are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations.
Please limit your letter to approximately four hundred words. Letter
submissions are due by the twentieth of the month prior. Please
see the Contact Us page for submission
options (e-mail, web, fax, mail).
By submitting your comments to the Sandoval
Signpost you are granting us permission to reprint all or an
edited portion of your message.
letters, opinions, editorials
re: sad shakers of salt
Dear Friends Back East:
You have frequently mentioned your eagerness to celebrate Cinco
de Mayo, and it was out of curiosity that I asked what you believe
the Cinco de Mayo celebration is all about. All of your responses
were unique, ranging from “Jimmy Buffett’s birthday”
to “…commemoration of Thomas Edison’s 1928 invention
of the agave plant.”
Forgive me for saying it, but
your views are ludicrous and “gringo-like.” To begin
with, Jimmy Buffett was, in fact, born on December 25, 1946—not
May 5th. Furthermore, Thomas Edison did not invent the agave plant.
(I’m not certain who did, but believe it was Ricardo Montalbán.)
Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates
the May 5, 1862 victory by Mexican forces over invading French troops
in the city of Puebla. France was seeking to establish a monarchal
government in Mexico City to help counter U.S. power and acquire
a Central American foothold. So, Cinco de Mayo has nothing [directly]
to do with tequila, but remains a worthy symbol of Mexican unity
and patriotism. I do, however, admire your Mexican nationalism,
especially in view of your Irish, German, African, Swedish and Canadian
heritages, respectively. I would hate to think that the Cinco de
Mayo celebrations in your region—or any region—are crass
commercial contrivances, aimed at profiting from the sale of tequila,
limes, Cointreau (or Triple Sec, depending on taste), special glassware,
salt, chips, salsa, and the like—or that any of you would
fall for such superficiality and miss the true meaning of the occasion.
That would be like considering
the 4th of July in the U.S. as commemorating the invention of pyrotechnics
by the Chinese in the 2nd Century. Imagine.
Another potentially confusing
holiday observance in this region is the annual (November 2) Day
of the Dead wherein the living remember their departed relatives
and celebrate death as a passage to a new life. It’s a beautiful,
joyous ritual of remembrance with ancient roots and is not at all
gruesome or scary.
In other words, the Day of the
Dead has nothing to do with the Day of the Hungover and Lethargic
so popular in your area of the country, and which I presume you
are destined to observe on May 6, following the Night of the Designated
—YOUR FRIEND HERB, Placitas
re: flood control
I agree with Carol Parker that creating Eastern Sandoval County
Arroyo Flood Control Authority was hardly “our idea,”
and would rather say that the County took our concerns over last
summer’s flood damage and the lack of storm water control
as an opportunity to advance their preferred strategy. That said,
I can understand how forming a new Arroyo and Flood Control Authority
is an attractive option for the County. First, it follows in line
with the creation of AMAFCA (Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo and
Flood Control Authority) and SSCAFCA (Southern Sandoval County Arroyo
and Flood Control Authority) as a centralized and independently
funded agency responsible for dealing with storm water control issues
typical of growing urban and/or urbanizing areas. I can’t
speak to the justification of the lax enforcement on the part of
the County regarding storm water ordinances, but such an effort
must present a huge administrative and financial burden. Forming
an FCA bestows the responsibility, concentrates the technical expertise,
and creates a separate and substantial funding stream appropriate
for dealing with a problem of this magnitude.
It’s easy for us to lay blame in hindsight, but the fact
is that storm flows of the extreme levels observed last year dangerously
exposed active pipelines and literally washed away acres of private
real estate. Insufficient storm water regulation and enforcement
can’t be blamed entirely as substantial runoff flows were
contributed to Las Huertas Creek from undeveloped areas (lands to
the north of Camino Rosa de Castilla are a good example of this).
The way the proposal is structured appears fairly community-driven.
