The League of Women Voters of New Mexico launched its statewide voter guide on September 15. Vote411.org provides information on national and statewide candidates, much of it in English and Spanish. This will be in addition to the league’s regular four area printed editions, which will be published later this month. The league successfully launched an earlier version of Vote411.org for the primary election in June.
“This is an ambitious project for us but aligns with our goals of providing excellent, non-partisan voter education and information about the election process,” said state LWV President Hannah Burling. “Now that many people are voting by mail, we wanted to get pertinent information out to them as early as possible.” “We have reached out to candidates all over the state. We have sent them questionnaires to provide voter information. We want this to be an easy to use way for voters to make good decisions about the candidates they want to support,” said Voter Services Chair Diane Goldfarb.
“It is a user-friendly program. Just click on Vote411.org and enter your street address. And Vote411.org will show you everything on your ballot, including all candidates plus explanations of constitutional amendments and state and county bond questions,” Goldfarb explained. Vote411.org is a free service provided by the League of Women Voters of New Mexico.
By Meredith Hughes
Dead wood is so not dead, especially in the hands of Rick Thaler, long-time owner of OGB Architectural Millwork, a company with woodworking projects here and abroad, operated by 85 employees when Thaler sold it this past October.
Thaler’s goal was to leap deeper into his hobby —one of his hobbies— creating furniture from old planks. To that end he purchased a $23,000 Wood Mizer band saw. Made in USA, the formidable bright orange gas-powered machine currently sits under a shade shed on a property owned by one of his family members. Living in the house on the property in fact owned by Thaler’s son-in-law, firefighter and emergency medical technician Garrett Allen, at 4404 Corrales Road , is his 28 year-old son, Jacob, Jacob’s partner. Angelica, and their brand new daughter, Arielle.
The hobby is steadily turning into a business, named Dendro, from the Greek for tree, as in rhododendron, as in rose tree. Said business will be managed by Jacob Thaler, who recently moved back to Corrales from Colorado where he owned a retail business specializing in vape products. Jacob Thaler and his sister grew up amidst wood, but only now is he truly drilling deep into trees, their characteristics, and products derived from them.
A long time in Corrales, 45 years, Papa Thaler learned woodworking early, then became an apprentice cabinetmaker at Bradbury Stamm in Albuquerque where he became general manager until buying the business and renaming it OGB Architectural Millwork. The name honors company founder Orville Grant Bradbury, who established it in 1925. One of Thaler’s favorites projects was the ceiling of the library at Santa Fe Prep, resembling, appropriately, an open book.
Custom ceilings were a major feature of the millwork, and the company continues today. Another prized project is the Southern Ute Museum in Ignacio, Colorado. Another: the interior of the courthouse in Santa Fe, adjacent to the Round House. Thaler related that he got an internship with the Indian Health Service when in one of his colleges —his father had been a physician— and was put up in Corrales at one of remarkable builder Pete Smith’s houses. That experience ended the notion of living anywhere else in the nation.
Heading towards 50 years in Corrales, Thaler is grateful for what the village offered him. “I came here with nothing and people here were incredibly generous to me.” He stresses the importance of supporting young people who leave the area to study and work, and then want to return to this community, to both grow businesses and give back. Case in point are “the Silverleaf boys,” Aaron and Elan Silverblatt-Buser, sons of Thaler’s cousin, who have made Silver Leaf Farms into a thriving organic business. They call him “Uncle…”
“One of the things I want to get across is the value of having young people like Jake and my ‘nephews,’ who were born and raised here, able to return and become active contributing citizens of the village. It will be great if Jake and Angelica can build something for Ariella to take part in, “ as Thaler put it. Meanwhile, the Thalers expect their permanent business license soon, having plunged into the complex world of costly surveys (done), site development plans (done) zone amendments —seems that while the Corrales Road house is indeed part of the commercial zone, the long skinny plot on which they are using the Wood Mizer, is not.
“We wanted to do things right,” said Thaler, setting up an LLC and all the rest. Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout has been “incredibly helpful,” working with them at the start of the pandemic, and assisting them in getting a temporary business license in the meantime.
One ongoing issue: noise. Although both Thalers compare the noise of the Mizer at full volume not dissimilar from that of the traffic on Corrales Road, they will strive to contain whatever noise is emitted. Right now the Mizer sits beneath a shade structure, surrounded by an array of downed wood. Some came from two dead sycamores right near the house on Corrales Road. Downed Russian olives are part of the mix, along with a range of wood from fruit trees, including prized apricot. Rick Thaler says he has a friend who runs in the village, and spots downed trees, takes their photos, and lets him know their location. Dendro also can take down a tree, as part of their services. Some planks created by the new saw are sold to locals, some even shipped across the United States.
A Dendro website coming soon will delineate planks as well as furniture made from planks for sale, and Thaler intends eventually to build a 2,400 square foot shop, where he and Jacob and cohorts can efficiently turn out more products. Thaler’s friends and contacts in Corrales, including fence builder Jeff Barrows, not only find trees, but also are getting involved in aiding Dendro in production. One fellow has created metal legs to be affixed to planks, thus making yet another salable product.
“We are seeking local artisans and designers who might want to work with us, or create items with the wood we process,” said Thaler. Dendro even sells small round cuts of wood suitable for barbecuing. Other folks who value the esthetic qualities of wood seek out cuts that reveal flaws, or insect invasion, or any number of oddities that can be turned into art. Rick Thaler also continues to promote “house concerts,” now mostly on hold until post-pandemic. Meanwhile, there is no lack of downed wood to haul into the Mizer. You can reach Dendro by emailing email@example.com.
Perhaps it has been changing wind patterns, changing weather or changing industrial chemicals, but breezes over the microchip factories on the escarpment may have caused breathing irritation downwind this summer. During the August 19 virtual meeting of Intel’s Community Environmental Working Group (CEWG), much discussion focused on complaints that Intel’s chemical emissions were suspected as the cause for early morning breathing problems.
