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Peter Pino, tribal administrator for Zia Pueblo

Peter Pino, tribal administrator for Zia Pueblo

Pueblo intends to keep ownership of Zia symbol

—KEIKO OHNUMA

Zia pueblo’s long campaign to take back the logo used by the state of New Mexico—the sun with four sets of linear rays—embodies in many ways the tribe’s steadfast position in the face of modern dilemmas.

“Some people think that issue is going to go away,” said Peter Pino, tribal administrator for Zia pueblo. “We’ve been pursuing it for fourteen years, and will continue.” The tribe asserted that the state owed $1 million for each of the seventy-four years it had used the symbol without permission, touching off a controversy over the misappropriation of Native culture that led the federal Patent and Trademark Office to clarify the standing of Native American symbols, and declare that it would protect them.

“A small community like Zia had national impact,” Pino concludes with a touch of pride. He always speaks of the tribe as a unity, “we,” noting that leadership rests in the office of the governor, a yearlong appointment currently held by Ivan Pino. But it is largely through the thirty-one-year administration of Peter Pino himself that the 850-member Zia has developed a reputation as a strong activist tribe fiercely protective of its communal roots.

During Pino’s tenure, the Zia expanded their land base from 16,700 acres to more than 150,000, in three federal give-backs. The last parcel—eleven thousand acres that connected separate parts of the reservation—took thirteen years of negotiation with the Bureau of Land Management and local conservation groups, resulting in the Ojito Wilderness bill, signed in 2005.

Such projects are crucial to the tribe, Pino explained, because land forms the very basis of Zia culture. “With land, you have a decent base to maintain your traditions—the song, the dance, the culture.” A buffer of land protects the heart of the community from encroaching interests, and provides a home for the tribe’s identity.

“Without that, we would be part of the melting pot,” Pino said, making clear that the tribe must always guard against dissolution of its unique strengths. That’s why he and tribal leaders traveled to Washington multiple times over the years to testify before Congress, and brokered millions of dollars of purchases of land and grazing permits in the area, to prevent conflicts with private owners.

Pino’s job is hardly done. The bill requires that the Zia buy back the BLM acreage. “We know budgets are being cut,” he said. “We realize we have to generate funds using our resources.”

At the Zia tribal office fifteen miles north of Bernalillo, Pino sits nearly hidden behind stacks of paper that cover his desk, a landscape that continues on the shelves and cabinets behind him. He describes his job as the equivalent of a city manager—a nonpolitical position that provides continuity for the tribe’s efforts. Tapped for a leadership position at the age of twenty-one, when he had completed two bachelor’s degrees at New Mexico Highlands University and was starting an MBA at the University of New Mexico, Pino carries on the legacy of his grandfather, a respected tribal leader.

“I was given the opportunity to carry forward his work,” he said. “I was encouraged by the elders.”

Seeing leadership potential in the well-educated young man proved to be a boon for the Zia. His grounding in traditional values, combined with high-level training in economic development, has given the tribe a cohesive approach to contemporary survival. The tribe has acquired land in both Bernalillo and San Ysidro, Pino explained, to develop retail businesses that will give tribal members a chance to try their hand at being entrepreneurs—but with clear geographic separation from the village itself.

“We’re always looking for ways to make the tribe a team effort, while also putting money in the pockets of tribal members,” Pino said. But just as important as raising money is keeping the three hundred or so Zia families united within the village, where they can protect and strengthen the tribe’s intellectual property. It is important to prevent situations where the individual and community are at odds.

“We don’t want to have that clash between the worlds,” Pino said. “That’s why the San Ysidro and Bernalillo projects are kept separate from the traditional world. That’s one way to protect our privacy.”

The Zia have never operated a casino. At a brainstorming session for tribal leaders, Pino recalled, gaming was not once mentioned, though it was suggested that the tribe’s bar in San Ysidro be burned.

That has stayed with him, guiding a focus on businesses that do not challenge the tribe’s integrity. Film locations, for example, are a Zia specialty: Studios work with the tribe through Pino, who is film liaison to the New Mexico Film Office. Terrain on the reservation ranging from five thousand feet to the seven-thousand-foot Pajarito plateau has served as backdrops for All the Pretty Horses, 21 Grams, The Fire Next Time, Wyatt Earp, and The Missing, among others. Besides location fees, the tribe benefits from hiring preference for crew, security, and extras.

