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Weekend PicksFriday, February 12, 2016 by SFR

Valentime's in the Norte

Local comedian Carlos Medina performs with Jose Maestas with music by Los Malcriados.

More Info >>

Jazz Greats

Photographs of jazz legends by Paul Slaughter.

More Info >>


Sex on Vinyl

Annual house music event featuring local favorites Melanie Moore, Oona Bender and Donovan, with new performers Eve Falcon and the Experimental Housewife.

More Info >>

Valentine's Weekend Book Sale

Discount books for sale to benefit the Santa Fe Public Library.

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Valentine's Day

Gird your heartstrings, folks. They're about to get plucked with what Huey Lewis and the News would call the Power of Love.

More Info >>

Hearts Full of Love Sacred Sound Celebration

V-Day concert with Indigenous Cosmos featuring Tibetan bowls, gongs, vocals and more.

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.

Tear Down that Wall

Hearing officer recommends medpot program transparency

Local NewsFriday, February 12, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
A yearslong battle waged by open government advocates to shed light on the state’s Medical Cannabis Program is one step closer to being settled without a costly courtroom fight.

Last Friday, Craig Erickson, an independent hearing officer hired by the New Mexico Department of Health to review a proposed amendment to the program’s confidentiality rules, recommended Health Secretary Retta Ward adopt the proposal and allow anyone to review nonprofit grower’s license applications after the initial deadline to submit them passes.

The amendment was developed during settlement talks after the New Mexico Foundation of Open Government and this journalist sued the department for access to 86 new grower applications last July. Gov. Susana Martinez also ordered the department to make the program more transparent following the evaluation and selection of a dozen new growers.

Before making his recommendations, Erickson spent a month reviewing comments he heard from patients, producers and others during a hearing in Santa Fe in January, as well as input he received in writing after the meeting, including letters from a producer’s attorney who opposes the amendment, and from supporters including the foundation's counsel, Attorney Kip Purcell, and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Last December, Balderas determined regulators can’t deny requests for records by invoking the “otherwise provided by law” exemption in the Inspection of Public Records Act since the current confidentiality rule exceeds the program’s statutory authority.

Balderas has also argued that lawmakers, who provided registered patients confidentiality when they adopted the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act in 2007, did not intend to provide growers the same level of confidentiality or they would have included it the legislation.

Patients who are licensed to grow or have applied for a personal production license will remain confidential if Ward accepts Erickson’s recommendations. However, law enforcement officers will continue to have limited access to their licenses, but only to determine if they hold a valid personal production license to grow at home.

Erickson also rejected a legal argument he received in writing from an anonymous contributor after the public meeting that suggests if Ward ultimately decides to impose the new rule, it should not be applied retroactively without a court order since, the contributor argues, producers and applicants submitted their documents with the belief they would not be disclosed to the public.

Cannabis Growers of New Mexico Attorney Jason Marks has said the majority of the producers support program transparency but have significant objections to anything that reveals growers’ cultivation and production facilities and their security plans. Those, Marks says, should continue to be withheld from the public because growers are subject to burglary and armed robberies, and that “the industry is an attractive target because of the well-developed network for illicit sales of marijuana.”

Erickson's recommendations dosn't exempt cultivation and production facilities from disclosure. 

Journalists and open government advocates maintain that more transparency is needed to scrutinize the program for both cronyism and diversity, to evaluate applicants’ growing experience and commitment to new testing protocols and to review each nonprofit applicant’s nonprofit bylaws and mission statement.

Separate from the confidentiality issue, Erickson also recommends Ward accept a new rule that will require dispensaries to disclose any pesticides used in the growing process on their labels and keep an electronic copy of their customers' registration cards and a copy of their photo identification. Erickson also agreed with a proposal to eliminate the department's new heavy metal testing requirement and amend its medical cannabis courier rules to allow drivers to deliver product to testing labs and other manufacturers.

And if Ward accepts all of Erickson's recommendations, patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder can provide medical records from any qualified medical provider, not just psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses or prescribing psychologists in the future. The hearing officer also wants Ward to adopt similar rule changes for chronic pain patients and individuals with painful peripheral neuropathies and inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis. Erickson also urged Ward to accept an amendment that strikes a provision that required patients to demonstrate "standard" treatments failed to provide adequate relief to their underlying medical symptoms.
 
