Morning Word

Legislators Propose Fix for “Unconstitutional” Sexual Harassment Policy

State funds Santa Fe outdoor recreation projects

Lawmakers propose remedies to sexual harassment policy

Co-chairs of the Legislature’s Interim Ethics Committee say the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy has major flaws that need immediate attention in the wake of the fallout from the case against state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. In an op-ed appearing in today’s SFR, state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, identify two of the policy’s major problems resting with its lack of mechanism for deciding tie-breakers and its confidentiality provisions. The latter, Lopez and Ely write, requires confidentiality among all parties once a complaint is filed and until probable cause is found, but allows the accused public official to waive confidentiality. “That is, in a word, outrageous,” they say. “And, in a word more applicable to this discussion, it is unconstitutional.” Those confidentiality rules are set by statute and will need to be changed by the Legislature, which Lopez and Ely say they will propose in the January 2023 session. Numerous events last week in Ivey-Soto’s case highlighted the failure of the current policy, including a special investigator’s 29-page report, leaked to SFR, that showed probable cause to move forward in claims against Ivey-Soto, despite his contention in the Albuquerque Journal that the case had been closed. Litigation and political fallout continue, as SFR reports in a new story publishing today.

Couy Griffin files appeal over ban from public office

Former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, yesterday notified the state Supreme Court he will be appealing a Sept. 6 First Judicial District decision barring him from public office. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and local law firms represented several residents from Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties in a suit against Griffin, filed in the wake of his misdemeanor conviction for trespassing on US Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. Judge Francis Mathew’s decision found Griffin’s various arguments against the suit without merit and ruled Griffin’s participation in the events of Jan. 6 disqualified him from public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That decision made national headlines, and has prompted speculation (and consternation) about the precedent set by Mathew’s decision: “If this ruling stands up on appeal, it sets a significant precedent for the next election cycle,” Gerard Magliocca, a constitutional scholar at Indiana University who has studied Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, told the Washington Post. “After all, if Couy Griffin is disqualified from holding office for his role in Jan. 6, then shouldn’t Donald Trump be disqualified for his even greater role in Jan. 6th?”

Santa Fe outdoor projects receive state funding

Three Santa Fe projects are among the 20 outdoor initiatives receiving a total of more than $2 million in the latest round of grants from the state Outdoor Recreation Division, announced yesterday. The Rio Grande Return received $94,078 to conduct green stormwater infrastructure analysis, surveys and design planning and continue restoration efforts along the Santa Fe River Park and Trail by replanting native cottonwood and willow species. The Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, which is a nonprofit International Mountain Bike Association-affiliated organization, received $93,000 and will work to establish a new recreational trail system in the Arroyo Hondo Headwaters, and aims to build more than 20 miles of new trails connecting to the Dale Ball and Glorieta trails systems for hiker, equestrian and biker access. Audubon Southwest received $25,000 for work at The Randall Davey Audubon Center to support bilingual interpretive and way-finding signage that will include topics such as local bird species, bird watching basics, climate change, native plants, water conservation, the historic Acequia del Llano found and more. According to a news release, of the 20 projects awarded for the second round of 2022, 65% will support rural or tribal communities and will create over 175 new jobs in New Mexico including at least 61 full time, 20 part time, 17 seasonal, six temporary and more than 77 youth positions.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Sept. 20: New cases: 244; 616,360 total cases; Deaths: three; Santa Fe County has had 349 total deaths; there have been 8,524 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 80. Patients on ventilators: four; According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent “community levels” map, which updates on Thursdays, all of New Mexico is currently “green,” and has low case and hospitalization rates. The health department’s most recent report on geographical trends shows Santa Fe County’s case rate per 100,000 population dropped from 12.7 to 11.8 for the week of Sept. 12-18; the state’s total reported cases dropped by close to 12% during that time period to 1,462 total cases.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info. 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

Santa Fe’s Blue Rain Gallery podcast heads to the Dixon-area home studio of painter Jim Vogel for a conversation with gallery owner Leroy Garcia about Vogel’s upcoming show, “Happenstance” (Sept. 30-Oct. 15). “I know…a lot of Blue Rain collectors are used to me having a thematic show,” Vogel says, “but this time I needed a break from that; whatever happened to come into my head, it came out on the canvas.” For even more background on Vogel’s work, check out this September 2017 ¡COLORES! special.

Fair play

Might the next iteration of the web usher forth a new type of social media in which “the value of communities—of connection, co-ownership, and creation” become unlocked and a “decentralized platform” emerges “that powerfully connects communities”? We don’t know, but that’s the premise behind the web3 native social platform Playground (to read the site’s “rainbow paper,” click on “rainbow paper” at the bottom of the homepage and submit your email; the future of social may be decentralized, but apparently the future of document-sharing is highly subjugated). Why are we talking about this? Playground’s CEO and founder Jia Ling Yang grew up in Santa Fe. In an interview this week with Muse by Clio about the undertaking, for which she recently raised $2.3 million, Yang mentions the impact growing up here had on her life: “Something about being one of only three Asian kids in your high school really makes you comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she says. “Very early on I discovered there’s no such thing as normal, and that’s pretty much what creativity is.” According to the story, the platform currently has 50,000 users (here’s some more background from a 2021 TechCrunch story).

Unearthing sexual harassment

California State University Anthropology Professor James E. Snead deeply examines the history of sexual harassment within the field of anthropology in the Fall issue of El Palacio magazine, a “challenging proposition,” he writes: “Our archives are incomplete and were haphazardly assembled. Most are associated with institutions, and thus men, increasing the difficulty. Personal reticence about sexual matters and other cultural codes makes it tricky to interpret any evidence that does come to light. Authors must also worry about offending gatekeepers—senior colleagues, institutional representatives—in ways that might inhibit future work. The risk of inflicting pain on survivors and families is always near.” The story’s title, “Hunting Miss Deuel,” references Elizabeth Deuel, a student at the School of American Archaeology in Santa Fe, and her appearance in the journals of one of the institution’s leaders, Charles Fletcher Lummis. “His use of ‘hunting’ was literal,” Snead writes, as he was “trying to find her as she repaired pottery behind the scenes at the Museum of New Mexico—but also metaphorical, with visceral implications unfortunately recognizable to women in anthropology today.”

Last day of summer

Another warm and potentially wet day awaits, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms today—mainly between noon and 3 pm— some of which could produce heavy rain. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny with a high temperature near 80 degrees, northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon and a 20% chance for showers tonight before 3 am. And, yes, tomorrow is the first day of fall.

Thanks for reading! The Word found this PEN America report on school book bans (Banned Books Week runs through Sept. 24) maddening/existentially nauseating, but was relieved to see at least New Mexico had zero such bans. #Freethebooks.

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