Morning Word

Rancorous State Senate Passes NM Redistricting Plan

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s investigator seeks Alec Baldwin’s cell phone

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 1,299 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 335,617. DOH has designated 286,058 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 398 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 185 and Chaves County with 78. Santa Fe County had 67 new cases. The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is now 9.8%; the state’s target rate is 7.5%.

The state also announced 33 more deaths, 30 of them recent, including a female in her 70s from Santa Fe County who had been hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Santa Fe County has now had 191 deaths; there have been 5,549 total fatalities statewide. As of yesterday, 661 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. The most recent DOH vaccination case report says over the last four weeks, 72% of cases have been among those who are not vaccinated, as have 81.2% of hospitalizations and 81.6% of deaths.

Currently, 87.4% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75.2% are fully vaccinated. Among that demographic, 29.2% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 65.5% of people have had at least one dose and 56.3% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 22.5% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 10.5% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 85% are fully vaccinated.

New Mexicans can register for a COVID-19 vaccine here, schedule a COVID-19 vaccine booster here and view a public calendar for vaccine availability here. Parents can add dependents to their vaccine profiles here. You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Search warrant issued for Alec Baldwin’s cell phone

Santa Fe County Magistrate Judge David Segura issued a search warrant yesterday for actor Alec Baldwin’s cell phone as part of the ongoing investigation into the Oct. 21 incident in which Baldwin fired a weapon on the film set of Rust that contained live ammunition, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. In an affidavit, Santa Fe County Sheriff Detective Alexandria Hancock requests Baldwin’s phone—believed to be an iPhone—along with a “forensic download,” to include pictures, deleted pictures, videos, audio recordings, social media accounts, internet browser histories, contact lists, text messages and more. The affidavit also requests access to any cloud accounts held by Baldwin and its GPS data. In her affidavit, Hancock describes an interview with Baldwin following the shooting—during which he had been advised of his Miranda rights—and his description of the scene he had been rehearsing in which “he slowly takes the gun out of the holster, then very dramatically turns it and cocks the hammer, which is when the gun goes off.”

Baldwin also disclosed there had been emails transferred back and forth between him and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed in which she “showed him different styles of guns. He said he requested a bigger gun, and she also showed him different styles of knives for the production. Alec was shown a Colt with a brown handle, and a cherry handle, and he ultimately chose the one with the brown handle,” the affidavit notes. Hancock also documents a brief search of Gutierrez-Reed’s phone where she discovered conversations related to the Rust production dating back to July 14 (filming began on Oct. 6, according to the affidavit). Hancock states she “believes there may be evidence on the phone, due to individuals using cellular phones during and/or after the commission of crime(s)[and]…was also made aware there were several emails and text messages sent and received regarding [Rust] in the course of interviews.”

SFPD charge shooter in October homicide

Santa Fe Police have now filed charges in the Oct. 4 homicide of 39-year-old Joseph Aiello against Jay Wagers, 25, who was previously charged with nearly a dozen felony counts for a series of violent incidents the same day, including a male who was shot at Owl’s Liquor Store and sustained life-threatening injuries, and a female who was shot at while driving on Baca Street, when a male subject attempted a carjacking. “Santa Fe Police detectives have continued diligently investigating these incidents and have now confirmed through ballistic testing, that the firearm located on Mr. Wagers’ person at the time of incident was in fact the firearm that was used in all of the shooting incidents” on Oct. 4, including Aiello’s homicide. As a result, SFPD has charged Wagers with first-degree murder; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; and felon in possession of a firearm. The case remains under active investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Anthony Sweeny at or 505-955-5401.

Legislators pass Senate redistricting following harsh debate

Lawmakers yesterday resolved a stalemate over Senate Bill 2—legislation to redistrict state Senate seats—following what the Albuquerque Journal describes as an “unusually harsh, racially tinged debate.” The map will place two Hispanic Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca of Belen and Sen. Joshua Sanchez of Bosque, into one district, requiring them to run against one another if they seek re-election come 2024. An amendment that would have unpaired them prompted outcry earlier this week from Native American leaders regarding deviations from months of work tribal and pueblo leaders had contributed to the map, and set off negotiations for the most of the week. The map approved, however, provoked outrage from Baca and others for its impact, they said, on Hispanic communities. Baca described the map as racist. Albuquerque Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who recently switched his political affiliation from Democratic to Independent, decried what he said was a negative impact on Hispanic neighborhoods. “I, for one, am just fed up as a person of color being told by the elite what is best for me and my community,” Candelaria said. The map sets up 15 districts where Hispanic residents comprise the majority of the adult population, one fewer than the current map. The bill, which passed the Senate 25-13, now heads to the House. However, Candelaria told the Santa Fe New Mexican following the vote he and others are considering a legal challenge. Lawmakers also finalized a spending plan for $478 million American Rescue Act funds; that bill now heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Peace on Earth

Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester will hold an “Unveiling and Blessing of a Sign of Peace” at 1 pm this Sunday, Dec. 19 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe (417 Agua Fria St, Santa Fe, NM 87501). The event, according to a news release from the archdiocese, is intended to “initiate a comprehensive conversation on nuclear disarmament as a critical step toward world peace” because Wester “believes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a special role to play in facilitating this urgent dialogue.” The event will take place outdoors and attendees—in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe—are encouraged to bring “a rose, their hopes, prayers and aspirations for a peaceful world.” Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety says the location has “added significance because, less than 100 yards away, Los Alamos National Laboratory is leasing an office building for its expanding work force, as it ramps up production of plutonium pits, or cores, for new nuclear weapons. This is part of the accelerating nuclear arms race, arguably more dangerous than the Cold War.”

