Letters to the Editor - May 16

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Mayor’s support for gov questioned
GOP pundits are comparing Gov. Susanna Martinez to Sarah Palin, and really, both Palin and Martinez should feel demeaned by the comparison.
Palin has all the intellectual prowess of a paper towel, and Martinez has shown herself to be not so much a representative of the people as a representative of the oil and gas people, the mining people, etc. She showed her contempt for the working poor in New Mexico last year when she vetoed a bill to increase the minimum wage. She has done everything in her power to gut regulatory protection of our land, air and water. In short, Martinez has shown herself to be an enemy of working people and the environment and a shameless stooge for the moneyed interests.
Martinez recently made the news when a tape recording of her campaign manager was leaked to the press. Her campaign manager accomplished the improbable feat of defaming the late Sen. Ben Lujan, Hispanic culture and the developmentally disabled in the same breath when he said on tape that the late senator spoke well in Spanish but “sounded like a retard” when he made speeches in English. Martinez is heard on the tape laughing and agreeing with him. She and her aides were also heard on the tape disparaging teachers, and openly discussing how Ms. Martinez could conceal her dislike for teachers during her campaign.
So why has our Mayor Ortiz been so relentless in sucking up to Martinez?
He has missed no opportunity to appear with the governor in public, and he has recently appeared in a series of televised ads praising Martinez and promoting her re-election. Ortiz is featured in the ads as one of several turncoat Democrats who support the Republican governor.
What are we to make of this? Are Ortiz and Tejana Susana strange bedfellows linked by shared values, or by simple political opportunism?
If it is the latter, it is an epic instance of political tone-deafness.
Former Taos mayor Darren Cordova has been cozying up to Susana for the past several years; Taos voters recently handed him a landslide defeat in his re-election campaign. By kissing up to Martinez, Ortiz is not hitching a free ride on Susana’s coattails so much as tying the albatross around his own neck.
Perhaps Ortiz is not seeking to improve his public support here in Las Vegas but simply to get a patronage job with the Martinez administration if she wins re-election. That would still stink, but it would at least make sense.
Regardless of whether the Alfonso-Susana connection is motivated by opportunism or a shared agenda, it’s bad news for the people of Las Vegas. We don’t need a shameless opportunist in the mayor’s office, and we certainly don’t need someone who supports the governor’s agenda of giving away the farm to corporate interests, gutting environmental protections and leaving working New Mexicans to twist in the wind.
Lee Einer
Las Vegas

Rep. Stewart supports Salazar
I am writing about your new state representative, Tomás Salazar, with whom I have had the pleasure of serving these past two years.
I was named the Chair of House Education last year, and Rep. Salazar was appointed as a member of the committee. In addition, he serves on the interim education committee of which I am vice-chair, the Legislative Education Study Committee. So I have been able to get to know Rep. Salazar very well in these two short years.
I am very impressed with Rep. Salazar’s attitude towards his job as your state representative. He is very knowledgeable about education issues; he is always well prepared, studying the bills ahead of the committee and researching any questions he may have. He is well spoken, very articulate but succinct, and brings his years of experience and understanding to our legislative process.
Although LESC and the House Education Committee deal primarily with K-12, we often listen to higher education issues, and on these matters, Rep. Salazar excels. We have not had anyone with his experience in teaching at the university level serving on our education committees. We feel very lucky to have him work with us at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
Tomás Salazar is well liked and works well with everyone. He has earned a reputation of having the highest integrity, being friendly and having a great sense of humor. He is able to debate lucidly, not only in committees, but on the floor of the House, where he is not afraid to discuss issues beyond education. Rep. Salazar is also not afraid to reach across the aisle, work with the other party or with the Senate to further good causes for New Mexicans. I am very proud to call him a colleague.
I am sure there are many constituents that can tell you more stories about Tomás Salazar. I hope that you are able to return him to continue his work in Santa Fe for your community.
Rep. Mimi Stewart
Chair, House Education

Writer: Police are out of control
Police are out of control — from speeding at will to jaywalking and spitting in public (all, incidentally, witnessed by me) ‘til it reaches a crescendo and someone is (killed) under guise of “law and order.”
Every citizen should be outraged. The use of deadly force by law enforcement points to nothing more than aggression. It’s an issue needing to be addressed. Excuses have worn thin that veil the pain of the lethal blow with the shroud of secrecy, perhaps lies.
Does fascism loom on the horizon? Will it be viewed as a matter of course? Or will citizen outrage help restore balance to a society bleeding from abuse which is and always has been the tactic of those above those below.
Sympathize. Another family cries. We all should cry, then cry out “not again!”
Cops out of control can claim as their source a social structure rotting at its core as witnessed once again, as witnessed here — a growing trend we should protest and fear.
Frank Torres
Cañoncito the Las Manuelitas

Losing train route would hurt Vegas
How nice our governor and our mayor were on hand to celebrate the purchase of The Castañeda Hotel and shake hands with the new owners while with the other hand, stab them in the back.
Did the governor inform them she had declined to sign the papers to commit to New Mexico paying its share of track upkeep and needed maintenance to keep the train running through Las Vegas as the other states involved are planning to do? If the train doesn’t stop here, future guests and visitors to Las Vegas will not be getting off here at the hotel.
Ronni Roberts
Las Vegas

