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letters, opinions, editorials
re: why I will vote against the ESCAFCA bond
At the election on November 4, we will be asked to vote for an
Eastern Sandoval County Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA) Bond.
This Bond vote is also the only chance voters will have to vote
on whether to authorize the creation of a Flood Control District
roughly covering the areas of Algodones, Bernalillo, and Placitas.
The vote is binding. If the Bond passes, the District will, for
all practical purposes, be irrevocably created and exist in perpetuity.
We are told that this flood control district is the will of the
people due to horrible flooding in the area. The reality is that
it is the result of legislation sponsored by Kent Cravens (R) from
Albuquerque and Roger Magdalena (D) from Jemez Pueblo at the direct
request of the Sandoval County government.
I am voting ‘No’ to this Bond and to the creation of
the Eastern Sandoval County Flood Control Authority for the following
reasons and more:
It gives the ESCAFCA board the authority to take your money. According
to Section 22 (I), the “Authority may…levy and cause
to be collected general ad valorem taxes on all property subject
to property taxation within the authority.“ This legislation
allows a 2mil tax rate to be passed at the discretion of the board.
What will this cost you? If your house‘s assessed value is
$100,000, then it will potentially cost you $ 2 times one hundred,
or $200 a year. In other words, you are giving this board the authority
to take that much money from you every year.
It gives the ESCAFCA board the authority to take your land or house
by eminent domain. According to Section 20 (C), the Board may: “exercise
the right of eminent domain, either within or without the authority,
in the manner provided by law for the condemnation of private property
for public use.“ If you own land or a house in Placitas, Algodones,
or Bernalillo, watch out. According to ESCAFCA’s website,
if you have “a roof, pavement, and even disturbance of the
soil,” you are contributing to the floodplain, therefore virtually
all land within the district is potentially subject to being regulated
or taken under this provision. If you have land with irrigation,
springs, wells, waterways, or livestock, you are especially at risk.
It gives the ESCAFCA Board the right to come on your property without
warrant or permission for virtually any reason. According to Section
22 (Y), the Authority may “…enter upon any land, make
surveys, borings, sounding and examinations for the purposes of
the authority…“ By voting for this Bond, you are giving
up your Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted searches of your
It provides no due process to any affected individual. In the entire
seventy-five pages of the Eastern Sandoval County Flood Control
Act, there is no mention of due process or an appeal mechanism for
Board decisions. They are final.
The election process is blatantly unfair. The ESCAFCA Board is
using thousands of taxpayer’s dollars to promote the passage
of this Bond with a website, yard signs, and newspaper ads. This
is blatantly unfair to those people who are opposed to this Bond.
Their tax dollars are being spent to support an election issue that
they are opposed to. It does not get more unfair than that.
The ESCAFCA Act allows for ESCAFCA to be incorporated with another
flood control entity. Your tax dollars may end up going to projects
in Rio Rancho if ESCAFCA combines with SSCAFCA in Rio Rancho. Section
38 (C) gives Powers of Public Bodies…[power to] “…enter
into any agreement or joint agreement between or among the federal
government, the authority and any other public body, or any combination
thereof, extending over any period not exceeding fifty years…“
The current ESCAFCA board that approved this bond issue contains
five unelected board members (directors) who are political appointees.
The Act calls for the election of five board members. Shouldn’t
we elect board members first and then let the elected members decide
on the need for a bond issue? According to Section 10, “Election
of Officers: At the time that a proposal to incur debt is first
submitted to the qualified electors or at the first general election
next following the effective date of Eastern Sandoval County Flood
Control Act, whichever comes first, the qualified electors of the
authority shall elect five qualified directors.“
The argument for this authority is that we have occasional flooding
problems in the Bernalillo, Algodones, and Placitas areas, so we
need the authority. How is it that we have fire protection without
a Fire Authority, roads without a Road Authority, and police without
a Police Authority? Flood control is Sandoval County government’s
responsibility, and it does not require a new level of government.
ESCAFCA is not necessary and will harm the citizens of the area
with more taxes, more bureaucracy, and less individual rights. Please
vote ‘No.’ If we vote down this bond, we will put an
end to ESCAFCA once and for all.
