The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


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letters, opinions, editorials

The Signpost welcomes letters of opinion to encourage dialog in the community. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations. 

re: good ad value

I had a home for rent in Bernalillo and ran an ad, an expensive ad, in the Albuquerque Journal and Tribune for two weeks. I received about four phone calls and no return calls. The ad ran in the December issue of the Signpost and not only did the home rent in the first two days, I was still receiving phone calls the following month. All this for under $10. Trying to reach an audience that knows about Bernalillo and Sandoval County? Place your ads with the Signpost. They work. 

A satisfied customer. 

Fawn Dolan


re: conduit financing a good deal for both county and pueblo

Dear Editor:

A couple of months ago, Santa Ana Pueblo approached Sandoval County for assistance in getting better financing on its nongaming operations, the resort, and the restaurants. What Santa Ana Pueblo proposed was "conduit financing." Conduit financing means that Sandoval County acts like a hose that connects the lenders with the borrower. This kind of conduit financing occurs frequently with governments. The most obvious example of conduit financing in Sandoval County is the Intel bond issue.

There have been a variety of concerns expressed about the proposed agreement between Santa Ana Pueblo and Sandoval County. This letter is intended to address those concerns.

The concerns I have heard are that Sandoval County is loaning money to Santa Ana or may be on the hook if Santa Ana is in default. Neither concern is correct. Sandoval County is not loaning any money to Santa Ana—not a nickel. The lender is loaning the money through Sandoval County as the conduit. Sandoval County is not in any way liable if Santa Ana defaults. This means that the lender cannot have recourse against any assets of Sandoval County—not tax receipts or any property or assets of Sandoval County. The county's credit is not affected. Period. No exceptions.

So, why is Sandoval County even being asked to be involved? Because, by going through Sandoval County, the lenders can utilize tax-exempt bonds, which lowers the interest rate that Santa Ana pays.

Why should Sandoval County do this? Because it's a good deal for Sandoval County taxpayers and it opens a new chapter in the county's relationship with the pueblo.

What do Sandoval County residents gain from the deal? The answer is both tangible and intangible benefits. In terms of tangible benefits, the pueblo will pay a substantial administrative fee and help offset the county's cost of providing emergency medical services to our residents.

The pueblo is also proposing to give Sandoval County a site on which to build an emergency substation that will service a part of northern Sandoval County. The pueblo has offered to assist in getting money to build that substation.

In terms of intangible benefits, Santa Ana now employs over twelve hundred people in our county. The pueblo is our partner forever. We need it and it needs us. Emergency services, law enforcement, and regional transportation are the obvious issues that we will be facing together.

Santa Ana came to us. Our first impulse was that we wanted to help, but we were skeptical. We have looked at the agreement carefully. It is a good deal for Sandoval County residents and a good deal for Santa Ana Pueblo.

Daymon Ely
Sandoval County Commission


re: same-sex marriages

Hooray for the courageous mayor of San Francisco who has defied a new state law and allowed the legalized marriage of persons of the same sex! Bernalillo recently had it's fifteen minutes of fame performing same-sex marriages at the Sandoval County Courthouse, until the state attorney general stepped in and put a stop to it.

On the news, spokespersons for the Christian Right plead that same-sex marriages threaten their own heterosexual marriages. Almost every person I have discussed this issue with has voiced the same question: how? Does it nullify my own heterosexual marriage of thirty years? Does it nullify my ability to file a joint tax return? Just how does this threaten the marriage of any intelligent man and woman?

As was recently pointed out in a letter to the editor in the New York Times, Britney Spears got married for four days and then divorced, but she has more legal rights than the writer who had been in a loving relationship with his partner for over twenty years!

I don't know about you, but I think it is time to come out of the dark ages and give credit to any relationship, as long as it is sincere, honest, and loving, and sanctify the union in a contract of marriage. And if the born-again Christians have a problem with this, they do not have to attend the wedding.

—Name withheld, Placitas


re: flyers litter Placitas driveways

Dear Editor,

I thought it was just in my driveway, but when I went for a walk in Placitas, in three different neighborhoods, I saw the same thing. 

