The Russians are going

More than 6 acres of Russian olive trees have been cut from the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve as part of a $20,000 grant to remove invasive species from the nature sanctuary. It's bound to rile a few people who will find the landscape stark next spring, but ecologists say it's the right move and that nature works to fill in what should rightfully be there … just a bit more slowly.

State to build government cannabis lab

One of the things New Mexico has struggled with in its medical cannabis program is testing to certify marijuana is safe to be sold. There are a number of private labs that have been doing the work, but SFR has uncovered invoices and other documents that show the state is building capacity at its own lab in Albuquerque to be able to do the same work. Interestingly, the state's not keen to talk about it.

SF says charter amendment is unconstitutional

When Santa Fe's City Council decided to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on a court decision forcing the city to use a ranked-choice voting system, it did so because a majority of members believed there were questions about whether the decade-old amendment was constitutional ($). It's a surprising argument, given the amount of time that's gone by since voters overwhelmingly approved the system and that the question of constitutionality has barely come up in public debate. Meanwhile, the mayor says the unanimous vote and 5-4 decisions he referenced Monday night weren't actually votes taken illegally in a closed-door session. Other councilors referred to the action as a vote as well.

No charges for ex-cop who shot fellow officer

The attorney general says there aren't any crimes left by the statute of limitations that would be appropriate for charging ex-Albuquerque cop Greg Brachle. The former lieutenant was in charge of a unit that botched a $60 drug sting during which Brachle, who had missed a tactical briefing on the encounter, shot Det. Jacob Grant eight times. The shooting cost Grant much of his life and career. It cost the city $6.5 million dollars in a civil settlement. Brachle retired just days before an oversight board recommended that the department fire him. Attorney General Hector Balderas may try to strip Brachle of his law enforcement certification.

Supreme Court adjusts rules for BernCo crime cases

The state Supreme Court has changed what's called a case management order for alleged crimes in Bernalillo County. The high court put the rule in place two years ago as people accused of crimes were languishing in jail awaiting trial. The order instantly became a bugbear for the law-and-order crowd, which often claimed it was churning criminals back onto the streets. Among other things, the revised order gives prosecutors a few more days to disclose the evidence they're using to charge a crime.

Acoma asks for disaster funds

The Acoma Pueblo says a flood in October created tenuous conditions on parts of the Pueblo, including a difficult 10-mile stretch of road that's damaged and piled with debris. New Mexico's congressional delegation has asked the president for a disaster declaration to help fix an estimated $2 million in damage.

Pipeline explodes near Loving 

Early this morning, an oil or natural gas pipeline went up in flames near the oil patch town of Loving in southeastern New Mexico. Homes have been evacuated within a two-mile radius and other residents have been asked to shelter in place. Eddy County emergency management officials ($) say the explosion is likely due to nearby oil and gas activities.

Baby, it’s cold outside

Everybody's favorite creepy holiday song got it right this week. It'll stay chilly for the next couple of days, with overnight lows in the teens for Santa Fe. Albuquerque and even Roswell will have overnight lows below freezing. There's only a scant chance of snowfall, though, and it will allegedly warm by the weekend.

Thanks for reading! The Word is in the midst of a slipper quandary. Shearling-lined slippers? Boiled wool scuffs? Each day of delay brings colder feet and more existential angst.

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