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letters, opinions, editorials
The Signpost welcomes letters of opinion to encourage dialog in the community. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations.
I read the call for submissions for the Premio Atzlán literary prize in your July issue with considerable interest until I came to the part specifying that the award of $1,000 has to go to, "a Chicano writer (male or female) for a work of fiction published in the 2004 calendar year." The award is only available to authors who have published fewer than two books.
I happen to be a non-Chicano writer and resident of Placitas with books published in the 2004 calendar year (though I wouldn't be eligible for this award because I've published more than two books).
I'm deeply offended to see the award is only available to persons who are distinctly male or female. Ahem.
Evidently, New Mexico whites, blacks, Native Americans, and Asians, as well as Chicano people of indeterminate sex, who published books in 2004 would be well-advised to look for awards more nearly suited to their ethnic backgrounds.
The article goes on to state the award was established in 1993. I wonder how long the award would have survived if the specifications for submission requirements read, say,: "A white writer (male) for a work of fiction published in the 2004 calendar year."
I've overstated my position by saying I'm deeply offended. In fact, I'm not deeply offended. I'm in favor of encouraging young writers of all ethnic groups and I don't pay a lot of attention to whether their sexes are determinate or not. I suppose what bothers me (to the extent anything does) about the submission requirements for this award are the contradictions imbedded in it. The exclusion of young black, NA, Asian, and white writers from consideration for one of the few literary awards available from public institutions of higher learning in New Mexico sticks in my gullet. It seems the antithesis of the ethnic-blind/color-blind society we hoped for during most of the last half of the twentieth century.
On the other hand, I'm virulently in favor of encouraging the preservation, recognition, and appreciation of our unique heritage comprised of an ethnic soup of NA, Chicano and Anglo American. I'd just prefer to see a level playing field for all those groups from our public institutions. We've gone past the bad old days when members of certain of those groups had to suffer exclusion from all manner of opportunities because of their cultural and genetic heritage. I hate to discover that we've merely changed which groups are on the business end of the discrimination.
There's something quite fine to be said about sense of community. Friends of community are certainly downtown Bernalillo businesses—good businesses and good people.
In particular, as so-called chain stores creep into open real-estate opportunities around here, let's remember our community business people. Pharmacy Plus and TaGrMo Hardware are just a couple of the fine family owned businesses we have depended on for years in Bernalillo. Thank you to those good businesses; trust that our community will continue to support you.
Yes, indeed, take a deep breath—and hold your nose. The air-quality task farce stinks to high heaven! We hear a lot these days about “letting some good science resolve the issues” or “we’ll let science make the decision” or some variant of that high-minded posture, but science had nothing to do with this outcome—it was politics all the way. Bottom line: the politicians highjacked the process when it looked like the science was pointing to Intel as the source of toxic fumes that have set off smoke alarms in nearby residents’ homes and sent them fleeing to motels in the middle of the night.
In his opinion piece, Daymon Ely claims he was neutral, but his real bias shows when he writes, “An employee of the state Department of Health disagrees with the Health Risk Assessment and has said the task force did not have enough information available to reach any firm conclusion, one way or another.” The “employee” he is referring to is not the janitor, but Len Flowers, the head of the state toxicology department. I was there and heard her report, which indicated that the health-risk assessment was little more than junk science. This is the flimsy hook the politicos are hanging their hat on. The health-risk assessment was debunked in plain layperson’s language at an earlier meeting by a scientist on the task force. I’m not a scientist or a lawyer, but I understood it, and I am amazed that Mr. Ely apparently did not get it. Perhaps he was dozing.
Ms. Flowers was scheduled to give her report on April 15, a meeting that was cancelled on two hours’ notice by secretary of the environment, Ron Curry, when he got wind that her report would not fulfill the preordained goal of exonerating Intel. The task force did not meet again for seven weeks, at which meeting Mr. Curry preempted his scientists (something he promised he would not do) and announced that he had decided there was no problem. Case closed. Patricia Montoya, secretary for the health department, was there to quickly concur. It was an outrage; the packed meeting room erupted in disbelief.
All the time and hard work by task-force members, $200,000 of taxpayers’ money wasted on a political boondoggle, and free PR for one of the world’s richest corporations.
Quickly swept aside was the final report, an air-modeling study done by national expert Darko Koracin, which clearly showed a strong correlation between Intel emissions and residents’ complaints. Mary Uhl, the environment department’s project manager for the task force, and an air-modeling expert herself, was scheduled to give her report on the Koracin study but was “reassigned” at the last minute.
The Task Farce has turned out just the way Corrales Residents for Clean Air and Water predicted right from the start that it would: a phony-baloney whitewash. Residents have been complaining to the state for almost fifteen years about the toxic emissions from Intel, and only after CRCAW purchased a sophisticated FTIR air monitor with $93,000 of donated money did the state respond.
I feel sorry for the residents who will continue to suffer from Intel’s refusal to admit there is a problem and to buy the right equipment to solve the problem. We know from the five whistle-blowers who have come forward since the beginning of the task farce—three from the state and two from Intel—that both Intel and the state know very well what the problems are. I also feel sorry for the state scientists who have seen their good honest work disregarded.
But not to worry, the community’s FTIR is collecting data 24/7 ... and the truth will emerge.