Morning Word

Residents Want City to Spend Money on Safer Streets

Common Cause NM unveils primary election voter protection program

Residents urge city to invest in safer driving conditions

Investments to address ongoing issues with speeding and muffler noise from cars emerged as a hot topic during the public comment portion of a special governing body meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Alan Webber announced the one-time investments during his annual State of the City address last week, but following Assistant Finance Director Alexis Lotero’s presentation on the identified priorities, residents asked city officials to spend more on speed and noise cameras. Several members of Stop Aggressive Driving—a citizen action coalition—spoke, including Tim Langley, who requested the Council enforce existing traffic laws and “invest a portion of what’s available in making our safety and security more on the road and our peace of mind in the night,” noting the issues affect “a critical mass of our residents from Airport Road to Hyde Park Road.” Santa Fe Police have noted multiple crashes in the past few weeks between people racing on Cerrillos and Airport roads. The approximately $41.4 million in planned spending includes $20.5 million for various public works projects, including $2 million for street and road improvements; $1.4 million for MRC soccer improvements; and $750,000 for Sandoval Parking Garage repairs and upgrades. While the only speeding-related effort the proposed investment list notes is $85,000 for speed humps on Calle Atajo, Webber noted the City’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget—which he and the City Council approved in early May—allocates $250,000 to lease noise and speed cameras. City councilors expressed mixed views on the prospect of spending even more to counter speeding and muffler noise, with District 2 Councilor Mike Garcia in support of increasing the spending to $1 million: “This is ultimately an issue that as we’ve heard loud and clear tonight, and it’s a concern for our residents,” Garcia said. “If we’re going to invest in resources, we need to invest in the quality of life as well for our residents.”

Council takes comment, votes on housing bill tonight

The governing body also is scheduled at its regular meeting tonight to take public comment and vote upon a bill that would add “source of income” as a category of protected class—along with, for example, race, gender and sexual orientation—to city code governing housing discrimination, specifically geared toward renters who hold housing choice vouchers. According to the bill language, “many landlords continue to discriminate against potential tenants on the basis of their ‘source of income.’ In other words, their incomes aren’t enough to cover the rent and the housing is denied on that basis, even though the renter holds a voucher to fill the gap. This form of discrimination disproportionately affects renters of color, renters with disabilities, elderly renters and women, all of which perpetuates systemic racism in the housing market.” Other states, counties and cities are adopting local protections to address a federal gap in housing discrimination, the bill notes, including Albuquerque and Las Cruces. In Santa Fe, information on the bill reads, “some voucher holders are forced to give up their vouchers because they can’t find a place to accept the voucher within the allowable timeframe.” Also on the housing front, officials are slated to go into closed-door, aka executive session, to discuss, among other topics, the legal status of the 3% excise tax overwhelmingly approved by voters last November to help fund affordable housing, but struck down last week in district court, which sided with the Santa Fe Association of Realtors and some residents who challenged its legality. City officials said at the time they anticipated the strong possibility of an appeal and would discuss at tonight’s meeting.

Good government group offers voter hotline

Common Cause New Mexico announced yesterday it is running a nonpartisan voter protection program this year to help voters who encounter problems during the June 4 primary. The operation includes teams in the field to answer questions, along with a hotline for voters to call on election day: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) or, for Spanish speakers, 888-VE-Y-VOTA. “With several recent changes in voting procedures, this year’s primary may present challenges for voters who want to exercise their right to vote,” Common Cause of New Mexico Policy Director Mason Graham says. “New Mexicans should feel secure that they can cast their ballot in a number of different ways, and that anyone who interferes or tampers with elections will be held accountable.” New Mexico allows for same-day registration during the primary, along with a relatively new provision allowing independent and minor-party voters to change their party affiliations at the polls and participate if they register with a major party. New laws include a ban on guns within 100 feet of polling places and intimidation of voters has become a felony. “The changes are designed to make voting easier and safer, but they may raise questions. Our trained volunteers are there to help,” Graham says. Common Cause notes the Secretary of State has approved the volunteer teams, members of which will wear T-shirts with the hotline number and be on the ground in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Lawyers, law students and others with legal backgrounds will staff the hotline. Tensions remain high around voting in the years since the 2020 election, with a recent survey from the Brennan Center for Justice revealing ongoing threats and harassment to election officials. SFR spoke with Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark about those issues during the paper’s official endorsement interviews for the primary. Readers can find our choices in the Democratic primary for clerk, First Judicial District attorney, state Senate 24, Santa Fe County Magistrate Court judge and County Commission districts 2 and 4 seats online and in this week’s paper edition.

