Posts in Category: Article

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS NM PUBLISHES VOTER GUIDE 2020

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.

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: STELLA ASMEROM PRAISED BY SEN. TOM UDALL

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.

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: UPPER MEADOWLARK WORK WILL RESUME WITH CURBING, PATHS ON SOUTH SIDE


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.

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: W. ELLA ‘CASITA’ DRAWS NEIGHBORS’ IRE

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.”

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: AMBITIOUS ’30 BY 30′ RESOLUTION AIMS TO ‘SAVE NATURE’ BY 2030


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.”

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: CORRALES FIREFIGHTERS BACK FROM CALIFORNIA

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.

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: EARLY, ABSENTEE VOTING START OCT.6


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.

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: CORRALES POLICE LAPEL CAMERA RECORDINGS MUST BE KEPT 120 DAYS

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.

2020 SEPT 19 ISSUE: CORRALES BUSINESSES CAN APPLY FOR $10,000 COVID-19 RELIEF GRANTS


Corrales businesses can apply for grants of up to $10,000 in help to recover from losses due to COVID-19. The Village of Corrales was awarded $255,600 to help local businesses with funds from the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act). Applications will be accepted from September 21 to October 30, or until all funds are disbursed. The application form will be posted at the Village website, under COVID-19 Resources. Non-profit organizations are also eligible. “I am hoping that small businesses in Corrales will take advantage of this grant funding to help keep our business climate vibrant,” said Mayor Jo Anne Roake. Grant funds can only be used by pandemic-impacted businesses for eligible expenses that fall into two categories:

• Business Continuity (such as non-owner payroll; rent or mortgage; insurance, utilities, marketing) and
• Business Redesign (such as installing Plexiglas barriers, temporary structures and physical space reconfiguration to mitigate the spread of the virus; purchases of personal protective equipment and web-conferencing technology).

The program allows qualifying small businesses, non-profits and 1099 contract employees who are residents of Corrales to apply for a one-time grant for up to $10,000.00 to cover costs such as non-owner/employee wages, vendor bills and rent caused by required closures.

Funds can only be used to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures provided those costs are not paid by insurance or by another federal, state, or local program between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
• Maximum of $10,000 for qualifying small organizations with a physical location in Village of Corrales (no more than 50 full-time employees, or equivalent part-time employees, including the owner).
• Priority will be given to organizations that did not receive Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the Small Business Administration, or small business assistance funds from the State of New Mexico or another county/municipality.
• Restaurants, bars, short-term lodging, and other non-essential organizations impacted by the local or state safer-at-home orders are eligible.
• Village of Corrales residents who engage in 1099 (consultants/contract employment) are eligible.
• A physical place of business located within the municipal boundaries of the Village of Corrales, Sandoval County, New Mexico is required, including for mobile vendors.
• Organizations must receive no more than $2 million in taxable receipts per annum.

Businesses applying for the grant can start preparing for the application to open by gathering required documents: W-9 Form, Active State Organization Registration (Articles of Incorporation), Secretary of State Certificate of Good Standing, organization financials (applicable 2018 or 2019 tax return or equivalent), staffing documentation for 2019 or 2018 (W-3 Summary, 1096 OR 2019 or 2018 IRS Form 941), updated and current property tax receipt, if applicable or copy of current lease, New Mexico Taxation and Revenue CRS documentation, current Village of Corrales Business License.

Businesses awarded grants will enter into a grant agreement with the Village of Corrales and funds will be disbursed after suppling receipts of incurred expenses or proof of upcoming expenses the funding will cover. Proof of payment will be required. Businesses will also be required to submit compliance reports at 90, 180 and 365 days after disbursement.

For businesses across Sandoval County, the CARES Act distributions total $965,000 for small business grants. The City of Rio Rancho was authorized for $465,733, while the Town of Bernalillo got $1,128,900 and Cuba was awarded $32,802.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – CORRALES TREE CANOPY NEEDS CARE

The chairman of the Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, John Thompson, is concerned about the decline in the Corrales tree canopy. In a presentation to the Village Council August 18 Thompson laid out an approach to tree care for the council, asking “Is there a problem with Corrales trees?”

He and his committee think so: he touched on the effects of drought on tree health, trees’ increasing susceptibility to disease and pests, the loss of trees along the acequias, even the increased number of cottonwoods with mistletoe in their branches. Infestations of mistletoe often indicate a stressed or unhealthy tree.

The Village of Corrales is certified by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA with the goal of securing a healthier tree canopy. The Tree Preservation Advisory Board (TPAC) has been serving as a de facto Tree Board for five years to assist the Village in maintaining that certification, but without a mission defined by ordinance or a budget to achieve the desired goals and benefits of proactive tree care.

The committee’s additional concerns include the lack of tree species diversity, the dying and dead cottonwoods in the sandhills, and an increase in invasive species such as the ubiquitous Siberian elms, tamarisks, Russian olives, and Ailanthus altissima, or trees of heaven. Tamarisks, for example, though plentiful with pink blossoms, achieve that beauty by grabbing up light, water and nutrients from native plants. Native to Eurasia, tamarisk were brought to North America in the 1800s to shore up riverbanks. Their love of alkaline soil, common to the Southwest, has ginned up even more salty soils, which this plant is able to produce.

The committee, which includes Fred Hashimoto, Don Welsh, Carol Conoboy and Ian Daitz, asserts that Corrales hosts fewer healthy orchards as well. It thinks that the establishment of a Tree Board, in place of TPAC, will insure the Village acknowledges that “trees make major contributions to public health and safety, economic and spiritual value, local food security, wildlife and climate change resiliency.” And it will demonstrate the Village’s “dedication to the enhancement and protection of the community forest, landmark trees, and public green spaces.”

The board itself is prepared to take on a bundle: “Increase public awareness of health, environment, economic benefits of tree canopy; educate in tree selection, planting, and care; train Public Works, Parks & Rec, Fire Departments; update the tree ordinance; obtain alternate sources of funding for tree planting, care; promote climate-adapted species and age diversity; and provide a ‘tree care plan’ to provide better maintenance for existing public trees, reduce the number of hazardous trees, and create new tree planting goals.”

According to Thompson, “The plan aims to be the key document for managing, maintaining, protecting, preserving and planting trees within the Village of Corrales. This plan details specific goals and objectives for tree inventories, tree risk management, tree protection and tree pruning standards. “This is intended to be a living document that is updated yearly to provide schedules for community education, tree planting programs, and updates to relevant information on tree selection and planting, best management practices, and progress in stakeholder involvement in tree care.”

Creating a “tree care plan” will take much effort as the board wrestles with the fact of climate change on trees, hotter summers, and possible lower temperatures in winter. Local Cottonwoods are high water users, which do not easily reproduce outside of flood plains, the latter almost gone from Corrales. Planners must deal with drought stress, soil compaction, lack of diversity, even concrete acequias which cut off moisture to trees along its banks.

As well as disease and pests. Did we know the emerald ash borer was coming? Smaller than a dime, it’s a green beetle from Asia gifted at leveling tall stands of trees. Ash trees, thus far primarily in the Midwest and east, but, increasingly planted in New Mexico. Among them the velvet ash and associated cultivars, including the Modesto ash, green and white ash, Raywood ash, fragrant ash and others.

So what is the true value of a community forest? And what exactly is tree canopy? Ian Leahy, director of Urban Forest Programs at American Forests, writes that “tree canopy is any area covered by the branches of trees.” And, “tree canopy is the only type of infrastructure that increases in value after you install it.”  American Forests, established in 1875, is the oldest national conservation organization in the country.

The Corrales Bosque Preserve comprises one square mile of riparian forest, co-managed by Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the Village. 10,000 trees, providing 50 percent canopy. The greenbelt area is five square miles of irrigated agricultural fields, orchards, mature cottonwoods and elms. That’s 10,000 trees, with 14 percent canopy. The sandhills are five square miles, with 2,000 developed lots. It includes sparse plantings of fruit, shade, ornamental trees and native shrubs. So 4,000 trees, with two percent canopy.

The size of the tree canopy is a means of measuring the health and potential benefits of the community forest. An initial estimate of the Corrales tree canopy using i-Tree, a software tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows that Corrales has an average tree canopy of about 12 percent. In comparison, the tree canopy in Albuquerque is about ten percent and is known to have been in decline over the last few decades. What are these 24,000 Corrales trees worth? According to the USDA, U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Corporation, the answer is $75,000,000.

They remove CO2 and air pollutants. They catch rainwater and reduce stormwater runoff. Tree-filled communities may be safer, less stress-filled. Trees cut down on wind, and reduce temperatures. Shaded buildings benefit from energy savings. Businesses do better on tree-lined streets, and property values increase by ten percent due to the aesthetic value of trees.

The tree plan has many goals, including tree surveys and educational outreach. Estimated cost of the plan in the first year is $39,000, which includes Village personnel hours, tree purchases, contracted International Society of Arboriculture or ISA-certified arborists, and trained volunteers.That amount is offset by an estimated $20,000 in donations and volunteer hours. (This budget exceeds the Tree City USA guideline of $2 per capita.)

Perhaps no goal in the plan, however, is more compelling than this: to plant a tree for every child in Corrales, so about 1,500 over the next ten years.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – SPEAK OUT NOW ON NEW RULES FOR SHORT-TERM RENTALS

New rules for short-term rentals, such as Airbnb operations, are proposed for Corrales. The Village Council will discuss and take public comment on the proposed Ordinance 20-005 at its Tuesday, September 8 session via Zoom. The Zoom meeting ID number is 815 7416 9208, with password 697376. Full text of the draft ordinance can be found at the Village of Corrales website: http://www.corrales-nm.org under the tab “Latest News.”  Much of the proposed law’s text is published below.

As the popularity of short-term rentals, also referred to as “vacation rentals” has increased over the past decade, complaints from neighboring residents have become common in Corrales as elsewhere. Loud parties, unathourized parking on adjacent private property, and even guests’ trespass golf ball drives have been reported. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXIX No.2 March 7, 2020 “Mayor Needs Applications for Short-Term Rentals.”.)

Corrales is thought to have as many as 100 short-term rentals advertised, mainly on the internet. In past years, typically this community has been a desirable stay for hot air balloon enthusiasts. Last month, the Planning and Zoning Commission heard a request for site development plan approval for a two-unit short-term rental and related office and laundry facility on an already commercially-zoned property at 4036 Corrales Road, between Priestley and Coroval Roads.

The proposed Ordinance 20-005 would set a limit of six guest rooms and no more than two occupants per bedroom. At least one parking space must be provided for each bedroom. No such short-term rental uses will be allowed in Corrales without a permit and valid N.M. gross receipts tax number.

A partial text of the proposed law follows.
The Ordinance shall be filed with the Village Clerk, and shall be considered by the City Council at a regular meeting of the Village Council on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, at 6:30 p.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard telephonically through Zoom (Meeting ID: 815 7416 9208, Password: 697376) Section 4. If any section, paragraph, clause or provision of this Resolution shall for any reason be held invalid or unenforceable, the invalidity or unenforceability of such section, paragraph, clause or provision shall not affect any of the remaining provisions of this Resolution. 3 Section 5. All acts, orders and resolutions of the Village Council, and parts thereof, inconsistent with this Resolution be, and the same hereby are, repealed to the extent only of such inconsistency. This repealer shall not be construed to revive any act, order or resolution, or part thereof, heretofore repealed. Section 6. This Resolution shall be in full force and effect upon its passage and approval.…

Description of ordinance
Section 1. Amendment to Section 5 (2) of Ordinance 19-006. Section 5 of Ordinance 19-006 is hereby amended to read as follows; (2) Application and Fee. Anyone wishing to engage in short-term rentals must submit a completed application. The application shall be returned to the Administrator accompanied by the appropriate application fee and must show, at a minimum: (a) The maximum number of occupants and vehicles that the dwelling unit and any accessory structures can accommodate. There can be no more than six guest rooms on a residential short-term rental property and no more than two total occupants per bedroom being used as a short term rental. (b) A Google map or similar map showing the entire property, all roads which abut the property and at least 25 feet of adjacent properties, showing on-site parking and areas subject to the short-term rental business. (c) Floorplan showing all bedrooms within the dwelling unit and any accessory structure(s) on the property. (d) Off-street parking as required by Section 18-39 (3) Short term rental lodging establishments. Off-street parking required, with at least one parking space per bedroom on the property. (e) A valid septic permit for the property, showing the number of bedrooms (e) A valid septic permit for the property, showing the number of bedrooms permitted by the State to the septic system on the property. (f) The name, mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers (including 24- hour emergency contact numbers) of the owner of the property for which the permit will be issued. (g) The name, mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers (including 24- hour emergency contact numbers) of the operator and the local contact person for the owner of the residential rental. (h) A valid New Mexico gross receipts tax number for the operator. (i) Short-term rental permit application fee. Section 2. Amendment to Section 5 (6) of Ordinance 19-006, Appeal Process.

Section 5 (6) is hereby amended to read: (6) Appeal Process. An applicant or person who is aggrieved by the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission may appeal the decision to the Governing Body by written notice to the Village Clerk of such appeal, to be made within ten (10) days of the date of the decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The matter shall be referred to the Governing Body for hearing at a regular or special meeting in the usual course of business. The decision of the Governing Body made thereof shall be expressed in writing; and the action of the Governing Body shall be deemed final. Section 3. Amendment to Section 5 (7) of Ordinance 19-006, Penalties for violation of requirements of subsection (g) of Section 18-45. Section 5 (7) is hereby amended to add (e): (a) Any person who violates any provision of subsection (g) of Section 18-45 shall, upon a first conviction, be subject to a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500, or imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. (b) Any person who violates any provision of subsection (g) of Section 18-45 shall, upon a second or subsequent conviction, be subject to a fine of $500 or imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. (c) Each day that a violation occurs constitutes a separate violation of Village of Corrales Municipal Code as provided for in this subsection. (d) The Village Code Enforcement Officer or other designated Village employee shall take action to correct the violation as provided for in the Code. (e) Possible Revocation of short term rental permit.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – LITTLE FREE LIBRARY BOXES PROLIFERATE IN CORRALES

Corrales now has at least five registered “Little Free Library” installations along roadways and byways. Among them are a new one at the northwest corner of Carey Road and Kepler Court, and others at 104 Laura Lane and 104 Andrews Lane. The idea of offering books to passersby began several years ago elsewhere but has caught on here.

Anyone is welcome to take a look at what’s offered and take a title home to read. Users are encouraged to return them when finished and/or to bring back a different book for others to pick up. A Little Free Library map can be found at https://littlefreelibrary.org.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – SAGEBRUSH DRIVE TRAIL LINK TO ESCARPMENT PATH STARTS

A long-proposed trail connection between the City of Rio Rancho’s paved Thompson Fence Line trail along the edge of the escarpment and the end of Sagebrush Drive in Corrales is finally underway. Engineering work has begun after the Corrales Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission pushed for it at the June 16 on-line Village Council meeting.

The plan was explained in a Powerpoint presentation by thec ommission. The council meeting was held via internet, as such meetings were over the past three months. On August 31, Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin informed commissioners that the project is launched. “Just a heads up. It has begun!” he emailed. “The Village is funding it, asking for additional money or reimbursements from the County and State. Engineering has begun.”

The commission has held discussions with Rio Rancho officials, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority and Corrales Public Works several times over the last five years. Public Works has estimated the trail link could cost around $74,000 including engineering and installation.

“The time is now,” the commission’s presentation urged. “A Parks and Recreation survey indicated residents want opportunities to exercise outside as individuals and as families. Trail connectivity is an important tenet of the Trails Master Plan. A loop trail is a great way to enjoy our village.”The south end of Rio Rancho’s trail terminates at Corrales’ Meadowlark Lane, although just south of that is Intel’s recently improved Skyview Trail which extends on southward to the Skyview Acres Subdivision.

“Together, they provide a three-mile path along the border between Corrales and Rio Rancho that offers sweeping views of the village and the Sandias,” the commission’s report stated. “Attempts to connect the north end to the village via Sagebrush have been ongoing for 30 years.” It noted that “ad hoc” paths at the end of Sagebrush Drive to reach the Thompson Fence Line Trail have existed for years across private property. Now an opportunity to build the long-proposed trail connection can be achieved using Village-owned land adjacent to the cul de sac at the end of Sagebrush. “The Village owns the land on which the potential trail connection would be constructed,” the Powerpoint said. “Nearby lots are for sale. We have an agreement among current neighbors that the connection is a good idea. Benefits are significant: health, quality of life, potential economic boos for local businesses.”

The commission’s introduction noted that “the idea of a loop trail around Corrales was first imagined in the 1980s. Rio Rancho completed the Thompson Fence Line Trail, and Intel built their trail in the 1990s. “A few years ago, a lot in that area that would serve as a t rail connection was deeded to the Village from the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority. Mike Chavez, Village Public Works director, viewed the possible connection, indicating it was doable and providing cost estimates. This link is on the Master Trails Plan.”

