Morning Word

Judge Denies Bail to Man Accused in Baca Street Crime Spree

City Councilor Chris Rivera discloses COVID-19, urges vaccination

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 709 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 262,078; DOH has designated 232,320 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 198 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 76 and McKinley County with 45. Santa Fe County had 25 new cases.

The state also announced 14 additional deaths, 12 of them recent; there have now been 4,899 total fatalities. As of yesterday, 310 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 80.9% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 71.5% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 62% people have had at least one dose and 53.3% are fully inoculated. The percentages for the younger age groups represent a decline from last week. According to DOH, the department changed its coding from “age_group” to “age_group_today” in order to more accurately represent that demographic. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 91.8% have had at least one dose and 81.7% are fully vaccinated.Santa Fe City Councilor Chris Rivera revealed during last night’s Council meeting that he had contracted COVID-19—a breakthrough case as he was vaccinated last spring—and spent several days sick at home. While he said he was unsure how he had contracted the virus, once he tested positive, he and his family wore masks 24/7 at home “and no one in my immediate family got the virus except for me, so masks work.” Rivera reiterated public health advice, imploring people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. “I hear stories today of young people going [into the hospital] that didn’t have a vaccine and have passed away, and know someone who is going on their fourth week in the hospital from not having been vaccinated,” Rivera said. “I think it’s because [I was vaccinated] that I didn’t require a hospital. I was sick for a number of days but it was in my own home…so I implore you, please if you haven’t done so, get vaccinated, it made the difference for me.”

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

Judge denies bail to man arrested in Baca Street crime spree

First Judicial District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer denied bail yesterday for Jay Wagers, 25, who is facing 15 charges that include attempted murder and assault on a police officer. Wagers is accused of crimes that occurred Oct. 4 and led to lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders for residents, businesses and schools in the Baca Street area. The crime spree began at Owl’s Liquors, where Wagers allegedly shot an unhoused man who approached the car in which he was riding. From there, Wagers allegedly attempted to carjack several people in the Baca Street area, and threatened a woman with a knife in Counter Culture Cafe to try to steal her purse. All told, he faces as many as 101 years in prison, according to prosecutor Kent Wahlquist, with charges that include two counts of attempted murder; three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; two counts of battery on a peace officer; breaking and entering; shooting at or from a motor vehicle; and a felon in possession of a firearm. Wagers also is a person of interest in a separate shooting that occurred the same day that killed 39-year-old Joseph Aiello. Moreover, Wagers has a history of violent crime and ignoring conditions of release. “He hasn’t abided by electronic monitoring, he hasn’t abided by probation, and he has once again gone on a crime spree—and this is more of heightened crime spree,” Sommer said.

State treasurer supports lawmakers’ dispute with Gov

In a court filing with the state Supreme Court this week, State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg backed two lawmakers’ legal challenge of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s authority to spend federal relief money. State Sens. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, and state Sen. Greg Baca, R-Belen, filed suit against the governor’s office last month over what they characterized as unconstitutional spending of $1.7 billion in federal American Recovery Plan Act funds without legislative authorization. The case also names Eichenberg as a party of interest; his response, via his attorney Linda Helen Bennett, encouraged the Supreme Court to take up the case because it concerns questions related to the balance of power between the governor’s office and the Legislature. Bennett argues that public process should unfold to decide how funds should be spent, which “requires considerations of public policy and public priorities that must be conducted in the open with opportunity for public participation, which can and will only happen in a legislative process.” Moreover, “the federal government cannot, by allocation of funds, endow a [g]overnor, even a well-intentioned [g]overnor acting in the aftermath of a public health emergency, with powers greater than those granted by the State Constitution.” The governor’s office maintains there is legal precedent for her authority over the funds: “Courts have previously made clear the Legislature may appropriate state, not federal, funds,” Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett told the Albuquerque Journal.

