Santa Fe muffler laws head for hearing
At tonight’s 5 pm City Council meeting (viewable on the city’s YouTube page), the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on proposed changes to the city’s Uniform Traffic Ordinance governing mufflers and emission control devices, along with the possibility of increasing fines for violating muffler noise violations (item #17, so toward the end). According to a memo from Santa Fe Police Deputy Chief Matthew Champlin, both SFPD and the City Council have received increasing numbers of complaints in recent years regarding “loud modified mufflers,” which “have a direct impact on the quality of life in several areas of the city This includes not only high pedestrian traffic and open commerce areas such as the Santa Fe Plaza and downtown area, but also residential neighborhoods throughout the city.” In response, Champlin’s memo notes, city officials have had numerous meetings to discuss “innovative ideas for the enforcement of muffler noise violations,” with one key issue emerging as the “relatively high impact on the quality of life and comparatively low fine imposed for such violations.” To wit: The current fine is $25, regardless of how many citations one has. The proposed bill would increase the initial fine from $25 to an amount not less than $250 nor more than $500 for the first violation and implements a fine of $500 for successive violations. According to a fiscal impact report, SFPD currently issues approximately 30 muffler violation citations annually. The bill also amends the law to specify that anyone who modifies or offers to modify a muffler in such a way that it increases the noise, fumes or smoke exhaust is violating the law; selling devices that increase noise, fume or smoke also would be illegal. In California, by the way, the governor has a bill on his desk that would require drivers to fix their mufflers within three months or risk having their registrations suspended. Lastly, Vice magazine a few years back asked people (men people) why they make their car engines so loud, in case you were wondering too.
Lawmakers slated for updates on CYFD, crime and corrections
The Legislature’s Courts Corrections and Justice Committee will begin meeting today through Sept. 30 to discuss, among other topics, the state of crime in New Mexico; staffing issues and inmate deaths at correctional facilities; and changes and responses to child deaths from the Children, Youth and Families Department. Barbara Vigil, who became the CYFD department head nearly a year ago, will deliver the latter at 1:30 pm today at the State Capitol, in the aftermath of a fourth quarter evaluation of the department by the Legislative Finance Committee that showed 43% of children with serious injuries had already had contact with the department in the prior year. As SFR reported last week, the report notes that “the consequences when children experience repeat maltreatment are potentially devastating. However, New Mexico consistently ranks among the top six states for repeat maltreatment occurring within 12 months of an initial allegation.” Vigil tells the Albuquerque Journal the department is “incredibly proud of the ongoing improvements that are being made in our child welfare system,” but acknowledged more need to be made, many of which she linked to “systemic challenges that have manifested over many years, ” Such as the need to strengthen the CYFD workforce. As for Corrections workforce, a recent LFC analysis reports a drop in prison populations—an 8% decrease since March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began—has allowed Corrections “to continue operating its facilities safely,” despite staffing vacancies: Public and Private correctional officer vacancies remain high, 29% and 32%, respectively, for the 2022 fiscal year.
Parties miss settlement deadline in Rio Grande water case
New Mexico and Texas missed a recent settlement deadline in the almost decade-long Rio Grande water case and will head to court in Iowa in January unless they can do so in the next few weeks (here’s a primer on the issues, which essentially involve allocation of the river’s groundwater to New Mexico, Texas and Colorado). At a hearing yesterday in the US Western District of Texas in El Paso, US Department of Justice lawyer Lee Leininger said a month’s worth of settlement talks had not been successful. El Paso Matters reports the case’s appointed mediator, former Judge Arthur Boylan, described the remaining issues between the federal government and New Mexico and Colorado as “dealbreakers,” but not “insurmountable”; however, he could not specify what they were due to the confidential nature of the negotiations. Colorado and New Mexico’s lawyers have previously “raised concerns on the federal government’s role in the dispute,” the story says. New Mexico attorney Jeff Weschler says the state is ready for trial, but remains open to a settlement agreement.
COVID-19 by the numbers
Reported Sept 27: New cases: 217; 617,839 total cases; Deaths: five; Santa Fe County has had 351 total deaths; there have been 8,563 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 102. Patients on ventilators: seven. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent “community levels” map, which updates on Thursdays, all of New Mexico is currently “green,” and has low case and hospitalization rates.
Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result; curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info. 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.
Santa Fe nonprofit Littleglobe airs the 10th episode of Littleglobe TV at 7 pm tonight, “Radical Happiness,” featuring short videos, skits, memes, animations and live hosting by Santa Fe youth. According to a news release, the stories include “moving to a new country and leaving family behind; being a female wrestler; dealing with social anxiety; how a family celebrates their culture through powwow dancing; addressing juvenile incarceration through dance and art therapy; and little moments of daily life.” Many of the stories came out of summer workshops Littleglobe provided with Earth Care’s El Puente Leadership Program. Tune in here.
If the cooler days and changing landscape have inspired you to forage in the woods, Edible New Mexico has a recommendation: acorns. According to author Ellen Zachos, who both writes about foraging and offers online foraging courses, “sooner or later, almost every forager gathers acorns,” which are good sources of both starch and fat. While collecting, shelling, leaching and grinding sounds like a lot of work, Zachos says it’s worth the labor for this “versatile, delicious wild food.” She also provides extensive tips to undertake the tasks (discarding nuts with small holes previously used as an exit for the oak weevil larva seems particularly useful advice). Most importantly, she provides a recipe for acorn mushroom soup. Zachos’ story was intriguing enough to send us over to read more of her recipes for foraged food and drink—and now we can’t stop thinking about chanterelle ice cream.
Hyperallergic magazine profiles the inaugural project at Santa Fe’s Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts’ Project Space, Giving Growth, spearheaded by local artists Eliza Naranjo Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo) and Jamison Chas Banks (Seneca-Cayuga). The artists enlisted residents of nearby retirement home Ventana de Vida to gather, talk and create in the space. The intergenerational initiative involved building raised bed planters, using materials donated by Reunity Resources, at both the Coe and Ventana de Vida, along with an art exhibition. Banks and Naranjo Morse, the story says, “envisioned Giving Growth as a response to the loneliness and forced hibernation brought on by the pandemic,” as well as a “call to action borne from our collective loss, an acknowledgment of the centrality of relationships that are vital to our own well-being.” The project culminated in an opening last month, at which, writer Chelsea Weathers says, dozens of small cups on the floor held bouquets from the group’s harvest, while “scores of battery-powered tea candles” provided “the only sources of light in the darkest corners of the room—constellations of tiny stars. In the center hung Banks’s four screenprints of full moons, one placed symbolically at each of the cardinal directions: an icy-blue, winter full moon in the north; an orange summer moon in the south; a neutral-colored equinox moon in the west, and a white equinox moon in the east.”
The cooling days and nights
Like yesterday, the National Weather Service today forecasts a slight (20%) chance for precipitation via isolated showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm. It will be otherwise sunny, with a high temperature near 75 degrees and east wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the morning. The short-term forecast for the rest of the week looks very much the same, but temperatures will decrease slightly from the high into the low 70s.
Thanks for reading! The Word does not anticipate being able to pull off wearing skirts over pants this fall.