Other sources of income include a gypsum mine and leases for an oil and gas pipeline, cell phone towers, a television tower, and a humates processing plant, plus cattle ranching, which is shared by several families. Most Zia residents work off the reservation—and yet some ninety percent live on the pueblo.

“We don’t want to boast,” Pino said carefully, “but (the pueblo) is the reason we still are. The reason we maintain strength is through the village. The community in a place is what connects the culture and keeps it alive.”

This strength—combined with real-world political and business skills—have given Zia pueblo a special confidence in asserting its values in the wider world. Pino, its renaissance manager, has earned the trust of the tribal leadership by keeping his eyes trained on a landscape that greatly predates his office view of documents and reports.

“In the long term, ten to twenty years doesn’t really matter,” he said. “No matter how long it takes, you shouldn’t lose sight of the value system. Sometimes that’s hard to do, because the temptation is there.”

The important thing for the Zia, he said, is the long view. “There’s so many people (in the area) that we need to encourage each other to treat each other with respect and dignity. It is our hope that we can all coexist to benefit one another—and our resources.”


SAD 7 angers Rio Rancho residents

—SIGNPOST STAFF

On January 9, Rio Rancho residents filled the city council chambers far beyond capacity. They spoke overwhelmingly against Special Assessment District 7 (SAD 7), which would assess property owners in the Los Rios neighborhood of NM 528 almost $14,000 per lot to pay for a $70 million project designed to prevent a repeat of the flooding that occurred during the 2006 monsoons. Opponents of SAD 7 said that the city has not been enforcing its own ordinances and now wants the private citizens to pay for the city’s errors.

In a related tragedy, John Momchin, president of the Los Rios Neighborhood Association, an outspoken critic of the special assessment district process, collapsed and died at a public meeting on January 22, where he planned to vent his frustration with city leaders. Momchin was one of many residents upset about the prospect of paying $14,000 for a project they say they don’t want.

State Senator Steve Komadina and Senator Joe Carraro are searching for money to relieve the hardships Rio Rancho homeowners are feeling since they have been hit with huge special assessments to repair and prevent flooding damage in the city.

“We have personally committed to putting state resources towards the needs in Rio Rancho,” Senator Komadina said Thursday. “We are turning over every rock and stone to find help for this dire dilemma in Rio Rancho.”

Senator Komadina is committed to investing some of his district’s capital funding to ease the burden of the special assessment in Rio Rancho.

“We met with numerous residents and representatives from homeowner associations, as well as the County Clerk, regarding this predicament. They are also saying something needs to be done. We are doing something,” Senator Komadina said.

Senator Carraro said he has been working for months on finding money to help solve the problem. He said he has contacted the State Engineer’s Office, the Legislative Finance Committee, and the New Mexico Finance Authority in search of money for flood control and drainage.

“I have been working on this for months and I will continue to search for relief,” Senator Carraro said. “I understand that there needs to be more teamwork with the city, county, state, and federal government to get this resolved for all of the stakeholders involved.”


Bernalillo development issues turn divisive

—TY BELKNAP

An overflow crowd at a Town of Bernalillo Planning and Zoning (P&Z) meeting would have been unthinkable a few years ago. If the January 8 meeting is any indication, development issues could make P&Z meetings the hottest seat in town.

Residents of the Mountain View area packed the council chambers to oppose Bill Sapien’s request for a zone change to build the sixty-four-unit Plaza Miranda apartment complex on a five-acre lot east of the tracks across from the Rail Runner station.

The opposition rallied around a petition signed by over one hundred residents who made emotional pleas against the zone change, citing concern that an apartment complex would change the quiet neighborhood, increase traffic, lower property values, and put further strain on the inadequate water and sewage system. Some said that they invested in the area after being told that the Sapien property would someday be a park.

After listening to lengthy testimony, the P&Z Commission denied the request for a zone change. P&Z decisions are non-binding recommendations to the town council.

The request for a zone change states that Plaza Miranda conforms to the controversial Transit-oriented Development (TOD) Plan passed by the Bernalillo town council last fall, despite last-minute opposition from residents who then too packed the council chambers beyond capacity.

The TOD Plan was adopted with backing from the Mid-Region Council of Governments to deal with tremendous pressure to develop the town to accommodate its increasing role as a transportation hub for the Rail Runner and the crowded system of highways. It is not clear how the TOD Plan will affect P&Z decision making. The commission has scheduled a public workshop on January 22 to seek clarification on this issue.

