Morning Word

Alec Baldwin, armorer to face charges in “Rust” shooting

Old Pecos Trail development City Council hearing planned for Saturday

Alec Baldwin, armorer to face charges in “Rust” shooting

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced yesterday she will be bringing involuntary manslaughter charges against Rust actor and producer Alec Baldwin, along with the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, for their roles in the Oct. 21, 2021 film-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. “After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” Carmack-Altwies said in the written statement. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.” Assistant Director David Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, an agreement that includes a suspended sentence and six months of probation. “If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said in a statement. Baldwin’s attorney issued a statement saying he will fight the charges; Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers called the charges “the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts” and said they intend “to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.” The Hutchins family also issued a statement via their attorney thanking both the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s and DA’s offices “for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life.”

The movie had been set to resume production this month outside of New Mexico, but the New York Times reports this morning the criminal charges are likely to complicate its completion. “Could a western about a grizzled outlaw on the run from law enforcement continue to feature an actor who is fighting his own criminal charges?” the story asks.  A person with knowledge of the project told the Times the movie was still on pace with both Baldwin in the lead role and Joel Souza, who was wounded in the shooting, as director.

Legislator pay study moves to governor

New Mexico’s 60-day legislative session began Tuesday and although a House committee leadership shakeup that night was still the topic of chitchat and headlines this morning, both chambers recessed yesterday and plan to resume Monday. Both the House and Senate passed the traditional first bill of the session with affirmative votes on what’s know as the “feed bill,” a measure largely intended to fund the work of lawmaking. This year’s $57.4 million bill, however, contains a $2.5 million appropriation to study whether the state should establish salaries for elected legislators. Every other state in the nation already pays its lawmakers, and supporters argue such “modernization” would lead to a younger, more diverse Legislature. A University of New Mexico study whose findings were announced this week used anonymous surveys to gauge lawmaker opinions on the topic and reports 83% believe they should be compensated for their work. As of now, legislators only receive mileage and per diem. The study, an executive summary of which is available here, recommends not only pay for legislators, but also for additional staff to support them and for more days in session. The feed bill lands on the governor’s desk and won’t become final unless she signs it.

Saturday lineup for Old Pecos Trail

Santa Fe’s City Council is working this weekend with a special public hearing planned for 10 am tomorrow at City Hall on a request for rezoning near the Old Pecos Trail and West Zia Road. It’s the third public hearing on the proposal, and councilors (who are, by the way, paid a salary for their year-round jobs as elected officials) hope that rather than holding the meeting on a Wednesday night like the previous two, the bright and early time and date will allow maximum participation. At issue is a 9.5-acre private property upon which a developer wants to build 25 houses. Opponents of the project have raised worries about traffic, open space and the proposed development’s impact on what’s been designated a “scenic corridor.” The case occurs against the backdrop of the city’s tenuous housing supply and high prices. This week, the Santa Fe Association of Realtors updated its 2022 State of Santa Fe Housing report that offers a primer on home sale and rental statistics and explains the region’s “exponential price growth” and its rental shortfall. Viewers may watch the Old Pecos Trail zoning hearing online via YouTube.

Bright ideas

Solar arrays on the top of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center and at a compost facility off Airport Road have been generating far less power than anticipated, according to an assessment from city staff that found the arrays haven’t been maintained. In 2022, the solar panels on top of the convention center were only producing 19% of the energy anticipated. That’s about $20,000 of lost value. The solar panels on top of the compost facility were faring even worse, putting out less than 1% of the anticipated power—nearly $23,000 in lost value. Moreover, the required maintenance on the arrays has been complicated by the financial arrangement the City of Santa Fe struck with a California company a decade ago. SFR Staff Writer Andrew Oxford unpacks the situation, in which the original company sold the arrays to another company that doesn’t appear to be in a position to perform the maintenance. As such, California-based Dissigno Holdings is now offering to turn over ownership—repairs are expected to cost close to $95,000—of the arrays to the city in a proposed deal that was supposed to begin wending through City Council committees this week but was removed from Tuesday’s Finance Committee agenda.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Jan. 19New cases: 166; 663,132 total cases. Deaths: five; Santa Fe County has had 385 total deaths; 8,907 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 65. Patients on ventilators: five

