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Game of Thrones for Noobs III

Season 5 Episode 3: "High Sparrow"

Pop CultureMonday, April 27, 2015 by Alex De Vore

The Story Thus Far
Throats were slashed while Arya Stark sailed to the land of needlessly dickish shape-shifters and was eventually allowed into the House of Black and White, whatever that is. Death threats were made upon the house of Lannister, even as Jamie traveled south to find his sister’s daughter, who is also his own daughter (yuck!). The prince of Persia (or whoever that guy on the balcony was) told his sister-in-law to get lost, Tyrion drank like a bastard inside his medieval version of a tour bus and Jon Snow was offered a last name but didn’t take it—which was smart because he became the leader of the guys who hang around the Wall that is supposed to keep out ice zombies or Wildlings or whatever else these xenophobic monsters have decided to fear. One of Daenerys’ dragons returned. His name is Drogon, which is the creative equivalent of naming your dog Dawg. 

The Gist
We rejoin those Westeros crazies a few weeks later, as Arya finds herself in a real Karate Kid situation. The shape-shifting guy makes her sweep his house instead of learning cool shape-shifting moves. Probably down the road, it’ll turn out that there are sweeping movements required to perform the magic, and she shouldn’t be so impatient. This little girl has had a hell of a time.

Joffrey Jr. or Tommen or whatever he’s called, meanwhile, is married to someone I don’t recognize (who is maybe named Margaery because George RR Martin can’t ever just spell a damn name the way it sounds) by the honorable Father Muttonchops and finally gets to touch a girl. Apparently he’s awesome at it, too, because he’s like, “You were making noises like I was hurting you,” but she’s like, “Naw, my liege. That ruled, actually. You’re great at it.” Call me crazy, but Margaery seems like she’s up to no good. And how old is this kid? He looks like he’s 12, so there is no way he was that good. She seems to tell Tommen what he wants to hear. Plus, everyone on this show is plotting against someone else, so let’s not be shocked when she stabs him in the face, OK?

Anyway, we don’t trust her, and Cersei doesn’t either. And since the Queen Mother is often politicking and scheming, she immediately goes to work on her son by basically telling him his new wife is stupid. He’s like, “You should travel while you still can, Mom. Go to Casterly Rock or something,” and she feels like all mothers do when their sons have just become kings and banged for the first time, which is to say she’s nervous and hates Margaery. But still, she tries to form bonds even as her son’s new bride all but calls her new mother-in-law a drunk and an old lady and also kind of tells Cersei that her son has a huge wang and rules—not only as a king but at boning. This might make anyone else feel weird, but Cersei seems to stare wistfully toward the horizon and wonder when her brother will get home so she can bone as well.

Things really pick up when the guy who had the invisibility powers on the brilliant British program Misfits pops up to eat a whole fucking turkey and debate the shape of the family Lannister with his dad. Apparently his name is Ramsay, and his last name used to be Snow (is this a Vonnegut Slapstick situation, where everyone with the same assigned name is family?), but he’s Michael Bolton’s cousin now or some such, and now he and his lantern jaw are supposed to marry Sansa Stark in order to strengthen alliances. Nobody seems to want it, but nobody seems to want anything that happens to them in GoT.

Nearby, Brienne and what’s-his-dick discuss personal histories when they could be out slashin’ throats. This young guy was sentenced to squiring at some point in what was supposed to be a punishment, but he loves it and gushes at the lady-knight. She may have hated him before, but she is beginning to warm to him and promises to train him and his stupid face. I smell another Karate Kid situation brewing here but mostly wonder why they’d start a fire in the grassy lands of flammable-ness. Brienne relates a story that gives us a little insight into why she is so pissed all the time. It would seem that as a child, she was the “ugliest girl alive” and “a great lumbering beast,” and at debutant balls, young dudes would travel from all corners of the land to tell her they liked her, as a joke. Indeed, this has made her aggressive, and one can’t help but think that every time she’s onscreen, she should just slash a throat or two. It’s an important scene, though, as now we know she’s going to try and kill Stannis.

Back at the Wall, Jon Snow is settling into his new office. He turns down the last name Stark from Stannis “No Nickname” Baratheon, like he said he would, and Stannis isn’t thrilled and calls him “honorable,” but not as a compliment somehow. Then Jon Snow says, “Winter is coming,” and I finally know why everyone was saying the same on Facebook when this show debuted. Anyway, Stannis and Snow verbally spar, and the king’s manservant stays behind to placate Snow with a bunch of clichéd statements before telling him to get out in the world and slash some throats. It’s a tale as old as time—the overachieving guy who likes to fight is strapped to a desk instead of hitting the streets and cracking some skulls. Though things may have started to come together for Snow, he’s going to learn that the two great tragedies of life are not getting the things you want…and getting them.

