Sandoval Signpost

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The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: the following rant contains WORDS!

I watch movies ordered on the Internet, that stream from my wireless router to my Blu-ray disc player and onto my large-screen TV. It’s all quite wonderful!

While I eagerly await the evening’s entertainment, I dread the tedious pre-movie legal notices. I am warned in no uncertain terms, should I be so foolish as to attempt to make a copy of a DVD, that I can expect an agent of the FBI, or even the fabled INTERPOL, to arrive at my door and haul me off to prison! For up to 5 years! The fine is more than my home is worth! Then I am informed that the opinions expressed in the commentary (did they mean to say MOVIE?) I am about to view do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sony, or Fox, or Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Anything that enriches lawyers and keeps them off the streets has to be good for the economy. I guess.

What really gets me, however, is how overly protective the MPAA movie ratings have become. Once, it was sufficient to separate out the young and impressionable from the old and impressionable using ratings like R or even X. G was fine for the entire family. PG was more vague, but basically meant that there was just enough bare flesh and/or gratuitous violence to necessitate the presence of an adult. It was so simple. So cut and dried.

But now the MPAA ratings that precede my evening’s streaming entertainment have become more specific. They warn me that the following movie contains NUDITY! Cool! But it is only PARTIAL NUDITY. Rats! The ratings inform me that the movie contains... LANGUAGE! They don’t elaborate, but unless you are watching a silent movie, don’t you think all movies contain some LANGUAGE? Can you remember a movie in which nobody smoked? A rating just the other night warned of SMOKING!!! I almost hit Eject.

Have you ever noticed how many movies contain CHICKENS? Or people riding BICYCLES? Or women wearing HATS? Can the day be far off when we are warned that we about to witness RAW VEGETABLES?

What happens if these ominous warnings spill over into everyday life? Will we be cautioned that the library we are about to enter contains BOOKS? Or that the books MAY contain OPINIONS, or WORDS, or—gasp—LANGUAGE? Or that the local hardware store contains HAMMERS. And NAILS? Chicken Little would have a field day!

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be surprised. Or even deeply offended. I can handle it. Really! I would rather not be treated like some shrinking violet who needs to be coddled and protected from life’s vicissitudes.

To this end, I propose a new rating message—WARNING: Too many warnings may turn your brain to MUSH!

—Gary W. Priester, Placitas


re: Gallup New Mexico’s Indian ceremonial

One of the oldest Native American ceremonials takes place in Gallup, New Mexico. During five days in August, the city of Gallup hosts the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial. Gallup has been hosting this historic and cultural event for the past 89 years.

The drive to Gallup is about a two-and-a-half hours due east of Albuquerque on Interstate 40. If you need a break, Grants is a nice size town with plenty of amenities. 

Most of the events occur in the spectacular Red Rock Park a couple of miles east of Gallup. Throughout the years, many now famous Native American artisans have launched their careers in the exhibit hall. As we perused through the hall, award ribbons were proudly displayed on many of the beautifully crafted pieces of Native art. It was also a perfect opportunity to purchase these prized gems at a fraction of the cost found in most galleries and trading posts. Many emerging artisans and some of the great ones enter their pieces for judging.

The other venue is in the historical Route 66 district of downtown Gallup. Beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday night, the parade encircles the historic district. The streets are lined with thousands of spectators. Vendors with their pushcarts offer everything from cotton candy to flashing lights and bubble guns. The parade hosts at least two Native marching bands and a dozen tribal Native dancers. Beautifully feathered Azteca dancers from Mexico City will dazzle you with traditional steps. Zuni olla maidens with pottery carefully balanced on their heads dance in rhythm to the drumbeat. It is also an opportunity to view contestants from current and past Miss Indian Ceremonial contests. If you miss the Thursday night parade, head downtown on Saturday morning, when they reprise it.

Within the Gallup trading post communities, the ceremonial is an opportunity to acknowledge the great cultural traditions that continue to flourish. When visiting these posts, terms such as dead pawn and cash pawn are used to describe a selection of jewelry, which is now for sale. Originally, people would pawn their pieces for cash or trade, often returning later to reclaim their item. Today, that same process occurs. There is a section in each of the posts for pawn transactions. It is worth the experience to visit a Gallup trading post to view the old architecture and be dazzled by the variety of items for sale. Three trading posts we recommend are Richardson’s Trading Company, Shush Yaz Trading Company, and Perry Null Trading Company; all are conveniently located.

If you are looking for a good place to eat and find some good buys in jewelry, try Earl’s. Located on the east end of Gallup’s Route 66, Earl’s has been a landmark for many years. Artisans set up their booths under the portal and are allowed to visit you at your dining table. If you are looking for some good quality, inexpensive Native American jewelry, you can often find it at Earl’s.

