Council meets today to discuss charter
The Santa Fe City Council is slated to hold a special meeting at 2 pm today in Council Chambers to discuss the recommendations made by the 2023 Charter Commission. Beginning last year, the commission met a dozen times, and created two subcommittees to hash through a variety of proposals for the city’s charter. As SFR reported earlier this year, officials reported lackluster public participation; ultimately the commission received approximately 50 public comments, according to its final report. Of the 15 different proposals the commission considered, it is recommending six proposals be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot, including: a proposal to create a separation of powers between the mayor and council and reduce the mayor’s voting power; additional requirements to the city charter as it relates to government finances; reducing the signature requirements for referenda and initiatives from 33.3% to 15%; and adding a section to the charter that addresses the quasi-judicial role public officials hold during land-use proceedings, and requiring them to “adhere to the concepts of due process of law and fundamental fairness, as applied to both applicants and members of the community.” The commission also recommends the creation of a city Human Rights Commission. Today’s meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel (and on Channel 28). The final report also puts forth ideas for the council to contemplate that would not require changes to the charter, such as having the Human Rights Commission consider agriculture issues in the city, and evaluating whether the city’s boards and commissions are functional.
NM delegation to USPS: Chimayó needs mail service
New Mexico Democrats US Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, along with US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, are calling upon the United States Postal Service to create a plan to restore local mail service to Chimayó, after fire destroyed its post office in February. Since then, mail has been routed to the Santa Cruz post office—requiring a 15 to 20-minute drive for some—which residents have said is creating a strain for them—particularly elder residents. In a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Heinrich, Luján and Fernández ask whether USPS will make a public commitment to re-open a permanent post office in Chimayó, in either the old location or a new one. The letter also asks for a timeline for lease negotiations with the current landlord; a backup plan if the negotiations fall through; more details on the possibility of mobile units, along with a timeline for that scenario. “The United States Postal Service provides a vital service to communities across the country,” the letter reads. “Letters and packages delivered by the USPS allow Americans to receive paychecks, manage finances, access prescription medications and essential supplies, communicate with the government, and vote. In rural communities such as Chimayó, New Mexico, the importance of these services is amplified, connecting residents with the vital services they need in the absence of reliable broadband internet. For seniors, those living with disabilities, and rural residents lacking reliable transportation, there is simply no substitute.”
City Council candidate Rivera focuses on city services
District 1 Santa Fe City Council candidate Katherine Rivera tells SFR she decided to run in the Nov. 7 election for the seat currently held by Renee Villarreal (who isn’t seeking re-election) because she feels “a compelling need to see if I can help.” Rivera joins fellow District 1 candidates Alma Castro and Brian Gutierrez in seeking public campaign financing. The fourth candidate in the race, former City Attorney Geno Zamora tells SFR he will privately fund his campaign. A 1980 St. Michael’s High School graduate, Rivera earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa and retired after 34 years in operations and project management with Arrow Electronics Inc.—work that took her around the world. She returned to Santa Fe in 2008, and currently lives on the same District 1 street near the Rosario Chapel where she grew up. The issues that matter to people in the district, Rivera says, are fundamentals, such as clean streets and buildings; transit and safety; and how well the city delivers on the services it promises. “My goal is to ask some questions as to what’s happening and introduce the idea that maybe we should refresh ourselves—who we are and who we want to be—and how we show ourselves to people who visit here,” she says. Bookmark SFR’s 2023 election coverage here.
NM to receive $930,000 in Suboxone settlement
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez yesterday announced a 42-state $102.5 million settlement with the maker of Suboxone, Indivior Inc., from which New Mexico will receive approximately $930,000. As detailed in a news release from the AG’s office, clinics and state agencies use Suboxone—and generic equivalents—to help rehabilitate individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder. The states filed their complaint in 2016 alleging Indivior “was seeking to disrupt generic competitors and monopolize the market by illegally switching Suboxone from tablets to film, while simultaneously trying to destroy the market for tablet medication.” As such, the states argued the company’s actions created a monopoly and were anti-competitive. The settlement, led by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, needs to be approved by the US District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and also requires Indivior to comply with a variety of conditions intended to avoid a repeat of the anti-competitive behavior. “We cannot allow one company to completely monopolize the price and distribution of a drug that is critical in our fight against the opioid crisis,” Torrez said in a statement. “My office will stand ready to take on any company that puts their profits before the well-being of the consumers, in this case New Mexicans struggling with addiction.”
