A graduate of Corrales Elementary and Cibola High is leading discussions in Europe and elsewhere about avenues for legal action to assign responsibility for human rights abuses and environmental violations.
Jeff Handmaker, Cibola class of 1988 and University of London graduate in law (1994) who also holds a doctorate in the sociology of law from Utrecht University, Netherlands (2009), now works in The Hague, at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University. He also teaches at Leiden University. He is now leading a team researching legal strategies to hold governments, individuals and corporations accountable for human rights, environmental and other legal violations.
Handmaker and four others were awarded a five-month fellowship through the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam. Their focus is “the strategic potential and challenges of legal mobilization” to ensure consequences for illegal or inappropriate corporate behavior.
In an interview Handmaker give last year, he explained that the concept of legal mobilization “as a practice is aimed at advancing social justice.” As an example, he referred to advocacy for Greenpeace to mitigate climate change and other environmental harm.
“Legal mobilization is intended to function as a legitimate means to resolve conflicts, redress rule of law and justice deficits and address other governance problems. Legal mobilization is not the same as lawfare, whereby companies and governments instrumentalize law n a manner of questionable legitimacy.
“While lawfare serves to victimize, attempt to bankrupt or in other ways harm social justice advocates, organizations and even government agencies, of social justice cases, legal mobilization can serve as a form of resistance or counter-power. Handmaker added: “An important function of legal mobilization is to protect human rights defenders, environmental justice advocates, indigenous leaders and others against lawfare.
“An example of lawfare is “strategic litigation against public participation,” or SLAPP suits, including lawsuits directed against the environmental group Greenpeace regarding their advocacy on the Dakota Pipeline in the United States of America.”
Another example, he said, is “legal mobilization to protect academics, student and social justice activists who speak out for the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people.” Handmaker, a son of retired Corrales geneticist Stan Handmaker, began working in this field in the early 1990s as a human rights lawyer in the Republic of South Africa.
In the interview, he said “Human rights is just one of the topics I’m researching. It’s about more than just the language of human rights conventions. It’s also about how, and if, these conventions can function in complex societies. In particular, I examine the influence that politics has when it comes to complying with these conventions both in local and global contexts.
“For example, I look at how international crimes are tackled. You can approach different institutions to tackle crime” one of them is the International Criminal Court. But who approaches the court? It may also bee possible for the offender to be brought t justice within his country of origin, the country where the victims come from, or the country the offender goes to as well.
“What we’re actually doing is looking at how social justice can enhance the idea of justice. In this regard, non-governmental organizations often play a key role in this process — international organizations such as Amnesty Internation and local organizations such as the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq.”
In 2019, Handmaker co-authored the book Mobilizing International Law for Global Justice. “One of the objectives was to provide information to international lawyers and international organizations who are also active in this area, to give them a better understanding of how politics relates to, and influences, law and human rights. The book addresses different topics, such as how efforts to challenge corruption through bribes paid in other countries is being waged where the companies are based, and the battle against child abduction.
“It also gives a few examples f how some citizens enforce human rights in cases where enforcement isn’t successful at the national level. “The big question is: what are the law-based options out there for addressing issues like this: It is difficult to hold a state or a multinational company liable for human rights violations, but it has happened in the past through, for example, boycotts, divestment and sanctions or other campaign and petitions.
“Another good example is the work of the Dutch organization Urgenda., The 2015 Urgenda climate case against the Dutch government wa the first in the world in which citizens established their government has a legal duty to prevent the harms caused by climate change. The options are there, and law often plays a pivotal role. That’s what we focus on.
“Lawyers have a tendency to cite the law repeatedly in the hopes that it will be respected in the end. But sometimes, putting pressure on a state, multinational company or institution is what’s needed to get justice.”
As if we needed more pandemic-related issues to consider in 2021, it appears that even the minimal recycling efforts we may be making are likely doomed to failure. Lee Dante, president of Roadrunner Waste Service Inc., which has served Corrales since 2004, says what he calls “commingling” of multiple so-called recyclables in one bin is a major issue. Plastic grocery bags, pizza boxes, unwashed fast food/takeout containers, no. Unrinsed tin cans, no. And the Earth Institute at Columbia University reports that “Single-stream recycling, where all recyclables are placed into the same bin, has made recycling easier for consumers, but results in about one-quarter of the material being contaminated.”
