Morning Word

NM Gov Wants All-Electric State Fleet by 2035

State re-ups efforts to counter rising syphilis cases

Morning Word

Gov will support electric vehicle tax credits

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday announced she wants the state’s fleet to transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2035—and signed an executive order to that effect—and said she will pursue tax credits for electric vehicles in the next legislative session. The governor vetoed such credits during the last session, sparking criticism from environmental groups and a series of unusually reproachful tweets from US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM. The governor announced the fleet transition and her support for the tax credits at at the state’s Symposium on the Future of Transportation held yesterday in Albuquerque. According to a news release, the governor’s proposed tax credits would apply to new and used electric vehicles. “The fact of the matter is that consumers and dealers want better access to electric vehicles,” the governor said in a statement. “The actions we’ve taken through Clean Car rules and now tax credits are leveling the playing field.” Both Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez, chair of the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil, D-Albuquerque, chair of the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee, expressed support in statements for the electric-vehicle tax proposal. “If we are going to move the state forward into a lower-carbon future, these tax credits are vitally important,” Shendo, who recently accepted a position as the Native American affairs associate vice chancellor at the University of Colorado, said. Shendo reportedly plans to stay in the Legislature at least through January’s 30-day session.

DOH re-targets congenital syphilis

The health department yesterday announced it is renewing and updating its public health order regarding congenital syphilis in response to “the rising threat” of the disease and the “alarming statistics” therein. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, “can lead to significant health complications if left untreated,” DOH notes. New Mexico ranks second nationally for syphilis and for congenital syphilis—which occurs when mothers pass syphilis onto their babies. Last year, DOH reported a 660% increase in cases of congenital syphilis over the past five years, with 76 reported cases in that year alone. According to a news release, eight fetal deaths related to congenital syphilis have been reported to DOH so far this year. In 2021, the most recent data year available, the CDC reported more than 2,855 cases of congenital syphilis in the United States, including 44 cases in New Mexico, resulting in health complications and deaths among newborns. “The clock is ticking, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Babies are dying, and we cannot stand idly by,” Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen said in a statement. “This public health order is our urgent response to protect the health and lives of our children and the residents in our state.” The order’s provisions include: screening for syphilis for all adults aged 18 to 50, with at least one test in the next 12 months, or more often as recommended based on individual risk or pregnancy status; increased screening for pregnant people, at their initial visit, their third trimester and at delivery.

HED proposes $307 million in school improvements

The state Higher Education Department yesterday announced recommendations for $307.5 million worth of capital improvement, renovation, infrastructure and demolition projects across 27 public and tribal college and university campuses and other schools. Those projects, which HED presented to the Department of Finance and Administration State Agency Capital Outlay committee last week, underwent “an extensive review process by the Higher Education Capital Outlay Committee,” a news release states. Of the recommended projects, 33, representing $229.4 million, will go before the Legislature in its January session for approval and then on to voters to approve funding via next year’s general obligation bond election. The agency also recommends funding for 14 additional projects totaling $66.1 million via state general funds and four demolition projects totaling $11.9 million for consideration during the legislative session. In Santa Fe, the projects include: $488,000 at the Institute of American Indian Arts for improvements and upgrades to Loop Road and emergency evacuation routes; and $5.7 million for Santa Fe Community College to renovate the main building to create a centralized student hub, as well as $1 million for infrastructure improvements. “Capital outlay funding is critical for supporting facilities and infrastructure throughout the state,” Higher Education Acting Deputy Secretary and Capital Outlay Director Gerald Hoehne said in a statement, noting that HED’s recommendations support “our continued commitment to providing state of the art facilities, safe learning environments and improved campus infrastructure for the students and residents of New Mexico.”

