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Starting Over

After a string of DWI wrecks, Santa Fe looks to redouble its efforts to stop drunken drivers

Local NewsFriday, April 21, 2017 by Matt Grubs

“No one is above having their keys taken,” Ralph Gonzales says into a microphone, his voice quickly vanishing into the spring wind. He’s speaking to a crowd of city, county and state officials and advocates who wholeheartedly agree.

Gonzales knows about starting over. On Nov. 11, 2006, he lost five members of his family when drunken driver Dana Papst drove his truck the wrong way down I-25 into a minivan carrying his son, Paul, and his son’s wife, Renee, and their four children. Only one child survived.

“They were taken in one minute,” he says. “And you spend the rest of your life dealing with that one day at time.”

“DWI is everywhere,” says Darlene Peshlakai a moment later. She’s standing next to the descanso at Cerrillos and Cristo’s roads for her two daughters, Del Lynn and Deshauna, who were killed when drunken driver James Ruiz rammed his truck at full speed into the back of the family car on March 5, 2010.

The Peshlakai and Gonzales families have been as visible as they can force themselves to be when it comes to speaking out about drunken driving.

But the problem isn’t going away. In fact, in Santa Fe, it’s getting worse.

Darlene Peshlakai
Matt Grubs

Luke Griffin, a Santa Fe teenager, has been charged with aggravated DWI and homicide by vehicle in connection with a February crash on I-25 in Sandoval County that killed a Colorado woman and injured passengers in her vehicle.

Last week, police charged Dominic Friedlein with killing a passenger in his SUV when he crashed into another car. Officers believe the 24-year-old had been drinking before the crash.City police are making fewer arrests and DWI-related crashes are up. Within the past month, a handful of high-profile crashes have thrust the issue into the public consciousness once again.

Santa Fe police plan more saturation patrols and more DWI checkpoints, joining a stepped-up effort already underway by the county and state police.

Police say it’s difficult to pin the rise in crashes on any one thing, though Salbidrez says a roughly 20 percent vacancy rate at the department has made enforcement difficult.

The city hopes to capitalize on the recent publicity to start a community conversation.

“This is a community problem,” SFPD Deputy Chief Mario Salbidrez says, urging bartenders, servers and clerks to not sell booze to people who are already drunk. “If they don’t have it, they can’t be on the streets impaired.”

“Talk to your friends, your neighbors, your family,” says Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales.

In coming weeks, local advocates plan new training for servers to assert themselves more effectively when it comes to cutting off customers. Despite steep cuts to funding and the recent closure of Capital Cab, which participated in a subsidized ride program for people who’d been drinking, anti-DWI groups say they’ll focus on trying to get the community to talk about it; to make it okay to tell someone they shouldn’t drive.

Unfinished Business

Decolonizing Nature conference pits imaginative defiance against a reactionary agenda

Local NewsFriday, April 21, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

The border line glows red like a re-opened scar ripping through flesh-colored earth, a reminder that the process of colonization is never complete so long as there are people around to resist it. This is the image featured on the poster advertising the Decolonizing Nature conference at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, where activists, scholars and members of the public have converged to confront the threat that colonialism’s legacy poses to our future. 

Against a backdrop of mass extinction in a warming world and a federal government packed with strongmen and carbon fiends, the very title of the event invites controversy. For some Indigenous academics, the reduction of “decolonization” from a bloody and chaotic historical process to a metaphor for good environmental stewardship can obscure the hard sacrifices decolonization would actually entail; compare the San Juan medicine man Popé leading the annihilation of the Spanish settlement at Pecos in 1680 to contemporary demands for “decolonizing” public schools through eco-friendly curricula. For the oil industry and its proponents, even metaphoric decolonization, with its emphasis on de-carbonized living, poses a threat to New Mexico’s largest sources of state funding, not to mention profits. 

But such detractors did not make their presence known at the conference, and attendees seem convinced that the habits and assumptions imposed by centuries of colonial force are still malleable enough to change. Over the course of four days (April 17-22), panelists presented on topics like the sanctity of water, eco-violence, colonial legacies along borders and food justice, all with the aim of promoting traditionally Indigenous ways of interacting with the Earth and its life forms. 

To Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, a panelist and the environmental manager of the native village of Nuiqsut off the Arctic coast in northern Alaska, decolonization means active struggle against American oil development in her region. “It’s about recognizing the migration of the animals that come from every continent in this world to the Arctic for renewal,” she told me. “It’s about connecting and growing the goodness of the life and health of our communities, and growing the importance of tradition and culture to keep our people safe and healthy.” 

