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This Weekend

Outdoor Vision Fest and more

Weekend PicksFriday, May 1, 2015 by SFR

Outdoor Vision Fest

SFUAD's campus turns into a vibrant, cutting-edge canvas for student artwork in dozens of large-scale video projections and outdoor art installations.

More Info >>

Budrus

Creativity for Peace presents a screening of this film offering a realistic but hopeful look into the future of the Middle East.

More Info >>


Cinco de Mayhem! Burlesque and Variety Show

Winner of three Burlesque Hall of Fame awards Ms Tickle headlines this daring, raucous and raunchy side of performance.

More Info >>

Karen Marrolli EP Release

This singer-songwriter celebrates the release of her new EP Twilight Songs with this intimate performance.

More Info >>


Battlefields and Homefronts New Mexico: The Civil War and More

Experience military drills, camp life, lectures, re-enactments and more.

More Info >>

Science on Screen

Santa Fe Institute's Liz Bradley presents this screening of Jurassic Park with a brief discussion regarding its scientific context.

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: PNM Urges Regulators to Approve Rate Hike

Utility insists its request meets required standards

Morning WordFriday, May 1, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
May Day. This year seems to be flying by quickly. Four months are gone already. At least we can all look forward to Cinco de Mayo parties this weekend (and double-digit electric rate increases sometime later this year).

It's Friday, May 1, 2015

The Public Service Company of New Mexico, which has scheduled its quarterly conference call with investors and stock analysts this morning, says its rate request should be approved by the Public Regulation Commission.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

The Department of Energy has agreed to pay $73 million in fines connected to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant radiation leak last year. The money will go toward roadwork and other infrastructure projects.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich say they oppose Gov. Susana Martinez’ idea to have New Mexico store more nuclear waste.

Read why here. 

Intel’s Rio Rancho plant manager Kirby Jefferson is retiring after 35 years working for the chip manufacturer. Some insiders have said they believe the fabrication facility may shut down in the next few years.

Read more at ABQ Free Press. 

Police body cameras purchased by the Albuquerque Police Department are in the spotlight. State Auditor Tim Keller says the former police chief appears to have violated the Government Conduct Act, city procurement ordinances and ethics rules. Jeff Proctor and Tina Jensen have been following the case for more than a year.

See their story here. 

Speaking of body cameras, there is a new smartphone app that allows you to record the police and automatically send your video to the American Civil Liberties Union for review.

Read it here. 

Last week, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg told ABQ Free Press that she fears for her personal safety after filing murder charges against two Albuquerque police officers. Now she says she doesn’t want the rumored threats by APD officers against her investigated by law enforcement.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Bobbie Gutierrez, a former Santa Fe Schools District leader, has been hired as Española Public Schools' new interim superintendent.
A longtime education sector employee, Gutierrez served as Santa Fe’s superintendent from 2008 to 2012, when the Santa Fe School Board voted not to renew her contract. Prior to that, she served as the deputy superintendent from 2005 to 2008 and as an associate superintendent from 2002 to 2005. 
Ardee Napolitano reports for the Rio Grande Sun. 

Investigative reporter Matt Grubs sat down with Transportation Secretary Tom Church, who says after the state spent more than half a million dollars to build a Rail Runner stop in Santa Fe, he’s considering tearing it down before the Zia stop ever serves a single passenger.

See more at KRQE. 

Steps are under way to make the old Taos County Courthouse compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.

Cody Hooks, at the Taos News, has more.

Patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder won’t have to try traditional medications before applying for the state’s medical marijuana program. The Department of Health lost a lawsuit filed by a Santa Fe psychiatrist, who argued regulators had overstretched their rule-making authority.

Phaedra Haywood has the scoop. 

If you’re looking to purchase some new art or furniture to decorate your home or office, just go to the state pen near Santa Fe on Sunday. The New Mexico Department of Corrections is hosting an arts and crafts fair and allowing inmates to sell some of their pieces this Sunday. Make sure to buy some goodies; we hear they’re having a bake sale and selling items baked by inmates.

Katherine Mozzone has a preview here. 

Folks who are trying to find millions in buried treasure are excited this morning. The hunt is on after Santa Fe art collector Forrest Fenn released another clue about where he has buried a lucrative treasure chest. 

Read more here. 

If you're celebrating Cinco de Mayo a little early this weekend, have fun, drink responsibly and drive safe. See you right back here on Monday.