Like it or not, hydrogen is coming to NM

In new reporting for Capital & Mainco-published by SFR, Jerry Redfern investigates Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ongoing quest to create a hydrogen industry in New Mexico. Denver-based Tallgrass Energy, he writes, “sits at the center” of a new hydrogen economy being built in the northwestern portion of the state, with “hydrogen production, transportation, power generation and carbon sequestration projects arcing across the Navajo Nation to Farmington and down to the I-40 corridor between Gallup and Albuquerque.” The story drills down into the nitty-gritty of hydrogen production, but also examines the resistance Tallgrass Energy’s plans have inspired. “All the projects that have ever been on Navajo [Nation] made those companies a lot of money,” Jessica Keetso (Diné), an organizer with the Navajo water rights and environmental protection group Tó Nizhóní Ání, or Sacred Water Speaks, tells Redfern. “Historically, she said, they don’t clean up after themselves. ‘They get away with not doing reclamation, for everything from oil and gas, uranium to coal.’”

Listen up

The Solstice Project brings together archaeologists, archaeoastronomers, geodesists, and remote sensing experts to study the ancient Chaco culture in the American Southwest. On the most recent episode of Report from Santa Fe, host Lorene Mills talks with Solstice Project founder Anna Sofaer about Chacoan astronomy, her rediscovery of the Sun Dagger in 1977 and her new film Written on the Landscape: Mysteries Beyond Chaco Canyon, screenings and events for which will be held June 7-13 at the Center for Contemporary Arts.

Indigenous travel tips

Cowboy & Indians magazine presents an “Indigenous Guide to Travel,” which underscores the importance of respecting boundaries when visiting “sites of cultural and historical significance for Native Americans.” To help visitors, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association has put together an online Native American travel guide that divides the US into 12 regions, providing itineraries, maps, and information on specific tribes and pueblos, including guidelines for visiting. “I think it’s very easy to [make a] misstep because we’re all so used to pulling out our cell phones and taking a video or a photo,” AIANTA CEO Sherry Rupert (Paiute/Washoe) tells Cowboys & Indians. “And so, we just have to be aware of that in some places on Native lands. That is not allowable.” Rupert says she learned this firsthand during a visit to New Mexico: “I’m not from New Mexico. And when I came here, I wanted to learn all about the Pueblos of New Mexico,” she says. “So, I had been invited out to the different feast days and ceremonies for a few of the Pueblos, and one of the things I noticed right away is that there were signs, ‘no cameras, ‘no filming,’ that type of thing. And I thought, ‘Oh, OK. Yeah, no cameras, no filming.’ But I very soon realized that they mean no phones, no cameras, no filming, and they have people in the crowd, and they’re looking for people either acting out of habit or filming something that they’re not supposed to.”

Smooth as glass

When Broken Arrow Glass Recycling launched in 2020, it had approximately 20 clients. The business, which offers the only residential curbside glass collection program in New Mexico servicing Santa Fe, Taos, and Los Alamos, today services 300 residential clients and 20 commercial ones. Co-founders and married couple Chris Bogle and Shelby Kay also upcycle that glass into art, offer in-studio classes and work with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to study the raw material and create innovative and diverse products. They are now ready to expand, thanks to an $83,000 in Job Training Incentive Program funds from the state for employee training, along with $18,000 from the New Mexico Regional Development Corporation to purchase new equipment. Kaye, whom Waste360 recently honored in its 40 under 40 awards program for the solid waste and recycling industry’s rising stars, recently told SFR, “Things are going really well. They’re just really wild in the amount of growth and changes that we’re going through.” Last month, Broken Arrow added glass blowing to its repertoire, and will be participating in Canyon Road Summer Walk—an event on the first Wednesday of every month from June to October of this year that offers art, live music, food and drinks. Broken Arrow Glass Recycling will have a pop-up booth for visitors to come and see their work.

Rain check

The National Weather Service forecasts a 20% chance for precipitation today, with isolated rain between noon and 3 pm, followed by isolated thunderstorms after 3 pm. Otherwise, today should be mostly sunny, with a high temperature near 81 degrees and east wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word viewed and enjoyed the film I Saw the TV Glow, and now is exploring LitHub’s recommended reading list.

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