Students and faculty at the University of New Mexico had already been planning the event since last fall, but the ascension of Donald Trump and his neocolonial agenda to the White House heightened the urgency of coming together. Its lead organizer, and the most popular guy at the conference, was Subhankar Banerjee, a fast-talking professor of art and ecology at UNM and a seriously good environmental photographer. Banerjee said that he and his team had originally expected for planning to take two years, but they were able to pull it together in just three and a half months. 

“We already had to deal with environmental injustice and species extinction,” he said, as he paused from greeting attendees. “But after the election, the significance of it became much more amplified. All of us have been more energized to deal with this, and now it’s not just environmental issues, but it’s also that public media and the arts and humanities are getting defunded.”

Run down the list of sponsors of the conference and you’ll see what’s at stake. The New Mexico Humanities Council and 516 ARTS would be gravely threatened if Trump’s proposal to nix the National Endowment of the Humanities is approved by Congress. Same with KUNM and the local PBS affiliate if public broadcasting was cut, and several other organizational supporters dependent on the National Endowment for the Arts.

Even so, Jamie Blosser, executive director of the Santa Fe Art Institute, is confident that her organization will survive. The institute heavily promoted the conference following its partnership with University of Mexico’s Land Arts of the American West program, which sent some of its artist residents to speak with Diné activists and farmers about water rights. Several other institute artist residents have continued to work with Native communities struggling for environmental justice in New Mexico; one woman, Albuquerque-based artist Asha Canalos, makes portraits and broadcasts the stories of activists on the front lines of the anti-fracking movement for a blog called New Mexico Story Power. But while Blosser does not believe the institute will go under if its federal funding is eliminated, she does fear it will lose its ability to offer residency and programs to underserved populations, which would undermine the institute’s commitment to social justice.

Artists interested in decolonization, Blosser said, must “look at the much broader system that allows these deep structural inequities to flourish, and ask themselves difficult and uncomfortable questions—but through the lens of art.” 

Although the conference began with a film series and will end with an arts exhibition, there were surprisingly few artists around. The interests of attendees ranged from feminist intersectional theory to eco-religious practice. The point of agreement among everybody was that the industrial systems bequeathed to us since colonization are not only deeply unfair, but are leading to our demise through global warming and related extinction. The contradictions of colonialism, based on a growing need to extract resources from the Earth, are particularly stark in New Mexico, which was conquered and reconquered and today remains one of the poorest states in the country. 

“We’re a profoundly colonial state,” said Gregory Gould, a food historian and board member of the Santa Fe- and Albuquerque-based food co-op La Montañita. “It’s important a conference like this is happening in New Mexico so we don’t feel so isolated.” Through his research, Gould came to conclude that people who feed off an industrial agricultural system suffer from “low grade insecurity and stress” because we don’t know where our food comes from. Only about 3 percent of the food New Mexicans eat is grown in the state. For Gould, advocating for broader access to sustainability grown food is key.

Recasting our understanding of food as a part of the same organic process as our ever-decaying bodies was also indicative of another fundamental takeaway from the conference: The atomization and siloing of everything, from commodity supply chains to academic disciplines and even the conception of “nature” as something we can opt out of are the reasons the Earth is shaking us off like a bad case of fleas (to borrow from George Carlin). And with the fattest fleas digging in at the heights of American power, at least one younger attendee was feeling the rumblings under their feet.

After an early Thursday panel titled “Species, Place, & Politics,” 23-year-old Ebrahim Nourestani hobbled up to the microphone on crutches to challenge what he saw as ineffectual talk. 

“How can we stray away from traditional ways of making change, and how can we make some type of revolutionary movement here that will invoke some type of serious action?” he asked the panelists. “Because these are serious times.” 

Later, the bushy-haired Albuquerquean explained that what he envisioned as a way out of our contemporary suicide pact wasn’t too different from the ol’ think-globally-act-locally values proposed by others at the conference. 

“We want to promote the universal connection around one another,” Nourestani said. “By creating an influential movement here [in northern New Mexico,] we can possibly pioneer a process that rolls over into other countries and other continents. I am working my best to gain knowledge and skills so I can positively have an impact.”

Let’s hope that Nourestani is hard at work, because at this late stage in the climate crisis, we need all the help we can get. 