The voters will need to support whatever proposal the ESCAFCA group
develops, or the whole program goes away. I believe there’s
also a petition provision that could kill plan implementation with
a sufficient response. One of our shared concerns at Las Placitas
Association (LPA) is that the plan will follow a heavily engineered
and concrete-intensive approach that will spell the demise of the
natural riparian aspects of Las Huertas Creek and its tributary
drainages. We are actively engaged in implementing restoration methods
in the watershed that work with the natural ecology of the landscape
and the Creek, as opposed to overpowering it with concrete-lined
ditches, dams and spillways. The benefit of this approach is that
more storm water is retained in the watershed to nourish riparian
growth and wildlife habitat, and more water goes to groundwater
recharge. We also believe this approach works to enhance the natural
beauty of the Placitas area.
In the aftermath of last year’s monsoon floods, it’s
clear that something other than the status quo is needed in the
Placitas area regarding storm water management. Whatever form this
takes in the near future, Las Placitas Association will continue
to advocate for methods that retain water in our watershed, recharge
our aquifers, and enhance the natural beauty and ecology of the
area that inspire many of us to live here.
—REID BANDEEN, LAS HUERTAS WATERSHED COORDINATOR; PRESIDENT,
LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION
re: county’s priorities?
When I read of the money that has been ineptly squandered by Sandoval
County to provide broadband service and then I see the rapidly deteriorating
conditions of the roads in my neighborhood, roads that have not
been maintained for at least seven years, unless you count dumping
road patch in a few places and letting the automobiles tamp it down,
I can only wonder where the county’s priorities are. Yes,
it would be swell to have access to the Information Super Highway.
But having roads that look like some 3rd world country is a bad
—GARY W. PRIESTER, Placitas
re: RV and boat parking
The Rio Rancho City Council is holding meetings for residents
regarding the parking of commercial vehicles in residential areas.
One of the issues that has arisen during these meetings is the parking
of RVs. Many residents of Rio Rancho have some type of RV or boat
parked at their home. I am concerned that the restriction of RVs
will be one of the results of any law passed regarding commercial
vehicles. Should this occur, there are several factors to consider:
1. If the city passes such a law, how much time will pass before
Sandoval County Commission follows suit?
2. There is insufficient storage space for such vehicles in Rio
Rancho and Sandoval County. And, storage can be costly. Available
land for such storage facilities is inadequate. Available land is
being zoned for housing developments.
3. Many of our residents are couples who live on retirement income
and want to enjoy the use of RVs. We have families who find that
RVing is the least costly way to spend vacations.
4. Many residents have RV parking pads established beside or behind
5. FMCA and Good Sam organizations are extremely interested in the
outcome of the City Council’s action. We spoke to FMCA regarding
the matter today, and I know that others in Sandoval County have
notified these organizations. As RV and/or boat owners, we need
to make our presence known at these meetings. We cannot wait until
a bill reaches the City Council.
—BILLY CORBETT, RIO RANCHO
re: pet dog shot dead by “sick-o”
Attention: All residents north of volcanic dike (Briley Hill)
and south of the ridge above Las Huertas Creek in Placitas. There
is a SICK-O in the neighborhood. Be watchful of all your two- or
I had a dog shot on March 28 between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. A plumber
came and [my dog] ran out to greet him and started to come back
inside, but apparently saw a rabbit and took off like a streak.
After the plumber left, I went to look for him. I found him by my
The second the vet saw him, [he] stated it appeared to be from
a .22 gauge. It entered the left hip, perforated both sides of the
small intestine, and exited the right side.
Needless to say, the dog died a horrible death from peritonitis
while in surgery. This could have been an animal of yours or a person.
Also, my close neighbor had a dog poisoned by rat poison last year.
Fortunately, she survived.
This was a dog all my neighbors would say was “a lover”
and would never be intimidating to any person. Until now, he never
met a human he did not like. As the old TV show said, “Be
careful out there.”
