The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 
THE GAUNTLET

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: response to Placitans who sent holiday packages to the New Mexico National Guard troops stationed in Iraq

Thank you for taking the time to send the generous holiday cards and packages to the Infantrymen of Company A. It is great to know that you are thinking of us. We are currently conducting security and stability operations on the west side of Baghdad. We truly appreciate your time and effort sending us the packages. It was a pleasure to see fellow New Mexicans taking the time out of their busy schedules to think of us. Please pass my regards on to your families.

—ALI R. DIPOUR, CPT. INFANTRY

Event marks four hundred years of genocide
—MANUEL CRISTOBAL

In the midst of Santa Fe’s Cuartocentario of 2008, no amount of fanfare could ever reconcile the atrocities of the Spanish colonizers. In retrospect, the colonization was brutal. The event is billed as an intriguing experience that will have a national and international audience in New Mexico’s commemoration.

The Cuartocentario failed to address the impact of Spanish colonialism four hundred years afterward and the ramification on the Pueblo people today. In 1620, by royal decree of the king of Spain, groups of Pueblo governors and officials were instituted into a civil government, which the Spanish could control and assimilate into the Spanish institutions.

As Pueblo people, we have never asked ourselves, “Why do we celebrate these Catholic feast days…to honor who? Is it the legacies of Spanish colonialism? The impact of fear and brainwashing became a part of life. In order to continue to live and practice our traditional beliefs, the Spanish forced us to convert to Catholicism and gave the Pueblos Spanish canes to reinforce this subjugation. A life of servitude to the Spanish sovereign and the Roman Catholic Church is still practiced today. These institutions were designed to make us servants by indoctrination, to believe that by abandoning our “free will” in place of a life of servitude.

The Cuartocentario is remembering not just what colonization was about, but what this commemoration will symbolize…political power.

Ultimately, we must restore ourselves emotionally and spiritually and work toward educating our Pueblo people about the truth.

Realistically, Spain needs to officially grant us our independence from the symbolic canes. A declaration of independence from Spain would demonstrate mutual respect and historically grant us our inherent right to decolonize from the Proclamation of 1620. Most pueblos need to assert their right to self-determination and take a stand with a democratic constitution.

Keeping this issue of sovereignty alive is a “very real concern” today. We must focus our attention on abstaining from participating in Santa Fe’s Cuartocentario in 2010. Support of this event would give the impression that the Pueblo people endorse and validate events that commemorate the “genocide” of indigenous people of Southwest.

As Pueblo people, we must secure our right to “say and speak the truth without fear of intimidation.”

The opinions expressed in this article do not represent the Santa Ana Tribal Council nor the nineteen Indian Pueblos’ Council. The federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 states, “no Indian tribe in exercising powers of self-government shall make or enforce any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech or the press.”

“Today, I exercise my First Amendment right to free speech.”

Manuel R. Cristobal is a councilman at the Pueblo of Santa Ana (Tamaya).

 

re: animal control pet peeve

It’s a pet peeve of mine when someone tries to get me to do his or her job. I also don’t believe in incentive pay. If someone accepts a job, he or she assumes an obligation to do that job and do it well. It was in that venue that I was disappointed in the actions of a Sandoval County employee on Monday morning, February 11.

I was on my way to an appointment for which I could not be late. While coming through River’s Edge 2, I encountered dogs loose, including one badly frightened and confused animal that I feared might wander onto busy Highway 528 and get hit by a car.

You can imagine my relief when I soon encountered a Sandoval County Animal Control vehicle. Although delaying cars behind me as I stopped in traffic, I signaled the individual driving who reluctantly stopped and rolled down his car window. I asked him if he could contact Rio Rancho Animal Control for me, with it hopefully implicit that he would go look for the animals himself.

You can imagine my shock and anger when this individual yelled back that I should use my cell phone and call Rio Rancho Animal Control myself.

Sir, beyond my lack of a cell phone—or applicable phone numbers—I did my job as a citizen and informed you of a problem. How nice it would have been if you had replied, “Yes, ma’am. I’ll look into it right away,” either dealing with the problem yourself or making sure appropriate people were notified. After all, the safety of peoples’ pets was involved.

