Letters to the editor (02/22/12)

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Democrat alternatives are not the answer
Editor:
What fun!
Some Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature think they have found a way to avoid canceling drivers’ licenses issued to illegals/undocumented foreigners.
Just give them a driving permit not usable for identification, etc.
Oh, the unintended consequences!  What a way to provide police and ICE agents with a foolproof way to identify those same folks! They must be laughing up a fury.
So we have alternatives:  issue licenses to undocumented/illegals and guarantee some, perhaps much, fraud and other bad activities.
Or, get rid of the existing law permitting licensure of those folks and make life much tougher for them.
Or, issue special licenses making life easy for law enforcement to hassle these folks or make deportation that much easier.
It’s called a conundrum. Or a paradox. Buena suerte.

Robert Sanders
Rio Communities

Getting lost on my first day of elementary school
Editor:
I must have enjoyed being in school for the first time because I was the last child in the halls after school.
I went out the wrong door. I was confused even though I lived only a block away. I wandered around and ended up on the wrong street.
A kind, old lady in a weatherbeaten old house called the police. She had a big, shiny black rotary dial phone.
A nice policeman came in a glistening car and took me to the old police station in Downtown Albuquerque. Another nice policeman played ball with me in the busy hall.
The police must have called my school or my mom must have gone to the school. My mom went to the police station. She looked like an angel with the sun at her back in the hall.
She lifted me in the air in joy.

Martin Frank Kirtley
Los Lunas

Candlelight vigil was a success
Editor:
Another candlelight vigil has been held in the Anna Becker Park by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Commission.
For 19 years, this community has come together to celebrate the life and ideals of Dr. King and recommit themselves to handle everyday situations in a non-violent manner.
The city of Belen committed itself to this event and all other events and activities of the commission when (former) Mayor Richard Aragon took the proclamation from former Gov. Bruce King.
In that proclamation, the former governor suggested that each community in the state set up a commission and be a part of the State Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.
Not all communities joined the challenge, so I am very proud of the fact that our community has embraced this vigil by their overwhelming support and involvement in it.
The commission would like to thank Wayne Gallegos for providing the AV assistance every year, the Belen High School NJROTC under the leadership of Commander Lacy Mitchell and Chief Oscar Magallanes, Pat Baca for singing the national anthem every year, Rene Antoinette’s School of Dance, the Belen High School Choir under directorship of Carrie Harper, and Rudy Espinoza for offering the invocation.
This year, as part of the candlelight ceremony, readings were done by Arinea Salas, Belen High School Student Body president; Danielle Hawkes, Belen High School Student Body vice president; and Marlene Betancourt, Belen High School Class of 2012 president.
We would like to thank all the students of the Belen Consolidated School District who entered our essay and poster contest. The winners of our essay contest were Joseph Sanchez, first place; Katrina Baca, second place; and Aleyah Goins, third place.
The winners of the poster contest were Sabrina Moore, first place, Jorge Rodriguez, second place; and Kennedy Skinner, third place.
A special thanks to the Valencia County News-Bulletin who publishes monthly articles and does an incredible coverage of our vigil each year.
We are always looking to add members to our commission, so if you are interested, contact the Belen City Hall, or any of the members of the commission who are Sherry Akin, Mary Andersen, Loretta Baca, Paul Baca, Serena Douglas, Bertha Flores, Mildred Garley, the honourable Mayor Rudy Jaramillo, Dr. Richard Melzer, Geneva Nixon, Joe Saiz, and Terese Ulivarri.
Again, our thanks to you the community for your involvement, and we look forward to our 20th year vigil.

Geneva Nixon
Belen Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Commission Chairwoman

Sheriff’s deputies deserve better pay
Editor:
I strongly agree with Mr. J. Reid Mower in his letter to the editor “Our heroes should be paid for what they do” published on Jan. 28.
Specifically, I am speaking of pay for our law enforcement deputies in Valencia County. Safety and protection of the counties citizens is the responsibility of the sheriff’s department and based on what we pay them, we are telling them that the safety and protection they provide is not important to us.
I have first-hand experience with the sheriff’s department as one of their volunteer chaplains for nine years now. This is the third administration I have served with, and can certify that the department we have today has the best administration, best leadership, best organizational structure, best training, and most importantly, the best quality of existing and new deputies that I have ever seen in the county.
Congratulations to the sheriff for setting a standard for the deputies we hire to insure we have the best we can get out there protecting each one of us.
Unfortunately, my concern is that these excellent deputies won’t stay with the county long term due to the huge gap between the responsibility they have and the pay they receive.
Deputies work hard every day to keep up with our large county and the issues and crime that take place in Valencia County.
The starting wage for deputies in Valencia County is $15 per hour, and it doesn’t take long for new deputies to realize they can lateral to other local departments and get a $2, $4 and sometimes a $6 increase in pay.
When this happens, we lose good deputies, we lose all the money we spend for the police academy and training ($28,000 per recruit), and have to start over looking for new qualified recruits.
As a citizen of Valencia County, I believe we should pay our law enforcement personnel adequately for their willingness to lay their lives on the line for us every day.
To give every deputy a $4 an hour raise would cost the county less than $500,000 per year, including the PERA contribution.
This would send a clear message to these quality deputies that they are important to us and we appreciate what they do, not to mention the ability for them to provide for their families.
Additionally, we would maintain a consistent, quality, well trained department for the citizens.
I realize $500,000 is a large number, but what is more important than law enforcement in our county? We are either going to pay the money in wages, or in hiring and training new recruits.
Personally, I would rather have deputies with tenure and experience in our county instead of having high turnover and less experience. This is an ethical and moral issue that we need to step up and correct.
There is something wrong when the county manager makes $88,000 per year ($42 per hour) and the deputies that protect us make $31,200 per year ($15 per hour). I do not fault anyone for making a good wage when they deserve it.
Our deputies deserve a good, competitive wage for what they do. Please join me in calling your county commissioner and working to get this corrected for the good of our county and deputies that serve us.

Steve Kerns
Chaplain
Los Lunas

Planet needs all the help it can get
Editor:
Neighbor Gary Gibson’s letter of Feb. 1 is filled with opinion and invective and factual errors. That letter also constitutes libel in the legal sense.
1. During the six-years-plus that I have lived in the Chamesa subdivision, I have never once added my personal trash to the public trash can next to the mailboxes. Not once. Not ever. Not one smidgen.
What I have done is take trash out of the public trash can, for recycling. Thus I am even further ‘negative to the landfill’, i.e. my carbon footprint is reduced.
What I take out of the public trash can is: aluminum cans (to be turned in for pennies per pound); pulp-paper drink-holders and such dumped there by fellow residents, and glass and plastic bottles as may also be dumped there. Especially prized are the occasional empty cardboard boxes and heavy-weight telephone books.
2. Since there is no reason to sneak, I do not sneak.
3. Property values in New Mexico are reduced from the Republican-caused economic meltdown, not because my front yard is a natural xeriscape.
4. If Mr. Gibson wants to increase local property values, he can pave his dirt driveway (as I have done) and get rid of the derelict vehicles in his back yard.
I aver that I am indeed a champion recycler because, to my knowledge, there is not one other person in Valencia County who is negative to the landfill.
If any such persons exist here, please write to this venue and briefly describe your recycling practices. The planet needs all the help it can get.

G.E. Nordell
Belen