Morning Word

Gov. Raises Over $2.5 Mil for Re-election, Pays out to Settle Harassment Claims

Election officials: No same-day voter registration Nov. 2

COVID-19 by the numbers

Due to the three-day holiday weekend, New Mexico has not had a COVID-19 update since Friday, Oct. 8. At that point, New Mexico health officials reported 972 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 258,943; DOH has designated 229,031 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 240 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 164 and Santa Fe County had the third highest number of new cases in the state: 62.

The state also announced 15 additional deaths, 12 of them recent; there have now been 4,869 fatalities statewide. As of Friday, 342 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 80.7% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 71.3% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, the state is currently reporting that 61.8% people have had at least one dose and 53.1% are fully inoculated; however, these percentages represent a decline since last week—SFR has a pending request to the health department for information regarding that discrepancy. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 91.3% have had at least one dose and 81.3% are fully vaccinated.

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

‘Tis campaign finance season

Ten political campaigns have been referred to the state Ethics Commission, following a spot-check of 2020 financial campaign reports. The random sampling of 10% of accounts, approximately 110 reports, resumed for the first time since 2016, with officials citing insufficient resources as partially responsible for the gap. The audit, required under the state’s Campaign Reporting Act, looks for discrepancies such as: unregistered political action committees; unauthorized expenditures; and exceeding political contribution limits. A report issued on Friday also identified approximately 30 other reports with discrepancies in which the issues were resolved. The unresolved accounts—which will now be reviewed by the Ethics Commission and possibly state prosecutors should enforcement action be required—include former state Sen. Phil Griego, whose campaign has $17,900 in outstanding fines and an account balance of more than $41,000; Griego served more than a year and a half in prison starting in 2018 after conviction in a political scandal. Other referred accounts include a political action committee for former state Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, who died in 2017, and whose account was cited for double reporting a contribution to state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, from both the PAC and campaign account. Other political committees referred to the Ethics Commission include the Sierra County Democratic Party; the Curry County Republican Party; and the Lea County Federated Republican Women.

Meanwhile, yesterday marked the deadline for candidates to file current campaign finance reports (although they actually have until today as yesterday was a holiday). Thus far, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has raised $2.5 million since April for her re-election campaign next year “putting her squarely on the path for victory,” her campaign said in a news release. The governor’s campaign also paid an additional $87,500 payment over the last six months to settle harassment accusations from a former campaign spokesman who accused the governor of pouring water on his crotch and then grabbing said crotch while laughing (allegations denied by the governor and her campaign). All told, the campaign spent $150,000 to settle the allegations, prompting castigation from the state Republican Party. Among the seven Republicans hoping to challenge Lujan Grisham in next year’s general election, state Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, appears to be in the lead financially; she has raised more than $440,000 thus far in her GOP gubernatorial primary bid.

NM nixes same-day voter registration for Nov. 2

Planning to register to vote on Election Day, Nov. 2? Don’t. While voters were able to employ same-day registration for the first time in the June primary, it won’t be available next month. Residents can continue registering to vote during early voting, but registering to vote on Election Day requires approval from the Voting System Certification Committee. New Mexico ran same-day registration in June as a pilot program, according to the state’s election director, Mandy Vigil. Speaking to legislators last month, Vigil said that while close to 2% of voters used same-day registration in June, some technical issues need to be addressed before it’s used again. Those reportedly include improvements to the County Clerks Portal, fixing a software bug and improving email notifications. Early voting at the Santa Fe county clerk’s office (100 Catron St.) continues through Oct. 15, during which residents can register and vote in-person; expanded and early voting runs Oct. 16-30, at which point voters will be able to register and vote at several locations. For more information on the upcoming election, see SFR’s election coverage.

NMHU/ SFPS partner for free tuition

ICYMI, on Friday, Santa Fe Public Schools and New Mexico Highlands University announced a new agreement that will allow qualifying students to potentially graduate debt-free from college. “This is an exciting opportunity for students to take their learning to the next level close to home and fully supported. Students who complete their degree track have the opportunity to be free of college debt as they enter their adult lives,” Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez said in a statement. “Imagine having up to four years of tuition, fees, room and board at a four-year university fully covered! That’s the future that awaits our qualifying students under this agreement,” he said. The so-called “full-ride” agreement is “in line with the NMHU vision” to “help transform lives and communities,” NMHU Vice President Theresa Law said in a statement. “The collaboration will show that we can do great things working together and is in the spirit of New Mexico values at their best.” The agreement covers current juniors and seniors who have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA at the end of their junior year; students must apply to the NMHU Scholarship Foundation by Dec. 31. More info available here.

Listen up

How, precisely, has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted mental health? Dr. Kristina Sowar, an associate professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychology at the University of New Mexico, will discuss this question, and review data on the topic, during an online lecture from 6 to 7 pm this evening via Zoom. Sowar will also consider how COVID has specifically affected individuals of all ages, with and without pre-existing conditions, and also take questions and observations during the event, which is sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Santa Fe. Register here.

Dwell on this

Home design magazine Dwell features an on-the-market Santa Fe residence, 1223 La Rambla, listed at $3.75 million by Sotheby’s International Realty. Located in Los Miradores (a gated community near St. John’s College), the property’s owners, a lawyer and physician couple who relocated to Santa Fe from Los Angeles, extensively renovated what was once a two-unit condo in order to highlight their extensive art collection. “We did our best to create a place that had the warmth of a home,” the couple says, “but still had the space of a gallery to display the art and sculpture we love.” Doing so involved adding gallery walls, covering exposed staircases and adding two high windows above sliding glass doors in order to view “the beautiful treetops.” Their riskiest design decision, they say, was holding onto an ‘80s-era indoor bar. But doing so all worked out for the best! “The bar has been updated with Moroccan-style marble tile and dark quartz tops, and it has proven to be a very nice entertaining spot.”

Too big to count

Too much data? Yes, that’s a thing. Slate magazine explores the federal government’s quest to pare down its particulars, specifically the Department of Energy’s $13.7 million data reduction initiative. “We are drowning in data,” Rafael Hiriart, a computer scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, tells Slate. The observatory’s forthcoming next-gen Very Large Array radio telescope will generate 20 million gigabytes of night sky observations monthly and require a computer that can perform 100 quadrillion floating-point operations per second (apparently only two supercomputers on Earth are fast enough to pull off that feat). Officials say most scientists are facing similar challenges—”Big Data” that’s too big—hence, the research initiative to find ways to eliminate unnecessary data while holding onto the valuable stuff. That research is needed, Sandia National Laboratory mechanical engineer Jackie Chen says.”We have the opportunity to generate data that gives us unprecedented glimpses into complex processes,” she says, “but what to do with all that data? And how do you extract meaningful scientific information from that data? And how do you reduce it to a form that somebody that’s actually designing practical devices like engines can use?” Stay tuned.

Brrr!

Look for a turn in the weather today and tonight, with a 50% chance of showers before 3 pm. Otherwise, it should be partly sunny, with a high near 54 degrees and super windy, with a south wind 15 to 20 mph becoming southwest 25 to 30 mph in the afternoon and possible gusts up to 40 mph (before you complain, Gallup has apparently already reported 59 mph winds!). Tonight, Santa Fe could experience a low temperature of 27 degrees—yes, that’s freezing—along with more gusty wind.

Thanks for reading! Due to a dubious Google alert combined with early morning confusion, The Word just watched the entirety of this recent Enfants Riches Déprimés fashion show in Paris and is now bemusedly imagining herself skulking and scowling around Santa Fe donning similar outfits.

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