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Former mayoral candidate clashes with Bernalillo mayor

An argument erupted at a town council meeting on July 22 between Bernalillo Mayor Charles Aguilar and former mayoral candidate Kiki Trujillo. The confrontation started when the mayor questioned Trujillo’s request that the town remove a nuisance elm tree across the street from a shop that she owns. During the lengthy confrontation the mayor said, among other things, that the tree removal would cost as much as $400 rather than the $45 price tag put on it by Trujillo. Aguilar said that he didn’t want to set a precedent the the town could not afford. The matter was eventually taken under advisement.

Trujillo is now calling for the mayor to resign because of his ”intense thrashing of a $45 line item.” In a letter dated July 24 she wrote, “I have been informed [by state officials] that should you not act on the request of call for resignation because of bias, violation of oath of office, unprofessionalism, and abuse of power, that I should begin petition to recall with signatures from registered voters in this town.” And furthermore, “Please don’t imply that my actions are not validated by your choices. We don’t want this current agenda to take on yet another legal issue of slander or defamation.”


re: WMR’s response to Albuquerque Journal

7/4/02 coverage of the closure of Placitas Animal Rescue

I read with great alarm the article today concerning the mass euthanasia of animals at Placitas Animal Rescue attributed to Sandoval County public information officer Gayland Bryant. I managed to reach him today because of my concern and knowing full well that Watermelon Mountain Ranch has offered assistance to both Gary Miles and the County so that no such action would be necessary. He tells me that he was misquoted. Well, the damage has been done. Watermelon has received many, many calls from the animal groups and citizens today. I have assured them that we have offered full support to both parties with respect to placing the animals.

Watermelon has adopted out 198 animals in five months. There is absolutely no need for euthanasia and we would never, ever sit back and see this happen, I assure you.

Sophia DiClemente
Executive Director
Watermelon Mountain Ranch


We’ve seen this movie before

Carl Hertel

In spite of the attempts by Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Ashcroft to discredit dissent over the War on Terrorism as unpatriotic, more and more mainstream writers have elected to come forward with honest critiques. For example, Newsweek and Foreign Policy magazines—hardly leftist, radical rags—have produced pieces this summer recasting the scene where America stands after September 11. Fareed Zakarias writing in Newsweek speaks of the changes he has witnessed since July 4, 2001, when he became a citizen and the United States was “. . . bathed in peace and plenty, calmly contemplating a mild recession and a sinking stock market.” This summer the recession drags on, unemployment rises, the environment is writhing in the face of natural disasters and repressed protective policies, and the falling stock market is beset by flaming scandals and corruption. Osama Bin Laden remains at large and the country is at war at home and abroad with more action promised in Iraq in the near future.

For all that, Zakarias makes the case that there is nothing new in this period of strife and internal insecurity for America; we have, as it were, seen this movie before. Zakarias traces history back to the internal strife during the Quasi-War with France in the 1790s and the enactment of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 giving President Adams the power to expel any foreigner and making it unlawful to criticize the president. Zakarias then cites the internal insecurities of the Civil War in the 1860s, the red-scare stock-market bombings and the rise of J. Edgar Hoover in the 1920s, and the disruptive witch hunts of the 1950s and Senator Joe McCarthy, when, we now know, some of the “witches” he sought to burn were actually guilty of spying for the Russians.

Zakarias then recalls the Vietnam War, and the stresses on the fabric of our society it produced, noting how concerned our leaders were about internal security during those times and how this concern is currently being revealed on the recently released private tapes of Presidents Nixon and Johnson. Zakarias says: “We have been here before . . . . America has a long history . . . of trying to ensure the security of its citizens against mortal threats from within. Nothing in our present crisis suggests that we need throw away that history [and] those lessons of our fundamental belief that liberty can indeed be balanced by security.”

In a more provocative way, Yale scholar Immanuel Wallerstein, writing in Foreign Policy magazine, outlines what he sees as the decline of America in an article titled “The Incredible Shrinking Eagle.” Wallerstein sees that the the United States acting as the world’s only superpower will be its downfall. The increasing militaristic focus, he says, is sapping the diversity and flexibility of our economy while other states, such as Japan, China, and Germany, will be free to develop scientifically and technologically in ways superior to the U.S. He cites the recent report that Japanese engineers have produced a computer for making economic decisions that is many times faster than any United States computer. He says this signals how far behind our science and technology are falling because of their obsessive emphasis upon designing computers for weapons work.

