Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: interested public

Because of your interest in Sandia Ranger District trails program, we are soliciting your comments on the construction of approximately five miles of multiuse trail within the Cedro Peak trail system. The project will include construction of a one mile, hiker-only interpretive loop trail and a four mile, multiuse, nonmotorized (open to hikers, mountain bicyclists, and horses) access trail, starting at the Lower Pine Trailhead, connecting to the interpretive loop, and extending to the approximate midpoint of the Coyote Trail (#05619). The interpretive loop trail will also be accessible by entry through the Talking Talons Youth Center (on a limited basis) on NM 333. The location of the proposed trail construction is located in Bernalillo County near Tijeras in Section 13, T10N. R5E and Section 18, T10N. R6E.

The interpretive loop trail will be constructed to USFS Trail Class III (Hiker-Pedestrian) standard, with a tread width of 24-30 inches and an average grade of six percent. Numbered (quantity yet to be determined) interpretive markers will be installed along the trail to correspond with an interpretive brochure. The access trail from Lower Pine Trailhead to Coyote Trail (#05619) will be constructed to USFS Trail Class III (Pack and Saddle) standard, with a tread width of 24 inches and an average grade of eight percent.

During this phase of the environmental analysis process, the Sandia Ranger District would like any written input you might have regarding this project. Your response to this inquiry will help the Forest Service identify significant issues associated with the proposed action. Address comments to Kerry Wood, wilderness trails program manager, at (505) 281-3304, or

—Cid H. Morgan, District Ranger

re: 2011 Rio Rancho road bond proposal

Rio Rancho CARES (RRC) opposes the proposed $22 million City of Rio Rancho road bond renewal at the special election on March 29, 2011. We urge a NO vote based on the City of Rio Rancho’s continuing practice of government by stealth for the benefit of special interests, rather than open government and fair taxation for the benefit of ordinary citizens.

The city’s record speaks for itself:

  1. Broken promises on Rio Rancho’s 2009 road bonds, which saw over $5 million diverted to city officials’ “pet” projects (Green2V site work, accelerated completion of Paseo del Volcan) from the $25 million approved by voters for local street improvements.

    • Allocation of proposed 2011 road bond proceeds has not yet been disclosed. (RRC public records request is pending).
  2. Inadequate notice and “silent filibuster” against open discussion of the 2011 bond proposal at the city council meeting on January 23, 2011.

    • Advance agenda (on the city’s Web site) for the council meeting did not include the road bond proposal.

    • Councilors scheduled the road bond for a special election rather than at the next general city election—at an added cost to taxpayers of $90,000.

    • When Councilor Tim Crum moved to scrap the special election and vote on road bonds at the next regular election, no other councilor would second the motion, thereby preventing any open discussion of the cost issue.
  3. Special interest dollars drive voting outcomes in Rio Rancho.

    • Voter turnout for the last road bond election in 2009 was 3.6 percent, compared to 12.2 percent at the last (2010) general city election. Voter turnouts are historically much lower at special elections than at regular elections. Why would the city want a lower turnout?

    • Road bond backers (Committee for Better Rio Rancho Roads) in 2009 spent over $44,000 to secure passage of the proposal by a vote of 1,006 to 884. A small citizens group, Rio Rancho Street Smarts, spent $205 to oppose the road bond. That works out to $44 spent for each YES vote, compared to 24 cents for each NO vote.
  4. Responsible government: spend or save? In the current recession, voters have called for cuts in nonessential government spending. Road bond supporters, with a nod and a wink, tell us that renewal of the road bonds will not increase our taxes. What they don’t mention is that a vote AGAINST renewing the bond would result in LOWER taxes.

This is why Rio Rancho CARES urges voters to ask questions, speak out, and VOTE NO on March 29.

—the Rio Rancho CARES Board of Directors

re: another road bond—more lies?

Rio Rancho taxpayers, wake up! Your elected leaders are about to reach into your pockets to take more of YOUR money. What for this time? Why, another road bond. At the January 26, 2011 city council meeting, councilors overwhelmingly voted to place two road bond issues before the voters in a “special election.”

