Morning Word

Meow Wolf Announces New Round of Layoffs

Report: New Mexico’s rivers most endangered in the US

Meow Wolf prepares to cut 165 jobs

“There is no easy way to break this news,” Meow Wolf CEO Jose Tolosa writes in an internal company email obtained yesterday by SFR. “On Wednesday [April 17], Meow Wolf will be announcing that we are cutting expenses by approximately 10% and reducing our workforce in order to right size the business, fund our growth and continue driving our future success.” According to the email, the cuts will affect 165 employees across Meow Wolf’s locations in Santa Fe, Texas, Colorado and Nevada. That includes 111 employees from both the exhibition and corporate teams who will lose their jobs, plus an additional 54 bargaining unit positions from the Meow Wolf Workers Collective union in Las Vegas. The new and pending layoffs follow high-profile terminations in 2020 the company initially blamed on the pandemic, though audio leaked to SFR at the time indicated a sizable chunk of the staff was already going to lose their jobs well before lockdowns began. In his missive, Toloso acknowledges “saying goodbye to friends and colleagues who have been a big part of Meow Wolf’s success to date will not be easy. We are grateful for their contributions, both creatively and to our community. And we are committed to supporting everyone through this transition as we move forward.” Nonetheless, he says “expansion is still an important part” of Meow Wolf’s “business strategy” and “these changes will enable us to continue to grow in a way that is smart and sustainable.” A union representative tells SFR anonymously the collective can’t legally comment until Wednesday, but will be issuing a statement at that time.

NM Rivers named most endangered

In its annual report today on the country’s most endangered rivers, national nonprofit advocacy group American Rivers named New Mexico’s rivers the most endangered in the country, saying the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Sackett v. EPA threatened New Mexico’s waterways more than other states’. As detailed on the SCOTUS blog, the ruling narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curtail pollution of water by limiting its coverage “only to wetlands that have a continuous surface connection with ‘waters’ of the United States,” that it to say, relatively permanent bodies of water. In a news release, American Rivers posits the ruling leaves approximately 96 percent of New Mexico’s streams “vulnerable to pollution, with potential harmful downstream impacts” to the Rio Grande, Gila, San Juan, and Pecos rivers. “Santa Fe’s drinking water depends on strong protections for small streams that feed into the Santa Fe River and the Rio Grande,” Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen says in a statement. “The Sackett decision has stripped away those protections and our residents are now at risk.” The report also cites “good news” in the form of a $7.6 million appropriation in New Mexico’s most recent legislative session to set up a state surface water permitting program through the environment department, draft rules for which are anticipated to be issued in the fall, accompanied by public hearings.

Former Rust armorer receives max sentence

In a sentencing hearing yesterday that lasted just under two hours, state special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis recommended the maximum sentence with designation as a “serious violent offender” for former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, whom a jury last month found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the Oct. 21, 2021 fatal onset shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Morrissey said she reviewed “close to 200″ jail phone calls during which she said Gutierrez-Reed failed to take any accountability and instead expressed anger toward the jury, the judge, the paramedics and the witnesses who testified in her case. Yesterday’s sentencing hearing also included a recorded statement from Hutchins’ mother Olga Solovey, who lives in Ukraine. “Halyna was the best daughter on this earth,” she said. “After this tragedy, my life has been split in two. Time does not heal, it simply prolongs my pain and suffering.” Gutierrez-Reed also gave a brief statement and asked the judge for probation through which she could contribute to society, saying her “heart aches for Hutchins’ family and friends” and that she prayed they found peace. She added she was “saddened by the way the media sensationalized our traumatic tragedy and portrayed me as a complete monster, which has actually been the total opposite of what’s been in my heart.” First Judicial District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ultimately sentenced Gutierrez-Reed to the maximum sentence: 18 months in a New Mexico women’s correctional facility.

City proposes $440.1 million worker-focused budget

Budget hearings kick off today and continue next week for the City of Santa Fe’s proposed Fiscal Year 2025 spending. In his accompanying letter with the budget, Mayor Alan Webber cites “an adage from the Ancient Greeks” dividing writers and thinkers into foxes and hedgehogs, noting that in the adage, a fox knows many things but a hedgehog knows one big thing.” While “many budgets are foxes,” attempting to address multiple issues, the FY25 budget, he writes, is a hedgehog, focused on city workers. Specifically, the budget allocates $4 million for 3% across-the-board raises for all city employees; $8 million to implement the recommended increases from the recently completed classification and compensation study; and $19.7 million for employees’ health care and life insurance coverage. The Finance Committee holds budget hearings at 1 pm today, noon tomorrow and 1 pm on Thursday. Overall, the $440.1 million budget represents a 6% increase in general fund expenditures—$7.8 million—over the original budget levels for FY24, fueled by unanticipated lodgers tax. The FY25 all funds expenditure is an increase of 9%, or $36.7 million. Today’s Finance Committee hearing will include an overall presentation of the budget and a union presentation. Regarding the foxes and hedgehogs, Webber’s preamble refers to a once-lost fragment from the Ancient Greek poet Archilochus, generally agreed to have been resurrected in a 1953 essay by philosopher Isaiah Berlin (about Leo Tolstoy), described by The Guardian (and others) as “a witty means of classification.” Foxes and hedgehogs, as a concept, can be found across disciplines, but specifically became popular in the business/start-up ecosphere in which Webber once resided.