Bill Sapien told the Signpost that he will present the request for zone change to the town council in the near future. He said that, of thirty-seven households he contacted, none had expressed opposition to the apartments. “We anticipated that some people would resist the change. It was never planned to be low-income housing. These will be nice apartments renting for a median of one thousand dollars per month. The sixteen buildings will only cover twenty-one percent of the property and the rest of the five acres will be open space.” He said that he was not aware of problems with sewage and water that might interfere with his project.

Opposition to this zone change highlights the resistance to change and distrust of what is perceived by some people as an unofficial pro-development public policy embraced by town staff and elected officials.

On October 30, the town council adopted the TOD Plan with Resolution 10-30-07, which included clauses that stated that the plan would not affect the town’s existing eminent domain powers and replaced numbers with the vague term “traditional village center densities.” It stated that the TOD plan does not have the force of law and shall be considered a “work in progress” and a “living document which shall be continually reviewed and revised as appropriate with public input and participation.”

The P&Z commission has considered proposals for an apartment complex at the busy intersection of Camino del Pueblo and US 550. They have given preliminary approval to the 145-lot Sole Tuscano subdivision on property recently annexed by the town off the frontage road east of I-25. The commission awaits engineering plans regarding the extension of sewage and water lines across the freeway. A large commercial development east of I-25 exit 242 is apparently on hold. Requests by the Signpost for clarification on these developments have gone unanswered by the town’s P&Z director, Kelley Moe.

Also at the January 8 meeting, the P&Z Commission gave final plat approval to the 106-lot Corazon del Bosque subdivision west of the Rio Grande. The next meeting of P&Z is scheduled for February 5 at 6:30 p.m. Come early if you want a good seat.


Federal funding granted for arsenic removal

Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) announced in January that $800,000 in federal funding—$300,000 for Rio Rancho and $500,000 for the Town of Bernalillo—will be available for arsenic treatment in each municipality’s water system. The federal funding will help defray the costs of meeting new EPA arsenic standards.

The funding was passed just before Christmas in the 2008 appropriations bill that funded a number of government agencies and programs. The legislation was signed by the president on December 26, 2007.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new arsenic rule, reducing the maximum contaminant level for arsenic in drinking water from fifty parts per billion (ppb) to ten ppb.

Based upon an evaluation by the New Mexico Environment Department, ninety-five water systems in New Mexico are affected by the new arsenic rule. The Town of Bernalillo and Rio Rancho are included on that list.

Water quality monitoring has determined that arsenic levels in the Town of Bernalillo water supply are in excess of twenty ppb. To reduce the levels of arsenic in the drinking water supply, the Town of Bernalillo is proposing the installation of a new arsenic treatment facility that will treat groundwater. The new treatment facility will be designed to treat an estimated flow of three million gallons per day.

Rio Rancho’s treatment facility is targeted for completion in July 2008. The total construction cost is $3.6 million. The facility will be 7,585 square feet and will use granular iron media to remove arsenic from the water system.

Rio Rancho city officials say the $300,000 will be used for onsite analyzer equipment, allowing arsenic levels to be monitored real-time. This will enable close control of the chemicals used in the treatment process, resulting in continuous cost-savings to Rio Rancho taxpayers.

“The Town of Bernalillo is excited to learn of the appropriations for our arsenic treatment project. This funding will be used for Phase II which encompasses two additional water wells (#1 and #2) and offset some of the projected costs of $5.5 million dollars,” said Mayor Patricia A. Chávez. “We appreciate the ongoing support of our legislative delegation in Washington. We are working hard to improve the quality of water through detection, treatment, and removal of contaminants for the benefit of all Bernalillo residents and businesses.”


Bingaman and Udall urge funding of Galisteo Basin study; Richardson orders moratorium on drilling

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and Representative Tom Udall are pressing the Bush administration for funding to produce an archaeological management plan for the Galisteo Basin, which is home to the largest ruins of Pueblo Indian settlements in the United States, spectacular examples of Native American rock art, and ruins of Spanish colonial settlements.

Simultaneously, the lawmakers have asked the Santa Fe County Commission to delay the issuance of drilling leases in the area until the management plan is completed. In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle, Bingaman and Udall cite the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act, legislation they sponsored, which became Public Law 108-208 on March 19, 2004. Their legislation requires the Secretary of Interior to undertake a comprehensive study of the archeological assets of the basin and to determine what actions are needed to protect them.

