Ellenberg out as state Dem head

Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Richard Ellenberg has resigned. Ellenberg has had a rough tenure, and comments he made regarding a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against business partner Jon Hendry were the last straw. Ellenberg questioned the accuser's credibility, and by mid-day had bowed to pressure to step down. That all happened as a second woman joined the suit against Hendry, who has been removed from his post as president of the state's largest labor union.

All work and no pay

Well, at least not overtime pay. Current and former employees of the Santa Fe Bar & Grill have filed complaints with the state Department of Workforce Solutions for unpaid overtime totaling $100,000 over several years. They've also complained to the National Labor Relations Board that the restaurant's owner retaliated against them when they tried to organize a group to represent workers there. And they plan to file a living wage complaint with the city of Santa Fe, though the employees say the restaurant has begun abiding by the city's $11.40 hourly wage since they raised the issue last month.

How big was the Big Tent?

New Mayor Alan Webber's campaign marked day one of his term with an interesting complaint to SFR: That we low-balled its inauguration crowd estimate. We said it was a "crowd of several hundred." Webber's campaign manager says it was more than 800. Sound like a familiar inaugural quibble?

Student walkout

A nationwide student walkout is planned for today, as kids try to draw attention to school shootings and gun violence. In Santa Fe, schools plan to mark the event ($) in different ways, including 17 minutes of silence at Monte del Sol Charter School and 17 black-clad students at Ortiz Middle School who plan to gather on athletic fields to honor the dead in the Parkland, Florida, shooting. Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education has resolved to oppose any policy that would arm teachers.

 State House Republicans opt out

House Minority Leader Nate Gentry and fellow Albuquerque Republican Sarah Maestas Barnes have both decided not to seek reelection to their posts. Each holds a seat in a district that is considered competitive. Gentry has been a notable fundraiser for Republican representatives statewide. Democrats hold a 38-32 advantage in the House, with a handful of key districts still in play. Eight incumbents have decided to bow out, and 10 members have drawn primary opposition.

Congressional delegation ponders sex trafficking laws

A federal package of bills aimed at sex trafficking has brought New Mexico's four Democrats and Republican Steve Pearce closer together. Pearce has co-sponsored a bill that would crack down on "websites with content that knowingly assists, promotes or facilitates sex trafficking." According to NM Political Report, however, the legislation that's soon to be up for a vote in the US Senate has prompted questions about free speech rights and whether the bills' language could inadvertently hurt the people they're supposed to protect.

I don’t hear you

President Trump has quietly dismantled a panel that was formed to help injured nuclear lab workers get access to compensation for exposure to toxic substances. The president has let the terms of nearly all the board's members expire without reappointing them or naming replacements, Rebecca Moss reported earlier this week for Pro Publica and The New Mexican.

Chilling chile news

New Mexico's chile crop was down last year, according to newly released numbers. Growers planted 12 percent less acreage than in 2016. That's enough chile to cover Vail ski resort one and a half times over. Sadly, the crop's value dropped, too, bringing in $44.6 million.

Thanks for reading! The Word notes that the drop in chile production coincides with the introduction of the chile license plate, but grudgingly acknowledges that correlation does not equal causation. At least, not necessarily.

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