Christus St. Vincent Administration Won't Participate in Study Committee

The committee's purpose was to bring the community together about the impact of healthcare reform

Local NewsThursday, April 30, 2015 by Justin Horwath
A healthcare study group will be missing a key party: Santa Fe's largest healthcare provider. 

That's because top brass at the provider, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, did an about-face. 

Hospital administrators have declined to participate in a study group established by city councilors last year whose purpose is to bring the community together to talk about the delivery of healthcare services by Northern New Mexico's largest hospital and other local providers in a changing healthcare landscape.

Councilors approved a measure calling for the committee, introduced by Peter Ives and Patti Bushee, in February 2014 under the administration of former Mayor David Coss. 

The balance on the group between hospital administrators and members with District 1199 New Mexico of the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees, the union that represents nurses and other hospital workers, became a point of contention during the council debate on the resolution. So too did the group's focus. Union officials preferred to examine the hospital's delivery of care. Hospital administrators preferred to examine the impact of national and statewide healthcare policy trends on local healthcare delivery. 

“What we would like to get out of it is very straightforward,” said David Delgado, president of the hospital board of directors at the time. “One is to better educate the community as it relates to the changing landscape. Two: Have an open dialogue between all the providers in relation to how we all lean on each other to essentially address the [Affordable Care Act] and the goals of the ACA—which are very positive.”

Yet in a Feb. 17 letter to the mayor obtained Thursday by SFR, Christus St. Vincent CEO Bruce Tassin writes that "so much has happened in the year since" City Council passed the resolution that created the committee, and that instead of joining the group, administrators would "like to instead propose a partnership with the city that focuses on growing and retaining a high skilled workforce for our community." 

"Given the current healthcare landscape," Tassin writes, "we prefer to focus our limited resources and time on growing and retaining local talent." 

Last October, hospital administrators and the union reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement that appeared to quell tensions between the parties about staffing levels at the hospital. 

Yet the relationship quickly soured after the hospital's termination of a top union nurse as well as the union's contention that the hospital administration is not following the terms of the contract. Union officials also allege hospital administrators are failing to retain full-time nurses for its workforce—and are rather relying on contract traveling nurses brought in temporarily from other communities and states. Administrators deny the allegations that it retaliated against the union nurse in firing her and say the mechanisms to track staffing levels of nurses are complex. 

"I feel I am not respected," says Sharon Argenbright, a clinical nurse at Christus St. Vincent's, as well as the union's executive vice president. "I’ll put it that way. I feel like my administration does not care about me...Yet that’s our job—to care [for] other people. So how long can you keep caring when no one cares about you? When administration doesn’t care about you?"


Argenbright, a appointee to the group, adds that she looks forward to using it "to discuss what’s going on so we have a louder voice so people get treated with respect—so they don’t leave."


"We are aware of the study group," Christus St. Vincent Spokesman Arturo Delgado writes in a prepared statement. "Given where we are today, we’d like to instead focus on our limited resources and time on growing and retaining local talent."


The original resolution called on the mayor to make appointments to the committee, including a Christus St. Vincent board representative; a member of a nonprofit that supports the hospital; its vice president of community health; and its chief medical officer. Likewise it called on four members of District 1199 New Mexico. Other appointees included county commissioners, city councilors, and other healthcare representatives not tied to Christus St. Vincent. 

The resolution called on the mayor to make appointments to the group. Mayor Javier Gonzales, more than a year after taking office, finally recommended appointees in the council's April 29 meeting. Included in his recommendations approved by the council on April 29 is Coss—who rallied alongside the union during contract negotiations during his mayoral tenure—as a consumer representative. 

The resolution states the committee shall seek to "better understand the capability" of the hospital to "continue to provide safe, effective and efficient health care services in the context of recent and evolving regulation of the healthcare industry."

It calls on the group to make findings based on community forums about how federal and statewide healthcare policy changes, like the Affordable Care Act, impact healthcare delivery locally.

The group, states the resolution, is to conclude its public meetings and duties eight months after the the appointment of its members. It's then to issue a final report to city councilors. 

Christus St. Vincent Letter to Mayor by justinhorwath

Resolution 2014 19 by justinhorwath

Lotsa Water on Water Street

City workers blame 'old' valve for eruption that shoots bricks into the air

Local NewsThursday, April 30, 2015 by Zoe Baillargeon

Ironically, a water line at the intersection of Water Street and Galisteo Street burst early this afternoon, flooding the lower half of Galisteo. (Insert drought joke here.)

