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

Chef Eric DiStefano Dies

Friend says longtime chef at Coyote Cafe and Geronimo passed away in sleep at health spa

Local NewsSaturday, February 6, 2016 by Julie Ann Grimm

The news started to travel around downtown Santa Fe on Friday night, the way that news travels in our town. Word of mouth. Friend to friend. Text messages. Facebook posts. Whispers in the corner. Raised voices over the music. At the High Note, inside Skylight, on the sidewalk of San Francisco Street. By midnight, it seemed like everyone had heard.  

Chef Eric DiStefano died in his sleep at about 9 pm Eastern time in Hilton Head, SC, where he had recently checked into a weight-loss program, according to longtime friend and former business partner Sara Chapman. He was 52.

Hailing from Hershey, Pa., DiStefano made a deep mark on the city's culinary scene as the executive chef and co-owner at both Coyote Café and Geronimo, fine dining establishments where he had worked for 11 and 18 years, respectively. Chapman tells SFR in an interview this morning that the chef had been experiencing health problems related to obesity, including difficulty with mobility and two bum knees. She dropped him off at the facility last Saturday.

"He was going to live there for two months and work with a trainer. ... He just wanted to get healthy, and that's it," she said.

DiStefano was a father figure to her daughter Page, now 14 and pictured above, and the two were planning a trip to Italy. He had been living in their home for the last two years as his health failed, Chapman says.

"He just he had such a vibrant personality. He was probably the most generous person I have ever known. It’s just freaking heart breaking," she says. "I talked to him every day [from Hilton Head], and he was like, 'I’m going to do this.'"

Champan says she's been inundated with calls and messages.

"He would want everyone to celebrate his life and not necessarily mourn, even though that's hard to comprehend," she says, noting later that the restaurants "are going to go on."

Louis Moskow, chef and owner at 315 Restaurant, also knew DiStefano well. Moskow tells SFR the community won't be able to fill those big shoes, but his legacy is far reaching.

"What Eric will leave behind is an army of well-trained chefs," says Moskow. "He brought his A-game all the time, despite his limited ability to maneuver. Imagine what he would have been like without that physical challenge. ... There was no amount of pain greater than what he was experiencing, and still every day, he had the discipline to get in that kitchen and stand in the line and do a pre-meal with his staff and then stand there all night long and cook for people."

Moskow, Chapman and other friends who were like family are planning a memorial. SFR will update this story as those details are available.

DiStefano is survived by his parents, who still live in Hershey, Chapman says.


Not Good Math

City finance director admits his calculation property tax rate's impact was way off, maximum increase is $310 not $10

Local NewsFriday, February 5, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

No one in this newsroom became a journalist to do math, so when the question came up for the Feb. 3 cover story, “Something’s Gotta Give” about just what a possible property tax increase could do to homeowner’s tax bills, we took the question to someone for whom math is more important.

As part of the reporting, SFR picked a round number for a home that was near what US Census figures say is the median value for homes, $278,000 in the city and $160,000 in the county. Then, we emailed City Finance Director Oscar Rodriguez the question, “For a home valued at $200,000, what's the difference in annual taxes at a rate of 2.817 mills [the current imposed rate] versus 7.65 mills [the maximum rate]?”

“Nobody’s seriously considering raising the tax rate to the maximum,” he replied, but he ran the calculations using the numbers provided. It broke down like this:

$200,000 - $2,000 Head of Household Exemption (higher if also a veteran) = $198,000

$198,000/ $1,000 = $198

198 x .$02817 =   $5.57

198 x $.0765   = $15.14

$15.14- $5.57 = $9.57 annual increase in property taxes if the city raises the rate to the maximum allowed by law

So that’s what we ran—about $10.

Former city councilor Karen Heldmeyer, who we also quoted in the story, quickly wrote in questioning that math, and connected us with Neva Van Peski, a former economist with the Federal Reserve. For a little insight into her eagle eyes for taxes, Van Peski spotted an error in her own tax bill that led to unearthing a mistake in Santa Fe Community College's calculation of property tax mill rates that cost the college $1.6 million over four years. People make mistakes, she says. 

Here’s Van Peski:

If you are going to start the calculation by dividing the value of the house by 1,000, as he did in his calculations, then you should use the values 2.817 and 7.65 in your calculations, not, as [Rodriguez] did, .02817 and .0765.  (To check the accuracy of this statement, just look at any residential property tax bill.) 

