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

Morning Word: Real Pain, REAL ID

Morning WordWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Show us your papers
It's not the Nazi regime, nor is it the Soviet empire. It's the MVD. Ursula Freer would know, too, since her family escaped both the Germans and Soviets before emigrating to the US after World War II. But even though she became a naturalized citizen in 1971 and had her papers in hand, she couldn't get her REAL ID-compliant driver's license from the state. SFR's Aaron Cantu looks at why it's so hard for seniors to renew their license.   

Clean up your act
City crews swung by Santa Fe's Municipal Court building yesterday. They cut weeds, trimmed branches and gave the place a quick once-over. It's been more than a while. While generally ship-shape on the inside, the grounds of the city's center of justice had become an overgrown mess. SFR started asking questions about why cleaning up court seemed to be so hard.

Meme-posting sergeant retires ahead of internal affairs inquiry
Santa Fe Police Sergeant Troy Baker, who's also the police union president, chose to retire rather than stay on the force and see what internal affairs investigators found. In February, SFR broke the story about Baker posting offensive memes on his Facebook page. When an Ohio man ran down protesters in Charlottesville recently, Santa Fe's police chief announced he had placed Baker on desk duty nearly six months after the investigation began. The department had until last Saturday to complete its inquiry.

Meet the new boss ...
Española's soon-to-be-acting police chief, Eric Gallant, has faced domestic violence charges similar to the ones that caused outgoing chief Matthew Vigil to step down. Both are former New Mexico State Police officers who found their way to Española after leaving the agency. Vigil is quitting next week. A Taos County grand jury recently handed up indictments in two cases involving child abuse and intimidation of a witness.

Morales out for CD2
State Senator Howie Morales won't run for the congressional seat left empty by Steve Pearce's upcoming run for governor. The Bayard senator says he can be more effective in the state Senate. There are five Democrats in the race, though none has broad name recognition. Four Republicans, including the state land commissioner, a former state party chair and a current legislator, are vying for the seat.

Spaceport America
The truth is, most of America probably has no idea what or where New Mexico's spaceport is. The state dumped a quarter of a billion dollars into the facility on the promise of space tourism. That promise has seemingly vanished in the desert wind. Heath Haussamen is spending the week examining what's next for the gleaming facility and why it's so keen to keep its inner workings shielded from the public eye.

I am the captain now
New Mexico is staying out of the legislative debate over self-driving cars. While more than 40 states have begun mulling over how to handle what seems like the inevitable arrival of driverless automobiles, the state has yet to tackle what it will and will not allow on its roads.

RAIN!
It could happen again today. Of course, some of these storms can get pretty nasty, pretty fast. The National Weather Service wants you to be smart. Here's what today has in store.

Thanks for reading! The Word wonders if legislators are waiting until Google develops a self-driving car that tailgates you and eventually passes on the right.

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

MetroGlyphs

08.23.17

MetroGlyphsWednesday, August 23, 2017 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at santafechef@hotmail.com

7 Days

08.23.17

7 DaysWednesday, August 23, 2017 by SFR
1

Solar eclipse blocks roughly 85 percent of the sun in Northern New Mexico

Clouds obscure part of the big event, but it beat sitting in the office.

2

Gonzales still hasn’t announced whether he’ll run for reelection

So much for dramatic mid-eclipse pronouncement: “If you re-elect me, I’ll bring back the sun!”

3

Pat Pruitt wins Best of Show at Indian Market with metallic sculpture

Terminator 11: The Rise of the Contemporaries.

4

Bannon out at White House, back in at Breitbart

Time to start shaving, bathing again.

5

Verizon sucks downtown

It’s not the Santa Fe vortex. It’s typical corporate decision-making.

6

NMSU teams up with Bosque Brewery to license its own Pistol Pete ale

Meanwhile, Santa Fe University of Art and Design gets a deal for Evaporating IPA.

7

Plaza obelisk identified, again, as offensive monument to colonialism

Mr. Gonzales, tear down this … thing.


Informant No. 9097

How a federally paid professional snitch lured a woman into a relationship, then two drug deals, then turned her in

FeaturesWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Jeff Proctor

Jennifer Padilla’s boyfriend was pleading: Call people you used to run with, hook me up with some meth deals so I can pay off my Florida partners.

He’d been robbed and needed cash, he kept saying. He’d be hurt if she didn’t.

On parole after a year in prison for a string of Santa Fe burglaries and struggling to stay off drugs, Padilla was conflicted. Stepping back into the drug world unnerved her, but she refused to see the man she loved in danger.

Jennifer Padilla in the spring of 2016.
Courtesy Jennifer Padilla
Two calls to three old acquaintances led to a pair of methamphetamine deals last July. Even though she wasn’t present for either, the calls cost Padilla, then 37, her freedom.

The man who pleaded with her was a paid government informant with a violent rap sheet, brought to Albuquerque last year by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as part of a massive undercover operation. He was one of five such informants dispatched into an impoverished, largely minority swath of the city to entice people into gun and drug crimes.

Padilla is one of 103 people arrested by agents in the sting, all delivered by informants, and one of at least 13 targeted by the man she believed was her boyfriend. She has been in jail in Santa Fe for a year and faces a decade or more in federal prison if she’s convicted of conspiracy to distribute meth.

During a nearly two-month courtship, the man kept his government job a secret.

They had sex several times in the publicly funded halfway house where Padilla lived with other recently released women. But it was more than a physical attraction. He complimented her, listened, drove her to work—setting himself apart from the abusive men she’d loved before.

When he held her youngest daughter’s hand, strolling along Tingley Beach in search of digital Pokémon, it felt like a fresh chance at having a family.

There was darkness, for sure. She fed his marijuana and ecstasy habits with cash. Sometimes he disappeared for days. And he encouraged her relapse, slipping her an ecstasy pill one night at the halfway house. That ended a stretch of nearly two drug-free years in her decade-long battle with addiction.

But she had fallen in love with him. So when he asked her to set up a drug deal—scared for his safety after he claimed he’d been robbed—she called an old acquaintance and made an introduction.