Back at the House of Black and White, some weird young girl who apparently also lives there decides to slap Arya right in the face, and the grandmaster shape-shifter tells the littlest Stark that she can’t be faceless (which is somehow her goal, I think?) unless she throws all her stuff in the sea. That’s a bummer, for sure, as some of this stuff was given to her by people she loved who are dead now. Maybe. She doesn’t ditch her pinche sword, though, and that could be a problem later. If the guy who owns the house is as all-knowing/crazy about shape-shifting as he seems, surely he would know she didn’t throw out the sword, and surely he’ll make her pay for it. Either that, or she’ll use it in some moment of desperation when everybody realizes they should’ve had a sword on hand. You’ve got to wonder what emotional weirdness she’s holding onto and why, but the empty gesture of sinking her clothes pays off, and she is taken into the crypt, where the girl who slapped her helps to undress and bathe a corpse. That’s it?! That’s the payoff?! “Thanks for cleaning everything up around here for God knows how long and getting slapped in the face by people and throwing all your cool stuff in the ocean, Arya. Your reward is a good old-fashioned corpse-washin’!” Suck.

When we rejoin those crazy kids at the Wall, Jon Snow’s charmed life is already beginning to smell like shit. There is talk of making redheads dig a latrine pit, and a knight who didn’t vote for Snow in the election shit-talks him and refuses to do what Snow orders. This is not good, and the guy gets his damn head cut off for it. Here I was thinking that Snow was supposed to be this level-headed guy, but when the knight is like, “I’m scared!” he just chops his head right off. Dang. That’s colder than an ice zombie.

In a faraway whorehouse, the high lord of Civil War-era facial hair is about to get down with some ladies when this weird religious extremist group called the Sparrows runs in and makes him walk nude through the streets in front of everyone for making a mockery of their god(s?).

Cersei and her group of advisors don’t seem to love that he was visiting prostitutes, but he tries to play it off by saying he brings religious comfort to everyone. But they know…they know. All the same, Cersei sets out to visit the High Sparrow and figure out what their deal might be. He’s just some old bastard who runs a back-alley soup kitchen, and Cersei just talks to him. It would seem she is out to make allies wherever she can.

Finally, we get some decent Dinklage time, as Tyrion and Varys wander through a rat’s nest of a slave-run bazaar. It is like a scene straight out of Assassin’s Creed, and we’ve got to hand it to GoT’s CGI crew, because the ramshackle town stacked high upon itself looks amazing. Tyrion is glad to be out of the carriage and immediately tries to find a brothel, but when they come across a group of slaves talking excitedly about the Khaleesi’s slave-abolishing accomplishments, one of them seems to recognize him. They eventually do find a brothel, and Tyrion says this awesome thing about, “Who needs wealth when you can make a woman laugh?” This brothel has a Khaleesi look-alike, which seems to bother the prostitute Dinklage likes, so then he says another awesome thing about how most people who want to fuck a queen want that simply because they haven’t met one. He can’t get it up, though, and winds up kidnapped by some shady bastard who says he’s taking Tyrion to the queen (which one?!) Fucker should have just listened to Varys and stayed in the damn wagon!

The Bottom Line
It is really hard to keep track of all the names, especially when people who aren’t onscreen are being discussed and even more so when towns and holds and archipelagos sound just like people’s names. And though the producers may be going for a slow build to satisfaction with the Arya plotline, it already kind of boring. Jon Snow seems to be adjusting poorly to what little power he has, and maybe it’s just the way of the Night’s Watch, but decapitating that guy seemed harsh. Apparently, everyone everywhere is fond of decapitation when people don’t listen. It would have been nice to see what happened with Daenerys after she had that guy killed last week and her dragon came back, but GoT seems to enjoy dangling the carrot of progression forever; way too long, even.

Pros
Things are moving, albeit slowly. Fewer scenes that feature boring travel, more bustling cities and prostitutes.

Cons
Is the House of Black and White trying to break Arya down to mold her? That’s fine, but get on with it already! No dragons. Mostly people sitting around talking…wait, is that what this show’s about?! Damn.

The Grade
C: Yes, every good story requires a setup and exposition, but can we also pepper in some stuff that isn’t really boring? Cersei’s side-eye agrees.

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO. GIFs via giphy.com

Nativize Me

Sandler gaffe proves old habits are hard to shake off in Hollywood

Movie ReviewsMonday, April 27, 2015 by David Riedel

Last week, news broke that some Native American actors working on a new Adam Sandler movie in the area walked off the set over what they say are disrespectful jokes in the script, historically inaccurate costumes, characters who speak in halting English and generally shitty attitudes (my take) from producers.

