A journalist who uncovered a shady real-estate deal involving a state senator does not have to testify about an unpublished interview in court.
District court Judge Brett Loveless issued a ruling just before the close of business on Friday that lets Peter St. Cyr mostly off the hook in the criminal case against Phil Griego. Preliminary hearings on the charges of tampering with public records, filing false financial disclosure reports, committing perjury and violating the ethical principles of public service are scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Albuquerque, with a few days blocked out in Santa Fe later in the week.
Prosecutors from the attorney general’s office sought to compel St. Cyr to testify in the case, and St. Cyr’s attorney Colin Hunter filed a motion to get him out of it.
New Mexico’s shield law allows for journalists to refuse to participate in court proceedings about confidential sources and information communicated privately, the order finds.
"Given the role and importance of the news media in disseminating information to the public,” Loveless writes, “this court is not inclined to open the door to allow the state to inquire into the information … which remains unpublished.”
He cited an earlier case that established that such compelled testimony “can constitute a significant intrusion into the newsgathering process.”
Loveless did, however, write that St. Cyr must appear on the stand for purpose of authenticating a recording that’s published on the internet or to authenticate published statements attributed to Griego.
St. Cyr says he’s still not exactly happy about taking the stand at all, but he’s willing to comply with the order.
“Testifying to the accuracy of work product is not a breach of journalistic ethics,” he says.
“We’re celebrating the country's independence with Fourth of July and it’s perfect timing to reaffirm the freedom of the press.”
"Judge Loveless' order is a victory for a free and independent press and thwarted the attorney general's attempt to turn a reporter into an investigative arm of the government," Hunter says. "To have allowed this would have hindered the ability of the press to perform its constitutionally protected functions and had a chilling affect the press' ability to inform the public free from government interference."
Read St. Cyr’s story in SFR that started it all here.
PNM’s Rate Request Loses Support
The Public Service Company of New Mexico wants to bring its share of the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona into its New Mexico rate base, but not everyone thinks that’s a fair deal for consumers, including Public Regulation Commission staff. An independent hearing officer is examining the investor-owned utility’s double-digit rate increase request and will make a recommendation on it to the full commission after final legal briefs are submitted next month.
Lawmakers Scheduled to Testify in Griego Case
Next week, a dozen lawmakers are scheduled to testify at a preliminary court hearing to determine if corruption charges filed against former state Sen. Phil Griego merit a criminal trial. Judge Brett Loveless hasn’t ruled on this journalist’s motion to quash a subpoena to testify in the case.
Meanwhile, Dan Boyd reports that the attorney general’s office won’t release records it received from the Legislative Council Service (LCS) office. The prosecutors, which had to go to court to ask a judge to order them turned over, claims the materials are confidential law enforcement records. SFR filed a similar request for the documents with the LCS. It's still pending. Ultimately, the files will become public if they are introduced as evidence during the criminal proceedings.
Rio Rancho Lands 900 New Jobs
On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez, who hasn’t had a lot of luck attracting businesses to the state or creating jobs after getting her corporate tax cuts passed, announced 900 new jobs are coming to Rio Rancho. Martinez claims 40,000 private sector jobs have been completed during her tenure.
UNM Reconsiders Employee Cutbacks
Joey Peters reports that the University of New Mexico, which had said there were no employee layoffs planned, is apparently reconsidering the option to cut back staff.
Johnson Rolls Out New Campaign Ad
Gary Johnson and Bill Weld have a new campaign video. It touts their “records as two-term governors (of New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively) while drawing sharp distinctions among their positions and those of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”
The Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety says officers who are trained in the nation will be more culturally sensitive to Navajo values.
The nation closed its policy academy in 2012 because of operational and maintenance issues.
Iconic Breaking Bad Café Robbed
We missed this earlier in the week, but the Dog House Drive-In, an iconic Albuquerque restaurant and famous Breaking Bad television show location, was robbed at gunpoint last Sunday. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are not suspected in the heist, but police say they are looking for a man who escaped on a bicycle.
We’re taking Monday off to celebrate the country's 240th birthday. Here’s to a fun and safe Fourth of July. Before we get the party started, one final shout-out to Joe Fatton. Thanks for copyediting the Morning Word for the past 18 months.
