Morning Word

City Initiates General Plan Update

With election one week from today, County Clerk advises against mailing ballots

City kicks off General Plan update

The City of Santa Fe’s general plan hasn’t been completely updated since 1999. Needless to say, things have changed in the past 24 years. The process to update the plan—which governs land-use and development, among other issues—is expected to take years, and starts with a request for proposals for a land use consultant to guide the process, which the city has just released. As described in the RFP, the general plan “is a critical tool for priority identification and decision making. It provides a policy framework for development proposals, capital improvements, annexation, and extension of public services. It represents the vision of the Santa Fe community and should be recognized as the City’s foremost commitment to Santa Fe’s future growth and redevelopment objectives.” The general plan will guide the city’s Land Development Code, which also is in the process of being updated, and include other in-process and completed plans, such as the city’s 100-year water plan, Midtown plans and bicycle and multimodal master plans updates. “We continue to make progress with the work of planning Santa Fe together,” Mayor Alan Webber said in a statement. “Balancing preserving our past with creating our future, this refresh of our General Plan…is an opportunity for all of Santa Fe to participate in a public process of planning our community for generations to come. It’s exciting. It’s important. It’s happening now.” Bids are due Nov. 28.

Clerk Clark advises against mailing ballots

With the Nov. 7 local election happening one week from today, Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark recommends voters drop rather than mail in their absentee ballots. “Casting an absentee ballot is an essential democratic right, and we want to ensure that every vote counts,” Clark says in a statement accompanying a news release yesterday that reviews absentee ballot instructions. Those instructions clarify a new requirement, per legislation passed in the last regular session, which mandates voters include the last four digits of their Social Security Numbers on their absentee ballots, along with a signature. Voter Donna Gomien says she reached out to the clerk’s office after seeing conflicting voter instructions indicating voters also should provide addresses and dates of birth, even though the mailer envelope doesn’t provide space for that information. Clark tells SFR the county sent an unknown number of ballots with the erroneous instructions, which were later revised. Accurate instructions also can be found on the clerk’s website. “Only a handful of people” have raised concerns,” she says, and election workers will contact voters if their absentee ballots need corrections to be processed. More than 7,800 people had cast their ballots as of press time: 5,546 in-person and 2,282 returned absentee ballots. Clark says of the nearly 6,000 absentee ballot requests, approximately 30% are already back at the clerk’s office, ready to be counted.

Sen. Luján targets delivery app fees

Ordering food delivery sounds like a convenient work-around to life’s myriad problems—until the app churns up a total cost that seems like it would feed three times as many people. US Sen. Ben Ray Luján yesterday announced proposed legislation, the Promoting Real-time Information on Cost Expenditure (PRICE) Act, which would require third-party apps such as Grubhub, Uber Eats and Doordash provide transparency for the fees associated with such orders. Specifically, the bill would require the apps provide a running “all in” price as customers add items to their shopping carts and include, before check-out, a breakdown of any fees. “Too often, delivery apps surprise Americans with the total cost of their orders because of hidden fees,” Luján says in a statement. “For some, a delivered meal is their only option and consumers shouldn’t be surprised with back end fees that force them to spend past their budgets while limiting economic competition. This legislation requires companies to clearly display the all-in price so consumers can shop with confidence and not be surprised by junk fees that drastically inflate the total costs.” Luján, and fellow Democrats US Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ron Wyden of Oregon, wrote a letters to the Grubhub, Uber Eats and Doordash CEOs earlier this year regarding the issue, in which they expressed concern about hidden fees and requested information about the services’ “fees, payments to businesses, consumer disclosures, and compensation for delivery workers.”