Some nimrod from a laundry and cleaning service which I will not name decided to circumvent the U.S. Postal Service and put their flyers in plastic envelopes, weighted down with a rock in each envelope. They left those pebble-weighted plastic ads in every driveway that I walked past.

Hey, Mr. CPA (cleaning, pressing, and alterations), don't you think that we all have enough garbage to pick up in our neighborhood without you littering up our beautiful—at least formerly beautiful—Placitas? I mean, it's bad enough that we have to leave those behemoth trash containers on our streets about three days a week (see my letter to the editor last month), and it's bad enough that some of you dog owners never clean up after your pets ... but do we now have to be subjected to more garbage by people trying to save a few bucks by not using mass mailing via the U.S. Postal Service? Gimme a break!

Me, I'll use the local business people who advertise in the Signpost. At least they're contributing to the community!

Uncle Duffy



re: Placitas County an enclave

I was surprised and amused to read in the Signpost about the Placitas County movement. As a former academic worker, I am well acquainted with enclavers who are shy to mix with the local communities where their universities are located. Well, it's hard, they might say, the locals haven't had the same courses and somehow their political views aren't altogether correct.

The standard language is that one has formed an oasis in the middle of a desert. For example, Huntsville, Alabama, and Austin, Texas, are somehow oases in a desert, notwithstanding the heavy rainfall in these places.

Far be it however that this phenomenal shyness has any relation to the present Placitas County movement!

Is it possible that one would want to live in New Mexico and not be part of the local scene? I was amazed and honored by a story told to me several years ago by a native New Mexican about a group of enclavers who had managed to make themselves fairly unpopular in the mountains of northern New Mexico: namely D. H. Lawrence and company in the 1920s. The offended sensibilities of the native New Mexicans had apparently been passed down through the generations and seemed as fresh in the telling as if it had happened yesterday.

Burke Ritchie
Livermore, CA


re: Placitas County prospect overwhelming, with unpredictable contingencies

Is the proposal to create a new “Placitas County” a serious proposal, and how should thoughtful persons respond to it? So far, the proposal seems not to have been taken very seriously, at least not by political decision makers. The Sandoval County Commission has refused even to discuss it, let alone give it serious consideration. Most people seem to be puzzled by it. They see the vivid green signs that have appeared along Route 165 in recent months, show some curiosity, then dismiss the idea as a crackpot fantasy.

It is not that. The draft document entitled “A Proposal to Create Placitas County,” compiled by Dr. Charles Mellon, a community activist who has been a frequent candidate for public office in this area, is a clearly written, low-key, straightforward, and competently researched piece of work that lays out the case for a new county about as well as it could be done.

The proposed new county would comprise all of the present Sandoval county east of I-25—232 square miles, with a (growing) population of about five thousand people. This would make it one of the four or five smaller counties in the state, reducing the size of the present county by a little over 6 per cent. Sandoval County is the largest of the thirty-three New Mexico counties, larger than either of the two smallest states in the Union: Delaware and Rhode Island.

The credibility of the proposal is enhanced by Mellon’s refusal to make any grandiose claims for what the new country might achieve. In a section entitled “Why We Need a Placitas County,” he argues, in summary, that Placitas is unique in the low-density manner in which it has been developed; that it faces consequently unique problems; that it may be underserved by present county services; that its unique problems should be addressed by those who are most affected; and that because of its relatively low density, county government “is the preferred form of government for our area.”

With the exception, perhaps, of the level-of-services argument, all of these seem to be unexceptionable. Placitas is different, demographically and in terms of its housing stock. By and large, the residents of Placitas play little part in the governance of the county. It has been years since a Placitano served on the county commission (Pete Salazar, who lives in Homesteads, at least a decade ago). For the most part, the interests of the area have been represented to the county by the major area land developers, whose interests may or may not correspond to the citizenry in general (although these are the same developers who are responsible for the low-density development that makes the area unique.)

