Publicly funded ABQ opera show for ‘all ages’ under fire for sexual content

In a recent series of opera performances that sparked controversy in Albuquerque, Opera Southwest’s latest production, “Before Night Falls,” reportedly featured a scene that has left many audience members and residents aback. 

The opera, presented at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s (NHCC) Albuquerque Journal Theatre (a division of the state-funded New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs) from March 1-3, purportedly included a depiction of a live sex act involving nearly nude men, simulating male-on-male sexual intercourse, without any prior content advisory to the audience, per attendees.

The production, funded by the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque City Council, among others, did not provide warnings in its promotional materials or programs about the explicit content, despite the presence of minors in the audience, per one concerned Albuquerque citizen who was in attendance. 

According to Opera Southwest’s mission statement on its website, it seeks “to produce quality, professional, enjoyable and accessible opera in an intimate setting for audiences of all ages.”

This omission raised legal and ethical questions by those in attendance, given New Mexico’s laws regarding the exposure of minors to sexually oriented material. The all-ages audience was reportedly given no warning about the forthcoming indecent exposure and no content advisory. 

The opera’s program also does not mention any such content advisories nor does the website for purchase of tickets. 

The 2000 film rendition of Before Night Falls was rated R, with IMDB’s parental guide noting of the film, “Only male nudity present in [the] movie. Male full frontal nudity shown in a couple of scenes,” adding that the film“[i]ncludes a scene of sexuality involving a child.”

New Mexico statute, Chapter 30 Criminal Offenses, Article 37, relating to sexually oriented material harmful to minors, states, “It is unlawful for any person knowingly to exhibit to a minor or knowingly to provide to a minor an admission ticket or pass or knowingly to admit a minor to premises whereon there is exhibited a motion picture, show or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors.”

The artistic team behind the opera, including artistic director Anthony Barrese and executive director Tony Zancanella, have expressed their unwavering support for the inclusion of the scene, per a press release from concerned citizens, despite its potential violation of state statutes. Meanwhile, Morris James Chavez, the Board President of NHCC, has yet to make a public statement regarding the incident.

This controversial decision by Opera Southwest and the NHCC to include such explicit content without warning has led to discussions about the responsibility of cultural institutions to their audiences, the role of taxpayer funding explicit arts, and the potential legal ramifications of exposing minors to sexually explicit performances.

Leftist judge claims former Trump attorney Eastman should lose license

In Los Angeles, a leftist judge has recommended stripping John Eastman, a lawyer known for his conservative views and a former law school dean, of his California legal license due to his actions on behalf of 45th President Donald Trump aimed at sending electors back to the states after the allegedly fraudulent 2020 election, in which Joe Biden was declared the winner despite abnormalities. 

The disciplinary actions faced by Eastman in the state’s bar court arise from his formulation of a legal approach that suggested then-Vice President Mike Pence could intervene in the certification of Joe Biden’s allegedly deceitful electoral win. Judge Yvette Roland of the State Bar Court of California recommended this, and the case is now pending a final verdict from the California Supreme Court, with Eastman retaining the right to contest their decision.

Roland, according to her former firm, Duane Morris, upon her appointment to the bench, she “served as a board member and past president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and she is a board member of the Black Women Lawyers Foundation and the California Association of Black Lawyers. She also is a member of the American Bar Association, John M. Langston Bar Association and the National Bar Association.”

“Roland also represented employers against wrongful termination, retaliation, unfair competition, breach of contract, wage and hour, harassment and discrimination claims arising on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin. While she was a seasoned litigator in state and federal courts, Roland resolved many multimillion-dollar disputes by implementing appropriate alternative dispute resolution measures,” the firm’s website read.

Eastman’s defense, articulated by his attorney Randall Miller, asserts that Eastman’s legal interpretations post the 2020 election were rooted in established legal precedents, historical election outcomes, constitutional analysis, and comprehensive academic research. Miller emphasized that Eastman’s process mirrored the standard legal practices undertaken daily by attorneys across the nation.

Judge Roland found Eastman responsible for 10 out of the 11 allegations against him, which included deceiving the courts, moral turpitude, issuing false statements, and collaborating with Trump to impede the presidential power transition. Roland’s detailed 128-page judgment highlighted Eastman’s alleged conspiracy with Trump to disrupt the governmental procedure, particularly the electoral count on January 6, 2021.

Eastman is also implicated in trumped-up criminal charges in Georgia related to efforts to contest the 2020 election results alongside Trump and others. Despite pleading not guilty and defending his actions as legitimate legal advocacy for Trump, Eastman criticized the charges as an attack on lawyers’ vigorous defense of their clients.