The movie, called The Ridiculous Six (apparently an oh-so-timely send-up of The Magnificent Seven), features characters called “Beaver Breath” and “Never-Wears-Bra,” and Sandler’s character is married to someone named “Smoking Fox.” In the script, one woman relieves herself while smoking a peace pipe. (You can read all the transgressions at Indian Country Today Media Network and Deadspin.)

It’s at this point we must sigh, shake our heads and resolve to never see another Adam Sandler movie again. Not because the jokes are disrespectful, but because Sandler is the laziest actor, writer and producer working in movies today, and that laziness is disrespectful. Sandler has been slacking off since roughly Big Daddy, and the sooner we stop watching his horseshit, the better off we’ll all be. He told Jimmy Kimmel he made Blended so he could go to South Africa on vacation.

Laziness aside, the thing that makes Sandler’s movies so distasteful is that his characters are never the butts of jokes. Correction: Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are movies in which the lead characters, played by Sandler, are idiots. In those two films, he’s constantly made fun of for being a dum-dum, jackass and moron. Sure, all the other characters are made fun of too, but there’s plenty of inanity for all.

But Happy Gilmore has the first traces of what has become a Sandler trope: He makes fun of the weak for being weak—and in a Sandler movie, anyone who is not Sandler is weak—and touts his superiority because he isn’t some weak asshole schmuck.

How many times are the women who work at Hooter’s derided for working at Hooter’s in Big Daddy? How many times is a character made fun of in Blended because she looks like a boy? The Hawaiians in 50 First Dates are high-sterical because they eat Spam.

And lately, Sandler has dipped into the just plain gross. Remember That’s My Boy? The film’s premise is that a 12-year-old kid is seduced by his hot 30-year-old teacher, and they have a kid together. Imagine that scenario featuring a 12-year-old girl and 30-year-old male teacher. Not nearly as funny, right?

So just who the fuck thought it was funny to give characters names like “Beaver Breath”? The same asshole who thought it was funny to have a transgender character be oh-so-funny to look at it in The Wedding Singer.

A video shared by Indian Country Today Media Network shows one of the producers on The Ridiculous Six set speaking to a group of Native American extras, saying, “If you’re overly sensitive about it, you probably shouldn’t [inaudible]…We don’t want to offend anybody.”


I think you offended somebody, dude. I mean, “overly sensitive”? We’re supposed to be living in a more enlightened time, right? In Winchester ’73, the reason James Stewart can get away with asking a Native American character, “You want sell?” is because it was 1950, and no one knew any better. These days, we can acknowledge that great movies have difficult pedigrees (see also: The Birth of a Nation).

But this is 2015. “Beaver Breath” ain’t funny, man, and there’s not a chance in Hades The Ridiculous Six will be great. There may as well be a disclaimer at the top of The Ridiculous Six that reads, “We don’t know anything about Native Americans other than what we’ve seen in movies, and even then we only retained the dumb shit. We have no respect for anything. Why do we at Happy Madison (Sandler’s production company) even make movies anymore? We’d rather keep shooting those videos of Sandler’s dog that we used to put online—you know, the videos that aren’t funny except to anyone who knows this dog personally.” 

It’s too bad The Ridiculous Six is a Netflix-only release. Somehow not clicking a button on your remote is less satisfying than actively avoiding a screening. But if the box office trends are any indication, this one will crap out, too. It will just be the Netflix-only version of crapping out.


Morning Word: Pope Names New Santa Fe Archbishop

Salt Lake City Bishop John Wester will oversee archdioceses

Morning WordMonday, April 27, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
New Mexico's Catholic Church has a new archbishop. Pope Francis has selected a Salt Lake City bishop to head the Santa Fe Archdioceses. That plus we may be paying an average of $2.37 a gallon, but that's still $1.09 less a gallon than this time last year.

It's Monday, April 27, 2015

As longtime Archbishop Michael Sheehan prepares to retire, the pope has decided who will replace him.
Bishop John Charles Wester was born 5 November 1950 in San Francisco, California. After attending Our Lady of Mercy elementary school in Daly City and Saint Joseph High School Seminary (1964-1968), and Saint Joseph College Seminary (1968-1972) in Mountain View, he undertook his theological studies at Saint Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park (1972-1976). Later, he obtained a Master’s degree in Spiritual Theology at the University of San Francisco (1984) and a Master’s in Pastoral Counseling at Holy Names College in Oakland (1993).
Read more about the appointment here.

Gas prices are back on the rise but are still lower than last year’s rate.

See more at KRQE.com 

KOB reports that two Taos County residents got caught in that massive earthquake in Nepal on Saturday. Fortunately, both men were unharmed.

