Archive for September, 2008

Grow Your Own – Winding Down

by John Weckerle

With the beginning of autumn now safely behind us, we find that the yield on the garden has begun to decline.  At least part of this is due to the fact that something, probably a squirrel, managed to gain entry to the south bed and took out several eggplants and part of the string beans.  I believe it was entering through a spot where the vegetation had pushed the chicken wire away from the frame, and have closed that point of entry.  They have had access to the north bed, and have been taking tomatoes.  New enclosures next year should prevent future depredations.

There are still a few string beans to be had from time to time, and the zucchini and yellow squash continue to produce.  the first of the brussels sprouts should be ready in a couple of days.  There will still likely be enough eggplant for one more parmigiana.  The spaghetti squash provided dinner Friday and lunch yesterday (made with tomato sauce and Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs).  The lettuce is about gone, and the field greens are still too small to harvest, so at this point it’s just a question of how long we can hold out before the frost.

Transportation Tax, Good Or Bad?

by Bob Steiner

Since becoming governor, Bill Richardson has done a lot for this state. The various construction activities he has championed under G.R.I.P. (Governor Richardson’s Improvement Program) are, for the most part, commendable and noteworthy projects. Now as we approach the November 4th election,we are called upon to vote for a tax which provides little or no tangible benefits to citizens of South Santa Fe County. For the reasons listed below, in this particular case, I ask you to vote no on this transportation tax.

At a recent meeting in Edgewood, Mr Guillen from the Regional Transportation District out of Santa Fe, stated that the proposed transportation tax would provide some funding for bus commuters who travel daily from the Edgewood-Moriarty-Stanley area to Santa Fe ( a recent physical count at the bus stops in question revealed there were a total of 13 area residents taking advantage of this service). This limited ridership doesn’t justify the spending of any tax money. According to Mr. Guillen, while other benefits for our area might be forthcoming, half of the funds brought in are destined to go to support the ailing Railrunner, a Richardson G.R.I.P. endeavor. I  just seem to find it difficult to understand how I, or any East Mountain resident, living some thirty miles East of the rail line, would receive any benefit from this additional assessment.

Since the tax proposal was first annnounced some weeks ago, I have been discussing the ramifications of this plan with other citizens, who seemed to not really understand or appreciate the impact of such a tax. I had really begun to be disheartened regarding this tax when Santa Fe County Commmisioner Jack Sullivan announced that he was against this matter. Then on Wednesday morning on AM770 at 7:00 A.M.there was an hour-long discussion on this tax, which is also on the ballot in three other counties. All of the call-in participants spoke out in opposition to the plan! This has given me hope and for the reasons stated, as well as the fact that we have no representation within the Transportation District, causes me to appeal to you and all Santa Fe County voters to vote no on this measure. Let’s Slip The GRIP!

Litter Be Gone — But, The Weeds Stay Put

by Chuck Ring

At the last Edgewood Town Council meeting, Diane Stearley announced NM/Edgewood Clean & Beautiful, the Town of Edgewood and the Edgewood Chamber of Commerce will be  sponsoring a cleanup day. The event is to be September 27, 2008 (this coming Saturday).

Edgewood Cleanup

Interested individuals are asked to meet at the Edgewood Town Offices at 9:30 AM. Hopefully, they will be issued gloves, bags, orange vests (?) and other necessities such as coffee and donuts (one of the major food groups).  Once everyone has signed on and each person has his or her assigned area and has agreed to not hold snakes and rats responsible for any bites, the real gathering will begin.  Hopefully, there will not be near the litter that has shown up in the past. This year, we have newly landscaped areas on Old 66 (State Road 333) that have not grown weeds. Unfortunately there are plenty of weeds to attack on State Road 344 At The Risk Of ……… if we could just find a mayor to act or some weed soldiers to man the tanks.

It has now been 32 days since I first spoke with the mayor about hiring someone to get rid of the weeds, or in the alternative, to  pressure or partner with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to do so.

Can anyone say, “Open government with closed ears and pocketbook?”