Listen up

‘Tis the season for caroling and holiday music, including a festive tune from Santa Fe singer-songwriter Eryn Bent, who has just released the video for her original song “Christmas in Santa Fe,” filmed recently at Frogville Records. If you’d like more local takes on the holiday season, KRQE gathered those last year and, while we’re at it, here’s a compilation of artists from the first volume of “Christmas in New Mexico.” Meanwhile, out in the world, keep your eyes open for carolers. SFR recently caught a snippet of Desert Chorale’s pop-up at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center—the group’s winter music festival “Nochebuena” runs through Dec. 22, but you can also purchase a video recording to watch at home (it will be available Dec. 24; you can scope the trailer here).

Watch the shop

Forget shipping containers and supply chain woes. Santa Fe’s local artisans and crafts people will be out in force from 5 to 9 pm this evening for Vital Spaces’ Winter Market, going down inside the Farmers Market Pavilion. You’ll find art, jewelry, ceramics, accessories, cards and other items from more than 50 artists and makers. Plus, the event (masks required) will include cider from New Mexico Hard Cider; food from the Mas Chile food truck; biscochitos and hot chocolate from Santa Fe Biscochito Company; music from DJ Ride; and, we’re guessing, a little pre-holiday socializing. Want a sneak peak? You’re in luck. Vital Spaces Winter Market has been spotlighting vendors on its Instagram account. To be frank, everything looks amazing, but we’re extra jazzed to ogle Monica Watson’s jewelry; check out the New Mexico-based pop-up Alcove Books; and potentially stock up on Brenda’s Botanicals (just to start). And be sure to stop by Vital Spaces’ table where you can enter a raffle for a Santa Fe staycation package that includes lots of goodies.

Holiday in Santa Fe

With your holiday shopping out of the way, you can sink into the non-consumer spirit of the season on Sunday, Dec. 19 when the City of Santa Fe, Chainbreaker Collective and a slew of other folks sponsor a Posolada and Farolito Cruise from 4 to 7 pm on the Midtown site. The event marks the culmination of the public engagement process regarding Midtown’s future, and folks attending will be asked to fill out a survey to share their thoughts. Doing so will earn you a raffle ticket and possibly win you a bicycle. Chainbreaker also will be distributing food bags and posole, and there will be music and plenty of holiday community spirit (vaccines and boosters also will be available at the event). Chainbreaker Executive Director Tomas Rivera tells SFR the event is the Chainbreaker’s annual holiday celebration, but this year the organization partnered with the city and the Midtown engagement partnership groups (UNM Design and Planning Assistance Center, Santa Fe Art Institute and the Santa Fe Indigenous Center, to name just a few) for this year’s edition because the sense of community and “hope embedded” in Midtown reflects the spirit of the annual Posolada. A car show kicks the celebration off at 4 pm, followed by a city program with speakers from the Midtown Engagement partners and Mayor Alan Webber, as well City Councilors Rene Villarreal and Jamie Cassutt (people will be asked to remain in their cars during the program like a drive-in movie and the event will be broadcast live on KSWV 99.5 radio). “We’re doing this to celebrate the culmination of the community input phase,” Rivera tells SFR. “Particularly because…the farolitos are about welcoming people back and that’s what this community event is about doing.”

Train of thought

Nothing says festive like riding a train with Santa Claus. Or so we’ve read. Travel and Leisure magazine cheers this month’s debut of Santa Fe’s latest experience, Sky Railway, the new adventure train brought to life by the city’s favorite patron, George R. R. Martin, along with a group of other artists and business folks, including author Douglas Preston, National Dance Institute of New Mexico cofounder Catherine Oppenheimer, artist Gary Oakley and Bill Banowsky, who owns Violet Crown Cinema. “We aren’t your average railway, far from it,” Martin says in the story. “For us, it isn’t about taking folks from point A to point B, it’s about transporting them to another time and reality.” One would expect no less from the mind behind Game of Thrones and the early Meow Wolf backer. This month offers a variety of such adventures, such as Pablo’s Magical Holiday, which includes both a ride with Santa Claus and a chance to hear how he helped Pablito save Christmas in New Mexico. The excursion also features a holiday singalong, and a journey to a wondrous Elf village near the Lamy Depot for cookies and hot chocolate. If you’re already booked for Christmas, the New Year’s Eve ride will include live music, champagne and more festivities. Non-holiday events run the gamut, from a sunset serenade to the interactive Murder on the Lamy Line mystery game.

The cold after the storm

A sunny, cold and clear weekend beckons, Santa Fe. Today’s high should be right around 44 degrees and drop to the neighborhood of 38 degrees on Saturday with wind chill values as low as zero on Saturday night. Back in the low 40s on Sunday. Northern New Mexico continues to reckon with fall-out from Wednesday’s wind storms: the Santa Fe Regional Airport sustained nearly $1 million in damages, while emergency shelters have been set up in Rio Arriba County for those impacted by the storms and/or power outages. Taos County also has set up shelters, and declared a state of emergency following the damage from Wednesday’s storm.

Thanks for reading! The Word always appreciates when science champions naps. And speaking of naps, we won’t be entirely unconscious for the next week, but we are taking a little break. Your loquacious daily newsletter returns Dec. 27 to wrap up the year.

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