Morning Word

Santa Fe County Commissioners Delay Annexation Decision

More groups urge state Supreme Court to reject local abortion bans

County postpones annexation decision

Santa Fe County commissioners last night declined to move forward on a proposed boundary change near the Agua Fría Traditional Historic Community and, instead, delayed action following hours of public testimony, threats of litigation and multiple executive sessions. Residents of an area between Alameda and NM 599 near the Agua Fria village boundaries identified as 1B have petitioned the county to adopt approximately 1,100 acres into the village as a way of avoiding formal annexation by the city and contend the city has neglected the area. “For 14 years, we’ve been unable to vote in city elections, yet the city has gone ahead by its own admission in planning behind the scenes in how it’s going to develop our area,” Tamar Banar, a former school teacher who has lived in the area since 1988 and wants to join Agua Fría, said last night. “The city…in my opinion, has acted in bad faith and betrayed us and the residents of the other 17 areas, many of whom are frankly still awaiting services promised to them all those years ago.”

Some large landowners in the area, including Homewise, however, want the annexation to proceed in order to accommodate future affordable housing construction—a topic that dominated last night’s testimonies, with multiple Homewise employees testifying and urging the commission to delay making a decision. Attorney Frank Herdman told commissioners he represents Homewise and two other corporate entities with a total of more than 200 acres in the area and warned of a “trainwreck” if the commission added the land to the Agua Fria territory. “There are some very serious legal consequences of what is being proposed this evening,” he said. The matter has already landed in the courts, with the City of Santa Fe trying to legally prevent the county from voting on the boundary change, with the county contending the city is trying to exercise prior restraint and disallow the rights of residents. The contentious meeting lasted six and a half hours and ended with commissioners voting to continue the hearing on May 30.

More groups urge court to reject anti-abortion laws

Three organizations that support access to reproductive health care filed a brief yesterday joining New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez’s request that the state Supreme Court strike down local abortion bans passed by several small cities and local governments. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Bold Futures NM filed a brief yesterday in which they argue, among other points, that the local abortion bans threaten more than reproductive health care in the state by creating a checkerboard of health care regulations that will disproportionately impact residents in rural areas, who already have less access to health care. The state Supreme Court last month granted Torrez’s request to stay—or suspend—the restrictive abortion ordinances in Lea and Roosevelt counties, as well as the cities of Clovis and Hobbs, and directed the parties to submit briefs addressing legal issues, including the legal impact of New Mexico’s recently enacted Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act, which prohibits local governments from restricting access to health care in the way the aforementioned governmental bodies have done.

SFPD reports fatal Southside shooting

Details remain sparse regarding a fatal Southside shooting Sunday. According to a Santa Fe Police Department news release, officers were dispatched the parking lot of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on Zafarano Drive at approximately 12:30 am on April 30 and, when they arrived, found a 21-year-old male victim with at least one gunshot wound who was pronounced deceased on scene. Police Capt. Aaron Ortiz tells the Santa Fe New Mexican detectives are following “strong leads” to identify a shooter or shooters and are still analyzing surveillance footage from the crime scene, which shows several people in the area of the shooting. “We’d like for those people to come forward,” Ortiz told the paper. “We don’t have them identified at this point, but we know that several people were there and witnessed the incident when it happened.” Anyone with information about the case—which is number 2023-004959—is asked to contact Detective Rebecca Hilderbrandt by calling (505) 955-5625. Ortiz says SFPD is likely to release the name of the shooting victim today once the family has had time to notify the rest of its members.

Environment department debuts enforcement reporting site

The state environment department yesterday launched a new monthly online site, “Enforcement Watch,” which tracks all active and resolved enforcement cases in the department. According to a news release, active cases involve alleged violations of regulations, rules, permits, licenses, etc., while resolved cases are those that were adjudicated in court of law or administratively resolved. “The Enforcement Watch website provides New Mexicans with transparency of our enforcement efforts across the state to protect their health, safety and our environment,” NMED Secretary James Kenney said in a statement. “As we integrate the Enforcement Watch into department processes, expect to see more historic data and regular additions of new and resolved cases added to the list.” For April, three new entries were added as active matters: Dan Dee Dairy in Dexter for a notice of violation from the Ground Water Quality Bureau; Oxy USA, Inc. near Magdalena for a notice of violation from from the Air Quality Bureau; and EOG Resources Inc. in Midland, Texas for a notice of violation from the Radiation Control Bureau. One case was resolved in April: Three Saints Street-Kinder Morgan near Anthony resolved a July 7, 2020 notice of violation from the Hazardous Waste Bureau.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 1: New cases: 324 (includes the weekend); 680,151 total cases. Deaths: eight. Statewide fatalities: 9,218; Santa Fe County has had 410 total deaths; Statewide hospitalizations: 52; patients on ventilators: six. The state health department will stop reporting daily COVID-19 cases on May 11.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention most recent April 27 “community levels” map shows all New Mexico counties remain green—depicting low levels—for the third consecutive week.