Kenny Vigil, a spokesman for the health department, tells SFR they are still reviewing the recommendations and that there is no deadline for Ward to make her final decision on the proposed rules.

Morning Word: State Budget Woes

Land commissioner suggests raising gasoline taxes

Morning WordFriday, February 12, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Budget Deficit Deepens
As the price of oil dropped to $26.19 a barrel on Thursday, Sen. Finance Chairman John Arthur Smith says the state budget will likely have to be cut again. To dig out from the deficit, Aubrey Dunn, the commissioner of public lands, suggests it may be time to raise taxes, beginning with gasoline taxes. Dunn, who won’t be popular with Gov. Susana Martinez or fellow Republicans, says royalty income from the oil and gas industry is off 37.5 percent, and some drillers are simply cancelling or abandoning their leases to drill on state trust land.

Pot Taxes to the Rescue
While oil revenue falls, some people suggest lawmakers look to the huge revenue Colorado is collecting from taxes on legal marijuana. A proposal to legalize pot for adult recreational use passed the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday.

Most SF Council Candidates Support Tax Hike
Speaking of budget deficits, a majority of the candidates running for a seat on the Santa Fe City Council say they support some level of tax increase to shore up the city’s projected budget deficit.

Udall, Heinrich: End Immigration Raids 
The Associated Press reports, “New Mexico's two U.S. Democratic senators want President Barack Obama to halt deportation raids targeting Central American women and children.”

‘Crisis in the Cold’

KOB is taking a long look at the reasons why community service aides are finding so many people frozen to death in Gallup this winter, including 17 in the last few months alone. Meanwhile, KRQE reports that a rescue mission in Albuquerque plans to use grant money to provide long-term housing to homeless people who enroll in drug treatment and job preparation programs.

Juvenile Justice
Nehemiah Griego, who pleaded guilty to killing five family members in Albuquerque in 2013 when he was only 15 years old, will be sentenced as a juvenile and likely released from custody when he is 21. His family had mixed emotions about the ruling.

Other Legislative News
Popular Pope
If you have a US passport and really want to see Pope Francis' Mass in Juarez next Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is giving away 500 tickets on Saturday at 9 am. Follow the link for details on how to get them. 

That's it for this week.  Have a romantic Valentine's Day.

More Rentals, Please

City adjusts affordable housing requirement in hopes of increasing development

Local NewsThursday, February 11, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

In the years since Santa Fe began requiring rental housing developers to make 15 percent of units in any new development priced at an affordable level instead of the market rate, only one multifamily housing development has been built: the San Isidro Apartments near Cerrillos Road and Zafarano Drive. 

So Santa Fe City Council has voted to change the definition of “extreme hardship” and amend the requirements for rental units to allow developers to pay a fee-in-lieu of building those affordable units. The hope is that by loosening these requirements, Santa Fe will see more rentals built and the basic economics of supply and demand will take over to rein in runaway rental prices in Santa Fe and make it possible for more of the city’s workforce to afford living here. 

“The more we try and tighten it up, to where it becomes so onerous to a developer, the less supply that’s going to go out there and ultimately I think we have to try to find that right balance so that a development is reaching the intended individual who needs access,” said Mayor Javier Gonzales, who worked with Alexandra Ladd, housing special projects manager for the city, to bring the measure forward with a goal of reducing barriers to increasing the supply of housing in Santa Fe. “We have to find a way to get more, to encourage more apartments to go up and more rental housing to go up into the community but also figure out how to generate a source of funds that can help individuals needing access to down payment assistance or just needing to hold on, needing some rental assistance or payment assistance.”

As written now, the Santa Fe Homes Program requires developers to build homes priced for those who make as little as 50 percent or less of area median income. When developers approach banks asking for money for a housing development, they have to factor in that 10 percent of units may be unoccupied at any given point in time, and when you add to that 15 percent of units that won’t ever make money, Ladd told council, banks simply don’t see a financially viable project: 

“They’re kind of dead in the water with this requirement in place as written,” she said. And it’s not just the cost of building these units, but of running them. “You’ve got a hit on your operating budget year after year after year.” 

