Sleep in & slow down
Most of Santa Fe appears to be on a two-hour delay today, including Santa Fe Public Schools. You can find a full list here. Yesterday's snow storm made for challenging driving, and resulted in accidents all around town ($TNM). A city spokeswoman said crews would be out in the night to prepare for this morning. Take it slow, folks.
Biz owners to city: Clean up downtown
Verbal harassment. Noise. Vomit and feces. These are some of the issues downtown merchants say they are facing as they call on the City of Santa Fe to help address their concerns. Approximately 50 business owners met with Mayor Alan Webber and city officials last night in a public meeting, insisting the downtown needs to be cleaned up and requires a greater police presence. "I'm walking down San Francisco Street and it looks like trash," said Tia Sophia's owner Nick Maryol. "This area is the reason people come to Santa Fe. It needs to be protected like it's an asset."
Another downtown employee said she is "constantly dealing with defecation and vomit" and that the noise from downtown bars was problematic for those living and working in the area. SFPD has apparently—in response to complaints already received—initiated "Downtown Focus," which will kick off later this month with an increased presence and surveillance. Mayor Alan Webber told merchants the city is rewriting its noise ordinance, and attributed problems downtown to the reduction of behavioral health services under former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Merchants in the Guadalupe and Railyard districts will have a meeting over similar concerns tomorrow evening.
Lawmaker wants earlier NM primary
When New Mexicans go to vote in the presidential primary on June 2, 2020, they will be among the last in the country to weigh in. State Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, thinks we should be first. He introduced a bill yesterday that would move the state's primary to the second Tuesday in January for the 2024 election, telling the Albuquerque Journal: "Why can't we be the bellwether instead of Iowa?" (Certainly, the election chaos in this year's Iowa caucus had a certain familiar flavor). While Martinez' bill would move the state's presidential primary to the start of the year, the other primary races would still be held in June.
Teachers reject longer school year
Most Santa Fe teachers and staff do not want a longer school year ($TNM). So reported Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García to the school board last night. A district survey showed that 66% were unwilling to work an additional 20 days and 55% would not be willing to work an additional five days. The survey comes as the district considers its application to the state for additional available funding to extend the school calendar. Board President Kate Noble said that while a "longer-year model is probably where we're going as a state," the district can't afford to "exacerbate the teacher shortage" by forcing teachers to do "things they don't want to do."
For the pot
As the state Legislature considers a proposal to legalize marijuana, the Las Cruces City Council has sent a show of support for doing so. On Monday, the Council voted 6-1 in support of the bill, following a policy presentation last month by Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who chairs the governor's working group on cannabis legalization. The councilors gave their opinions at that session, supporting the bill for a variety of reasons. District 3 Councilor Gabriel Vasquez was particularly in favor, noting, "it's really our young people of color who are often and disproportionately targeted in New Mexico." Mayor Ken Miyagishima, the sole no vote, has described the bill to legalize pot as the most irresponsible he's ever seen. "The money this generates, the additional problems it's going to generate, it's just not something I personally want to be supportive of," he said.
In Episode 12 of "Your New Mexico Government," a podcast devoted to the 54th Legislature, KUNM reporter Kaveh Mowahed comes into the studio to talk about lobbyists and ethics. For some background, here's a report from New Mexico Ethics Watch on lobbyist influence in the state. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, New Mexico PBS and KUNM radio.
Cowboys for Trump, an organization created by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, filed a request for arbitration in its conflict with the Secretary of State's Office over its political status and reporting requirements. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver informed the group last year that it fit the definition of a political committee, and would need a treasurer and to file financial reports in April and October. When that didn't happen, the Secretary of State sent the organization a final action letter mid-January, assessing it $7,800 in unpaid fines. Cowboys for Trump's arbitration requests disputes that it is a political committee and says campaign finance laws violate free speech. Griffin has a GoFundMe account to raise money for his legal defense, through which he has so far raised more than $15,000. He is also being investigated by the state auditor for reimbursements in his capacity as a county commissioner for a trip last fall to Washington, DC, in which a meeting with President Donald Trump was listed as the reason for his trip.
Massive sculpture installation downtown
The New Mexico Museum of Art will install Berg XV, a 16,800-pound sculpture by internationally acclaimed sculptor Tom Joyce tomorrow. According to a museum press release, the work is part of a body of artwork begun in 2005 at the largest employee-owned industrial forging facility in the US, in which sculptures are formed at white-hot temperatures from the remnants and byproducts of large-scale industrial forgings. "It is thrilling to be able to share Tom Joyce's magnificent sculpture with the public," said Merry Scully, curator of contemporary art. "The placement of Berg XV adjacent to the historic Plaza will mean that visitors from across the world will be able to see this incredible sculpture by one on New Mexico's preeminent contemporary artists."
New Mexico Magazine interviews Santa Fe photography legend Tony O'Brien, whose work includes time as an overseas correspondent for publications such as Life, Time and The New York Times Magazine. O'Brien covered an expedition to Mount Everest and spent years documenting rebels during the Soviet-Afghan War. O'Brien was imprisoned for six weeks in Afghanistan, after which he sought solace at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, which led to his book Light in the Desert. He directed photography programs at the College of Santa Fe and Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and currently teaches at the Santa Fe Workshops.
Netflix and wind chill
Today will be sunny, with highs near 28 degrees, but the wind chill values will be as low as -1 so you might want to bundle up on the couch with a good movie. (The Word is watching Hustlers, and rewatching Shakira and J-Lo's Super Bowl halftime show). Tonight's low will be around 15. Temps will be relatively warmer as the week progresses: in the high 30s Thursday and the mid 40s on Friday and into the weekend. Right now, forecasters say our next chance for precipitation starts Sunday night into the beginning of next week.