At least, though, as Dante puts it, “the public finally has learned to recycle, with New Mexico at least 20 years behind many parts of the country…” And now ironically, “it costs more to recycle than to bury items in landfill.” And Sandoval County is charging more for the use of landfill.
Even communities and companies committed to recycling are grappling with a range of complications. Before 2018, the U.S. sent mega amounts of ”trash” to China for recycling. According to a March 2020 report by the Earth Institute, “in 2016, the U.S. exported 16 million tons of plastic, paper and metals to China.” Of that, 30 percent was never actually recycled. Once China halted being the world’s trash can, the US tried sending largely plastic waste to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand but that did not work out. Finally, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Laos, Ethiopia, Kenya and Senegal were in the mix.
“The way the system is configured right now, recycling is a service that competes — and unsurprisingly often loses — for local funding that is also needed for schools, policing, et cetera,” said Stephanie Kersten-Johnston, an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management Master’s Program and director of circular ventures at The Recycling Partnership. “Without dedicated investment, recycling infrastructure won’t be sufficient. In addition, we need to resolve the simple math equation that currently exists — when it’s cheap to landfill, recycling will not be ‘worthwhile’ so we need to start to recognize what landfill really is: a waste of waste!”
And here comes another topic for the Biden administration to tackle, maybe. This country does not have a federal recycling program. “Recycling decision-making is currently in the hands of 20,000 communities in the U.S., all of which make their own choices about whether and what to recycle,” said Kersten-Johnston. “Many stakeholders with many different interests converge around this topic and we need to find common ground and goals to avoid working against one another. That means companies coming together with communities, recyclers, haulers, manufacturers and consumers to try to make progress together.”
Roadrunner Waste’s Dante claims the City of Albuquerque dictates recycling practices for Corrales. In 2013 the City began a $2 million contract with Friedman Recycling, based in Phoenix, which had opened a 90,000 square-foot “materials recovery facility” in the North Valley. Friedman was outfitted by BHS, founded in 1976 and headquartered in Eugene, Oregon. The company “designs, manufactures and installs processing systems tailored to extract recyclables from the waste stream.”
Since then, whatever Roadrunner considers “recyclable” goes to Friedman, which is the only game in town. On September 30, 2020 an Albuquerque tv station KOAT reporter broadcast with a fire raging behind her at the recycling facility. Owner Morris Friedman said “We’re dealing with combustible products.” And seemingly fire comes with the territory. The journalist said on air that a year prior, another major fire had broken out there. She added that over the past seven years Friedman Recycling had racked up more than $50,000 in fines.
The City of Albuquerque is considering raising fees for trash collection more than 10 percent in 2021, given assorted difficulties encountered in handling recycling issues. Lee Dante says he sees local restaurant waste volume is down between 10 and 15 percent, while Roadrunner’s household waste business is up between 10 and 12 percent. Which all makes sense given the pandemic.
Who pays whom for what, in recycling? According to Earth Institute,“Germany recycles 56 percent of its trash by providing different colored bins for different colored glass and other items. The country uses the Green Dot recycling system: When a green dot is placed on packaging material, it indicates that the manufacturer contributes to the cost of collection and recycling. These manufacturers pay a license fee to a waste collection company that is calculated on weight in order to get their packaging picked up, sorted and recycled.”
Some American cities encourage glass recycling by putting a deposit on beverage bottles. Glass, mind you, can be totally recycled and reused. Albuquerque has set up glass bottle recycling bins around town, as companies such as Waste Management will not recycle bottles tossed in their trash cans.
An almost perfect recyclable is the cardboard box, mountains of which are now turning up as the pandemic-driven shift from in-person shopping to online, has resulted in more. A December 2020 article in the Washington Post stated that “More paper by weight is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined,” Heidi Brock, president and chief executive of the American Forest and Paper Association, said in an emailed statement. “As more people stay at home, it’s a good reminder that the box at your doorstep is designed to be recycled.”
