are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations.
Please limit your letter to approximately four hundred words. Letter
submissions are due by the twentieth of the month prior. Please
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By submitting your comments to the
Sandoval Signpost you are granting us permission
to reprint all or an edited portion of your message.
letters, opinions, editorials
[regarding SAD 7; see
page 1, this Signpost.]
re: who allowed the construction?
It never ceases to amaze me what people can achieve when they unite
together in a common cause and push for change. Congratulations
go to those residents who exercised their constitutional rights
and submitted protests or spoke up in defense of their stand.
What amazes me is the inability of this City Council, or at least
some of its members, to come to the realization that the city of
Rio Rancho has culpability in this matter. It seems certain council
members want to place all responsibility for funding the correction
of the problems in SAD 7 on the property owners. Based on public
comments by some of these leaders, it appears they are more interested
in covering their backsides, by attacking their critics, than they
are trying to find common economic ground with the property owners
in SAD 7.
The question city councilors should be asking city administration
(About Article 7, Storm Drainage Regulations, of Rio Rancho)
1. Did the city employees who approved these building permits (that
created the current situation) just blatantly disregard the ordinances,
hence they were guilty of misfeasance in the discharge of their
duties, or did they just repeatedly make stupid mistakes?
2. Were these individuals under undue pressure from their superiors,
city leadership or the developers themselves to approve these building
permits, in the name of personal profit and an increased taxation
base for the city?
3. Is there any recourse still open to the city to take action
against active duty city employees who disregarded the ordinances
or against the developers or political forces that might have unduly
influenced the permit approval process?
4. Are there now sufficient checks and balances in place to make
certain that these drainage issues never become a problem for future
property owners in the city?
—HARRY GORDON, Rio Rancho
re: Bernalillo growth
Our little town of Bernalillo is being destroyed by land developers
and opportunists. The zoning department of Bernalillo thinks it
works for the large land holders—not for the taxpayers and
voters. The average person wants Residential R-1, while the second
floor of City Hall wants to maximize the growth by putting as many
people as possible per square foot. Bernalillo does not need more
apartments. We are full. Traffic is bad. Congestion is bad.
The Flying Star property is in violation of our own rules about
parking. Take a look. If you do not like what you see there, do
something about it. Call your mayor at 771-7129 or call our town
manager at 867-3311. Call our town councilors. If you don’t
call, you will get what you deserve—traffic, crime, and apartments
—JOHN LOLL, Bernalillo
A Valentine’s stereogram, by Gary Priester
Relax your eyes and look “through” the image, not focusing
on the foreground. Let your brain work to see the hidden image above.
re: survey: Placitas BLM/Energy Corridor future?
What is your wish for the BLM land? Energy corridor, development,
mining, open space for wildlife and wild horses, etc. Your voice
Within the past month and a half, every resident of Placitas should
have received a WHOA (Wild Horse Observer’s Association) newsletter/survey.
The results of the survey will be tabulated and accepted as data
by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as input for the upcoming
BLM Resource Management Plan Update. WHOA is setting up informational
meetings in and around Placitas with the BLM. Please let us know
if you or your organization is interested in attending such a meeting.
The BLM is now in the process of reviewing its more than twenty-year-old
plan. It is important that we understand that although the five
thousand-acre area managed by the BLM is presently a great outdoor
recreation area, there is no guarantee that it will remain as such.
There are many competing interests for use of this land. Some are
compatible with existing wildlife, including the wild horse herd.
Many are not. (See possible options in the WHOA newsletter/survey).
A community survey such as the WHOA survey serves two important
1) Not everyone has the time to attend public meetings, yet everyone’s
input is needed, and,
2) If we know what the majority of Placitans want, we can be sure
the BLM will be given a clear message which is representative of
the entire community and includes each individual’s comments.
For those of you who received two surveys (the Las Placitas Association
sent a survey to its members only), it is important that you fill
out both surveys. We hope this clears up any possible confusion.