The burst, which happened in front of the Collected Works bookstore, reportedly sent water up to ten feet into the air, littering the street with rocks and bricks. A gaping hole could be seen under the torrent of water, which eyewitnesses say quickly grew bigger. 

“It was marvelous,” said onlooker Delias Soveranes, laughing.

Soveranes, a plumber working up the street, said the city was attempting to shut down water to install a new line for a business when a valve exploded.

“It was crazy,” said Rachel Smith, who was walking down Galisteo Street when it happened. She reported the water was so powerful that debris such as bricks from the road were thrown up into the air.

City workers confirmed that an “old” valve was the culprit.

Up to 40 minutes after the eruption, the lower end of Galisteo Street remained flooded. Tourists, locals and business owners from up and down the street snapped pics with cellphones. Businesses like Collected Works stacked sandbags in front of their doors and stoops to stop the water, already lapping at street level. Some onlookers even took off their shoes and waded around the flooded area, laughing.

The water line in question is a cast iron, 6-inch main. One worker estimated that the force of the water coming out of the line was up to 100 pounds per square inch, “enough to kill you.”

Workers fanned out on surrounding streets to isolate the water and stop the flow. Estimates on when the water could be stopped were sketchy, but water began to recede later in the afternoon.

Street maintenance workers on site said that the entire neighborhood, including Don Gaspar Avenue to Sandoval Street, will be without water but could not specify when the outage would end, explaining that it “all depends on what we find down there.”

Despite the excitement of the moment, the reality of the wasted water isn’t lost.  
Sam Romero, a street maintenance worker, said he won’t even hazard a guess at how much seeped away.

“To guess, it’d be crazy,” he said.

Morning Word: Tapia Married “Family Matters” Star

Boxer’s widow says marriage to Darius McCrary was a mistake

Morning WordThursday, April 30, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Teresa Tapia claims she was depressed when she married actor Darius McCrary after the champ's death but quickly realized the union was a mistake. SFR asked her for copies of her annulment paperwork, and she promised to deliver them. Instead, she opted to sit down with a television news reporter.

It's Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teresa Tapia married Family Matters star Darius McCrary just a few months after five-time boxing champion Johnny Tapia died in 2012. Now, she claims their Las Vegas marriage was a mistake and was annulled before she married Jeffrey Padilla, who she believed (at the time) was Johnny’s half brother. DNA results, according to Tapia, show that Padilla isn’t related to the champ. Tapia divorced Padilla this year after he was detained for parole violations.McCrary was busted himself earlier this month in Michigan for failure to pay child support to another ex-wife.

See more at KOB.com 

If you watched 60 Minutes on CBS on Sunday night, you know there’s a lot of debris from satellites that have been blown up that could cause problems for astronauts and rockets trying to get back to the moon or Mars in the future. Now, US Senator Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, is proposing strict rules of conduct in space.

Read more at the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

Federal investigators are releasing more details on the freight train collision that claimed one life near Roswell on Tuesday. The National Transportation Safety Board says that the two men in one of the trains jumped off after hitting the brakes. According to officials, the engineer might have lived if he hadn’t jumped.

Read more at KRQE.com 

Experts say fixing the behavioral health care system in New Mexico could take years.

Winthrop Quigley is Up Front.  

After being criticized for dodging reporters' questions, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden has put three records custodians on administrative leave for “unprofessional conduct” that may have impacted the effective processing of public document requests. Reynaldo Chavez, who’s been with the department since 2011 and was given the department’s civilian employee of the award three years ago, has retained an attorney. Javier Urban has been named the acting records custodian for the department.

See more at KOAT. 

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government's board president is criticizing City of Albuquerque independent hearing officers’ decision to ban video recordings of personnel hearings.
“In trying to limit the recordings, hearing officers are trying to limit access,” [Greg] Williams said. “Because it’s a public hearing, you really cannot do anything to eliminate public access.”  

Joey Peters has more. 