According to Section 35, “…if the first proposal for
the issuance of bonds fails to receive a favorable vote by a majority
of the qualified electors voting on the proposal, the board shall
proceed to dissolve the authority.“
re: ESCAFCA rumors
I am writing to dispute several rumors that have been circulating
regarding the Eastern Sandoval County Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA).
I will address each rumor and then the facts below:
Rumor: The legislation governing ESCAFCA gives
the board the authority to take your money.
Fact: ESCAFCA will only be able to assess mill
levies based on voter approval every four years. The first mill
levy is being voted on this November 4th. Unfortunately, to build
and maintain flood control facilities costs money, and a small increase
in property taxes to plan for the future will be a lot less expensive
than having to rebuild a community because of flooding.
Rumor: The ESCAFCA board has the right to take
your land or house by eminent domain.
Fact: ESCAFCA will not take property nor utilize
eminent domain at will. ESCAFCA will follow the same guidelines
as both AMAFCA and SSCAFCA (Albuquerque and Sandoval County’s
flood control authorities). The statute allows for purchasing property
when necessary to build flood control facilities—it does not
mean you or any property owner is at risk of losing your property.
When private property is taken, there is a legal process involved,
which requires that the landowner receive full value based upon
one or more competent appraisals. Property is purchased; not taken.
Rumor: The ESCAFCA Board has the right to come
on your property without warrant or permission for virtually any
Fact: Again, ESCAFCA would come on your land—with
permission—to survey, study, or look for solutions to flooding
issues. This is not a free-for-all come on your property for no
reason. We will have neither the staff nor the inclination to do
Rumor: ESCAFCA provides no due process to any
Fact: Much like AMAFCA and SSCAFCA board meetings
are run, ESCAFCA meetings will always be open to the public. No
decisions will be made without public input. Due process rights
are established by the state and federal Constitutions and cannot
be taken away by the ESCAFCA legislation.
Rumor: The ESCAFCA election process is blatantly
Fact: ESCAFCA was funded by the state from its
general fund. The funding of ESCAFCA for the last two years was
paid for by legislation that passed in 2006. The money that has
been used for the bond election does not tell people how to vote,
but rather gets information out to voters in the form of the website
and informational fliers. A separate bond committee was established
that raised funds from private entities. That committee purchased
yard signs, which were not paid for with taxpayer dollars.
Rumor: The ESCAFCA Act allows for ESCAFCA to be
incorporated with another flood control entity. Your tax dollars
may end up going to projects in Rio Rancho if ESCAFCA combines with
SSCAFCA in Rio Rancho.
Fact: The intent is to have ESCAFCA partner with
other entities to obtain additional funding to maximize the opportunities
for the region. ESCAFCA will not be merging with SSCAFCA. If SSCAFCA
provided adequate services for the Eastern Sandoval County area,
there would be no reason to create another entity. SSCAFCA’s
jurisdiction doesn’t cover Eastern Sandoval County, which
is why we need our own flood control authority.
Rumor: The current ESCAFCA board that approved
this bond issue contains five unelected board members (directors)
who are political appointees.
Fact: For the first term, the board members are
appointed. Future board members will be elected.
Every major area in the state has set up a flood control authority
when development has reached a certain level. Albuquerque was first,
followed by Las Cruces, followed by Sandoval County. With the tremendous
growth of the Eastern Sandoval County area, it is now time for a
flood control authority. Without one, there will be no systems in
place to assure responsible building and growth, there will be no
entity accountable for flood control, and no entity watching to
protect our wildlife and open spaces. The formation of ESCAFA will
allow all these things to happen in a cost-effective and efficient
If people have additional questions, they can go on our website
at www.escafca.com or call
me at (505) 261-4444.
—JOAN GRIFFIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ESCAFCA
re: huge property tax increase—for what?
On October 11, I attended a workshop to discuss the Eastern Sandoval
County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA). It is very clear
that ESCAFCA is needed simply because Sandoval County has not been
doing what it has been paid by us to do: manage development in a
manner that protects the community from flooding, and repair damage
to infrastructure that has been damaged by floods caused by that
failure of management.