The taxable value is one-third of that, so the proper thing to do is multiply the difference between the two rates we are talking about times $200,000/3 = $66,667 minus the head of household exemption, $64,667. 

Assuming the full value of the house is $200,000, the correct calculations then become:

64.667 x 2.817 = $182.17

64.667 x 7.65 =  $494.70

Increase is $494.70 - $182.17 = $312.53

No, taxes wouldn’t increase by $10 on that house, but by more than $300.

That’s a big difference.

So we went back to Rodriguez, whose first response was: “It’s not good math. It’s not good math, I’m sorry.”

He advised using a property tax revenue estimate form from the New Mexico Department of Finance & Administration.

“Don’t take it from me, take it from this tax calculation engine that the DFA has,” he says.

The numbers there did, indeed, match Van Peski’s math.

For some even deeper diving, Van Peski also points out that the percentage increase in revenue from an increase in the tax rate has to acknowledge that the rate imposed and the rate that appears on a residential tax bill differ. The “City of Santa Fe Operations” rate on residential tax bills for 2015 is 1.327 mills, reduced over the years from 2.817 by yield control, a state-dictated amount by which the property tax rate the city collects is ratcheted down to counteract increased house prices. Effectively, the city’s portion of the tax on a $200,000 home is $88.46 (without that head of household exemption).

So were the city to increase to 7.65 mills, the percentage increase in revenue would actually by 364 percent—not the 272 percent suggested by comparing 7.65 and 2.817. That comes out, according to the DFA calculator, as a jump to $510 (again, no head of household exemption).

There’s a chasm of difference between the city’s existing rate and its highest allowable, but it comes into perspective when you consider that the county, which built its budget on property tax instead of gross receipts, collects taxes at a rate of 6.064 mills.

An increase of 3 mills, Van Peski added, would not quadruple the city portion of taxes, as Mayor Javier Gonzales suggested when we met in the fall. It would take an increase of almost 3.981 mills for residential properties, and still more for commercial properties, which would only see payments double at an increase of 3 mills.

Rodriguez clarifies that there are multiple property tax rates the city works with, and on top of the city-issued property tax, there are taxes for general obligation bonds (GO bonds), and police and fire property tax rates.

“Were we to raise all of the property tax rates, potentially, we could almost quadruple the income that would come in—potentially,” he says. But that’s not really on the table for city councilors or the city manager, he says, “I’m not recommending it, and I don’t think anybody’s even considering it.”

The problem with leaning on property taxes to fix the $15 million shortfall is that it, relatively speaking, doesn’t amount to much money.

“It only brings in $3.5 million and so therefore to double that would only bring in another $3.5 million,” he says. “You can imagine the headlines, ‘City increases property taxes by 100 percent,’ which brings another $3.5 million, and that’s something like 9 percent of our total budget, so that’s not much of a solution.”  

The proposed budget to start closing the gap is likely to include a bevy of tools, the most critical of which would be a new gross receipts tax, which the city will have to settle on and submit to the state by the end of March to see it take effect July 1. 

Dental Crisis

Santa Fe County's health care assistance program doles out a quarter-million dollars more for La Familia Medical Services

Local NewsSaturday, February 6, 2016 by Thomas Ragan

There’s a dental crisis in Santa Fe, according to Kyra Ochoa, a health care assistance program manager for Santa Fe County’s Community Services, and La Familia Medical Services, long a mainstay for Santa Fe’s poor, is apparently bearing the brunt of it.

Already, the nonprofit has spent all $394,000 of its county-allocated money, with more than half of the dough going to filling cavities, pulling teeth, rooting out root canals and deep cleanings.

In January, the Santa Fe County Commission agreed to dole out an additional $250,000 to help tide the nonprofit over until June 30, when the fiscal year ends and another one begins.

How much next year’s allocation will be, Ochoa doesn't rightly know, but she tells SFR on Friday that the county’s Health Care Assistance Program’s budget will be submitted in March, and that future financial support, which depends largely on gross receipts tax, is uncertain for the legion of uninsured, underinsured and undocumented.

“There's a huge need for dental care in Santa Fe for low-income people, and La Familia serves that segment of population,” Ochoa says, adding that the El Centro clinic in Española and Pecos Valley Medical Center in Pecos are also recipients of county money.

