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

Fire in Watershed Half Contained

Managers Credit Strong Response for Reining In Flames

Local NewsFriday, June 24, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

The McClure Fire in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed is considered 50 percent contained, according to Friday afternoon media advisories, and some of the many resources allocated to that fire have been released. 

Firefighters using GPS to measure the fire Friday morning revised the size of the fire to 7.6 acres after aerial surveys Thursday reported it at 15 acres. As of 4:30 pm Friday, they said the fire had not grown in size. Air operations had been put on hold while hotshot crews worked on the ground on containment and mop-up until about 8 pm Friday. 

The Barillas Lookout Tower in the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest first reported smoke from the fire at 12:21 pm on Thursday, June 23. A lightning strike has been blamed for starting the fire, which ignited 3 miles northeast of McClure Reservoir, a key source for the city’s drinking water supply. It caught in steep terrain densely forested with ponderosa pine not yet thinned or treated with prescribed burn to prevent catastrophic wildfire. The fire was considered at high potential for growth initially, but was downgraded to moderate as of Friday afternoon, according to a media advisory. 

As a threat to the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed and a communication site used by the FAA and EMS, it was met with a robust response from aerial crews Thursday afternoon and hotshot ground crews on Friday morning. Santa Fe Fire Department credited “strong work being done” in a Tweet about containment reaching 30 percent by about 1pm.

Ground response included the city-managed Atalaya hand crew, while aerial work saw two fixed-wing aircraft, two heavy air tanks, one single engine air tanker, seven helicopters, three Forest Service engines and multiple city and county engines.

“This fire is a high priority and I think the reflection of that is the resources that are being assigned to it,” Porfirio Chavarria, wildland urban interface specialist for Santa Fe, said Thursday afternoon.

The Forest Service reported the fire as under 30 percent control by 1 pm after hotshot crews completed a perimeter line of the fire and containment was considered sufficient to begin releasing some of the helicopters dropping water to other assignments.   

Rain and lower temperatures followed through Thursday and Friday evening, and winds hovered below 15 mph.

The City of Santa Fe, Forest Service and other management partners in the Greater Santa Fe Fire Shed have authority to conduct prescribed burns and, according to a media advisory from June 24, would plan to do so after this year’s fire season.

New Mexico wildfire managers are dealing with multiple other blazes throughout the state, and even just in the county, with Santa Fe County Fire Department among the crews responding to the Goldmine Fire, which had burned more than 43 acres in the Ortiz Mountains near Madrid. The county fire department reported that fire as about 50 percent contained by noon Friday, with a line around the fire and mop-up operations beginning.

The latest update for the Dog Head Fire, suspected to have been human-caused in the Manzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, was released at 8 am Friday, June 24, and reported that fire at 83 percent contained, having burned 17,912 acres and damaged 24 single residences and 21 other minor structures. An increase in rainfall and humidity was seen as decreasing the probability of ignition. The 625 total personnel working that site were continuing to mop-up fire, holding and patrolling the perimeter, and trying to finish securing the east side of the fire. Managers aimed to have it under control by June 30 and expected no new perimeter growth, despite warmer temperatures in the forecast for Saturday.

This Weekend

Beat the heat, or at least just live with it

Weekend PicksFriday, June 24, 2016 by SFR

67th Annual Rodeo de Santa Fe

Mutton bustin', roping and all kinds of riding and Wild Western events. Concessions and a carnival midway offer fun for everyone. Yee-haw!

More Info >>

Nina Tichava: Ever Since Happiness Heard Your Name

Dark layers and lots of abstraction are this artist's technical game. She stresses the relationship between material and method and was influenced by her construction-working father.

More Info >>

Community Cluck

Join Joe West, Joey Wilson and Laurianne Fiorentino at this fundraising event for the legal fees of the infamous Eldorado 9—that awesome group who fought to make chicken ownership legal within the Santa Fe subdivison. Bring your best dish with you, because its potluck style. Cash bar and the Chickendales provide extra entertainment.

More Info >>

Santa Fe Pride Parade

See the train of celebration and pride, sure to feature sparkle and fun. Starts at the State Capitol and ends on the Plaza, with a party to follow. Support your community and show your love. Make sure to keep an eye out for all the other Pride activities this weekend.