Weekend Picks: Hecho en Santa Fe

Weekend PicksFriday, April 21, 2017 by SFR

This week's cover story delves into things made locally, and this weekend's picks feature some of the best things made here: art and music and good times and stuff. Be proud, spend money, go crazy—and you can say you did it all for the economic well-being of the town. You might even say you're an American hero.

Anastasio Wrobel: Coloring Book Party & Talk

This political and visual artist presents a coloring book for everyone: The Non-Binary Coloring Book. Color alongside the artist and enjoy snacks in the Fogelson Library.

More Info >>

Cryin' Out Loud Opening Reception

Food, drinks and special performances celebrate the opening of this exhibit examining the role of women and femmes' voices about politics, activism, and emotion expressed through art. Through July 9.

More Info >>

Treemotel, Smokin' Ziggurats and Luke Carr

American style rock and roll by three different, dynamic bands.

More Info >>


March For Science

This march champions science as a pillar for the advancement of human knowledge, progress and prosperity. To stand in support of science is not a partisan act but rather an acknowledgement that our understanding of the world becomes deeper, stronger, and more useful when we scientifically test our hypotheses about the world.

More Info >>

Pigment's Earth Day Celebration

Get with Santa Fe's original jam rock band to celebrate Earth Day.

More Info >>

Francis Menotti: A Night of Magic

Menotti is not your conventional magician, which explains his rise in securing premier national appearances on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, the prestigious Halloween week engagement at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, the Penn & Teller Theater in Las Vegas and the last two Presidential inaugurations. In fact, Teller remarked that Menotti’s unique style and approach to audiences is “the future of magic.”

More Info >>


Journeysantafe: Pat Hodapp

Tell the library director what you want from your libraries at this day celebrating Santa Fe's successes and planning for the future.

More Info >>

The Santa Fe Symphony: Chabrier, Haydn & Schumann

Guest conductor Robert Tweten leads the orchestra in a program of springtime favorites.

More Info >>

NM Women in Film's Film Fiesta!

Badass women showcase their creativity, vision and artistry of their film work. Film Fiesta also happening in Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

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: Your Money, Your Schools

Morning WordFriday, April 21, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Santa Fe schools sharpen budget picture
After spending weeks talking about a budget that will leave Santa Fe Public Schools anywhere from $4 million to $9 million short next year, the district told SFR that its best-case scenario would be a $2.74 million gap. Now, that's narrowed even further as the district bones up on its math ahead of what's likely to be a final budget decision next month.

State criticizes APS middle schools sports cut
The Public Education Department lashed out at Albuquerque Public Schools over the district's decision to cut middle school sports programs in the face of a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall. A top PED official says the public should know that there are nearly twice as many administrators at the district making six-figure salaries than there were five years ago.

Luna college hiring, pay investigated
The district attorney in Las Vegas and the attorney general are looking into why the new president of Luna Community College has hired so many family members—and why they're getting paid so well. The state auditor and Higher Education Department both found similar issues when they examined the college's finances.

Another oil boom in New Mexico?
It seems likely, and sooner rather than later. The Associated Press examines the spike in land value and infrastructure investment in New Mexico's Permian Basin. 

Family says boy hit by APD officer in crash will die
The family of 6-year-old Joel Anthony says he'll be taken off life support after being critically injured when an Albuquerque police officer responding to a call crashed into the car driven by his mother. His 9-year-old sister was also critically injured in the crash. Both she and the officer are still in the hospital.

Española businessman passes
Richard P Cook, the man who made a fortune snapping up low-cost land and mining it for gravel, died this week. Even at 91, Cook was still involved in deals and developments around Northern New Mexico. The Rio Grande Sun has his obituary.

Making it small
Weekends are a pretty solid time to tuck into an SFR cover story. This week's offering explores the state of manufacturing in the state of New Mexico, where smaller manufacturers are providing the growth that's lacking in the economic sector.

March for science
Tomorrow, in five cities around New Mexico—including Santa Fe—people plan to hit the streets in solidarity with the March for Science in Washington DC. Scientists have lately traded lab life for criticism from those who deny human-caused climate change, while others are scrambling to fund research on things like clean air and cancer.

Thanks for reading! The Word can't wait to greet tomorrow with a bottomless mug of coffee.