Read what they witnessed here. 

The American Red Cross is rushing to provide aid around the region.

To donate to the relief effort, check out their Web page here. 

Navajo Nation President-elect Russell Begaye won’t be sworn in until May 12, but he says he’s already rolled up his sleeves and started work on his transition. Begaye says one of his first priorities will be to fix the mangled election process. His vice president, Jonathan Nez, has announced he’ll focus on bringing members back to the tribal nation.
“They were raised here. They left our nation, went out there, got educated and achieved the things that they are doing now. They just want to come back and help us,” he said, adding that many are willing to come home to help, even if it means pay cuts. Nez said that when they go to Washington D.C., they meet these Navajos who left because the door wasn’t open for them to stay and work on the Navajo Nation. They were either not qualified or overqualified, he said. 
Read it at the Navajo Times. 

Meanwhile, Democrats have elected the first Native American woman to lead their state party for the next two years.
[Deborah] Haaland, a candidate for lieutenant governor with Gary King’s failed gubernatorial run last fall, was elected on a 214-168 vote during the state Democratic convention in Albuquerque. She defeated Richard Ellenberg, who served as chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party until recently. 
Joey Peters has more at New Mexico Political Report. 

The union representing nurses at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center says administrators fired one of its members for speaking up about the hospital’s failure to meet minimum staffing levels.

Read more here. 

Four members of the Rio Rancho Governing Body have censured Councilor Chuck Wilkins for the second time in four months. The New Mexico attorney general’s office is investigating potential conflicts of interest.

Read more at the Rio Rancho Observer. 

The State Personnel Office is investigating more than 200 employees for taking time off work to vote in last fall’s general election but allegedly never cast a ballot. Union reps are questioning the validity of the audit’s findings, which are based on cross-referencing employees' Social Security numbers with those in voter databases with the secretary of state's office.

Deborah Baker has more details. 

With or without capital outlay money, Portales City Manager Sammy Standefer says some of the city’s priority projects will get started, but they’ll just take longer to complete.

Read it at the Portales News Tribune. 

Meanwhile, Deming Economic Development Director Cassie Arias says an economic development program can accelerate business opportunities on a local scale.

Read more at the Deming Headlight. 

Back in Roosevelt County, commissioners are debating whether the cost to continue their legal battles against the Mexican gray wolf and prairie chicken are worth it.
Commissioner Gene Creighton expressed that the battle will not be won as long as President Barack Obama is in the White House. “It won’t make a bit of difference, [because] until we get rid of Obama, we’re going to lose every one of these fights,” Creighton said. “We get rid of him, and we’re back in business. He’s going to block everything.” 
Read more at the Portales News-Tribune. 

A federal task force in New Mexico is targeting the sale of illegal painkillers, especially to teenagers.
Nearly one in 11 high school students in the state reports having abused prescription painkillers, and New Mexico ranks third-highest in the nation for teen nonmedical use of pain relievers, at 6.8 percent, compared with 5 percent nationwide, according to the state Human Services Department. 
Last week, the state launched “A Dose of Reality,” an ad campaign to highlight the serious risks of addiction and overdose from prescription painkiller abuse.

Mike Gallagher reports for the Albuquerque Journal. 

Doña Ana County Sheriff Enrique "Kiki" Vigil continues to raise concerns about the mass exodus of deputies.
Since 2012, the county's law enforcement agency has lost an average of 24 deputies a year, according to officials within the department. The overwhelming consensus among agency leaders is that low wages are the leading factor driving deputies to more competitive agencies. 
Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

A multi-jurisdiction law enforcement task force raided three Ruidoso-area businesses last week, looking for synthetic marijuana.

Read more at the Ruidoso News. 

On Saturday, The Los Angeles Times took another long look at the tension building between the Albuquerque Police Department and Second Judicial District Attorney’s office.

Read Nigel Duara’s story here. 

Embudo Valley Library is getting some well-earned recognition from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It’s one of 10 libraries around the country that have earned the equivalent of a gold medal.

Read it in the Taos News. 

Officials in Socorro County say there’s little risk to humans from an isolated incident of avian influenza discovered in a cinnamon teal duck in the Bosque del Apache.

Eric Heinz has the story. 

While most of the attention on seismic activity from fracking has been focused on Oklahoma, the United States Geological Survey has also been studying two oil field regions here in New Mexico.

Read more at the New Mexico Political Report.  

Hard to believe, but it snowed in Santa Fe on Sunday. Of course, that means traffic got snarled and people slid off the road. The weather will start returning to spring-like conditions today. It will be cloudy today, but don’t expect too much moisture.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

Pussy Riot Comes to Santa Fe

SFUAD welcomes two founding members as part of their Artists for Positive Social Change series

Music FeaturesFriday, April 24, 2015 by Alex De Vore

Heads up fans of social consciousness, activism and totally awesome band names—some of the members of Russia’s punk band/activist collective Pussy Riot are coming to Santa Fe for an intimate Q&A at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design courtesy of SITE Santa Fe.