The informant returned a week later, saying the price had been too high; he still owed money across the country. She needed to make another call, he told her, because she was his girl. So she did.

The men Padilla called sold four ounces of meth to an undercover ATF agent working with the confidential informant.

Padilla’s case adds another claim of wrongdoing by the ATF in an operation that has drawn community and legal scrutiny for alleged racial profiling. The operation also scooped up many who did not fit the “worst of the worst” profile trumpeted by federal officials during a self-congratulatory news conference last August, a previous New Mexico In Depth investigation found.

Worst of the worst?

ATF has claimed it helped clean up Albuquerque’s crime-ridden streets last year, arresting 103 of the “worst of the worst”—later defined as people with long, violent criminal records who were moving large quantities of drugs and guns in the city. But a New Mexico In Depth investigation found that most of the 103 didn’t fit those descriptions. Case in point: Jennifer Padilla, whose criminal record contrasts with that of the ATF informant she believed was her boyfriend, who delivered her to the feds.

Padilla: Guilty plea to misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, 2011; guilty pleas to 11 felony counts of solicitation to commit residential burglary, sentenced to probation April 2012; guilty plea to felony drug possession, sentenced to jail and probation, October 2013; arrested on suspicion of felony drug possession, violating her probation, sentenced to 15 months in prison, June 2014.

ATF CI No. 9097: Convicted of felony drug trafficking, sentenced to one year in prison, 2002; convicted of felony aggravated armed robbery, sentenced to three years in prison, 2005; convicted of felony drug possession, sentenced to one year in prison, 2010; arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence/battery by strangulation, 2014.

Padilla’s lawyer, Santa Fe-based L Val Whitley, says in a pair of court motions filed last month that the man Padilla thought was her boyfriend, ATF Informant No. 9097, and his handlers went far beyond the questionable—but legal—tactics law enforcement often uses in the always-murky world of using one criminal to catch another.

The informant exploited their intimate relationship, Padilla’s struggle with drug addiction and her vulnerable station in life to lure her into a crime she would not otherwise have committed, Whitley’s motions say.

Whitley says it is entrapment and “outrageous government conduct.” He is asking a federal judge to dismiss Padilla’s charges and disclose detailed information about Informant No. 9097 should her case go to trial.

“The court should condemn these actions in the strongest possible way by dismissing this case,” Whitley wrote in one of the motions.

Federal prosecutors have until Aug. 28 to respond to Whitley’s motions.

For Padilla, the alleged legal transgression is only one part of a larger whole.

In a jailhouse interview with New Mexico In Depth this June, she recalled the betrayal she believes led to where she found herself: Sitting in a small, windowless room, her cheeks reddening and her knuckles whitening as she chokes the edges of a plastic chair.

“I don’t think it’s fair because he knows how I felt about him,” Padilla says, dabbing her face with the shoulder of her red prison jumpsuit. “I wasn’t out there selling drugs. … All I wanted to do was just be his girlfriend. … The only reason I did what I did is ... because it was him.”

Snapchat videos show Padilla snuggled up with a man she considered her boyfriend. He apparently considered her a target.
Courtesy Jennifer Padilla
To tell this story, NMID interviewed Padilla, members of her family and others with knowledge of the informant’s activities. It also reviewed court records and other information NMID has learned from sources and sought comment from the ATF, the informant and the US Attorney’s Office.

The informant did not return telephone calls seeking comment. NMID is not identifying him out of safety concerns related to his ongoing work for ATF. ATF officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment or detailed questions sent by email.

Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, which is prosecuting Padilla’s case and the others stemming from the sting operation, declined to comment for this story.

Padilla’s arrest has left her parents, who consider themselves pro-law enforcement, and who acknowledge her past run-ins with the law, stunned by how far the ATF went.

“I didn’t know that the government did things like this—that extreme,” Dan Sullivan, Padilla’s father, tells NMID. “That is so underhanded that it’s ridiculous.”

Padilla’s five children are struggling, too. Before running away, her 14-year-old daughter grabbed up photos of her mother from her grandparents’ house. The girl was picked up by police on a shoplifting charge and is in juvenile detention.

Padilla believes the informant knows what he did was wrong. A few days before her arrest, he showed up at her parents’ house where she had moved after completing 90 days in the halfway house.

“He was kissing me and hugging me—we were sitting in the car out in the driveway,” she says. “He said, ‘I’m just sorry for the way everything turned out and the way everything is.’”

His apology confused her.

A few days later, she was in handcuffs. Two days after that, reading her indictment, she realized the secret her boyfriend had kept from her.

ATF’s Albuquerque sting ran from April through August 2016 with an express purpose: Arrest people with lengthy violent criminal histories who were moving large quantities of guns and drugs in the city.

Lauding the operation as an unqualified success, that’s exactly who top federal officials say they nabbed.

Padilla didn’t fit either description.

Like scores of others identified by NMID, Padilla has past convictions for drug possession and property crimes, but no violent felonies—unlike Informant No. 9097. He spent time in prison in another state for drug trafficking, aggravated armed robbery, felony drug possession and possession of criminal tools, court records show.

And like many others, Padilla’s struggle with drugs centered around addiction, not trafficking.

Accusations of illegal “selective enforcement” have dogged the operation, too, with black people dramatically overrepresented among those arrested. Hispanic people also were arrested in disproportionate numbers; white people, including Padilla, were heavily underrepresented by population.

Legal and policing experts have criticized how ATF used out-of-state informants—three black, including Informant No. 9097, and two Hispanic—saying that tactic was likely to net lower-level defendants of color.

Padilla’s case highlights additional questions: How closely were ATF agents monitoring informants in Albuquerque, and was the agency following its own rules?

There have been problems before. A government watchdog recently criticized the agency for loose informant supervision in other stings across the country.

In Kansas City, an informant was having sex with targets and using and selling drugs during an operation, yet was allowed to follow ATF for a subsequent sting in St. Louis, according to one report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Padilla admits how her own decisions helped lead her to where she is now, and her family speaks in exasperated tones about her past.