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

Science Under Attack

Saturday March for Science events in Santa Fe and other cities protest political rhetoric and proposed federal budget cuts

Local NewsThursday, April 20, 2017 by Laura Paskus, New Mexico Political Report

On Wednesday evening, students, baby boomers, dogs, kids and organizers for the Albuquerque March for Science spread across a corner of Bataan Park, making signs, trying on yellow T-shirts and getting to know one another. When they rally in downtown Albuquerque on Saturday, expect their protest signs to be clever. Or very nerdy. In the park, participants were drawing inspiration from Isaac Newton, Jane Goodall and Neil deGrasse Tyson. One sign read, “Einstein was a refugee.”

The nonpartisan event, which is planned for Washington, DC, and hundreds of cities around the United States, is modeled on the Women’s March in January. In New Mexico, rallies and marches will take place in five New Mexico cities: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Socorro, Las Cruces and Silver City. 

For years, some politicians have called climate change a myth or a hoax and tried to degrade federal scientists by dismissing them as “bureaucrats.” But the political rhetoric against scientists and peer-reviewed research has intensified on the public stage, while at the same time national leaders propose cuts to spending on everything from clean air to cancer research. Even before taking office, Donald Trump’s transition team asked the US Department of Energy for the names of its employees working on climate change issues. And things have only gotten worse since then.

“There have been a number of places where science is under attack,” said Daniel Larremore, a postdoctoral student at the Santa Fe Institute and the organizer of the March for Science in Santa Fe. The current presidential administration placed gag orders on scientists working in federal government, he said. 

“These are government scientists, doing non-classified work with public funding, taxpayer funding, and they’ve been asked by the current administration to not present their findings at conferences,” he said. “The way science moves forward is we look at the evidence, we try and formulate theories and explanations of that evidence. But if people aren’t allowed to share and participate in that conversation, that’s not science.”

He also pointed to the proposed budget cuts to agencies such as the National Institutes for Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The NIH invests more than $32 billion a year in biomedical research alone and funds work at universities, laboratories and medical schools for tens of thousands of professors, graduate students and researchers. Just in 2016, NIH awarded more than $57 million in grants to the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, $8.8 million to UNM and almost $8 million to New Mexico State University. Trump’s budget proposal would cut NIH’s total funding by almost 20 percent. 

Trump wants to cut the EPA’s budget by nearly one-third and lay off one-quarter of its workforce. He also proposed reducing the agency’s research and development arm by half. Last year, New Mexico received more than $36 million from the EPA. 

The president has also directed NASA to shift its focus away from atmospheric research, which includes climate change, and toward “deep-space exploration.” His proposal would slash the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees that National Weather Service, by 17 percent. Although Trump left the National Science Foundation out of his budget proposal earlier this spring, it’s fair to assume that agency, which funds research related to everything from nanotechnology to atmospheric science, will end up on the chopping block, too.

“Those cuts have implications for an entire generation of scientists,” said Larremore, who has a doctorate degree in applied mathematics and today studies the evolution of the parasite that causes malaria.

“Imagine if we took basically any large field or industry and said, ‘Now, because of political reasons, you’re subject to a 20 percent pay cut, and while we recognize that you’re the best at what you do, sorry, your predictions of climate change disagree with our current politics,’” he said. “That’s at a level that has crossed the line for a lot of people.”

Not everyone who works in the sciences will participate in the march, and at least some criticize the movement. One federal employee, speaking off the record, said given how critical the impacts of climate change are, it’s time to work. Not protest. Others employed by agencies and institutions, including the state’s national laboratories, have research or funding at risk but won’t publicly support the march.

“A lot of scientists are in a weird spot, as suddenly science is being dragged into politics and pushed around,” he said. Larremore acknowledged those scientists who have said that engaging in protests only makes their work more vulnerable to politics. “But I think if we learned anything from the Women’s March movement, it’s that there are a lot of people who feel very passionately about this in and around the scientific community and who are willing to step up,” he said. “The Women's March also highlighted how many people care about these issues, regardless of how politics turned out this cycle.” 

Lukas Bell-Dereske is one of the co-organizers of the Albuquerque march. Growing up in Michigan, he was fascinated by the forest and the connections between plants, soils and wildlife. That inspired him to try to understand things like how climate change and alterations in precipitation affect how plants and fungi interact with one another in the Great Lakes dunes, and how that affects dune habitats and plant diversity. He finished up his PhD at the University of New Mexico last year and is about to return to the Midwest for a post-doctoral position at Michigan State University.

