State Supreme Court orders Otero County to certify election
In response to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s emergency filing on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court yesterday issued an order to the Otero County Commission to certify its June 7 primary election results. Otero County’s three-member commission had refused to do so Monday night, citing unfounded concerns regarding Dominion Voting Machines. One of those commissioners, of course, is Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, currently awaiting sentencing after he was convicted for illegally entering restricted US Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6, 2021 riots. The commission’s refusal to certify election results made the national news yesterday, with stories such as: “A small county in New Mexico shows where ‘big lie’ delusions can lead” from the Washington Post and “New Mexico county gives Trump-inspired fascism a test run” from MSNBC. Earlier this week, former Attorney General Bill Barr referenced the conspiracy theory involving Dominion Voting Machines as an example of his belief that former President Donald Trump had “become detached from reality” during the 2020 election. Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News for disseminating those conspiracy theories is scheduled for next year. “I applaud the Court for their swift decision in granting my Office’s request to compel the Otero County Commission to follow their constitutional duties and duty under the Election Code to certify the results of the 2022 Primary Election,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “The voters and candidates of Otero County can now be assured that their voices will be heard in full. Though it was sad to see the Commission give in to discredited conspiracy theories and try to halt the legal process of election certification, it’s encouraging to know that the rule of law prevailed and that the checks and balances in our system of government remain strong.” Toulouse Oliver also appeared on national news programs yesterday, telling Rachel Maddow on MSNBC she will be referring the Otero County Commission to the state Attorney General for refusing to certify the ballots, among other actions, in defiance of state law.
Feds will pay for watersheds damaged by wildfire
The US Department of Agriculture will be covering 100% of the costs through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to remove debris and take other actions required to address watersheds impacted by the Cooks Peak Fire in Colfax County; the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in Mora and San Miguel counties; the McBride Fire in Lincoln County; and the Nogal Fire in Lincoln County. Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation announced the waiver yesterday, which follows President Joe Biden’s visit to the state last weekend during which he pledged federal support for the state. US Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, along with US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, had all asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide the waiver for the watershed protection, which is aimed at addressing potential damage from flooding in fires’ aftermaths. “New Mexicans have learned all too well over the past decade that some of the hardest work to recover from wildfires occurs after they are extinguished,” Heinrich said. The USDA announcement yesterday, Leger Fernández said, “will save these communities millions of dollars and it is the right thing to do. The work needs to be done as soon as possible, and I’ll keep pushing to make that happen.”
Fire managers also emphasized the threats presented by flooding and debris flow at last night’s community meeting for the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, currently at 335,069 acres and 72% containment. The fire, Incident Commander Carl Schwope said, had already presented “unimaginable challenges” in terms of complex weather and topography. Forthcoming precipitation, he said, and the onset of monsoon type behavior is “going to present new challenges.” Debris removal workshops are taking place in Mora County and Las Vegas on Friday. The Midnight Fire in Rio Arriba County, as of last night, was at 4,905 acres and 12% containment.
Forrest Fenn auction garners $876,000 + in bids
The June 9 auction of the late art-dealer/treasure hunt creator Forrest Fenn’s Native American art collection appears to have been a success, according to Hindman Auctions, which reports $876,313 in bids and a 95% percent sell-through rate (see the full results here). “Bidders were clearly excited by this distinguished collection, with beadwork and Plains material leading the offering,” a news release notes. The auction house lists as highlights a Sioux Twisted Pipe Stem with Catlinite Bowl, believed to have belonged to Sitting Bull, which sold for $125,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000; a Sioux Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace, which sold for $75,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000; and a Pueblo Buffalo Hide Shield, which sold for $27,500 compared to a presale estimate of $10,000 to $20,000. “We are delighted with the reception that the first portion of the collection received. It was wonderful to hear all the stories that collectors had about Fenn—there are no shortages of them,” Danica Farnand, Hindman’s vice president for Native American Art said in a statement. A second auction of Fenn’s Native American art collection is scheduled for Sept. 8. “We are looking forward to the fall auction, and hope to hear even more tales of Forrest,” Farnand said.
COVID-19 by the numbers
New cases: 1,132; New Mexico had 6,357 cases for the seven-day period ending June 13, comparable to last week’s seven-day case count (4% higher); 549,246 total cases
Deaths: four; Santa Fe County has had 306 total deaths thus far; there have been 7,689 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 165. Patients on ventilators: 17.
Case rates: According to the most recent DOH report on geographical trends for COVID-19, for the seven-day period of June 6-12, Los Alamos County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population in the state: 133.3, followed by Cibola and Grant counties at 75.7 and 75.4, respectively. Santa Fe County has the fifth highest at 64.8.
Community levels: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination for its framework—for the seven-day period of June 2-9, San Juan and McKinley counties both show high—or “red”—levels. There are now 17 counties, including Santa Fe County, classified with yellow or “medium” levels—up from nine the week prior. CDC recommendations for individuals and communities based on the community-level rankings can be found here. The CDC will update its map later today.
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.
How many cannabis podcasts does one state need? At least two to our way of thinking. And those podcast hosts would appear to agree. The most recent episode of Growing Forward features an old-fashioned crossover episode, in which Growing Forward hosts Andy Lyman and Megan Kamerick team up with the crew from the NM CannaCast podcast (Chad Lozano, Josh McCurdy and Shannon Jaramillo) to talk about the state of the cannabis sector, including taxes, equity, finances what remains confusing in the nascent industry. You can also watch the cross-over episode on YouTube.
PNM promotes electricity-saving programs
Summer is almost here and, as far as temperatures go, has already arrived. In turn, PNM has issued a news release highlighting some of its energy-saving programs. These include the PNM Cooling Rebate Program, which reduces the cost for residential customers to purchase and install certain energy efficient cooling equipment, such as swamp coolers and air conditioners. PNM also has a refrigerator and freezer recycling program; discounts for energy-efficient lighting options; budget billing; and home energy check-ups, which can lead to rebate for other appliances. You can also find a variety of energy-saving tips for spring and summer here.
NM’s Net Zero journey
Santa Fe Community College will hold its third annual Virtual Distributed Energy Summit next week for the EPSCoR SMART Grid Center, with a focus on New Mexico’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050. The summit, on June 23-24, is free but the registration deadline is by 5 pm tomorrow (June 17). The virtual summit also includes the option of free, in-person tours between 2:30 and 4:30 pm on June 24 of SFCC’s Smart and Microgrid Training Center, battery energy storage system, solar photovoltaic generation array and controlled agriculture environment greenhouses. State Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst kicks off the summit with a keynote presentation on the state’s “Net Zero Journey.” Other speakers and presenters for the presentations and panel discussions include representatives from Santa Fe Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Clean Energy States Alliance, and many others. Check out the full schedule and register here.
Ready for rain
The National Weather Service forecasts a high temperature near 94 degrees today, with northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, we have a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9 pm and those changes continue and increase straight on through to next week.