Jennifer Padilla’s family doesn’t shy away from her spotty past, but they say the ATF crossed a line. From left: Dan Sullivan, her father; Denise “Scooter” Sullivan, her mother; and Andrew Padilla, her eldest son.
Marjorie Childress
Her parents, Dan and Denise “Scooter” Sullivan, say she associated sometimes with a trouble-prone crowd at Del Norte High School. There were a few trips to juvenile detention for running away, they say.

At 21, her life began to stabilize when she married. She and her parents say her 10-year marriage marked a period of relative calm, although that’s when she first discovered painkillers.

After her divorce in 2010, a boyfriend introduced her to heroin, and she was hooked.

Drug possession charges followed, then guilty pleas to 11 burglary counts, for which she was sentenced to probation.

Padilla couldn’t stay off heroin, however, and her probation was revoked after she earned another possession charge in June 2014. She spent 15 months in the state women’s prison in Grants.

Wanting to continue the drug-free stretch she’d managed in prison, Padilla applied for residence at Covenant House, a kind of way station for women leaving the corrections system, run by St. Martin’s Hospitality Center that offers behavioral health services, addiction treatment and other programs. She was accepted for a 90-day stay after her release on March 21, 2016.

Bucket Headz is the Albuquerque soul food restaurant where the informant first met Padilla.
Marjorie Childress
She took a job at Bucket Headz, a soul food restaurant in the southeast Albuquerque neighborhood where, at about the same time, the ATF was beginning to focus its sting operation.

“I was the happiest I had been in a long time,” Padilla says. “I was up. I was working, I was seeing my kids.”

The restaurant catered mostly to black people. She would later learn three frequent patrons were ATF informants.

But she didn’t know that in May 2016, when she caught the eye of one. They exchanged telephone numbers. Straight away, he seemed different from other men she’d known.

“It was the little things he did: show up to drive me to work in the morning when it was only a block away,” Padilla says. “Little shit like that. I’m a female, it works.”

He visited her at the halfway house the first night they met and many nights thereafter. Sometimes, other men came. She later learned they were also ATF informants. The men drank, smoked marijuana and took ecstasy. They shared the drugs with other women at the house, Padilla says, although she at first abstained.

ATF can authorize illegal activity by its confidential informants, or CIs, during an operation, according to an agency manual obtained by NMID. That includes possessing and using drugs.

Supervisors must approve the activity and reauthorize it every 90 days. CIs are required to sign a form acknowledging they understand the constraints on their criminal activity.

It is unclear whether any of those safeguards were met in the Albuquerque operation—or whether agency officials cleared the informants to use drugs or share them with women in the halfway house—because ATF would not answer questions for this story.

Drug and alcohol use are forbidden at Covenant House, says Nevin Marquez, St. Martin’s director of behavioral health services. With few exceptions, residents are not allowed to have visitors either. Violations are managed by St. Martin’s staff, who are supposed to keep a near-constant presence in the house, and can result in expulsion.

Marquez declined to comment on Padilla, citing privacy laws. He would not confirm whether she had been a resident.

Speaking generally, he says staff do the best they can to enforce the rules— sometimes a difficult task, given the population they’re dealing with. That mission includes walking a fine line between privacy, an essential element of the program, and assisting law enforcement.

For example, residents agree to random searches of the house by state probation and parole officers before they move in.

An ATF informant bringing drugs into the house and having sex with a resident would be another matter, he says.

“I’m not an attorney, but what you’re telling me raises a flag,” he says.

It is not clear whether agents knew the extent of their informant’s relationship with Padilla. But just before Padilla introduced Informant No. 9097 to her old drug dealer friends, he told his handlers he had known her for nearly two months and she had been living at a halfway house, NMID has learned.

Also unclear is whether the informant had been eyeing Padilla as a target from the beginning. She remembers a moment less than two weeks into their relationship that makes her question his motives now.

Wondering if she was connected to Los Padillas, the Albuquerque street gang, he asked her to introduce him to some big-time drug dealers. She refused, saying she wasn’t a gang member and was on parole.

“I kind of feel that’s where he maybe tried to—‘Can’t you hook me up with your people?’—and I’m like, ‘No,’” she says.

A few weeks later, a party was in full swing outside Covenant House.

“He was like, ‘Take a couple drinks,’ and I did,” she says. “He popped [an ecstasy pill], and then he was like, ‘Do you want one?’” After a year and a half clean, the choice anguished her. “And he was all, ‘Well here, just take it, just take it.’ So I did.”

Ecstasy, a popular party drug that leaves users euphoric, is often cut with heroin—Padilla’s drug of choice.

The pill had scratched an old itch, and a few hours later, she had a needle full of heroin in her arm.

The relapse came in waves, she says, with intermittent attempts at stopping. The informant promised to help her quit. He didn’t follow through.

Padilla moved out of Covenant House and in with her parents.

Dan Sullivan remembers meeting the new man in his daughter’s life in the driveway one night. He was suspicious, and neither he nor his wife wanted the man around.

An ATF informant took Jennifer Padilla and her children to Tingley Beach, a popular family spot.
Marjorie Childress
That didn’t stop Padilla from seeing or scheduling outings with him and her children, including one to Tingley Beach where they played Pokémon GO.

“He was really into it,” Jennifer’s 20-year-old son, Andrew, recalls. “He was really good with the kids; he hung out with the kids. ... It seemed like a normal type day.”

A few weeks later the informant came to Padilla with the story about the robbery and his needing quick cash. She made the call for the first deal.

Then, ATF Special Agent Carlos Valles stepped in, pretending to be the informant’s partner as he discussed the second transaction with her, NMID has learned.

She was never promised money for setting up the deals, she says, although Valles, working undercover, gave her $100 the day after the second one late last July.

After her arrest weeks later, she worried the man she believed was her boyfriend would be next. Her worry was misplaced. She discovered his lie Aug. 12 when she read her indictment, listing the dates of the two meth deals.

“I went: ‘Motherfucker,’” she says. “If he was working for them and he was being legit about it, that’s one thing. But he’s not. He’s dirty. … I feel stupid and I feel used. I feel, just, disgusted and taken advantage of.”

