AG to FEMA: NM Needs Help


AG to FEMA: NM needs help

Attorney General Hector Balderas has appealed to the director of the Department of Homeland Security to ramp up assistance and cut red tape for New Mexicans affected by the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. In a letter yesterday offering comment about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s rulemaking process, Balderas wrote, “I am also very concerned with the lack of progress we have made recovering our environment and cultural heritage for our communities. You are no doubt aware of the drastic impact of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire on rural New Mexican families, farmers and ranchers, and acequias, many of whom continue to struggle to recover from the devastation caused by this disaster. The challenges are many, including cumbersome processes for accessing critical aid to advance their recovery.” Balderas asked for FEMA to appoint a regional manager with local ties to oversee the management of the program; allow for reimbursement for “non-economic damages”; and remove a cap on repayment for tree recovery. FEMA, meanwhile, announced job fairs in Santa Fe and Las Vegas to hire workers for the local claims office. FEMA published the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance regulations in the Federal Register on Nov. 14 and seeks public comment through Jan. 13, 2023. The rule, according to the publication, “guides the claims process and describes necessary documentation, evaluation criteria and compensation available, and provides additional guidance for appeal rights, arbitration and judicial review.” Find instructions on submitting comments in-person or online here.

Santa Fe floats gun resolution

About six months after Mayor Alan Webber called for an outright ban on guns from Santa Fe city facilities, he has introduced a resolution that falls short of that goal, but that pushes the boundaries of what the city can do. Scheduled for public hearings later this month and next, the proposal relies on an expansive reading under a provision of New Mexico’s Constitution that largely ties the hands of local government officials looking to regulate guns. Webber’s idea, which he unveiled last week, would ban deadly weapons from any city facility used for school-sanctioned activities. That includes libraries, municipal soccer fields and City Hall. “Nothing ever solves everything but we keep looking for ways to make a difference and at least go on the record to oppose rampant gun violence,” the mayor tells SFR, noting it’s up to state legislators to go further. Amending the state Constitution requires passage in the Legislature and then on a general election ballot. As recently as this month, the Attorney General’s Office issued a legal opinion stating that Bernalillo County does not have the authority to prohibit firearms in the Bernalillo County Government Center.

Flags half-staff for Medal of Honor recipient

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered flags to half-staff beginning today, ahead of the the funeral for Gallup-born veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura on Saturday, Dec. 10. The veteran of World War II and the Korean War, who died at age 97 last month in Phoenix, was the first living Japanese American to receive the award. Miyamura earned the medal in a 1951 battle where he held back advancing Chinese soldiers near Taejon-Ni, Korea so more Americans could retreat; he was captured and remained a prisoner of war for 27 months. In a video produced by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Miyamura tells the story of his service career in his own words. The son of Japanese immigrants who ran a diner in Gallup, his earliest efforts to enlist were met with hostility, then he was drafted in 1944. “I felt I was an American like anyone else,” he says. “They said, ‘no you have to prove yourself because we are at war with the Japanese, and that is your ancestors. You have to prove that you are loyal to this country.’” The Army discharged Miyamura in 1946 after the war ended, then recalled him to Korea in 1950. Gov. Lujan Grisham called his bravery “the stuff of legends,” noting in a statement that “his efforts not only saved American lives, but went toward the greater cause of preserving our liberty and freedom here at home.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Dec. 7: New cases: 636; 650,779 total cases. The most recent report on geographic trends, dated Dec. 5, shows a 28.3% increase in reported cases over the prior seven-day period compared to the Nov. 28 report. Deaths: 21; Santa Fe County has had 374 total deaths; 8,729 total fatalities statewide. (New deaths have not been reported before and are reported when death certificates are received and reviewed.) Statewide hospitalizations: 215; Patients on ventilators: 12.

