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A Rose for Santa Fe

The Santa Fe episode of The Bachelor airs Monday

Local NewsTuesday, January 27, 2015 by Joey Peters

With just one week until the premiere of The Bachelor's Santa Fe-filmed episode, both proponents and opponents of the city and state's subsidy to get the show filmed here are taking notice.

City Councilor Ron Trujillo, one of the most vocal critics of last fall's vote to authorize extra money to lure the ABC reality TV show here with tourism dollars, has said that he's plans to watch the episode and tally how many times the words "Santa Fe" are mentioned or the city is seen during the episode. The point is to see if taxpayers who forked over $50,000 from the city and $50,000 from the state are getting their money's worth. 

On the other side, La Fonda on the Plaza Chairwoman Jenny Kimball is looking forward to seeing her hotel used as the backdrop for the show's infamous rose ceremony, where the male bachelor must eliminate some of his female suitors.

"We're all hoping this brings attention to Santa Fe," Kimball says. "That's why I'm excited. We're all excited."

By the looks of a trailer for the Feb. 2 episode, not all of the show was filmed in the City Different, as the cast is seen at Albuquerque's International Balloon Fiesta. But the words "Santa Fe" are mentioned, followed by "this place is absolutely incredible."

Still, the revelation that the show's cast and crew spent their October film stay at Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque—and not Santa Fe—caused concern from opponents of the taxpayer-funded subsidy that went to the TV show. Apparently Buffalo Thunder subsidized the TV show as well.

"The rooms were all provided as part of a marketing package that the hotel gave, so they didn't pay for the rooms," says Randy Randall, executive director of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as TOURISM Santa Fe.

The TV show did make overtures to several downtown Santa Fe hotels before going with Buffalo Thunder. But their demands, which included around 100 rooms, according to Randall, were too much for some.

"They did reach out to us and we declined," Corey Fidler, general manager at Hotel Santa Fe, tells SFR.

One of the reasons Hotel Santa Fe declined the offer is because it likes to cater to tourists, who pay higher rates than group business clients. La Fonda, on the other hand, was hosting a wedding during that time period.

"I told everybody I would move heaven and Earth to make this work," Kimball says of getting the cast and crew to stay at La Fonda. "But I would not move a bride."

Smaller downtown hotels were apparently bypassed. But that's because they were too small to host the big crew.

"They had pretty specific needs," says Inn at Santa Fe General Manager Victoria Bruneni. "We're not the full service hotel that they were looking for." 

The city money used to lure The Bachelor here comes from hotel lodgers taxes, which under state law can only be spent on tourism advertising. The Santa Fe-filmed episode of the show airs next Monday.

Watch the trailer below.

Morning Word: Balloonists Sailing Across Pacific

Winter storm snarls regular air travel

Morning WordTuesday, January 27, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
At the same time that travel around the country is backing up, people in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Albuquerque are enjoying spring-like weather conditions. The forecast is mostly sunny and warm today with highs in the in the low to mid 60's.

It's Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

Two helium balloonists hoping to set distance and endurance records in their Two Eagles craft continue to make their way across the Pacific Ocean this morning.

Track the historic flight online. 

If you also had plans to touch the clouds today, you better check your flight. More than 7,500 flights have been canceled to the now-downgraded winter storm hitting the Eastern seaboard.

Check departure statuses at FlightAware.com 

If you missed it yesterday, The New Yorker magazine has a long story that puts a national spotlight on the Albuquerque Police Department’s deadly use of force.

Read more online. 

Jacob Grant, the undercover APD officer shot by a fellow officer on Jan. 9 during a narcotics sting, is making progress. Grant is still listed in critical condition, but doctors have removed him from a ventilator and he’s talking. Investigators will wait to interview Grant about the incident until he is healthier.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

City of Santa Fe officials are being urged to investigation allegations that the police union’s president mishandled evidence money and that Police Chief Eric Griego obstructed an investigation into the case to protect his friend.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Martin might have been carrying a small packet of drugs on him when he was shot and killed in a Las Cruces hotel last fall. Lawyers for former Deputy Tai Chan, who is accused of murdering Martin, say the evidence was disclosed in court records they received from prosecutors.

