Santa Fe DA files Rust charges
First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies officially filed involuntary manslaughter charges yesterday against Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez and actor/producer Alec Baldwin for their roles in the Oct. 21 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. SFR spoke with Carmack-Altwies by phone yesterday before the charges were filed about her determination to secure justice for Hutchins. “People have to take responsibility and accountability for what happened on that set,” Carmack-Altwies says. “And what happened was Halyna Hutchins lost her life.” The DA says she also wants to emphasize she’s not solely charging Baldwin as an actor: “He was an actor and a producer on that set and had an affirmative duty to make sure that not only was the gun safe, but that the other people handling the guns were safe, and that the set was safe. And we know that wasn’t the case.” A 10-page probable cause statement the DA’s office filed yesterday extensively details the ways in which Baldwin allegedly acted with “reckless” and “willful” disregard for the safety of others. All of the filing documents against Gutierrez, Baldwin and Rust’s assistant director, David Halls, who signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, can be viewed here. A statement on behalf of Gutierrez (also referred to as Gutierrez-Reed in some places) from her lawyers received by SFR yesterday states the probable cause statement filed regarding their client reveals Carmack-Altwies “has completely misunderstood the facts and has reached the wrong conclusions .” Baldwin’s attorney, in a statement provided last week when the charges were first announced, called those against his client “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
Council holds public hearings on S. Meadows tonight
The Santa Fe City Council will meet for another special meeting—at 7 pm this evening—to hold public hearings on rezoning, general plan amendment and master plan requests for Homewise to build a housing development off South Meadows. The proposal has met with fierce resistance as the 22 acres of land in question was purchased in 2001 through Santa Fe County’s taxpayer funded open space program, with subsequent plans created to develop the space into parkland. The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners, in 2022, sold the land to Homewise without public notice. Now, SFR staff writer Andy Lyman reports new concerns about Homewise’s plan to develop housing in the area: potential radiation from the former and nearby Eberline manufacturing building on Airport Road, which has been unused since 2007. Thermo Fisher Scientific, which became Eberline’s parent company , has said for years it was moving toward cleaning up the property and making it safe enough to sell (SFR has reported extensively on the old Eberline site). A toxic material called americium-241 remained in the building until 2016. The head of the state department tasked with regulating the property’s decommissioning says the site poses no greater risk than most other parts of the city and there’s nothing to worry about. Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety Executive Director Joni Arends and Dave Englert, a former state geologist who retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory who lives in the area, aren’t so sure. Englert, specifically, doesn’t think the environmental survey Homewise conducted is adequate.
New PRC member recuses himself
New Public Regulation Commissioner Patrick O’Connell has recused himself from weighing in on any decisions related to a proposed merger between Public Service Company of New Mexico and Iberdrola. O’Connell, the Associated Press reports, in a Friday filing cited previous testimony he gave on behalf of an environmental group for a settlement proposal related to the merger as the reason for his recusal. gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed O’Connell and to other commissioners to the PRC in December. Prior to those appointments, members of the PRC were elected to office, but New Mexico voters ratified the state constitution in 2020 to change the makeup of the commission from a five-member elected body to a three-member governor-appointed panel starting in January 2023. Advocacy group Retake Our Democracy lobbied against O’Connell’s appointment citing numerous conflicts of interest related to O’Connell’s relationships with the industries regulated by the PRC. Another one of the members appointed by the governor, Brian Moore, resigned last month, citing his lack of educational qualifications required by statute. The governor’s three appointments were chosen from a group of nine individuals purportedly vetted and submitted by the PRC Nominating Committee. As for the PNM case, it’s currently pending before the state Supreme Court after the previous Public Regulation Commission rejected the merger.
