Letters to the editor (12/19/12)

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Love the newspaper, but hated the picture
Editor:
One of the highlights of my week is receiving the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
I love reading the La Vida and stories of Valencia’s past and traditions. I read every word of the paper from the wedding announcements to funerals to the noticias as I look for mention of  my family or friends.
I love Valencia County. I was born here and look forward to raising my own family here.
Out of one window, I can see Tomé Hill, out of another I see the Los Lunas Hill. I can smell the alfalfa fields and see the bosque tuning fall colors.
I see all of this from my current home at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility located in Los Lunas.
Isolated from my community, I look to the Bulletin to keep me abreast of the events and happenings in Valencia. I am the only inmate, out of 300, who has a subscription so my single copy is passed from hand to hand, pod to pod for other Valencia boys to read.
Perhaps it is because I receive so much joy from the Bulletin that I found myself feeling so hurt and offended over a picture you recently published during Halloween.
It was a picture of a correctional officer and part of his Halloween yard display. While this officer has many different mechanical items in his yard for display and enjoyment, the Bulletin showed a picture of an “inmate” in an electric chair with a “guard” standing behind him, ready to pull the switch.
The “inmate” was dressed in the state-issued oranges we at Level II wear, and the “guard” was wearing a state regulation correctional officer uniform.
The message was loud and clear, inmates are worthless, have no feelings and deserve to be killed. For someone who already feels outside of society, this message went straight to my heart.
Even worse, I thought about my family — my mother, grandmother, my wife or my children, seeing this picture and wondered how it affected them. Were they ashamed of me? Did anyone tease them about me after seeing the picture?
There are many children in Valencia County whose parents are in prison. Did they see this picture? Even worse, did they see the actual display?
If so, what message did it give them about their incarcerated parents? Not much of a treat for those small ones.
What if this had been a scene with a woman in the chair and a rapist standing behind her, getting ready to torture her, or perhaps a black man in the chair with a robed KKK member getting ready to pull the switch?
Most people would have found these images offensive and unacceptable. But an inmate and a correctional guard — that’s OK?
Many of us who are incarcerated are working very hard to turn our lives around with the goal of never returning to prison. We need encouragement and support, not the feeling that we can be used as a Halloween prop for amusement.

David Tafoya
Central New Mexico Correctional Facility

Commissioners need to reconsider
Editor:
Studies conducted by independent consultants throughout the 1990s and into this century have all concluded that a hospital in Valencia County is not only direly needed, but also economically feasible.
As citizens of this county, we recognize the social benefits that better access to health care will bring to our family, friends and neighbors. As individuals business people and public servants, we know well the economic impact that a hospital would have on our own enterprises and on the prospects of bringing new business and new economic opportunity into our community.
As an organization dedicated to the social and economic well-being of our community, we find it incomprehensible that our elected officials have not only allowed, but actively encouraged hospital development into this county to become a political boondoggle, rather than a social and economic boon it should be.
Every precinct in our community voted overwhelmingly in favor of taxing ourselves to support a 24-hour hospital and heath care facility. For the past five years, we have paid that tax.
We have watched the project bogged in a series of court disputes, and then seemingly kicked away by the county commission after the courts gave a final ruling for it to proceed.
And now, after more than a year of no action, we see the county commission give our tax money to a project that is not even on the drawing boards, and thereby crippling and perhaps terminating yet another viable attempt to finally answer our community’s crying need for more, and more accessible health care.
We urge the Valencia County commissioners to do their duty, to fulfill the oath they took to pursue the common good and social welfare of Valencia County, and support the development of the Valencia Regional Medical Center in Los Lunas.

Stephanie Flynn
Executive director
Valencia County Chamber of Commerce

Encourage others during the holidays
Editor:
It’s a great time for us to remember family and friends from everywhere who celebrate at this time of year!
Our wonderful recall of Christmases and Hanukkah celebrations-past are in the folds of recall, and they sweeten old dreams.
Should you have anything that can dampen the dreams in your reverie, we wish those be set aside for you, because you are very special to us!
When you put the lights up (on the menorah, or the tree, or both) smile some. Our friends who have little to smile about may be the bravest of us all as they make an effort to enjoy this season.
And some of us have suffered loss that is hard to share, but we have a common bond with each other, and encourage them especially during the holidays.
So, our outreach is genuine, where hugs are OK, and if we have caused injury, let there be forgiveness; and if kindness and remembrance, we are the fortunate recipients.
Have happy holidays at your house, and speak a word to your own guardians … for us!

Guy and Virginia Glover
Los Lunas

Residents are divided on hospital
Editor:
The hospital articles in the Nov. 17 of the News-Bulletin are very revealing. They tell us a lot about the Valencia County Commission and the city of Belen.
For one thing, it has to indicate an incredible contagious insanity among them, because nothing in the joint powers agreement, signed by three commissioners on Sept. 19, acknowledges the presence of a competitor.
Although everyone in the county who reads the paper has known about the Miller Architect hospital project since March 2012, the Belen city councilors and three of the county commissioners have either been lying to us about being unaware of Miller, or are so … out of touch …
How could Commissioner Andersen not know or not care about what is happening in her own district? How could she agree to the JPA unless there are some serious deficiencies in her performance as a representative?
How could the other two northern-district commissioners not think of the convenience and economic advantages of having a facility near their constituents?
The JPA, section 2, tells us that the county and Belen will establish a “sole provider” hospital facility. (That means no other hospital, folks.)
In spite of the revision of the document presented to the commission on June 6, that was not corrected, even though by then, the Los Lunas agreement was already common knowledge.
The JPA also contains deadlines of July 31, 2012, and Aug. 20, 2012, yet was signed in September. Obviously, none of the signers thought to read the document before making the commitment for millions of our dollars. How’s that for malfeasance in office?
The JPA contains the duty to validate the Ameris study, which also does not acknowledge competition. This means that all of its financial projections are automatically wrong, and that the feasibility of the Belen project is in serious doubt. Nevertheless, it would be no surprise to see these three commissioners give it the OK as is.
It seems that now there should be a careful look at the Belen city officials and the county commissioners who have been pretending the village of Los Lunas and the Miller Architects company don’t exist.
Somehow, this has to be explained. This group has been parading in public in an amazing display (to put it kindly) of inattention.
The result of hiding the mill levy away is that now there is going to be a great division in the county. The people have to engage in a war of choice between two proposed hospitals.
With the majority of the population in the north, and with the assurance that no taxpayer money will be sought to construct a facility in Los Lunas — a regional medical center already financed and designed — compared to the Belen hospital that has no financing plan in place, no design, and no credible protection for the taxpayers, the contest should be interesting, to say the least.
The JPA needs to either be rescinded or heavily amended to release the mill levy and allow the “Great Valencia County Hospital Race” to proceed on level ground.
Either facility should include a well-staffed mental ward for elected officials who play idiotic games with our money.

Clarke Metcalf
Belen