City councilors pitch new/old obelisk proposal
Santa City Councilors Carol Romero-Wirth, Renee Villarreal, Chris Rivera and Amanda Chavez on Friday previewed a forthcoming resolution that proposes next steps for the city’s Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth (CHART) process. “We want to see the original pieces of the obelisk bonded together with some sort of modern material that shows in an artistic way, I think, the fractures,” District 2′s Romero-Wirth told reporters at a news conference on the Plaza. The resolution about the obelisk’s future will be introduced at the council’s Feb. 8 meeting, and follows a lengthy public engagement process that informed an equally lengthy report CHART report released last summer. CHART emerged as a potential solution to address the cultural tensions that led to the toppling of the obelisk in October 2020. In response to a CHART survey about the obelisk’s future, close to 32% of Santa Feans said they want the monument restored with its original signage and additional language that “encourages it to be fully understood and assessed.” Approximately 12% simply wanted the monument restored with its original signage; another 11% wanted the monument restored with different signage; and 33% called for replacing what’s left of the monument with something else. The resolution, in turn, calls for installing four new plaques that would include: an Indigenous land acknowledgement; the events that led to the obelisk’s destruction; a re-stated Entrada proclamation; and a complete history of the monument.
Satanic Temple announces NM abortion clinic
House Bill 7, which would prohibit local governments from outlawing abortion, passed the House Health and Human Services Committee 7-3 on Friday. “The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act” is one of several legislative initiatives this session geared at codifying the right to abortion in New Mexico in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last June. While abortion remains legal in the state, several local governments have passed anti-abortion ordinances since then. Discussing HB7 in advance of the session, American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico staff attorney Nadia Cabrera-Mazzeo told SFR those local ordinances provide “a concrete example” of why this legislation is necessary “because it makes it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that the likes of the ordinances that we are seeing in these rural communities cannot stand.” The proposed bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.
Meanwhile, The Satanic Temple has announced the launch of a telehealth abortion clinic in New Mexico. According to a news release, TST Health, the temple’s “religious medical services arm,” will provide telehealth screenings, appointments and prescribe abortion medication. “TST is proud to expand reproductive options for our members. This is just the beginning,” Executive Director of Campaigns Erin Helian said in a statement. “We will remain steadfast as we continue the fight to uphold reproductive justice in the United States.” TST Health has named the facility “The Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic.” If you’re wondering if TST successfully trolled the state Republican Party with this announcement, the answer is yes. Daily Kos speculates TST may be gearing up for a legal fight (it already has already launched several lawsuits against states that have banned abortions).
True crime story
The New Yorker magazine takes a deep dive into Albuquerque Community Safety to examine whether “sending help instead of the police” has improved public safety in a city where law enforcement agencies have had the second highest shooting rate in the country, with a pattern of excessive force in situations involving people suffering from mental illness. ACS responders don’t wear uniforms or carry guns. They dispatch to “nonviolent crises involving mental health, homelessness, or substance use,” for which they are “trained to connect people from some of the city’s most vulnerable populations with professional help.” The city created the agency in 2020, following Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd. So has ACS helped improve public safety in Albuquerque? The answer seems to be: Kind of? Turns out, one underfunded agency can’t address the legacy former Gov. Susana Martinez left behind when she disassembled the state’s behavioral health-care system and the concomitant, ongoing dearth of services. “This is just about managing a crisis in a way that doesn’t look quite so militaristic,” University of New Mexico professor and AbolishAPD co-founder David Correia tells the magazine. The Albuquerque Journal recently reported APD has revised its use-of-force policies, and the changes have been approved by the Department of Justice, which is involved with an ongoing settlement agreement with the department.
On the job(s)
Brian Snyder, who worked for the City of Santa Fe for more than 14 years—nearly five years as city manager until Mayor Alan Webber asked for his resignation in that role—is now Santa Fe County’s public works director. Snyder, who started working for the county nearly two years ago, assumed the new position following Gary LJ Giron’s retirement. A Friday news release from the county says Snyder intends to focus on staff training and development. “A career in Public Works is a great way to serve your community, because we impact everyone through our work on roads, utilities, open space and solid waste,” Snyder said in a statement. “And recently enacted pay increases mean it has never been a better time to join our team.”