This “special election,” which will be held on March 29, 2011, will be to authorize bonds for 2011 and 2013. Each bond will be for $11 million. The cost of this “special election” will be $90,000. Yes, $90,000 because the council defeated a motion by Councilor Tim Crum to hold this “special election” at the same time as the March election and save $90,000. Why a “special election?” Because the mayor and council know how poor voter turnout is at regular Rio Rancho elections, and they’re hoping for an even smaller turnout at a “special election”—ensuring passage of the bond vote. Just think what $90,000 could buy to better equip and protect our police and fire personnel. 

The mayor stated that the passage of these bonds will not raise taxes, but he failed to mention that it will extend the current ones. The last road bond for $25 million dollars was brought before the voters on March 10, 2009. Before the election, the Mayor gathered “outside forces” to finance a massive publicity campaign in support of the bond. This group called themselves the Committee for Better Rio Rancho Roads. Who composed the bulk of this committee? Developers, contractors, and engineering, real estate, and law firms, all of which had close working ties with the city and the mayor, many of whom stood to gain financially if the road bond passed. Six firms that contributed the maximum amount of $5000 each to this campaign were construction or development businesses. The committee spent $44,398 on signs and other advertising. The Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) spent an additional $1200-$1500 to support a “yes” vote on this bond issue. The Committee for Smart Streets, which opposed the bond issue, spent only $205 on their advertising. Only 1,850 people voted in that election, which is only 3.6 percent of the registered voters in Rio Rancho. Of the total votes cast, 1,006 were “yes,” and 844 were “no.” That equates to a cost of $44.13 per “yes” vote and $0.24 per “no” vote. See, BIG money does control your city government!

There were seven projects listed by the city to be accomplished under the last road bond. With the economy in shambles, the city announced that bids came in at less than what was projected, and there was money left. Was this money used to do additional road repairs? NO! One of the seven projects the city identified to be accomplished with the road bond money was for pavement preservation to ensure full-life expectancy of roads. This included the micro-resurfacing of Enchanted Hills Boulevard. How did that project work out? Less than six months after the work was completed, significant portions of that resurfaced roadway failed and now need repair. 

Now, let’s fast forward to 2010. Along comes Green 2V. The city manager tells the mayor and council that they must approve diverting monies from the voter approved road bond to building out infrastructure (a road and sewer line) in the sum of almost $1.4 million dollars to support that project. When it becomes apparent that the Green 2V project is nothing more than “smoke and mirrors,” the city manager tells the council that no matter what happens with Green 2V, it is imperative to proceed with the infrastructure improvements as future development hinges on it—even though there is no guarantee that there will be anyone to take advantage of these improvements in the foreseeable future. In other words: “Build it, and hopefully someone will come, sometime.” Why weren’t these “surplus” funds used toward what voters approved, for local street repairs?

What every Rio Rancho voter needs to remember about this upcoming “special election” road bond vote is this: No matter what “your” elected leaders promise when it comes to how they will spend your tax dollars, in the end they have repeatedly shown they will do what they want, not what the citizens voted for or need. That is why a NO vote on the upcoming road bond is in every Rio Rancho citizen’s best interest. It sends a clear message to those individuals: “We are mad as hell.” As the saying goes, “Lie to me once, shame on you. Lie to me twice, shame on me.”

It is time to take back our government, and we can only do that by voting. In this case, “our” vote should be NO on the upcoming road bond!

—Harry Gordon, Rio Rancho

re: political pressure to fix energy problems of the future

The coldest temperatures in the contiguous states created a “state of emergency” due to a disruption of natural gas delivery. Power plants were shut down, workers sent home, schools closed, and shelters set up for those without heat. This was Thursday, February 3. Many people remained without heat a week later, while temperatures reached as low as 30 degrees below zero.

This was in New Mexico, but other states in the Southwest faced rolling blackouts and a variety of energy-related emergencies. This same problem could face the nation if we continue down the path we’ve been pursuing for our energy supplies.

Businesses, residents, and hospitals received word that there may be natural gas disruptions throughout the day. This did not mean that there was, as many believed, a shortage, but rather rolling blackouts in Texas were causing pressure problems in the pipelines—the delivery system. There may have been enough gas to fire up your cooktop, but not enough pressure for a furnace. The cold weather and lack of heat combined to create a state of emergency.

