Gov reduces temporary gun ban; NRA, GOP file suit
Following multiple legal challenges in federal and state court—including one filed late last week with the state Supreme Court by the National Rifle Association, the state Republican Party, the state Libertarian Party and a variety of other folks—Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday morning issued updates to the public health order that replace the order’s original 30-day suspension of open and concealed weapon carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to one that temporarily suspends carrying firearms at parks and playgrounds in those areas (the Santa Fe City Council last January passed a resolution banning weapons on any public property used for school activities). The governor’s revision followed US District Judge David Urias Sept. 13 granting of a temporary restraining order of the original provision, which the governor enacted Sept. 8, citing the shooting deaths of three children since July—including an 11-year-old boy two days prior.
The updated order also directs the state’s managed care organizations to ensure people seeking drug or alcohol treatment have access within 24 hours; and directs the state Corrections and Homeland Security and Emergency Management departments to help Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center and its contractors “ensure adequate staffing, space and screening for arrested and incarcerated individuals,” among other provisions. “I’m going to continue pushing to make sure that all of us are using every resource available to put an end to this public health emergency with the urgency it deserves,” the governor said in a statement. “I will not accept the status quo—enough is enough.” While several high-profile officials have criticized the governor’s initial health order—most notably Attorney General Raúl Torrez, who said last week he would not defend it in court—several state lawmakers appeared with the governor Friday to back her revision to the public health order. “The changes to the health order today will make a positive difference,” Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart said in a statement. “I’m committed to working with the governor, my colleagues in the legislature, and this incredible team the governor has put together to make our state safe.” The governor on Friday also named Ben Baker, who has been deputy cabinet secretary and interim law enforcement academy director at the Department of Public Safety since 2021, to her as a senior public safety advisor.
Santa Fe County seeks input on controversial land-use issues
As Santa Fe County approaches the one-year mark for adoption of its short-term rentals ordinance, it is seeking public feedback on the topic through a survey that gauges awareness of the county’s ordinance and views on the impact STRs have on affordable housing and community. The anonymous survey, which has a Sept. 27 deadline for completion, will be used to collect data to create a “comprehensive report on the community’s perspectives,” a news release says. In July, several owners of short-term rentals in Santa Fe County filed a lawsuit in US District Court against the county, the Board of County Commissioners and the county’s Growth Management Director Penny Ellis-Green alleging the county’s short-term rental ordinance violates their constitutional rights. A motion to dismiss the case filed by the defendants last month is pending. The county also is requesting feedback on a pending draft resolution from Commissioners Hank Hughes and Anna Hamilton, scheduled for presentation at the commission’s Sept. 26 meeting, regarding commercial energy projects, such large scale wind and commercial solar energy production facilities. Among other facets, the resolution would create a process for publicly posting on the county’s website any commercial renewable energy projects that require conditional use permits. Several proposed solar projects in the county have already received pushback from residents, citing safety and other concerns.
SFPD investigates weekend shooting
On Saturday, the Santa Fe Police Department reported a 17-year old unnamed male shot at the Santa Fe Fashion Outlets early in the morning. SFPD says several people had gathered for a “car meet” before the victim was “threatened with a firearm by one suspect and then struck by gunfire by another suspect,” according to a news release. Police were summoned after the victim’s friends brought him to a local hospital at 3:30 am where, because his condition was critical, he was promptly airlifted to a higher-care hospital for surgery. Police say the victim’s condition improved to stable following surgery. The case remains an active investigation and, as of Sunday evening, SFPD Deputy Chief Ben Valdez tells SFR the department has no updates. SFPD is asking anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspects and their location to call Sergeant Luke Wakefield at (505) 699-7860.
