Morning Word

AG Torrez Says He Won’t Defend Gov’s Gun Ban

Former Gov. Bill Richardson lies in state at the Roundhouse today

AG tells Gov he won’t defend gun ban

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez won’t defend Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham from legal challenges to a new public health order that includes a 30-day suspension of open and concealed weapon carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. In a letter sent to the governor yesterday regarding the order she signed Friday, Torrez cites four legal challenges filed since then. “Simply put, I do not believe that the Emergency Order will have any meaningful impact on public safety but, more importantly, I do not believe it passes constitutional muster,” Torrez writes. The lawsuits, filed in US District Court, include one from the National Association for Gun Rights, as well as several private citizens and others from Gun Owners of America and We the Patriots. The Albuquerque Journal reports two more lawsuits have since been filed, with US District Judge David Urias of Albuquerque scheduled to hold a hearing this morning about whether to issue a temporary restraining order pausing enforcement of the order. The governor cited the shooting deaths of three children since July—including an 11-year-old boy last week in Albuquerque—as well as two mass shootings in the state this year in Farmington and Red River as the impetus for the new health order. In his letter, Torrez notes that as a career prosecutor, he has “grieved with too many victims of gun violence in New Mexico not to share your anger and frustration at the unacceptable toll that gun violence has exacted, especially among the youngest members of our community.” Nonetheless, he notes, the governor’s use of the Public Health Emergency Response Act to enact a temporary gun ban is “unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny.” In response to Torrez’s letter, gubernatorial Press Secretary Caroline Sweeney writes to SFR the governor “did not ask the attorney general to represent the state. The governor is looking for state leaders to step up and take bold steps to make New Mexicans safer from the scourge of gun violence. We invite the Attorney General to turn his attention to that effort.”

Competing PACS gear up for mansion tax fight

Two groups with opposing narratives hope to sway Santa Fe voters heading into the Nov. 7 election regarding a ballot question that would create a 3% excise tax on homes sold for more than $1 million within the city. One political action committee has already formed in support of the tax: United for Affordable Housing, chaired by state Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, intends to employ a “traditional campaign” that explains the tax—which will benefit the the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund—and whom it would help, Romero says. Advocates estimate the tax would generate approximately $4.5 million per year for the trust fund, based on data from about 1,552 home sales of $1 million or more in Santa Fe between 2018 and 2022. Members of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors declared their intention to file as a PAC on Friday, City Clerk Kristine Bustos-Mihelcic tells SFR. Realtors in 2009 played a pivotal role organizing against the passage of a similar-style tax ultimately rejected by voters. SFAR Governmental Affairs Director Donna Reynolds says the association is “in a responsive mode” working to prepare an educational campaign “to engage voters” on its concerns raised regarding the tax. Early voting at the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office begins Oct. 10. The first set of campaign finance reports for candidates and PACs can be viewed online through the city clerk’s web page. In most of the four City Council races, privately funded candidates have raised more funds than those participating in the city’s public financing system, which provides $15,000 to candidates who qualify, with the opportunity for up to $22,000. Thus far, Geno Zamora, one of four candidates in District 1, has raised the most money overall: nearly $52,000. District 4 incumbent Jamie Cassutt has raised the second most funds privately: approximately $39,400.

Groups rate Gov. Lujan Grisham near failure on climate change

The Center for Biological Diversity says time is running out for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to succeed in addressing climate change. The nonprofit released a climate scorecard characterizing Lujan Grisham as “on the verge of failure” and assessing the actions the second-term governor has taken to address “escalating climate catastrophes caused by fossil fuels.” The report finds that oil and gas production in New Mexico has more than doubled during Lujan Grisham’s time in office. “Given that the United States is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, and New Mexico is one of the top producers in the country, New Mexico is a substantial driver of the climate emergency,” the report notes. “The governor’s decisions have globally significant consequences not just for New Mexicans, but for the entire world.” The point of the report, Gail Evans, senior attorney for the center’s Climate Law Institute, tells SFR “is the governor has three more years to turn this around and that you can’t be a climate leader unless you address the role oil and gas plays in the climate crisis. You can’t be a climate leader and lead a massive expansion of oil and gas production in the state.” The scorecard also delineates the top five actions Lujan Grisham needs to take to “shift from being a major threat to the climate to becoming a climate leader,” which include preventing new oil and gas development and phasing out existing extraction. The center and a consortium of environmental, community, youth and Indigenous organizations in May filed a lawsuit in the First Judicial District against the governor and other officials for violating the state’s constitution as it relates to pollution. Evans says members from some of those organizations will be attending the March to End Fossil Fuels Sept. 17 in New York, timed in advance of the United Nations’ Climate Ambition Summit. One of the groups, YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action), which is coordinated by Earth Care, is also planning a climate strike Sept. 14 in Albuquerque timed to an energy summit being held this week.