More Info >>

Summer Trains Show

Santa Fe Model Railroad Club shows off the best of their models at this annual event. Kids will love this.

More Info >>

Vanilla Pop

Wacky mash-ups and music from the wacky, '80s-lovin' pair. Like dancing? You'll like this.

More Info >>

Volunteer River Cleanup

Lend a hand to keep our rivers clean and beautiful. Please bring gloves, waterproof shoes and water bottles, and prepare for the feeling of self-satisfaction that comes afterwards.

More Info >>

The Last Five Years

Catch a matinee performance of this musical love story that spans half a decade and is told from beginning to end by one lover and end to beginning by the other. That's a visual palindrome, which is pretty excellent.

More Info >>


A case of a band being greater than its individual members, where they produce a melancholic, haunting sound which has become their own kind of Americana.

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.

Morning Word: SFR Ranks Top 10 Selling Medical Cannabis Producers

New Mexico Health Department under-reports first quarter receipts

Morning WordFriday, June 24, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr

Wildfire News   

Two fires broke out near Santa Fe’s watershed on Thursday. SFR’s Elizabeth Miller reports, “Because the area has not yet been thinned or treated with prescribed burns, the fire is considered at high risk of growing. 

Meanwhile, the huge Dog Head Fire is now more than 80 percent contained, but officials are worried about flood damage ahead of this summer’s monsoon season.

Health Department Posted Inaccurate Medical Cannabis Sales Numbers

The New Mexico Department of Health under-reported medical cannabis sales numbers for the first three months of 2016. SFR discovered the error during a review of individual producers’ sales, gross profits, net earnings and harvest yields. See who the Top 10 sellers are and which growers are making and losing the most money here.

Immigrants on Edge

A tie vote at the US Supreme Court means a lower federal court’s decision halting the president’s executive order shielding most undocumented immigrants from deportation will stay in place.  For now, Uriel  J Garcia reports, the decision has immigrants in Santa Fe on edge.

Public Official Drives Away from DWI Stop 

KOB obtained and broadcast body camera video of Francesca Estevez, the newly re-elected district attorney for Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties, that appears to show her drunk.  No arrest was made during the traffic stop. New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas has launched an investigation.

Kubiak Drops Out 

Simon Kubiak, the Bernalillo County Republican Party’s candidate for district attorney, dropped out of the race on Thursday.  Kubiak told Andy Lyman he’s getting out for “personal reasons” but also cited his opponent’s huge campaign cash advantage.

Cash Payouts to Cops Still Controversial 

Joey Peters report the Albuquerque Police Officers Association is still giving officers up to $500 cash after a shooting.

Officials Urge SNAP Investigation 

“The New Mexico congressional delegation and a high-ranking USDA official want a federal investigation into the state’s handling of food benefit applications,” reports New Mexico Political Report editor Matthew Reichbach.

The calls for an investigation from all five members of the delegation and the USDA Undersecretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services comes after a federal court case included allegations of the department changing applications and adding assets so the applicant no longer qualified for emergency food aid benefits.

Cameron Resigns 

So this happened while you were sleeping: British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after voters approved a referendum mandating the country leave the European Union.

The prime minister campaigned hard in the divisive referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, appearing at hundreds of public events up and down the country to argue that Brexit would be an act of “economic self-harm.”

But a frustrated electorate used the poll to reject the status quo, and, as the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, described it, “stick two fingers up” at Britain’s politicians.

Hawks Get Attention at NMSU 

Birdwatchers will love this story out of Las Cruces, where a pair of Swainson's hawks appear to have built a nest and welcomed hatchlings, on New Mexico State University’s campus. The birds are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, “but in the past two years at least 18 people at NMSU have been injured by swooping hawks trying to protect their nests, causing a safety conundrum for the campus.

Haussamen Top Investigative Reporter

A big shout-out to Heath Haussamen for winning the National Federation of Press Women’s investigative reporting award for his stories about “a possible conflict of interest current N.M. State Auditor Tim Keller had when he was a state senator.

“This is an amazing honor and confirmation of the importance of our journalism,” said Haussamen,’s editor and publisher. “Devoting resources to investigative reporting is challenging for news organizations these days, but it’s critical to keeping our society healthy.”