Dennis O’Mara, a Corrales resident who consistently attends CEWG meetings and is retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he had awakened several times in August when industrial odors were blown into his bedroom through swamp coolers. He began reporting breathing fumes he associated with Intel more than seven years ago. He lives on Tierra Encantada, far from the neighborhoods nearest the factories that experienced such intense exposures decades ago. Conditions for near-neighbors subsided markedly once Intel erected tall “smoke stacks” that dissipated emissions and sent them farther away.
O’Mara said he was bothered by such industrial odors more this summer than earlier. He described them as burning irritations for his nasal passages, throat and lungs. Odors persisted in his dome hours after he turned off the swamp coolers. Other CEWG members, including John Bartlitt and Mike Williams, members of New Mexicans for Clean Air and Water, suggested use of air monitoring or sampling equipment at the O’Mara home during certain times of year.
Years ago, air quality monitoring and sampling was conducted in and around the Pueblo los Cerros condos by Corrales Residents for Clean Air and Water which purchased a sophisticated Fourier transform infrared device. The equipment was later transferred to an environmental group monitoring emissions from Intel facilities in Oregon.
At the August CEWG meeting, Williams said a less sophisticated method was to “grab” air samples in cannisters which could be sent to a lab for analysis. That method, too, was deployed in Corrales decades ago by Southwest Organizing Project. O’Mara asked whether a swamp cooler could concentrate emissions in the air that might be drawn into a home. Williams replied the cooler would not concentrate fumes, but might change their form. If material came in as a gas, he explained, moisture in the cooler could change it to particles, such as a fine mist that might be inhaled.
O’Mara said he would consider surveying other residents in his neighborhood to learn whether they, too, were bothered by night time fumes. The health effects of chemical emissions from Intel have received considerable attention during the past three decades, including an detailed study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Corrales Air Toxics Study implemented by the N.M. Air Quality Bureau produced inconclusive results in 2004. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXIII No.9 June 19, 2004 “Toxicologist Says Detected Fumes Pose Health Risk.”) That $600,000 study was abruptly halted in spring 2004 when then-Bureau Chief Mary Uhl reported that a consultant’s air pollution plume modeling results showed Intel’s pollution was traced to nearby residents’ homes at the time they reported illnesses. Such a finding was unacceptable politically. She was later removed as bureau chief.
In the wake of Uhl’s damning disclosure, cabinet level officials within Governor Bill Richardson’s administration huddled to find a way through the dilemma. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIII, No. 5, April 24, 2004 “Late Report Links Illnesses to Intel Emission Plume” and Vol.XXIII, No. 9, June 19, 2004 “Cabinet Secretaries Don‘t Believe Air Problem.”)
Those findings led to creating the CEWG, which usually holds monthly meetings in the Corrales Senior Center. Now those are on line. Starting about the same time was a study by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on exposure to toxic chemicals from Intel. The agency’s “community health consultation” began in mid-2004 when Rio Rancho realtor Marcy Brandenburg filed a petition with ATSDR to investigate ongoing health problems reported by residents and business people near the microchip factories.
By the 1990s, suspicions had arisen that certain pollutants that Intel acknowledged releasing, such as large quantities of silica powder, might be causing respiratory and other diseases. (See Corrales Comment series beginning Vol.XXVIII, No.23, January 23, 2010 “Dallas-Region EPA Stages Surprise Inspection at Intel.”) The EPA report on the inspection came out in October 2010. (See Corrales Comment series beginning Vol.XXIX, No.17, October 23, 2010 “EPA Inspection Slams Air Pollution Permit.”)
In an October 13, 2010 cover letter to Intel Environmental Manager Frank Gallegos, EPA-Dallas Air Enforcement Chief Steve Thompson stated that the inspection and subsequent investigation found “There are 15 Areas of Concern and one Area of Non-compliance noted in the combined reports” by the EPA Region 6 team and inspectors from the Boulder-based National Enforcement Investigations Center (NEIC).
The voluminous EPA report vindicated many of the criticisms that Corrales residents had stressed for the previous 16 years. It noted, for example, that the emissions factors upon which Intel calculates its releases of toxic chemicals may be wrong or unreliable, leading to chronic under-reporting of some dangerous chemicals such as hydrogen fluoride.
The NEIC report pointed out it reviewed two emission factor calculations for two of Intel’s federally designated Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) during the December 2009 inspection and found both to be wrong. For one of the toxic chemicals, ethyl lactate, the NEIC investigators noted that “Intel has under-reported emissions released by the [inspected] process by 36 percent since second quarter 2008.”
For that, Intel was cited with non-compliance.
Over and over, the EPA and NEIC teams slammed Intel’s data which “may not be valid for use in calculating Hazardous Air Pollutant emissions.” One of those “areas of concern” cited by EPA involved the possible under-estimation of a particularly dangerous chemical, the acid gas hydrogen fluoride (HF). “Intel uses an average [acid gas] scrubber removal efficiency that was calculated from stack test results that do not relate to pH of the scrubber water liquid or water addition to the scrubber at the time of testing. Intel may be under-estimating HF emissions when the pH of the scrubber liquid is low.”
Scrubbers are chambers of high intensity water spray through which waste acidic gases pass before being released to the air. Elsewhere EPA alleged that “Intel continues to use the results of the unapproved and potentially inaccurate testing to calculate HAP emissions from scrubbers at the facility.”
The two agencies gave considerable attention to the inadequacy of the air pollution permit issued by the N.M. Air Quality Bureau. Reinforcing the criticism voiced for years by CRCAW members and homeowners near Intel, the NEIC team stated, “The N.M. Environment Department permit does not contain short-term (hourly, daily, monthly) emissions limits for volatile organic compounds and Hazardous Air Pollutants. Without short-term limits, Intel can have spikes in its emission profile that can lead to acute exposures of these chemicals.”
