Morning Word

NM Pols Respond to Trump Conviction

District Court denies Meta’s motion to dismiss NM DOJ lawsuit

NM pols respond to Trump verdict

“No one is above the law,” US Sen. Ben Ray Luján said via tweet yesterday following yesterday’s historic conviction of former President and presidential candidate Donald Trump on 34 felony charges. “The former president was found guilty on dozens of charges, including election interference. These charges are serious and make it clear that he is unfit to serve as president. This verdict must be respected.” Along similar lines, US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-NM, released a statement reading, “America is a country that is built on the rule of law. An independent jury of 12 listened to the evidence, and America listened alongside them. We heard weeks of testimony that detailed how Trump had an affair with a porn star and then paid her off so that the story would not come to light during the 2016 election. That was a moral failing. The jury found that he broke the law when he lied about the payments and tried to hide them from the American people. Americans are a moral people. Americans are a people who believe in the rule of law. A criminal court has found that Trump is a felon, a corrupt politician, and not a man of moral integrity.”

The state Democratic Party, meanwhile, focused on US Senate candidate Nella Domenici, who is challenging US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, in the state’s general election. In the aftermath of yesterday’s conviction, Domenici released a statement reading, “It is a sad day in our country when Americans see our justice system weaponized. Thankfully there is an appeals process that can correct miscarriages of justice. We stand at an unprecedented time, with our country growing more and more divided each day. This must end.” The state Democratic Party on social media responded to Domenici, writing, “Can you answer a simple question for the voters of New Mexico: Will you personally vote for a convicted felon for President?” State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce also released a statement, characterizing Trump’s trial as a “witch hunt.” Heinrich, meanwhile, kept his thoughts short: “No one is above the law—not even a former president. Today the law prevailed.”

District court denies Meta’s motion to dismiss AG lawsuit

First Judicial District Judge Bryan Biedscheid yesterday denied a bid by Meta to dismiss a case brought by New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez through the state Department of Justice. The NM DOJ filed the lawsuit in December 2023 against Meta Inc., CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the companies it runs, including Facebook and Instagram, alleging the sites fail to keep children safe from sexual predators, following an undercover operation. Torrez announced several arrests following another undercover operation earlier this month. As described by a news release from the AG’s office, Biedscheid denied Meta’s motion to dismiss in full, with DOJ prevailing “on every ground in the motion, including consumer protection and public nuisance claims.” The court also denied Meta’s efforts to use Section 230 to claim immunity. The judge did grant Zuckerberg’s motion to be dismissed from the case, the Associated Press reports. “The judge’s decision is a historic victory for children and parents in New Mexico and across the country,” Torrez said in a statement. “For decades, Meta Platforms have prevented nearly every legal challenge against them from proceeding. Today, the New Mexico Department of Justice brought that era to an end and is the first case by a state Attorney General to raise child sexual exploitation claims, which can now be addressed. All social media platforms that harm their users should be on notice.”

Public Education Commissioner talks charters

SFR’s June 4 primary endorsements only address contested races, but we did check in with Democrat Public Education Commissioner Steve Carrillo this week, who is running uncontested for District 10, representing Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties. A former Santa Fe Public Schools Board member, Carrillo characterizes the PEC as playing a crucial role in regulating the state’s charter schools. Two marked actions by the PEC he cites include the board’s closure of La Tierra Montessori School in the Española Valley. “Within a year, they spiraled so quickly, so hard, that it couldn’t be ignored,” he says. “When a board is not taking their role as seriously or actively as they should and a school essentially will fall into disrepair, it needs to be righted. And if they can’t right it over the years, we’ll close it, and that’s what we had to do with La Tierra.” On a more upbeat note, Carrillo notes, the board approved THRIVE Community School in Santa Fe. “It’s rare, but they met their goal for their number of kids this year, and they met every benchmark right out of the gate,” he says. As for sitting on the PEC, Carrillo says he was asked to run when he left the SFPS board. “My main concern was, ‘Is this a place where I can make a difference?’ When I realized it was a place I could make a difference in the lives of families and kids, offering kids more choice and opportunity—that’s when I decided it was something I’ll do.” As for the June 4 primary, tomorrow marks the last day of early voting before polls reopen at 7 am on Tuesday. Find some tips for the polls supplied by County Clerk Katharine Clark at the end of SFR’s endorsement package.

