Sandoval Signpost
An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 
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letters, opinions, editorials

re: redistricting, what does it mean for me?

Redistricting is the process whereby each state redraws its congressional and local government districts to absorb, or distribute, its new population. According to the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court rulings, political districts—which include everything from state legislative districts down to school board and city council districts—must be made up of approximately equal populations in order to ensure the principle of “one person, one vote.”

In New Mexico, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan for the state, subject to approval by the governor.

So, what does that mean for Sandoval County?

It means that many people in Sandoval County are going to see a change in the districts they live in for state and senate representative districts and possibly in their congressional district. There will be a change because the population has shifted. There are an ideal number of people in each district. This number is determined from the Census Bureau. The ideal number for a House of Representatives district is 29,417. We have two state house districts that are well over that ideal number. They will have to be redistricted. The ideal number for a state senate seat is 49,028; we have three seats that are over that number, but only two that are over that magical number by more than 10 percent. Those two will probably be redistricted. In the areas where the population density has increased, the geographic size of the district will have to DECREASE. So, those that live in that area will have to be placed into another district (one where the population density went down or at least up less than the other district). In the case of the Rio Rancho area, it looks like enough population increase occurred that an entirely new district may be carved out. (Since the number of districts in the state is a fixed number, this new district will require that two districts somewhere else in the state may have their geographic boundaries combined into one to keep the total the same.)

Local governments are responsible for drawing their own redistricting. It will fall to the county commissioners who will set their county districts; they are responsible for overseeing the actual drawing of the county’s precincts the building blocks that the state legislature will then consolidate into house and senate districts. The school districts and any other districts that lie in the county will be redrawn as well, using the precincts as the building blocks. As you can see, redistricting is a huge thing.

So, what rules are followed during redistricting?

Aside from equal population in each district, the federal Voting Rights Act also stipulates that new districts be drawn in such a way so as not to dilute minority voting strength or break up “communities of interest”—a vague term used to encompass anything from the core of an incumbent’s existing district to an ethnic group. Precincts must be contiguous, and districts must, to the extent possible, be compact (boxy, not long and squiggly).

The City of Albuquerque has a public committee, Las Cruces has a public committee, the County of Doña Ana has one, and the list goes on. Why shouldn’t Sandoval County have a public committee to study and make inputs into redistricting as well?

—Patricia Morlen, Algodones


re: sculpture at Homestead Village

Barry,

I have never had the pleasure of writing the Signpost before, but your comments in the June issue regarding the sculpture at Homestead Village presented an irresistible motivation. I, for one, have been quietly disturbed by the placement of this sculpture. Placitas, being the progressive community everyone thinks it is, how could anyone oppose the free art and culture Gene McClain is foisting upon us?

Let’s not forget that this and the artist’s other unusual objects greet visitors to the Homestead Village and are advertisements for a business. If Mr. McClain had his “studio” down the hill in a strip mall in Bernalillo, would his “shaman” appear in the parking lot in front of Walgreens, beckoning art patrons to visit his business there? I think not. The heathen nature of his art is not what I object to—it is the fact that these objects are displayed far from his actual place of business, and other stores in the shopping center may be negatively affected.

Perhaps the down economy and the fear of losing any paying tenant have kept Homestead management from asking the artist to keep these creations under his own roof.

—John Stimson, Placitas


BLM wild horse

BLM announces wild horse and burro gather schedule for summer 2011

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced its tentative summer schedule for gathering wild horses and burros from overpopulated herds on Western public rangelands. The gathers are needed to bring herd sizes into balance with other rangeland resources and uses, as required by Federal law and approved land-use plans.

“With the new gather season starting in July, we must carry out these gathers in a fully transparent manner,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “That includes taking full ownership of what we do and by sharing both the positive and negative news with our various publics, whatever criticism may come our way.” 

Abbey added, “Our work on a forthcoming new strategy for managing wild horses and burros is part of our commitment to a ‘new normal’ of doing business. Among other things, the strategy calls for greater reliance on population-suppression techniques, including increased application of the fertility-control vaccine known as PZP.”

The goal will be to treat more than 1,200 mares per year (over the current level of about 900 in FY 2011) through implementation of “catch, treat, and release” gathers. These gathers will be principally aimed at applying the fertility-control vaccine porcine zona pellucida (PZP) to mares. In some herds, the BLM will adjust sex ratios in favor of males to reduce the number of on-the-range pregnancies or potentially manage nonreproducing herds (such as geldings) in some herd management areas.

The public and media are invited to observe the gathers. Observation points will be determined by the BLM in a manner that recognizes the need for good viewing sites, along with the need to ensure viewer and animal safety.

The approximate dates of the summer gathers are listed at the following link: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro.html


Music to your ears

Norio Hayakawa will perform a concert of country music at the Esther Bone Memorial Library on Tuesday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. What makes this a unique concert is Hayakawa includes Latin standards, Japanese lyrics, and even ambient sounds in his country music shows. His unique performances have been enjoyed by many throughout New Mexico.

In addition to being a musician, Norio is a longtime UFO researcher who has for many years investigated Area 51 in Nevada, as well as the alleged Dulce underground base in New Mexico. His love for New Mexico is clearly seen from his music. As a keyboardist, he dedicates himself to bringing wholesome live music entertainment to his audiences.

This is a free concert, and no tickets or prior registration is required. The library is located at 950 Pinetree Rd. SE in Rio Rancho. 

For more information, you may call (505) 891-5012 and select option 3.
   

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