Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Real People

Replacement pick sparks rare testiness among county commissioners

~Bill Diven

The normal collegiality among Sandoval County commissioners hit a speed bump in July as two commissioners complained of not being consulted in recommending a replacement for resigned Commissioner James Dominguez of Bernalillo.

Commissioners Kenneth Eichwald of Cuba and Jay Block of Rio Rancho, respectively a Democrat and Republican, questioned a letter of recommendation commission Chairman Don Chapman and Vice Chairman David Heil, both Republicans, submitted to Governor Susana Martinez.

While Chapman said anyone can apply for the vacancy through a link on the governor's website, Eichwald and Block noted the letter on commission letterhead made it appear they were endorsing the candidate as well.

"This commission prides itself on transparency, and I felt out of the loop," Eichwald said.

Block praised Chapman for a "phenomenal" job in making the commission more open and expanding public involvement. "Half of the team was left off," Block added. "You hit a speed bump. I have not lost confidence in you.”

Chapman and Heil both expressed concerns about running afoul of the state Open Meetings Act if all commissioners were polled behind the scenes. But Chapman also acknowledged he may have moved too quickly in what he characterized as a unique situation.

"My Dad always said, It only takes one aw-shucks to mess up a lot of attaboys," he said.

Dominguez resigned in June with 18 months left in his first term after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors related to a 2015 domestic dispute with his now ex-wife. The resignation was included in a plea deal that dismissed a felony charge that would have forced him to resign if convicted.

Dominguez appeared earlier in the meeting to apologize for his actions and express regret for letting down his constituents. "I loved being out there and engaging with the people in my district," he said, adding to the commissioners, "It was my pleasure and honor to work among you."

Commissioners responded with praise for Dominguez's work even when they disagreed on issues and for helping the new commissioners who came aboard in January. "You and I had a rocky start, brother, and then we became friends," Block said. "I really respect the job you did."

Dominguez said that he hopes that whoever the new commissioner is will continue to work on roads and other needs in the district.

Naming a replacement for the remainder of Dominguez's terms is up to the governor. At Signpost deadline, an "Apply Here" link on the Governor’s homepage leads to an online application form.

The governor's office did not respond to requests from the Signpost for a status report on the process and when a decision might be made. None of the applicants' names has been released.

Bernalillo Public Schools Superintendent Allan Tapia retires

~Signpost Staff

After nearly 27 years in education, Superintendent Allan Tapia decided the time was right for someone else to lead the Bernalillo Public Schools.

Construction of the new Bernalillo High School, the largest project in the state at the time, recently wrapped up—as has building the new elementary school at Santo Domingo Pueblo and the gym at Cochiti Pueblo elementary and middle schools.

In February, voters approved an $18.5 million bond issue for the next round of district-wide projects and upgrades by an 8-1 margin.

"I've been contemplating this for a while," Tapia told the Signpost. "I just think after 26-and-a-half years in education it's time to take a step back and think about other options and opportunities."

A return to education remains a possibility, as Tapia is 51. As he frequently did in public and in private, he thanked the taxpayers of the district for supporting bond issues and expressed appreciation for the district's diverse cultures represented in the student bodies.

Tapia notified the board of education of his plans in June, and on July 20 the board named Deputy Superintendent Keith Cowan to be acting superintendent until Tapia's contract expired at the end of the month. Cowan, formerly principal of Bernalillo High School, will become interim superintendent on August 1, as the board searches for Tapia's permanent replacement.

"Speaking for myself: Allan, over the last six or seven years, brought a lot of stability and continuity to the district," school board Vice President Vince Montoya said. "I give Allan a lot of credit along with the good team within the district that supported him… He took what our vision as a board was and did a really good job of getting that done. He's left us in a good place."

Tapia's career began in 1991 with the Albuquerque Public Schools as a science teacher and athletic coach. From there, he coached and taught biology at Moriarty High School, where he went to High School, graduating in 1985.

In 1996 he became assistant principal at Bernalillo Middle School moving up to principal two years later and being named Principal of the Year in 2007 by the New Mexico Association of Secondary School Principals. He then became executive director of secondary education before being named superintendent in 2011.

Tapia said he's proud of serving the majority of his career in the BPS district and that he is especially going to miss the students and his colleagues.

Message to Jim Fish

~from Cirrelda S-B

Brother Poet,
you lived the
need to write
          it down.

Let us count the ways,
            Fish —
you made our lives rich.

Living right,
your life ends
where your gaze
fell to the west.

The need to tell ye
one last time, ¡Bravo!

Up at dawn,
does your spirit
still hover here?
only a few days
since your heart stopped?

Let the Moth out
the screen,
record Jays seen,
hear the Dove
register the umpteenth time.

Register yourself
& try to count
how many Coyote voices
in the morning
howling at the Breakfast Moon –

Bat passes, filling
mouth with Moths & Gnats.
The Bobcat winds its
way through the gate.
Who will be there
to notice in the
same way as you?

Our duty to
let the story be
We remember
        you –
your concocting  
        for us all
Figuring the new
ways to brew.

The mystery of
when it all will end,
you’ve revealed
        for all
          here –
We never know.

The need to make
        a life count.

Does connecting now
for the times
I didn’t make
the turn down
Los Pueblitos?

   Finger the wood
ancient Apricot
        you turned into
Bowl from log.
Vision from
Eye in the

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