And not to toot our own horn, but the same group awarded us its top award for news reporting for “War on Sentences,” a story about advocates who want to reform mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

Santa Fe Prepares to Celebrates Gay Pride 

It’s gay pride weekend in Santa Fe, and Julie Ann Grimm’s got the preview on all the glitz and glamour, and an interview with organizer Richard Brethour-Bell, former board president for the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance and also a regional director of InterPride, an international organization of Pride organizers that helped him visit Pride parties in other communities. 

Health Department Under-Reports Medical Cannabis Sales

Who's growing and selling the most and where? SFR obtains financial data for the first time

Local NewsThursday, June 23, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr

New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program is growing at an even more rapid pace than reported by the public health agency tasked with regulating the industry.

Financial reports from growers that were made public for the first time this spring show total receipts during the first three months of 2016 topped $10.2 million—more than a quarter-million dollars above the $9.9 million claimed by the New Mexico Health Department on May 26. That figure does not include revenue from the 12 new producers who are still in various stages of setting up their grow sites and dispensaries.

Patient registrations, which reportedly have been taking up to 90 days to process, are also on the rise. The number of people legally permitted to use cannabis for medical relief in the state has almost doubled since February 2015, from 13,000 to more than 25,000 today.

SFR pored over individual profit-and-loss statements for 22 of the 23 licensed producers operating in New Mexico. (Grass Roots in Albuquerque did not file a quarterly report.)  After crunching the numbers, we built this online database.

SFR’s analysis shows that almost 60 percent of New Mexico’s 2016 first quarter 1.2 ton yield was harvested by five growers.
SFR File Photo

Tracking the cannabis growers' financial and production results is a big deal and something that wasn’t possible before February when the agency amended its confidentiality rules, which had shielded information since the inception of the program. The rule change came after a public hearing and a lengthy legal battle with open government advocates, including this journalist.

An analysis of the producers’ financial paperwork shows the health department miscalculated first-quarter sales (or total receipts) by $256,112. SFR questioned the department’s number after determining Fruit of the Earth Organic’s $246,545 gross profit could not have been generated from $7,068 in sales listed on the group's financial summary sheet. By any accounting process, that just didn’t add up.

A spokesman for the health department says staff used the numbers provided by producers to add up the Q1 sales total, but It appears the regulators didn’t double-check the numbers on Fruit of the Earth's cover sheet against the grower's underlying profit and loss statement before making the statewide 2016 First Quarter Report Summary public.

Justine Freeman, the deputy chief of staff at the State Auditor’s Office says the health department needs to develop a method to catch errors and ensure the accuracy of their accounting before making reports public.

“Sound financial reporting is key to the public’s understanding of how the medical cannabis program is working,” Freeman tells SFR.

Top Sellers

Ultra Health’s Duke Rodriguez is among those who have been pushing Health Department Secretary-designate Lynn Gallagher to remove the grower’s plant limits. He tells SFR that if lawmakers or voters approve cannabis for social use by adults, he predicts annual dispensary revenues could top $525 million in the first year.

That estimate is based on close to $1 billion in sales in Colorado last year, adjusted for New Mexico’s smaller population and lower income rates.

Rodriguez, who made a presentation to Legislative Finance Committee Director David Abbey and staff analyst Eric Chenier on Jan. 4, says if the state taxed legal sales, it would generate between $78 million and $131 million in new tax revenue depending on the tax rate adopted by lawmakers. 

The new tax revenue, Rodriguez suggests, could be used to prop up the state’s Medicaid fund and that money would then make the state eligible for close to another $325 million in federal matching funds.

"Money spent on health care would have a huge impact on the state’s economy," says Rodriguez. “It would generate 15,000 new jobs and fill the equivalent of 125 football fields in office space.That would benefit not only hospitals, but real estate agents, landlords and bankers."

Like Freeman at the auditor's office, Rodriguez says he’s concerned about the department’s first-quarter reporting error.

“If you found the error during your simple macro analysis, you can only imagine what other errors may have been easily missed,” says Rodriguez. “These are huge numbers which add up quickly, so it is easy to get the reporting materially off."

The first-quarter results, while not a trend, do provide important market insights. Production reports provided by the health department since 2013 have indicated that not all growers are producing large harvests. Indeed, SFR’s analysis shows that almost 60 percent of the quarter’s 1.2 ton yield was harvested by five growers: R Greenleaf Organics, The Verdes Foundation, Compassionate Distributors, Minerva Canna Group and Medzen.

