Santa Fe Police Report Rise in Burglaries

Gun Rights

Santa Fe sees rise in burglaries

While most types of crimes in the city of Santa Fe decreased or flattened in November, burglary and/or breaking and entering rose by nearly 30%, according to crime stats prepared by the Santa Fe Police Department for tomorrow’s Public Safety Committee meeting. Those stats show varying decreases in robbery, assault and larceny last month, along with the second consecutive month for zero homicides. In addition to a rise in burglaries, the department also reports a slight rise in arson: from four cases in October to five last month, including one in a trash can at Frenchy’s Field started by a male suspect in an attempt to stay warm. Similarly, the 70 burglaries last month took place across the city; they included multiple break-ins at storage units, including one on Nov. 10 in which five guns were stolen; a break-in at Kelly’s Liquor store on Cerrillos Road in which a suspect cut a hole in the wall to gain entry; and several businesses around town whose windows were broken for access and theft. Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting agenda also includes a report on October and November incidents from Fire Chief Brian Moya and a presentation by outgoing Municipal Judge Virginia Vigil. A report from Municipal Court shows 455 traffic violation cases filed last month—compared to 355 the month prior, presumably fueled by SFPD’s “fall blitz.”

Santa Fe sector leads NM’s arts economy

Last year, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $353.8 million in economic activity in the City of Santa Fe—$99.6 million in spending by arts and culture organizations and an additional $254.2 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. Those dollars account for close to 48% of all the nonprofit arts and culture economic activity in the state, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), a national economic and social impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. In New Mexico overall, the study shows the sector generated $740.9 million in economic activity during 2022: $267.5 million in spending by arts and culture organizations and an additional $473.4 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. Statewide, the arts supported 9,381 jobs; provided $363.2 million in personal income to residents; and generated $106.1 million in tax revenue. In the City of Santa Fe, the nonprofit arts and culture economy supported 3,828 jobs; provided $162.2 million in personal income to residents; and generated $47 million in tax revenue. The arts also play a significant role in the city’s tourism sector, with 34% of attendees to arts-related events nonlocal, 57.6% of whom say the main reason they visited was to attend the arts event at which they were surveyed. Statewide, those tourism numbers are lower: 18.3% of attendees are nonlocal visitors, 26.2% of whom are visiting specifically to attend an arts-related event. “This study affirms what Santa Fe has long known and celebrated—that the arts are not only an integral part of life here, but also our livelihood,” City of Santa Fe Department of Arts and Culture Director Chelsey Johnson says in a statement. “Arts and culture’s remarkable economic impact helps to sustain our local artists and creative businesses, the people who help define the very character of Santa Fe.” By comparison, Taos saw $70.7 million in economic activity from the arts during 2022, while Albuquerque had $270.7 million in arts economic activity. Nationally, the AEP6 study reports the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry supporting 2.6 million jobs and generating $29.1 billion in government revenue.

Controversial Indian Affairs secretary replaced

Following unresolved contention over her pick to lead the state Indian Affairs Department, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday announced Secretary-designate James Mountain, a former San Ildefonso Pueblo governor, will instead serve her office as a senior advisor for tribal affairs and Josett D. Monette (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) will become the department’s secretary. Monette, the department’s deputy secretary since July, previously served as its general counsel. Native advocates for murdered and missing Indigenous people strenuously objected to Mountain’s nomination, pointing to a dismissed sexual-assault charge against him. Subsequently, the governor never forwarded Mountain to the state Senate for confirmation after nominating him in February, but quietly disbanded the task force working on the MMIW crisis. “Both former Secretary-designate Mountain and Secretary-designate Monette are proven leaders who are dedicated to serving the Nations, tribes and pueblos of New Mexico,” the governor said in a statement Friday. “This administration will continue to prioritize meaningful government-to-government relations and the effective and equitable delivery of resources to tribal communities.” Monette, a former director for the New Mexico Legal Aid Native American program, said in a statement she is “stepping into this role with deep commitment, dedication, care and a profound respect for our Nations, Tribes and Pueblos and their homelands here in New Mexico. Working for Indian Country is where my dedication lies.” Mountain, meanwhile, called his 10 months as secretary “one of the greatest honors I have ever been asked to take on” and said he is “grateful and look forward to continuing to serve under her leadership in a new role for the administration, our tribes and New Mexico.”

