Morning Word

NM health care ranks high for private equity risk

NM cannabis businesses report uptick in federal search and seizure

NM health care ranks high for private equity risk

A new report from the nonprofit Private Equity Stakeholder Project ranks New Mexico among the top 10 states experiencing “the largest increase in the share of its private sector workforce employed by private equity-controlled companies,” and in the top 10 for “the number of layoffs at private equity-controlled companies as a share of the state’s total private sector workforce.” New Mexico also falls in the top 10 for its share of hospitals and nursing homes controlled by private equity. Specifically, the Private Equity State Risk Index reports New Mexico’s share of hospitals controlled by private equity at 24.4%, while the share of nursing homes is 35.3%. The risk factor identified in the health care realm as a result of the private-equity share is 100%. The state has also had close to a 20% increase in the share of homes purchased by medium, large and mega investors from 2018 to 2022. In reporting on the data, NBC News notes that both New Mexico and West Virginia “place high for health care operations dominated by the financiers,” while Arizona and Georgia have high housing risks “related to heavy private-equity purchases of rental homes.” The index shows “the private equity threats in our own backyard and gives state leaders the tools to protect the people they serve,” Chris Noble, policy director at Private Equity Stakeholder Project, tells NBC. “By providing transparent data on the risks associated with private equity investments, we empower communities, working families, and policymakers to advocate for change and protect their states from the threats posed by unchecked private equity firms.” Last week, NBC News reported the US Senate is investigating the impact of private equity on health care.

Rust prosecutors: Baldwin’s motion “predictably false”

Special prosecutors last week filed a response to Rust actor and producer Alec Baldwin’s motion to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charges against him in the Oct. 21,2021 on-set fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, providing a sneak preview of their arguments should the case proceed to trial. Baldwin’s attorneys filed the motion to dismiss last month, arguing special prosecutors violated court orders in the grand jury process that indicted their client for a second time years after the incident. The alleged violations include: disclosing information about the proceedings to the press; and failing to present most of the “significant exculpatory and favorable witnesses and documents’' provided by Baldwin, the document says, despite orders from the court to do so. “The state prosecutors have engaged in this misconduct—and publicly dragged Baldwin through the cesspool created by their impropriety—without any regard for the fact that serious criminal charges have been hanging over his head for two and a half years,” the motion reads. “Enough is enough.”

Special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis would seem to agree on one point, that being “enough is enough.” In their lengthy response, they characterize Baldwin’s motion as “predictably false, misleading and [a] histrionic misrepresentation of the facts and circumstances of the history of this case.” Over the last year, they continue, the special prosecutors “have experienced near countless lies and manipulation” and “have, and certainly will continue to be, the subject of the defendant’s contrived and unwarranted personal attacks.” The motion goes on to describe Baldwin’s behavior on the Rust set, where they say he arrived late to filming and “immediately began demanding” the crew and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, convicted early last month of involuntary manslaughter, work faster. “To watch Mr. Baldwin’s conduct on the set of Rust is to witness a man who has absolutely no control of his own emotions and absolutely no concern for how his conduct effects those around him,” the motion reads. “Witnesses have testified that it was this exact conduct that contributed to safety compromises on set.” A hearing date on the motion has not yet been set; Baldwin’s trial is scheduled for July in First Judicial District Court.

Cannabis businesses reports federal seizures on NM border

“Federal officials have been seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of marijuana from state-licensed cannabis businesses in New Mexico in recent weeks,” Marijuana Moment reports, noting “what appears to be a localized escalation of national prohibition enforcement” by US Customs and Border Protection is primarily occurring at interior points in the Las Cruces area, and is a relatively new phenomena. “There’s a lot of really successful important cannabis producers and cannabis manufacturers operating south of those checkpoints,” Ben Lewinger, executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, tells Marijuana Moment. “Basically, every road that you could take from the southern to the northern part of the state, you have to go through one of these checkpoints—and it’s just bifurcating the industry and making it impossible for people in the southern part of the state to get their products to anywhere in the central or northern part of the state.” Lewinger tells the publication CBP has made at least 13 stops and seizures of state-legal marijuana products since February, and he “wouldn’t be surprised if it’s twice that number.”