While prenatal care and diabetes treatment have long been provided for thousands of patients treated yearly by the clinics, the news flash is that more than half of the total monies these days are being spent on bad teeth, a malady that is not uncommon among the impoverished, where inexpensive sugar and corn-fructose-based products have long taken their toll.

Because Medicare doesn’t cover dental needs, and Medicaid is hit-and-miss in the sort of coverage it provides, the county often steps in as the savior, so much so, in fact, that it was instrumental in setting up a free dental clinic on April 7, 8 and 9, and anybody whose income level qualifies is welcome to join what is expected to be a long line outside the Community Convention Center, with registration starting at 4 pm on April 7.

April 8 and 9 will be the all-day events, which will feature dozens of dentists throughout the day, providing their services for free for the betterment of the whole of the community.

New Mexico Dental Association Foundation, in conjunction with the New Mexico Mission of Mercy, are in charge of the clinic.

“Oral health,” says Ochoa, “is largely tied to physical health and mental health, not to mention economic well-being.”

But in order to receive the service, you need to qualify. For more information on the income thresholds, call 992-9849.

Too Much Prosecution?

Koch brothers, defense attorneys: What’s on New Mexicans’ minds matters

Local NewsFriday, February 5, 2016 by New Mexico In Depth

A politically disparate, influential group of thought-heavyweights has its eye on New Mexico for a clampdown on government prosecutions of people for crimes they didn’t know they’d committed.

Last week, the Charles Koch Institute and the Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s libertarian think tank, co-sponsored a discussion in Albuquerque about what they call “over-criminalization.” At their side was the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Kicking off the event, Indy car racing legend and New Mexico icon Bobby Unser described in florid detail his tangle with the federal government over an obscure law it used to charge him 20 years ago. As Unser explained it, he survived a harrowing trek through the mountains in blizzard conditions, only to be slapped with a fine once he emerged.

Politics have not made strange bedfellows of the Koch brothers, billionaire standard bearers for conservative and corporate America, and the criminal defense lawyers association, a traditionally liberal organization.

Rather, criminal justice reform has.

Increasingly, the left-right divide is vanishing on topics from mandatory minimum sentences to civil asset forfeiture to heavy-handed police tactics.

The issue on the stage at the Hotel Albuquerque last week: “mens rea reform,” also known as “intent reform.”

Mens rea” means “guilty mind,” and it is the immediate sibling of actus reus, or “guilty act.” Together, as any first-year law student could attest, they form the basis of what the government is supposed to prove to convict someone of a crime: that a defendant committed an illegal act, and that the defendant intended to do so.

The problem, according to the forum’s participants: Policymakers have fatted the statute books with laws long on the act, but short on the mind. Legislators have passed too many laws without a clear standard of intent, they say.

In 2010, the criminal defense lawyers group and the conservative Heritage Foundation coauthored a report on what they called the erosion of intent requirements in federal law.

Panelists at last week’s forum pointed out that there are more than 4,400 federal laws on the books and hundreds more enshrined in New Mexico statutes. They asked: Would it be reasonable for citizens to know them all? And would it be reasonable for the government to prosecute people under a law they didn’t know existed — let alone intended to break?

Their short answer is no, it is not reasonable. And New Mexico could be the perfect place for ensuring mens rea requirements are specified in criminal law.

After all, this is a state with a tough-on-crime former prosecutor for a governor who, to the surprise of many, signed into law last year one of the nation’s most sweeping sets of restrictions on the practice of law enforcement confiscating people’s property prior to conviction.

The Charles Koch Institute’s Vikrant Reddy said in a telephone interview that he believes Gov. Susana Martinez’s willingness to move forward on civil asset forfeiture reform—and the state’s “thoughtful, serious” approach to complex criminal justice issues—may signal an opening for mens rea changes here as well.

Martinez has been linked to the Kochs before. In 2013, she attended a secret confab of wealthy donors hosted by the Koch brothers at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo. And between 2010 and 2014, Koch Industries donated more than $20,000 to her political campaigns.

