Morning Word

Fire Prompts Evacuations in Northern New Mexico—Again.

NM watchdog group calls for transparency from new CYFD council

Morning Word

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire victims evacuate again

For many nearby residents, the new Las Tusas fire in San Miguel County has ignited memories of last year’s Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon blaze, as officials closed roads and ordered evacuations for nearby residents, many of whom also fled last year’s devastating conflagration. After the first reports of the fire on Wednesday, a Facebook page for victims of last year’s fire once again filled with posts both asking and providing updates from those in the vicinity; offers for help; and searches for lost pets. The Albuquerque Journal speaks with folks like Manuelitas’ resident Juan Valerio, who evacuated last year only to find himself once again fleeing fire as it approached his home this week. He spent the night in his truck with his two cats before heading to the Abe Montoya Recreation Center in Las Vegas, which was re-activated as a shelter this week. “It’s kind of a double whammy,” Valerio told the Journal yesterday from the shelter. “When you go through something like that, you’re always thinking to yourself, ‘Why is it happening to me?’” The Las Tusas fire is located on private land near HWY 94 and, as of yesterday, its cause remained under investigation. The Northern New Mexico Type 3 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire yesterday, consisting of two hotshot crews, 1 Type 2 IA Handcrew, four dozers, six engines, multiple volunteer engines, one Type 3 helicopter. Fire officials say they also have ordered additional resources, such as hotshot crews, engines and infrared mapping aircraft. As of the most recent update—issued yesterday—the fire had burned more than 1,000 acres.

Deceitful returns

New Mexicans who paid to file their taxes with TurboTax in 2016, 2017 and 2018 may be receiving checks for approximately $30 as part of a multi-state settlement with TurboTax parent company Intuit, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced yesterday. New Mexico will receive approximately $900,000 of a $141 million multi-state settlement announced last year impacting about 4.4 million consumers across the US. The settlement applies to certain consumers who paid Intuit to file their federal tax returns through TurboTax for tax years 2016, 2017 and 2018, but were eligible to file for free through the IRS Free File Program. Payments will be mailed out this month; eligible recipients don’t need to do anything, but will be contacted by email about the settlement through the fund administrator Rust Consulting. “The way that TurboTax advertised this ‘free’ service was extremely confusing and deceiving to millions of consumers,” Torrez said in a statement. “We are glad to join forces with other attorneys general across the country to provide restitution to our citizens.”


SFR staff writer Andrew Oxford, a regular rider of the City of Santa Fe’s bus system, takes a deep dive into its current state of dysfunction. As he reports in this week’s cover story, “On the Struggle Bus,” Santa Fe Trails “has not posted any information at the mall ‘transit hub’—or any other major bus stops around town—about route schedules or cancellations. There aren’t even maps to tell riders where the city’s buses travel. Signs on the city’s bus stops direct riders to a website, But it is just a blank webpage.” Moreover, five of the city’s 10 bus routes have transitioned to an on-demand model, with no regular service to several of the city’s biggest employers and institutions, including Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Santa Fe Community College, Museum Hill, the Institute for American Indian Arts and St. John’s College. The lack of routes impacts riders and detracts from the city’s climate change goals, given that transportation remains the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Santa Fe, according to a report from city officials on 2021 data. And while the City Council and Mayor Alan Webber adopted an extensive multi-modal plan last year, the city has yet to implement any of its goals (including posting better information for riders).

Watchdog group calls for open CYFD meetings

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says the new Children, Youth & Families Department advisory council, appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in March, needs to keep all of its meetings open. The council met for the first time last week, at which time Acting Secretary Teresa Casados reportedly said some of its subsequent meetings will be closed to the public—an assertion later confirmed by a department spokesman. Last February, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order overhauling CYFD, which has been chronically plagued with reports of repeat abuse of children in its care, and one of the worst rates in the US for such repeat child abuse cases. In a statement, NMFOG “strongly urges the committee to reconsider and adopt a resolution opening all the meetings, and we know from experience it can be done.” The statement cites the state Supreme Court’s Adult Guardian Study Commission, formed in 2018. “That Commission opened its meetings to the public and published its agenda and minutes,” FOG writes. “As one member remarked, ‘The effort and charge of the commission is the one most single important chance we have to make a significant difference in the guardianship process and it shouldn’t be status quo.’” Given that the new CYFD committee’s goal “is to make recommendations to generally improve the safety and well-being of children in the care of the child protective services system, FOG believes any attempt to engage in a public decision-making process without including the public is a violation of the public’s trust. It is basically a question of accountability and being transparent—something CYFD is sorely lacking.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Yesterday marked the the final day of the federal public health emergency and the state health department’s last day reporting daily COVID-19 data. The state’s NM Notify system also ended yesterday. SFR has reported daily COVID-19 data since the state’s first cases on March 11, 2020, and will continue to monitor available information; however, Morning Word will be ending this daily feature this week, as the data that fuels it will no longer be available.Reported May 11: New cases: 147; 681,525 total cases. Deaths: 0 Statewide fatalities: 9,236; Santa Fe County has had a total of 40,920 cases and 410 total deaths; Statewide hospitalizations: 65; patients on ventilators: four.