A Terrible Timeline

Jennifer Padilla thought her new boyfriend would help bring her family together and get her life back on track; instead, he helped send her to jail.

  • March 21, 2016: Jennifer Padilla gets out of prison, checks into an Albuquerque halfway house.
  • May: Padilla begins dating ATF Informant No. 9097, whose true identity she does not know.
  • June: The two have sex several times at the halfway house. He spends time with her children. He gives her an ecstasy pill, ending nearly two years off drugs for Padilla. Early on, the informant asks if Padilla can introduce him to drug dealers. She refuses.
  • July: The informant raises the stakes, telling P
  • adilla he has been robbed and that she must arrange a drug deal so he can make money and pay back his Florida partners.
  • July 9: Padilla introduces the informant to an old acquaintance for a drug deal. The same day, the informant tells his ATF handlers about Padilla: He’s known her two months and she lived at a halfway house.
  • July 11: Padilla’s old acquaintance sells meth to an undercover ATF agent.
  • July 12: ATF agents search Padilla’s criminal history in a national database.
  • Around July 20: The informant again leans on Padilla, telling her he still needs to make more money. She calls another old acquaintance for a drug deal.
  • July 26: The second acquaintance sells meth to an undercover ATF agent.
  • August 10: Padilla is arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute meth. She remains in jail.

NMID knows some details about CI No. 9097 beyond his real name and criminal record. But Whitley, Padilla’s lawyer, wants to learn more about his work for ATF in Albuquerque and elsewhere.

Like numerous other law enforcement agencies, ATF relies heavily on CIs to make its cases. As of January 2016, the agency managed 1,855 informants who were working either for money or in exchange for leniency in their own cases. According to a Justice Department Office of the Inspector General report published earlier this year, ATF spends about $4.5 million in taxpayer money each year on informants.

The informant Padilla knew as her boyfriend was paid for his work in Albuquerque, though it is not clear how much. A review of court records and other documents show that another informant brought in for the Albuquerque operation earns an annual salary of $80,000 working for ATF, while another said he was paid $1,400 a week plus “bonuses.”

People interviewed for this story say CI No. 9097 seemed to enjoy his time in New Mexico.

He drove a slew of high-dollar rental cars around the city, including a Camaro, a convertible Mustang, a Lincoln Crossover, a BMW and a Dodge Charger. The man never had cash, but carried a single credit card he used to make purchases and rent the cars.

He appeared to maintain a near-constant buzz.

“He would pop ecstasy, he’d drink and he’d smoke weed all day long,” Padilla says. “All day.”

Andrew, Padilla’s son, who has a medical marijuana card, recalls smoking with the informant several times.

Dante Dellesite, Andrew’s friend, says he saw the informant purchase marijuana and ecstasy on several occasions—usually just $20 to $40 worth at a time—and saw him use the drugs. The seller was never arrested, court records show.

Dellesite also watched on Snapchat as the informant drove to Denver with another acquaintance to purchase marijuana. As they drove, they appeared to drink alcohol and continuously smoked marijuana, he says.

Dellesite says the informant stuck around in New Mexico after the operation ended. He saw the man at least one more time after Padilla’s arrest. On that occasion, the informant was peddling Nike sneakers, belts, subwoofers and other wares out of the trunk of his car.

“Anybody can presume that something coming out of a trunk may not be legitimate,” Dellesite says. “After that, he was just, poof, gone in thin air like a magic trick.”

One of his destinations was Truth or Consequences. That’s where he was cited last fall for marijuana possession and reckless driving, court records show. The informant pleaded guilty to both misdemeanor charges, never hired a lawyer, paid $282 in fines and served 30 days of probation.

The informant use manual says all arrests of CIs must be reported for purposes of reassessing whether they should remain on the ATF payroll.

The man was still working as an ATF informant as of February 2017.

By early August 2016, Jennifer Padilla had decided to kick heroin again.

She completed a 10-day detox and was living at her parents’ home, waiting to get checked into an inpatient treatment center. Her probation officer had even agreed not to revoke her status for a previous dirty urine test.

She was scheduled to get an injection of Vivitrol, a drug that reduces cravings and the effects of heroin, on Aug. 10.

She never made it.

Scooter Sullivan, Padilla’s mother, remembers that morning: Three agents clad in black balaclavas and raid vests rushed through the backyard gate as she drank coffee.

Dan Sullivan answered the front door to see a larger group of agents there to arrest his daughter, a woman with no violent criminal record.

ATF STING BY THE NUMBERS

103
people arrested in ATF’s 2016 Albuquerque sting

71
have pleaded guilty, most to drug charges, some to gun charges

34
have been sentenced, nearly all to relatively short prison terms by federal standards

“Some of them had ARs on them,” he says. “They looked like a SWAT team. Absolutely overwhelming force.”

“All this for making a couple of phone calls,” Scooter adds.

The agents woke Jennifer up and told her she had a warrant. She was confused. But reality set in when, handcuffed, she saw more agents in front of the house including Carlos Valles, who had been introduced as her boyfriend’s partner in the drug trade.

If she’s convicted of two counts of conspiracy to traffic meth, she could face 10 years or more in federal prison. If prosecutors decide to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence based on her previous felony drug possession conviction, that could swell to 20 years or more.

The year in jail has further distressed Padilla’s children, who are living with their father and occasionally staying with their grandparents. Scooter says the younger children cry at night, asking for their mom.

Padilla and her family hope US District Judge William P “Chip” Johnson, a George W Bush appointee, will dismiss her case once he learns how ATF used CI No. 9097 to target her.

“He set her up,” Dan Sullivan says. “Predatory is a very good way to put it. That’s absolutely what he was doing: He was preying on her.”



This story is part of The Justice Project from New Mexico In Depth. Jeff Proctor is a contributing editor at SFR.

Court Cleanup

Neglect is obvious on Municipal Court grounds

Local NewsWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Matt Grubs

The American flag flying outside Santa Fe’s Municipal Court building on Camino Entrada has seen better days.