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – ANCIENT CORRALES SIPHON PIPE REPAIRS GET UNDERWAY

By Scott Manning
This month, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) will conduct a study of the Corrales Siphon to determine what maintenance work will be needed in coming years. The Corrales Siphon is a 70 year old wooden, barrel-like pipe that runs beneath the Rio Grande, bringing irrigation water diverted on the east side of the river to the Corrales Main Canal on the west side. Ditch bank roads along the easternmost part of the Main Canal will be closed as work gets underway.

In 2016, the MRGCD, in a partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation performed maintenance work on the siphon that aimed at protecting the pipe from further damage. It is exposed in the river, and this threatens its stability on its western side. To address this concern, the MRGCD completed stabilization work on the siphon by depositing rip rap in the river next to the wooden culvert. Small boulders were placed downstream of the old wooden pipe to restore the eroded sediment surrounding the siphon. That also diverted the flow of the river away from the exposed western side of the siphon to the eastern side of the river. These changes helped to stabilize the siphon and prevent excessive strain on the culvert.

As part of the project, the MRGCD completed other maintenance efforts in the area. The district improved steel fencing and gating to improve access to the bosque at the location of the siphon.

These maintenance efforts came in around the projected budget of $200,000. The project was cost-effective in part because the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) donated boulders for the maintenance project. In addition, the MRGCD sought the assistance of the Bureau of Reclamation because it has experience in completing large-scale construction efforts in water environments.

Hamman explained that the siphon required maintenance efforts because the flow character of the Rio Grande has changed over the past few decades. When the pipe was constructed, it was originally buried approximately 14 feet beneath the riverbed. The siphon is designed to endure an aquatic, submerged environment, but the pipe is not engineered to withstand the exposure and stresses of the river water pouring over it.

The siphon became exposed after years of erosion of the river bed as the Rio Grande continued to cut deeper. The flow of water in the Rio Grande changed when Cochiti Dam was constructed upriver. The dam reduced river flows and trapped sediment, and these changes caused the Rio Grande to degrade and to erode downward. This downward erosion is observable on the incised banks of the river.Some impacts of the 2016 maintenance efforts are observable. Before that, the exposed siphon created rapids on the western side of the Rio Grande. Now that the rip rap diverts the main flow of the river, the rapids have changed location but still are present.

The MRGCD has monitored the siphon in recent years of high and low runoffs, and it seems to be stable. But Hamman says that a full study of the siphon is in order. After the irrigation season ends this year, the MRGCD will conduct a camera-run of the siphon in which experts examine the interior of the pipe for damage. The MRGCD must also examine the pipe in areas of high flow concentration to assess stability.

The repairs completed in 2016 have given the MRGCD time to study the siphon and consider future maintenance efforts. Hamman expects that the siphon will require more work in the coming years.

Depending on the results of the study, the MRGCD will determine if the siphon should be repaired and maintained or replaced completely. Workers could stabilize the siphon using a method called slip lining. Slip lining involves pulling a heavy plastic tube through the siphon to stabilize the pipe from the inside-out. To further stabilize the siphon, the district would add more boulders. This project is the cheaper option, and Hamman estimates that maintenance and stabilization efforts would cost anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000.

If the MRGCD were to replace the pipe, it could invest in a pipe constructed of modern materials such as concrete or polyvinyl. And the new pipe would be buried deeper in the riverbed to avoid exposure. Despite these advantages, a complete replacement would be the more expensive option. Hamman estimates that a replacement project could cost over $10 million.

The MRGCD will have more information about the current condition of the siphon after it conducts the study this fall.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – CANDIDATES GALORE FOR CORRALES PET MAYOR 2020

Candidates for the 2020 Corrales Pet Mayor all have now been corralled, with voting already underway. Snickers, a fun-loving guinea pig with a big heart, was the second candidate to enter the race, after the elegant hound, Abigail Fae. Snickers’ campaign slogan is, “Don’t be blinded by my white stripe, I’m cute, cuddly, and oh so strong…” And number three was JoJo, an energetic four-month old standard poodle. Her slogan is, “Power To Pets with JoJo!” Her campaign platform is appropriately COVID-19-aware. She champions butt-sniffing, wagging rather than barking in Village negotiations, three walks a day, and insists doggie bags from local restaurants are for dogs, not humans.

One cat has entered the race thus far, and Moonshadow’s campaign slogan is “Of course I'm PURR-fect for the job, I’m a cat!” And a mini-donkey about three months old named Chip is also in contention, because of course “He has great ass-pirations for Corrales!”

Back in the canine column is alert-as-can-be Jacqui who says “Ears up, paws down, attention placed —I'm ready to race!” Archie, a major mix of dog, more in the mellow zone, now insists “When we get through these tough times we’re going to… Party on Corraleños!” Looking like a true elder statesdog is Samson, who assures, “I don’t bite, but I’ll fight for you. Vote Samson for Mayor!” The first ever duo-mayoral candidates are Cockadoodles JackJack and Moose, brothers and opposites in every way. These literal underdogs (runt and deformed) are limping proof you can achieve anything with hard work and determination.  Their campaign slogan is “Together, we won’t let Corrales get Jacked up!”

Three very last minute candidates are Stinkerbelle, another mini-donkey, a white fluffy Olga dog, and the tiniest canine entry, Angel. Voting on line for the 2020 Pet Mayor began September 1. https://www.corralesharvestfestival.com/vote-for-pet-mayor/.

Online voting is a minimum of $5 which equals five votes. And you can vote much more if you choose. The contest is a part of the now virtual Corrales Harvest Festival that raises funds to support the needs of our two and four-legged members in the village.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – ANY IDEAS FOR INTERIOR DRAIN DITCH?


A planning effort is now officially underway for potential uses of the Corrales Interior Drain, also known as “the scummy ditch” or “the scuzzy ditch” east of Corrales Road. Some villagers consider it a treasured natural area with aquatic life, wetlands vegetation and sometimes even muskrats, while to other Corraleños, it is a disgusting, smelly near-sewer that breeds mosquitos.

The long ditch and ditchbank roads run from north of Dixon Road to the Riverside Drain south of East Meadowlark Lane. The land is owned and managed by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District which excavated it in the 1930s to lower the water table and drain land for agriculture.

In bygone days, much of the central Corrales Valley east of Corrales Road was swamp. The Interior Drain was meant to improve the land so it could be farmed. As such, the ditch was designed to receive excess irrigation water which was to flow back to the Rio Grande when it reached the Riverside Drain which empties into the river at Alameda Bridge.

But over the decades, the Interior Drain’s hydraulics have deteriorated, leaving a mostly disconnected, stagnant series of puddles. Less and less acreage is cultivated in that area, while more and more homes —and septic leachfields— have gone in, so that the ditch is now more of a conduit for household wastewater rather than irrigation return flow to the river.

In recent months, a handful of eastside residents have begun organizing to explore possibilities that might transform the area. Led by Corrales native Doug Findley, son of the late Jim Findley and Tommie Findley, the group asked Mayor Jo Anne Roake to establish a Village government task force to make recommendations. Appointed to the task force are: Findley, Ed Boles, John Perea, Sayre Gerhart, Jeff Radford and Rick Thaler.

The group composed the following statement: “Our mission is to identify and help to implement ways in which the Interior drain and right-of-way may be improved for safe, enjoyable and essential public use while maintaining tranquility for adjacent residents.” At least initially, the group has suggested the project be referred to as “The Corrales Eco Corridor.” Since the Village of Corrales has no jurisdiction over the land involved, the task force acknowledges that its eventual recommendations would need concurrence from the MRGCD to be implemented. The district’s chief concern is expected to be retaining full use of the ditch and ditchbanks to perform routine maintenance.

The task force has asked the Village administration to send a letter to the MRGCD regarding its formation and objectives, which include improving the area for residents who live along the drain, for residents who use it for access to their homes and to make it safer and friendlier for pedestrians, bicyclists and horseback riders.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – ECOLOGICAL TREASURE IN CORRALES INTERIOR DRAIN


By Meredith Hughes
What does an emergency nurse working three 12-hour shifts a week at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center in Rio Rancho do during his downtime at home in Corrales during a pandemic? Alex Price started a blog. It’s called Nature in Corrales, and is described like this: “Watching the change in Nature over the seasons. Kind of senseless, and yet full of purpose.”

In his first post on April 2, Price wrote: “The level of the ditch has fallen dramatically in the last several days of hot, dry weather.” The ditch referred to is officially the Corrales Interior Drain, known unofficially as “the scuzzy ditch.”

Only after reading through several paragraphs do we learn of Price’s true passion. “I returned Phil, the bullfrog, to the ditch, where he is doing fine. Bullfrogs are an invasive species and the public is actually encouraged to remove them. I don’t go in for this kind of thing, and find their froggie brains pretty fascinating. There is still so much to learn about these charismatic amphibians…”

Toads and frogs, above all, but insects, too, and fish, plants and the intertwined nature of them all. His blog is rich in nature portraits. Consider the tiny freshwater mosquito fish, aka gambusia. Price writes that “mosquito fish are [the] eyes and ears” of the ditch.

“The insects are often very approachable during the heat of the day, when they are hiding and lethargic. In the ditch, however, many animals will use the ever-alert mosquito fish as an early warning system. The fish are experts at sensing vibrations and movement, but most creatures are. Because of the use of the ditch by vehicles, movement and vibrations are pretty much constant. The mosquito fish are better than most animals at discerning specific threats, such as people.

Ever notice how the water ripples when people approach the water's edge? That’s the mosquito fish in the shallows warning the other critters to freeze and act like a leaf.” Introduced from somewhere in Africa, to help keep down mosquitos, the fish unfortunately take on dragon flies, which are “much better at eating mosquitos,” according to Price.

Starting his nature blog was a “good way for me to pass the time during lockdown,” said Price, as staying put does not come that naturally to him. Originally from Canada, he is also a Brit-American. His father, a geophysicist working in the oil business, took his family to a new posting about every two years, among them Egypt, Kashmir and Price’s favorite, Madagascar, which is rich in chameleons. His mother, from Britain, wanted him to “grow into a proper British boy,” so he attended Abbotsholme School, on the border of Derbyshire and Staffordshire, a now co-ed boarding school established in 1889 by a progressive educator.

Price moved on to studies at Sandwell and University of Birmingham in the UK, then came to New Mexico to study nursing at the University of New Mexico. Always keen on biology, he realized that biology as a career, “likely would not pay the bills.” He tiptoed into becoming a doctor, then saw that nursing would be a much quicker career route.

Why New Mexico? “My stepfather developed stomach cancer in Mallorca, Spain, while I was in Birmingham University, about 20 years ago. He was American and chose to get American medical care. They picked New Mexico because it was like Spain in climate, and cheap to live in.”

He adds that “I have since learned Rio Rancho in particular attracts a large number of “medical tourists.” There are many people living in the high desert getting chemo treatments, just like the old tuberculosis sanatoriums in the 1920s.” And what better place for a biologist, a state with an Official State Amphibian, the spade foot toad? The seldom idle Price, now 43, currently is studying for a degree in biology education at UNM, and before COVID-19 shut so much down, was volunteering at the Museum of Southwest Biology there. He retells an old joke biologists tell, that “medicine is easy because it only focuses on one species.”

Toads and frogs, however, are “always thrown in with reptiles, as an afterthought,” a move clearly irritating to Price. The spadefoot is visible only at night, hence Price’s vigilance when starting for home just after midnight. “They come alive somewhat during the monsoons to breed, visible for about three-four days. Otherwise they live underground for nine months of the year!”

Spadefoots soak up moisture through a patch on their skin, and, can be recognized also as per their official state description. “The voice of the New Mexico spadefoot sounds like a fingernail running across the teeth of a comb. When threatened, the New Mexico spadefoot toad emits an odor said to smell like roasted peanuts.”

Bullfrogs seem his favorite, however. “I love them! They are the smartest frogs on the planet.” It’s always been said bullfrogs have “no necks.” But Price has closely observed bullfrogs turning their heads… and, while said frog does not have much in the way of lungs, “it breathes through its throat, not its skin.”

A new pursuit not quite yet defined is the measuring of tadpoles. “There is too much to study,” Price laments. “How things change in the seasons over a year, how tadpoles react to changes in their environment …it’s a complicated study.” Unsurprisingly, Price has major concerns about the Interior Drain being overhauled into an official recreational site, with parking areas and more people invading the scene. “No problem with anglers, who tend to be more mindful than some,” he says, “But….”

Having posted a concern about this on the social media platform NextDoor, Price got a response from Corrales’ Rick Thaler, who wrote he was part of a group of people who live on or near the drain. “We have considered calling ourselves ‘Friends of the Scuzzy Ditch’ but not sure if that will fly. Most of us either grew up here or have lived here most of our lives.”

“My involvement sprang directly from my opposition to the plan last year to pave the section of road on the drain between East La Entrada and East Ella. I wanted to find a positive way to respond to that plan and I found that some of my old friends and newer acquaintances were already thinking the same way.”

“Our goal is to explore and present to the Village ways to preserve the drain corridor from Dixon down to Meadowlark. We hope to come up with creative ways to preserve and improve access for homeowners, land owners and fire/rescue, reduce speed, volume and dust from north/south traffic, provide permanent, safe pedestrian, bike and equestrian ways, and preserve and improve wildlife habitat along the drain. This is a long process and our priority is to do do it with the maximum of input from our friends and neighbors along the drain.”

Thaler invited Price to “stay tuned for more information as we get the process going.” Likely he will, although he somewhat regrets “I can never seem to agree with anything anyone else ever says.” A high-energy enthusiast, Price wrote recently on his blog that “One of the biggest benefits of studying nature is that studying, helps you study.... Looking closely at plants in the bosque meant I was prepped to see them when up on a mountain meadow recently. Learning how to see with the mind is a valuable skill that takes time. A lifetime in fact.”

His blog is at https://corralesphenology.blogspot.com.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – CORRALES’ SIGN LAW MUST CHANGE, VILLAGE ATTORNEY ADVISES


Corrales’ rules regarding political campaign signs likely will not be enforced between now and the November elections. The Village’s sign ordinance is now considered unconstitutional, according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout has determined. She issued a statement late last month that “I am hereby directing code enforcement staff to forego enforcement of certain provisions of the Village code related to temporary signs or signage.

“Effective immediately and until the Village’s sign regulations are property amended, or until November 3, 2020, whichever is sooner, code enforcement staff shall enforce only those provisions of the sign regulations related to temporary signs or signage that are content neutral and relate to public safety.” The policy came after former Corrales Planning and Zoning Commissioner Frank Wirtz brought attention to the matter of political signs.

In a news release August 26, Stout explained, “It has come to the Village Administration’s attention that our sign regulations are out-of-date. In a recent case (Reed v. Town of Gilbert), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that sign regulations that discriminate based on the content of the sign’s message are, in most cases unconstitutional. “Unfortunately, the Village’s sign regulations are very similar to the regulations struck down in the Reed case. Consequently, if challenged the Village’s sign regulations would also likely be struck down by a reviewing court.

“For the foregoing reasons, the Village needs to undertake a comprehensive rewrite of its sign regulations.” In an August 10 email to Mayor Roake, Wirtz argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such political signs on private property are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The mayor responded to him in an email that same day: “Our attorney is looking into this right now.” The Village’s sign ordinance clearly states that political campaign signs must be removed within three days after the election. The Code or Ordinances reads at Section 8-97 “Permitted Signs, Size Restrictions:”

“Signs related to political campaigns may be permitted prior to an election on any premises. No one political sign including all its sides shall exceed 16 square feet in sign area. Such signs shall not be placed more than sixty (60) days prior to the election date, and such signs shall be removed within three (3) days after the election date.”

These provisions were established in Corrales after lengthy, contentious and recurring debate. But Wirtz argues the Village’s ordinance is unconstitutional as an unacceptable limitation on free speech. In his August 10 email to Mayor Roake, he explained his position this way. “I’ve learned that the Village of Corrales has made some recent efforts in advising residents that their political signage is in violation of Village code restricting political signs being placed outside of the 60-day period preceding election date.

“The Village may create and enforce this ordinance for Village property, but the U.S. Supreme court has addressed this specific issue and has found that municipalities shall not restrict signage “content” on private property.  I’ve attached some links below that will hopefully clarify.” Wirtz continued, writing “The summary of this is that if a municipality allows signage of any type (Keep Out, Welcome, Beware of Dog, etc), then that municipality shall not restrict the content of that sign.  This includes political messaging and support signs. “Note that municipalities may restrict sign size, amounts of signs, placement such that motor traffic visibility is not compromised, etc.  However, the content of the sign is considered an important expression of First Amendment protected practice.…

“On a somewhat related issue, our code for sign ordinances is poorly worded.  In review of that code, I noted that all ‘portable’ signs are prohibited in the Village of Corrales.  This would include the election signs that folks wave near polling places, as well as any other sort of ‘temporary’ signage such as signs at the farmers market, yard sale signs, etc. Due to the broad definitions of the signage ordinance, it could even be argued that bumper stickers or delivery trucks with advertising on the sides are prohibited.”