—ARLENE CAMPBELL, Placitas
re: Santa Ana Pueblo and US 550
In the April 2007 issue of the Sandoval Signpost, a letter was
printed from one of our neighbors who serves on the Santa Ana Tribal
Council. He wrote about Highway US 550 being a threat and something
about spiritual significance of a sacred site. What site was he
Was he referring to Tamaya? The Santa Ana-owned hotel/spa/golf
resort whose sole access is off US 550 in Bernalillo? The resort
that’s visited daily by hundreds of vehicles and supply semi
Or was he referring to The Prairie Star Restaurant? The Santa
Ana-owned restaurant whose sole access is off US 550 in Bernalillo?
The restaurant that’s visited daily by gaggles of vehicles
and supply semi tractor trailers?
Or was he referring to the Santa Ana Garden Center? The Santa
Ana-owned plant shop whose sole access is off US 550 in Bernalillo?
The plant shop that’s visited weekly by herds of vehicles
and supply semi tractor trailers?
Was he referring to the Santa Ana Star Casino? The Santa Ana-owned
casino whose sole access is off US 550 in Bernalillo? The Casino
that is visited daily by thousands of vehicles and supply semi tractor
Am I misinterpreting his letter, or is he really saying that the
congestion on US 550 is the neighbors’ problem and that the
Santa Ana Tribal Council is unwilling to even discuss alternatives
to help alleviate US 550 traffic overload as they continue their
Is he really saying that Santa Ana pueblo wants the benefit of
having ALL its business customers use US 550 to access Santa Ana
businesses and is willing to offer nothing in return to help alleviate
the traffic problems in Bernalillo?
If so, the only thing that can be said is, ‘Bad Neighbor,
—ERIC COLLINS, Placitas
Re: “Chamber Chat”
Thanks, Ty, for your thoughtful and thorough article [Chamber
Chat, Signpost, April 2007] concerning various issues and personnel
in three local Chambers of Commerce. I believe you tiptoed through
the tulips very nicely and presented the past and present situation
in a very informative manner.
For the record, I voluntarily served on the Greater Bernalillo
Chamber of Commerce Board from 2002 until December 2006, and I was
involved directly with Mr. Vuillemot during his tenure with the
Chamber. I want to address one aspect of the April Signpost article
concerning Mr. Nick Vuillemot, former Executive Director for the
Greater Bernalillo Chamber of Commerce (GBCofC). The Signpost article
states, “Vuillemot told local media that he was given no credit
for turning around ‘a social club with no structure into a
professional Chamber of Commerce.’” As I recall, Mr.
Vuillemot made his “social club” statement in his final
letter to the Board last May, and it was also carried in the Albuquerque
Mr. Vuillemot’s “social club” statement is very
unfair to the Chamber Board, in my view. While Nick certainly made
a contribution to the growth of the Chamber during his brief tenure,
he was a member of the Board team, and all of us made contributions
in many ways.
Since Mr. Vuillemot’s departure, the Board has worked diligently
in search of a revised direction for the Chamber and its members.
Local business owners need access to health insurance and a voice
not only in the local community but in Santa Fe during legislative
sessions. These are the issues the Board is presently using its
energy to address. Numerous meetings have been held with Rio Rancho
Regional Chamber leaders and local Bernalillo key people such as
Bill Sapien, former Sandoval County Commissioner, and Sandoval County
Manager, Ms. Debbie Hays, among others. At the same time, the Board
has opted to delay billing their 2007 members until it has a concrete
direction to present—a very ethical approach, in my opinion.
Last March through late May, three Board members worked closely
to develop a detailed Executive Director job description and a method
of pay for Mr. Vuillemot. Chamber President Mr. Gary Saiz, Board
Treasurer Mr. Bill Walters, and I spent many hours on these matters.
Mr. Vuillemot lost patience with the time the process was taking.
I understood his impatience with the slowness of our approach and
his decision to leave the Chamber. But his remarks about a “social
club” do not do justice to the energy, time, and interests
of those who voluntarily serve the local business community.
—PHIL MESSURI, Placitas
re: wild horse legislation
In 1974, New Mexico had over six thousand wild horses and burros
on federal lands alone, as per the BLM and Forest Service’s
Joint Report to Congress in 1975. Now it is less than four hundred
on federal lands in New Mexico and fewer on other public lands in
They are an American icon and an integral part of our cultural
heritage and enchantment! Now on to giving them a job—equine
eco-tourism—a clean industry with many rural economic development
possibilities in our beautiful state, supported by the New Mexico
State Tourism Department!