Percentage of Total Crop Yield

Willie Ford’s Reynold Greenleaf Associates, which manages R Greenleaf and Medzen dispensaries in Albuquerque, produced 28 percent of the total yield. Eric and Rachel Speegle’s Verdes Foundation, which topped the sales charts with over $1.1 million in Q1, generated close to 10 percent of the harvest between January and March.

Statewide, producers reported a total net gain of $986,105 between January and March on gross profits of just over $6.6 million. Red Barn, a producer in Grants, did not report its gross profit or net income or loss. On average, producers netted almost $47,000. Mother Earth Herbs reported breaking even. Seven other producers claim they are losing money and reported an average loss of $41,045. R. Greenleaf reported the quarter's largest net income loss: $82,382.

Santa Fe growers New Mexicann Natural Medicine, Sacred Gardens, Ultra Health and Fruit of the Earth Organics generated $2.4 million in total sales during the quarter and provided patients almost 350 pounds of cannabis. The Santa Fe nonprofits also paid $203,455 in gross receipts taxes during the quarter. Overall, the tax department collected $768,605 in taxes from the growers in Q1.

New MexiCann’s $656,000 gross profit generated a quarterly income gain of $61,000, while Zeke Shortes’ Sacred Garden, which has the third highest overall cannabis staff payroll, reported a net income loss of $78,142 on its $492,536 gross profit. Lyra Barron’s Fruit of the Earth Organics, with a net income gain of $116,332, bested all the other Santa Fe-based producers.

Producers, who are still working out bugs using the health department’s new “seed to sale” tracking software, which requires them to enter product test results for plant potency and microbiological contaminants, reported spending nearly $80,000 on laboratory testing services in Q1. Two producers did not report their test numbers, and Vivian Moore’s Mother Earth Herbs in Las Cruces is exempt from testing since her dispensary is located south of US Border Patrol checkpoints. The amount producers spend on testing is expected to increase in the second quarter, as testing is now mandatory for all harvest batches and cannabis-derived products.

Editor’s note: We’ve made it easy for you to look at individual producers’ Q1 results by posting each group’s Q1 datacard online. Check out our analysis, or use Silk’s "explore" button to do your own analysis and build your own charts and tables.

Fire Starts in City Watershed

Major resources on tap to fight fire that began Thursday in the Santa Fe Watershed

Local NewsThursday, June 23, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as additional information becomes available. 

A small wildfire has ignited in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed, just upstream of McClure Reservoir and in the wilderness portion of the watershed. Because that area has not yet been thinned or treated with prescribed burns, the fire is considered at high risk of growing. 

Throughout the afternoon, as aerial crews waited out a brief storm, their surveys showed it holding at around 5 acres. 

“It’s got a fair amount of fuel available, but we’re keeping it at 5 acres so far,” says Julie Anne Overton, acting public affairs officer for Santa Fe National Forest. “The plan is to hit it hard tonight from the air, and then first thing in the morning get some hotshot crews in there.”

In a later press release update, forest officials said air tankers started dropping fire retardant around 5 pm, with the intention of boxing in the fire to keep it from spreading. They targeted the heel of the fire and its west flank.

"Due to steep terrain and snags in the immediate area of the fire, hotshot crews are on hold tonight and expected to hike into the area in the morning," the press release said.

By 9 pm, the Forest Service was reporting that the fire had spread to 15 acres and was 0 percent contained. Air operations concluded for the night at about 8 pm.

The fire, labeled the McClure Fire, poses a threat to the watershed and the McClure Reservoir 3 miles southwest of the fire and Nichols Reservoir farther west and downstream. Those reservoirs provide much of the city’s drinking water supply and could see their water quality and engineering degraded by a severe fire in that area. The fire also threatens a communications tower used by EMS, fire departments, the FAA and law enforcement agencies.

“That’s the reason that we’re putting so many resources on something that’s at this point 5 acres,” Overton says.

The cause is not yet known. Initial reports, sent out at 2:30 pm after smoke was first reported at 12:21 pm, mentioned "isolated torching" and the fire moving at a moderate speed through heavy fuels, dead and downed timber and ponderosa pines.