Find the mobile gallery at the Santa Fe Railyard for its opening, which features
photographs that were taken on accident, but show unforeseen perspectives. Photos by over 20 artists make up the show. Through July 24.
Women who followed their men to war during the Mexican Revolution were called Adelitas. They cooked for their men, mended their wounds and picked up guns to fight themselves when necessary. Wynn honors Adelitas in her work. The opening features a trio of women mariachis. Through July 26.
The Gist In 2010, Danish developer
Playdead turned the indie gaming world on its head with Limbo, a darkly ethereal platformer that followed a young boy’s
quest to reunite with his sister while navigating through a sinister forest. The lack
of overt narrative mixed with shocking moments of violence and mind-bending
puzzles (also gigantic spiders) was perfectly paired with a grainy black-and-white art design, which meant Limbo was
every bit as gorgeous as it was unsettling. Fast-forward six years, and Playdead
has expanded and refined almost every aspect of Limbo for their follow-up title, Inside, another minimalist platformer that says more by saying nothing
than most games accomplish with bloated and misguided attempts at storytelling.
Inside is, in a word, flawless.
Players are thrust into the
role of a young boy, who is desperately trying to escape from a nefarious and
mysterious society that seems to have mentally enslaved countless men, women
and children. We are given zero dialogue, and the control design is
intentionally stripped to the bare minimum run, jump and grab commands. If this
sounds lacking, it isn’t, and Playdead has brilliantly tapped into our subconscious
need for narrative, whereby a lack thereof leaves us confused and uncomfortable.
And that’s the goal. Because of this, early sequences that find the young boy
leaping from the jaws of advancing dogs at the last second or being pursued by
shadowy masked figures are heart-racing micro-moments; we aren’t entirely sure
what’s going on here, but we sure as hell don’t want to find out what happens
if we’re caught.
pacing is the stuff of dreams, with puzzle and environmental challenges ramping
up at a steady yet manageable rate throughout the short campaign. Even
head-scratchers that seem impossible at first become clear with effort, and no
obstacle seems insurmountable, so long as you take a beat and really use your
mind. Despite the shortness, the three-ish hours of content doesn’t feel like
we’ve been ripped off ($19.99 is more than a fair price), and hidden spheres
peppered throughout the varied environments (a farm littered with pig corpses,
a rundown city, industrial areas, scientific facilities and more) add more
than enough reason to enjoy multiple plays. If nothing else, the muted colors
and background assets deserve your attention; it’s worth it to play again
for that alone.
Meanwhile, the bizarre
soundtrack and dystopian world-building collide in epic fashion, with sound
design oftentimes there as spook-out fuel but other times serving as a
rhythm-based mini-game based in movement. One such segment finds the boy hiding
in plain sight by moving in unison with a long line of brainless humans; another requires him to strategically find cover every few seconds. These are
but a few tense situations within a sea of tense situations, but if Playdead
knows where to shine, it’s in the peaks and valleys of tension. Never are we
pushed too far as the player, but we do find ourselves on the edge of our seat an
The Bottom Line If Limbo set the bar for cleverly juxtaposed darkness and simplicity, Inside just jacked it up about a hundred
notches. Everything about this game meets or exceeds Playdead’s already stellar
accomplishments with their previous effort, and it does so in a highly artistic
fashion. We’re not about to spoil anything here, but for every moment you find
yourself frustrated or confused by this game, keep in mind that it’s all worth
it, by the time you get to the incredible ending. This one is a doozy, folks, and
belongs in your collection immediately.
The Score 5 out of 5 This is as perfect as games get and one of the best of the year.
The Details Inside Rated M (Dude. Those dogs.) Available on Xbox One and PC $19.99
Ah, the midsummer holiday weekend. Hopefully, you have some time off, and you're in the mood for cooking and eating! How about Sonora dogs? Hot dogs wrapped in bacon and topped with a fiesta of condiments? Here's a beautiful little video that's part of the Localore project from the Association of Independents in Radio.
