Officials learn of change after fact

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By David Giuliani

City Councilman Andrew Feldman had planned to water his lawn after last Wednesday’s council meeting.

He was told he couldn’t.

Both Feldman and Mayor Tony Marquez found out during the meeting that the city had entered Stage 2 water restrictions two days earlier, which is in response to the dropping water levels in the city’s reservoirs, which are at 72 percent of capacity.

The city entered what are known as Stage 2 water rules, which means residents with even-numbered addresses can water on Mondays and odd-numbered addresses on Tuesdays. Watering hours are from 6-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m.

When told about the heightened restrictions at the meeting, Feldman, who has been involved in city water issues for the last few years, said he was embarrassed that he didn’t know about the latest change.

“I must have missed it. We need to have an advertising campaign. I have noticed a lot of people watering outside the Monday-Tuesday limit. This is critical,” he said.

The mayor followed suit, acknowledging that he, too, didn’t know about the decision.

Councilwoman Diane Moore said she had found  out about the Stage 2 restrictions on the radio and in the newspaper.

Utilities Director Ken Garcia said he hadn’t thought of e-mailing the council members about the Stage 2 restrictions. His boss, City Manager Timothy Dodge, said he would make a better effort to inform the council.

Garcia said his office is encouraging residents to call in if they see violations of the city’s water-use ordinance. He said the city would issue citations, the first one being a warning and subsequent ones involving fines.

“We won’t go in with a heavy-handed approach. It takes a while for people to get the message,” he said.

Moore said she was concerned about people who have domestic wells inside of city limits who can continue to water their lawns despite the limits on water system users.

Garcia said that issue would need to be explored.


In other City Council business:


A state district judge has found Tony Ortega, a frequent violator of city codes, in violation of a court order, a city official said. He was sentenced to six months in jail, all of which was suspended as long as he complied with further orders of the court, the official said.

“This is a major victory for the city,” City Attorney Carlos Quiñones said.

Ortega was ordered to clean up his properties in the Railroad area, but he has been moving all of the inoperable vehicles and other piles of junk to his land along Interstate 25. That land has also been found to be in city limits.

Quiñones said the city may have to go to court again if Ortega violates the order.

• • •

Ralph Gallegos, a state hospital employee, praised the work of the Las Vegas Police Department.

“it’s sad to see an officer get cleared and then he gets criticized by our local publication,” he said, referring to Optic stories about Sgt. Martin Salazar, who was cleared in a state police investigation sparked by jailers’ allegations that Salazar had threatened to hurt a female suspect.

“Your department is outstanding,” Gallegos told Police Chief Gary Gold. “The officers need a lot more respect.”

The audience at the council meeting applauded Gallegos’ statement.

• • •

Councilwoman Diane Moore said the city needs to have an in-house attorney, rather than contracting for those services. “The (legal line item) was way over budget last year. We’re on track to do the same thing this year,” she said.

She asked City Manager Timothy Dodge if the city was looking for an in-house attorney.

“At this time, no,” he responded.

Moore promised to bring up the issue again.

Carlos Quiñones, an attorney from Santa Fe, has provided legal services to the city since March 2008.

• • •

City Manager Timothy Dodge suggested the city consider drafting an ordinance to deal with parking problems near Robertson High School. The school district said it has enough parking spaces for students on campus, yet many students park on the street, much to the chagrin of neighbors.