Earlier this year, when Porfirio Chavarria, the city’s Wildland Urban Interface Specialist, spoke to city councilors campaigning for official designation for the Greater Santa Fe Fire Shed to align resources around mitigating wildfire risks, he described a fire that would burn forests down to bare soil, which could feed into flash floods that could wipe out downstream communities and Hyde Park Road toward the ski basin. 

Asked today if that’s what we’re facing, Chavarria said, “That’s what they’re trying to prevent. All the fire responders right now are trying to prevent it from becoming that catastrophic kind of wildfire. They're aggressively attacking the fire with aircraft and trying to keep it as small as possible.”

That the fire is a high priority, even amid ongoing burns including the Dog Head Fire closer to Albuquerque, the Battleship Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest near the Jemez District, and the Gold Mine Fire in the Ortiz Mountains, is reflected in the resources immediately allotted to it. Those include three and a half hotshot crews, hailing from Wyoming, Nevada and Boise, Idaho, as well as multiple helicopters, air tankers and engines and the city’s Atalaya Crew. Hotshot crews were stationed near Nichols Reservoir for the night, in position to hike to the fire first thing in the morning with the goal of digging a hand line to prevent it from spreading. 

The terrain where the fire started is steep and densely forested, and lies in the area of the 17,200-acre watershed that has been closed to public since 1932. Recent years have seen the Forest Service hand-thinning 5,500 acres of the hillsides around the watershed in an effort to prevent severe wildfire from taking hold and wreaking millions of dollars in damage to the city’s water system. The efforts have been aimed at recreating the conditions that appear to have existed in these forests for centuries before human intervention put a stop to them: which is to say, looser, park-like stands of ponderosas, rather than the continuous tangle of branches now often found. This portion of the forest, which lies in the Pecos Wilderness, hadn’t been treated but lies near areas that have been.

There's no telling where the fire will move and what weather and terrain will press it to do, of course, but thinning and reintroduced fire in the form of prescribed burns has interrupted an otherwise continuous canopy of pine trees and broken up the fuel load. Those efforts should allow incident managers space and some measure of comfort as they send in ground crews Friday morning.

“The investments in thinning and prescribed fire that the city and the Santa Fe National Forest have made in the last few years are going to be tested and probably are going to pay off in an incident like this,” says Eytan Krasilovsky, Southwest director of The Forest Stewards Guild, which has long campaigned for prescribed burns and fire management to recreate the ecosystems generated by the natural burn cycle before fire suppression began a century ago.

“If those investments hadn’t been made, I think people should be very alarmed and concerned, but because they’re in place, they give managers more options and decision space,” says Krasilovsky, who has also worked as a wildland firefighter and maintains those qualifications to allow him to work on prescribed burns. 

Thinning and reintroduced fire in the form of prescribed burns that has interrupted an otherwise continuous canopy of pine trees and broken up the fuel load should allow incident managers space and some measure of comfort as they send in ground crews.

“Any time you have to deploy ground and air resources, there’s always a risk to the responders and their safety, so I think that’s the primary concern in all of this,” Krasilovsky says. “We just have to wait and see what happens with the weather and whatever the decisions being made are. We just need to wait and see.”

As rain showers that arrived shortly after news about the fire tapered off, Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg told Santa Fe city councilors during a Thursday evening meeting, “The rain is a mixed blessing. It’s certainly good. It helps with some of the firefighting. It’s in heavy timber, so the rain only goes so far in heavy timber. That being said, it also stops the air assault.”

“We are all sitting here with our fingers crossed on this,” said Councilor Signe Lindell, “and we know that we have very, very, very well-trained people, and we are just really hoping for a very good outcome."

Julie Ann Grimm contributed to the reporting for this story.

The Fork

So Hot in Here

The ForkThursday, June 23, 2016 by Gwyneth Doland

Ah, summer in Santa Fe, when you walk outside at 9 am and the sun hits your exposed shoulders, making them tingle from the sunburn you got from spending an hour on the roof tinkering with the swamp cooler, which all of a sudden seemed sooooo important. (What, you’ve never replaced your own cooler motor? Here’s a how-to.)

While you’re outside, you might as well make a pitcher of sun tea. I use a 2-quart pitcher with a built-in mesh filter for loose-leaf tea – and it works for cold brew, too.

This is weather that calls for a little Nelly, which will have your booty bumpin’ all over the roof. (Although … sigh, it’s not suitable for little listeners who have started understanding the words to things, thereby ruining approximately 34 percent of your music collection until 2030. Dammit.)

