Archive for August, 2008

Public Service Announcement – New Torrance County Office Hours

by John Weckerle

The Estancia Valley Economic Development Association has informed us that the new hours for the Administrative Office of Torrance county will be from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, beginning Monday, September 29.  The offices will be closed Friday.  The Sheriff’s Department will remain open 5 days a week; for hours of operation, call (505) 246-4773.

It’s Not My Job! Well, It’s Not My Job! — Whose @#$%^%$ Job Is It?

by Chuck Ring

My wife, our dogs and I love to walk on the new town trails and appreciate the money and effort spent on them. We also appreciate the potential beauty of the added plants and other features found along the trails. That is, all the features with the exception of the weeds which are now going to seed. We did not just wake up this morning, never having said anything in the past, and decide to ratchet up the noise about the pollen wafting from their beautiful (not) little blooms. No, we both made our concerns known before the council on at least two occasions. We figured that if we tag-teamed our governing body more attention might be paid since we had one of each; that is, one female and one male. Wrong.

It seems that there is some controversy concerning just who is responsible for pulling or wrestling weeds from the right-of-way and the landscaped areas. It was the town’s contention, that the landscape contractor was responsible for maintenance (including weed abatement) of the right-of-way and landscape plantings. It was, according to a spokesperson, the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s (DOT) contention that the contractor was responsible for watering the plants and no more and the town was or is responsible for weed abatement. »» It’s Not My Job! Well, It’s Not My Job! — Whose @#$%^%$ Job Is It?

A Penny Wise And A Million Plus Foolish?

by Chuck Ring

Soon after the current town administration took office, after some of the blood and gore from dismissals was cleared away, another step was taken that made little sense at the time and even less with clear reflection. I refer to the movement of the town road equipment from a leased location to our wastewater treatment plant (WTP).

Ostensibly (at least, according to our mayor and our then town administrator)  the purpose for the move was to save money paid for the use of the property  leased from former Mayor Howard Calkins. Some have speculated that the action was just one more step toward undoing many things the previous administration had accomplished, with one of the dismissals being the first step in the “undoing” process. Whatever the real reason, it now becomes crystal clear that the move was a dangerous move that could end up costing the town all that it has worked for with the wastewater treatment plant.

The road department stores flammable liquids in the form of vehicle fuel storage tank or tanks, cleaning solvents and other volatile products. Such storage of flammable products at a road department yard is not unusual, however the WTP is not a road department yard and it does not contain a fire abatement mechanism adequate to quench a large fire. There is not a sufficient water storage tank nor water line from a source sufficent for combatting a fire should one self-ignite or be set by some person or persons who might gain entry to the WTP. In short, it does not appear that the town’s own facility, or in this case facilities, meet fireflow requirements that the town might place on privately owned buildings or construction yards. »» A Penny Wise And A Million Plus Foolish?

Au Revoir, Mr. Mayor

by John Weckerle

It was several years ago that I first met Estancia Mayor Marty Hibbs at an Estancia Valley Economic Development Association annual meeting.  At that time, Mr. Hibbs shared some thoughts on rural economic development that were unusually resonant with the thoughts of economic development guru Ernesto Sirolli. Since that time, I have had the privilege of serving with Marty on the EBRA Board of Directors and speaking with him on a number of occasions on topics ranging from economic development to water resources to renewable energy and more. I can honestly say that I can’t recall a conversation with Estancia’s Mayor that I didn’t enjoy, and I feel that I have learned much by working and speaking with him.

Marty’s leadership and dedication to his community, to the Estancia Valley, and to the State of New Mexico are well known, well respected, and widely recognized – and the kudos coming in from all directions confirms that.  To that I would add simply this: For some, service to the community is a fundamental aspect of one’s nature, and I suspect that we will at some time see Marty Hibbs in a new role, giving himself to the community in a new way.  For my part, I think that “au revoir,” and not “adieu,” is the thought I would like to express – along with my gratitude for the service that Marty has given.