Clean boxes, mind you. As for plastic….. “New plastic,” as in pristine products made from oil, is far less expensive to obtain than items made from recycled plastics. Plus it is surging as plastic shields, masks, containers, and medical gear are so crucial in the fight to contain COVID-19. A lengthy October report by Joe Brock for Reuters stated that “Since COVID-19, even drinks bottles made of recycled plastic – the most commonly recycled plastic item – have become less viable. The recycled plastic to make them is 83 percent to 93 percent more expensive than new bottle-grade plastic, according to market analysts at the Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).”
With demand for oil down worldwide, due to stay-at-home restrictions, as well as increased interest in electric vehicles and cars with greatly improved gas mileage, the oil and gas industry is casting about for new ways to increase revenue. Brock’s report goes on to say that the industry is committing”…$400 billion over the next five years on plants to make raw materials for virgin plastic.”
Meanwhile, Roadrunner continues to recycle horse manure for residents, and loses money on it, even though the City of Albuquerque has need of it. Dante jokes that “it’s cheaper to feed a car than a horse…”
Just how transparent —and legal— are Village Council deliberations during pandemic limitations and online meetings? More precisely, have members of the council engaged in the illegal practice of a “rolling quorum” in discussing matters that may come up for a vote at a future meeting? Ostensibly as orientation for the newest member of the council, Tyson Parker, explanations of what constitutes a “rolling quorum” were given by Village Attorney Randy Autio and Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin at the council’s February 9 Zoom session.
Gjullin warned that infractions of the State’s Open Meetings Act probably have been occurring over the past year as councillors try to deal with difficulties arising from COVID-19 restrictions. But really, Corrales officials have run afoul of “rolling quorum” regulations for decades. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIX No.13 August 21, 2010 “Do Officials’ E-mails Violate ‘Open Meetings’ Act?”)
The problem typically arises when councillors make phone calls or send emails to one another about things that will be on a future meeting agenda, he said. “It’s really easy to slip up,” he cautioned. “We all have made mistakes.” Sometimes it happens when, as Village Clerk, he sends out an email to all councillors about something that will be discussed at a coming council meeting. “It’s only when you respond [to such a shared email] that a ‘rolling quorum’ becomes suspect. “At the end of the day, it’s a really simple, easy mistake to make. And we have all made it at one point or another.
“It would be very sad if, for example, we were looking at an ordinance, and I sent a draft in a packet to everyone, and then you start discussing how you’re going to vote or any concerns you have with it, that should be done in a public setting, in an open setting.
“That has never happened at least in my tenure here, but that’s an extreme example of how a ‘rolling quorum’ can happen.” He summed up the ongoing problem this way. “For sure, if there are four or more councillors on an e-mail chain and you start talking among yourselves, that could easily results in a complaint if somebody did a request for inspection of public records.”
Mayor Jo Anne Roake explained how the problem arose when she served on Planning and Zoning. “It was very inadvertent. One Planning and Zoning commissioner would say something in a email, and somebody else would chime in and then maybe it would scroll down to somebody else. We just kept adding people. That also was a problem, although back then people hadn’t really thought about it.
“It wasn’t just that we were all there at the same time. It was like ‘Hey, so and so had a great idea’” and a discussion by email evolved.
Autio further explained, “That’s right. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. People might keep responding at different times to the email, and unless it’s only about scheduling, is not a good idea.”
Gjullin said “Even if it’s just you and one other councillor, you shouldn’t be doing business about what’s on the agenda outside of a meeting.” The Village Attorney added, “Kind of the key is, when you find yourself doing more than when council meetings are going to occur, and you get into the substance of what is on the agenda, and you’re doing it between councillors, that’s when it’s a problem. “If you’re doing it between you and staff, that’s not a problem.”
The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has explained the ‘rolling quorum’ problem as follows. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s called a work session, retreat, training seminar or phone tree, under the Open Meetings Act, a meeting occurs whenever a quorum of a public body: a) formulates public policy, b) discusses public business, or c) takes action.
“A quorum is generally half the members plus one, unless otherwise specified in the board’s law or regulation. The quorum doesn’t need to be in the same room to hold a meeting; they might discuss public business in a series of e-mails or phone calls, over several days. This is called a rolling quorum, and it’s illegal unless the participants follow all the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
At a work-study session with the mayor and councillors back on July 20, 2010 N.M. Municipal League Attorney Van Vleck listened to councillors’ complaints about what they felt were unreasonable constraints on what they could discuss among themselves online between regular council meetings.
