Morning Word

City Council Takes Up Midtown, Gun Resolutions This Week

Supreme Court hears Indigenous challenge to PRC this morning

Council to consider Midtown, gun resolutions

During a special meeting starting at 5 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Santa Fe City Council is scheduled to discuss and vote upon the master and community plans for the Midtown site—the culmination of a series of “moving forward” public meetings this month. The Council will also hear a resolution from Mayor Alan Webber that seeks to prohibit deadly weapons at some city facilities—a proposal he first mentioned last May in his newsletter. According to an accompanying memo, while the New Mexico constitution prohibits local governments from “regulat[ing], in any way, an incident of the right to keep or bear arms,” NMSA 1978, Section 30-7-2.1, prohibits deadly weapons in “any...public buildings or grounds, including playing fields and parking areas that are not public school property, in or on which public school-related and sanctioned activities are being performed” and " a number of city properties fall into these categories.” To that end, Webber’s resolution directs the city manager to post appropriate signage prohibiting deadly weapons at any relevant city locations. The resolution notes various grim data points, including: 22 school shootings in New Mexico between 1971 and June 2022, resulting in six deaths and 10 injuries; a 2017 school shooting at the Clovis-Carver Library in Clovis, New Mexico; and more than 311,000 students who have experienced gun violence in the US since the 1999 Columbine High shooting. Locations included in the resolution include all three public libraries; recreation facilities, including the Genoveva Chavez Community Center; the convention center; and any locations where students visit for school or school-sanctioned activities.

Oral arguments today in case challenging new PRC

At 9 am today, the state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit that challenges the approved 2020 constitutional amendment that changed the Public Regulation Commission from a five-person elected body to a three-person appointed one. A nominating committee—tasked with interviewing candidates and making recommendations to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham—is scheduled to approve its list of recommended candidates at a meeting this Friday, Dec. 2. The constitutional amendment was touted as the latest solution for addressing the PRC’s long history of problems. However, the lawsuit, filed by Indigenous Lifeways; New Mexico Social Justice Equity Institute; and Three Sisters Collective against both the advisory committee and the governor, argues the amendment instead repealed a fundamental right for New Mexicans to vote for PRC commissioners—with a particular impact on Native Americans—and did so in a process that was both misleading and coercive. The suit was initially filed last August, with an additional brief earlier this month. “Even the Attorney General’s Office and the Speaker of the House disagree on whether, under the amendment’s provisions, the commissioners will be independent or whether they will serve at the governor’s pleasure, subject to removal at her discretion,” the petitioners’ attorney, Sarah Shore, said in a statement. “Petitioners’ challenge is timely; voiding the amendment will serve the interests of justice and will not generate uncertainty (by contrast to the uncertainty about the eligibility of out-of-state candidates, the requisite qualifications of those serving on the PRC nominating committee, and more that have already characterized the process established under the new amendment).”

Green futures

Creating equity in New Mexico’s nascent cannabis market remains a work in progress, with lawmakers expected to continue the effort come January. Last December, the Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee sent the state’s cannabis regulators a list of recommendations to further equity efforts, including the creation of a “social and economic equity applicant” classification to help small, diverse operators compete against large, corporate entities; setting up an equity office at the division; and reinvesting cannabis tax money back into communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The Cannabis Control Division, in turn, offered its plans in a February memo, which included devoting a staff member to oversee “the social and economic equity initiatives of the division,” among other initiatives. Robert Sachs, the division’s deputy director of policy, tells SFR the work has begun and still has a ways to go. Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee Chair Emily Kaltenbach says reinvesting cannabis revenue to benefit communities systemically impacted by inequitable drug laws needs to be part of the equation. State Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, says discussions of earmarking cannabis dollars will be on the table during the 2023 legislative session.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Note: The DOH COVID-19 epidemiology page would not load as of press time with no available updates prior to the holiday. Reported Nov. 23: New cases: 626; 641,881 total cases. Deaths: zero; Santa Fe County has had 367 total deaths; there have been 8,698 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 232; Patients on ventilators: 11

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 24 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, shows eight counties categorized as “orange”—high risk—for COVID-19, versus four last week. They are: Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Bernalillo, Sandoval, McKinley, Valencia and Socorro. Santa Fe County, which was “green,” last week—signifying lower risk—is now “yellow,” with medium risk, as are 10 other counties. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

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

Listen up

A new documentary from New Mexico PBS, Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery, delves into the relationship between Pueblo people and pottery, in conjunction with Pueblo Pottery Collective’s collaborative exhibition, Grounded in Clay, organized by the School for Advanced Research and the Vilcek Foundation. The exhibition premiered at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture last summer, and will begin traveling nationally next year. Amongst the artists featured in the documentary, Rose Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo) discusses a Santa Clara Pueblo water jar, dating from the 1880s to 1900s, of which she says she’s had a photograph on her refrigerator for the past year. “I feel like I’ve developed a deep relationship with this piece and I have a dear love for it,” says Simpson, who has had several exhibitions of her work over the last year in East Coast museums.

Hope and a prayer

The New York Times Styles section presents a look at rituals across the country—a project conceived during the darker days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Included among the diverse offerings of traditional and inventive ritualistic practices: Prayer at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu. The story looks—in words and photographs—at the Monastery’s history and natural surroundings: “The chapel was built of adobe in the shape of a Greek cross, with arms of equal length, using clay from the site. Hand-carved doors were brought from Mexico, the bell from an old church in the northern New Mexican village of Questa. The artist Ben Shahn, a friend of [architect George] Nakashima’s, contributed two large stained-glass windows. Georgia O’Keeffe, who lived 25 miles away, in Abiquiu, served as an artistic consultant.” During the Times’ visit—on a winter day—the monks and their visitors listen to various Biblical readings during Mass. Afterward, the visitors head to the gift shop to purchase goods made by the Brothers: soaps, candles, an album of Gregorian chants.

NM’s secret histories

Most New Mexico travel narratives include itineraries heavy on art, food and the great outdoors. A recent CNN story, however, takes a look at the state’s “abandoned places,” zeroing in on the work of biologist John Mulhouse, who has traveled around the country documenting such places, both online and in the book Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architecture, and Hidden History. While he no longer lives in New Mexico, it’s his favorite state, he tells CNN: “It is the least like the United States, I think, of pretty much any state in the country,” he says, citing Chaco Canyon and Pecos Pueblo as his two favorite places to visit and photograph. What qualifies a place as abandoned? “Most ‘ghost towns’ still have some people living there,” Mulhouse notes. “If someone approaches you, you’ve got to say a few words to them. It helps to know your history before you go so that when that happens, you can say, ‘I’m photographing such-and-such store. I’m photographing this old church.’ That will start a conversation, and you often learn a lot.”

Whichever way the wind blows

The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day with a high temperature near 46 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Looks like a storm is coming through the state today and tomorrow but, at present, Santa Fe appears to be in line for some wind and not much else.

Thanks for reading! The Word hopes if you don’t have time to watch (or, presumably, rewatch) Fame today, you’ll at least watch this clip. RIP, Irene Cara.

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