Former Corrales Comment summer intern Stella Asmerom was praised by U.S. Senator Tom Udall earlier this month when she completed an internship with his Washington DC office. During her tenure working virtually with Udall’s D.C. office, Asmerom worked closely with the legislative team.
She is the daughter of Yemane Asmerom and Lisa Gerber of Corrales, and is a graduate of Albuquerque Academy. She is a rising sophomore at Harvard University where she is studying economics with a minor in government. “U.S. Senate interns gain invaluable experience as they learn to navigate our nation’s legislative process,” Senator Udal said. “I applaud all of our interns who, despite having an unconventional, ‘virtual’ internship due to the global pandemic, found many ways to contribute to my office.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Stella this summer. I hope she finds her experiences during this internship rewarding, and I wish her the best of luck as she continues her studies at Harvard and embarks on a successful career.” Asmerom also issued a statement. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work for Senator Udall’s office this summer. Despite the virtual format, I was still able to learn and become involved with every aspect of the legislative process.”
“I’m leaving this internship with a strong appreciation for the work done by Senator Udall’s office and a renewed commitment to remaining involved in my community. I want to thank everyone on staff for being so welcoming and supportive throughout my internship.” Outside the classroom, she is involved in mock trials, swimming and is an active community volunteer.
Work is expected to continue on the Upper Meadowlark project in the months ahead, starting with curbing and landscaping along the north side of the road. Originally, that is where a paved bike lane and pedestrian path were envisioned. Now, both an equestrian trail and a multi-use bike-pedestrian path are under consideration for the south side of the roadway.
The long-delayed project was discussed at the September 8 Village Council meeting. In recapping, Councillor Dave Dornburg told Corrales Comment, “We are looking at costing the work that remains, and then determining what funding we have available. First will be curbing and landscaping to hold the hillside. The second part is a pathway, w hich will include villager input for alternatives.
“I am currently envisioning a single multi-use path on the south side of the road. Original plan proved unworkable, so simpler probably is better, and still meets the aim of a safe pedestrian trail offset from the road and traffic.
“We are not planning on re-pursuing federal Department of Transportation funds. We think we have options to fund these phases, but time will tell.
“Stay tuned; there is much to be learned and decided in the near future,” Dornburg said September 9. During the council meeting discussion on the annual update of a Infrastructure Capital Improvment Plan, he suggested the Village’s right-of-way along the south side of the road could accommodate the paths. “Back in the day, the whole project was to have been constructed including the road, the paths, the curbing and all the other stuff, we had all the money we needed with the exception of the part [that required Americans With Disabilities Act approval along the north side of the road], so the decision was made to do the road as you see constructed with the understanding that if we could get [the north side bike trail] back into ADA compliance, it’s likely we would be able to get that funding back.
“But we’re not going to be able to go down that road, so that’s why we have to fund the rest of the project separately.” Mayor Jo Anne Roake suggested the Village may be able to get funding for the remainder of the project through the state highway department. “The project was split up into parts, so we’ll just have to go with it that way. We do have a plan, and we’ve been very successful in getting Municipal Arterial Project and road co-op funding, so when we get to that last portion with the path, I think we’ll be okay.”
The mayor said the Village is unlikely to get any capital project funding from the state legislature next session. “I did ask the director of the N.M. Municipal League what our chances were of getting any money this year for capital improvement projects, and he said ‘zero.’
“That doesn’t mean we are not going to be at the ready, and we’ll keep re-sorting this list [ICIP] to be ready to take advanage of funding that is available.” Earlier this year, Village Administrator Ron Curry said he anticipated that another round of public comment and brainstorming will be needed to begin a new plan for the bike and horse trails.
When the proposal began more than a decade ago, its primary goal was to construct a bike path connecting Corrales to Rio Rancho along upper Meadowlark. That was funded by the Mid-Region Council of Governments, but Village officials turned the money back when upper Meadowlark residents objected that funding was insufficient to address anticipated stormwater drainage problems into their adjacent property.
In 2016, the Village was ready to hire an engineer to design the over all project including trails from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho boundary. The project funded through the Mid-Region Council of Governments and the N.M. Department of Transportation (NMDOT) was to realign and rebuild upper Meadowlark to include bicycle paths and horse trails as well as improved drainage and traffic safety features. (See Corrales Comment, Vol.XXXIII, No.3, March 22, 2014 “Upper Meadowlark To Get Improved Drainage.”)
But only the driving lanes and drainage features actually got underway, since the engineering work ran into a problem with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The N.M. Department of Transportation refused to approve Corrales; design for the bicycle-pedestrian path along the north side of the road because the terrain was so steep at the top of Corrales portion of Meadowlark.
That design obstacle was never overcome. So that’s where prospects for the bike trail and horse path stalled. Curry has said the Village probably would have to find its own funds to complete the project, bypassing the need to comply with ADA. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.7 June 6, 2020 “Upper Meadowlark Project Dispute Nears Resolution.”)
In September 2013, the consulting firm hired to suggest ways to improve upper Meadowlark Lane, Architectural Research Consultants, called for bike riders to use the same downhill driving lane as autos, or divert to the future pedestrian path along the south side of the re-configured roadway. Appearing before the mayor and Village Council at their September 10, 2013 meeting, the firm’s Steve Burstein presented a revised “Option A” that showed a five-foot wide bike lane adjacent to the westbound driving lane, while eastbound bike riders would be expected to come down in the same regular traffic lane used by motor vehicles.
