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letters, opinions, editorials
re: enjoying the Signpost online
Dear Ty and Barb Belknap,
I lived in Bernalillo for a few years. One of my favorite things
to do on a late Sunday morning was to read the Signpost with a yummy
cup of coffee. I now live in Albuquerque, so I pick up the Signpost
less frequently. I want to thank you for making your publication
I especially enjoy the featured artist(s) articles and images.
It is so important to celebrate local artists, and you do just that!
Thanks for all of your enlightening work.
—LISA GILLETT, Albuquerque
re: energy corridor disclaimer
With reference to my article published in last month’s issue
regarding the West-wide energy corridor (March 2008 issue, pages
six and seven), I provided a disclaimer with the map figure which
was not included in the published version. The disclaimer, provided
with the map obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request, reads, “The federal government is only designating
corridors on federal land. The corridor information on private land
is hypothetical and for planning purposes only.” Although
I neglected to provide a title for the map figure, the one appearing
in the article is technically not correct in calling the illustrated
corridor the “proposed route.” Since the FOIA map was
not published in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), it is
technically not the “proposed” route, at least not officially.
If this sounds confusing to you, join the crowd. A major issue of
contention with the corridor EIS is that it claims to designate
corridors (actually segments of corridors) only on federal lands,
while the internal working maps obtained from the FOIA request seem
to show otherwise.
—REID BANDEEN, LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION BOARD PRESIDENT
re: wild finch Salmonella outbreak
We observed two male finches last week at the feeders. Their feathers
were puffed up and they looked obviously sick and later died. A
Santa Fe vet diagnosed the deaths as Salmonella, toxic bacteria
which spreads easily throughout neighborhood feeders and is a cruel
death for these little birds. Washington State sees an outbreak
of Salmonella every three or four years. Here’s what we can
do about our local problem.
If you choose to keep feeders out, the vet recommends that you:
• reduce the number of feeders you maintain.
spread them out and change the location frequently.
• use feeders that accommodate fewer birds (using tubes rather
• if at all possible, bake seed at 250 degrees to kill any
• clean feeders daily with a one-to-ten solution of chlorine
bleach and warm water.
• keep bird baths and fountains clean.
—CHRIS HUBER, Placitas
re: turn off a light; turn on a star
We have been in New Mexico for more than twenty years, in Placitas
nearly five. We were avid amateur astronomers, but our beloved hobby
has been diluted to the point where we sold our telescopes. In the
many years we’ve lived in New Mexico, we have watched our
national treasure—the night skies, slowly die. Since the building
boom both in Placitas and on the west side, we have become embittered
over the unnecessary encroachment of exterior light. We now only
look forward to Mr. Christmann’s “Night Sky” and
remember when it was possible to find such objects of beauty with
only the naked eye—now all is just about awash with manmade
lighting that burns a hole into midnight! You should see some of
the homes near us lit up so bright they appear like the mother ship
from Close Encounters.
There is a new home across from us with a driveway lined with clear
unshielded glass of high wattage, yet our covenants stress downward
shielded lighting of low wattage. The part that really hurts is
that we have to look at these lights now searing our retinas every
evening, while the owners are only part-timers, totally unconcerned
with light trespass. When I complained to our homeowners association,
I got no reply, and the lights burn on. I have devious little thoughts
about those lights. We were here first.
For those of you who think astronomers are an odd lot, let me just
say—so goes your sky, so goes your air—so goes your
water. Unhip as it may sound, everyone has the right to wish upon
a star—young and old—but you can’t if it’s
drowned in pollution.
To all who may read this, I ask you as a good neighbor—look
around to see what lights you can eliminate or change to lower wattage.
After all, if we are looking to conserve energy, this is a good
place to start. Your homes will still look as lovely showcased under
a beautiful night sky.
—A PLACITAS RESIDENT
re: no public transportation to Placitas
I’m writing to address the lack of public transportation
in Placitas. I believe there are Placitas residents who need it,
deserve it, and would use it—a population warranting the service.
