Morning Word

Groups Call On Lawmakers to Investigate Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Sen. Ivey-Soto

Gov signs bills to aide NM’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Crisis

Groups call for investigation of Sen. Ivey-Soto

Several dozen New Mexico advocacy organizations have signed an open letter urging state Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe; President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque; and Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Belen to investigate allegations made earlier this week by lobbyist Marianna Anaya of sexual harassment by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. “The very fact that this is where we are, in 2022, having to ask that a full and timely investigation be initiated, clearly shows that the existing policy system of reporting such abuses within New Mexico’s Legislature is extremely flawed and weak,” reads the letter, signed by Equality New Mexico, NM Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Common Cause New Mexico, NM Native Vote and many others. Several groups also issued individual statements, such as NMSCAP, which described itself as “disappointed in Senator Ivey-Soto’s responses to the sexual harassment and abuse allegations. The Senator has engaged in behavior best described as “DARVO”, a term coined by Dr. Jennifer Freyd, is a tactic frequently used by people who have been confronted after doing harm. The accused denies that the behavior occurred, attacks the individual(s) accusing or confronting them, and reverses the roles of victim and offender.” Equality New Mexico called out Ivey-Soto’s reference to Anaya’s sexual identity as a lesbian, noting that “sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault in all of their forms are about power— and they always have been. And LGBTQ Americans experience harassment in the workplace, and outside of it at very high rates.” LGBTQ New Mexicans, the statement notes, “deserve access to justice when we are wronged, Marianna Anaya is due this, at the very least.”

Gov signs bills to help missing and murdered Indigenous women

The state Attorney General’s Office will now have a dedicated specialist in its office focused on missing Indigenous people, and an annual event will bring the families of those people together each year to provide support and resources. Both come as a result of legislation (Senate Bills 12 and 13) signed yesterday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in an Albuquerque ceremony with state and tribal leaders. “This critical step forward will help unite our communities and New Mexico’s anguished families,” state Sen. Shannon Pinto, D-Gallup, one of SB12′s sponsors, said in a statement. “A very special thanks and recognition goes to the relatives of the Missing and Murdered, whose tireless and dedicated focus on this issue helped to get us to this place.” Lujan Grisham’s statement noted that “while these measures will not on their own bring an end to this crisis, they are important tools in our continued fight to deliver answers to families across the state and hold those responsible accountable. I thank the members of New Mexico’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force for their continued dedication to identifying solutions and delivering answers.” According to the governor’s office, New Mexico has 926 missing people; that data stems from the task force’s report at the end of 2020, which provided the first attempt at quantifying the longstanding crisis. The task force meets at 11 am today.

NM teams up with western states for federal hydrogen $

While New Mexico lawmakers put the kibosh on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Hydrogen Hub Development Act in the face of criticism from environmental groups, a new regional agreement will allow the state to compete for a portion of the $8 billion allocated for hydrogen hubs in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The governor’s office announced yesterday New Mexico will compete jointly with Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for a portion of the money as a Western Inter-States Hydrogen Hub. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the states will collaborate on a response to a Request for Information issued Feb. 15 by the Department of Energy, and on a proposal request expected from the DOE in May. “New Mexico is proud to be part of this powerful collaboration with other western governors during this pivotal time of expanding clean energy,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “New Mexico’s commitment to growing renewable energy and meeting its ambitious climate goals lays the foundation for a thriving clean hydrogen economy. Make no mistake, New Mexico and our partner states will succeed in developing the nation’s most productive clean hydrogen hub.”

AG launches energy security task force

PNM’s plan to avoid summer blackouts in 2022 not withstanding, the prospect of electricity shortages coupled with other dangers posed by extreme heat have prompted Attorney General Balderas to launch a new task force. The AG’s office yesterday announced an Energy Security Investigation and Emergency Preparedness Task Force comprised of state, local and tribal government leaders to assess the state’s preparedness for extreme heat. “With the looming threat of blackouts during extreme heat waves and increased global risks, it’s critical that we investigate our energy security capacity and examine our infrastructure and response plans,” Balderas said in a statement. “High temperatures for days on end are a significant health risk to all New Mexicans. If the threatened blackout risks become a reality, vulnerable families must be protected. All levels of government need to prepare for these heat events as they would any other natural disaster.” According to a news release, the AG’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Division has also been meeting with PNM, industry experts and other interest groups to “explore the legal and technical options for avoiding blackouts this summer.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Feb. 24:

New cases: 628 (a 15.4% increase from the day prior); 510,330 total cases

Top three counties: Bernalillo County with 165; Doña Ana County with 90; San Juan County with 62

Santa Fe County: 41, 14 from the 87505 ZIP code, which ranked 8th in the state among ZIP codes for the most new cases

Breakthrough cases: According to the most recent weekly vaccine report, between Jan. 24-Feb. 21, 48.9% of COVID-19 cases were among people who had not completed a primary vaccination series; 29.5% were among those who had completed the series but had not received a booster; and 21.6% were among those who were fully vaccinated and boosted. For hospitalizations, those figures change to 64.2%, 20.1% and 15.6%. The percentages shift to 61.7%, 22.5% and 15.8% for fatalities.