About 75 people attended the Albuquerque event. The assemblage included local lawyers whose political bents range from dyed-in-the-wool libertarian to left of Bernie Sanders. There were shaggy-haired hipsters in jeans and tweed jackets, other folks in three-piece suits. There were people in their 70s or 80s. A girl of 9 or 10 attended with her parents. Seated near the center of the room was a fellow with a gray, thinning ponytail who wore a black cowboy hat, a bowler’s shirt emblazoned with the logo of a Rio Rancho Masonic lodge and an open-carry pistol on his hip.

The panelists told the crowd that change in New Mexico might mirror legislation passed in Ohio in 2014. The Buckeye State’s law requires legislators to include in newly created laws a base level of intent that the government must prove to convict someone. The mens rea law in Ohio also requires more precision from the state for convictions under existing laws as well.

“The intent requirement in criminal statute is the moral anchor in our law,” Norman Reimer, executive director of the NACDL, said at the forum. “Intent makes criminal law fair and reasonable.”

Before any of that, Unser took the stage. He regaled the crowd in a gravelly tone scraped from the pits of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his oft-told tale of big government run amok.

Twenty years ago at Christmastime, Unser and a friend were stranded in the South San Juan Wilderness near the New Mexico-Colorado border, after their snowmobiles broke down during a blizzard. It took the pair two grueling days to hike out of the wilderness. Unser mentioned snow caves, tissue paper, matches, mothballs and the kicking down of a barn door in a florid Q and A with Reddy that was more A than Q.

After his escape from the would-be frozen death sentence, Unser was cited for violating the federal Wilderness Act by driving a snowmobile into a wilderness area. The infraction carried a $75 fine.

There were no signposts marking the wilderness area. There were white-out conditions besides, and Unser said he didn’t know snowmobiling in the South San Juan was illegal.

Mens rea—I don’t know what that is,” he said to a roomful of approving nods. “All I know is I had no intention of doing something wrong. My intention was to stay alive.”

Later, his intention was to fight the federal government, which he did in US District Court in Denver. His trial there coincided with that of Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Unser lost. And he lost again on appeal. But his story lent a personal feel to the forum.

Skepticism abides of the Koch brothers’ increasingly public push for criminal justice reform. Just last week, journalist Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker on whether it is part of a skillful rebranding campaign meant to distance the brothers from their dark-money, puppet master image.

Mens rea reform is not without controversy, either. It appears to be a potential sticking point in the national criminal justice reform debate, and its inclusion could derail bipartisan efforts in Congress to amend sentencing laws and other aspects of the system.

Critics have wondered aloud whether bolstering intent requirements would open the door for corporations to claim ignorance of the law or benign motives and thus avoid liability for criminal acts. Environmental crimes often come to mind for those suspicious of the real intent behind “intent reform.”

The panelists at last week’s forum in Albuquerque seemed aware of the criticism. They told horror stories of people in Florida facing charges for contraband that didn’t belong to them in the trunks of rental cars. And they gave Unser 45 minutes to describe his tangle with the feds over the obscure law they charged him with breaking.

CKI’s Reddy told New Mexico In Depth that he understands the concerns about loosening restrictions on corporate crime. But disagreeing with mens rea reform efforts “is not the way to address the corporate malfeasance they’re concerned about.”

Further, he said there’s plenty in mens rea reform for average New Mexicans. Reddy gave the hypothetical example of someone whose boat leaks oil into a river. Was the boater purposefully polluting the river? Was it a reckless act, an act of negligence? Or was it a freak accident? Laws that don’t differentiate between levels of intent can criminalize behavior that would not otherwise rise to the level of a crime.

“Those levels matter,” he said. “It’s a mistake to say it’s either [a crime] or [it’s not]. Mens rea protections have for a thousand years been protections for defendants, all defendants. … Anyone in the US could be a defendant, especially now, because there are so many laws.”

Whether New Mexico will become the next battleground for stricter intent requirements remains to be seen. The Rio Grande Foundation’s Paul Gessing said he hopes to build interest and support for mens rea reform this year and potentially put it before the Legislature in 2017.

This story by Jeff Proctor was published by New Mexico In Depth as part of its "Justice Project."  

This Weekend

Guitar and Art history

Weekend PicksFriday, February 5, 2016 by SFR

Medieval to Metal: The Art and Evolution of the Guitar

Examining the craftsmanship, design and history of the coolest instrument ever around. Sorry, bassists—it's just the truth. Anyway, this is the free reception.

