Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Biden Stumps for NM Gov as Election Day Nears |

Biden visits NM, stumps for Lujan Grisham

President Joe Biden visited New Mexico yesterday, with a first stop at Central New Mexico Community College to deliver remarks on student debt relief, followed by an appearance at a Democratic rally at Albuquerque’s Ted M. Gallegos Community Center. At the latter, Biden gave shout-outs to New Mexico’s Democrats, particularly Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who faces GOP challenger Mark Ronchetti on the Nov. 8 ballot: “She talks about being the shortest governor. She’s the tallest governor I know,” Biden said. “She’s the real deal. I mean, she’s really the real deal.” Biden spoke again about student debt relief at the rally, along with health care, infrastructure and gun safety, but emphasized abortion in his comments: “The bottom line is this: If Michelle’s opponent wins, the right to choose here in New Mexico is going to go away,” he said, adding that if Democrats gain in the US Senate and keep control in the House, “we’re going to be able to codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.”

Early voting for the Nov. 8 election continues through tomorrow, Nov. 5 (here are the Santa Fe locations for early voting and for absentee ballot drop boxes). As of yesterday, 38,668 Santa Fe County residents—38.3% of registered voters—had cast either early or absentee ballots. Statewide, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, 320,841 people have voted—close to 24% of registered voters: nearly 53% registered Democrats; 34% Republicans; almost 12% independents; and the rest either registered Libertarians or with another party. You can read all of SFR’s election coverage here, and view a printer-friendly version of our endorsements and ballot recommendations here.

TV station denies debate collusion

KOB-TV General Manager Michelle Donaldson yesterday denied allegations that the station colluded with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 2018 campaign in advance of a debate that year. Those allegations emerged on social media this week via Albuquerque lawyer Thomas Grover. This year’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti then called upon the station to “do a full investigation & provide full transparency if this collusion with MLG happened again this year.” In her statement, Donaldson called the allegations of collusion in 2018 “patently false” and said: “We actively invite the Ronchetti campaign and the alleged anonymous source to contact KOB-TV and share all relevant evidence so we can fully investigate these allegations and maintain our commitment to transparency and the high standards we have set for the people we serve in New Mexico.” Grover told the Albuquerque Journal he received texts that appeared to leaked pre-approved debate questions anonymously but believed they were authentic and has more he hasn’t yet posted. The Journal also notes Ronchetti’s campaign “dispatched a mobile video billboard with the word ‘cheater’ plastered over an image of the governor” outside the Albuquerque rally President Biden attended yesterday.

Speaking of those gubernatorial candidates, their most recent campaign finance reports—the last before Tuesday’s elections—were due yesterday. Ronchetti’s report shows he slightly out-raised Lujan Grisham in the last four weeks: $1.4 versus $1.3 million. Both have spent millions—$3.6 million versus $2.7 million, respectively—in the final push to the election. As the Journal details, outside groups also have been big spenders in the state’s gubernatorial contest, with political action committee Stronger New Mexico, which is affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association, spending more than $6.4 million in the last reporting period on ads targeting Ronchetti for his stance on abortion (among other issues). A Republican Governors Association-connected PAC has spent about $3.3 million in the last month or so on ads attacking Lujan Grisham.

