Morning Word

Gov. Lujan Grisham Resurrects Organized Crime Commission

Planning Commissioner Lucero jumps into District 2 City Council race

Gov resurrects organized crime commission

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday re-established the state’s Organized Crime Commission—created in the 1970s, but underutilized since then; the state Senate will need to confirm her seven appointments: Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, as chairman; Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen; Department of Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie; US Marshall for New Mexico Sonya K. Chavez; Western New Mexico University Police Department Chief Eddie Flores; Eighth Judicial District Attorney Marcus Montoya; and former New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “We must do more to interrupt organized crime operations in our state,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “These are sophisticated groups that take a sophisticated approach. That’s what I am tasking this group to do.” The commission will tackle drug, gun and sex trafficking, among other crimes. “We will work with all law enforcement to assess and evaluate the activities and problems involving organized crime and develop a comprehensive plan to suppress and fight organized crime by the cartels, their affiliates, and other criminal organizations,” Bregman said in a statement. “It is a long road to get a handle on crime and public safety issues we face every day but everyone on this commission is committed to executing this crucial first step.

Planning Commissioner Lucero jumps into District 2 race

Planning Commissioner Phil Lucero announced yesterday he will challenge Santa Fe City Councilor Michael Garcia to represent District 2. “I’m not a politician,” Lucero writes in his campaign announcement. “I’ve never run for public office before. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m an educator. I’m an advocate. I’m a cyclist. I’m a morning person.” The Santa Fe native, who works on climate change education for a local nonprofit, underscored several priorities in launching his campaign: environmental sustainability, mental health care, crime and homelessness. But he tells SFR the “elephant in the room” is affordable housing. “I’m seeing teachers leave schools they love because they can’t afford to live here,” he says. Lucero says he wants the City Council to work more collaboratively to address the issue—”clean up the red tape and the bureaucracy,” while ensuring more infill development. “We need to build a more connected, walkable, bike-able city,” he says. Lucero’s announcement sets up a competitive race in the Nov. 7 municipal election for the district, which is bounded on the west by Cerrillos Road and Yucca Street and stretches across the southeastern quadrant of the city. Unlike Garcia, one of several candidates seeking public financing, Lucero will bring private fundraising to the race.

Heinrich co-sponsors military reproductive health care bill

US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, announced yesterday he is co-sponsoring legislation that will protect military members’ access to reproductive health care services such as abortion, regardless of the state in which they are stationed. The bill, according to a news release, codifies a Department of Defense policy released in February. The Protecting Service Members and Military Families’ Access to Health Care Act, sponsored by US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, follows the US Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade last June. According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, 58% of women ages 13 to 44 now live in states “hostile or extremely hostile” to abortion. According to the news release from Heinrich’s office, approximately 40% of active-duty servicewomen are stationed in such states. “While Republicans are dismantling a woman’s right to reproductive health care, Democrats must do everything in our power to safeguard it—including for service members who have no say in where they are stationed,” Heinrich said in a statement. “This legislation will make sure our military personnel and their loved ones can access the health care they need and deserve.”

Study shows surge in Hispanics killed by police

The rate by which Hispanic people have been killed by law enforcement officers over the last decade has “spiked” by more than 40%, according to a newly published study on lethal force usage by law enforcement officers against Hispanics between 2011-2020, co-authored by New Mexico State University Public Health Professor Jagdish Khubchandani. That lethal force rate outpaced the population growth of Hispanics, which increased by approximately 18% in the same period and was 1.33 times higher than the rate of non-Hispanic whites killed by law enforcement officers. According to an NMSU news release, the study shows New Mexico ranked in the top three states with the most Hispanics killed by law enforcement officers—98 between 2010 and 2020; Texas and California had 144 and 462, respectively. New Mexico had the highest death rate per 100,000 people, ahead of Colorado and Nevada. The vast majority of Hispanics killed were male; 89.9% by a firearm. “Given these numbers and the finding that the western US had the most deaths, we should focus on the border and the Mountain West regions,” Khubchandani said in a statement. “As a society, we must work with law enforcement officials to reduce these deaths.”

