As a preface to rounding up this year’s news as it appeared in Weekly Alibi in 2019—cowboy-style because that’s still how we roll in New Mexico, even after all these years when OG Land of Enchantment journalists like Ernie Mills, Ralph Looney, Howard Bryan and Ben Moffett have gone on to their heavenly rewards, a place where there are no errors and every copy editor is your friend—we’d like to remind you of some words.
The words were tweeted by President Donald Trump in 2018 and concern the media in the United States of America, “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”
Trump’s words get read by millions of Americans. The stuff you’re reading here, well maybe it reaches a few thousand. Nonetheless, we’re committed to bringing you the news, a form of the truth whose expression is enshrined as a right in our Constitution.
We’re not always correct (see above) but we’re also not here to create division and distrust or war. It’s our job to write about what we see and experience as we interact with all the other citizens and mechanisms of American culture that we all love so well.
With all of that in mind—the history of truth-sayers in this state, the position of authority in our nation regarding the free press and the very necessity of such in a dynamic and diverse city like Albuquerque—here’s a bit of what we covered in the year before the big election.
After eight years of mismanagement under la Tejana Susana—including significant damage to the state’s education and public health systems—New Mexico voters elected a Democrat. Michelle Lujan Grisham was sworn in on Jan.1, 2019 after a decisive Nov. 2018 election some in the press called a “blue wave.”
The new donkey queen’s ascent was heralded by progressives in the Party, while contrarian Dems like Jeff Apodaca continued to bray from the edge of new round corral.
Here, at the beginning of the month that sometimes promises spring but also delivers ice on occasion, Weekly Alibi reported on the return of TJ Trout, a known menace to freedom and security, according to the definition drawn from the words we quoted above. Anyhow, the return of the majestically dry, inventively relevant and familiar-
The New Mexico economy is driven by the oil and gas industry. The practice that industry uses to find and exploit the forever-rarifying dinosaur juice in the ground has become increasingly intrusive. Fracking, the practice of using high-pressure water to fracture deep shale fields in search of that precious commodity—which contributed $1.06 billion to the state’s primary, secondary and post-secondary coffers—formed the basis for an investigative report we featured in issue 10.
As spring advanced and fruit trees blossomed again in Nuevo Mexico, the immigration crisis in the South reached epic proportions. An influx of asylum seekers, some under threat of deportation and family separation, made their way to The Duke City as they continued a stressful journey in a new home. Weekly Alibi met with a group of those humans from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as their protective patrons from Albuquerque Interfaith and across our the state.
If you’ve been living here for any length of time, then you realize that May is a transitional month, full of the promise of summer, but without the 100-degree temperatures that haunt the sidewalks and metal railings in these parts come June. As such is the case, there was a whole lot of things we found newsworthy. How about ranked choice voting? We talked to an expert on that currently failed city initiative. It still seemed complicated to our Gen X brain and we worried about what nuestras abuelas would think. We also took the seasonal optimism as an opportunity to wax poetic about all things nuclear in Dirt City, something we’ve taken pride in well, since Dad signed off at the Watermelon Ranch all those years ago.
For this year’s Pride, we sent Alibi reporter August March to visit with Reverend Judith Maynard over at her church. Everyone had a joyful time and we talked all about peace, love, acceptance, understanding and Jesus Christ, too. Reverend Maynard’s beatific demeanor made for a lovingly readable piece of news about people that live in our city. At the end of June, just as temperatures became intolerable, and after a windy but totally substantial meeting at Java Joe’s, we endorsed Ane Garcia for City Council District 4. She didn’t win—a rarity for Alibi prognosticators—but we know she has a future en la politica Burqueña.
July was the month dominated by our coverage of the Kirtland Fuel Spill, a thing which we initially approached as a potentially poisonous thorn in our city’s side but came to believe was equally created out of the dust of unfocused governance in previous administrations, state and federal; poor communication among different stakeholders; and the propagation of what amounts to an urban mythology floating lightly as a coating over the whole schmear. Although noted for candid and informed interviews throughout, the report really comes into focus in part three, when scientists get involved.
Ah, late summer in El Burque: The leaves wagging in the long day, the nights that don’t quite seem dark; and oh yeah, the news! Education reform—a thing almost wholly made possible from the proceeds gleaned from our state’s underground storehouse of dinosaur juice—became a topic of discussion on our Feature page. Further debate on gun violence and the beginnings of our in-depth examination of candidates for Congress in New Mexico District 3 commenced on our news page. By the way, we haven’t endorsed for District 3 yet; we’ve heard from everyone important except for Plame but have not yet given up hope. ... Yet.
Deb Haaland talked to us about the climate change emergency. At a town hall held by the US Representative earlier that summer, our reporter complained that most of the people in the filled-to-the-brim auditorium at the Albuquerque Museum were older than he; in fact, the only young folks in any number all seemed to be working for the Congresswoman, which is a good thing but a sad thing, in our opinion. This situation repeated itself at a climate change awareness film festival that our reporter was invited to speak at that same ninth month. They’re the ones inheriting this whole lot from old slackers like the those reading this, que no?
As the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was flying high all over El Duque, Weekly Alibi met with US Senator Martin Heinrich. Over a hot cuppa joe, we talked about President Trump, the problem with Mitch McConnell, the importance of New Mexico’s defense infrastructure and renewable energy. In what proved to be a detailed and clarifying interview, Senator Heinrich made it clear why he is such an excellent and sustainable voice for this state.
Weekly Alibi also interviewed New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Secretary Lynn Trujillo about the tragically persistent problem of missing and murdered indigenous women in this city, in counties like McKinley and Sandoval and throughout the state and nation. The scope of this relentless evil is being uncovered by Trujillo and her colleagues as we enter a new progressive era in state governance.
The November municipal election yielded results that hewed to the parameters we announced in our yearly endorsements. We were three for five with our dang fine Eric Williams cover photo—which is still decent odds in baseball, we’ve heard. The urbanist vision of Isaac Benton as well as the progressive leanings of Virginia Trujillo and Pat Davis will continue to shape the city in positive ways that are too many to list here in a round-up type format.
We also covered a big press conference over at the Office of the State Auditor. It seemed like a pretty big scoop, and we still think so but wonder why we’ve heard so little about this so-called “abuse of office” in subsequent reporting from the merry roundhouse.
In news that’s warm, but not quite hot off the press, the municipal run-off election came and went. In District 2, the incumbent, a dedicated urbanist/
As the year came to a close, we opined that Mayor Keller’s success in the next two years is riding on sustained, government-assisted economic development programs like those developed and put into use at the International District Economic Development Center. Why? Because when you ameliorate root problems, subsequent issues like crime wither.