In their letter to Nussle, the lawmakers said, “We included this language because we know we have only just begun to take stock of all the prehistoric and historic archeological resources in this area, yet they are constantly under threat of ruin by natural causes, urban development, vandalism, and uncontrolled excavations.”

Bingaman and Udall expressed their deep concern that nearly four years after their legislation was enacted, no funds have been proposed or released to recommend new areas for protection or to develop a management plan. They pressed Nussle to adequately fund the study, as directed by law, in fiscal year 2009.

In a separate letter to Santa Fe County Commissioners, Bingaman and Udall also urge the Santa Fe County Commission to “delay issuing leases for any activities, such as exploration or drilling, that have the clear potential to permanently disturb or destroy irreplaceable historic artifacts in the Galisteo Basin.”

Residents of the area have voiced strong resistance to drilling, which they say could pollute ground water supplies, increase heavy truck traffic, and decrease property values.

On January 11, Governor Richardson ordered a six-month moratorium on drilling in the Galisteo Basin, citing his reservations about the “fragile ecosystem.”


Rio Rancho absentee ballots now available

Rio Rancho residents who wish to vote by absentee ballot for the city’s upcoming municipal election may begin requesting an application to vote.

Applications can be obtained either in person, by mail, or by phone from the Office of the City Clerk, located at Rio Rancho’s City Hall (3200 Civic Center Circle NE). The applications for absentee ballots must be returned to the office.

The office will begin mailing out absentee ballots to individuals who submitted an application beginning Tuesday, January 29. The last day absentee ballots will be mailed to requesting applicants will be February 29.

In-person absentee voting will take place February 6 through February 29 in the Office of the City Clerk, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The city’s municipal election will be held on March 4. For additional information, contact the Office of the City Clerk at (505) 891-5004.


Jashua Madaleña

County line

—JOSHUA MADALENA, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN

Walking the halls of the Roundhouse when the legislature is in session and seeing elected officials working to balance needs of residents with limited state resources offers a real-life view of democracy in action.

To assist legislators as they develop a “short list” of priorities and also help Sandoval County meet the challenges of tremendous growth in our region, the County Commission is unified on our legislative requests.

I want to express my appreciation to my fellow Commissioners for electing me to chair the Commission this year and I’m honored by the confidence the board has expressed in me. I’m also no stranger to leadership roles. I chaired the Jemez Valley School Board before being elected to the County Commission in 2004, and I currently serve as lieutenant governor of the Pueblo of Jemez. While my County Commission District 5 is the largest and most rural area of Sandoval County, as Commission Chairman I will focus on critical issues affecting all County residents, regardless of where they live.

The County’s priorities for the 2008 legislature reflect that commitment.

Our top priority is to gain matching funds for engineering and construction to develop the County’s desalination project. That effort will provide critically needed water supplies and relieve demand on the Albuquerque water basin for generations to come. Sandoval County already has committed $6 million and identified an additional $1.5 million for the project.

The water project, located in the Rio Puerco Valley ten miles west of Rio Rancho, will use proven technology being used in other areas of our region to purify brackish water to drinking water standards. The County’s first two deep-aquifer wells have identified a substantial supply of brackish water that will provide the resources necessary to sustain our population now and in the future.

We also are asking the legislature to match County funds for construction and installation of drainage systems, water retention ponds, roadways, and landscaping at La Plazuela de Sandoval. The fifty-six-acre, county-owned site at NM 528 and Idalia Road straddles Rio Rancho, the Town of Bernalillo, and unincorporated Sandoval County. La Plazuela is a mixed-use development that includes the Sandoval County Judicial Complex, Health Commons, Transit Center, and a regional park-and-ride facility. The County’s new administrative center also will be built on the site in the coming years.

Our third legislative priority is to obtain additional funding to continue work on the Northwest Loop Road west of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque. The road will create a vital link between I-25 via US 550 on the north and I-40 at the south end. The project is key to easing nightmarish traffic congestion in southern Sandoval County and the entire metropolitan area. It also opens access to large tracks of affordable land, a major requirement for economic development and creation of jobs for residents.

Additionally, the County Commission is seeking legislative assistance to complete the El Zócalo business development complex in Bernalillo and the waste conversion and composting facility at the county landfill. We also hope to gain state assistance to develop the County Fairgrounds near Cuba and for needed road projects in the county’s rural, unincorporated areas.