So, the ESCAFCA solution is to tax the homeowners of Placitas,
east Bernalillo, and Algodones to the tune of $231 additional annually
for a $350,000 (market value) home, or $462 additional annually
for a $700,000 home. (Note: the ballot doesn’t mention these
And this ESCAFCA solution includes staffing a brand new layer of
bureaucracy (as if we needed another one of those), hiring an engineering
firm, repairing infrastructure, and writing and enforcing a new
set of rules and regulations to replace the ones that the County
has not been enforcing. Oh, yes, the ESCAFCA plan includes coming
to us for more money in the future—these kinds of bureaucracies
My interpretation is that this board has no business plan; no financial
plan; no operations plan; no engineering plan; no staffing plan.
And they want us to fund this whimsy?
We do not need ESCAFCA! We need the County to do its job with the
money we have been giving it all these years.
All of us in eastern Sandoval County have the opportunity to vote
‘No’ on ESCAFCA on November 4. The ballot entry is titled
“Flood Control Bond Question.”
And while I’m at it, we need to take a close look at the
Hospital mill levy—an even bigger tax bite to the tune of
$591 additional for a $500,000 (market value) home! Combined with
the ESCAFCA levy, watch your property taxes climb!
Aside from your monthly cash flow, consider the impact on your
property value—the first thing a prospective buyer asks is,
“What are the property taxes?” In this market, do we
need more downward pressure on property values?
—JERRY BLINN, Placitas
re: my view of the bailout
By late last month, the Bush Administration presented Congress
with a three-page proposal calling for a $700 billion taxpayer-funded
bailout to deal with the continuing crisis. Two weeks later, Congress
passed and President Bush signed a revised 451-page law that did
too little for homeowners, too much for executives, and nothing
to prevent Wall Street from making the same mistakes that caused
I voted against the bailout both times.
The first bill deservedly failed to pass the House. The second
bill was nearly identical to the first, with the exception of several
unrelated provisions added by the Senate. Those provisions convinced
many of my colleagues in the House to switch their votes and approve
the same bailout they had rejected a few days earlier.
Now, taxpayers are on the hook for $700 billion to bail out Wall
Street, the very people whose irresponsibility helped to undermine
America’s economy and threaten the jobs and life savings of
millions of American families.
Make no mistake: America’s economy is in serious trouble.
Eight years of reckless fiscal mismanagement by the Bush Administration—policies
my opponent in the Senate race, Steve Pearce, supports—are
coming home to roost.
By appointing people who disdain regulation to oversee the American
economy, President Bush let the foxes guard the regulatory henhouse
in Washington. With little to no oversight, financial institutions
and investment houses were encouraged to take huge gambles with
our money, affecting the pension funds and retirement savings of
Meanwhile, bankers and mortgage lenders eager to make a quick buck
or commission were encouraged to make risky loans and engage in
predatory practices. Families with low income, bad credit, or both,
were encouraged to take out high-risk loans. Wall Street bankers
then repackaged those loans beyond all comprehension and pawned
them off as trustworthy investments to anyone willing to buy.
Now, those investments are going bad and the risk-taking has come
to an end. Banks are refusing to lend each other money and investors
who own the mortgages can’t find anyone to buy them. Small
businesses are having trouble getting credit. Trust in our financial
system has collapsed. Trust in our government has collapsed. And
who could blame us for losing trust?
The Bush Administration has spent eight years using fear and distortion
to deceive the American people. This administration misled the American
people in order to take us into a war that has cost more than four
thousand American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
We were told the imminent threat in Iraq required quick passage
of war authority to the president, no questions asked. We were told
imminent threats to our safety required rapid passage of the PATRIOT
Act, turning over extraordinary powers to the president, no questions
asked. And with the bailout, we were told imminent disaster required
our turning over unprecedented power to the treasury secretary,
no questions asked.
I voted against those requests and I voted against this one because
we cannot let fear and artificial timelines drive our decision-making.
Our solutions should meet the demands of the day without producing
greater hardship in the future.
The bailout bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President
Bush is rife with problems: In a sadly familiar sight, the bill’s
oversight provisions amounted to little more than a Congressional
rubber stamp. These should have been strengthened.