It turns out that the local utility company, which gets much of its natural gas from New Mexico, also gets some gas from Texas to spread out their risk. That natural gas comes through a pipeline that needs pressure to keep it moving. Due to Texas’ problems, the compression stations along the way had no electricity to pressurize the natural gas, hence the “disruptions.”

Why did Texas not have enough electricity? Investigations will determine the true cause of the energy emergency, and myriad explanations have been offered. But here is what we do know:

  • Cold weather put a strain on the system, leading to failures that threatened peoples’ lives and disrupted everything.
  • Texas’ heavy reliance on wind power may have been part of the cause.
  • There were no problems with nuclear power plants in the area.

We do know the same thing could happen almost anywhere. It comes down to a lack of reliable electricity.

How could America, the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation in the world, be faced with life-threatening energy shortages? Bottom line: our policy toward power generation, a policy that must be changed.

First, funding and political favor have supported the intermittent and expensive electricity sources of wind and solar. Neither can be turned on when needed. The wind must blow, and the sun must shine. On frigid nights when the temperature drops dramatically and people turn on electric heaters, the wind is still, and the sun doesn’t shine, making them virtually worthless when the energy is needed most.

Next, the building of new, high-tech, coal-fueled power plants has been impeded or totally blocked. In America, we are limping by with a generation of coal plants far behind those currently being built in China. The regulations on anyone who tries to build a coal plant, as President Obama promised, “will bankrupt them,” resulting in very few new coal-fueled power plants. The older plants had weather-related problems and had to be shut down. Their closure put more demand on the gas-fueled plants, which also strained the natural gas delivery to commercial and residential customers.

The only power source that had no problems was nuclear. Despite Obama’s early pledge to encourage the building of nuclear plants through loan guarantees, nothing has moved forward on that front. Regulations make their construction nearly impossible and add significantly to the cost. The political atmosphere is a barrier to private funding. It has been nearly 20 years since we’ve had a new nuclear power plant come online.

Texas has the highest wind capacity (installed or under construction) in America. They also have what is called a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires the state to have a set amount of renewable energy by specific dates. Twenty-nine sates have a RPS or a nonbinding goal for adoption. If renewable proponents have their way, Senator Bingaman’s plan for a national Renewable Electricity Standard will become law, and every state will be investing in expensive energy that is not available when really needed and blocking the electricity that can truly power America.

The problem last week was lack of pressure in the pipelines. To fix energy problems for the future, it will take political pressure.

—Marita Noon, Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

re: mistletoe vendetta

The mistletoe parasite is killing your junipers. For years I have worked to keep at least one Placitas property free of mistletoe. Our trees look great.

I want to inspire you to take the time to remove the mistletoe from your junipers. Start with the trees close to the house or the trees lining the driveway. Wear a long-sleeve shirt and garden gloves. Eye protection is a good idea, too.

The mistletoe infesting the Placitas area is adept at hiding itself by nearly mocking in color and shape the greenery of the juniper. Mistletoe is almost invisible at dusk or on a gray cloudy day, but in the sunlight, it can’t hide. It is a lighter green than juniper green, and as it grows, it tends to clump.

Yesterday, it was sunny and 60 degrees. I took a long walk along two roads, Tunnel Springs and Quail Meadow. I cleaned 100 tree limbs. The nice thing about mistletoe is that it is soft and it snaps off easily at the base. Don’t pull at the clumps. Put your thumb against the base of the mistletoe, and press back. Do a thorough job of cleaning each infested juniper limb. Throw the offending mistletoe on the ground. It will eventually dry up and turn brown; then it will crumple under the force of the elements and disappear.

I am willing to help get you started. See my ad in the Services section in the back of this Signpost issue.

—Greg Leichner

re: eulogy for James Ferminio Gonzales

James Ferminio Gonzales was born on April 12, 1947. His parents were Benjamin Gonzales and Lugardita Duran Gonzales. James had seven siblings, he being the oldest. He has three surviving brothers (Chris, Benito, and Michael) and one sister (Lucille). James was preceded in death by a brother (Ernest) and a sister (Debbie), who passed away ten months ago. His brothers live next door to him, and Lucille lives in Bernalillo. Since their father passed away, James has been the patriarch of the family. Whatever James told his siblings, they would honor his wishes. They have always been very close. Michael told me that when they were children, James was always beating up on him.