In a subsequent email, Wirtz added to his argument. “It is in the best interest of our Village to suspend the practice of issuing non-compliance notices to those posting political signage on private property immediately.  “A good part of my frustration during my three years on our P&Z commission is that our older (and some newer) ordinances are horribly worded. Ordinances should contain some very important items ...there should be a list of term definitions at the beginning, describing exactly what key words mean. There should also be a list of exceptions as there are almost always some to be included.  In much of the Village Code associated with Planning and Zoning, the ordinances are nebulous, and entirely too much interpretation is required to apply the code.…

“All ordinances should be reviewed from time to time to ensure that they have not been found to be in conflict with our legal rights and liberties.  Conditions change.  Thirty years ago, we never anticipated needing cell phone hardware in the village, nor would we have assumed that cannabis farming would be an issue.…

“So... we have a mess on our hands, but one of the immediate ones which is threatening to our village is anything which steps directly on an amendment of the Constitution.  In this instance, the court systems all the way up to the Supreme Court have ruled that municipalities may not restrict the content of signage, as long as signage in some form is allowed.  This has been specifically applied to political signage.

“This is a very serious situation that our Village should address.  I know several persons who have received a cease-and-desist tag for political signage, and there are some rumblings about it.

“As part of one of the most progressive communities in New Mexico, we need to apply that progressiveness to freshening our Village Code.” Few candidates running in the party primaries back in June have kept their campaign signs up. The most obvious of those were erected by, or for the Republican candidate for Sandoval County Clerk, Lawrence Griego of Rio Rancho, who ran unopposed.

He will face Algodones Democrat Anne Brady Romero in the November election. After defeating two other Democrats in the June primary, she took her campaign signs down pretty much right away. In contrast, Griego kept his signs up for at least two months, presumably to gain advantage over his Democratic opponent this fall.

The Griego signs were most prominently displayed on the fence and wall of the property where former Mayor Scott Kominiak lives. Other candidate signs reportedly remained up well past the three-day limit near Old Church and Mission Valley Roads and along Loma Larga.

2020 Sept 5 ISSUE – THAT ‘EXTRA’ $4.7 MILLION IS OURS! NOW, WHAT TO SPEND IT ON?

It’s only cost something over $35,000 thus far, plus many hours of labor by Village Administrator Ron Curry and Finance Officer Reyna Aragon, but it has been confirmed that most of the unexpected $4.7 million in the Village coffers first announced in January 2020, is legit.

A forensic audit this summer has confirmed that Village government really does have available more than $4 million that turned up unexpectedly. During the January 14 Village Council meeting, Curry told the mayor and council that “What made this jump out to us is that when you look at that amount of money, it is equivalent to our budget for one year.  It is a good problem to have, but it definitely requires us doing due diligence. We don’t want to get into a situation where we owe that money if we spend it in the wrong way.”

Aragon noted at the time that “We do not yet know where it came from. In 2016, we see from Wells Fargo, general cash for $4 million going into an investment account. That’s all we know about it so far.” Later in the meeting Mayor Jo Anne Roake underscored that, saying,“We aren’t going to spend any of it until we have a better idea, and just not that we have a healthy investment account at this point.  I think healthy skepticism is good at this point. It is just very unexpected.”

The Albuquerque forensic accounting company The McHard Firm was chosen to take a deep dive into Village finances. McHard was suggested to Curry by bond attorney Jill Sweeney, who brought them on board after a pandemically-determined virtual interview, just as COVID-19 was taking hold in New Mexico. In a July 20 report to Curry, McHard wrote: “We were contacted by the Village in April of 2020 regarding fund balances of unknown sources, specifically the balance in the LGIP account, and concerns with the structure of the Village’s accounting system.” LGIP stands for local government investment pools.

“The Village underwent a change in several key positions in late fiscal year 2019 and early fiscal year 2020, including turnover in the Village Administrator and the Finance Director positions. As a result of this turnover, and due to lack of communication and/or documentation from the outgoing staff during the transition, the Village became aware it held a balance in the LGIP of approximately $4.7 million.” (Local government investment pools are mutual funds set up by governments for investing excess money. LGIPs are sponsored and organized by the state treasurer of a state or a governing body like a county commission.)

As of 2019, the $4 million figure was recorded as $4,739,585. “The Village Administrator, the Finance Director, and the Village’s Bond Counsel all had concerns that this balance may be restricted and should not be spent. We performed analysis regarding the origins of this balance which included fiscal years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.” Both Curry and Aragon came to work for the Village in July of 2019. And, as Curry put it, it all began as “Reyna was starting on the budget for the year. She saw a statement, and was cautiously surprised.”

“How does something like that happen?” they asked themselves. “We mentioned it to some of the councillors, who wondered if maybe the previous mayor had moved money around.” Curry said he and Aragon were “determined to clearly identify the money.”

“It was like looking under rocks,” as Curry put it, “ Trying to make sense of things. Not that the situation was anyone’s fault, but the budget was not getting spent.” The July summation from McHard continues: “In addition to the LGIP balance, the Village is in the process of transitioning its accounting system from MIP to Tyler MUNIS.”

Yet another complication, shifting to an entirely new accounting system. The new one, MUNIS, based in Plano, Texas, aims to “Connect your organization with Munis, the powerful ERP solution designed to encompass a wide range of public sector needs.” ERP means “enterprise resource planning.” The old one, MIP, is an accounting platform aimed at non-profits and governments. In fact, former Mayor Scott Kominiak began the transition to MUNIS, but the effort stalled. Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin has been helpful in restarting that transfer, according to Curry. The McHard report adds, “The Village wants to ensure that the accounting structure is appropriate for transition to the new system, and that the new system will facilitate accurate and timely financial reporting to the Village Council.”

To summarize the general accounting setup, McHard explains, “the Village has held an account with the LGIP for the entire time period we analyzed. The Village also holds a checking account named ‘general fund’ at Wells Fargo Bank and a savings account at Wells Fargo Bank. The ‘general fund’ checking account includes balances belonging to other funds of the Village as well as the Village’s general fund. Based on analysis of these balances over time, the balance in the ‘general fund’ checking account grew each fiscal year from 2013 to 2016. In fiscal year 2017, a portion of the balance in the ‘general fund’ checking account was moved to the savings account held at Wells Fargo.”

It does appear that the Village administration was on disorganized ground in 2013, even before Kominiak became mayor, according to Curry. “There was no solid infrastructure, little ‘good practices,’ and the mayor did not even have an office.” Soon after the “missing” $4 million was made public, an Albuquerque TV station ran a brief segment that according to Curry, “was flippant in nature, 180 degrees away from what we had discussed in the interview, making light of how we would spend the money.” Understandable to any kid who found an unexpected crumpled $20 bill in her shorts, when out of allowance money, perhaps.

Under the rocks Curry and Aragon turned over they discovered unusual numbers of Village “funds,” several of which had not been touched in four years, and a few with considerable money in them. Here are a few from the list: Recreation – General Ledger Fund 217; Safe Routes to School – General Ledger Fund 220; Recycling Grant – General Ledger Fund 223; Mid-Rio Grande Valley – General Ledger Fund 231; FEMA 4152 – General Ledger Fund 237; Farmland Preservation – General Ledger Fund 305.

Aragon’s current prime focus is consolidating the assorted funds, and making sure there are no encumbrances on the fund balances. As Curry stated, “Handle money as little as you can, yet accurately. We want to be sure that the Village has a clear pathway into the future, well after we are gone.”

The good news is: “Based on our analysis of the Village’s financial statements, performed at the fund level, there does not appear to be any restriction on the balance held in the LGIP account. However, there may be a portion of the balance that should be transferred from the LGIP account to the ‘general fund’ checking account.

“While the accounting system is used to segregate funds to track the different sources of revenues and expenditures, these funds will often share bank accounts. It would be very unwieldy and inefficient for each fund in a government to have its own bank account. As such, the balance in the ‘general fund’ checking account at Wells Fargo is, reasonably, a combination of fund cash balances in the accounting system, or general ledger. “The audit financial statements for 2019 show the general fund only has $3.9 million in total cash. Despite that, all $4.7 million of the LGIP account is allocated to the general fund.”

“Based on our analysis of the general fund’s fund balance and based on documented audit findings, we believe either other funds over-spent their accumulated fund balance and owe money to the general fund or a bank account transfer was needed to cover general fund expenditures. It is also possible that both of those situations exist.”

Financial perfect storm? Imbroglio? Comedy of errors? But, all’s well that ends well. This year’s budget for fiscal 2020-2021, according to Arragon, has been sent to the State, and it is the same as last year. Village income from gross receipts has remained steady at 30 percent even through COVID-19. And money is not a prime issue for this Village, during this money-squeezing pandemic, thanks to lax or improper recording of transfers, dormant bank accounts, overspending, even underspending. But now the rocks have been overturned, new systems will be in place, and Curry and Aragon are on the job.

2020 Aug 22 ISSUE – HARVEST FESTIVAL GOES ON! ON LINE, THAT IS, SEPT.24 – OCT. 11


Visit the Corrales Harvest Festival website these days, seeking to know if and when and what, you will encounter a jaunty bit of poetry which begins thusly:

“This Covid thing has just been terrible,
We keep to ourselves, it’s been unbearable.
But taking a peek on the brighter side,
There is a way to have fun and keep our stride.

Webbing and Zooming are the methods of choice,
We can connect to the Village and have a voice.
Some things may be cancelled, some reticking,
But by golly the Harvest Festival is alive and kicking…

Festival board member Cookie Emerson wrote that, and it does indeed sum up the perky and still germinating approach to the festival, scheduled for September 26 and 27. “But not really,” explains Tony Messec, who had thought that in 2020 he was going to bask in the accrued success of the Festival under his guidance the last few years. “We have no head this year, just the seven of us on the Board.” Messec knew he would be leaving CHF better than when he got deeply involved, “But then we were hit by this buzz saw of a pandemic.”

So, the festival will proceed almost entirely remotely/virtually, over a period of 16 to 17 days, starting no later than the last week in September. And the board is hopeful to put together six events—“though four of six would still be a victory,” as Messec put it, given the complexity of Zooming or YouTube-ing the festival. The first will be a compendium of videos put together by Casa San Ysidro’s site manager, Aaron Gardner. The museum, which houses a collection of rare artifacts in a historic adobe home and multi-acre setting, typically welcomes over 2,000 people within the two day festival period.

This year visitors can take a virtual tour of Casa San Ysidro and learn of the house’s history, architecture, and collection. 360-degree views of each space are featured. In another video, you can also watch blacksmith Dave Sabo work the forge, as he describes some of the early iron manufacturing and blacksmithing practices in New Mexico.

And you can observe methods of prepping, cooking, and baking in a traditional Pueblo horno. In addition, actress, singer, and traditional storyteller Rosalia Pocheco retells the traditional cuentos of The Magical Pairs, The Lion and the Bee, Tia the Tortilla, and La Llorona. And heritage artists will be showcased, along with their wares, including retablos, bultos, encrusted straw crafts, tinwork, pottery, colchas and jewelry.

Also, you can take lessons, one on Pueblo agriculture by former Isleta Albuquerque Museum docent, Rosalee Lucero, who shares her experiences growing up on the Pueblo and working in the fields. Another video lesson focuses on the history of architecture in New Mexico, from Pueblo, to Spanish, and early American architecture, explained through Casa’s own buildings and collection.

Next, thanks to the efforts of Tracy Stabenow, a pet mayor competition, and, thirdly, a pet parade, somehow. The theme of the parade is “First Responders,” which cleverly allows for pet persons actually to walk along garbed in shower curtains, masks, and plastic gloves, while their critters are similarly attired. Except maybe for the guineau pig, a recent nominee, who may be too tiny for much in the way of attire. To nominate your pet, see http://www.corralesharvestfestival.com/2020-pet-mayoral-election/. Thus far there are no details posted about the parade itself.

Fourth in the rotation is a virtual hayride, which Messec hopes will include an actual hay wagon touring Corrales, interspersed with old photographs of the buildings, streets, sites, the wagon is passing. A pumpkin carving competition takes up slot number five, particularly aimed at kids, with prizes involved. In fact, remote visitors are likely to be invited to cast their votes, at $1 per, much in the manner of the pet mayor event.

Finally, the non-Hootenanny. No dancing, no booze. Possibly a taped musical event viewed from cars, possibly at the Balloon Fiesta field which already is equipped with a drive in theater, or, something else. Kyle Martin, last year’s performer, may be on the roster. His music, per his definition: “Highly amplified western themed honkytonk style music played in a hard rock format with a heavy beat.” Likely not live, however.

The 2019 festival raised about $20,000 which was doled out to local organizations. The 2020 version may generate $5,000, with any luck, and, as Messec points out, “it won’t cost us much to put together.” No stage, no kids’ climbing wall and similar.  No poster art contest, no new T-shirts for sale, either —“we don’t make any money on these anyway,” said Messec.

As for volunteers, which usually comprise many, many Corraleños, techies indeed are welcome to get involved. Contact Messec at tonym505@aol.com

Will this year’s festival attract virtually the two/thirds of non-Corrales people usually arriving via Corrales Road the end of September? Quién sabe?

2020 Aug 22 ISSUE – NEW ANIMAL SHELTER APPROVED


A temporary climate controlled building will be installed in August to shelter county animals short term, according to Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block. He said the $56,000 building is likely to go in near the County’s administration offices off Highway 528. He would like it to be managed by the Community Services Division instead of the sheriff's office. The proposed location is close to community services operations.

At the July 9 County Commission meeting, Block challenged new County Manager Wayne Johnson, who assumes the office July 27, to prioritize the building of a permanent Sandoval County Animal Shelter, starting with the creation of a taskforce to explore the options.

Block duly noted the scarcity of resources during COVID-19, but was optimistic that the shelter would be a primary consideration “when the economy rebounds.” The public has weighed in with emails in support of “finally fixing the problem.” According to the County website, “all animals impounded by the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Division are taken to Watermelon Mountain Ranch” in Rio Rancho.

2020 Aug 22 ISSUE – HISTORIC PLAQUE INSTALLED FOR EL PORTAL BUILDING


What may be Corrales’ most iconic historic commercial building, El Portal, now has a plaque proclaiming it. A blue plaque was attached to the facade by the Corrales Historical Society last month. Research indicates it was built as a two-room trading post around 1860. Over the years, the building has been used as a general store, dance hall, Sunday afternoon poker venue, art gallery, community theater and coffee house.

The U-shaped structure at 4686 Corrales Road, adjacent to the elementary school property, is known locally as “El Portal.” Its historical name is the Lopez Building, after Octaviano Lopez who bought it from Jennie Weiner in 1910. Corrales Historical Society records trace the building’s owners and uses over the years. “With the exception of Kris Dale’s completion of a partial second-story addition during the late 1970s, the Lopez Building has not changed significantly since 1927.”

“Earl Works ran a grocery store here after World War II where locals would often convene for a Sunday afternoon of poker. The Adobe Theater used the north hall for a while. In the 1960s, David Dale bought the building and called it the ‘House of Maya.’” Dale also bought the building on the other side of Corrales Road which today is still known as “Mercado de Maya.”

“As he and his wife raised their family here, they leased parts of the building for an art galley and coffee house in the early 1970s.” Architect designer Gay Wilmerding bought the building in 1983 and undertook a major restoration that included installing interior beams and posts to relieve weight on the original adobe or terrón walls.

El Portal is now owned by Mike and Adriana Foris who bought it from Wilmerding in 2004. “Gay won an award for historic preservation/restoration of the building,” Mike Foris recalled. “Recently we converted the entire building to a heat pump system such that each suite has refrigerated air conditioning as well as an upgraded heating system.  Previously it had evaporative cooling and radiant heat panels.  This has significantly reduced the building's electrical demand, a savings which we have passed on to our tenants.

“We installed a mini-split system which allows each tenant to control the temperature of their suite and which had a minimal impact to the esthetics of the building, which was a major consideration when we did the upgrade.

“The building is fully occupied and almost all of our tenants have been with us for a number of years.”

2020 Aug 22 ISSUE – BOBCAT KITTENS MAKE THEMSELVES AT HOME


A family of bobcats (Lynx rufus) has apparently taken up residence in Corrales. Jasmine Tritten was surprised to find four bobcat kittens lounging on a patio wall at dusk August 9. Their mother had left them to hunt for a rabbit or other suitable supper. “They were there for about an hour at dusk,” Jim Tritten told Corrales Comment. North American bobcats are fairly widespread and commonly seen in wooded areas. They are about twice the size of a normal domestic cat. They have short, stubby (bobbed) tails, for which they are named. Also distinctively, they have black horizontal stripes on their forelegs and a black tip on their tails. Bobcats are considered territorial and generally solitary. They are most active around twilight.

Corrales Comment published an earlier photo of a bobcat in the Bosque Preserve in the July 25 issue, headlines “Close Encounter With Bobcat Here.” A frequent bike rider in the Corrales Bosque Preserve, Guy Spencer came across a less frequent visitor: a bobcat, right on the trail.

“I’m an avid mountain biker, and throughout the years, I’ve certainly come across and run into many cool things and experiences,” Spencer recalled after the July 15 encounter.  “This however quite possibly falls into its own little bucket.  I was out on the bosque this morning, getting a cool, quiet ride in around 6 a.m.  I often ride during this time, selfishly taking advantage of the solitude and grace the bosque so unselfishly offers to many of us early bird-ers.