—KATHLEENE PARKER, Rio Rancho

A tax to remember

A coalition of twelve environmental organizations in New Mexico has initiated a new strategy to help get American kids back outdoors. The Environmental Alliance of New Mexico renewed its call for a one-percent sales tax on televisions and video games to fund outdoor education programs. The tax idea, initiated by the Sierra Club, would raise an estimated $4 million a year to fund programs aimed at giving school kids an outdoor education. “We believe it is such a nominal tax that consumers won’t feel it too much, especially if they are educated about where that money goes,” said Michael Casaus, the New Mexico youth representative of the Sierra Club.

New Mexico’s State Parks Division estimates that although eighty percent of New Mexico’s students live within a half-hour of a state park, less than ten percent have ever visited one. The state’s underfunded Outdoor Classroom program helps students visit state parks and assists teachers with using the hands-on parks experience for science, math, and other academic skills.

Casaus told the New Mexican that the “Leave No Child Inside” movement has grown tremendously during the past year in the state. More than forty organizations have asked for more outdoor education, including Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, the Hispano Round Table, the New Mexico Science Teachers Association, and health organizations.

Studies in the past five years have linked the increasing amount of time children spend watching television or playing video games to lower academic scores, obesity, and increased attention-deficit disorder. A study funded by the Sierra Club and carried out by the state of California found that one week of outdoor education had the same beneficial impact as six weeks of regular classroom time. According to state health and education reports, New Mexico students continue to lag behind their peers in most academic areas, and an increasing number are struggling with obesity.

re: recycling center thanks

Robin’s great article on “Separating plastic, making a difference” in the February Signpost was terrific, as are all her updates for the Placitas Recycling Association (PRA). There was a mention of the funding source for our “new look,” however, that I would like to clarify. We did not receive a grant from the County for the purchase of new much-needed equipment; rather, we submitted a funding proposal last legislative session (2007) with the wonderful assistance of County Manager Debbie Hays’s terrific team, headed by Gayland Bryant.

Initially, our then-president, Len Stephens and his wife, Fran, longtime board members and supporters of recycling approached Senator Cravens with a request for some funding assistance, and he wisely directed them to first approach and discuss with the County our very pressing needs list. After that excellent advice, we proceeded to develop our first Legislative Funding Proposal in the amount of $75,000. Len and Fran painstakingly gathered information from the truck and trailer suppliers in the area.

With their help, we compiled data on the number of vehicles served/pounds of material processed from the inception of PRA to the present. We were successful in having the County combine our funding proposal with the County’s requests, thereby effectively increasing our visibility as a vital component of County operations. Our binder described our all volunteer operation which had its beginnings in a house/garage operation instituted by our founder, Jimi Gadzia, to the leased PNM site we now occupy. Without the considerable efforts and talents of our board members, we would not be the proud possessors of new trailers and a truck far better-equipped to handle our hauling needs.

All in all, it was a noble effort, and we are justly proud of our success. So, we want to thank all of the essential parties mentioned above and Representative Kathy McCoy, all of our board members, and our wonderful, we-could-not-do-it-without-you volunteers, whose interest and dedication to improving our environment has aided in this effort.

—MARGARET PALUMBO, Placitas

Editorial: Paved roads or city windfall?

—RIO RANCHO IN FOCUS, WWW.RIORANCHO-NM.COM

We have a question: How does splitting SAD 7 into two assessment districts do anything to solve the problem of the SAD 7 controversy? The more the issue drags on, the more apparent it becomes that the City of Vision is not only blind, but deaf, and the recent Council decision to allow work to proceed in certain areas, but not others, is just plain silly.

It couldn’t be clearer that most city residents who are up in arms about the flooding issue aren’t arguing that work needed to prevent flooding shouldn’t be done; they’re arguing about two major things: the proposed “solution,” and money. Now, it seems obvious to just about everyone except a select few that must have money to burn that the cost involved to provide drainage and paved roads to those that don’t have them is enormous. Because of this, you naturally have people upset. But the questions that arise from such a move come from more than just people who don’t want to pay, and this is something the Council just can’t see.

PAVING WON’T GET IT DONE

We’ve said it before; the flooding issue will not be solved by paving roads. Paving adds tremendous cost to the SAD project. It’s also hard to see how sewers will do anything to prevent flooding, but that’s another story. This is not an issue of rain water overcoming makeshift dirt gutters and spilling over into yards. This is an issue of torrential flood waters running down Northern Boulevard, cascading over side streets, rushing over hillsides, and wiping out homes. This is an issue of severe flood waters overcoming inadequate flood channels, and overcoming major roadways. This is an issue of weak code enforcement, and lack of policing. Residential road paving will have very little impact on future flooding. Paved roads would have done next to nothing to prevent the damage of 2006, and paved roads will do little or nothing to prevent future damage when we see that type of flooding again. The only thing paved roads will do is create a project that can be overcharged for, and they will provide an extra lining in the city coffers, and maybe a few pockets. Most of the real work that’s needed such as holding ponds, arroyo improvements and expansion, and added flood channeling is being provided by the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), and the City has nothing to do with it. That work will proceed as needed with or without the City of Rio Rancho.