More Info >>


Not the backup group for Ray Charles; this is a group show of contemporary art by younger practitioners from Santa Fe and elsewhere.

More Info >>

The Bella Show with Bella Gigante and Melanie Moore

Beloved local drag queen Bella Gigante sings (and we actually mean she sings, not lip-syncs) pop, disco, blues and more. And DJ Melanie Moore spins dance jams for the after-party.

More Info >>

Garo Antreasian

A new exhibit titled Systematic Abstraction featuring paintings and wood constructions.

More Info >>

Meditation Instruction

Learn about method and etiquette.

More Info >>

Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival: Morganthau

Learn about three generations of Morganthaus, from the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morganthau Sr., Roosevelt's secretary of the treasury, Henry Morganthau Jr., and New York County DA Robert M Morganthau.

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: Rep. Espinoza Faces Ethics Complaint

Democratic Party says she used government resources to promote campaign for secretary of state

Morning WordFriday, February 5, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Espinoza Faces Ethics Complaint
The Democratic Party of New Mexico has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, for directing radio show listeners to visit her legislative website to get more information on her campaign for secretary of state.
“Official government resources cannot and must not be used for campaigning. Period,” [Party Chair Debra] Haaland said. “It violates the law and it violates the public’s trust. We are calling on Secretary of State Brad Winter to fully investigate Rep. Espinoza’s conduct in order to ensure that voters know that the system works and they can trust their elected representatives.”

Secret Budget Talks
NM lawmakers are busy talking about the state budget, but their secret, behind-closed-door meetings trouble open government advocates, who believe the public’s business should be, well, discussed publicly. The New Mexico House plans to consider the $6.3 billion state budget this Saturday.

Supplemental Funding
US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, is supporting emergency funding legislation to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is devastating communities in New Mexico and across the country.
"We urgently need more resources for better prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement programs specifically designed to help people struggling with addiction and give local communities the tools they need to tackle this issue head on. Addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone, and it's a cycle that we've seen too frequently in New Mexico.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee is considering adding up to $600 million for supplemental funding for drug prevention and treatment programs. A state proposal to require the New Mexico Department of Health to post overdose prevention information online and require some insurance providers to offer coverage for prescription opioids that make it more difficult to overdose is also advancing in the state legislature. 

Sanchez-Gagne Prepares DA Campaign
Phaedra Haywood over at the New Mexican reports, “Maria Sanchez-Gagne of Santa Fe, former director of the Border Violence Division of the state Attorney General’s Office, announced today that she will be a Democratic candidate for district attorney for the 1st Judicial District, which includes Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties.”

Repeat Offender Quickly Released
Less than 24 hours after Albuquerque police officers arrested and jailed repeat offender Rufus Phelps for being a felon in possession of a firearm while having an active warrant for another firearms charge, he is out of jail again.

Nuclear Ban Treaty
Michael Coleman reports, “Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, is in New Mexico this week as part of an Obama administration push for ratification the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.” 

More Legislative News

Infrastructure's Real Costs 
A new report reveals that deteriorating roads and bridges cost New Mexicans $1.9 billion a year. But that report is being disputed by state transportation officials.

Transmission Line Project Gets Important Approval
The SunZia Southwest transmission line project won regulatory approval in Arizona, but it still needs a green light from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. The group is still negotiating with the NM State Land Office for right-of-way leases on state trust lands in the Bureau of Land Management’s preferred route.

Concussion Protection Bill
Ahead of Super Bowl 50, Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, promotes a bill to protect young athletes from dangerous concussions.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the big game on Sunday.

Rollin’ on the Dead River

A tense literary thriller from local filmmaker

YayThursday, February 4, 2016 by Brianna Stallings

Write what you know. Never meet your heroes. Truth is stranger than fiction. There are two sides to every story. These ideas and more are at the heart of Dead River, a tense literary thriller written and directed by Santa Fe filmmaker Jason DeBoer. The movie was shot almost entirely in the Santa Fe area, over the course of 12 days. The whole production took just seven months from start to finish. DeBoer was nominated for Best Director and Talented New Director at the Madrid International Film Festival, and Dead River won Best New Mexico Film at the Albuquerque Film Festival.

