Morning Word

NM Gov Calls for Special Public Safety Session in July

Meow Wolf Union: Company is violating contract with layoffs

Gov calls public safety special session for this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday solidified plans for a special legislative session focused on public safety, now scheduled for July 18 and likely to take several days, she says, based on her discussions with legislative leaders. “While we made some progress toward a safer New Mexico during the 30-day session, we agree that we must do more,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The best proposals for making our state safer will be under consideration, and I welcome input from my colleagues in the Legislature.” State Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, tells SFR she hopes to see a revival of House Bill 137, her proposal to ban gas-operated semi-automatic firearms, which died in committee, but will be primarily focused on bills related to judicial sentencing, housing and behavioral health. New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence Co-President Miranda Viscoli says she hopes lawmakers will take up House Bill 27, which proposes changes to the Extreme Risk Protection Order, a law allowing the removal of firearms from individuals who exhibit symptoms of mental health issues and dangerous behavior. Ultimately, the governor will decide which bills fit her goals for the session. In a joint statement, New Mexico House Speaker Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, Majority Floor Leader Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski, D-Santa Fe, and Majority Caucus Chair Ray Lara, D-Chamberino, said they had anticipated the call and support the “governor’s commitment to ensuring all New Mexicans can feel safe in their homes and communities. We also want all of our neighbors to be able to get the help they need when they or a loved one are struggling with mental or behavioral health issues.” In advance of the July start date, they say, “it will be critical for us as elected leaders to work together with stakeholders and experts to develop meaningful solutions to these challenges. In order to be responsible public servants and stewards of taxpayer dollars, we must enter the special session with a set of achievable goals that will genuinely make our communities safer, improve access to healthcare and services, and protect the rights of New Mexicans.”

Meow Wolf union reps respond to job cuts

As of press time, arts group Meow Wolf had yet to report more specifics on yesterday’s expected layoffs. As SFR reported on Monday, a leaked internal memo from CEO Jose Tolosa indicated the company would lay off 165 workers across its locations in Santa Fe, Colorado, Texas and Nevada as part of a plan to cut expenses by 10%. Meow Wolf Workers Collective tells SFR the move violates their collective bargaining agreement with the company. “We believe the company knows it’s violating the collective bargaining agreement and are doing it anyway,” MWWC President Roz Rosvold tells SFR. “There is a process outlined in our agreement by which they must handle layoffs and they’re not engaging in that process.” Rosvold references a provision that states day-to-day operations cannot change during periods of negotiation. He says the union is fairly certain the company is “taking a tactic you see across corporate America wherein companies accept legal costs of something like this as a cost of doing business.” MWWC SecretaryTreasurer Jerome Morrison agrees. “We’re not shocked at this point,” he says, noting numerous union filings against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. “This is really draconian because we spent a year negotiating a contract for them to outright ignore it.”

NM Supreme Court Justice Thomson sworn in as chief

Justice David K. Thomson yesterday was sworn in to a two-year term as chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, succeeding Justice C. Shannon Bacon, who had held the role since 2022. A former First Judicial District judge, Thomson was elected to the state Supreme Court in 2020 after being appointed in 2019. A Santa Fe native, Thomson also has worked as a sole practitioner and in the state attorney general’s office (now called the New Mexico Department of Justice), and has a law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. “I am honored and privileged to assume the leadership of the state’s judicial branch of government,” Thomson says in a statement. “I am grateful to work with all of our committed judges, court staff and judicial partners to ensure we stand up to our obligations to provide fair and impartial justice and to protect the rights and liberties of the people of New Mexico. My priority will be to utilize the resources our governor and Legislature have provided us to improve the quality of our state judicial system through an emphasis on transparency, professionalism, education and best practices.” According to a news release, during his time on the court, Thomson helped establish its educational program “to help young people learn about the rule of law in America’s democracy by watching an oral argument in a case before the court.” For this year’s Rule of Law Program, the court on April 29 will convene at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque and consider a case involving the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

