Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Elections Chief Launches NM Election Fact-Checking Site |

Elections Chief debuts NM fact-checking site

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver yesterday launched a fact-checking site for the 2022 election. The state government micro-site distinguishes “rumor versus reality,” for numerous election-related issues, including voter privacy, election results and claims made in the film 2000 Mules (a documentary claiming widespread fraud in the 2000 election, whose claims have been debunked from multiple sources). According to a news release from Toulouse Oliver’s office, New Mexico’s website is modeled off of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) “Rumor Control” web page that debunks “common misinformation and disinformation narratives and themes that relate broadly to the security of election infrastructure and related processes.” New Mexico’s site “focuses on the most prevalent misinformation that has circulated in our state” and will be updated as new issues arise. “With the primary election one week away, voters should be on the lookout for misinformation that seeks to question the integrity of our elections,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “If the past two years are any indication, efforts will be made to question the legitimacy of this election and other elections in the future. That’s why it is so important that voters get the facts and why we’ve launched this resource.” Primary election takes place June 7; as of yesterday, 58,143 ballots had been cast via absentee and early ballots. Catch up on SFR’s complete election coverage here.

PED Secretary calls for increased school safety

In a statement issued yesterday, Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus called upon school districts to update their school safety plans and access federal dollars to update building safety. Steinhaus’ statements come amid a national discussion about school safety and gun reform in the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting on May 24 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. According to a news release, all school districts in New Mexico are required to have site-specific safety plans that include “procedures for responding to emergencies (crime, violence), natural disasters, disease outbreaks and accidents.” Steinhaus says those need to be updated now.

In addition, New Mexico received nearly $1.4 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief pandemic funding, which PED says it has approved for programs “related to social-emotional learning and mental health initiatives.” The education secretary says districts should also consider ways to use those funds to improve building safety; “Such uses are allowed if the need was brought on or exacerbated by COVID-19,” the news release says, noting that PED has previously approved spending to improve lighting, or to install fences, security doors, surveillance cameras or school communication systems. “Students can’t learn, and teachers can’t teach if they don’t feel safe in their school environment,” Steinhaus said in a statement. “Compliance is not an option. We have been told that some young people in New Mexico and elsewhere are struggling privately with untreated but treatable mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. We owe it to them and to ourselves to make sure they get the emotional and mental health supports they need and deserve.” According to Santa Fe Public Schools Public Information Officer Cody Dynarski in an emailed response to questions from SFR, SFPS updates its safety plan annually. In addition, the district “will be undergoing a review of our safety measures this summer. Security has been a high priority of the district and it has proactively invested in the department as well as in our facilities for many years.”

Pueblo of Cochiti water dispute highlights monitoring limits

Pueblo of Cochiti leaders say water flowing through a pipeline from the Santa Fe River to the community of La Bajada exceeds the latter’s allocation for its 52 acres of farmland. La Bajada, in turn, says even during years with ample water, its members don’t reach their allotment of roughly 200 acre-feet of water per year from the Santa Fe River. But Pueblo of Cochiti Gov. Phillip Quintana tells SFR lack of adequate water is drying out the Santa Fe River and its surrounding ecosystems. “We hope it gets to the ocean, because we know once it gets to the ocean it turns into clouds, it comes back to us in the form of rains, and it’s like a full circle,” the governor says. The Office of the State Engineer says it’s difficult to verify Cochiti’s assessment due to a lack of reliable monitoring systems. State Engineer Mike Hamman—confirmed by the Legislature in February—tells SFR limited monitoring can lead to disputes during years of shortages—an issue he’s planning to address in his new position: “Especially as climate change and everything kind of tightens up the water supply , we are certainly going to go, more and more, to measurement and recording,” he says.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 31:

New cases: 2,156 (including three-day weekend); 536,017 total cases

Death’s: 13; At last count, Santa Fe County had 297 total deaths; there have been 7,791 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 129. Patients on ventilators: 14

Community levels: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—classifies nine NM counties as “yellow” or medium for risk: Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, Sandoval, Bernalillo, Cibola, De Baca, Grant, and Doña Ana counties. The rest of the state remains “green” for low community levels. The CDC updates its community levels on Thursdays. CDC recommendations for individuals and communities based on the community level rankings can be found here.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. 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

On the most recent episode of New Mexico PBS’ digital series, Indigi-Genius, host Lee Francis IV (Laguna Pueblo), CEO and founder of Native Realities, discusses cartography’s importance for Indigenous people, who have been making maps for millennia. For Indigenous people, the show notes explain, “cartography is more than just topography or mapping locations. For many indigenous communities, it’s about values, culture and traditional understandings. Perhaps the earliest representations of cartography can be highlighted in the petroglyphs and stone art of numerous Indigenous peoples around the globe.”

What’s in a name?

Food & Wine magazine includes The Pantry restaurant in its troupe of the “best diners in every state.” The story does not offer a stringent definition of “diner,” but simply says: “Diners go by many names, depending on where you’re from—cafés, coffee shops, family restaurants, Waffle Houses, etc. They do, however, all have one thing in common: they are the living embodiment of the democratic ideal, with their wide open doors and sit-where-you-like ethic. They are there to meet you where you’re at, whether you want a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, or a prime rib dinner.” Under this broad umbrella, sure, the pantry is a diner (the story does not specify which of its three locations in question is the “best” diner, so we will just assume they all are). Diner nomenclature aside, yes, The Pantry rules. As Food & Wine writes: “Blue corn hot cakes hinting of cinnamon, home fries mingling with red chile, omelets bursting with chorizo, carne adovada with your scrambles—if you weren’t feeling the New Mexico vibe before you got to The Pantry in Santa Fe, one breakfast should put you right.”

Hit the road

The Denver Post includes a few Santa Fe highlights in its Colorado road trip recommendations, designed for Coloradans ready to “gas up and go.” SITE Santa Fe’s Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric exhibition makes the cut, with the Post writing, “Gibson’s art is overly colourful, larger than life, full of personality and super fun to be around. Two more good things about SITE: It’s always free and has a stellar gift shop.” (All true). The story also highlights Carmen at the Santa Opera this summer (July 1-Aug. 27), where attendees will be able to hear mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard, and for which “the company is going all out for the show, so expect smashing sets and costumes by Julia Hansen and earnest accompaniment from the orchestra led by in-house musical director Harry Bicket.” The opera’s M. Butterfly (July 30-Aug. 24) also makes the cut: “This is one of the most-anticipated classical music moments of 2022 and comes with the potential to make countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim a major star in the business. ”

June has arrived

Today will be sunny with a high near 76 degrees and east wind 10 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Tonight could be windy, according to the National Weather Service, with wind gusts as high as 30mph and tomorrow just might bring some rain.

Thanks for reading! The Word has been looking at aspirational yard photos from verdant environs while hacking away at Siberian Elms and tumbleweeds.

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