Money shrinks for charter schools
Funds are steadily decreasing for New Mexico charter schools as a result of changes to the law that provides funds for districts with smaller populations ($TNM). School funding is essentially based on enrollment figures, and the law—enacted 40 years ago—was intended to compensate districts in more rural areas with lower populations. Charter schools, however, have been benefitting from the provision. Now, their allotments are shrinking—20% for this school year—and will continue to shrink over the next five years. "The five-year phaseout is designed to right-size our system and bring it back to legislative intent in a reasonable way," according to state Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, who co-sponsored the bill to adjust the funding. Charter school administrators say they will have to either cut staff or raise their enrollment to compensate for the losses.
Luján receives pro-choice endorsement
NARAL Pro-Choice America will announce today its endorsement of US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is the only Democrat running for the US Senate seat currently held by Tom Udall (who is not seeking re-election). Among the three Republicans vying to face off with Luján in the November 2020 general election, the most recent, Elisa Martinez, has prominent anti-abortion views. Albuquerque contractor Mick Rich and former New Mexico State University professor Gavin Clarkson also are competing in the GOP June primary. "NARAL is proud to endorse Congressman Luján, a staunch advocate for reproductive freedom who for a decade has demonstrated his commitment to fighting for women and families in Congress," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said.
Follow the money… down south
Speaking of Congress, big bucks are flowing already for the Democratic primaries in June 2020. Four candidates have raised close to $3 million for the 2020 2nd Congressional District race for the seat currently held by first-term US Rep. Democrat Xochitl Torres Small. She has raised more than $1.6 million toward re-election. In comparison, the 15 Democrats running in the primary for District 3—which includes Santa Fe—to replace Rep. Ben Ray Luján, combined have raised approximately $1 million less than in District 2. Moreover, the money raised in District 2 is five times as much as that in District 1, represented by US Rep. Deb Haaland, who also is seeking a second term.
Feel free to throw money at this problem
The state Environment Department says it needs $8.8 million to keep up with inspecting 9,200 food preparation and manufacturing spots. Without an increase in funding, Environment Secretary James Kenney says the department has to use food inspectors to inspect new hemp manufacturers. Moreover, inspectors have been unable to follow up with sites where problems were detected to determine if they've been rectified. Caseloads are similarly high for inspectors looking at drinking water sources, hazardous waste, air emissions and other sectors in which one might prefer sufficient—even excessive—inspection.
A Texas lawyer says a June ruling by the US Supreme Court—US v. Davis—entitles former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella to have part of his 10-year sentence dismissed—five years early. Rodella was sentenced in 2015 on two federal charges connected to a road-rage incident during his tenure as sheriff. Seven years of his sentence were the result of what's known as a firearms enhancement—applicable in Rodella's case because he brandished his gun during the incident. In June, the US Supreme Court struck down the federal firearms enhancement as "unconstitutionally vague." Now, Texas lawyer Susan J. Clouthier plans to argue that the ruling means Rodella "is currently serving time for an unconstitutional sentence."
Voting ends tomorrow for CNN Hero of the Year, and Moving Arts Española co-founder Roger Montoya is a contender, having been chosen as one of 10 2019 global CNN Heroes. Moving Arts provides performing and visual arts education and free nutritional and academic support youth who are ages 3-18. In a recent interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Montoya, who is HIV-positive, tells of moving from New York City to Española more than 30 years ago "to come home to die." He says his work has helped keep him alive and that "being called a hero is an honor, but we have earned this as a community." You can cast your vote here.
Change is coming
The nonfiction winners in this year edition of SFR's annual writing contest brought unique perspectives to the theme of "A Climate of Change." Santa Fe Prep eighth grader and third-place winner Raven Callaway-Kidd writes about an awakening awareness; film business pro Brendan Shepherd recalls meeting a very important person; first place writer Kay Sather takes readers on a lifetime, multi-generational journey about not just climate change, but personal change as well. Judge and novelist Anne Hillerman says she picked winners "…among those submissions that best touched on all three themes of the contest: internal, external and planetary changes. Everyone who submitted had something to say, a unique voice and a valuable perspective."
Navajo country sounds
For a deep dive into Navajo country music, check out a recent feature in The New York Times ($) that explores the booming circuit of Diné musicians driving hours through Navajo country to perform in spots like Shiprock's Redd's. The Wanderers' vocalist Travis Mose is one of them, interviewed for the story after he and the rest of the band drove two hours from Halchita, Utah to play in New Mexico. "This music touches our people inside," he says. University of New Mexico anthropologist Kristina Jacobsen learned Diné and played with bands on the reservation when she was researching her book, The Sound of Navajo Country. "They're singing about mama, trucks, ranching, nostalgia, things the Navajo happen to know a lot about," she says.
You’re getting warmer
Warmer being a relative term, these days. Today is slated to be mostly sunny, with highs near 47 and northwest winds around 5 mph (versus 45 mph like they were over the weekend.) Weather on Tuesday and Wednesday is looking same/same, with our next chance of snow—50%—currently predicted for Wednesday night. But snow over the holiday it did, and Ski Santa Fe officially kicked off its winter season and now has a a 33-inch base and 43% of the mountain open.
Thanks for reading! The Word has just discovered True Consequences, a new podcast about true crime in New Mexico.