A recent episode from the NPR podcast The Pulse highlights a trip to Santa Fe during the pandemic, where Pulse intern Alan Jinich encountered young hitchhiker and “serial quitter” 19-year-old Julius BaDour, who was working at the time as a receptionist at the Santa Fe International Hostel. BaDour shares his ups and downs as he hitchhikes across the country; the episode, part of The Pulse’s larger look at the science of quitting, is also part of the oral history Generation Pandemic project (which also features another young person in Santa Fe).
Leisure Group Travel magazine exhorts the value of rural travel, which it says “inspires travelers while uplifting pastoral cultures,” and characterizes as a variant to eco-tourism. The story identifies four “unique US locations [that] offer rural tourism opportunities for groups who want to immerse themselves in unique cultural experiences,” including Las Cruces, New Mexico’s second largest city. Urban schmurban. Las Cruces is where visitors will find the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, where attendees can “interact with New Mexican cattle, sheer a sheep, observe working blacksmiths forge tools and stroll a pistachio orchard” and “the authentic rural tourism experience preserves the past to teach the present that this way of life still thrives and holds true to its cultural identity.” Non-rural travelers shared some love with New Mexico as well, via Travel Awaits 2023 travel awards’ best restaurants with a view category, in which Albuquerque’s Ten 3, atop Sandia Peak, came in at No. 5. “From the expansive windows, patrons can relish a 360-degree view of the city, the Rio Grande Valley and the stunning Sandia Mountains,” Travel Awaits writes. Taos also ranked in the “best small towns to visit” category (No. 11), described as “a historic, four-season destination.” And the Smithsonian Magazine included Los Alamos in its “15 best small towns to visit,” particularly for those who want to explore its scientific offerings, such as the Bradbury Science Museum and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.
No place like home
Dirt, which describes itself as “a tongue-in-cheek glimpse into the real estate transactions of high-profile and high-net worth people across a broad spectrum of industries and professions,” highlights an “architecturally significant” adobe home in Santa Fe, designed by John Gaw Meem, built in the 1920s and on the market for the first time for $7.3 million via Sotheby’s International Realty. The public market, that is. The estate has “only ever changed hands through private transactions,” one of its brokers, Jackson Blagden, tells Mansion Global. The home, at 185 Brownell Howland Road (north side, off of Bishop’s Lodge Road), is located in an area named after Eleanor Brownell and Alice Howland, two women who came from the wealthy Main Line outside of Philadelphia and commissioned Meem to build their second home; they eventually moved to Santa Fe full-time after retiring as co-head mistresses from the Shipley School for Girls in Bryn Mawr (which Alice’s aunt co-founded). At any rate, in addition to history and architectural significance, the 5,961 square-foot home also has five bedrooms; six full bathrooms; more than 7 acres of land; two guest casitas; and “eye-catching elements such as 200-year-old carved wood doors, kiva fireplaces, and ceilings with vigas and latillas.” Brownell and Howland, according to a history in the University of New Mexico’s archives, were known as the Hownells and also commissioned Meem in 1937 to build them another home in Tesuque: “They lived in this home with their two adopted daughters, Sylvia Anne and Mary Sheffield Shipley. Unable to marry at that time, Alice and Eleanor gave their daughters the name Shipley, as a surname.”
Sound and fury
The National Weather Service forecasts yet another day of weather (that was some loud thunder last night): Scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon, with a 50% chance for precipitation. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny, with a high temperature near 72 degrees and east wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Looks like today could be the last of these storms, with drier and warmer weather starting tomorrow.
Editor’s note: An earlier version has been updated to correct the number of acres with the Brownell and Howland home.