Instead of bailing out Wall Street investors, the bill should have
helped responsible homeowners by allowing them to renegotiate their
mortgages in bankruptcy court. This would have directly addressed
the root cause of the problem—risky mortgages gone bad—while
helping responsible families stay in their homes.
Meanwhile, many of the corporate executives who ran their companies
into the ground can still walk away with millions in taxpayer-funded
golden parachutes and lavish compensation packages. New Mexicans
and Americans everywhere should be angered that the bill falls short
on such a basic question of fairness.
When the Bush Administration presented its three-page proposal,
more than four hundred economists wrote Congress a letter urging
them to take time to pass a good bill that addressed the underlying
problems. On this measure, the bill again fell short, doing nothing
to strengthen regulation to prevent Wall Street from making the
same mistakes again.
These shortcomings and others were simply too much for me to justify
placing $700 billion of taxpayer money at risk in exchange for an
uncertain solution. It was a difficult vote, one of the hardest
I’ve ever cast, but it was the right vote for New Mexico’s
Third District, the people of New Mexico, and our country.
—TOM UDALL, U.S. Representative, New Mexico’s Third
Re: An accident waiting to happen
What most people say when they drive into the Algodones Contract
Postal Unit is, “Why would anyone put our post office at this
location, this just is not right?”
That is a good question since it is so dangerous and difficult
for Algodones residents to get their mail. Any person going to the
post office has to drive down a long, narrow 13.7 ft. wide single
lane alley. There are four or five parking spaces available to serve
a facility that has over three hundred post office boxes. If you
are on foot you must share the alley with the cars and trucks that
are entering and exiting the narrow single lane entrance. No protection
exists, so you are sandwiched between the building and traffic passing
by just inches away.
Everyday, people complain about near misses in the parking lot
and the driveway. A few weeks ago a man said he came inches from
hitting a small child that walked out in front of his truck in the
Over 387 people from Algodones, San Felipe, and Sandoval County
signed a petition in November of 2007 asking the U.S. Postal Service
not to move their Post Office to its present location. They were
ignored even though federal law states that the wishes of the local
people must be considered when moving a post office.
The Algodones postal unit violates several Sandoval County laws
such as the 20-foot minimum driveway/fire access width, and it has
no separate off-street parking area for large delivery trucks. The
current owner of the Algodones Postal Unit signed a federal contract,
which is legally binding, stating that her building complies with
all county, state, and federal laws. It does not!
The U.S. Postal Service says the current Postal location was selected
because it has ample parking and good access. They also claim that
they are exempt from all safety and zoning laws even though they
are unable to produce a copy of that law. Even if the Postal Service
were exempt from our laws, why did they choose such a dangerous
and inadequate facility? Why was the postal contract given to the
highest bidder when other lower priced locations were available
that had safe access and plenty of parking?
The Federal Court Case challenging the Post Office move has now
been moved to the Colorado Federal Claims Court. Let us hope that
the Federal Judge there will move the postal unit to a safe location
before someone is killed or permanently injured. Our governments
are supposed to protect us and look after our best interests. In
this case they failed the people of Algodones, San Felipe Pueblo,
and Sandoval County. We have been ignored, inconvenienced, and needlessly
Please do not take our word for this. Come and see the Algodones
Postal Unit entrance and parking lot for yourself. You can help
Algodones get a safe postal facility by signing the new petition
at the Algodones Market front counter. It will also help if you
call or write the below listed officials and let them know about
any safety issues you have witnessed and your feelings about the
current postal facility.
- Albuquerque United States Postal Service Consumer Affairs -
- Algodones Contract Postal Unit - 505-867-3283
- United States Postal Service Consumer Affairs
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260-0004
—ALAN TOORAEN, Algodones
re: voting the straight party
I thought it would be helpful if folks knew that concerning the
election ballot this November, those who like to just vote “straight
party” can also go down the ballot and vote for other individual
candidates. These choices will override their straight party choice.
I remind folks of this only because we have a third-party candidate
running for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC).