Though the response to the WHOA survey has been great, the more
Placitan representation, the better. If you have lost or misplaced
your survey, you can pick up another at La Puerta Realty, Placitas
Realty, or the Placitas Mini Mart. You can also give me a call at
771-9039, and I will put a survey in the mail for you.
Together, we can make a difference!
—DIANE RANSOM, PLACITAS RESIDENT/WHOA REPRESENTATIVE
re: “A ride on the dark side”
Unfortunately, I didn’t read your first article for which
“A ride on the dark side” [Signpost,
December 2007] was meant to provide balance. Yet, I did see
some misleading information that I think is important to clarify.
You begin the article by describing the conflict between ‘treehuggers’
and ‘motorheads’ as an ugly battle without compromise.
The truth is that the large majority of participants agree that
it is about time to manage motorized travel on the Santa Fe National
Forest. Everyone from the Blue Ribbon Coalition to the Sierra Club
agree emphatically on this. Though disagreement does exist, it seems
to be mostly in the form of posturing for media attention.
In the second column of the article you state, “We didn’t
tear up the land or disturb any hikers...” I think this portrays
the idea that the use of motorcycles or other off-road vehicles
on National Forest Lands really have no or little impact. Your statement
doesn’t consider the potential impacts of motor vehicle traffic
to wildlife habitat (especially during the breeding season) or consider
the potential impact of noise to hikers and recreationists that
you don’t see. Lastly, though you did not ‘tear up the
land’ on your ride, the facts are that motorized traffic on
roads and trails do result in increased soil instability and erosion,
especially from cumulative use of trails that are rarely maintained
and designed without professional guidance.
Also a little further in the article you state, “As dirt-bikers
are restricted from parts of the forest, trails that they made and
maintain will probably disappear, denying access to hikers and mountain
bikers.” I do think those trails rarely used by mountain bikers
and hikers will slowly disappear, but I think the more popular trails
will not. First of all, the Forest Service has been working with
increased vigor over the past several years to improve, clear, and
reopen several old hiking trails that have fallen into disrepair,
such as the Bland-Frijoles Trail, the East Fork Trail, the Peralta
Canyon Trail, and the Capulin Trail. Secondly, bikers and hikers
are perfectly capable of working by themselves or with the Forest
Service to clear trails that were previously cleared by dirt bikers.
A good example is the case of cross country skiers who have banded
together and regularly work independently and with the Forest Service
to mark, clear, and maintain trails for cross-country skiing.
The next sentence, “Overuse of limited areas once they are
designated for motorized use could lead to even more environmental
degradation,” also includes several false assumptions. The
primary assumption here is that motorized use causes little environmental
impact because of its dispersed nature. This is in fact not true.
Most environmental damage comes from roads and trails that were
incorrectly designed and receive little or no maintenance. The result
is trails in unsustainable and sensitive locations that cause impacts
to wildlife and recreation conflicts, and/or dump sediment into
nearby waterways. In fact, since most dirt bike trails were built
by dirt bike users without knowledge in trail engineering and maintenance
primarily involves removing trees that have fallen across the trail,
most environmental degradation comes from these unauthorized trails.
Implementation of the travel management rule will result in an overall
decrease in environmental degradation by removing trails that occur
in inappropriate and sensitive areas and focusing maintenance efforts
on those trails that are being regularly used by motorized vehicles.
Sure, there will be more use on designated trails, but these trails
will also receive more maintenance.
The following statement, “The draft of the Travel Management
Plan also calls for drastic restrictions on dispersed camping,”
is also false. Travel management doesn’t restrict dispersed
camping. People will still be able to camp wherever they like, just
as before. The only difference would be in how they access these
areas. The Travel Management Plan will result in some popular dispersed
camping areas being accessible by foot travel instead of car camping.
