SFPS restarting bus routes
Starting Monday, Santa Fe Public Schools will resume six of seven canceled bus routes, whose disruption, as SFR reported last November, created longer rides and no shortage of headaches for students and families. The district eliminated the routes after it couldn’t hire enough drivers, but Transportation Director Cesario Flores confirms to SFR that SFPS has now hired six new full-time drivers and one part-time driver through its free, paid CDL training program. Tesuque Elementary School PTA President Alejandra Rebolledo Rea says her son is thrilled with the news. When she told him about the return of Tesuque’s sole route, she offered to continue driving him, she says, but he refused. “It’s his social time, his time to take care of himself and have that independence,” she tells SFR. “I’m relieved. We made the best out of it, and we got to create a community among the parents that were there…but there was especially a lot of stress for the staff…and with the gas prices, I heard there were parents that were hurting.” Flores says the district continues to evaluate whether it will resume the one remaining canceled route, No. 5, which previously served Ortiz Middle School and El Camino Real Academy. “I wish we had this type of interest in our bus driver positions before the start of our school year so we wouldn’t have had to close routes at all this year, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way,” Flores says. “Our department is always working to hire and train new bus drivers and will continue to do so.”
Why was actress Jennifer Garner at the Legislature yesterday? That’s the question the Albuquerque Journal asks and answers. No, not to take selfies with lawmakers, but to represent international humanitarian organization Save the Children. She apparently also visited schools and ate traditional Diné food. The Journal also notes the passage yesterday by the Senate of Senate Bill 137, which would create mandatory training and updated campaign finance reporting for school boards; and SB153, which would add $95 million to the early childhood education and care program fund. The House yesterday passed high House Bill 171, which updates high school graduation requirements, but still does not include the level of financial literacy education some proponents want. Yesterday also was “City of Santa Fe today” per House Memorial 36. Co-sponsor state Rep. Reena Szczepanski, D-Santa Fe, introduced the memorial (right around 11:49 am), along with Mayor Alan Webber, City Manager John Blair and several city councilors, and asked the rest of the House to thank the city for “the work you do day in and day out for our neighbors…not only our delegation, but also every city worker, every small business owner, every resident who makes Santa Fe such a special host for the Legislature.” Find today’s agendas for the House and Senate committees and full chambers here.
NM AG attends social media hearings in DC
Attorney General Raúl Torrez was in Washington, DC this week during heated hearings with social media CEOs (contains upsetting testimony from victims) such as Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, regarding the companies’ culpabilities for the exploitation of children on their sites. Torrez appeared on CNBC’s show “Squawk Box” with Eamon Javers to discuss his office’s lawsuit against Meta and the state’s investigation therein. “We initiated this investigation after numerous public reports that Meta executives have known for years that their platforms were a breeding ground for pedophiles, for predators. What we did was to create an undercover account and what we found was truly shocking,” Torrez says. The AG also discussed the evidence the agency’s lawsuit reveals that executives, all the way up to Zuckerberg, knew its sites have features facilitating the exploitation of children. “They need to change the way they do business, bottom line,” Torrez said. (Zuckerberg did apologize during the hearing). The AG also spoke to The Guardian and said he believes New Mexico’s discoveries in its lawsuit are “just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how widespread and well known this problem was inside the company.” As NPR reports, shortly before this week’s hearing, Meta “rolled out new tools geared toward protecting kids online” that include “barring children under age 18 from seeing posts about suicide, self-harm and eating disorders,” and said approximately 40,000 employees are working on safety issues. As SFR recently reported, state legislation also geared at protecting children online has been reintroduced during this year’s legislative session, but was tabled earlier this week by the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
EPA responds to NM PFAS petition with proposed rules
The state environment department announced yesterday the formal proposal from the US Environmental Protection Agency for new rules classifying certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), aka “forever chemicals,” as hazardous waste under federal law. The action comes in direct response to New Mexico’s petition for greater oversight. “Here’s what today means: New Mexico just clarified the national regulatory landscape for forever chemicals, one of the most important environmental issues of our time,” New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney says in a statement. “Communities will benefit from these rules which require polluters to clean-up and dispose of toxic PFAS.” SFR recently previewed the impact of those proposed federal laws, including in Santa Fe. A state news release notes the discovery of PFAS chemicals in high concentrations near Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases, and the roadblocks the state has faced from federal facilities who have failed to respond quickly to the contamination. “We’ve been forced to fight the federal government for more than five years since it destroyed our family’s dairy,” Highland Dairy owner Art Schaap said in a statement provided by the state. “Gov. [Michelle] Lujan Grisham and her team have never stopped fighting for dairy farms and communities in New Mexico when it comes to addressing the devastating impacts of forever chemicals. This administration has taken the fight to hold the Department of Defense accountable from Clovis to Washington, DC and today her advocacy resulted in common sense protections for Americans in every corner of our nation.” The Legislature has allocated funds multiple times for NMED to address PFAS in communities across the state, which include offering Clovis residents living near Cannon Air Force Base and Base personnel the opportunity to have their blood tested for PFAS substances later this spring.