County officials insist that Placitas is not an underserved area, that the value of the services we receive is greater than the taxes we pay. Rio Rancho, because of its greater density, is far and away the largest source of county revenues. (If this is true, then the short shrift given the proposal by the county commission seems curious. If Placitas is such a burden, then why not unload it?)

But of course this is unlikely to occur without an enormous effort. State law provides for the creation of new counties through an act of the state legislature, and provides for a transitional interval during which appointed “commissioners” would supervise the extrication of Placitas records from the present county’s records—a tedious process, one would think. Once this is achieved, new county officers would be elected and the new government established.

It’s as simple, and as complex, as that, with the emphasis on the complexity. All in all, it appears to be an overwhelming prospect, full of unpredictable contingencies. Who pays for the transition, for example? And are there no economies of scale in the present county structure? Aren’t local taxes bound to increase substantially, especially since almost all taxable property in the new county would be residential? Mellon and his colleagues don’t really succeed in answering such questions..

If there are problems in representation, in land-use planning, in water conservation, couldn’t these better be addressed through some kind of subcounty, or special-district, arrangement, in which Placitas, as defined, is delegated certain decision-making powers to address and decide designated issues and even, in some cases, levy taxes for purposes such as libraries, parks and recreation, professionalized firefighting capability, etc.? This would seem to be preferable to taking on the huge burden and all the intimidating unknowns involved in becoming “Placitas County.

But Mellon should be credited with raising these serious issues in a responsible and careful manner.

Richard Hopkins

[See the letter above and others including political commentary, poetry, timely quotes, and more at the Rough Road Review Web site]


Justice for rural domestic wells

—Citizens for Justice on Domestic Wells

There are many demands for water in New Mexico. The smallest users of all the water in the whole state are rural families that use domestic wells. These users account for less than 1 percent of all the water used by everyone. This percentage has been established by the state engineer’s own records. In spite of this minimal use, the needs and rights of these families are being targeted for denial and these rural folks stand a chance of loosing the ability to have a domestic well. Their properties require water, without which their land has little or no value.

The state government wants water for Texas contracts. The environmentalists want water for minnows. Big cities want water for their fast-growing populations. Agriculture and business need water for their purposes. Big water users consume over 99 percent of all the water in New Mexico. The big interests have lots of people looking out for them. Who is looking out for small-property owners and their families? Why are small-property owners singled out and penalized unjustly? Is it because they can’t defend themselves?

Small-property owners have always been led to believe they have a right to drill a domestic well. The state engineers Water Guide Book says on page 11, “a Domestic water rights permit entitles the homeowner to use up to three acre-feet of water a year.” The state statutes say a permit to drill a well shall be issued. Now they want to take our water and stop families and individuals from living in the country.

Many of the folks that live in rural communities come from many different backgrounds; but one thing for sure is common to all: they love to live in the country and not in the cities. Many of the people that live in rural areas have ancestors that lived there for hundreds and hundreds of years. These families don’t want their children to be forced to move to the cities. They want to continue their rich cultural traditions that make our state a wonderful place to be part of and live in. These old communities, many of them Spanish and Mexican land grants, have been recognized and validated by the United States government and the state of New Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with their lands and water rights acknowledged since time immemorial.

It is an unfair and gross injustice to put a major burden of New Mexico’s water problems on its smallest users. Many are unable to defend themselves because most of them don’t know what is happening to them. Legislators have an opportunity to do the right thing. They can look out for the rights of all these small rural-property owners and their families all over the state of New Mexico. Legislators are the only ones at this time that can take to heart the interests and rights of these voters from the rural communities throughout the State of New Mexico.

We thank those legislators that support the rural people of New Mexico.

[Editor’s note: No bills designed to limit domestic wells were passed by the 2004 Legislature, but they came close. Legislation to increase fees for domestic well permits, require metering, limit consumption, and allow the state engineer to deny permits in critical management areas are expected to gain momentum in the 2005 Legislative Session. The Office of the State Engineer maintains that these limitations are necessary to protect senior water rights and to ensure compliance with interstate stream compacts.]




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