A fee up front is a more absorbable soft cost, and so the ordinance will now allow developers to instead pay a fee, which could be rolled into the city’s rental assistance fund to help people in financial crisis cover their rent for a few months while they get back on their feet or help fund a 100 percent affordable housing development. Developers could also donate a parcel of land or contribute some other kind of resource to the city that meets a demonstrated need to be determined by the governing body. The Community Development Foundation makes the first recommendation on how funding would be spent, though the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority makes the ultimate decision on whether a specific allocation is allowable and a list of allowable resources are outlined by the New Mexico Affordable Housing Act. 

The Santa Fe Association of Realtors and representatives from Titan Development and Tierra Concepts spoke in support of the rule change, which they said was a step toward jumpstarting development in Santa Fe. 

Since 1993, employment and population in Santa Fe have grown by about 14,500 people, said Josh Rogers, director of multi-family projects for Titan Development, and about 15 percent of those people would be expected to live in rental housing—a demand for an increase in rental units by 2,550.

“Obviously, that has not happened,” Rogers said. “Due to this shortage, there’s a classic case of supply and demand. If supply is fixed and demand is increasing … the average rental rates will increase.” 

And they did in Santa Fe by 6.25 percent last year, causing more people to move out of town and need to commute back in. And because aging apartment complexes have little new competition, they haven’t been subject to the normal depreciation as newer developments come online, and that evolution alone could bring their rents down to $500 or $600 a month, from an average that now hovers in the mid-$800 range.

“We know from the last census how profoundly we’re losing people, our workforce, in Santa Fe … and it’s an economic and social impact we just can’t sustain,” said Keith Gorges, a partner with Tierra Concepts, drafter of the El Rio development on Agua Fria proposed and voted down earlier this year, who also spoke in favor of the bill. “We also know the housing needs assessment study we did a couple years ago showed the cost of housing is one of the biggest contributors to the exodus.” 

He characterized the current housing ordinance as producing the unintended consequence of actually exacerbating that problem, rather than alleviating it, and pointed to the experience with El Rio as an example of that. The nearly 400-unit apartment complex was voted down in part over objections to its size, which was required as an economy of scale to cover losing money on those the 15 percent of units rented below market rate, he said, and because those units would be set apart—“that’s because the bank would not bank us. It’s not a matter that we didn’t want to [integrate] it, it’s that it’s not possible economically.” 

This measure wouldn’t cure the serious and growing problem, but it would help, he said.

Opponents of the bill charged that it will increase segregation in the city, allowing all affordable housing to be built away from market rate apartments, rather than integrating them. 

“I’m not really in support of this amendment, however I do see that it’s almost inevitable and I say that because the city has not approved very many affordable rental housing projects,” Stephanie Beninato said during public comment. “I understand the problems with that—getting financing—however I am also concerned that the affordable housing becomes segregated into certain parts of town.”

With developers able to pay a fee instead of shouldering the long-term costs of maintaining affordable units, she asked, is the affordable housing component being short changed?

Councilor Joseph Maestas echoed that concern, questioning whether this one-time fee would allow developers to circumvent permanently affordable housing, ultimately making a negligible increase in the city’s affordable rentals. 

The expectation, according to Ladd, is that as supply increases throughout the city, prices should come down in every neighborhood, which could decrease segregation.

“If there’s more of an overall market benefit, because the more unite that come online will bring down rents, and will open up choices in different parts of town,” she says. Though there’s only so much that can be done in some places, she said: “Quite honestly, most of us in this room can’t afford to live in every neighborhood. That ship has sailed, in terms of home ownership at least.” 

Gonzales said at this point, the council needed to do more than “sit up here and say ‘I wish it was this or I wish it was that, because all we’re going to get is the same old thing,” and called that “the definition of insanity.” 

“The more we create barriers to where they can’t access housing, the more they’re going to take their money and spend it elsewhere,” Gonzales said, a reference to the problem with decreased gross receipts tax collection in the city, a model that relies on those who work in Santa Fe to stay in Santa Fe to spend their disposable income on taxable goods and services. The hoped for result of this measure is that it will both increase the number of people who can work and live in Santa Fe, but provide some money for city residents at their neediest times, when rental assistance can keep them in their homes.  