See more at KOAT. 

Open government supporters are pushing for more transparency in New Mexico. Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, wants more campaign finance reporting to “shine a light” on dark money after New Mexico got an F from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Read more at New Mexico In Depth. 

KOB TV and the Albuquerque Journal have joined forces to find out more about what an Albuquerque Public School Board investigation revealed about former Superintendent Winston Brooks before he resigned last August.

See more at KOB 4. 

The New Mexico Society of Professional Journalists’ board of directors has published an open letter to New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers opposing the school’s proposal to restrict access to public documents. 

Read SPJ's letter online. 

Justices at the New Mexico Court of Appeals listened to arguments for and against assisted suicide on Monday and expressed concerns about legislating from the bench.

Read more at KOB 4. 

A decision from the same appellate court last week deemed medical marijuana as “reasonable and necessary” to treat pain and injuries could have a big impact on worker compensation laws around the country.

Read more online. 

A woman in Alamogordo has been driving a van packed with 13 pounds of marijuana for more than a decade. A friend discovered the old pot in a door panel that he was repairing. Detectives think the van may have been seized years ago, searched for drugs and then sold to a dealer at auction.

Read more at the Alamogordo Daily News. 

State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, wants marijuana to be legalized in New Mexico, but Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, has assigned it to five committees, which means it is essentially dead on arrival. Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, has also reintroduced a measure to allow voters to amend the state’s constitution and legalize marijuana. A similar joint resolution died in the Senate Rules Committee on a 5-5 vote last year.

Details at NM Political Report.  

New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford said balancing the state’s books could take a few years and cost millions of dollars. Auditors have suggested that more than $100 million is unaccounted for.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Despite falling oil and gas revenue, Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, says he thinks lawmakers will be able to fund the state’s top priorities without tapping reserves.

Read Dan Mayfield’s exclusive interview. 

Former US Rep. Heather Wilson and state Sen. Peter Wirth's sons have a Quorum. That’s the name of Alex Wirth and Joshua Hone’s new business to track Congressional members.
Quorum will feature interactive visuals and up-to-date statistics for each member of Congress, legislative bill, vote, committee, issue area and congressional district. 
Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Tribal gaming compacts in New Mexico could violate federal law. State government journalist Steve Terrell says it’s because they block the Fort Sill Apache Tribe in Southern New Mexico from opening their own casino.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

LoRenzo Bates will be the 23rd Navajo Nation Council Speaker. The speaker, which is basically the CEO of the legislative branch, represents the council as an ambassador for the Navajo Nation and its people.

Read more at the Navajo Times. 

Speaker Bates already faces an ethics violation complaint.
Bates is accused of compelling the office’s executive director to disclose information about a case involving delegates who were also shareholder representatives for the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company. 
Read more at the Farmington Daily Times. 

With early voting already underway, reporter Joey Peter’s has the latest on Santa Fe Public School Board elections.

Read more at SFR. 

We must be getting closer to the premiere of “Better Call Saul.” Show runners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, along with actor Bob Odenkirk, are starting to talk publicly about their “Breaking Bad” prequel on AMC Television.

Watch it on YouTube. 

Sony Pictures utilizes state tax film incentives to offset its production costs. Now, state Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, wants to increase the incentives in order to lure more film and television productions to New Mexico. But Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, is leery about increasing the annual $50 million cap.

KRQE has details. 

If you’re already thinking about where to eat lunch in Santa Fe this afternoon, you might want to try The Pantry. The restaurant was just listed by the Thrillists.com as one of the nation’s best diners.

Read about more on KRQE.

School Elections

Early voting underway for school board and community college

Local NewsMonday, January 26, 2015 by Joey Peters

Though local education positions don't pay a salary, some candidates on next week's ballot are raising and spending money to secure the seats.

Four candidates for seats on both the Santa Fe school board and the Santa Fe Community College governing board voluntarily disclosed their campaign funds today.

Apart from the contested seats that voters will weigh in on next Tuesday, several school board and SFCC board candidates are running for reelection unopposed. On the Santa Fe Schools Board of Education, District 1 incumbent Steve Carrillo and District 4 incumbent Linda Trujillo are both seeking second terms. On the SFCC governing board, they include Linda Siegle and Pablo Sedillo.

