Morning Word

Supreme Court Rules Gas Stations Could Be Liable for DWIs

NM film industry thriving, despite pandemic

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 378 new COVID-19 cases for the three-day period of July 17-19, bringing the statewide total so far to 207,566. The health department has designated 196,202 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 128 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 33 and Eddy County with 29. Santa Fe County had 19 new cases.

The state also announced four additional deaths, two recent and two from more than 30 days ago, including a Santa Fe County man in his 40s who had been hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Santa Fe County has now had 153 deaths and New Mexico has had 4,383. As of yesterday, 83 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 72% New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 64% in that age group are vaccinated. Among those 12-17 years old, 44.8% have had at least one dose and 36% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 82.5% are partially vaccinated and 73.9% are fully vaccinated. You can register for a vaccine here and view available vaccine events by area here.

Another Santa Fean appears to have won $250,000 in the state’s Vax to the Max lottery. The heath department announced four more winners were chosen on Friday—names pending verification of vaccination status—from each of the state’s four health regions in the cities of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell and Las Cruces. The next $1 million drawing is scheduled for July 23, followed by one last drawing scheduled for July 30. A grand prize drawing of $5 million is scheduled for early August.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Supreme Court rules gas stations potentially liable for DWI

Yesterday, the state Supreme Court ruled gas stations have a legal obligation to not sell fuel to intoxicated drivers, and may be liable if they sell gas to a drunk driver who then hurts someone. According to a news release, Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil and Justices C. Shannon Bacon and David K. Thomson formed the court’s majority, writing: “A duty not to sell gasoline to an intoxicated person is consistent with liability for providing an intoxicated person with alcohol or a vehicle. Gasoline, alcohol and the vehicle itself are all enabling instrumentalities involved in intoxicated driving. Gasoline is required to operate most vehicles today. Providing gasoline to an intoxicated driver is like providing car keys to an intoxicated driver. Accordingly, liability under negligent entrustment for the sale gasoline to an intoxicated driver is consistent with New Mexico law.”

The opinion, which is precedent-setting, relies on the legal doctrine of “negligent entrustment of chattel,” as applied to the sale of gasoline, which creates a “duty of care” for vendors to refrain from supplying fuel to drunken drivers because of the risk of harm from driving while intoxicated. The decision came in response to a US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit request to resolve a question of state law regarding the potential liability for a McKinley County retailer that had sold gasoline to an intoxicated driver who then had a collision that killed someone. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Barbara J. Vigil, who retired at the end of June wrote: “While the sale and service of alcohol is regulated, neither our common law nor our statutes warrant extending liability for DWI to retail sales of nonalcoholic goods” and applying the doctrine of negligent entrustment to commercial gasoline sales, “could have far-reaching consequences for retail businesses.” New Mexico is now the second state to hold gas stations accountable in this way, along with Tennessee.

State senator says church denied him communion

State Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, says a Catholic bishop denied him communion last weekend due to Cervantes’ support for a bill during the last legislative session that repealed the state’s abortion banIn a tweet, Cervantes said he was denied communion “based on my political office. My new parish priest has indicated he will do the same after the last was run off. Please pray for church authorities as Catholicism transitions under Pope Francis.” In press statements yesterday, Cervantes described himself as “unwelcome” by some new clergy since his support to repeal a never-used abortion law. “My vote was not to advocate abortion,” Cervantes said, “but to reject the imprisonment of women as a solution to anything. I wanted to encourage values based on inclusivity, understanding, forgiveness and compassion, which are the core of Christ’s teachings.” Last month, US Catholic bishops drafted a document, which has not yet received final approval, rebuking US Catholic politicians—such as President Joe Biden—who receive communion even though they support reproductive choice for women.

And then there was (still) one

Gallery owner Stephen Fox, 73, remains the only one of nine people charged in last October’s destruction of the Plaza obelisk who still faces charges. In May, the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced deals with the other eight defendants, in which charges were dropped in favor of a pre-prosecution diversion program that includes community service and restitution based on restorative justice principles. Fox, however, still faces two fourth-degree felony charges: criminal damage to property and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property, as well as a petty misdemeanor charge for unlawful assembly. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Fox said yesterday he wants to participate in the program, but the DA’s office says it’s been hard to include him in that deal because he lacks a legal representative. State District Judge Sylvia LaMar thusly ordered Fox yesterday to reapply to the Public Defender’s Office; it remains unknown if that office will agree to represent him.

Listen up

Some of us lost track of just how many late-night meals we ate in the bar at Pranzo’s, and still occasionally drive by the site of the former Sanbusco Center in a slight state of confusion since its closure in 2018. But that was then and this is now: Pranzo is reopening. Owners Sarah Lemon and Steve Lemon talk with Heating it Up host Cheryl Jamison about their plans to reopen soon in a new location at 321 Johnson St. (where Shoko Cafe used to be). Steve Lemon says look for an updated menu serving lunch, dinner, happy hour and Sunday brunch.

Film office says industry thriving

The New Mexico Film Office says despite the COVID-19 pandemic, direct film and television spending in for fiscal year 2021 broke all records. The figures come even though productions were halted for a quarter of the fiscal year, with 69 productions, 26 film, 24 television and 19 additional media productions since restarting production in September 2020. “We are thrilled to finally share the news that New Mexico has smashed all previous records in production spend for fiscal year 2021,” Film Office Director Amber Dodson said in a statement. “We have many more film and television productions on the way that will keep the pipeline stacked for the remainder of the 2021 calendar year and well into 2022.” In another statement, New Mexico Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said the bounce-back “indicates resiliency and proves that the industry can quickly recover in the face of an economic storm.”A news release estimates 9,000 New Mexicans work in the industry with an average wage of over $56,000 annually, and approximately 75% of total below-the-line crew in the 2021 fiscal year were New Mexico residents including 4,559 New Mexico crew, 1,374 New Mexico cast members and 13,538 New Mexico background and extras. “As New Mexico opens this summer and production ramps up, now is the time to ensure we remain invested in the New Mexico film and television industry, as it is key to our state’s recovery and to diversifying New Mexico’s economy,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

Salad days

Like plenty of other folks, Outside magazine Editorial Director Alex Heard used vegetable gardening as a primary form of relaxation during the COVID-19 pandemic (remember at the beginning of the pandemic when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham closed all the nurseries? That was weird). Heard’s backyard vegetable cultivation ended up dovetailing with another project to up his vegetarian game. He explores this journey in a recent story, “Why I Sent Myself to Vegetarian Boot Camp,” which provides a helpful roadmap to anyone looking to branch out from a tendency to make the same meals all the time (preach). You can’t live in Santa Fe and discuss vegetarianism without hat-tipping vegetable guru Deborah Madison, but Heard also introduces a variety of other potential tools into the veggie arsenal, including a hydroponic rig called the Farmstand and the online recipe repository from Vegetarian Times (which like Outside, is also owned by Pocket Outdoor Media). But our favorite new recommended resource was definitely Emily Nunn’s Department of Salad, which we liked so much we actually signed up for yet another newsletter (Nunn’s recipes are not strictly vegetarian, but they are salads and, thus, seemingly, mostly vegetarian).

Kick up a storm

It might be a teensy bit cooler today than yesterday, with the National Weather Service forecasting a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon, northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon, with increasing clouds and a high near 80 degrees. (Consider ourselves lucky: Folks in Montana were baking cookies on their dashboards yesterday).

Thanks for reading! The Word often wishes she was at the beach...except when she watches this recent viral video from Florida of a shark circling two girls who don’t even know it’s there (backstory here).

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