Morning Word

Santa Fe Shelter Launches Mobile Hygiene Unit

NM marks 15 years without the death penalty

Shelter launches mobile hygiene unit for unhoused people

The Interfaith Community Shelter, which runs Pete’s Place on Cerrillos Road, this week launches a twice-weekly mobile support unit that will target locations within city limits during the day. Executive Director Korina Lopez tells SFR the shelter spent roughly a year preparing before “taking the show on the road.” The new program, she says, will focus on bringing the shelter’s daytime services to those in need. “We’re a low-barrier shelter, so for us, it’s like, ‘What more can we do to help our community [and] to help engage guests?’” At the same time, Lopez says the organization hopes the mobile unit will help reach people who are harder to serve, such as those who avoid the brick-and-mortar shelter. “That’s our target population,” she says. As it does with the Pete’s Place location, the shelter will lease the mobile hygiene unit from the City of Santa Fe. Mayor Alan Webber tells SFR reducing homelessness requires many different strategies, such as deployment of the mobile hygiene unit. “One of the things that we are continually confronted by is people who are experiencing homelessness don’t have hygiene facilities,” Webber says. “If you could imagine being in that circumstance yourself: wanting to have dignity but having very little opportunity to live a life with dignity because of very simple amenities that we take for granted…It adds to the burden of being unhoused.” The mobile hygiene unit will run Mondays and Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm. On Mondays, people can find the unit outside of La Familia Medical Center’s Healthcare for the Homeless off Cerrillos Road. The unit will spend Thursdays stationed outside the Salvation Army on Alameda Street.

SCOTUS NM decision could lead to more insurrectionist lawsuits

The Associated Press analyzes the potential impact on local and state officials of two recent US Supreme Court rulings regarding “insurrection.” On Monday, the court rebuffed former Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin’s request for an appeal of a Sept. 6, 2022 ruling by New Mexico First Judicial District Judge Francis J Mathew, which barred Griffin from holding public office due to his conviction related to the June 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol. In so doing, Matthews cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a law created to keep former Confederates from holding office. Earlier this month, however, SCOTUS ruled GOP presidential front-runner, former President Donald Trump, could remain on the Colorado ballot after that state ruled him ineligible also under Section 3. The Trump ruling excluded federal candidates and officials under Section 3, but said local officials can still be subject to the law. The Washington, DC-based group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which helped bring the suit in New Mexico, tells the AP it may have identified other state officials against whom it could bring cases similar to Griffin’s, but does not specify where or whom. The group does note it brought the case against Griffin in part because New Mexico “is one of several states that allow any citizen to bring a private right of action to establish that an elected official is not qualified to hold office,” the AP writes.

Fifteen years without the death penalty

This week marks 15 years since the late former Gov. Bill Richardson signed legislation eliminating the death penalty in New Mexico. To commemorate the milestone, the Washington, DC-based Death Penalty Information Center speaks to two women who were central in those repeal efforts: Cathy Ansheles, the former executive director of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the first coordinator of the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, and Viki Harrison, current director of the Constitutional Convention and Protecting Dissent programs with Common Cause, who at the time of served as executive director of NM Repeal. “It was late in the evening on the last day that the governor could sign the bill and I was at the State Capitol,” Ansheles recalls. “I ran into Rep. Gail Chasey [the bill sponsor, an Albuquerque Democrat who retired at the end of the last session] who said the governor had just called her and Viki up to his office and we really did not know what his decision would be. Once the news started circulating, we were stunned and thrilled, walking around the Capitol hugging and grinning. And then we walked down from the Capitol to a local Santa Fe hotel bar and restaurant and began a spontaneous celebration that included many of the people who had testified over the years.” Both women discuss the events and efforts that led to the repeal, as well as its aftermath. “When I talk to people—most people do not even know we ever had the death penalty,” Harrison says. “I mean, it just literally left people’s minds. After repeal, we have not seen a surge in crime. We have not seen any negative effects. And I think the positive effects are that people, at this point, just assume we have never had it. I do not think anybody misses it.”

