are you blown away by your book’s overwhelmingly positive reaction?
KVQ: I am, I am. It’s so harrowing to think of my work out in the world. I’m just so delighted and grateful.
How did your personal journey influence Night at the Fiestas?
My mother’s family is from Northern New Mexico, and they’ve been there for hundreds of years. I was born in Albuquerque, and as a little kid I spent every day with my great-grandmother. I’ve always been really close to my grandparents and older relatives and spent so much time asking them questions about their lives, what was it like growing up in little towns like Torreon and Springer. When I was a kid, my parents and I moved away, and I spent the rest of my childhood moving around a lot…My grandmother’s house in Santa Fe was always the place we always returned to, and that always felt like home to me. It’s the landscape that feels like home to me; it has always fueled my imagination.
There’s something about that landscape that just triggers ideas for me. I’ve lived in so many other places, and no other place does that for me.
What do you take away from readings like the one that’s going to happen here in Santa Fe? What are people’s reactions like?
You know, I’ve heard mostly from my family [laughs] and my grandmother, who sometimes is taken aback. She told me once, ‘Oh, mijita, I didn’t know you knew so many bad words.’ I think that’s one reaction.
Night at the Fiestas: Stories
6 pm Thursday, March 26. Free.
Collected Works Bookstore
202 Galisteo St.,
The People’s LinesNews BriefsWednesday, March 25, 2015
Last year, Santa Fe voters approved a new way to redraw the city’s voting boundaries—with the input of members of the public.
This year, the experiment of redrawing lines through an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission gets its first test. Former City Councilor Karen Heldmeyer, a familiar face in the city’s civic matters, chairs the commission, which plans to hold public meetings between now and May in each of the city’s districts.
“People are going to come, look at odd maps, say which of them they like and which they don’t, and then we’ll decide on one of them,” Heldmeyer says.
The city’s annexation of land in the southwest part of town last year added 13,000 residents to Santa Fe’s Southside districts. Federal law requires each district to be as evenly matched as possible, which means redistricting needs to happen in Santa Fe before the 2016 municipal elections.
Heldmeyer says the Redistricting Commission will recommend new district boundaries by June. Four of five potential maps are currently available to view on the city’s website.
Though staid in nature, redistricting is almost always controversial. In 2011, the last time Santa Fe redrew its boundaries, then-City Councilor Miguel Chavez accused his colleagues of drawing him out of his district for political reasons.
On the statewide level, redistricting ended up before the state Supreme Court that same year, after a special state legislative session dedicated specifically to the purpose. A bill to create a statewide independent redistricting commission failed in the Legislature last month.
Planned meetings from 5:30 to 7 pm include: Tuesday, April 7 at the Southside Library, Thursday, April 23 at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center and Thursday, May 7 at the Public School Administration Building.
Replacement SenatorNews BriefsWednesday, March 25, 2015
Two of the local nominees vying for the District 39 state Senate seat left vacant by the sudden resignation of Phil Griego amid an ethics scandal represent different political parties. But in interviews with SFR, Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics, a Democrat, and Jose Varela Lopez, a Republican, sounded a similar tune when asked about the top priorities of a district that stretches across six different counties.
“I think the greatest needs in the district are…basic infrastructure needs,” says Lopez, a resident of La Cieneguilla. “I would do my utmost to try and advocate for them at the Roundhouse so I could get as much of the infrastructure needs met as possible.”
“There are some common issues” throughout the district, says Stefanics. “For example, I think senior centers are something that are common to all communities.”
Stefanics is a current Santa Fe County Commissioner who says that when she represented Senate District 39 in the mid-90s, parts of four of the six counties that currently make up the district made up her constituency. She argues she knows the needs of the district and that her service in the state Senate gives her a handle on the legislative process. Lopez, president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association and executive director of the New Mexico Forest Industry Association, says his work with those organizations means he knows the needs of rural communities in the district.
Three counties—Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Valencia—in the district selected Stefanics as a nominee to submit to Gov. Susana Martinez. Lincoln County chose Lopez. Torrance County named former Estancia Mayor Ted Barela, a Republican. San Miguel County selected Hugh Ley, a former Democratic County Commissioner. Gov. Susana Martinez is expected choose the new Senator from that list.