FEMA names new head for Hermits Peak claims office

Amid ongoing calls from the state’s congressional delegation to expedite claims for victims of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire—the two-year anniversary of which has just passed—the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced yesterday it has hired a new director for the claims officeFormer Director Angela Gladwell left at the beginning of the year, leaving scores of residents still waiting for compensation. Congress approved close to $4 billion in aid in the aftermath of the government-set fire. FEMA says Jay Mitchell, a former director of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, will take over the claims office next month and “brings over 30 years of military and civilian experience.” According to FEMA, as of yesterday, 2,439 claims have been paid, totaling over $500 million, an increase of more than 400% and 97%, respectively, since the end of last year. “We have implemented significant process improvements since January of this year and those are producing results for the people of New Mexico,” Ben Krakauer, senior advisor to the FEMA Administrator, says in a statement. “While we are proud to reach half a billion dollars in payments, we know it is still not fast enough and the entire FEMA team will not rest until everyone receives the compensation they are owed. Jay Mitchell will continue to build upon these improvements to meet the needs of those impacted and ensure all eligible claims are paid.” In a statement, US Sen. Ben Ray Luján says he met with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell earlier this week “and made it clear that the claims office must be laser-focused on clearing the backlog of claims and delivering relief without delay. The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire caused millions of dollars in damages and cost New Mexicans their livelihoods. Time is of the essence to help these communities recover.”

Listen up

Earlier this week, in its annual report 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’. Today’s 8 am episode of Let’s Talk New Mexico on 89.9 FM focuses on why NM’s waterways face such threats, and how to help them, with guests Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance Executive Director Lea Knutson; American Rivers Southwest Regional Director Matt Rice; Office of the State Engineer Deputy Director Tanya Trujillo, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s water policy advisor; and New Mexico Wild Rivers and Water Program Director Tricia Snyder. Email, call in (505-277-5866) or record a voice message on the show page with observations and thoughts about New Mexico’s rivers and streams.

Indigo Girls doc reopens with Director Q&A

Santa Fe filmmaker Alexandria Bombach’s documentary about the Indigo Girls doesn’t reopen at Violet Crown until Friday, but since previous showings sold out, we’re giving you a heads up. Super fan/writer-editor Emily Withnall writes about the filmIt’s Only Life After All, for this week’s SFR, noting the film’s title is “a line from the Indigo Girls’ most famous song, ‘Closer to Fine,’ but it also signals the film’s departure from traditional music biopics. The documentary is not a sweeping review of the Georgia-based musicians’ 40-year career; rather, it is an intimate look into who they are as people and the ways they have pushed back against stereotypes and misperceptions generated by the media, general public and even occasionally the queer community.” The film’s focus alternates between band members Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, with a fair amount of footage collected over the years, and interviews with fans, not celebrities. “So many documentaries are being paid for by the people in the film, which is not a documentary—that’s a commercial,” Bombach tells SFR. “I wanted to show and build that trust with the audience.” The director will be on site for this weekend’s screenings at Violet Crown for audience Q&As on Friday through Sunday. The film will show through April 25. Speaking of movies, SFR this week introduced the new “Bonus Features” section showcasing film events around town.

Strike a pose

Forbes magazine previews the inaugural Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Native Fashion Week, which will be held in Santa Fe May 2-5. The festivities kick off May 2 with a media preview/VIP event at the governor’s mansion, with symposiums, parties and fashion shows through the weekend. “I consider Indigenous design and Indigenous fashion as the original design language of North America,” Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (Siksika Nation), Fashion Show Program Director for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, tells Forbes. “We are the original peoples of this land, and we use the words ‘couture’ and ‘fashion’ because that’s what people understand. You don’t get more couture than hunting a walrus, cleaning the intestines to a pristine beautiful material, creating not only a lifesaving garment, but a one-of-a-kind, beautiful, stunning garment. That is native North American couture.” Bear Robe also says she wants to make New Mexico an epicenter for fashion, noting: “The long-term goal is that this is going to be the place where the fashion industry comes to work with, partner with, brand with, experience Indigenous fashion in all of its different facets. Yes, we can go to New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week and have a presence, but I’m really wanting this to be the place where everybody comes.” Tickets are on sale now.

Spring into action

The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day, with a high temperature near 73 degrees and northwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word loved Sleater-Kinney’s Tiny Desk Concert this week.

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