A Tale of Two Mayors

Opinion by Walter R. Kruger

Editor’s Note: Walter R. Kruger is the “nom de plume” of an Edgewood area resident who is also a retired armchair economist.

After reading Mayor Robert Stearley’s letter to the editor in the Independent on July 30, 2008, I’m convinced that Edgewood still suffers from the conflicting leadership of two mayors.

The first, Mayor Robert Stearley, has stated on occasions too numerous to count that there are precious few funds to go around for everything our town wants and needs in the way of “quality of life” improvements and amenities. He has reminded us that sewer, police and roads top the priority list, and has stated that expenses for projects like parks, recreation and entertainment may have to wait for better times.

However, the second mayor, also named Mayor Robert Stearley, has stated that the town doesn’t need to look for additional funding sources, like the imposition of Impact Fees on developers, saying, “I believe that our new residents are already paying their fair share of our costs with the Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) they are paying on their construction.” »» A Tale of Two Mayors

Moriarty Chamber Tax Exempt Status Remains Unclear

by John Weckerle

In an August 13 letter to the editor of The Independent, Moriarty Chamber of Commerce president Lee Anne Tapia defends the role of Lee Obarr in Chamber activities. We will leave the subject of Mr. Obarr for another time. Ms. Tapia relates that the Moriarty Chamber had been operating “illegally” – reputedly, in violation of state and federal tax laws – for years, and that Mr. Obarr was instrumental in the “discovery” of the situation.

We find ourselves curious about this statement. Two very credible sources have suggested that the situation was brought to the attention of the IRS by a third party, and that the Moriarty Chamber may be facing the possibility of having to pay substantial fines and back taxes. Unfortunately, we cannot confirm or refute this directly. In a July 22 letter, IRS Exempt Organizations Specialist Joseph Belpulsi states “The Internal Revenue Code includes taxpayer privacy provisions…Accordingly, we cannot disclose what action, if any, the IRS has taken or may take…” with regard to examination of the status of any given organization. The State of New Mexico has similar provisions. That means that the only information we are likely to receive about the IRS problems is what the Chamber releases.More...

Ms. Tapia also states: “…and now your Moriarty Chamber of Commerce is operating as it should with a valid tax ID number, and as a valid 501-C6 non profit organization.” In an August 26, 2008 telephone conversation, an IRS representative named Ms. Mitchell informed us that the IRS had no record of approval of an application for tax-exempt status for the Moriarty Chamber of Commerce or for a reputed – but as yet unconfirmed – alias, the Greater Moriarty Economic Development Association.

The legal status of the Moriarty Chamber as an organization in New Mexico is similarly unclear. A search of the New Mexico NMPRC corporations database provides no results for the Moriarty Chamber of Commerce, suggesting that the organization may never have been incorporated under that name. Unconfirmed rumors have circulated in recent months that the organization might be operating under another name, the Greater Moriarty Economic Development Organization. The database does contain an entry for the Greater Moriarty Economic Development Association, whose makeup appears to be similar, if not identical, to the organization calling itself the Moriarty Chamber of Commerce. It is unclear whether these are the same organization and, if so, how the organization could operate legally under one name and be registered under another – or, for that matter, why it should choose to do so.

It would certainly be in the Chamber’s best interest to openly and honestly disclose its status and discuss the issues it is facing; as noted above, the whirlpool of rumor and innuendo is substantial, and can only serve to damage the Chamber’s reputation. We invite the Moriarty Chamber to clarify its status by providing us with a copy of its letter from the IRS approving their status as a 501(c)(6) organization (which we will be glad to post here upon request), and to explain the other apparent inconsistencies and points of confusion regarding its status both as a tax-exempt organization and a corporation in the State of New Mexico.

Anyone can verify the tax exempt status of an organization by calling the IRS at 1-877-829-5500.

Harvest Festival, Run Rally & Rock A Success

by John Weckerle

Wildlife West Nature Park’s Harvest Festival and Edgewood’s annual Run, Rally & Rock event, organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, were held this weekend. Both events were hosted by Wildlife West.