Councilors voted 6-1 in favor of the bill, with only Maestas opposed. 

Before casting his vote in favor, Councilor Ronald Trujillo said, “I think we all have reservations … and I guess my concern is, if we do pass this, you guys say you’re going to come build these apartments, I can already tell you where they’re going to be built—two districts. … Because there’s two districts in this down that are pretty much sacred.” 

The amendment has a sunset date set in four years, with staff review scheduled in three to see if the change has had any affect on bringing multifamily units to Santa Fe. 

The Fork

Spice Up Your Life and Get Decadent

The ForkThursday, February 11, 2016 by Rob DeWalt

The Spring Equinox (Sunday, March 20) is barreling down hard, but before it arrives, there are some delicious culinary happenings to consider, in Santa Fe and beyond. A hydroponic farm and shipping-container community opens in Albuquerque; a chocolate celebration on March 5 at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa benefits La Familia Medical Center; the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show lands at Sandia Resort & Casino and more!

Bromance at the Boxcar

Head down to the Boxcar in the Railyard between 6 and 8 pm on Saturday, Feb. 27, to help Communities in Schools spread its message of hope and have some snacks. The Communities in Schools program provides on-site mentorship and other services to try to keep kids in school—and happy to be there. They do excellent work, and Santa Fe is a finer city for their involvement in the community.

Wasabi: More than a Hobby

Is that real wasabi on your plate of sushi? Probably not. While many restaurants in New Mexico offer the real stuff, you have to ask for it, and it isn’t cheap. What better way to get familiar with the real McCoy than hitting a fresh wasabi and sake dinner? At 5 pm Saturday, Feb. 27, Izanami restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves serves up a  five-course sake-pairing dinner featuring small-batch sakes from Joto Sake Imports and real wasabi from one of the US’s only producers, Oregon-based Frog Eyes Wasabi.

Get in These Jeans

Anchored by the Santa Fe Brewing Co. taproom on Cutler Avenue in Albuquerque, the Green Jeans Farmery retail compound is now completely open for business. Billed on its website as “a community-oriented commercial plaza constructed entirely with re-purposed shipping containers as modular, architectural building blocks, the Farmery functions as an indoor/outdoor gathering place that builds on ingenuity, fun and localist choices with the message of healthy living and neighborhood.” From 2 to 9 pm on Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20, the Farmery parties hard to mark the grand opening with food and beverages from its various on-site restaurants and live music.

All in La Familia

For many Santa Feans, easy and affordable access to health and dental care can be a challenge. La Familia Medical Center, which has provided these services to the community regardless of one’s income or ability to pay for more than three decades, invites everyone to its Divine Decadence: The Chocolate Challenge benefit at 6 pm Saturday, March 5, at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa ($75). Taste chocolate creations from local restaurants Santacafé, Eloisa, Kakawa Chocolate House, Red Sage at Buffalo Thunder and many others. Bonus: It’s a competition! Judges include Chef Rocky Durham of the Santa Fe Culinary Academy, Local Flavor’s Patty Karlovitz and local cookbook maven and food writer Cheryl Alters Jamison. There is also a silent auction to benefit La Familia.

Bring the Heat

From Friday-Sunday, March 4-6, there will be tears of joy (and for sure, a few of pain) during the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show at Sandia Resort & Casino. Hundreds of exhibitors and producers from around the US gather at this annual festival to celebrate the mighty chile in its many forms. But there’s more to do here than just whip your taste buds into submission. Candy makers, ice cream vendors and alcohol distributors are on hand to give your palate a break. On that note, hail the creation of a hot sauce made by combining the super-spicy Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper with—jet-fuel technology?

Bubbles on High

Congrats to New Mexico's own Gruet Winery for recently snagging a “best sparkling wine in America” nod from Vine Pair columnist Rachel Singer, who fell in love with Gruet’s strong French connections.

Another Burger Champion in New Mexico

Kudos to Roswell-based Chef Toddzilla’s Mobile Cuisine for earning the top national spot in mobilecuisine.com’s 2016 search for the best food truck burger! Toddzilla’s garnered more than 50 percent of more than 4,700 votes from around the country. Not too shabby.

The Millennial Diet?

