Letters to the editor

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Ambulance company needs competition
Editor:
Only one for-profit ambulance company, Living Cross, based in Bosque Farms, serves the county. The result is sometimes extended waits for an ambulance.
Living Cross tenaciously fights to retain its monopoly. In 2008, Los Lunas put out a (request for proposals) for ambulance service, but it was blocked in court by Living Cross, which sought a preliminary injunction against the village. The village did not respond and the RFP expired.
According to a News-Bulletin article on March 5, 2011, “Los Lunas police chief Roy Melnick said another ambulance service tried to do business in Valencia County, but Living Cross filed an injunction against it, because no entity in Valencia County has a certificate to transport except Living Cross.”
The Valencia Regional Emergency Communications Center has billed Living Cross for $180,000 for all the business that is steered its way by VRECC.  
Living Cross has steadfastly refused to pay. All local governments that provide emergency services, such as police and fire, that receive calls from the VRECC, pay a share for the operation of the dispatch center.
The News-Bulletin reported on April 2, 2011, “According to a letter from Los Lunas village attorney, Larry Guggino, to the E-911 board in March 2009, Living Cross does not have a contract with any governmental entity in Valencia County to provide services, and is providing services through its own certificate of transport with the PRC.
“…the VRECC should be charging Living Cross for ambulance services, and its failure to do so is a violation of the New Mexico Constitution (the anti-donation clause),” Guggino wrote.”
The News-Bulletin reported on May 4, 2011, that Living Cross had filed a motion in district court for a permanent injunction against Los Lunas, the county commission, and VRECC from attempting to collect funds from Living Cross.
The argument has been made that Living Cross would go out of business with competition. You would never know it from their aggressive and probably expensive legal court efforts to prevent competition and to not have to pay for referrals from the dispatch center.  
Is it the responsibility of county citizens to prop up a for-profit company? If Living Cross can’t cut it, other companies would fill the void.
County residents, especially in Bosque Farms, need to be aware of the determination of officials of that village (2010 population: 3,904, or 5.1 percent of the total county) to oppose the county obtaining its own certificate to transport from the Public Regulation Commission.
If the county had that certificate to transport, it could write contracts with ambulance companies to provide service and to require a contribution to the dispatch center. It would mean Living Cross would be accountable to the county.  
Only Bosque Farms, in board meetings of the VRECC (which I have attended), has opposed the will of the county and other municipalities to obtain a certificate to transport.
Bosque Farms receives gross receipts taxes from Living Cross’s operations. Bosque Farms officials have raised “issues” with the idea of the county obtaining its own certificate (see April 2, 2011, News-Bulletin article “BF council tables county ambulance resolution …”).
It is concerning that they alone among local officials have raised “issues.”  All county residents deserve timely, quality service.  
That is more important than protecting the financial interest of a single company.
However, even if the county is permitted to contract with more than one company to operate, ambulance service will always be expensive.  
But competition should lead to better and more timely service when it is needed.

James Rickey
Los Lunas

High school students were well prepared
Editor:
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the Los Lunas Board of Education meeting, one of the agenda items was the proposed change of location of graduation ceremonies for both Los Lunas and Valencia high schools to be held at the UNM Pit in Albuquerque.
Several students were in attendance at the meeting to voice their respective opinions on the issue. After listening to all of these young adults make their arguments, I would like to express my profound appreciation to each and every one of them.
All were respectful in their presentation and prepared and eloquent in the content of their remarks. Such a display gave me hope in the future of our community and our country.
I would like to urge each and every student to continue to boldly voice their views to their elected officials and avoid the complacency trap exemplified by many of previous generations.
Also, thanks to the Los Lunas Board of Education and Superintendent Bernard Sais opening a controversial issue as a discussion item on the agenda.