I’m a forty-one-year-old Cedar Creek resident who had to
stop driving last April due to deteriorating vision. In adapting,
I’ve learned to use the Rail Runner and ABQ Ride (Albuquerque’s
bus transit system). Sun Tran, the Albuquerque shuttle service provided
for ADA-certified users, does not go outside of Albuquerque city
limits. The Rail Runner train spans from Belen to Bernalillo, with
soon-to-be service to Santa Fe. Lucky for us, the Bernalillo Rail
Runner station at exit 242 is but a hop, skip, and jump from Placitas.
But those Placitans who can’t or choose not to drive are still
privately paying somebody for that hop, skip, and jump—paying
for transportation to get to public transportation. One exception
is the shuttle service provided by the Senior Center. I called them
and learned that I could on occasion get help with a ride as long
as there weren’t so many riders that I would bump a seat from
a senior citizen. That’s very helpful, but our elderly deserve
these services and we shouldn’t detract from the limited resources
designated for their aid.
The Sandoval Easy Express, Sandoval County’s “first
rural public transit service” which started service last April,
provides transportation to locations as far as Cuba, Jemez Springs,
Cochiti Lake, San Ysidro, and Santo Domingo… but not Placitas.
Gino Rinaldi, the Special Programs Administrator for Public Works
in Sandoval County, said that the window of opportunity was missed
for those who may have wanted Placitas included as an Easy Express
route. He cautioned that with the growing population, there’s
competition for funds amidst other important improvement/development
efforts like the library, road maintenance, fire and emergency response,
Gino said that now is a good time to begin dialogue regarding Placitas
public transportation—in time to get public input to the Mid-Region
Transit District (MRTD) during the development of the next operational
and financial transportation plan and before November ballots are
set. Up to a quarter percent of gross receipts tax could be allocated
to this transportation plan.
A network of routes within Placitas from the get-go might be difficult,
but a route between Placitas and Bernalillo would be a good start…
something like a commuter route, e.g. morning and evening runs.
I hope that we could start off with something better than that—I’m
still grumbling about the fact that the southbound train doesn’t
run from Bernalillo between noon and 5:00 p.m.
I posted an ad in the Signpost asking folks to call me with suggestions
and input regarding this issue. I’m putting a petition together
to kick off the effort in an “organic kind of way” (maybe
I’ll leave some copies at the Merc, if Jon doesn’t mind).
I know I’m personally not “kicking off” this effort—there
have to be others out there who have started a petition or advocacy
group—why don’t we pull our resources together? Maybe
we can form some type of community group that could collect and
present the compelling data at an upcoming County Commission meeting.
I “Googled” RTD in New Mexico to supplement what Gino
described as state legislation that allowed Council of Government-defined
regional transit districts. Though a new concept to New Mexico,
regional transit districts (RTDs) have existed in other states for
over thirty years. An RTD is a quasi-governmental body formed when
two or more governmental units formally agree to address transit
needs in their area from a regional perspective.
The main purpose of a regional transit district is to provide accessible,
coordinated, efficient, and fiscally responsible regional transit
options for people who are either transit-dependent or use transit
by choice. People travel across city, county, and tribal lines to
work, shop, recreate, and seek services. RTDs exist to make this
type of travel easier.
A second but equally important purpose of an RTD is to raise local
funds to leverage other, primarily federal, transit dollars. An
RTD can issue bonds to finance the purchase, construction, renovation,
equipping, or furnishing of a regional transit system project. In
2004, state legislation was passed to permit an RTD to impose a
regional transit gross receipts tax. This tax must be approved by
a majority of voters in an election. Funds may finance any part
of the RTD from administration to operations and capital.
—STEF CHANAT, Placitas, 867-8399
re: the latest dirt from Placitas
Dear Friends Back East:
Thanks for your latest note describing current events in the asphalt
jungle. They were quite doleful, as usual. You’ve asked me
“what’s up” on my turf. Well… the turf itself
is up at the present moment, thanks to the very high winds of March.
Perhaps you recall my telling you about the winds of Placitas a
year or so ago. Do you remember my describing how a gust of wind
ripped the buttons from my shirt and imbedded four of them deep
into the forehead of my neighbor in a perfect horizontal alignment
just above the brow line?