I encourage residents to make the trip to our State Capitol to experience the legislative process firsthand and express views directly to their elected representatives. Legislators can also be contacted by calling the Capitol operator at (505) 986-4300 or by writing to them at the State Capitol Building Mail Room, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Madalena can be mailed to him at Sandoval County Administrative Offices, PO Box 40, Bernalillo, NM 87004.


Two Bernalillo Town Council seats up for election

The Town Council is the legislative branch of the Town of Bernalillo, and consists of the Mayor and four publicly-elected Trustees. The current Council consists of Mayor Patricia Chávez, Marian A. Jaramillo, Santiago Montoya, Ronnie A. Sisneros, and Eddie W. Torres III.

Trustee terms of office are four years, staggered so that two Trustees are elected each two years. The Mayor serves a four-year term. By majority vote, the Town Council also approves the Mayor’s appointment of the Town Administrator, Town Treasurer, Town Clerk, and Chief of Police. State law and local ordinances dictate the powers and duties of the Mayor and Council.

In general terms, policy is decided by the Council and carried out by the administrative branch of Town government. The Mayor officiates at all meetings of the Council and votes only for the purpose of breaking a tie vote. The public can attend the meetings as observers, but does not participate in the activities unless requested by the Mayor. Meetings are regularly scheduled for the second and fourth Mondays of each month.

The stated mission of the Town Council is: “To provide fair, open, and responsible governance to all citizens of the Town of Bernalillo; and to enact ordinances, regulations, and policies consistent with the administrative needs of the government for the benefit of this and future generations.”

Four candidates for two Trustee positions on the Bernalillo Town Council have been certified for the March 4, 2008 election. The candidates have submitted the following statements:

_____

MARIAN JARAMILLO:

Marian Jaramillo, a lifelong resident of Bernalillo, is seeking re-election for Town Council. Marian has served the Town of Bernalillo as a Councilwoman for the past four years. Marian feels there’s still a lot of work to be done and she loves to be involved in the decision-making of Bernalillo. She sees herself as the “Voice for the Community!”

Marian has operated an early childcare center for the past seventeen years. Marian has been married to Danny Jaramillo for twenty-eight years, and together they have two boys, Daniel and Nathaniel. Marian claims she first ran for office four years ago because she was concerned with safety issues. She wanted children and families to feel safe and comfortable in Bernalillo, and “that would require a strong police force.”

Marian still feels that safety is first, and controlled growth with low density is of utmost importance. She feels that “decisions we make today will affect Bernalillo tomorrow.” She is concerned with the growth on the west side and how traffic affects the quality of life for Bernalillo residents. Marian believes in strategic planning and informing and involving residents of Bernalillo in the process.

Marian is very proactive in her position as City Councilor. She recently graduated from the New Mexico Municipal League Leadership Institute and is now a Certified Elected Official. Marian is pleased to be a member of the governing body of the Town of Bernalillo that has accomplished so much in such a short time: restructuring of the Town’s finances to allow for other capital improvements; a strong police force; the creation of the Town’s first full-time Fire Department; a state-of-the-art waste water treatment facility; $8 million dollars in utility bonds; and the implementation of a pilot program on Wells 3 and 4 that removed the arsenic, nitrates, chlorine, and other contaminants from the Town’s drinking water, meeting EPA standards by 2008. (The same process will be repeated on wells 1 and 2 to ensure a backup of the Town’s water supply.) Marian states that the Town has been very successful in purchasing water rights and has required developers to bring water rights to the table as part of their development plan to protect the Town’s water supply.

If re-elected, Marian will continue to work hard and always make decisions based on what is best for Bernalillo.

_____

BILL KIELY:

I’m Bill Kiely. I am running for Bernalillo Town Council. My wife Missy and I moved to Bernalillo because we liked the small-town atmosphere and the spectacular scenery. During the last six years, we’ve come to know the town and its people even better, which has validated our decision. My wife and I live in the Bosque Encantado subdivision.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fordham University and a Master’s Degree in mathematical statistics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. I am retired from Science Applications International Corporation—a Fortune 500 Company—where I was a Corporate Vice President. I have over thirty years experience in management, operations research, and engineering analysis. I have been active in community service as President of the Tierra Monte Water Association and Co-chair of the Sandia Mountain Coalition, where I participated in negotiations for a settlement of Sandia Pueblo’s claim to the west side of Sandia Mountain. I have been a mentor at the Bernalillo Middle School and have participated as a citizen representative on panels for interviewing applicants for numerous town jobs. I currently serve as the Bernalillo representative to the Public Involvement Committee of MRCOG’s Metropolitan Transportation Board.