Although Carrillo doesn't face an opponent, he's raised $5,625 for his reelection. He didn't disclose his campaign spending because he says he forgot, but adds that he plans to do so this Friday for the next deadline.

Carrillo says this cash is being used to pay for mailers and his campaign manager to ensure voter turnout. He's especially supportive of the proposed renewals of a nearly $9 million per year mill levy on the line. 

The mill levy would essentially keep in place an existing tax that goes to building maintenance for schools across the district. If it's not approved, Carrillo says that money will have to be made up from other parts of the school budget.

"It [will] come right out of the classroom and affect class size and teacher salaries," he warns. 

In the contested District 2 race for the school board, candidate Peter Mitchell leads by far in donations with $9,800 raised for his campaign. Some of his donors include Earl Potter, co-owner of Five and Dime, Fred Nathan, executive director of Think New Mexico, Kim Shanahan, executive officer of the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association and labor attorney Morty Simon. 

Mitchell's opponent, Maureen Cashmon, has raised $1,267.66. Her donors include Grace Meyer, president of the Santa Fe branch of the National Education Association. The union also endorsed Cashmon. 

Siegle is the only other candidate to disclose fundraising and expenses, though she reported zero for both.

In the community college race, conservationist and educator Xubi Wilson is taking on former Santa Fe County Commissioner Jack Sullivan.

For more on both contested races, read SFR's coverage from last week. Read the League of Women Voters' extensive guide on the race here. SFR's endorsements for the races comes this Wednesday.

Early voting is also underway from now through Friday, Jan. 30, from 8 am to 5 pm at Santa Fe Community College Room 209 (6401 Richards Ave.) and Santa Fe Public Schools Educational Services Center Conference Room A (610 Alta Vista St.).

The election takes place Tuesday, Feb. 3. 

Morning Word: Battle Brewing Over Public Records Access

Udall wants to amend the Keystone XL Pipeline bill

Morning WordMonday, January 26, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
A battle is brewing over a New Mexico State University proposal to limit access to some of the school's public documents. Government transparency supporters opposed the restrictions. Plus, we have a recap of all the weekend news, sports and a preview of Better Call Saul.

It's Monday, January 26, 2015.

Open government supporters are gearing up to oppose a proposal by New Mexico State University to limit access to public records.
A document prepared by NMSU and obtained by the Journal describes a litany of proposed exemptions to the Inspection of Public Records Act, including some that would make secret much of the public sector hiring process and certain law enforcement activities.
Read more at the ABQ Journal.

Even as the US Senate prepares to pass a measure authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, engineers are trying to figure out how to contain and clean up 50,000 gallons of oil spilled into Yellowstone River after a pipeline ruptured.

Read more at Indian Country. 

US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, has offered an amendment to the controversial pipeline bill that would establish a national standard for renewable energy he says would create a quarter million jobs, reduce pollution and save energy consumers billions of dollars.
"The Keystone Pipeline is an investment in doing things the old way — importing foreign oil. Instead of doubling down on foreign oil, we should be talking about how we can move America forward by investing in the homegrown energy of the future. We have the technology and the resources to lead the world in clean energy production and jobs and fight climate change, but our energy policy needs to catch up with the times before China and Germany dominate the market," Udall said. 
The Los Alamos Daily Post has more. 

Thousands of  manufacturing jobs were lost to Nevada when Tesla announced its new battery factory would be built in the Silver State. Not to worry, even more jobs would be created in New Mexico if lawmakers legalized marijuana or approve a constitutional amendment to give voters a voice on the issue.

Read it at Albuquerque Business First. 

Speaking of green jobs, renewable energy advocates believe lot of people will be hired now that the US Interior Department has approved construction of the SunZia transmission line.
An analysis done by New Mexico State University and the University of Arizona said the line would create 6,200 jobs during its construction, as well as 36,000 jobs from the construction of new renewable plants in Arizona and New Mexico. In New Mexico, the study said, the project would bring $275 million in estimated wages. 
Read more here. 