Those mighty winds are back and, incidentally, those four buttons
remain buried in my neighbor’s forehead from over a year ago,
and it doesn’t trouble him in the least. He told me he feels
it gives him a “buttoned up” appearance as well as conveying
exotic “tribal-like” attributes that he considers appropriate
to the southwest. (I don’t argue with him, nor would I ever
argue with someone who appears to have their brains buttoned into
This year, the winds seem to be carrying a prodigious amount of
pollen—especially juniper pollen. (Incidentally, Juniper Pollen
was the name of my first date. We were each thirteen.) The consequences
of all this, as I have determined them thus far, have included a
massive, panicky run on Kleenex-type products, eye drops, and allergy
medicines of all kinds from nearby stores.
And sadly, there are a number of pathetic cases sitting along the
main road through Placitas carrying signs reading, “Will work
for Claritin,” but we have none to give. The otherwise quiet
Placitas neighborhoods are now racked, day and night, by thunderous,
blustery blasts of sneezing, followed by the sloppy, sodden sounds
of strenuous nose blowing. Our condition is thereby aggravated by
At this very moment, dear friends, our region is not conducive
for sightseeing, i.e., the entire landscape is the color of cholera
with infinite amounts of true grit eager to infest your mouth, nose,
lungs, eyes, ears, etc., depending on your dress code.
Our UPS driver, a near-daily deliverer of my spouse’s mail
orders, currently wears protective eyewear and a dust mask. Yesterday,
he removed them for a moment to exchange greetings, and manifested
the raccoon-like appearance of a West Virginia coal miner just completing
The high winds also propel thousands of joyously leaping, bounding
battalions of tumbleweeds, several of which savagely attacked our
fine Maine coon cat, Patrick. Unable to locate their eyes or throats,
this otherwise capable beast was much distressed and fairly helpless.
He nevertheless escaped, having lost little more than his New England
So, that’s the latest dirt from here. Thanks for asking.
—HERB, Placitas, New Mexico
re: An Earth Day call to heed dangers of overpopulation
Pepper Trail’s “An octopus wants to eat the West,”
[March 2008 Signpost] about proposed massive energy corridors
was insightful. But, as we approach Earth Day, isn’t it time
to focus on cause, not symptoms?
What China-like future do we face if we continue to allow Wall
Street to run things? We must return to the core philosophy of liberal
Senator Gaylord Nelson, the father of Earth Day, who warned that
world (at the time, four billion) and United States (then two hundred
million) populations must be stabilized.
Today, the United States grows by three million a year. The planet,
at 6.7 billion, adds a billion every seventeen years, even as our
president allows not one penny of funding for international family
planning. (In contrast, impoverished Timor-Leste funds $500 a year!)
Earth Day founder Nelson, who in the 1970s had as stellar a record
on civil rights as he had on the environment, favored stabilizing
United States population and, toward that goal, strict immigration
quotas. Powerful black liberal Congresswoman Barbara Jordon also
recognized that immigration was no friend to resident minorities.
Hispanic labor activist César Chávez—contrary
to depictions—was a strident opponent of open borders, offering
his United Farm Workers to patrol the border. He knew laborers could
never advance in a market flooded with poorly educated, low-skilled
workers—our situation today.
Which brings us to a startling Earth Day fact that our “always
servile to Wall Street” corporate media ignore: To 2050, just
eight nations will fuel half of all the growth on the planet. They
are India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United States, China, Bangladesh,
Nigeria, and the Peoples Republic of the Congo—in that order
(Source: United Nations).
We are swept by a population tsunami that has sent us—despite
Nelson’s warnings—from about the sixtieth most populous
nation in the 1950s to one of only three with over three hundred
million: China, India, and the United States. Each, as a major industrial
power, represents appalling environmental consequences.