“The march is an opportunity for us to show that science is all around you,” he said. “And that it’s about seeking truth, seeking facts and trying to understand the world all around us.”

He said he and his fellow graduate students have talked about how to get more people involved in science. College campuses host lectures open to the public, he said, and federal agencies have “citizen science” projects, where people follow scientific protocols and collect data.

There’s a US Department of Agriculture citizen science project in Las Cruces to crowdsource data on soil, vegetation and crops, for example, and another US Environmental Protection Agency Urban Waters Program through which students and volunteers help collect baseline water quality data in the South Valley of Albuquerque.

NASA’s GLOBE Observer app lets people take environmental observations, like of clouds and sky conditions, that scientists use to complement satellite observations. With iNaturalist, people snap photos of plants and animals. By uploading them, they can crowdsource identifications and keep track of the species they’re seeing. The observations are also shared with repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an open-access site.

For parents, Bell-Dereske recommended bringing kids to a museum, or even just going outside. 

“Take them to a park, help them explore the natural world around them or anywhere that makes them excited about learning about science,” he said.

Science requires passion, which oftentimes emerges early in a child’s life. “It’s good to be weird,” he said. “That’s a how a scientist starts.”

UNM’s Becky Bixby won’t be at the march. But that’s only because since the beginning of the semester, she’s been planning a field trip for her aquatics class to the Jemez Mountains. 

“I decided not to cancel because I have 22 students signed up to go who will learn how to sample, who will learn how a river works,” said Bixby, a research assistant professor with UNM’s biology department and the associate director of the university’s Water Resources Program.

“With environmental sciences, we use basic science to help with things like management,” Bixby said. “Especially in New Mexico, aquatic science helps us maintain the health of our water and our rivers, and if you want to take it all the way up, it affects human health.”

Not all her students will end up studying biology or going into water resources or environmental science. Some are studying in the pre-pharmacy and pre-dental programs. Her goal with the class is to nurture good citizens who are well-informed about local aquatic science issues.

“Some people think that all scientists need to have PhDs,” she said. “And it’s not true.”

Five marches are planned for Saturday, which is also Earth Day, in New Mexico:

Albuquerque: 2 pm, Albuquerque City Plaza

Santa Fe: 10:30 am, beginning at The Plaza, rally at the State Capitol

Las Cruces: 10 am, Downtown Pavilion Main Stage

Silver City: 9 am, beginning at Western New Mexico University

Socorro: Noon, beginning at Joseph A Fidel Student Center on the New Mexico Tech campus

See more from nmpoliticalreport.com

The Fork

Beer!

The ForkThursday, April 20, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Cheers!

It's still Poetry Month. In honor of Bill O'Reilly here's Poem #1702 by Emily Dickinson:

Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set
Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the
Farmer's corn
Men eat of it and die

Let's FORK!


There are two great beer events in town this week. First up Fire & Hops (222 N Guadaupe St, 95401635) is hosting a tap takeover TONIGHT by the awesome Boxing Bear Brewery. Founded in 2014, the Albuquerque brewery has quickly become one of my favorites. I will always try one of their brews.

The takeover will include Boxing Bear's best offerings—Simcoe Hop Pale Ale, Black & Blue Sour, and Red Glove Double Red Ale, as well as others. The event starts at 5 pm and will also include goodies from the brewery.


The second beer-based event is tied to the new TV show Beerland. The show filmed at several local breweries as well as Meow Wolf, and they are hosting a weekend of events to celebrate Santa Fe's contributions to the show and to micro-brews. You can watch the trailer for the show below.

The event is Thursday and Friday April 27 and 28 at The Lodge (75 N St. Francis Drive, 992-5800). The event is free, but you'll want to get your tickets HERE.

Thursday:
5-6 pm: Happy Hour, Music, Lawn Games
6-7 pm: Home Brew Seminar
7:30-8 pm: Beerland Screening
8-9:30 pm: Trivia / Lawn Games / Music

Friday:
9-9:15 am: Yoga Meet Up
9:15-10 am: Yoga Session
10-11 am: Beer-Tails & Breakfast


The Fork would like to wish El Paragua (603 Santa Cruz Road, Española, 753-3211) a happy 50th anniversary. It's one of our favorite places to eat in the area. Go get yourselves some delicious this week and wish them another 50 years.

