COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 128 new positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 10,694. McKinley County had the most new cases with 32, followed by 22 in Bernalillo County.
As of today, 139 people are hospitalized and the health department has designated 4,742 COVID-19 cases as recovered. Statewide hospitalizations have been steadily decreasing over the last 10 days, going from 197 on June 10 to 139 yesterday.
Santa Fe County had five new cases and now has 201 total cases. Since June 9, Santa Fe has had 51 new cases. In response to a query from SFR, a health department spokesman said none of the cases between June 9 and June 21 (the time period for which SFR inquired) were connected to either visitors or travel. City officials say signs alerting tourists to state and city mask rules should be posted by the weekend.
And, for the first time since the end of March, New Mexico reported no new deaths.
White supremacists vandalize India Palace
Sometime Sunday night, vandals targeted downtown India Palace, causing an estimated $100,000 worth of damage and leaving violent racist graffiti throughout. When he walked in the door Monday afternoon to prepare for the dinner service, owner Bajit Singh encountered messages such as "white power," "Trump 2020," "go home," and far worse spray-painted on walls, doors, counters and any other available surface. Some phrases contained threats of violence and derogatory racial slurs. Tables were overturned with glassware smashed into piles on the floor. The culprits emptied the wine racks, beheaded a statue of a goddess, stole computers, destroyed the food warmers, gutted the front desk area and left the kitchen completely unusable. "I've never seen this before, this is the first time," says Singh, who has owned the restaurant, which only recently reopened, since 2013. Upon encountering the destruction, restaurant employees called the Santa Fe Police, which took close to three hours to arrive.
Graffiti hits Plaza obelisk
Sometime early Monday morning, the downtown obelisk was covered in graffiti reading "racist" and "end the genocide," and its facade was damaged. Santa Fe Police cordoned off the area with crime tape as city workers attempted to clean and repair the monument, which Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber last week ordered removed in response to Native activists and others. Regarding the vandalism, Webber said he was "very disappointed and saddened…I think it's unfortunate that we've seen people vandalize any monument or statue, and we're going to try to move forward to try to protect that object and others."
Legislature ends, police reform mostly abandoned
Big promises by elected officials about the urgency of adding police reform to the special session agenda saw little payout. Promised proposals to make cop disciplinary records public and ban chokeholds never crossed the speaker's table. A measure to standardize use-of-force reviews was dead on arrival. Legislators did, however, adopt a measure to require the use of body-worn cameras by all police; Senate Bill 8 passed Friday on the Senate floor, then earned approval from the House on a vote of 44-26 Monday afternoon (largely along party lines with Republicans voting against). As for the economic woes prompting the special session, legislators sent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham a $7 billion budget that trimmed approximately $600,000 million; future cuts await for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, which lawmakers will take up in January.
Santa Fe Mayor: GRT better than expected
Santa Fe's GRT taxes decreased by 19% in April compared with the prior year, but the loss was less than expected, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said yesterday in a news conference. Officials had expected closer to a 40 to 50% decrease. The city also can expect some money from the state, Webber said, praising state lawmakers for passing legislation in the ongoing special session that will lesson the financial blow to the city. The GRT figures primarily impact the current fiscal year budget. "I think what it means is that we can look potentially at ways we could anticipate a less severe deficit," Webber said. "I don't know how much less because we are still going to be flying blind in terms of May and June numbers…but we may be able to be a little bit less austere in every respect."
Yesterday, KBAC Big Show host Honey Harris revisited her 2005 visit to Montgomery, Alabama for the dedication of the Civil Rights Museum's Wall of Tolerance, which digitally displays the names of more than half a million people who pledged to take a stand against hate and work for justice. While there, Harris interviewed several people attending the event, some of whom had driven hundreds of miles to attend. "I wanted to ask people attending the dedication if they really thought that anything had changed in the 40 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act," Harris said. "I wanted to know what they thought of the word tolerance, which was chosen for the memorial."
Episode 79 of "Your New Mexico Government" digs in more to the recently ended special legislative session. Guests include: Amber Carrillo from Common Cause New Mexico; Matt Reichbach, editor of NM Political Report; and Gene Grant and Kevin McDonald from New Mexico In Focus. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
Balloon Fiesta canceled
The 2020 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta—its 49th—won't take place until October, 2021. "When COVID-19 first began to impact our world and eventually our community, our non-profit organization held out hope to still launch our event this October. However, with only three-and-a-half months left until the planned start of Balloon Fiesta, there are many variables that are out of our control, potentially impacting the health and welfare of our attendees," reads a letter from Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors President Matt W. Guthrie. Guest reservations, tickets and RV spaces will be unchanged and can be used for the 2021 event. Those unable to attend in 2021 can either receive a refund or donate the value of the tickets for a tax-deductible contribution.
Don’t forget environmental racism
"In this moment of political and social turmoil, as we reckon with the injustices of institutionalized racism and continue the fight against COVID-19, it can seem easy to push environmental concerns to the back seat. Yet the impacts of environmental policies in the US are a direct reflection of the institutions that created them, and racism is woven into how we treat our environment as much as it is woven into the fabric of how we as a society treat each other." So writes SFR's Leah Cantor in the latest edition of the monthly environmental newsletter "Elements." Cantor talks with Native activists who connect the current plight for social justice with the need for environmental justice. "We work to liberate the people so that we can ultimately liberate the land," activist Beata Tsosie-Peña says. "When the values of this country shifted to ownership over land and bodies, black, Indigenous, women—all of the violence that has happened and continues to happen stems back to that very original violence."
Midtown meeting tonight
Tonight is the final iteration of the City of Santa Fe's "Meet the Developer" series with KDC/Cienda Partners, the putative developer for the Midtown campus. KDC/Cienda Partners will be taking questions and input about the community's goals for the property. People can submit questions to the development team before the meeting at following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can tune in here and watch the previous discussions here.
Guess what? We've got a 50% chance of rain today! Specifically, forecasts call for scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon, some of which could be severe. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 77 degrees. There may be more scattered showers and thunderstorms this evening before midnight and we have a chance of them for the rest of the week!
Thanks for reading! The Word confesses: She has never been in a hot-air balloon, and very much doubts she would take one to outer space.