It is no coincidence that just as the American birthrate plummeted
to near-replacement level in the 1970s, stiff immigration laws were
quietly wiped from the books. These had been written in response
to the backlash against the Great Wave of Immigration (1880 to 1920),
when the exorbitantly high immigration demanded by industrial robber
barons spawned starvation wages, dangerous working conditions, and
the dawning of the labor movement, which, incidentally, favored
As economist Kenneth Boulding points out, “Anyone who believes
exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either
a madman or an economist.” Yet, economists seem to be running
Trail’s octopus is part of massive infrastructure—superhighways,
power plants, dams—that government and economic forces want
as they anticipate, with glee, a U.S. of four hundred million by
2050 and a billion by late-century. It is the future they chart
minus full disclosure or a national debate as to what demographic
future we want or the implications of a booming population economically
If we live in overcrowded squalor with filthy air, rivers running
sewage, a countryside stripped of wildlife resources and burdened
with a suffocating network of human infrastructure, such as that
in China today, what the hey, as long as Wall Street is happy!
But Gaylord Nelson must be turning in his grave at the ignored
environmental implications of population. And, Barbara Jordan and
César Chávez must wonder what happened to concern
for our own now-forgotten poor.
Long-time environmentalist Parker, of Rio Rancho, has fought two
major Western water projects. She also served on the Sierra Club’s
national Population Issues Committee back when club president
Carl Pope called the United States “the world’s most
overpopulated nation.” She serves on the board of advisors
for Population-Environment Balance, a national group advocating
U.S. and international population stabilization through voluntary
Meeting to address uses for BLM land
In 2012, the BLM will be implementing a new twenty-year Rio Puerco
District Resource Management Plan. This includes the five thousand
acres of Placitas BLM land. It looks as though Sandoval County government
is taking this opportunity to plan and implement a North East Loop
Road through Placitas BLM land per their 2007 Annual Report of upcoming
projects (pages twelve and thirteen of the report).
There will be a public meeting sponsored by the Placitas Coalition,
and WHOA (Wild Horse Observers Association) on April 5 at the Las
Placitas Presbyterian Church , 7 Paseo de San Antonio, to take comments
about how this RMP will cause major changes to the character and
landscape of Placitas. The Placitas Coalition is a group of committed
citizens, business members, home owner associations, who have joined
forces to proactively invite opinion, stimulate debate, provide
information, and facilitate communication with all 2,300 households
in the Placitas community about important issues that will change
the character and landscape of Placitas.
At this meeting, we will also discuss the implications of the planned
North East Loop route. The staff of Representative Tom Udall will
The four-year preparation of these plans is beginning now and
the BLM is hosting public meetings to invite participation. The
surrounding communities should take that invitation to participate
and provide comments very seriously. While the BLM takes four years
to prepare and implement the plan, comments are invited only three
times. Now is one of those times. Between now and June 30, 2008
you may comment during the “scoping” phase of the plan.
BLM sponsored meetings will be held on April 2 at the Marriott
Pyramid Hotel at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and another at the Bernalillo
High School Gym on April 8 at 6:00 p.m.
Attending these public meetings will allow you to have your voice
heard and comments recorded for the BLM for use in determining how
you think the land should be managed.
What uses do you want? It could be utilized as a highway closely
bordering our neighborhoods on the north spanning from I-25, past
Diamond Tail, to Route 14 with all the associated developments;
an energy corridor; mining; additional home development; or a wildlife
corridor/wild horse park/open space, to identify some of the competing
This public land is clearly highly sought after. Attend the Placitas
Community Meeting and comment now.
The second public comment period during the planning and implementation
is thirty days in early 2010 after the Environmental Impact Statement
draft is issued. The third comment period is the formal protest
period for thirty days following the plan release in early 2011.
Take this opportunity to let the BLM, the County, and Udall’s
office know your views and concerns. Bring your neighbors. Gravel
companies, mines, public utilities, gas, and oil companies will
be voicing their opinions, too.
re: protecting La Madera
Dear Ms. Rose (of the Cibola National Forest office),
The Las Placitas Association (LPA) is a nonprofit community association
with over 350 dues-paying members. Among our objectives is the active
advocacy for quality of life issues that relate to our local and
We have reviewed the recently published Environmental Assessment
for Travel Management of the Sandia Ranger District document, dated
First, we compliment the thoroughness of the information and analysis
that has brought forward this study and recommendations for the
Sandia Mountains north of I-40 where we have the greatest concern.
This document carefully identifies many of the issues that are so
critical to us for the La Madera area.
We enthusiastically endorse and support Alternative 1 and its proposed
action as identified in the document. Simultaneously, we vigorously
oppose Alternative 3 and the map Alt. 2-North.