Moriarty Chamber Confesses: No Tax-Exempt Status

by John Weckerle

Word has reached us (through a local resident who attended the September 9 Moriarty City Council meeting) that the Moriarty, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce has admitted that it is does not have IRS recognition as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization.  According to that resident, Chamber spokesman Glenn Tillery advised the City Council that the Chamber did not have such status and did not know when it would, and apologized for the “miscommunication.”

Questions regarding the Moriarty Chamber of Commerce’s tax exempt status were raised in our August 26th article, which examined published statements by Moriarty Chamber president Lee Anne Tapia that the chamber was “operating as it should with a valid tax ID number, and as a valid 501-C6 non profit organization.”  Our article clearly established that the latter, at least, was not the case – the IRS stated that they had no record of such status.  Since then, we have received unconfirmed reports that other Chamber officials were meeting with businesses, one at a time, and similarly stating that the Chamber had obtained 501(c)(6) status. We would appreciate any information that might help to substantiate or refute these reports. »» Moriarty Chamber Confesses: No Tax-Exempt Status

And, They Did

by Chuck Ring

Have A Heart … Give A Hand And a great hand and big heart it was. On Saturday, September 20th, 2008, citizens from Edgewood and the rest of the Estancia Valley turned out to  raise money for the Tony Jaramillo family (see details in preceding link).

From community leaders such as Edgewood Mayor Bob Stearley with wife Diane and Edgewood Town Counselor Rita-Loy Simmons and  hundreds of other area citizens, the generosity and caring nature of those who attended and bid for items in the silent auction or purchased food and baked goods was demonstrative of the general top-notch nature of our citizenry. The fund raiser was successful in all aspects and the proceeds will help the Jaramillo’s to move forward from their tragedy.

The Jaramillo’s have asked that their deep appreciation for all who assisted be passed on. So, everyone, please believe – you are deeply appreciated.

Three Hits and A Dismal Mess Of A Miss

by Chuck Ring

At last Wednesday’s (September 17, 2008) Edgewood Town Council meeting there were at least three hits. There may have been more, but I left before the meeting concluded and the agenda did not foretell the distinct possibility of other great or decent occurrences during the meeting. On to the three hits:

  1. Councilor Abrams asked for and received a promise from the mayor that the mayor would move post-haste to appoint a renewable energy committee/commission. This promise after some prodding from others. See All Aboard … An Energy Board
  2. Councilor Hill gained the support of the mayor to investigate and possibly strangle the impact fees the town passes on to Santa Fe County. Both Councilor Hill and Mayor Stearley are to address this issue with Santa Fe County authorities. While at it, they may as well attempt to obtain the 1/4 cent gross receipts tax the county promised to look at forgiving
  3. Mayor Stearley finally and wisely broached the subject of hiring a consulting firm to help in the establishment of wastewater user fees. The fees must cover operating and maintenance costs plus any principal and interest payments to retire the debt incurred for the treatment plant.

Ah, the mess and the miss? The reader, if attentive and a regular reader, will remember that this article North To Taxland and responses to it, reported on the North Central Regional Transit District’s transportation service. The article provided further links, among other information, regarding details of a referendum to be placed on the ballot during the forthcoming general election in November. The article posed the possibility that the district’s operation in the southern portion of the county can offer little to the bulk of Edgewood area citizens. Additionally, the article pointed out the likelihood that fully one-half of the proposed tax would accrue to the Railrunner system and Edgewood does not have representation on the district board. »» Three Hits and A Dismal Mess Of A Miss

Response to “North to Taxland”

by John Weckerle

Normally, I would post this as a comment, but it’s a bit long.

Chuck raises some great points, but I think there may be even more to the story – especially with respect to the anemic ridership numbers.  Given the name of the line – Greater Eldorado Express – and the ridership, I think we can theorize that the primary benefit goes to the Eldorado users.  However, that may be as much a function of schedule as anything else.

Let us first underline Mr. Ring’s acknowledgement that there is currently no fare for riding the buses (we confirmed this by visiting the RTD web site, and we’d like to suggest that they charge everybody a nickel and hire a competent webmaster), that is not to say that riding the bus might not h hidden costs that could outweigh the benefits of a “free” ride.