If cyclists did not want to “take the lane” with regular traffic coming down hill, they would be encouraged to bike along the proposed pedestrian path along the south side of Meadowlark. Among the advantages of that revised plan, cyclists using the bike paths along the Rio Rancho section of Meadowlark Lane would have a continuous connection to designated routes coming down into Corrales. Downhill bike riders would be informed to merge with regular vehicle traffic, or veer off onto the pedestrian trail.
Then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer said he thought the revised recommendation would be “much more acceptable to the whole neighborhood.” Some residents along the north side of upper Meadowlark had objected to routing both uphill and downhill bike riders to a future path on the north side of the road. They said they feared pulling into the path of fast bike riders as they left their driveways and tried to enter traffic.
In that plan, downhill cyclists would use the eastbound driving lane or use the proposed pedestrian path along the south side of the road. The change was endorsed by the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission as well, following communications with Burstein and his planners.
At that point, the plans were almost purely hypothetical since no funds had been allocated to tackle the re-make of upper Meadowlark, estimated subsequently at $1.18 million. The most costly part, presumably, has already been constructed and paid for.
Construction of a large “casita” next to a new home underway at 489 West Ella Drive last month riled neighbors, including the mother of former Mayor Scott Kominiak. The former mayor says the current administration is playing favorites for what some villagers consider violations of the Village’s net one-acre subdivision rules. “This is about administrations and building inspectors signing off on things that do not comply with our code, unless you jump through three or four loopholes, while they hold long-term residents hostage to strict interpretation of the code as they see it,” Kominiak explained in an email to Corrales Comment August 17.
“If you are a high-dollar builder who knows how to skirt the rules and get approvals, you get a permit. If you inherit or buy a piece of land that was subdivided in 1955 and filed with the County —sorry! You cannot get a building permit.” The new home construction site on West Ella Drive is at least the third project in recent years where a house and “casita” have been built simultaneously in seeming contravention of the one-dwelling-per-acre regulations.
Corrales’ laws allow “casitas,” or guesthouses, on a one-acre lot, as long as the secondary residence does not have a full kitchen. And the builder at 489 West Ella, Wade Wingfield, assured Corrales Comment that the “casita” complies with that rule. “You can have a separate living quarters as long as it doesn’t have a fully-functioning kitchen,” Wingfield said August 11. “You can have a refrigerator, a microwave, a sink and anything else, but you just can’t have a stove and oven.” Wingfield said the project underway obtained all the permits and approvals through the Corrales Planning and Zoning Department.
But the resignation of Corrales Building Inspector Lee Brammeier last month may have exacerbated the controversy. His departure in early August left some projects in limbo. Brammeier was hired here in July 2018. His more than 14 years of building code enforcement included the City of Rio Rancho; City of Albuquerque; Los Alamos County and Sandia Pueblo.
Brammeier served as president of the Central N.M. Chapter of Building Officials and served on the International Code Council’s committee, updating standards for residential green building. He has training as a licensed general contractor, as an electrical inspector, plumbing inspector, mechanical inspector and energy plan examiner.
The former mayor’s mother, Patricia Kominiak, was one of six villagers who wrote to Mayor Jo Anne Roake August 13 protesting the project at 489 West Ella. Others were Charlotte Anderson, Dan and Estelle Metz, and Joe and Meryl Hancock. “Secondary dwellings, guest houses or ‘casitas’ are simply not allowed in our land use codes, and it is therefore a mystery to us how the Village would issue a permit for such development, yet you appear to be doing so,” they wrote.
“Multiple inquiries to the building inspector about this question have been effectively ignored. No information has been made available about the project in question, and it was not until construction was well underway that the problem became apparent to us and our fears were confirmed.
“There is no building permit posted on the property, which we understand is required by law.” Since the earliest days of Corrales’ incorporation as a municipality in 1971, a bedrock policy has been adherence to low-density housing. Candidates for elective office here have always vowed to protect the one-acre minimum lot size rule.
But even going back to the early 1970s, many Corrales properties already had “casitas” which were often rented for extra income. Commonly, property owners would seek permission for secondary dwellings so that a relative or other caregiver could assist an ailing or aged resident in the big house. But even such hardship cases were often denied.
Still, for many Corraleños, it has been a truism that sooner or later the one-acre minimum rule would fall. If and when that day comes, the quality of Corrales’ drinking water will become an unavoidable issue. Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout explained how the casita on West Ella gained approval, and suggested the Village Council may re-visit the rules in the months ahead. “In Section 18-29, the definition of dwelling unit in Village Code states: dwelling unit means any building or part of a building intended for human occupancy and containing one or more connected rooms and a single kitchen, designed for one family for living and sleeping purposes.”
The definition of kitchen, she added, “means any room principally used, intended or designed to be used for cooking or the preparation of food. The presence of a range or oven, or utility connections suitable for servicing a range or oven, shall be considered as establishing a kitchen.
“This means a second structure on a lot, as long as there is no range or oven (or utility connections for such) meets the letter of the law in Village of Corrales Code. Contractors can and will exploit this loophole if their clients request.” Stout said the mayor and council may try to tighten up relevant regulations.
“Potential options in Corrales could be looking into limiting the size of the accessory unit, requiring that it merely be an addition to the home, etc. The intent of the N.M. Statute is to allow family members, such as elderly parents, to live on-property with their relatives. “The reality is that often at some point the separate structure ends up having a kitchen added retroactively, and that structure eventually becomes a long-term rental with a tenant —thus becoming a zoning violation.”
A U.S. Senate resolution written by Senator Tom Udall calls for concerted and sustained action to halt destruction of natural ecosystems, establishing a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the land and ocean of the United States by the year 2030. Referred to as the “30 by 30 Resolution,” it notes that “conserving and restoring nature is one of the most efficient and cost-effective strategies for fighting climate change.”