On your way back in to the kitchen, grab that bottle of red wine you were thinking of having with dinner and stick it in the fridge. Because what is it, like 75 degrees in your house? Your light, fruity reds should be somewhere between 50° and 60°, while a cabernet or zinfandel should be more like 65°. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and it should be pretty close to serving temp. If you forget, just submerge the bottle in a bucket (or small sink) filled with half ice and half water. Add a handful of salt to the water, and it will lower the freezing point of the mixture, making the water even colder and the bottle chill even faster. It’s science.

Have you ever put a bottle of wine in the freezer to chill it and then forgotten about it? What a mess. Don’t do that. But do freeze a bottle of pink wine and drink some … wait for it … frosé. Bon Appetit recommends you pour the wine into a 9 x 13 pan and freeze it, then blend with some lemon juice and strawberry simple syrup. I’d add a fancy paper straw.

And then I’d get to making a cold soup for dinner. Food & Wine has a collection of more than 30 great cold soup recipes here.

But of course, that won’t be enough dinner for everyone, so what about asparagus pesto? Mark Bittman has a simple recipe. The commenters say you should roast the asparagus first, which sounds like genius!

I’m craving chicken lettuce wraps, which are good made with coarse-ground or finely diced chicken (cut it when it’s frozen).

Or cold sesame noodles, which you can make with literally any kind of noodles you have in the house.

When I was a kid (and we didn’t have any cooling at all in our house), there were many summer days when my mom would come home from work and announce there would be absolutely no cooking going on. We often had summer dinners made up of things a woman who had been sweating in a wool suit and pantyhose for nine hours could buy on her way home from work. There were a lot of grapes. Apple. Cheese and crackers. Sometimes heat exhaustion would short-circuit her otherwise strict twigs-and-berries nutritional standards, and we’d get weird “composed salads” from the deli case. Mmm … ambrosia.

What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email

Morning Word: House Republicans Flee US Capitol

Protesters shout,

Morning WordThursday, June 23, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Republicans Flee US House in the Middle of the Night
“A Democratic protest demanding votes on gun-control legislation led to pandemonium in the House chamber that did not end until early Thursday, when Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his fellow Republicans reclaimed control long enough to force through a major spending bill. They then abruptly adjourned and left the Capitol,” according to The New York Times.
The standoff, which began with a Democratic sit-in on the House floor just before noon on Wednesday, did not end until about 3 a.m. Thursday when Mr. Ryan — barreling over Democrats’ objections — took the rare and provocative step of calling a vote on a major appropriations bill in the wee hours and without any debate. He then adjourned the House, with no legislative votes scheduled until July 5. Republicans dashed from the chamber into the sticky heat gripping Washington and were met by protesters who jeered, with some shouting, “Do your job!” 
Earlier, as Democrats [including New Mexico’s Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham] fought for control of the floor, they pressed against the speaker’s dais, waving signs with the names of gun victims and chanting “No bill! No break!” as Mr. Ryan repeatedly banged his gavel in an attempt to restore order.
Water Dispute Intensifies
Mark Oswald at the Albuquerque Journal North reports that the Nature Conservancy, the owner of the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, is accusing the city of violating “living river” policies, since water has been cut off to the preserve. At the same time, city officials are threatening to issue a cease-and-desist order if the group doesn’t stop siphoning off water.

Rodeo Improvement Project Controversy 
Meanwhile, James Barron at the New Mexican reports that Rodeo de Santa Fe board members dispute claims by the city of Santa Fe that their construction projects were done without official approval.

Keeping the Bosque Safe
As crews continue to battle wildfires this summer, members of a youth team are working hard this summer clearing the bosque to prevent a catastrophic blaze in the ancient cottonwood forests here.

Balderas Sues Colorado
Farmington Daily Times’  Bret Berntsen reports, “The state of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado in US Supreme Court, adding to a string of legal actions in response to the Gold King Mine spill.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed the complaint on Monday, alleging that Colorado’s policies and practices led to the Aug. 5 incident. In May, Balderas' office filed similar lawsuits against the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and two mining companies.

