Morning Word

Santa Fe restaurant, chef among James Beard 2024 nominees

City seeks feedback on budget priorities

Santa Fe snags two James Beard nominations

The James Beard Foundation yesterday announced the finalists for the prestigious 2024 James Beard Award, including chef Mark Kiffin’s Canyon Road fine dining eatery The Compound for Outstanding Restaurant, as well as chef Eduardo Rodriguez of Aztec Street brunch and dinner restaurant Zacatlán in the best chef category for the Southwest region. “Y’know, I woke up early this morning and it felt like too many good things were happening,” Rodriguez tells SFR, adding that the nomination is technically the second for Zacatlán, but the first for him as a chef. In Albuquerque, chef Steve Riley of Albuquerque’s Mesa Provisions also made the final cut for best chef southwest, and The Burque Bakehouse appears in the best bakery category. Kiffin has had numerous nominations over the years and won best chef in the Southwest category in 2005, five years after he bought and took over The Compound from original owners Will and Barbara Houghton. “This is the hardest one, because it’s everyone, so it’s huge and we’re beyond thrilled,” Kiffin says of his best restaurant nomination. “This category is…not just about the restaurant—I mean, it’s about being a restaurant, but it’s also how you take care of your staff, what you mean to the community, your service within that community; it’s all the hard work.” Helga Garcia-Garza, executive director of the Albuquerque-based New Mexico farming coop organization Agri-Cultura Network, is a nominee in the leadership award category.

City wants budget feedback

The City of Santa Fe is seeking public input for its 2025 fiscal year budget. Hearings for the budget begin April 16 and run through the end of the month. In advance of those hearings, the city is asking the public to weigh in on their budget priorities during the petitions from the floor segment of the Santa Fe City Council’s April 10 meeting, which generally begins at approximately 7 pm and allots two minutes per person. The “theme” of this year’s budget, the city says, is “workforce.” Last year’s theme was apparently sustainability (in fairness, Mayor Alan Webber did mention sustainability in last year’s budget document, writing: “We need to continue making sustainability our watchword; Santa Fe is and must be a leader in combatting climate change and protecting the future of generations to come”). The FY25 budget is due to the state Department of Finance Administration by June 1. The public can also submit comments via Zoom and submit written comments on the city’s meeting portal after the April 10 agenda is published this Friday.

State, Legislature seek dismissal of pollution lawsuit

Hearings next week will determine whether a lawsuit over oil and gas pollution against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, members of her administration and the state Legislature will be allowed to continue, as the court on April 12 considers motions to dismiss from all the defendants. Multiple individuals and youth and indigenous-led organizations filed the May 2023 lawsuit, which argues the state is out of compliance with its constitution—as it relates to pollution created by unregulated oil and gas extraction permitting—which they say “guarantees New Mexicans a healthful and beautiful environment and mandates that the state control pollution to avoid despoiling its air, water and other natural resources.” In a hearing on March 29, First Judicial District Court Judge Matthew Wilson allowed the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce to intervene in the case. Jonathan Juarez (Laguna Pueblo), a member of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, says the governor must uphold her duty to protect New Mexicans and ensure a healthy and safe future for all. “The governor can get on a national platform and say what she wants to about being a leader in addressing the climate crisis,” Juarez tells SFR, “but those of us that live on the frontlines and live with the everyday reality, we know the truth, and we see through that.”