I believe I bring a certain independence and objectivity to evaluating the issues confronting the town. As a retired person, I can devote considerable time to seeking solutions. Some high priority issues are as follows.

• The protection of private property rights must be preserved. The Town should not exercise eminent domain to force people to sell their homes.

• Infrastructure (water, sewer, and roads) must be improved. Sewer backups are a serious problem in some sections of town where the pipes are inadequate. Drainage is also a major problem, especially east of the railroad and some portions of Camino Del Pueblo.

• Traffic flow within, through, and around Bernalillo needs to be more efficient. Bernalillo cannot accommodate another bridge crossing within the town limits, so we must work with the state and federal governments to rebuild the major intersections along 550 from I-25 to 528. Additionally, we should increase the connectivity of the road system within the town to allow residents and emergency vehicles alternative entry and exit routes.

• Revenue for the town needs to be increased. We can do this by attracting more business to Bernalillo. Sales taxes from Wal-Mart will significantly increase the town’s revenues and enhance its ability to provide services. By attracting other such business to the outskirts of the town, we can further increase revenue while preserving the rural character of the residential areas.

• We must ensure good fire and police protection throughout the town. We need a fire station on the west side of the river. We also must make all neighborhoods safe from gang and drug activities.

• The town should work with the school system to ensure our children get the education and training that prepares them for the increasing demands of the workplace.

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RON SISNEROS:

I believe my record on the Bernalillo Town Council enables me to continue providing citizens the best service possible. I bring extensive experience to the challenging job and have served on the Council since 2002. I have the credibility, integrity, knowledge, and vision for the future of our Town—all of which are critical attributes for the position.

I am proud of the many accomplishments we have made in the past six years, including implementation of $8 million in Utility Revenue Bonds for the construction of a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility and $9 million for water treatment at wells 1, 2, 3 and 4 to meet U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s requirements.

We have secured $520,000 for various street improvements and have worked aggressively with the legislature to secure $2.3 million in state appropriations for municipal water system improvements, flood management control, park enhancements, safety, and major street rehabilitation. We have also continuously purchased water rights for the Town’s future use, including approximately 130 additional acre feet just this fiscal year.

For public safety, we have increased the Town’s police force by four full-time positions, purchased five new police cars, and offered numerous certifications and training courses to increase the officers’ knowledge and professionalism. We also have established the Town’s first ever full-time Fire Department that will provide better protection and decrease homeowners’ insurance premiums.

To improve transportation in the town, we have appropriated $2.8 million to pave and improve Camino Don Thomas and Hill Road, while also making $3 million available in improvements along the main corridor and heart of Bernalillo to replace the Town’s dilapidated water and sewer systems.

In the past few years, we have restructured the Town’s deposits into interest-bearing accounts—a move that has yielded considerable amounts of interest income that will help pay for capital improvements.

While we have achieved many accomplishments, we still face unfinished work to continue progress within the Town of Bernalillo.

I am committed to making Bernalillo a better place to live, work, and play and to achieving a bright future and better quality of life for residents. By continuing to work together, we can help shape the Town of Bernalillo into an awesome, progressive community committed to its residents.

My favorite part of any campaign is meeting with people and discussing their lives and the issues that concern our community. I take great pride in my responsibility in representing the people and Town I love. Your vote and support are greatly appreciated.

May God bless you and yours with health, joy, prosperity, and wisdom.

_____

JACK TORRES:

Jack Torres announces his candidacy for Bernalillo Trustee.

• Married twenty-five years to Anna; four sons, two grandchildren.

• Bernalillo High School graduate—1975

• Harvard University graduate—1979

• Retired after twenty-six successful years as small business owner

• Bernalillo Public Schools Board of Education, sixteen years; Bernalillo Mainstreet Committee; Bernalillo Planning and Zoning Commission; and youth soccer coach.

Goal: Serving Bernalillo residents with solid leadership. “We must critically analyze all new proposals for Bernalillo to maintain a quality of life for all residents, and not allow special interests to dictate our town’s future.”

Objectives:

1) Open Government—All efforts must be made to share the workings of town government with our constituents. Decisions must be made in a public forum, allowing for participation from citizens in conjunction with elected officials.

