Morning Word

CCA May Reconsider Closure

NM Health Department to end daily COVID-19 reporting

CCA may reconsider closure

Center for Contemporary Arts Board Chairman David Muck tells SFR the board will meet Friday and assess whether the 44-year-old nonprofit arts organization might be able to soldier on after all. The answer may depend on a last-minute fundraising pitch launched within days of the board’s abrupt April 6 announcement that the CCA had reached the end of the line. Either way, the questions and pushback from the public writes yet another chapter for a beloved Santa Fe institution that has had its share of ups and downs. That history informed the board’s decision to close versus try for a Hail Mary in the first place, Muck says. “CCA has been in this position so many times, we were hesitant to do the boy-who-cried-wolf approach one more time,” he notes. “We didn’t think people would take us seriously.” People apparently have. In response to a notice from CCA board member Ellen Premack calling for $300,000 worth of donation pledges, thus far approximately $165,000 have surfaced. The board will take pledges through Friday (email to make one) and then meet to consider next steps. The $300,000 figure, Muck says, is the barebones figure needed to operate just the cinema, and a sharp decline from the $1.28 million budget the board anticipated and adopted in January, which Muck said turned out to be an overshot.

DOH to stop reporting daily COVID-19 #s

Last month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham let the emergency health order governing COVID-19 in New Mexico expire. As of yesterday, the health department’s COVID-19 epidemiological reports will change from bi-weekly to monthly. And next month, the health department will discontinue all together its daily dashboard, which reports cases, deaths and hospitalizations (see COVID-19 by the numbers below). The dashboard will stop and be archived on May 11. “These changes reflect the new phase of COVID-19 that we are in today,” DOH Deputy Secretary Laura Parajon said in a statement. “We will continue to actively monitor trends related to COVID-19, but with fewer COVID-19 tests being taken and inconsistent reporting of home COVID-19 tests, the day-to-day numbers are not as meaningful as they once were.” In addition, the state will also discontinue on May 11 NM Notify, the COVID-19 exposure alert system. May 11, btw, is the date President Joe Biden plans to end the federal public health emergency (he signed a bill ending the national emergency for COVID-19 on Monday, which reportedly won’t impact the wind-down of the public health emergency). As for NM Notify, according to DOH, 54% of New Mexicans activated the app and more than 1.5 million notifications were sent to users who might have been exposed. “We are proud of how well New Mexicans picked up and used this technology to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” DOH medical epidemiologist Daniel Sosin said in a statement. “NM Notify was an important tool early in the pandemic…we will need this tool in the future, and we will be ready to use it even more effectively.”

Union decries proposed city budget

City of Santa Fe Finance Committee hearings continue at noon today on Mayor Alan Webber’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which calls for—among other items—raises for city staff: 3% raises to all staff earning less than $100,000 annually and a 1% raise for employees earning more than that amount (here’s an overview of the budget). During yesterday’s Finance Committee first day of budget hearings, several city unions were asked to contribute feedback, with some decrying the city’s lack of outreach before preparing the budget. “Every year we ask for the opportunity to take part in the budget formulation process,” AFSCME Local 3999 Vice President Louis Demella said, “and every year we are instead handed what the city feels we need, we deserve.” Demella also criticized the budget for not addressing employee benefits, referencing Mayor Alan Webber’s note, in his introduction to the budget, that this year’s spending plan introduces “our commitment to a “just Santa Fe,” with priorities reflecting the community’s “long-standing” commitment to justice. “Is this justice?” Demella asked at yesterday’s hearing. “Is this fairness?”

