Morning Word

NM AG Challenges Abortion Bans

Jambo Cafe chef to reopen Bobcat Bite

NM AG challenges abortion bans

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez yesterday filed in the state Supreme Court an extraordinary writ against Roosevelt County, Lea County, and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis for passing ordinances restricting access to reproductive health care in their communities. In the writ, the AG writes that New Mexico’s constitution “provides broader protection of individual rights” than the US constitution and that the local governments’ ordinances violate the state constitution’s “protection of equality, liberty, privacy, and inherent rights.” The local governments passed the abortion bans in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade last June. However, New Mexico, prior to SCOTUS’ action, repealed its own antiquated prohibition, thus codifying the right to abortion in the state. “This is not Texas,” Torrez said in a statement. “Our State Constitution does not allow cities, counties or private citizens to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Today’s action should send a strong message that my office will use every available tool to swiftly and decisively uphold individual liberties against unconstitutional overreach.” Torrez argues “the local governments’ actions also exceed their authority to legislate on a matter of statewide importance for which the Legislature has preempted local regulation.” Two additional bills codifying abortion rights in New Mexico, both backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, will be introduced during this legislative session. In his writ, Torrez asks the state Supreme Court to strike down the ordinances and prohibit the local governments “from engaging in unconstitutional action.”

Judge orders GOP shooter held until trial

Second Judicial District Judge David Murphy yesterday denied bond for Solomon Pena, who has been accused of masterminding shootings at the homes of Democrat lawmakers. The Associated Press reports Pena’s lawyer questioned the credibility of a confidential witness who shared information with authorities and argued Pena’s criminal history involved neither violent convictions nor crimes involving firearms. In addition, Roberta Yurcic said, Pena tried to improve his life after completing his prison sentence in 2016 for various non-violent felonies. “He completed his bachelor’s degree, he purchased a home, he was working a regular job,” she said. “My sense is that Mr. Pena cares about this community and that’s why he ran for office.” Murphy, the Albuquerque Journal reports, was unswayed, saying after the hearing: “Based on the nature and circumstances of the charges, as well as defendant’s own history as a convicted felon, and the allegations of possession and use of an assault rifle, as well as the allegation that he has provided firearms to his conspirators, I do find the state has met its burden there.”

Jambo chef reopening Bobcat Bite

Jambo Cafe Chef Ahmed Obo has purchased and will be reopening Bobcat Bite Cafe on Old Las Vegas Highway. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Obo, who completed the purchase in November, anticipates reopening Bobcat in March. “Six months ago, he came in and asked for our blessing,” former co-owner Bonnie Eckre told the paper. She and her husband John own Santa Fe Bite. “We’re very excited. I can’t think of anybody who would be better suited. I know he will do it justice.” For his part, Obo—a perennial winner in SFR’s Best of competition—tells the paper he wanted to expand beyond Jambo, which is located in a strip mall, and have a stand-alone building with a view: “I wanted something more showing the African landscape,” said Obo, who is originally from Kenya. “This is my dream idea—the trees, the mountains.” Obo, whose celebrity extends far beyond Santa Fe, recently appeared on Guy Fieri’s Triple D Nation, and also appeared on the show in 2013. Last year, Obo received a nomination from the James Beard Awards for Best Chef in the Southwest.

Sober at the Roundhouse?

Dry January notwithstanding, state Sen. Harold Pope, D-Albuquerque, is proposing more comprehensive abstinence in his chamber. Senate Resolution 1 would prohibit state senators from imbibing before or during committee meetings or floor sessions. “Quite frankly, I’ve just seen some things that, for me, I think are unprofessional for us to be doing on the job,” Pope told the Albuquerque Journal yesterday. “I think there should be some standards. I don’t think we would allow anyone in state government to be able to have a drink on break before doing state business.” Apparently, neither the Senate nor the House have any existing rules regarding alcohol consumption. Pope’s proposal was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, where at least one Republican questions its necessity: “I haven’t seen anything myself that this is even an issue,” state Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell said. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, however said it’s worth talking about prohibiting alcohol. Wirth, unsurprisingly, decided years ago to stop drinking during legislative sessions. In addition to having the highest alcohol death rate in the US, New Mexico also has seen three legislators since 2018 charged with DWI.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Jan. 23New cases: 367 (includes the weekend); 663,663 total cases. Deaths: five; Santa Fe County has had 385 total deaths; 8,924 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 65. Patients on ventilators: six

