Morning Word

NM AG Torrez Argues State Supreme Court Should Void Anti-Abortion Ordinances

First state wastewater testing for schools detects cocaine, fentanyl

AG Torrez: State Supreme Court should void local abortion bans

New Mexico Supreme Court justices yesterday heard arguments from Attorney General Raúl Torrez as to why they should strike down several local ordinances restricting abortion, which is legal in the state and protected by the recently enacted House Bill, 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act. That law, Justice Briana H. Zamora told Torrez, “explicitly to me, and in my mind is really your strongest argument here. I don’t know how much more clear it can be.” The new law specifically bars public bodies from discriminating against individuals’ health care on the basis of gender, which is what local ordinances in Lea and Roosevelt counties, along with the cities of Hobbs and Clovis do, by invoking The Comstock Act of 1873, an anti-obscenity law still on the books that bars delivery of any materials related to abortion and contraception, among other items. Torrez acknowledged HB7 outlaws the local governments’ ordinances, enacted in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, and currently stayed by the state Supreme Court, pending its ruling. But he also urged the justices to consider the ordinances as violations of the state constitution. Given the uncertainty the US Supreme Court unleashed by reversing Roe, he noted, “I think the court…should at least consider whether or not there is independent constitutional basis for announcing a basic proposition that women in this state have a constitutional right under the Equal Rights Amendment to access reproductive health care as a threshold.” The US Supreme Court yesterday also agreed to hear its first abortion case since last year’s upending decision, and will be considering an an appeal of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals’ August decision upholding an April decision by US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas restricting access to mifepristone, used in medication abortions.

City slates pop-up shelters for spring

City of Santa Fe officials had hoped to initiate a pop-up shelter pilot project to coincide with winter, but now intend to provide people experiencing homelessness here access to the first so-called Safe Outdoor Space in late February. The City Council and mayor at their meeting last night unanimously approved two contracts with Christ Lutheran Church and The Life Link to create and operate the site, which will provide transitional housing in small stand-alone structures, along with hygiene services, case management and other support. “Basically, this project seeks to shelter people who are not using our current system. There are a variety of reasons that a group shelter setting doesn’t work for somebody, or a setting in which they can’t be with their partner or their pet doesn’t work for them,” Community Health and Safety Department Director Kyra Ochoa tells SFR. “So this is really just one more option for people that are out on the streets or in the arroyo that we hope will get them in forming good relationships with those who provide services, including case management and housing navigation to find out really what it is that each person who hasn’t been accessing our shelter system needs in order to get housed.”

SFPD: Shooting suspect arrested

The Santa Fe Police Department yesterday announced the arrest of 32-year-old Nathan Christopher Ludlow Warner of Española on Dec. 11 in Los Lunas. Los Lunas police arrested Warner on an active SFPD arrest warrant stemming from a Dec. 9 shooting near downtown Santa Fe. In that incident, SFPD responded to the Allsup’s at 305 North Guadalupe St. where they found a 21-year-old female victim with at least one gunshot wound she had sustained at a different location; the victim, SFPD says, was taken to the hospital and pronounced in stable condition. SFPD charged Warner with attempt to commit a violent felony: murder; shooting at or from a motor vehicle causing great bodily harm; and felon in possession of a firearm. Warner also was charged with other felonies unrelated to the Dec. 9 Santa Fe incident following his arrest by Los Lunas Police and booked into the Valencia County Detention Center. Court records indicate those charges include: receiving or transferring stolen motor vehicles; receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm by a felon; and possession of a controlled substance. The complaint filed in Los Lunas Magistrate Court indicates Los Lunas police found both fentanyl and methamphetamine in Warner’s possession, along with an AR-15 rifle and .22 Magnum revolver. According to the complaint, the stolen car Warner was driving was owned by the father of Warner’s shooting victim.

State reports fentanyl, cocaine in school wastewater

The state yesterday reported the first results on the Wastewater Drug Monitoring Dashboard for wastewater testing of public high schools. According to a news release, the state health department ordered wastewater testing for drugs at public high schools in response to the public health emergency for substance abuse Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared via executive order in September. “The Wastewater Testing Dashboard sheds light on a complex challenge facing our schools,” Health Secretary Patrick Allen says in a statement. “Of particular note was the pervasive presence of cocaine in the sampling. That’s one area where we can improve communications with students right now as parents, school leaders and public health experts. On the other hand, it’s clear that prevention efforts work: Heroin was not detected in any of the schools so far. These results emphasize the importance of proactive measures, open communication with parents, and a united effort to safeguard our students.” The first round of results sampled 24 schools in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, of which 88% tested positive for cocaine or its metabolite; 29% tested positive for fentanyl or its metabolite; and 92% tested positive for methamphetamine or its metabolite. The news release notes, however, the results can’t distinguish between illegal and legal substances such as ADHD medications. The state says the environment department has thus far collected samples at 89 schools throughout the state and plans to sample every public high school and post additional results, as they are received, on a weekly basis. “Schools are inherently part of the communities they are located in,” Public Education Secretary Arsenio Romero says in a statement. “This data highlights how what affects the community also impacts the schools. This data will inform the efforts already underway by our schools and lead to safer and healthier schools.”

