Merchants want more police patrols

Downtown merchants want the City of Santa Fe to provide more police to address what they say is an uptick of crime caused primarily by "panhandlers and vagrants" on the Plaza. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports more than 100 business owners have signed a petition, initiated by John Kinsolzing, owner of Tees & Skis on Washington Avenue, after hearing from people who were being harassed downtown. Two meetings have been scheduled this week to discuss the issue. The first is tonight at 5:30 pm at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. A second, focused on merchants in the Railyard and Guadalupe area, will be held at the same time and place on Thursday evening.

State budget

The state House of Representatives is expected to vote later this week on a $7.6 billion budget plan for the coming fiscal year, following approval of HB 2 by the House Appropriations and Finance Committee ($TNM). The budget represents a 7.5% hike from current-year levels and passed along partisan lines, with Republicans critical of the increased spending. Notably, the bill does not include $35 million in recurrent funding for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's proposed Opportunity Scholarship, which would provide free college for all New Mexicans. Rather, it has $35 million for existing higher education financial aid programs. The bill can still be amended by the Senate Finance Committee, and the governor's office intends to continue pushing for its scholarship proposal.

Torres Small ahead of the pack

US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, out-raised all the GOP candidates hoping to take her on come November. Torres Small, who won her race in the historically Republican 2nd Congressional District in 2018, has been targeted by the GOP in her 2020 re-election bid. But the latest Federal Election Commission reports show that between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, while Torres Small was being attacked by Republicans for her vote to impeach President Donald Trump, she raised $648,636.52—more than all three Republican candidates combined.

Sign Off

Santa Fe hotel El Rey Court has drawn backlash from locals for its use of appropriative Native language on a roadside sign that read: "My spirit animal is a sloth." Edited versions of the sign quickly appeared on social media, including "My spirit animal is appropriation" and "My spirit animal is white privilege." Carrie Wood (Diné) of Three Sisters Collective tells SFR: "This is not unusual in Santa Fe, or anywhere—look at the Super Bowl. Racism against Indigenous peoples is so normalized that there are racist mascots and people dressing up as racist stereotypes and it's not only acceptable but encouraged." The hotel changed the sign in response to criticism, but the perceived flippancy of its replacement message ("Our sign guy is currently grounded, be back shortly") did not strike the right chord with critics either. El Rey Court partner Jeff Burns tells SFR. "It's…an embarrassing learning experience, and we're very, very sorry for it. They were 100% right to call us out on it."

Listen up

In Episode 11 of "Your New Mexico Government," a podcast devoted to the 54th Legislature, Matt Grubs from New Mexico PBS talks with Host Khalil Ekulona about some of the budget issues being addressed in this year's session, including the Legal Settlement Transparency Act (SB 64), fixes to PERA and what that will mean for the state's retirement fund, as well as the 2020 budget passing the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, New Mexico PBS and KUNM radio.

Fall outside

Farmington will host the state's third annual New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference from Oct. 1-2. The state's newly formed Outdoor Recreation Division will co-host the conference with the nonprofit organization Outdoor New Mexico. According to a press release from the state Economic Development Department, topics will include outdoor marketing, outdoor recreation business development, sustainability, diversity and outdoor equity, as well as forums for outdoor companies, youth groups and educators. For the first time, the conference also will feature an outdoor expo showcasing New Mexico outdoor recreation-based companies and products. As SFR reported last December, Farmington has already been focusing on outdoor recreation as a means of diversifying a traditionally oil and gas-dependent economy. "Farmington, with its amazing vistas and fantastically beautiful trails, is truly one of the state's—and the country's—great outdoor recreation destinations," Outdoor Recreation Director Axie Navas said in a statement. "As such, it's the perfect home for the third Outdoor Economics Conference."

City says it’s not secretive

The City of Santa Fe is not being secretive about the Midtown campus development. Just ask them. In a "Midtown Monday Update," the city reiterates its reasons for not releasing the contents of developer plans for the site, namely adherence to the state procurement code. The "Midtown Monday Update," the city writes, is "part of an open and transparent process that began and continues with public input." The city goes on to say that "public input and engagement are continuing. There is no secrecy when every step of the project and the process are in the public domain."  Moreover, "this is the mayor's commitment to good government and following the rules that protect the public interest." The city's sudden insistence on its commitment to transparency in the Midtown process would seem to follow a recent Santa Fe New Mexican editorial criticizing the city for lack of transparency regarding the three developers selected as finalists ($TNM).

Get in on CURRENTS

The deadline is approaching for CURRENTS 2020 internship program. Apply by Feb. 15 for an opportunity to work on this annual interactive art festival that takes place June 12-21. Among other perks, the internship comes with housing for the duration of the festival in our shared intern house; a $750 stipend to help with travel and meals; and college credit when pre-arranged with university and student. Interns, who are required to work for the month of June, help with all facets of the massive festival. More details available here.

Existential weather report

Is it snowing yet? Hard to say, as the Word writes this from the pitch black early morning hell that is now the mainstay of her existence. Ahem! Back to the weather! Santa Fe has a 50% chance of snow today with mostly cloudy skies and highs near 31 degrees. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon. Tonight, the chances of snow dip to 20% with lows around 8 degrees because it is winter, it will always be winter, and it will never be warm and fun again. Sorry, sorry. Actually, tomorrow will be sunny with highs in the 30s and then back toward the 50s come the end of the week and the weekend.

Thanks for reading! The Word kind of wants to know which New Mexico psychic advised Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to keep his affair a secret.