Check out this insightful story with graphics about the DIY dining habits of the common American millennial. While you’re at it, look at this long read about how the traps of the industrial food complex and social media may have a lot in common.


Thank you for subscribing to The Fork. Remember: Your food news could be our food news, and we love hearing from you. Hit us in the culinary sweet spot at thefork@sfreporter.com


Nonviolent Drug Sentence Reductions

Dozens of New Mexicans have months shaved off their sentences for federal drug crimes

Local NewsThursday, February 11, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr

Even as Republican lawmakers push a series of tough new criminal sentencing bills in Santa Fe this month, federal officials, including New Mexico’s senior senator, are rethinking the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders. 

A report prepared by the US Sentencing Commission and submitted to Congress in December 2015 (almost a year after SFR published “War on Sentences”) indicates that judges reduced sentences for 95 of 154 (or 61 percent) of the federal prisoners from New Mexico for retroactive relief under new federal guidelines.

Those prisoners had their sentences cut from 106 months to 88 months, an average reduction of 18 months. Another 59 applications were denied, but it’s not clear if those inmates applied despite having binding plea agreements or other technical disqualifications, including the use of a weapon in their crime.

Over the next five years, another 293 New Mexicans will become eligible to petition for early release after the US Sentencing Commission recommended a two-level drop on the sentencing matrix based on the quantities of drug trafficked.

Drug policy reform advocates, inmate families and politicians claim that mandatory sentences, which range from five years to life without the possibility of parole for third-time offenders, are too harsh and too costly.

They point to studies that have shown that longer jail sentences have a minimal effect on recidivism or increased public safety. They also contend skyrocketing prison costs (about $6.4 billion annually) has become an expensive taxpayer burden over the past 40 years, as the country’s prison population quadrupled to 2.2 million adults—or 1 in 10 in 2012.

Source: US Sentencing Commission

New Mexico’s senior Sen. Tom Udall says there is little doubt the federal criminal justice system is in need of serious reform. He supports President Barack Obama’s proposal to spend $1.1 billion to fight prescription opioid and heroin drug overdoses in New Mexico and around the country.

In fiscal year 2013 in New Mexico alone, 455 federal defendants faced drug charges, 436 received prison time and 70 were given mandatory sentences. Fewer than 10 percent of offenders were offered probation or diverted to drug treatment programs in 2014, as federal policies shifted away from community supervision in favor of incarceration.

"Drug abuse is more than an issue for law enforcement,” says Udall. “It can't be solved solely by throwing victims in jail, and that's why I have fought for resources to support prevention and drug abuse treatment as well as resources for law enforcement.”

Last year, Udall, the former New Mexico attorney general, signed on as a co-sponsor of the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015. The legislation has put conservative groups like Koch Industries on the same team as the American Civil Liberties Union, the White House, and even Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, who last April wrote, “Draconian mandatory minimum sentences can produce sentences that far outweigh the crime, especially for nonviolent drug offenders.”

While politicians who used to advocate for tough penalties turn their focus to health-centered drug treatment and prevention programs, inmates stuck with long sentences remain locked up in facilities that are 32 percent over-capacity.

Albuquerque criminal defense attorney Bob Gorence, a former federal prosecutor, said he hopes the sentence reforms recommended by the commission will prod Congress into fixing the mandatory sentence policy this year.

“It doesn’t mean legalizing drugs, but sentences up to 10 years for first-time offenses is too harsh.  It’s just not working,” Gorence said.  “The US Sentencing Commission’s recommendation was a good first step. Every little bit helps since these penalties were already too harsh, but they cannot trump what Congress has already imposed.”

US Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez, like Udall, has suggested that substance and drug abuse be treated as a public health issue.

“We cannot simply arrest our way out of the drug problem,” Martinez said at an opioid-abuse summit in Albuquerque last year.

As an alternative to expensive incarceration, Martinez said he is hopeful that national and local initiatives will put more defendants into drug diversion programs and help newly released inmates return to productive lives.

Morning Word: Santa Fe Considers Trimming Payroll

Councilors ask staff managers to plan for job cuts

Morning WordThursday, February 11, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Job Cuts Possible in Santa Fe
Santa Fe city councilors, who have already proposed new taxes and spending cuts to close the city’s budget gap, also want managers to consider trimming the payroll, “preferably without layoffs,” according to Daniel Chacón.