Better find some nice canvas shopping bags and get used to taking them with you when you go shopping in Santa Fe.
As part of an environmentally friendly effort to change consumer behavior, the City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday to institute the 10-cent fee after finding that a ban on plastic grocery bags didn’t prompt enough shoppers to tote their purchases in reusable bags. City Councilors Bill Dimas and Ron Trujillo cast the dissenting votes. 
Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Ellen DeGeneres really likes Lew Wallace Elementary School teacher Sonya Romero. After flying her to Los Angeles and gifting her and the school $20,000, she’s now bought Romero at new car. Sean "Puffy" Combs says he’ll pay Romero’s gas for two years. Combs upped the ante and gave the school another $10,000.
“I was in complete shock, and then everyone came in and I went, ‘Oh my goodness,’” Romero said. “Just last week my timing belt went out and my power steering. I drive a lot. I have kids and we have activities and live a little far from the school. So we drive a lot. So it was just this absolute blessing.” 
See it all here. 

You won’t be able to get your Bert’s Burger Bowl green chile hamburger fix in Santa Fe any longer. The shop’s owners say they’re retiring.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

A half-dozen Santa Fe residents originally from Nepal gathered at the Tibetan Association of Santa Fe Community Center last night to pray for victims who were killed, injured or displaced by Saturday’s earthquake.

Chris Quintana has the story. 

A 13-year-old girl from Las Cruces has been named one of the top 25 ballerinas in her age category in the world.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has video. 

While most of the tourism dollars being spent around Silver City this week are coming from Tour of the Gila fans, tourism experts say one of the big draws, the Gila Cliff dwellings, generate about $1.7 million a year.

Read more at the Silver City Sun-News. 

Councilors Pass Fee on Paper Bags

Some still doubt the ten-cent fee on paper bags seeks to shift consumer behavior

Local NewsWednesday, April 29, 2015 by Justin Horwath
Retailers in Santa Fe will soon start charging a 10-cent fee for each paper bag provided to customers. 

By a 7-2 vote, city councilors approved a bill that will clear the way for City Hall to start collecting that fee revenue from retail establishments and put the money toward environmental programs.

The bill's passage comes more than a year after the implementation of a ban on certain plastic bags in Santa Fe, a move that largely led to most stores switching to paper bags. Officials initially imposed the 10-cent charge as a part of that ban in order to encourage consumers to start shopping with reusable bags. 

Paper bags take a toll on the environment, too, pointed out a handful of children who testified in support of the bill in the April 29 meeting.

"Guess what?" District 4 Councilor Ron Trujillo, said of paper bags, "At one time they were a tree."

But officials removed the 10-cent charge after concerns that it constituted an illegal tax. Because that money will go toward specific environmental programs—like waste reduction, providing free reusable bags to Santa Feans and environmental education—it's now a "fee" and not a tax. 

That didn't convince Trujillo, who still considers it a tax. He voted against the bill—which Councilors Peter Ives, Sig Lindell and Chris Rivera sponsored. Councilor Bill Dimas also voted against it, too.

District 3 Councilor Carmichael Dominguez said that if consumers don't want to pay the extra dime, then they should shop with reusable bags.

"The reality is that these young people are going to be the taxpayers who are going to have to clean up the mess that I and my generation are making," he said.

"I’m lending my voice and my vote to the rhetoric of saying climate change is real," said Mayor Javier Gonzales before casting a vote in favor of the bill.

Zona Revived

Southside summer youth programs set for city-owned building that had been vacant

Local NewsWednesday, April 29, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm

Children who live on Santa Fe’s Southside will have a new option for summer camp in their neighborhood following the city’s announcement today that the Boys and Girls Club will lease a city property in Tierra Contenta.

The building known as Zona del Sol has been vacant since February, when the city evicted a nonprofit of the same name that was supposed to provide services there. City officials said those efforts were insufficient.

The Boys and Girls Club can immediately provide a summer program for up to 50 kids between the ages of 5 and 18 there and is ready to put on after school learning, art and recreation opportunities beginning in the in next school year.

Roman Abeyta, the club’s executive director, says many of the kids who already use the Boys and Girls Club on the north side actually live on the other side of town.

“If you look at our numbers now, what has been happening historically over the last four or five years, the numbers enrolled have been declining at the Alto location and our clubs in Jacabo and off Highway 14 reach capacity every summer,” he says. “That is where the services are needed, and that is where the families live.”

City Councilor Carmichael Dominguez says Tuesday in a city press release that he is excited about the news.

