Letters to the editor (08/15/13)

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Behavioral health controversy affects all of us in the state
Editor:
If you or a member of your family does not receive behavioral health services, you might think that the recent controversy surrounding an audit that alleged widespread fraud, theft, and misuse of public funds by mental health providers doesn’t affect you, think again. It affects all of us and in ways you might never have considered.
First, it affects the principle of due process. Even if the closest you’ve ever experienced the legal system is by watching an episode of “Law and Order,” you know that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. You know that the accused should be told what he or she is accused of and allowed to defend against the charges.  You know that the facts are presented to a jury to decide guilt or innocence and a judge decides the proper punishment.
The behavioral health providers have been accused of wrongdoing and have had their funding stopped. All this has been done without being provided with specific information about their alleged wrongdoing.
Gov. Martinez and her administration have come out strongly against the providers. While I agree that the guilty should be punished, they must first be informed of the charges against them, and have had the opportunity to respond. This is simple fairness, the pillar of our legal system.
Whenever due process is denied to anyone, our legal system is undermined for the next person accused of wrongdoing. And the next person accused could be you or a family member.
Next, the behavioral health controversy affects our local and state economies. The accused organizations had many employees providing mental health services throughout New Mexico. But when the state Human Services Department cut off the providers’ funding, many employees faced reduced hours, no jobs or having to work for unfamiliar Arizona companies.
Jobs are hard to come by in all areas of the state. When hours are cut, jobs are eliminated and millions of dollars are sent to Arizona companies, New Mexico’s economy is negatively affected. And that affects all of us.
Finally, representatives of the Martinez administration have criticized state legislators for asking questions and raising concerns about the effects on our most vulnerable, as well as the way the entire situation has been handled.
Legislators have been accused of “defending” the providers and called “shameless politicians.”  Unfortunately, name-calling does nothing to solve the serious problems facing our mental health communities throughout the state. I encourage the administration to work with legislators to help solve the crisis.
Legislators represent the public. It is our responsibility to give a voice to those who are too often ignored. Who knows if the next voice that needs to be heard is yours?

Sen. Michael S. Sanchez
Senate Majority Leader
(D-29-Valencia, Bernalillo)

It’s not the right site
Editor:
I am a native and long-term resident of Tomé, as well have been my parents and ancestors. I am situated just a few yards away from Menard Road and “Dead Man’s Curve.”
Dead Man’s Curve is a short distance from the Menard Road site, where a dollar store is scheduled to be constructed.
A de-acceleration lane is being proposed to accommodate the dollar store. This letter is to inform the community at large that any change to N.M. 47, for whatever reason, in this case, … presents an even more dangerous and unsafe situation to the area’s residents and neighborhoods. Dead Man’s Curve is tilted the wrong way, is situated in a blind corner and intersects with a number of dirt roads. A life- and property-threatening situation is created every time one enters this area of N.M. 47. In no stretch of the imagination is this a normal situation.
N.M. 47, part of the historic El Camino Real, was meant to handle traffic only from local residents from the Tomé-Adelino corridor. It is meant to be just two lanes. This area is a greenbelt, which means traffic speed should not exceed 45 mph, (even less around Dead Man’s Curve) and slow-moving farm machinery and school buses need to be accommodated.
Vehicular speed generally exceeds 55 mph. This street is not meant to handle the constant access and use by semi-trucks. N.M. 47 is very much a farm-to-market road.
Moreover, the shoulder easements of N.M. 47 need to remain intact and unmodified. Residents and visitors have to park on the shoulder easements in order to exit, enter and access private gates and driveways. The shoulder easements also exist because of electrical poles, natural gas meters and pipes, telephone and cable utilities, mailboxes, trash pick up, fencing, etc.
The easements also provide access to vehicles associated with the just mentioned necessities. Law enforcement and emergency vehicles need to access and park on these shoulder easements. The shoulder easements also provide a popular byway for bicycle riders.
Specifically, the Menard Road site is situated near Tomé Hill, a sacred site that hosts a world known annual pilgrimage on Good Friday. Pilgrims walk and park on the shoulder easements. There are historic homes along the immediate area of Dead Man’s Curve. Is it really legal to eliminate these easements?
Due to Dead Man’s Curve, the fact that many residents are situated right next to the street already, and the not necessarily high-vehicular speeds, there have been numerous accidents, which have resulted in deaths, great loss of brain/physical functioning, serious disabilities and great damage to the area’s residential properties.
My parents were known as the “Good Samaritans” because they assisted the dying and highly injured victims of these accidents. They also had to unfairly absorb the high cost of our damaged fencing and residence …
There is no record, no public hearing, no public notice regarding both the C-1, and the later C-2 designations conducted on the Menard Road site as verified by Jacobo Martinez, the county’s planning and zoning director. Moreover, there has not been any public notice or public hearing regarding the proposed de-accelleration lane on N.M. 47 because of proposed construction of a dollar store.
The current owners of the site have been approached by county representatives to negotiate a land swap that would provide the owners a more suitable and lucrative site for their store. However, the owners have rejected the proposal twice …

June Jaramillo
Tomé