Dennis Schlessinger
Valencia County Tea Party
Los Lunas

Not everyone can shop for organic foods
Editor:
Mr. Eugene Duran says that I am not an expert on genetically modified foods. He’s right, and I make no such claim.  
On the other hand, Mr. Duran claims that GM foods are banned in Europe. He is only half right about that.  
Europe has not banned GMOs altogether. They are being grown in Spain and five other European countries.  
They are banned in France and six other European countries. (Redgreenandblue.org) Monsanto’s corn and BASF potatoes are approved for use in Europe. (op. cit.)  
In late June, French saboteurs were freed of charges that they had destroyed a field of Monsanto experimental corn. (thepeoplesvoice.org)  Genetically engineered crops are generating heat as well as light, aren’t they?
As I kept looking on the Internet, it became blindingly apparent that this has become in part a case of follow-the-money. France, in particular, has said “non.” Protection of their farmers is paramount. If their stance happens to protect their consumers, so much the better.
The U.S., on the other hand, is pushing through producers such as Monsanto, DuPont, BASF and Syngenta and our own government to break the French resistance to GM seeds.  (guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/03/wikileaks-us-eu-gm-crops).
Most of our grain exports are already GM, so the battle principally concerns French (and German, and…) farmers. There are already more than 340 million acres under cultivation worldwide using GM seeds with the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada and China leading the way. (economist online daily chart 2/23/2011).  
So exports of foodstuffs and grain from these countries are already probably created with GM seeds.
Mr. Duran claims that there is risk in GMO foods. He’s right. There is also risk in aspirin, milk, cantaloupe and spinach and everything else we may ingest.  
It’s also risky to walk across N.M. 47 or N.M. 314. We choose to ignore those risks every day of our lives.  
He would wait until we are absolutely certain that the risk is minimal or non-existent. We kill 30 to 40 thousand people each year with automobiles.  That’s certainly a risk compared with GM foods, which have yet to kill anyone.  
Should we ban autos and go back to horses and bicycles?
So it has to do with money as well as risk. Not everyone shops at Whole Foods Markets, Mr. Duran. Not everyone wants to, or can afford to.
I don’t claim to be an expert on GMOs, Mr. Duran. I have an opinion just as you do.
You ask for evidence that GMO’s are our best hope for extending the green revolution.
That is my opinion, Mr. Duran. Yours obviously differs.

Robert Sanders
Rio Communities

County firefighters are appreciative
Editor:
On Sept. 10, fire and EMS personnel from Valencia County Emergency Services, Los Lunas Fire Department, Peralta Fire Department and Bosque Farms Fire Department gathered at the San Antonio Park with their families, for the Second Annual Fire Games.
The celebration continued later in the evening at the Elks Lodge in Belen for our Second Annual Firemen’s Ball.
It was a time for all of the firefighters to come together to rekindle friendships and to begin new ones.  The evening was filled with great food, wonderful music and a unique time to laugh with our brothers and sister of the fire departments.
The fire departments throughout Valencia County work very hard each day to ensure that the best fire and medical protection is provided to the members of the community.
The community, in return, has always supported us and for that we wish to say “Thank You.”
We want to express our appreciation to the businesses and members of the community who have donated gifts and monies over the past two years:  
Sen. Michael Sanchez and Lynn Sanchez, Commissioner Mary Anderson, Lowe’s-Los Lunas, Artesia Fire Equipment, Premier Rental Purchase, Dr. Roland Sanchez, Los Lunas Fire Department
Cody’s Gifts, Car Quest Auto parts – Los Lunas, Jerkey Store – Bosque Farms, Liz Furnari (Hair Designs), Pete’s Equipment, Independent Fire Equipment, RGEFD Auxiliary, Trans-Lux Theatre
Sunset Foods, NMFFTA, Valencia County Honor Guard, city of Belen Parks, Laura Anderson and the Los Lunas Parks and Recreation.
We want to give a special thank you to Mike Mechenbyer, Moondance Productions, the Elk’s Lodge in Belen, the News Bulletin for their continued support, and all of the Valencia County Fire Districts for helping to make this a wonderful experience and hopefully a time honored tradition.  

Becky Culp
District Chief
Los Chavez Fire District

Calvary’s mud bogs were a success
Editor:
On Aug. 27, Calvary Chapel Academy held it’s annual mud bog fundraiser. The event was a success in many ways.
First, money was raised to help support and further Christian education in our community.
I believe our community is very blessed to have Calvary Chapel Academy available to promote and provide high education standards with an emphasis on Christian morals and values.
Second, we were blessed to have great weather to enjoy a great family friendly event. I believe this event ranks high among the many family friendly events our community is able to enjoy throughout the year.
Last, but definitely not least, the support of our community and area businesses was greatly appreciated.
On behalf of Calvary Chapel Academy, I would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for their monetary and service contributions:  
Gandy Dancer, New Mexico Tech, Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, Maez Water Source, Rio Grande Financial, Mesa Tractor, Craig Tire, Baker Insurance Services, Walmart D.C., Volvo Rents, Kim Silva and the family of Marie Olguin.

John Montoya
Jarales