You may recall the name Pussy Riot thanks to the time founding members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were incarcerated for nearly 2 years for their very public anti-Vladimir Putin views. Punk as fuck might not be a strong enough description when it comes to the conviction displayed by these women or the guerilla concerts the collective stages in unexpected places (like from inside a Russian Orthodox church). It’s noteworthy that punk rock from Russia put the politics back into the genre with songs about LGBT rights, shadowy police activity and worldwide inequality.

Generally speaking, when Pussy Riot performs somewhere, they’re usually taping it in order to create music videos that are then shared across the globe.

More recently, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina recruited members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Richard Hell and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow for their first English language song/video, “I Can’t Breathe.” The lyrics pay tribute to Eric Garner—a black man who was killed with an illegal chokehold by an NYC police officer—and the video features stark imagery of the pair in Russian police uniforms and being buried alive.

Adobeairstream.com’s Ellen Berkovitch will host the Thursday, May 7 appearance for SFUAD’s Artists for Positive Social Change series, an event that has previously included Ozomatli, Public Enemy and Shepard Fairey.

More information and tickets here

Nurse Union Alleges Retaliation, Noncompliance

Union press conference on City Hall's lawn reignites tensions between Christus St. Vincent's and its employees

Local NewsFriday, April 24, 2015 by Justin Horwath
Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center retaliated against a top union nurse and has been breaking its agreement on nurse staffing levels, officials with the New Mexico chapter of National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees alleged in a press conference outside City Hall on Friday. 

Tears welled up in Diane Spencer's eyes as union officials told reporters that she's one of the best nurses the hospital and that her termination had been a result of Spencer's union-related activities, including keeping track of staffing levels of the nurses who work at the hospital.

"What we will not tolerate is a targeted attack on our members," said District 1199 President Lorie MacIver. 

Hospital officials say in a prepared statement that they "will not comment on personnel matters" but add that "we have always followed a policy of non-discrimination, union members or not."

"And, we have consistently demonstrated our commitment to following that policy," reads the statement. "Over the years, in our long term relationship with 1199, there has not been a pattern of discrimination against employees because of their union affiliation."

Shane Youtz, the union's attorney, says hospital administrators told Spencer—who received "extremely good" evaluations during her tenure there—that she would be under investigation two hours after an April 5 meeting between Spencer and the chief nursing officer about staffing levels at Christus St. Vincent. The number of staff on duty during hospital shifts had been the major point of contention between the two parties last year during contract negotiations that featured a walkout by union nurses. 

Union officials say they can't go into details about the incident that led to Spencer's termination due to federal privacy laws, but Youtz said there was no adverse medical outcome involved to the patient and characterized the incident that triggered her termination as a "routine" occurrence at the hospital that doesn't justify firing Spencer, "one of "Christus' best nurses."

"Many people knew she was going to be fired," said Youtz, who added that the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board while, separately, an arbitrator investigates the issue.

During contract negotiations, the union and the hospital agreed that staffing levels for nurses would remain at the 40th percentile, a calculation that means about 60 percent of peer-hospitals have more robust nursing staffing levels than that of Christus St. Vincent.

But the union alleges that, since the Jan. 1 contract, the hospital has only staffed nurses at the 40th percentile for roughly one day and that the hospital has been choosing to pay fines instead of increasing staffing levels. (Hospital administrators call the payments contributions to a fund for nurse education).

Hospital administrators respond in the statement by citing New Mexico Hospital Association data they say shows it has higher nurse staffing levels than most large hospitals in the Land of Enchantment and that the hospital experienced "exceptionally high census numbers for the hospital, due to flu and other related illnesses."

"We underestimated the high census needs and immediately enhanced recruitment efforts," they say, which includes the hiring of 35 registered nurses since March. 

"The funding portion of the agreement is complex as it uses a tracking mechanism to check staffing on a combined 31 nurse and tech units each day," reads the statement. "Some are checked twice daily for a total of 42 unit checkpoints a day. If we fall short on staffing, even on 1 out of 42 checkpoints each day, the agreement calls for a contribution to the education fund."
 
In a letter the union delivered to City Hall officials, union officials say that hospital administrators "failed to make any serious effort to meet their commitments as to staffing as they promised us and you last October."

The letter alleges the hospital lost 300 nurses in the last three years, "most of whom have left because of poor staffing," and that the hospital has been relying on traveling nurses from out of state whom the hospital ships in for 13-week contracts. 

