Letters to the Editor


It helps if you understand issue
The new rule for the Socorro Consolidated School District and all districts in the state stipulates: “If you own 20 percent of any business that does any kind of work or has any kind of contract, you have to sign a disclosure form.”

The new rule is somewhat clear for those who can read and understand the English language. As stated, it applies to those who work for the school district and who own 20 percent or more of a business that does work or has any kind of contract with the Socorro Consolidated Schools.
The rule does not apply to businesses that sell goods and services to individual workers of the district outside their work hours and outside the walls of the district properties.
Thus, it doesn’t apply to Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc., sellers who also work for the district. These businesses do not sell their products to the district through bids or contracts like Jaramillo Plumbing and other bigger service providers.
I am glad that board President Ann Shiells somewhat clarified this issue in her statement in the article, “Change in law means full disclosure for board members,” in the July 12 edition under “Avon Calling” as follows: “I thought it was just if you did business with the school district.”
Pauline Jaramillo has not been asked to disclose her Curves business, because Curves doesn’t do business with the Socorro Consolidated School District even though many district workers do business with Curves.
If board members wish to serve well the SCSD and its employees and the people of Socorro, they ought to read and understand the rules before jumping in and making statements that will hurt everyone as a whole.
Perhaps, the best attitude is to not say anything at all if you cannot say something good and something that makes sense.
Best wishes, D.J. Maiga, Socorro

Old water rights especially complex
T.S. Last wrote a thoughtful article about the various interests competing for water and the rich and complex mixture of private property rights, public interests and law surrounding the matter. We beg to differ regarding the sweeping statement that the people of San Marcial lost their water rights after the flood of 1929 “wiped the town off the map.”
Charles Headen, a prominent Socorro title and abstract man, died a few weeks ago in the middle of a long legal battle with the State Engineer about water rights forfeiture and abandonment and the effect on water rights of the devastating floods of 1929 and 1937 in San Marcial, La Mesa and Val Verde, where he owned many of the old farms. Today, those towns and the surrounding farms are buried under silt deposits as deep in places as a two story house.
Headen asserted, with ample support in the case law of New Mexico, and a deeply held common sense notion of justice and fairness, that devastating floods that prevented continued irrigation in southern Socorro County should not and did not legally extinguish ancient water rights, to thereafter be silently soaked up, literally, by junior ground wells upstream. Headen sought a court decree, aggressively opposed by the State Engineer, that those ancient rights remain valid, attached to the land where the first settlers built acequias and tapped into the Rio Grande for irrigation.
At Mr. Headen’s death, his position was vigorously alive and well. Over the course of two years he survived State Engineer motions to dismiss and to summarily reject his case. In April and May, he made his trial presentation with hundreds of pages of historical exhibits, several witnesses who were descendants of La Mesa and Val Verde farmers and water experts. Trial was set to resume in August, but this setting was interrupted by his death.
Mr. Headen’s trial will likely conclude in the next few months. We suggest that Mr. Last keep his eye on it for a better understanding of the especially complex area of forfeiture and abandonment of old water rights. May we also suggest that people of Socorro County be vigilant and wary of the State Engineer’s readiness to point in every direction and conclude that ancient Socorro County water rights do not exist or have been lost.   
Socorro County is at the end of the Middle Rio Grande stretch of the river, which makes it vulnerable to upstream snatching of the Rio Grande’s flow. In allocating our finite water resources, one man’s loss is truly another’s gain. The people of Socorro County should never assume that the State Engineer has the last word as to who owns water rights and who controls the gate upstream.
Anthony J. Williams, Attorney at Law – Albuquerque
Suzanne Smith, Water Rights Consultant – Socorro