Continued support is needed to move both New Mexico Congressional
Senators toward commensurate federal protections for the Wild Ones.
Please join WHOA [Wild Horse Oberservers Association] in thanking
Governor Richardson for his continued support of the Wild Ones.
Please also join WHOA in thanking Senator Komadina for his four
years of persistence in carrying Wild Horse Bills SB655, SJM8, and
SM13 all to successful completion this year for the horses.
—PATIENCE O’DOWD AND CINDY KING, CO-FOUNDERS OF
Out-of-state corporations play shell game with New Mexico taxes
—NEW MEXICO VOICES FOR CHILDREN
Big, multi-state corporations like Wal-Mart use a variety of methods
to pay less than their fair share of corporate income taxes to the
state of New Mexico, according to a report released today by New
Mexico Voices for Children. The report is called “Corporate
Shell Games: How Wal-Mart and Others Shield Their Profits from New
Some multi-state corporations take advantage of a loophole in
New Mexico’s tax laws that allows them to manipulate their
revenue so the companies appear to make lower profits in New Mexico
than they actually do. The state Taxation and Revenue Department
(TRD) estimates that the loophole costs New Mexico $80 million annually.
Wal-Mart, for example, has used this loophole to play a multi-million
dollar shell game, shifting its profits to a subsidiary in Delaware—where
it was not subjected to corporate income tax.
After New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department ruled that
Wal-Mart owed the state $11.6 million, Wal-Mart devised a new shell
game. The retail giant transferred its real estate holdings to a
trust and now essentially pays rent to itself—which it then
deducts from its tax bill as a ‘business expense,’ even
though that money never leaves the company. The state has also taken
Kmart to court over taxes—and won.
A change in state law would make it much easier to collect the
revenue that’s owed the state. “The solution is simple,”
said Rep. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe). “Change the law to require
‘combined reporting’ and require multi-state corporations
operating in New Mexico to pay corporate tax regardless of how they
do their internal bookkeeping,” he added. Rep. Wirth has sponsored
so-called ‘combined reporting’ legislation in the last
three legislative sessions, but the bills have always died in the
House Business and Industry Committee.
Combined reporting is catching on all over the country, as twenty
states now have such laws. They require multi-state corporations
to ‘combine’ the income from all of their subsidiaries.
A formula is then used to determine how much income tax is owed
“States with combined reporting—Arizona, Colorado,
and California, for example—have enjoyed strong job growth,”
said NM Voices Research Director Gerry Bradley. “Combined
reporting levels the playing field for corporations doing business
only in New Mexico.”
Advocates argue that there’s more to this issue than lost
revenue. There’s also the issue of fairness. Every dollar
that the state fails to collect from a corporation such as Wal-Mart
is a dollar that has to come out of someone else’s pockets—like
those of local businesses or hard-working taxpayers.
“Local New Mexico businesses are paying their fair share
of the corporate tax,” said Rep. Wirth. “Why should
their out-of-state competitors be allowed to pay little or no tax
on the money they make in New Mexico? This is bad economic policy
and makes no sense.”
The “Corporate Shell Games” report was released in
conjunction with Change to Win, a federation of unions dedicated
to improving working conditions and pay for Americans. The report
is available for reading at www.nmfiscalpolicyproject.org.
Heard around the West
MONTANA: Let’s get this straight: Was a
unicorn behind the wheel of a truck that crashed in Billings? A
deputy prosecutor told a judge that story in all seriousness, asking
for a high bond because he thought the driver claimed a unicorn
was driving. But the prosecutor misunderstood a colleague’s
email using the term “unicorn defense”—legal slang
for a defendant who blames anybody but himself for an accident,
reports the Associated Press. In this case, the driver, Philip Holliday
Jr., told police that “an unnamed woman” was driving
when his truck hit a light pole. Holliday has serious problems,
said the county attorney, but hanging out with reckless unicorns
is not one of them.