We hope to see you next year at the 90th Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial on August 10-14, 2011.

—Ron Sullivan, Placitas


re: “It takes a village...”

The opening sentence from an ancient African proverb, “It takes a village...to raise a child,” has been routinely borrowed and adapted in the last decade by politicians and activists to apply to everything from health care reform and teacher/parent collaborations to a rallying cry for youth at risk within the foster care system.

Oddly enough, while the concept of collaboration within a community remains true regardless of the size of the group, few politicians speaking from Washington, D.C. or a state’s capitol building actually know what it feels like to live in a village... one where you know your neighbors, share in daily activities, and throw potluck fundraisers and Indian taco dinners when someone within the community is ill or in need.

Although separated only by a highway and a few parcels of land from Rio Rancho, the fastest growing suburb in New Mexico, Placitas—and the Village of Placitas—knows what it means to watch out for one another, and even new residents are quickly sucked in by a community that rallies around its own when times are hard.

And, let’s face it, times are hard, and for a growing number of Placitas and Sandoval County residents, those difficult times are only too apparent when it comes to, well, meal time.

The Casa Rosa Food Bank in Placitas was created two years ago when it became apparent that too many within the community were doing without adequate food and proper nutrition on a regular basis. Initially serving less than thirty individuals each Saturday, within twenty-four months Casa Rosa was serving an average of one hundred forty individuals each week, with numbers spiking sharply as holidays and cold weather set in.

In addition, Casa Rosa “hosts” a mobile food pantry one morning each month that benefits those qualified for assistance but who can live anywhere in Sandoval County, including Rio Rancho.

The rising numbers of those served by Casa Rosa or who are requesting assistance through county and state agencies and directed to Casa Rosa are not terribly surprising; an economic downturn—complete with job layoffs and reductions in income—are often accompanied by individuals and families seeking additional food assistance.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that those facts will be changing anytime soon. Earlier this year, the stimulus programs established by the government to bolster a faltering economy came at a surprising loss of resources to other programs including, ironically, the food stamp program. 

Nearly $12 million was cut from the federal food stamp program even as the need for additional food resources were being requested by small food banks all over the country facing the same spikes in client needs that Casa Rosa was experiencing. 

And lest anyone think that an individual or family already receiving food stamps—a jaw-dropping record 41 million Americans—shouldn’t need the additional services of a Casa Rosa, think again: The average benefit for a food stamp recipient is a whopping $4 per day or $133 a month. Anyone who’s tried to buy milk for a family that includes children or attempted to include fresh produce into the family diet—forget anything labeled “organic”—knows the inadequacy of getting by on $4 a day.

To supplement the needs of their clients, Casa Rosa turned to innovative concepts that relied on a combination of sweat equity and a new kind of math that turns every dollar donated to the food bank into $9 (or more) in food benefits to their clients.

Thanks to a generous $200 donation and the use of an empty field complete with a few mature fruit trees, Casa Rosa—its volunteers and clients—built a community garden that has already this year added fresh cherries, plums, tomatoes, and peppers to Casa Rosa’s available produce. As the season progresses, tomatillos, beans, corn, peas, and squash will join the larder and enrich the food bank’s offerings.

Also, because of Casa Rosa’s relationship with Roadrunner Food Bank (the primary supplier of food products and staples to assistance programs like Casa Rosa within New Mexico), every single dollar donated can translate into an equivalent nine dollars of food. Even by Warren Buffet standards, those are miraculous returns on an investment!

As summer begins edging towards fall and the winter holidays, the needs of Casa Rosa’s clients—your neighbors—begins to shift, and Casa Rosa’s priorities shift with them.

A group of volunteers from Michigan’s Grosse Ile Presbyterian Church voted to come out to New Mexico a week prior to the balloon fiesta to provide volunteer labor in meeting basic structural repair issues at the food bank.  

A Placitas family stepped forward to pledge one hundred turkeys to Casa Rosa in time for Thanksgiving food baskets, and yet other Placiteños have asked how they can help meet the needs of their neighbors over the coming months.  

For those families with children, a lesson in how donating one dollar in savings (or allowance) can equal nine to the benefit of people they know in their community is an important lesson in assessing priorities and “feel good” sharing. 

An entire family’s participation in giving could look as simple as foregoing one night out at the movies in return for a rented video and a donation of the price difference to Casa Rosa. With most tickets costing around $8, a family of four could rent a flick, buy some popcorn, put their feet up on the family coffee table, and still donate $25—or $225 using the one dollar equals nine concept—to benefit their community.

A missed latte here, the proceeds from a garage sale or car wash there translates into better nutrition and food security for a community and village that, in spite of new construction, can proudly trace its history to the early 1700s.