The solar boom has some Eldorado residents bothered. They see photovoltaic panels as eyesores.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

The New Mexico Court of Appeals is expected to hear arguments on assisted suicide for terminally ill patients today.

See the story at KOB 4. 

The New Mexico Department of Finance’s public information officer has been suspended and will be fired early next month. Tim Korte is married to one of the one of the administrations biggest critics, but Finance Secretary Tom Clifford says his termination has nothing to do with Albuquerque Public Schools Board Member Kathy Korte’s views on the governor’s public education reforms and student testing.
Clifford said Korte’s firing is part of a broader reorganization within the governor’s administration as Martinez moves into her second term, and that the initiative will affect others as well, including Public Education Department spokesman Larry Behrens. 
Kathy Korte herself was fired by the University of New Mexico herself last year. She’s filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and claims she was fired for her outspoken views.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Korte is up for re-election this year. This weekend, her campaign was accused of putting flier on the cars of people attending the funeral of her opponent’s daughter.

See more at KOB. 

The voter ID debate has taken a high tech turn. Forget about the cost of photo ids, Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne, R-Bernalillo, wants the state to consider using expensive thumbprint and eye scan technology. 

SFR’s Joey Peters has details. 

Amtrak train stops in Raton, Las Vegas, and Lamy remain at risk after lawmakers and the governor failed to request $4 million to maintain the tracks. It's not a lost cause.
Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, D-Taos, said lawmakers will seek state capital outlay funds and federal transportation grants to cover the cost and the administration is coordinating with towns and counties to pursue grants and that the state supports keeping the route. 
Read the Associated Press story here. 

Think New Mexico’s Executive Director Fred Nathan doesn’t think a new food tax proposal adds up.

Read his take here. 

A bill introduced in the New Mexico Legislature would cut off state severance tax bonds to communities that ban or greatly restrict extractive industries or outright ban hydraulic fracturing. Today, Mora County Commissioners plan to discuss a federal court ruling that said their own ban on fracking was unconstitutional.

Read it at New Mexico Watchdog. 

Laura Paskus’s New Venture funded radio series “Drilling Deep” continues on KUNM with an interview with a Zuni Pueblo councilman who wants the federal government to protect ancient migration trails near Chaco canyon free from oil and gas industry leases. After you hear the interview with Mark Martinez, check out Paskus’ slideshow.

Check it all out here. 

Attorney General Hector Balderas has requested $18 million in general funding from the New Mexico Legislature. Balderas said he needs some of the money for water battles with Texas.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Expo New Mexico managers are requesting money to fix state fairground “pipes, poles and leaky roofs.” 

Charles Brunt has more. 

The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce says its priorities at the legislature are centered on economic development and education reform.

Read it at the ABQ Journal. 

Fans of Uber and Lyft rideshares have been hoping that legislation would be introduced this year to change the state’s motor carrier laws, but so far no bills have been introduced.

Dan Mayfield reports. 

On Friday, a judge ruled that a behavioral health care provider was denied due process by the New Mexico Human Services Department.
State District Judge Francis Mathew ordered the department to hold a hearing that would allow Santa Fe-based Easter Seals El Mirador to hear the specific allegations against it for the first time — and give the provider a chance to respond to those claims. The ruling could open the door for other providers affected by the shake-up to do the same, according to the nonprofit’s lawyer. 
Easter Seals El Mirador CEO Mark Johnson said he’s confident the group will be exonerated.

Read Patrick Malone’s story here. 


A Santa Fe jury has awarded a record $165.5 million in a civil case stemming from a triple fatal crash caused by a Fed Ex truck driver in 2011.

Read more at the Alamogordo Daily News. 

The University of New Mexico Lobos lost a tough game in Wyoming at the buzzer.

Game highlights here. 

Zach Gentry, Eldorado High School’s star quarterback, is new Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh’s first QB recruit. Gentry had originally committed to the University of Texas.

Read it at the ABQ Journal. 

Esquire Magazine's Stephen Marche thinks the "Better Call Saul" prequel, which debuts on AMC Television on Feb. 8, starts off even better than Breaking Bad. The opening courtroom scene, Marche writes is, “perfect.”