Let’s look at a few “center to center” mileage and hour estimates collected from Mapquest for the driving distances involved (one way, to Santa Fe) and ridership:

  • Edgewood – 62.3 miles, 70 minutes, 5 passengers
  • Moriarty – 54.3 miles, 65 minutes, 3 passengers
  • Stanley – 42.5 miles, 51 minutes, 3 passengers
  • El Dorado, – 13.2 miles, 23 minutes, 25 passengers

If there is really anybody who takes 70 minutes to get from Edgewood to Santa Fe, I look forward to waving as I pass them the next time I make the trip. »» Response to “North to Taxland”

North To Taxland

by Chuck Ring

Readers will recall a short notice posted  on the 5th of September with an announcement of a meeting on September 10th. If you don’t recall here is the notice  Taxation & Transportation, ETC 

The notice provides an attachment which was supposed to give the meeting time (6:30 PM) and the meeting location (the Edgewood Community Center). Myself and three others appeared for the meeting at 6:30 PM, but there was no one present to open the facility. At approximately 6:45 PM, Mr. Ivan Guillen, the Assistant Regional Coordinator for the North Central Regional Transit District (the district),  arrived to apologize, stating that the meeting was supposed to have been announced for 7:30 PM rather than 6:30 PM. Mr. Guillen was very gracious and offered to provide information for those of us present so we would not have to wait until 7:30 PM for the new meeting time.

Mr. Guillen took questions from those present regarding the existing system operated by the district from Eldorado south and in response to a question regarding the daily ridership from Edgewood north since January 2008 and through August 2008 stated that the average ridership to and from the communites served was as follows:

  • Edgewood – 5
  • Moriarty  – 3
  • Stanley – 3
  • Eldorado – 25

Mr. Guillen stated that the present cost of the transportation is $240,000 per year and the funds are provided through a federal grant and stipends from Santa Fe County and Santa Fe City as well as some other member entities of the district. At present there is no fee paid by the riders of the 57 passenger bus provided by the district. In a telephone conversation with Mr. Guillen today (September 17, 2008) I was informed by him that the operating  contract cost for Fiscal Year 2010 for the system which serves Edgewood north to Santa Fe will be $319,000 plus gross receipts tax.

I asked Mr. Guillen if the 1/8 cent gross receipts tax (previously the subject of at least one other article by this writer) Eh! We Will! No, We Won’t — Well, We Might? would be the financing vehicle for the continuation of the system and he replied that one-half of the tax would help finance the system, while the remaining 1/16 cent would accrue to the Railrunner. No doubt to keep the bird’s beak above water and full of lizards.

The reader of this article and the previous article hyperlinked should recognize several things when considering the impact of  the district operations and the Railrunner:

  • few folks from Stanley south are/will directly benefit from the district’s operations
  • few people, if any, from Stanley south will directly benefit from the Railrunner operation
  • Governor Richardson’s  GRIP which is the daddy of the Railrunner has been a gaint milking machine that certainly has a “GRIP” on most of New Mexico’s population
  • this 1/8 cent tax is yet another example of Santa Fe County’s propensity to tax without any consideration for allowing citizens from this town to serve on the board governing the beneficiary, i.e., the district or to provide any real direct benefit
  • the water/wastewater tax and the dispatch/emt tax are two more examples of the above
  • without opposition from the citizens of Santa Fe City, this tax will pass because the rest of the county does not have votes enough to defeat the referendum
  • “Death and Taxes?” There will be more of each.

It is our money. I guess we can toss it to the great northern sucking machine and let it go for nothing if we desire.

Sometimes We Forget

 by Chuck Ring

Sometimes we forget to thank or otherwise recognize the news media when they do something extraordinarily nice. So it goes. Even when they announce events for two or three weeks running. Not only do many of us fail to attend their events, we never get around to expressing our gratitude for their sponsorship of different events that recognize our area volunteers or help our organizations to succeed. »» Sometimes We Forget

Public Service Announcement … Infrastructure Finance Conference

by Chuck Ring

Of particular interest to elected county and municipal officials and staff members of those entities is this information received by email from the United State Department of Agriculture 13th Annual New Mexico Infrastructure Finance Conference

If you fit the above mentioned categories and you are building a sewer, a library, a town center, a police facility or you even think you might, your attendance will be money well spent. ANYONE?

