Tonight: City Council Considers Replacing Broken Parking Meters

Council to consider replacing broken parking meters

At its meeting tonight, the Santa Fe City Council is set to consider a $740,000 contract to replace the city’s broken parking meters. Specifically, under that contract, San Diego-based IPS Group will install 600 refurbished meters this fiscal year and provide monitoring for new and remaining old technology meters for four years. According to a background summary, the city has 1,080 single space parking meters that were installed in 2014 that are “past useful life, failing and need to be replaced.” Moreover, the existing meters “utilize 2G and 3G wireless technology, which is being phased out and meters with new technology must be installed for the system to remain functional.” The broken meters have taken a toll on revenue, which dropped from just over $2 million in 2018 to about $1.1 million last year, in part due to inoperative meters. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, City Public Works Director Regina Wheeler wrote in an email that pending council approval, she hopes the new meters will be installed in the next six weeks. “Note that customers can park for free at broken meters,” Wheeler wrote. “They must adhere to the maximum duration, for instance, some locations only allow parking for two hours. No need for people to report the broken meters, our team is doing inventory.” During a downtown walk, the paper notes, approximately half the meters “encountered appeared to be inoperative, either displaying blank or scrambled LCD screens or an ‘out of order’ message.”

Lujan Grisham appoints new PED secretary

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday appointed Los Lunas Superintendent Arsenio Romero as the newest Secretary of the Public Education Department, replacing Kurt Steinhaus, who retired in January, and marking her fourth appointment in about as many years. Romero starts work March 6. Romero also previously served as superintendent of Deming Public Schools as well as assistant superintendent for Instruction and Transformation at the Roswell Independent School District. A Belen native, Romero’s career in education began as an elementary school teacher and principal at Las Cruces Public Schools. He received both his undergraduate and Ph.D from New Mexico State University, as well as a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership from the University of New Mexico. He has also taught at New Mexico State University since 2014 and joined the NMSU Board of Regents in 2020. “I am incredibly honored to be entrusted by Gov. Lujan Grisham and the people of our state with leading the New Mexico Public Education Department,” Romero said in a statement. “I have deep roots here and understand the importance of an education that reflects the culture and values of New Mexicans. As a long-time educator and administrator, I am also keenly aware of the work that still needs to be done to make sure that every New Mexico student receives the education they deserve.”

NM House passes bill to codify abortion rights

House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, now heads to the state Senate, following House passage yesterday. The bill, among other provisions, prohibits public bodies and individuals from restricting access to either reproductive or gender-affirming health care, and comes on the heels of several smaller counties passing anti-abortion ordinances. The Albuquerque Journal reports the bill passed on a 38-31 to vote, with six Democrats joining all 25 Republicans voting against the bill. Also yesterday, 20 US Democratic governors—including New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham—launched a so-called Reproductive Freedom Alliance, spearheaded by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and described in a news release as “a multi-state, nonpartisan coalition representing over 170 million Americans focused on protecting, strengthening and expanding reproductive freedom.” Those rights, Lujan Grisham said in a statement, “are fundamental, no matter which state you live in.” A joint statement from all 20 governors says more than 36 million women have lost access to critical health care since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, and access to medical abortions remains under attack across the country. “In the face of this unprecedented assault by states hostile to abortion rights and their enablers in the courts, we are pledging to work together to strengthen abortion firewalls across America. This fight isn’t over,” the statement says. According to the Washington Post, the alliance has thus far secured at least six-figure totals in contributions, with major funding coming from the California Wellness Foundation and other financial help from the Rosenberg Foundation.

Groups try to block NM cow-shooting plan

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association and Humane Farm Animals yesterday announced legal actions to attempt to stop a plan for aerial shooting of feral cows in the Gila wilderness, slated to begin tomorrow. According to a news release from NMCGA, the groups filed a complaint and request for a temporary restraining order and injunction in federal District Court for New Mexico against against the US Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Last year, NMCGA and others filed suit against the USFS after the agency announced with little notice a similar aerial shooting plan in the Gila Wilderness. According to NMCGA, 65 head of cattle were shot during that operation, “many of which were not killed instantly but wandered off, bled out and then died.” The organization and federal agencies ultimately settled that case, with the Forest Service agreeing to provide 75 days written notice for any future such operations. “Unfortunately, after a year of abiding by our settlement agreement we are now back to square one,” NMCGA President Loren Patterson said in a statement. “Throughout the past year, we offered real solutions to the Forest Service for the Gila estray problem. Those solutions would address the immediate issue, provide long-term resolution and would be humane.” In its new filing, the groups ask the court to halt the operation due to the lack of notice. Moreover, they say the Forest Service lacks authority to shoot cattle; is violating its own regulations and the National Environmental Protection Act; and that the “shooting operation constitutes animal cruelty under New Mexico law, a criminal violation.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Feb. 21New cases: 210; 668,109 total cases. Deaths: three; Santa Fe County has had 398 total deaths; 9,016 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 69. Patients on ventilators: nine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Feb. 16 “community levels” map shows the entire state has green—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

