Morning Word

Sen. Stewart Pushes to Remove Sen. Ivey-Soto from “Positions of Authority” Amid Unresolved Sexual Harassment Case

Legislative Council meets today to discuss Legislature’s sexual harassment policy

Sen. Stewart ousts Ivey-Soto from leadership role

Over the weekend, state Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, removed Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque from his position as chair of the New Mexico Finance Authority interim committee, replacing him with Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe. She also recommended Ivey-Soto be removed as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which will require discussion by the Senate Committees’ Committee when it meets at 4 pm, Thursday (Room 321 at the state Capitol). Both actions come in the wake of a leaked report regarding the sexual harassment investigation of Ivey-Soto,—published by SFR—rising enmity between Stewart and Ivey-Soto and concomitant brouhaha about the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy. The Legislative Council is scheduled to discuss that policy at 1:30 pm today (Room 307, State Capitol). In a statement, Stewart said it was inappropriate for Ivey-Soto “to remain in a position of authority until the allegations against him are truly resolved. We must send a clear signal that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated, and the Roundhouse will be a welcoming, safe environment for all people who engage in the legislative process.” Stewart said she also will be working with other lawmakers to revise the sexual harassment policy to be more equitable and transparent. “I want victims of sexual harassment to know that they will be heard and treated with respect throughout the process, even if the allegation is against a sitting Legislator,” she said. Senate Democrats on Saturday nominated Stewart for two more years as president pro tem (the full Senate will vote on that confirmation when the session opens in January). They also voted unanimously to keep state Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, as their majority floor leader.

NM, Colorado Dems call for drought solutions

On Friday, Democratic members of New Mexico and Colorado’s congressional delegations sent a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation urging the agency to prioritize funding for long-term, permanent solutions to the drought crisis in the Colorado River Basin as part of $4 billion in new money from the Inflation Reduction Act for drought in the West. “The river is the lifeblood of the American Southwest, with nearly 40 million people reliant on the water resources across seven states and 30 tribes,” the letter reads. “Resources need to flow through states, local governments, tribes and public entities. We cannot underscore enough the need for the BOR to deliver money from the IRA in a manner that limits potential speculation or profiteering from those suffering from the consequences of drought.” The letter encourages funding both short- and long-term projects, but says regardless of the time-frame, the agency “needs to fund efforts that provide real, meaningful long-term reductions in water use from the river” and “employ consistent measurement of system water losses in both basins.” The letter coincided with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton and other federal officials’ attendance last week at the the Water Education Foundation’s invitation-only Colorado River Symposium held in Santa Fe. According to a news release, the officials planned to highlight steps the Interior department is taking and propose new actions to protect the Colorado River system. “The prolonged drought afflicting the West is one of the most significant challenges facing our country,” Haaland said in a statement. “We must work together to make the tough choices necessary to chart a sustainable future for the Colorado River System on which more than 40 million people depend.”

AG Balderas joins suit to protect Texas abortion seekers

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Friday said his office had joined a California-led multi-state coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief in the Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton lawsuit. Filed by multiple reproductive choice groups, including Fund Texas Choice, Jane’s Due Process and the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, the suit seeks to protect the rights of individuals to travel out of Texas to obtain an abortion, with the amicus brief arguing individuals’ constitutional right to interstate travel is at risk due to Texas’ anti-abortion laws. “I will always protect New Mexicans and our healthcare providers from legal threats that infringe on constitutional rights, including the right to travel across state lines,” Balderas said in a statement. Following the US Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order protecting those seeking and providing reproductive health care in New Mexico. Earlier this month, the governor committed $10 million to build a new health care clinic in the southern part of the state for abortion and other services. An Albuquerque Journal poll in August found 35% of residents believe abortion should always be legal, with ranging views regarding circumstances.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Sept. 23: New cases: 267; 617,178 total cases; Deaths: five; Santa Fe County has had 350 total deaths; there have been 8,552 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 98. Patients on ventilators: three 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

On the most recent episode of NM PBS environmental program Our Land, host Laura Paskus talks to author and independent journalist Erica Gies about her new book, Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge, and discusses how “development choices and centralized infrastructure have exacerbated water extremes,” while also delving into the “slow water” movement.

Promised land

The New Yorker magazine juxtaposes two current exhibitions that take the measure of the “photographic search” for the American West: the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s photographs (through Nov. 6) and the Washington, DC National Gallery of Art’s, “American Silence: The Photographs of Robert Adams” (through Oct. 2), a retrospective of the artist, the New Yorker notes, whose “photographic awakening” was influenced by both Alfred Stieglitz’s nature photography and Ansel Adams’ seminal photograph, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” Robert Adams’ focus ultimately became the “desecration” of landscape and he “abandoned Ansel Adams’s rich tonal scale,” spending several decades taking the photographs “for which he’s best known—those sad documents of suburban life and compromised landscape.” Those photographs, writer Sarah Boxer writes, seem to ask if it’s possible “for anyone to live lightly on this once beautiful land.” To her thinking, O’Keeffe did: “She looked great on the land, and the land looked great with her on it.” The Denver exhibition provides a “counterweight” to the Adams’ retrospective; the “stars” of the former are O’Keeffe’s “intense studies of her property in Abiquiú—its doors, ladders, walls, and beams,” which capture “how the West won her over and how she won the West.” Nonetheless, the essay concludes: “There can be no innocence living on the land. It doesn’t matter if you focus on beautiful forms, as O’Keeffe did, or on their desecration, as Adams did. The West is where some people go when they begin to despair that things ain’t what they used to be. And the more people move there in search of silence and beauty, the less silence and beauty is there.”

Come for the lavender; stay for the gin

Los Poblanos, known for its lavender farm and excellent cuisine, last week announced its newest ventures: gin from Los Poblanos Botanical Spirits, and a new Santa Fe tasting room. According to a news release, Los Poblanos has been growing and distilling botanicals on its historic farm in the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque for more than two decades. The new botanical gins “were thoughtfully developed by a diverse team skilled in the kitchen and on the farm, familiar with the nuances of distillation, mixology and more.” The “new Western dry gin” is described in a news release as “smooth and complex, distilled with 16 botanicals that thrive on their small organic farm and surrounding area, including piñon, rose, hawthorn and chamomile.” Santa Feans will have new access to try out the gin next month when Los Poblanos opens Farm Shop Norte (201 Washington St.), which is a renovated 1935 Sinclair Oil gas station/farm supply store (there’s a picture at the bottom of this page). The new space will include Los Poblanos’ lavender products (obviously), farm foods and “curated objects for the home.” The space will also have a tasting room, Bar Norte, “an intimate space to experience Los Poblanos Botanical Spirits and enjoy a light tasting menu.” Los Poblanos will open a new Albuquerque tasting room next month as well (1318 4th St. NW).

Nice weather we’re having

The National Weather Service forecasts a 20% chance for rain today, with isolated showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm. Otherwise, expect a sunny start to the week, with a high temperature near 78 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word was very sorry to learn on Friday of author Hilary Mantel’s death. She had legions of fans and admirers, one of whom recommended this essay about Princess Diana, which The Word devoured over the weekend.

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