Flynn Blasts EPA
State Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn claims the US Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to downplay the extent of damages to public health and the environment following the Gold King Mine spill in August.

Cover Up
Dave McCoy at Citizen Action New Mexico thinks the New Mexico Environment Department and the EPA’s regional office in Dallas acted “criminally” when they allegedly put together a plan to use fake water well monitoring data and turned “a blind eye to the threat of potential contamination of the city’s drinking water supply by Sandia National Laboratories’ nuclear and chemical waste landfill.”

Audit Anger
A day after 10 more behavioral health providers were cleared of wrongdoing in New Mexico, US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said “someone needs to be held accountable.” On Tuesday, she called for an investigation into the controversial audits.

Space Tourism
Virgin Galactic still wants to take tourists into space sometime in 2018. Now, they’re saying they’ll be ramping up operations and moving between 100 and 120 engineers to the Spaceport for flight testing as soon as this year. Next week, Virgin plans to introduce its new spaceship in California.

Education Funding Deal Struck
Robert Nott reports that the state “may be able to avoid losing $34 million in federal funds over penalties the state Public Education Department faced for failing to invest enough of its own money in special-education programs.”
Hanna Skandera, New Mexico’s Cabinet secretary of public education, said Wednesday that she struck a deal last week with the U.S. Department of Education in which the state will invest an additional $9 million a year over the next five years — $45 million in all — into special-education programs as a way to avoid future penalties.
Legislative News
Open Government: Attorney Fees Appealed
The New Mexico Appeals Court is considering whether the American Civil Liberties Union should be awarded $90,000 for attorney fees. The ACLU sued then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran in 2011 to get records she claimed proved undocumented workers were voting illegally.

New DA Goes After DV

District Attorney Jennifer Padgett says she'll stop practice of pleading down domestic violence cases

Local NewsWednesday, February 10, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

Newly appointed 1st Judicial District Attorney Jennifer Padgett introduced herself to Santa Fe City Council with a nod toward her history as administrative services director for the Children, Youth and Families Department, and the announcement that she’s set her sights on serious changes in magistrate court, where domestic violence cases and DUIs are handled.

“Immediately where my attention focused was not on the very high profile cases or on crimes against children... but on magistrate court,” said Padgett, who was appointed to finish out the term as head prosecutor for Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties for Angela "Spence" Pacheco after she retired in December. 

Jennifer Padgett
Turns out, she’d pulled some of the same data that SFR reviewed last fall and reported in December in “Loves Me Not: Gaps in the system mean victims live with and die from domestic violence” that indicate that as few as one in 25 of those charged with misdemeanor domestic violence are found guilty of that crime and sentenced to the mandatory counseling programs designed to prevent it from happening again. 

We reported then that of 54 felony charges that had been resolved in the court system in the previous 12 months, 30 of them were dismissed by the prosecutor or had the charges pleaded down. Offenses that lead to “great bodily harm” or involve a deadly weapon or could lead to death prompt felony charges, as do three prior convictions of misdemeanor domestic violence—a loophole many perpetrators likely slip through in those 24 or 25 cases that are dropped or pleaded down.


“In terms of magistrate court, it became common practice to dismiss battery cases down from battery against a household member to disorderly conduct,” she said. The result of that practice means the data gives a false impression about Santa Fe’s issues: “When you look at it, it looks like we don’t have a domestic violence problem.”


Padgett describe magistrate court as “training ground” for some of the least experienced attorneys, who also face some of the highest case loads. The volume of cases they handle means they move through them too quickly at times. Adding staff there will be on her list of changes.


She also noted that limited resources mean those convicted of domestic violence are on unsupervised probation, with no court oversight to ensure they comply with sentencing requirements that can include a year of counseling. Work is underway to amend that as well.


“We really need to get magistrate court right,” she said.


Mayor Javier Gonzales was quick to ask about the city’s investment in the LEAD program, which works with individuals with substance abuse problems who might be caught up in the criminal justice system,  and how that partnership may continue. 