This Weekend

Don't miss the Met

Weekend PicksFriday, April 24, 2015 by SFR

Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand

After two years of production, Luke Carr presents all four acts of his highly anticipated sci-fi post-punk concept album and new media opera that features poly-rhythmic percussion and immersive video.

More Info >>

Ryder Studio Exhibit

Students and faculty of the Ryder Studio present their work. Through May 17

More Info >>


Gallery Talk

Linda Green and David Eichholtz discuss the life and work of the late artist Tom Green as part of the exhibit "Mapping the Human Condition."

More Info >>

The Met: Live in HD

The Santa Fe Opera presents this double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. For tickets, call or visit ticketssantafe.org

More Info >>


Contemporary Clay Fair

Over 30 potters and clay artists show their work, featuring everything from traditional pottery to wearable jewelry.

More Info >>

Raquel Z. Rivera and Ojos de Sofía

This Puerto Rican and Dominican neo-roots band enchants you.

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: Brandenburg Fears for Her Safety

District Attorney: I don’t think they’re going to kill me

Morning WordFriday, April 24, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Kari Brandenburg says friendly Albuquerque police officers have hinted she's a target of forces who want her out of office and punished for daring to challenge the police department. Don't count on her backing down. That, plus a quick statewide news roundup ahead of the weekend.

It's Friday, April 24, 2015

Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg says that she has personal safety concerns after making the decision to charge two Albuquerque police officers with murder.
“I fear for my safety because other Albuquerque Police Department officers have told me that I should,” Brandenburg said. “I don’t think they’re going to kill me, but I have been told to fear for my safety.” 
Read more at ABQ Free Press.  

District Judge Fernando Macias has decided the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office won’t have to release the work records of a slain deputy who was shot and killed by another deputy in Las Cruces last October.
The ruling came in response to a motion filed in February by attorneys representing Tai Chan, 28, the former Santa Fe deputy who is charged in the Oct. 28, 2014, slaying of 29-year-old Jeremy Martin. The attorneys sought access to the slain deputy's work records, including results from a psychological exam, and it appears they will continue to fight for the records despite the ruling. 
Read more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

After months of delays, the US Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch as US attorney general. Both of New Mexico’s senators voted for her.

Matthew Reichbach has local reaction. 

Investigators are still not certain if more than one radioactive storage drum leaked at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad last year.
More than 20 employees at WIPP were contaminated during the following day, and shipments of waste to WIPP from nuclear production sites around the nation stopped and still haven’t resumed, stranding thousands of barrels of waste at Los Alamos and other nuclear labs. 
Read investigative reporter Patrick Malone’s story here. 

Political struggles at Pojoaque Pueblo have led to a "shakeup" in its business operations.
“The CEO of the pueblo’s enterprises resigned this week, and the general manager of Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino has been placed on administrative leave.” 

Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 


The Gathering of Nations got under way in Albuquerque last night. Local businesses hope the pow wow will give them a big economic boost.

Read it at ABQ Business First. 

Eight Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s new Netflix movie, Ridiculous Six, because, they claim, the script demeans their culture. Netflix released a statement saying, "The movie has 'Ridiculous' in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part ofbut in onthe joke.

See the actors’ interviews with KOB here. 

State Democrats will meet this weekend in Albuquerque to elect a new party chair. Two candidates for the position have emerged: Debra Haaland, who was the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor last year, and Richard Ellenberg, who has served as the chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party for the past six years. Last December, Debbie Weh Maestas, daughter of former state party chairman Allen Weh, was elected Republican Party chairwoman.

Steve Terrell has more on the candidates.

Political reporter Andy Lyman sat down with both candidates to ask them questions about how they plan to help the Democratic Party recover from last year’s election losses.

See them here. 

The extended forecast for government transparency in New Mexico isn't always sunny in New Mexico. New Mexico In Depth continues its series of guest commentaries on attempts to reform open government policies in a state perceived to be at risk for corruption.

Read Viki Harrison’s take. 

Gov. Susana Martinez is going to Mexico today to discuss economic development, tourism and trade with Chihuahua Gov. César Duarte.

Details here.

Martinez was in Las Cruces yesterday to announce 200 new jobs at a call center there. The state will provide $180,000 in Job Training Incentive Program funding to train the incoming employees.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 


Española School Board members voted 3-2 to fire Superintendent Danny Trujillo.

Ardee Napolitano has the story. 

The New Mexico Department of Health wants to collect more data and plans to track medical marijuana from seed to sale. To help, the department has awarded a software contract to BioTrack THC.

Read more online. 

The Morning Word is published at the Santa Fe Reporter each weekday morning before 8 am.  If you have suggestions, story links or a story tip, please email me here. Thanks, and have a great weekend.  We hope to see you back here bright and early Monday morning.