Feds release Colorado River proposals

The US Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation yesterday released a draft plan that analyzes three options in the Colorado River Basin to address ongoing water shortages and low runoff (one of those options, taking no action, seems like a non-starter). Seven states—Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, California and Colorado—rely on the river and it provides, Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau says in a statement, “water for more than 40 million Americans. It fuels hydropower resources in eight states, supports agriculture and agricultural communities across the West, and is a crucial resource for 30 Tribal Nations. Failure is not an option.” Six of the states—including New Mexico—offered a proposal in January to address the river’s allocations; California disagreed with their assessment and offered its own the following month. The federal government, Beaudreau tells the Associated Press, doesn’t favor one alternative over the other: “Some of the commentary has depicted an us-versus-them dynamic in the basin,” he said. “I don’t see that at all.” The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement process began in October of 2022 and, DOI says, included “months of intensive discussions and collaborative work with the basin states and water commissioners, the 30 basin tribes, water managers, farmers and irrigators, municipalities and other stakeholders.” The draft SEIS will be available for public comment for 45 calendar days, with the final SEIS anticipated to be available with a Record of Decision in Summer 2023, which will inform the August 2023 decisions that will affect 2024 operations for Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported April 11New cases: 168; 676,825 total cases. Deaths: two. Santa Fe County has had 403 total deaths; 9,152 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 76; patients on ventilators: six

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent April 6 “community levels” map shows improvement for New Mexico, with just one county—Union—yellow with medium levels, down from two the prior week, none red and the rest of the state with 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

In the brand-new fourth episode of SFR’s monthly Leaf Brief podcast, host and SFR staff writer Andy Lyman embraces the growing season and talks with Urban Rebel Farms owners Jerome Baca and Joey Jacques about cultivating weed at home, as well as growing other crops—the pair initially had a micro-greens production business before pivoting to an all-around garden supply store when it became clear legal cannabis would become reality in New Mexico.

Looking back/forward with Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

Vulture magazine visits Corrales to spend time with acclaimed artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, 83, whose first New York retrospective, Memory Map, opens next week at the Whitney Museum of American Art (April 19-Aug. 13). A citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, Quick-to-See Smith, Vulture writes, “has been deploying symbols of American empire and Native identity in her work for decades, turning oil and acrylic paint, charcoal, prints, installation, and collage into wry political commentaries on post-genocidal existence.” Her two-floor exhibition at the Whitney will include work made over the last 50 years of her career and will be the first retrospective for a Native American artist at the museum. Nonetheless, she says: “I am not one. I am one among many. My community comes with me. This is how it’s always been since time immemorial. This is how we’ve survived.” Born on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, Quick-to-See Smith met the artists with whom she founded the Grey Canyon Group art collective while in graduate school at the University of New Mexico: Emmi Whitehorse, Conrad House, Larry Emerson and Paul Willeto. An early-career gallery choice in Santa Fe was made, the story notes, because it represented some New York artists, which seemed as close as a Native American could get to the city; though she would start showing in New York in the late 1970s. Quick-to-See Smith’s work includes a variety of reimagined maps that explore the form as a political tool and explicit commentaries “on the land as a contested space.” Her retrospective takes its name from a 2000 piece in which the artist “uses paintings of Indigenous petroglyphs” evocative of the stick figures she drew as a young girl into the dirt. Of it, Quick-to-See Smith says: “I want everybody who walks in the gallery to say, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen a map shown that way.’”

Salt of the earth

Truth be told, we did not know there were enough cocktail rimming salts to compile a “best of” list, but there are and Food & Wine magazine did thusly compile. Desert Provisions’ Hatch Green Chile Salt makes the list—specifically F&W deems it the “best chile salt,” which ostensibly means it beat out other chile salts (FYI Desert Provisions also has a red chile salt). Founded in Tucson, Arizona, Desert Provisions is, nonetheless, all about Hatch chile, writing on its website: “Just like champagne is to France, chiles are to Hatch, New Mexico. The land—or terroir—provides distinct growing conditions for some of the best-tasting chiles in the world. The hot, dry days and rich soil provide that New Mexican flavor you can’t find anywhere else.” True enough. Its Hatch Green Chile Salt (available at multiple Santa Fe businesses, so ignore the Amazon link in the F&W story), “is a great option if you’re planning to make margaritas for a big gathering and you know your guests have different spice tolerances,” the magazine writes. “For those who enjoy fiery cocktails, we recommend opting for a chile-infused salt like this one and pairing it with pepper-infused cocktails like a jalapeño margarita.”

Warmer, windier

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 77 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word is embracing Jazz Appreciation Month and reading up on how to buy an electric vehicle.

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