“I’m grateful to the hard work put in by city staff and the Boys and Girls Club in making this happen, and I know the impact of this agreement will be felt by Santa Feans all across the south side who will have greater access than ever before to critical services. We can’t wait to see this site grow and evolve, and look forward to a long, fruitful relationship.”

During the term of the 20-year lease, the Boys and Girls Club may sublease portions of the site to other nonprofits, develop the property in ways that contribute to the mission, and offset the monetary value of the rent with the value of the services provided at the site, according to the city’s statement.

Abeyta says the club is already accepting registration for the summer program and expects to open the office at Zona for that purpose early next week. If more than 50 students apply, he says, the club will start taking action to lobby the city, county and state for funds to expand the facility. Program capacity could also increase if the club forgoes its license and grants from the state Children, Youth and Families Department, which set the limit.

“That would allow us to increase the occupancy of the building to whatever the fire marshal says we can hold,” he tells SFR.

Morning Word: Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Resigned to Defeat

Supreme Court hears historic arguments

Morning WordWednesday, April 29, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Gay rights advocates appear optimistic, but court observers say the nine Supreme Court justices appear reluctant to redefine marriage. That, plus a ton of other quick reads for you this morning.

It's Wednesday, April 29, 2015

As oral arguments for and against same sex marriage got under way at the US Supreme Court yesterday, anti-gay activists seemed resigned to defeat on the big equality issue at hand.

Read more at Mother Jones. 

New Mexico has the lowest share of residents who are undocumented immigrants.
The Pew Research Center estimated in 2012 that 70,000 people living in New Mexico were undocumented immigrants. This is a decrease of 20,000 from estimates of 2011. In total, Pew estimated that 3.4 percent of New Mexicans are undocumented immigrants, the lowest share of any of the other Southwestern states–Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Texas–but still the 16th highest share in the nation. 
UNM journalism professor Richard Schaefer said the biggest factor influencing undocumented immigration is “chain migration,” where people follow friends and family who have already reached the United States to wherever they have migrated.

Read more at the Daily Lobo. 

A few enterprising reporters found the mother we’ve all seen slapping her young son away from those protest riots in Baltimore. Toya Graham, who has captured the affection of the nation, says when she saw her 16-year-old son Michael in the middle of the rock-throwing crowd, she "just lost it.”

Read her story here. 

Longtime KOAT 7 President and General Manager Mary Lynn Roper, a former journalist and television anchor herself, has had enough of the media stonewalling from the Albuquerque Police Department. She's reading Police Chief Gorden Eden the riot act for hiding behind YouTube videos instead of standing in public and answering reporters' questions.

See her thoughtful commentary here.

The UNM School of Medicine made a comeback this year and was recently ranked one of the top 10 schools in the nation by the American Academy of Family Physicians. UNM made the top 10 from 2011 to 2013 but didn’t make the cut in 2014.

Read more at the Daily Lobo. 

Senate Democrats continue to negotiate with Gov. Susana Martinez to try to salvage key capital outlay projects, but no decision has been made on whether or when to call a special legislative session.

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Doña Ana County commissioners have indefinitely postponed a measure about allocating funds for public safety and the county roads department from a recently passed county sales tax.

Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

Last year, we reported the police officers get less training than beauty school students. Larry Barker found out that some hair stylists have been cutting corners and getting licenses without completing their educational requirements. 

See the "big hairy mess" here. 

Tourism experts have been saying that creative thinking is needed to grow the industry. SFR editor Julie Ann Grimm learned that some people are looking to the sky. Stargazing turns out to be a popular outing, and New Mexico is the perfect place to observe the heavens above.
New Mexico’s skies aren’t just for those with advanced degrees. Their secrets are free for the taking, for anyone who cares to look up. What’s more, the low-cost, low-impact activity has state and local officials looking to the stars to draw visitors and their money.” 

Read Grimm's feature story here. 

Environment reporter Laura Paskus reports that the mood among many Western water managers is grim. They expect a tough year in getting Rio Grande water to cities, endangered fish and farmers.

Read more at SFR. 

Pot grower licenses may be issued by a public health agency, but the people who apply for them are shielded from public disclosure. Open government advocates say the names should not be kept secret.

Read my story here. 

Just hours after a judge lifted a travel ban to allow fighter Jon Jones, who’s been charged in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque on Sunday, to travel to Las Vegas to defend his title, the UFC stripped the light heavyweight champ's title and suspended him indefinitely.

