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
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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
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: Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade deserves praise (and
Recently my husband and I were traveling back to Placitas from
a trip to Albuquerque, when we rounded the corner of the S-curve
and spotted a motorcycle out of control sliding to a stop on its
side. As we came upon the scene we noticed the rider covered in
blood and obviously in pain.
What really surprised us was the rapid arrival of the Placitas
rescue vehicle. Out jumped its driver and he immediately went to
providing medical care to the motorcycle rider. Before we could
render much assistance, he was joined by other members of the rescue
group (one was wearing a Placitas fire-and-rescue shirt). They arrived
even before the sheriff’s deputy or a Bernalillo rescue truck.
My husband and I were amazed by their professional manner and the
rapid treatment the group rendered the rider.
I was mindful of a recent visit to our house by the Placitas Fire
Department soliciting donations and giving us house numbers. Sheepishly
I remembered tossing their donation envelope aside, thinking our
annual donation to the Salvation Army was money better spent. But
after witnessing the accident in our “backyard” and
the rapid and professional treatment given by the Placitas folks,
we’re rethinking that donation request.
Could you give us the correct address to send that donation to?
Thank you. And thank you, volunteers, that make up the Placitas
—M. GARRISON, Placitas
Editor’s Note: Placitas Volunteer Fire Department
address for donations is P.O. Box 567, Placitas, NM 87043, or you
can download a donation form at www.placitasfireandrescue.com
under Contact Us. Their nonemergency number is 867-5080.
re: pro-Intel “County Line”
On reading Sandoval County Commission chairman William Sapien’s
opinion piece [in the October 2005 Signpost] on Intel’s $16
billion bond deal, the message I got loud and clear was this: it’s
a done deal, get over it, other states and countries shell out far
more to industry to keep jobs than you’ve had to, and you
should be glad for the half a loaf that you got.’
Sapien points out that Intel’s $16 billion industrial-revenue
bond approved a year ago by the county is “fast becoming ancient
Not “ancient history” and definitely not mentioned
as one of those “benefits” that “keep getting
better with time” is the county’s current and desperate
need for new schools in Rio Rancho. The $95 million ($15 million
of which has already been earmarked for Daymon Ely’s train
set) won’t even make a dent in what will be needed to build
new schools, not to mention added demands for municipal services,
sewage treatment, fire and police protection, water (there’s
a whole other story!), garbage collection, etc, etc.
Intel got $2 billion in tax breaks on the $16 billion deal. What
percentage of that is $95 million? You do the math; my calculator
can’t handle that many zeros.
The county did no formal economic analysis when it approved the
bond deal in September 2004, but two months earlier, with little
fanfare, a study came out from the New Mexico Bureau of Business
and Economic Research that showed the 1995 $8 billion IRB cost Sandoval
County $15 million in tax breaks for 2002 alone. Sandoval County
and Rio Rancho both have had to cut budgets. The bureau projected
net losses of $225 million over the fifteen-year life of the $8
billion bond—almost ten times the $27 million net loss originally
Yes, it just keeps getting better with time! Once again the taxpayers
of Sandoval County are forced to subsidize our local corporate-welfare
queen, one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.
One more point: the commentary states that the terms of the bond
agreement “were deliberated fully in public and extensively
reported by the news media before, during and after the Commission
gave its approval.” This is a lie. The deal was deliberated
behind closed doors by Mr. Ely while he was serving on the task
farce that exonerated Intel for its pollution of the air we breathe.
Mr. Ely was recently censured by our state attorney general for
violating the Open Meetings Act and came within a whisker of being
hauled up on charges.
If I were Mr. Sapien, who I think is good and decent man, I would
be embarrassed to have my name appear as the author of this whopper.
Whoever did write it should be ashamed of themselves. We don’t
need this type of Beltway BS in our local government.
—BARBARA ROCKWELL, Placitas
re: intelligent design
In the ongoing debate concerning the teaching of evolution verses
intelligent design I find that an interesting dynamic has emerged.
Those who support the position of teaching “evolution only”
have taken on the mantle of orthodoxy with a fervor no less than
those who supported the “world is flat” theory of Galileo's
Let's be clear. Evolution, as a description of the origin of life,
is a theory not an established scientific fact as some would propose.
While it may be true that some species have evolved into somewhat
different varieties of the same species, i.e., cottontails and jackrabbits,
no one really knows with absolute certainty how different forms
of life originated. Where did fish come from? Where did reptiles
come from? Where did birds come from? Where, in fact, did man come
from? Science currently provides no absolutely certain answers to
Why is it then that the “evolutionists” take the intolerant
position that no other theory for the origin of life is possible?
Or that no other theory for the origin of life can be taught to
our children in school? With all the intolerance of the orthodox
thinkers of Galileo's day or the Talibanic zealots of today they
want to deny our students the opportunity to explore alternative
theories. “You must believe what we believe,” they say.
It was my understanding (or perhaps misunderstanding) that childhood
education was about teaching critical thinking skills not the simple
parroting of someone else's beliefs. Nuclear scientists speak of
“atomic theory” because they know how little they really
know about their area of science. Evolutionists, on the other hand,
arrogantly proclaim they know the answers to the origin of life,
and no one is allowed to challenge them, let alone suggest to our
children that there is an alternate theory. How sad for our children!