Your next few statements that the new regulations would decrease
recreation demands and thus deteriorate government support of public
lands seem in conflict with the facts. Other National Forests and
public lands that have moved toward a managed travel system have
shown increases in use by the public instead of decreases. Though
it is not clear whether the increased recreation demand is driven
by population increases or management changes, the facts clearly
do not show a decrease in recreational demand due to more active
management of motorized vehicles. This is probably because designation
of a travel system results in fewer recreational conflicts, safer
roads and trails, and a more ecologically sustainable system. Furthermore,
there is also no evidence that implementing a travel management
plan will result in decreased funding or government support. In
fact, the implementation of this rule has resulted in increased
attention to the matter of Off-Highway Vehicle management resulting
in additional monies available for public lands management through
state grant programs, Congressional appropriations, and industry-supported
I hope some of this information is useful. I don’t want to
discourage you from writing articles about the ongoing Travel Management
planning effort, as I think it is very important to get information
on this subject out to the public. I do, however, think it is essential
that published articles on this subject include accurate information,
as most conflict arises as a result of misinformation.
Lastly, I’d like to offer my services as an information resource
to you should you need any additional information about the Travel
Management planning effort or about motorized vehicle use on the
—MIKE DECHTER, SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST, CUBA/JEMEZ RANGER
DISTRICT, NEPA COORDINATOR, (575) 829-3535
re: Wanted: a new generation of leaders for the Placitas
The Placitas Recycle Association (PRA) is looking for a few willing
and motivated people to join its Board of Directors. We need to
expand the board to twenty-five members if we are to continue providing
this important service to our community and our county.
The PRA provides an award-winning service by reducing stress on
the landfill and preserving natural resources. We are very proud
of the Association’s accomplishments over the past several
years. We have:
• more than doubled the number of days open to the public.
• enlarged and upgraded the recycle yard.
• purchased new equipment.
• increased the number of volunteer workers.
• significantly increased traffic to the yard and volume
of materials collected.
But at the same time, the Board of Directors has dwindled in size
(and increased in average age). If this situation persists, recycle
operations will be significantly reduced.
Placitas needs an influx of new people willing to help lead this
important community service—or risk losing it altogether.
Board responsibilities include attending four meetings per year,
usually held at 7:00 p.m. at the Placitas Fire Station. Several
times per year, each board member takes a turn at directing the
efforts of the volunteers who operate the recycle yard. There are
other opportunities to serve if so desired, such as long-range planning,
delivering the recycle loads to the vendor, and serving as an association
To operate efficiently and reduce the strain on board members,
we need more Directors. At present, we only have thirteen, several
of whom have been at it for a very long time. Please consider sharing
your skills and enthusiasm with the community by joining the Placitas
Recycle Association Board.
If you would like more information or a chance to take a closer
look at the program, please contact John Richardson, President,
PRA, at 771-3383. He or any of the other board members would be
pleased to answer your questions.
—FRAN STEPHENS, PLACITAS RECYCLE ASSOCIATION
Editorial: State of Bernalillo
Greetings from West Bernalillo!
It’s pretty quiet over here in my part of town. 2008 came
in bringing both relief that 2007 is history and a disquieting dread
as we face a possible recession. And what about that weird weather…
looks like it’s getting worse. Oh well, I suppose the smart
course is to just do the best we can and keep one eye open.
In the past twelve months, more Bernalilloans have gathered together
more times than we can remember in the hopes of changing what seems
The 550 group raised quite a ruckus there for a while and then
in June the Town Administrator promised a resolution was being readied
for the 4th or thereabouts. Not that it would be legally binding
(as usual), but the Town needed to stand up and say no road would
be built through Bernalillo to relieve 550 congestion.
Several months later, our illustrious Mayor informed 550 group
leaders that there would be no resolution period. Hey, way to go,
town government. Way to put your foot down, avoiding who-knows-what
sticky political reprisals.