All Aboard … An Energy Board

by Chuck Ring

Councilor John Abrams was elected to the Edgewood Town Council in March of this year (2008) and he hit the proverbial ground at a high run seeking to put Edgewood on the map as one of the first, if not the first town to have its own renewable energy system/department. Working with Ms. Mahalick, Edgewood Planning and Zoning Director, Councilor Abrams sought a grant for financing the beginning of a study for the feasibility of such an endeavor. Councilor Abrams asked Mayor Stearley to appoint a board to pursue the energy project, so the town could be assured of prioritizing steps to bring the project to fruition.

The initial request was not fulfilled by the mayor and the request was made again by Councilor Abrams within the last two months. Councilor Abrams was not present for the last council meeting due to illness, but a citizen spoke to the mayor and the remaining council members during the public comment portion of the meeting to ask that Councilor Abrams’ request be honored.  During the same meeting it was announced that a renewable energy grant applied for by Edgewood through the State of New Mexico had been denied due to a plethora of applicants and scant grant resources in total.

It would seem that there is no good reason not to appoint the committee requested by Councilor Abrams and a potential time and monetary gain to be realized if we start the process without undue delay. The sun and wind may not see a price increase, but many of the required materials and supplies will see substantial increases as we reflect (solar) and spin (wind).

Here’s a link to information from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission PRC Renewable Energy Information

Board Members Beware

by John Weckerle

Given the amount of interest (and correspondence) generated by our earlier article on the tax exempt status of the Moriarty Chamber of Commerce, we find this recent letter in the Albuquerque Journal rather interesting.  In the letter, the author, Linda Drilling of the Country Club Homeowners Assocation in Deming, expresses the opinion that a judge’s recent decision renders null and void certain state laws associated with “so-called immunity” for the directors of nonprofit organizations.

Little information is easily available on the case – it’s apparently a recent case, and disputes involving homeowners associations may fly a little below the broad radar of journalism -  and the specifics are perhaps less important than the broader issue in any case.  “So-called immunity” is perhaps a better choice of words than Ms. Drilling realizes; the statute does grant some level of immunity, but specifically excludes situations in which:

  1. the director has breached or failed to perform the duties of the director’s office; and
  2. the breach or failure to perform constitutes willful misconduct or recklessness.

Altogether too many people, including nonprofit board members, are under the impression that there is a blanket immunity granted that essentially prescribes that those who do good can do no wrong.  This is in error. The law does appear to grant some protection to those who find themselves in difficulty due to innocent mistakes and the acts of others, but that protection can be tenuous, and there is no protection for those who choose to “play it fast and loose” with the law and ethics associated with serving on nonprofit boards. The short course I took on this issue earlier this year through Jean Block Consulting in Albuquerque was very informative, and I highly recommend that those serving on nonprofit boards consider taking this or similar training to learn just what is expected of them by those who can award damages.

Have A Heart … Give A Hand

by Chuck Ring 

Many who reside in the Estancia Valley are well acquainted with the Tony Jaramillo family. The family has operated a service station and garage in Edgewood on the north side of the Edgewood Exit for around 36 years. The family members have shown their community spirit in various ways through the years. They have helped many valley citizens in distress by donating goods, services and labor for the repair of vehicles, even going so far as to loan vehicles for extended periods. Last year, the family, with Tony Jr. at the helm, worked with a local church and area businesses to help unwed mothers with gifts of oil changes and other needed maintenance items. Side benefits for the mothers included personal pampering such as free beauty products and free nail polishing. The family has donated Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to the senior center in Edgewood for over twenty years and Tony Jr., his wife Audrey and children have contributed their time and other resources to produce the annual car show at Valley View Christian Church for five years running. The rest of the family’s gracious efforts are too numerous to mention, but they have been of benefit to a wide segment of the valley population. 