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

The Food Depot’s annual Souper Bowl returns after a two-year hiatus and is just a few days away, kicking off at noon, Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Need convincing to buy tickets for the city’s most delicious fundraiser? On a recent episode of Cheryl Jamison’s Heating it Up podcast, The Food Depot Deputy Director Jill Dixon describes what to expect at the event, and discusses the life-saving work The Food Depot does (don’t sleep on those tickets; the VIP ones have already sold out).

Honoring Vaccaro

Speaking of countdowns, a show celebrating acclaimed photographer Tony Vaccaro at Santa Fe’s Monroe Gallery of Photography (112 Don Gaspar) can be viewed for five more days—through Jan. 29. Monroe mounted two exhibitions—here and a New York pop-up last month—to honor Vaccaro’s 100th birthday; the photographer died on Dec. 28, just eight days after his centennial, which he celebrated in New York with friends at a surprise birthday dinner. New York Times obituary recounts how Vaccaro became a war photographer in World War II—also the subject of a 2016 HBO documentary. After the war, he transitioned and began to make fashion, travel and celebrity photographs for the country’s leading magazines. Those celebrities included Georgia O’Keeffe, whom Life magazine assigned Vaccaro to photograph in 1960. O’Keeffe expected a more famous photographer and at first refused to pose: “To win her over, Mr. Vaccaro cooked a meal and made a picnic lunch. When the weather turned too windy for the picnic, he gave her a plate of Swiss cheese as she sat in the back of his car. And when she playfully peered through a hole in a piece of the cheese, Mr. Vaccaro went into action,” the obituary reads. His other famous subjects included John F. Kennedy, Pablo Picasso and Sophie Loren, to name a few. This quote from Vaccaro accompanies Monroe’s information on the exhibition: “We call each other German, French, Italian. There is no Italian blood. There is no French blood. It’s human blood. On this Earth there is one humanity. Let’s do something about it. Let’s live! In a way, photography was my way of telling the world, ‘We have better things to do than to kill ourselves.’”

Eye of the beholder

Were we initially surprised Santa Fe didn’t appear on The Travel’s list of New Mexico’s 10 most beautiful towns? Indeed, but then we realized a. Santa Fe qualifies as a city, not a town, and b. Santa Fe doesn’t need to prove to us it’s beautiful to strangers. That being said, we concur New Mexico does indeed boast “some of the most breathtaking places in America” and that much of its “unique charm” can be found in its small towns. Do we think Galisteo, in spot #10, qualifies as a town? Sure, why not. Taos, in the ninth spot, certainly does and we would argue offers a bit more in entertainment than Galisteo (with all due respect to the Galisteo Basin Preserve and state Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo). We won’t spoil the whole list, but will skip ahead to the top three: Roswell, a chronic hit with UFO enthusiasts, also gets a shout-out for its restaurants and nearby wildlife refuge, and ranks third. Red River, “a perfect destination for travelers looking for outdoor adventures,” comes in second; and Chimayo, a town with “a long, fascinating history” comes in at number one.

Cold shoulder

The National Weather Service forecasts increasing clouds today with a high temperature near 38 degrees and north wind 10 to 20 mph. Tonight, we have a 40% chance for snow showers, with potential accumulation of about an inch (much more in other parts of the state). Chances for snow continue tomorrow, but the rest of the week looks sunny, albeit freezing.

Thanks for reading! Having recently encountered a slew of articles about ChatGPT, The Word finally relunctantly registered and asked the AI to write a poem about Santa Fe. Here’s that ode:

Santa Fe, land of adobe and skies so blue,A city rich in culture, history too.

From the plaza to the Canyon Road,Art and beauty always to be bestowed.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance,A sight that leaves one in a state of persistence.

The smell of roasting green chilies in the air,A reminder of the flavors that are always there.

The streets lined with shops and galleries,A treasure trove for all who see.

Santa Fe, a place of peace and serenity,A city that will forever hold a special place in me.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.