Santa Fe Starbucks staff strikes

Eight Starbucks employees at the chain’s St. Michael’s Drive location went on strike yesterday and say they will continue to strike until 5 am tomorrow (Nov. 5). Baristas and shift supervisors at the location filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in August to unionize and, in a letter to Starbucks’ interim CEO Howard Schultz, said they had previously tried to communicate with Starbucks leadership about the challenges employees face: “ We have been without proper support and management, and our ability to serve and connect with our customers has suffered for it. Amidst an ongoing pandemic, we have been asked to choose between our health and our paycheck. We have been asked to carry the workload of two or more people on back-to-back shifts.” The Santa Fe Starbucks’ employees union effort followed one by 31 employees at an Albuquerque Starbucks in July. At yesterday’s strike, one employee who has been leading the efforts, Shawn Harper-Ray, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that most of the 25 or so employees favored striking but were afraid of their manager (who declined to comment). Increasing numbers of Starbucks employees across the US have organized strikes in the past year; Starbucks Worker United said 258 stores have unionized in the same time period.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov 3: New cases: 771; 630,082 total cases. The most recent weekly report on geographic trends, dated Oct. 31, shows close to a 28% increase in reported cases for the prior seven days compared with the week before. Death’s: 11; Santa Fe County has had 361 total deaths; there have been 8,656 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 126. Patients on ventilators: one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 3 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, categorizes McKinley County as “red” now (with high risk) and seven New Mexico counties as “yellow,” (medium risk levels, two more than last week): San Juan, Rio Arriba, Taos, San Miguel, Harding, De Baca and Grant. The rest of New Mexico’s counties continue to have “green,” aka low, levels. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment information; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

listen up

If you missed last month’s talk on color at the Museum of International Folk Art, you’re in luck because it’s online now. TABLE magazine Editor in Chief Keith Recker, author of three books on color—including the recently published Deep Color: The Shades That Shape Our Souls—explicates how the nine color families from the rainbow are used in design, media and communications in an interesting and engaging talk, sponsored by MOIFA’s Design Council.

Going “rogue” with Bill Richardson

The New York Times delves into former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s status as a hostage negotiator, specifically whether he can free Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. His efforts, the Times reports, haven’t been particularly appreciated by federal officials, although Richardson “downplayed” any tension in an interview with the newspaper. “In these hostage relationships between government and private efforts, sometimes friction and tensions emerge,” he said. “On the Whelan-Griner case, we are working together and coordinating our efforts.” Nonetheless, he added, “my first responsibility is to the American hostages and their families, and not to the government.” The story further details Richardson’s development as a hostage negotiator, with some who have either worked with him or followed his work describing him as a “rogue publicity hound.” The story describes the former politician, now 74, as someone known for “his folksy, unpretentious style and self-promotional skill.” As for his negotiating style, he describes that himself in his book How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: “Respect the other side. Try to connect personally. Use sense of humor. Let the other side save face.”

Where lightning strikes

What do Walter De Maria, Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville and Web3 have in common? Well might you ask. In a long, erudite and occasionally scathing essay for ARTNews, Sean J. Patrick Carney wrestles with De Maria’s 1977 sculpture The Lightning Field, erected in Catron County, on a variety of fronts. There’s the romanticization of those who have experienced it with the “cognitive friction” of its proximity to various military and government installations, including but not limited to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. “Such a paradox undergirds all earthworks in the American West,” Carney writes, “where romantic mythologies, historical bloodguilt, fetishized desert aesthetics, and libertarian potentialism tenuously dance between black sites and proving grounds.” Carney also makes note of the way in which Dia Art Foundation controls visitors’ experience of The Lightning Field, with advanced reservations for approved visitors and a protocol Carney describes as “scripted.” Moreover, he characterizes the possibility of lightning when visiting The Lightning Field as a “baiting technique” that “amplifies visitors’ subconscious consumer identity while muting reverberations of the indigenous subjugation and environmental extraction that purloined, parceled, and productized the Southwest.” As for McCarthy, Melville and Web3, Carney references a hypothesis that McCarthy wrote Blood Meridian after viewing The Lightning Field; both De Maria and McCarthy have created Melville-influenced work; and Web3: It’s the new frontier. Also: some essays stand up better to a short synopsis than others—Carney’s is worth reading from start to finish.

Darkness falls

The National Weather Service forecasts a 40% chance for scattered snow showers today before noon on an otherwise partly sunny day with a high temperature near 40 degrees and wind: northwest wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon, with potential Guests as high as 30 mph. The weekend looks sunny and warmer: low 50s tomorrow and high 50s on Sunday. Speaking of which, Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time (yes, that’s still happening), so remember to set your clocks back and enjoy the extra hour of sleep.

Thanks for reading! The Word has no plans (or particular desire) to visit Ohio, but she wouldn’t mind checking out this Maurice Sendak exhibit.

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