Listen up

Ross Hamlin and Rod Harrison, the minds behind musical/performance group LALIAS, talk to KBAC Morning Show host Honey Harris about tonight’s A Very LALIAS Christmas performance, described as a “secular exploration of the ghosts of the winter holiday.” The duo explain how the show uses holiday-themed ghost stories, including Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, along with more contemporary texts by esteemed local writers such as Melody Sumner Carnahan. “It’s an old thing that we tell spooky stories at Christmas and really Christmas is a supernatural thing,” Harrison tells Harris. “There is a lot of magic and mystery around that end-of-the-year holiday and so we wanted to embrace that.” Listen to a snippet of LALIAS’ holiday sound and then catch them live at 7:30 pm tonight at Teatro Paraguas; $15 in advance/$20 at the door.

Winter wonderland

Amid the state’s current winter weather advisory, writer and New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame inductee Daniel Gibson pens for Local Freshies a guide to a ski trip in Santa Fe, a locale where you can’t go wrong indoors or out during the winter, Gibson proclaims. In addition to detailing all Ski Santa Fe has to offer, Gibson also provides visitors with tips for local snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, along with recommendations for soaking in the hot water or the local culture. Artnet News, on the other hand, zeroes in on Taos in its roundup of “must-see exhibitions at snowy resorts.” Specifically, Artnet highlights Harwood 100 at the Harwood Museum of Art (through Jan. 28, 2024), a centennial exhibition of the museum’s history. “In addition to the scores of works on loan to honor the centennial, the permanent collection remains a must-see for all visitors,” Artnet writes, noting “one particular highlight is the Agnes Martin Gallery, which features seven of Martin’s renowned abstract paintings. Ski slopes and museums are all fine and well, but what about staying home and sitting by the crackling fire? Mansion Global explores a plethora of fireplace designs “for all seasons,” including one lined with custom steel Specht Novak designed for a home in Santa Fe. “The steel surround continues across the wall and forms a niche for firewood,” Novak tells Mansion Global. “The hearth is a single piece of honed limestone that is cantilevered off the wall with hidden steel supports. The whole assembly was a technical challenge to accomplish, but creates a minimal and elegant focal point for the room.”

Alien sweet tooth

MoonPie’s newest advertising campaign targets a demographic companies usually neglect: aliens. As USA Today notes, interest in extraterrestrials surged over the summer, largely thanks to congressional hearings on UFOs. MoonPie apparently hopes to take advantage of the interest and find some alienfluencers to boot. To that end, the company this week launched a new advertising campaign aimed at aliens, complete with a language apparently only understood by space-dwellers. “We consulted actual alien experts to create a global campaign written in an actual alien language,” MoonPie’s advertising agency Tombras says. According to Marketing Dive, those experts include retired US Navy Chief and activist Sean Cahill; linguistics expert Daniel Oberhaus; and Holly Wood, communications director at a platform called Investigate the Unknown (all featured in MoonPie’s promotional video). Tombras notes the agency also is running the ads “in places where the experts say extraterrestrials actually live.” Yup, that’s right. Roswell made the cut for the new MoonPie campaign, along with New York City’s Times Square, Washington, DC and other notable alien hotspots (also featured in the video). “If they’re here, we’re gonna find them,” Tombras says on the site formerly known as Twitter “and sell them @MoonPie.”

Graupel grapple

In the wee hours today, the National Weather Service was anticipating a round of graupel here and there. We heard neither graupel nor hail, but the day is young. Speaking of which, the NWS forecasts breezy conditions, via southeast winds 20 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph. Chances for precipitation: 100% in all its myriad forms: a slight chance of thunderstorms; snow showers; possible rain showers; and freezing rain. Also: patchy freezing fog this morning, followed by regular old patchy fog. Once again, if today sounds to you like a good time to get out on an “area lake,” the weather service advises caution.

Thanks for reading! The Word appreciated the roundup of top New Yorker cartoons from 2023—particularly the Edgar Allen Poe one.

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