Read it here. 

This Weekend

01.23.15

Weekend PicksFriday, January 23, 2015 by SFR

Winter/Spring 2015 Exhibitions

Dark Light by Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Account Past Due, Ledger Art and Beyond by Chris Pappan, Mechanistic Renderings by Star Wallowing Bull, War Department: Selections from MoCNA’s Permanent Collection, Heavy Volume, Small Spaces by Mihio Manus open. Through July 31

More Info >>

Made in Santa Fe

What do Lucky Gagin, Henry Fonda, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Divine, Rosalind Russell, Warren Beatty, and Johnny Cash all have in common?  They wa starred in films Made in Santa Fe.  Presented by New Mexico film historian and El Dorado resident, Jeff Berg, this program will include 15 clips from movies that have been filmed in and around Santa Fe since 1936.

More Info >>


Bella Gigante's Birthday Bash

The gender-bending local sensation celebrates in style with a rollicking all-ages party.

More Info >>

Flamenco Dinner

Spanish flavor, music and dance combine to dizzying effect tonight

More Info >>


Hear them Roar: New Mexican Animal Carvers and Contemporary American Folk Art

Exhibition curator Andrew John Cecil facilitates an artists panel discussion in conjunction with exhibition Wooden Menagerie: Made in New Mexico.

More Info >>

The Dybbuk

The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival presents an adaptation of the 1914 play about a bride possessed by a malevolent spirit. Come early for coffee and a pre-film talk; stay late for a brown-bag lunch discussion with literary scholar Lois Rudnik.

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: Third Group Withdraws from PNM Agreement

Mora County Commission reacts to fracking opinion

Morning WordFriday, January 23, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Weather conditions are improving around the state. The weekend looks good, but it's chilly getting out the door this morning.

It's Friday, January 23, 2015.

Weather continues to cause closings and delays at schools and government agencies around the state.

KOB has the list.

A third group has withdrawn its support for the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power replacement plan. Western Resource Advocates is concerned that PNM is trying to acquire a bigger share of goal-generated electricity from the San Juan Generating Station instead of considering most cost effective renewable options.

Read more at KRWG in Las Cruces. 

SFR’s Justin Horwath analyzed a PNM mailer to Santa Fe customers urging them to not support a municipal utility proposal. Mayor Javier Gonzales says the city wants to move toward more solar and wind.
"PNM is welcome to put their message out there, but Santa Fe is serious about a renewable energy future, and the plan to get us there is going to come from the people and their elected representatives.” 
PNM told SFR it does not plan to sell its system to the city.

Read more online. 

The Mora County Commission will meet on Monday to discuss a federal judge's opinion that its ban on fracking is unconstitutional. The extraction process, attorneys for the commission say, is harmful to the environment and residents should have a say in restricting oil and gas development in their community.

The Las Vegas Optic has reactions to the ruling. 


It didn’t take long for new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan to lure national Democrats including Rep. Nancy Pelosi to the state for a big planning meeting.
“The conference will be a chance for members and supports to attend panels, presentations and discussions on the legislative and political strategies being implemented by House Democrats while enjoying New Mexico, its culture, traditions and amazing food.” 

Read it at the ABQ Journal.

Several groups who want big money money out of politics rallied at the Roundhouse on Thursday--the fifth anniversary of Citizens United.
“After Citizens United, corporations and the wealthy have been buying elections in New Mexico and across the country,” Environment New Mexico Director Sanders Moore said. “The oil and gas industry has a stranglehold on our state, contributing more than $600,000 in the Congressional race last year alone. It is time to bring democracy back to the people.”
Read more at the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Speaking of rallies, abortion activists gathered in Las Cruces to remember the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision.

See more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

State lawmakers are anxiously waiting to new revenue forecasts. A big drop in oil and gas prices will have a big impact on the state budget.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel is getting a big salary hike to stay in Gov. Susana Martinez’ administration. The $16,000 raise to $123,750 a year was needed to offset the difference between his original $107,060 salary and his law enforcement pension from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department.

Read more at the Taos News. 