Santa Fe County approves raises
The Santa Fe County Commission yesterday approved raises and bonuses for some county employees, including sheriff’s deputies and nurses at the jail. A memo accompanying one of the updated collective bargaining agreements from Sheriff Adan Mendoza notes the department received $112,500 from the state’s Law Enforcement Recruitment Fund, and requests temporary recruitment and retention bonuses as part of his goal to “ensure an optimal team of sworn officers to provide law enforcement to the Santa Fe Community.” The agreement raise deputies’ temporary bonuses from 3% to 6.2% of their earned wages between Dec. 31 and June 30. The Board of County Commissioners also approved 1.5% cost-of-living increases for medical staff at the jail who are represented by the local branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
COVID-19 by the numbers
Reported Jan 31: New cases: 140; 664,838 total cases. Deaths: five; Santa Fe County has had 391 total deaths; 8,953 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 84. Patients on ventilators: five
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Jan 26 “community levels” map shows four county categorized as “yellow”—medium risk—for COVID-19, compared with one last week: De Baca, Curry, Quay and Roosevelt counties. The rest of the state—including Santa Fe County—is green, aka has low risk. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.
Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via COVIDTests.gov; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; 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. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson joins Report from Santa Fe host Lorene Mills and discusses his public service career—he also served in Congress representing the state’s 3rd Congressional District; and had stints as secretary for the US Department of Energy and as US ambassador. Richardson’s Center for Global Engagement has been in the news of late for its role in negotiating the release of political prisoners, such as Brittney Griner and Trevor Reed. “Every case is different,” Richardson says. “Every case you have to use a different kind of methodology, political push.”
Vegan chef challenge commences
Although January has ended along with, ostensibly, Veganuary, February ushers in another opportunity for both new or die-hard plant-based eaters. The Santa Fe Vegan Chef Challenge begins today, runs through the entire month and, as the title implies, challenges local chefs to incorporate more vegan options into their menus. At present, it would appear just over a dozen Santa Fe restaurants are participating, including Alicia’s Tortilleria, PokeTako food truck and Churro Bar (which we’ve only just heard of). We see some joints on the list already used to accommodating vegans, such as Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, Fiesta Oaxaca and the new Tajine at Body. And then a few are already all vegan/all the time, such as our friends at Plantita Vegan Bakery and Liberty Gourmand. Hannah Levbarg, founder and chef at Liberty Gourmand, tells SFR via email she sees the competition “as a fantastic opportunity for conventional chefs and cooks to expand their culinary horizons and also recognize the business benefit of catering to a fast-growing segment of consumers ( that actually contains a lot of people who aren’t actually vegan, but want more fully plant-based options).” The challenge for a business like hers, she says, regardless of the Vegan Chef Challenge “is really always about enticing the more conventional customer with food that surprises them in the best way. This event really elevates both types of business, and hopefully helps more diners broaden their consumer options—or their food outlook.”
WTF (emphasis on “f”)
“We clearly f-ed this one up and it’s being fixed.” That statement from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority Communications Director Tim Minton, via a Bloomberg story, refers to the new $11 billion Long Island Rail Road terminal in Manhattan’s Grand Central station that includes a quote carved into one of its concourse walls from Georgia O’Keeffe who, of course, didn’t just paint New Mexico: “One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.” Nice sentiment. Unfortunately, O’Keeffe’s last name was mis-spelled (“O’Keefe”). An embarrassing and pricey mistake but, ARTNews points out, hardly the first time the “totemic American modernist” has had her name f-ed up. There is apparently a “Georgia O’Keefe Way” in Marlton, New Jersey and until recently, a “Georgia O’Keefe Road” in Las Cruces, New Mexico (we feel compelled to point out that ARTNews spelled Las Cruces wrong in its story). These gaffes aren’t just posthumous. O’Keeffe, in her biography Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, “expressed annoyance at the frequent misspellings of her surname in the press.” ARTNews previously wrote about the frequent spelling of O’Keeffe’s last name in a 2019 story that detailed that particular error as part of an internet conspiracy about parallel universes.
The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 42 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph. But looking ahead, the weekend looks downright balmy!
Thanks for reading! The Word found LA Times’ photojournalist Luis Sinco’s documentation of the Colorado’s role in life in the Southwest very powerful (as is the rest of the Times’ “Colorado River in Crisis” multimedia series). And speaking of photographs, today is the last day to submit to SFR’s annual photography contest—get those shots in by midnight.