CORE: We Want All of Edgewood

Not satisfied with winning the giant prevarication election (which cost Edgewood and its citizens in the neighborhood of $50,000), the leaders of CORE and their fellow travelers want the whole kettle of fish. Apparently some amount of fish is still left from their scaly actions during the cratering of Edgewood.

Although the details of an Attorney General’s opinion, the contents of a local noted attorney’s letter, and the published law leaves no doubt as to what spoils they are entitled to, they continue to push for the resignation of two councilors and the mayor, when they would be better off calling for the same from the remaining two councilors—and for Edgewood to dump their investigation into acquiring Epcor.

I have wondered if that giant Canadian water company (Epcor) has paid the expenses racked up by CORE for its campaign. You know Epcor, the water mining and cash export company operating in Edgewood and other parts of New Mexico. Is it possible they provided the money for the fancy CORE campaign? CORE’s campaign included expensive and elaborate brochures, fancy and framed large signs and countless attorney hours.

Has any money, aside from regular dues, accrued to our local chamber of commerce from Epcor? If so, how much?

Epcor is the same company claiming to have conducted a survey of 40 Edgewood citizens. That is a ridiculously small number to survey out of more than 3,000 citizens. Ostensibly, the results of the survey were to inform the rest of Edgewood’s 3,000-plus citizens that we were insane to pay $10 additional per month for treated water which would actually taste and perform as water should. After living here going on 36 years and buying three water softeners, countless bags of salt, at least 2,000 drinkable bottles of water, and spending hundreds of dollars for soap and detergent, I can tell you I would be delighted to pay an extra $10 a month for actual water treated by Epcor instead of my treating it. Apparently, the survey was a straw man meant to heat up the discussion regarding the purchase of Epcor.

Another question for CORE and Epcor. What will happen when/if Edgewood starts on a path of real growth? Does Epcor have sufficient wet water to provide for the growth? If not, are they prepared to purchase additional water rights? Do they have plans to drill new wells if the present wells are depleted? If not, where will the needed water come from? What if the aquifer is pumped dry, never mind a well or two? Will Epcor have the means and desire to arrange for water to be piped from some lake or reservoir? Perhaps we can look to Clovis, which has 16 contaminated wells. Is Epcor drilling new wells? The answer is no. Clovis had to raise property taxes a substantial amount. Not to drill wells, but to construct a pipeline from Ute Lake, which is more than a few miles from Clovis. The cost for the pipeline, rumor has it, is $50 million or more.

Edgewood will be treated similarly when our water supply is threatened. Epcor is not our friend. They are a water mining company.

Chuck Ring, Former Edgewood Councilor

 

Dealing with Parenting in a Covid World

“An unprecedented time,” a phrase that has been heard a lot in the Covid world that is 2020.

Unprecedented, never done or known before. Seems fitting for what has felt like the ultimate fight or flight of my life. I have always prided myself of being a levelheaded and best foot forward person. I have always worked very hard to achieve the best that I can, while also being okay saying I do not know how to do this, please teach me.

When we began transitioning into quarantine, being lucky enough to work from home, I stepped into this unprecedented world optimistic. I felt confident in my ability to be successful, things even felt like they would be easier. No more driving to work, no more juggling child care, and how hard could home schooling really be.

I had experienced depression in my life before and had found many ways to support my mental health, being aware that it was something I was prone too. I was completely unprepared for a new level of overwhelming and fully encompassing feelings that came. The worst thing was that it felt like failing. This should be easy, being a house spouse; cooking, cleaning, teaching, are not something “hard” and my workload is not any different than it has ever been. However, here I am, hiding in my bathroom crying because I feel like I am failing on all fronts.

I have been lucky to have support and people who can assure me that I am not failing, that change can be uncomfortable, but it is okay to struggle to make things work. What I keep coming across in my conversations with other parents is the lack of support or understanding of others. So many times, I have heard, “Your child education should come first! Why are you working and not responding to the email we sent 15 minutes ago to get into the class that started 10 minutes ago?” and “What do you mean you don’t know how to teach 4th grade history? You didn’t retain your entire public school education?”

This is a huge problem to me, that shame is the go-to. That in this unprecedented time, there is shame to be spread to people who are doing their best to adjust to something they have never faced before. Like I said, I have been so blessed with understanding and support and have had great experience with teachers, because I know that they too are trying their very best to do something new. Even with the best support I still am experiencing crippling depression and anxiety, it presses down on me like a giant elephant rampaging around the house that used to be my escape and is now my constant reality.