In other HR news, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday announced her appointment of former Pueblo de San Ildefonso Gov. James R. Mountain as the new secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, subject to state Senate confirmation. In a statement, Lujan Grisham described Mountain as having “an impressive history as a leader in his own community of Pueblo de San Ildefonso, as well as among the 22 other Nations, Tribes and Pueblos in our state.” Mountain’s tenure as Pueblo de San Ildefonso’s governor overlapped with the completion of the Aamodt Settlement Agreement; He also previously served on the pueblo’s Supreme Court and tribal council and, since 2018, has owned and operated the state-tribal affairs consulting firm Mountain+Associates, LLC. Mountain succeeds former Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo, who left the position at the end of last November. “I commit to uphold the traditional values of the first inhabitants of New Mexico as we work together to improve the quality of life for everyone who calls this land home,” Mountain said in a statement.
COVID-19 by the numbers
Reported Feb. 3 : New cases: 186; 665,422 total cases. Deaths: 10; Santa Fe County has had 394 total deaths; 8,968 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 73. Patients on ventilators: six
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Feb. 2 “community levels” map shows the same four county categorized as “yellow”—medium risk—for COVID-19 as last week: De Baca, Curry, Quay and Roosevelt counties. 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 COVIDTests.gov; 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.
On the most recent episode of the monthly Climate Matters radio show (which airs on the fourth Wednesday of the month on KSWV), City of Santa Fe Sustainability Officer Neal Denton speaks with guests from nonprofit 350 Santa Fe President Robert Cordingley and member Adam Wasserman about key bills to watch in the current legislative session. Wondering how the city itself is doing with its climate goals? Be sure to check out its Sustainability Dashboard.
All roads lead to NM
With the false promise of spring comes a bevy of optimistic road trip stories. The Planet lays out the “ultimate Road 66 road trip,” complete with tips for the New Mexico leg of the eight-state journey, including a stay-over at Albuquerque’s El Camino Motel to “take you back in time.” The story also recommends checking out the Route 66 monument (and other attractions in Tucumcari); the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa; and La Fonda Hotel here in Santa Fe. Meanwhile, over in Shondaland, Santa Fe’s Sky Railway’s Adventure Train makes the list for 10 “awe-inspiring” new train journeys to take in 2023. And, also on the train beat, The Travel breaks down Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route. Apparently, the 12 hours traveling from Kansas City to Albuquerque is the bumpiest part of the journey, and the scenery doesn’t compensate until Trinidad, Colorado: “Before long, the sun-tanned landscape of New Mexico, fittingly called the “Land of Enchantment,” will rivet the eyes before revealing the beautiful town of Albuquerque.” The Travel does, indeed, appear smitten with New Mexico and has been churning out a slew of “ultimate” guides for New Mexico of late, including ones for Albuquerque, Silver City and Taos.
Tying the knot in NM
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, The Cut interviews married New Yorkers Arpan Somani and Chelsea Trout about their November 2021 wedding at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. The couple had previously visited New Mexico, Somani tells The Cut: “We fell in love with the landscapes, the peacefulness,” he says. There was no debate about getting married here, he notes: “We didn’t think twice about New Mexico. We didn’t even really consider other places. It was just, We’re committed to New Mexico. Now let’s figure out New Mexico.” Having visited Abiquiu, both were keen on Ghost Ranch as a beautiful setting, not realizing they would need to bring in all their supplies themselves. They also had a bit of a “saga” with a wedding planner: “At first we were like, ‘Okay, let’s just be patient. This is New Mexico. Things move slowly.’ Then it felt like ‘dog ate my homework’–type excuses for why certain things weren’t happening,” Somani says. They found another wedding planner and moved to New Mexico for four-plus months. At any rate, all’s well that ends well, and apparently the desserts were from Dolina Cafe & Bakery and Chocolate Maven, so you know they were tasty.
Shoot for the moon
The National Weather Service forecasts a return to winter with a mostly sunny day and a high temperature near 47 degrees, accompanied by west wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, we have a 40% chance for snow showers after 11 pm with new snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. If you missed the bright snow moon last night, try again tonight. If you want to see other’s shots, check out NASA’s Twitter thread; and if you need tips on photographing the moon, you’ll find some here.
Thanks for reading! The Word plans to watch Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson’s performance from last night’s Grammys 1,000 more times (and then look for a complete recording of “Higher Ground”).