Morning Word

Nuclear Activists: Former Official Had Conflict of Interest

Santa Fe Opera wins international acclaim

Nuclear activists allege conflict of interest by former ED official

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and Honor Our Pueblo Existence have filed a petition asking the state Water Quality Control Commission to vacate a decision permitting a radioactive liquid waste treatment facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, citing a conflict of interest by the commission’s former chair, Stephanie Stringer. According to the groups, Stringer, who also previously served as a deputy cabinet secretary for the environment department, did not recuse herself from a decision favorable to LANL, even though she was in the midst of applying for a job with the federal agency that oversees it: the National Nuclear Security Administration. Lawyer Lindsay Lovejoy, who is representing CNNS, tells the Santa Fe New Mexican Stringer’s job transition was kept “secret” until it was completed: “If this had been disclosed while the case was still pending…she would’ve had to disqualify herself,” Lovejoy said. NNSA confirmed Stringer’s employment to the paper, but did not make her available for an interview. Anti-nuclear activists say Stringer is the latest in a series of environment department employees who went to work for either the lab or its regulatory agencies. “This practice doesn’t protect the people of New Mexico or the land or the water or the air,” CCNS Executive Director Joni Arends tells the New Mexican. “It really needs to stop.”

SFPS kicks off gun-violence prevention week

The Santa Fe Public Schools’ Office of Student Wellness, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence and New Mexico United announced yesterday they are collaborating on the 7th Annual Pledge Against Gun Violence and Gun Violence Prevention Week, occurring through Friday, Dec. 2. According to a news release, throughout the week, students in the Wellness Ambassadors to Voice and Empower (WAVE) program will encourage gun violence prevention activities in the district, including creating student artwork that honors youths lost to gun violence. SFPS middle and high schools will also take a student Pledge Against Gun Violence. According to SFPS, since starting the pledge in 2014, the district has had a 52% drop in students bringing weapons to school. “In light of the recent tragedies at schools all over the country, there is no better time to give students a way to respond and participate in a future that ensures their safety and the safety of those around them,” Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. “The student pledge is a way to start the conversation about gun violence with children and adolescents affected by these shootings.” On Friday, Dec. 2, Capital High School will hold a “United Against Gun Violence” student assembly. The Santa Fe City Council will also hear a resolution from Mayor Alan Webber on Nov. 30 that seeks to prohibit 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” including the Genoveva Chavez Community Center; the convention center; and any locations where students visit for school or school-sanctioned activities.

Supreme Court denies PRC challenge

After hearing oral arguments yesterday, the state Supreme Court denied a challenge to a 2020 constitutional amendment that changed the Public Regulation Commission from a five-person elected body to a three-person appointed one. The lawsuit, filed by Indigenous Lifeways; New Mexico Social Justice Equity Institute; and Three Sisters Collective against both a PRC advisory committee and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, argued the amendment 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. Attorney Sarah Shore, who represented the plaintiffs, told the court the case presented “unique circumstance where there’s a real risk of abuse of power” and a “transfer away from the people who in their own constitution reserve rights to themselves to the political branches.” She also argued the amendment—approved by 56% of voters—illegally “log-rolled” several changes into one amendment in a misleading way. The state argued the groups had waited too long to raise their concerns and should have done so when the constitutional amendment was initially under debate. The court said a written opinion outlining their reasons for ruling against the challenge will be forthcoming. The PRC nominating committee—tasked with interviewing candidates and making recommendations to the governor—is scheduled to approve its list of recommended candidates at a meeting this Friday, Dec. 2.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov. 28: New cases: 2,187 (includes Nov. 23 through yesterday, according to DOH); 644,818 total cases. Deaths: DOH says it will next update COVID-19 fatalities on Dec. 5; Santa Fe County has had 367 total deaths; 8,702 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 196 Patients on ventilators: eight

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

Dan Flores, Santa Fe resident and AB Hammond professor emeritus of Western History at the University of Montana-Missoula, will deliver a presentation on his new book, Wild New World: The Epic Story of Animals and People in America, followed by a discussion with Weber State University Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor and Chair of History Sara Dant at 6:30 pm tonight at the Lensic Performing Arts Center for the School for Advanced Research’s president’s lecture event. Flores talks about the book in an interview on a recent episode of This Green Earth.

SFO garners international acclaim

The International Opera Awards, held yesterday in Madrid, Spain, named the Santa Fe Opera as Festival of the Year. SFO also made the short list in the World Premiere category for its 2022 Season production of M. Butterfly 蝴蝶君 by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang. Two 2022 Season artists, M. Butterfly 蝴蝶君 Director James Robinson and The Barber of Seville conductor Iván López Reynoso were nominees in the director and rising talent categories. “We are honored to be recognized at the International Opera Awards and wish to thank the distinguished jury, awards founder Harry Hyman and event sponsor Mazars,” General Director Robert K. Meya said in a statement. “In spite of the challenges of the pandemic and geopolitical turmoil collectively faced this year, art continues to find a way to unite us all. My colleagues and I are so inspired by the work of peer companies, the talented artists and our dedicated patrons. We will continue to explore and innovate within the art form and enrich the lives of as many people as possible in New Mexico and across the globe.” SFO says its 2022 season brought the second-best year of ticket sales in he opera’s history. You can read SFR’s coverage of last season—which recently received a first-place award for reviews from the New Mexico Press Association—here.

Indigenous fashion forward

Several designers who participated in last summer’s fashion show at Santa Fe Indian Market talk with Fashion Magazine about their experience, and about today’s Indigenous fashion scene. “Fashion today is just a continuation of who we are as a people and how we’ve always expressed ourselves,” says Lauren Good Day, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation) of the Ft. Berthold Reservation in North Dakota and a registered Treaty Indian with the Sweet Grass Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Good Day featured moccasins on the runway in Santa Fe last summer, writing on Instagram: “Our moccasins root us in culture as we walk forward holding the teachings of our ancestors and life ways of our people.” In addition to Good Day, Fashion magazine spotlights several of the brands that participated in the show, curated by Amber-Dawn Bear Robe, including Melanie LeBlanc of LeBlanc Apparel and her aunt Catherine Blackburn, a multi-disciplinary artist and jeweler who made the necklace US Interior Deb Haaland wore in last year’s InStyle story. For more on the topic, Bear Robe spoke earlier this month to the Met Museum about curating Indigenous fashion; she is one of six Native artists and scholars featured in the Met’s new Art of Native America Audio Guide.

Wind up

The National Weather Service forecasts a partly sunny day that will become increasingly mostly sunny with a high temperature near 45 degrees and breezy, with a south wind 15 to 20 mph becoming west 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word remains a fan of the late Joan Didion, but also appreciated this satirization of Didion as applied to writers leaving Twitter.

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