The resolution’s preamble asserts that “to confront the deterioration of natural systems and the loss of biodiversity around the world, and to remain below a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in average global temperature, scientists recommend that roughly one-half of the planet be conserved. “Whereas, as a step toward achieving that goal, some scientists have recommended that all countries commit to conserving and protecting at least 30 percent of the land and 30 percent of the ocean in each country by 2030, with a long-term goal of conserving one-half of the planet.”
The senate resolution was initially co-sponsored by Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley, Richard Blumenthal and Dianne Feinstein. It is sponsored by Representative Deb Haaland in the House.
“Just over 50 years ago, my father, Stewart Udall, sounded the alarm about the quiet loss of nature,” Senator Tom Udall said in introducing the resolution. “Back then in just a few short years, our nation drastically deepened its commitment to the land and waters that sustain us by creating some of our most successful conservation programs.
“But today, the crisis is even more dire, and we need to meet it with the urgency it requires.” Udall emphasized that “humans are destroying nature at a devastating rate. Only reversing the Trump Administration’s wreckage would be like applying a band-aid to a life-threatening wound. We must write a new playbook to address the climate and nature crises.”
The wide-ranging document sets out policies including “increasing public incentives for private landowners to voluntarily conserve and protect areas of demonstrated conservation value and with a high capacity to sequester carbon and greenhouse gas emissions,” as well as “preventing extinction by recovering and restoring animal and plant species.”
Udall participated in an online panel discussion with the Aspen Institute and The Wilderness Society July 29 on the topic “Connecting the Continent: conservation that unites people, lands and wildlife.” He was joined by Zuni conservationist Jim Enote, president of the Colorado Plateau Foundation; Jodi Hilty, chief scientist for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative; Rae Wynn-Grant, ecologist with the National Geographic Society; and Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society.
Corrales is almost a second hometown for Senator Udall; more often than not, he has joined Corrales’ Fourth of July Parade over several decades. To explain the need for the “30 by 30” campaign, Udall notes that “from 2001 to 2017, a quantity of natural areas equal to the size of a football field disappeared to development every 30 seconds in the United States, constituting more than 1,500,000 acres per year; “A finding, published in the journal Science, that the United States and Canada have lost 2,900,000,000 birds since 1970, representing a decline of 29 percent;
“The identification by State fish and game agencies of approximately 12,000 animal and plant species in the United States that require proactive conservation efforts to avoid extinction, of which approximately one-third will be lost in the next decades; “A finding by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service that the United States has lost more than one-half of all freshwater and saltwater wetlands in the contiguous 48 states; and “The 2019 findings by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [reveal] that—
• human activities are damaging 2⁄3 of ocean areas;
• only 3 percent of ocean areas remain pristine;
• 15 percent of mangroves remain;
• 50 percent of coral reefs remain; and
• at the current rate of losses, less than 10 percent of the Earth will be free of substantial human impact by 2050….”
Udal pointed out that the Third National Climate Assessment found that climate change:
• is reducing the ability of ecosystems to provide clean water and regulate water flows;
• is limiting the ability of nature to buffer communities against disasters such as fires, storms and floods, which disproportionately impacts communities of color and indigenous populations; and
• is having far-reaching effects on marine and terrestrial wildlife, including by altering habitats, forcing changes to migratory patterns, and altering the timing of biological events….”
Earlier this month, the World Wildlife Fund documented that the world has lost two-thirds of global animal, bird and fish populations over the past 50 years. Udall highlighted that assessment when he issued the following statement to renew his call for bold action to protect 30 percent of our land and waters by 2030. “This new report brings the consequences of habitat destruction and species exploitation into stark relief: human actions have accelerated the loss of two-thirds of our planet’s wildlife in the blink of an evolutionary eye. This is an unsustainable and self-destructive crisis for humanity.
“Our collective survival depends on the global ecosystems of plants, animals, birds and fish that sustain the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. We must urgently prioritize policies that repair our planet’s life support system, which is why I have introduced the ‘30x30 Resolution to Save Nature’ to set a national goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.
“We must also change our pattern of unsustainable consumption and waste that wreaks havoc on land and marine ecosystems if we want to pass a livable planet on to our children and grandchildren. We need to look no further than our streets and streams littered with plastic trash and marine life tangled in plastic waste, which are only the most visible parts of an avalanche of plastic pollution that is harming humans and wildlife at the most microscopic level and disrupting natural food patterns. The senate should pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act to finally make corporations pay their fair share of cleanup costs.
“Today’s report marks an urgent call to action for every one of us. While we confront the intersecting crises of the current pandemic and economic recession, we must chart a sustainable path forward that seizes the economic and public health benefits of nature protection and climate action. The rapid loss of nature and unchecked global warming make each crisis worse —but action on climate and conservation reinforce each other and are both necessary to ensure the prosperity of future generations. The American people are calling out for action and we have the power to help the natural world recover. We have no more time to waste to save our planet, and ourselves.”
The “30 by 30 Resolution” states that “the decline of natural areas and wildlife in the United States follows global patterns, as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that approximately 1,000,000 plant and animal species are threatened by extinction over the coming decades as a result of land conversion, development, climate change, invasive species, pollution and other stressors…. “Nature, like the climate, is nearing a tipping point where the continued loss and degradation of the natural environment will:
(1) push many ecosystems and wildlife species past the point of no return;
(2) threaten the health and economic prosperity of the United States; and
(3) increase the costs of natural disasters, for which the Federal Government spent about $91,000,000,000 in 2018.”
Udall pointed out that “the federal government, the private sector, civil society, farmers, ranchers, fishing communities and sportsmen have a history of working together to conserve the land and ocean of the United States.” The policies emphasize protection of “private property rights and traditional land uses, and enable landowners to pass down the working land of those landowners to the next generations because private land accounts for approximately 60 percent of the land area in the contiguous states.”
