Morning Word

City of Santa Fe Announces Another Late Audit

NM COVID-19 vaccinations lag as cases rise

City of Santa Fe 2023 audit will be late

The City of Santa Fe will not make a Dec. 15 deadline for its 2023 fiscal audit, according to a news release issued yesterday after the close of business. Instead, the city now aims to complete the audit by May 15, 2024. The news follows the city’s late filing of its 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 audits; the FY21 was completed in July, while the FY22 audit is still in progress and estimated for completion on Dec. 4, according to Finance Director Emily Oster. The late audits have previously jeopardized the city’s state capital outlay funds, and provoked concern from the state auditor. In a statement yesterday, City Manager John Blair called the completion of three audits in 11 months “an extraordinary accomplishment” that demonstrates the city’s “deep commitment to correcting our history of late audits and ensuring the timelines are met moving forward” starting with fiscal year 2024. District 2 Councilor Michael Garcia tells SFR he’s “not surprised at all by recent developments,” and the reason he’s requested representatives from the city’s contracted auditing firms “come before the governing body so they can be asked questions in a public format so we can have answers to these questions…I think the unfortunate thing is we now have the answers that we could have gotten nearly two weeks ago, and it puts us very much in a reactive mode, and I’m not somebody who wants government to operate in a reactive mode; we should always be proactive in a sense where something that we have full control over, which is the audit.”

NM COVID-19 boosters lag as cases rise

Only 3% of New Mexicans receiving COVID-19 vaccines have remained up to date with the latest strain, according to a new dashboard mounted by the state department of health to track COVID-19, as well as the flu and RSV—three respiratory viruses about which the state and hospital officials have been warning residents to take care to avoid this fall. At the same time, the state has noted an uptick in COVID-19, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón tells SFR, who also issued reminders of measures residents should take heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. “We’re seeing more COVID,” Parajón said, and “of course, you’re gonna probably see more with holiday travel, and people getting together more indoors.” She reiterated the advice for people to stay up to date with the COVID-19 vaccine, and to consider the RSV vaccine for those who are older than 65. Testing, masking and staying home when sick also remain tried and true measures, she noted. While the state’s monthly epidemiology reports hadn’t published as of press time today (but are due sometime today), Parajón confirmed the low 3% up-to-date COVID-19 figures, which she described as a “big bummer.” Additional data provided to SFR by DOH broke down the up-to-date vaccinations further: For 65 and older, it is 10.1% of the population; for the 40-65 it is 3.6%; and younger than 40 1% or less. The state’s dashboard shows moderate transmission of COVID-19 in central and Northern New Mexico, with substantial transmission in several Northwestern and Southeastern counties. Parajón said the dashboard is intended to help residents “look at trends” and take appropriate protective measures when they see higher cases in their region.

State Supreme Court hears redistricting case

New Mexico state Supreme Court justices yesterday heard oral arguments in a congressional redistricting lawsuit. On Oct. 6, Ninth Judicial District Judge Judge Fred Van Soelen ruled in Democrats’ favor in the Republican-led lawsuit over redistricting, finding that while Democrat lawmakers had indeed participated in active attempts to “dilute the votes” of Republicans in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, their efforts did not constitute “egregious gerrymandering,” as outlined by the state Supreme Court in advance of the hearing using US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s “three-part test,” from her dissenting opinion in 2019′s Rucho v. Common Cause. As reported by the Associated Press, the GOP yesterday argued incumbent Republican Congresswoman Yvette Herrell’s loss in the last election to Democrat Gabe Vasquez demonstrates the degree to which the 2nd Congressional District has been gerrymandered, an argument to which justices expressed skepticism. Sara Sanchez, representing Democratic legislators, meanwhile, said the evidence in the case doesn’t demonstrate any such egregious gerrymandering. “Every map is going to favor one party over the other in any given district,” she said. “But vote dilution only becomes a constitutional injury when it rises to the level of effectuating that entrenchment, and there just was not evidence of that here.”