Reports: Native Actors Walk Off Adam Sandler Movie Set

The movie was being filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Local NewsThursday, April 23, 2015 by Justin Horwath
The Indian Country Today Media Network reports that "approximately a dozen" Native American actors and actresses walked off the Las Vegas, New Mexico set of an Adam Sandler film, The Ridiculous Six, in protest "after the satirical western’s script repeatedly insulted native women and elders and grossly misrepresented Apache culture."

According to the report, published Thursday, "The examples of disrespect included Native women’s names such as Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, an actress portraying an Apache woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe, and feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee."

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"My native women were disrespected and I walked off of set of the movie I was doing," writes actor Loren Anthony in a Facebook post in which he shared the link to the article. "I will always stand for what is right and for my people. My dignity is not for sale. Please read this article, share it. The fight of our people still continues."


Karen Barragan, spokeswoman for Netflix, which will debut the film, did not return a request for comment Thursday. 


The New Mexico Film Office says the Happy Madison Productions' movie began filming in Santa Fe and surrounding areas in February and is in part produced by Sandler, whose agency directed SFR to Barragan for comment.


The Santa Fe New Mexican quotes cartoonist Ricardo Caté, illustrator of the paper's "Without Reservations," as saying  that "only a handful of Native Americans walked off the set" and that there is "little offensive material in the script."

"There's nothing worse [in the script] than anything in my cartoons," Caté told the New Mexican. "If anything racial or racist happened I would have walked off. The shoot has been fine, everybody has been happy."

"All I know at this point is I am traveling to South Dakota to address a racial incident involving 57 Native children who were doused with beer by ignorant racists," he writes in a Facebook post, "an [the incident] hardly received any media attention. Not THAT, my friends, is what should be on the discussion table."


Morning Word: Schools Fret over Budget

Educators aren't the only ones re-evaluating financial situation

Morning WordThursday, April 23, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Money may make the world go round and round, but the lack of funds sure can cause havoc with public services. Public servants in the state's largest county could even be facing furloughs before the end of the fiscal year. Need a lawyer? Better call Saul, because the Law Office of the Public Defender is scrambling to make ends meet. All that, plus solar panels are staying put in Eldorado.

It's Thursday, April 23, 2015

Legislators may have given public schools $2.75 billion, a record budget amount, but some educators don’t think the $36.6 million annual increase is enough to keep pace with rapid rising utility and insurance costs.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

Schools aren’t the only ones re-evaluating their financial situation. Michael Stout, the chair of the Public Defender Commission, claims the financial situation at the Law Office of the Public Defender is also dismal after Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a $1.3 million supplemental budget measure.

Scott Sandlin has details.  

Bernalillo County may have to dip into its discretionary reserve budget to avoid employee layoffs and furloughs. Tom Zdunek, the county’s top manager, says the budget is expected to trim spending on social-service contracts by about a half million dollars, cut individual commissioners' discretionary funds in half, and freeze and slow hiring.

Dan McKay has the story. 

UpFront columnist Winthrop Quigley doesn’t think that a proposed tax reform package will be a “quick fix” for New Mexico’s ailing economy.

Read his take here. 

Enrollment in New Mexico's food stamp program is up 5 percent in the past 14 months. Some think the increase is tied to the Affordable Care Act.

Read it here.

Gov. Martinez marked Earth Day at the Rio Grande Nature Center and recognized recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards, given to people working on seven state projects aimed at protecting the state’s natural treasures.

Read more here. 

While Martinez was in Albuquerque, she told business leaders she wants lawmakers to fully fund infrastructure projects.
Piecemeal funding means state dollars frequently go unspent, she added, saying, “You can’t spend it because it’s not enough (to complete the project)–so it just sits there.” 
She has a point. State Auditor Tim Keller says he’s found $4.5 billion on the books that has gone unspent.

Read it here. 

Public Regulation Commissioners voted to issue new guidelines for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, but no one really seems to know exactly what those rules are or how they will affect the programs.

Dan Mayfield explains. 

ABQ Free Press is the first paper in the country to endorse a 2016 presidential candidate.

See who the editors are backing. 

State District Judge Francis J Mathew has tossed out an Eldorado property owner’s lawsuit aimed at prohibiting ground-based solar panels on private residences in the Santa Fe-area subdivision.
Eldorado, an early adopter of passive solar technology, has many proponents of solar energy, but large ground-based arrays that have been popping up in recent years have drawn complaints from some homeowners who see them as eyesores.
“Some look at ground-based solar and see something ugly,” [the homeowners association's attorney] said. “And some see the future of the planet.” 
Anne Constable has the scoop. 

