Morning Word

Serna, Clark Ahead in Donations in DA, Clerk’s Races

Waldorf hopes to reopen as a charter school

SOS reveals new absentee ballot system, Serna takes lead in fundraising in DA race

In advance of the May 21 deadline to request an absentee ballot for the June 4 primary election, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office yesterday unveiled a new system for tracking absentee ballots. “Ballot Scout,” the new system, allows voters to track their absentee ballots in a variety of ways. Watch a short video explaining how it works here. “With our new ballot tracking system we’ve improved upon our existing system by now offering more information to voters about where exactly their absentee ballot is in the mailing process, and giving voters the ability to sign up for email or text notifications so they always know the status of their mailed ballot,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says in a statement. Absentee ballots must be returned by 7 pm on election day; they can be mailed to the county clerk or dropped off at any polling location of ballot dropbox. Speaking of elections, SFR’s Pop Quiz election series continues this week, with District Attorney Mary Carmack Altwies and former DA Marco Serna facing off, along with current Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark and former Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar. Serna ranks in the top 10 for campaign contributions in this election cycle, according to the Secretary of State’s campaign finance dashboard. The most recent reports show Serna raising almost $168,000 compared with Carmack-Altwies at just over $143,000, $60,000 of which she donated to her own campaign. Carmack-Altwies landed in the top 10 spenders, with a reported more than $120,000. In the clerk’s race, Clark has nearly $59,000 in contributions, versus approximately $4,459 for Salazar.

Former Rust armorer files appeal, requests release

Former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was found guilty for involuntary manslaughter in the on-set shooting death of Halyna Hutchins and given the maximum 18-month prison term, yesterday filed an appeal of her conviction, as well as of the court’s rejection of her pre-trial motions to dismiss. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys also filed a motion requesting her release from prison pending the appeal. The appeal in Gutierrez-Reed’s case comes just days before a scheduled 10 am, Friday, May 17 hearing in Rust producer/actor Alec Baldwin’s case on his lawyers’ motion to dismiss the indictment all together. Baldwin’s lawyers argue, essentially, that the government acted in bad faith by destroying the weapon that fired and killed Hutchins, the trigger for which Baldwin has consistently said he did not pull. During Gutierrez-Reed’s trial, FBI forensic examiner Bryce Ziegler testified he was responsible for breaking the gun that shot and killed Hutchins during testing of the weapon at an FBI lab two years ago. Numerous motions have been filed in Baldwin’s case over the course of the last week, including petitions for out-of-state subpoenas to former Rust crew members and others involved in the case.

Last day to weigh in on broadband

Residents have until the end of today to offer feedback to Santa Fe County on the state of internet in these parts. The county plans to use the feedback in its application for federal Broadband Equity and Access Development funding through the state. “We aim to understand the speed and reliability of existing connections to assess community needs accurately,” the county says in the news release for the survey, which opened last month. “This data will help prioritize areas that require immediate attention, ensuring our efforts align with our community’s requirements.” The survey assesses topics such as whether households require the internet for work, entertainment and telemedicine; problems with internet services—ranging from access to cost—and internet download and upload speeds (the county provides a link to test those in order to answer those questions). New Mexico received more than $675 million last year through the BEAD program; the county says it will be applying for funding through the state’s Office of Broadband Access and Expansion.

Waldorf charts new path

The former Santa Fe Waldorf School, a private K-12 school which abruptly shut down two weeks before the start of the school year last August, could now reopen as publicly funded charter school named the Sangre de Cristo Public Waldorf School. The school is in the charter application process with the New Mexico Public Education Department, and intends to file its application by its due date of June 3, organizers said during a May 8 town hall. If accepted this year, the school would re-open for the 2025-2026 school year, after a year of preparing the school to serve its students. Jayita Sahni, a member of the Waldorf school’s board of trustees who is also named as the founder of the Sangre de Cristo Public Waldorf School in a notice of intent to apply as a charter school, explained to the town hall attendees that becoming a charter school that receives funds from the New Mexico Public Education Department could prevent the school from the financial peril it found itself in last year. “As a public school, we don’t worry about that anymore,” Sahni said. Because the former high school building is for sale, the school will at first re-open as a K-8 school, and in its first year would only serve grades K-4 before adding more grades in following years.”We didn’t think that we could write a K-12 application if we were selling the school. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding the building,” Sahni said. “We felt like we needed five years to stabilize and have a solid foundation before we could start planning for that, and it will need a significant amount of planning.”