James went to elementary school in Placitas, which is now the San Antonio Catholic Center. Junior high and high school were attended in Bernalillo. After graduating from high school, James joined the Army. He served for two years. Ten months were served in Vietnam. He was awarded, among other medals, the Army Commendation Medal. The morning I went to talk with Theresa after James passed away, I sat at the kitchen table facing Angelo. Angelo looked right at me and said “My grandfather was in Vietnam, and that’s a fact.” He is very proud of his grandfather and rightly should be. James was also very proud to have served his country.

James and I were the same age, so we attended Placitas Elementary. One day, we were waiting for a school bus to come and pick us up for some function we all had to attend at Carroll Elementary. James invited me to come and get on the slide with him while we were waiting. Up the slide we went (I was first), and just as I came down the slide, James was right behind me. He stepped on the skirt of my beautiful nylon dress, and part of the skirt came undone. I ran home crying, holding on to my skirt, and my mom was able to baste it back together. I made it back to the bus just in time before it left. James could never quite remember this incident. But I remember.

James Gonzales and Theresa Roybal were married by a justice of the peace on June 13, 1967 and then by Our Lady of Sorrows Church on March 12, 1968. James and Theresa had a good life, and they had two beautiful girls, Angela and Melissa. Melissa blessed them with three grandchildren, Troy, Natory, and Angelo. James was so proud of them. He would always tell us of their accomplishments.

James worked for Sandia Battery for 10 years, for Commercial Moving and Storage for eight years, and 20 years for Product Development. He had a very special boss and friend that he was especially fond of—her name was Cathy Taylor. I hope Cathy is in the congregation today because the family wanted her to know how special she was to him.

James and Theresa built the house they live in today. Theresa remembers working very hard by his side. James took a class in mechanics and always took care of his vehicles. He was definitely a Ford man. It was not a strange thing for James to go to Bernalillo and then come back and get his other vehicle and then go somewhere else. You never knew what vehicle you would meet James in. A few weeks ago, Melissa borrowed James’s Bronco to go into Bernalillo, and when she came back home, she told her dad that everyone she met on the road had waved at her. James was so well known and well liked that everyone would wave at him.

James was the mayordomo of the Las Placitas Acequia System for eight years. He was the best mayordomo ever. He made sure everyone got their fair share of the water, and if any problem arose, James was on top of it. He was also very involved with the Domestic Water System. Whatever the problem, James was very diplomatic about how he handled it. He was always trying to keep peace among everyone involved. Angela mentioned that James had small feet, but whoever takes over is going to have big shoes to fill.

We would all laugh at James because when he was told something that required an OH-WOW!, James would calmly say, “Oh-wow.” Pretty soon, he had everyone always saying “Oh-wow.”

James was very involved in Casa Rosa. Casa Rosa is a food program that serves Placitas residents and sometimes clients living in Sandoval County. James was an active member on the board. James was very dependable, whether it was to unload the Roadrunner Food trucks or load client’s vehicles with their food items. He genuinely cared for everyone and would even give folks a ride home if they needed one. He never said no to any task, big or small. James served Casa Rosa with his whole heart. 

After James was diagnosed with cancer and he was taking treatments, he developed a taste for pork ribs. He could not get enough of them. Every time he went into town, he came back with pork ribs. 

Angela would take her father to the Veterans Hospital when he needed to go, and James would either meet up with a relative or make a new friend. James never met a stranger. The nurses and doctors that attended to him were very impressed with James and the strength he showed. James touched everyone’s heart.

James fought his cancer with everything he had. Whenever the disease brought a new problem into his life, he would accept it and never complain. His family and his grandchildren were always his main concern, while his personal problems came second. James did not want to die just yet, but cancer decided his fate. The Lord up in heaven knows how much he really suffered and only occasionally would it come through to those who were close to him.

There is a passage in the Bible: It comes from John, chapter 14, verses one, two, and three:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

James was my cousin and my friend, but I considered him my brother. He was always true-blue to our friendship, and I will miss him terribly. I know I am a better person for having been a part of his life. I bid farewell to a truly remarkable soul.

—Respectfully Written by Vivian B. DeLara





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