The California State Bar accused Eastman of engaging in conduct that violated ethical standards, including making false claims that threatened democratic integrity by attempting to subvert the electoral outcome. Roland, in her ruling, claimed that Eastman’s statements went beyond acceptable legal advocacy and constituted lies that breached his duty of honesty and ethical obligations.

While Roland concurred with Eastman’s defense on one count, asserting his speech at a January 6 rally in Washington did not directly incite the Capitol incursion, she ruled that Eastman should be placed on involuntary inactive status, effectively barring him from practicing law in California pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

The “States United Democracy Center,” a leftist dark money group that has attacked Eastmand and three New Mexico legislators, including Piñon Post founder and editor Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo), lauded the ruling.

“This is a crucial victory in the effort to hold accountable those who tried to overturn the 2020 election. After hearing from almost two dozen witnesses over a 35-day trial, the court found that John Eastman violated his ethical duties to uphold the constitution,” said Christine P. Sun, a senior vice president for the D.C.-based swamp group. “This decision sends an unmistakable message: No one is above the law — not presidents, and not their lawyers.”

Eastman, who has been part of the California Bar since 1997, has a notable legal background, including clerking for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and contributing to constitutional law through the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. 

His academic tenure at Chapman University’s law school ended in 2021 following a faculty uproar over his involvement in the post-election controversies. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Radical leftist likely to be booted from ballot amid ballot petition lawsuit

The political aspirations of former “DREAMer” (illegal alien) and far-left New Mexico Senate hopeful Cindy Nava could be derailed by a legal challenge questioning the validity of her ballot qualification petitions. The challenge, spearheaded by Audrey Trujillo, a Republican contender for the State Senate District 9 seat, along with two prominent local Democrats, County Commissioner Katherine Bruc, and former State Sen. John Sapien, hinges on a clerical error in Nava’s petition forms.

The crux of the dispute lies in the petition forms used by Nava, a Democrat from Bernalillo, which incorrectly listed her address as being in Bernalillo County rather than the correct Sandoval County due to a mix-up between her town’s name and the similarly named neighboring county.

Sandra Wechsler, Nava’s campaign manager, expressed disappointment over the challenge, highlighting the enthusiasm and support Nava has garnered. “Over 250 Democratic voters in Senate District 9 signed petitions to put Cindy’s name on the ballot,” Wechsler told the Sandoval Signpost.

The lawsuit’s proponents argue that the law is unambiguous regarding such errors, stating that petitions with incorrect address information must be invalidated.

Nava had surpassed the requirement of garnering signatures from 3% of District 9’s registered Democratic voters, submitting over 250 signatures to the county clerk. The confusion arose from the paper and online nominating petition’s format, which separates the candidate’s street address and county of residence, leading to the inadvertent listing of “Bernalillo” in the county section.

State regulations are clear that any discrepancies in the required information on a nominating petition, including the candidate’s address, render the petition and all its signatures invalid. The law also penalizes the circulation of petitions that fail to accurately display essential details about the candidate and the office sought.

The lawsuit seeks to disqualify Nava from the upcoming June 4 Democrat primary, leaving Heather Balas as the sole Democratic candidate to face Trujillo in the November general election. This development follows the announcement by current Democratic State Sen. Brenda McKenna that she would not seek re-election, with McKenna having endorsed Nava as her preferred successor.

The legal challenge poses a significant dilemma, balancing the technicalities of election law against the expressed will of voters who supported Nava.

This NM city is one of the best large cities to celebrate Easter: Study

A new study from WalletHub examined all the biggest large cities across the country based on 11 metrics that it defined as speaking to “an ideal Easter celebration. Our metrics range from candy and chocolate stores per capita to the city’s Christian population,” the outlet noted.

WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe wrote, “The best cities for Easter cater to the religious nature of the holiday by offering plenty of opportunities for Christians to attend services, and they also provide the resources for people to have a great time with their family regardless of religious affiliation. That means lots of places to get some sweet treats or dine out, as well as good weather conditions and nice open spaces for Easter egg hunts.”

Cities were ranked from 1 to 100 (the highest numbers being the best) on “Easter observers,” “Easter traditions,” “Kids’ Easter,” and “Easter weather.”

The large city that clinched the number one spot was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which ranked fourth among Easter observers, third among traditions, 96th among kids’ Easter, and third in terms of weather. Its total score was 61.58.

“Pittsburgh is the best city for celebrating Easter, in part because it has some of the most churches per capita and a very high share of the population identifying as Christian, so there’s a lot of people celebrating and plenty of places for them to worship,” wrote WalletHub.

“The Steel City also has some of the most candy shops per capita and a high number of chocolate shops per capita, so it’s easy to sweeten the celebration. Pittsburgh also has some of the most flower and gift shops per capita, so decorating is easy, and Easter is projected to have pretty good weather as well,” it added.