It’s partially hidden by an overgrown tree. The ever-present breeze flicks it endlessly into the branches. When it settles, it’s easy to see strands of red fabric hanging amid the leaves.

“It’s not like I don’t have another flag,” Court Administrator Jon Singh tells SFR, gazing up into the tree. He looks back down. “But what’s the point?”

For years, the city has neglected the grounds of its Municipal Court building. Stucco is cracked, signs are faded, weeds poke through old landscaping. The paint on a weathered wooden bench is peeling. The branches on some trees hang so low that someone bumped their head and complained to Singh. It’s more evidence that the city’s ongoing landscaping maintenance problem—whether it’s weeds in medians or the state of public buildings—is a lot of hard work away from being solved.

“It’s just getting out of hand. And as a court administrator, [when someone complains] I have tell someone,” he says. “I came out and took pictures myself. It’s all over this whole block, really.”

While the Police Department’s grounds just south of court aren’t quite as bad, they’re far from the neat-and-tidy appearance that might be expected.

“This has been like this for probably about two or three years,” Singh says. “They won’t come out and do anything. [We’ve sent] emails—the judge, me …”

Outside court that day, Municipal Court Judge Virginia Vigil tells SFR there have been repeated requests for help from the city, including a recent one.

In a later phone interview, Vigil says she feels the court has a good working relationship with City Hall. She says the complaint Singh mentioned was at the top of her mind when SFR spoke to her earlier.

Asked whether the court grounds look the way she’d prefer them to look, Vigil says, “I’ve only been here about a year and a half and I don’t know that I have the history to answer that question. … I don’t want this to seem like Municipal Court against City Hall.”

Vigil says she’s seen work crews around and feels as though the city has a long list of work to do and not many people to do it.

A while back, city crews showed up to clear out the median in the parking lot so vehicles could pull all the way into the parking spots. And recently, crews spent some time tending to the Police Department’s Internal Affairs offices just north of the court building. The halls of justice look fine on the inside, Singh says. He no longer has a full-time custodian, but does get help for a couple hours each morning and afternoon.

“I don’t have too many problems with the custodians themselves,” Singh says. But he can’t figure out why the city can’t get the court’s grounds squared away. “We’re a long way from downtown,” he muses.

Not such a long way that the court facilities have been forgotten, though, says city spokesman Matt Ross.

“The staffing shortages that put us behind the ball on weeds and parks maintenance resulted in some city facilities … falling below what we’d like to see at our public buildings,” he tells SFR in an email. He counts the Municipal Court and Police Department buildings among them.

The city’s budget for this year included money for new maintenance workers, both full-time and seasonal. The city just filled two dozen seasonal positions. Ross says those crews also take care of landscaping at city buildings.

The new positions mean more bodies and the ability to catch up on work that’s been put on the back burner. “They can’t do 100 percent of the work overnight, but they expect to be at the municipal court this week,” Ross said on Monday. When SFR cruised by on Tuesday afternoon, some work had already begun.

Ross says crews will “continue to work through the list of city parks, medians, trails and facilities until they have gotten back on top of the maintenance challenges.”

Just maybe, Singh can soon hoist that new flag.


Car Trouble

New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division makes it hard for the elderly to renew their licenses

Local NewsWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

As a young girl in Poland, Ursula Freer escaped Nazi forces from the West and Soviets from the East. Her family eventually emigrated after the war to Chicago, where Freer took English classes at night while working a string of jobs during the day. She grew up, got married, divorced and remarried, and fell in with the countercultural crowd. She moved all over the country until finally settling down in the Santa Fe area in 1994, and now sells art she makes with Photoshop.

She became a naturalized citizen in 1971; the internet wasn’t around yet, and her naturalization papers weren’t digitized. Over 40 years later, they still were not, as she discovered when she recently tried to renew her driver’s license here. She had the original document, but a worker at a Motor Vehicle Division branch told her it could be a fake because they couldn’t locate it in an electronic archive.

“I just wanted to renew my license that I had for 22 years,” she tells SFR. After two trips, she still didn’t have any license at all. “I just was stunned because I didn’t have a license for three weeks. And my daughter, who lives in Cincinnati, she started calling around, and finally they told her, ‘Well, they should have given her a temporary license.’”

Freer later received a letter informing her that her naturalization papers had been located. But driving without a license for weeks and being at the mercy of the immigration bureaucracy spooked her.

“There was no explanation; just, ‘We can’t find the naturalization papers,’” she says. “I was stunned. I was speechless. It was like being back in Europe during the war.”

The state does not keep records of people who have had similar but hard-to-track trouble. In April, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that between January and early April, 1,412 people statewide had filed name-change applications in New Mexico courts, a sharp rise from the year before and believed to correspond with the state’s new enforcement of stringent requirements for obtaining forms of state identification that comply with the federal REAL ID Act. Because such identification requires that people present primary source documentation to confirm their identities, those who’ve lived their lives using and signing a name other than the one on their birth certificates have had to legally change their names.

Elderly folks who haven’t handled their birth certificates or naturalization paperwork in a very long time are especially vulnerable to the headaches of obtaining REAL ID-compliant identification. Peter Simonson, the executive director of New Mexico’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says he and others foresaw the issue while lobbying against the federal bill before its 2005 passage.

The rationale to require primary documentation of one’s birth, as well as legal status and place of residence, was “predicated on the assumption that, by making access to identification more challenging, that you figure out the sort out people who are using falsified forms of ID and might have malicious intentions in the country,” Simonson tells SFR. “But all of this, that entire paradigm, is based on the misguided assumption that you can protect our country through identity-based forms of security.”

This is misguided, he says, because people intent on forging their identification have and continue to figure out ways to get around strict requirements. There have been cases in other states where people have, for example, conspired with motor vehicle department employees to obtain false IDs. Having a national ID for all citizens, he says, is the kind of Big Brother-esque initative that can quickly get out of hand. For average people like Freer, who just want to drive down the street to the grocery store, trying to obtain a REAL ID-compliant identification can result in expensive filing fees and advertisements in newspapers (if they want to change their names), missed work days and enduring the unhelpful stoicism of MVD employees who say their instructions are coming up from on high.