Councillors engaging in phone calls, e-mails or sequential one-on-one discussions in person about pending public issues constitutes an illegal “rolling quorum” in which decisions are arrived at away from public scrutiny. Such practices have been a continuing source of controversy in Corrales for decades.
Then-Councillor Gerard Gagliano especially had argued current interpretations of the Open Meetings Act were unnecessarily impeding council members’ ability to learn about issues that were, or might be coming, before the council for decisions. At the 2010 work-study session Gagliano suggested that “We all get that creating a ‘rolling quorum’ is a bad thing,” and that councillors’ discussions about public issues should not be held in private. But he argued, as he had in the past, that contemporary internet techniques allow anyone from the public who wishes to do so to monitor, or perhaps even participate in, such online conversations.
Funds for Corrales from the N.M. Legislature last year that had been withheld have now been released. Money is now available for Casa San Ysidro Museum, Animal Control, Police Department offices, Fire Department water tanker and to extend water lines for fighting fire.
At the February 9 Village Council meeting, Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin reported “We have finally gotten, official, in-writing, bona fide grant agreements for capital outlay money that we weren’t sure we were going to get.” Gjullin said he had received word earlier that day that appropriations are approved for the following:
• Casa San Ysidro waste water and fire suppression lines - $25,000;
• Animal Control vehicles and equipment - $40,000;
• Fire Department water tender, a small, quick-response water hauler for wildlands fires- $225,000;
• Fire Department water line installation - $325,000; and
• Police station remodeling - $95,000.
“We’re really excited that we got this money and that we will be able to use these funds during the next couple of fiscal years,” Gjullin said. In a later interview, Village Administrator Ron Curry said the project for the police station is basically to make it “cleaner, neater and better. It’s not in very good shape, especially the bathroom.” He brushed off a facetious question whether funds would be used to enhance the police station’s holding cell.
In the Village’s Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan (ICIP) submitted to the legislature, the request for “police station remodel” is to plan, design, renovate, repair, furnish and equip the police station.
The request for Casa San Ysidro Museum was for $50,000 to “plan, design and construct water and wastewater system improvement for Casa San Ysidro and the historic Old Church to Corrales Road for a visitor center.”
Corrales has turned back $167,417 to the N.M. Department of Transportation that now won’t be used to build trails for cyclists and horse riders along upper Meadowlark Lane. “This kind of sets us free,” Village Administrator Ron Curry said February 11, explaining that declining to use the grant means the Village will not have to comply with state-federal regulations.
Village officials had been stymied since 2018 in trying to move ahead with the long-planned paths after funders in Santa Fe denied Corrales’ request for a waiver from Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements due to steep slopes along the upper stretch of West Meadowlark. The multi-use trail along the north side of the road has been delayed after the Department of Transportation rejected a design for it that was deemed inconsistent with the federal regulations. The trail design for the west end of upper Meadowlark had unacceptable slopes both east-west and north-south. Apparently a slope in either direction would have been permissible unless it was too steep, but a slope in both directions was not.
Back then, the proposed solution was to obtain permission from property owners there to level out their driveway before it intersected with the future paved trail. But that never happened, so the over all project was stalled after the roadway was rebuilt with medians that incorporated stormwater drainage features.
Phase 2, the trails portion, will be accomplished with Village funds which, presumably, would not need to meet state-federal regulations, Village Administrator Curry said. Returning the money is “the first step in restarting the whole process,” he added. That will involve starting over with consultations among residents along upper Meadowlark, and the community in general, as to what is desired along the road connecting Loma Larga to bike lanes in Rio Rancho.
Curry said he expects to launch a new public involvement effort in April, starting with consultations with the current Village Council member representing the upper Meadowlark neighborhood Tyson Parker, joined by its previous representative, Dave Dornburg, who has indicated a desire to participate.
