Morning Word

Election Day Arrives!

Plus: Hearing examiner recommends against PNM/Avangrid merger and Santa Fe Community College rolls out vaccine mandate

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 2,630 new COVID-19 cases for the three-day period of Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, bringing the statewide total to 277,835; the health department has designated 244,893 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 658 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 404 and Doña Ana County with 329. Santa Fe County had 102.

The state also announced 12 additional deaths, eight of them recent; there have now been 5,061 fatalities. As of yesterday, 368 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 82.4% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 72.6% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 10.9% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 62.6% people have had at least one dose and 54.4% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, 93.3% people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 82.5% are fully vaccinated.

New Mexicans can register for a COVID-19 vaccine here and check eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine booster here.

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

SFCC announces vaccine mandate

Santa Fe Community College announced yesterday it will begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccine requirements for faculty, staff and students at the end of the month. All faculty and staff who work on campus or need to be at any college facility will need to have received at least their first Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Nov. 30, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by convocation on Jan. 6, 2022 or to have obtained a vaccine exemption. Students taking in-person courses will need to have either one Pfizer or Moderna dose or single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Jan. 18 and will have until Feb. 18 to receive their second doses. SFCC President Becky Rowley tells SFR school officials “were pretty sure we were going to do this early on,” but wanted to ensure they had “the capacity to enforce the mandate” and time to work out the details. The school has been focusing on raising vaccination rates in advance of a mandate, with Rowley saying they are already high—in line with those of Santa Fe County. “We are not anticipating many faculty or staff who do not agree with the mandate,” Rowley said. “The feedback that we’ve received, especially from our faculty, is they want the mandate; they will feel better when they know that a large majority of their students are vaccinated. So spring semester should make them feel a little bit easier.” The school also anticipates continuing to offer online and hybrid courses on par with what has been happening throughout the pandemic.

Time to vote

Polls in today’s consolidated local election opened at 7 am and will remain open until 7 pm, with candidates in all four City Council districts and a three-way mayoral race between incumbent Alan Webber, Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler and Alexis Martinez Johnson. Today’s ballots in Santa Fe County also include Santa Fe Public Schools GO Bond and Mill Levy questions, and some will have two uncontested Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education seats (President Kate Noble in district 3 and Sascha Guinn Anderson in district 5), along with uncontested seats for the Community College Governing Board (Linda Siegle in position 1 and Xubi Wilson in position 4). For those reading from other parts of Northern New Mexico, your ballots may include school board positions in Española, Pojoaque and Edgewood, as well as some other uncontested seats on various soil and water conservation and water sanitation districts. You will find a list of polling locations here. In two of the City of Santa fe’s municipal races (District 1 and the mayoral’s race), voters will have the option of ranking the candidates. You can read up on how that works here. SFR will have coverage on election day and results, (we hope) as they arrive, on our website (we’ll also be tweeting as well if you do that sort of thing). The Secretary of State’s Office will post unofficial results here. You can read up on SFR’s endorsements for mayor and the contested City Council seats here and read all of our election coverage here. Santa Fe County League of Women Voters also produced a comprehensive guide to today’s elections: Voila.

Examiner recommends against PNM/Avangrid merger

Public Regulation Commissioner Hearing Examiner Ashley Schannauer yesterday recommended PRC commissioners reject a proposed merger between PNM Resources and Avangrid. “The potential harms of the proposed transaction outweigh the benefits,” Schannauer wrote, adding that “the changes negotiated” by the merger applicants “to satisfy the narrow interests of individual parties have not produced a result that is in the public interest.” Schannauer’s recommendation doesn’t bind PRC commissioners. The merger request in late 2020 led to two weeks of public hearings and a “stipulated agreement” between PNMR and Avangrid with dozens of case participants. However, that agreement led to another agreement—the so-called “June 4 stipulation,” which Schannauer also recommends not being approved due to numerous changes made to said agreement: “The number of amendments the signatories have proposed after executing the June 4 stipulation and the conflicts among the proposed amendments indicate there is no longer an agreement that can be approved,” Schannauer writes, noting that while Avangrid and PNMR have either proposed or are willing to accept more than 40 modifications to that agreement, among others “there is no agreement on the modification.” Schannauer’s memo also notes concerns about potential diminishment of service; Avangrid’s credit rating; and a criminal investigation in Spain of an Avangrid subsidiary, among other issues.