Festivities began with a sock hop Friday night, and continued with Wildlife West’s annual 5K Pronghorn Fun Run & Pancake Breakfast the next morning. Edgewood’s first parade, organized largely by Chamber volunteers Judy Hudgins and Pauline Freeman, was also held Saturday morning. With 110 entries, the parade was reportedly both well organized and well attended, and a great time was had by all. Former mayor Howard Calkins participated, riding one of his well-known antique tractors. Town Councilors Rita Loy Simmons, Brad Hill, John Abrams, and Glenn Felton served as judges for the parade. Conspicuously absent from the festivities was current mayor Bob Stearley, who earlier this year spearheaded a successful effort to eliminate most of the Town’s funding for the events. »» Harvest Festival, Run Rally & Rock A Success

I Saved The Energy. The Bulb Is Dead. So Is The Computer. Now What?

by John Weckerle

Well, with respect to the compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) bulbs you’ve been told not to toss in the trash, there’s a handy option. On June 24, The Home Depot announced that it would accept expired CFLs at all their stores. Just take them to the returns desk, and the representative there will take them. As most of us know, the nearest store to New Mexico’s REAL Central Valley and the East West Mountains is the one on Eubank Blvd SE and Central Avenue, just north of Costco.

This is short notice, but New Mexico Business Weekly reports that the City of Albuquerque, Intel, KOAT TV, and Natural Evolution have teamed up to hold their annual electronics recycling drive. Unfortunately, we were late in discovering this information, and the time for small businesses to drop off their old equipment was today. Residents may drop their items off tomorrow. For times and locations, see the New Mexico Business Weekly article.

Santa Fe Conservation Trust Presentation On Conservation Easements

by John Weckerle

The Santa Fe Conservation Trust will visit Edgewood to discuss new State funding for conservation easements. The meeting will be held at the Wildlife West Nature Park bean barn on Sunday, September 14 from 3 to 4 p.m. Admission to the presentation is free. For more information, see the event flyer.

Conservation easements are voluntary, legally binding agreements between landowners and a government agency or other entity that limit or prohibit certain uses or restrict development on a given property in order to preserve important resources – for example, habitat, agricultural capacity, and archaeological sites. Landowners may donate the easement, potentially making them eligible for State and federal tax incentives, or they may be paid directly by the entity holding the easement. Tax advantages may include reductions in both income tax and estate taxes, making conservation easements a potential tool for helping to keep estates intact upon bequest. Conservation easements are binding upon future owners of the land.

Since its inception in 1993, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust has protected more than 30,000 acres of land in Santa Fe county and surrounding counties. The organization is a federally recognized, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, meaning that donations are tax-deductible.

Mountainair Community Garden Building Up Steam

by John Weckerle

Checking in with our friends at the Mountainair Arts blog, we find that the efforts toward building a community vegetable garden, spearheaded by iCreate, has been moving forward. A planning meeting was held last Thursday, and another will be held this Thursday, August 21, at 6 p.m. at the Community Park. For more information, including links to associated articles and information about the field trip in September, check out the letter from Dennis Fulfer posted August 18 on the Mountainair Arts blog.

Contrary to what you’re hearing, “The Sky is not falling”!

by Kelly Krauth

Disclosure: Kelly is a mortgage broker at Vanguard Mortgage. Your editor is a Vanguard customer.

Every time you hear the news or see a report on the current economic status, you are sure to hear those words, “The Mortgage Crisis”. The national media continues to publicize and advertise to consumers that investing in real estate is a bad idea. What they are trying to do is to make real estate into a national market and look like the Crash of 1929! This is simply not the case!

The majority of the delinquencies and foreclosures that are being publicized are concentrated in the subprime market. Agreeably there is a huge increase in foreclosures but it is mainly because of borrowers who, in most cases, would not have previously qualified for a conforming loan. These borrowers were given a “golden ticket” to buy a home that they obviously did not qualify to own. Lenders began to advertise these great new programs, i.e. adjustable rate mortgages, “no fee” loans and many people signed on in order to obtain the great American dream of home ownership. Things like Stated Income, and Stated Asset loans (SISA) allowed these borrowers to do this easily without much verification; basically negating normal conditions that would traditionally be required to “qualify” for a home loan. Normal requirements such as steady, dependable employment, assets, reserves, and good credit were no longer a necessity. Basically anyone could now buy a home. But at what cost? »» Contrary to what you’re hearing, “The Sky is not falling”!