LARGE FEE, NO COMMITTEE, BIG PROBLEM

The City of Rio Rancho has not yet provided justification for the large fees they want to charge to do the work that they say needs to be done. These charges are in the form of property liens, and run from $12,000 to $14,000 dollars per property owner in most cases. The City has run into stiff opposition for several reasons, and cost is not the only problem.

There has been no mention of an independent oversight committee to oversee the project, and you won’t hear the subject brought up by any of your government officials either. Why? Because that could possibly muck up the flood waters (of cash) for the Council. We’ve seen this before. Just a few short years back, after Rio Rancho imposed impact fees on its citizens, residents began to question why improvements weren’t being done. Even today, many of the “rural” areas of the city have no parks, bike trails, and other impact fee type improvements. The City explained that impact fees weren’t for improvements such as residential roads. Fair enough. But the question of impact fees went further, and it was soon discovered that the City couldn’t account for the fees that had been paid. As time went on, the official that was in charge of the impact fees and their administration suddenly resigned, moved out of town, and an uproar started. Soon, an independent audit was conducted. Finally, it was determined that the impact fees that had been collected for years were “lost” and unaccounted for. There never was (to our knowledge) an official statement made as to how the audit came out; so much for “open government” in Rio Rancho.

Now we have a Council that expects people to quietly swallow the more than seventy-million-dollar price tag for road and drainage improvements without an oversight committee, and without a whimper. Those who oppose such a move are seen as troublemakers, but those that have lived here for a while see the resistance as an appropriate response, and claim they have the battle scars to justify their reaction.

THE CITY IS RESPONSIBLE TO DO THE WORK

No matter how much it wants to deny it, the City of Rio Rancho is responsible for building the internal infrastructure such as holding ponds, central drainage, and any other improvements that are necessary to protect life and property in the city. It says so in the City Charter. This type of work usually gets done by developers when they build their tract developments, and this is by custom. The problem is that the City didn’t care when it allowed indiscriminate development in rural areas that was being done without major developers being involved.

Councilors are being honest when they say that the City simply doesn’t have the money to make the improvements, but the problem is, neither do many of the citizens. How is the City relieved of its responsibility because it doesn’t have the funds necessary to protect life and property as it’s charged to do by its own policies?

Representative Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert just sent out a letter to her constituents explaining that she is seeking almost $14 million to help out Rio Rancho on infrastructure funding, but our Council has done very little, if anything, to seek outside funding. Why?

If the City thinks it doesn’t have the money to fund the improvements it should have had done in the first place, wait until the lawsuits come. If SAD 7 proceeds as outlined, we predict lawsuits not only from the imposed fees, but future lawsuits as residents that do have the work done wake up, and begin to wonder why the paved road improvements they paid so dearly for don’t work to stop flooding. We also predict problems for the City as it tries to explain how commercial development it allowed that flooded citizens downstream should now be taken care of by the finances of the very citizens it did harm to.

We’re surprised the City Council doesn’t claim that street lights would also help stop the flooding—after all, it’s a good way to get work done for nothing, and would be a nice addition to the flood-stopping sewers they plan to put in.

RIO RANCHO IN FOCUS WEBSITE INFORMS AND ADVOCATES FOR CITIZENS

There are several news agencies that report Rio Rancho news, but only one site that’s an advocate for its citizens. Not a typical news site, Rio Rancho in Focus is a citizen-based information center that digs into current events and issues that affect Rio Rancho. Important issues in our town are often ignored, or even hidden from public view. We exist because our community deserves to know what’s going on where we live, without special interests controlling what we see and hear. To do that, residents need to be connected. We’re opinionated for sure—but we’re communicating the real feelings and ideas of our residents.