NM MFA announces credits, loans for SF housing

The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority Board of Directors yesterday announced approval of more than $72 million in low-income housing tax credits for six housing developments, including two in Santa Fe. The rehabilitation of 62 units by Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority received approximately $12.4 million in tax credits for work that will include new windows, doors, siding, stairs and HVAC; renovated access and site utilities; interior rehabilitation, including extensive re-plumbing; and 26 newly constructed units, a news release says. The Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority’s new Ocate Apartments in Santa Fe received approximately $16.2 million in tax credits for the new 60-unit development that “will serve households with children and will feature an open design concept with kitchen islands; interior common areas including a computer training center and kitchen; and outdoor play areas, picnic areas, community gardens and patios.” The NMFA board also approved a $3 million loan for Ocate Apartments from the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund, along with $400,000 loans each from the National Housing Trust and HOME Rental Program. “Whether new developments or rehabilitated units, these funding awards will result in more homes for hundreds of New Mexicans,” MFA Executive Director/CEO Isidoro Hernandez said in a statement regarding the funding for all the projects, which include projects in Albuquerque, Ruidoso and the Pueblo of Laguna. The board also approved an award of over $1 million supplemental LIHTC to The Bluffs Senior Apartments in Los Alamos. “The addition of these five developments to our pipeline of 52 active developments in 27 different municipalities around the state, total over 4,800 units that will be completed in the next 12 to 24 months,” Hernandez said.

Listen up

For those anxious (or curious) to learn the latest on the pending Turquoise Trail Veterinary Urgent Care, tentatively slated to open in mid-September, be sure to check out the most recent edition of the Pet Chat radio show. Hosts Española Humane Director of Community Engagement Murad Kirdar and Bobbi Heller, executive director of Felines & Friends New Mexico, check in with Turquoise Trail’s co-founder and operations director Jared Lyons about what pet owners can expect from the new facility. Catch Pet Chat live at 9 am on Saturdays and 3 pm on 1260 KTRC and 103.7 FM. Learn about Felines and Friends’ June benefit and Española Humane’s September Fur Fest benefit on this weekend’s show.

Train of thought

In advance of summer’s official June 20 start, summer travel recommendations are in full swing. Thrillist devotes digital ink to recommending the The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, “the real life train that looks like it could have inspired Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.” The train opened May 25 for the season (through Oct. 19) and ferries passengers between Chama and Antonito, Colorado, climbing more than 10,000 feet above sea level and “is the highest and longest steam railroad in North America,” Thrillist writes, with recommendations for the train’s specialty rides and for particular cars (the “geology train” on June 9 and Sept. 8 sounds pretty cool, as does the Victorian-style “parlor” car if one prefers a posher journey. And while the story intermittently misspells Chama, it also offers tips on where to eat while there, including Santy’s Taco ShopFoster’s Restaurant and the Rio Chama Espresso Kitchen and Wine Bar. Keeping with the train motif, The Travel includes The Southwest Chief in its list of long Amtrak journeys for slow summer travel. The 40-plus-hour trip from Chicago to Los Angeles includes a jaunt to Albuquerque, which The Travel characterizes as “the start of the most scenic part of the trip.” And for something completely different that we keep meaning to squeeze in, Catholic newspaper The Dialog includes Santa Fe on its list of the top 10 Catholic cities and suburbs to visit this summer. We’re #4, but in a tie with San Antonio, Texas.

This puppet isn’t going to stuff itself

Yes, it’s that time of year when children and adults alike are invited to come help with the crucial step of stuffing Zozobra, aka Old Man Gloom, with paper in advance of the Aug. 30 100th burning (just 91 days away). Stuffing commences at 10 am tomorrow (Saturday, June 1) at the Santa Fe Place Mall in the space next to the Boot Barn. Masks for paper dust will be supplied but bring safety goggles and gloves. The stuffing continues until complete, but Santa Fe Kiwanis will be supplying free pizza for all, along with free ice cream cones from Dairy Queen for any children who help out (just kids, on the ice cream). The event also provides an early chance to purchase this year’s merchandise. Speaking of which, the Kiwanis recently announced the winners of this year’s T-shirt and poster competitions, and tomorrow will be a first chance to lay one’s eyes upon them and purchase this year’s merch. The 2024 Zozobra artists include poster artist and Santa Fe native Robb Rael, whose artwork already evokes for many the spirit of Santa Fe. The commemorative poster was designed by Zozobra Chairman Ray Sandoval and illustrated by Mike Graham De La Rosa. This year’s T-shirt comes from Albuquerque native illustrator and graphic designer Brandon Parras. Isaac Varela and Josiah Montoya won the youth poster collaborative division; 13-year-old Alice Wilkins won the toddler T-shirt contest; Joseph Montoya’s design won for the 2024 hot air balloon T-shirt design; University of New Mexico student Jessica Knox won for the ticket sales art contest; and artist Anita Ashfield-Salter won for the Zozofest image. “It was obvious that this year’s centennial moment lit a fire in the minds and hearts of these artists,” Sandoval says in a statement, noting the designs for the 2024 100th celebration show “just how much our fellow New Mexicans are going to enjoy this once-in-a-century event!”

Rain or shine

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature in the low 80s and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Temps will stay in the low to mid-80s this weekend, with a 20% chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon on Saturday.

Thanks for reading! The Word has spent a reasonable and not exorbitant amount of time perusing Trump is guilty memes on the Internet. Morning Word returns Tuesday, June 4.

Speaking of online activities: SFR’s 2024 Best of Santa Fe voting ends at midnight!

Last, but not least: SFR celebrates its 50th anniversary next month, and we are gathering thoughts about the next 50 years for possible inclusion in our anniversary issue. Share yours and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

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