Defense attorneys for two Albuquerque Police Department officers charged with murdering James Boyd plan to meet with newly appointed Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn to persuade her to drop the case.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

While New Mexico lawmakers said no to legalizing pot, Colorado lawmakers are considering refunding taxpayers $58 million taxes it collected from recreational weed sales.

See it at KOB.com 

Piñon Coffee is going to be the official coffee sponsor of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We think it’s the same coffee the character in our Morning Word logo is downing every day. 

More on the local roaster here.

Morning Word: New Mexico Hospitals Get Low Ratings

Patients give hospitals mostly two or three stars

Morning WordWednesday, April 22, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
With low to average ratings, NM hospitals have a long way to go to satisfy their patients. At least we'll be able to do some price shopping once the new health portal is published. That, plus Tommy Rodella loses his bid to get out of jail during his appeal.

It's Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Patients aren’t giving New Mexico very good approval ratings in a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services survey.
Most New Mexico hospitals get two and three stars, with a few fours peppered in. Only four states and Washington DC have a lower average star rating than New Mexico. 
Hear more at KUNM. 

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, hopes a new law limiting noncompete clauses in health care worker contracts will help retain more clinicians in New Mexico. It could also help improve hospital ratings.

Read the ABQ Journal’s take here. 

After months of delays, voters have elected Russell Begaye president of the Navajo Nation.

Read more at the Navajo Times. 

It looks like former Rio Arriba County sheriff Tommy Rodella will have to stay in prison while he appeals his 10-year sentence.

See it at KOB. 

Members of the Santa Fe Parks Advisory Commission say they’re “blown away” by the lack of record keeping associated with that $30 million voter-approved bond. Without a paper trail, a full-scale audit could be challenging.

Daniel Chacón is following the money. 

Lauren Villagran reports the new Waste Isolation Pilot Plant director has a record of turning around troubled operations, but it turns out that Philip Breidenbach was in charge of another facility in Idaho where “a lack of safety precautions” led to radioactive contamination of 16 workers in 2011.

Read it here. 

Ray Hagerman, the chairman of the Four Corners Economic Development group in San Juan County, says "radical environmentalists" are spreading dangerous misinformation about the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power-replacement plan. He, and county commissioners, are worried hundreds of jobs may be lost if the plant is forced to close.
The "radical, extremist, take-no-prisoners" people lobbying against the plan will not have to look into the faces of those who lose their jobs, [Hagerman] said. 
Of course, renewable energy advocates say hundreds of new wind and solar jobs will be created if PNM is required to look at reliable and cost-efficient alternatives. This morning, public regulation commissioners are scheduled to review an independent hearing examiner’s report recommending they reject PNM’s plan. 

Read it at the Daily Times. 

Speaking of the environment, it’s Earth Day, and two Santa Fe schoolgirls, who lobbied the Santa Fe City Council to ban plastic shopping bags, will appear in tonight’s Saving My Tomorrow on HBO.
The six 30-minute episodes spotlight children from around the country as they share their thoughts on how to protect the Earth through video clips of their own activities—including cleaning beaches and planting trees—as well as performing original songs and readings. 
Robert Nott has more. 

New Mexico Tech engineering students successfully launched a rocket from Spaceport America.

Read it at the Las Cruces-Sun News.

But NM Tech is facing financial difficulties and shrinking enrollment. At peak funding, New Mexico Tech employed about 1,100 people. Today, Tech has approximately 850 employees, while providing services to a student population that has grown by 20 percent over the same time frame.

Read more at the ABQ Journal.

With a new $42 million operating budget, Santa Fe Community College's administrators are planning to keep tuition rates at current levels, boost employee salaries and hire additional staff.

Read it at the New Mexican.

New Mexico’s Workforce Solutions reports the state has seen 31 straight quarters of job growth, but unemployment is still above 6 percent.

Read it here.  


The New Mexico Racing Commission has fined and suspended the license of a Sunland Park jockey for five years after discovering he was carrying an electric buzzer in his shirtsleeve.

Charles Brunt has the story. 

SFR editor Julie Ann Grimm has a great interview with Boston Marathon winner Caroline Rotich, who runs 110 miles a week on trails around Santa Fe. The 30-year-old Kenyan native tells Grimm what she was thinking during her winning run:
Just stay in the race.You know it’s a long ways, but you don’t want to fall out or get out of the race because the moment you get out of the race and have your mind taken by something, you are going to leave a gap open, and someone will try to drop you off. 
Read the interview here.

This isn’t cool: Alex Goldsmith reports that a New Mexico camp that gives kids battling cancer and cancer survivors a place to have fun for a week is struggling to stay open after a major sponsor pulled out.


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