“I was headed back south from top of the trail, about to cross the arroyo just north of the reconstructed trail head on Romero Road, north side of the arroyo, on the single track. Just as I was coming out and around that last bush, this little fella walked right out in front of me” about 10 feet away.

“At first I assumed it was a solo dog ...and then, as I looked over at it towards the river, it gazed back at me.  Well, that was no dog! What took me by surprise was quickly overridden by how calm this creature was.  I bet I fumbled with my phone for almost an entire minute before I was able to take three shots.  Amazing.

“I was just standing there over my bike watching the cat move ever so slowly away from me …fearless, content and unsuspecting.  What a blessing to have seen it so close.  Just a gorgeous creature."

2020 Aug 22 ISSUE – BATTLE BREWS ON REMOVAL OF POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SIGNS


If you’re miffed by political signs remaining up long after primary elections in June, be advised that Village officials may have to allow them to stay up —forever. At least that’s the contention of former Corrales Planning and Zoning Commissioner Frank Wirtz. In an August 10 email to Mayor Jo Anne Roake, Wirtz argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such political signs on private property are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The mayor responded to him in an email that same day: “Our attorney is looking into this right now.” The Village’s sign ordinance clearly states that political campaign signs must be removed within three days after the election. The Code or Ordinances reads at Section 8-97 “Permitted Signs, Size Restrictions:”

“Signs related to political campaigns may be permitted prior to an election on any premises. No one political sign including all its sides shall exceed 16 square feet in sign area. Such signs shall not be placed more than sixty (60) days prior to the election date, and such signs shall be removed within three (3) days after the election date.” These provisions were established in Corrales after lengthy, contentious and recurring debate. But Wirtz argues the Village’s ordinance is unconstitutional as an unacceptable limitation on free speech. In his August 10 email to Mayor Roake, he explained his position this way.

“I’ve learned that the Village of Corrales has made some recent efforts in advising residents that their political signage is in violation of Village code restricting political signs being placed outside of the 60-day period preceding election date.

“The Village may create and enforce this ordinance for Village property, but the U.S. Supreme court has addressed this specific issue and has found that municipalities shall not restrict signage “content” on private property.  I’ve attached some links below that will hopefully clarify.”

Wirtz continued, writing “The summary of this is that if a municipality allows signage of any type (Keep Out, Welcome, Beware of Dog, etc), then that municipality shall not restrict the content of that sign.  This incudes political messaging and support signs.

“Note that municipalities may restrict sign size, amounts of signs, placement such that motor traffic visibility is not compromised, etc.  However, the content of the sign is considered an important expression of First Amendment protected practice.…

“On a somewhat related issue, our code for sign ordinances is poorly worded.  In review of that code, I noted that all ‘portable’ signs are prohibited in the Village of Corrales.  This would include the election signs that folks wave near polling places, as well as any other sort of ‘temporary’ signage such as signs at the farmers market, yard sale signs, etc. Due to the broad definitions of the signage ordinance, it could even be argued that bumper stickers or delivery trucks with advertising on the sides are prohibited.”

In a subsequent email, Wirtz added to his argument. “It is in the best interest of our Village to suspend the practice of issuing non-compliance notices to those posting political signage on private property immediately.

“A good part of my frustration during my three years on our P&Z commission is that our older (and some newer) ordinances are horribly worded. Ordinances should contain some very important items ...there should be a list of term definitions at the beginning, describing exactly what key words mean. There should also be a list of exceptions as there are almost always some to be included.  In much of the Village Code associated with Planning and Zoning, the ordinances are nebulous, and entirely too much interpretation is required to apply the code.…

 “All ordinances should be reviewed from time to time to ensure that they have not been found to be in conflict with our legal rights and liberties.  Conditions change.  Thirty years ago, we never anticipated needing cell phone hardware in the village, nor would we have assumed that cannabis farming would be an issue.…

“So... we have a mess on our hands, but one of the immediate ones which is threatening to our village is anything which steps directly on an amendment of the Constitution.  In this instance, the court systems all the way up to the Supreme Court have ruled that municipalities may not restrict the content of signage, as long as signage in some form is allowed.  This has been specifically applied to political signage.

“This is a very serious situation that our Village should address.  I know several persons who have received a cease-and-desist tag for political signage, and there are some rumblings about it.

“As part of one of the most progressive communities in New Mexico, we need to apply that progressiveness to freshening our Village Code.” Few candidates running in the party primaries back in June have kept their campaign signs up. The most obvious of those were erected by, or for the Republican candidate for Sandoval County Clerk, Lawrence Griego of Rio Rancho, who ran unopposed.

He will face Algodones Democrat Anne Brady Romero in the November election. After defeating two other Democrats in the June primary, she took her campaign signs down pretty much right away. In contrast, Griego kept his signs up for at least two months, presumably to gain advantage over his Democratic opponent this fall. The Griego signs were most prominently displayed on the fence and wall of the property where former Mayor Scott Kominiak lives.

Other candidate signs reportedly remained up well past the three-day limit near Old Church and Mission Valley Roads and along Loma Larga. Another pre-November battle played out at the north end of Corrales when Trump supporters Elaine and Harold Manicke received what they considered hate mail for putting up a political banner.

In an August 4 email, she wrote “I was wondering how long it was going to take to get something because we have a Trump flag flying.  “My husband picked up the mail Sunday and we received the attached two-page letter.  Two other neighbors to the south also received letters. The neighbors to the north are flying a Trump flag as well. They will then let us know if they received a letter when they get home.

“Letters were mailed from Albuquerque, in plain business, white letter envelopes.  Street address only, no addressee.  Signed by “Republicans for democracy”  encouraging us to write-in a candidate.  It is desperation, misinformation and intimidation to make people continue to be afraid to speak up and demonstrate their choice.” In her email to Corrales Comment, Elaine Manicke added,”The neighbors and I met with the Corrales police. The officer mentioned that this harassment has been going on for months. They have had a lot of reports. He had not seen the attached letter, however.

“Would the paper be interested in finding out how widespread this is in Corrales and Rio Rancho?  It would be good for people to know, if they are targeted, that they are not alone and others to be made aware of harassment.   One neighbor did have a Trump sign pasted over with a yellow sticker.  Frank Wirtz posted the letter on Next Door.  Several people commented that they and neighbors had received such mail but not that exact letter.

“As the election nears, this will probably ramp up. Perhaps if a light is shined on the behaviors, people will realize that this behavior does not make people change their minds but cements their resolve.”

She emailed a copy of the letter they received objecting to the Trump banner. It reads, in part, “What is it you support?” followed by 26 statements about the president’s alleged policies or traits. Among those indictments are that Trump brags about assaulting women; pardons convicted criminals; and “his denial of science regarding the health of the citizens he swore to protect.”

2020 Aug 22 ISSUE – HOW WILL YOU VOTE AMID CORONAVIRUS? BY MAIL OR IN PERSON ON ELECTION DAY?


If you’re planning to vote by mail this fall, you may want to think about how you’ll manage that. Concerns about voter suppression and/or voter fraud and Russian election manipulation are as rampant nationwide as the coronavirus. Will you stand in line socially-distanced to cast your ballot in person or will you send in a ballot mailed to you? The Sandoval County Clerk can send out applications for absentee ballots as soon as the middle of next month, September 14. Those mail-back ballots will be accepted starting October 6; early voting begins October 17.

In recent years, an increasing number of voters have cast ballots well before the actual Election Day, which will be November 3. In the last general election in November 2016, about 25 percent of voters nationwide voted absentee or otherwise by mail, and that is expected to at least double this time due to fears of exposure to COVID-19 at the polls. Some observers believe that up to half of all voters nationwide will cast mail-in ballots.

Corraleños are among the thousands, perhaps millions, of citizens afraid the U.S. Postal Service will not be able to facilitate vote by mail ahead of elections in November. Those concerns are exacerbated by President Donald Trump’s remarks earlier this month, implying he would not approve a large funding hike for USPS to accommodate the expected deluge of mail-in ballots. “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of those millions and millions of ballots,” the president warned.

That was perceived as a threat, especially accompanied by recent changes in how USPS handles mail, including elimination of streetside mail collection boxes, overtime for postal employees and sorting equipment, as ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, identified as a mega-donor to Trump’s re-election campaign. Those portents have riled many Corrales Democrats and independents, including Trish and Allan Whitesel who have hoisted “Save Our U.S. Post Office! Save Our Right to Vote!” outside the Corrales Post Office.

She emailed to Corrales Comment August 16 asking, “Could we have ever imagined that our very own president would wage an outright war on the USPS and on Americans’ right to vote in free and fair elections? “President Trump repeatedly voices his concerns about voter fraud by mail and raises the prospect of foreign interference at the ballot box… [even though] President Trump, some of his family members, multitudes of Republicans, overseas military personnel and veterans routinely vote by mail, pay their bills by mail, receive their Veterans Administration benefits and their medications via USPS!”
“We should not have to choose between our health and our right to vote!”

Allan Whitesel echoed those concerns, adding that he feared, “the chaos and uncounted ballots could lead to an illegal authoritarian government take over, the result of which could mean the end of our more than two centuries experiment called democracy.”

The U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to convene for an emergency session during the week of August 17 to appropriate more funding for USPS. At least 19 members of Congress signed an August 12 letter to Postmaster General DeJoy imploring him to maintain the postal system’s integrity, especially ahead of the November election. “The House is seriously concerned that you are implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing post offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class. If implemented now, as the election approaches, this policy will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.”

Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni, responsible for managing elections in Corrales and elsewhere around the county, assures that absentee ballots will be sent to every citizen who requests one; applications for an absentee ballot will be mailed starting September 14. Until early voting begins October 17, the only location to deposit a completed ballot will be at the County Clerk’s Office, 1500 Idalia Road just west of Highway 528. During early voting, each of 19 voting locations will have a secure box into which ballots will be placed, according to Garbagni.

Overseeing elections in New Mexico will be the Secretary of State who can be reached at sos.elections@state.nm.us or by calling 1-505-827-3600.

To facilitate the expected dramatic jump in absentee and early voting, Corrales Comment presents below the candidates who will appear on the ballot here. 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.

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: REPORT ON ‘HEALTH SECURITY FOR NEW MEXICANS’

With a financial impact analysis in hand, New Mexico legislators may be prepared to make a decision on a long-proposed near-universal health care program during their 2021 session. The Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, led by Corrales’ Mary Feldblum, responded last month to a report by three consultants tasked to analyze cost-benefits inherent in the plan that would provide health care insurance equivalent to that enjoyed by state employees.

As Feldblum explained, the proposal is for state government “to set up its own health plan to ensure most New Mexicans, exclusive of the military, military retirees and federal retirees. “There is complete freedom of choice of doctors and hospitals, and services can be no less than what State employees have. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVII No.20 January 5, 2019 ‘Health Security Act’ Could Pass N.M. Legislature.”)

The State’s contract with KNG Health Consulting, IHS Markit and Reynis Analytics produced analyses of four scenarios with various assumptions over the time period 2024 to 2028. Feldblum, who holds a doctorate in sociology and economics, pointed out that the analysis demonstrated that under the fourth scenario, implementation of the Health Security Act would yield substantial savings compared to what is now spent on health care in New Mexico.

Factored in were a wide range of costs, such as individuals’ insurance premiums, employer contributions and co-pays. “Possibly some Corrales Comment readers saw the Albuquerque Journal article on the consultants’ report. It emphasized what was called ‘a short fall,’ in revenues for the Health Security Plan.

“For Scenario 1, which is the one which got all the publicity, the consultant said there would be a short fall; there wouldn’t be enough revenue to pay for the cost of the plan.” But that is because of anticipated start-up costs, Feldblum said. Under Scenarios 2 and 3, the revenue-to-cost ratio shrinks, and under the fourth scenario, “there is no shortfall at all.”

She said the Journal article did not explain that scenarios studied showed less and less shortfall. “When you just look at short falls over a five-year period, from 2024 to 2028, you’re missing something. Why is there a shortfall in 2024 and not in 2028?

“The point is, when you start up a new program, you’re always going to have some added costs in the beginning.” Feldblum said she has problems with the consultants’ analysis, “but what’s important is that in every single scenario, they saw the short fall diminished and in one case, the short fall didn’t occur at all.”  The report makes it clear state government will save administrative costs with Medicaid being rolled into the Health Security plan. Another significant cost reduction derives from bulk purchase of drugs.

She submitted a 35-page critique of KNG’s preliminary 65-page draft report. “They corrected some things, but the analysis still has some major, major problems. But this is a big undertaking for any think-tank to be able to project a change that would come from something like the Health Security Act.

“So I’d like Corrales residents to keep in mind that in 1965, when Medicare was introduced in Congress under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the numbers-crunching was very weak. It had never been done before, yet they proceeded. And 55 years later —with lots of changes, of course— it’s still a very popular program that serves a critical need.

“So while focusing on numbers is important so that you have some sense of where you’re navigating… I’m not convinced that KNG is navigating in the right way… but there’s enough in there that ultimately they admit we’re going to spend less under Health Security than we would under the current system.”

The question now, Feldblum posed, “is do we start this process now? Do we start setting this up in the next session of the legislature? “We know that in a state with a small population it makes sense to start our own health plan.” She cited two previous studies on the implications of the Health Security plan, one in 2004 and the other in 2007; neither indicated any funding short fall.

“We know this is do-able. Under the current system, the problems are enormous, as we all know. Hospitals that were fragile before COVID-19, many of them are almost bankrupt now. We’re seeing premiums go up and people’s out-of-pocket costs are going up. It just doesn’t make sense to be dividing everybody into these small, different insurance pools. Doctors are frustrated. We have more and more physicians who are interested in the Health Security Act. They’re fed up with the IT systems that have nothing to do with quality of health care, but everything to do with whether they will get paid by insurance plan A or B or C or D or E, F or G.

“It’s an immensely complex system and we have a chance in New Mexico to do something different. There are over 170 organizations… farmers and ranchers, health providers and all kinds of community organizations that have endorsed this. There are 37 county and municipal governments who support this, even Roswell.” Public pressure will determine whether the 2021 session of the N.M. Legislature launches the Health Security plan, Feldblum said. “There is enough evidence to show that we need to go down this path. We have to do it slowly and carefully.”

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: CAUTIOUS PLANNING FOR FALL SCHOOL OPENINGS

As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham juggles the complex demands of the pandemic and its conflicting effect on small businesses, restaurants, public health and schools, parents, teachers and students across the country warily eye a return to in-person education.

A junior high school in Indiana opened up to students on one day, a student tested positive, and within hours, plans changed. According to an article in the New York Times, August 1, “Of the nation’s 25 largest school districts, all but six have announced they will start remotely, although some in places like Florida and Texas are hoping to open classrooms after a few weeks if infection rates go down….”  New Mexico will start remotely. The Albuquerque Public Schools Re-entry Plan “calls for school to begin the week of August 12 with the distribution of technology to all students, virtual home visits, and guidance for staff, students, and families on safely attending school and effectively learning at home.”

“Under the plan, which is subject to change depending on the spread of the coronavirus and public health orders, students would return to the classroom after Labor Day, September 7, on an every-other-week rotation Tuesdays-Fridays.” The rotation chosen “allows for more continuity of instruction with fewer transitions for students,” according to APS.

The plan applies to Corrales Elementary as well. To dive deep into the program and its ramifications, teachers and school staff were scheduled to return to school August 5. “The plan outlines steps for swiftly moving to remote learning if the spread of the coronavirus isn’t curtailed and public health orders still call for residents to mostly stay at home,” according to APS.

To read about APS’ thinking, see http://www.aps.edu/schools/reentry-plan. Sandia View Academy, the Seventh-day Adventist private high school at 65 Sandia View Lane, will re-open August 12, according to principal Chanda C. Castañeda. The school is offering a hybrid model, customized according to the needs of the student and parent.

“We offer a two-day on campus and three-day off campus program,” according to Castañeda, who encourages students to take electives on-campus. But, for those who choose to do electives from home, “students at home will be provided a list of supplies for art class, and ingredients, for cooking class, that they would need at home. They would follow the steps the teacher does via Zoom, our online learning platform.” http://sandiaviewacademy.org

Corrales’ Cottonwood Montessori School is registering now “for dynamic onsite and online school starting September 9.” For further information call the office at 897-8375. Bosque Prep is opening August 14, but working with what it calls a Model 3 plan for “remote teaching and learning.” Its Covid-19 influenced website, http://www.bosqueschool.org, is detailed and descriptive, and contains this explanation as to how state mandates dictate its programming.

“In a press conference on July 23, the governor mandated no in-person teaching and learning until at least Labor Day, September 7. As an independent school, Bosque does not fall under New Mexico Public Education Department guidelines and mandates, but we are considered a business and are bound to the State Public Health Orders that currently limit group gatherings to no more than five people and 25 percent occupancy limits.

“Under the current order, this means we would only be able to have classes of four students (a regular section is approximately 16 students). In order to bring students back to campus at this point, they would have to rotate through once every four to five days. We have therefore made the decision to start remotely, providing our students with five-day-a-week schooling.”