Dead River tells the tale of Grant Bingham (Morse Bicknell), an English professor with a toddler he ignores, a resentful wife (Lora Martinez-Cunningham) starving for family help and intellectual stimulation, and a dean chanting “Publish or perish!” at his heels. Bingham’s chosen subject matter is crime writer and crotchety recluse Luther Nash (Eb Lottimer). Bingham wants to write a biography; Nash wants to be left alone. Bingham and his wife soon learn that some stones are better left unturned, and that when a talented stranger tells you to leave well enough alone, maybe you should listen. Along the way, there’s also the publisher (Victor Talmadge), who knows the author just well enough to have a few moral qualms about making money off of his angst, and the isolated friend (Staci Robbins), who’s seen Nash’s secret side.

Although the film has a direct and linear narrative, it’s presented in chapters, opening and closing with pauses and fades to black. Dead River clocks in at just 70 minutes, but the film is densely packed with crackling dialog, breathtaking panoramic cinematography (courtesy of Matt Wilson) and a twanging, haunting score by Tim Foljahn. The tension of the climax rolls in a little too quickly in comparison to the rest of the film’s flow, and the sudden resolution sees us abandon some characters mid-moment. Still, Dead River strikes a healthy balance between the writing/academic world, and the world of being human, both of which have their own perils and demands.

Jean Cocteau Cinema


70 min.

Friday, Feb. 5 - Thursday, Feb. 11; DeBoer will host director Q&As after the Feb. 5 and 6 showings.


The Fork

The Fork: Fat Tuesday and Monkey Worship

The ForkThursday, February 4, 2016 by Rob DeWalt

Happy Thursday, Fork followers! Santa Fe is gearing up for Mardi Gras on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and one local restaurant is in it to win it with a fine-looking four-course dinner. Feb. 8 marks the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey, and Santa Fe Culinary Academy is celebrating early with a pop-up dinner in its student restaurant. Also, one local restaurant is encouraging Santa Feans to buy local with a new discount initiative aimed at local shops and restaurants.

Monkey Business

Chinese New Year is Feb. 8, but at 6:15 pm on Thursday, Feb. 4, Santa Fe Culinary Academy gets its Year of the Monkey groove on early with a four-course dinner in its student-run restaurant in Plaza Mercado. Celebrate with Szechuan-style egg rolls, duck consomme prepared hot and sour style, steamed pork buns and green tea ice cream with a fortune tuile (a delicate French cookie). Dinner is $45 per person (plus tax and tip), and beer and wine will be available for purchase. And do please make a reservation.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

If you’re looking for somewhere to be on Mardi Gras for dinner, you might not have to look any further. At 6:30 pm Tuesday, Feb. 9, Loyal Hound pub and restaurant is serving up its Fat Tuesday Supper Club dinner, with beer pairings from Louisiana brewer Abita (sold separately). Chow down on baked oysters with chorizo butter, fried chicken and grits with redeye gravy, shrimp and sausage pie and paczki, a classic filled Polish doughnut. The community-seating supper is $45 per person (plus tax and tip), and reservations (471-0440) are required.

Join the Rebel Alliance

Dr. Field Goods Kitchen chef/owner Josh Gerwin and his manager, Tahirih Bolton, are daring you to up your buy-local game with Gerwin’s newest project: the Santa Fe Buy Local Alliance. Here’s how it works: Locally owned and operated businesses join the alliance, and patrons who shop or dine there get a 10 percent discount when they show their receipt to any other alliance member. The project is just getting off the ground, but member businesses already include Dr. Field Goods Kitchen, Barrio Brinery, Cheesemongers of Santa Fe, Museum Hill Café, Railyard Fitness and Amigo Tire & Auto. Interested in joining? Email

Week-In, Week-Out

New Mexico Restaurant Week is almost here. The Santa Fe event runs Feb. 21-28. Almost 50 local restaurants are participating, from fine-dining favorites like Restaurant Martín and radish & rye to more casual joints like Jambo Café and Jinja Bar & Bistro. But dining out isn’t the only thing to do. Special events this year include a happy-hour mezcal class at Sazón, a sake-pairing class at Shohko Café and more. Taos Restaurant Week runs Feb. 28- March 6, and Albuquerque Restaurant Week runs March 6-13. If you want to see what’s on the menu in Santa Fe, just click on a restaurant on the Restaurant Week website.

