Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  The Gauntlet

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Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

letters, opinions, editorials

re: the facts about Overlook subdivision water and the unintended consequences of a protest gone bad

After reading Jack Bates‘s story in last month‘s Gauntlet, I felt it necessary to cloud the issue with the facts.

In March 1990, Lomos Altos, Inc. (LAI), the developer, was permitted by the State to incorporate a community water system in the Overlook subdivision. The system would allow just one-third acre foot of water per lot. Not only does this greatly conserve water, but also prevents multiple penetrations into the aquifer.

At that time, LAI had enough water rights to satisfy the projected water consumption. This was to include the return flow credit (March 1995), consistent with what had been granted to other systems in the area and state.

In April 1997, the return flow credit was denied. This was upheld under numerous appeals. To satisfy the contractual obligations with the lot owners, LAI was forced to purchase additional water rights.

In September 1998, Office of State Engineer (OSE) approved application for transfer of water rights to Overlook.

In March 1999, LAI received Notice of Protest.

In August 2001, the Hearing Officer approved water transfer.

In September 2001, protesters filed appeal.

In July 2003, District Court granted summary judgment to applicants and OSE.

In August 2003, protesters filed appeal to State Appeals Court.

In April 2005, Court of Appeals affirmed District Court Summary Judgment.

In May 2005, protesters filed appeal to New Mexico Supreme Court.

In December 2006, Supreme Court remanded the case back to District Court [and] demanded that the OSE examine all potential water rights in areas surrounding Overlook and either approve or extinguish those declarations. This has never been done before. The Court decision could affect 114 potential water rights holders in the area.

To summarize, LAI has done everything above board and tried to conserve water with stricter consumption allowances than individual wells would allow. If the protesters have their way, we will make far more penetrations into the aquifer and triple the amount of water consumption allowed for each lot owner in the Overlook. They can spin this any way they want, but that is the reality. Individual domestic wells are not protestable.

With our wells (2) being in the Santa Fe Aquifer, multiple hydrologists, including Balleau Groundwater, Inc, one of the top geohydrology firms in New Mexico, conclude that the water drawn from there has no effect on any of the surrounding areas‘ water supply.

 In conclusion, many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by the State (yes, your tax dollars) and LAI to fight a protest waged by someone who owns no property or water rights here. Any wonder why the rules for protest were changed several years ago. If the protester decides to soldier on and abuse the court system, all of the above will become true. Overlook will have more water than it ever asked for and 114 of his closest neighbors may lose theirs.

—Marc Adrian, President, Overlook Water Co-op



re: Placitas Animal Rescue

For many years, I’ve been grateful to Gary Miles for Placitas Animal Rescue (PAR). Gary has rescued many dogs I’ve found in very bad condition when no other rescue group responded. In fact, my experience with him is so positive that I was very concerned to learn that Sheriff John Paul Trujillo has inexplicably cut off funds of $750 per month to PAR—funds which are badly needed to help offset costs associated with rescuing animals in Sandoval County.

Efforts to find out why have gone unanswered. PAR‘s main goal now is to move forward on its spay/neuter program, which has been extremely successful in preventing additional unwanted animals in the County. I would like to thank all the people who have donated to PAR and urge them to continue their support.

—Chris Huber, Placitas



re: my, how things change…

There are a series of problems with our mayor’s proposal to suspend tax relief to Rio Rancho residents. Hang your hat on any one of these arguments for rejecting the proposed $25 million in new debt.

1) The city has not been honest about PDV. Enchanted Hills was told the city could not take a “lead agency” position on the project because of litigation risks, primarily. Dave Bency and I got those responses sitting in Governor Johnson’s office about this issue some years ago. Officials agreed because they were only using federal funds to build PDV, they could not be the lead agent. Some city officials argued because the road was more a regional issue, they should not be the lead agent. Well, now the city is the lead agent.

2) The city said only federal funds (not property taxes) would be used to build PDV. This new proposal now means that property taxes will be used (again, a “change” in the city’s position). They say now we must have PDV because of the city center. The new city center assumed federal funding of PDV. The bond will mean we directly fund the very thing that may damage the value of our homes. We are being asked to tax ourselves to potentially lower the value of our homes. And yes, we did ask if the city had an opinion on whether this road would help or hurt our values. They refuse to respond. Remember, this road lacked disclosure to purchasers when we bought.

3) The city had money that could have gone to at least reduce the costs of this part of PDV. Larry Naranjo and others voted to spend those non-bond funds on street rehab about two years ago. Much of those monies went into a single council district, none in district 6. That spending decision was with the knowledge that PDV funding was short, by about $10 million, at least.

4) The mayor has a back-up plan in case the voters “do not see the light.” He will ask Mr. Obama to fund the rest of this project. Duh. Let the feds pay for it, change the bond proposal to cover non-regional roads, and then we may see some relief and still get PDV.

5) By passing this bond you will not see any tax relief for twelve years. Too many things to mention here: The lack of restraint of spending, problems with the entire planning process, a single neighborhood faced with declining values, and no prospect of relief. Infrastructure is behind. This has been true in Rio Rancho since 1964. This bond will not solve it. We will look at another request for infrastructure either from the city or some other entity within eighteen months.

6) What a horrible environment to propose more debt. Nationally, statewide, even as a city, where do we draw the line at adding more debt? We spent non-bond money. It is the current debt that is being used to argue for the need to get more debt. The Star Center is consuming capital so we have to borrow to do what we had already planned to do. You cannot borrow your way out of debt.

7) The argument made now is that rates are cheap. True, but you have to have revenue to be able to pay back debt. You can count the number of housing starts per week on one hand. Council has spent what are known as one-time revenues to create things that require maintenance and therefore recurring revenues. I have objected to this practice too many times to count. Now we have to pay the piper.

8) There is the question of ‘will we really get what is promised.‘ Sixty-five percent increase in taxes in the last eighteen months and now we have to pay those taxes with absolutely no new services. Can you say Presbyterian Hospital? This is a single example and I would be happy to provide more. Some information below can be cross-referenced to this point.

9) What about the other taxing entities that are about to ask for another round of “no tax increase proposals?” The RRPS funding issues are not resolved by far. They were short, by their own admission, about $9 million on the last bond, and operations are well documented to be behind by $4 million. Their spokesperson has been on the local news asking for a gross receipts tax increase to solve this.

10) Competitive advantage over Albuquerque. Rio Rancho used to be able to say we had lower property taxes than Albuquerque. No longer true. Rio Rancho used to be able to say we have lower gross receipts tax than Albuquerque. No longer true. Rio Rancho used to be the place where you could purchase more per square foot of living space and acreage. No longer true.

11) If you don’t like PDV, this is clearly a way to get the city’s attention on what is really needed for this to be done for a successful project.

12) The model used to evaluate noise and traffic issues from Mid Region Council of Governments is not a full build-out model. The assumptions are consistently less than reality. This problem has been pointed out for many years. If you think the planning on this issue is sound, this is the same model used to plan U.S. 550.

   How about a little fiscal restraint? Vote this bond down.

—Todd R. Hathorne, Rio Rancho



re: Ron’s original crock pot

Recently my wife Vicki surprised me with a piece of beautiful and functional micaeous clay pottery. The gift’s beauty lies in its shape and design, created by Picuris Pueblo pottery maker Therese Tohtsoni. However, it is more than just beautiful. It has function as a slow cooker and is known as a “crock pot.”

Therese’s ancestors in the sixteenth century developed these slow cookers. She has chosen to carry on the Picuris pottery tradition learned from her mother and with the support of artist Allan Houser, now deceased.

Therese is married to traditional Spanish colonial furniture maker Richard Prudencio. For several years, we have enjoyed their friendship and appreciated their work. They show their art in many venues. They have been participants in Spanish Markets, Indian Markets, Santo Domingo Arts and Crafts Fairs, New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fairs, and Eight Northern Pueblos Artists and Craftsmen Shows.

On the Sunday after Christmas, Richard rang our doorbell. “I have a surprise,” he said. “Therese and the children are in the car.” As they off-loaded, Therese was toting a piece of carry-on luggage. I recognized the carry-on as the luggage for moving Therese’s pots from kiln to venue. Vicki had plotted with Therese during the most recent Santo Domingo Arts and Crafts Fair to give me a special holiday gift. All I had to do was select a piece of Therese’s pottery.

For us, the Picuris Bean “crock pot” is a treasured investment in the ancient customs of New Mexico. We also treasure the opportunity to have two amazing artists and their family in our Placitas home. And yes, Richard was busy measuring our entryway for a custom-made rosette that will be displayed above our front door.

—Ron Sullivan, Placitas



re: of singular importance

Dear Friends Back East:

Thanks for sending me copies of your latest singles ads. I greatly admire your efforts to improve your social lives, and I wish you success. A couple of observations may prove helpful, however.

It appears you employ the commonly-used abbreviations effectively, e.g. DWM (divorced white male); SM/F (single male/female); H (Hispanic); A (Asian); B (Black); LTR (long-term relationship); etc.

I think, however, that your ads fail to provide adequate information to potential respondents and are a bit misleading. For example, each of you claim you want to meet someone to share “…long walks on beach.”

As you well know, going anywhere near the shorelines in your immediate region virtually guarantees the uptake of every fever and flux, plague and pestilence known to medicine plus the inevitable, not-very-romantic sightings of decaying mobster remains being closely admired by large rodents. I suggest changing “…long walks on beach” to “…long walks on concrete, asphalt, macadam, and uneven brick.”

Your ads also fail to provide criteria for a potential respondent to consider other than you’re SWM or SBM. The following is an example of the kind of specificity I mean, as extracted from an Albuquerque-area tabloid:

“Very tidy, clean, flawless SWM seeks immaculate, taintless, perfectly groomed SF for wholesome, healthy conversations and long, beautifully synchronized walks around the asylum grounds where permitted. Are you the one for me?”

See what I mean? The respondent would have some idea of what she’s getting into. Here’s another example taken from a Santa Fe paper:

“Hot-to-trot, sensitive DWM, 73, seeks young, hot-blooded, vixen-like wench for STR. Prefer educated woman of low visual acuity. Must know that patience is a virtue.”

You also fail to say much about yourselves in terms of personal characteristics. Here in New Mexico, there is a kind of tough western honesty that can be seen in our personal ads, such as the following that I saw in a local tabloid:

“Reasonably hygienic, moderately flatulent DWM (65) seeks non-smoker SF for long talks in phony plastic Adirondack chairs. Must enjoy Ferlin Husky records and know how to have fun. Must despise animals. Let’s get to know each other.”

Of course, you don’t want to be overtly offensive, e.g., this one from a local paper:

Knockout Asian/Hispanic SF (33) seeks WM, sixty to seventy, for long walks, hiking, dining, movies, and fun times. Must be progressive-thinking Placitas resident capable of silly behavior, written, and otherwise. People named Herbert need not respond.

As a happily married fellow, I am not pursuing singles ads. If I was to write one, I don’t know how I’d describe myself. However, I would have to include the requirement, “…must become fond of large, furry male domestic feline and cleaning up the occasional salmon-smelling puddle of barf.”

Thanks again for sharing. I hope my observations are helpful.

—Your friend Herb, Placitas



Putting our house back in order

—Jaime O’Neill, Writers on the Range

While Barack Obama was making his inaugural speech, I was vacuuming. I hadn’t planned to be engaged in that particular activity at that particular moment, but the deliverymen turned up early, bringing us a new bed at precisely the moment the new president began to speak.

The floor was covered with drop cloths when the bed arrived, so there was much rushing around to clear the way for it. Meanwhile, the new president of the United States was on TV and our computer screens, offering the words of change I so much wanted to hear, as did my wife, my visiting daughter, and the two young men who were unloading our new bed. While most of America was frozen for this historic moment, events kept the five of us in motion, though our eyes seldom strayed from the TV screen, even as we vacuumed the floor and set up the bed.

This is how human history is lived out: Pomp and circumstance unfold on the stage while the most mundane human activities continue behind the scenes. And it is for those mundane moments that we all work, so that the ordinary activities of all our ordinary days can be lived out in peace. We anguish over how to vote because it is important that we put people in charge who will make it possible for ordinary life to continue—for some of us to buy things like beds while others of us deliver them.

The men who delivered our new bed get the majority of their work through a department store chain now facing bankruptcy, one of the many endangered businesses littering the landscape of American commerce. If that store goes down, then the livelihoods of those two men will be imperiled, along with the dignity of the work they do. But even as we see the loss of old standards like Circuit City and Mervyn’s and witness the many smaller businesses dashed by a withering economy, we take hope from a change in leadership that occurred while some Americans were still delivering mail or mattresses, still vacuuming their floors.

If I’d had my druthers, I would have preferred a calmer morning in which to hear President Obama’s inaugural speech. I would have liked to have been sipping my coffee when the chief justice of the Supreme Court mangled the administration of the oath of office.

But history, like life itself, happens while we’re making other plans. So I was vacuuming the bedroom carpet while a new president was giving his first speech, and I was moving furniture while a former president circled the nation’s Capitol in the helicopter assigned to take him home.

But perhaps vacuuming was actually the most appropriate way to observe and honor this transition. After all, our new leader faces a huge task of cleaning up. Historically, African-Americans have a lot of experience cleaning up the messes white folks make. Well, a lot of dust has accumulated under the national bed over the past eight years. The stains on the fabric of our national honor need scrubbing, though there are some stains that may never come out.

The two young men finished assembling the new bed, and then the five of us stood for a moment in front of the TV, marveling at the size of the crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument and beyond. We were silent in the presence of all that, and then the press of other deliveries stirred the two workers to break the reverie. My wife signed the paperwork attesting to the delivery, and one of the deliverymen said, “You’ll always remember you got this bed on the day Barack Obama became president of the United States.”

The delivery truck pulled out of the driveway. Our cat came in from outside to survey the new surroundings. Our younger daughter called during a break in her teaching duties to offer a “high-five” by phone. Then I called my mother to share the afterglow of the events we’d witnessed. When that conversation ended, we returned to the task of putting our house back in order.

The nation will wake to a brand-new day—and my wife and I will sleep in a brand-new bed. All of us face a future not yet known, or knowable. But our new leader has told us there is work to be done by all of us. And so there is.



Successful season for Blessings Day Project

—Blessings Day Committee

Under the umbrella of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the San Antonio Mission, Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, and the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department, ninety-one families received gifts of clothing, toys, and a holiday dinner. Blessings Day is in its sixth year of sharing with those families who are less fortunate. The committee could not have accomplished this without the help given to us by many individuals and organizations.

We would like to publicly acknowledge our sincere and grateful thanks to our generous donors: Elaine and Bernie Sullivan of B&E Home Repair, A. Garriott, Dave Harper of Placitas Realty, Lucy Noyes of La Puerta, Placitas Recycling, Rose’s Pottery, A.M. Silva, Jackalope of Bernalillo, New Mexico Trial Lawyers Foundation, and many other businesses in Placitas and Bernalillo who also donated to the Blessings Day project. Your generous donations allowed us to purchase food to complete the food baskets. Food was also collected at Curves of Bernalillo and Placitas Elementary School.

We especially would like to thank the generosity of the Jardineros de Placitas, who again provided us with turkeys. Thanks also to Jon McAllister of The Merc, and J. Torres of T&T, who helped us by providing and storing the turkeys that were needed.

The parishioners of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church and San Antonio Mission and many other people generously bought outfits for each of our nearly three hundred children. The Rio Rancho Toy Run, sponsored by the Italian American Club and Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department, donated toys to us for the children.

Over ninety families from the greater Sandoval County Area experienced a happier Christmas because of your generous donations of time and money, and most of all, your spirit. This truly was a community effort. Thanks to you all from The Blessings Day Committee.






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