New Mexicans march in NY against fossil fuels
Thousands of people filled the streets in New York yesterday for the March to End Fossil Fuels, timed in advance of this week’s United Nations’ Climate Ambition Summit, including members from several New Mexico organizations. According to a news release, the New Mexico delegation included more than 50 “Indigenous, environmental, youth and frontline advocates” from the state. One of those organizations, the Center for Biological Diversity, last week issued a climate scorecard characterizing Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as “on the verge of failure” due to heightened oil and gas production here. “As governor of the country’s second-largest oil-producing state, Michelle Lujan Grisham is detonating one of the world’s most dangerous carbon bombs,” Silas Grant, who works on campaigns with the center’s Climate Law Institute, says in a statement. “As New Mexicans, we marched to tell her she can become a real climate leader by preventing further oil and gas expansion in our state. The future of our planet depends on it.” Julia Bernal, executive director of Pueblo Action Alliance, says in a statement the groups had coalesced around “a No False Solutions narrative to bring light to the financialization and continued commodification of our natural and cultural resources.” The members held an 18-foot banner that read “New Mexico is Burning, Biden and MLG: Climate Action Now!” and delivered “a grassroots climate justice “declaration” to the United Nations and federal and state leaders. “Young people in New Mexico are rising up to say we will not sit by and watch our futures melt, burn and dry up,”Jonathan Juárez, media justice organizer with Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, says in a statement. “You cannot extinguish our futures without a fight. We deserve and demand better from our leadership.”
The Inside SFPS podcast returns, featuring the people who make up the Santa Fe Public School District. In the first episode of the 2023/2024 school year, “Promote Your Own Curiosity,” host and SFPS Public Information Officer Cody Dynarski talks to Milagro Middle School computer science teacher Alan Lucero about the journey toward gaining his Ph.D in physics; his time working for the national labs; laying fiber optic cable across the Atlantic; and the computer science initiative at Milagro Middle School, among other topics.
Ready, set, Vladem
Museum of New Mexico’s long-awaited new wing launches this week (Sept. 23) to local and national anticipation. Vladem Contemporary will be opening in one of Santa Fe’s “most exciting neighborhoods,” and will allow the museum “to exhibit cutting-edge contemporary art, provide a permanent space for education, and expand our storage,” Executive Director Mark White tells Travel & Leisure magazine. White details why the Railyard is one of the city’s most exciting districts, and tells the magazine he hopes the Vladem will become a key destination (for those attending the kick-off events, don’t forget the City of Santa Fe, never afraid of bad timing, just kicked off its Guadalupe reconstruction project, with lots of road closures and detours in place in the vicinity). Forbes also spills some digital ink for the Vladem, noting “New York and London may have more galleries and bigger museums, but they also have metro populations of 20 million people. Santa Fe punches like a superheavyweight at a population of roughly 90,000.” The Vladem, Forbes writes, will be the city’s next “haymaker,” with White also talking to Forbes to say: “This is really just an extension of our original mission; we have always been a contemporary institution, so for us, this is a way of reaffirming and continuing to show contemporary art, but also it’s important that Santa Fe continue to make strides in its interest and enthusiasm for contemporary art.”
With fall a mere six days away, cooler temperatures creeping into the mornings and nights and the aspens just starting to yellow, leaf-peeping season beckons. To that end, USA Today rounds up the “10 US spots for a perfect fall getaway,” and lists Taos as #9 in its Readers Choice awards. “In terms of natural beauty, fall ushers in spectacular colors across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,” USA Today notes, but Taos has more than just pretty scenery: “Outdoor adventure reigns supreme throughout the autumn season, with rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, and hiking all available across this idyllic New Mexico town.” Outside magazine expresses similar thoughts in its assemblage of the “9 best mountain towns to see fall foliage,” which places Taos at #4 (the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway begins in Taos), and recommends staying at the Taos Goji Eco Lodge, which “has a handful of cabins and tipis on a 40-acre farm north of Taos” and features not just goji berries in the summer, but pumpkin patches and apple orchards in the fall (along with “barrel saunas set beneath the hardwoods,” Outside writes.) CNN includes the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos Scenic Byway in its collection of scenic fall drives. “Who would ever want to leave charming Santa Fe?” CNN asks rhetorically. Someone looking for pretty leaves, CNN travel writer Forrest Brown says. Brown spoke with a state Tourism Department Media Manager Nicole Barker, who described the drive thusly: “The route meanders through desert badlands, striking white geological formations and gold-drenched cottonwoods that line the Rio Nambe before winding through villages backdropped against Carson National Forest’s golden aspen groves and deep, dark evergreens blanketing the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo peaks.”
The National Weather Service forecasts a 40% chance for precipitation today and a 20% chance this evening, with scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 3 pm and before midnight, respectively. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny today, with a high temperature near 78 degrees and northwest wind 5 to 15 mph.