2) Public Service—This must be the overriding mission of everyone at City Hall. We must support staff and administration who currently share this vision, and train those who do not. City Hall needs to become more user-friendly.

3) Communication—We must build on current avenues and find better ways to keep citizens informed. Construction and aggressive use of a marquee (sign-board) at City Hall would be a good start.

4) Beautify Bernalillo—Continued development of the Camino del Pueblo Streetscape should only be the beginning. Plans for phases two and three must continue. Clean and beautify all five entrances into Bernalillo with landscaping, signage, lighting, and more. Work cooperatively with NMDOT and other agencies to enhance Bernalillo.

5) Community Involvement. Solicit local expertise by formation of “Citizen Advisory Councils” to help address key issues (i.e., arts and culture, transportation, congestion, police and fire, and more). Our community can only grow if more people are involved.

Bernalillo is a wonderful community. We must prepare ourselves to meet the challenges that will confront us. We can approach these issues as problems, or embrace them as opportunities. We can improve the quality of life for all, or we can allow outside forces to dictate the future of our town.

March 4th can become a starting point for creating an even better Bernalillo—not just for today, but for future generations. Elect servant-leaders who have the vision and integrity to make Bernalillo the best place for our children, grandchildren, and for generations to come.

Contact: jacktorres5452@msn.com or 867-5452.

For further information on the Bernalillo Trustee election, you may call the Town of Bernalillo at 867-3311 or visit their website at www.townofbernalillo.org.


Editorial

Legislature’s stars are not well aligned this year

—WALLY GORDON, THE INDEPENDENT

The stars do not seem to be in alignment for an especially productive session of the state legislature, which begins noon Tuesday and endures for thirty days. Governor Bill Richardson, who has made his own personality the driving force behind almost everything the legislature has done during his one-and-a-half terms in office, has been preoccupied with his presidential campaign, spending more time out of state than in it, and pretty much disconnected from the state government he was elected to lead.

For the most part, the operation of state government has been delegated to his staff and cabinet. As a result, major decisions have been made slowly and haphazardly, if at all, and the governor has lagged in coordinating the nuts and bolts of the session with key legislators—the absolutely essential precondition for a successful session. After Richardson called a special session during his first year in office and watched his proposals lose at almost every junction, he admitted as much and promised to do better. Until this year, he has, but now the piper may have to be paid.

But this year’s problems only begin, they do not end, with the governor’s absence and inattention. The always fractious state Senate promises to be even more unruly, disjointed, and uncooperative than usual with the death of Ben Altamirano, the Democrat who has been serving as president pro temp. Although the job is largely honorary and procedural, he did succeed in helping to work out compromises between the governor’s equally bitter friends and foes.

Thus this year, the session will start with a battle, possibly long and mean, over who will succeed Altamirano. The Senate will have to choose between an American Indian candidate who is generally regarded as not particularly skilled or popular but who has entitlement due to seniority, or one of several other less senior candidates whose choice might leave the body open to charges of racial discrimination.

Once Richardson returns to New Mexico from Iowa and New Hampshire, and once the Senate elects a new pro temp, the real fun begins.

Because this is only a thirty-day session, the legislature is limited to considering spending, taxation, constitutional amendments and nonbinding resolutions—plus any other items the governor places on the agenda.

One item, or rather large groups of items, which the governor has said he wants enacted is ethics legislation, but it seems unlikely he will get more than tokenism. Many legislators, regarding their own ethics as beyond suspicion, resent even being asked to vote on the subject. They have a nasty habit of accusing anyone that suggests they need more rigorous ethics of rank hypocrisy, whether they be members of the media, public interest groups, or the executive and judicial branches. Just as legislators react with considerable hostility to any non-legislators who sit in their chairs, so they are emotionally antagonistic to anyone who wants to judge their behavior. Both their chairs and their ethics, it would seem, are theirs, and only theirs, to do with as they wish.

The meat and potatoes of this thirty-day session is spending. Since Richardson has said he will neither propose nor accept any tax increase this year, the legislature is going to have to find some way of plugging ever-larger holes with inadequate current money. The two biggest holes are education and roads.

The road problem is both simple and complex. Its cause is simple: overambitious construction plans, overruns on the Belen-to-Santa-Fe commuter railroad, and drastic cutbacks in federal money have created a situation where resources fall short of commitments. On the other hand, the solution is complex. It is also elusive, divisive, and opaque. All the possible solutions, from tolls to taxes, are opposed by somebody or other, leaving as the only available answer the usual political compromise. Some projects will have to be deferred or canceled and some additional resources will have to be found, probably by shifting some gasoline taxes from the general fund to the highway fund, which, of course, means less money for other things. By far the biggest of those other things is education.

