Morning Word

Trial to Remove Cowboys for Trump Founder Couy Griffin From Office Begins in Santa Fe

Groups, Dems decry GOP guv candidate Mark Ronchetti’s treatment of press

Cuoy Griffin trial begins seeking his removal from office

Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin’s trial began yesterday in Santa Fe for a civil lawsuit filed in March by residents from Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties seeking to remove him from office and disqualify him from running again. That suit follows Griffin’s misdemeanor conviction for trespassing on US Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6 riot. A federal judge last spring dismissed Griffin’s responding lawsuit, which attempted to shut down the civil suit. Yesterday, First Judicial District Judge Francis Mathew also ruled against Griffin’s motion to dismiss the case and required Griffin to tell him who had helped write the motion. Griffin, who is representing himself, described Mathew’s rejection of his motion as “disrespectful” and indicated he might appeal. The lawsuit contends Griffin must be removed from office and disqualified from holding future public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, aka the disqualification cause. In announcing the lawsuit last spring, Noah Bookbinder, president of the DC-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, said in a statement: “Griffin has used his public platform to spread the false narrative that the election was stolen from Donald Trump and to defend the attack on our Capitol. His actions on January 6th were part of and contributed to an insurrection, and his tenure in government continues to be a threat to our democracy. It’s time for Couy Griffin to be removed from office.”

Groups, Dems denounce Ronchetti treatment of press

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ visit to Carlsbad last Sunday to stump for gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti continues to echo through the state and beyond, with Axios describing New Mexico as “one of the GOP’s best opportunities to flip a Democratic governorship,” in a story on DeSantis’ visit to bolster Ronchetti’s challenge to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Ronchetti, however, also drew swift criticism for denying Source New Mexico journalist Shaun Griswold access to the event. According to Source Editor-in-Chief Marisa Demarco, the Ronchetti campaign manager denied the publication press credentials because it was unhappy with a critical article it had published. Griswold, instead, purchased a regular ticket to the event, but was denied access and Demarco said security had a photograph of Griswold at the gate (Griswold also discusses this chain of events in an interview with KUNM yesterday). The Society for Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter released a statement yesterday describing the Ronchetti campaign’s actions as “deeply troubling…Targeting and ejecting specific journalists from a political rally because their publication wrote things you don’t like bodes ill for transparency and evenhandedness in Ronchetti’s potential administration,” the group said. New Mexico Foundation for Open Government tweeted a comparable response, noting: “This could be setting a dangerous precedent—letting any prospective public servant decide who is and is not a ‘legitimate’ reporter. Reporters are the public’s eyes and ears. If they can be silenced by being denied access, the members of the public are the ultimate victims.” The Democratic Party of New Mexico also weighed in, with DPNM Communications Director Daniel Garcia releasing a statement that reads: “By refusing a respected New Mexican journalist entry to cover his event, Mark Ronchetti has once again demonstrated the extremist and far-right agenda he will govern with if elected. Ronchetti is lashing out against the press in retaliation for what he considers critical coverage—exactly like former President Donald Trump was known to do.”

Medical Investigator: “Rust” shooting accidental

The state Office of the Medical Investigator says Alec Baldwin’s shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last October was an accident. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office yesterday released OMI’s report on the shooting—which also wounded Director Joel Souza— along with several FBI reports related to the shooting, including an analysis that says the gun could not have fired without “a pull of the trigger.” Last week, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said in a statement the First Judicial District Attorney’s office continues to wait for cell phone records, which the sheriff’s office will review for “evidentiary purposes.” Following that review, Mendoza indicated the case file would be ready to forward to the DA’s office to review and make charging decisions. Baldwin’s legal team told the Associated Press yesterday the OMI report provides additional proof the shooting was accidental. “This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set that the gun was ‘cold,’ and believed the gun was safe,” attorney Luke Nikas said in a statement.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Aug. 15

New cases: 1,511 (includes the weekend); 602,931 total cases

Deaths: six; Santa Fe County has had 334 total deaths; there have been 8,318 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 126. Patients on ventilators: nine

Case rates: According to the state health department’s most recent report on geographical trends for the seven-day period of Aug. 1-7, Roosevelt County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population: 73.9, followed by Quay County at 61.3 and McKinley County at 57.9; Santa Fe County’s case rate continues to decline and was at 34, a decrease from 42.2 the prior week. The state recorded 5,274 total cases statewide—based on reported cases—over the seven-day period, an approximate 16% decrease from the previous week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent update for COVID-19 “community levels”—which updates each Thursday for the prior seven-day period using a framework that combines case rates with hospital metrics—five more counties now have green or low levels compared to the week prior (a total of 12). On the other hand, 11 New Mexico counties now have “red” or high levels—three more than last week. Santa Fe County remains “yellow” or medium. The community levels site has accompanying recommendations at the bottom of the page. The CDC also provides a quarantine and isolation calculator.