PRC seeks comment on proposed gas rate increase

The state Public Regulation Commission is soliciting public comments in response to a pending request from New Mexico Gas Company for a rate increase. NMGC applied for the approximate 11% increase last September, citing inflation, along with rising costs in other areas of its business, “including costs to comply with expanding regulatory requirements as well as costs for retaining and attracting a skilled workforce to serve our customers,” NMGC President Ryan Shell said at the time. In its application, the PRC notes, NMGC also said the increase is also needed to make “capital investments to enhance service reliability [and] meet growing demands.” Earlier this month, NMGC and intervenors in the case announced a settlement agreement with intervenors in the case that would lower the proposed increase. The PRC is inviting consumers and anyone else with an interest to provide comment on the proposed rate increase at two open meetings on March 21 and March 28, during which a designated public comment period will be available for those attending either in person or via Zoom. To sign up to provide comments online, send an email to public.comment@prc.nm.gov or call 505-490-7910 by 5 pm the day prior to the meeting (today for the March 21 meeting). No sign-up required for in-person comments. The PRC also will hold a separate public meeting on the rate case in the future.

Listen up

In her new book, the memoir Mother Island: A Daughter Claims Puerto Rico, author Jamie Figueroa delves into her identity as a Boricua (Afro-Taíno) woman raised in the Midwest by a Puerto Rican mother, while also interrogating the genre of memoir itself. “Those of us who have multi-racial, multi-heritage identities, there’s never one box that we fit in,” Figueroa tells SFR. She will read from her book and be in conversation with b brown at 6 pm tonight at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.) and online via Zoom (register here).

Film Institute announces new grants

Attention filmmakers: The Santa Fe Film Institute opens up applications today and, as SFR reported yesterday, has two new grants available this year. In 2023, the Santa Fe International Film Festival’s nonprofit organization, the Santa Fe Film Institute, handed out $12,000 in grants to New Mexico filmmakers, including Charine Gonzales of Santa Fe, Taos’s Hillary Bachelder and Albuquerque’s Erica Nguyen. This year, Institute officials will up the ante with an additional $15,000 in grants through a partnership with the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area. Both grants have geographical restrictions: Applicants for either the $5,000 Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Grant or the $10,000 Los Luceros Grant must reside in Santa Fe County, Taos County or Rio Arriba County to apply—or have attended and graduated from high school in one of those counties. To apply for the Los Luceros grant, applicants must shoot at least part of their films at the Los Luceros Historic Site north of Alcalde in Rio Arriba County. “I think the success of our existing grants and scholarship funds have more groups like the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area wanting to get involved,” International Film Festival Artistic Director Jacques Paisner tells SFR. “We think the granting program is only going to grow for 2025 as well.”

Girls just wanna have...road trips

Cosmopolitan magazine includes Santa Fe in its new round-up of the “30 best girls’ trips to book for your next group getaway” (not to be confused with its list of the 40 best girls trips, published last summer, which also included Santa Fe), recommending folks come here to “get your spa on.” Says Cosmo: “There are so many incredible hot springs spas worth venturing out to in and around Santa Fe, most of which are way more affordable than other places around the country.” Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort receives a special shout-out for its grounds, springs and food. Along similar lines, The Tech Advocate includes Taos on its list of the nine best small US towns for a “wellness vacation,” writing that “with a rich Native American heritage and an artistic spirit, Taos supports wellness through its thermal springs as well as various holistic health centers offering services like massage therapy and reflexology.” Also on the travel tip, The Points Guy steers Route 66 road trippers toward Santa Rosa and a visit to the Route 66 Auto Museum, natch, but also to the Blue Hole, “an astoundingly deep spring-fed lake popular with scuba divers.”

Spring showers

The National Weather Service forecasts a 20% chance for precipitation today, with isolated showers between noon and 3pm, then again later this afternoon. Otherwise, today should be mostly sunny, with a high temperature near 57 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

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