Although education no longer gets seventy percent of the budget as it did for decades, it still is considerably larger than everything else combined. The problem is that various parts of the education establishment are exceedingly unhappy with their share of the education pie.

Medium-sized districts like Moriarty-Edgewood, small rural districts like Estancia and Mountainair, and charter schools like East Mountain High all feel the state is unfair to them, and the lion’s share of their money—unlike schools in most other states, which are primarily dependent on local property taxes—does come from the state. As a result, a committee has come up with a revised formula for distributing state money. It will help tri-county schools and other smaller districts around the state. It will hurt big urban districts, especially Albuquerque Public Schools. And in the long run, it will cost a whale of a lot of money. Nevertheless, the word going around seems to be that the legislature will approve the revised formula. One reason is that the pre-session spadework has been well done and all major parties are on board. The other reason is that the changes are to be implemented in a way that won’t cost the state much of anything initially and postpones major additional expenditures to future years. Legislators tend to have a hard time focusing on future years, when they might not even be legislators.

The final big topic for the session is health care, which Richardson wants to make, if not universal, at least almost so. The plan would require everybody to have insurance. It would require businesses to provide it for their workers or to pay into a fund to take care of the otherwise uninsured. The plan is, to say the least, extremely controversial. Given all the other distractions of the legislators and the governor, it is hard to see how such a major reform can pass in an abbreviated thirty-day session. Traditionally, New Mexico has waited for other states and the federal government to act rather than leading the way. This time, the governor wants New Mexico to lead, something that violates our most hallowed traditions of ‘followship.’

Meanwhile, all our towns and counties, like all the other counties and towns in the state, are twisting their legislators’ arms to get millions of dollars for local construction projects. During the last couple of years, more of those millions were available than anybody had ever before dreamed of.

This year, they aren’t. Total construction funds could be only half of what they have been, meaning a lot of people are going to be disappointed. Of all the things in the world that legislators don’t want, topping the list is having a large number of disappointed constituents in an election year. But that may be exactly what they’ll get.

This article originally appeared in the January 9-15, 2008, edition of The Independent, a newspaper primarily serving the people of the East Mountain area of Albuquerque.


Federal government funding available for home loans in rural New Mexico

USDA Rural Development State Director Ryan Gleason reminded rural New Mexicans that the agency he leads has financing for the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (GRH) and other housing programs.

Through the GRH program, a mortgage lender makes a home loan and Rural Development co-signs the note on behalf of the federal government. Because the federal government is guaranteeing the loan, borrowers are much less likely to need a down payment or private mortgage insurance.

The program is designed to assist middle-income families who want to buy a home in rural New Mexico. The amount of money loaned is determined by how much the borrower can afford to repay. The number of dependents and the amount of money earned by the buyer are also factored into the loan package.

In addition, under USDA Rural Development’s Direct Loan Program, low income individuals or families receive direct financial assistance from Rural Development in the form of a home loan at an affordable interest rate. Most of the loans made under the Direct Loan Program are to families with income below eighty percent of the median income level in the communities where they live who would not otherwise qualify for a conventional loan. Direct loans may be made for the purchase of an existing home or for new home construction.

Gleason further announced that financing is available for the refurbishing of homes under the 504 Direct and Grant programs. Approved renovations include roofing, electrical, plumbing and/or for handicapped-accessible modifications. Moreover, a homeowner who is sixty-two years old or more can also receive a once-in-a-lifetime grant of $7,500 to offset the cost of construction. Under the 504 loan program, a person can borrow up to $20,000 at one percent interest.

For more information on any of these programs, contact your local Rural Development office or call the state office at (505) 761-4950.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural communities. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA’s website at rurdev.usda.gov.


El Rinconcito español

• Uno trabajando y cuatro mirando, el camino está arreglado.
One working and four watching, the road is repaired.

• Por ir mirando a la luna, me caí en la laguna.
Because I went watching the moon, I fell in the lake.

• Nunca te cierres la puerta, que el mundo da muchas vueltas.
Never close the door on yourself, for the world makes many turns. (In other words, keep your options open.)

Submitted by www.sospanyol.com, Placitas— Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.

 

 

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