As former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella heads to prison for 10 years, the man who got his badge and job is facing discrimination allegations. Sheriff James Lujan vowed to implement department reforms when he took over, but Rodella staff loyalists contend he’s been verbally abusive and discriminated against them.

KOAT has more. 

Reporter Erica Zucco looked at data that shows more than 200 Albuquerque Police Department officers were assaulted last year.

See the numbers at KOB. 

The people who lash out at cops usually end up in court. Barbara Vigil, the New Mexico Supreme Court chief justice, used her State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature to ask for more court funding.

Read Phaedra Hayward’s recap here. 

The price tag for reforming the Albuquerque Police Department is steep: $4 million to $6 million a year. That does not include plans to boost the number of patrol officers at APD. At least, city officials say they’re going to attempt to avoid any tax hikes to offset the expense.

Target 7’s Nancy Laflin has more.

As a rule, University of New Mexico students feel safe on campus, but an independent report says the school needs to simplify its confusing sexual assault policies.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Republican lawmakers are shaking up some key Legislative committees. Matthew Reichbach writes that the Democrats aren’t happy with the sweeping changes and want to know what role the governor and corporate interests had in this year’s assignments.

Read more at the New Mexico Political Report. 

A legislative measure to boost the minimum wage in New Mexico appears to have bipartisan support this year.

Read more at ABQ Business First. 

Dallas-based Matador Resources Co has acquired Harvey E Yates petroleum company for $37.5 million. Former Republican Party Chairman Harvey Yates is not affiliated with that company. His oil exploration firm, Jalapeño Corporation, is based in Albuquerque.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Longtime 770KKOB radio talk show host Terrie Q Sayer has died. The former Mrs. Nevada and animal activist had been recovering from the flu.

Read more at KOB. 

After discovering a hateful tweet directed at UNM Lobo Basketball player Hugh Greenwood and his family by a UNLV fan before Wednesday's game in Las Vegas, a booster club has pledged $1,000 to the seniors’ Pink Pack Foundation for cancer awareness and fundraising.

Read it at the ABQ Journal. 

Still no explanation for how the footballs used in Sunday's AFC Championship game ended up under inflated, and still no evidence of a conspiracy by the New England Patriots to intentionally deflate them either.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Enjoy the weekend. We'll be back early Monday with another big news recap.

Voter ID To The Future

Senator wants state to study thumbprint, eye-scan technology for voter ID

Local NewsThursday, January 22, 2015 by Joey Peters

A Republican state senator wants to take a different look at the contentious idea of requiring voters to present photo IDs at the polls. 

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne, R-Bernalillo, introduced a Senate memorial today calling on the state to study the feasibility of using biometrics like thumbprints and eye-scan technology to identify voters at the polls and prevent voter fraud. He says he got the idea after hearing "years and years about whether or not any effort to have photo ID or other identification measures suppresses the vote."

"I thought I’d shake it up a little because I recently got an iPhone that uses a thumbprint identification that only I could open it instead of having to use a password or any other code to get into it," Payne says in a video statement provided to SFR by the Senate Republican Leadership office (he had already left the Roundhouse when we tried to reach him this afternoon).

Though it may seem like an expensive idea that could expand state government to new depths, Senate Republican spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater says Payne believes the technology can reduce the price of voting.

The photo voter ID issue is expected to go far this legislative session with the recent Republican takeover of the state House of Representatives, a Democratic-controlled Senate full of political moderates and a Republican governor. But that doesn't mean it won't generate controversy. Many Democrats argue that voter ID is nothing more than a ploy that disenfranchises voters. 

It's unclear how much Payne's alternative idea would cost, or how seriously it will be taken even if it passes this session. Memorials aren't required to be enforced and instead are taken as recommendations from state lawmakers. Likewise, Duran has been outspoken in her support for a law requiring photo IDs at the polls. 

But the technology Payne wants studied is used in some parts of the world. 

