City employee alleges wage violations, discrimination
In a recently filed lawsuit against the City of Santa Fe, Parks and Recreation Department employee Barbara Lopez says the city violated wage and overtime laws, discriminated against her because she's a gay woman and reclassified her into a lower position when she complained about her treatment. Lopez's suit specifically cites city Parks and Recreation Director John Muñoz, along with American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees Local 3999 President Michelle Gutierrez. Lopez is seeking compensation for underpaid, unpaid and lost wages, as well as compensation for emotional distress.
This week, the state Taxation and Revenue Department rolls out its new standard driver's license, which can be used by anyone unable or willing to meet the federal requirements for a federal Real ID, and replaces the previous controversial driver's authorization card. The new standard licenses are a result of litigation and then legislation signed earlier this year, advocated for by immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, and eliminates fingerprinting and documentation proving immigration status. The standard IDs are not sufficient for entering federal buildings, and will not be usable for air travel this time next year.
Folks requiring firewood to keep warm in the winter can stop stockpiling sweaters. Yesterday, the US Forest Service lifted its suspension on fuelwood permit sales in the state's national forests. That suspension was the result of litigation by WildEarth Guardians against the US Fish and Wildlife Service over protection of the Mexican Spotted Owl. WildEarth Guardians had filed an emergency motion to exempt personal fuelwood cutting from injunction that halted timber management activities. In a press release, WildEarth Guardians Executive Director John Horning says his organization initially reached out to the Forest Service after the injunction was issued to ensure firewood gathering would not be disrupted, but says, "The Forest Service refused to speak with us, and instead chose to create an unnecessary panic."
Supreme Court rejects energy suit
The state Supreme Court has rejected a request to find some elements of the new Energy Transition Act unconstitutional. New Energy Economy and others filed a lawsuit last month claiming that seven sections of the act violate ratepayers' constitutional rights. The Supreme Court rejected the arguments, although it did not detail its decision ($TNM).
Colorado historian Fred Blackburn and a team will be studying inscriptions left at the 900-year-old Aztec Ruins National Monument. Settlers, Blackburn says, began exploring the ancient pueblo structure—it has 400 masonry rooms—after they moved into the area in the 1870s. Blackburn's team will examine 23 of the structure's original and intact rooms, with plans to finish their work by December. The project's goal is to learn information about the inscriptions' authors and their stories.
New Mexico State Police confirmed yesterday they have recovered two bodies from a plane that crashed in the Pecos Wilderness. Officials have not yet confirmed the plane is the same one that refueled in Santa Fe last week before losing contact. Police also have not publicly identified the two bodies.
Speaking of the cold…
In case you missed it, this Sept. 18 Wall Street Journal story ($) on Santa Fe's destination status for skiers is worth a read. It turns out Ski Santa Fe isn't just a tourist draw: It's also a reason to move here and buy a very expensive house. In fact, brokers say sales of housing priced at $2 million and above soared by 40% in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period last year. The Word suggests pairing the WSJ story with this recent Searchlight New Mexico report on Santa Fe's gentrifying Hopewell Mann neighborhood if, like us, you enjoy starting the day horrified by American class divisions.
Thanks for reading! The Word is fixated on sweaters and footie pajamas, if that isn't obvious from today's update, and thinks once the stores start selling candy canes, it shouldn't be 80 degrees anymore.