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. Vaccines for children: Parents of children ages 6 months to 5 years can now schedule appointments for vaccinations at

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

Listen up

Research continues on long COVID—particularly how best to treat the complex multi-syndrome illness. On the most recent episode of KUNM’s Let’s Talk New Mexico program, guests examine long COVID from a variety of angles, including how the health system might approach treating people who suffer from the syndrome. Guests include: Beatrice Adler-Bolton, host of Death Panel podcast; Alisa Valdes, long COVID survivor; Mia Ives-Rublee, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress; and Dr. Vesta Sandoval, chief medical office at Lovelace Healthcare System New Mexico.

Raven Chacon debuts new work

Santa Fe and Albuquerque concert audiences last weekend were the first to hear a new composition from Diné composer Raven Chacon, who became the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize for music last spring for his ensemble work “Voiceless Mass” (ICYMI, Chacon spoke to the National Catholic Reporter last June about his relationship with Catholicism). The Albuquerque-based chamber ensemble Chatter performed three works by Chacon last Saturday to a sold-out audience at SITE Santa Fe followed by a Sunday performance at 912 Third in Albuquerque. The program included the works “[Bury Me] Where the Lightning [Will] Never Find Me”; “Horse Notations”; and the world premiere of “Old Song.” Chatter commissioned “Old Song” from Chacon, who is also based in Albuquerque. Following the SITE premiere, SFR spoke briefly to Chacon about the performance. He noted the “beautiful” thing about composition “is it can change as it goes to different locations and sound a different way in different different spaces and also different contexts.” The Santa Fe performance, he noted, was “a special occasion” because his sister Nani Chacon’s exhibition, SPECTRUM, also is on display at the museum (through Aug. 21). For those who missed the concert, Raven Chacon will be performing himself in Santa Fe at 7 pm, Aug. 21 at San Miguel Chapel as part of a trio with Tatsuya Nakatani and Carlos Santistevan to debut their new LP, Inhale/Exhale. The New York Times also featured Chacon yesterday in a story on artists who are “upending expectations for Indigenous music.”

Outdoor entertainment meets climate change

In addition to the existential threat climate change poses, intensifying weather has also disrupted outdoor performances across the world. The New York Times looks at how fires, floods and other extreme weather events have hindered concerts, festivals and other types of outdoor performances at places ranging from a Shakespeare Festival in Oregon to Pearl Jam concerts in France. The Times also talks with Santa Fe Opera General Director Robert K. Meya about the steps SFO has taken to adapt to climate change factors, such as installing sensors to gauge the safety of performing during wildfire season. “We are one giant ecosystem, and what happens in one place affects everywhere,” Meya tells the Times. Jamie Lenfestey, director of Santa Fe and Taos operations for AMP Concerts, which produces the summer Plaza and Railyard series, as well as the forthcoming Sept. 9 Ladder to the Moon Festival at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu (among many other outdoor events) tells SFR this year marked the first time he had to cancel shows due to wildfires (last spring in Taos). “I’ve been doing outdoor concerts for 30 years, and the weather is always a factor that me nervous,” Lenfestey says. “As things get drier and hotter, obviously that reality is going to be made worse. And I hope that doesn’t impact our ability to do outdoor concerts, but certainly we saw that it did this year and it certainly could continue to.” In the end, though: “Weather has always been a stressful part of outdoor concert planning. I’ve tried to learn to accept it since I can’t control the weather, so I try to control all the things that I can.”

Rain, rain, come again

We may see a return of monsoons today, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a 40% chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon and again this evening. Otherwise, today should be mostly sunny with a high near 82 degrees.

Thanks for reading! The Word’s preoccupation with weather has led her to the London Review of BooksWorld Weather Collection and, by extension, the World Weather Network.

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