He is Rick Lass, the Green Party’s candidate for PRC. He
is independent-minded, and the most qualified man for the job. He’ll
look after the interests of the people of New Mexico over that of
big business. He wants to stimulate New Mexico’s economy with
jobs through growth in the solar and wind power industries. And
he will work hard to keep everyone’s utility rates fair.
If you just fill in the “Straight Party” option, you
will miss out on the chance to vote for a great consumer advocate
for New Mexico.
—CARL HANSEN, Madrid
re: Signpost article on the removal of the Placitas
segment of the BLM from the West-Wide Energy Corridor
In the October Signpost, Ty Belknap had a lengthy report
on the removal of the Placitas segment of the BLM from the West-Wide
Energy Corridor. However, one important supporter for the removal
of the Placitas segment was not included in the report.
Early this year, we informed Congressman Steve Pearce that the
Placitas BLM segment was included in the West-Wide Energy Corridor,
and that Placitas residents were opposed to its inclusion and concerned
about future environmental impacts. Congressman Pearce’s staff
member Ron Morsbach was asked to attend our first public meeting
at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Mr. Morsbach drove up from
Socorro and attended the April 5th meeting at Las Placitas Presbyterian
Church, and then forwarded Placitas residents’ concerns and
comments to Congressman Pearce.
As the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral
Resources, Congressman Pearce actually chaired the April 15th Joint
Oversight Hearing on the West-Wide Energy Corridor Process: State
and Community Impacts. Following that oversight hearing, Congressman
Pearce wrote the following letter to Mr. Luke Johnson, Deputy Director
for Programs and Policy.
Dear Director Johnson,
Thank you again for testifying today before the House Natural Resources
Committee on the Section 368 West-Wide Energy Corridor program.
I appreciated your candor and comments before the Committee.
I wanted to follow up with regard to a specific section of corridor
designated in New Mexico around the community of Placitas (80-273)
just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I believe the result of
today‘s hearing was the clear understanding that the small
sections, like the Placitas corridors, are not particularly helpful
for addressing our national corridor solutions.
Small sections like this without the corresponding private land
pieces are unlikely to solve our energy transmission problems. As
a result, I would strongly urge the BLM to review the decisions
that lead to the inclusion of these small sections into the Section
368 process and consider at least removing the Placitas piece of
the corridor designations.
Thank you again for your time and attention to this matter.
Member of Congress
Along with my fellow Placitas residents, we have watched the progress
of this issue with great interest and we were thrilled to learn
that Congressman Pearce’s recommendation to remove the Placitas
segment was accepted by the BLM. All Placitas residents should applaud
and thank Congressman Steve Pearce for listening to our concerns
and recommending the removal of the Placitas segment from the West-Wide
Energy Corridor plans.
—BARBARA AND KEN LONGEWAY, Placitas
re: to everyone who helped locate my horse, Lily
I’d like to express my thanks and appreciation for your help.
I started out on my own following her tracks, but then lost them
around the Ranchos water tank. Then Ted Woods offered to drive around
the area to help out. After some searching in the area, Ted’s
wife Janet called about a “Horse Found” sign she saw
at the entrance to Ranchos. Ted called the number, and the rest
Lily was found grazing around the Placitas Fire Station by Fire
Engineer Jerry Malloy, who called Chief Brinkerhoff for advice,
since he had experience with horses. Jerry called Brian Frank at
Sandoval County Animal Control, who contacted horse people, Paul
and Patrice on Tunnel Springs Road. Patrice came to the station
with a halter and lead for Brian, who walked Lily to Patrice’s
place, where she had space to hold her.
This was over a three-mile walk, but Brian said he needed the exercise.
I called him later for more information and he mentioned there was
some humor in it during Lily’s visit to the Fire Station when
he gave her some water from his snake-trapping bucket. She immediately
knocked it over, which concerned him since he realized it probably
smelled of snakes. I assured him that unless her water buckets are
tied down, she always knocks them over.
Thanks also to Jim Sartor who did some tracking East of Juniper.
And thanks to Carol McKinley. If anyone else was involved, please
contact me through the Signpost. Thanks again to all.
—ANNE AND LILY, Placitas