See it at Sports Illustrated.

The NFL is about to pay taxes for the first time in more than 70 years. The league has opted to give up its tax exempt status, because “it’s become a distraction.”

Read more here. 

Low Flow

Feds expect a tough year in getting Rio Grande water to cities,endangered fish and farmers

Local NewsWednesday, April 29, 2015 by Laura Paskus

It’s safe to say that the mood among many Western water managers is grim. When talking about drought or climate change, many still give that obligatory nod toward faith or hope—saying things like “Maybe the rains will come” or “Let’s hope next year’s better”—but the days of blind optimism are long past.

That was the case in early April, when the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Office hosted a meeting on the bureau’s plans for the Middle Rio Grande.

With few exceptions, the news across most of the Western United States has been bad, bureau hydrologist Ed Kandl said at the meeting. “If there’s one bright spot—you can cross your fingers—it’s the probability for a good monsoon,” Kandl said. “Of course, they’ve been saying that for a few years now. But this is what we have to hang our hat on.”

Along with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the bureau—which supplies water to cities, farmers and endangered species in the Rio Grande—looks to an array of data to plan out its water operations, which involve moving water between reservoirs, complying with state and federal laws, and trying to make sure no one goes without water.

People like Kandl look at things like snowpack in the watershed’s mountain ranges, streamflow forecasts, reservoir levels and temperatures. Then, they compare current conditions with similar years in the past to predict what might happen in the spring and summer. That’s the time when demands for water—from farmers, city dwellers and even plants in the bosque—are the greatest.

At the bureau’s meeting in Albuquerque, Kandl pointed out that the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, near Santa Fe, received about an average amount of snow this season. The bad news, he said, was that by early April, it was already melting.

As the climate warms, scientists have shown that snowpack moves higher in elevation and farther north. And that snow also melts earlier in the season.

This year, measurements at the Otowi Gage on the Rio Grande, north of Santa Fe, show that the river reached its peak spring flows on April 2.

That’s more than a month early.

The endangered silvery minnow will have a rough summer: This year, water supplies are so tight that the bureau does not expect to be able to release water from upstream reservoirs to create the spike in flows that help the minnows spawn. And the river will likely dry again south of Albuquerque from mid-June until the conclusion of irrigation season at the end of October. For the second year in a row, users with rights to water that comes from the San Juan River in Colorado and into the Rio Grande via the Chama may not get their full allotments of water.

Until recently, a working group of scientists and economists from the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology were studying the impacts of drought and climate change on agriculture and the economy. This spring, however, the New Mexico State Legislature cut the group’s funding from the state budget.

While some water users have rightful reason to worry, Santa Fe water managers say it’s in a relatively good position.

Currently, Santa Fe receives its water from a variety of sources: the Rio Grande, the Santa Fe River watershed and groundwater wells.

For decades, Santa Fe has had rights to water from the San Juan River that’s piped into the Chama River and flows into the Rio Grande, says Rick Carpenter, water resources and conservation manager with the City of Santa Fe’s Water Division.

“We started thinking a little bit outside the box—and certainly putting a lot of time and effort and money into our water supply following the 2000 and 2002 droughts, which were very, very severe and somewhat unprecedented,” Carpenter says, pointing out that in 2002, Santa Fe received nearly no water from its reservoirs on the Santa Fe River. “There were drought restrictions that were painful for the community. But that time provided the impetus, and certainly the will, to think seriously about accessing the San Juan-Chama water.”

WATER AS SNOW

The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service surveys snowpack in 13 Western states and converts that into “snow water equivalents”—or the amount of water that’s contained within the snowpack. The five basins below feed into the Rio Grande. As of early April, none are even close to the 30-year median for 100 percent of normal snowpack. Here is the snowpack data as a percentage of the median:

  • Rio Chama Basin - 48%
  • Upper Rio Grande Basin - 46%
  • Sangre de Cristo Basin - 51%
  • Jemez Basin - 0%
  • San Juan Basin - 44%

The Buckman Direct Diversion Project was completed in 2011, allowing Santa Fe to take advantage of 5,230 acre-feet of San Juan-Chama water each year.

But even during years of severe drought—when that water might not be available—Carpenter says that the city’s demand could be met with other surface and groundwater sources. Santa Fe also has water stored in upstream reservoirs on the Rio Grande: “If, for example, the San Juan-Chama project delivers 50 to 75 percent what it normally would, we could call for some of that water, and that would last us about ten years,” he says. “Of course, someday, that might be exhausted.”