See you next week,
Michael



What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email thefork@sfreporter.com


Morning Word

Take off, ye state workers

Morning WordThursday, April 20, 2017 by Matt Grubs

It's Thursday, April 20, 2017.


Gov furthers furlough plan
Susana Martinez has told her cabinet secretaries to ready plans for forced days off in an effort to bolster the state's reserves. The governor said yesterday the furloughs could start next week, but could also be avoided if she and lawmakers can broker a closed-door deal on the budget. Lawmakers say it's an unnecessary bargaining ploy by the governor and unfairly punishes state workers.

Vetoes cut deeper
A closer look at the governor's budget vetoes shows they'll impact some $3 billion—yes, billion—in funding for hospitals, agricultural extension services, even autopsies that take place under the auspices of the state's universities. The governor, who promises that funding will be restored, has not called a special session, instead opting for a statewide tour of more-or-less impromptu press conferences to plead her case.

Those pesky ethics
Santa Fe's Ethics and Campaign Review Board continues to work its way through some city campaign rules that are less clear than many thought they would be. The board yesterday sanctioned the pro-tax Pre-K for Santa Fe group for not properly identifying itself on campaign material. It also ruled that the Rio Grande Foundation, which produced an anti-tax video spread around the internet, needed to register as a campaign group.

Catholic church backs tax
Archbishop of Santa Fe John Wester is throwing his weight and, he hopes, his flock behind the sugary-drink tax. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has long supported a statewide pre-K initiative that would be paid for by taking money from one of the state's permanent funds. The endorsement came after the rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi opposed the tax on his Facebook page, saying it was politically motivated.

Smoke signals
The feds slapped a state agency that compensates crime victims after the group used federal funds to reimburse victims for medical marijuana purchases. The feds acknowledged New Mexico's medical marijuana system, but said federal law still makes it illegal and federal money can't be used to buy marijuana, no matter the use.

I've got the power ... well, not yet, but soon
Xcel Energy broke ground in Hobbs on a transmission line that will connect New Mexico to a massive substation in Texas. The $400 million project will serve much of the Permian Basin and is another sign of money pouring into New Mexico's most productive oil and gas region.

Adding up your credit score
The credit bureaus are changing the way they calculate your credit score. Keeping credit cards open may not help you as much, having civil judgments and liens may not hurt you as much. The change affects many credit card applications, but not necessarily the FICO score used for home loans.

EPA halts methane rule
The Environmental Protection Agency has slapped a 90-day delay on an Obama-era methane emissions rule that regulates how much of the polluting gas can be released from oil and gas wells. The San Juan Basin in northwest New Mexico is a global hotspot for such releases. 

Thanks for reading! The Word is eyeballing Friday like it's nobody's business.

Knife to See You

Three Knives Every Home Cook Needs

Product ReviewsThursday, April 20, 2017 by Brian Panganiban

It can be argued that a home cook can get away with just three knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a bread slicer.

Knife selection is indeed a personal endeavor.  We all have different sized arms, hands and fingers so consider a boutique kitchenware shop, or a dedicated cutlery store, to test drive knives. And whatever knife you buy, be sure to have them professionally sharpened.

That said, here are my choices:

Forschner 3.25" Paring Knife

I tend to abuse my paring knives, so I go for durable and inexpensive. Forschner Victorinox is better known for its Swiss Army knives but professional kitchens have been outfitting prep chefs with these knives for decades. Thin, flexible and sharp, the Forschener is super light and quick and is my go to for any random, brief cutting task where pulling out the chef’s knife would be overkill. Use it more as a utility item than a cooking implement, snipping butcher’s twine, opening bags, shaving down citrus zest or cutting supremês. It holds its edge remarkably well for a $7 knife. Makes a great stocking stuffer.

Tojiro Bread Slicer

You need a serrated bread slicer. It’s that simple. Thick-crusted artisan loaves will murder the edge of a standard blade, and the sawing efficiency of a bread slicer helps prevent softer loaves from getting crushed because of the increased downward pressure from a regular blade. The Tojiro’s nearly 15” length means it can double as a slicer for large roasts when needed and make quick work of a case of ripe tomatoes. Sharpening a serrated edge at home is an excruciating, difficult and largely ineffective process, so have it professionally sharpened. If your time is worth more than the $18 asking price, you could always just replace it as well.