One of the first meetings she had as she transitioned into the DA’s office was on that program, Padgett said, and she’s committed to its continuation, citing stats from Santa Fe Police Department that the program has, to date, a 100 percent success rate. Senate Bill 53 seeks a $300,000 special appropriation of funds to pay for the program’s costs, but she said if that doesn’t come through, she’ll find a way to leverage other resources to continue LEAD.

Councilor Bill Dimas, a former magistrate judge, pointed out that many times, cases are pled out before they even arrive at the judge—leaving the judge to trust prosecutors that they’ve settled on a fair and equitable sentence, so he’d hope to see the changes she described happen. He concluded by asking her about aggressively prosecuting drug trafficking cases, and that, too, is on her agenda.

Padgett was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez to finish out Pacheco's term, which concludes on Dec. 31, 2016. Should she choose to pursue it, she will need to begin her campaign to be elected to the position by the June primary this year. 

Morning Word: Tax Hike Proposed in Santa Fe

New revenue and spending cuts needed to close city's budget gap

Morning WordWednesday, February 10, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Spending Cuts and Tax Hikes in Santa Fe
Facing a whopping $15 million budget deficit, the Santa Fe City Council and Mayor Javier Gonzales have voted to propose an increase in taxes and to tap revenues from the city-owned water utility.
The proposal, intended to provide city staff with a framework as they draft a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, also calls for $4 million in unspecified spending cuts and $2.5 million in increased debt collections and fees to help close the projected budget deficit.
Driver’s License Plunge
Uriel Garcia reports, “The number of state driver's licenses issued to immigrants has plunged to its lowest level since New Mexico began granting driving privileges to those living in the country illegally.” 

No Surprises in New Hampshire
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were the big winners in New Hampshire last night. Ohio Gov. John Kasich emerged from obscurity but finished a distant second in the Granite State’s Republican primary. Hillary Clinton heads to South Carolina, focused on improving her standing among young people and leading in the polls.

Motion Denied
An independent hearing officer at the Public Regulation Commission has denied a joint motion from New Energy Economy and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to block the Public Service Company of New Mexico from charging customers the cost to purchase a nuclear power unit in Arizona.

Legislative News
  • NM House lawmakers approved a resolution to form an independent ethics commission. It still has to get through the Senate, which has killed similar measures in the past.
  • Alex Goldsmith reports that a bill that would strip convicted rapists of parental rights is advancing through the Legislature. 
  • Joey Peters reports that the Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to kill bills by Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, that would have banned surgical abortion procedures on viable fetuses at 20 weeks of gestation or more. 
  • The House has passed a bill that would allow insurance companies to reject worker compensation claims by employees who test positive for using medical marijuana. 
  • New Mexico continues to lead the nation in opiate-related drug overdose deaths. The House Health Committee “unanimously supported a bill Tuesday that would make it easier for community health workers, family members, first responders and social services agencies to administer an antidote for opioid overdoses.” 
  • On a party line vote, the Senate Public Affairs Committee killed so-called right-to-work legislation that had the backing of business groups and was opposed by organized labor. 
  • We missed this last week, but Rep. Bill McCamley’s bill to increase the state’s Working Families Tax Credit from 10 percent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent was defeated. 
Treasurer Under Pressure to Resign
Diana Alba Soular reports, “Doña Ana County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to call for County Treasurer David Gutierrez to resign in the wake of a recent lawsuit that was settled against him for sexual harassment.” 

Rural Signups
Yesterday we told you that almost 55,000 New Mexicans used the state health insurance exchange to sign up for medical coverage in 2016. Now, folks are saying that more has to be done to get uninsured rural residents signed up during the next open enrollment period.

Complex Relationships
You may have been following the story of the Marietta, Ga., police officer who won the right to purchase his longtime police dog partner so they could retire together. In Santa Fe, photojournalist Mark Woodward has documented the K-9 unit patrolling Santa Fe County and today's SFR has an interesting cover story about the camaraderie between law enforcement officers and their own K-9 partners. Check out Woodward’s piece and photos this morning in the Santa Fe Reporter.

Lobos Lose
The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team is struggling on the road. Last night, they lost to Utah State, 80-72. The Lobos return to WisePies Arena on Saturday and are scheduled to play San Jose State, who they beat 83-64 last month.

MetroGlyphs

02.10.16

MetroGlyphsWednesday, February 10, 2016 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at santafechef@hotmail.com


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