Udall said July 5 he was pleased that his resolution has been incorporated into the U.S. House of Representatives’ Climate Crisis Action Plan which calls for the United States to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. In its Summer 2020 newsletter, the Center for Biological Diversity’s public lands director, Randi Spivak, noted that “We’re at a crossroads. We can preserve and restore our lands and waters, and prevent mass extinction, or see the ecosystems of our planet unravel past a point of no return.”
His article advocated the “30 by 30” campaign, warning that “wildlife populations are crashing around the world. Scientists predict that more than one million species are on track for extinction in the coming decades.” Spivak wrote that “Achieving 30x30 will take local, state and tribal government actions, too, but Congress and the next president will need to do the heavy lifting.”
By Meredith Hughes
Two pandemically affected Corrales artists in the painting/drawing division of the online 32nd annual Old Church Art Show, October 1-31, recently have completed works inspired by COVID-19, more or less. Mary Sue Walsh’s piece “View from My Kitchen with August Bouquet” sums it up for many: indoors, yet peeking out at a garden, no guests at the table. Victoria Mauldin’s heron, a peaceful but alert “Bosque Dweller,” hot off the easel, seems to be carrying on carrying on.
As one must. Or as the more than 50 artists must, as well as the tireless volunteers of the Corrales Historical Society and the Corrales Society of Artists who make possible the Fine Arts Show each year. This year’s show while online, is not as yet interactive as in a Zoom event, though it’s possible elements of such could be added.
Organizer Carol Rigmark explained that contact information for the artists as part of their bios or artists' statements is posted on a new website made possible by the labors of artist and gallery owner Barb Clark. The platform used is likely familiar to artists who use FineArtStudioOnline, aka FASO, a Texas-based marketing web tool established in 2001.
Once you’ve clicked on the url, visit the tab labeled 32nd Annual Fine Arts Show and scroll through the artwork. Click on a piece, and then enjoy two elements —“zoom,” in the old fashioned sense of getting closer, but also “room,” wherein the art is pictured on a wall, and you, the viewer even can choose from a limited range of subtle wall colors. And in addition of course there are prices, links to the artist, websites pertaining to them and so on.
Rigmark explained that the online show was considered “a gift we should provide for the artists, especially during this very difficult year. Our two primary goals were to highlight New Mexico’s fine artists and to raise some badly needed funds for the Old Church.” She salutes Diane Cutter, Cheryl Cathcart and Rachel Dushoff, all Corrales artists, as well as Clark, for their contributions to the event.
As noted by Debbie Clemente, publicity volunteer for CHS, “Artists need venues, online or otherwise, to showcase their work. When they sell a piece at this show, 25 percent of their sales are donated toward preservation and maintenance of the Old Church so that this 150-year-old historic structure will be around for centuries to come.”
And, she adds, “to reward the winning artists in each category, we will create a special show of their works,” to be on display in historic Old San Ysidro Church “once we can all meet again.” Mary Sue Walsh, a competitor in dressage, a horse, dog, and chicken owner, and a Corraleña since 1990, has three pieces in this year’s show, one of a horse titled “Beau Regards.”
Beau was a race horse from Missouri, “with a sad story.” He had been raced too soon, then inexplicably was "locked up in a 10x10 stall for two entire years.” He came into Walsh’s hands as a rescue, and lived out his days happily, one assumes, in her Corrales pasture.
Walsh, born in Minneapolis, earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in drawing and painting from the University of New Mexico. And has always worked as an artist, supplemented with gallery work, both in Los Angeles and Santa Fe. For years she has used a camera, often an old Canon, as a sketch book. “I take photos every day, of this cloud or that plant,” but she also does sketches in pastel, “to capture the emotional color of a scene.” She switched from working in oil to acrylic once she discovered that some element of oil painting, whether the turpentine, the linseed oil or another ingredient, was making her ill.
“And I might give watercolor a whirl, though it’s daunting, almost intimidating,” she said. As for subject matter, “people are the hardest, then animals!” She does both, especially commissioned work, often done in pastels as “they enable me best to recreate the soft skin of both humans and animals.”
COVID-19 restrictions have pushed Walsh to get assistance creating a new website, to making her art more marketable, including giclee prints and a line of themed cards. And she has joined Art Under Quarantine, an initiative by Jada Griffin of Tesuque, which is described as “a global, multi-media platform for creatives. We are diverse and inclusive, and we welcome your offering. If you’d like to join the conversation, email soul@avant-garde- art.com.
Walsh laughed describing the sight of a winds-propelled porta-potty tumbling along I-25, a recent event that made social media, “and really sums up the situation in 2020!” As for goals? “Some day I really would like to sculpt an animal in clay, and then cast it in bronze.” Visit her current website.
Victoria Mauldin’s piece in the show, “The Challenge,” was an encounter years ago between an older elk and a young wannabe, whom she saw from a window in her then home in Ruidoso. “I love seeing an experience and turning it into a painting,” she said. “I could hear their antlers cracking together, and that drew me to the window. There was no violence.”
Mauldin too, like Mary Sue Walsh, jettisoned oil painting after discovering it gave her vertigo. And while she always had loved art, her long career was as a teacher, and then an elementary school principal. A native of Alabama, Mauldin moved at age six to Texas, so she describes her accent as a fluid combo of both places. “As you may know, teaching takes all a person’s energy, so I was only able to paint occasionally.” In pursuit of that, Mauldin and her husband, a psychologist, moved to Ruidoso, “an artsy place,” where they enjoyed about a dozen years. Until… “we were standing on our mountain top, looking over at the next range, where the Little Bear fire was raging. We thought, that could be us, if it jumps.” That fire in 2012 burned 44,000 acres.
They’ve lived in Corrales about three years, an artsy place that suits them both. Ninety-five percent of her work is from her own photographs —she, too, has had an old Canon— though her newest pursuit, “imaginative realism,” began with a vivid dream. “It was a dream I had about three years ago,” she said, “And I had to paint it. Of course you cannot force dreams, so, I am figuring this all out.”