Mixx It Up

Hungry? Heading to Lobo country but want to try something new? No problem. Albuquerque welcomes Mixx, a new full-service taco bar on the west side of downtown. Beer and wine are coming to the joint soon. More ABQ food news in the link.

Get Outta Town, and Eat Chocolate

Sick and tired of cold weather? Perhaps a trip to Silver City for the 17th Annual Chocolate Fantasia on Saturday, Feb. 6, is the ticket. The event, in which proceeds benefit programming for the Mimbres Region Arts Council, is a casual, strolling affair that encourages silly dress and dancing. $25 gets you 20 chocolates, and that isn’t such a bad deal for supporting the arts.

Take It to The Bridge

Santa Fe Brewing Co, has undergone some tremendous transformations over the past few years, and for fans of live music, 2016 is going to be a year to keep your eyeballs peeled to the SFBC website. Renovations are underway at the old Santa Fe Sol performance space and restaurant (which SFBC owns), and owners hope to begin holding live concerts in March at the fresh venue, called The Bridge. And there will be food trucks!

Beer Me, Up-High

Ski Santa Fe is holding its Ski Santa Fe Brewski event at the ski area’s Totemoff’s mid-mountain bar on Saturday, Feb. 20. Six breweries are participating. An $18 ticket gets you a special silicone pint glass, three free samples and a free pint. Lift tickets are not required to attend this event. You can pre-purchase tickets via the Ski Santa Fe ticket office or by calling 954-3680. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Waste Not, Want Not

There's been a lot of talk recently about trying to combat food waste, and it's a long time coming. Some statistics put American food waste at nearly 50 percent, which doesn't really mesh with the number of hungry people living in this nation and the state of New Mexico. Want to learn more? Here's a movie about it.

Morning Word: Art Teacher Rearrested

Aaron Dean Chavez faces more sex charges

Morning WordThursday, February 4, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Teacher Rearrested
Aaron Dean Chavez, 47, the Santa Fe Catholic school art teacher accused of inappropriately touching a 6-year-old girl, is facing more charges after being rearrested on charges that he victimized other students. 

Trademark Infringement 
Lawyers for the Navajo Nation and Urban Outfitters are scheduled to be in federal court in Santa Fe today to discuss a trademark infringement case. Felicia Fonseca reports, “The clothing chain will ask a federal judge in Santa Fe on Wednesday to limit how far back in time the tribe can go to seek money over the company’s products, which included everything from necklaces, jackets and pants to a flask and underwear with the 'Navajo' name.”

Updated Use-of-Force Policy 
The Albuquerque Police Department has filed its second update on progress it’s making to comply with reform mandates. APD claims it is in the process of getting into compliance with 44 percent of the 280 goals outlined in the settlement with the Department of Justice, including amending its use-of-force policy. At the same time, a new report from the University of New Mexico suggests APD’s body camera policies are "confusing and contradictory." Researchers have even recommended officers be allowed to decide whether to record in some circumstances, including interactions with juveniles and witnesses.

Legislative News
  • Heath Haussamen reports that lawmakers are closer to reaching a deal on driver’s license legislation to comply with Real ID standards, but a provision that requires people to submit fingerprints for those second-tier driving privilege cards is still a sticking point. 
  • The House Judiciary Committee has approved a measure that would allow insurance companies to stop providing worker compensation coverage to people who are legally registered in the state's Medical Cannabis Program. 
  • A proposed constitutional amendment to change the way congressional districts are drawn up won unanimous approval in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday. 
  • Maggie Shepard reports lawmakers are having to consider the fiscal impact of mandating longer prison sentences for convicted drunk driver killers. 
  • “The House Education Committee on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that would require all school employees in New Mexico to get a background check with fingerprinting, but committee members asked the measure's sponsor to remove language that essentially mandates that teachers snitch on co-workers with criminal convictions,” according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Affluent Schools Earn Higher Grades
Robert Nott reports about  “a new legislative analysis, the state Public Education Department’s A-F school grading system [that] favors more affluent schools in New Mexico, which tend to earn A’s and B’s, while it works against schools that have a high percentage of students who are in special-education programs, are from low-income families or are English-language learners. Those schools, the report says, often get D’s and F’s.”
The study reflects concerns and critiques that educators, lawmakers and others across New Mexico have had of the A-F grading system since the Legislature passed it into law in 2011. It also gives weight to arguments that poverty impacts learning, although the report did not address that issue. Assigning school grades has been one of the cornerstones of Gov. Susana Martinez’s education-reform platform — both to inform the public about school performance and to determine which schools are struggling and need additional resources.
Progressive Debate
Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will face off at a hastily thrown-together town hall debate in New Hampshire on MSNBC tonight at 7 pm Mountain time. On Wednesday, they spent the day debating who is more progressive.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is still ahead of US Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in New Hampshire polls, but he’s looking back at his loss in Iowa and suggesting that Cruz misled caucusgoers on Tuesday when his camp sent out an untruthful notice that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race, just before people started to vote. Carson has not dropped out. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum announced they are withdrawing. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley dropped out of the Democratic race on Tuesday night.