This site is unique, because it’s powered by the people who live, work, and vote in Rio Rancho. We depend on you, the concerned citizen, to provide content that’s of interest to us all. Let us know about any issue related to our city that concerns you. If we feel it contributes to the best interest of your neighbors, it will appear on these pages. You don’t need to reveal who you are. Most importantly, spread the word that we’re here. Rio Rancho in Focus is a website created by the citizens of Rio Rancho in support of the community good. The only way effective change will take place is if concerned citizens stand together and mold the community we all want to live in, work in, and raise our children in. Together, we’ll create a community we can be proud of—a true “city of vision.”

re: Ernalillo High School?

Ernalillo High School, in Ernalillo, New Mexico, is where I am currently a high school senior. Oh! What’s that you say? My “B” is missing? Well, I’m glad you noticed and brought it to my attention, but it has been missing for some time now. It’s very interesting to see that you have noticed the “B” missing in my spelling, when most of our community no longer takes the time of day to notice that Bernalillo, New Mexico’s “B” is gone—or at least the “B” that sat at the base of the water tower at the north exit of our town. Our beloved “B” had no true significance in this world to anybody other than Bernalillo High students, alumni, and townspeople.

The company that set up shop in that area has removed what has been a long-standing tradition for Bernalillo High School (BHS) graduating seniors.

Since 1972 (as far back as I could trace), seniors from BHS have been visiting the infamous “B” and putting their graduating year within the two half circles that create the capital letter. Beginning this year, that senior tradition will no longer be observed. Apparently that tradition, which started some two decades before I was born, has sadly ended with the class of 2007.

Nobody I spoke with had really noticed what happened under our very noses; several people were shocked to hear what happened after I revealed it to them. Shocked, not because the letter has been removed, but that they have been far too busy in their lives to notice it gone right out of their own backyard. With the advancement of technology and industry, we begin to lose a lot of long-standing traditions. This is proof of one tradition that will no longer be available, unless we decide to act upon it now.

I would like to see another area in Bernalillo designated for the resurrection of another “B” for the students and alumni of Bernalillo High School—one that is close to the high school. Then invite both students and alumni to recreate what was started by the senior class of 1972.

—MONICA LOVATO, Bernalillo High School Senior, Class of 2008

 

re: hacking it out West

Dear Friends Back East:
Thanks for your thoughtful note inquiring as to my health following my holiday visit to your region. I believe my health has been quite good, if you don’t include my respiratory system and any and all associated anatomical doo-dads.

The first return leg (from Providence to Atlanta) was unique in that one could not hear the roar of the aircraft engines due to passenger coughing. Those persons unable to fully muster a good, solid, hacking cough produced a sneezy, snuffly, phlegmatic, throat-clearing accompaniment to the performance. The rest of us just sat back, struggling mightily to draw the shallowest of breaths.

And what a performance it was! When I closed my eyes, I realized that my fellow passengers were actually—and unconsciously, I suspect—engaged in a choral production not unlike those famous singing dogs of the seventies who barked a recording of “Jingle Bells.” In this case, my fellow travelers were coughing out the melody to “The Happy Wanderer” (“I love to go a-wandering.”). The fellow sitting next to me was particularly good with “Valdaree” and “Valdarah,” whenever it was time for the chorus, although he absolutely reeked of Nyquil.

The usually dry cabin air wasn’t dry—as clearly evident by the ever-thickening slimy, silvery haze that filled our passenger compartment. I concluded that Delta had not provided me with a healthy flying environment.

The leg from Atlanta to Albuquerque was less noxious, i.e. the number of the afflicted and the degree of affliction were less. They could only hack a few slow verses of “My Old Kentucky Home” before we touched down in the Duke City.

In driving to Placitas from the airport, I made it all the way to Sandoval County before my throat and lungs commenced their own rebellion. Truthfully, the only productive thing I did for the next month was hard, nasty, solo coughing along with all that other associated, highly disagreeable activity—even with medication.

Mighty Patrick, my handsome old Maine Coon Cat, became quite concerned for me, and would spend much of his time giving me big yellow-eyed looks of alarm, not unlike those I give him when he struggles with gigantic hair balls. He trailed after me far more than usual, and there were times when I thought he was going to try a heroic, but likely futile, feline version of the Heimlich maneuver on my person.

Now, however, I am back to taking some short hikes with vital assistance provided by clear lungs and, for the most part, a dry nose. This is the Land of Enchantment, and I have no justifiable complaints. Thanks for your concerns. Stay well.