First proposed well more than a decade ago, the project secured funding through the Mid-Region Council of Governments for a bicycle connection between the two municipalities. But the Village declined the money after the Village Council was caught up in property owners’ disputes mainly about drainage. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX, No.10, July 9, 2011 “Corrales Gives Back $160,000 for Upper Meadowlark Trail.” ) But proponents kept the project alive, building support community wide. Village officials conceded that more preliminary, conceptual work should have been done, especially regarding drainage. In July 2013, villagers convened for a planning charrette to develop realistic proposals for better using the exceptionally wide right-of-way.
The sessions led by Architectural Research Consultants under contract to the Village attempted to resolve ongoing conflicts over the future of upper Meadowlark. Neighbor-against-neighbor conflict had erupted over anticipated disruptions from the earlier funded project to construct bike trails along one or both sides of upper Meadowlark. Residents claimed the proposed changes might dump stormwater run-off onto their adjacent property, would increase traffic unbearably, make it difficult to safely exit their driveways onto Meadowlark and obliterate their frontage landscaping.
Proponents noted that upper Meadowlark is one of the few Village roads where plenty of right-of-way exists to accommodate multi-modal transportation, that bike lanes there would significantly improve opportunities for bicycle commuting, and that, as an inter-municipal project, funding had been allocated for it. From the beginning, opponents argued that funding provided through the Mid-region Council of Governments was nowhere near adequate to do the project right. No funds, for example, were provided for anticipated costs of managing drainage from the modified roadway.
After heated debate at council meetings over what should, or could, be done along upper Meadowlark, the mayor and council appointed a citizens’ task force to develop recommendations. It was headed by Pam Cox, an upper Meadowlark resident. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX No.13 August 20, 2011 “Task Force Created For Upper Meadowlark Issues.”)
Then-Councillor Mick Harper, a strong advocate of the original plan, called for a new project along upper Meadowlark and subsequently won fellow councillors’ approval to seek other grants through the Council of Governments to solve long-running problems along Meadowlark. The preamble “whereas” statements in the resolution passed August 16 summed up the political impasse.
“Whereas, West Meadowlark Lane between Loma Larga and the Village boundary with the City of Rio Rancho is a residential road with a right-of-way 60 feet wide; and… West Meadowlark, because of its volume of traffic, is considered an urban collector by the [Council of Governments’] Metropolitan Planning Organization; and…
“… on its southern side, seven calles and driveways provide access to the lane for approximately 26 residences, with, in some instances, obstructed line-of-sight problems for residents and passing motorists; and
“…on its northern side, approximately 16 residences access the public road with driveways;
“…because of its grade and existing obstructions, West Meadowlark Lane could present drainage problems for the public right-of-way and adjoining properties; and;
“…by vote of the Village Council October 26, 2004, sixteen speed tables or humps were installed to calm traffic flow on West Meadowlark Lane; …in the event of a civic emergency evacuation situation, West Meadowlark Lane is one of three improved roads for exiting the Village;…”
According to the resolution adopted August 16, 2011, the new four-member task force was to be composed of at least two residents from the Meadowlark neighborhood, at least one person trained as an engineer and at least one person trained in the legal profession.
During its 50-year history as a municipality, Corrales has worked its way through difficult and contentious conflicts by calling upon citizen advisory groups. A previous task force, the Westside Road Committee, came up with compromises that allowed the controversial “north-south road” to go ahead as Loma Larga. Another worked through competing interests to produce a plan for allocating activity space in the brand-new Corrales Recreation Center after the pasture land was purchased from the late Annette Jones.
Both of those previous efforts were led by Roy Soto, who went on to serve on the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission. The unusually wide right-of-way along upper Meadowlark has attracted trails advocates’ interest for some time. That route was recommended for trail development in the 2009 Corrales Trails Master Plan.
Although the council endorsed the Meadowlark trail proposal in fall 2010, councillors rejected it the following April because residents along the road opposed the plan. Seeking a compromise, a representative of the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission asked the mayor and council May 24, 2011 to use the funds ($160,500 from federal transportation enhancement funds and $53,000 from the State Legislature) to design a traffic plan to improve conditions along West Meadowlark. The plan, according to Commissioner Susan Zimmerman, would incorporate “traffic calming” methods that residents there have called for over the years faced with increased traffic to and from Rio Rancho.