Listen up

Chile roasting season may come in the fall, but chile eating season transpires year-round. On a recent episode of the Your Last Meal podcast, Modern Family star and Albuquerque native Jesse Tyler Ferguson tells host Rachele Belle he keeps his freezer full year-round with Hatch green chile, and green chile enchiladas remain his comfort food. Belle also talks with Paul Bosland, former director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, and author of The Official Cookbook of the Chile Pepper Institute, among other titles.

Slate’s Decoder Ring podcast also delves into chile-related topics, specifically the question of why jalapeños have lost their bite, and also reaches out to NMSU: this time chile genetics specialist Stephanie Walker.

The New York Times also recently tapped Walker for its story on yet another pending Sriracha shortage. Fears of another shortage follow the recent announcement by Huy Fong Food that it will stop production until at least September on all its products. The company, the Times says, has struggled to find jalapeños since it ended its relationship with Underwood Ranches. “It’s an important lesson for other processors that you need to take care of your grower base and keep those strong relationships intact,” Walker tells the Times.

Santa Fe Rail Trail receives $500,000 for next phase

The state has awarded $500,000 to Santa Fe County to construct the sixth and penultimate segment of the Santa Fe Rail Trail, extending the joint city/county trail 1.6 miles from Spur Ranch Road to a new trailhead at US Highway 285. The money comes through the fourth round of fiscal year 2024 Outdoor Recreation Trails+ Grants from the state Outdoor Recreation Division, and is one of 13 projects statewide receiving $1.94 million in funding. Also close to home, the Adaptive Sports Program received $99,000 toward its construction of an accessibility center at Ski Santa Fe. “Despite significant growth in our community of individuals served, our infrastructure has remained minimal,” ASPNM Director of Development Camille Romero says in a statement. “This initiative will help to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the joy and exhilaration that accompanies a day on the slopes!” The Santa Fe Botanical Garden also received $99,000 to renovate garden paths for “continued safe and accessible passage for people of all abilities.” In a statement, ORD Director Karina Armijo says the division is “thrilled to continue fostering the growth and accessibility of New Mexico’s beautiful landscapes through the Trails+ Grant. This funding is not just an investment in infrastructure; it’s an investment in community well-being, economic development, and the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations. By enhancing our outdoor spaces, we ensure that every New Mexican has the opportunity to connect with nature and experience the countless benefits of outdoor recreation.” The funded projects are expected to bring nearly $1.5 million in matching funds and create 132 jobs, the state says.

This & thats

The Travel offers travel advice for those in search of a spooky summer vacation, with a line-up of the more more bizarre sites to be found along Route 66, including the historic La Fonda Hotel where, the story says, visitors may have a ghostly experience due to the hotel’s history of “murders, gunfights, and other tragedies.” As such, prior visitors report “hearing heavy footsteps, seeing a shadowy figure of a man dressed in judge’s robes, and other paranormal events.”

In more typical warm-weather travel advice, Forbes offers a roundup of places to commune with lavender, with Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Farm firmly on the list year-round, given its plethora of lavender-infused goods.

And Dia Art Foundation rolls out an interactive timeline of its 50 years of contemporary art, including seminal land art works such as Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977), images from which are featured in this Artnet post on the new interactive timeline.

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain

The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance for precipitation today, with scattered showers and thunderstorms primarily between noon and 3 pm. Otherwise, it should be mostly sunny, with a high temperature near 71 degrees. Tonight, chances for rain increase to 60% as we head into a cooler, rainy Thursday.

Thanks for reading! The Word stayed up late reading short stories; RIP, Alice Munro.

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