Your Friend,
—HERB, Placitas

 

re: candidates have to address issues

We must demand that candidates for council and mayor answer tough questions. Here are some I consider critical:

What will you do to bring openness, adherence to open-meeting requirements and accountability to city government? What will you do “through neighborhood meetings or opinion surveys” to reach out to constituents to find out how you as their representative should vote on critical issues?

Out-of-control growth strains the city’s ability to ensure good growth, while amenities and services for existing citizens are woefully lacking. What will you do to work for a city that is not just an endless series of remote and disjointed subdivisions, but a community?

We face a looming water crisis. What will you do to ensure that Rio Rancho—as many other communities in the Southwest are doing—requires developers to show a one-hundred-year water supply to ensure that our children and grandchildren have adequate water? Some assert there is adequate permitted water for 225,000 Rio Rancho residents; others say there is sufficient water for 150,000 or fewer. What will you do to gain a scientific determination of which, if either, is accurate?

With Rio Rancho’s sprawl, high growth rate, and commuter economy, the city faces a transportation crisis and gridlock issues. What solution do you suggest? What will you do to help plan a city around likely $4-, $5-, or $6-a-gallon gasoline¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬? Rio Rancho is the third most populous city in New Mexico, but ninth or tenth in gross receipts tax collections. What will you do to build a stronger business base?

New housing starts plummeted from 3,084 in 2005 to 1,046 in 2007. This and other factors could lead to a critical shortage of income for city coffers. What would you do to ensure diversification away from the city’s dependency on growth for funds and to ensure adequate funds for city services, especially in a recession?

Considering SAD 7, what will you do to ensure that problems associated with poor drainage and a lack of paving, gutters, curbs, and storm drains are avoided in future developments in the city? Where do you stand on SAD 7?

Please explain why the term “Rio Rancho: City of Vision” should not be considered an oxymoron.

—J. GORDON HAWLEY, RIO RANCHO

Editorial:

The State of Bernalillo

—MAX SMELLING

A few days ago traffic came to a screeching halt on Camino del Pueblo in front of the former post office. As our cars edged forward, the cause of this inconvenience became apparent. That proud red chicken that probably lives east of the current post office was once again trying to cross the road. Later as we descended into the bowels of the Town Hall, I reasoned that said chicken’s latest attempt must have been to take part in early voting. In this year of great political change everyone should take part—or at least try.

An important change on the local front seems to be taking place on a regular basis. The great passion most of us have to save Bernalillo from high density development seems to be acquiring real staying power.

Plaza Miranda’s development failed to pass the Planning and Zoning Commission’s scrutiny. And then when East Side residents were once again ready to do battle with our elected officials in a Council meeting, the developer withdrew – probably to fight again another day. One has to wonder if there might be a more suitable use for that property—one that will benefit both sides.

It might have been fun though to see how the Trustee’s would have justified overturning the P & Z’s ruling. If they did, the power of the people would have raised the roof. Indeed, if they once again ignored the Commission’s decision, an unruly crowd undoubtedly would have challenged their qualifications to represent the people.

Could it be that the sentiments of the majority of our citizens is actually beginning to matter? Town Hall, with the exception of the P & Z Commission and Trustee Jaramillo, has ignored the will of the people and decided that bigger is always better. They think that if Bernalillo could just fill up with new residents, businesses and industry that the New Town created would justify the loss of our cherished way of life. Clearly there are dozens of struggling towns across New Mexico that are crying for economic development to save them. It is our contention that we’re not living in one!

On February 5, Kelley Moe and Maria Rinaldi acting in their official capacities promoted out of town developers in another P & Z meeting. This time they tried to talk the commissioners into approving a 32-unit townhouse development just south of 550 and east of Main Street. By the way, it seems odd that locals have to represent themselves to remain on the agenda while out of town developers have been represented by staff when they don’t happen to show up.

Anyway, with determined leadership Commissioners Montoya and Kilfoy spoke against high density development and resulting water runoff problems. The idea of initiating this kind of development scenario—as recommended in Bernalillo’s Transit Oriented Development Plan [TOD]—went down to defeat with the addition of Commissioners Dameron and Satriana agreeing.

Rumor has it that the Mayor is searching for two new members for the Commission, replacing two of the longer serving Commissioners. One can only guess at her motivation.

The Planning and Zoning commission is standing up for our town and our way of life. The clear and obvious truth that they were also ignored during the TOD process may have something to do with their reluctance to obey its dictates. Karma.

