Bring home the bacon
New Mexico has a windfall of money to spend—an estimated $7.8 billion for this fiscal year—thanks to oil and gas production. That means lawmakers can shore up cash reserves, raise salaries for teachers and pump money into needed infrastructure projects. "It's beyond our wildest expectations from a budgetary perspective," House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, tells the Albuquerque Journal. Lawmakers, however, will enter next year's legislative session with different ideas on how the money should be spent. Some Republican legislators say some of the money should be held in cash reserves, and some returned to taxpayers as rebates, an idea about which Democrats are less enthusiastic. The budget surplus also highlights the state's ongoing financial dependence on the oil and gas industry, despite discussions about the need to diversify the economy.
Get off and vote
The City of Santa Fe's 1,400 employees would have a half day of leave, versus two hours, to vote in future elections, if the City Council and mayor sign off on the idea ($TNM). The city's Finance Committee recently unanimously endorsed the proposal. Human Resources Director Bernadette Salazar says providing a half-day leave on Election Day will ensure employees have enough time to cast their ballots. Both Santa Fe County and state government provide two hours of leave for voting, which also has been the policy for the city. City councilors have requested a financial impact statement on what the change would cost taxpayers.
Lights, camera, lots of action
Former New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis, who now works as an executive for Netflix, says the company will be bringing more productions to the state. "We have a lot more to bring to New Mexico," Maniatis told officials and business leaders last week in Albuquerque. "I can't really tell you about it other than to say we're really pushing forward into the future with how production will be done. We've got some really innovative ways to do it and we're going to do a lot of that here in New Mexico." Maniatis said Netflix is on track with the financial commitments it's made to the state, as part of the partnership deal made when it purchased a film studio in Albuquerque, which includes investing $1 billion in production over the next decade.
AG investigating Uber
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced on Friday that his office has opened an investigation into Uber and issued a consumer-alert for the ride-sharing service. According to a report from the company on incidents between 2017 and 2018, there have been 6,000 instances of unwanted touching and attempted rape, along with 107 traffic accidents resulting in death and 19 physical assaults resulting in death. In a statement, Balderas said: "Ride sharing companies absolutely have a duty to ensure the safety of New Mexican consumers, and I am investigating how the risks exposed in this report have impacted New Mexico. Any consumer who has been personally or financially harmed by this or any other company should immediately contact our office, and we will investigate and hold them accountable."
The powers that be
Utility Dive, a publication devoted to, yes, the utility industry, has awarded Gov. Michelle Lujan a 2019 Dive award as policymaker of the year. That award comes in recognition of Lujan Grisham's actions—since taking office in January, 2019—to address climate change. By the end of her first month in office, Lujan Grisham had signed an executive order calling for the state to bring economy-wide emissions to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. And in March, she signed the Energy Transition Act, under which New Mexico must generate 100% of its electricity from carbon-free resources by 2045.
Kind of gross story about rodents
Chemical engineer Glenanne Johnson says her rodent-infested workplace at New Mexico Tech made her sick. Johnson began as an Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center lab manager at NM Tech earlier this year. "I walked into my office that they showed me and it was covered in rodent feces and I wouldn't even set my bag down," Johnson told Channel 4 news. "I just said 'Is this really where I'm supposed to sit?" adding later: "It's just rodent infested." After requesting someone clean the place, Johnson cleaned it herself and subsequently got ill and was diagnosed with Hantavirus (which is spread the rodents). Johnson was fired shortly before Thanksgiving and claims it was wrongful termination. As for NM Tech, the school allowed Channel 4 to come look for rodent droppings—which were not visible during inspection—but several people said facilities were cleaned before the TV crews arrived; EMRTC director Michael Stanley, however, acknowledged chronic rodent problems.
Speak of the devil
The Devil was part of the earliest Posadas reenactments—an original member of the cast, appearing in no less than five different Yuletide dramas. So says writer Nicolasa Chávez in "!No Pueden Pasar¡" in the winter edition of El Palacio magazine. Chávez provides an in depth—and fascinating—history of New Mexico's various advent-related dramas, their roots and productions, complemented by archival photography. Santa Fe's Las Posadas on the Plaza is at least 50 years old, but inclusion of the devil character has been a point of contention this year and previous years ($TNM).
Reading on the space/time continuum
ICYMI, last week SFR showcased the three winners of the fiction category in this year's writing contest. Judge Trent Zelazny sussed out writers' take on this year's theme, "the darkest timeline," choosing Kristin Goodman's "The Sheol," which depicts a future with implanted tracers that monitor hormone fluctuation, for third place; Jill Cooper in second-place choice for "The River Time", a story with a familiar pulse; and first-place winner David Howard with "Goober," a cat story of sorts that will both delight and mystify readers. And in case you really need to catch up on your reading, here again are the winners in the non-fiction category from the week before.
Sunny side up
If you're up before 8 am, you might catch some "patchy" fog. Otherwise, look for a cloudy start to a day that will then become mostly sunny with a high near 44 and west wind 5 to 15 mph, becoming northwest in the afternoon. Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 21. As of now, the rest of the week's forecast looks mostly sunny with temps in the mid 40s.
Thanks for reading! The Word feels confident she will not be eating at Chipotle's ($TNM).