The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


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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 available online.

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.


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 than platforms).

• if at all possible, bake seed at 250 degrees to kill any bacteria.

• 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.


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, etc.

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 their head.)

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 sleep deprivation.

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 his shift.

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 dignity.

So, that’s the latest dirt from here. Thanks for asking.

Your Friend,

—HERB, Placitas, New Mexico

re: An Earth Day call to heed dangers of overpopulation and growth

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 low immigration.

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 things.

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 or environmentally.

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 means.

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 be attending.

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 interests.

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 surrounding environment.

We have reviewed the recently published Environmental Assessment for Travel Management of the Sandia Ranger District document, dated January 2008.

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.


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 Mexico.

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 non-federal lands.

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 County.


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


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 wielding guns?”


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.




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