Then our friends on the east side got all het-up about developers
messing with their lives. They attended en masse four or so meetings
to oppose inappropriate development over there. I’m sure there
were various reasons to oppose development in those neighborhoods,
but I observed a common theme. As with the vast majority of Bernalilloans,
they feel disenfranchised and ignored by Town Hall. But these good
citizens are making it known in no uncertain terms that they are
tired of the status quo. They will be heard!
Have you ever tried to talk to the Planning and Zoning Officer,
the Town Administrator, or the Community Development Director? Good
luck! If they’re even there, they’ll say “Make
an appointment.” And when you show up, they may stand you
up while they deal with more important matters … like their
own agenda. And, yes, we don’t have a need to know.
Remember not too long ago when you could drop by City Hall and
chat with the Mayor? Well I do, anyway. Try it now and you have
to call the Mayor’s assistant and leave a message. Big whoop.
Sure, you can make an appointment for a rousing ten-minute chat
every two weeks on Saturday morning, but not many would call that
being truly responsive to the people.
We now have a paid fire department for the first time ever. Up
to now, we have been loyally and valiantly served by our volunteer
fire department. But when it came time to fill the paid positions,
the very same well-qualified local volunteers were passed over in
favor of other applicants.
Well, the good news for 2008 may be that the status quo stands
a good chance of being disrupted big time. Yes, folks, the balance
of power in the Town Council is up for grabs. We have a chance to
elect a bright, dedicated new trustee who can lend a new perspective
to the Council. We need one more trustee who will not be intimidated
by staff and outside interests. Someone who has the intelligence
and vision to help guide our Town through the inevitable changes
brought on by external development pressures. Someone who’ll
give you an honest answer and back it up instead of flip-flopping
or dropping it.
We need someone who knows and understands Bernalillo and has the
guts to fight for what is best for our Town, facing the challenge
of rapid development. I believe the character of Bernalillo can
be enhanced with proper growth control. Overcrowding will change
our Town into something we won’t recognize, nor want.
The kind of change we need is not hyper-development. It is about
getting folks into Town Hall who will work for us. We need people
who will talk to us when we need help, whether it’s with building
plans, infrastructure, or a deteriorating neighborhood. We want
people who are appointed to city jobs with a positive employment
history, and not before qualified locals. There is a right and proper
solution for almost every problem we face. But when elected officials
bend to politics or the manipulations of an overzealous staff, the
whole town government becomes tainted.
Change is indeed in the air and, hopefully, with the March 4 election,
a fresh breeze will usher in a new era of open government, working
for the people, toward a better future for Bernalillo.
Early voting starts in February at Town Hall. It is the duty of
everyone who cares about our town to get out there and vote.
Tell Max ‘what for’ at email@example.com.
Attorney General moves to protect New Mexicans
from check scammers
—LYNN SOUTHARD, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Attorney General Gary King’s office has established an online
database of reported counterfeit checks used in scam attempts. Alert
consumers and businesses have contacted the Attorney General’s
office and provided copies of the bogus checks and we have made
them available for inspection at http://nmag.gov/checkscams/default.aspx.
The database is updated whenever we receive new reports of counterfeit
check scams from the public or financial institutions.
New Mexicans are encouraged to look at the counterfeit check database
if they receive a check in any amount from an unknown source. A
copy of the check could be in the database.
If any counterfeit check is cashed, the consumer may be responsible
to his or her financial institution for any fees and monies lost.
Counterfeit checks can be included in various fraud attempts, including
sweepstakes and lottery winnings scams.
For more information on this and other scams, visit
our website at http://nmag.gov.
re: Placitas to Chaco Canyon
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a United Nations World
Heritage Site, is about two-and-one-half hours’ drive due
west of Placitas, just west of the Continental Divide and off Highway
550. Part of the mystique in driving there is the last ten miles
or so. It is a washboard road. Along both sides, you will discover
herds of sheep, cattle, and goats grazing on the open range’s
meager grasses. Navajo hogans, with their entrances facing east,
are in easy view.