The recently published results of the 13th annual Conservation in the West poll from Colorado College found found respondents in eight Mountain West states—Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming—express high levels of support (in the 70 to 90% range) for a variety of conservation efforts, including: protecting wildlife habitats and migration routes; ensuring healthier forests; preventing light pollution that blocks out the stars; and safeguarding drinking water. Local conservation efforts had particularly strong backing; in New Mexico, for instance, 88% of voters want to designate existing public lands in the Caja del Rio plateau as a national conservation area. On the most recent episode of the National Parks Traveler Podcast, host Kurt Repanshek discusses the poll’s results with Brian Kurzel, regional executive director for the Rocky Mountain region of the National Wildlife Federation.

Desert living

The Wall Street Journal’s Mansion section recently rolled out a series of articles from a special desert living issue, including a story on the Southwest architectural style known as pueblo or adobe. Steven Moffson, the National Register coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office in Santa Fe, explains to WSJ that rounded corners “is one of the defining characteristics” for adobe homes “because you can’t hold a sharp corner on a building with mud.” The story, naturally, also lists some “pueblo-style” homes for sale in the Southwest, including a $2.15 million traditional adobe house in Taos with six fireplaces, wall niches, vigas, latillas and willow window shutters. Another story in the series spotlights artists and writers who look to the desert for “inspiration,” and the real-estate that allows them to do so. For instance, in Santa Fe, abstract artist Kiyomi Baird’s art studio includes 27-foot ceilings and an outdoor viewing platform that overlooks the 40-acre estate she and her husband bought. “I wanted a space that I could work in, but also wanted to create receptions and events,” Baird tells the Journal. Thus: “The Bairds moved into their 9,686-square-foot home in 2016 and built the separate museum-style, 1,995-square-foot studio with a bathroom the following year at a cost of more than $1 million. The studio is a couple hundred feet from the main home, which has five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a wine room, an indoor pool and a library.”

Transcending art

We mentioned previously the glowing January review the LA Times bestowed upon Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, 1938–1945 (through June 19 at the Los Angeles County Museum). Now the newspaper delves into how the New Mexico artists—and the federal government—changed modern art. “Isolated in the rural American Southwest and navigating the harsh realities of poverty in the 1930s, a small group of artists made sublime abstract art that sought to intuitively connect viewers to a spiritual realm,” the story begins. “These artists gathered in an adobe home in Santa Fe, N.M., in the summer of 1938 to formalize their commitment to a collective effort of art-making with metaphysical motivations. They named it the Transcendental Painting Group.” While the exhibition is the most “comprehensive” look at all of the TPG artists, the story notes, less visible is “how the Works Progress Administration shaped TPG artists’ awareness of art’s capacity to enlighten audiences.” The WPA work relief program, by putting artists to work in public venues “demystified creative labor and brought local residents in dialogue with the insular community of artists.” For the TPG artists, this type of public sphere engagement led to the “radical belief” that “if artists were doing their job, viewers could access a portal to understanding nature, music and self—a fourth dimension on a two-dimensional surface.” Juxtapose magazine also has just published a short slide show of some of the works in the show.

Catch wind

Santa Fe will be under a high wind warning starting at 8 am today through 2 am, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a south wind 20 to 30 mph increasing to 30 to 40 mph in the afternoon, with gusts as high as 55 mph (the winds appear as though they will be the strongest between 11 am and 8 pm). Other parts of the state could experience “hurricane force wind gusts,” with peak gusts of 80 to 90 mph expected in the Gila Wilderness and Sacramento Mountains. In addition to the wind, Santa Fe will start out cloudy, gradually become sunny and have a high temperature of 42 degrees and a 70% chance for precipitation in the form of rain and snow in the morning becoming just snow later. So if you’re celebrating National Margarita Day today, you might want to do so at home.

Thanks for reading! As a very early riser, The Word does not understand why videos of people’s morning routines would be of any interest to anyone, but apparently they are very popular on TikTok.

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