In a recent address to the APS Administrators Conference on Education, APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder noted that “We’re definitely doing things differently this year, but the energy is much more nervous, excitement has been replaced with anxiety. And not much of what we've had to do of late can be classified as fun.”

“In my new job as the interim superintendent, I'm supposed to rally the troops, motivate the team. I will try my best to do that today, and each day as we move forward through this unconventional school year. To be straightforward. I read an article recently titled, “There Are No Right Decisions About This School Year.” I am just hoping to be less wrong.But I also promise to be honest with you.”

“First and foremost, we have to figure out how to educate our students —all of our students. And we have to make everyone feel safe, not just students and their families, but our teachers, our staff, and, yes, even ourselves. We can’t be effective if we don’t believe what we’re selling: a plan to safely educate students amid a contagious pandemic, despite the complications, frustrations, and stumbling blocks.”

“Remember that our students —and our staff, too— are returning from a traumatic life disruption, and we need to take extra steps to meet their social, emotional, and cognitive needs. Oddly, this might turn out to be a silver lining. “For a long time now, our students and families have been crying out for more social and emotional learning and support at school. There’s been a growing need for better understanding, more empathy, improved self-awareness and identity, and relationship building.

“Another goal of the Re-entry Plan is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills, capacities and resources to return to school with an increased ability to adapt to potentially changing scenarios.

“And finally, the third goal of the Re-entry Plan is to develop short and long-term learning goals for students. This goal centers on societal and educational disruption. Once again, I see this as an opportunity to personalize education for our students, meeting their needs while we teach them to be adaptable and capable, no matter the setting.”

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: FARMLAND EASEMENT DECISION EXPLAINED


Several years of negotiations to save the Trosello tract as farmland in perpetuity have been unsuccessful. With heavy hearts, villagers need to accept that the iconic view of that wide expanse of corn and chile fields along Corrales Road almost certainly will disappear.That somber outlook follows the Village Council’s approval to use much of the $2.5 million in municipal bonds to purchase a conservation easement on more than 12 acres of the Haslam farm near the intersection of Corrales Road and King’s Road, between the Corrales Lateral ditch and the Main Canal.

The council voted unanimously at its July 21 session to take the next steps to acquire the easement and accompanying water rights. A closing on the transaction is expected by the end of November, according to the Village’s realty agent, Michael Scisco of Unique Places LLC who negotiated the terms.

Subsequently, Corrales Comment asked Scisco whether he had given up trying to gain an easement on the Trosello tract. He replied, “We have not given up, but the expectation of land values of the landowners and the documented appraised value for vacant farmland in Corrales are fairly far apart. And the current landowners of the Trosello tract are not interested in doing a conservation easement, they are only interested in selling.

“We tried multiple creative ways to finance the deal, bringing in third parties, trying different configurations, etc., but it typically ended in someone paying more than fair market value for the property or having the current landowners do the conservation easement, both of which were not possible at the time. We will continue to search for solutions.”

He said “We exhausted our options on Trosello before Haslam became a potential project.” Lisa Brown, co-chair of the Corrales Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission, held out some hope that the Trosello land might remain cultivated rather than turn into mega-mansions on one acre home sites.

“While Michael is right that we've worked long and hard to attract landowners with significant parcels along Corrales Road to the program, without success as of yet, it's important to remember when doing conservation work that ownership and circumstances can change quickly.

“The Trosello tract on the market, for example, might be sold to someone who intends to preserve it. This pandemic could change minds and hearts as we stay at home and contemplate what our values are; or a financial incentive might come into play. And so our recent experience doesn't necessarily reflect the future of our program,” Brown said.

“Another point I want to emphasize is that two of the existing conservation easements here, the Boyd and Ventana Grande Smith lands, are currently farmed by Silverleaf Farms, creating a local source of food supply and attracting biodiversity to the greater village, benefits enjoyed by our whole community regardless of where the easements are situated.

“With the Haslam easement, we have preserved land dispersed throughout Corrales. These fields are protected forever from development and might in the future be farmed by our grandchildren. What we create with farmland preservation is not just open space or recreation, but intended to protect our fertile soil, history and culture.

“Yes, land in Corrales is expensive, and this presents particular challenges for land preservation here. But conservation easements are a great deal for the Village. What is essentially the purchase of development rights is only a partial, albeit significant, cost compared to the entire value of the land.

“The remaining interest stays with the landowner, monitored by a land trust —in our case New Mexico Land Conservancy— to ensure that the land stays protected. This means that the Village isn’t required to maintain or improve the land while benefiting from open space, wildlife habitat, a local food supply and historical relevance. Residential development that would occur otherwise is expensive for the Village to provide for, such as in the case of emergency services.”

By state law, the general obligation bonds approved by Corrales voters in March 2018 for conservation easements must be used by March 2022. The Haslam easement will use at least $960,000.

Scisco said July 28 no other easement proposals are ready to go to the council. “We have a couple preliminary opportunities, but with COVID, getting them to the next phase has proven difficult.”

Earlier this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives approved permanent funding of $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But Scisco explained none of that could go for programs like that in Corrales. “Funding for private land conservation is scarce. Remember that conservation easements do not typically allow for public access. Land and Water Conservation Fund monies are for municipal purchases for parks and other accessible open space by the public.”

And while grants from the U.S.Department of Agriculture were crucial for starting Corrales’ farmland preservation program, more help from that agency is not likely, he said.

“USDA is always an option, but it is very competitive. The land trusts in New Mexico typically have two to three waiting lists for projects, and USDA over the years has shown less appetite for funding three to 10 acres in Corrales at $80,000 to $100,000/acre than funding thousands of acres on ranches at $200-$600 per acre.

“Also, the USDA program only gets about $900,000 a year, which can be used up in just one or two projects. Involving USDA also takes what could be a four- to six-month process of completing the conservation easement and turning it into a 12- to 18-month process to complete the easement.

“Our issue is not available funding, it is landowner interest… hopefully your article will help with that,” Scisco said. “Of the now eight conservation easements for preservation of open space and farmland located in the village, the Haslam project is the second largest in terms of protecting acreage.”

He explained what he has done to encourage other landowners to apply for the Village’s farmland preservation program. “During the past 14 months of our work to sign up landowners for this program, I spoke with over a dozen landowners. This [Haslam] project was the only one that committed to moving forward in that time period.”

That outreach included a mailing to all landowners who own at least acres of land in Corrales, as well as a targeted mailing to all landowners who own at least three acres of land along or near Corrales Road. “I understand there were a few questions from members of the public about ‘why aren’t there any projects along Corrales Road where the public can see them?’ We reached out directly to four landowners of significant property along Corrales Road, had meetings with them and could not convince them to sign up for the program,” he said. This is a voluntary program, we can’t force people to participate.

“I also want to make it clear we made a strong effort to enter Trosello fields into this program, but were not successful due to land valuation differences between what the Village could legally pay and what the landowner wanted. “I want to make clear that the bond funding cannot be used to purchase property, only interests in property such as conservation easements. This has been determined by legal review.”

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: ONLY CANDIDATE SO FAR FOR PET MAYOR 2020-21

Confident, even a teensy bit formidable-looking in her official portrait, Abigail Fae is the first candidate to enter this year’s pet mayor election. Abigail is “one of our village’s cutest and sweetest dogs,” according to Pet Mayor Contest organizer Tracy Stabenow. Abigail’s campaign slogan? “Building a brighter tomorrow —one tennis ball at a time.”

This year’s election will be handled entirely online due to the pandemic. Anyone interested in entering her or his pet can fill out the application on the Harvest Festival’s website at http://www.corralesharvestfestival.com/2020-pet-mayoral-election. Then, scan and email it to PetMayor@corralesharvestfestival.com, or snail mail it to 4 Acoma Trail, Corrales, NM 87048. Applications will be taken through the end of August.

Official online voting for our next Pet Mayor begins September 1, and voting costs $1 per vote with a minimum of five votes. You may vote as often and as generously as your wallet will allow ($5 = 5 votes, $20 = 20 votes, $100 = 100 votes).

The pet that raises the most money —gets the most votes— wins the mayoral election. The Corrales Pet Mayor contest is a part of the Corrales Harvest Festival that raises funds to support the needs of our two- and four-legged members in the village.

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: EX-CORRALES COP SUES WHEN HE’S INVESTIGATED FOR DISCIPLINE


Shortly before being forced out as executive director of the N.M. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) late last month, Ralph Arellanes sent a letter to Corrales Mayor Jo Anne Roake objecting to the dismissal of Village Clerk Shannon Fresquez.

In his July 20 letter, Arellanes, who has also served as chairman of the Hispano Roundtable of New Mexico, wrote that “You were elected mayor in March 2018. At that time, the Village Administrator was a Hispanic male having served in that position for two mayors. You removed that individual and hired a non-Hispanic in that position. You appointed as Village Clerk a Hispanic female. Recently you have removed that individual and replaced her with a non-Hispanic. In fact, all three of the individuals serving in the exempt positions are white males.”

Municipal governments in New Mexico have three at-will positions: Village Administrator, Village Clerk and Police Chief. Almost immediately after Roake was sworn in as mayor, she dismissed all three and submitted new names for confirmation by the Village Council.

The Arellanes to Roake letter noted that “Corrales has many members of the Hispanic community such as the Pereas, Wagners and Riveras to name a few that have contributed greatly to Corrales. So how does it happen that there is not a single Hispanic serving in your administration in one of the three exempt positions? “We question whether you genuinely believe in diversity as your actions do n ot reflect that.”

Responding to a Corrales Comment request for a response, Mayor Roake emailed “As a female mayor, it is always my goal to have a diverse and qualified workforce. I take that responsibility to the public very seriously.”

She suggested that further inquiries be sent to Village Administrator Ron Curry. When asked, Curry explained that Fresquez was not fired, but rather that the mayor had not re-appointed her. He pointed out that the Village Clerk position is, and has always been an at-will employee which gives the mayor the ability to dismiss the person without showing cause.

In what could be related, the Village and former Village Clerk Fresquez have been sued by former Corrales police officer Daniel Parsons over an alleged violation of a request for inspection of public records.

Parsons’ 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 “whisteleblower’s” suit on behalf of former Officer Parsons. “Daniel Parsons has a whistleblower suit that is probably about a month out from filing,” Grover wrote. 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.”

Vic Mangiacapra is Corrales’ chief of police.

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.” LULAC’s executive director, Arellanes, was forced out of his position about a week after he sent the letter to Mayor Roake complaining about dismissal of Village Clerk Fresquez. Arellanes resigned after being told he would be replaced. But that internal conflict apparently had little to do with either matter in Corrales.

Instead LULAC members were upset that Arellanes had recently sent a strong letter to the president of the University of New Mexico demanding that course and materials critical of the Spanish conquest be discontinued. But Arellanes’ emailed letter to Mayor Roake was copied to more than 170 recipients around the country, including former Governor Jerry Apodaca and two former lieutenant governors.

In May, the mayor replaced Fresquez with Aaron Gjullin, who had been an assistant to Corrales Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXIX No.7 June 6, 2020 “Aaron Gjullin Named Village Clerk.”) Gjullin started working at the rec center as a life guard at the pool in 2008. In 2017, he was named head life guard. Gjullin earned a degree at the University of Portland after studying biology and mathematics. In the Portland area, he was general manager of a large farm from 2014 to 2017.

In 2018, he was an administrative assistant in the Village Office. In recent years, he has also managed the Village’s website and other digital media tasks. At the May 26 Village Council meeting, discussion about Fresquez’s departure was guarded and brief, since it was said to be a personnel matter.

Councillor Kevin Lucero asked for some discussion about the change, saying he was concerned about the rate of turnover in the Village Clerk position. “I want to make sure that none of my comments, in any way, shape or form, are derogatory to Aaron. I know he’s smart and everything about him. These comments are specifically about the Village Clerk.

“For whatever reasons, this particular dismissal has caught a little traction, with me anyway. I’ve had several conversations, some were emails, from around the village who are kinda wondering why the turnover is the way it is.

“I don’t like to see turnover, and probably nobody does, but with this particular position, we have to consider the amount of experience that has left [Village government]. Granted, personnel issues are always very tough and I understand that. I know there may be some issues that can’t be discussed in this forum, but maybe in a closed session,” Lucero added.

“I think it would be appropriate if we at least got everything clarified and out in the open so that I can discuss with people who are coming to me [about the turnover], that we should maybe postpone the approval of the appointment of the Village Clerk upon discussion in a closed session.” Lucero said the discussion should include Village personnel turnover generally. “This has nothing to do with Aaron; I know he’s a smart guy and I’m sure he will do a great job.”

Mayor Jo Anne Roake interrupted him. “You should be kinda careful on this issue, okay?”

She asked Village Attorney Randy Autio to join the discussion. He said he understood the mayor’s concern about the discussion Lucero initiated. “Everybody is always concerned about situations like this.” But the mayor’s choice of Gjullin to replace Fresquez is uncomplicated, he said. “Councillors can act with their vote. In other words, you either support the mayor in the person’s appointment or not.” Lucero ended the discussion by pointing out, “It’s not that I don’t want to support the mayor. I just want to ask some questions that have been posed to me, and maybe not with this particular position, but just in general. It’s just that I would like to get some of this cleared up before we move forward.”

At the vote to approve Gjullin’s appointment to replace Fresquez, Lucero joined in the unanimous assent.

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BRING MORE INTENSE STORMS



By Scott Manning

The executive director of the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) is confident that its facilities protecting Corrales can withstand increasingly severe storms caused by climate change —in the near term.

Chuck Thomas told Corrales Comment last month its flood control infrastructure can handle expected storm intensities since the authority’s dams, ponds and other facilities were designed to control floods in excess of the projected “once in a hundred years” storm events, and because timely maintenance is conducted. SSCAFCA uses models to understand storm water flow in southern Sandoval County. Using those data, the authority has designed infrastructure based on the probability of an intense downpour occurring within a 100-year period.

For example, if a storm water control facility would need to store 25 acre-feet of water in a major storm, SSCAFCA engineers design the facility to operate properly in more intense conditions by doubling the required storage capacity to 50 acre-feet. But, Thomas said, the authority lacks the data necessary to determine how climate change impacts weather events in this region. With a relatively small data set, it is difficult to identify weather trends, Thomas cautioned.

Yet SSCAFCA has commissioned research on the risks of climate change and how to communicate those risks. Presentations have been given to the authority’s board of directors on the implications of future storms of greater intensity and frequency. SSCAFCA participated in the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project, led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center, and by the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) in Albuquerque.

SSCAFCA first examined whether climate change corresponded to greater storm severity and increased flood risk in the southern Sandoval region. For this analysis, SSCAFCA studied a 56- square mile region just northwest of Corrales in the Rio Rancho. SSCAFCA evaluated general circulation models (GCM), that use atmospheric and oceanic circulation models to predict weather changes over time.

The project used GCM precipitation models from 1950 to 2099 to evaluate changing precipitation patterns.

Then, researchers considered three time periods in their analysis: 1950-1999, 2000-2049, and 2050-2099. Researchers focused on the predicted median precipitation in a 100-year storm to draw comparisons between the three time periods. Results indicated that differences were statistically insignificant between the median 100-year 24-hour precipitation value for the 1950-1999 period and the precipitation value for the 2000-2049 period.

However, the median precipitation greatly increased for the 2050-2099 time period. From this analysis researchers concluded that SSCAFCA should prepare for increasingly more severe precipitation events driven by climate change and changing weather patterns in the future.

Having established a link between climate change and increased storm severity in Sandoval County, SSCAFCA then considered the potential impact of increasingly severe weather events by considering the Calabacillas Watershed in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties.

In 2014, SSCAFCA partnered with the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) to develop a hydrologic model of the Calabacillas watershed.

First, the hydrologic model considered the impact of a current 100-year storm with an estimated 24-hour precipitation of 2.6 to 3.1 inches. Second, the model examined the impact of a hypothetical storm that produces 10 percent more rainfall than the current 100-year storm.

Third, the model examined the regional impact of a hypothetical storm that produced 25 percent more rainfall than the current estimates. Using this three-storm model, researchers evaluated the impact of severe storm events for this region. They determined that climate change could damage and overwhelm existing flood control infrastructure. More precipitation in a 24-hour period could generate higher peak flow rates.

For example, analysts identified Southern Boulevard in Rio Rancho as an at-risk road in the case of more severe storms. Already severe storms have threatened Southern Boulevard. But a 25 percent increase in the severity of a 100-year storm would increase water flow rates along Southern Boulevard by 75 percent. That example demonstrated that some flood control infrastructure simply lacks the capacity to handle more serious 100-year storms.

Second, investigators considered the impact of more severe storms on floodplains, the areas in the watershed that experience high levels of water flow in severe storm situations. Both the depth of a channel and the topography of the surrounding region affect flood patterns, so that researchers must study each channel separately to identify the risks to the floodplain.

In that study, they evaluated a housing development located directly east of an arroyo. Analysis demonstrated that a 10 percent increase in the severity of a 100-year storm would damage or destroy 30 homes in the housing development. That meant more work must be done to secure the floodplains.