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Jan. 19 “community levels” map shows one county categorized as “yellow”—medium risk—for COVID-19: Roosevelt County. The rest of the state—including Santa Fe County—is green, aka has low risk. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; 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

Head into the weekend with some new New Mexico-influenced music courtesy of Bobbie Lovesong, aka songwriter Madelyn Strutz, whose debut album On The Wind releases today and is on Boston NPR’s WBUR station’s list of seven albums to listen to this winter. “Bobbie went to Taos, New Mexico in 2020 to live communally with a small group of musicians as the lockdown stretched on for months,” PR for the album notes. “Retreating into an unfinished Earthship, Bobbie passed the days writing and recording music, with nothing more than a laptop microphone and a few instruments. At once surreal, timeless and extraterrestrial, On The Wind can be heard as a hallucinatory sonic love letter to Taos.” WBUR writes that its “crunchy, lo-fi production, keyboard-drum samba grooves and [Lovesong’s] airy vocal combine in a sound reminiscent of the easy-listening-adjacent, French influence of mid-1960s counterculture.” The Irish Times also says the album “strikes the right notes.” Catch the official video for one of the tracks, “Inner Sea,” here.

Eye of the beholder

“Words fail” Candice Rainey as she sets out to describe the beauty of Northern New Mexico in a story for Condé Nast Traveler. Well, kind of. “The problem with trying to say anything about the region’s beckoning sunlight, fathomless desert, and All. That. Sky is that so many artists have already done so,” Rainey writes before quoting one of those artists (DH Lawrence, in this case). At any rate, Northern New Mexico’s “seemingly limitless landscape is the kind that prompts mere mortals to ask the big questions.” Those mere mortals include Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Judy Chicago, Dennis Hopper, and the list goes on. Rainey came to town with the fam first to hang out in Santa Fe “hitting the slopes outside town and feeding our souls with art when our legs couldn’t take it anymore.” From there, the plan was to “pilgrimage to Taos Ski Valley, a traditionalist’s mountain that’s had a recent facelift but managed to hang on to its communal magic.” Other observations from her trip: People throw around the word “culture” a lot in Santa Fe because we have a lot of it (that’s a big paraphrase). At any rate, in addition to admiring the landscape, Rainey admires the art scene before heading to Taos and admiring all that town has to offer as well. Bottom line: “the desert’s striking beauty is on full display in the winter.”

Breaking snacks

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston appeared recently on The Late Late Show with James Cordon and talked about the time during the show’s fifth season when someone broke into his car and stole the show’s final two scripts. “I was driving around, I went to the top of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque and I was looking around, going for a walk, and I come back and someone broke into my car.” He subsequently went to the police station, which was closed and then called the non-emergency number and left a message, a recording of which ended up leaked to the national press, which reported, apparently erroneously, that Cranston had called 911 about the scripts (Movieweb has a recap if you’d rather read than watch). In other Breaking Bad-related news, reportedly both Cranston, aka Walter White, and Aaron Paul, aka Jesse Pinkman, will appear in an ad for PopCorners during the Feb. 12 Super Bowl. Entertainment Weekly describes the ad as “Paul’s return to the ABQverse, where a high school chemistry teacher once teamed up with one of his worst students to create a murderous meth empire.” In a teaser for the ad, “Paul can be seen watching a desert sunset in some lightly soiled cooking clothes, munching on a bag of PopCorners. He then receives a call on his not-smart phone. ‘Yo, what’s up?’ he says while the camera reveals an empty lawn chair beside him as well as the famous RV-turned-mobile meth lab.” The Word was unable to determine if the ad was actually filmed in New Mexico, although in all candor she did not try that hard to do so.

Coming back around

Snow is back in the forecast today. The National Weather Service predicts a 60% chance of snow showers after 2 pm and a cloudy day with a high near 35 an an accumulation of less than an inch, with up to another inch expected tonight.  The storm is forecast to hit the northeast region of the state harder, with a travel warning for Raton Pass.

Thanks for reading! The Word has a soft spot for this particular Crosby, Stills & Nash footage. RIP, David Crosby. 

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