Venezuela, a country not exactly known for being a conservative bastion, requires thumbprints in its elections. Some international election-monitoring groups widely praise the efficiency of country's voting system, though opponents of its left-wing government criticize the scanning technology as intimidating

George RR Martin: Bestselling author, badass, breast man

Santa Fe resident is no puritan, and he wants the whole world to know it

Pop CultureThursday, January 22, 2015 by Enrique Limón

"Let's turn from the latest cheating scandal involving the New England Patriots to a much more pleasant subject: breasts,” the ardent football fan posted to his LiveJournal on Wednesday.

Martin cited inequality when it comes to the exposed male and female breast form and also addresses the criticism HBO’s Game of Thrones has receives over showing some skin.

“And heaven forfend there should be a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the Super Bowl or similar event that exposes the country to a brief split-second glimpse of a female nipple (actually a pastie, but don't confuse us with facts),” he continued.

His response? A special screening this Friday at his Jean Cocteau Cinema of Free the Nipple, a 2014 documentary about a group of women who led a fight for “nipple equality” in New York City.

Check out the trailer below and full schedule here.

FREE THE NIPPLE from Parker Laramie on Vimeo.


This isn’t the first time the author has expressed he’s crazy for cleavage. In a 2014 interview during Comic-Con that touched on his South Park lampoon, Martin declared himself a boob-man and corrected a throbbing detail his penis-obsessed parodied self got wrong.

“I have nothing against weenies, weenies are fine, but I’m definitely on the boobies side of the equation,” he told a female reporter. “Boobies, not weenies.”

As far as a special dress code for Fridays umm…unveiling, the new owner of Silva Lanes notes, “New Mexico is not New York, of course... but our Cocteau staff will be appropriately clad to honor the fearless women who are the subject of the movie.”

He further teased that there will be boob-shaped cupcakes at hand. Insert tasteless ’Got milk’ joke here.

Morning Word: Storm Offers Little Drought Relief

Rodella sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison; plans appeal

Morning WordThursday, January 22, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Light snow in Santa Fe this morning. A big winter storm in the Land of Enchantment on Wednesday will slowly move out of the state today.  If you like the white stuff, more is predicted for Monday.

It's Thursday, January 22, 2015

 
The biggest winter storm of the season has been mostly hit and miss, depending on where you live.  John Fleck reports the snow that did accumulate will “offer little relief to the parched northern watersheds that provide New Mexico’s water supply”.
 
 
We checked airport delays at 6 am and flights from the Albuquerque International Sunport are still running mostly on time, but there are more than 100 school delays and closings.
 
 
Motorists should exercise caution and be prepared for reduced visibility, fog and snow especially in the high country. For the latest road conditions dial 511.

Engineers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant report a ceiling panel inside the nuclear waste storage mine has collapsed.
This event highlights the need to continue prioritizing roof bolting and ground control in both the contaminated and uncontaminated areas of the WIPP underground facility in order to ensure safety and habitability in the underground.
 
 
Pet lovers are upset this morning after the bodies of four dogs were found mutilated in Valencia County. Animal Control officials believe the canines were involved in dog fights.
 
Tommy Rodella, who was convicted of violating a motorist's civil rights in a road rage incident last year, will spend more than a decade in federal prison. The former Rio Arriba Sheriff was sentenced on Wednesday and ordered to pay $200,000 in fines and restitution.
 
 
US District Judge James Browning said sentencing a law enforcement officer to prison for 10 years is “tough.”
 
 
News anchor Doug Fernandez scored an exclusive interview with the veteran Albuquerque Police Department officer who was shot during a traffic stop Jan. 3. Lou Golson says he knew, lying on the street bleeding, he was going to survive.
 
 
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg told journalist Jeff Proctor she has no plans to recuse herself from officer involved shooting investigations or from prosecuting two Albuquerque police officers charged with open counts of murder.
 
 
While PNM tries to get regulators to approve a plan to allow them to acquire 132 megawatts of coal-generated electricity, Rio Rancho Public School District officials say their new solar panels have saved the district almost $100,000.
 
 
Voters won’t be casting ballots in a Navajo presidential election do-over this month after all. 
 


