Morning Word

SFPD Arrest Magistrate Khalsa for DWI

Native American advocates protest IAD cabinet appointee

SFPD arrest Magistrate Khalsa for DWI

Santa Fe Police arrested Santa Fe County Magistrate Dev Atma Khalsa early Sunday morning on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and driving with an expired license. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports SFPD responded to a single-vehicle roll over crash on Interstate 25 northbound at the St. Francis Drive exit and, upon arrival, found Khalsa standing by his vehicle. “Officers initially spoke on scene with Mr. Khalsa before medical personnel transported him to the hospital for evaluation,” Deputy Chief Matthew Champlin tells the paper via email. “The investigating officer reported Mr. Khalsa had an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath and noticeably slurred speech.” His driver’s license had expired on Friday, Feb. 24. “Once at the hospital, the same observations were made…with the addition of bloodshot watery eyes.” Khalsa reportedly said he hadn’t been drinking and “became uncooperative and refused to be medically assessed,” according to the criminal complaint. Champlin later told the paper Khalsa’s charge may be downgraded to a simple DWI, as it’s unclear if the arresting officer requested a breath sample prior to asking for a blood sample, as required by law. Khalsa, who won last November’s general election in an uncontested race after winning a four-way primary race, could not be reached for comment, the paper said.

Native American advocates protest IAD cabinet appointee

Advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous people intend to fight Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s appointee as the next secretary of the Indian Affairs Department, James R. Mountain, a former San Ildefonso Pueblo governor and judge, New Mexico In Depth reports. That opposition emerged during a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force meeting last week, and stems from a dismissed rape charge against Mountain 15 years ago. Several members said they would resign from the task force if Mountain is confirmed; state Sen. Shannon Pinto, D-Tohatchi, said she’s working to stop his confirmation: “I’ve been fighting this, will fight it ‘til the end,” Pinto said. “There’s not any compromise for me in it to support it in any manner. This is not the position that can be compromised, as far as the figurehead representing Native American people within our state.” Court records indicate Mountain was indicted on charges of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping and aggravated battery against a household member in 2008; the prosecutor dismissed the case in 2010 due to insufficient evidence. Mountain noted that dismissal in a statement to New Mexico In Depth, in which he also said: “I recognize how upset and disappointed our community members are as a result of these past allegations and charges, which are understandably bringing up the trauma that far too many Native women have suffered. I have dedicated myself to reestablish connections and confidence among our tribal communities.” The governor’s spokeswoman, Maddy Hayden, said Lujan Grisham does not intend to withdraw Mountain’s nomination.

NM sues FDA over abortion pill rules

On Friday, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez joined attorneys general from 11 other states in a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration for its restrictions on a drug used for medical abortions. Of the more than 20,000 drugs approved by FDA approves, only 60—including mifepristone—fall under a set of restrictions known as Risk Evaluation & Mitigation Strategies, or REMS, applicable for drugs with serious safety concerns, such as opioids. The AGs’ lawsuit contends the restrictions the FDA has placed on prescribing and dispensing mifepristone are “unduly burdensome, harmful and unnecessary, and expose providers and patients to unnecessary privacy and safety risks.” That protocol requires special certification for both health care providers and pharmacies and signed agreements by patients and providers certifying the patient has decided to take the drugs to end their pregnancy—even in the case of miscarriages, for which mifepristone also is prescribed. “Adding special restrictions to a completely safe medication is the opposite of what this country needs right now in terms of reproductive rights and healthcare,” Torrez said in a statement. “The newly added process and requirements that the FDA has placed on this safe medication have a harmful effect on communities of color and go against what experts have concluded about mifepristone.” The lawsuit argues the FDA exceeded its authority and violates the constitutional principle of equal protection and asks the court to bar the FDA from enforcing them; The AGs also filed a preliminary injunction asking the court to halt the FDA’s enforcement of its restrictions on mifepristone while the case continues. The lawsuit’s timing, the New York Times reports, may be strategic as it arrives pending a decision from a federal judge in Texas in a lawsuit in which anti-abortion activists want to overturn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone and have it removed from the market.