It takes a village...

For more information about Casa Rosa Food Bank and how you can get involved, please contact Executive Director Charlotte Lough at clough7@comcast.net or board member Betsy Model at bmodel@betsymodel.com.

—Betsy Model, Casa Rosa


re: amen for spell-check

Mr. Vigil:

My wife and I visited the new county office complex the other day, and I wanted to say to all those involved in the construction of the new facility: beautiful job, beautiful building.

One thing though: Please tell me the person(s) who designed, constructed, or managed oversight of the construction was not the same individual who oversaw or undertook the lettering on the parking lot.

Do I hear an Amen for spell-check! 

—Harry Gordon, Rio Rancho


re: an open letter to Mayor Tom Swisstack and members of the Rio Rancho City Council

As you all know, I sent you individual e-mails, expressed my views in “Letters to the Editor” in both the Rio Rancho section of the Albuquerque Journal and the Rio Rancho Observer, and came before you on August 11, 2010—all to speak out against Green 2V and diverting road bond money, approved by the voters, to build infrastructure for unspecified future “pie-in-the-sky” developments that may never come to fruition.

Last year, Mayor Swisstack, accompanied by city councilors, held public meetings in each district in the city to build grassroots support to pass a road bond. During these meetings, the mayor expressed his personal concerns about the continuing deterioration of roadways throughout Rio Rancho and how, if voters did not approve the road bond, the results would be disastrous, with serious long term adverse economic consequences for the city. With supporters outspending opponents 10 -1, the road bond passed.

Now, let’s fast forward to 2010. Along comes Green 2V. The city manager tells the 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 became apparent that the Green 2V project is nothing more than “smoke and mirrors,” the city manager tells the council and the media 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.”

Mr. Mayor, Councilors: What happened to the doom and gloom scenario about the consequences of the road bond not passing? To tell voters that the road bond must pass and then to allow the city manager to divert a portion of those monies to something other than what the citizens were promised is just wrong. Where I come from, what the city manager is proposing to do is called “the old bait and switch,” and it is illegal.

The mayor and those councilors who accompanied him to the public meetings promised that the money would be used to repair existing infrastructure if the road bond passed. The map that the city gave citizens who attended those road bond meetings identified the projects that would be undertaken using road bond money. Nowhere is there any mention of building a road and installing a sewer line in support of Green 2V or some future unknown development. In light of what the city manager is attempting to do, citizens should be asking: “The mayor promised this work would be done if the road bond passed. If he and the council renege and use a portion of this money for something else entirely, does this constitute a breach of contract from a legal perspective?”

If any of you Councilors are concerned about what the city manager is doing with these funds, but don’t want to publically challenge his decision, then let the voters decide: Spend the money for what it was intended by the voters, to fix up existing deteriorated roadways, or on new infrastructure. Consider this: Allowing any road bond money to be diverted from its intended use may well have serious consequences the next time the city needs to bring before the voters a bond issue. Your credibility as an effective governing body is at stake in this matter. To paraphrase the old saying, “Cheat me once, shame on you—cheat me twice, shame on me.”

On behalf of the citizens of Rio Rancho, I am asking that you turn down the city manager’s request to divert any money from the road bond, so that the promised repairs can proceed. Remember, this road bond money is our money, not the city manager’s. I look forward to receiving an answer to my questions from you individually or collectively.

—Harry Gordon, Rio Rancho


re: for those people who have no drug insurance

A number of drug companies will provide their own drugs at no cost at all for those who are eligible. Each company has its own eligibility requirements with respect to income and other parameters. To access these opportunities go to http://www.pparx.org/en/prescription_assistance_programs/list_of_participating_programs. Just follow the directions on the Web site to determine if there is a company willing to provide one or more of your drugs at low or no cost. Generally, the drugs available on this program are the more expensive brand name products.

Whether or not you have insurance, another way to save money on prescription drugs is to bring your prescriptions to a “big box” store that has specific prescription drug savings programs. Walmart, Walgreens, and Target (to name a few) have such programs where medication may be obtained for as little as $4 per month or $10 for a three-month supply. These programs have become so popular that even some local independent pharmacies have started similar programs. These drugs are generally the more popular and less expensive generic products.

Still another way to save money on prescriptions is to talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Bring all of your medicines to your health professional, tell them which ones you are having trouble paying for, and ask if there are any less expensive alternatives. This may be simply a generic version of the same drug you are currently using. In this case, your pharmacist may be able to change the product for you on your next refill without contacting your physician. Or there may be a less expensive therapeutic alternative which either you or your pharmacist can discuss with your doctor.

—A Mostly Retired Pharmacist, Placitas

     

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