And that’s why Santa Fe is continuing to plan. Right now, Carpenter says, they’re studying how to reuse water, either indirectly as nonpotable water or even as drinking water.

“That’s a concept a lot of communities don’t find too appealing, but as water supplies become shorter and shorter, there are communities around the Southwest looking at this seriously,” he says, citing San Diego and Denver.

“Not everybody really knows or understands how well-positioned Santa Fe is in comparison with other Southwest cities,” he says. “We have four diversified sources, a successful conservation program, and we’re looking at a fifth source [the reuse program]. I don’t know any other cities around the Southwest that can say that.”


Sworn to Secrecy

Want to know who’s applying to be a cannabis grower? Officials won’t tell

Local NewsWednesday, April 29, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr

They may be used to shuffling reams of patient paperwork, but it’s likely nothing has prepared New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program managers for the scores of new producer license applications that are due to hit their desks this week.

In March, after deciding to triple the number of plants that current producers are allowed to grow, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward also reopened, for the first time in five years, the license application process for up to a dozen new licensed growers to help meet the needs of more than 13,500 patients.

As applicants rush to put the final touches on their detailed proposals and scramble to secure the $10,000 application fee before the May 1 deadline, just how the state will decide who gets a license to sell medical marijuana remains a mystery. Even the names of the producer applicants are being withheld from the public for now. Yet transparency advocates say that shouldn’t be the last word.

“The names of producer applicants and existing licensees are public records and cannot be kept secret because of a department regulation or rule,” says Susan Boe, the executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

Only patients who have applied for or received a registration identification card are ensured privacy by law, says Boe.

“That mandate does not apply to the names and addresses of licensed pharmacies or health providers, nor should it apply to producers of medical marijuana. Transparency is a key component of rigorous and effective regulation,” she adds.

Secrecy in the pot program also leaves some patients feeling frustrated.

CannaGramma blogger Sarah Dolk, a registered patient herself, writes about the state’s 8-year-old program online. Last week, she was elected to the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patients Alliance board. Dolk tells SFR she believes that applicants’ names and backgrounds should be subject to public disclosure so that patients can judge what expertise they have growing, testing and providing medical marijuana, “because it is our medicine.”

“I want to be sure that these people have patients in mind and aren’t just positioning themselves to take advantage of the big rush when recreational marijuana is inevitably legalized in New Mexico,” says Dolk.

The department has kept a lock on producer and producer applicant names since lawmakers authorized it to establish administrative rules.

At the time, legislators and others worried that federal agents, armed with a list of names and addresses, could decide to raid greenhouses and dispensaries. Worse, they worried that prosecutors would file criminal charges against the growers and state employees involved in the program.

By June 2009, just one producer had been awarded a license, Santa Fe Institute of Natural Medicine, and when SFR published the name, the nonprofit’s attorney said she feared that the disclosure would lead to problems.

A year later, the department decided to expand the number of growers, and regulators again shielded the names of another 102 applicants. Since then, most of the current producers have self-published websites and regularly place ads in local newspapers, promoting their products and listing their street addresses.

“While some LNPPs have made their contact information public, they have not made their production locations public, again due to security reasons,” says Kenny Vigil, a health department spokesman.

Greenhouse locations and business proprietary information isn’t important to most patients. Medical Marijuana Radio show host Larry Love says he just wants to know who is financially backing the nonprofits and who is serving on their boards. He wonders if cronyism will play a role in the selection process and shudders when he hears rumors that big pharmaceutical companies could enter New Mexico and send profits back out of the state.

“New Mexico residents and investors have been waiting for an opportunity to apply for over 5 years,” says Love. “I hope that the DOH will be very careful who they license this time around.”

Other states have made their medical marijuana licensing process more transparent. Massachusetts, for instance, requires its producers to agree to be publicly disclosed.

For now, Love is focused on figuring out how Ward and her team will grade the new producer applications and why current producers, like other nonprofits, don’t release their annual financial information.

“How much are these people paying themselves?” asks Love. “There should be reasonable salaries, but if they’re truly operating as nonprofits, then prices should be around $8 a gram, not $12 or $13 a gram.”

SFR plans to submit a request for a complete list of applicant names after the deadline.


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