My ask—or pleading on my knees—is that we all take a minute when preaching about this unprecedented time to dig deep and stop shaming. Take a minute before you tell a parent or just a person that “it’s not that hard, it’s not that big of a deal, ‘in my day’,” that this is unprecedented, it is brand new and most people are doing their best. Maybe instead of telling them it isn’t that hard, ask “How can I help?”

Julia Castle, Moriarty

 

Open letter to Sandoval County on La Madera Fire Department

Sandoval County Commissioners, State Fire Marshall: I have written before about the lack of respect and caring for our small area in the East Mountains, far away from the seat of power in Sandoval County. In the past, for example, Chief Masterson fired all 18 of our volunteers on his own, without any prior discussion. And here we are again.

The County has taken our Brush Truck #28 and, without even asking or discussing it with us, sent it to the West Coast, from which it may never return. Interestingly, the Tecolote Auxilliary helped to fund the purchase of this truck, and thus it would be a simple courtesy to discuss this before re-allocating it and dispatching it to California.

We are now without a wildland response vehicle in the district. Our volunteer fire department is supposed to be the backup to the Forest Service and a means to protect this community. They no longer have those means. Our wildland firefighters can no longer deploy with their biggest asset. The county chiefs obviously believe they can arbitrarily do what they want with our equipment, irrespective of the blood, sweat, and tears our community has put into our facility and vehicles. A very sad statement when you have 20 volunteers at your beck and call for 24/7. Our volunteers live to get up at 2 a.m. when the pager goes off to be at our side when needed, but the politics are killing them, and us.

This is yet another attempt by the county to demean our fire district and try to convince our volunteers to quit. This harassment by the county needs to stop. They can no longer continue as is. Unless we figure out a new path forward, decide to incorporate, or ask for some kind of conservatorship, the La Madera Volunteer Fire Department may well be stabbed in the back—again.

I am therefore opposing the micromanagement of the Sandoval Fire Chief, and I am hereby asking for redirecting the duties and authority of the County and its Fire Chief.

Based on all your previous actions, we know that Sandoval County is not deeply concerned about our small corner at the far reaches of the County. But we pay our taxes, and we are deeply offended by your actions. We have had very poor prior relations with Sandoval County, but that is a response to your actions, not something we have sought. Instead, we desire your careful and appropriate considerations, especially in this time of terrible financial uncertainty. Our 18 unpaid volunteers are about as fiscally responsible as it is possible to get, especially for the level of excellence we expect of our fire and health safety. Please show our LMVFD team the respect they deserve, not disrespect which affects all of us. The LMVFD is the heart of our community.

Thank you for your considerations and your service,

Dave Thompson

 

Response from Sandoval County

Mr. Thompson,

Sandoval County very much appreciates the volunteers of La Madera Fire Station 16 and the work of the Tecolote Auxiliary. Your dedication to your community and the County is exemplary. However, La Madera Fire Station 16 is a part of Sandoval County and frankly, could not exist absent County authority. It is not unusual for the County to deploy assets for mutual aid to other states, counties and communities. In fact, I am advised that Station 16’s brush truck has been deployed previously to aid wildfires in other jurisdictions. The only difference this year is that instead of volunteers, paid staff were deployed because the County was notified that the La Madera volunteers did not wish to deploy this year due to Covid concerns. The brush truck from Station 16 will return to the district after its deployment in two weeks—which could be extended an additional week. There is zero chance that the truck will not return from California—even if it is damaged, it would be fully repaired or replaced. In the meantime, I understand that a brush truck remains on station in District 16 and if there is a wildland fire event, other Sandoval County assets and mutual aid from surrounding counties will be called in. This is standard procedure for all wildfires and one of the reasons we provide mutual aid to other jurisdictions. All County fire assets are under the authority of the Sandoval County Fire Chief and subject to deployment at his discretion.

Fire Departments are paramilitary organizations with a rank structure to ensure training, provide appropriate equipment, and operational cohesiveness. The La Madera Fire Station is a part of the Sandoval County Fire Department and is subject its organizational rules and directives. This is true of every District Station whether manned by paid staff or volunteers. Similarly, all members are subject to the authority of their superior officers, who are in turn subject to the authority of the Fire Chief. Individual districts cannot and do not operate outside this chain of command. This is not micromanagement. It’s necessary to guarantee adequate training, and provide for the safety of both emergency personnel and the public.