Have you ever made Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread? It's a genius method for bread that looks and tastes like an artisanal loaf, super crusty with a gorgeous texture. People who've made it become obsessed with it. Here's a loaf I baked a few months back. It's not even the prettiest one I've done—and I'm terrible at making bread! But Lahey, the slow-rise guru from New York's Sullivan Street Bakery, has a pizza crust recipe, too. And that could be perfect for this weekend.
This same technique yields the kind of flavorful, toothsome, gloriously bubbled pizza crust that I love. Here are Lahey’s instructions. That recipe makes four pizzas, which is more than I usually do at home on a Thursday, so if you want to do just two little pizzas, check out this adaptation at King Arthur Flour. The crust is a vast improvement over the basic dough I used for this little pizza—although a drizzle of balsamic glaze is a delicious distraction from a crummy crust.
Pizza on the grill is pretty appealing when the house is warm—and it’s super fun for guests, especially kids. Make a big batch of dough and let everyone design their own toppings. The pizzas cook in just a few minutes, so toppings like onions, bell peppers and sausage should be precooked. If you’ve never made one, Bobby Flay has a how-to here.
However you do it, serve some simple grilled or broiled veggies. Here’s a super enthusiastic endorsement of the toaster oven for things like broiling a dozen spears of asparagus. I have a Breville Mini Smart Oven, and it rules, but the bigger convection model has convection, which is great for things like Brussels sprouts, which definitely benefit from a little hot air circling around them.
And here’s a confession of which I am not ashamed: I have recently fallen in love with that grated Parmesan cheese in the green canister. I'm actually talking about the generic Kroger version. OMG. How mortifying, right? Well, I know a little person whose favorite meal is spaghetti with butter and this “cheese,” and while I hope this is a phase that won’t last (because scurvy), I have to admit: This is not a bad dish. Don’t think of it as Parmesan, don’t compare it to cacio e pepe, just float back to your own childhood and enjoy the mild saltiness of a canned Parmesan shaken over your spaghetti.
This might also be a good weekend to take advantage of all the fresh fruit that’s starting to come into the markets. There are tons of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries out there right now. Tossing them over a pastry cream-filled crust for a classic French fruit tart is a great way to show off beautiful berries. It takes awhile, but it’s not hard. Here’s a step-by-step recipe, with video from Fine Cooking.
You could also make a simple 1-2-3-4 cake and top it with whipped cream and berries. Martha Stewart does a nice version filled with a lemon curd whipped cream.
If you’ve got peaches or plums, you can do Marian Burros’ plum torte, which is, of course, great with plums but also pretty much any fruit you want to throw in there. You can flavor the cake with cardamom or oooh … instead, you could make a chai cream and serve it with grilled plums.
Or maybe you’ve had a long day, and you want someone else to cook for you. You could swing by Modern General (637 Cerrillos Road, next to Vinaigrette) for a seasonal crostata or apricot kolache. The hip store/café owned by the founder of Vinaigrette has a new café menu. It’s full of whole grains, many of which are for sale at the store. Highlights include a bowl of freekeh (roasted wheat) with feta, onion, fennel and olives ($7.50); avocado toast with cilantro, olive oil and lime ($5.25); and a pho-sole bowl with bone broth, chicken and hominy, garnished with sriracha and lime ($7.75).
What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Poll: Some Americans Favor Meteor Crash over Party Candidates
OK, this is just bizarre, but a new poll shows that 13 percent of likely voters favor an object falling from space and crashing into earth more than electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump president.
The fund is unusual in that, unlike most state government accounts filled with public money, the state Legislature exempts it from required annual audits. But after NM Political Report filed an Inspection of Public Records Act request with the governor’s office this spring for six years worth of expense documents associated with the contingency fund, the office only provided broad summaries of the expenses.
Tracking Campaign Finance Reports
Speaking of government transparency, New Mexico In Depth is partnering with the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and planning two seminars on how you can follow the money in this fall’s general election campaigns.
The Wilderness Society made the claim in its June 28 report, "No Exit: Fixing the BLM's Indiscriminate Energy Leasing," but oil and gas and agency officials in New Mexico argue that the BLM oversees public lands fairly with adequate consideration for all possible uses.