Good ole Slim Randle’s buddy Delbert McLain has a lot in common with Town Hall. If I may quote: his job “is to invite huge industries to set up here, give all of us jobs, and turn the place into someplace we won’t really like. Fortunately, he’s not very good at it.”

Unfortunately for us some of the Town staff are quite good at forcing their own agenda down the throats of their bosses, our elected officials.

With the help of a few caring citizens fighting the pro hyper-development factions at Town Hall, Bernalillo just might survive after all. We need to elect people who truly know and understand our town, and will work hard to put some backbone into our elected officials. We need an open transparent government responsive to the people with “participation from citizens in conjunction with elected officials”.

All of us who care deeply for our town would do well to channel some of the spirit and work ethic of the late Michael Carroll. Fire Chief Carroll worked fearlessly and unselfishly for the good of Bernalillo for over 40 years. The star spangled tribute to his life and service was truly inspirational on Main Street that February afternoon.

Don’t forget to vote, March 4th at City Hall.

Tell Max what for at: maxsmelling@q.com.


Editorial:

President Bush would jettison Indian health for ideology

—JENNIFER PEREZ COLE AND STEVE WOODRUFF

Is President Bush willing to sacrifice the health and welfare of Native Americans in order to pursue one of his administration’s pet peeves? It sounds as if he is.

The White House recently warned that the president may veto long-overdue legislation to improve health care for Native Americans if the bill includes a provision calling for paying workers hired to build new facilities prevailing wages and benefits. The bill in question is the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2008. The provision in dispute involves a 77-year-old labor law known as the Davis-Bacon Act.

This health-care bill rightly topped the Senate’s list of priorities when it returned to work Jan. 22. It is no secret that Indian Country is in the grip of a health-care crisis. It is one made worse by poor access to doctors and clinics, outdated facilities and services that are inadequate to deal with rates of disease, and death rates that far exceed those of the overall U.S. population. Co-authored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and the late Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., the bill enjoys bipartisan support for its comprehensive approach to a health care crisis throughout Indian Country. The measure authorizes $1 billion worth of desperately needed health care facilities, along with another $1 billion in projects to improve sanitation in tribal communities. The bill also aims to improve mental health services, tackles high rates of teen suicides, makes it easier for tribal members to enroll in Medicaid and Medicare, and encourages Native Americans to pursue careers in health care.

Although the White House Office of Management and Budget says it has some objections to various aspects of the bill, it’s the so-called Davis-Bacon provision that triggered Bush’s veto threat. That provision extends requirements of Davis-Bacon Act to the Indian Health Service. The White House isn’t objecting to the facilities themselves or disputing the urgent need for them. It simply doesn’t want to pay full price for the labor.

It’s worth noting that the Davis-Bacon Act already applies to nearly all government agencies and federal contracts. Why prevailing-wage requirements don’t already apply to Indian Health Service contracts is an interesting question that raises the issue of discrimination. However, extending the requirement is consistent with overall federal practice. Signing Davis-Bacon into law in 1931 was perhaps the most constructive thing President Herbert Hoover did during the Great Depression. By effectively setting minimum pay scales for workers on federal construction projects, Davis-Bacon was designed to ensure that skilled, local workers aren’t aced out of jobs by low-balling contractors bringing in unskilled workers at substandard wages.

It was Republicans in Congress who sponsored Davis-Bacon and a Republican president who signed it into law. In recent years, however, political conservatives have taken to attacking prevailing-wage requirements as an undeserved leg-up for organized labor. In a statement issued Jan. 22, the White House said that “expansion of Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements … would violate a longstanding administration policy.” Fair enough. If the president and his administration want to fight for lower construction-worker wages, nothing’s stopping them. This is an election year. Let them argue for Davis-Bacon repeal, and see where that gets them.

Well, no. Instead comes the threatened veto casting Native Americans desperate for better health care as pawns in the administration’s ideological tussle over a long-settled aspect of federal law. Better health care for Native Americans isn’t a favor or just a good idea. It’s an explicit legal obligation. Health care for Native Americans is among the federal government’s clearest but least-fulfilled responsibilities. It’s been promised by treaties and guaranteed by law in exchange for lands ceded to the government. Failing to live up to this responsibility is bad. What’s even worse is arguing that the promised care shouldn’t be provided if it means creating a level playing field.

Jennifer Perez Cole and Steve Woodruff are contributors to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). She is coordinator of Indian affairs for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer; he is deputy director of the northern region for Western Progress in Missoula, Montana.

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