The New Mexico Department of Health plans to give an update at 1 pm today on flu, RSV, COVID-19 and monkeypox with Cabinet Secretary Dr. David R. Scrase, Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon and Dr. Anna Duran, associate chief medical officer at UNM Children’s Hospital. The event will be streamed live on the New Mexico Department of Health Facebook page with a Spanish language interpreter on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s YouTube page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Dec. 1 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, shows three counties categorized as “orange”—high risk—for COVID-19, versus eight last week. They are: McKinley, San Juan and Valencia. Santa Fe County remains “green,” identifying lower risk. Ten counties are “yellow,” with medium risk. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Curative testing sites; 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

Oil and gas development in the southern portion of the San Juan Basin is the focus of the latest episode of Our Land on New Mexico PBS and part of the show’s ongoing series about the Greater Chaco Landscape. Mike Eisenfeld, with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, shows journalist Laura Paskus around some of the territory that’s outside the protected boundaries of Chaco Culture National Park and used for energy development. Since 2010, hundreds of wells have been dug, and plans call for thousands more. The alliance has asked the federal government to consider the cumulative scale of the fracking rather than treating it as “exploration.”

Seniors on skis

The (Substitute) Word will no doubt be excited to greet the day in the far future when she qualifies for a Super Senior season pass to slide at Ski Santa Fe. For those of you who are already at this milestone, Travel and Leisure has a new list of the “10 Best Ski Resorts in North American for Seniors” and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area makes the cut. “There’s something very special about skiing throughout New Mexico, where the delectable food rivals the excellent skiing.” T&L writes, “Pajarito has a number of senior skiers that participate in free Thursday Senior Clinics throughout the winter, where they work on skills and strength building as well as video analysis to keep improving. The Los Alamos senior skiing community is fit and passionate. Seniors 75-plus ski for free at Pajarito and appreciate that 70% of its terrain is for the beginner or intermediate skier.” Out of the state, but not too far away in Durango, Colorado, Purgatory makes the list for its “unique blend of steep tree skiing trails and wide-open cruisers, ideal for seniors who still like adrenaline-pumping challenges or for those who prefer intermediate terrain.” (And, the story notes, Purgatory’s Super Senior season pass offers free unlimited skiing for ages 75-plus at not just Parajito, but also Sipapu in New Mexico and Snowbowl in Flagstaff, Arizona.) Find snow conditions at every resort in the state via Ski New Mexico.

Giving time

Gift shopping in Santa Fe becomes a bit easier with the help of a curated guide from Southwest Contemporary that includes both experiential ideas and physical ones. For example, the writers recommend a membership to AMP Concerts, which allows the giftee to access pre-sale opportunities for certain shows and a pair of AMP Discovery Tickets good for a concert priced at $20 or under; a bottle of wine and a wine club membership to Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits (relocated to Agua Fría Street not all that long ago). Those who prefer something to wrap might find a cute little cat dish from Ten Thousand Waves (also, great-smelling shampoo) or DIY milagro decorations from the Museum of International Folk Art. Want to do it all at once? Hit up one of the city’s many artisan gift markets this weekend, including the Santa Fe Indigenous Center’s Indigenous Holiday Bazaar and/or String of Lights market on Saturday. Read about both in this week’s SFR Picks. Lastly, We’re not suggesting you should buy a gift for The Word, but the Society for Professional Journalists Quill magazine also trucked out its gift guide this week, which includes something called “broadcast journalist socks” as well as “journal of the month,” which promises the “literary likes of The Iowa Review, Creative Nonfiction and Ploughshares in your mailbox” (monthly or quarterly as you prefer).

World on a string

Rain fell in Santa Fe last night but today’s forecast calls for clear skies. The National Weather Service predicts a sunny day with a high near 43 and northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Thanks for reading! The (Substitute) Word wasn’t all that interested in the Lensa “magic avatar” trend, but after reading a piece about how it is “scraping”/stealing from artists and other bad stuff in Hyperallergic, she’s even less inclined.

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