City reports $14.2 million in unexpected GRT
Two weeks ago, the City of Santa Fe announced a $1,000 retention bonus proposal—subsequently approved by the City Council—for employees willing to stay in their jobs through June. The bonuses, the city said, would be paid for by unanticipated and unspecified gross receipts tax revenue, which the city said it would disclose at the end of that week. In fact, the city did not reveal that information until yesterday, when it announced approximately $14.2 million in unexpected GRT from fiscal year 2023. The money, the city said in a news release yesterday, will be used “to fund multiple key investments to bolster the quality of life for Santa Feans, make needed repairs to existing infrastructure, and improve the city’s ability to provide better services.” Specifically, some of the top ticket priority items include: $1.5 million for soccer facility improvements—the lion’s share at Salvador Perez soccer field; $1 million for replacement of the Municipal Recreation Complex’s effluent irrigation supply system; and $1 million to cover likely salary increases as the result of the city’s most recent class and compensation study. Other items include: $800,000 each for infrastructure master planning at Midtown and for more employees and another ambulance within the Community Health and Safety Department; $181,000 to hire two new full-time employees to work on Inspection of Public Records Act requests in the City Attorney’s Office; and $175,000 to hire a full-time Office of Equity and Inclusion director within the City Manager’s Office. These proposals (read the full list here) will be presented as Budget Adjustment Resolutions at upcoming Finance and City Council meetings.
County: La Cienega-area wells test positive for PFAS
Five of six wells in La Cienega and La Cieneguilla whose groundwater Santa Fe County recently tested showed the presence of so-called “forever chemicals,” aka Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS)—three above the current EPA health advisory levels. Santa Fe County says it pursued the testing following the revelation earlier this year that PFAS had been found in groundwater samples collected at the Army National Guard Santa Fe Readiness Center, located at the Santa Fe Regional Airport. Communications Coordinator Olivia Romo tells SFR county officials met with the Department of Defense and the City of Santa Fe April 5 at the airport to discuss the results from the Army’s sampling and shared a preliminary assessment from 2020. Regarding the recent well testing, a county news release notes that: “Importantly, the main production well for the La Cienega Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association did NOT test positive for PFAS,” and, moreover, the county says, “these test results do NOT mean that PFAS is present in water drawn from a specific private domestic well. In that regard, the EPA recommends that all private domestic well owners conduct regular testing for PFAS.” The test results also do not apply to either City of Santa Fe or Santa Fe County water systems, which were tested last summer and did not show the presence of PFAS. Regarding La Cienega and La Cieneguilla, the county says it will be using $459,000 in funding from the New Mexico Environment Department to investigate further.
Clean car hearings underway
Hearings continue from 9 am to 6 pm today in front of the Environmental Improvement Board regarding proposed Advanced Clean Cars and Trucks standards. EIB, along with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board, also heard testimony from experts and the public all day yesterday at the State Bar in Albuquerque (5121 Masthead St. NE), and online, as they will today. In brief, those rules would require manufacturers to deliver increasing numbers of zero-emission vehicles to the state, starting in 2027 with 43% and up to 82% by 2032. Much of the public testimony yesterday favoring the proposal focused on climate change and on air quality as a result of ozone emissions, which, according to a recent presentation before the Water and Natural Resources Committee, exceed federal and state standards in several counties.
Testimony from a consortium of environmental and other advocacy organizations urged the boards to approve the rules by the end of this month in order to have them apply to the 2027 model year and to extend the program beyond 2032 to “ensure that 100% of new cars sold in New Mexico are pollution-free” starting in the 2035 model year. Santa Fe resident Shelley Mann-Lev, a public health practitioner and co-founder/director of the newly formed New Mexico Health Professionals for Climate Action, said yesterday the state “has a critical and timely opportunity to have a population level impact of public health impact on reducing climate change and protecting health.” Santa Fe County Commissioner Hank Hughes also testified, noting the Board of County Commissioners’ unanimous support for the proposed rules. The New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association has submitted testimony opposing the rules. The boards will take comments through the hearings; submit here. Read the entire docket so far here by navigating to “EIB 23-56: In the Matter of Proposed Amendments to 20.2.91 NMAC —New Motor Vehicle Emission Standards.”