Albuquerque ranked near the top, coming in at 23rd with a total score of 47.06. It ranked 15th among Easter observers, 50th among traditions, 56th among kids’ Easter, and 55th for weather. Last year, Albuquerque was ranked ninth.

The lowest-ranked city was Hialeah, FL, which had a meager total ranking of 28.61. 

“Easter can be an expensive holiday to celebrate. According to the National Retail Federation, the average U.S. consumer will spend roughly $177 on celebration expenses this year,” noted WalletHub.

MLG finally orders Stapleton’s name to be stripped from Expo NM building

The African American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico will soon see the name of Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a former official with Albuquerque Public Schools and an ex-state legislator, taken down from its facade. 

This decision comes in light of Williams Stapleton facing serious allegations at both the federal and local levels for misappropriating public funds. The name removal ceremony is scheduled for next Friday.

Earlier in the week, Williams Stapleton was hit with federal charges, including bribery, money laundering, and defrauding the U.S. government. These charges were brought forth in connection with accusations that she, in collaboration with Joseph Johnson, misused millions in federal funding for personal gain. Additionally, she was indicted on charges of racketeering and money laundering among others related to the misuse of state funds two years prior.

In response to these allegations, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statement, writing, “After careful consideration, I have decided that the serious charges levied against former Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton in a 35-count federal indictment this week warrant removal of her name from the African American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico. If she is exonerated of these alleged financial crimes in a court of law, the New Mexico Legislature can consider returning her name to the facility.”

This stance marks a shift from the Governor’s previous position in 2021, following the state charges against Williams Stapleton. 

At that time, Governor Lujan Grisham had expressed a more cautious approach, indicating that her office would refrain from “premature actions” given the principle that “Stapleton is innocent until proven guilty.”

Convicted pedophile among gang members arrested at U.S.-Mexico border

The U.S. Border Patrol recently apprehended individuals with gang affiliations, including one convicted of child rape, along the southern border with Mexico.

In a notable enforcement action in southern New Mexico, Border Patrol agents detained two Mexican nationals who had entered the United States unlawfully. Anthony Good, the Border Patrol Chief for the El Paso Sector, highlighted on the social media platform X that these individuals were identified as members of the “Paisa” gang.

Among the detained, one individual had a prior conviction for the aggravated rape of a child in Kansas, raising significant concerns about the backgrounds of those attempting to cross the border. The tattoos of the apprehended men, including “Mi Vida Loca” and “Mexican,” along with a clown image, were distinctive markers of their gang affiliation.

These arrests were part of a broader effort by Santa Teresa and Las Cruces Border Patrol agents to combat illegal immigration and associated criminal activities. Chief Good confirmed that both men would face charges related to their illegal entry and would subsequently be expelled from the country.

In addition to these arrests, Good also disclosed the uncovering of a human smuggling operation and the identification of a stash house in Las Cruces, New Mexico. These operations led to the discovery of 14 migrants concealed within a tractor-trailer and a residential property, showcasing the varied methods employed by smugglers to transport individuals across the border.

This fiscal year has seen the El Paso Sector Border Patrol agents intercepting 1,464 migrants in connection with 7 tractor-trailer incidents and 132 stash house operations, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by law enforcement in managing border security and human trafficking concerns.

Feds finally indict alleged queen of corruption Sheryl Williams Stapleton

Federal authorities unveiled the indictment of Democrat former New Mexico State Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton on Wednesday, alleging she diverted millions of dollars from Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) to her personal bank account. The ex-lawmaker faces a litany of charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, bribery, mail fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The indictment offers an exhaustive account of the alleged misappropriation of funds, describing Williams Stapleton’s actions as “deceitful and dishonest.”

The investigation into Williams Stapleton’s activities began in July 2021, culminating in searches of her residence and other premises by agents from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. The inquiry centered on allegations of financial misconduct related to an APS program.

According to the 23-page indictment, Williams Stapleton directed a significant portion of APS’s non-personal grant Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding to a program called Robotics Management Learning Systems (Robotics), owned by her personal acquaintance Joseph Johnson. This program, which held the license for the CyberQuest software, received over $3 million from APS between July 2013 and June 2020, primarily sourced from federal grant money.

The indictment further details how Johnson provided Williams Stapleton with blank checks from the Robotics business account, which she then used for her personal benefit, totaling $1,152,506. Some of these funds were directed to companies and a nonprofit associated with Williams Stapleton.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that Williams Stapleton co-sponsored a bill in 2019 that established a new CTE fund, effectively funneling more money to Johnson’s Robotics company. It accuses her and Johnson of orchestrating a scheme to defraud New Mexico citizens, APS, and the United States Department of Education, leveraging her position for personal enrichment.

