Letters to the Editor - May 23

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Police academy is common thread
The New Mexico National Guard went and quelled a riot at the New Mexico State Penitentiary on Feb. 2, 1980. The situation was made even more dangerous by the fact that many of the prisoners had gotten into the prison pharmacy, yet none of the prisoners were killed by guardsmen. Our citizen soldiers can stand proud for this great duty performance.
  What seems to be the common denominator in all these police shootings — could it be all the cops are trained at the same police academy?
 J. Emilio Aragon
Las Vegas

Writer: Shooting wasn’t right
Horrible, tragic, senseless and unjustified cannot even explain the shooting of a fired city employee, a member of our community and an individual who loved his family. It is not right and it should never have happened. The city administration needs to carry the brunt on this situation.
Police are like a pack of dogs. One jumps you and the rest attack. They are armed to the teeth with guns, military assault rifles, tear gas, bullets, gun belts, Tasers, handcuffs, police “stomping” boots, bullet proof vests, tear gas grenade launchers, sand-filled police hand gloves, etc. And the most frightening weapon of all — righteous indignation — their word is taken for granted by prosecutors and any court of law.
Heed my words. The state police will cover their tracks, and I anticipate there will be no grand jury investigation and the local district attorney will justify the shooting. As a community let’s brace ourselves. The police are not here to protect and serve. They are being trained to see us as the enemy.
Lorenzo Flores
Las Vegas

More recreational areas needed
Children, teens and adults are not involved with sports because they are unable to afford them, are not allowed to utilize the  courts at the Recreation Center because they are being utilized by the children’s teams that are enrolled in the YABL program, and there is not space for anyone to else to exercise or play ball.
At the Wilson Complex at Highlands University, only students with a valid New Mexico Highlands University I.D. card are allowed. Others are not allowed to use the courts.
There are outdoor courts such as the elementary schools, however they can not be utilized until after school is out for the day and there are no lights for the night. Keys Park has only playgrounds, Lincoln Park has only playgrounds. Soccer fields are being utilized by soccer teams or football teams. There is not much left for anyone else to do who is not involved in sports. More recreational areas are needed.
The movie theaters and drive ins are closed. Yes, you can rent movies but a person ends up having to go to Santa Fe or Albuquerque to attend movie theaters.
How do we expect for our youth and young adults not to get into trouble when there is nothing to do in Las Vegas.
I don’t think that I’ve mentioned every area, but I think I’ve gotten my point across.
Priscilla Larson
Las Vegas

Cutting branch you sit upon
As one of many extranjeros who have chosen to make San Miguel County our home as productive citizens – contributing, not taking – I completely understand why Jackie Abeyta (May 9 Optic letter), among others, may distrust newcomers: the entire history of the land grants has been rife with outsiders who cheated people out of their suertes (individual grants) during the post-civil war era, like “the infamous T. B. Catron and the ‘Santa Fe Ring,’...” Throughout history there have been people from every culture, religion and race of both good and ill will. And the Santa Fe Ring would not have been as successful without cooperation from local land speculators.
Ms. Abeyta is absolutely correct about poverty. Ironically, fracking — disguised as the quick fix for our economic woes — also “steals, kills and destroys” cultures and communities as recently reported in the May 8 Santa Fe New Mexican which details the price paid by Farmington, Carlsbad and Hobbs for their economic “boom.”  
Almost daily, there are reports from fracking sites of water contamination, dead livestock, exploding wells or the trucks/trains that transport the oil/gas, destroying the health of whole communities. Yet, Ms. Abeyta asks for “proof of anyone dying of cancer in Farmington, Hobbs or Artesia.” In fact, UNM confirmed to our video crew who filmed real families living with fracking (some with well pads in their back yards), that Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield have 5 percent of the state’s population – and 20 percent of the state’s cancer cases — stating it was “epidemic”!
The Committee for Clean Water, Air and Earth, and the over 2,000 San Miguel residents who signed petitions supporting a ban on fracking, are keenly aware of the current four-year drought, the hardship on local ranchers, famers and general economic crisis in which some families now find themselves. For 400 years this county has been primarily a ranching community, with small, family-owned businesses and through the centuries, residents have been resourceful in overcoming adversity, without destroying their precious environment.
And, if you want to know whom to trust, follow the money: If we succeed in keeping fracking out, our only profit is the clean water, air and soil necessary for all life. If oil/gas succeed, they (not the County) will walk away with millions, leaving only devastation in their path. Want proof? Look at our neighbors: Colorado, Wyoming – Williston, ND.
Lastly, Ms. Abeyta is willing to rely on the EPA to protect our health and ensure a sustainable environment. If she had done her fracking homework, she would know that the EPA has exempted the powerful oil/gas industry from almost all legislation that might protect us, namely: the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Chemicals Act, among others. Moreover, perhaps blinded by the money, the EPA has often turned a blind eye to some of oil/gas’s most serious disasters.
 Whether you call us “outsiders,” “activists” or “enviro-whackos,” we are good citizens working with the community to develop sustainable growth and economic development to preserve the very culture and lifestyle you defend in your (letter). Perhaps oil/gas is the outsider to fear?
Diana Presser
Las Vegas