On the map

New Mexico’s Citizens Redistricting Committee is scheduled tomorrow to select redistricting maps for consideration by state legislators in December. While the committee’s recommendations are non-binding, “the months-long process of collecting public input from hundreds of New Mexicans and disparate groups provides a window into choices before the Legislature,” Gwyneth Doland writes for New Mexico In Depth. Some current take-aways include Republicans’ concern that Democrats, who currently control the process, will redraw maps in such a way that benefits Democrats and disenfranchises areas where the GOP has enjoyed success, such as the state’s 2nd Congressional District. While the public redistricting process has garnered praise for its inclusiveness and transparency from many, it remains to be seen whether that approach will carry over once lawmakers become involved. Unlikely, says former Republican state Sen. Rod Adair. “I’m not sure what any of these people are going to accomplish,” said Adair, a demographer who has worked on several rounds of redistricting. “The majority is going to produce whatever maps they want and all the Republicans can do is stomp their feet.”

Listen up

The Santa Fe Opera season may have ended, but the Santa Fe Opera Guild offers a chance to further one’s knowledge of the form in an online lecture at 6 pm this evening: “The Silver Scream: Portrayals of Opera in Cinema.” Mark Tiarks, who previously served as the opera’s director of planning and marketing, will discuss opera favorites that became part of mainstream movies. As billed by the Guild: “Hear Frank Sinatra sing the ‘Seduction Duet’ from Don Giovanni! See Beverly Sills’ only cinema appearance! Watch Judy Garland and Betty Jaynes warble toe-to-toe in “Opera versus Swing” from Babes in Arms!” Complimentary for guild members, $10 for non-members. Register here.

Paris loves O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe’s first solo exhibition in France (through Dec. 6) wasn’t an easy sell for curator National Museum of Modern Art-Pompidou Center Didier Ottinger. O’Keeffe, after all, is mostly an unknown figure in Europe, the New Yorker writes in a review of the show, in some part due to her husband art dealer Alfred Stieglitz’s antagonism toward Europe, not to mention museums. “O’Keeffe? No one knows who she is,” Ottinger was told. “She is no one here.” The exhibit, critic Roxana Robinson says, is both expansive and gorgeous and contains examples of all of O’Keeffe’s important works (flowers, barns, skyscrapers etc): “In America, these paintings may be familiar, but here in Europe they seem to deliver a new message,” she writes. And then there’s her latter paintings from New Mexico: “The Southwestern landscapes are smooth, rich, and glowing, and in them O’Keeffe makes America into a mythic territory. These ringing blue skies, these wide roseate plains, these great, windy sweeps of land exist nowhere else. Hung in a museum in Paris, they stand out as utterly unique.” Robinson isn’t the only fan of the exhibit: “The critical reviews of the show are glowing; the crowds are large and interested,” she writes. “No thanks to Stieglitz for all this—though, at this level of prominence and distinction, probably even he would be proud. But, thanks to the Pompidou, O’Keeffe has finally arrived in Paris.”


The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival kicked off yesterday, and runs through Oct. 17, with a slew of movies, panels and parties. You can catch in-person screenings at Violet Crown, Jean Cocteau Cinema, the Railyard and the Wheelwright Museum Library, and some of this year’s selections also are available for virtual viewing. SFR chatted with actor Gary Farmer, who has been a part of the festival since its inception: “It was really my idea,” he says, after cofounder Jacques Paisner didn’t get into the Santa Fe Film Festival with a film Farmer had helped him make, “I said ‘Just show it,’ and so he showed it at the Jean Cocteau—and he made all his money back in three days. From there, we said ‘We should just have a festival.’” SFR also offers a look at a handful of the films you might want to see this week, such as Sage Me Not, from Institute of American Indian Arts student Erik Sanchez (Shoalwater Bay, Chinook and Chicano), which is part of SFIFF’s New Mexico shorts program this year. “During the pandemic, I started watching a bunch of scary movies,” Sanchez tells SFR. “And while what I was watching wasn’t as scary as what was on the news, this thing about Indian burial grounds kept coming up—so I kept looking for the Indian ghosts, but never saw one. That’s where the script came from.”

A place in the sun

Things are looking up, temperature wise anyway. The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high near 61 degrees and northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word would like to spend all day just staring at the winning photographs from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition (developed and produced by London’s Natural History Museum, where you can see even more photos from past years).

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