Williams Stapleton is scheduled to appear in federal court on April 9, while also facing 28 state charges, including money laundering and racketeering. She resigned from the Legislature in July 2021 and was subsequently terminated by the school district. Representing District 19 in Bernalillo County from 1995 to 2021, Williams Stapleton held various committee positions, including serving on the Education Committee and acting as the majority floor leader from 2017 to 2021.

Influence-peddling ‘Karen’ gets MLG to quash popular community park: Report

In northeast Albuquerque, a community’s aspiration for a playground faced unexpected hurdles this year, entangled in political maneuvers at the highest echelons of the state.

Netherwood Park, nestled between Indian School and I-40, became the focal point of a heated debate initiated by families in the area over the proposed addition of a playground. Galen Loughrey, a supportive neighbor, highlighted the potential benefits of such a facility, emphasizing its role in fostering social cohesion and providing opportunities for children to interact.

However, dissenting voices, led by Democrat failed gubernatorial candidate and ex-Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and other neighbors near the park challenged the idea of introducing a playground. 

Denish argued for preserving the park’s open space, asserting that children’s creativity thrives without structured play areas. Concerns were also raised about the potential for undesirable elements gathering at the park.

To gauge community sentiment, families conducted door-to-door surveys, revealing significant support for the playground. 

“To gauge support, some of the families went door-to-door. Residents against the playground sent emails to the city. KRQE asked how many they received: 61 for and 22 against. Two-thirds of families were eager for a playground at Netherwood Park,” reported KRQE 13

State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino sought $200,000 in capital outlay funding to materialize the project amid a slew of approved allocations for various initiatives across the state.

Unexpectedly, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed the funding for Netherwood Park, citing a lack of neighborhood consensus. It later emerged that Denish, a close confidante of the governor, had lobbied for the veto. Ortiz y Pino expressed disappointment, questioning the governor’s decision-making process and highlighting the lost opportunity for community development.

The outlet further reported, “Denish said she called the governor and asked her to veto any funding for Netherwood Park. Neighbors accuse Denish of treating the park as her backyard. ‘I don’t apologize for having a lifetime of public service where I’ve known these people. I’ve worked hard for New Mexico and being able to call them and having a conversation about something that’s important to me,’ said Denish.”

Moreover, neighbors raised concerns about unequal access to city and state officials, pointing out instances where Denish appeared to wield undue influence. Despite efforts to redirect the funds to other parks, the underlying issues of political influence and community representation remained unresolved.

“The loudest voice, or the voice who seems to have the most direct line of communication, is getting the response, and it’s not representative of the community as a whole,” said neighbor Nadya Loughrey.

In response to inquiries, Governor Lujan Grisham declined to provide further insight into her decision, leaving lingering questions about the fate of Netherwood Park’s playground and the broader implications for grassroots initiatives.

MIT think tank claims NM’s elections are top-notch

According to the far-left Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “MIT Election Lab,” New Mexico is ranked first on its “Elections Performance Index.” MIT is a predominantly leftist institution, according to a survey by the school.

The state got an 88 percent, with multiple factors determining the score. Interestingly, the state’s participation in the far-left George Soros-funded Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

According to Influence Watch, “ERIC was established by Pew Charitable Trusts, a left-of-center nonprofit advocacy and grantmaking organization, in 2012. 990 tax data shows that one year prior in 2011, grantmaking organization Foundation to Promote Open Society (FPOS), funded by philanthropist George Soros, provided two grants to Pew Charitable Trusts totaling $725,000, ‘to support the Pew Center on the States’ voter registration modernization initiative’ and ‘expand [its] scope and scale.’”

Because New Mexico joined ERIC, its score on the MIT index went up. New Mexico is ranked 40th in its voter registration rate, with 80.35 percent registered.

Other factors include data completeness, information lookup tool availability, absentee ballot problems, and the number of registrations rejected.

In terms of absentee ballot problems, which the Election Lab notes, “[m]easures the degree to which citizens are deterred from voting because of problems with registration or absentee ballots,” New Mexico ranked 14th, with 1.46 percent.

For registrations rejected, New Mexico ranked 15th at 0.9 percent. 

As for absentee voting, the state ranked 28th for absentee ballots not returned at 10.96 percent, while a mere 0.1 percent of absentee ballots were rejected, ranking 11th in the nation. Only 0.2 percent of provisional ballots were rejected in New Mexico of the 0.8 percent cast. 

The state’s average voting wait time was 3.8 minutes, which is 21st among states. And at 46.65 percent, New Mexico scores worse than the national average for voter turnout.  

Following the news, far-left Democrat Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said in a news release, “I’m proud to have helped modernize New Mexico’s elections by finding a critical balance between voter access and election security.”

“I’m so proud of this important distinction for our state. In New Mexico, we are committed to free and fair elections and protecting democracy. I urge all eligible New Mexicans to exercise their right to #vote this election year,” chimed in far-left Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

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