Letters to the Editor (3/2/2013)
Dead smell more than just manure
The Chieftain’s Feb. 23 issue referred to the odor from a “manure problem” on the east side of Socorro. Trust me, the smell of manure is NOT the problem — as New Mexicans, we’re used to that. What we’ve not been exposed to before — and what’s at the heart of the complaint — is the strong, sickening stench of seriously rotting meat.
Saying that nothing can be done because this is “agriculture” is not true. The new (absentee) Socorro property owner who lives in Belen is evidently composting (as opposed to fertilizing) with dead animals. Composting farm mortalities requires a special permit. Does the property owner have a composting license? I’m guessing he doesn’t. According to an expert on this subject, if this were a properly-managed carcass-composting process, it would have virtually no odor. But this operation stinks — literally and figuratively. We also have no guarantee that the dead animals do not pose a health risk.
In this area (the eastside) of Socorro, we are frequently subjected to odors from an inadequately-maintained sewage treatment facility. Now we are being exposed to the stench of rotting meat. Although I appreciate the efforts of Mayor Bhasker in trying to seek a resolution to this, having to wait until late March for the property owner to “spread the manure” is not a solution. If the property owner has been conducting this activity illegally, he should be cited, fined, required to immediately remove the offending substances from his property, and then have to dispose of them in a safe and legal manner.
As a resident of the city of Socorro I believe I have a reasonable expectation of a safe and habitable environment. Others seem to disagree. It all seems a bit unfair.
Co-op should reconsider meeting place
May 18, the Socorro Electric Co-op has plans for members to shoehorn themselves into Finley Gym for the 2013 annual meeting. Finley Gym with its inadequate facilities, dismal parking, poor acoustics, rotten seating, extra costs and worse memories. This is the plan they hope will discourage members from attending and voting for further progress in improving the co-op. Fewer attendees, less chance of a quorum, greater chance the trustees can cancel the changes we’ve made in the last couple of years. Yes, their agenda includes voting out the amendments we made to the bylaws last year!
We held a most successful meeting at the Macey Center at New Mexico Tech last year. Large numbers of members attended, visited and voted. The corrupt, self-worshipping co-op board trustees found they could not overwhelm members’ desire to oust them and their greed. I’ll quote from a Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Fellow members, we are on that path. Let us not waver from our commitment to restore the co-op to honest management and member service.
The trustees’ plan is not only intended to foil advancement of the co-op, it is also more expensive. Use of the Macey Center is less costly than renting Finley Gym, renting chairs for floor seating and having lower attendance. Raise your voices and tell your trustees to do the right thing. Call your trustees. Call the co-op and make your voice heard.
We want our annual meeting at Macey Center. We cannot allow the board to revert to its gluttonous ways.
Hiring friends doesn’t belong in government
In late December the Magdalena Marshal’s Office lost another deputy, so they were down to two officers to serve their jurisdiction: Magdalena plus a three to five-mile radius around the village. For those who might not know, in New Mexico a marshal has more jurisdiction than a chief of police, but less than the county sheriff. Mayor Julian appointed a certified officer as an emergency hire. At one of the regular January meetings, Mayor Julian asked the board to vote to approve the new deputy as a regular full-time employee, which they did unanimously.
I assumed that regular full-time positions would have to be advertised and everyone interested would have to participate in the application process, including the emergency hire. A call to the Municipal League and a lawyer in the New Mexico Department of Labor affirms that the village of Magdalena has only to follow its own procedures for hiring as specified in their own personnel policy.
Magdalena’s new personnel policy, recently adopted by a majority of the village board, allows the mayor to appoint an emergency hire and provides for the emergency hire to “transfer” between “classified positions” with board approval. Had I noticed that in my previous review of the policy it would have been a point of additional concern. In June 2011, the village board approved the village budget that, at the time, included four officers in the marshal’s office. One month later one officer resigned. The marshal’s request to advertise to fill the fourth position was declined by City Hall. The reason given: “We don’t have the money for a fourth officer.” The marshal’s office served their jurisdiction with three officers until December of 2012, when the most recent new hire was added by appointment and, if you should ask, would be described by Mayor Julian to be “a personal friend.”
Incidentally, another officer resigned to seek employment in a department that pays nearly twice what a certified officer gets paid in Magdalena, so the marshal’s office now has only two officers. Furthermore, Marshal Cearley has been warned to use up his accrued vacation time or lose it at the next fiscal year, so Magdalena and its surrounding jurisdiction will often be left with only one officer.
I appeal to the Village of Magdalena Board of Trustees to take another look at the personnel policy. In its current language it exposes village employees and citizens to nepotism, cronyism and hooliganism. Although Mayor Julian strongly protested that everyone had an opportunity to influence the language of the personnel policy at the special meeting in December, I have to testify that is not true.
The rules of public meetings precluded my contribution while Trustee Baca’s suggestions were only subjected to the interrogation of her peers and not given due consideration. Direct and indirect nepotism is wrong; appointing personal friends to employment positions is wrong; cutting the pay of your underpaid police department is wrong and dangerous. Before voting to adopt the policy the public’s appeal to refrain and reconsider only gave the trustees another opportunity to show their commitment to laws that violate the well-being, safety and trust of their employees and citizenry.