As of yesterday, May 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer tracks community levels; county-level hospitalization data will be available at COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Deaths, and Emergency visits by Geographic Area.

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 recommendation; 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

The Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners 2023 plant sale takes place from 9 am to 3 pm today at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds (3229 Rodeo Road), and will feature perennials, shrubs, trees and cacti; expert gardeners on hand to offer advice; and a pop-up from Reunity Resources. Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners also hosts the Garden Journal radio show at 10 am every Saturday morning on KSFR, 101.1 FM. On the most recent episode—the monthly Slow Food edition—hosts Lissa Johnson and Nina Rosenberg interview Adan Manuel (Manny) Encinias, the new executive director of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute.

CCA’s reopening weekend

If you missed yesterday’s Center for Contemporary Arts re-opening of its cinema—and the screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—worry not: More movies await. Daily screenings begin today for Showing Up, Kelly Reichardt’s new film with Michelle Williams and the French film Other People’s Children (both through May 18). In his new weekly newsletter, new CCA Cinemas General Manager Paul Barnes writes that he chose Reichardt’s Showing Up because “she’s an example of an American independent filmmaker par excellence…She keeps her films simple, low budget—she’s a good manager of her productions and her limited finances. She is a minimalist who believes less is more. Her films often start slow but build up to an accumulation of story and character details that can pack a punch and her films resonate with you long after you see them.” This is Reichardt’s fourth collaboration with Williams, he notes. As for Other People’s Children, it has received “rave reviews” since opening at the Venice Film Festival, Barnes says, describing it as a moving love story that introduces a new French star to American audiences, Virginie Efira, who plays the film’s main character Rachel. Bottom line: This is CCA’s re-opening weekend; the nonprofit exceeded its $300,000 fundraising goal, Barnes writes, and the community’s “continued patronage will help the CCA Cinemas survive.”

Authentic regret

Andy Warhol’s 12-by-12-inch Self-Portrait (Fright Wig)—with an estimated value of $800,000 to $1.2 million—will be auctioned by Phillips during its 20th Century and Contemporary auction May 17 in New York. Warhol’s “final series of self-portraits, created in the months before his untimely death in 1986, are the culmination of the artist’s lifelong fascinations with fame and death in the cult of celebrity,” the auction lot description reads. “The 1986 Self-Portrait (Fright Wig) series builds upon Warhol’s previous explorations of self-portraiture over the course of his career.” Art dealer Richard Polsky wrote two books about the portrait—buying it and then selling it too soon (it sold for $374,000). “My mother told me not to sell it,” Polsky tells ArtNews in a story about the forthcoming auction. “I should have listened to my mother.” As it happens, Polsky—who runs an art authentication business—conducted his interview with ArtNet by phone from Santa Fe, where he moved last year. Polsky writes in his blog that he and his wife Kimberly “factored in the town’s creative atmosphere” as a reason to relocate here: “Witness the mile-long row of diverse art galleries on Canyon Road and the abundance of artist studios,” Polsky writes. “Another added benefit is that Santa Fe is Georgia O’Keeffe country—one of the artists who we authenticate—and home of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.” According to his website, Polsky authenticates works by Andy WarholJean-Michel BasquiatKeith HaringRoy LichtensteinJackson PollockGeorgia O’Keeffe and the self-taught artist Bill Traylor. In addition to art, Polsky notes, “Santa Fe is a cornucopia of green chile-laced food, turquoise and silver Native American jewelry, great book stores, historic pueblos, and fantastic natural wonders.”

Cool it!

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 73 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Look for a cooler and wetter weekend: a 40% chance for showers Saturday and a high temperature of 66 degrees, followed by a 70% chance for showers, possible thunderstorms and a high temperature of 63 degrees on Sunday.

Thanks for reading! Despite her maximalist tendencies, The Word appreciates the less-is-more vibe from the winning photos of the 2023 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Challenge (also viewable via The Atlantic magazine).

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