The La Madera area is an extraordinary wildlife habitat, and a
healthy and diverse ecosystem that fortunately remains largely undisturbed
at this time. Its delicate balance and captivating natural ambience
is a local resource that needs to be preserved for the benefit of
everyone, both today and into the future.
It simply makes no sense to allow ORVs access to this critically
sensitive area because of the extraordinary damage that will be
so easily and quickly inflicted. LPA is actively involved in watershed
restoration in the Placitas area, currently serving as an agent
of the state in improving water quality in area watersheds. Since
2005, LPA has been funded by the New Mexico Environment Department
to enact measures to reduce surface erosion and sedimentation/siltation
in area streams. It is widely known that ORV use increases surface
erosion via the establishment and use of new trails. Introduction
of ORV use into a sensitive riparian area such as Gonzales Canyon
would be a tremendous setback to our mission. Additionally, our
wonderful state of New Mexico has available extensive forest and
other natural areas where ORV owners can experience off-road enjoyment.
The momentary pleasure of a rider on an ORV does not even begin
to compare to the feeling of grace and natural beauty to countless
others in perpetuity. Beyond the importance of this is the wildlife
habitat and delicate watershed areas that are so critical for the
perpetuation of the high quality of life of our local environment
and the perpetuity of native wildlife and flora.
We highly regard and respect the stewardship of our public lands
that is embraced by our local Forest Service personnel and the understanding
that conflicting interests must be balanced on federal properties.
We believe that the document presented and the recommended Alternative
1 is the carefully crafted solution to reach this delicate balance.
—REID BANDEEN, PRESIDENT, LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION
re: West-wide energy corridor
Dear Senator Bingaman,
I am writing to you to request your support in amending the Energy
Policy Act of 2005. I recognize that we need to move energy efficiently
and an energy corridor seems to be a good idea; however, as “planned,”
the West-wide energy corridor will not deliver one gallon of fuel
or BTY of energy in the foreseeable future—even within New
The PEIS for this “plan” calls for an energy corridor,
but describes an energy patchwork quilt. Lands falling under the
PEIS, as written, do not cover 23,000 miles of the lands needed
to complete the West-wide energy corridor. The unconnected pieces
of federal lands in the PEIS are interrupted by private, state,
conservation trust, and tribal-owned lands. If a contiguous thirty-five-hundred-foot-wide
West-wide energy corridor is planned to contain electric transmission
lines and fuel product pipelines, it must be planned that way from
its inception and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires
full disclosure of that plan.
Assessment of impacts to environment, human health, socioeconomic
factors, and cultural resources for the non-federal lands need to
be addressed before an energy corridor can be completed. The required
consultation with all parties affected by corridor implementation
has not been accomplished. Appropriate notice and consultation with
non-federal landowners may also inform the PEIS authorizing agencies
about optimal routes that minimize reasonably foreseen impacts on
these private lands. Such consultation will allow implementing authorities
to avoid inappropriate placement of utility rights-of-way across
Designation of disconnected federal lands as earmarked for the
energy corridor throws local planning efforts into disarray and
private property owners’ use of their land into limbo without
considering whether energy infrastructure development is appropriate
land use on the lands.
I urge you and the rest of our Congressional delegation to reassess
the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the PEIS currently being presented
as an energy plan that will provide national transmission and movement
of energy. An energy patchwork quilt will not deliver anything and
will take longer and cost more to “fix” than to approach
this situation in a more comprehensive manner. Thank you for your
attention. We appreciate all your efforts on behalf of Sandoval
—ORLANDO LUCERO, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSIONER
re: the truth about The Brady Campaign
In the March issue of the Signpost, an article was printed
concerning a so-called “Scorecard” for gun control in
New Mexico by an organization called The Brady Campaign. I believe
that it is important that all Signpost readers know who
this organization is and what their agenda is.
The Brady Campaign is a fanatical anti-gun ownership organization
that has as its primary goal the removal of all constitutional Second
Amendment rights to the ownership of arms by all citizens of the
United States. In conjunction with the UN Commission on Small Arms,
organizations like The Brady Campaign believe that no law-abiding
citizen has the right to own guns and that only the government has
that right. Sound totalitarian? You are right!