Third, researchers concluded the study by examining how erosion in the watershed would change in cases of more severe storms. Erosion is a concern because the Calabacillas Watershed contains sandy loam soils that are highly susceptible to erosion. Erosion is damaging because the process changes the direction of water flow and deposits sediment downstream.

Studies compared the shape of the Calabacillas Arroyo from 1952 to 2012 to understand how erosion impacted the water feature. In this period, parts of the arroyo migrated laterally by over 300 feet. In highly populated areas, that kind of migration could harm private property and storm water control infrastructure. As the severity of storms increases, they expect the rate of erosion-driven lateral migration will accelerate.

The study concluded by acknowledging that climate change could lead to more severe 100-storm events that threaten infrastructure and private property in southern Sandoval County. SSCAFCA is currently conducting an evaluation of drainage on the western side of Corrales to identify storm water flow patterns and drainage concerns. This study is part of a continuing effort by SSCAFCA to serve as an available resource for Corrales.

Thomas is confident that SSCAFCA infrastructure will protect Corrales in future storm events because it has taken the necessary precautions in designing and in maintaining arroyo flood control infrastructure.

The authority maintains a robust maintenance program to ensure that all current infrastructure developments are up-to-date and operating properly. Thomas said he aims to conduct maintenance work twice a year on each facility. His crews perform the first round of maintenance before summer so that facilities are in good shape for severe storms during monsoon season. Then SSCAFCA performs the second round after the rainy season ends to repair any damage.

The agency operates uses a mix of property tax revenues and government grants. SSCAFCA receives a portion of property taxes from residents living in the region which pays for the authority’s operating budget and maintains a debt service fund.
In 2008, SSCAFCA issued general obligation bonds for $18 million which lasted through 2016. After 2016, the authority issued more bonds to raise $21 million which is expected to be sufficient for another decade.

To conserve its funding, SSCAFCA applies for supplemental federal grants. For example, a bank stabilization project currently under construction will cost $4.3 million. SSCAFCA was awarded a federal grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for $3.2 million for the project, so SSCAFCA only had to spend $1.1 million of its bond funds on that project.

Earlier this summer, two Columbia University researchers wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times warning that climate change is dramatically increasing the risk of catastrophic dam collapse. “There is no doubt that climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall and the risk of floodwaters over-topping dams, the main reason a dam fails,” according to Upmanu Lall, chairman of Columbia’s Earth and Environmental Engineering Department, and Paulina Concha Larrari, a researcher in the Columbia Water Center.

“But while climate change may not be so easily fixable, making sure dams can withstand flooding is, and it is much cheaper than the consequences.”

2020 – JULY 25 ISSUE: BOB PERLS URGES PROTECTIONS FOR NOVEMBER ELECTIONS


By Scott Manning

How confident are you that your vote in the November elections will be protected against hacking and that malicious software intrusions will be blocked? According to Corrales’ Bob Perls, upcoming elections in Sandoval County and in much of the United States remain vulnerable to the same kinds of threats that jeopardized the 2016 election.

The report by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller proved that Russia engaged in a coordinated campaign to influence that election. The Russians coordinated a social media campaign to spread misinformation and hacked voter databases. Although the impact of Russian election meddling is unclear, Russian efforts demonstrated that the U.S. election process is susceptible to outside influence.
And there is reason to believe that Russia could try these kinds of tactics again: Russia was caught attempting to meddle in elections throughout Europe just last year.

Primarily to better secure the November 2020 election process, Perls, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, ran for the office of Sandoval County Clerk in June. He lost, but remains actively engaged on election security issues. Perls also is the founder of N.M. Open Elections, a non-profit organization that works to improve voter turnout in elections.

He explained that the current voting process needs revision and requires new infrastructure to improve voter turnout and election security. He is convinced the country has not systematically improved election security from the processes and technologies used in the 2016 election.

The election process will remain at risk until governments designate election infrastructure as a piece of key national infrastructure, he warned. With its current governmental status, election infrastructure is easily accessible and highly unsecure.

For example, one can purchase a ballot machine on eBay. According to Perls, the Russians have in fact purchased U.S. ballot machines in order to reverse-engineer the designs and learn how to exploit weaknesses in the machines. U.S. election technology would be less available to foreign powers if it were designated key national infrastructure.

New Mexico ranks in the middle of state rankings in terms of voting security and infrastructure. Two primary forms of potential election corruption exist: retail election fraud and wholesale election fraud. Retail election fraud is a small and low-impact form of fraud in which an individual might steal an absentee ballot. Evidence shows that this kind of election tampering is rare, isolated and ineffective.

In contrast, wholesale election fraud poses a significant risk to the election process because it involves a coordinated effort to hack and undermine an entire election system. A hacker engaging in wholesale election fraud might try to hack into voter databases or tamper with an election vendor to gain information about voters or to influence the election results. Russia is the best-known actor that engages in wholesale election fraud.

The U.S. election process faces other risks as well. Perls expressed concern that only 13 states have adopted voting machines that leave a paper trail. These new machines create a paper receipt that records voting behavior. This “paper trail” enables authorities to run an audit on local election locations to guard against election fraud. Thirty-seven states have not adopted these new election machines, leaving them more susceptible to and less responsive to voter fraud.

Looking at the election process more broadly, Perls says that the country and individual states need to spend more money to update voting infrastructure and to reform the voting process. Perls has several recommendations for states and for the federal government to adopt in voting reform. First, all states should adopt the paper trail voting machines because the technology greatly strengthens the ability of governments to audit elections to check for voter fraud.

Second, governments need to invest in training their county clerks and civil servants in cybersecurity threats and in crisis-management. County clerks are responsible for running elections, so it is imperative that clerk offices become more educated about potential voting risks. Clerks should receive additional training in identifying cybersecurity threats and reviewing staff credentials to mitigate security risks and to ensure an effective response to cases of voter fraud, he said.

And county clerks must be trained in crisis management. In the case of voter fraud, clerks must be prepared to establish crisis centers to effectively investigate and address the situation.

Third, governments need to continue to work on minority voter engagement to improve voter turnouts and voting accessibility in minority communities.
Finally, Perls supports the adoption of all-mail ballot systems in which every registered voter is automatically mailed a ballot. This system allows for all voters to cast their votes by mail. This system has several advantages.

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, voters would be able to cast their votes from the safety of their own homes. Importantly, a mail-in ballot system gives voters several days to submit their ballot. During this time, voters can research the candidates listed on the ballot and make informed decisions before casting their votes.

As a final benefit, Perls argues that all-mail ballot systems increase overall voter turnout: when Colorado switched to mail-in ballots, the state experienced a five percent increase in voter turnout.

Perls explains that there are some obstacles to adopting an all-mail ballot system, but voter security is not one of them. Evidence shows that all-mail ballot systems suffer from very little fraud. Another common concern is the belief that all-mail ballot systems disproportionately benefit one political party or cause over another. Again, research demonstrates that mail-in ballot systems do not preferentially benefit any one group.

But all-mail ballot systems do require expanded voting infrastructure and new technologies to make the process secure, efficient, and transparent. States adopting an all-mail ballot system must first update and vet their voter databases so that mail ballots are sent to the correct residents with their correct addresses.  After verifying and updating voter databases, states must redesign their ballots to fit the mail format, and they must also develop the infrastructure to track mail ballots much as Amazon tracks package orders.

States will need to print a unique bar code on every ballot, and residents should be able to access an online system where they can track the location and status of their ballots.

Then there is the issue of developing “curing” processes. In a mail-in ballot format, residents should be alerted if their completed ballot is rejected. The government should then grant the voter the opportunity to “cure” the ballot for resubmission. This process requires that governments increase the number of voting staff so that residents can communicate with voter authorities.

Finally, Perls said, to verify the identity of voters, states must invest in signature verification software. This software is essential in the validation process for mail-in ballots. All of Perls’ suggested security and election reforms require funding. He estimates that $2 billion are required to update voter infrastructure across the country. In the stimulus bill passed by Congress this spring, only $700 million were devoted to updating the election process.

Looking at New Mexico specifically, the state has made strides in improving its voting infrastructure, but work remains to be done, Perls cautioned. New Mexico is one of only 13 states that have adopted paper trail voting machines, and he congratulated New Mexico on this achievement. Additionally, New Mexico’s Secretary of State has gone through crisis control training, but many clerks in the state have not received this training.

Regarding an all-mail ballot system, New Mexico has made important reforms to the voting system, but the state is not yet an all-mail ballot state. This past special session of the N.M. Legislature, legislators passed Senate Bill 4 that requires that county clerks send all registered voters an application to obtain a mail-in ballot. Although the state still does have an all-mail ballot system, this legislation is an important step in voting reform.

New Mexico’s Secretary of State has also done important work to update voter databases, but the state has not adopted a ballot tracking system or signature verification software.

Moving forward, Perls suggests that New Mexico look to Colorado as an example for election reform. Colorado runs an all-mail ballot system, and the state has adopted open primaries in which independents are permitted to vote in primary elections. These reforms have increased voter turnout. And Colorado, a “purple” state with strong tendencies for conservative and liberal politics, also demonstrates that these voting reforms are not partisan issues.

2020 – JULY 25 ISSUE: SCARCE WATER FOR 2020 IRRIGATION SEASON


Corrales crops dependent on ditch irrigation should survive to harvest despite the drought, meager flows from southern Colorado’s slopes and extreme temperatures. In mid-July, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District successfully sought permission from Texas and Colorado through the Interstate Stream Commission to use about 38,000 acre-feet of stored water.

Otherwise, MRGCD officials said the Rio Grande would have dried up along this stretch of the river and depleted water flowing to irrigation ditches. On July 17, the MRGCD issued a statement that it “was anticipating running out of its general irrigation water supplies in upstream reservoirs by Saturday morning [July 18] that would have led to extensive river drying and devastating crop losses throughout the middle Rio Grande valley.”

State Engineer John D’Antonio, who serves on the Rio Grande Compact, said the agreement specifies that the “borrowed” water be used judiciously to prevent catastrophic cross losses and minimize impacts to endangered species.

In the July 17 statement, MRGCD noted that the agreement was “an exceptional occurrence, but also cautionary. “The district is informing the public and our water users that although we may squeeze by this year, without significant precipitation, we can expect to have in excess of 100,000 acre-feet debt to downstream users next year. This water must be replaced as soon as possible to prevent harm to irrigation districts below Elephant Butte Dam and, by the rules of the compact, may also severely limit the district’s use of El Vado Reservoir in future years.”

This is the first time since the 1950s that such an emergency use of stored water has been implemented. Earlier this summer, MRGCD halted water deliveries arranged through its water bank. As of July 19, the 2020 monsoon season had produced only scant sprinklings of rain.

2020 – July 25 ISSUE: VISITS TO BOSQUE PRESERVE MUST END BY 9 PM, MAYOR SAYS


Night time recreational use of the Corrales Bosque Preserve has been restricted due to ongoing concerns over fire danger. On recommendation from the Bosque Advisory Commission , Mayor Jo Anne Roake set an earlier closure time for visits to the preserve. From April to October, evening use must end by 9 p.m.

The revised closing time is now 7 p.m. from November through March. Signs are being posted at entrances to the preserve. The commission wanted to change to be consistent with rules for the Rio Grande Valley State Park to the south.

Commissioners noted that reports have come in about small fires being started in the bosque and about people entering the preserve around midnight and even later. The preserve had been posted with a closure time of 10 p.m. At their June 11 meeting, commissioners were reminded that no allowable uses of the bosque need to be done after dark. Concern was also expressed that visits to the preserve at night raise potential for personal injury with diminished capacity for public safety personnel to respond.

Commissioners have also learned that someone deliberately damaged the most popular footbridge into the preserve. Metal straps securing a side railing for the “Boy Scout Bridge” over the Riverside Drain (“Clear Ditch”) were removed, probably in the evening of July 15.

A reward has been offered for information about the vandalism; a tip or other information may be emailed to bosqueadvisorycommission@gmail.com. Commissioner Joan Hashimoto said she noticed the damage Thursday, July 16. “I noticed that four of the anchor straps on the south rail of the Scout bridge had been vandalized. One was completely missing.” She said a neighbor had repaired the railing the following morning. The footbridge was installed as an Eagle Scout project more than 25 years ago.

2020 – JULY 25 ISSUE: IS SCENIC VALUE ESSENTIAL IN OUR ATTEMPT TO SAVE FARMLAND?


If the Village Council approves it, a 12.8-acre tract at the north end of Corrales between the Main Canal and the Corrales Lateral ditch will be preserved in perpetuity as farmland.

Using at least $960,000 of the $2.5 million generated by sale of general obligation municipal bonds approved by voters in 2018, the Village would acquire a conservation easement on the land owned by Brad and Deborah Haslam southwest of the intersection of Corrales Road and Kings Road. The broad, rich pastureland is used for alfalfa, cattle and other livestock. No further development of the land will be allowed, although the Haslam home and farm related structures would remain.

The Village’s farmland preservation program, which began acquiring such easements in 2004, essentially buys development rights from the participating landowner. The transaction also buys water rights attached to that acreage. This would be the first use of proceeds from the GO bonds voters approved three years ago. “In 2018, 80 percent of our citizens passed a bond directing the Village to acquire conservation easements to protect Corrales open space,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake explained in her July 17 “Mayor’s Message.”

That level of Corraleños’ support for saving farmland from residential development has held steady since the first round of bonds for that purpose more than 16 years ago. Back then, voters here approved the bond proposal by a vote of 1,178 to 237. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIII No.14 September 11, 2004 “Corrales Approves Bonds to ‘Save Farmlands’ By 5-to-1 Margin.”)

But in those days, the program was greatly aided by federal grants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2003 awarded Corrales a $1.1 million grant to purchase conservation easements. USDA required a 50-50 local match to its grant, so the $2.5 million bond package approved by voters here August 31, 2004 was adequate to USDA grants.

The proposal presented to the Village Council this month states that the Haslams would “place the entire property into a perpetual conservation easement with an approximate one-acre residential building envelope” and a half-acre agricultural building.

The property is currently composed of three parcels accessible from Kings Road. Under the agreement, the land could not be further subdivided. Without the easement, the property theoretically could become 12 to 13 home sites. But the offered lands cannot be seen from Corrales Road, nor accessed from the community’s main thoroughfare. That is a concern for some villagers who opposed the acquisition.

“It’s land-locked and not even viewable from any Village road,” said one who has followed proposals to use the available bond money. He said the Haslam field cannot be seen from nearby Loma Larga due to a large vegetated berm, nor from Corrales Road or Kings Road.

A similar opinion has been expressed by Ken Duckert, who urged the mayor and council to delay a decision to gain more public input. “I visited the proposed Haslam conservation easement this week and cannot find words to adequately describe my amazement that the Village will consider spending public money on a property that will satisfy no one except the seller, nearby neighbors who don’t want new neighbors, and the few hikers and bikers who use the adjacent ditch trail.

“It fits nicely with six of the other conservation easements in the village in that no one will be able to see it as they drive through the village. Once acquired, few will take the time to find and visit this property.  Ask yourself, why would anyone visit this property?  Hidden properties like this do nothing to promote the rural or cultural heritage of Corrales.”

Duckert went on to say he and others think the Village’s conservation easements must be easily seen. “No one I’ve talked with likes the idea of public money being spent on property that is hidden from view and offers only a passive recreational opportunity of looking over a fence at an open field.  Even my twin six year old grandchildren see little or no satisfaction in doing that.”

But Corrales’ program has always been about saving farmland from development, not preserving scenic views. Corrales was the first community in New Mexico to start a municipal farmland preservation program funded by municipal bonds.
To Duckert, “the financial terms seem especially shocking.  It appears that the final cost of this project will be kept secret. While a floor price of $960,000 seems to be established in the proposal, it is almost a guarantee that the final cost will be substantially more and is to be kept ‘in confidence.’  In a time when transparency is a common topic in conversations about government operations, how can spending public funds be kept secret?  If true, this is really disturbing.”

While the farm’s green pastures cannot be seen driving along Corrales Road, they are a welcome sight for pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists using the Corrales Lateral ditchbank as well as the eastern ditchbank of the Corrales Main Canal to a lesser degree.

In the proposal presented to the council July 21, “the property will include an area large enough to accommodate an approximate 200 square-foot wildlife viewing platform with an interpretive sign featuring migratory bird educational information. The landowners are responsible for the design and construction of the viewing platform including associated costs.… The area will be easily accessed off the public recreational trail along the Corrales Lateral. This area cannot be used by the landowners for any other purpose outside of public use.”

The proposal states that the lateral irrigation ditch “is frequented by many residents and visitors for walking, running horseback riding and mountain biking.”

The agreement was negotiated by the Village’s agent, Michael Scisco of Unique Properties Real Estate. As with Corrales’ previous conservation easements, this one would be held and administered by the New Mexico Land Conservancy based in Santa Fe.

Although the land has been farmed for decades, Debbie and Brad Haslam began growing a specialized crop to feed a herd of 27 alpaca they acquired from a breeder in Santa Fe who was closing down the business, according to a 2014 article in Bosque Beast.