Shun Classic 8” Chef's Knife

A chef’s knife should be the anchor of your kitchen cutlery team. Most of your heavy lifting is done with this blade so you want to be happy with your choice. Here’s where you should shell out a little more, even with a starter’s knife. What you’ll be buying is quality of construction, ease of maintenance and performance. As cool looking as some of those 10” monsters are, most home cooks are best served with the 8” version. The Shun Classic is handmade in Japan, with a nice, stiff blade that holds a keen edge for months at a time with moderate use. The handle slopes elegantly from the bolster (the piece of metal where the handle meets the blade) into the blade, so that grip style remains comfy even for longer cutting sessions.


(Cool Stuff is a new feature at SFR that reviews the best gear and stuff. Our reviewers are experts in their field and are asked to provide honest and independent assessments. When readers choose to purchase our editorial picks, we earn affiliate commissions that support our journalism.)


Morning Word: Cops and Facebook

Morning WordWednesday, April 19, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Don't post that
Santa Fe police have a new social media policy to consider before taking to Twitter, Facebook or any other medium of the moment. The policy grew—but only in part, the department insists—out of the case of Sgt. Troy Baker, uncovered by SFR. Officers are now prohibited from posts that degrade race, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected class.

SFPS Board gets an earful from community, state
Nobody likes closing schools. Well, probably nobody. Part of the reason is that when you do it, no matter the reason, you hear about it. The state education department accused Superintendent Veronica Garcia of fearmongering. The Santa Fe Public Schools' regular board meeting featured a parade of students, parents, teachers and administrators begging the district to avoid a plan to close two elementary schools.

Border biz
Companies that have a business model reliant upon New Mexico's close proximity to, and close relationship with, Mexico are a little anxious these days. As the president promises a renegotiation of NAFTA, US Sen. Tom Udall headed to the area to hear the concerns of businesses worried that the rug is about to get pulled out from under them.

Extraction action
Even as oil giant ConocoPhillips sells its San Juan Basin assets, there's a different kind of action in the southeast's Permian Basin. There, oil and gas drillers are loading up on land and other supplies in what analysts see as a precursor to another increase in action. New Mexico gets a bunch of money from extractive industries and an uptick would be more than welcome by those who watch the state's bottom line.

2017 could be a great year to sell your house
Multiple offers, higher asking prices and all the things you might dream about when selling your home seem to be more likely than they've been in years in New Mexico. Real estate agents say inventory is tight and this year could set sales records.

Heinrich and Rich
Mick Rich thinks US Sen. Martin Heinrich should be looking for another job. The construction entrepreneur announced he'd like his first elected office to be the US Senate seat that's up for grabs in 2018. The Albuquerque Republican is first into the race against Heinrich. He'll face the same steep uphill battle that most challengers face when taking on an incumbent, plus the challenge of having his first name mistyped as "Mike" (It's now been corrected in the link).

NCAA says UNM arena is the pits
The governing body for college athletics has announced the cities that will host championship events from 2019-2022. The Pit, venerable home to Lobos basketball games, is not on the list. That, despite $60 million in improvements. The selection committee gave New Mexico some pointers, which mostly said the seats are too close to the playing floor. The university did land other events.

Single stage to glory
KRQE helicopter pilot and science lover Bob Martin takes a close look at a rocket that could be the first single-stage rocket to get to space. No booster to discard means a lot of things for the aerospace industry, including no need for nearby water, which could mean big things for New Mexico's spaceport.

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7 Days

04.19.17

7 DaysWednesday, April 19, 2017 by SFR
1

NASA SAYS SATURN MOON MAY HAVE CONDITIONS FOR LIFE

That’s great news, since apparently we are going to bomb this planet to smithereens.

2

LEGISLATORS TO SUE GOVERNOR OVER VETOES

On the count of three, let’s all litigate!

3

CAPITAL CITY CAB CLOSES

A setback for our plan to become a sorta city-like city one day.

4

MAYOR, COUNCILORS WALK OUT RATHER THAN LISTEN TO CONSTITUENT RANT

Imagine how we feel during your speeches, guys.

5

SCHOOL DISTRICT PUTS NAVA AND EJ MARTINEZ ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK

Ask the Capshaw parents how well this protest is going to turn out.

6

SFUAD ANNOUNCES CLOSURE NEXT YEAR

The only silver lining is that we can stop trying to pronounce that acronym as a word.

7

GOV. MARTINEZ SOFTENS HER VETO OF MONEY FOR ALL OF THE STATE’S UNIVERSITIES

An actual quote from Tuesday’s press conference:


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