Council maintains fee option for affordable housing at Midtown
A proposal that would have barred potential developers from paying a fee to avoid building affordable housing on the Midtown campus failed on a narrow 5-4 vote at last night’s Santa Fe City Council meeting. Councilors Michael Garcia and Renee Villarreal sponsored the resolution, which would have removed the “fee in lieu” option developers can normally use to satisfy the city’s affordable housing requirements. The fee, based on a calculation that changes annually, benefits the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. “The trend is that developers will pay the fee instead of developing the units,” Garcia said last night. And it’s my opinion we direly need the units instead of the fees.” The city’s plan for the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus calls for up to 1,100 units of housing, with 30% designated as affordable. In a memo opposing the proposal, city staff argued removing the fee-in-lieu option for the campus could hinder the project. Mayor Alan Webber last night said Garcia and Villarreal’s proposal would limit the flexibility of the city and developers in redeveloping the site. “Councilor Garcia wants to think outside the box and instead he’s building a smaller box,” he said. District 3 Councilor Lee Garcia signed on as a co-sponsor of the proposal and District 3 Councilor Chris Rivera also supported the measure, which ultimately failed with Webber, Councilors Sig Lindell, Jamie Cassutt, Carol Romero-Wirth and Amanda Chavez opposed.
Red River won’t host motorcycle rally again
Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun says come next year, the town won’t promote its annual Memorial Day celebration to motorcyclists in the aftermath of this year’s deadly May 27 shoot-out by rival motorcycle gangs. The Taos News reports Calhoun said town officials are discussing rebranding the event “with no reference to motorcycles” and, instead, a focus “on families and veterans.” Calhoun made her remarks at a town meeting yesterday, in which she also acknowledged shortcomings by the town in responding to the incident. In a news briefing May 28, State Police Chief Tim Johnson said the five people injuried and three people killed were all members of the Bandidos and Waterdogs outlaw motorcycle gangs. Police have charged Jacob David Castillo, 30, of Rio Rancho, with an open count of murder, although the Santa Fe New Mexican reports those charges had not yet been filed as of yesterday afternoon. Some residents appear to have mixed feelings about nixing the motorcycle event—which has occurred for more than 40 years. Still others, the Albuquerque Journal reports, took aim during yesterday’s meeting at the Taos County Sheriff’s Office for not providing more officers at the event to deter violence.
ECECD Secretary urges Congress to fund early childhood
New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky testified yesterday before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and told lawmakers “continuous federal investment” is needed to address states’ child care needs. Groginsky’s testimony came during a hearing on “Solving the Child Care Crisis: Meeting the Needs of Working Families and Child Care Workers” at the behest of Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT. Prior to yesterday’s hearing, the committee released a new report on the sector, noting that when pandemic funds states have used for child care runs out at the end of September, the “nation’s broken child care sector will be pushed closer to the brink of collapse.” In her remarks yesterday, Groginsky noted that “New Mexico leads the nation in early childhood investment and innovation and is a roadmap for other states looking to make similar changes,” but said ongoing federal investment is needed “to maintain the transformational gains in states. New Mexico is proof of the enormous impact that a significant federal investment can have on children, families, and their communities. An investment in quality child care is an investment in a more vibrant and secure future for our country.”
Feds charge former GOP candidate for shooting spree
An indictment unsealed yesterday in US District Court charges Solomon Peña, a former Republican candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives, for a shooting spree targeting the homes of four elected officials. As reported by the Associated Press, Peña, 40, and two alleged accomplices also face federal conspiracy and weapons-related charges in connection with the shootings that took place last December and January on the homes of four Democratic officials. A news release from the US Department of Justice notes that after his defeat in the November 2022 election, Peña visited the homes of at least three Bernalillo County commissioners and allegedly urged them not to certify the election results, claiming that the election had been “rigged” against him. Once the board certified the vote, Peña allegedly hired others to conduct the shootings and carried out at least one of the shootings himself. “There is no room in our democracy for politically motivated violence, especially when it is used to undermine election results,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a statement. “As alleged, Solomon Peña orchestrated four shootings at the homes of elected officials, in part because of their refusal to overturn his election defeat. Such violent actions target not only the homes and families of elected officials, but also our election system as a whole. The department will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable for acts of politically motivated violence.” Peña, Demetrio Trujillo, and Jose Trujillo are all charged with conspiracy, interference with federally protected activities, and several firearms offenses, including the use of a machine gun. If convicted, Peña faces a mandatory minimum of 60 years in prison.
Living history museum El Rancho de las Golondrinas opens for the season today (10 am to 4 pm) and hosts the spring festival this weekend with live entertainment, sheep shearing, lavender, fiber arts and more. On the most recent episode of Cline’s Corner, host Lynn Cline talks with Los Golondrinas’ Director of Education and Volunteers Laura Griego about the ranch’s 2023 season, which includes seven festivals all together through the summer and fall (after this weekend’s spring festival, the annual wine festival is next, on July 1-2).
Pride month commences
LGBT+ Pride Month kicks off today, and Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance Executive Director Kevin A. Bowan tells SFR it will be the largest Santa Fe Pride in the city’s history and a fitting celebration to HRA’s 30th anniversary. “It’s really an important time for the community to come out and show up,” Bowan says, “and to make sure that we keep doing that.” Living in New Mexico, “we’re very lucky to have such great protections that have been put through legislative actions, but we can’t let our guard down,” he notes. Festivities start this evening at 6 pm with a 21+ celebration at Meow Wolf’s Adulti-Verse!, which will include DJ sets from Stereodirt; drag bingo hosted by Albuquerque’s premiere alternative drag troupe Saints Ball; and a chance to show your support at The Mountain Center’s Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network button-making station. HRA and Meow Wolf also will team up June 14 for the first ever all-ages queer prom, titled Planet Taz, and themed to honor Shontez ‘Taz’ Denise Morris, a former Meow Wolf employee and HRA board member, who died last year from complications related to asthma. Also coming up: A retro disco party featuring DJ Oona this Saturday at the Mine Shaft in Madrid; a 30th-year celebration for both HRA and the Cowgirl on June 17 at the Cowgirl; and, of course, Pride on the Plaza, June 24. Not to mention a ton of other events, all of which you’ll find here.
One last ski story
The season for New Mexico summer travel stories is nigh, but before our thoughts turn to margaritas and UFO festivals, one last look at winter sports. Skiing and snowboarding website Powder.com homes in on spring skiing in the Pecos Wilderness. “Some of the wildest skiing in North America can be found on the edge of the desert,” Anneka Williams and Jack Stauss write. “The peaks rising from desert plateaus are often treeless and rocky, providing sweeping views of stark landscapes full of contrasting features. The peaks offer curving couloirs, narrow gullies, and towering spires—all exciting features to navigate on skis.” Plus: No is around. The Pecos Wilderness provides both the terrain and the solitude Williams, a writer and climate scientist, and writer/skier Stauss sought. “The mystery surrounding what we could discover in the wilds of Pecos drew us in,” they say. We fished for information from the locals but were unable to verify if there would be good skiing or not. They simply encouraged us to find out for ourselves.” Find they did: “a small, remote corner of Northern New Mexico where ski lines abound and the bighorn sheep outnumber the people.”
The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance for precipitation today, with scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon. It will otherwise be mostly sunny, with a high temperature near 72 degrees and east wind 10 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.
Thanks for reading! The Word looks forward to using the word “erewhonian” in conversation, one of 10 obscure words she failed to guess in this New York Times challenge (timed to the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, which ends today).