Accused protest shooter will remain jailed

The state Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the order for pretrial detention of Ryan Martinez, who is accused of firing into a crowd Sept. 28 during an Española protest over a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate. Prosecutors charged Martinez, 23, with attempted murder and aggravated assault, charges for which District Judge Jason Lidyard found probable cause last month when he ordered Martinez held until trial, saying “because of the nature of the alleged crime and Martinez’s previous behavior,” including that he sent threatening tweets about federal officials in 2018, Martinez presents “clear and present danger to his community.” One of the bullets fired at the protest struck Jacob Johns, a Hopi and Akimel O’odham climate activist from Washington state, who suffered extensive injuries to his lung, spleen and liver. Nicole Moss, an attorney for Martinez, told the Albuquerque Journal yesterday the Court of Appeals ruling, “while disappointing, is not surprising” because the evidence presented by prosecutors is not “a complete and accurate record of what actually happened that day at the Rio Arriba County Complex.” In their appeal, Martinez’s attorneys had argued denial of bond for Martinez was improper under the state Constitution because there is “no substantial evidence that no release conditions will reasonably protect” the community.

Listen up

CityNerd visits Santa Fe (here’s some background on CityNerd) and asks: “Do you like beige stucco?” Do you enjoy beige stucco to basically the exclusion of every other possible architectural style? Well, then I might just have the city for you.” The very entertaining and informative episode from urban planner turned YouTube star Ray Delahanty (a Northwest transplant who now lives in Albuquerque) primarily focuses on downtown in order to to look at a city “that has taken design standards to an extreme,” while also considering “the preservation of some of this country’s most historic buildings; the value of a unified aesthetic experience; and how those things attract people to the city,” along with Santa Fe’s housing crunch, parking, walkability and trains (and a trip to the Railyard, with the possible promise of a future video focusing on Sky Railway).

And so it begins

ICYMI, Ski Santa Fe will be opening on Thanksgiving, with the Super Chief Quad and Sierra Double chairlifts running, taking skiers and riders to Upper Midland, Midland and Lower Midland. Beginner skiing will be accessed via the Easy Street Double Chair and Pine Flats Conveyor. “El Nino is running a bit late, but in the meantime our snowmakers are hard at work,” an announcement notes, and all the other facilities, such as the ski shop and Totemoff’s Bar & Grill will be open. The City of Santa Fe’s annual holiday Plaza lighting ceremony will take place starting at 4:30 pm on Friday, Nov. 24, with the lights switched on at 6:15 pm, and music and other festivities continuing until 8 pm. Then, on Saturday, as the holiday shopping season commences, the state Economic Development and Taxation and Revenue departments remind residents it’s also Small Business Saturday—as in a day in which to do one’s shopping with local businesses. The state also offers a tax holiday on Saturday by suspending collection of gross receipts tax on sales of qualifying items at “certain, non-franchise small businesses with 10 employees or less,” so shoppers may find some spots where those savings have been passed down. For ideas, the state also recently published its annual New Mexico True Certified holiday gift guide. Once December arrives, local shoppers will have many holiday markets from which to choose—we will keep you posted.

No place like home

Artsy provides an in depth look at sculptor Rose Simpson’s work (Santa Clara Pueblo) in her show Counterculture, on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art through Jan. 21, 2024, and at Jessica Silverman in San Francisco: Skeena (through Dec. 23). Simpson’s “rise in the art world,” writer Sandra Hale Schulman notes, “can be attributed to her distinct ceramic and clay work that revolves around the self, rather than focusing solely on broad political, tribal and social issues relating to Native American identity.” For instance, the word “skeena,” Simpson explains, is a Latinx slang term meaning gang. “‘Skeena,’ where I come from, is your crew.…It’s the people in your corner, your roll dogs, your squad. The people that would throw down for you,” she says. The show revolves around this concept: “The idea was about how often we forget that we’re not alone in our journey, in our life. We have accountability, but we also have all the support.”

Writer Kali Fajardo-Anstine also considers Northern New Mexico roots in a new introduction (shared by LitHub) to Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, published by Penguin Classics. After Fajardo-Anstine’s first book Sabrina & Corina, was published in 2019, she writes, “I traveled throughout the United States reading from my short stories and discussing some of my ancestors’ origins in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.” Despite the use of the term Indigenous Latinas to describe her characters, Fajardo-Anstine still encountered confusion “from readers outside of my own culture and region who could not fathom my ancestors’ existence in the American Southwest before the founding of the country. We have always resided in these lands north of the current US-Mexico border, my own roots extending to Pueblos of northern New Mexico. This is where we are from, El Norte,”—also the setting of Cather’s ninth novel.

Sun, wind, repeat

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 48 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. It should remain sunny and partly sunny straight on through Thanksgiving, when temperatures may climb back into the 50s, before a chance of rain and snow returning Friday and Saturday.

Thanks for reading! The Word returns Monday, Nov. 27; she wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving (perhaps with the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving soundtrack?)

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