Morning Word

Committee Unveils First Look at Redistricting Proposals

City solicits feedback for CHART

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 882 new COVID-19 cases (192 more than the day before), bringing the total number of cases to 243,962. DOH has designated 211,892 of them as recovered. Bernalillo County had 231 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 77 and Lea County with 63. Santa Fe County had 24.

The state also announced 13 additional deaths, 10 recent and two more from Santa Fe County: a female in her 70s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions, and a female in her 80s who had underlying conditions. There have now been 162 deaths in Santa Fe County and 4,649 statewide. As of yesterday, 388 people were hospitalized with COVID-19—13 more than the day prior.Currently, 79.1% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 69.3% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 62.7% people have had at least one dose and 52% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 90.1% have had at least one dose and 79.7% are fully vaccinated.

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

First look at redistricting proposals

New Mexico’s Citizen Redistricting Committee yesterday issued a variety of proposed redistricting maps and will now take comments on those concepts as it continues holding public meetings. The committee is about a month away from an Oct. 15 meeting at which it plans to adopt concepts of district plans to recommend to the state Legislature. State lawmakers will then have the option of approving one of the proposals or coming up with its own plan (if you’d like to read more about redistricting in general and why it matters, here’s a primer from the ACLU; you’ll find New Mexico-specific resources here). The concepts presented by the Citizen Redistricting Committee yesterday were “built largely on the testimony we received,” committee Chairman Edward Chávez, a former state Supreme Court justice, said. “The public is still going to have the opportunity to comment on each of these concepts, to actually take one of these concepts and modify it.” Those proposals include seven maps for the state’s congressional districts, including one (Concept D) that reconfigures the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District to include more of Santa Fe County (currently the heart of the 3rd Congressional District). Thus far, the proposals also include three maps re-envisioning state Senate seats, four for state House seats and three for Public Education Commission districts. The commission is still accepting map proposals online, and is waiting on forthcoming recommendations from a coalition of Native American communities.

Rejected anti-vaccine lawsuit heads to Appeals Court

A lawsuit challenging state vaccine mandates has been filed in the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, following a federal judge’s rejection of its claims. US District Judge Martha Vázquez issued a ruling Sept. 13 that repudicated arguments brought in a lawsuit challenging various vaccine mandates under New Mexico’s current health order. The plaintiffs include Jennifer Blackford, a nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, and Union County resident Talisha Valdez, who challenged, respectively, restrictions that went into effect in August requiring vaccinations for hospital workers as well as entrants to this year’s State Fair. US District Court declined to issue either a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction for them in August. Vázquez similarly ruled against them last week, writing: “To obtain preliminary injunctive relief, Plaintiffs are required to prove that they are substantially likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, that they will suffer irreparable injury if the Court denies the requested injunction, that the balance of harms weighs in their favor, and that the injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. As set forth above, Plaintiffs fail to satisfy their burden as to any, let alone all, of these factors.” For instance, Vázquez notes that the plaintiffs’ claims that the health order impairs their contractual agreements for employment at Presbyterian for Blackford and participation in the State Fair livestock show for Valdez fail on the merits because they didn’t provide evidence of such contracts; Presbyterian had its own vaccine mandate that would have impacted Blackford regardless; and the State Fair canceled its junior livestock competition and issued refunds. Nonetheless, Albuquerque lawyer A. Blair Dunn, who has filed a variety of lawsuits in the past challenging state health orders, filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit Sept. 15 and tells the Albuquerque Journal he believes the case, or a similar one, could end up at the US Supreme Court.

Weigh in

The City of Santa Fe’s much-discussed CHART project has launched an online questionnaire (here it is in English and here it is in Spanish) for Santa Fe residents (city and county) to provide feedback to Artful Life, the contractor managing the Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth initiative. The survey, which will remain open until Dec. 19, includes three questions, each limited to 300-word responses: 1. How can we come to a fuller understanding of the history of Santa Fe?; 2. How can we build healthier relationships while acknowledging our differences?; and 3. How can we become good ancestors to our children, their children and generations to come? Project Co-Directors Valerie Martinez and Jenice Gharib say they plan to finish reviewing applications for facilitators by tomorrow and finalize a team of eight to 12 core members by Sept. 30, at which point training will begin. “Please share the survey link with members of your family, your circles of friends and colleagues, and others who live in the city or county,” Martinez and Gharib said in a statement announcing the survey. “The more who respond, the better we are able to understand and learn from the community-at-large.”