Grow Your Own – Food Aplenty

by John Weckerle

This week we return to our regular (more or less) garden report. Both beds are doing very well, although the peppers have been largely overwhelmed by the surrounding plants (but are still trying to put out a few peppers for us). We’re not too concerned about that, as we have peppers growing in pots on the deck. Over the past week, the string beans have been the star, having yielded about three pounds of beans or so. Some of these were steamed and then tossed in a wok with olive oil, dill, and lemon juice, and the rest are headed for tonight’s string bean casserole. Last night was pasta primavera, with everything except onions and tomatoes (and, of course, the pasta) coming from the garden. Several eggplants (white and regular) are nearly ready to pick – there will be a lot of them before all this is through – and we picked the first tomato yesterday. The spaghetti squash also looks as if it is nearly ready to collect. »» Grow Your Own – Food Aplenty

Subscribe To New Mexico Central By E-Mail or RSS Feed!

by John Weckerle

There are now two new ways to subscribe to!  Readers can now subscribe via e-mail using the Subscribe to New Mexico Central link located just below the calendar.  You can also add the blog to your RSS feeds.  In Internet Explorer, click on the “feeds” button, select either RSS 2.0 or Atom 0.3 (either should work for you).  Then select Tools -> Subscribe to this Feed, and subscribe!  In Firefox, select Bookmarks -> Subscribe to This Page, and select your feed options.  Note: The full text of the articles may not appear in the feeds page, but you will at least be able to see part of the article, and a link to the full version will be provided.

Two Agenda Monty

by John Weckerle

The Town of Edgewood has scheduled a special Town Council meeting for Tuesday, August 19, 2008 (see agenda). A regular meeting is scheduled for the following day, August 20 (see agenda). At the special meeting, the Council will proceed immediately into closed session, and then return to discuss a number of items of potentially broad public interest. These include such topics as the location and budget for the municipal library, personnel issues, acquisition of a bridge, and “miscellaneous.”

“Miscellaneous?” Use of such a word on an agenda – which is intended to inform the public of the topics to be discussed – appears inappropriate, especially in the context of the “sunshine laws” that govern public disclosures in New Mexico.

Of special interest are the resolutions listed in the agenda – one for “Restriction of Gross Receipts Tax Derived from New Construction,” and one for “Budget Resolution.” Seeing such items on the agenda for a special meeting rather than the regular meeting raises questions regarding the reasons for such scheduling. One would expect that items of such obvious interest to the community would be discussed during a regular meeting, allowing for full disclosure and discussion before the widest segment of the public possible. Given the potential significance of the decisions to be made, it would seem appropriate to invite public comment before making decisions on these issues.

The proposed text of the resolution is not attached to the agenda, nor is it available on the Town’s web site. Neither are any of the resolutions passed by the Town Council In fact, the word “resolution” is not used on the site at all. Neither is the proposed agenda posted on the Town web site. This seems fundamentally at odds with the open government platform on which candidates ran – successfully – in the March election. What arises is the impression of a shadowy method of policy making: holding special meetings to enact resolutions at off-cycle Council meetings without publishing the proposed – or final – resolutions on which discussions are to be held. Where resolutions are to be discussed and acted upon, we strongly urge the Town to publish the draft in advance, and all final resolutions, on the Town web site.

New Blood On The Ol’ Blog

by John Weckerle

NM-Central welcomes guest contributor Kelly Krauth of Edgewood to our bullpen of correspondents. Kelly, co-owner of Vanguard Mortgage Services, has offered to write articles on the regional implications of the mortgage crisis and the economy. We look forward to seeing Kelly’s first article soon!