It makes me wonder, What are they so afraid of?
—MIKE LAFAVE, Placitas
re: Where did birds come from?
A "repentant fossil poacher" led researchers to a remote
spot in east-central Utah recently, where they found the fossil
remains of a dinosaur that shows a definite link between an ancient
plant-eating creature and modern birds. A mesa top held the jumbled
remains of "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of the creatures,
says The Denver Post. The dinosaur, which featured four-inch talons
on each front leg, had a big belly and resembled a "meat-eater
gone to seed."
—BETSY MARSTON, Colorado
[For a more in-depth report explaining the dinosaurs’
relationship to birds, see the Washington Post, May 5, at http://saltlakecity.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp%2Ddyn/content/article/2005/05/04/AR2005050401397.html]
re: open letter to Rio Rancho Public School science teachers
Throughout our nation a well-funded and aggressive campaign is
underway to dissolve the legal barriers between church and state
that have for so long protected our country from religious discrimination.
The interests behind this campaign aim to see government endorse
a particularly narrow version of Christianity and make it the standard
for religious belief in America. Their movement is as un-American
as it is arrogant and self-serving.
Unfortunately, it appears that certain members of the Rio Rancho
Board of Education sympathize with this movement and have chosen
to make your classroom a battleground for their political campaign.
With the recently-passed Policy 401, they intend to open a breach
for a subtle version of creationism called “intelligent design”
to be studied in the science classroom on par with and in contradiction
to one of the most widely accepted theories in science today: evolution.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico is committed
to stopping this from occurring. We wish to support RRPS science
teachers as they struggle to provide their students with a legitimate
Teachers should not be afraid to refuse to discuss or teach intelligent
design in their science classes. Any teacher who is disciplined
in any way for declining to discuss or teach intelligent design
should contact the ACLU immediately at (505) 266-4622.
Students are being prompted to provoke discussions leading to
intelligent design in your classroom. The ACLU would urge you to
respond with a brief comment on why intelligent design is not science—and
therefore not appropriate material for the science classroom—and
then direct the class to legitimate science curriculum.
From the National Academy of Sciences to the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, the most revered bodies of professional
scientists have condemned intelligent design as “unscientific”
and “improper to include as part of a scientific education.”
To devote science class time to intelligent design would be to violate
the requirement in RRPS Policy 401 that science educators “teach
an objective science education . . . that upholds the highest standards
of empirical science.”
The teaching of intelligent design as a scientific theory also
would violate students’ rights under the religious Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
If teachers of philosophy or religious studies wish to examine
intelligent design as a system of religious belief, they should
be sure to balance their discussion with the study of other religions.
To focus only on intelligent design to the exclusion of other religions
would give rise to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have questions
regarding this memo. Your First Amendment rights are our concern.
—PETER G. SIMONSON, PH.D., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN
CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
Pombo takes on the Endangered Species Act
For the twelfth time in eight years, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-California,
is attempting to reform one of the nation’s key environmental
laws, the Endangered Species Act. And this time, the chairman of
the House Resource Committee, a strong advocate for private property
and business interests, may get what he wants. On September 29,
the U.S. House of Representatives approved his Threatened and Endangered
Species Recovery Act, which proposes far-reaching changes to the
Most significantly, Pombo’s bill repeals the requirement
to protect "critical habitat"—the home territories
of endangered or threatened creatures. It also allows the Secretary
of the Interior, a political appointee, to determine what science
can be used to make decisions about a protected species. And federal
agencies and industry may now be allowed to harm imperiled species,
through actions such as building roads, without first consulting
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries.
Pombo’s bill requires that recovery plans be developed within
two years of a species’ listing; currently, no timeline exists
for creating recovery plans. However, the bill says that recovery
plans are now "non-regulatory," meaning that they’re
no longer enforceable. For recovery on private land, the bill proposes
voluntary agreements and federal payments to landowners. The bill
further orders the federal government to compensate property owners
who lose land value or potential profit because of the act’s
requirements. Federal courts have previously limited compensation
for property "takings" to cases where the owner lost all
use and benefits of the property—not for partial loss. Critics
have long argued that the Endangered Species Act encourages landowners
to "shoot, shovel, and shut up," killing endangered species
on their property to avoid potential land-use restrictions. The
Pombo measure passed 229-193, with support from 36 Democrats, mostly
from rural Western districts where changes in the law are considered
On other fronts, Pombo floated draft legislation in September
that included provisions to force the sale of 15 national parks
and require the Park Service to raise $10 million annually by hawking
advertising space on its maps and buses.
Pombo spokesman Brian Kennedy says that those proposals were not
meant to be taken seriously. Instead, they appear to be bargaining
chips to get drilling access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Nevertheless, "we view selling parks as a real threat,"
says Craig Obey, vice president of the National Parks Conservation
Association. He fears that a parks sale may reappear in the future,
as Congress becomes ever more desperate to fund big-ticket items
like the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort and the Iraq war.
High Country News (www.hcn.org)
covers the West's communities and natural-resource issues from Paonia,