“We recommend that the Mid-Region Council of Governments funds allocated for the West Meadowlark bike trails project be retained and applied as follows,” Zimmerman said. “We recommend using the combined funds for a comprehensive planning and design of an improved West Meadowlark Lane that addresses safety concerns as well as traffic-calming solutions. We note that MRCOG planner Julie Luna has indicated the appropriation for this original project could be used for preliminary, first-stage costs such as planning and design.
“There have been several meetings around town,” she continued, “including some by West Meadowlark residents who support pedestrian-bicycle and/or equestrian access on the road, particularly if it is designed and constructed in a safe and attractive way.
“Many of the residents have brought out legitimate concerns about West Meadowlark and the way it is used, including, but not limited to, drainage, visibility, safety and slope stability,” Zimmerman said.
“Our commission recommends using the funds available to contract with traffic planners and other professionals including engineers to produce a plan which incorporates a thorough public involvement process to address the concerns raised, as well as the potential for various alternative methods of transportation.”
Zimmerman pointed out back in 2011 that substantial public input had already been received, and would be useful in designing improvements to conditions along West Meadowlark. She urged the funds be used “to design a plan that is beautiful, functional and greatly enhances safety while honoring the rural character of our village.
The Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission’s recommendations came during the “Communications” part of the council’s May 24 meeting, so there was no opportunity for councillors to react to Zimmerman’s statement. But later in the meeting, Councillor Mick Harper urged that the council’s June 14 agenda include a discussion of those recommendations.
At the contentious April 12, 2011 meeting, the original inter-municipal project was rejected on a 4-2 vote. Councillors Harper and Sayre Gerhart wanted the project continued, citing unsafe conditions along upper Meadowlark, unusually ample public right-of-way and availability of grant money. Community discussion about a trail project along West Meadowlark from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho boundary continued at Village Administrator John Avila’s trails master plan coordinating meeting a week later. Several Meadowlark residents attended, about half of whom expressed willingness to discuss a trail project there.
At the trails master plan coordinating meeting, MRCOG trails planner Julie Luna answered questions regarding the agency’s promised funding of the Meadowlark bike paths. Luna recommended the federal funding for the multi-modal project here not be turned back. She said her agency would likely be open to revisions to what had been proposed at that point for the Meadowlark trail project, including possible phasing.
For example, she explained, that might mean using the available funding for planning and design, and then seeking implementation and construction funds later. More than a half-dozen West Meadowlark residents attended the trails coordinating meeting April 19, 2011 and while some remained adamantly opposed to any trail project along their road, others expressed willingness to discuss alternatives that might be suitable and acceptable.
The council chambers were packed for the April 12 council meeting at which the Meadowlark trail project was voted down. Several of those residents spoke at the council meeting, citing safety issues, especially given the sight distances when they try to pull out from their driveways onto Meadowlark, and drainage concerns. They were apparently struck by Village Engineer Steve Grollman’s admission that the funding available to design the bike trail and compacted earth path did not specifically include money for drainage issues.
Opponents referred to the Village’s own trails master plan to contend that the Meadowlark trail would be unsuitable. The steep grade there was said to be counter to recommendations. They noted that the master plan’s priority list for implementation did not rank Meadowlark high for that and other reasons. But lots of villagers, especially trails advocates and bike riders, urged the council to approve the project.
Holly Roberts, then a member of the Village’s Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, said the Meadowlark trail would start the community’s trails network. “The West Meadowlark trail will be the first real manifestation of our trails master plan,” Roberts said. “ It’s important for many reasons. It will provide us with a safe way to access Rio Rancho. It is the only way to get to Rio Rancho from the center of the village.”
Roberts said it would also allow villagers to get to the Thompson fence trail along the escarpment. She continued: “It will make it safer for school kids to wait for the bus, and it will be an important artery for the far northwest quadrant of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area linking it with the rest of the city, allowing people to commute by bicycle if they so desire.
“Currently West Meadowlark is kind of safe… as long as you’re in a car. If you’re walking, riding a bike or on a horse, forget it. Landscaping has been installed to the edge of the road in many places, forcing anyone not in a car out into the busy road. Bikes must ride in the lane of traffic, slowing down all the cars behind them if there is no paved shoulder. The unpaved shoulder is sandy and full of obstacles, many placed there by homeowners.”