ACLU NM opposes national’s NRA case

The national ACLU’s decision to represent the National Rifle Association in a free-speech case has garnered objection from state chapters from New York to Texas—including New Mexico’s. In NRA v. Vullo, the guns-rights group is suing New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo, alleging she used the power of state government to encourage banks and insurance companies not to do business with the NRA in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting in 2018. In a statement to the New York Times, the national ACLU says while it doesn’t support the NRA or its mission: “We signed on as co-counsel because public officials shouldn’t be allowed to abuse the powers of the office to blacklist an organization just because they oppose an organization’s political views.” In a Friday statement, ACLU New Mexico writes that: “The facts of the case, if accurate, would raise significant free speech concerns. At a time when authoritarianism is on the rise and right-wing politicians are bent on exacting retribution from their opponents, the Supreme Court decision in this case could set an important precedent.” Nonetheless, the statement says, the New Mexico chapter opposes the national organization’s decision to represent the group: “By promoting hate, fear and the proliferation of firearms, the NRA inspires many of the civil rights atrocities that the ACLU of New Mexico battles day and night. In our estimation, the cost of aiding such a harmful organization outweighs the benefit of leading a free speech lawsuit, even before the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, in our estimation, the prevalence of firearms made possible by the NRA’s advocacy poses its own threat to free speech.”

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Listen up

On the most recent edition of Native America Calling, readers and writers share their picks for the stand-out Native literary works of 2023—from a fictional account of Sacajawea to an Indigenous horror anthology. Guests include: Esther Belin, (Diné), poet, artist and educator; Allison Waukau, (Menominee and Navajo), president of the American Indian Library Association; author Laurel Goodluck (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Tsimshian); and author Angeline Boulley, (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians).

Back down to earth

The New York Times visits Truth or Consequences to suss out how New Mexico’s investment in the future of space travel via Spaceport America has played out so far, starting with the question of how it has impacted the local economy. “It’s been a flop,” gem store owner Robert Hanseck tells the Times, noting that he answers questions all day long about the area’s hot springs, but has yet to observe a space-enthusiast surge in the local tourism market. Anecdotal stories aside, the Times recaps the Spaceport’s genesis, as bolstered by enthusiasm from the late Gov. Bill Richardson; quasi-recent controversies with Spaceport America’s leadership; and notes the Spaceport’s price-tag thus far for New Mexicans: more than $200 million in state and local funds. Residents in Sierra and Doña Ana counties, who have contributed millions in local gross receipts taxes, say they’ve yet to see the promised payoff. Moreover, while Virgin Galactic has launched six commercial flights from Spaceport America this year, last month it also laid off employees, including local ones, and announced a pause in flights. Truth or Consequences Mayor Amanda Forrister tells the Times she still thinks Spaceport America could reshape her town, but “it is a bit of a question mark.” Doña Ana County Commissioner Shannon Reynolds is less prevaricating: “Looking at the numbers and what has taken place over the years, it’s been a bad investment.” That being said, the story notes, interest in local real estate can’t be denied: New York City-based PreReal Investments in a little more than a year has bought more than 100 properties in Sierra County at a cost of roughly $40 million and “plans to resell the mixture of homes and commercial spaces.” Proximity to the Spaceport was a selling point, an executive says, but “our choice was driven by the county’s natural resources” (yes, that includes the hot springs).

Plants of the hot future

The wild tepary bean plant grows in New Mexico, among other areas in the Southwest United States and northwestern Mexico. They are quite hardy: “They have evolved in this very hot, dry climate, so they have exceptional drought and heat tolerance, and potential tolerance to some extreme soil conditions as well,” Sarah Dohle, a bean curator with the US Department of Agriculture, tells nonprofit science journalism site Undark. Dohle and other scientists collected samples of the plants from “a remote New Mexico mountain range” and are “among a growing number of researchers, plant breeders, and other scientists working to both preserve overlooked wild crops—keeping them safe for future generations—as well as breeding more resilient plants in the race to adapt to climate change.” That endeavor accompanies forecasts and research that indicate the need to diversity agriculture, which a crop like the tepary bean could help do, New Mexico University plant scientist and Professor Richard Pratt tells the magazine. Pratt has grown the plant on campus and elsewhere to evaluate its adaptation to semi-arid soil. Like other scientists, Pratt is working both to preserve crops like the wild tepary bean plant, as well as study their genetic material to see if they can be used to make other crops more hardy. “If global climate change keeps being hard on us,” Pratt said, “we’ve got to have crops that are resilient.”

All’s quiet

The National Weather Service forecasts a partly sunny day, with a high temperature near 46 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word has just discovered The Independent Review Crew (via The Los Angeles Review of Books) and is happily reading away. Speaking of reading, welcome to the final week of this newsletter for 2023. Before The Word heads off on holiday break, she’d love to receive—and possibly share—a few happy discoveries from readers (songs? essays? websites?). Send a link or two her way by responding to this email and you will be automatically entered to win a Chocolate Maven or Ohori’s gift certificate before the end of the year.

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