On the Prowl
If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll want to check out this video of El Jefe roaming around the Southwest for over three years. The giant cat is the only known jaguar in the US after another was euthanized in 2009 after being injured.

Morning Word: Snow Delays SFPS Opening

Frigid temperature forecast for Santa Fe tonight

Morning WordWednesday, February 3, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Weather Delays School
Santa Fe Public Schools and others are on a two-hour delay this morning, and there’s a small chance of more snow before noon today. Weather forecasters say, “Bundle up,” because it’s going to be frigid tonight. 

Schools Win
Voters in Santa Fe County cast ballots in support of the school district’s Digital Learning Program, which provides computers and software to students. The technology bond won’t raise a mill tax but does extend an existing one for three more years. Voters in Albuquerque also approved a bond and mill levy money for Albuquerque Public Schools. Another bond for the Central New Mexico Community College also got a thumbs up.

Another Big F
The American Lung Association is giving New Mexico a failing grade for its efforts to reduce tobacco use. A new report shows the state is only spending $6.9 million a year on cessation programs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends states spend $22.8 million. Lawmakers are considering a few measures to hike prices on tobacco sales.

PRC Demand 
The Public Regulation Commission wants a retired staffer to return almost $15,000 of sick pay he collected after quitting the agency.
Last month, KRQE News 13 reported on [Dwight] Lamberson’s departure deal, which runs counter to PRC policy requiring employees to use sick leave for actual illness.
The PRC has not provided journalist Matt Grubs any evidence Lamberson was ill at the time he was paid the money.

'You’re Fired' 
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission has fired its executive director amid allegations of fraud and embezzlement.

Pot Sales Rocket
Lawmakers who are on the fence about legalizing marijuana in New Mexico for adult recreational use might want to take a look at national sale and tax numbers. According to New Frontier Financial’s latest edition of The State of Legal Marijuana Markets, sales jumped 30 percent last year to $5.4 billion. Thomas Ragan at SFR says lawmakers here estimate they’d collect up to $60 million in tax revenue from legal pot sales.

Legislative News
  • The Senate Public Affairs Committee has passed a "compromise" bill aimed at making New Mexico compliant under the federal Real ID Act, but the sponsor of the original House bill isn’t happy. Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, says his proposal was “hijacked.” 
  • The bail bond reform bill has cleared the New Mexico Senate. 
  • Stuart Dyson reports that state lawmakers are working on legislation that would limit those “golden parachutes” and lucrative contract buyouts for school district superintendents. 
  • Reducing the number of rape kits that still haven’t been tested at the state crime lab will require hiring a few more technicians, but there might not be money in the state budget to get it done. 
  • A bill nicknamed Racheal’s Law that would allow rape victims to get a permanent restraining order against their convicted assailant is headed to state senate. 
Wolves Die 
Two Mexican gray wolves died after being shot with tranquilizer darts during a federal  count. 

Energy Plan Lacks Focus 
New Mexico In Depth’s Laura Paskus has been taking a long look at Gov. Susana Martinez’ energy plan.
The plan does talk of growing the state’s burgeoning solar and wind industries—including developing new businesses focused on energy storage in batteries—but many of the document’s recommendations concentrate around helping the state’s extractive industries.
Lobos Run Past UNLV
JR Oppenheim reports the UNM Lobos closed out another high-scoring game with an impressive win in Albuquerque last night. They surged past UNLV, 87-83. Next up: The Lobos (13-8, 6-2 Mountain West) head to San Diego State, which has a perfect conference record.

Chef Eric DiStefano Dies

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