Listen up

The new FX television show “Reservation Dogs” has been garnering critical praise for its depiction of Indigenous youth, with the Washington Post describing it as “an unforgettable (and caper-filled) portrait of a modern-day Native American community” and the Guardian noting that the show “wrings humor out of mundane dysfunction and too-human send-ups of Hollywood’s most consistent Native American tropes.” On the most recent episode of the weekly Film Talk podcast, hosts Jacques Paisner and Gary Farmer, along with producer Liesette Paisner Bailey, talk with the show’s executive producer, show-runner and writer Sterlin Harjo (Seminole and Muscogee) about the show’s genesis and working with Native writers, directors and actors (including Farmer and Santa Fe’s Wes Studio, who are both in the show). “You can tell…it was created by Natives,” Harjo says, “just the way it feels.”

Good morrow, indeed

Yet another traditional event returns this weekend after a pandemic-hiatus: the 13th Annual Santa Fe Renaissance Faire at El Rancho de las Golondrinas from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18-19. “We’ve got a little bit of adjustment for COVID, because of budgets and staffing, but the spirit of the festival is the same,” Victor Macias, manager of special events and site rentals, tells SFR, which highlights the fair in this week’s edition of SFR Picks. “Jousters, armored combat league, the Fairy Village and the Royal Court—so all the main players are still coming out.” The event takes place outdoors with 200 acres on which to social distance, and the museum has put additional COVID-safety practices into effect, including requiring all volunteers, staffers and vendors to wear masks. The museum also is only selling advanced tickets (free for kids 12 and under; $12 for adults and $10 for teens and seniors) and not selling them at the door.  “We want to control numbers for safety purposes this year, limiting it to about 3,000 per day,” Daniel Goodman, the museum’s director, says. “Tickets will be scanned, we’ll have increased cleaning schedules, sanitizing stations and the normal safety precautions.” Look for plenty of food, family-friendly activities and, we assume, at least one unicorn.

Sky trip

“The forecast was not promising. The sweeping New Mexican skies appeared clear and ribbons of cerulean, violet and indigo created an ombré horizon as the sun receded behind the West Mesa and the Rio Grande. But the clouds would soon roll in.” So begins Leslie Pariseau’s epic tale, “A road trip through the American Southwest” for Conde Nast Traveler. Those clouds initially squash her plan for “a road trip based entirely on seeing the darkest skies I could find, an increasingly rare phenomenon in an age shackled to the glow of artificial light.” Pariseau maps her route with some help from the International Dark-Sky Association and finds “the densest concentration of IDA-certified locations” around the Four Corners states. As the story’s opener notes, stargazing in New Mexico turns out to be a bit of a bust. Instead, she and her partner settle for an outdoor dinner at Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos one night and spend the next at Santa Fe’s Inn of Five Graces sitting by the fire “alternately peering out at a slurry of rain and holding my phone skyward, its screen locating where Sagittarius, Cassiopeia, Orion and Pisces might be were they not hidden by a thick mist.” Things improve when she hits Arizona and Utah, despite snow (we were unable to discern when this road trip took place), with the writer’s appreciation for the night sky intact: “Whereas languages die, paintings fade, buildings fall and entire cities crumble, the visible celestial plane exists almost exactly as it did when the dinosaurs were munching on treetops and one another.” Right on. At any rate, the story also recommends Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and the Cosmic Campground in the Gila National Forest for others seeking a sky-centric road trip.

We’re, like, totally in the 80s

If you enjoy sunny days with temps in the 80s, you are going to love today. And tomorrow. And Sunday. Yup, that’s what’s on tap for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service, which calls for a high of 86 degrees today with northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word discovered Ambicular, a Lofi vibes and rain sound generatorwith the help of another newsletter, and she’s digging it.

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