Listen up

“Chances are you or someone you know loves chile peppers. You know the type: The hot sauce people.” So begins a recent episode of the Atlas Obscura podcast devoted to everyone’s favorite spicy fruit. “In the United States, the home of our chile peppers is, without a doubt, New Mexico,” host Dylan Thuras decrees. Thuras visits the mothership, aka the New Mexico Chile Institute at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, and talks with senior research specialist Danise Coon about all things chile. “It’s a really big thing in the culture,” says Coon, an Española native who grew up in a farming family. Coon references the popular Hatch Chile Festival and Albuquerque’s Fiery Foods & BBQ Show. “It’s just part of New Mexico,” she says.

From chile to chocolate

Also on the chile beat—the green chile beat, at any rate—Condé Nast Traveler features New Mexico’s new official aroma (that would be roasting green chile in case somehow you missed it) and the best places at which to experience its wafting scent. The story also mentions Albuquerque-based Seraparito Supply Co.’s green-chile/cedar/vanilla scented candle, which we have not smelled but will do so immediately upon receiving as a gift. As for the real thing, Condé Nast recommends catching Romero Farm’s Matt Romero at the Santa Fe Farmers Market (Good Morning America also featured Romero when the show visited in 2021). The story also includes The Shed and La Choza; Big Jim Farms in Los Ranchos; and the Hatch Chile Festival (Sept. 2-4). For travelers in search of novel, non-chile-related expeditions, Phoenix Magazine has suggestions of “three new spots to visit in Santa Fe this summer.” They are: the newish George RR Martin and friends-founded themed Sky Railway Adventure Train (with activities ranging from music to stargazing to interactive murder mysteries games…with charcuterie); Tumbleroot Pottery Pub (clay + drinks); and La Fonda on the Plaza’s new chocolate tour.

Santa Fe’s one-percenter real estate

The Wall Street Journal ventures “inside Santa Fe’s priciest ZIP code.” That would be 87506, “a roughly 200-square-mile circle beginning just north of the Plaza and extending about 35 minutes northeast and 45 northwest into open land, where gated communities like Las Campanas and large estates offer luxury country living while being close to the city’s culturally-rich energy.” The main draw for residents of 87506, WSJ ventures, is “nature,” but a handful of other venues also have their own charms. For instance: Tesuque Village Market, a “general store, restaurant, bakery and liquor store” with “an old world trading post vibe.” The story also features Tesuque’s Glenn Green Galleries and El Nido, as well as Poeh Cultural Center in Pojoaque Pueblo. In addition to nature, chow and art, the story highlights properties for sale in the 87506, such as a $14.25 million spread on Kia Road; a $9.8 million one on Tano Road; and a $3.95 million home on Painted Horse Road. “Luxury buyers should start by considering their desired lifestyle,” Sotheby’s International Realty-Santa Fe Brokerage real estate agent Britt Klein tells WSJ. “In the 87506 ZIP Code, that decision often translates to either living within a gated community or living in nature with more solitude,” the story says.

Feel the heat

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 80 degrees and south wind 10 to 15 mph. Temperatures should stay warm, with a slight chance of rain tomorrow and wind on Saturday, but clear skies Sunday and straight into Monday. Warm temperatures and higher water levels mean officials expect crowds at the state’s lakes this holiday weekend (check the specific status of state lakes and parks here). If you’re looking for a super blue lake, SixT, an international mobility service provider (car-rentals, ride-sharing etc.), has just named Blue Hole in Santa Rosa the #1 bluest waterway in the US.

Lastly, as Monday is Memorial Day, city facilities and services will be closed, including trash pickup, bus services and libraries. Plus: It’s a “meter holiday,” which means should you locate a vacant and operational parking meter downtown, you don’t need to pay (surface lots and garages, however, will be open and charging).

Thanks for reading! The Word is absconding early for the Memorial Day holiday and will return Tuesday, May 30; she intends to listen to lots of the late and great Tina Turner over the long weekend.

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