Morning Word

City Considers Renaming Fort Marcy Field After Zozobra

NM ranked #1 for election performance

NM receives top marks for elections

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Election Data and Science Lab’s latest Elections Performance Index ranks New Mexico top in the US, based on its performance in the 2022 midterm elections. As described by MIT Election Data + Science Lab Founding Director Charles Stewart III in a blog post announcing the latest Index results, rankings are based on 18 indicators, including availability of online registration; waiting time to vote; number of provisional ballots cast and rejected; and turnout rate. While New Mexico’s overall 88% score was the highest, its 46.65% turnout rate is just below the national average. In 2018, the Index ranked New Mexico ninth for election performance. “The professional election administrators who keep the polls open and the votes counted and the engine of democracy running in New Mexico are exemplary and it’s an honor to see this work recognized on the national stage,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said in a statement that noted she was “particularly proud of the Index’s recognition of New Mexico’s excellent online voter resources, our low ballot rejection rates, our use of post-election audits, and our membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)—all of which were cited as indicators of our peak performance.”

Council to vote on long-awaited bicycle plan

After two years of preparation, a series of delayed votes and several amendments, a new resolution—scheduled as of press time for a Santa Fe City Council vote on March 27—aims to amp up funding and resources for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure maintenance within the city. The new proposal, introduced initially in January, would implement recommendations from the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s 2023 strategic plan, which targets a gold-level rating from the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program by 2033. Though it applied for gold in 2024, the city of Santa Fe in February received a silver rating, a designation Mayor Alan Webber described at the time as “good news—but not good enough.” Despite bumps along the road, the proposal’s sponsor, District 2 City Councilor and BPAC Chairman Michael Garcia, tells SFR the resolution is in good shape after conversations with and new amendments from several new co-sponsors on the council. “I’m just excited to be moving forward with this resolution and beginning what I call the first of many steps to strengthening and building a strong and robust bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that is accessible to our entire community,” Garcia says. “It is essential that the City of Santa Fe provides first-class services to our residents, and this resolution will allow us to begin making progress.”

NM dairy cattle may have bird flu

New Mexico dairy cattle are among those that may be infected with avian flu. The US Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state veterinary and public health officials this week reported testing to investigate an illness primarily impacting older dairy cows in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico and causing “decreased lactation, low appetite and other symptoms.” So far, results from sick cattle collected from dairy farms in Kansas and Texas have tested positive for “highly pathogenic avian influenza,” the agencies say. “Based on findings from Texas, the detections appear to have been introduced by wild birds. Initial testing by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories has not found changes to the virus that would make it more transmissible to humans, which would indicate that the current risk to the public remains low,” a news release notes. The agencies also say thus far in the investigation “there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health.”

WIPP marks 25 years, state balks at receiving Texas waste

State regulators tell the Associated Press they remain concerned about the federal government’s plans to send radioactive waste stored in Texas for storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. The waste ended up in Texas following a radiation leak in 2014 that closed the underground storage facility for approximately three years. According to the AP, under pressure from Texas to move the waste, federal regulators say they are looking at ways to treat it so it can be stored at WIPP—a plan questioned by officials such as state Environment Secretary James Kenney. “Parking it in the desert of West Texas for 10 years and shipping it back does not constitute treatment,” Kenney tells the AP. “So that’s my most substantive issue—that time does not treat hazardous waste. Treatment treats hazardous waste.” The latest round of concerns about WIPP come as the underground facility marks 25 years, albeit with the closure. Anti-nuclear activists also noted the anniversary with a chronology of its opening days, and a reminder that the facility was supposed to stop accepting transuranic waste after 25 years, aka this year. The Stop Forever WIPP coalition is working to stop expansion of the facility.

Listen up

Jeff Strong wrote ADHD for Dummies 20 years ago to help share information about the condition. The book received a new edition this year, co-authored by Strong and Santa Fe-based licensed social worker Carol MacHendrie. “I started my research in 1992, and I thought I knew quite a bit by 2004. I realized how little I know now, even 20 years later,” Strong tells SFR. Join the authors at 6 pm tonight at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.), or register here to participate via Zoom.

Got gloom?

Despite the gloomy weather earlier this week (or perhaps because of the gloomy weather), folks showed up at the New Mexico History Museum prepared to donate or loan Zozobra memorabilia for one of three exhibitions planned to commemorate the 100th anniversary burn of Old Man Gloom on Aug. 30. The exhibitions are being organized by the History Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art and Santa Fe Kiwanis; the latter group is responsible for the burn each year. Curatorial Assistant Delaney Hoffman tells SFR so far folks have dropped off 60 potential items for the exhibitions. Two more drop-off days remain at the history museum (113 Lincoln Ave., noon-2 pm Saturday, March 30 and 10 am to noon Monday, April 1) or folks can submit their contributions online for consideration. “We want to see the objects of people’s lives that are tied to Zozobra and have meaning to them,” Hoffman says. “Part of it is the persistence I see across Santa Fe communities—my mom is from here, I’ve been around Santa Fe since I was born—and I think there’s something very valuable to having a place like Zozobra to put all the bad stuff.” What kind of stuff? “What we’re looking for is memorabilia,” Kiwanis Event Chair Ray Sandoval says. “A gloom doll from the 1950s, a ribbon from a fire dancer’s costume—people used to scavenge Zozobra’s corpse after he burned, so maybe they have a burnt eyeball? [Zozobra creator] Will Shuster would send out a Christmas postcard with a drawing of Zozobra; do you have one?” (We wish!)

In other Zozobra news, at its regular meeting tonight, the Santa Fe City Council will take its first look at a proposal from District 1 City Councilor Signe Lindell to change the name of Fort Marcy Ball Field—the site of the annual conflagration—to Zozobra Field at Fort Marcy Park, to accept from the Kiwanis a monument of Zozobra to place at the park’s entry, in which the group would place a “four-part time capsule” (in the head) that would be opened every 25 years for the next 100.

Taking praise where we can

If you assumed New Mexico would be a shoe-in for Outside’s list of the eight most adventurous states in the US, given the magazine’s former home in Santa Fe, you’d be…wrong-ish. New Mexico receives mention in the Southwest runner-up category, losing out to Arizona due to the latter’s “bevy of hiking and mountain-biking trails and the iconic status of the public land inside this state,” Grand Canyon National Park. Still, NM receives props for its massive stock of public lands—46%, the story notes—and its “two incredibly diverse national parks,” Carlsbad Caverns (caves!) and White Sand Dunes (poor air quality notwithstanding). “Oh, and Northern New Mexico is in the southern Rockies and easily has the best skiing in the Southwest—we’re looking at you, Taos,” Outside writes. Architectural Digest also has kind word for New Mexico, albeit in a strange context, that being a list of the nine most beautiful locations ever visited on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (neither of which we’ve ever seen, so we’re taking AD’s word for it). Specifically, Santa Ana Pueblo receives a shout-out for its appearance in the 17th season when, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “filming with Katie Thurston and her suitors exclusively took place at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, within the 550-acre Santa Ana Pueblo near Albuquerque and along the Rio Grande.” Last and equally sideways, The Travel’s list of the 11 best cave hotels in the US includes Kokopelli’s Cave, a Farmington bed and breakfast “built into the vertical cliffs of the 60 million year old Ojo Alamo sandstone,” and overlooking the La Plata river.

Ah, spring

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 40 degrees and northwest wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word read with interest this Salon story about “awful food photos” but, for the record, we welcome all food photos in our Food Foto contest (entries accepted through March 31).

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