Santa Fe Claims Progress, But No Resolution on Unfinished Audit |

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City of Santa Fe 2020 audit remains unresolved

Another month has ticked by without a completed audit for the City of Santa Fe for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021, yet city councilors on the Finance Committee on Monday night heard assurances from the de facto head of the Finance Department that staff have made progress on a checklist of 27 items from the state auditor and Department of Finance Administration. The entire list must be fully addressed before contract auditing firm CliftonLarsonAllen will consider resuming its work. The city’s finance director left the job a few days after news broke that the firm had withdrawn and the state auditor would intervene. Interim Assistant Finance Director Ricky Bejarano is leading the department in absence of a new director. Bejarano said Monday the city was moving to fill vacant positions in the department, including two that are pending formal job offers and two that should be advertised in the coming weeks. Should the firm agree to re-start the audit, the city has agreed to pay for what Bejarano said Monday night is “essentially a reboot” as a new contract. One of the most significant items on the list is reconciliation of about $4.6 million identified in the city’s bank account but not in its general ledger. That number now stands at about $600,000, he said. The city has also reconciled balances in its 70-plus funds and made a work plan to extricate records from the Buckman Direct Diversion and the joint city/county Solid Waste Management Agency from the city’s books by next summer. Another big item that remains is monthly bank reconciliations for five city accounts that went unreconciled for 11 months. “There is no excuse,” Bejarano said, “but there are some reasons behind it,” noting vacancies and challenges due to the pandemic and to computer software changes. “We recognize the bank reconciliations should be done, at a minimum, monthly…We’ve just got to figure out how to get it on track.”

Santa Fe school board member Garcia resigns

The Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education on Monday announced a special meeting Thursday to accept the resignation of Vice President Rudy Garcia. The board also plans to discuss the process and timeline for appointing a new member to fill the District 4 vacancy Garcia’s departure will create. Garcia had been appointed to the elected board in 2017 after another member resigned. He was re-elected in 2019, the same year he also won a seat on the Santa Fe County Commission. Garcia has been serving in both roles, but he’s also on his way out from the county job—having finished third in a three-way Democratic primary race this month. Camilla Bustamante, of La Cienega, won that race and faces no major-party opposition in the November general election. Fellow school board member Sarah Boses told the Santa Fe New Mexican that Garcia, 51, had cited health reasons for his departure and had said at a May board meeting he had suffered a recent stroke.

Cannabis Control Division leadership swap

New Mexico’s cannabis landscape shifted last week, when the Cannabis Control Division’s first director, Kristen Thomson, announced her resignation—effective immediately—about eight months after taking the helm. The Regulation and Licensing Department didn’t offer a reason for Thomson’s departure, but Superintendent Linda Trujillo appointed Carolina Barrera, who previously served as the division’s deputy director of business operations, as the interim director. Trujillo plans to work closely with Barrera “and a dedicated team who is fully committed to working with this new business industry,” the RLD tells SFR in an email. Find other cannabis news, including the new retailer Endo opening on Agua Fria Street in Santa Fe and a field trip for Trujillo to a national banking symposium, in this month’s Leaf Brief newsletter.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported June 17: (The Department of Health website indicates numbers were updated on June 20 but the display remains identical to the June 17 report.)

New cases: 1,283; 551,614 total cases

Deaths: 11; Santa Fe County has had 307 total deaths thus far; there have been 7,883 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 157. Patients on ventilators: 19.

Vaccines for children: The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the use of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 6 months through 5 years of age. On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed with a recommendation. Case rates: According to the most recent DOH report on geographical trends for COVID-19, for the seven-day period of June 6-12, Los Alamos County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population in the state: 133.3, followed by Cibola and Grant counties at 75.7 and 75.4, respectively. Santa Fe County has the fifth highest at 64.8.

Community levels: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination for its framework—for the seven-day period of June 9-15, nine counties show high—or “red”—levels—seven more than last week. Twelve counties, including Santa Fe County, are classified as having yellow or “medium” levels. CDC recommendations for individuals and communities based on the community-level rankings can be found here, but include the recommendation for people living in counties with “high” community levels to wear masks indoors and on public transportation. The CDC updates its map every Thursday.

Resources: Vaccine registrationBooster registration Free at-home rapid antigen testsSelf-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. 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.

Listen up

Actor Gary Farmer interviews Chris Eyre, director of the new Dark Winds television show on AMC, in a recent episode of Film Talk Weekly, co-hosted by Jacques Paisner of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. The George RR Martin and Robert Redford-backed TV show’s second of six episodes hit Amazon Prime this weekend with a stellar Indigenous cast including Zahn McClarnon. For Eyre (Cheyenne-Arapaho), it’s the second take on a murder-mystery and psychological thriller penned by Tony Hillerman, and the reviews so far are good. “I made a Hillerman 20 years ago and had made Smoke Signals before that…We kind of felt like we maybe were ahead of the time, which was there wasn’t this occupation with diversity and certainly not with authenticity, so I just think that the time and the place was now,” he says. “There is an element of fate.”

Trauma-informed teacher takes message from NM to Ukraine

New Mexico educator Georgianna Duarte recently completed service with the US State Department conducting seminars on trauma-informed teaching to “provide resources and tools to teachers working with Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian refugees in Europe as they adapt to changing demographics in their classrooms.” Duarte, of Silver City, tells SFR the experience was particularly meaningful to her because she’s an English Language Specialist in the Baltic Nations and she is the grandchild of a Ukrainian family. “It was my moral pride and honor to represent this country in this special training for teachers in a war zone. While 28 other countries were involved in this training, I was particularly honored to be selected as the specialist,” she writes. The State Department program’s mission is “to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad.”

Latinos take front and center at Smithsonian

The future Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino has opened its first pop-up exhibition inside the Museum of American History on the Mall in Washington, DC. Presente! A Latino History of the United States reflects a broad swath of Latino experiences in both English and Spanish in four themes likely to resonate with New Mexicans: Colonial Legacies, War and US Expansion, Immigration Stories and Shaping the Nation. The exhibition ends with a learning lab: “We want people to come to this space and feel welcomed, and feel like they can come to hang out here on a Saturday or Sunday and play Domingos de Dominos or come hang out and learn the science behind the spices of our Latino foods,” Emily Key, who runs audience engagement at the museum, tells NPR. “Why does chile taste the way it does? What’s the science behind that?” Ahead of the June 18 exhibition opening (take a virtual tour here), a New Mexico lowrider was installed in the museum’s first floor. The award-winning car named “Dave’s Dream” is a modified 1969 Ford LTD named after Dave Jaramillo of Chimayó.

Getting heavy

More rain is on the way today, with warnings from the National Weather Service that some passing storms could produce heavy rain—between a half and three-quarters of an inch possible. Today’s high in Santa Fe is forecast near 69 with southeast winds at 5 to 15 mph.

Thanks for reading! The (substitute) Word and the (OG) Word both have an endless capacity for summer reading lists.

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