COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 119 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 27,041. Lea County led with 16 new cases, followed by Roosevelt County with 15 and Bernalillo and Eddy counties, each with 14. Santa Fe County had 10 new cases.
The state also announced two additional deaths from Doña Ana and Lea counties; there have now been 832 fatalities. As of yesterday, 59 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
The Public Education Department, which has begun issuing daily reports for cases at schools, announced three such cases yesterday at public schools in Bernalillo, McKinley and Roosevelt counties.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials will provide a COVID-19 update today at 2:30 pm, which will stream live on the governor's Facebook page, as well as other news stations' websites.
County rents city convention hall for election
Santa Fe County will be setting up shop in the Santa Fe Community Convention Center for portions of the Nov. 3 general election, following negotiations over pricing. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver stepped in to help County Clerk Geraldine Salazar secure an affordable rate after the city initially wanted to charge what would have amounted to $27,000 total; the price was negotiated down to $15,000. Kristine Mihelcic, the city's council and constituent services director, says normally the cost to rent the facility for 36 days would be more than $48,000. Salazar, however, says the city should only charge the county for direct costs, such as cleaning: "The taxpayers should not pay twice for the facility," she said.
DOH: Campaigns must follow COVID-19 rules
In a letter sent to political leaders this week, the state health department says campaigns must follow public health rules (masks, social distancing, no mass gatherings) or face the possibility of fines or citations. The warning, sent by DOH Deputy Secretary Billy Jimenez, follows a recent three-day Women for Trump bus tour across New Mexico. State Republican Party Executive Director Anissa Tinnin criticized the warning, saying letters weren't sent to other groups holding public events, such as a recent recent Black Lives Matter rally in Rio Rancho. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's spokesman Tripp Stelnicki says that's untrue and, moreover, this letter was sent "to both parties and campaign committees, so there was no targeting of any particular group…If one group feels targeted, perhaps it's because they've been more outward with their behaviors that are not always COVID-safe."
Meow Wolf union effort proceeds
The newly formed Meow Wolf Workers Collective says (well, tweets) it has filed for an election through the National Labor Relations Board. Doing so, the group says, "means Meow Wolf workers will get to vote on unionization, once a date for the election is set by the NLRB. If the vote were held today, we have enough expressed support—we would win." Meow Wolf's management, the Twitter thread goes on to say, still has the opportunity to voluntarily recognize the union; in a previous statement, the company's CEOs said they recognized workers' right to unionize, but believe the company "works best without a union."
The new state Ethics Commission won't rule on a complaint filed against state Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, until after the Nov. 3 general election, due to rules prohibiting public hearings for political complaints within 60 days of an election. Dow's Democratic challenger, Karen Whitlock, alleged in a public complaint earlier this week Dow violated state law by soliciting and accepting government contracts for the company she founded, Appletree Educational Center. Dow says she doesn't benefit financially from those contracts and has been transparent about her standing as the company's founder and a lawmaker. The state Republican Party, meanwhile, wants the complaint dismissed altogether.
Episode 2 of the Santa Fe Playhouse's Fiesta Melodrama, "A Scientific Theory," airs tonight for free at 7 pm (you'll be able to catch up on previous episodes for a small fee on the Santa Fe Playhouse's Vimeo channel). In Episode 1, a ragtag group of Santa Feans toured our City Different and discovered some of its history. You can read all about Episode 2, prepare yourself for the inside scoop on Santa Fe and learn a little bit more than you maybe ever wanted to know about the City Different, here. This year's Melodrama airs weekly through Oct. 8.
Tom Udall wants to fix democracy
Happy Constitution Day. US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, hopes to celebrate by fixing our broken electoral politics. In an Op-Ed published today in SFR, Udall continues to argue for a 28th Amendment "to remove the all-consuming influence of money in politics—which drowns out the voices of the American people." The retiring senator, along with US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, introduced the Democracy for All amendment last year, which would essentially overturn the US Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling a decade ago (that's the one that basically said corporations are people). The Citizens United ruling, Udall writes, opened the "floodgates for even more, often secret, special interest money to influence our elections—letting the ultra-wealthy have the most say in our democracy." His amendment, Udall says, "…would remedy this by making it clear that corporations are not people—and that spending money is not the same as free speech."
Vandal(s) attack Axle Contemporary mobile gallery
ICYMI, Axle Contemporary owner/operators Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman had their mobile gallery vandalized on Canyon Road last Saturday. Both believe the attack was motivated by the gallery's current show: Feminism in the Era of Trump. Juried by Lucy Lippard, the show—the owners say—was intended to spur conversation. Chase-Daniel points to rising cases of vandalism around the city, such as the recent India Palace attack, and at an increase in national partisanship during the Trump administration (btw, India Palace re-opened yesterday for take-out and delivery). "It feels like a violation of our trust," Chase-Daniel tells SFR. "It feels like an attack on the arts community in Santa Fe and the freedom of expression of a civil discourse."
Local filmmakers profile famous New Mexicans
Violet Crown sadly remains closed, but Violet Crown co-owner and filmmaker Bill Banowsky is making and releasing films online profiling famous New Mexicans. The first, a five-minute doc about the recently deceased art dealer/treasure-hunt creator Forrest Fenn, can be viewed on the Railyard Films website. "He's a fascinating character, he's a guy that has a really rich history. He's lived a big life," Banowsky says. The films would have screened at Violet Crown, but will be available online for now. The next project will feature Pultizer Prize-winning cartoonist and Santa Fe resident Pat Oliphant.
Whichever way the wind blows
According to today's forecast, we're in for a sunny day with a high near 79 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Matter of fact, every day until Tuesday currently looks exactly the same, except the wind might blow in different directions.
Thanks for reading! The Word admits she feels a little pre-nostalgia about the Santa Fe Reporter leaving its Marcy Street offices (where the Word first started working in 1992!), but the paper is more than its office. Learn more about our move and how you can help us keep doing our thing in this week's Friends of the Reporter letter from Editor and Publisher Julie Ann Grimm.