In your email and in other correspondence that I have had with other members of the Auxiliary, there is an implied or directly stated ownership claim. You refer to Brush Truck #28 as “our brush truck” and others claim ownership to equipment purchased with funds raised by the Tecolote Auxiliary. To be clear, the County cannot have a situation where the equipment necessary to provide emergency services to the public is owned by an outside private organization. That type of arrangement could lead to a number of unpleasant consequences for both parties—not the least of which is the potential violation of the State Constitution’s Anti-Donation Clause. Further, I am aware of no agreements between the Tecolote Auxiliary and Sandoval County that gives any operational authority to Tecolote or recognizes continued ownership of Station 16 vehicles or equipment. The County recognizes the hard work and dedication of the Tecolote Auxiliary, but funds raised to support Station 16 through the purchase of equipment become public funds with the procurement of the items. There can be no co-mingling of funds, nor co-ownership of equipment. Either the funds raised to purchase equipment for Station 16 are donated to the County or we cannot accept the funds. We are happy to generally keep those funds within the district, but there will be times when assets will be used in other districts and jurisdictions.

Mr. Thompson, despite the difficulties presented by your location (and the unfortunate interference of the Sandia Mountains), Sandoval County is committed to provide you with the best quality and fastest response possible. And yes, we are deeply concerned about your area just as we are every other fire district in the County. We appreciate the support and the hard work of your volunteers and the community. However, despite the geographic challenges, District 16 cannot operate as a fire department unto itself—separate and apart from Sandoval County.

We are working on analyzing data from calls over the last few years to see how we can improve service and address some of the concerns recently raised. I would like the opportunity to meet with you and the other members of the Tecolote Auxiliary once we are finished, to discuss how we can move forward together. After all, we work for you. But everyone has rules that they must abide by, especially public entities.

I look forward to working with you and to a continued relationship with Tecolote.

Best regards,

Wayne A. Johnson, Sandoval County Manager

 

Your vote did count!

The election is over, the results were clear. However, the mayor and his appointees all want you to believe that the under the Commission-Manager form of government you will only get to vote for one commissioners and nothing much will change. It simply isn’t true.

Maybe they should have done their homework before spreading falsehoods. Or, perhaps, they are just trying to discourage residents from staying involved in their government. Either way, a lie should not go unchallenged.

In New Mexico, under state law, all municipalities with fewer than 10,000 residents are able to vote at-large (for all positions, be it a council or a commission). Once a municipality exceeds 10,000 population, regardless of form of government, candidates run and are voted for by district. It is patently false for anyone to assert that the voters’ overwhelming choice for Commission-Manager government in Edgewood will mean we cannot vote at-large.

To verify the real-world application under New Mexico statute, we spoke directly to three municipalities that have a commission-manager form of government and have populations under 10,000 just like Edgewood (Aztec, Raton, and Truth or Consequences). Guess what? They all confirmed they vote for their commissioners at large.

The City of Raton further clarified, here is their response:

“You are correct. Just to give you some additional information, the City of Raton is a Commission-Manager form of government. The City ordinance defines (5) districts but because our population is below 10,000 a City Commission candidate can run for office without residing in the district in which they are running and citizens can vote “at large” for any and all City Commissioner positions regardless of which district the voter resides.”

The City of Aztec has voting at-large clearly outlined on their city website: aztecnm.gov/election/GoverningBody.pdf.

So, the only way Edgewood voters will lose their right to vote at-large prior to reaching 10,000 in population, would be if the mayor and his lock-step councilors vote for that rule. They could, as part of the transition to our new form of government, take away your right to vote at-large by making in-district residency a requirement of office. That would be a retaliatory move on the mayor’s part, trying to make his false statements appear true. But it is up to us to make sure the mayor (or anyone else) does not sneak such ill-willed items into the transition plans. And, while at it, we should closely watch all aspects of the transition because this mayor’s history of actions and direction to staff has shown he is untrustworthy and that his focus is personal interest not community interest.

Changes for an open, ethical, and responsible Edgewood are coming. Keep the faith and stay alert!

Jerry Powers, Citizens for an Open and Responsible Edgewood (CORE)

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