That’s also what happened to John Woodie, a 76-year-old who did not succeed in obtaining a renewed license until four trips later. By luck, he discovered his birth certificate in a baby book his aunt maintained for decades. He wasn’t even aware he had one, since he’d been delivered at home in a rural area.

“They wanted my car registration, they wanted to see my old driver’s license,” says Woodie, who works as a registered financial agent. “My army discharge papers, that wasn’t good enough. I showed them my passport, it wasn’t good enough; it was expired.” He drove around with an expired license for two months until the state finally gave him a temporary one.

Woodie says he has several friends experiencing similar problems. “They were all in their late 60’s, they were all having trouble,” he says.

Ben Cloutier, a spokesman for the Tax and Revenue department, which oversees offices that produce and dispense state IDs, did not answer whether the department was attempting to make the process smoother for the elderly following reports of difficulty.

On a recent day outside the MVD Express on St. Michael’s Drive, Issah Abdallah, a doctoral student from Ghana currently studying at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, is there to have his license renewed. As an international student, he had to provide his passport and two proofs of residence for renewal, for which he’s providing bank statements and an insurance card.

“I actually came here before, and I got to know the documents, and I went to build those documents for my renewal of license,” he says, explaining that he had to coordinate with his insurance company to change his address on his card from a PO box to his physical address.

“It has been easy, very very easy,” he says.

It should be easy for non-PhD students, too.


The Magic Number(s)

Oh hey, D Numbers—we love you guys

Music FeaturesWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Alex De Vore

The last time I wrote about D Numbers was six long years ago, which is insane—especially since it was just a couple months ago in my mind. Of course, a lot’s changed since then, with members Ben Wright, Brian Mayhall and Paul Feathericci founding a record label, Mesa Recordings, each releasing critically-acclaimed solo albums (acclaimed, at least, by this critic) at one point or another and contributing to Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return’s ambient, passive soundtrack and sound effects.

In this six-year window, Wright and Feathericci have had children (not together; but they’re cute as hell and one time I saw Wright’s son hug another kid and I almost wept) and Mayhall moved to Old Mexico. Breaking up the band, however, never even occurred to them; D Numbers is practically in their DNA.

“I was sort of like, ‘Hey guys, I’ve got this opportunity to move, can we still keep doing the band and the label?’ and they were just like, ‘Yeah,’” Mayhall says.

“And we’ve got the internet,” Feathericci adds of continuing collaboration across international borders. And new tracks have been sent—though, to be fair, on the day I visited the band at their practice space at Feath’s home outside Santa Fe, they were mostly fine-tuning existing material. This is as much about them having not performed together since September of last year as it is about the audience; elements will be changed and reworked, time signatures will be simplified, tightness will be achieved. And since D Numbers plays maybe twice a year, it should all seem relatively fresh.

“It’s funny,” Wright says, “but we’ll have people come up to us after shows and say, “Oh wow, I really loved the new stuff!’ when it’s not new at all.” Of course, this could either be insulting or a perfect compliment, depending on how you look at it, but the boys stay positive.

Just don’t call them experimental. Lord knows they do technically experiment and also that I have called them such in the pages of this very publication, generally because it’s the easiest way to say there’s nothing else quite like them. “We’ve found in our touring experience, we’ll go play at a dance event, and we’re a little left field of that,” Wright says, “or we’ll go play at a more live music event and we’re a little left field of that.”

But “experimental” sort of sells the band short or, possibly, makes people think they’re not as musically accessible as they are. Not so. At its core, D Numbers is an indie/post-rock act, but with intricate layers achieved through an absolutely mind-boggling stage plot and probably the most wires you’ll ever see a band use. Tucked into the sound you’ll find electronica, techno, house and funk at play; analog and digital sounds merge; loops and samples interweave with live instrumentation. According to Feathericci, “We like it weird, and we’re not going to be satisfied with something if it sounds ‘normal.’” D Numbers remains one of the grooviest bands, location irrelevant, operating today. Although, Feathericci says, “Depending on what lens you’re looking through, we’re a dance band.”

So what does this mean for fans and soon-to-be fans planning on attending D Numbers’ Santa Fe Bandstand show on Thursday Aug. 24? For one thing, everyone seems energized. Whether this is about being musically reunited with Mayhall remains unclear, but even just during our brief chat, excitement bubbles under the surface.

“We just do naturally what we do,” Wright explains. “We don’t try very hard at maintaining an aesthetic. … We’re thinking about our audience, to some extent.” He means they know how to make it work for y’all, and that they’re more interested in crafting clever songs that work for everyone than conducting math experiments or cramming in unnecessary parts.

Should you desire a deeper experience than just the Bandstand show, Wright, Mayhall and Feathericci also perform solo at a secret-ish, private-esque two-day event beginning the following evening in Glorieta. To work that out, simply ask someone who knows (there are lots of them hanging around).

In the meantime, Mayhall heads back to Mexico soon and Wright and Feathericci continue their efforts with Meow Wolf. They’re currently at work on new sounds for one-off MW satellite exhibits in other states that have yet to be announced and, according to Wright, the flagship location’s sounds have been sneakily updated here and there and will continue to receive attention for the foreseeable future.



Santa Fe Bandstand: D Numbers
6 pm Thursday Aug. 24. Free.
Santa Fe Plaza,
100 Old Santa Fe Trail


Resident Equal

Santa Fe Art Institute kicks off a year devoted to Equal Justice

Art FeaturesWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Liz Brindley

The Santa Fe Art Institute enters its 32nd annual residency this week, a program created when SFAI opened its doors back in 1985 and altered to a thematic approach four years ago with a focus on food justice. Creatives have since explored topics such as immigration and water rights, among others.

For the upcoming 2017-2018 residencies, SFAI kicks off Equal Justice, a title chosen before the 2016 presidential election, when social movements like Black Lives Matter and the protest at Standing Rock spearheaded dialogues that still call for action today.