All totalitarian governments ban weapons ownership. This facilitates
the removal of the rest of citizen rights. A recent example of this
is the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Look at any dictatorship
and you will always see a ban on gun ownership.
The facts on gun ownership and crime are also very clear. In every
state where concealed carry laws have been passed, major crime has
decreased. There is a direct correlation between law-abiding citizens
being able to protect themselves and a reduction in crime.
If you want further research, go to the National Rifle Association
website at www.nra.org.
—MICHAEL J. LAFAVE, PROUD VETERAN, PROUD NRA MEMBER, PLACITAS
re: concealed weapons
Fed up with armed nut cases invading schools to kill students,
two state legislators from Mesa, Arizona, are writing a bill to
give teachers and older students the right to bring loaded guns
onto campuses, something the law now prevents. Gun owners, however,
would have to obtain a state permit to carry their concealed weapons.
“This way, nobody knows who has a concealed weapon,”
said Republican state Sen. Karen Johnson, one of the co-sponsors.
Reaction at the Capitol has been “mixed,” as the Arizona
Daily Sun put it, with some legislators approving of arming
teachers at schools and colleges—but not students—and
others fearing yet more outbreaks of violence with so many armed
people in classrooms. Phoenix Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema had
a practical concern: If police were called to an incident at a school,
“How do they know who to stop when there’s like 18 people
—BETSY MARSTON, EDITOR OF WRITERS ON THE RANGE, A SERVICE
OF HIGH COUNTRY NEWS, Paonia, Colorado
re: library location fuels controversy
After many years of waiting, the Village of Placitas will soon
have its own library. This should be a reason for great celebration
for everyone in our community, but instead it appears to be not
only a wasted opportunity, but very possibly a disaster in the making.
As this is a publicly funded project, Placitas area Sandoval County
residents were surveyed on the best location for the new library.
Overwhelmingly, those surveyed wanted it to be located in the historic
village center. This clear mandate was totally ignored, however,
and the Library Board has instead requested that Sandoval County
purchase land adjacent to the Placitas Volunteer Fire Station, miles
from the Village in an area zoned for residential uses.
This choice is so wrong on so many levels, that it is hard to know
where to begin:
This is a federally-funded project. It is the clear intention of
the federal government to place public buildings in community centers,
not sprawled on highways outside of town. Have we learned nothing
from the Post Office fiasco?
The chosen location is sited next to a fire station, which is largely
vacant, except in the case of fires, when it is a dangerous place
to be near while the emergency vehicles are dispatched.
At the cost of our tax dollars, the site will require substantial
grading—grading that will destroy the scenic hillside of this
dangerous and fatal curve in the highway.
Access to a public library should be pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
This site is neither. It is located on a highway, far from the village
and far from any density of residential dwellings.
The location is currently zoned residential. Is this the first
step in commercializing this part of Highway 165? Will 165 become
another Highway 528? Do we want our children dodging traffic on
their bicycles as they go to the library to research their report
on dinosaurs for their third-grade project?
What was the planning process used in selecting this site? None
of the standard planning practices have been considered in choosing
where to situate the library. It is proposed to be located on a
major highway outside of the village center without reasonable pedestrian
or bicycle accessibility, and totally lacking in any sense of community.
There has been no apparent consideration of safety and federal policies
regarding placement of public buildings. These policies have been
clearly ignored. While input from County and Village residents was
solicited, the results of that input were blatantly ignored. Is
this poor planning, or is there something more sinister going on
behind the scenes?
Those of us who have chosen to live in the Placitas vicinity do
so mostly because we have rejected the commercialized sprawl of
our larger neighbors. Our village is small, but it is the vital
heart of a rural community. It is a sense of place that deserves
to grow organically from within, not spread out for miles, inexorably
developing like a rural strip mall on an endless highway.
We are building a community library. Let’s all make sure
that the library is really a part of our community, not an isolated
appendage. We’ve already waited many years for this project;
it won’t hurt to wait a little while longer to do the right
thing the right way.
—SNOW MOORE WATSON, Placitas