We don’t need no water
Environmental activists are questioning the Forest Service's plan ($) for prescribed burns around Santa Fe next year. Pro-burn folk contend that the low-intensity fires eliminate excess fuel and lower the threat of wildfire, as well as reduce disease in the forest. Others contend that they don't trust the agency's environmental assessment, say the thinning is too extreme, and that officials "would use firefighting chemicals that could contaminate water and soil, harm wildlife and produce toxic smoke." In more immediate news, a prescribed burn is planned for Tuesday ($) in the watershed. Get info on all New Mexico burns, planned and otherwise, at nmfireinfo.com.
Adults behaving badly
Cops in Aztec, near the Four Corners, had to break up a city commission meeting when audience members became unruly. Townsfolk were unhappy that commissioners voted 3-2 against making Aztec a Second Amendment sanctuary city. Commissioner Mark Lewis says he voted against it because he didn't want the city to be open to liability; audience members said the city should risk getting sued.
Forked Lightning, go forked lightning!
The National Park Service has allotted a few million dollars to renovate Pecos National Historical Park's Forked Lightning Ranch, a 19th-century trading post that has never been fully open to the public. After serving as part of a private ranch, the NPS acquired the building in the '90s, and it served as offices until 2006; rangers led guided hikes in the area and occasionally the building was open to limited visitors, but it largely remained a mystery. Soon, though, it will be a new visitor center, with construction led by a Native woman-owned contracting company. SFR stopped by to see the progress.
Folks are scratching their heads about a few things in City Hall right now, one of which being the hiring of Patrick Lucero ($). Lucero used to oversee the DWI and speed van programs for the police department and, according to internal police documents, was investigated for possibly billing the city for hours he didn't actually work. Lucero resigned from that job in 2015. City Hall contends that no reference to these issues are in Lucero's HR file, which they say they carefully reviewed before hiring him to a post that pays more than $90,000 a year. Documents are quoted in that linked story from The New Mexican.
Sold for sex
SFR's cover story this week isn't a pleasant read, but it's an important one. Writer Ryan Lowery took a look at sex trafficking in New Mexico, which is much more prevalent than any of us perhaps want to admit—or could even know, since law enforcement agencies don't share a definition of the crime of "sex trafficking" and statistics can be spotty. Lowery talked to survivors of the trade and referenced cases from the last few years. (PS: We're still stumped about why Santa Fe Police Department won't even give an interview about it.)
Some political news for ya: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed into law a bill invalidating counties' right-to-work laws, which prohibit compulsory union membership. (That's kind of a double or triple negative, and it's too early in the morning for that, so what we're saying is that counties are no longer allowed to outlaw collective bargaining as a condition of employment.) She's also signed a bill creating an independent ethics commission. In other news about other people, Attorney General Hector Balderas has opted not to run for US Senate in 2020, citing wanting to stay in New Mexico and new family responsibilities.
Love your mother
In environmental news, $182,000 in state appropriations is getting used to solarize buildings owned and used by Santa Fe County. The community center in Agua Fria Village is powered by the sun now, and the new county buildings currently under construction downtown will get the solar treatment—among other things. SFR's Leah Cantor has the details. Also, are you aware of Earth Hour? It goes down tomorrow, and all you have to do is turn off your lights for an hour at 8:30 pm Saturday March 30. That sounds kind of pleasant, doesn't it? (The Word, for one, would definitely drift off into a peaceful slumber in such sudden darkness.)
Love me some good taxidermy
Looking for something good to do when the temps and the barometer dip this weekend? On Sunday, the University of New Mexico hosts an open house of its Museum of Southwestern Biology for the first time ever. Shockingly, it holds the second-largest collection of mammal specimens in the world (!), as part of a trove of more than 4 million animals and plants. Who knew? Get down there for a day that's sure to be fascinating.
Thanks for reading! The Word woke up this morning thinking about something embarrassing we did 12 years ago. Don't you hate that?
Additionally, yesterday we incorrectly referred to defendant Davon Lymon as an attorney himself. He isn't. The Word regrets the error.