A moose’s tail

Like others before him, the bull moose came to Santa Fe looking for companionship and left, sedated, in the back of a van. Nicknamed Marty Moose by area residents, he has been spotted frequently in the area—including recently in Tesuque—and is believed to be the same moose espied in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains in autumn 2022 and beheld on multiple occasions near Ski Santa Fe throughout the winter. Game & Fish reported Marty’s capture yesterday in downtown Santa Fe near the intersection of Grant Avenue and Rosario Boulevard, where officers tracked him after Santa Fe Animal Control alerted them he had been spotted near Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe. The department says while moose typically act aggressively toward people and pets, particularly in breeding season, which is now, this one appeared to show no fear. Instead, he was moving further into urban areas, putting himself at risk, along with everyone else. Thus, officers decided to relocate Marty somewhere safer, tranquilized him and loaded all 900 pounds of him onto a trailer. From there, a department vet deemed the moose healthy and he was located to a more “suitable habitat in Northern New Mexico,” specifically, “an area where moose do not currently occur, but closer to adjacent populations in southern Colorado where this moose will hopefully find a happy ending to its long journey.” The department’s wildlife biologists suspect the moose started its journey south from Colorado possibly a few years ago. “I commend all department personnel and City of Santa Fe Animal Safety officers for their efforts to expeditiously capture and relocate the moose in downtown Santa Fe this morning,” Game and Fish Director Mike Sloane said in a statement. “We are happy to see a positive outcome for this moose, who can now thrive in quality habitat where it does not pose a threat to public safety.” Game & Fish also issued a reminder to hunters that moose have protected status and it is illegal to hunt them here.

Listen up

Santa Fe nonprofit Littleglobe, Inc, will go live at 7 pm tonight with the 12th and latest episode of Littleglobe TV: “Convivio Southside: A celebration of the Southside BY the Southside.” The episode, according to a news release, features “short videos, skits, memes, animations and live hosting by Santa Fe Southside residents. These residents, bridging ages and heritages, worked together to learn the skills to create their own videos and stories, sharing their lives, experiences, hopes and dreams of Santa Fe.” The episode also will include a behind-the-scenes look at the June 17 Convivio Southside Celebration.

NM or bust

Santa Fe finds its way onto many travel lists, but not usually ones for budget travel. Nonetheless, The Travel includes Santa Fe in its roundup of 10 “best budget-friendly vacations for couples.” The city’s “affordability is reflected in its diverse accommodation options, including charming adobe-style guesthouses and cozy inns,” the story claims, citing $59 hotel rooms (and linking to an Expedia page that does, indeed, include some affordable options, primarily on Cerrillos Road). For a gratis trip to New Mexico, Baymont by Wyndham is actively scouting a dog brand ambassador and the winning pooch’s human will receive a $5,000 prize, two nights at a Baymont by Wyndham hotel, a Wyndham Rewards Diamond-level membership and a $5,000 travel stipend to cover all the costs of traveling to Albuquerque for a photoshoot that will take place before the end of February 2024. The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm, Oct. 17. And in slightly belated but nonetheless NM-centric tourist news, a few spots here landed on USA Today’s roundup of the 100 biggest tourist traps in the world: The Four Corners Monument, where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet, came in first on the list, while Roswell’s International UFO Museum and Research Center landed at #5.

RIP, Bill Richardson

Former Gov. Bill Richardson will lie in state starting at 11 am today through 4 pm at the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda in advance of a mass tomorrow at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, followed by a reception back at the state Capitol (find the complete schedule here). Since his death at 75 on Sept. 1, Richardson’s life and career have been the subject of many stories and photo essays. The Washington Post’s photo essay takes a trip back through Richardson’s career as congressman, governor, US ambassador, presidential hopeful and diplomat, while the Cape Cod Times offers glimpses of Richardson’s time on the island, where he was once a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League. NBC News considers Richardson’s relationship to his Latino identity, while New Mexico PBS’s show Report from Santa Fe presents a special in memoriam interview host Lorene Mills conducted with Richardson earlier this year. Richardson appeared on the cover and in the pages of SFR many times, but we are particularly fond of his appearance on the cover of our 2005 Best of Santa Fe edition, one of at least two times readers voted him the city’s best politician.

On cloud nine

The National Weather Service forecasts a 60% chance for precipitation today, with showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before noon, then scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon. Otherwise, today will be mostly cloudy, with a high temperature near 67 degrees and west wind 5 to 15 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word intends to employ The Amplifier’s 20-minute cleaning playlist at some point today.

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