The City of Santa Fe's latest lack of disclosure regarding development of the Midtown campus doesn't fly, according to the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government ($TNM). The city already has shielded details from the 21 proposals, even asking the applicants to refrain from discussing them, citing state procurement law. Now, the city also won't say who is on the evaluations committee tasked with narrowing the three finalists down to one master developer. City spokeswoman Lilia Chacon says the city's project manager, Daniel Hernandez, would prefer the evaluation committee members have privacy "to reduce outside pressure." NMFOG Executive Director Melanie J. Majors says, "What they call outside pressure, we call democracy. Privacy around this whole selection process has been a problem. Their concern with undue influence is not sufficient. They are public employees. The public has a right to know."
Regulatory officials oppose proposed law
Three members of the state Public Regulation Commission say a proposed law to revamp the regulating body may be unconstitutional. Republican Commissioner Jefferson Byrd, along with Democratic Commissioners Valerie Espinoza and Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, sent a letter objecting to HB11, saying it would infringe on the PRC's authority: "We do not believe (the bill), no matter how well-intentioned, serves the public interest if the result would undermine the commission's independent performance of its duties as required by the New Mexico Constitution and contribute to further delay in providing essential services to its customers," said the letter, which was not signed by the remaining two PRC commissioners. The PRC has been in conflict with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham over the body's adherence to the Energy Transition Act. HB11, which would direct the PRC's staffing, is just one measure in a long line of legislative attempts to address ongoing problems with both the PRC and its predecessor agencies.
As this year's legislative session heads toward completion (the session ends at noon on Feb. 20), Republican and Democrat lawmakers are showing signs of partisan wear ($TNM). House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said yesterday Republicans are extending debate on laws they don't like in order to run out the clock. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, retorted by calling Egolf a "bully." Republicans took particular umbrage that Egolf assigned SB5—gun legislation that would allow law enforcement to confiscate weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others—to only one committee: the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, which passed it last night. Republicans say the bill also should be heard by the House Judiciary Committee.
Ready for our close-up
Deadline Hollywood has chosen Albuquerque to debut a new conference highlighting non-Hollywood locations. Hot Spots is scheduled for March 7-9 at Hotel Chaco. "Hot Spots is all about shining a light on Hollywood filming locations outside of Hollywood. And we think there is no better place to launch this exciting new event than New Mexico," said Stacey Farish, general manager of Deadline Hollywood. The conference will include tours of Albuquerque and Santa Fe; an overview of the state's film incentives from the state Film Office; and panels on diversity, Netflix and other topics.
In episode 17 of "Your New Mexico Government," a podcast devoted to the 54th Legislature, KUNM Morning Edition host Nash Jones breaks down SB25, which adds protections for pregnant employees. He also discusses the Tobacco Products Act, SB131, which, among other changes, would raise the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 (you can read SFR's story on that bill here). Lastly, Nash gives the latest on the proposed bill to legalize cannabis. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, New Mexico PBS and KUNM radio.
ICYMI, the New Mexico Republican Party says vandals spray-painted its Albuquerque office over the weekend, marking the second time (yes, pun intended) someone targeted the GOP headquarters near I-25 and Paseo. A year ago, vandals spray-painted "traitors." Over the weekend, vandals spray-painted "still traitors." No word on the culprit, although state GOP Chairman Steve Pearce says security footage shows the man committing the graffiti—including his face—and has been turned over to the Albuquerque police.
Towns want makeovers
Last December, SFR wrote about Raton, New Mexico's quest to rebound from the loss of the oil and gas industry through the new state outdoor recreation economic initiatives. Now, Raton has entered to be considered for HGTV's new Hometown Takeover series, in which hosts Ben and Erin Napier will make over not just one house, but an entire town: "Renovating one house at a time is an awesome experience. But the chance to support an entire town, where we help bring a community back to life—that's something we've always wanted to try," Ben Napier said. The chosen town will be featured in a six-episode special event scheduled to air on HGTV in 2021. Raton residents say they hope the national renovation show will come and help with the revitalization efforts already underway. You can watch Raton's submission video to the show here. Portales also applied.
Stories of love
Curious which New Mexico novel The New York Times chose for its recent "50 States of Love" feature ($)? The illustrated story billed as "a tour of unforgettable fiction that explores matters of the heart" zeroed in on Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead to represent this Valentine's Day. Silko's 1991 novel is an amazing book, without question…although the Word recalls it more as apocalyptic than romantic. It's also possible the Word has misunderstood the nature of the Times feature, the theme of Silko's novel and/or the meaning of love.
For the next few days at least, Santa Fe can take a short hiatus from the "will it or won't it" snow-watching. Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 38. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 41, and Friday will be mostly sunny with a high near 47. The weekend is forecast to be about the same, with our next slight chance of precipitation not coming until the beginning of next week.
Thanks for reading! Yesterday, the Word was wandering through this rainforest art installation in the Atlanta airport as she diligently made her way back to Santa Fe to resume her Word duties. A $4 million art installation might be a bit much for the Santa Fe Airport…or would it?