Entering the park, your first stop should be the Visitors’
Center. If you choose to explore the Canyon, you will need to register
with the park rangers and by all means get a map of the area. From
there, you can pick your destinations from architectural sites,
rock art panels, hiking trails, and infinite vistas.
You will need to bring a few necessities such as water, food, and
comfortable clothing, depending on the time of year. The least crowded
times are from the late fall through the winter months. During the
spring, you will enjoy the blooming desert flora and experience
the beginning of bird nesting season.
In 2008, to celebrate the summer solstice, Zuni dancers and musicians
will celebrate the longest day of the year with an early morning
spiritual blessing and musical treat at Casa Riconada’s main
kiva and traditional dances at Pueblo Bonito.
Living in Placitas allows you the opportunity to experience the
Canyon in a day. If your schedule allows, Bloomfield, a few miles
away, has plenty of lodging. Or you can set up your tent in the
visitor campground located just inside the Canyon. Amenities are
sparse, but the connection to this ancient place is magical.
—RON SULLIVAN, Placitas
Environmental Alliance of New Mexico announces
its legislative agenda for 2008
Representatives of over a dozen environmental organizations convened
a news conference on January 11 to announce a 2008 legislative package
aimed at addressing the state of New Mexico’s environment,
energy, water, and outdoor education policy. The Environmental Alliance
of New Mexico, an informal coalition of environmental organizations
facilitated by Conservation Voters New Mexico, announced four priority
legislative measures. Though this year’s legislative session
will be a short, thirty-day session focusing on state budget matters,
each of the Alliance’s priority bills will be on the legislative
agenda because they are germane to state budgeting or because they
are anticipated to be on the “Governor’s call.”
The bills include:
• the “Leave No Child Inside Act,” a bill seeking
to generate revenue for an outdoor educational programming fund
through a one-percent excise tax (a “sin” tax) on the
purchase of new televisions and video games.
• the “Ratepayer Protection Act,” a bill requiring
regulated electric utilities to meet ten percent of their energy
demand with energy efficiency by 2020 instead of building new power
plants (which are more expensive than efficiency). The bill will
also encourage the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to allow
energy efficiency programs to be as profitable to New Mexico utilities
as power plants are.
• a “Smart Investments in Public Buildings” policy
to ensure a fifty-percent energy saving throughout the life of new
and retrofitted public buildings through a one to two percent initial
investment in the “sustainable” or “green”
design of each public building.
• a one-time funding request of $10 million for Statewide
Ecosystem Restoration that will facilitate efforts to restore New
Mexico’s fragile and iconic river ecosystems, including funding
for water flows, technical studies, and community outreach. “This
alliance represents over thirty thousand New Mexican voters who
care about protecting our air, land, water, wildlife, and communities,”
said Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New
Mexico and the Conservation Voters of New Mexico Education Fund.
The four priority bills of the Environmental Alliance of New Mexico
are the result of an annual “common agenda” process
in which environmental organizations come together to develop a
cohesive environmental policy agenda for consideration by the annual
state legislative session.
In addition to the measures mentioned above, Conservation Voters
New Mexico will be monitoring any potential “environmental
rollbacks” of policy gains made in previous years and will
work to defend against such regressive measures. Organizations involved
in the Environmental Alliance of New Mexico include: 1000 Friends
of New Mexico, Animal Protection Voters, Amigos Bravos, Audubon
New Mexico, Conservation Voters New Mexico, Defenders of Wildlife,
Dooda Desert Rock, Environment New Mexico, New Mexico Coalition
for Clean Affordable Energy, New Mexico Environmental Law Center,
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, New Mexico Wildlife Federation,
Sierra Club, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy,
and the World Wildlife Fund.
For more information, contact Sandy Buffett, Executive Director
of Conservation Voters New Mexico, at 270-5743.