Listen up

Elite athlete, writer and Santa Fe resident Katie Arnold joins Honey Harris on KBAC’s Big Show to discuss her new book Brief Flashings in the Phenomenal World: Zen and the Art of Running Free, which delves into the renewal Arnold discovered after a devastating river accident left the ultra-runner injured and facing the possibility of never running again. Arnold also spoke to SFR, and an excerpt from the book appears in the most recent edition of the paper in advance of today’s April 16 publication and author event at Bishop’s Lodge.

Breaking the mold

Santa Fe-based fine-art photographer Cara Romero (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe) talks to the San Diego Union-Tribune regarding a solo exhibition of her work, The Artist Speaks: Cara Romero opening this month at the San Diego Museum of Art (April 27-Oct. 20), and her journey to break the mold of representing Indigenous people as frozen in the historical past. When she was a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts, she tells the Union-Tribune, she would tell friends and family, ‘OK, let’s put on our regalia and let’s go out in the landscape and we’ll make these photographs.’ And they’re very beautiful photographs from early in my career, but they’re really a lot to unpack for a then 21-year-old young woman that was like, ‘What’s going on here? Why am I making photography that’s kind of funny because we don’t even do that?’ In real life, we don’t put on our regalia and go stand in the middle of nowhere.” Her work now, she says, incorporates humor and storytelling, and is community-focused. “When I say, ‘giving back,’” she notes, it’s a literal question: “Like, is this photograph of service? Is it empowering the woman and her family? Is it telling a story that might open people’s minds about who we are and all of the things that we can be? Those kinds of questions. For other Native people, it is not a monolithic culture and I think that is something that we face, as Native people or any people of color making artwork.” Closer to home, Cara Romero: The Gathering is on display in Abiquiú at Ghost Ranch’s Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology through the end of the year.

Out of the cold, into the spa

Travel Awaits rounds up 17 “beautifully warm states” travelers might want to consider in April, based on the recommendations of “experts.” Roswell lands on the list, courtesy of expert contributor Melody Pittman, who says April is the optimum time to visit Roswell since it’s a hellscape in the summer (we are not so much paraphrasing as taking poetic license). While there, Pittman recommends visitors “Stroll the historic downtown area and take an in-depth look at the iconic stories in the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Venture into the metaphysical, souvenir, and coffee shops. Dive deeper into the alien craze with Roswell UFO Tours and consider driving out to the alleged UFO crash site.” For grub and such, she endorses Cowboy Cafe, La Gran Victoria and Pecos Flavors Winery & Bistro. The Travel, meanwhile, hits closer to home in its list of the 10 best mountain resorts in the US you should book in 2024, which includes Santa Fe’s Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, and notes “travelers feel enchanted by the rugged beauty surrounding the romantic” resort, which provides options for “expert-guided hikes to Abiquiú or historical and cultural excursions to Santa Fe or the nearby Bandelier National Monument,” followed by on-site spa treatments. And speaking of spas, over the weekend Ojo Spa Resorts unveiled a new package at Ojo Santa Fe called Digital Detox Wellness Getaway, which includes: a complimentary copy of Goodbye Phone, Hello World: 60 Ways to Disconnect from Tech and Reconnect to Joy; a “Digital Detox pouch” (to store phone and other devices); and a room without a television (among other perks). “We want our guests to fully immerse themselves in the present moment and embrace the beauty of their surroundings,” Ojo Spa Resorts Director of Marketing Sarah Sims says in a statement. “By disconnecting from technology, guests can truly connect with themselves and the natural wonders of Ojo Santa Fe.”

Soak up some sun

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 69 degrees and west wind 15 to 20 mph becoming north in the morning.

Thanks for reading! The Word read with bemusement this New York Times story about airport lounges offering caviar service, Pelotons and nap pads, remembering the last time she landed in the Santa Fe Airport and wandered in the unlit, unpaved lot for 45 minutes searching for her car.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.