Morning Word

Gov Announces Extensive Investigation into Abuses of Disabled People

Santa Fe Police reports uptick in dumpster fires

NM investigates multiple abuse allegations among disabled

State officials yesterday issued strong warnings to developmental disabilities service providers, following the recent termination of contracts with four such providers after allegations of extreme abuse and neglect and the discovery of more incidents. “My message is this: If you are in a position of caring for a developmentally disabled adult and you abuse that responsibility, take note, because we are coming for you,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. Officials say last weekend they deployed more than 75 staff from the Health; Human Services; and Aging and Long-Term Services departments to conduct in-person wellness checks on more than 1,000 clients being served through DOH’s Developmental Disabilities Waiver programs; the checks will continue until all 6,000+ clients have been assessed. According to a state news release, an initial allegation of extreme abuse and neglect led DOH to examine other cases, including five involving “serious neglect and abuse that included malnutrition.” In three of these cases, the client has died, although those deaths have not been “definitively tied” as yet to the alleged abuse and are under investigation by law enforcement. Last weekend’s wellness checks uncovered eight additional incidents of alleged abuse and neglect. “The uncomfortable truth is that being disabled makes someone more vulnerable to abuse,” DOH Secretary Patrick Allen said in a statement. “All of us have to do more to better serve the disabled community.”

In addition to ongoing investigation of the incidents by law enforcement, the state said it is conducting an independent investigation to evaluate DOH’s Developmental Disabilities Division and Division of Health Improvement procedures, and ALTSD Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez is temporarily stepping in as director of the Developmental Disabilities Division and leading an internal investigation. HSD is investigating multiple DD Waiver providers for potential Medicaid fraud. Anyone suspecting abuse, neglect or exploitation of any person who is on one of the state’s Developmental Disabilities Waiver Programs, or anyone else, is asked to call Adult Protective Services Central Intake Unit toll-free at: 1-866-654-3219.

SFPD reports rising arsons

February had fewer days than January and fewer crimes. According to a report prepared by the Santa Fe Police Department for this afternoon’s Public Safety Committee meeting, larcenies, assaults and motor vehicle thefts all declined from the month prior, although February’s 52 motor vehicle thefts remained above the overall monthly average. Robbery, arson and sex offenses in February were all higher than January and, in the case of sex offenses, higher than the monthly average in both January and February (six and seven, respectively). Year-to-year, the highest percentage change for a crime—a more than 300% increase the report says—was for arsons: 13 so far this year compared with three in 2022. According to crime mapping by SFPD, several of those fires occurred behind businesses, such as a Feb. 2 fire behind Total Wine on Zafarano Drive in which 10 shopping carts were burned; a Feb. 10 fire in the dumpster behind Denny’s on Cerrillos Road; a Feb. 16 fire in the dumpster behind Best Buy on Zafarano Drive; and a Feb. 22 fire in a dumpster at the Courtyard by Marriott on Cerrillos Road. The caseload at Municipal Court last month remained about on par with January, according to a report prepared for today’s meeting, with a slight decline in traffic violations, and increases in DUIs and petty misdemeanors.

City: Greenhouse gas emissions declining

Greenhouse gas emissions in the city of Santa Fe have dropped by 15% since 2015, according to new data on the city’s sustainability dashboard. According to the 2021 Inventory of Community-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions report, transportation marked the largest reduction, with 33% less emissions. The report includes a letter from Mayor Alan Webber, who notes the reduction in greenhouse emissions occurred despite 5,000 additional people moving to town. “This is a major accomplishment,” Webber says. “It reflects the decisions of all of us to use clean energy, choose cleaner commutes and more.” As for city government, it has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2040, is investing in 17 new solar arrays; transitioning the city fleet to all-electric vehicles; and has reduced energy use in its facilities.”Our actions now have a very real impact on future generations, and together, we have all prioritized eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in Santa Fe,” Webber says. “This latest inventory shows that our efforts are working.” The city used tools and guidelines from Local Governments for Sustainability for its inventory report, it says, “which provides authoritative direction for greenhouse gas emissions accounting.”