Writer’s on the Range
Like it or not, corn is in every meal
For the first time in history, the youngest generation alive today
is at risk of a shorter lifespan than their parents. As we begin
the 21st century, we have managed to take a great leap backward:
We’re living shorter lives.
We know why. It’s because of our poor diets, our alarming
proclivity for fast food, and the increasing epidemic of obesity
and diabetes in our country. Most of all, it’s because of
our addiction to corn. That’s the stomach-turning message
of “King Corn,” a polished documentary making the rounds
of theaters nationwide and raising the eyebrows of many Americans.
The movie traces the journey of Yale college buddies Ian Cheney
and Curt Ellis, who head to the nation’s heartland to find
out where their food comes from. The two purchase one acre of farmland
near Greene, Iowa, plant it to corn, harvest it, and then begin
a journey of discovery that blows them away. Cheney and Ellis follow
their corn to a mega-feedlot in Colorado, where it fattens cattle
quickly. But that is just the tip of the silo.
The corn winds up not only in our beef, the two find out, but also
in the majority of other foods we consume in the form of high-fructose
corn syrup. The syrup is a sweetener found in darn near everything
we consume, including applesauce, salad dressing, cookies, chocolate
milk, ketchup, granola bars, steak sauce, stewed tomatoes and chewing
gum. You name it, it’s probably got corn.
Corn-fed cattle—and remember, cows were not made to eat corn,
but evolved as grazers of grasses—and high-fructose corn syrup
are the biggest culprits in America’s slide into obesity.
In 1971, 47.7 percent of Americans were categorized as overweight
or obese. By 2004, that percentage had ballooned to 66 percent.
“Hamburger meat is rather fat disguised as meat,”
says Loren Cordain, University of Colorado agricultural economist,
in “King Corn.”
The corn lobby makes the claim that our obesity is the result of
choices made by consumers, and it says that corn is the best thing
since automobiles and television. The movie, Rob Robertson of the
Nebraska Farm Bureau told me, “exaggerates corn and the problems
it causes and overlooks all the benefits corn has for our country
and our society.”
But it has become increasingly difficult to shrug off the disturbing
parallels between our growing portliness and deteriorating health,
and the foods that have permeated our diets. “Even our French
fries -- half the calories in the French fries come from the fat
they’re cooked in, which is liable to be corn oil or soy oil,”
says Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
“King Corn” finds two other flaws in America’s
making of food: The industrialization of agriculture, which has
fueled intensive use of farm chemicals and caused pollution to our
streams and rivers, and our system of deeply ingrained subsidies.
The subsidies granted by Congress reward the over-production of
commodity grains and ignore the value of nutritious foods such as
vegetables, fruits and lean meats, such as grass-fed beef. In 2005,
nearly $10 billion in federal subsidies encouraged farmers to grow
a surplus of corn. But only a small fraction of that money went
for subsidizing nutritious foods. The recent high prices for corn
have also transferred subsidies from corn growers to corn-ethanol
producers. Because we grow corn in ever-increasing amounts in America,
the corn lobby -- with the exuberant help of university researchers,
Monsanto and the like -- has spent big money over the decades to
find alternative uses for the grain. Presto! That spurred the development
of high-fructose corn syrup, and, as the two student farmers come
to realize, cheap food made more palatable with corn syrup is not
necessarily healthy food.
It’s refreshing to see “King Corn” stimulating
a needed debate about our nation’s farm policy, and it’s
perhaps predictable that the corn lobby deems any criticism of its
crop and its role in our food system to be anti-farmer and anti-American.
On the contrary, investigation and debate are what make America
a truly democratic country. We love to talk, we love to eat, and
a lot of us have become really curious about what’s in that
Pete Letheby is a contributor to Writers on the
Range, a service of High Country News
(hcn.org). He writes
and reports in Grand Island, Nebraska.