“We were really looking for something that grounded all of these topics of structural inequity,” Jamie Blosser, SFAI’s executive director, explains. “‘Equal justice under law’ is on our Supreme Court building, and yet, that has not been the case for all citizens.”

The institute received a record 230 applications this year, a number that a team of jurors whittled down to 124 residents (comprised of individuals and collectives). Those accepted will now spend between one and three months in Santa Fe proposing creative solutions to the question: “How can art be used to engage systems of power and foster social and racial equity?”

Seventeen percent of those accepted are New Mexico residents, while the rest hail from 21 states including Hawaii, Montana and New Jersey, as well as 21 countries such as Australia, Singapore and Syria. Residents are not limited to visual artists, either, and represent everything from anthropologists to lawyers to linguists to foster an environment wherein people from diverse backgrounds can rub elbows for moments of collaboration.

“When we think of creativity in the broad sense, that opens up more possibilities,” SFAI Development and Communications Director Robert Gomez Hernandez says. “If we expand the definition of art and community, we are able to ask, ‘How can we have really strong grips in creating positive social change?’”

The Santa Fe community is encouraged to keep an eye on the SFAI calendar to contribute to the conversation through public gatherings, but Gomez Hernandez chose three to highlight:

Next month, New York City-based artist and designer Mary Miss conducts a City as Living Laboratory (CALL) workshop to explore sustainability through artistic practice (7 pm Wednesday Sept. 20. Free. Santa Fe Art Institute). In addition, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, former leaders of radical activist group the Weather Underground, host Radical Imagination, a dialogue and performance to explore how collective creativity can propose solutions for an alternative world (6 pm Sunday Sept. 24. Free. James A Little Theater, 1060 Cerrillos Road).

To kick off the residency year, however, Los Angeles collective La Pocha Nostra hosts the five-day Performance Art Intensive, which begins this Sunday. Formed in 1993 by artist-activists Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Roberto Sifuentes and Nola Mariano, La Pocha explores immigration, the politics of language and cross-cultural issues through collaborative performance. According to their website, this is a means to “erase the borders between artist and spectator;” in doing so, it questions the borders placed on society by “professional institutions, religious and political beliefs and pop-cultural affiliations.” The group poses these questions through participatory productions in which people can cross the threshold from viewer to artist and explore answers through movement-based exercises.

“La Pocha is all about unpacking identity around an individual’s personal experience,” says Toni Gentilli, SFAI residency program manager. “They address empathy through embodied experience.”

Twenty-four artists, actors and activists of all ages are scheduled to attend the intensive and explore the body “as a site for creation, reinvention, memory and activism,” according to SFAI’s promotional materials. The art collective creates different characters for participants to embody another person’s story, a practice that connects diverse histories through performance.

Though the intensive had a signup deadline of Aug. 10, it concludes with a free public “open pedagogical session” for the Santa Fe community to get a taste of the experience.

The SFAI staff explains that this experimental performance is just a taste of the public events residents will lead throughout the year. “We’re fortunate to have these leaders share their expertise with SFAI,” Gomez Hernandez shares, “and we’re aware that our community has a lot to say as well. So it’s a meeting of worlds. We believe not in working on or for a community, but with a community. It’s our responsibility to come together and say what is relevant here and what can work moving forward.”


Open Pedagogical Session
7 pm Thursday Aug. 31. Free; RSVP required at sfai.org/lapocha.
Santa Fe Art Institute,
1600 St. Michael’s Drive,
424-5050


Savage Love

Don’t Fuck Nazis

Savage LoveWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Dan Savage

A few years ago, my dad was busted by the cops for using an online forum to solicit escorts. The arrest and infidelity destroyed his marriage to my mom. My brother and I were in our mid-teens at the time and were angry enough with him that we asked him to not seek custody. He obliged, and neither of us has seen him since. I miss my dad—or the man I thought he was. I know part of my anger comes from how badly he hurt my mom. As I mature, I’m wondering if I was unfair to my dad by cutting off all contact. I don’t think sex work is immoral. I don’t think people who see sex workers are bad. But because my dad was involved in this bust, and because I had to become aware of the double life he led, I felt uncomfortable around him. It doesn’t help that some of the girls were not much older than I was at the time. I think I’d like to get to know my dad again, but I’m not sure what kind of relationship I’m ready to have. He was a wonderful father—and on some level, I recognize I cut him off when he showed me he was human. How do I reach out to him?

-Please Help

Each of us is a writhing mass of contradictions, PH. We all have public personas and private personas, and there are always gaps between the two. And while those gaps, when exposed, can be mutually negating, that’s not always the case. It is possible for someone to be a good dad and a shitty husband. The good dad you knew your dad to be? That wasn’t a lie. It was one of your father’s truths. That he failed as a husband and hurt your mom—with an assist from laws criminalizing sex work—is another of your father’s truths.

You don’t say why your dad was seeking sex outside the marriage, PH, and I can’t imagine that was a conversation you wanted to have with your dad in your mid-teens—and it may not be one you ever want to have. But it’s possible your parents’ marriage was more complicated than you know. (“The victim of an affair is not always the victim of the marriage,” as Esther Perel says.) But you’re not an awful daughter for refusing to see your dad during a contentious, confusing, and most likely humiliating time. (I imagine there was press).

As for how to reach out, I think e-mail is the best way to reestablish contact after an estrangement. You can take your time crafting what you want to say, and your dad can take his time crafting a response. And you’ve already written a good opening line for your first e-mail to your dad: “I’d like to get to know my dad again, but I’m not sure what kind of relationship I’m ready to have. But I’d like to start talking—via e-mail, for now.”

Give your mother a heads up, PH, so she doesn’t feel blindsided. Good luck.


I’m a female masochist and super subby—I see nothing wrong with that. For the last couple of months, I’ve been pursuing “death wish” fantasies. When I start feeling low, I seek out guys on hookup sites who are sadistic enough that they might potentially help me carry it out. I’ve even gone so far as to put together a “blackmail package” for them, in case they start feeling like I might tell on them. I honestly wouldn’t want anyone to get in trouble just because I’m not thinking right. My therapist knows about the masochist end of things, but I’m afraid to tell her this other part because I don’t want to be put on any crazy pills. Is there a way for me to switch my brain from thinking about this and somehow find my way back to normal BDSM or something else entirely without turning off my sexuality completely?

