Letters to the editor (03/17/12)

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Peralta needs a turn lane, not medians
Editor:
It’s only taken 12 years for us poor ignorant souls in Peralta to figure out why it’s taken 12 years to get this much closer to a turning lane on N.M. 47.
Last night, you could see the bulbs light up all over the school cafeteria as we began to understand that when the government has money to hand out, we all need to help spend it whether we want to  or not.
After all, these executives, middle manager gofers, engineers, PR types and various explainers have to earn their keep and support their lifestyle, one of which most folks in Peralta could only wish for.
Twelve years ago, all we wished for was a simple turning lane, so that we could scrape off our old “Pray for me, I live on N.M. 47” bumper stickers. No more, no less.
I suppose there’s nothing wrong with sidewalks, bike lanes, curb and gutters, driveway cuts, streetlights, catch ponds, pervious concrete and whatever else, except that we will no long resemble Peralta.
And why not allow the powers that be to feed at the public trough as long as we’re not paying for it? Or are we?
So dress us up all you want, all you folks at NMDOT and Mozen Corbin. Just please, please, please don’t force those nasty medians on us. us.
I’ve got this ugly picture in my mind of making a U-turn past my house at 5 p.m., into the left lane, then fighting my way into the right land, only to find I’ve already passed my driveway cut, with no shoulder to pull out so that I can back up until I can access my property.
At least I’ll have a streetlight to park under so maybe no one will steal my ’65 Chevy median jumper pick-em-up truck.
And, if you simply must spend that median money somewhere, NMDOT, we sure could use a barrier wall in front of the old school (that is if we want it to be here for its second 100 years.)

Earl Whittemore
Peralta

Give them the benefit of the doubt first
Editor:
Contrary to what Jose Armas believes, I do not feel Skandara should go (News-Bulletin, Feb. 18)!
Mr. Armas, a person I respect, and members of the Latino/Hispano Education Improvement Task Force, I assume he speaks for the Task Force, does not speak for many of us who happen to agree with what Gov. Martinez and Secretary-designee Skandara propose, and have been able to accomplish thus far.
Wake up Mr. Armas! It’s time for you and the rest of the Task Force and APS Superintendent Winston Brooks to accept the fact that our public education system is not working and in need of major adjustments.
And, I remind you that it isn’t only Hispanic children that you should be concerned about — it is all the children.
The faults with the system are hurting the entire spectrum of the population, K-12 and beyond, and includes Hispanics, Anglos, Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, etc. Achievement scores, K-12, are dismal while remedial courses at post-secondary institutions flourish and graduation rates at both levels remain stagnant.
If you folks are so concerned about Hispanic children achievement gaps, you should not have caved in to Gov. Richardson and accepted the bone he threw at you with the Annual Hispanic Education Report.
You should’ve stood your ground and accepted nothing less than a fully-funded Department of Hispanic Affairs. He found millions for GRIP, the Rail Runner, the Spaceport and countless “bridges to nowhere,” but convinced you the state did not need and could not afford a Department of Hispanic Affairs.
So what if Skandara doesn’t have the classroom experience you, your colleagues and the Teachers’ Federation desire? You and your credentialed and experienced cohorts have had plenty of time to correct the discrepancies and you have failed.
Why not allow an outsider with fresh ideas to introduce new and bold practices? After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained!
I am so frustrated with you and others who feel you hold all the answers to this particular dilemma and, as well, probably the country’s foreign policies, entitlement programs, the national debt, etc. Wake up! You don’t!
It is time for us to band together and accept, within reason, other people’s thoughts and, at a minimum, give them a fair shot.
If you feel Skandara should be fired, then I suggest that Obama, Salazar, Duncan, Napolitano, as well as some other Martinez’ cabinet secretaries should also go. Many of them have no true and real experience in the positions they are filling.
Truth be told, the principal reason they were nominated and approved was because they kissed the right buttocks. This, coupled with a heavy sprinkling of political connections and experience in the elected official’s brotherhood, and, in some cases, membership in a minority group, enabled them to flow through confirmation hearings with ease, i.e., Panetta.
What did this gentleman from Pelosi country truly know about running a national Defense Department?  In my mind, his comments regarding gays in the military, the defense budget, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, drones, torture, clearly, reveal his shortcomings. Nevertheless, he was confirmed and will be in place for the long haul.
The Martinez and Skandara retention and teacher evaluation proposals, in my eyes, are reasonable. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt and not be afraid to try something new that just might improve our public education system.
Skandara’s departure would only serve to exacerbate an already dire situation. Remember, it is the children’s well-being that is at stake, and not anything else.