According to the report, "90 percent of the public lands managed by (the BLM) are open to oil and gas leasing and mineral resource extraction even in areas of little or no potential for developing these resources." That number leads to a broken multiple land use policy by the BLM and an unfair monopoly by the oil and gas industry at the expense of land use considerations such as conservation, according to the report.
New Mexico Oil and Gas Association President Steve Henke was the BLM's Farmington district manager before he joined the oil and gas advocacy group. Henke said the Wilderness Society is choosing to take "a one-sided view" of the BLM's mission without fully considering the actual land uses in place.
Millions for Indian Health Awarded
Health programs serving Native Americans in New Mexico are among dozens of nonprofits that have been awarded more $7.6 million in new federal Indian Health Service grants.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency says the grants are meant to make healthcare more accessible to Native Americans living in urban areas — and especially boost services in the areas of mental health, substance abuse treatment, immunizations, and disease prevention.
State officials estimate the measure would raise as much as $1 billion per year in revenue and reduce public safety costs by tens of millions.
Meanwhile, patients registered to legally use medical cannabis in New Mexico claim they’re being forced to consider buying their medication on the black market because their cards are expiring faster than the health department can renew them.
Guests on today's KUNM Radio's weekly call-in show, including State Auditor Tim Keller, will discuss the delays and other cannabis-related issues for an hour, starting at 8 am.
Illegal Fireworks Easy to Find and Buy
Kids love the fireworks that explode hundreds of feet in the air, but it’s illegal to shoot the aerials from private property. Even with the restrictions, it didn’t take a local television station long to find a business selling the illegal stuff.
Eric Witt, a staffer in former Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration, will earn $105,000 managing the City and County of Santa Fe’s new joint film office.
County Manager Katherine Miller lauded the city-county collaboration as away to “maximize our limited financial and human resources, particularly in an area we both know is so valuable to our local economy.”
Mayor Javier Gonzales said Wednesday that the film industry is a “hand-in-glove fit” that he believes can bring revenues of some $100 million annually to the city and county.
Inmate Lawsuit Settlements Revealed
The firm that had been managing health care services for the New Mexico Corrections Department paid out more than $4.5 million to settle inmate lawsuits since 2007.
Corizon faced more than 150 lawsuits filed by some 200 inmates in the nine years it had the contract, a sharp increase in the rate of inmate filings during the 2004-07 tenure of the previous provider, Wexford Health Sources, which the state fired over concerns about the quality of its medical care.
Former APS Superintendent Found Not Guilty
Yesterday, a jury in Denver found Jason Martinez, a controversial former Albuquerque Public Schools deputy superintendent, not guilty on child sexual assault charges. Martinez resigned after it was discovered he never underwent a background check at APS and left Colorado in violation of his release conditions.
Santa Fe County Budget Approved
Justin Horwath reports, “Santa Fe County commissioners unanimously approved a $338.6 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year at a meeting Tuesday.”
County Manager Katherine Miller told commissioners that the county’s reserves were healthy and would help cushion it against emergencies such as natural disasters, economic downturns or less help from the state, which is going through a budget crunch. She credited the board’s reserve policy, which calls for savings above state requirements, and said that one result has been better ratings from bond agencies.
Groups Want Trapping Expansion Haulted
Meanwhile, Deborah Baker reports, “Animal protection groups are suing the state in federal court, trying to block a major expansion of cougar trapping they say would also illegally snag endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars.”
“People who have what I have” is as close as Brendan Leonard brushes in the trailer for his latest book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere, to saying out loud the words that sent him scrambling for a way to rebuild his life. But as the images tick by and the narration continues, it becomes clear that people who have what he had have a problem with substance abuse.
That road often isn’t scenic, and the stories written about traveling it frequently focus on its spiraling descents. Leonard doesn’t. He chooses, instead, to lay a little groundwork before quickly moving into the other half of the story. He writes about the slow ascent as he learns to define himself not by what he doesn’t do, which is drink, but by what he does, which is climb and hike.