Deaths: 22, 26 of them recent; there have been 6,873 total deaths statewide. Hospitalizations: As of yesterday, 339 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 (11 fewer than the day before).

Vaccinations: 91.8% percent of adults 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 78% have completed their primary series; 44% of adults 18 years and older have had a booster shot; 12-17-year-old age group: 70.9% of people have had at least one dose and 60.8% have completed their primary series; Children ages 5-11: 38% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 28.8% have completed their primary; Santa Fe County: 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 86.9% have completed their primary series

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

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

Listen up

A podcast dedicated to talking to public defenders? Yes, indeed. The Public Defenseless Podcast, hosted by Hunter Parnell, in its own words “uncovers the rot at the heart of our criminal justice system and what you can do about it,” with each episode focusing on a specific public defender. And, in a recent episode, Parnell talks with New Mexico Chief Public Defender Bennet Baur about the state’s Law Offices of the Public Defender, its history, struggles with case loads, how the system works and more.

Ukrainians in NM organize aid

KRQE reports Ukrainian natives living in New Mexico want to organize help for their friends and family, whose country is under attack by Russia. Nataliya Pavlenko Edelman, who grew up in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, tells the station as the attacks began yesterday, “my friends started to call me and just like screaming and crying, and they say it’s bombing. Many people crying, because we couldn’t help. We don’t know how to help them right now.” Pavlenko Edelman, who is president of Ukrainian Americans of New Mexico, says she and other native Ukrainians in the state have been reaching out to state lawmakers to find ways to help people in Ukraine, and are working on organizing a public demonstration at 1 pm tomorrow, although a location has not yet been announced. “We can provide some food, we can provide the places to stay,” Pavlenko Edelman says. “We will do everything what we can do here.”

US Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, both Democrats from New Mexico, yesterday reinforced the White House’s denunciation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “This is an unjustified and unprovoked war started by a dangerous dictator,” Heinrich said in a statement. “For years, I have worked against Russia’s cyber and covert attacks against democracies, from Ukraine’s to our own. Russia has now begun an overt and direct attack on the people of Ukraine, the decades-old peace in Europe, and democracy itself.” Luján’s statement also described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s as “unprovoked and unjustified,” noting “this violent action is not only an attack on Ukraine, but also an assault on the principles of democracy and a threat to global security.” He added: “My prayers are with the people of Ukraine who awoke to the sounds of war in their country and in their homes.”

Park it here

The National Park Foundation yesterday announced the official launch of ParkVentures, part of its Outdoor Exploration initiative, aimed at supporting programs that help foster relationships with national parks “with a focus on communities that have been historically excluded from parks and may not feel a sense of belonging in the outdoors.” For its first year, the program is providing grants to nearly 60 projects that focus on several elements identified as creating barriers to such equity, including representation, accessibility and interpretation. Two New Mexico projects received grants: Indigenous Family Day at Petroglyph National Monument, which “will bring together Pueblo and Tribal crew members and their families, along with Pueblo and Tribal families and Elders from across the region for a special day of prayer, healing, and reflection honoring their ancestral and ongoing connections to the lands within the Monument.” Healing Lands and Connections is an outreach program for people in recovery in northern New Mexico, which will reach out to local rehabilitation facilities to provide guided hikes and recovery focused activities at Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Aprés ski clinic

Perhaps, like us, you assume all Outside employees are champion skiers, runners and swimmers who regularly break the laws of gravity while outfitted in high-tech performance fabrics. Granted, their collective athletic prowess is likely more impressive than, say, that of a staff of an alternative newsweekly (although we could probably beat them at trivia...maybe). At any rate, all this to say, Outside Associate Podcast Producer Maren Larsen’s recent personal essay about taking ski lessons as an adult provides both the personal story of Larsen’s struggle to improve her skiing, as well as an up-close view of Taos Ski Valley’s annual locals’ clinic. The clinic makes ski lessons more affordable than usual ($300 per person), and provides opportunities individual skiers might not find on their own. “By the end of that first day, we’d taken drops and detours I never would have attempted alone,” Larsen writes. “I survived a double-black-diamond run I’d taken a day-ending spill on the previous season. And I had a lot to think about: between laps on expert terrain, [instructor] Tom also reviewed the basics, making me consciously analyze what, exactly, was happening when I leaned into my habitually messy turns.” In addition to gaining specific skills, Larsen’s confidence improved and, along with the rest of the class, she ended the series skiing down from Kachina Peak. Yes, it’s too late to do this this season, but there’s always next year. And speaking of mountains, Ski Santa Fe has lessons too, along with live music this Sunday at Totemoff’s.

Cold comfort

Today should be a teensy bit warmer than yesterday, according to the National Weather Service, with sunny skies, a high temperature near 45 degrees and east wind 10 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Saturday looks about the same, and Sunday’s high temp will be in the high 40s. As for next week, apparently Santa Fe temperatures start to climb on Monday and will be in the low 60s by Wednesday.

Thanks for reading! The Word doesn’t know if others went looking for a reading list about Ukraine yesterday but, if so, here’s one that looks good. If you also went looking for underwater meditation videos, check out the Cayman Reef Meditation room.

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