Sadly, on Monday, September 8, 2008 Larry Jaramillo, (son of Tony Sr. and Josie) who would have been 42 years of age on October 17 was killed in an automobile accident as he and his mother were traveling on I-40 west of Edgewood. Ms. Jaramillo (Josie) was injured, but is recovering. Larry, challenged by autism and Parkinson’s disease, is remembered as a young man of God who inspired others much healthier than himself. On Wednesday (September 11, 2008) A funeral was conducted for Larry in Edgewood. A funeral attended by an estimated 500 mourners. This was fitting, as Larry’s wish was for a “big” funeral. 

The accident, hospital and funeral expenses for the family have been very burdensome without insurance and Jerry and Dinah Gevedon, the owners of DJ’s Dog House are managing an effort to raise funds to help the Jaramillo’s defray expenses. In addition to donating items and proceeds from their business during a portion of the business day on September 20th, they are also offering their parking lot and other facilities for a silent auction and bake sale on the same day. DJ’s employees are generously donating their labor for the event. Additionally, many community business owners are donating products for the silent auction. Members of Larry’s church and other community volunteers will help organize the event and will be present to assist during the events.  

The family requests prayer during the following weeks as Josie recovers and life without Larry continues.

  An announcement is to run in  the Mountain View Telegraph next week and is repeated here:

Fundraiser/Silent Auction/Bake Sale

All proceeds benefit Jaramillo Family

Saturday, September 20th, 2:30pm to 6:30pm at DJ’s Doghouse/Edgewood Hwy 344 and Dinkle

Phone: 286-9933 

Individuals or Businesses wishing to contribute Silent Auction items, please contact:Chuck Ring, cell # 263-3268 or email cring@comcast.net     

Those wishing to donate bake sale items should call DJ’s Dog house at 286-9933 to arrange for your contributions.

The photo below shows Larry and his nephew Nickolas during an outingLarry and nephew Nicolas in 2006

 

And Now For Something That, While Similar, Is Completely Different

by John Weckerle

We join you again today from Myrtle Beach, SC.  Yesterday we visited the Sculpture Gardens at Brookgreen Gardens – and found that Brookgreen is certainly a multi-day attraction.  After a “lazy day” today, we will be returning to Brookgreen tomorro to visit the Low Country Zoo.  In the meantime, here are some photos taken at the sculpture gardens – although they’re not all sculpture.  I’m also providing a shot of the moon as seen from our balcony Tuesday night.  Hand-held at 1/40th of a second! »» And Now For Something That, While Similar, Is Completely Different

Wildlife West Bills Town $20K

by John Weckerle

At last week’s Town Council meeting in Edgewood, Wildlife West Nature Park’s founder and director, Roger Alink, provided a report on the summer music festival’s success and surprised the Council with a bill for $20,000 – the amount originally budgeted by the Council prior to the March election. Mr. Alink advised us that, after leaving the meeting, he was accosted verbally by local resident Janelle Turner, who repeated her objections to Town funding on the basis of noncompliance with the State anti-donation clause – a position that has been successfully refuted and has been dropped even by those in the Town administration and on the Council who raised it in the first place, as well as by the Town attorney.

Mr. Alink has indicated that three attorneys have advised him that, since the Council never officially rescinded the original funding, the Town remains obligated to pay what it originally budgeted, regardless of whether the MOU was signed or not.  Mr. Alink may have a stronger case than he knows.  It is a basic tenet of contract law that a contract may exist in the absence of a signed instrument when both parties behave as if there is a contract in force.  In requiring the Park to undergo a fire inspection as a precondition to signing the MOU, Mayor Bob Stearley appears to have done exactly that, and to have obligated the Town to pay.

It is anybody’s guess whether the Town will pay – and if not, whether the Park will seek legal recourse.  In our opinion, we feel that, especially given the budget windfalls that the Town has experienced in recent months, the Town should do the right thing, pay the bill, and then decide on a course forward with respect to future summer music festivals.