Brad Haslam is a long-time distributor for Stryker medical equipment.

2020 – JULY 11 ISSUE: MARY DAVIS’ NEW BOOK GETS ZOOM TALK JULY 28

Mary Davis, historian summa cum laude of Corrales and beyond, just did her first book promo Zoom for fans of her newest book, Hometown Corrales: A Family Album, courtesy of Bookworks in Albuquerque.

She decided to sit in front of her randomly filled bookshelf for her remote chat, as is now customary among celebs and the litterati. This hour-long virtual event June 21 attracted just over a dozen possible customers/readers. Coming July 28 at 1 p.m. is Davis’ second Zoom appearance, this one for members of Village in the Village. For more information, call 274-6206.

As reported by Corrales Comment the end of last year, “Ten years of researching, interviewing, hair-pulling and collating later, Mary Davis has completed a second book about Corrales, an effort aided and abetted by the skills and commitment of Carolyn O’Mara, graphic designer, as well as by members of the Corrales Historical Society. This new project is called Hometown Corrales: A Family Album, and its primary focus is people —59 family names, and as many as 200 people, representing a tapestry of interwoven names and families.

As Davis put it, “This book is the answer to those who asked “Why is my family not in the book?” Her first such volume, Corrales, put out in April 2010 by Arcadia Publishing, was part of the series “Images of America.” And yet, even after all this, Davis admits there are “numerous families I know nothing about.’”

During the ongoing pandemic, Davis has been staying close to home with her husband Paul, retired University of New Mexico professor and author of numerous books, whose days are firmly focused on creating remarkable wood block prints that capture the essence of the novels of Charles Dickens. These 18 by 18-inch Dickens evocations are not for sale.

In a recent conversation, Davis said she had not eaten lunch out anywhere in over three months, though she is well-supplied with groceries by her daughter who lives next door, but had been out to her doctor for “a shot in the knee.” “Already had one knee replaced,” she said, chuckling, “But in my mid 80s now, likely there’s not much time left, so why bother?” She also was mildly fretting about members of her family traveling from Florida to Denver.

As for her latest Corrales book, Davis reckons she may have a few copies left of the 500 she herself paid for. “We gave away close to half of the books, signed, to the members of the families featured in the book, and have about three boxes of books left.” One is at Bookworks on Rio Grande Boulevard. And sales are steady at Frontier Mart. And not too shabby on Amazon, where the book, published in February 2020, sells for $25. Davis is keen for some written reviews on Amazon.

And the next publisher for Hometown Corrales is not yet known. Davis is wrestling with the expensive reality of digital publishing, versus photo offset, which she was able to arrange with Sunstone Press in Santa Fe for the initial run of the book.
Reactions to Hometown Corrales?

Historic preservationist Taudy Smith wrote "lovely recollections from people and places I am very fond of.  Well done.” Davis served as the historic preservation planner with the City of Albuquerque for nearly 20 years. Antoinette Montano Patterson asked Davis to send a copy of the book to her sister, Dorella, in El Paso.  “When it arrived it had made her day.”

Gloria Zamora, daughter of Irene and Tom Tafoya, included in the book, “said something nice but I can't find her email,” as Davis put it.  Zamora is the author of Sweet Nata, published by the University of New Mexico Press, in 2011. Set during the 1950s and 1960s in Mora and Corrales, it’s a memoir “about familial traditions and the joys and hardships the author experienced in her youth,” according to the press writeup.

While Davis said she had quit the board of the Corrales Historical Society, and was no longer the chair of the archives committee, she admitted her involvement would continue a bit longer as “I’m the only one who knows this stuff.” Maybe someone out there would like to be an archives intern and “shadow” Davis.

Also on Davis’ mind is the fact that CHS is losing money during the current isolation experience, and all involved are seeking ways to raise funds. One way is to donate a portion of your Amazon purchases to a non-profit like CHS. Another is to use a Smith’s Market Rewards Card in a similar manner. Or to step up “planned giving.” Check out the options at http://www.corraleshistory.org/ supporting-the-old-church.html

2020 – JULY 11 ISSUE: RECREATIONAL TRAIL FOR INTERIOR DRAIN?

By Scott Manning
Part 1

A small group of Corrales residents meets regularly to discuss plans to transform the Corrales Interior Drain into a recreational trail for walkers and for cyclists. This group is just beginning the planning process, but a similar project has already been partially implemented in Albuquerque’s North Valley along the Alameda Drain.

On June 9, Doug Findley organized a Zoom meeting to discuss the possibility of constructing a recreational space along the entire length of the Corrales Interior Drain. The Corrales Interior Drain is a drainage ditch and irrigation water return feature that runs north-south through the central area of Corrales east of Corrales Road.

At Findley’s suggestion, Mayor Jo Anne Roake said July 2 she intended to appoint a group to look at the potential for better using the area around the drainage ditch. The mayor said she hoped to appoint the following at the July 21 council meeting:  Doug Findley, Rick Thaler, Ed Boles, Sayre Gerhart, Jeff Radford and John Perea.

The group has as its mission “to identify and help implement ways in which the Interior Drain and its right-of-way may be improved for safe, enjoyable and essential public use while maintaining tranquility for adjacent residents.” The Interior Drain would retain its primary function as a drainage infrastructure for the village. But Findley and collaborators propose that the ditch bank become a mixed-use space that also supports recreation.

This is not the first time that residents have proposed transforming the land along the Corrales Interior Drain. Over a decade ago, Radford, a charter member of the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, suggested that the Village support a plan for the ditch bank to be used for recreation and —possibly— a shady area for parking for visitors to the nearby businesses along Corrales Road.

The proposal he floated years ago would have part of the ditch replaced by a perforated underground culvert that would continue the original drainage function for adjacent land. Radford said that concept was suggested by former Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Chief Engineer Subhas Shah in the 1980s when Corrales residents complained about mosquitoes breeding in stagnant, smelly ditch water.

Now, this group of Corrales residents plans to meet and work closely with Mayor Jo Anne Roake to advance the idea of a new recreational space along the drainage ditch. Once they have achieved committee or task force status, they plan to work with the Conservancy District (MRGCD) and with Corrales residents to transform the ditch bank.

Going forward, a recreational project along the ditch bank faces several challenges. First, the Village and the MRGCD would need to evaluate property rights claims along the Interior Drain to make sure that the land could be legally used as a recreational space. Some members of Findley’s group worry that private landowners may have specific property claims to land on the ditch bank.

In this scenario, the MRGCD controls the ditch bank for drainage and water usage purposes. The property agreements with the MRGCD could contain reversion clauses in which land use rights would be returned to private property owners if the drain were to be used as a recreational space. To resolve the property rights issue, the Village would need to conduct a professional land survey of the Interior Drain.

Second, the group of Corrales residents does not yet have a clear vision for the recreational project. And without a clear plan, the group will struggle to identify the structural and engineering challenges associated with it.

Members of Findley’s group decided at their meeting to begin contacting Corrales residents and specialists to determine the needs of the community and to construct a recreational plan that meets those needs. For example, the group intends to seek the expertise of biologists to determine the ecosystems along the drain.

Third, the project will require funding, and Corrales will need to invest in maintenance efforts to support the recreational space. At the June meeting, participants expressed confidence that funding avenues could be identified. Were the group to create a space that supports fishing in the Interior Drain, it could seek funding from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Again, funding avenues can be determined once advocates draft a specific proposal.

Finally, Findley’s group recognizes that implementation of the project will require the assistance of several agencies in the region. The MRGCD must be involved because the district controls the area around the drain and uses the ditch banks to perform maintenance work.

2020 – JULY 11 ISSUE: LAWSUIT IN CONTRACT DISPUTE OVER UPPER MEADOWLARK PROJECT

Corrales is in court in a contract dispute with the firm that re-built upper Meadowlark Lane. “I guess I would have to say we are in litigation” over the Village’s refusal to fully pay for work it considers unsatisfactory or incomplete, Village Administrator Ron Curry said July 3.

Attorneys for Blackrock Services LLC filed a civil suit in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court May 13 asking a judge to order Curry to issue a “notice of substantial completion” and, presumably, to be paid for that. Although Curry has been tight-lipped about exactly what remains to be done, or re-done, on the road-building project that began in March 2019, the dispute likely involves stormwater drainage features in and along the roadway.

“What happened was that they filed for a motion for a writ of mandamus to order me to sign a ‘substantial completion’ notice that would allow them to be paid, but I would not sign that ‘substantial completion’ notice because they haven’t conformed with the rules and regulations,” Curry explained.

“The judge ruled in our favor, and said ‘no, this is not a ministerial decision, it is an administrative decision.’ And that we were correct, that the court couldn’t order me to sign a document saying the project is complete.

“So what Blackrock has done is they have gone back to the court and asked for a declaratory judgement saying that we just have to pay them. That’s kind of where we’re at. We would like to sit down and visit with them, but apparently at this point, they’re not interested in that. We’ve made some offers and they’re not responding.

“We continue to look for a way to resolve this, but at this point, that’s not happening.” Curry said that legal tangle has stalled the planned second phase of the Upper Meadowlark Project, construction of bicycle lanes and an equestrian path along the road shoulders.

“We want to get through this before we move into Phase 2 pretty much. And I talked to Councillor Dave Dornburg about Phase 2, and we’re going to go back and start over again. We’ll go back and get public input to see what people want now to start once we get past litigation. Then we’ll start on Phase 2 immediately.”

Curry said gathering public input for the trails portion of the Upper Meadowlark Project would probably have to be done “virtually or some sort of white-board display that we put up some place where people can go by and look at them.”
Curry was skittish about the project when he took over as Village Administrator in July 2019. He expressed concerns almost immediately that if the work was not done correctly, funding arranged for it, primarily through the Mid-Region Council of Governments, would be withdrawn —if that happened, it would drain the Village’s coffers by more than $1 million.

When construction began 15 months ago, it was supposed to take most of the first three months to install a stormwater drainage pipeline along the north side of upper Meadowlark’s road shoulder. The drainage pipe was designed to divert stormwater from the planned medians between the future westbound and eastbound lanes. Those landscaped medians have features beneath to collect run-off, which, after being shunted to the pipeline, would drain to a ponding area along the west side of Loma Larga.

After that drainage pipe is buried between the Corrales-Rio Rancho boundary and Loma Larga, an asphalt bicycle and pedestrian path was to be constructed over it, which would connect Corrales’ bike lanes along Loma Larga to Rio Rancho’s along Meadowlark and to that city’s Thompson Fenceline Trail along the escarpment.

The project has been envisioned —and endlessly discussed— for a decade. It will take advantage of the unusually wide right-or-way along Meadowlark Lane between Loma Larga and the boundary with Rio Rancho.

Until a year ago, that right-of-way on either side of the pavement mostly has been taken up with landscaping as the frontage for each adjacent landowner’s home. First described as a bicycle trail linking Corrales to Rio Rancho more than a decade ago, the project won funding through the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) at that time, but the money was returned because upper Meadowlark residents protested, saying the funds were insufficient to address drainage concerns. At the June 28, 2011 Village Council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to send back $160,000 for proposed trails along upper West Meadowlark Lane.

But just after giving back the $160,000 offered for the Meadowlark bike and pedestrian paths, councillors unanimously resolved to ask MRCOG for a new grant to construct trails along Meadowlark or some other road that could connect to Rio Rancho’s bike paths.

That is the origin of the current project which is now stalled.

The project was amply aired in numerous public meetings for more than five years. In 2013, a planning firm was hired to conduct a charrette to elicit optimal public input. When it became clear that the upper Meadowlark project would actually be constructed, adjacent property owners were asked to remove their landscaping and other items in the Village’s right-of-way to clear the way for construction. After considerable delay, that began to happen about two years ago.

The biggest hang-up in getting the over all project started was getting the N.M. Department of Transportation’s concurrence with design changes to the westerly end of the proposed bicycle and pedestrian trail. The department had withheld approval for the earlier design that depended on a waiver from the Americans with Disabilities Act. The original engineering plan was rejected because the slope was too severe (both east-west and north-south) for persons in a wheelchair.

In Judge James Noel’s June 4, 2020 “Final Order Denying Petition and Quashing The Alternative Writ of Mandamus” sought by Blackrock, he sided with the Village of Corrales, stating, “Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy, which is only available when there is a clear ministerial duty to be performed by a public official and where there is no other adequate remedy at law; and

“The issue of whether there has been substantial completion of the Meadowlark project does not fall under the category of a ministerial duty on the part of Respondent Curry. Rather, Respondent Curry has discretion in determining whether Petitioner has met the criteria for the issuance of substantial completion; and

“The Court further finds that there are adequate remedies at law available to Petitioner, such as an action in contract, so that mandamus is not an appropriate remedy, and for the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ordered that the Petition for a Writ of Preemptory or Alternative Mandamus is hereby denied, and the Respondent’s motion to quash the Alternative Writ of Mandamus issued by the Court in this case is hereby granted, and the Alternative Writ of Mandamus is quashed.”

2020 – JULY 11 ISSUE: MEDICAL CANNABIS FARM WILL SOON GROW OUTDOORS


By Meredith Hughes
The medical cannabis farm on the property of the Komadina family at the north end of Corrales is infused with investor capital, a management team and energy, as exemplified in Aaron Brogdon, in a swirl of activity recently.

Brogdon heads up Corrales Management, which soon will oversee three medical cannabis retail outlets.

The project’s licensed non-profit producer (LNPP) is Southwest Organic Producers, which first began business in 2009. Its first retail operation is on Montgomery, just east of Interstate 25, with a second location opening at 219 Central Avenue this month. The third retail shop is intended to operate in Corrales, in space leased in what is known as “the Kim Jew building,” at 4604 Corrales Road, by this fall.

And the Corrales outlet will immediately benefit from what Brogdon described as “better quality product,” grown in Corrales. Right now the Komadina property at 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte has three greenhouses, as well as a nursery for new plants. The veg house is where new plants reach their teen years, and the flower house, is where plants potted into ten-gallon containers do their final growing.

Brogdon said about 50 such plants will be put in the ground outdoors soon. And he added that he is happy to give people tours of the operation as time allows.The first major harvest will be towards the end of August —right now the farm has three employees— and by then will need an additional ten at least.

Though the site development plan application by Southwest Organic Producers, SWOP, for a cannabis dispensary to be located on Corrales Road was approved by the Village Planning and Zoning Commission on November 20, 2019, assorted hoops required jumping through, or what P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout described soon thereafter as “applicable state and federal agencies on their specific requirements.”

Spencer Komadina, Tom Murray and Chris Sandoval, among others, contributed to the dialogue on November 20. Prior to the go-ahead from P&Z, five LLCs were registered at the 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte address, in March, June and August of 2019.
The companies are Top Shelf Management LLC, Top Shelf Equipment And Assets LLC, Top Shelf Holding Company LLC, Fantasy Farm LLC, and Corrales Management LLC. According to Brogdon, Top Shelf “manages the farm, investments and all the property maintenance for the dispensaries. Corrales Management is the overall management company.”

Brogdon, 37, from Bosque Farms where he still lives, earned a degree in construction management from the University of New Mexico and has worked as a compliance manager dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers, and other entities. So he is working steadily to secure the lease, negotiating terms, with the first goal to take possession of the roughly 1,000 square foot space at the east end of the building for the medical cannabis outlet.

A second aim is a long term lease of the building at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road, with SWOP as the anchor tenant. The most prized goal is to actually acquire the building. As of this writing, the building still is owned by Kim Jew, though for sale signs have been up there for some time. Back in 2019, Tom Murray explained to P&Z prior to their positive ruling that he was “the first cannabis producer in Corrales, and one of the first four in New Mexico.” He emphasized the gross receipts coming into the Village via a retail outlet would be based on an estimated “$4.2 million of revenue that will originate through that point of sale and will include a good portion of customers outside of the village.”

He went on to explain that “The one thing we can’t do in the Corrales location is manufacturing. We cannot do anything with product other than sell it. It may be packaged, but nothing more than that.”

“The other thing is, we are part of the community. We’ve been producing cannabis in this village since 2009, and this application is for the sale of product only. We are only distributing packaged goods.”

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, as of May 31, 2020, New Mexico had 94,042 registered Medical Cannabis Program card holders, with Sandoval County at 6,514, and Bernalillo, 30,562. Across the state, by far the biggest number of patients were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 48,010 in number. People experiencing “severe chronic pain,” came in at 29,862.

John DuPree of Rio Rancho spoke at the November 20 P&Z meeting. “I grew up in Corrales. I raised a family out here and I’m also a medical cannabis patient. I would prefer to give my business to the village than to Albuquerque or Rio Rancho. I think this would benefit me as well as other people who are in my situation and think it would benefit the village. This has changed my life and I know it has changed the lives of a lot of other people.”

Still to come for New Mexico, legalization of recreational cannabis, a bill in the N.M. Legislature shot down in February of this year. But Brogdon is looking for more medical cannabis opportunities for SWOP in the future, possibly in Roswell or Hobbes. For the moment though, first there’s the “soft open” for the Central Avenue outlet as well as the lease on Corrales Road.