03.25.15Street ViewTuesday, March 24, 2015
03.25.157 DaysTuesday, March 24, 2015
GOV. REPORTEDLY ‘FURIOUS’ ABOUT DEAD-END SESSION
Hopefully her immediate trip to balmy Florida was the right attitude adjustment.
MUSHROOM CHURCH NEIGHBORS STILL FIGHTING
Most March Madness brackets have the hoasca team in the finals.
HOSPITAL NEIGHBORS SAY EXPANSION SUCKS
Are those lives saved really worth having a bright light shining in my bedroom window?
MAYOR HOLDS SUMMIT TO END BULLYING IN SCHOOLS
First schools, then City Hall.
LONGMIRE LOCAL FILMING CRANKS UP FOR SEASON 4
Watch parties planned at the Mine Shaft will feature taxidermy contests.
SANTA FE OPERA NAMED AMONG 10 BEST OUTDOOR MUSIC VENUES
Sadly, the soccer field at the old Downs of Santa Fe didn’t make the list.
POLLEN COUNTS ARE UP
Allergy sufferers should try standing on one foot with a neti pot up the nose while singing the state song. Or maybe just some hoasca?
Gay Panic! (At the Prison Yard)
Good chemistry can’t elevate 'Get Hard's lethargyOkTuesday, March 24, 2015
Ah, gay panic. How I’ve missed you.
Just kidding. I haven’t. The last gay joke I remember laughing at in a movie was when Bradley Cooper shouts, “Paging Dr. Faggot,” in The Hangover, and that joke landed for three reasons. First, it was a surprise. Second, it fit perfectly with its well-defined characters. Third, it reminded me of the 1980s when someone could yell such a thing.
But in the 1980s, I was a kid, and as an adult, I don’t find jokes rooted in homophobia funny. And it just so happens that Get Hard has—and this is a conservative estimate—14,000 gay jokes.
Apparently in 2015, no one got the memo that it’s not funny when someone thinks sucking a dick is the worst thing that can happen to him. Get Hard, despite its cheap reliance on such a trope, doesn’t stop there with its transgressions. What’s even more offensive than the jokes is the laziness. You’re going to hire an actor as funny as Matt Walsh, stick a prosthetic penis on him, and make him look bored while Will Ferrell crouches at his waist and attempts oral sex? As bored as he looked, I was ready for a nap.
But that’s how prison comedies go, I guess. Back in the 1980s, Mad magazine did a parody of Three Men and a Baby, and one of things the characters discussed over several panels was how long to make caca and wee- wee jokes before getting into the story. I imagine similar discussions at the screenwriters’ offices for Get Hard, just with gay jokes instead of shit jokes.
Of course, the idea is supposed to be that Ferrell’s character, James King, an investment banker convicted of embezzlement, is an idiot. Don’t bank on most audiences getting that his dum-dumness is where the humor lies.
Luckily, Get Hard has other gags to fall back on. The plot, in which King has 30 days to set his affairs in order before going to prison for 10 years, concerns King hiring Darnell (Kevin Hart) to prep him for prison. King assumes Darnell has been to prison because he’s black (that’s not inspired, either, but I only have 500 words here).
Darnell isn’t a felon. He’s a mild-mannered small-business owner looking for a loan to grow his company and purchase a home in a better school district for his daughter. When King offers him cash for a crash course in prison survival, Darnell accepts.
At least Hart and Ferrell have solid comic chemistry. When they’re plain being silly—King attempting to bench-press Darnell in order to beef up; Darnell instructing King’s house staff to act like prison guards—there are some solid laughs. One good bit has Darnell and King infiltrating a white power biker gang in order for King to buy prison protection.
But it’s hard to sift through all that stuff and come out thinking you’ve spent your 100 minutes wisely. Along with the homophobia, there’s also no decent role for any of the women here; I think more women are naked in this movie than have speaking roles.
And now I’ve exhausted my word count, and I’ve written this entire thing in first person. See what you made me do, Get Hard? DO YOU SEE? I hope you’re happy.
Directed by Etan Cohen
With Ferrell, Hart, and Craig T Nelson
Regal Stadium 14