Villagers will have to decide soon whether they want to keep municipal elections on the first Tuesday of March every other year or switch to the date of general elections in November. The question, which involves complications related to timing as well as funding, was debated at the February 9 Village Council meeting, with no clear answer. The over all purpose was to eliminate conflicts and standardize schedules and procedures.
In 2018 , the N.M. Legislature passed the Local Election Act which allowed municipalities to retain their schedules for elections on the first Tuesdays in March in even-numbered years or to opt-in for consolidated elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years— that is, the traditional date for November general election.
As explained by Village Attorney Randy Autio at the council meeting, if the Village Council takes no action, municipal elections here would continue to come in early March of even numbered years, with the Village budget paying for all costs. But if the council opts in for consolidated elections, Village elections would be in November of odd-numbered years, with the Sandoval County Clerk conducting the polling and covering all costs.
Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin said conducting a municipal election here typically costs the Village $65-75,000. A further wrinkle is that if Corrales opts in, some terms for council members, the mayor and municipal judge would be lengthened or shortened to jibe with the new November schedule.
“It’s time for us to be making a decision,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake advised. In order to opt in and be included in November 2022 elections, Corrales would have to pass an ordinance to that effect by June 30. But the Village Attorney cautioned that the rules and implications of switching to consolidation under the Local Election Act constitute a “complicated, messy problem.”
Among other changes, the timetable for processes such as declaration of candidacy, would also change. The attorney said it is expected that voter turnout would increase if elections were consolidated in November. According to a list distributed to the council in its meeting packet, municipalities that will now participate in consolidated elections include: Edgewood, Los Ranchos, Cloudcroft, Tucumcari, Santa Fe, Española, Socorro, Las Cruces, Belen and Albuquerque, among many others.
Music in Corrales’s next virtual concert, “Boyd Meets Girl,” features Rupert Boyd and Laura Metcalf, a classical and contemporary guitar and cello husband and wife duo. They performs an eclectic and engaging repertoire, from Debussy and Schubert to the Beatles and Beyoncé. Their on-demand concert, created exclusively for Music in Corrales, will be available for ticket buyers to view anytime from Saturday, February 20 through Sunday, February 28.
In addition to the concert, ticket purchasers will receive a Virtual Backstage Pass for a live conversation and a question and answer session with the musicians via Zoom at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 20. Ticket buyers will receive their concert ticket link along with a link for their Virtual Backstage Pass 12 to 24 hours prior to Saturday, February 20. Tickets are $15/person for links to the concert video and the Virtual Backstage Pass. Tickets can be obtained at https://www.musicincorrales.org/concert/boyd-meets-girl-concert.
Acclaimed soloists in their own right, Boyd and Metcalf have played to sold-out houses around the world, but the first professional concert together was in Albuquerque in 2013. Since then, they have returned to New Mexico several times, performing as soloists and as a duo in Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, including repeat engagements at Albuquerque’s Chatter chamber music series. In 2018 Metcalf performed as the cellist with the group Sybarites in the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales.
Perhaps this is yet another scene in Corrales’ medical marijuana card holders’ Waiting for Godot moment…calls to Southwest Organic Producers, SWOP, in Albuquerque asking when the Corrales retail outlet would open revealed “I have no idea…they keep saying ‘in two weeks,’ every time we ask. ‘In two weeks.’” The end of last year there was a brief burst of increased activity at the eastern end of the former Kim Jew property at 4604 Corrales Road, as it appeared that the retail cannabis dispensary was almost ready to open. A SWOP source said in December that “furniture, including display cases” were being bought for the Corrales site.
Spencer Komadina, one of the project’s partners, said then that the New Mexico Department of Health was expected to do its inspection the week of December 13, and that the shop would then hold its soft open, with a grand opening following not far behind. And yet. In an email February 11, Komadina said “Corrales is making us connect to the sewer before we can open...That will be done soon.”