NMED: Nearly 300 enforcement cases started in March

In its most recent report on alleged violations—aka the monthly Enforcement Watch—the state environment department says in March it initiated 298 enforcement cases—investigations into allegations of violations of regulations, rules, permits etc—and resolved 112. The new cases break down to 145 notices of violation issued by the Food Safety Program to retail food establishments that failed to pay their permit fees in a timely way (dozens in Santa Fe); 134 notices of violation issued by the Drinking Water Bureau; seven Air Quality Bureau notices; six from the Occupational Health & Safety Bureau; two each from the Solid Waste Bureau and Petroleum Storage Tank Bureau; and one each from the Ground Water Quality and Hazardous Waste bureaus. The various “highlights” listed by the department in a news release include a notice of state and federal air regulations violation to Hilcorp Energy Company for the San Juan Gas Plant east of Bloomfield for “failure to operate a flare with no visible emissions and failing to correct or update its permit to reflect different equipment with a higher operating capacity.” While none of the highlighted cases are in Santa Fe, one of the open cases includes an active notice of noncompliance from mid-February to the City of Santa Fe regarding its Paseo Real Wastewater Treatment Plant. “Our work to hold polluters accountable not only protects our air, land, and water,” NMED Compliance and Enforcement Director Bruce Baizel says in a statement.  “Robust enforcement also protects taxpayers from expensive cleanup costs when bad actors pollute our environment and walk away.”

Listen up

“The death of Socrates is, in some ways, the most famous unsolved murder mystery in history. This book will solve the mystery, revealing for the first time how he was set up, who did it and why.” So says the description for Matt Getts’ new book: The Shadows of Socrates: The Heresy, War, and Treachery Behind the Trial of Socrates: Santa Fe-based scholar Getts will discuss his book with St. John’s College tutor (aka instructor) Chris “Kit” Slover at 6 pm this evening at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.), and online via Zoom; register here.

Do you believe in magic?

New Mexico Magazine Managing Editor Molly Boyle delves into contemporary curanderismo in a fascinating and literary story about the various healing techniques—some ancient, some new—being practiced in the state. As Boyle notes, the University of New Mexico offers in-person, online and free Coursera courses on the subject. The story begins as Boyle receives a “limpia,” or egg cleanse, from a healer in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Practitioner Marisa Santos tells Boyle she has “a ghost attached” to her as she performs the limpia, intended “to remove negative energy and reveal blockages,” which involves rolling “intact egg all over” Boyle’s body, “before gently brushing [her] with carnation blooms and parsley sprigs for purification.” Boyle also investigates the herbal component of curanderismo, talking with Tomas Enos, owner of Milagro Herbs, in Santa Fe (1500 Fifth St., #6), who has 30 years of experience as an ethnobotanist, along with a doctoral dissertation on curanderismo. “People are seeking out all possible forms of healing,” Enos says. “We have the modern medical system, which is doing its thing in a real specific way. But what if you have an emotional or spiritual crisis going on, something that modern medicine can’t deal with?” The store offers upcoming courses such as an early spring medicinal plant walk (April 20) and wild spring edibles for food and medicine (April 24).

MoCNA makes USA Today’s top 10 art museum list

The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) has once again landed on the top 10 list for USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for best US art museum. As described by the publication, a panel of experts partners with the 10Best editors to select 20 nominees, and then voters choose the top 10. MoCNA appears in ninth position and, according to IAIA, has now had four consecutive years on the list. “We are honored that USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice recognizes the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) as the ninth Best Art Museum in the USA, the museum’s director, Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation) says in a statement. “We thank everyone who believes in MoCNA’s mission ‘to elevate contemporary Indigenous art through exhibitions, collections, programs, partnerships, and new research’ and took the time to cast a vote for us.” As best as we can glean, this contest produces a near-constant churn of voting and announcements and is hard to track (unlike SFR’s Best of Santa Fe, by the way; voting starts May 1 and nominees are being notified as we speak). In other USA Today 10Best winner news, the Shiprock marathon came in seventh in the best 2024 US marathons category. Finally, Food Tour New Mexico, which operates in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, is in the running in the best food tour category, which remains open for votes through noon, April 15.

T-shirt weather

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature of 68 degrees as we head into a red flag warning tomorrow, when temperatures in the high 60s will be accompanied by high wind gusts. On the bright side, we may see more snow Friday night into Saturday. Happy spring!

Thanks for reading! The Word can’t wait to read Leslie Jamison’s take on gaslighting.

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