Morning Word

Officials Urge Fireworks Caution Heading into July 4 Holiday

Thousands of New Mexicans lose Medicaid coverage

Officials: Be cautious about fire on July 4

Many entities headed into the July 4 holiday weekend imploring folks to employ common sense and avoid setting any catastrophic fires. The City of Santa Fe issued reminders to residents to attend its professional fireworks display on July 4 (details below) and abstain from setting off illegal fireworks, along with guidelines to keep pets and neighbors safe for those setting off the permitted ones. Santa Fe County Fire Department issued similar fireworks safety rules, while the Santa Fe National Forest posted a reminder fireworks are always illegal on national forests.The US Forest Service and the state Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division took an additional step and offered fireworks alternatives for those feeling both patriotic and in need of a multi-sensory experience: an outdoor movie night with a projector; glow sticks; and red-white-and-blue Silly String. The latter suggestion prompted criticism from environmentalists, who point out that advising folks to spray whatever chemicals make Silly String (lots of them, according to this Wired story) in nature might not be the most ecologically sound advice. As the Associated Press reports, some consumer sites say Silly String isn’t biodegradable; ingesting the stuff is inadvisable and potentially dangerous; and some locations have banned its use altogether. “All of this makes it inappropriate for use at our national forest recreation sites,” WildEarth Guardians’ Southwest Conservation Manager Madeleine Carey tells the AP. “Many seemingly fun party products like Silly String are extremely harmful to our forests and wildlife. Mylar balloons, noisemakers and glitter are also on the list.”

Thousands of residents lose insurance coverage

Nearly 59,000 New Mexicans have lost their Medicaid coverage since April when a pandemic continuous-enrollment protection ended, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Last March, the state Human Services Department initiated a statewide campaign to alert the 978,207 New Mexicans on Medicaid to renew. The Journal reports the vast majority of those who lost their coverage did so for failing to fill out the necessary paperwork, not for ineligibility. “These are people who have not navigated the health insurance world since before the pandemic or even longer,” Gabriella Rivera from Health Action New Mexico tells the Journal. “We know a lot of people are going to slip through the cracks and just end up without insurance.” National health site KFF’s Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker shows at least 1.5 million Medicaid enrollees had been disenrolled as of June 29, based on the most current data from 27 states and the District of Columbia—with wide variation on disenrollment rates from those states. According to KFF, across all states with available data (of which New Mexico is not listed), 71% of all people dis-enrolled had their coverage terminated for procedural reasons.

Rust prosecutors: Armorer passed cocaine day of shooting

Former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed transferred a “small bag of cocaine” after she was interviewed by police following the fatal Oct. 21 on-set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, according to a new filing in the case. Prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis’s filing adds details to the new charge of evidence tampering against Gutierrez Reed they filed earlier last month in addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge Gutierrez-Reed faces. The person to whom Gutierrez-Reed allegedly passed drugs to avoid criminal prosecution is identified only as S1 in the new filing, with prosecutors requesting the person’s identity be protected due to “concerns that they may be subject to harassment by the media.” In addition, the witness has expressed concern they will be blacklisted in the film industry as a result of coming forward. One of Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers, Jason Bowles, in a statement reported by the New York Times, scoffed at the introduction of a new unidentified witness at this point in the case. “This is a throwback to the secret, star chamber prosecutions in England in the 15th century that were abolished,” Bowles said. “Like everything else with the state’s case and investigation, it’s full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.” Bowles has said previously his client will be pleading not-guilty to the charges against her; a felony first appearance hearing is scheduled for July 19 in her case, and an in-person preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin Aug. 9.

NM leaders call out US Supreme Court decisions

Another round of conservative US Supreme Court decisions on Friday brought consternation from several quarters in New Mexico. New Mexico Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said in a statement the court’s 6-3 decision blocking President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program would “negatively impact the more than 200,000 New Mexicans who owe a collective $7.8 billion to private out-of-state loan servicers as a result of not having the privilege of paying for their education up front.” (Biden subsequently announced a new plan to provide student debt relief). The court also on Friday—the last day of June’s LGBTQ Pride Month—ruled in favor of a Colorado Christian website designer who did not want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples, a decision US Sen. Ben Ray Luján described in a statement as “shameful,” noting it “gives license to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.” US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández said the ruling served as a reminder of why Congress needs to pass the Equality Act “to codify anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community, once and for all.” Equality New Mexico described the decision as “a setback to non discrimination work nationwide,” but added that: “We know that our values in NM are strong & that we have a vast community of partners & allies who will fight alongside to protect all New Mexicans.”

Listen up

“What is the origin of the song Yankee Doodle?” “Do any foreign countries celebrate our national birthday?” “How many hot dogs do Americans consume leading up to and during the July 4 holiday?” KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper poses these and several other trivial and non-trivial Independence Day questions to local history buff Chris Durlak for a short and sweet annual Americana Radio Quiz.

Pancakes and vintage cars and fireworks, oh my!

You know the drill. Fourth of July in Santa Fe commences with Pancakes on the Plaza, courtesy the Rotary Club of Santa Fe, which will start serving breakfast at 7 am. You can actually skip the lines (breakfast will be served continuously until noon) by buying advanced tickets online. The Santa Fe Vintage Car show will also start at 7 am on the Plaza and continue until early afternoon, along with music, crafts and other activities. Find the complete schedule here. Then at 4 pm, festivities begin at the Santa Fe Place Mall and continue until 10 pm, with the city’s annual July 4 celebration, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe. The free event will feature music from Lumbre del Sol, the Alex Maryol Band and Una Mas y La ChaCha. Food trucks will be on site; parking will be free (with designated parking areas for RVs and those planning to grill); and, of course, the evening will conclude with a professional fireworks display from the same folks who bring the annual Zozobra fireworks display (Zozobra tickets and gear also will be on sale at the July 4 event).

Electric road trip

The New York Times includes a New Mexico route in its roundup of five “electric vehicle-friendly” road trips. In this case, the recommended High Road to the Enchanted Circle road trip begins in Santa Fe, includes “beautiful scenery, a dose of history and is easily doable in an EV.” The story includes a link to the state’s electric vehicle charging map, which it recommends perusing before starting the 56-mile drive on the High Road to Taos “which passes through villages with epic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.” That drive includes several worthy spots to visit along the way, including El Santuario de Chimayó. As for the the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, the drive also includes plenty of mountain scenery, as well as great spots to recreate in the great outdoors. Red River and Questa, the Times notes, Red River and Questa, make “excellent bases for hiking, fishing and other outdoor adventures.” And, the story adds, “a detour to Taos Ski Valley is well worth taking, both for a charge and for mountain biking.”

Feel the heat

The National Weather Service forecasts a hot sunny week ahead, with a high temperature near 90 degrees today, and 95 degrees tomorrow; 5 to 15 mph winds both days. Chances for precipitation this week are slim—though not impossible.

Thanks for reading! The Word returns Wednesday, July 5, Until then: Here’s a poem for the holiday and a s’mores recipe.

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