A favorite picture of hers, “Day’s End,” came about when she and her husband were driving to Texas from Roswell, and he said “We’re not stopping until we get to Tiny’s in Tatum!” Turns out that Tiny’s, a burger joint, had a bunch of old photos on the wall, and one caught Mauldin’s attention. It was of Tiny’s adopted son as a youngster, in cowboy boots and hat, plopped down on the ground exhausted. “I asked her if she could photocopy it, but Tiny said, “I have no way to do that so take it with you, sure.” Mauldin got it done, returned the photo and recreated the picture. “Again, turning an experience into a painting.”
Pandemically unable to welcome people to her home gallery, Mauldin welcomes inquiries. And also sells her work in giclee prints. One of her most powerful is an immense close-up portrait of a bison peering between some slats at her. “They usually look so fierce,” she said, “But this one seemed simply curious.” Explore Mauldin’s work through her online portfolio.
And do visit the show. As the CHS website reminds, “We cancelled two large events (Mudding Day & Heritage Day) and this eliminated our opportunities to raise funds by selling items from our docents' Shop-in-a-Basket. Many of our usual revenue-generating events such as concerts, open houses and rentals were also cancelled. The fall situation remains unknown... and, meanwhile the Old Church keeps getting older and still needs care.”
The five blue ribbon winners are: Painting/Drawing: Tie between Jay Parks of Albuquerque, Title: “Rio Grande Gorge Showers” and Jeff Warren of Tijeras, Title: “Excalibread;” Photography: Ken Duckert of Corrales, Title: “Monument Valley Sunrise;” Sculpture: Chuck Cook of Albuquerque, Title: “Nurture;” Mixed Media/Collage: Molly Mooney of Albuquerque, Title: “Cin Cin Vest.”
Corrales Artists in the show are: Barbara Clark, Sandra Corless, Linda Dillenback, Ken Duckert, Susanna Erling, Joan Findley, Rex Funk, Diane Gourlay, Gail Harrison, Sue Hoadley, Ken Killebrew, Barbara Marx, Victoria Mauldin, Jude Rudder, Tina Stallard and Mary Sue Walsh.
Other 2020 juried exhibitors are: Brandon Allebach, Painting/Drawing; Reid Bandeen, Painting/Drawing; Lynda Burch, Painting/Drawing; Gary Chaffin, Sculpture; Barbara Clark, Painting/Drawing; Carl Coan, Photography; Neala Coan, Photography; Chuck Cook, Sculpture; Sandra Corless, Photography; Jeffrey Danneels, Photography; Judy Deater, Photography; Linda Dillenback, Painting/Drawing; Ken Duckert, Photography; Susana Erling, Painting/Drawing; Joan Findley, Painting/Drawing; Myles Freeman, Blown Glass; Rex Funk, Sculpture; Diana Gourlay, Painting/Drawing; Roger Green, Painting/Drawing; Kelly Haller, Photography; Gail Harrison, Sculpture; Nancy Haseman, Photography; Sue Hoadley, Painting/Drawing; Katherine Irish, Painting/Drawing; Jonna James, Painting/Drawing; Teresa Johnson, Painting/Drawing; Ken Killebrew, Painting/Drawing; Nancy Kozikowski, Printmaking; Fran Krukar, Painting/Drawing; Barbara Marx, Painting/Drawing; Tony Mattson, Photography; Victoria Mauldin, Painting/Drawing; Jack McGowan, Painting/Drawing; Barbara McGuire, Painting/Drawing; Lee McVey, Painting/Drawing; William Monthan, Painting/Drawing; Molly Mooney, Collage; Rita Noe, Sculpture; Jay Parks, Painting/Drawing; Richard Prather, Painting/Drawing; Martha Rajkay, Painting/Drawing; Kerry Renshaw, Painting/Drawing; Jude Rudder, Painting/Drawing; Tina Stallard, Painting/Drawing; Mary Sue Walsh, Painting/Drawing; Jeff Warren, Painting/Drawing; Marilyn Wightman, Painting/Drawing; Judith Zabel, Photography; and Lisa Zawadzki, Painting/Drawing.
Corrales Fire Department sent one brush truck with four personnel to help battle wildfires in California recently, according to Commander Tanya Lattin. They returned safely. “One person is paid fire department staff, and the other three are volunteers,” Lattin said. They are on duty through September 4, but that could be extended. All expenses incurred by the department will be reimbursed. Assigned first to the Moc fire in Tuolumne County, the Corrales crew was demobilized from that at 79 percent containment, and then on the CZU Complex fire outside of Santa Cruz. This fire, which began via lightning August 16, had consumed over 83,000 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, as of August 29.
Forty-five thousand people had been evacuated by then, and hot conditions were expected in upcoming days. Should you wish to follow this particular fire in which Corrales firefighters were engaged, visit http://www.facebook.com/CALFIRECZUSanMateoSantaCruz.
You’d think that everyone running for office is a dim-witted scoundrel —or worse. But you’re probably not swayed by all the negative TV commercials because… well, you’ve likely already made up your mind. In the 2016 elections, 65 percent of voters in New Mexico cast their ballots before election day.
This year, even more citizens voting early are expected, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whether voting by mail or in person, early voting begins October 6.
To vote early in Sandoval County, you can do so from October 6 to October 31, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 to 7, at the Sandoval County Administration Building D, 1500 Idalia Road, just west of Highway 528. You can vote early right here in Corrales from October 17 to October 31, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Corrales Community Center, 4326 Corrales Road, east of the Corrales Road-East La Entrada intersection behind the Senior Center.
Application forms for absentee ballots were mailed to all Corrales residents in early September by the Center for Voter Information, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. An absentee ballot can be requested online.