John Lopez
Bosque Farms

Commissioners did not vote correctly
Editor:
I wish to voice my protest against the decision of the Valencia County Commission to deny the appeal of SonyaRays Auto shop.
Tomé would greatly benefit by having such a business there. When Mr. and Mrs. Garcia presented their case at the public hearing on Feb. 8, there was a very impressive show of support by the majority of people that were in attendance.
Although Planning and Zoning and denied their permit because of “not doing their homework,” this time, the couple had done the research and had the documentation to show that they would be in full compliance with all the EPA and zoning requirements necessary. There was no good reason to deny the conditional use application.
Had the commissioners asked more questions about what the Garcias had planned for the business, they would have learned that auto body work wasn’t their only goal. They have a plan that they had intended to put into operation to give jobs to some young workers that would provide on-the-job training for them in the future.
They already have several enthusiastic young applicants for these positions; so besides giving the Tomé community a new business that would bring in adult workers they would be helping the youth as well. Their shop will bring in more revenue for the county and for Tomé as well. I feel that by denying the permit, the commissioners are throwing away a valuable county asset.
Commissioner Romero’s “no” vote, according to the News-Bulletin article of Feb. 18, was heavily influenced by private phone calls he received rather than by the arguments presented before the commission in public. This seemed, to him, to outweigh the merits of the appellants’ presentation that was given where everyone could hear.
Commissioner Andersen’s “no” vote was based on the difficulties of enforcing the conditions, but that principle would mean that no conditional use should be allowed anytime, anywhere. That would greatly stifle all business growth in the county.
Chairman Holliday’s “no” vote is still unexplained, and I am upset by that; as a member of the public, I feel that I and all of us have the right to know the reasoning behind all actions taken by elected officials.
Commissioner Otero-Kirkham, in whose district the business is located, recognized the benefits of allowing the shop to operate in Tomé. She, of all the commissioners, knows the situation in Tomé. She knows most of the people. She, along with Commissioner Gentry, understand the importance of improving the local economy. They both voted “yes.”
Many of the dissenting residents used the argument that the increased traffic caused by the show would add to the dangerousness of N.M. 47. That, of course, would mean that no new business would be welcome in Tomé.
Mr. and Mrs. Garcia, right now, have the legal permit to have a flea market on their property. Compare that traffic flow to that of an auto body business, in which there would be very few cars coming in and out in any given day.
It makes more sense to let them go ahead with the auto show than to fill Tomé and N.M. 47 with flea market vendors and customers. This could easily happen as the Garcias seek to make use of their land.
The people objecting also referred to the nuisance potential, such as outside yard lights at night, unsightly vehicles, etc. The Garcia’s have made the promise that all such concerns will be addressed, and that they will build a wall to hide any objectionable clutter.
That the residents bring up such a thing is amusing, since there are so many really ugly-looking scenes along the highway already that another would not even be noticed. Besides, anyone who has seen the SonyaRay building can attest to its immaculate appearance, and anyone who knows the Garcias personally can tell that they have high integrity and are strongly motivated to fit in as respectful, productive, and concerned neighbors.
The News-Bulletin article failed to point out that the show of support for SonyaRay’s included a huge crowd of people filling the commission chambers, and when they stood up, there was a gasp because the dramatic display of heartfelt advocacy. Clearly, the majority of Tomé residents welcome the business.
Those that don’t are acting out of fear that any change in the community will threaten their cultural heritage. While that is understandable, it also very short-sighted to believe that any area can remain unimproved indefinitely. To stop growing means to stagnate. Stagnation in Valencia County in today’s economy is a serious matter.
It has the reverse effect that rather than preservation, it brings deterioration. When the children of the founders of any community reach maturity, they do not have the same values as their parents. When new people settle there, they also do not share the founding zeal.
As residents, their desires and aspirations should not be stonewalled by a few hard-core families trying to disguise their objections as based solely upon historical heritage. Tomé cannot continue to block the development of the whole southeast part of Valencia County. Businesses like SonyaRays Auto should be given every opportunity to thrive.
The News-Bulletin article mentioned the recusal dispute among the commissioners. It must have been frustrating to the Garcias to see the political squabbling while the issue at hand, the appropriateness of their business, seemed to take a distant second place.
If the commissioners had actually paid attention at the public hearing meeting, they would have seen that there are many more reasons to approve than to disapprove, not just in their opinion, but the opinions of the Tomé citizens themselves. I would hope that SonyaRay’s Auto Body explores every recourse to get the vote reversed.

Jennifer Kitsch
Rio Rancho

Boy Scouts thanks those who donated
Editor:
Boy Scouts of America Troop 111 would like to thank the residents of Valencia County and Walmart in Los Lunas for their support.
On Feb. 4, 2012, Troop 111 conducted a food drive outside of Walmart. This was in conjunction with Scouting’s 102nd anniversary, and was part of the annual Scouting for Food Campaign.
Since it was the day before Super Bowl, the troop set up two tables, one for each team in the super bowl and asked residents of Valencia County to vote for their favorite super bowl team with their donations of food.
Valencia County residents were very generous. We collected more than 1,200 pounds of food and $185, which was given to buy additional food.
The New York Giants fans were slightly more generous than the undecided or the New England Patriots fans. But the real winner was all the residents of Valencia County that will receive the food collected.
All the food and money was given to the Belen Area Food Pantry on Feb. 11.  The Belen Area Food Pantry serves the areas in the Belen Consolidated School District through food distributions at their site and also mobile food distributions around the county.
The Belen Area Food Pantry is a Road Runner Food Bank partner.
Boy Scout Troop 111 would like to thank all those who donated food and Walmart in Los Lunas for making this food drive such a success.
For more information on scouting, go to www.BeAScout.org.

Janice Smith
Committee Chairman
Boy Scout Troop 111