Morning Word

SFPS Board Embarks on “Reimagining” Local Schools

NM Dems accuse GOP of “racist” mailer

SFPS embarks on “reimagining” process

The Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education during its meeting last night unveiled a plan to “reimagine” SFPS (right around the 38-minute mark of the meeting video). The work picks up on a resolution passed in late 2019, Board President Kate Noble said last night, when the district was grappling with proposals to close and consolidate some schools, and comes amid declining enrollment, aging facilities and educational programming changes due to the Yazzie Martinez equity lawsuit. “The majority of the board elected to support this reimagining process” instead, Noble said, “with a crucial lens of equity. This is work that we really, really need to do in Santa Fe,” she added, saying the district had a “window” to do so without the pressure of a “financial crisis,” thanks to federal pandemic stimulus funds and strong state revenue. “I feel really strongly we need to embark on this process with a great deal of trust and transparency and the will to build trust in our community to this without fear or cynicism. The plan’s next steps include nominations from board members for a steering committee for the process, which is expected to take up to 18 months and require a $210,000 budget, $100,000 of which will be for a project manager.

Dems, advocates call out GOP over “racist” mailer

State Democratic lawmakers and advocates yesterday called on New Mexico Republicans to “disavow” a political mailer they say was intentionally altered in a racist manner. The ad accuses Democrat legislators of “leaving unsuspecting women and children vulnerable to predators,” and depicts a child receiving a haircut. Dems and others say the GOP altered a stock image, darkening the skin tone of the person providing the haircut. “This doctored ad is a shameful attempt to stoke fear and division,” Rev. Charles E. Becknell, New Mexico president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and member of the SCLC national board, said in a statement. “Digitally darkening the skin tone of the person in this ad, while suggesting they are a sexual predator, is blatantly racist and completely inexcusable.” House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, described the mailer as “one of the worst dirty tricks I have ever seen from a political campaign.”

The state GOP did not disavow but quickly fired back yesterday afternoon, saying Democrats were trying “to deflect attention from their voting records that protect criminals and endanger citizens.” New Mexico House Republican Whip Rod Montoya of Farmington, in a statement, said charges of racism were “ridiculous,” adding: “A shadowy, gray figure is not a racial category.” According to a news release from the House Democratic Campaign Committee, the mailer went to at least nine House districts in Albuquerque and Las Cruces; the Albuquerque Journal reports individual Democratic legislators’ names were “swapped out,” depending on which House district received the mailer, but much of the ad’s text remained the same. In one case, the ad references a floor amendment introduced by state Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, in the 2021 legislative session, which would have added registering as a sex offender to the barber/cosmetology licensing requirements; the bill did not make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Another references a vetoed 2019 bill that would have clarified professional licensure rules for some felons. The latter bill, Democrats pointed out, was co-sponsored by Republican lawmaker Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque, and supported by all of the Senate’s Republicans who voted.

Santa Fe County Clerk reports voting excitement

The Santa Fe County Clerk’s office says it had nearly 200 online voter registrations on Tuesday, coinciding with National Voter Registration Day. According to a news release, the clerk’s Bureau of Elections staff “have witnessed rejuvenated excitement about voting, and they hope this excitement carries over to when voting starts next month.” Typically, the office has 20 to 40 online registrations daily. Voters have until Oct. 11 to register to vote or update their registrations online at After Oct. 11, same-day registration will be available at each polling site for early voting and Election Day, which means any New Mexico citizen that will be at least 18 years old by Election Day, Nov. 8, is eligible to vote in the general election. While many of Santa Fe County’s local offices were decided during the June 7 primary election, several competitive state races will appear on the November 8 ballot, along with a slew of constitutional amendments. SFR has an Election FAQ as we inch toward the start of early voting. You can also find candidate lists, sample ballots and districts maps online. It’s also not too late to apply to be an election worker.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Sept. 22: New cases: 288; 616,931 total cases; Deaths: 13; Santa Fe County has had 350 total deaths; there have been 8,547 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 86. 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

We’re guessing podcasts devoted to UFOs aren’t hard to find, but a new one comes straight from the source: Roswell, New Mexico, with a newly announced podcast titled Roswell UFO Symposium, sponsored by the Roswell Daily Record (which reported on the 1947 crash) and co-hosted by Mike, Shane and Toby. The show hasn’t begun yet, but the three cohosts announced and discussed their new undertaking on the most recent episode of the Mind Escape podcast, which also sometimes focuses on UFOs.

Shifting landscapes

The Art Newspaper reports the Santa Fe-based Holt/Smithson Foundation will launch an annual lecture series in which “artists, writers and other thinkers” respond to the work of the late Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson. The series begins Nov. 3 at the Whitney Museum of American Art with art historian Anne M. Wagner, who “will discuss the politics steeped in the sites and places where Holt and Smithson situated their works,” and continues next year at the New Mexico Museum of Art with writer Rebecca Solnit. The program, Foundation Executive Director Lisa Le Feuvre tells the The Art Newspaper, “is an invitation to frown over what the legacies of Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson might be. It’s really thinking through what their work means in the present. We really want to move away from the idea of pickling Holt and Smithson in the 1970s, because their work endures.” Holt, who died in 2014, was a member of the earth, land, and conceptual art movements, and an “innovator of site-specific installation and the moving image,” as described by the foundation. Smithson, who died in 1973, had a short but prolific career, and his “interests in travel, cartography, geology, architectural ruins, prehistory, philosophy, science fiction, popular culture, and language spiral through his work.” Holt willed the foundation “into being.” It plans to terminate in 2038, and has myriad projects interrogating its namesakes’ subjects and legacies. “We know, without question, there are issues and problems with Nancy Holt’s work and Robert Smithson’s work,” Le Feuvre says. “There’s an ethical imperative to ask difficult questions. To ask, what was their relationship to their land? How do we think about earthworks in light of the imperative to look at the politics of land, to look at Indigenous land rights, to look at ecology and climate change?”

An autumnal weekend

Fall has arrived, as have the fall festivals. Reunity Resources (1829 San Ysidro Crossing) hosts its Fall Fest from 3-6 pm, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25, featuring a pumpkin patch, face-painting, paper making, postcard making, a cider press, worm exploration, pony rides, hay rides and more fall fun (tickets are $20 here; the farm stand and food truck also will be open for “local sips and eats”). You can also head north to the Los Luceros Historic Site (253 County Road 41, Alcalde) for its annual Fall Harvest Festival, 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday, Sept. 25, which will feature apple picking; flamenco dancing; arts and food vendors; and ranger-led talks ($7/kids free here). And while the aspens have not quite changed yet, the Ski Santa Fe’s fall activities are underway, including weekend rides on the Super Chief Quad chairlift, which will continue Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 9 (roundtrip $20; one-way $15; young adults/seniors $15; children $10; free with a free with a 2022/2023 ski pass. Ski Santa Fe’s fall music series also has begun, and will feature Group Therapy from 11 am to 3 pm, Sept. 24, playing on the deck at La Casa Lodge (the Ski Santa Fe Car Show also takes place on Saturday). On Sunday, The Wild Marimbas will perform, also from 11 am to 3 pm.

A warm weekend awaits

The National Weather Service forecasts a teensy chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms today afternoon (teensy meaning 20%). The day will otherwise be mostly sunny with a high temperature near 79 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the morning. Saturday should be clear with a high temp near 81 degrees, with a slight chance of rain on Sunday.

The Word is enjoying the NPR Latinx Tiny Desk takeover (“El Tiny”); here’s the most recent one from Girl Ultra, and the kick-off from Omar Apollo.

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