Listen up

Santa Fe Institute’s InterPlanetary Project presents two free virtual panel discussions this week in partnership with the New School Policy and Design for Outer Space, as part of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale. At 10 am today, critic and theorist Fred Scharmen and urban planner Ethan Hudgins, along with Interplanetary Festival alums Ann M. Pendleton-Jullian (architect and design theorist) and moderator Jake Harper (artist and founder of Soot) participate in a talk titled, “Danger Zone—Space Architecture and Policy,” and examine what designing structures for outer space means for the role of the architect and policy maker. Register here. At 10 am on Thursday, Nov. 4, a talk on “Lunar Denizens: Down to Earth” will be the third and final session of the Lunar Denizens series: investigations imagining the protocols, folklore and artifacts shaping the mythos of a permanent lunar settlement. The talk will include Charmian Griffin, Joseph Popper, julijonas urbonas and SFI’s InterPlanetary Director Caitlin McShea. Register here.

November honors Native American Heritage

The start of November also kicks off Native American Heritage Month with, naturally, many ways to celebrate here in New Mexico. The state Tourism Department has rounded up 14 of those, including a visit to Acoma Sky City, Taos Pueblo and Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, to name just a few. National Geographic will host a free virtual free 35-minute field trip at 11 am MST, Nov. 15—with videos, Q&A segments and supplementary materials—which will feature storyteller Jim Enote (Zuni), a National Geographic Explorer, artist and farmer. Enote also is the creator of the Zuni Map Art Project, which displays connections between stories, places and identity in the Zuni culture. Register here. US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) marked the month yesterday, noting via Twitter: “This month we honor the gifts of our ancestors as we celebrate Indigenous knowledge, traditions, language and culture.” US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández also also released a statement: “This Native American Heritage Month let us recognize that our country has often fallen short of the treaty obligations we have to sovereign native nations. Native communities are often unheard and underinvested in. Now is the time for historic action to remedy centuries of harm.” And Google’s doodle yesterday honored the late We:wa of Zuni Pueblo, a potter, mediator, weaver and artist, drawn by Zuni Pueblo artist Mallery Quetawki. A “Behind the Doodle” video discusses the late We:wa’s legacy and the Zuni Pueblo.

Fear and loathing at Indian Market

We don’t normally find ourselves reading about Santa Fe Indian Market in November, when the summer’s highlights are in the rearview window, but made a happy exception for Simon Moya-Smith’s new Fodor’s essay, “Dodging Death and Seeking Love at the Santa Fe Indian Market.” Moya-Smith, an Oglala Lakota and Chicano writer and journalist, describes the assignment as “drop into Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico and take in the scene, eat the fare, play, plot, and maybe find a wife or at least a ‘snag,’ which is Indigenous speak for the one who’ll keep you warm, if only for a night.” We won’t spoil the story and tell you how Moya-Smith fared in the wife department, but can say he describes the market in vivid and refreshing details. For example: “Ten-thousand-dollar sculptures are purchased like pears at a farmers’ market. Sixteen dollars for three tacos is highway robbery and a clear indication that brown people don’t own the joint. Hippies and hipsters are weighed down with too much turquoise and they move like wealthy snails. And then, suddenly, the aroma of good weed creeps around the corner. The old white man with dreads offers you a hit. ‘I thought you’d never ask.’” Lest you think the essay is solely critical of the city’s largest tourist event, worry not. By its end, Moya-Smith reflects: “Beauty. Beautiful. Badass Natives. Santa Fe Indian Market and then the after-parties. Sitting alone and listening to Native laughter 520 years after the white man first stumbled here. We live. We strive. We’re alive. Have I eaten? Are there tacos? Who’s on the stage? It’s Morningstar Angeline, the actor and musician, and Ashley Moyer, the beatboxer, and I fall in love all over again. Dangerous.” If the story whets your appetite to read more from Moya-Smith, his book Your Spirit Animal is Jackass is forthcoming.

Cloud cover

Today will start off cloudy, according the National Weather Service, and then gradually become mostly sunny, with a high near 59 degrees and southeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word plans to at least attempt to read the 26 essays the London Review of Books pulled out from behind its paywall for the duration of COP26, aka a fortnight, aka two weeks.

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