The book begins on a snowy night in Iowa, when Leonard gets stopped for his second DUI. What unfolds from there is a crisply written and boldly honest retelling of the sharply edged and often lonely moments of recovery and reinvention. As part of abandoning a life of hours spent on the bar stool, he moves to Montana to enroll in a graduate program in journalism. A creative nonfiction professor first said his experiences in jail and rehab were ones worth writing about—a kind of permission granted, he says, to produce some of the essays that now appear in his book, more than a decade later.
"There are things that you can do if you just admit to yourself that you can do them. … It’s just a matter of having the courage to do it."
But Montana, of course, is surrounded by mountains, and those begin to consume more and more of his time.
“At the time, I didn’t really know what I was feeling, or why it was so important,” he tells SFR. “It was like, this is where I feel really good, here in these places where I feel small and where I’m in incredibly beautiful terrain. I think everybody feels that same way in some respects. Whether or not you communicate it, that’s one of the things you like about being outside.”
Among the realizations materializing is that in the West, no one would call these undertakings outdoors “hobbies”; they’re far more essential.
“It becomes this lifestyle, which is a really great thing for somebody like me who didn’t really have an identity, to be able to understand you could just make this the big thing in your life,” he says. “Yeah, you’ve got to go to work and earn money, but after that, you can plunge into the outdoors and all these different methods of travel—hiking, backpacking, peak bagging, mountain biking, ice climbing, rock climbing.”
The way he writes it in Sixty Meters to Anywhere, a reference to a standard length for a climbing rope, is, “I wanted to climb, to get out there and see it all—snow-covered peaks, rivers that cut canyons, the moonscape of the American desert—to bring it into myself and see what it made me.”
For Leonard, it’s actually now become the way he makes a living, as the founder of semi-rad.com, a website about outdoor sports and the people who surrender their lives (and paychecks) to them, and an outdoor sports writer whose work has appeared in Climbing, Adventure Journal, Alpinist, Backpacker, and National Geographic Adventure. His job has now taken him down canyons in rafts and to the tops of peaks on several continents.
He says the greatest compliment he’s received on the book so far, which was released earlier this summer, was from a friend who said it compelled him to think honestly about his own life. That’s the goal, Leonard says.
“I want this out there, and hopefully someone who needs it will find it, and it will change somebody’s life in a small way and allow them to live a better life,” he says. “That’s the point of all storytelling, to me, whether it’s just funny or they really identify with it or they realize they have a substance abuse problem or they have no interest in a substance abuse problem but realize they’re in control of their own life in some other regard and can make that choice.”
The decision to stop drinking may have been one of his toughest, its effects rippling through his family and his friendships. But we all face choices to change, or not. Fourteen years sober, he now jokes about too much coffee, too little meditation and the fellow runners in the park near his house in Denver who refused to shift their route with a trail redesign. Instead, they jump a nearly 2-foot-tall curb and wear down their former path through the grass. Change comes hard, no matter how it arrives.
“You’ve got to realize you’re just telling yourself one story,” he says. “There are things that you can do if you just admit to yourself that you can do them. There aren’t these magic people who are entrepreneurs or who change their life midstream. Everybody can do it. It’s just a matter of having the courage to do it. But we have all sorts of lies we tell ourselves, like ‘Oh I was raised differently,’ or ‘I didn’t grow up doing that,’ or ‘I grew up doing this, so this is the way I do things.’ You have a choice. You don’t have to have high cholesterol just because everyone in your family has high cholesterol. You can change that. That’s not this code that’s written that you can’t rewrite in this life.”
We’re no strangers to the great outdoors in New Mexico. As home to the nation’s first wilderness area, we’ve long been aware that the blank places on the map can be some of our most valuable. And reasons to get out and see what the map doesn’t show you abound. We open this special Outdoor Issue with one answer to why a person might want to go play outdoors: Because it could change, or save, your life. OK, so you’d like to go, but where? We’ve got some ideas for that, too. And a surefire way to get and stay committed is to sign yourself up for something that’s going to test your limits. So try a triathlon, or Santa Fe’s new ultramarathon, which comes in sizes to fit most. Curious about how our trails system and our raft guides are doing? We’ve got those answers, too. However you choose to get out there to recreate and appreciate our wild lands, we just hope you do.