Two out of three for impeachment
US Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland, who represent New Mexico's third and first congressional districts respectively, both back the pending articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday. "It is now an uncontested fact: The President put his political interests ahead of the interests of our nation," Lujan said in a statement. "Inaction in the face of this lawlessness would be a dereliction of our oath of office."
Haaland's statement said, "This is a fight for our democracy, and President Trump puts our democracy at risk. I will proudly cast my vote to live up to our responsibility to ensure that no one, not even the president, is above the law." District 2 US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who has been targeted by Republicans in an advertising campaign, had not issued a statement at press time.
City wish list
City of Santa Fe officials hope next year's legislative session garners $10 million to expand the Santa Fe Regional Airport terminal ($TNM). The city says it has identified $11.5 million in available funding for the $21.5 million project. Overall, the city is looking for $23 million in funding for a variety of projects, including $4 million for a teen center and $3 million for utility and other infrastructure on the Midtown campus. The wish list also includes $500,000 to buy electric fleet vehicles and charging infrastructure; plus $100,000 to install diaper changing rooms in city buildings. The legislative session begins Jan. 21.
Dem govs choose Lujan Grisham
Democratic governors meeting in San Francisco this week chose New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as their association's vice chairwoman for 2020. The appointment puts Lujan Grisham on track to succeed New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy as the Democratic Governors Association chairwoman in 2021. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson led the DGA as chairman in 2005 and 2006. Former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was the Republican Governors Association chairwoman for the 2016 election cycle. In a statement, Lujan Grisham said, "Democratic governors already represent the majority of Americans and have proven we can win in red, blue and purple states."
The state Public Education Department plans to request a 5% budget increase for the 2021 fiscal year ($TNM). The additional $170 million would include 4% teacher raises and a 20% funding increase to benefit programs for at-risk students. For the current fiscal year, PED received $480 million, a 17% increase from 2019, in response to the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit regarding at-risk students. That lawsuit's lead attorney, Gail Evans of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, criticized the relatively small request for the next fiscal year. "If this is what PED is asking for, then we will continue to fail our students," she said.
Line in the sand
Otero County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin was among the attendees at Wednesday's Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Washington, DC. And he says he brought plastic bins containing gypsum sands from the White Sands National Monument with him. Griffin was there as a representative of Cowboys for Trump, an organization he co-founded. He claims he was given permission to take sand from the national monument, which is normally forbidden. The Democratic Party of New Mexico issued a statement on the incident, saying: "By stealing from a National Monument, [Cowboys for Trump and Couy Griffin] are disrespecting the law and damaging efforts to preserve White Sands for future generations of New Mexicans. They must be held accountable for these destructive actions."
There goes the neighborhood
Santa Fe officials reassured Lopez Street residents earlier this week they are working to update city nuisance code in order to address chronic problem addresses. On Lopez Street, one particular property has been the subject of a recent murder, two non-fatal drug overdoses and 26 calls to police. In the Tuesday night meeting, residents told city officials the lot is plagued with loud domestic disturbances, drug use, overdoses and a decaying house broken into an unknown number of apartments in violation of Santa Fe zoning laws. City officials say they've increased patrols of the area, and hope to amend the Santa Fe's Nuisance Abatement Ordinance to require landlords to take action when properties are marked as nuisances.
CNN Business yesterday showcased Santa Fe startup Descartes Labs for its work applying artificial intelligence to satellite imagery to detect wildfires. The company launched its US wildfire detector last summer, which uses two US government satellites to analyze possible indications—smoke, hot spots—of fire. Descartes is testing the detector by sending alerts to some New Mexico forestry officials. So far, they say, the wildfire detector has spotted about 6,200 fires. "Since wildfires are hot, they stand out pretty well," said applied scientist Clyde Wheeler, who spearheaded the project.
Up up and away
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides says the company, which relocated near Truth or Consequences last spring, now has 130 employees here and expects another 30 to relocate to New Mexico in the coming months ($NYT). Other 2019 highlights included going public on the New York Stock Exchange last October, which helped the company raise $450 million as it prepares for commercial space flights. "Virgin Galactic is happening and it's happening here," Whitesides said yesterday at a luncheon with hundreds of business leaders in Albuquerque.
No storms in teacups here
Partly sunny today with a high near 44 and partly cloudy tonight with a low about 25. Saturday will be sunny with a high near 52, a little windy in the afternoon and mostly cloudy in the evening. We've got a 40% chance of showers Sunday, primarily after 11 am, then mostly cloudy with a high near 48. Slight chance of more precipitation, as in rain and snow, Sunday night (30%) before 11 pm, then a chance of snow showers as the weekend wanes and Monday rears its bitter face.
Thanks for reading! The Word started the day by reading this unfathomably bizarre Food & Wine story about Celestial Seasons' Sleepytime Tea and how the illustrated bear on its boxes has a connection to eugenics and aliens. We were led to this wacky tale by the most recent edition of sister newsletter, The Fork, which, less weirdly, also includes a food-related gift guide.