Below is a quick review of who’s running in local elections. As usual, this newspaper will publish candidate profiles in October.
• Vying for the presidency, of course, are Republican incumbent Donald Trump, Democrat Joe Biden and Libertarian Jo Jorgenson.
• U.S. Senate: Democrat Ben Ray Lujan and Republican Mark Ronchetti.
• U.S. Representative: Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes and Democrat Deb Haaland
• N.M. Senate District 9: Democrat Brenda McKenna and Republican John Clark
• N.M. House District 23: Republican Ellis McMath and Democrat Daymon Ely
• N.M. House District 44: Democrat Gary Tripp, Republican Jane Powdrell-Culbert and Libertarian Jeremy Myers
• N.M. Supreme Court Justice, Position 1: Republican Ned Fuller and Democrat Shannon Bacon
• N.M. Supreme Court Justice Position 2: Democrat David Thomson and Republican Kerry Morris
• N.M. Court of Appeals: Zach Ives (D), Barbara Johnson (R), Shammara Henderson (D); Gertrude Lee (R), Stephen Curtis (L); Jane Yohalem (D)
• District Judge, 13th Judicial District (retention): George Eichwald
• N.M. Public Regulation Commission: Republican Janice Arnold Jones and Democrat Cynthia Hall
• District Attorney, 13th Judicial District: Democrat Barbara Romo and Republican Joshua Joe Jimenez
• Sandoval County Clerk: Republican Lawrence Griego and Democrat Anne Brady Romero
• Sandoval County Treasurer: Democrat Jennifer Taylor and Republican Benay Ward
• Sandoval County Commission: Republican Jay Block and Democrat Leah Michelle Ahkee-Baczkiewicz
Candidate profiles for most of these can be found in the May 23, 2020 issue of Corrales Comment which reported on the June party primary elections.
Judges seeking reelection in the Thirteen Judicial District have been deemed worthy of retention by the N.M. Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. Those are George Eichwald, Cheryl Johnston, Cindy Mercer, James Lawrence Sanchez and Allen Smith.
It’s been more than five years since any complaint has been filed about a Corrales police officer using excessive force. Police Chief Vic Mangiacapra told Corrales Comment September 10 that his officers have worn lapel cameras since July 2015; “all patrol personnel are required to wear and operate them in accordance with department policy.” That policy received scrutiny from the mayor and Village Council at the September 8 meeting when revisions were enacted, primarily regarding the length of time such video recording should be retained.
“The body-worn camera recordings are used for prosecutions, field and internal investigations, officer evaluation and training and providing accurate documentation of police-public contacts in general,” Mangiacapra explained. “The main revision from the former policy is the addition of the requirement to retain all body-worn camera recordings for a minimum 120-day period in order to comply with the mandates set forth in Senate Bill 8. Previously, we only retained recordings which were deemed to possess evidentiary value.”
He said the last excessive force complaint received by the Corrales Police Department concerned an incident which took place on June 23, 2015. The chief said the incident “involved no injury to any involved parties and the investigation resulted in a finding of ‘not sustained.’
“I don’t recall any instances during which a CPD member has been disciplined for the use of excessive force, nor was I able to locate any such records in our internal affairs files.” But the Police Department has been embroiled in a lawsuit filed by a former Corrales officer regarding a disciplinary action. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.10 August 8, 2020 “Ex-Corrales Cop Sues When He’s Investigated.”)
The mayor and council held a closed session at the end of the September 8 meeting to discuss the lawsuit. Former Corrales Officer Daniel Parsons sued the Village and former Village Clerk Fresquez over an alleged violation of a request for inspection of public records. His attorney, Tom Grover, contacted Corrales Comment by email July 22 implying that the newspaper was remiss in not reporting on the police officer’s complaint. “Silent from the June 6, 2020 article is any reference to the fact that Ms. Fresquez and the Village are being sued by a former Corrales police officer concerning a public records request violation. That’s odd given the circumstances.”
The attorney cited the lawsuit D-1329-CV-2019-01756, Parsons v Village of Corrales and Shannon Fresquez. Corrales Comment was not aware of that court action and explained that to attorney Grover, asking for a copy of his filing and an opportunity to interview his client. Grover replied August 3, forwarding a copy of his suit filed in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court.
In that email, the attorney added he would soon file a “whistleblower’s” suit on behalf of the former officer. “Daniel Parsons has a whistleblower suit that is probably about a month out from filing,” Grover wrote. That second lawsuit had not been received at Corrales Comment by press time for this issue. The attorney’s first lawsuit clarifies that Fresquez is named as defendant because she was the statutory custodian of the Village’s official documents and responsible for responding to requests for inspection of public records.
The court filing partially explains that Parsons wants to know what is in an investigator’s report ordered by the Village. A key clause in the suit reads: “A copy of the Robert Caswell Investigations (“RCI”) report concerning Village of Corrales employee Daniel Parsons, including, but not limited to: exhibits, summaries, synopsis, exhibits, audio and video recordings, table of contents and conclusions.”
Later in the suit, Grover noted that Parsons was apparently under investigation while he was “facing disciplinary action upon him by Village of Corrales Chief Mangiacapra.” Contacted by Corrales Comment, Mayor Roake said she could not comment on the matter. “It’s ongoing, so the Village can’t comment. The Village always strives to comply with Inspection of Public Records Act requests.”
In a Corrales police activity report September 1, officers here made 231 traffic stops during the previous month and responded to two incidents of shots fired. The report said police had responded to one attempted suicide and 37 welfare checks, as well as 28 reports of suspicious activity and one stolen vehicle. Among other responses were four neighbor disputes, three noise complaints, two vehicle accidents with injury, ten speeding or reckless driving, eight threats or harassment, 18 calls for public assistance and 13 public nuisance calls.