COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 884 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 165,835, with 89,756 cases designated as recovered. Bernalillo County led with 213 new cases, followed by 144 new cases in Doña Ana County and 82 new cases in San Juan County. Santa Fe County had 56 new cases.
The state also announced 34 additional deaths, including three from Santa Fe County: a woman in her 80s; a man in his 80s who was hospitalized, had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Pacifica Senior Living facility in Santa Fe; and a woman in her 90s who had underlying conditions and was a resident of the BeeHive Homes facility. Santa Fe County has now had 99 deaths; statewide, there have been 3,009. As of yesterday, 605 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
NM responds to presidential inauguration
Yesterday, we watched President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' inauguration. Maybe we cried. We definitely laughed at the Bernie Sanders memes. We also realized we don't have much game when it comes to our outerwear, before reading all of the poems ever performed at a presidential inauguration and then seeking out a video about Major Biden, the first shelter rescue to become a First Dog. But enough about us. In Santa Fe, law enforcement kept watch on the state Capitol following national rumors of unrest on inauguration day. None came to pass (although a false alarm involving an unintended fire extinguisher temporarily shut down Paseo de Peralta). Local lawmakers and others say they watched from home, taking away a message of unity from the ceremonies. "I'm hopeful that for a lot of folks, we're starting to re-find that we want that peace, that security of a nation," newly elected state Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, said. "Let's come together as a nation. Let's do what we can together and I think that's really the spirit right now."
Statewide, New Mexico's Democratic officials focused on turning the page from the Trump presidency. "The peaceful transfer of power is a cornerstone of American democracy," Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic, economic strife and racial injustices facing the country. "The change in leadership enacted today is one of the most meaningful in the recent history of our nation. Better days are ahead for all of us." US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández of New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District, who tweeted a photo of her and US Sen. Ben Ray Luján from the event, said the day "marks the beginning of a bright, new chapter for our country. President Biden will lead us into this historic moment with deep policy experience grounded in wisdom forged from the deep pain of tragedies. Vice President Kamala Harris' own lived experience as a daughter of immigrants, [whose] Senatorial voice spoke for so many, will help guide our climb out of the chasm and to the mountaintop." US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, also shared a photo from the event via Twitter, saying: "We turn the page on a dark chapter in our nation's history and, with renewed hope, begin taking bold actions to help rebuild our communities."
Leg #55: Some bills to watch
While state House floor sessions won't recommence until Jan. 25, and the Senate on Feb. 1, representatives will assemble from several committees today and tomorrow, including House Appropriations and Finance at 1:30 pm today to review Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's proposed budget. You can find all of the committee schedules here, watch webcasts floor sessions and committee meetings here and see which legislation has been filed here. While most of these first meetings will be organizational, hearings and discussions on proposed laws will soon govern the session. Here are a few currently in the spotlight: House Bill 8 would change some of the state's liquor laws allowing, among other features, for home alcohol delivery. The New Mexico Clean Fuel Standard Act aims to create a market-based approach to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels, and would require fuel producers and importers to reduce the amount of carbon in fuels used in New Mexico: 10% by 2030 and a 20% by 2040. Senate Bill 66 takes aim at predatory lending; according to a report from think tank Think New Mexico—which backs the legislation—New Mexico's 175% annual interest rates are some of the highest rates in the country (SFR delved into predatory lending in this recent cover story).
Council takes up Midtown campus…behind closed doors
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have thwarted momentum for the Midtown campus, with months of silence from developers and officials about ambitious plans to redevelop the 64-acre campus. Recently, the Albuquerque Journal reports, representatives from master developer KDC Real Estate Development and Investments/Cienda Partners convened with city officials for a three-day meeting to discuss the project. Details from those meetings remain somewhat vague and broad—for example, financing and zoning were two of the topics. "It's very, very complex," Cienda Vice President of Development James Feild told the Journal. "It literally took three days of intense, facilitated discussion to get it all out there on the table." The public had been scheduled to hear more about the project's status earlier this week in the city's Finance Committee meeting, but that presentation was shifted to a behind-closed-doors executive City Council session tonight. Information on the necessity for an executive session also remains vague, with a city spokesman only noting via email that "bundling" all the discussions on the campus into executive session was the most "efficient." (Efficiency, by the way, does not constitute an exemption under the state's Open Meetings Act). This isn't the first time the city has been less than transparent regarding the Midtown campus; the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government previously criticized Santa Fe for its lack of disclosure about proposals for the campus.
While the full repercussions from the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol continue to unfold, it's clear the images from that day leave an indelible mark. The most recent episode of the No More Normal podcast takes a look at "How We Got Here," and examines several issues the country needs to address, such as the difference in law enforcement's response to the right-wing rioters versus last summer's racial justice protesters. Guests include: US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM; US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-NM; Vice News national security reporter Ben Makuch; Rio Rancho organizer and veteran Barbara Jordan; and New Mexico PBS Executive Producer Kevin McDonald. No More Normal is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
Get your skate on
Santa Fe's venerable Rockin' Rollers Event Arena hopes to hang on through the pandemic, but owners Bill and Robbyn Spencer admit they need the community's help. They are trying to raise $10,000 on GoFundMe to cover just a piece of the back rent, are applying for pandemic-relief money and have tentatively started allowing "bubble parties" for small groups. They have also subleased several of the open rooms to other small businesses, including Haven Skate and Snow, which sells skate and snowboard gear and clothing. The building at 2915 Agua Fria St. was previously owned by the late Joseph Becker and is now overseen by his estate, which recently hired a new management firm. Robbyn says Rockin' Rollers hasn't been able to make a plan with the new management to move forward, whereas a representative of the firm says the company is "currently reviewing tenant leases and balances to develop a plan to move forward." The Spencers wouldn't specify how much they owe, though Bill said it was somewhere around the cost of a new car, but they hope the community will step up and help keep them rockin' and rolling. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander," Bill tells SFR. "We have to take care of each other and spread the word and let people know."
If your attitude toward the garden in the winter months falls under the category of "ignoring" (ahem), be sure to check Edible New Mexico's late-winter feature on how to care for the plants and terrain even during the coldest months. Experts recommend winter watering, mulching and protecting young trees from "southwest injury." When you're finished making your winter garden-care plan, be sure to check out the rest of the "Growing Justice" issue, which includes inspiring features on growing local, planting seeds and a particular winsome "Cocktails with a Cause" initiative that features a "Love and Roses" cocktail feature courtesy of Natalie Bovis of The Liquid Muse in Santa Fe.
In a fog
Thanks for reading! The Word has acquired a wide arrange of masks during the pandemic, but she draws the line at mask chains.