Las Vegas needs a better skate park
This last Friday, May 9, our Las Vegas, N.M., skateboarder Tonati Aparicio-Blythe scored first place in the 13 and under category at the De Vargas Park in Santa Fe.
We at Las Vegas New Mexico Skatepark Advocates ask ourselves: Why aren’t our skaters hitting pristine vert ramps and ripping on a cement-style street skatepark, with ledges, banks, stairs, rails, hubbas and gaps in our own town of Las Vegas? We do not want an unsafe and substandard skatepark in a small fenced up footprint when we are all dreaming of something that is awesome.
We at LVNMSA are working and praying hard for the cosmos to finally align so our community finally gets a long overdue world-class skatepark. Our communication with the mayor and with Parks & Recreation regarding this have only been positive up to now. We thank the entire community for their support in demonstrating that there is a clear need for a safe and quality skatepark in our community. We believe a safe and quality skatepark in town should be a legacy for future generations, and that is the main reason we are thinking big and creative. We trust our city officials to examine and discuss the preliminary project plan we sent them this past Monday, which includes a number of practical steps to work together in 1) the design/build input needs, and 2) finding potential sources of funding, for the success of this project.
Thank you.
Manuel Aparicio
Brian Marquez
Las Vegas NM
Skatepark Advocates

Grad disappointed in Highlands
I am upset to see that the athletic department at Highlands is once again in turmoil. If Highlands University is ever to be a stable university, the regents and especially the president must wake up and realize that solving problems are not handled by merely terminating individuals.
Tiffany Darling is a person that Highlands University should have embraced, not fired. No she did not bring a championship to Highlands, but she graduated her players and bonded them with the community. How can an administration pull the rug on a committed employee when they have not been given the opportunity to look elsewhere?
Just two years ago Highlands was about to terminate the wrestling and rodeo programs without notice and because there was an outcry, the regents stopped it. Who is running the show at Highlands University?
What has Highlands become? Who would want to coach or even teach at Highlands when at any time you could be terminated? The rest of the coaches and interim AD better start looking elsewhere because they may be next.
As an alumnus, I am deeply disappointed on how decisions are made at Highlands. No regard for employees no matter how much they provide for the school, community or students. I have supported Highlands through thick and thin and refuse to do it any longer.
Darwin Ludi
Chula Vista, Calif.

Independents should have say in primaries
Independent voters are coming together in New Mexico to play a role in the mid-term elections, but it’s not the role we are usually cast in by the media as “swing voters.” Instead, on primary day June 3 we’ll be working to be visible at a time when we are most invisible.
Primary elections are a critical juncture in the democratic process. They are often the most competitive. But in New Mexico, independents are not allowed to participate. It is one of 18 states in the country to do so. Other states have put in place restrictions forcing independents to join a party in order to receive a ballot.
As taxpayers, independents help pay for the primaries which only benefits those members of the two major political parties and in which voter turn out is usually low. (An issue to consider is that if the two political parties ran and paid for their own elections and conducted them by mail, the turnout might be higher.)
A recent Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans identify as independent (19 percent in New Mexico and over 25 percent in Bernalillo County), making the issue all the more urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.
Independents support alternative approaches to the current system of private party primaries. In a Top Two nonpartisan primary, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on a single ballot and all voters vote on this ballot. The top two vote-getters go on to the general election. In California such a system has resulted in more competitive elections, less legislative gridlock and candidates being more attentive to their entire constituent base.
On primary day, June 3, independents will be making ourselves seen and heard in new ways.  A change is clearly needed — so that the voices of millions of independent voters who do not now have full voting rights can be heard. We hope to lead the way to a government less hampered by partisanship and more able to move ahead with the business of the country.
George Richmond

Mil gracias
Dear volunteers and Las Vegans,
I want to thank you for helping make the 2014 Historical Society Conference a great success.
I would like to share the following comments from a Historical Society Board Member. “At this point I really want to thank all of you all for making this a great conference. It is certainly thanks to all of the folks at the city of Las Vegas, NMHU, UWC-USA, the hotels, the caterers and others that it was a very successful conference all around. Despite your concerns at times, to the rest of us it worked like clockwork. We won’t apologize for attracting so many attendees-well beyond our expectations (366) - but you made it work somehow.
I have to say this was the best of our conferences among all those I have attended (and often organized) since 2000 when I started attending. Most of this was due to you folks. We have never had so much local support for any of our conferences-far and away.
The program was excellent, with great topics and speakers, and I really think part of this was that Las Vegas was quite a draw for the attendees. Las Vegas was showcased in a great way and I think it bodes well for the future of Las Vegas and San Miguel County even if we did stretch your ability to absorb so many visitors. I was told we filled up four hotels, and everyone seemed pleased at this.”
Everyone in Las Vegas should feel proud of the manner in which this event was staged.
R.e. (Rudy) Laumbach
Chairman, LV_CCHP
Las Vegas

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On April 30 Tierra y Montes Soil and Water Conservation District and the USDA Santa Fe National Forest Pecos/Las Vegas Rangers District held its Eighth Annual Earth Day Outdoor Classroom event.
More than 22 presenters from various agencies and community groups provided presentations from solar energy, wildlife (fishery, wild animal identification, etc.), fire safety and awareness, primitive wilderness backpacking skills, tree planting, and other various natural resource presentations.
In attendance were Legion Park Elementary, Sierra Vista Elementary, Los Niños Elementary, Paul D. Henry Elementary, Tony Serna Elementary, Union School Elementary, and Wagon Public Schools. We would like to thank all these schools and thank all the presenters. Without them this educational outreach would not have been made possible.
In addition, we would like to extend our appreciation to the Las Vegas police chief for allowing his department to take the time to escort the students to and from this educational event, and for patrolling the area. We would also like to thank the New Mexico Department of Transportation for providing the digital boards cautioning drivers about student presence and alerting them for their safety. With the help of these community resources we were able to provide an exceptional Earth Day event for our youth.
Frances Martinez
District Manager for Tierra y Montes SWCD