After Tuesday's State of the State address, Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera spoke to the Silver City Sun-News about the governor's 2015 education initiatives.
"It was really a call to action and a bipartisan call to action. The bottom line is to get things done together, not play politics, and I'm very excited about the great opportunity for our schools going forward. She is championing education. It's going to be a great year."
The president of the American Federation of Teachers had a different take.
"Quality educators are leaving in historic numbers due to the abusive climates in our schools created by Martinez politices. Unsound methods of evaluation, rampant profit-motivated testing for our students and a culture of retribution and fear have been the only tangible 'reforms' under this governor."



Albuquerque Public School Communications Director Monica Armenta has accused a school board member of bullying her, but Kathy Korte says Armenta should not be interfering with her Stands4Kids program.


Lawmakers have approved a $9.4 million operating budget for this year’s Legislature, House members also started working on sweeping changes to committee assignments and voted to replace two committees altogether. Democrats were not pleased with the changes.
"We're two days in and it very much seems that they're trying to impose this Washington, D.C. dysfunction," Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, told New Mexico Political Report after the hearing.

Travelers who like to cross the country by train hope lawmakers and the governor approve funds to maintain tracks used by Amtrak in Northern New Mexico.


At least three bills have been introduced to restrict abortion access in New Mexico. SFR's Joey Peters reports activists on both sides of the issue expect the measures to move further through the legislature this year now that Republicans control the House.



Protest ABQ, whose restrictive abortion ballot initiative was rejected by voters in 2013, plans to push House Republicans to adopt their measure statewide.


New Mexico’s three Catholic bishops also want the politicians to restrict late-term abortions and want lawmakers to adopt a bill requiring physicians to notify parents if a minor daughter seeks an abortion. The religious leaders also want lawmakers to use money from the state permanent fund to increase early childhood development program budgets.


Steve Terrell has more from Day 2 at the Legislature and jokes there are only 58 days remaining in the session.


Speaking of the number 2, the University of New Mexico’s men’s basketball team scored an impressive win on Wednesday night, beating the UNLV Rebels by two points, 71-69.


The storms have rapidly improved ski area conditions around the state. Time to wax the boards.

Check ski area reports here.

Updated: PNM mailers: Keep Santa Fe Moving Forward

Company calls proposal to purchase PNM's power system 'misguided'

Local NewsThursday, January 22, 2015 by Justin Horwath

Public Service Company of New Mexico mailers are urging locals to "help PNM keep Santa Fe moving forward" in a public relations blitz against creating a publicly owned utility here.

And if that phrase sounds familiar, it's because Mayor Javier Gonzales used it as his campaign's key slogan last year. Gonzales' platform also used some of the same rhetoric that proponents of a taxpayer-funded utility are now employing.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but moving forward when it comes to energy means a real commitment to renewables," Gonzales says in a written statement. "PNM is welcome to put their message out there, but Santa Fe is serious about a renewable energy future, and the plan to get us there is going to come from the people and their elected representatives.”

PNM calls that proposal "misguided" in its mailers.

"Some Santa Fe elected officials are proposing a taxpayer purchase of PNM's electric system and creating a city-owned electric utility," read the inside of the mailers, which feature pictures of solar panels, wind turbines, PNM workers and smiling adults and children. "It's a misguided effort that could take us backwards."

The mailers contend that the costs to taxpayers of purchasing PNM's electric system could be "four times greater" than the $250 million given in one unidentified "taxpayer funded third party study." (That's a likely reference to a study commissioned by the nonprofit New Energy Economy, released in 2012). 

Officials with PNM have not yet returned a voicemail left Thursday seeking comment on the mailers. 

On January 28, City Council is slated to consider a resolution introduced by councilors Joseph Masestas, Chris Rivera and Peter Ives that would direct city staff to contact Santa Fe County to schedule a joint county-city meeting "for the purpose of discussing and determining if and how the city and county may pursue a joint publicly owned electric utility." 

The resolution also calls for city staff to conduct a study "of the legal and technical options the city has in creating a publicly owned electric utility."

The mailers direct readers to a website PNM created, www.powerforprogress.com, created on August 2, 2014, according to a whois.net domain report. 

January 22, 2015, 3:30 pm: SFR updated this post to include responses to the mailers from Mayor Gonzales.

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