Santa Fe County voters reject tax increase

Santa Fe voters rejected another tax increase, this time in a low-turnout special election. The increase would have raised the gross receipts tax in Santa Fe County by one-sixteenth of one percent, or 6.25 percent on every $100 spent. The results were anything but close—70 percent of the voters opposed the increase. Unlike the sugary-drink tax election, which drew  a lot of campaign spending and relatively high turnout, unofficial numbers from the Santa Fe County clerk showed just under 8,000 voters cast ballots for the gross receipts tax election, less than ten percent of the county’s registered voters. The state’s base gross receipts tax, which applies to most goods and services but not food or medicine, is 5.125 percent.

Under Protest

If you could get high on a city, Fiestas weekend on the Plaza is where you would go to breathe in the essence of Santa Fe. This past Saturday, generations of families and others came to laze around in the late-afternoon sunlight. The smells of fry bread and meat wafted in the air as chomped corn cobs piled up in trash cans. Folklorico music and mariachi trumpets mixed with Baby Boomer-era hits like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” as small children bounded on the grass, a few shooting at each other with toy guns. This story originally appeared at the Santa Fe Reporter and is reprinted with permission.

Santa Fe Mayor Gonzales won’t run for re-election

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second four year term in office. Gonzales said the decision not to run “wasn’t easy.”

The mayor announced the news in an email to supporters, highlighting his accomplishments while in office. The one-term mayor said he wishes to spend more time with his two daughters. Gonzales’ decision leaves the city’s mayoral election, six months away, wide-open. While Gonzales didn’t mention his political future, he indicated he will take some time out of public service.

Judge blocks Trump’s sanctuary city executive order

The Donald Trump administration suffered another setback in federal court over an executive order after a federal judge ruled Tuesday the administration cannot enforce an order to stop funds from going to so-called “sanctuary cities.”

The lawsuit, brought by cities including San Francisco, Santa Clara and later joined by the city of Santa Fe said the executive order is unconstitutional and granted a nationwide injunction, which blocks the order from going into effect anywhere in the country. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said in a statement the ruling was an indication that the federal government wasn’t listening to local governments. “Rather than listening to cities, the closest governments to the people, and working with us to fix a badly broken federal immigration system or institute trade and immigration policies that benefit the centers of innovation that are driving this country’s economy, President Trump has opted to declare war on us,” he said. “And that’s a shame.”

Gonzales has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the sanctuary city executive order and rhetoric from the Trump administration. “Our city’s history going back 400 years and the success and vibrancy we enjoy today has depended on it, and those are the values that won in court today,” the mayor said.

New Mexico marches for science

Throughout the state Saturday, activists and others marched as part of the worldwide “March for Science” that coincided with Earth Day. The largest rally in New Mexico took place in Albuquerque, at the Albuquerque Civic Plaza. In Las Cruces on Saturday morning, more than 500 people marched around downtown, then joined a rally with speakers and music. In Santa Fe, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, addressed the crowd, saying that science isn’t a partisan issue and that all “policymakers need scientists so we can make good decisions.”
He also said the federal scientists, working at agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, should “be able to do their work for the American people without worrying about political interference.”

Udall said that climate change is the “moral, political and scientific challenge of our time, and we must face it head on, aggressively.”

Albuquerque’s event featured several people wearing colorful costumes, including one person dressed as a dinosaur and a couple dressed as both the Grim Reaper and a medieval plague doctor. Jackie Coombes, a microbiologist dressed as the plague doctor, said she is worried about the consequences of the federal government cutting funding on vaccines.

Is Santa Fe’s proposed soda tax a sweet deal for kids?

Next month, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales may face the biggest test of his mayoral career so far as voters decide whether or not to approve a tax increase on sugary beverages that he’s championed. The idea is to tax sugary beverages 2 cents per ounce. That money will pay for 1,000 spots in existing pre-kindergarten education facilities around the city for children of low-income families. Matt Ross, a spokesman with the mayor’s office, said that the city doesn’t need to use the additional revenue to create a public early childhood education program because of existing private and nonprofit preschools in Santa Fe. “The capacity is there, there’s just a lack of affordability,” Ross said in an interview.

Santa Fe signs onto suit to block Trump order punishing ‘sanctuary’ cities

The city of Santa Fe joined 33 other cities and counties in a lawsuit against the federal government over President Donald Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, a Democrat, has been an outspoken opponent of Trump’s war on sanctuary cities. Trump promised to halt federal funding to the areas, arguing that by not aiding federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws, the communities are protecting criminals. The amicus brief in the lawsuit brought by Santa Clara County in California says Trump’s executive order violates the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, violates the Constitution’s Due Process Clause and does not provide procedural due process. The brief asks for a nationwide injunction.

No charges after man wrote ‘terrorist’ in chalk outside Muslim-owned restaurant

The man who wrote “terrorist” outside of a restaurant owned by a Muslim in Santa Fe will not be charged. A photo of the message went viral on Facebook, with hundreds of shares by Monday morning. The Albuquerque Journal reported the man who wrote the message in “bright pink chalk” will not be charged, in part because of what police call “very apparent mental issues” and in part because the message was written in chalk and there was no property damage. The message was written outside the Pyramid Cafe, one of three restaurants owned by Mohamed “Ziggy” Rzig, the Journal reported. Rzig is originally from Tunisia and is now an American citizen.

NM cities push back against Trump immigration policies

Three of the state’s largest cities highlighted their opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies this week. The moves come as President Donald Trump has given more power to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. The move appears to show wider enforcement against both those with criminal records and those without. In Albuquerque, the city council* approved a memorial reaffirming the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status. The move came in front of a packed crowd that included many who were unable to fit in the chambers.

Santa Fe weighing lawsuit against government over ‘sanctuary city’ executive order

The city of Santa Fe hasn’t made a decision on whether or not to sue the federal government over its sanctuary city status, but it is an option on the table. This comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

“We are working on our legal strategy to clarify our standing, marshal our strongest possible arguments, and consider ways to address the executive order on so-called Sanctuary Cities,” city spokesman Matt Ross said in a statement. “One of those avenues may very well be a lawsuit, so it’s certainly on the table, but we’re not there yet.”

The city of San Francisco sued the federal government last week over Trump’s executive order. Ross noted that City Attorney Kelly Brennan brought up the issue at a city council meeting Wednesday night. “There was a good discussion and general agreement to get that process started, to have conversations with the legal community in Santa Fe and with advocates like the ACLU, and then to report back to the Council for a final decision,” Ross said.