Wallerstein also paints a dark picture of what he regards as our lack of clear-cut success in military adventures since the seventies. Needless to say, his recent C-SPAN appearance drew much fire from many irate patriotic citizens, but he stuck to his guns stating that the decline of the United States is inevitable—like that of previous superpowers in history who became overly militaristic and focused on security while forgetting to maintain a diverse, creative, and growing economy sensitive to changing world conditions.

I hasten to add that Wallerstein’s views are strongly contested in other articles appearing in Foreign Affairs and The New York Times which support the notion that the United States has never been stronger as a world power.

In New Mexico, we have long harbored deep feelings about independence, freedom, and individual rights along with the understanding that there is a need for security. We have not needed the threat of terrorism to raise the question of security, since wildfires and drought have provided ample fuel for arguments weighing personal liberty against the need for communal security. In conducting this balancing act, it is just as important in the arid West as it is in Washington, D.C., to maintain democratic institutions to solve our problems and preserve security while protecting individual liberties. Anxiety about security sometimes leads a few to try to sacrifice the essentials of the democratic process, and therein lies the greatest danger of all.

As Zakarias points out, presidents from Adams to Clinton have all struggled with this issue, and the country has survived as a free and open democracy each time. Now President Bush must do the same.


re: new development in Placitas

Dear Signpost,

I would like to respond to George Shaffer’s letter in last month’s Signpost.

As a twenty-year resident of the Placitas community, I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer for their contributions over the years in making the Placitas community the wonderful place that it was, with its open spaces, quiet low auto traffic, and darkness at night.

The questions raised by Mr. Shaffer’s letter are:

  1. What kind of community will we have in twenty years and even in a hundred years?
  2. Apropos of this, will there be sufficient water to sustain forty-five to sixty new houses this close to the existing village of Placitas?

I recognize that intentions change—after all, our needs and desires as residents of a community differ from those of developers—but it is my hope that as former residents of Placitas, Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer will not forget their concern and generosity to the Placitas community.

John O’Keefe
Placitas Heights


re: protecting our water supplies

Recent articles in this paper have featured discussions regarding the proposed development just south of the village. George Shaffer, who is developing this area, has been my neighbor since I moved here fifteen years ago. He has been a good neighbor. George was able to prevent development in this area through the acquisition of land. As a resident of Placitas, George was concerned about development and limited water supplies, and he had the financial wherewithal to do something about it. Unfortunately, George is leaving, but the concerns that we shared as neighbors still remain. Without the financial resources to purchase undeveloped land outright, we who remain are left to our own devices.

Homes in Placitas have high value now because buyers believe that there is an adequate water supply. Take a trip around Placitas and you will not be able to observe any indication that Placitas may have a water problem. If Placitas runs dry in ten years, however, we will have a real crisis on our hands.

Crisis management is the art of waiting until a crisis occurs before taking action. Good management requires that you think ahead and deal with problems before they reach crisis proportions. Addressing the problem of limited water reserves and uncontrolled population growth in Placitas before a crisis befalls us is good management. Waiting and hoping that our worst fears do not materialize is a recipe for disaster.

So what can one individual do to protect his or her investment?

  • Do nothing—If you believe that continued development and consumption pose no risk to Placitas water supplies, then do nothing. New homes will continue to be built.
  • Conserve water—Begin using less water. Encourage neighbors to use less water. Encouraging others to conserve will slow the consumption of new water (but will have no impact on new development).
  • Post a sign outside your house saying Please Conserve Water, or if you have religious inclinations, God, please don’t let us die in the choking dust.
  • Put your house up for sale. If you do sell your house, Placitas water supplies are no longer your concern.

The aforementioned solutions can be effective in slowing development in the near term. However, solutions should be pursued to ensure that development does not re-emerge when water supply problems are temporarily forgotten. Legislation preventing further development, along with conservation, will ensure water supplies for the future. The value of existing homes will increase when water supplies are protected.

Contact your representative on your own or help form a political coalition. Developers are protecting their interests; we homeowners need to protect ours. This is an election year and every major candidate knows that water is the number one issue. By making our concerns public and letting the politicians know where our sympathies lie we may find some powerful allies.

Research done by the National Science Foundation indicates that we are presently experiencing only the beginning of warming trends. Our source of water from annual snowfall in the Sandias can be expected to diminish in the years to come.