THE WEST: t’s no secret that riding in the
back of a pickup isn’t safe, but it sure seems like fun to
dogs. They brace their four legs and stand proud, noses sniffing
air redolent of roadkill, and whenever a truck corners, there’s
a little sideways slide to enjoy. Border collies seem most at home
traveling in the open air, maybe because they get to sit on the
very top of bales of hay. But for a Democratic legislator in Colorado,
dog abuse can be defined as allowing unrestrained canines to ride
in truck beds. Her bill to ban the practice provoked a flurry of
letters to several newspapers, but then seemed to go nowhere fast.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, a bill banning children from truck beds—unless
all the seats in the cab are filled—also went down, and not
for the first time. Bills banning kids from truck beds have been
introduced in Arizona for more than twenty years, and each time
they’ve been defeated, reports AZCentral.com. We can see the
bumper sticker now: “Truck Beds, The Last Bastion of Freedom.”
NEVADA: The Stardust Hotel-Casino on the Las Vegas
strip bit the dust in ten seconds on March 13, the 2:30 a.m. demolition
timed to meet few crowds and little traffic. It will be replaced
by a $4 billion fifty-three-hundred-room complex called Echelon.
The Stardust was only middle-aged—48—but that’s
ancient by Las Vegas standards, reports the New York Times. The
resort leaves at least one mourner, twenty-three-year-old Joel Rosales,
whose website, LeavingLV.net, pays tribute to such demolished properties,
including the Dunes, Hacienda, and the Sands. “I am disappointed
that we as a city have no sense of preserving our past and heritage,”
he said, “no matter how tacky or out-of-date it might be.”
There’s nothing like a bunch of twitchy-tailed rodents to
annoy some people. The squirrel population in a Santa Monica park
has mushroomed to one thousand, even though the city has tried poison
and gassing to knock down the numbers and reduce any risk of the
animals spreading disease. But nothing slows the animals’
reproduction rate for long, and since 1998, the city has been cited
five times by Los Angeles County for “squirrel overpopulation.”
So this summer, squirrels in Palisades Park will be injected with
contraceptives, thanks to a birth control program pioneered at Berkeley.
Not everyone agrees there’s a problem: Catherine Rich, described
by the Associated Press as an “animal activist,” pooh-poohs
a health risk. “There is not a pressing threat of squirrels
attacking people,” she said, “so I don’t know
why the county is getting their panties in a bunch.”
Mail carrier Debra Smith, in Parker, Colorado, told Mother Earth
News that she knows something about bird pals: “I’ve
had crows escort my left front bumper, and one of my current ‘buddies’
almost caused a five-car pileup when he momentarily landed on my
head to get my attention.” Smith carries dog food in her pocket
for the crows, who now expect all mail carriers to come similarly
A celebrity made the scene at a rural reservoir in western Colorado,
dropping in by air and preening at all the attention, though at
first she—after determined to be a he—was the one following
people around like a groupie. The charismatic creature was a greater
sandhill crane, a truly big bird at four feet tall. Orphaned at
a young age after his parents and sibling were killed by a dog,
the crane was rescued by a ranch hand and raised along with a flock
of chickens in Nucla, a former uranium mill town. The crane flourished
there for three years, but when his savior was stricken with cancer,
the crane was dropped off at Fruitgrowers Reservoir during “Crane
Days.” The hope was that the bird, dubbed Baby, would bond
with its “fowl-mates.” Instead, the extrovert preferred
hanging out with people who came to watch hundreds of migrating
cranes gathered at the water. The Delta County Independent’s
headline captured the all-too-familiar story of a celebrity’s
descent: “Baby steals our hearts, then checks into rehab.”
In this case, rehabilitation is happening at the Schneegas Wildlife
Foundation in Silt, Colorado. Given Baby’s need for human
companionship and constant attention, the crane’s final destination
might well be a zoo.
Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range,
a service of High Country News in
Paonia, Colorado (email@example.com).
Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared
in the column, Heard around the West.