SFPD reports drop in crime; sheriff adds online reporting

Several types of crimes dropped across Santa Fe last month, according to September crime stats Santa Fe Police Chief Paul Joye is slated to present at today’s 4 pm Public Safety Committee meeting. Those stats show a nearly 15% decrease in both motor vehicle thefts and burglary; a 23% decline in assaults; and a 40% reduction in sex offenses. Robberies remained flat. Santa Fe did have one homicide last month, and recorded an uptick in arsons: five, versus none in August (view locations for various crimes here). Also on the crime reporting front, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department yesterday launched a new online reporting tool called “Police to Citizen” that allows users to report non-emergency crimes. Those crimes, according to a news release, include: illegal dumping, harassing phone calls with no known suspect, motor vehicle crashes on private property, graffiti with less than $1,000 damage, lost property, theft of $500 or less and vandalism of $1,000 or less. “The Sheriff’s Office is committed to protecting and serving the people of Santa Fe County and intends for this new system to make filing reports simple for the community and also free up time for deputies to patrol, respond to, and assist with emergencies and crimes in progress more quickly,” a news release states.

Listen up

New Mexico Wild Northern Conservation Director Garrett VeneKlasen offers a wildlife 101 course of sorts in a series of recent posts on his Instagram (shared with permission). A few days ago, VeneKlasen began documenting a mountain lion that killed an elk in the yard of his cabin in Taos Canyon. VeneKlasen subsequently places a motion camera by the elk. “It’s only a matter of time before the bears and coyotes show up,” VeneKlasen writes. “I have enormous respect for mountain lions. They play a critical role in our ecosystem and no other animal in our forest matches their power, grace and stealthy aura.” Indeed, in fascinating and educational videos, VeneKlasen captures and discusses the cat’s grooming behavior; the arrival of a giant black bear; and a large bobcat. “Mountain lions kill and eat bobcats, so this was a really dangerous place for the bobcat to be,” VeneKlasen writes. “At this point the bear dragged the elk up the hill and out of view.” We are on the edge of our seats to find out what happens next!

Starring Española

The Hollywood Reporter showcases the new trailer for Showtime’s forthcoming show The Curse, starring Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder and…Española. The show, which begins streaming next month, depicts “Whitney and Asher, a newly married couple helping to build communities—and save lives—by developing eco-friendly homes for Fliplanthropy, their socially conscious new reality show. But behind every on-camera renovation lies a path of off-camera destruction.” Variety reports the show “made history” at the New York Film Festival, which had never featured a television show before, but succumbed after co-producer Benny Safdie sent NYFF artistic director Dennis Lim the first several episodes. “This is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen this year,” Lim said. “Everything about The Curse screams cinema to me.” The first episode, Variety writes, “kicks off with the couple’s latest plan, which is to flip houses and convert them into eco-friendly homes for the struggling residents of Española, New Mexico, all for their new reality show being overseen by an ingratiating producer (Safdie) with demons of his own.” Says Lim: “It’s as brilliant, wild, perverse, embarrassing, uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing as you would expect.”

Chicago on beauty (and makeup)

More overdue national attention continues to surface for New Mexico-based feminist artist and icon Judy Chicago, who talks to Vogue magazine about “aging, makeup and ‘gratuitous beauty.’” Chicago, whose new retrospective, Herstory recently opened at the New Museum in New York (through Jan. 14), tells Vogue for most of her life she “had the standard feminist view of fashion, beauty, and makeup. I thought that it was oppressive to women. But my entire thinking changed quite dramatically as a result of my collaboration with Dior.” Chicago began working with Dior Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri in 2019, “which brought to life an unrealized project of hers from the ‘70s named The Female Divine (2020) for the Couture spring 2020 show.” Chicago recalls: “I remember sitting in my first couture show thinking ‘If I’m a serious artist, what would I have to do with couture?’” That perspective shifted as a result of “Chiuri’s continual focus on women (‘her history of hiring female photographers and women across the world to support them’), which “helped Chicago find her place and discover that art, fashion, and beauty not only all intersect, but actually belong together.” As for her “beauty routine,” Chicago says she never used to think of such things, but “the older you get, it becomes more about patching things back to the way they were. Patch, patch, patch.”

Free fall

The National Weather Service forecasts another sunny day, with a high temperature near 75 degrees and east wind 5 to 15 mph west.

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