With a storm rolling in and snow on the mountain, we provide today’s entry into the 2024 Morning Word Playlist Project from local videographer and performer Andy Primm: “This is my awesome ‘80s ski day playlist,” he writes. “Get your skinny skis and neon pants and meet me on Roadrunner!”
1. “When You Were Mine”: “The classic Prince song as covered my Mitch Ryder is the perfect soundtrack for TEARING UP THIS MOUNTAIN!”
2. “Tai Shan”: “Rush is essential when getting psyched for the day on the mountain. I recommend the entire Hold Your Fire album from 1987 for the drive up.”
3. “Longer”: “Dan Fogelberg, perfect for warming up in the lodge next to the fire before heading back into the steeps.”
4. “Do You Love Me”: “Party in boots on the deck at Totemoff’s with Patti Austin!”
5. “I Will Be Here For You (Nitakungodea Milele): “When it’s time for apres-ski in the hot tub, it’s time for Al Jarreau!”
Into the wilderness
A recent New York Times’ story on how to save money traveling includes a recommendation for eco-travelers to visit New Mexico and participate in the Gila Wilderness Area’s centennial celebrations. As the Times notes, the United States’ first wilderness area, the Gila was designated in 1924 “after the visionary conservationist Aldo Leopold campaigned to set aside large regions, primarily for ecosystems to function with minimal intervention.” Between the Gila and the nearby Aldo Leopold Wilderness, visitors can freely access more than 800 miles of hiking trails between them. As it happens, at 11 am today, State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City, will read on the Senate floor a certificate honoring the Gila’s 100th anniversary, which will be followed by a celebration in the rotunda attended by environmental advocates and others. “The Gila Wilderness is the central gem of a multi-million acre bioregion that is profoundly culturally and ecologically significant to the Southwest,” Leia Barnett, WildEarth Guardians’ Greater Gila Advocate says in a statement.”One hundred years ago, the designation of the wilderness fundamentally changed our perspective of what public lands are for. We’re hoping this centennial will spur a similar shift that sets a precedent for justice-based land management that adequately addresses the crises of our time.”
Events for the centennial, as of now, include a symposium on the Gila’s natural history Feb. 28-March 1; Aldo Leopold Week March 1-8, a virtual speaker series from the Aldo Leopold Foundation; a film festival in June, stargazing, more speaker series and other events. And if you missed its publication last year, First & Wildest: The Gila Wilderness at 100, edited by Elizabeth Hightower Allen would make a good companion for that affordable trip to the area. Gila Back Country Horsemen also has a slew of day trips on its website for the adventurous. In addition, several organizations are celebrating the Gila’s cultural and natural history from an Indigenous perspective, “before and beyond,” and have set up a hub for those events, which include forthcoming virtual lectures.
Extra odds & ends
The Washington Post takes a look at the best “science-based strategies” to “turn your good intentions into enduring habits,” and receives a few tips from University of New Mexico Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry William R. Miller, author of the book On Second Thought: How Ambivalence Shapes Your Life. Miller recommends “motivational interviewing, which helps you explore your personal reasons for making a habit change and what you’re willing to do to get there.” To that end, ask five questions: “What are my three best reasons for doing this? How important is it to make this change? What steps have I taken to move in this direction? What am I willing to do to make this change? What am I going to do?” Miller says saying the answers out loud “can make it sink in as a commitment,” as can announcing to family and friends one’s plans and asking for support.
Ars Technica reports on New Mexico State University’s decision to decommission Hobbes OS/2 Archive, which will no longer be available as of April 15. The move, Ars Technica writes, “marks the end of an era,” as the site has been, for the last 34 years, “a key resource for users of the IBM OS/2 operating system and its successors, which once competed fiercely with Microsoft Windows.” Fellow tech publication The Register provides even more information about why this matters, and also contacted NMSU about the decision to retire the site, run by the Department of Information & Communication Technologies, and was told by someone: “We have made the difficult decision to no longer host these files on hobbes.nmsu.edu. Although I am unable to go into specifics, we had to evaluate our priorities and had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the service.” The NMSU representative also said they had seen a “clear spike in traffic” following the news of the site’s demise and the team supporting the server “is trying their best to meet the needs of the community.” Apparently, according to both publications, efforts to preserve the files are already underway in areas of the internet in which we do not currently partake.
The National Weather Service forecasts a 90% chance for precipitation today, with scattered rain showers before 8 am; rain and snow showers between 8 am and 2 pm; then snow showers after 2 pm, with some possible thunder. Today’s high temperature will be near 44 degrees. We’re likely to see more snow showers tonight and have a 30% chance of them on Saturday, albeit with no accumulation to speak of, at least not in town. Sunday should be sunny, with a high temperature near 43 degrees.
Thanks for reading! The Word thinks she’s going to need a whole lot of Colbert this year.