According to Planning and Zoning administrator Laurie Stout, on November 20, 2019, the site development plan for SWOP was approved by the P&Z commission. A week later on November 27, Stout sent a letter to SWOP outlining the required next moves. It said, in part, “your next step is to have your chosen contractor pull a building permit” and “an item discussed during the meeting was the tie-in needed to the Village wastewater system. Michael Chavez oversees this.” Stout provided his email. “Both are common next steps after a site plan approval.”
But, as Stout put it, “No building permit application was received until recently —all work was done without a permit and so the permit had to be issued retroactively, which comes with a double fee— and the wastewater tie-in is now underway.” She added, “This could have been accomplished in November of 2019.”
The Corrales outlet, whenever it opens at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road, just north of Perea’s restaurant, at least now does have new SWOP signage. And the dispensary should benefit from what another SWOP partner, Aaron Brogdon, has described as “better quality product,” grown right in Corrales. The Komadina property at 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte has three greenhouses, as well as a “head house,” or nursery, for new plants.
Long lines of cars and trucks headed to the Corrales Recreation Center Thursday, February 11 as vaccinations for COVID-19 began here. Under the direction of Fire Department Battalion Commander Tanya Lattin, several Village and N.M. Department of Health (NMDOH) personnel guided and registered people who had previously established eligibility with the NMDOH.
On that first day, 167 people were vaccinated at the rec center “point of distribution (POD). Two injection stations were set up under the solar electric arrays in the parking lot for “drive-by shootings” into arms through vehicle windows. Lattin said those vaccinated February 11 experienced no adverse reactions during a short period of observation.
She said initial vaccinations here will continue once a week, Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. in the parking lot in front of the recreation center’s multi-use building. Vaccinations are by appointment only; those to be vaccinated must have registered with the N.M. Department of Health. Persons desiring vaccine protection from COVID-19 here or elsewhere in New Mexico should sign up at the N.M. Department of Health website, htpps://cvvaccine.nmhealth.org. Lattin urged villagers to call her for assistance with the registration process. She can be reached at 702-4182.
“For the first three weeks, the rec center location will be a site for initial vaccinations, and on the fourth week, it will operate morning and afternoon for second doses and first doses as long as vaccine is allocated.
“This is currently the only Corrales NMDOH location, and as it takes a large number of staff to operate, I do not see any other locations being set up in Corrales,” Lattin explained. She said she is aware that Corrales Pharmacy has been trying to gain authorization from NMDOH to vaccinate there as well. As of February 13, 262 cases of the deadly coronavirus were recorded in Corrales. There were 179.724 cases statewide, and 3,502 had died.
By age group, most Sandoval County COVID-19 cases were among people between the ages of 20 and 30, followed by those in the 30-40 age group. But the rates of infection were in steep decline in New Mexico, in line with trends nationwide.
“It’s so nice to report some good news on the COVID front,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake said. “Sandoval County, along with 14 others in New Mexico, has moved to ‘Yellow.’ In keeping with the public health order, Village outdoor recreational facilities are open at 25 percent capacity.
“Indoor dining is allowed at 25 percent, outdoor dining at 75 percent. Businesses can operate at 25 percent. Mass gatherings are now at 10.” The mayor urged Corraleños to continue wearing masks, try to remain at home and get vaccinated. “Along with COVID safe practices, to overcome the virus, we must get vaccinated. New Mexico already has 16 percent fewer cases because of vaccinations. Please register for your vaccine.
“Finally, please get tested. If the test is positive, you’ll get the help you need fast; if it’s negative, you’ll help reduce the positivity rate.” That positivity rate is the basis for loosening (or tightening) restrictions, such as those for restaurants, bars, sporting events and other sites where patrons might be exposed to the virus. The recent decreases meant the Health Department could show Sandoval County as having moved from the “Red” designation to “Yellow.” No counties had progressed to “Green” as of February 13.
New Mexico was among the highest ranked states for actually distributing vaccine available. As of February 12, the state had vaccinated people with 394,720 doses out of the 429,950 received, a delivery rate of almost 92 percent. But only around 13 percent of all New Mexicans had gotten their first shot. New Mexico ranked third in the nation, behind only Utah and West Virginia, for using the vaccine made available. The state was third, behind Alaska and West Virginia, for percentage of total population to have received at least the first dose.