Netflix has spent more than $150 million in New Mexico since opening its first US production hub here one year ago, according to the state Economic Development Department. Netflix promised $1 billion in spending over the decade when it agreed to purchase Albuquerque Studios in January, 2019 in exchange for economic development assistance from the state and the City of Albuquerque. Netflix also has used more than 2,000 production vendors and hired over 1,600 cast and crew members over the last year. "New Mexico has made great strides in positioning itself as a leading production center for the Southwest and is home to a welcoming business community and an outstanding crew base with experience across all types of productions," said Ty Warren, VP of Physical Production at Netflix, in a statement. Netflix will be partnering with the state and NBCUniversal to launch a training program for below-the-line production jobs here, and also will start filming The Harder They Fall (a Western starring Idris Elba and Jonathan Majors) in March around Santa Fe County.
The Legislature has only been in session a day and a half, but the drama has begun. Republican lawmakers say Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's state of the state speech was disrespectful to the oil and gas sector by omitting its role in amplifying the state's budget. "Not once did she mention the oil and gas industry except when she talked about methane rules," House Minority Leader James Townsend, R-Artesia, said. "This is the industry in the area that I represent that is funding her proposed spending spree. I found it incredibly disrespectful." Meanwhile, members of the House and Senate education committees say both the governor's budget and the one proposed by the Legislative Finance Committee ignored their input ($TNM). "I feel like we have been left in the lurch," said Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, a former teacher who chairs the Legislative Education Study Committee.
District 5 County Commission race is on
A second candidate has joined the race to replace outgoing Santa Fe County District 5 Commissioner Ed Moreno. Hank Hughes, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, announced yesterday he'll be running against Floyd Trujillo, the only other candidate so far running for the seat. In an interview with SFR, Trujillo, director of Information Technology for the New Mexico Finance Authority, cited his knowledge of the community as his reason for running. Hughes says he decided to run when he heard Moreno wasn't seeking another term. "It's really important that we have good leaders at the local level to try to hold everything together," he says.
On the job
New Mexico has a backlog of 1,900 wage-theft complaints, which piled up during former Gov. Susana Martinez' administration. Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley yesterday asked lawmakers to add two staff positions to the current six people who investigate complaints—primarily at restaurants, nursing homes and in agriculture-related jobs. A lawsuit settled in 2018 accused the Department of Workforce Solutions of improperly dismissing complaints, among other violations of the state's Minimum Wage Act. McCamley says under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration, many aspects of the settlement have been implemented, such as providing non-English language services for wage-theft claims.
In Episode 3 of "Your New Mexico Government," a podcast devoted to the 54th Legislature, New Mexico in Focus Correspondent Gwyneth Doland talks with lawmakers about fiscal responsibility as they determine how to allocate next year's budget. She also lays out some of the politics at play between the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and the debate this year over legalizing recreational cannabis.
Meanwhile, in the latest edition of SFR's "Reported" podcast, host Katherine Lewin takes listeners into the behind-the-scenes reporting for her cover story, "Late to the Game," about the lack of uniformity and enforcement among school districts in developing concussion protocols. We're also doing a giveaway where you could get one of SFR's T-shirts for free, so be sure to listen to the entire episode for instructions.
Descartes’ new platform
TechCrunch has the latest on Descartes Labs' new platform, which brings together Descartes' data with tools data scientists can employ to use the information. Those tools include hosted Jupyter notebooks, Python support and a set of APIs, along with means to transform and clean the incoming data from Descartes' third-party partners. Descartes Labs' new CEO Phil Fraher says the company often has to "evangelize" on the use of geospatial data for business-problem solving. "But what's really interesting is that even with some of our existing customers, we're now seeing more early adopters, more business and analysis teams and data scientists being hired, that do focus on geospatial data. So what's really exciting with this launch is we're now going to put our platform tool in the hands of those particular individuals that now can do their own work."
The New York Times takes a look at the crowded Democratic primary race for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District, specifically former CIA spy Valerie Plame's campaign ($). While Plame's campaign began with much hurrah, along with donations from around the country, The Times says now her foray "into the race is flaring tempers among fellow Democrats." Some characterize Plame as an "outsider" to the district, which is 41% Hispanic and 19% Native American. The story also details criticism Plame faced following a 2017 tweet that linked to an article in a magazine many consider anti-Semitic. More recently, Plame's claims that she's joined Temple Beth Shalom also have come under scrutiny, with Temple board member Daniel Yohalem saying he can't find Plame's name on the synagogue membership list.
Native filmmakers fund open
Applications are open for the Senator John Pinto Filmmakers Fund, a grant for Native American filmmakers. Spearheaded by the late Sen. John Pinto, the grant makes $100,000 in funding available to members of New Mexico tribes or pueblos. "The senator would be proud to see the funding put to work, and I know New Mexico will be made proud by the writing, acting and directorial talents of the recipients of these awards," Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a press release. All grants will initially be made in $5,000 increments. Details on how to apply available here.
Enjoy it while you can
Sunny today with a high near 41 and northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Tonight will be mostly clear, with a low around 23. About the same tomorrow and, so far, the weekend looks about the same. Forecasts call for our next chance for precipitation to hit at the beginning of next week.
Thanks for reading! The Word thought this recent Santa Fe Institute video explaining the difference between copying and transformation seemed apropos to the task at hand. She's not sure, though, if she's the monkey, the eagle or the snake in this scenario.