By acting now we can still have water ten, twenty, or even a hundred years from now. By not acting, the only winners will be those individuals and developers who were able to get out before the water was gone. The rest will be left with no water and will either be saying they saw it coming or just wondering, How could this have happened?

Jerry Eller


re: horses, rabbits, drought, and speeding

[Submitted via]

Wow . . . all of the letters in The Gauntlet this month [July 2002] touch on my emotions.

The drought has everyone concerned, and I agree with the suggested moratorium on building until the drought eases. Even communities back east in Maryland have imposed such limitations as they too are in the midst of a terrible drought.

I returned from a business trip yesterday to find the Albuquerque Journal article on the sale of the Placitas horses on my desk. I was horrified. Why do folks move out to the wild areas of our community if they want to live uptown lifestyles? Why not stay in the city if you don't want the wild critters stomping around your yard?

About this time last year a neighbor and I were finding dead rabbits all over our property. Hmmm . . . . While I was on another business trip it was reported that another of my neighbors (you know who you are) was shooting out his back door (isn't that illegal?) and what a coincidence to find all the dead bunnies upon my return from that trip. Again, if you don't want the bunnies to eat your flowers, put up some rabbit fence.

Wildlife has its place in this world and we just happened to move into their backyard. Mighty good thing they don't have guns and corrals to round us up and do away with us, isn't it? Doesn't seem fair somehow.

As for obeying the speed limits in our area, I too was reminded by a sheriff's deputy when I first moved to Placitas of the twenty-mph speed limit at the beginning of Las Huertas. Now my truck won't even coast down that hill from 165 at twenty mph and I have to ride the brake all the way. Seems some residents along there are concerned about their children being endangered while playing. My suggestion is to keep your children out of the road (and your dogs too). But I was breaking the speed limit when I was stopped and won't cry about that.

However, I too have been going through the village of Placitas at the posted thirty-five mph (on cruise control) and have been passed in the no-passing zone by folks exceeding fifty Same goes for the forty-five-mph zone leading out of the village. Zoom! Oncoming traffic? They don't seem to care; get out of their way! The local law enforcement could hand out a lot of citations by sitting among the mail boxes there between 6:30 and 7:30 any weekday morning. Hint hint! By the way, those guys and gals do a heck of a job and put their lives on the line every day when they report to work and we all should honor and appreciate them!

So, my fellow Placitans, I love our community and have met some marvelous folks since moving here almost four years ago. I'll shut up for now and let someone else express their opinions.

Wilda Portner


re: air monitors and Intel

The Intel PR piece written by Sandoval County Commission Chair, Elizabeth Johnson in the Signpost’s July issue [“County Line”] was a sharp contrast to the report a few pages further on regarding the commission’s resolution supporting air monitors near the Intel plant. While Ms. Johnson’s loyalty toward Intel is touching, if she actually believed the pro-Intel fantasy she wrote, she would welcome monitors that could prove her client’s innocence as the culprit behind several hundred reports of illness detailed in a recent health survey. Her vote against monitors was a vote to continue Intel’s decade-long cover up.

Ms. Johnson is supposed to represent the people who elected her, not corporate interests. If she lived downwind of Intel in Corrales and had to breathe the poisons that Intel emits, as my family and I did, she might be more sympathetic to those who were denied her support.

Barbara Rockwell


re: fire department thanks community

We would like to extend a Placitas Fire Brigade thank-you to the entire community of Placitas! We hope you had the opportunity to attend the Placitas Fourth of July Parade. It was a great morning on the Fourth as we all enjoyed each others company and celebrated this holiday.

With the cooperation of our community it was a safe Fourth of July. The Fire Brigade performed a patrol during the hours of 8:00 p.m. to midnight on the Fourth and only had to remind four homeowners of the fireworks restrictions. You, the members of our community, should pat yourselves on the back! Thankfully, by your taking the restrictions to heart, the hazard of a devastating wild fire was avoided. With your support during this time of extreme dry conditions, we hope to escape the potential disaster of a severe wildfire in our area.

We would like to pass on a few tips to help you to avoid fire damage to your home if a wild fire should occur nearby.

  • Be sure to keep at least a thirty-foot perimeter free of flammables around your home.
  • Keep your fire woodpile thirty feet away from the structure.
  • Keep any leaf-type debris off your roof and out of your gutters.
  • Know to call 911 right away if you see a fire burning outdoors.

Realize there are not to be any open fires during a burn-restriction period.


Sal Gullo
Assistant Fire Chief
Placitas Fire Brigade






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