USA Today names NM mother Woman of the Year

New Mexico’s Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit spotlit the state’s failures to comply with federal law and educate all of its students. Specifically, in 2018, retired state District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that New Mexico’s education system had violated students’ constitutional right to adequate schooling, particularly at-risk students, such as socioeconomically disadvantaged children; English learners; Native American students; and children with disabilities. Wilhelmina Yazzie (Diné), one of the plaintiffs on the case, sued the state on behalf of her son Xavier Nez, setting off a reckoning that continues to reverberate today. For her efforts—which have included ongoing advocacy—USA Today named Yazzie one of its 2023 Women of the Year. “I hope I do the best that I can to continue what I do, advocating for our children, the best way that I can and know how,” Yazzie tells the Current Argus in an interview about her recognition. “You know, I’m not a Ph.D. person or I don’t have all kinds of licenses or, you know. No, I’m doing this from what I know as my role as a mother, and what I was taught.” View the complete list of honorees here.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported March 20: New cases: 388 (includes the weekend); 672,797 total cases. Deaths: 0; Santa Fe County has had 402 total deaths; 9,084 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 53; patients on ventilators: six

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent March 16 “community levels” map shows two counties (San Juan and McKinley) are now yellow—aka medium—level. The rest of the state remains at green—aka low—levels. 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

ICYMI, last Friday, HGTV revealed the location of its next smart home giveaway in this Instagram video. Yes, the next location is Santa Fe, about which HGTV says: “This laidback city is a WHOLE vibe.” Indeed. You can watch a longer version of the announcement video and check out a time-lapse video of the home’s construction here; as well as view the floor plans. You can enter a sweepstakes to win twice a day starting April 18. According to Heavy, the network has run its smart house giveaway since 2008, one of its three home giveaways throughout the year.

Look good/do good

Condé Nast Traveler highlights a recent collaboration between Merrell and Northern New Mexico-based artist Jordan Ann Craig (Northern Cheyenne) in its spring travel gear roundup. The company and Craig teamed up, CNTraveler writes, “to design a collection of five shoes, a fanny pack, a beanie and a sweatshirt that all pay homage to traditional Native American artwork. These celebratory designs are ideal for travelers headed on hiking or camping trips.” The shoes, such as the Embarc Sneaker Moc, are “moccasin-influenced” and “inspired by nature and Indigenous beadwork.” According to Merrell, during 2023, for every item of Jordan Ann Craig footwear apparel and accessories sold on its website, the company will donate $3 to support the 2024 Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run up to a maximum donation of $45,000; the annual 400-mile run “commemorates the Northern Cheyenne breakout of Fort Robinson and began as a tribute to its ancestors” and is now a “forum for healing and wellness; youth leadership and empowerment; cultural and language preservation; environmental justice; and creating social change.” According to Craig’s website, she lives and works in Pojoaque, and previously held artist’s residencies at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Foundation.

Guiding lights

PureWow publishes its “ultimate guide” to the city, directed at readers who need to “think again” if their vision of New Mexico is all “high temps, tumbleweeds and UFOs.” Enter Santa Fe, “the ideal vacation spot for food lovers, art enthusiasts and nature-seekers alike.” First-timers should be sure to visit the Plaza, PureWow advises, while folks in the mood for “something more modern,” should head to the Railyard, described as “the younger, cooler cousin of the Plaza.” The story also has shout-outs for a variety of local businesses, galleries and museums, including the newly opened Tumbleroot Pottery Pub, Restoration Pizza and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (among many others). Meanwhile, GreenState, a digital magazine devoted to cannabis, has assembled a guide to Santa Fe’s 10 “best” cannabis dispensaries. The list seems legit, but the publication’s advice to get high and enjoy the art at the “Martha O’Keefe Museum” a little suspect. For cannabis advice closer to home, be sure to check out the brand-new edition of SFR’s monthly Leaf Brief newsletter, in which writer Andy Lyman provides updates on how various cannabis legislation fared during the recently adjourned legislative session.

Under the weather

The National Weather Service forecasts a 60% chance for precipitation today and tonight, with possible rain and snow showers before 1pm, then rain showers likely (here’s a look at the likely snowfall in the mountains through Wednesday night). The day will be otherwise cloudy, with a high temperature near 46 degrees and southwest wind 5 to 10 mph.

Thanks for reading! As a fan of Kate Wagner’s McMansion Hell blog, The Word is enjoying Wagner’s guest design columns for The Nation, particularly her first on the proliferation of greige, courtesy the real estate industrial complex.

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