County seeks water committee members

Santa Fe County is actively seeking new members for its Water Policy Advisory Committee, whom a news release says will “be selected to ensure that the WPAC reflects a wide range of expertise and experience representing diverse perspectives.” Preference will be given to applicants who are part of a water system, such as a coop, district or mutual domestic water consumers’ association; an acequia association; the Estancia planning area; the Galisteo planning area; the Central planning area; and the Northern planning area. Members serve three-year terms, with a primary responsibility to provide recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners “concerning sustainable utility services, domestic water supply and conservation, wastewater management and reclamation, irrigation, drought management, flood prevention and control and water reuse in the County and region.” Interested county residents should submit letters of interest and resumes by 5 pm, April 19 to the Santa Fe County Manager’s office. Find more details here.

Listen up

Santa Fe literary celebrity and best-selling author Hamptom Sides publishes another epic tale, The Wide Wide Sea, about Captain James Cook’s 1776 final fateful voyage to Hawaii. You can hear Sides discuss the book on a recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, or better yet hear him in person at 6 pm tonight at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.) and via Zoom (register here). For those less familiar with Cook and his exploits, Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker review of Sides’ latest provides a helpful primer.

Time to hit the road

Travel writer Emily Hart writes about her 10 favorite states for Business Insider, and says New Mexico is always on the top of her list of places to recommend, and lives up to its Land of Enchantment nickname. “Those who haven’t visited New Mexico may think of the state as a mostly barren desert, but it’s actually the diverse landscapes that keep me coming back,” she writes. “From the otherworldly dunes of White Sands National Park to the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there’s beauty to be found around every corner.” Plus: art, history, food—you know the drill. Afar magazine also includes New Mexico in its roundup of the best road trips in the US, specifically a three-day trip from Albuquerque to Las Cruces on a route that “steers you away from New Mexican tourist hot spots like Taos and Santa Fe and instead takes you on a three-day adventure with stops at places that teach visitors about Pueblo history, with stops at Indian Pueblo Kitchen in Albuquerque. Finally, Condé Nast Traveler writes about bespoke camping service American Safari Camp’s new partnership launching next month with New Mexico-based Vermejo, a Ted Turner Reserve. According to the story, ASC’s usual mode of operations involves scoping out commercial permits on federal lands adjacent to national parks so clients can explore said parks before returning to their more private digs for “creature comforts like en suite toilets and hot water showers.” ASC CEO Andrew Roberts tells Condé Nast he’s thus far spent 40 days at Vermejo near Raton and hasn’t seen half of it yet, as he searches for optimum camping areas (ones that are in wilderness but not too close to bison, apparently).

Music for locals

For those looking to build a local-band playlist, look no further than Todd Lovato’s recent story for SFR about Mama Mañana Records, founded here in 2022 by Kiley Larsen, a Colorado transplant who “found himself deeply moved by the underground music scene in the area” to the point that he formed “an indie label with a mission to support the region’s burgeoning indie rock, pop and experimental artists.” He did so, Lovato notes, with an eye toward challenging today’s corporate-heavy musical landscape, and with a belief that he could grow an indie label organically here. Since then, Larsen has grown his roster, many of whom play at The Mystic. Out of the loop? Worry not. Mama Mañana’s Locals Only music festival takes place Saturday, April 27 at the Mystic and will feature live performances on two stages, along with food trucks. It’s a celebration of the “fantastic local music scene and local independent vendors,” Larsen says. Plus: If you’ve been hanging onto a cassette player, all’s the better, as the label committed early on to being a cassette label, with Larsen telling Lovato: “People are craving a tangible experience. People have reached the peak of digital streaming.” That being said, Mama Mañana artists also stream, and you can check out some of their playlists on Bandcamp.

Spring showers

The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance of precipitation today, with rain and snow showers before 10 am, followed by scattered rain showers throughout the day. Otherwise, look for mostly cloudy skies, with a high temperature near 47 degrees and northeast wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word regrets not being in Mazatlán yesterday, but maybe she’ll make it to Antarctica for the next annular eclipse.

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