Consider the cost of being fracked
There has been some panic lately in Mora County over the two pending lawsuits as expressed so well in John Romero’s letter to the Optic. This case could go on for four or five years he speculates and at $24,000 a month could easily get to be a million dollars that it costs the county! Taxes would have to go way up to pay for it!
The case, however, does not require expensive expert witnesses, does not require famous lawyers like F. Lee Bailey or Johnny Cochran hired by O J Simpson at his trial. It is a one-time constitutional question to be argued at the Federal District Court in Albuquerque by lawyers working pro bono (for the good) or free in other words.
 It is by no means certain to be a loss. All rights have limits as illustrated by one famous Supreme Court judge who pointed out that the right to free speech does not mean that we can yell “fire!” in a crowded movie theater. The right to property is not absolute either. I cannot for example, invite companies to dump nuclear waste on my 20 acres I share with two others. No state would allow such a thing because it imposes harm on neighbors and such actions have “externalities” bad effects over all.
Fracking has externalities. It means the noise and exhaust of diesel generators running day and night to inject toxic chemical solutions into the ground, waste stored in ponds that are buried, gases leaking from the well into the air, and mush more. Courts have now found these to be significant harm in some cases to neighbors.
For those who think it is their patriotic duty to allow this, the gas is almost certain to be sold to China for their huge manufacturing sector. In fact there is talk of selling it to the Ukraine at a cheap price to try and reduce their dependence on Russian gas.
Mr. Romero, like many, believes in strict regulation but regulation to the fracking industry is like “maybe” to a child; it means “yes” and frackers have a long history of getting around it. Even if you like fracking, the ability to say ”no” in any negotiation is essential to negotiating. Otherwise for example, I could offer you one hundred dollars for your car and you would have to sell it.
For those who worry about the cost of a lawsuit should consider the cost of being fracked. A memo leaked from Nationwide Insurance considers fracking unsafe and will revoke or deny homeowners policies in those cases. Realtors report buyers of land as wanting to know if the land was ever fracked and who owns the mineral rights because the value of such land falls dramatically. If you are a neighbor to a fracking operation, the value of your land will drop for many years to come. Our reputation as a drive-through fracking county could hurt all of us.
If the County wins, it must reimburse Royal Dutch Shell for the $75,000 they claim to have put down for possible fracking in Mora County but that amount is an exaggeration considering how cheaply they leased land and in the end, a judge will decide if that amount is fair and may deny it altogether. Shell does not decide the amount but asks that judge. A small price to save the County from a sad fate of being fracked in the middle of national fracking frenzy. Not everyone should be fracked just because they can.
Walid Persen   
Mora County