AG requests new unit funding

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas yesterday requested close to half a million dollars in funding for a new hate-crimes investigative unit. The request follows last August's mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, as well as other potential terrorism attacks. "We're trying to be pro-active," said Balderas, who has recommended various legal reforms to expand the state's anti-terrorism laws. "We don't know where some of these threats are going, but having the right legal and investigative expertise would go a long way."

All’s fair in love and construction

A City of Santa Fe Historic Preservation Division inspector red-tagged the home of Land Use Director Carol Johnson—his boss—for failing to get a work permit for her house on the 700 block of Dunlap Street ($TNM). Johnson said her husband, Kevin Kellogg, a city asset development manager, was in charge of the construction project. Kellogg said, via email, he had started without a permit to try to get a jump on the weather, which calls for rain and snow. Inspector Gary Moquino, who issued a stop work notice on the home, said he noted the work progressing without a permit when he was driving around, noting: "That's my job … I drive around and make sure everybody has a permit."

Plume problems

The state Environment Department wants $1.2 million to study a plume of toxic chemicals exuding from the Holloman and Cannon Air Force Bases ($TNM), characterized as "largely unknown at this point," by Environment Secretary James Kenney. The plume, which is a result of firefighting foam from routine Air Force training that contains chemicals harmful to human health, has entered nearby underground water and is moving into southern and eastern New Mexico, although at what speed is unknown. Last March, the attorney general sued the Air Force when sampling of groundwater revealed levels hundreds of times higher than a federal health advisory limits.

A flying start

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, plans to request funding in next year's legislative session for a plane for state officials. "When you're trying to get around the state, it is flat stupid—it's flat ridiculous—not to be able to get you there as quickly as possible," he said in a budget hearing yesterday. Smith did not include costs in the discussion, but did say the plane would be less extravagant than the previous 2005 Citation Bravo sold off by Gov. Susanna Martinez in 2011.

Let the cat out of the bag

"I'm excited to hold him," Viktor Usov said. "I get to rub the belly—the fuzzy belly." ICYMI, Usov is the owner of the lost cat, Sasha, who somehow made a 1,200 mile journey from Portland, Oregon to Santa Fe, where he ended up at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society. Here's the video of Usov and Sasha's reunion yesterday in the Portland airport as Santa Fe Animal Shelter Public Relations Officer Murad Kirdar delivered the cat following, apparently, an eventful plane ride.

Kid you not

A new report shows that a large number of high-level early childhood workers earn less than $30,000 a year. Specifically: 65% of lead teachers and 55% of assistant directors make less than $30,000. The New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership, out of United Way of Santa Fe, spent a month gathering feedback as part of its planning process for the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, and surveyed 1,290 of New Mexico's 5,000 early childhood workers.

Seen, not heard

Speaking of children, a new project from Searchlight New Mexico, "The Once and Future Child," invites viewers to "look into the eyes of these kids and ask them to tell you how it was, how it is," as Searchlight Chair William deBuys writes. Photographer Don Usner has curated the photos of children in New Mexico from 1880 through 2018. "The images in this exhibit have been selected for their impact and for what they reveal about the world of childhood. They have also been selected for the way they speak to each other across eras, child to child, from the Great Depression to the 1970s and from the turn of the twentieth century to the day before yesterday," deBuys writes.

Weather the storm

Highs near 51 today, with showers and maybe a thunderstorm before 2 pm, followed by scattered showers. Chance of precipitation is 90% (according to The National Weather Service, at any rate. It's actually raining right now, so that seems as if it raises the likelihood to 100%). New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Tonight, 40% more scattered shatters, mostly after 11 pm, low around 37.

Thanks for reading! The Word never misses the holiday lighting on the Plaza and wants to make sure you don't either (it's the Friday after Thanksgiving).