-Rather Not Say My Name

There are fantasies that are simply too dangerous to realize, RNSMN, even with a willing victim/sub and a reckless perp/Dom. And any person who pushes a woman’s “death wish” fantasy into potentially-carrying-it-out territory deserves whatever trouble comes their way. Murder is wrong, even if the person wants it. And taking advantage of someone who clearly isn’t in their right mind doesn’t magically make manslaughter not criminal—“blackmail package” or no “blackmail package.”

You must open up to your therapist about the risks you’re taking, RNSMN. Some people with extreme and/or dangerous sexual obsessions have been successfully treated with talk therapy and low-dose antidepressants—meds, not “crazy pills.” A good therapist and/or the right low-dose medication could help you find your way back to safer and saner BDSM practices without shutting off your sexuality completely.


I’m a woman in my early 30s having sex with a guy in his early 20s. The sex is more than casual, and we really care about each other. My concern is this guy has some alt-right sympathies that reveal themselves in our political discussions. He’s a Trump guy, but hesitates to admit it because he knows I’m anti-Trump. He shares memes created by Mike Cernovich and Milo Yiannopoulos, he gets his news from hard-right publications, and his sister and brother-in-law are Holocaust deniers. This concerns and confuses me because he’s such a sweet guy and, honestly, so goddamn good in bed. He might be the best lay I’ve ever had. I can’t reconcile these two sides of him, but I also can’t help trying to enlighten him a little bit. One of his best features is his open-mindedness. He’s read books and watched documentaries I’ve recommended. I feel a responsibility to this young, confused, and frankly not-too-bright person who’s surrounded by bad influences. I want to be understanding and gently guide him in a better direction, but sometimes his ignorance is aggravating. I can also sense that he’s beginning to feel a little judged, which can only make things worse. I keep thinking of your Campsite Rule, and I wonder at what point does one give up throwing logic and articles at someone who thought Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor? Can I continue to have sex with someone who thinks the left is conspiring to turn everyone communist?

-Conflicted Lover

Don’t fuck Nazis.

If someone you just met tells you they’re a Nazi, don’t fuck that Nazi. If you’re already fucking someone and they reveal themselves to be a Nazi, stop fucking that Nazi. If someone tells you they’re a Nazi and you fuck that Nazi anyway and keep fucking that Nazi because they’re good at sex (for a Nazi), your effort to “gently guide” that Nazi away from being a Nazi doesn’t make it okay for you to fuck that Nazi.

Okay, okay: This guy might not be a Nazi at all—although it sure as fuck sounds like his family is, and they probably have more influence over him than you do. It’s possible this young, confused, and not-too-bright boy is merely a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist and maybe I’m still too upset about Charlottesville to be impartial. Or, hey, maybe this guy is already a Nazi and hasn’t revealed the full extent of his odious political beliefs to you, CL, because the sex is good and he’s hoping to fuck the Nazi into you before you can fuck the Nazi out of him.

Finally, good people don’t worry about making Nazis “feel judged.” Nazis should be judged—à la Judgment at Nuremberg, an old film with a feel-good ending that’s worth watching right about now. Another thing good people don’t do? They don’t fuck Nazis.



On the Lovecast, women in gay bars—we have a problem: savagelovecast.com

mail@savagelove.net
@fakedansavage on Twitter
ITMFA.org

3 Questions

with Nina Tichava

3 QuestionsWednesday, August 23, 2017 by Alex De Vore

Artists who represent landscapes are many. It’s almost a default position, though we can’t blame anyone in that there are so many ways to go about it. Enter Nina Tichava, an artist born in Vallecitos, New Mexico, who trained in the Bay Area but always felt the call of home. Abstraction tends to be Tichava’s focus, though her mother—whom she describes as an artist who doesn’t consider herself an artist—instilled a certain crafty (think weaving) style into her ethics and aesthetics. Tichava’s work can be seen in galleries and spaces around the country, but for these-here 3Qs, we reached out about the upcoming show New, New Mexico Abstraction, opening this Friday evening at Turner Carroll Gallery (5 pm. Free. 725 Canyon Road, 986-9800) in which Tichava shows self-described “borrowed landscapes,” actual postcards of infamous places and momuments made new through Tichava’s abstract practices.

Why landscapes?
Trying to approach something as traditional as landscapes in a fresh way is challenging. I’m not a landscape painter, and when you get closer [to my landscape], it becomes more abstracted. I was never very interested in them, but now I’m starting to see the nuance and skill.

What the heck is a “borrowed” landscape anyway?
It’s a term I totally made up. This is a new project and new vein for me. After the last election cycle, I was really freaked out and was trying to think of commonalities—landscapes was such an obvious one. It was something small I could keep myself busy with. I wasn’t happy with the results of the last election. I was excited to have the first female president. I was shocked, and the environment was one of the first things I was worried about. Climate change is so important right now, and I felt like it was pushed to the side. It’s about shared perspectives; the idea was I didn’t want to take pictures and make landscape paintings—I’m an interloper in the world of landscapes. They’re beautiful in person. They’re cool and magnetic and sexy and there’s subtle political commentary. I have an atomic bomb, that’s my favorite one I made. I did the White House in gold, the Supreme Court in gold. My goal was to mimic the first 100 days of the presidency and trying to understand, ‘Why did people vote for this person who’s a miogynist and has no interest beyond his own ego?’

Were you on the lookout for specific scenes or ideologies with the postcard imagery?
Initially it’s because I’ve always collected old stationary and postcards. So when I was like, ‘How can I talk to people through art about politics?’ I thought it was an interesting idea. I’d go on eBay and search for vintage postcards, and a lot of them are just what I happened to find.


Morning Word: Real Pain, REAL ID
Close

© 2017 Santa Fe Reporter. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WEHAA.COM
Regular Site