Conservation group rolls out NM public lands campaign

National nonprofit Conservation Lands Foundation announced yesterday the kickoff in New Mexico of a digital campaign aimed at “the next generation of visitors,” and intended to inspire “safe and respectful use” of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. According to a news release, the “Respect. Connect. Protect” campaign showcases “Spokespebble,” a character “who deeply cares about protecting nature, keeping people safe and helping them plan visits to these more remote, rugged and sensitive landscapes.” The organization says more than 3.6 million people last year visited lands managed by BLM in New Mexico. “Record numbers of visitors continue to venture into New Mexico public lands managed by the BLM beyond and between national parks, and there is currently no other large-scale collaborative effort that addresses the safety and other considerations specific to them,” Kris Deutschman, senior communications director for the Conservation Lands Foundation said in a statement. “We’re introducing Spokespebble as a voice for these public lands where more planning and preparation is needed to visit safely and in ways that respect the natural environment so that everyone else can enjoy them too. There’s unlikely to be cell coverage, water stations or rangers to help in many of these remote areas. Lack of awareness and preparation leads to people getting lost, stranded or worse, plus it can lead to degradation of Indigenous sacred sites, essential wildlife habitats and water sources,” she said.

Listen up

Why are black cats associated with Halloween and bad luck? On a recent episode of the Pet Chat radio program, Española Humane Director of Community Engagement Murad Kirdar and Bobbi Heller, executive director of Felines & Friends New Mexico, delve into all things black cat. Plus, the pair discuss potential fall dangers for pets and how to keep them safe during the season. Pet Chat airs every Saturday at 9 am and Sunday at 3 pm on 1260 KTRC and FM 103.7. Email the hosts at petchat@santafe.com.

Adapting to the holiday

The Today Show features parents who find ways for their wheelchair-bound children to experience the Halloween, including New Mexico makeup artist Amy Castanon, whose 15-year-old son Isaiah has cerebral palsy. She creates amazing costumes for him—photos with the story include Beetlejuice, the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and Ernesto de la Cruz from the film Coco. “Trick or treating is not easy for us, especially in the dark, so I try to put lights on his wheelchair so people know we’re coming,” she says. “We go all around our community in costume.” Sometimes Amy and Isaiah team up for costumes, dressing up as Wayne and Garth, Batman and Robin and Beetlejuice and Lydia, for instance. This year, mother and son will masquerade as aliens, with Isaiah’s wheelchair—which Amy always uses as a prop—decked out as a UFO. “Halloween is about having fun on a day like everybody else,” she says. The only she can’t do, she tells the show, is use her makeup skills on him. “I would love to create amazing looks on his face,” she says, “but he won’t let me!”

Boo!

Yes, we’re a little Halloween-focused around here today. What’s not to love? Candy? Costumes? Scary movies? The Santa Fe Children’s Museum will host a Weird Science Halloween Bash from 3 to 7 pm, featuring a wee witches brew story time, pumpkin patches, wiggling worms, costumes, trick-or-treating and a whole lot more. The event, a fundraiser, costs $25 for members/$35 for non-members, with limited tickets available online as of press time. The City of Santa Fe invites all ghosts and ghouls to a free party featuring pumpkin carving, dancing and more at 4 pm at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center. Come evening, Sky Railway’s Fright Train leaves the station at 7:10 pm, featuring a costume contest, DJ, Halloween themed cocktails and more (book here). Steven Spielberg’s Gremlins screens at 7 pm at Lensic Performing Arts Center, while the Jean Cocteau Cinema shows the first installment of the Scream franchise at 6 pm and 9 pm. Violet Crown has several films in the horror genre, but tonight is the only chance to see John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween on the big screen there. The Center for Contemporary Arts, meanwhile, will screen Paganini Horror, which CCA Cinemas General Manager Paul Barnes describes in his newsletter as “an Italian giallo horror film from 1989 involving an all-girl rock band, a newly discovered composition by the Italian composer, and a portal from HELL inside his mansion!” CCA will also host a costume contest with the theme “Skintight Spandex Nightmare with ‘80s Big Hair.” The costume contest winner will score a CCA punch card good for 12 free admissions to any movie at CCA.

Spine-tingling

Be sure to add a pair of mittens to that Halloween costume. The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 45 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. This evening will be clear with a low temp around 23 degrees. As for the coming winter, forecasts show a possibility of above-normal precipitation, courtesy El Niño.

Thanks for reading! The Word feels like if you can’t recommend a story on the illicit cadaver industry on Halloween, then when can you?

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