New Mexico is demanding reimbursements for the costs incurred during the emergency and for cleanup efforts moving forward. The complaint also calls for Colorado to claim partial responsibility for the spill.
Johnson Talks to the Nation
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, got a chance to talk to the nation during a town hall broadcast on CNN last night.
Johnson says he wants to legalize marijuana, embrace gay rights and scale back U.S. military presence in other countries.
The latest CNN poll shows Johnson and Weld carrying 9 percent of the national vote. They need 15 percent to participate in the presidential and vice presidential debates.

Rubio Flip-Flop
US Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race after losing his home state, has changed his mind and will seek a second term in Florida after all. Republicans had pressed him to run, hoping Rubio can help them hold a crucial Senate seat.

Citizens United: Part 2
The attorney responsible for arguing and winning Citizens United now has his eyes set on giving the same unlimited contributions advantage to state political parties.

Itty-Bitty Social Security Benefits Increase
The trustees who oversee Social Security say millions of beneficiaries can expect a meager increase in monthly payments next year. The projected 0.2 percent increase in Social Security payments would come a year after beneficiaries received no increase and will only be about $2.50 more a month, or about the price of one gallon of gasoline.

Holm Raring to Fight
Holly Holm, who hasn’t fought since losing her world title belt to Miesha Tate in March, is looking forward to her fight against Valentina Shevchenko next month in Chicago, in the same venue where Michael Jordan played basketball.

Morning Word: Attorney General, State Auditor Probe MedPot Program Delays

Morning WordWednesday, June 22, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
AG, Auditor Probe MedPot Registration Delays
The attorney general and state auditor’s offices confirmed they are looking into why health department regulators are violating a state law after hearing about monthslong delays processing both new medical cannabis patient registrations and annual card renewals. Cards are required by statute to be approved or denied in 30 days or less, but patients have complained it’s taking up to 90 days.

Dog Head Fire Update
Today should be a big day for residents living near the Dog Head fire. Now that it’s more than 61 percent contained, they’ll be allowed to return home.

Fire Chief Accused of Illegal Traffic Stops
Valencia County Fire Chief Stephen Gonzales, already in trouble for racy pictures with an exotic dancer, is now facing charges of impersonating a police officer for allegedly making traffic stops.

Judges Get Schooled on Social Media Best Practices
State judges need to be careful what they post on social media sites like Facebook. SFR’s Steven Hsieh reports a supreme court justice has provided jurists both a warning and a best practices guide.

Taking a Stand
Speaking of court, we’re fighting a subpoena from the attorney general’s office to testify at Phil Griego’s preliminary hearing on corruption charges, since statements the former lawmaker made to us are protected under the New Mexico News Media Confidential Source or Information Privilege, a rule that gives journalists the right to refuse to disclose their sources and any confidential information obtained in the course of pursuing a story. 

Trump Fundraising Falters
Fundraising for Donald Trump’s general election campaign isn’t going well. In fact, Sandra Fish, the data reporter at New Mexico In Depth, discovered New Mexicans only donated about $11,000 to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in May; most of that appears to have been generated during his May 24 visit to Albuquerque.

UNM Hospital Won't Renew Contract with Insurer
Dennis Domrzalski reports, “About 2,000 UnitedHealthcare of New Mexico Medicaid members who get their care at the University of New Mexico Hospital will have to find new providers as UNM said Tuesday that it has been unable to reach an agreement with United to serve those patients.”

Investing in Nuclear Deterrence
Admiral Cecil D Haney, commander of US Strategic Command, told about 250 people attending the 2016 Strategic Deterrent Coalition Symposium on Tuesday, at Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, that the country needs to continue to invest in its nuclear weapons stockpile, missiles, submarines and bombers, in order to maintain its nuclear deterrence.

Trunk Show
Now that New Mexico residents will start having to pay museum entry fees on every Sunday, but the first one of the month, it might be a good time to check out the art at the Albuquerque Zoo. An elephant there is painting for charity.



MetroGlyphsWednesday, June 22, 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

7 Days


7 DaysWednesday, June 22, 2016 by SFR


Along with those social media mustache retrospectives.



You’d still be able to carry a rifle to a committee hearing, though.



The same people who want to ban abortion fiercely defend the right to own a machine gun.



If feminism is a problem for you, you might just be a jerk.



Beer is booming.



Which is making that Cerrillos Road construction even more annoying.



All. Hail. King. James.

Fire in Watershed Half Contained

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