NM ranks at the bottom for lung cancer detection, treatment
New Mexico ranks 47th in the nation for lack of treatment and surgical intervention for lung cancer, according to the 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report released today. The report, the association’s sixth annual, also ranks New Mexico 43rd in the nation for lung cancer screening and 46th for early diagnosis, and says Indigenous people in New Mexico are most likely to receive no treatment. On the brighter side, the national report finds improvement in lung cancer survival rates for everyone. “Thankfully, in New Mexico, the lung cancer survival rate has improved because of increased awareness, improved access to healthcare and cutting-edge research into new treatments for the disease,” JoAnna Strother, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in New Mexico says in a statement. “However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths here in New Mexico and across the nation, and our recent report makes it clear that we have more work to do to focus advancing treatment and surgical intervention.”
LitHub hosts a conversation between New Mexico transmasc science fiction author Reese Hogan and New Books Network’s Brenda Noiseux and Rob Wolf about Hogan’s new novel, My Heart is Human, “about a human and robot who come to occupy the same body.” The body belongs to “Joel Lodowick, a single parent and trans man whose only wish, at the story’s outset, is to raise his five-year-old daughter in peace.” Hogan says he based Lodowick’s experiences coming out in the novel on what he experienced in 2020 when he did the same, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “There was a lot going on in the world and in my life,” he says. “Everything was brushed aside, and it was really, really hard. I would escape into my room to write this book and it became a place to put all these thoughts.”
Woodstock organizer dies in Santa Fe
One of the organizers of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair died Nov. 10 at his Santa Fe home, the Los Angeles Times reports. John Morris’ family confirmed his death at 84 after suffering from COPD and a previous bout of cancer. Before becoming involved with planning Woodstock, Morris worked as a concert promoter for bands including Jefferson Airplane, the Doors and the Grateful Dead, and also worked with Bill Graham producing shows for Janis Joplin and BB King at Graham’s Fillmore East rock venue. In addition to heading Woodstock’s production, he also served as one of its emcees, notably announcing to the audience the concert had become “a free concert from now on. That doesn’t mean that anything goes. What that means is that we’re gonna put the music up here for free…But, the one major thing you have to remember tonight, when you go back up to the woods to go to sleep or if you stay here, is that the man next to you is your brother.” (You can hear that seminal announcement in this Fresh Air podcast from Woodstock’s 40th anniversary). Luzann Fernandez, Morris’ partner of 33 years, told the Times: “One of the things that I always loved most about John is that he was one of the most egalitarian people you would ever meet. He would think nothing of putting a plumber next to the Queen of England at a dinner party and it would be fun— that’s just the way he was. He saw people for who they were.” According to Morris’ obituary, the family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Morris’ memory to Santa Fe’s Assistance Dogs of the West.
The new old Santa Fe
Don’t be fooled by Santa Fe’s adobe facade, the Washington Post writes, the city “has a new pulse” via wine bars, markets and contemporary art. The story opens at La Mama on Marcy Street, a business that “doesn’t feel like it belongs here. Unlike most of the city’s adobe-clad hangouts, the space is spare and whitewashed. Margaritas and chiles are nowhere to be found on the menu.” Indeed, the story continues: “In the last few years, there’s been a sea change beneath the city’s sun-baked exterior, which appears stuck in time due to strict building ordinances that prioritize rehabilitation over new construction.” That “sea change” amounts to what the Post describes as a “decentralization…drawing focus away from its Spanish colonial plaza and its posh, gallery-lined Canyon Road.” That focus has been drawn instead to the Railyard, “the locals’ downtown,” with shout-outs to the Farmers Market, Sky Railway and As Above So Below Distillery, where artist Virgil Ortiz (Pueblo of Cochiti) apparently hangs out sometimes. The story also highlights SITE Santa Fe and the new Vladem Contemporary, as well as newish downtown spots such as Los Poblanos’ Bar Norte, favored by designer Amy Denet Deal (Diné), owner of 4Kinship on Canyon Road.
The National Weather Service forecasts another mostly sunny day, with a high temperature near 60 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon.