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  The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association

—Chris Daul, ES-CA

The Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association (ES-CA) met on January 3, 2014. New officers were elected as follows: Bob Gorrell, President; Lynn Koch, Vice President; Orin Safier, Treasurer; Chris Daul, Secretary.

The major on-going issues that were discussed include: the LaFarge mining operation in the western area of Placitas; the expansion of the pipelines that run through Placitas; the continuing construction on Route 165/550; and the anticipated Bureau of Land Management (BLM) report on the proposed uses for the BLM land in and around Placitas.

The LaFarge mining operation is only one part of a larger issue that we face in Placitas. And that is the overall protection of property rights. The Sandoval County Zoning and Planning Commission and the County Commission are the entities that decide and enforce the zoning requirements in Placitas. ES-CA has spent years trying to close the illegal operation of the Fisher Sand and Gravel operation on the south side of Placitas and is now working with residents and Home Owners Associations to insure that the County enforces its regulations concerning LaFarge. ES-CA has been meeting with County officials to continue to express the views of our residents on this issue. In addition, ES-CA tries to have volunteers attend the County meetings, but we need more residents to become involved.

The pipeline expansions have an impact throughout Placitas. These pipelines run through Diamond Tail, along the Las Huertas Creek, and very close to Placitas Elementary School and the Community/Senior Center. ES-CA has been working with our Federal Representatives to acquire information and insure that the pipeline expansions are done is a safe manner that protects residents and the land. But again, ES-CA needs more volunteers to help monitor this issue.

The BLM Management Plan is supposed to be released in February, 2014. ES-CA has heard from Federal officials that the date may be delayed. This plan will have a great impact upon Placitas. The BLM owns land to the north of Placitas, a block of land in Placitas, and the Crest of Montezuma to the east. ES-CA has been working with our Federal officials to have the Crest of Montezuma transferred to the National Forest Service. However, there is a possibility that the plan will include mining as an activity in the other two areas. ES-CA has met with BLM officials to discuss this matter in the past. Should the plan include mining, we will have to mobilize our residents to oppose this, as it will have a negative effect on residences throughout the community.

ES-CA has learned that the NM State Department of Transportation now anticipates that the Route 550/165/I-25 construction will not be completed until the late spring. The project was to have been completed by the end of last October. In addition, ES-CA has learned that the proposed eastbound acceleration lane, from the northbound I-25 exit, was removed in order to better accommodate gravel trucks using the frontage road. The current acceleration lane creates a sight line problem for residents of Placitas and others who use that exit and lane, which may lead to traffic accidents. Traffic issues can have a large impact upon us. ES-CA is concerned about any development along the I-25 area, since it would increase traffic. ES-CA will continue to monitor the construction progress and keep residents informed.

ES-CA is dealing with many important issues that affect Placitans, but ES-CA is only as strong as its membership. If you are a current member, remember to send in your 2014 dues. If you are not a member, ES-CA encourages you to join. We need your time and expertise to work on these issues. Visit our website at to find out more about the issues and for more information on how to join.

re: captured horses

I was pleased to learn of the recent capture of eight horses on private lands in the Rosa Castilla area by concerned citizens and property owners who have come to the sad realization that there will be no political solution to the “free roaming horse” problem in our community. If environmental destruction by feral horses is to cease, private citizens will need to act. These horses were impounded at great trouble and expense by private citizens acting together to address this problem. Their capture and impoundment went smoothly, and was accomplished as allowed and directed by New Mexico law. Their ultimate destination will be determined by the public notice and auction procedure provided by the New Mexico Livestock Board. Persons wishing to give these horses a home are encouraged to follow the bidding procedure outlined on the Livestock Board’s website.

Recently, I authored a paper that was published in The New Mexico Lawyer, a quarterly publication of the State Bar, outlining in a reasoned and dispassionate manner the very real risk of civil liability that property owners and organizations are subjecting themselves to when they attract animals, such as the free-roaming horses, into an area with food and/or water [].

 Flippant statements such as, “It’s my land, I can do what I want on it!” or “I don’t care what my neighbors think—I’m going to feed the horses!” reflect both an ignorance of the law and a callous disregard for the rights of the public and other property owners. Because some in the community are not happy with my conclusions, my paper has generated hysterical emotional and personal attacks, but no reasoned refutation of my legal analysis and conclusions.

Members of our community are finally waking up to the fact that legal processes, such as impoundment of horses, and legal remedies, such as public and private nuisance lawsuits, are available to address the feral horse problem.

As a civil litigation attorney, I can say that the legal system is the last place that anyone should want to go to solve a problem, but it is there for a reason, as shown by the inability, or unwillingness, of our elected officials to deal effectively with this very serious environmental and public safety problem. Those who decide to act should, however, be aware that they will be subject to name-calling by those who place the romantic notion of free-roaming horses over the good of our wildlife, our environment, and the property and safety of our neighbors.

—Dave Reynolds, Esq.

re: horse issue needs cooperation of public

People are working diligently through the Wild Horse Task Force, a mediated group of many and varied perspectives. With the intent of compromise and consensus as a focus, we have been researching and writing potential plans that would deal humanely and responsibly with the Placitas horses, now and in the future. New Mexico First (hired by Sandoval County) will compile an unbiased report and present it to the Placitas Community as a whole, no later than May of this year. People are working on finding pastureland and adoption for the approximately 55 horses already removed or captured who are now owned “livestock” and cannot be returned to “free roaming.” Others are working hard to remove the governmental blockage of administering legal birth control to the Placitas herd. Some groups are working on data collection and mapping. Individuals are donating a great deal of time and money to make sure our horses do not go to slaughter—a priority of everyone who signed up for the Task Force, including people who believe they should not be part of the Placitas culture. 

I respect the concern of those who believe the horses are negatively impacting the land. However, those involved in the recent round-up and disposal of the eight horses acted without respect for the process. Their impatience is sabotaging the well-intended work of many on the Task Force to find the best and most-educated solutions.

—Laura Robbins, Placitas

re: jurors fall victim to telephone scam

Some current and past jury panel members have been targeted by a telephone scam. The scam involves a telephone call to a current or past juror. The caller tells the juror they are charged with failure to appear for jury duty and are in “Contempt of Court.” The caller tells the juror they can settle the charge over the telephone if they pay four hundred dollars by credit card. They intimidate the juror into providing their credit card number and the security code on the reverse side of the card. In two separate instances, the caller has identified themselves as either an officer of the court or a sheriff’s deputy.

Instances of this scam have been identified in Cibola and Sandoval counties. The 13th Judicial District Court will never use the telephone to ask for payment of any fines or fees requiring use of a credit card. New Mexico law enforcement agencies do not collect payments on behalf of the courts nor do they use the telephone to collect fines or fees.

If you have had a similar call, notify the Thirteenth Judicial District Court at 867-2376. Also call the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office at 867-7526 and the New Mexico Attorney General at 222-9000.

The telephone number and name of the scammer could be very useful to law enforcement. Do not provide any credit card information or bank account information. Simply tell the caller you will discuss the matter with the district court clerk or sheriff’s office and hang up the phone.

—Lieutenant Keith Elder, Commander Investigations Division, Sandoval County Sheriff's Office

re: beware funeral notice email scam

I almost opened an email this morning with the subject: “Eubank, Funeral of your Friend.” Almost. Then I Googled the text and found out that it is a scam and can plant malware on your computer. We are getting to the age where we might expect to receive such notices, but be very careful what you open, because sometimes, just opening an email can activate malware and a host of other bad things. If you receive any similar notice that does not have a specific name, assume it is part of this scam and delete it immediately.

—Gary W. Priester, Placitas

 re: thinking of a new life

Dear Friends Back East:

First, let me thank you for the beautifully framed photo of all of you exploring the sidewalks of New York during the latest Arctic blast. Each of you is dressed in wonderful, colorful LL Bean finery—parka hoods fully elevated, hands richly gloved, feet finely booted.

Although not intended as a criticism, the picture would have more meaning for me had you not all been wearing ski masks. But, based on relative heights, weights, postures, and color choices, I believe I’ve identified each of you without the need for DNA matching. Thanks again.

Thanks for your inquiry about our mutually beloved coon cat, Patrick. Somewhere in his mystical mind, he undoubtedly also remembers each of you very fondly, along with his swashbuckling east coast past. I regret to tell you, however, that our lovable, furry little shaman is now exhibiting signs of aging with distressing speed and clarity—but also with a cat’s grace and acceptance.

Although he’s receiving regular medication, he has hyperthyroidism—a common malady of aged cats—and has also lost much of his hearing along with considerable weight. The little fellow sleeps a great deal now, following the sunlight as it moves from room to room.

More than ever, he hates being left alone. When he sees me putting on a hat or coat, a sad, pleading yellow-eyed expression seems to say, “Don’t be long, huh, boss?

His ability to purr at stentorian levels is, however, undiminished as is his need to show affection and gratitude. More than ever, he needs to be touched and held. Sometimes, as I walk past him, he will raise his head and give a hoarse little mutter that is clearly asking for physical contact. “Please, touch me, boss. Maybe give me some pets? Wanna carry me around?”

As I consider Patrick’s situation, I am reminded of the great Broadway show, “Cats,” which you and I saw together. Remember the character Grizabella—the very old, disheveled female cat who hoped to be chosen by her peers for a new life? It was her character that sang the wonderful song, “Memory”—“I can smile at the old days. I was beautiful then.”

Patrick now resembles a male version of Grizabella, and the lyrics may now apply to this fine little fellow—“I must wait for the sunrise. I must think of a new life. And I mustn’t give in.”

Of course, I will keep you posted on Patrick’s situation. He remains comfortable and, it seems, free of pain. He still moves pretty well, enjoys his days and nights, and in his own unique sensory world, may well comprehend the secrets of the universe more fully than you and I will ever manage.

Despite his reduced hearing, I really should play “Memory” for him and for myself: “If you touch me, you’ll understand what happiness is. Look, a new day has begun.”

—Your Friend, Herb

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