State settles safety case with Rust film company

On Friday, the state environment department and Rust Movie Productions announced they had reached a settlement over the fine and citation issued in April 2022 by the department’s Occupational Health and Safety Revision Bureau. OHSB had issued its highest citation and a concomitant $136,793 fine to the company for ignoring safety hazards on the Rust film set in the aftermath of the shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Under the settlement, the citation is downgraded from “Willful-Serious” to “Serious” and the movie production company has agreed to pay a reduced civil penalty of $100,000. “We are pleased to have entered into an agreement with OHSB, subject to approval, which downgrades the citation and reduces penalties,” Melina Spadone, senior counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and attorney for Rust Movie Productions, LLC, said in a statement. “Our top priority has always been resuming production and completing this film so we can honor the life and work of Halyna Hutchins. Settling this case rather than litigating is how we can best move forward to achieve that goal.” According to a news release from the environment department, the reduced fine is the largest penalty under the state Occupational Health and Safety Act in New Mexico since 2010. “This settlement resolves OHSB’s investigation and citation related to this incident,” the news release says. Last week, Rust Movie Productions announced it would complete production of Rust this spring in Montana, with actor and producer Alec Baldwin, who is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, returning to set, along with Souza and others from the original production.

Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who also is charged with involuntary manslaughter, made her first court appearance on Friday. Baldwin and Assistant Director Dave Halls, who has entered a plea agreement for negligent use of a firearm in the Rust shooting, waived their first court appearances. As one of her conditions of release pending trial, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer granted Gutierrez-Reed’s request for a firearm for self-defense in her home—required, her lawyer Jason Bowles said, due to a stalker and threats to her safety in the aftermath of non-redacted personal information released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies opposed allowing Gutierrez-Reed possession of a gun in her home. Sommer said she will be scheduling a status conference for all parties to be held next month.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Feb. 24: New cases: 159; 668,677 total cases. Deaths: 0; Santa Fe County has had; 398 total deaths; 9,020 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 62. Patients on ventilators: nine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Feb. 23 “community levels” map shows the entire state has green—low levels—for the second consecutive week. 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

A recent music story in The New York Times opens with a reference to the song “Narbona,”—described as a “haunting ballad” with “unmistakable Navajo phrasing,” and the signature of sound of the Delbert Anderson Trio, a jazz trio based in Farmington and led by Navajo jazz musician trumpeter Delbert Anderson. “It’s a flaky and weird little town,” Anderson tells the Times during an interview in his Farmington studio. “The upside is we can afford to be jazz musicians.” Now, “after playing county fairs, arts centers and bars, and splitting earnings so meager their wives stared at them plaintively, Anderson and his bandmates appear poised for something bigger.” The trio’s single, “Grandma’s Song” is scheduled to be released on March 8. In the meantime, check out 11 songs from their album DDAT; the music video of their song “Groove Warrior”'; and the band’s 2016 live Tiny Desk concert contest entry.

For the love of skiing

Writer, skier and Santa Fe resident Erin Vivid Riley recently had her “hope” for the sport of skiing revived by a visit to the Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, and writes of the experience for Condé Nast Traveler. This marked Riley’s first winter since she moved to the Southwest of not purchasing a season pass, following Taos Ski Valley’s price hike. Instead, this year she decided to “make do with lift tickets at smaller hills.” Enter Sipapu: early to open; late to close; modest terrain; and an affordable lift ticket at an average price of $35. As a point of comparison, the cheapest beginner ticket in Taos costs $55, with full access weekend adult tickets running up to $195. Riley’s story details the impact of the rising cost of skiing, including one recent survey that reported 89% of visitors to US resorts last season identified as white, and another report that 52% of skiers had an income of more than $75,000. But Sipapu’s affordability hardly counts as its only selling point. The smaller mountains, “are the hills where people fall in love with the sport,” Adrienne Isaac, director of marketing and communications at the National Ski Areas Association, says. Such is the case for Riley, who writes of talking with a friend about the reasons behind their shared love for Sipapu and other small resorts: lifts so slow they seem to churn, terrain so mild it doesn’t matter what level you are or shape you’re in, tickets so cheap you can have a leisurely beer or two without feeling like you’re burning cash.”

And the winners are...

Two New Mexico museums—both in Santa Fe—made the top 10 for USA Today’s 2023 “10 Best Readers’ Choice” in the art museum category. The Museum of International Folk Art clocks in at number 10 and boasts “the most extensive collection of its kind, with over 130,000 objects from over one hundred nations and six continents, including textiles, toys, ceramics and carvings.” The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts came in at number three in the US and “specializes in progressive works by contemporary Native artists, with a collection of some 7,500 pieces created from 1962 to the present.” Santa Fe also ranked in the category for “best public square,” with the Plaza coming in at number six. Voting remains underway in a slew of categories in this particular contest, including the “best cultural festival” division, for which the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a contender. As for the true OG Best of competition, two weeks remain in SFR’s nominating phase, in which readers choose the people, places and phenomena that appear on our final ballot for the annual poll in May. Vote here.

Dust in the wind

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 47 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. The wind and snow may return on Wednesday—hopefully without the dust storms some parts of the state experienced yesterday.

Thanks for reading! If/when she next visits LA, The Word plans to check out the Canyon Country Store (and not just just because David Bowie used to shop there).

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