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.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

What role can pop culture play in helping folks navigate difficult discussions? A big one, it turns out. In the most recent episode of Both/And, a podcast about preventing sexual violence, host Jess Clark, director of sexual violence prevention for the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, interviews producer, speaker and consultant Kristin Russo about how media and pop culture can be employed to navigate challenging topics. Russo, who worked as executive producer and co-host of the critically-acclaimed pop culture podcast Buffering the Vampire Slayer (which now focuses on other iconic genre shows) also is co-creator of Everyone Is Gay & My Kid Is Gay; author of This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids; and was host and producer of First Person, a video series on gender and sexuality.

Yet another way of looking at Georgia O’Keeffe

Last week, we made note of critic Jackson Arn’s New Yorker essay, “Georgia O’Keeffe Before She Was Famous,” regarding the current Museum of Modern Art Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition, To See Takes Time (through Aug. 12), in which Jackson posited that O’Keeffe had abandoned her best work when she left watercolors and charcoal to pursue large oil paintings. The New York Times takes a slightly different tack in its review in which it views the exhibition as a “course correction” by MoMA’s as it relates to O’Keeffe, for whom it mounted a retrospective in 1943 and then mostly ignored for the decades since. In the new show, Times co-chief art critic Roberta Smith writes, the museum strives to “establish O’Keeffe’s modernist bona fides by defining her penchant for repeating images—landscapes, flowers, West Texas canyons, portraits, female nudes, evening stars—as a ‘serial practice,’” a label Smith finds “contrived or forced” in the case of O’Keeffe “as if it were needed as a seal of approval for O’Keeffe’s entry into the Modern’s pantheon. It narrows the view of O’Keeffe’s achievement, rearranging known elements rather than giving it a new shape.” Like Arn, Smith finds more to like in O’Keeffe’s earlier works but finds generally the chronological installation produces “a somewhat fragmented, scattershot effect.” While the show reveals “notable surprises, both serial and singular,” O’Keeffe’s entire catalog includes works that had they been included “would have shown the evolution in certain groupings, strengthening the curators’ notion of O’Keeffe’s ‘serial practice.’”

Hit lists

Eleven New Mexico restaurants landed on Yelp’s 2023 list of 100 places to eat in the Southwest, including four Santa Fe spots: Ras Rody’s Jamaican Vegan Kitchen food truck; Venezuelan food Santarepa Cafe; James Beard award semifinalist El Chile Toreado; and comfort food mavens Mac Santa Fe. Yelp’s list, naturally, comes from Yelp users, and is described as “an all-time list of the top 100 places” in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, using a variety of rankings, including the total volume and ratings of reviews. Speaking of lists, voting began yesterday in SFR’s annual Best of Santa Fe contest, where you’ll find many local restaurants competing in many different categories. Voting remains open through the end of the month. And, while we’re in list-mode, New Mexico also appears on Afar’s list of 10 family-friendly ranches and lodges in the US: landing in the 10th spot with Vermejo, A Ted Turner Reserve, which provides “eco-tourism experiences for visitors who want to get a glimpse at what the American West might have looked like centuries ago.” Perhaps more on point for the family-friendly ranking, it offers “horseback riding, mountain biking, archery, wildlife tours and other activities” on its 550,000 preserved acres.

Rain check

The National Weather Service forecasts a 50% chance for precipitation today via scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon. Otherwise, it will be mostly cloudy, with a high temperature near 66 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. More scattered showers and thunderstorms cold occur tonight before midnight.

Thanks for reading! Yesterday, The Word unexpectedly listened to a great deal of Willie Nelson (happy 90th birthday) and Gordon Lightfoot (RIP).

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