Failed GOP Candidate Ronchetti Sues Consulting Firm

Ronchetti sues political consulting firm

SFR staff writer Andrew Oxford reports failed GOP candidate Mark Ronchetti is suing Virginia-based Go Big Media, the political consulting firm he says botched the launch of websites for both his gubernatorial and US Senate campaigns. As such, the lawsuit says, Ronchetti’s job as KRQE’s weatherman was jeopardized. In the case of his gubernatorial campaign, the suit says Ronchetti “was forced to resign immediately and without warning from his job at KRQE-TV.” The lawsuit argues that this caused “financial losses, loss of reputation, damage to his campaign, damage to his employment prospects, and other economic and noneconomic damages.” Go Big Media did not respond to emails seeking comment, but in court, its lawyers have said the company is not at fault. The lawsuit does not specify how much money Ronchetti wants to recover from Go Big Media but seeks compensatory and punitive damages, accusing the company of unfair or deceptive trade practices, breach of contract and negligence.

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon: one year later

Today marks one year since the onset of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, which burned for nearly four months and became the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history. The state’s congressional delegation secured close to $4 billion in federal aid to compensate victims for the fires, both of which grew out of controlled and prescribed burns lit by the US Forest Service. US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, tells SFR while the money will go a long way in helping residents who lost homes, land and businesses, many in Northern New Mexico continue to struggle in the aftermath of those devastating losses. “I think it’s important to emphasize that these families still need help and support,” he says. “I’m very proud we all worked together to have the [Hermits Peak Fire Assistance Act] signed into law, and now that FEMA is opening up offices, families have more tools to make claims…but we still have families that need help and support from all of us.” Luján noted that FEMA opened its offices earlier than normal, due to requirements in the federal Hermits Peak Fire Assistance Act, and says the agency’s approach has evolved in the year. “FEMA now understands and is open to more of the cultural and traditional practices of caring for people: food preparation—warm food versus cold food—things of that nature,” he says. “And they talk about this in all of these hearings. So that was a lesson that came directly from the people on the ground.”

West Alameda detour may continue for months

Fixing the collapsed culverts on West Alameda, which have closed the road and created a detour, may take months, City of Santa Fe Public Works Director Regina Wheeler tells the Santa Fe New Mexican, who says at present there does not appear to be a way to reopen the road. District 1 City Councilor Renee Villarreal tells the paper, via email, the news of the months-long repairs is frustrating, as “those of us that live in this part of town are already noticing the change in traffic patterns with increased traffic on Agua Fría during peak times and this will likely continue while the repairs get completed.” Speaking of Agua Fría, the Board of Santa Fe County Commissioners yesterday unanimously voted to approve the addition of adjacent land between West Alameda Street and NM 599 to the traditional village of Agua Fría, which will move land-use authority from the city—which has never annexed the area—to the county. Resident Sid Monroe said residents’ attempts to work with the city on land-use and neighborhood issues have been for naught: “What we long for is to have government representation that aligns with our neighborhood needs and characteristics,” Monroe said. “We have tried to engage, we have tried to partner, we have tried to dialogue with the city. We have been consistently rebuffed.”

Lujan Grisham signs law protecting health care workers

Last June 27, just days after the US Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order shielding New Mexico health care workers who provide reproductive health services to out-of-state residents, as well as those who come here seeking abortions. Yesterday, she signed the legislation codifying those protections into state law. “We are seeing the rights of individuals seeking critical health care services being quashed in states around the country,” the governor said in a statement. “These policies have real consequences that play out in the lives of American families, and New Mexico is a state that will stand up for the rights of all to access the health care services they need.” Last month, the governor signed a companion bill, House Bill 7, which also bans local governments from restricting access to abortion or gender-affirming care. Both bills garnered support from numerous community organizations. “With the signing of SB13, in addition to multiple other bills recently signed, we are proud to live in the safest and most affirming state in the nation for LGBTQ people,” Equality New Mexico Executive Director Marshall Martinez said in a statement. “Bodily autonomy is the key to our liberation as queer and trans folks and these protections for patients, providers, and all of their support networks is a crucial piece of achieving full autonomy for us all.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Apri 5: New cases: 232; 675,956 total cases. Deaths: three; Santa Fe County has had 401 total deaths; 9,131 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 91; patients on ventilators: 11

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent March 30 “community levels” map shows improvement for New Mexico, with just two counties—Cibola and McKinley—yellow with medium levels, down from four last week, none red and the rest of the state with green—aka low—levels. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via; 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 info; 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.

Listen up

Had trouble booking a doctor’s appointment of late? You’re not alone. Between 2017 and 2021, the number of primary physicians in New Mexico dropped by 30%, with specialists also leaving the state. Today’s 8 am Let’s Talk New Mexico on KUNM (89.9 FM or online) call-in show will explore the question: “Is there still a doctor in the house?” If you’ve struggled to see a provider; are a provider overwhelmed by patients; or have any ideas or thoughts, call in to (505) 277-5866 or email during the show. Guests include: state Rep. and Jenifer Jones, R-Deming and RN, and University of New Mexico Office for Community Health Director of Rural Engagement and Physicians Assistant Matthew Probst.

Ride on

This week, the City of Santa Fe Recreation Division announced it is now offering instructor-led bike rides through Santa Fe from 10 to 11 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you have a membership to any of the city’s recreation centers, the rides are free; otherwise, they cost $5. The route begins at Fort Marcy Recreation Complex and cruises past the New Mexico Museum of Art, downtown Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, and then stops at West Zia Road before tracing the same route back to the Fort Marcy complex. Call (505) 955-2500 to reserve a spot at least a day in advance, or up to a week before the ride. If a ride sounds fun but you’re bicycle-deficient, fear not. The city’s Recreation Division also offers free bicycle rentals; just arrive 15 minutes before the ride. Wondering if you can keep up? The rides are described as leisurely. And on the city recreation front, rec centers close at noon on Friday in observance of Good Friday and the Genoveva Chavez Community Center (where one can also rent a free bike, last time we checked) will be closed on Sunday, April 9 for Easter.

Seeing (with) O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Sunday, April 9 (through Aug. 12) and is, the New Yorker writes, the “first major exhibition devoted to the American modernist’s output in charcoal, pastel, watercolor, and graphite, accompanied by a selection of her crowd-pleasing canvases.” In an interview in MoMa’s magazine, Department of Drawings and Prints Associate Curator Samantha Friedman and paper conservator Laura Neufeld, who collaborated on the exhibition, discuss “how paper is not just a support, but a protagonist in O’Keeffe’s drawings.” Paper, Neufeld notes, was “absolutely central to Georgia O’Keeffe’s development as an artist. It’s where she started and it’s what she returns to periodically throughout her career, particularly at moments of change or experimentation. It was a foundational material that she was comfortable coming back to when she needed to experiment, develop an idea, or reset her artistic practice. Paper was her main material when she started as an artist, partially because it was inexpensive, accessible, and portable. But these qualities also lend themselves to a certain amount of freedom.”

Spring fling

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 58 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. The weekend should be mostly sunny with increasingly warm temperatures ranging from the low 60s tomorrow up to the low 70s on Sunday.

Thanks for reading! The Word will be absconding early for the spring holidays (remember: Most, if not all, government offices close at noon tomorrow) and returns Monday, April 10. She leaves you with this seasonal Edna St. Vincent Millay poem and this video of food star Jake Cohen making lemon-lavender challah bread pudding.

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