2020 – JULY 11 ISSUE: JAUNE QUICK-TO-SEE SMITH PAINTING ACQUIRED BY NAT’L GALLERY OF ART


A 1992 painting by Corrales artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The tall, mixed media painting “I See Red: Target” is part of Smith’s series about the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ trip to the Western Hemisphere. The piece is the first painting by a Native American artist to be acquired by the National Gallery of Art.

Smith has explained that the work is her response to this nation’s appropriation of indigenous imagery such as naming the Washington DC professional football team “The Redskins.”

In the museum, her piece is shown amid art by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Her paintings, prints and works in other media have been acquired for the permanent collections of many top galleries including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and, of course, the N.M. Museum of Art in Santa Fe and the Albuquerque Museum.

Her middle name was given by her Shoshone grandmother. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She earned a masters degree in art from the University of New Mexico in 1980. Her art has been exclusively represented by the Garth Greenan Gallery in New York City since 2017.

CRIME ALERT – SLAUGHTER OF CORRALES PONY PROMPTS OUTPOURING OF DONATIONS FOR REWARD


The killing of a large pony in its corral near Cabezon Road and Caminito Alegre at the south end of Corrales late at night June 25 shocked villagers and led to a fundraising effort for a reward for information. The crime is being investigated by the N.M. Livestock Board; donations for a reward are being channeled to Crimestoppers in Albuquerque.

Donations to the “Justice for Rocky” reward fund can be sent to Corrales Horse and Mule People at https://gf.me/u/yc589h or mailed to CHAMP, PO Box 1064, Corrales NM 87048 with Justice for Rocky in the memo line.

Rocky, the Welsh pony owned by Carrie Atkins, was butchered in its pen that night and much of its meat was hauled away. “It would appear from the way the horse was butchered that it was for consumption,” a Corrales horse owner reported.

Suspicious activity around livestock pens should be reported to the Corrales Police Department’s dispatch by calling 891-7226.

The Crime Stoppers phone line is 505-843-STOP.

2020 JUNE-20 ISSUE: CORRALITOS 4-H CLUB ADAPTS TO PANDEMIC


Corralitos 4-H had “so many plans for this year and so many new members, it is really a bummer we have not been able to meet or do any of our community service projects,” reported 4-H leader Lacey Bendzus. New Mexico State University 4-H “cancelled all face-to-face 4-H activities until August 8, so we have not been able to do anything together, even with social distancing, at all,” she added. The Sandoval County Fair, a key event for Corralitos 4-H members, scheduled to run in Cuba from July 29 through August 2, has been cancelled. So organizers are creating a Virtual Livestock Show and Virtual Junior Livestock Sale.  The sale will be open to everyone.

Full details are available at: https://sandovalextension.nmsu.edu/documents /2020-virtual-show-guidelines.pdf

Entries can be filed from July 1, with everything in by July 20. Winners in assorted categories will be announced July 29, 30, 31 and August 1. Bendzus said “We are really hoping we can have a successful sale so that the kids that did decide to purchase animals will have a chance of making back some of their money.”   Used to seeing the 4-H kids on a weekly basis during the summer months, Bendzus commented that “it has been hard. I miss my 4-H family so much. Still, the kids that did still purchase their animals are working hard with them during this downtime. Their commitment to the 4-H is amazing.”

2020-JUNE-20 ISSUE: COUNCIL HEARS PLAN FOR TRAIL CONNECTIONAT TOP OF SAGEBRUSH


A long-proposed trail connection between the City of Rio Rancho’s paved Thompson Fence Line trail along the edge of the escarpment and the end of Sagebrush Drive in Corrales was presented at the June 16 Village Council meeting. The plan was explained in a Powerpoint presentation by the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission. The council meeting was held via internet, as such meetings were over the past two months.

The commission has held discussions with Rio Rancho officials, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority and Corrales Public Works several times over the last five years. Public Works has estimated the trail link could cost around $74,000 including engineering and installation.

“The time is now,” the commission’s presentation urged. “A Parks and Recreation survey indicated residents want opportunities to exercise outside as individuals and as families. Trail connectivity is an important tenet of the Trails Master Plan. A loop trail is a great way to enjoy our village.”

The south end of Rio Rancho’s trail terminates at Corrales’ Meadowlark Lane, although just south of that is Intel’s recently improved Skyview Trail which extends on southward to the Skyview Acres Subdivision.

“Together, they provide a three-mile path along the border between Corrales and Rio Rancho that offers sweeping views of the village and the Sandias,” the commission’s report stated. “Attempts to connect the north end to the village via Sagebrush have been ongoing for 30 years.”

It noted that “ad hoc” paths at the end of Sagebrush Drive to reach the Thompson Fence Line Trail have existed for years across private property. Now an opportunity to build the long-proposed trail connection can be achieved using Village-owned land adjacent to the cul de sac at the end of Sagebrush. “The Village owns the land on which the potential trail connection would be constructed,” the Powerpoint says. “Nearby lots are for sale. We have an agreement among current neighbors that the connection is a good idea. Benefits are significant: health, quality of life, potential economic boos for local businesses.”

The commission’s introduction notes that “the idea of a loop trail around Corrales was first imagined in the 1980s. Rio Rancho completed the Thompson Fence Line Trail, and Intel built their trail in the 1990s.

“A few years ago, a lot in that area that would serve as a t rail connection was deeded to the Village from the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority. Mike Chavez, Village Public Works director, viewed the possible connection, indicating it was doable and providing cost estimates. This link is on the Master Trails Plan.”

The commission seeks a commitment from the mayor and Village Council to proceed with the trail connection when funding becomes available.

2020 – JUNE 20 ISSUE: EL PORTAL BUILDING GETS HISTORIC PLAQUE


What may be Corrales’ most iconic historic commercial building, El Portal, now has a plaque proclaiming it. A blue plaque was attached to the facade by the Corrales Historical Society in early June. Research indicates it was built as a two-room trading post around 1860. Over the years, the building has been used as a general store, dance hall, Sunday afternoon poker venue, art gallery, community theater and coffee house. The U-shaped structure at 4686 Corrales Road, adjacent to the elementary school property, is known locally as “El Portal.” It’s historical name is the Lopez Building, after Octaviano Lopez who bought it from Jennie Weiner in 1910.

Corrales Historical Society records trace the building’s owners and uses over the years. “With the exception of Kris Dale’s completion of a partial second-story addition during the late 1970s, the Lopez Building has not changed significantly since 1927.”

“Earl Works ran a grocery store here after World War II where locals would often convene for a Sunday afternoon of poker. The Adobe Theater used the north hall for a while. In the 1960s, David Dale bought the building and called it the ‘House of Maya.’” Dale also bought the building on the other side of Corrales Road which today is still known as “Mercado de Maya.”

“As he and his wife raised their family here, they leased parts of the building for an art galley and coffee house in the early 1970s.” Architect designer Gay Wilmerding bought the building in 1983 and undertook a major restoration that included installing interior beams and posts to relieve weight on the original adobe or terrón walls. El Portal is now owned by Mike and Adriana Foris who bought it from Wilmerding in 2004.

“Gay won an award for historic preservation/restoration of the building,” Mike Foris recalled.  “Recently we converted the entire building to a heat pump system such that each suite has refrigerated air conditioning as well as an upgraded heating system.  Previously it had evaporative cooling and radiant heat panels.  This has significantly reduced the building's electrical demand, a savings which we have passed on to our tenants.

“We installed a mini-split system which allows each tenant to control the temperature of their suite and which had a minimal impact to the esthetics of the building, which was a major consideration when we did the upgrade.  “The building is fully occupied and almost all of our tenants have been with us for a number of years.”

2020 – JUNE 20 ISSUE: RIVER FLOATERS RUN BIG RISK; MORE CALLS FOR CORRALES RESCUE


The call of the cool waters of the Rio Grande recently has brought to its shores people launching swimming pool floats… flotation devices utterly unsuitable for river rafting. Some haven’t worn life vests, something required by state law. The result? Urgent calls to Corrales Fire Department and Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue, who aided people who had become stranded or injured while attempting to float down the river. The combined efforts of Corrales and Rio Rancho personnel rescued two people May 7, one of whom had a minor injury, and five people on June 2.

Corrales Commander Tanya Latin reported that although the water flow in the river has yet to reach peak run-off flows, the Rio Grande still poses a significant danger to boaters, rafters and swimmers. That’s especially true for people not using kayaks, canoes, actual rafts or shallow-bottom boats, for example, since those crafts are created for use in moving water, usually equipped with paddles or oars for steering around obstacles.

If you cannot steer, you are more likely “to be hung up on trees or caught in hidden debris under the water,” Lattin said. Fire-rescue personnel from both Corrales and Rio Rancho have witnessed many people using the river not only with inappropriate flotation devices, but also without wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life jackets.

Rafters and others are risking injury or death by not wearing those. When rescuers reach the river, they are often faced with adults and frightened children hanging on to branches of downed trees, or stuck on a sandbar, unable to cross the moving water. Firefighters often must deploy boats and kayaks to shuttle them to safety on shore. In extreme situations, rescue personnel may have to swim to victims, which puts these first responders in danger.

“People underestimate the power of water,” said Paul Bearce, fire chief for Rio Rancho. “Even moderate flow rates can knock down an adult and hold them under the water,” he added.

Recreational swimming in the river is firmly discouraged. You can be caught and dragged under the water by the current, and torn up by debris hidden below. Both departments have responded to injured boaters this year, and recovered drowned bodies in years past.

As Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez put it, “While my crews have had to assist seven people to safety so far this season, all of whom were using pool floats, you can still end up needing to be rescued.”

Even if wearing a life vest and paddling a kayak, stay alert, note the flow of the river and also observe the river-mile markers along the Rio Grande’s west bank, from the Highway 550 bridge, south through Albuquerque. Knowing your location on the river if you need to call for assistance greatly helps responders locate you.

2020 – JUNE 20 ISSUE: CLARA MAXAM HEADS FOR CAREER IN VETERINARY


A career in veterinary medicine and/or research awaits a young Corraleña who reigned as New Mexico’s “Miss Rodeo Teen 2017.” Clara Maxam’s interests led to a summer project with Los Alamos National Laboratories studying the effects of the lab’s work on wildlife in the area. That was during her first year at New Mexico State University, from which she recently graduated with concentrations in animal sciences, chemistry and horse management.

In subsequent NMSU years, she was a paid research assistant, which led to a Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholarship for gifted students in biomedical sciences. Maxam is now enrolled in Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, Washington.

Her career has included an internship at a wildlife sanctuary in Ecuador, as well as a presenter-delegate spot at the Women in Economics Forum in New Delhi, India. As president of NMSU’s pre-vet club, she facilitated members’ visits to the Veterinary Teaching  Hospital at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Maxam graduated from Sandia Preparatory School in 2016. She is the daughter of Garth and Barb Maxam of Applewood Road.

2020 – JUNE 20 ISSUE: COMPETITOR TO CENTURY LINK OFFERS BROADBAND SERVICES


Nearly two years ago, Village officials signed an agreement with a rival to Century Link, Unite Private Networks (UPN), which was supposed to offer better, cheaper broadband service to Corrales businesses. So far, no businesses here have taken UPN up on the offer. In fact, it’s not clear the offer was ever actually extended.

In June 2018, a UPN representative and its attorney drew up a franchise agreement that would allow the 20 year old Kansas City firm to use the Village’s right-of-way along Corrales Road to lay fiber cable in the road shoulder to reach Corrales Elementary School.

UPN has a contract with Albuquerque Public Schools to connect its schools to the internet with high-speed broadband service. That was accomplished in Corrales, but since then, the only other client UPN has added is the ARCA La Paloma facility on East La Entrada.

Contacted by Corrales Comment June 11, the firm’s regional sales director, Josanne Cossio, explained “We have fiber to an ARCA location and Corrales Elementary. We have spoken to some business folks, but no takers thus far. We would love to change that.”

She did not reply to q uestions about the cost and reliability of such service. In presentations to the mayor and Village Council in summer 2018, UPN assured that better, more affordable broadband service would be available to all businesses in Corrales’s commercial district. UPN does not provide service to residences.

“UPN provides high bandwidth, fiber-based communications network services to schools, governments, carriers, data centers, hospitals and enterprise business customers across a 22 state service area,” the company’s web site explains. “Service offerings include dark and lit fiber, private line, metro optical ethernet, internet access, data center services and other customized solutions.”

The franchise agreement signed with the Village of Corrales included a provision that UPN would pay the Village a fee of four percent of its annual gross revenues from cust omers here, but not less than $6,000 a year. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVII No.12 August 25, 2018 “Franchise Approved For Century Link Rival.”)

The franchise agreement with the Village will continue through mid-2023. It was essentially written by an attorney for Unite Private Networks LLC (UPN). But at the council meeting, Councillor George Wright wanted it changed to require that UPN provide the Village Office with free high-speed internet access.

But some councillors balked at that idea, because imposition of that demand significantly altered the deal. Councillor Dave Dornburg objected to inserting that requirement for franchise approval at this stage; he made a motion to postpone approval of the franchise until the Village negotiated that with UPN.

His motion to postpone a vote on Ordinance 18-005 regarding the franchise failed.
Then Dornburg joined all the other councillors in voting to approve the ordinance as written, while urging the mayor to try to persuade UPN to provide free high-speed internet access for the Village Office. That approach, councillors said, would give the firm “the opportunity to demonstrate their stated intention to be of assistance to the community.”

Councillors were very receptive to a presentation by the firm’s representatives June 12, 2018 especially upon hearing that more revenue would likely flow to the Village, and with fewer hassles from Century Link.

Then-Village Administrator Suanne Derr reported that more fees might be coming. “The Village anticipates entering into future franchise agreements with at least two other companies who want to use Village right-of-way for their optic or network expansions,” she wrote in her report to the mayor and councillors.

Winter told the mayor and council in June that UPN will comply fully with terms of its franchise. Without going into details, Village officials indicated they have had ongoing disputes with Century Link.

Winter pointed out that the more business customers UPN takes away from Century Link, the more revenue will flow to the Village of Corrales. The company said it expects to soon have 500 miles of fiber network encompassing the entire metropolitan area.

2020 – JUNE 20 ISSUE: 4TH OF JULY PARADE IS ON! BUT NOT ON CORRALES ROAD


As the coronavirus spreads deeper into Corrales, and around New Mexico, the Village of Corrales has cancelled its planned Fourth of July parade. Mayor Jo Anne Roake announced the cancellation June 30, after saying in her June 26 “Mayor’s Message” that a modified parade would be held.

As of July 1, twenty Corralenos had come down with COVID-19. In Sandoval County the tally was 728 resulting in 29 deaths. Statewide, 12,147 people had tested positive for the disease, and rates were rising rapidly presumably caused by relaxation of measures meant to control its spread, such as gradual re-opening of businesses. Under the governor’s orders, certain closures were reinstated.

As of July 1, experts were predicting that medical research is “about one-third of the way” toward delivery of a coronavirus vaccine. “The brightest minds in the world are in this fight, and they are moving with an incredible sense of urgency,” said researcher Michelle McMurry-Heath, president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: MERCANTILE RESUMES PLANT SALES, SUPPLIES


Plant and shrub suppliers may not be going to hell in a handcart, an apt phrase derived from the dumping of the dead in carts during the plague in London in the 1600s, but they seem increasingly to be going to hemp growing, according to people close to the operations of the Village Mercantile. That means at a time when many more people are turning to gardening, a pandemic pastime on the rise, plants are harder not only to keep in stock, but harder to source.
“Hemp and hemp products are increasingly in demand,” said one gardener. “And they must be bringing in more revenue than tomato starts.”

“Business is booming in the garden center, especially as customers can walk around fairly safely and look at what we have,” a villager affirmed. “And right now, demand for geraniums is high,” especially as the La Paloma greenhouse of ARCA, once a local source of geraniums, was forced to close, due to N.M. Department of Health regulations. Its annual late April geranium sale was cancelled, so ARCA apparently gave away or tossed out many plants.

“The Merc was not even allowed to pick them up,” said a source with regret. Trees of Corrales recently delivered about 350 perennials to the Mercantile, including native plants. And a local grower said, “The garden center was slammed, immediately.” Color is prized, “to brighten up yards,” with plants such as impatiens, cosmos and zinnias favored. So are vegetable starts like lettuces, peppers, tomatoes and herbs, along with seeds.

Suppliers in Farmington, Las Cruces and Corrales grow and deliver most of the plants currently sold in the Mercantile, whose employees scramble to get products up, priced and on display before eager gardeners swoop in on them. But, at least gardeners can access much of what they need. Park your car, put on your mask and stroll, with appropriate distancing, through the outdoor garden center. Place your choices on the table near the door, call the store at 897-9328, give them your credit card information and then await delivery to your vehicle. Or, with more restrictions lifted, put on a mask and go inside. And should you need or want a comfortable mask, one that carries the Village Mercantile logo, and also contains an inner pocket for a filter, you can order one on the company website. The first batch sold out almost immediately.

>2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: CONGRESS CONSIDERS FEDERAL LOAN FORGIVENESS BILL

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