Monday, June 4, 2012

How do you solve it?

I've just hit the tip of the ice berg in my postings about the issues in Otero County.
So now the question is how do you solve these issues?
Tomorrow is election day. GET OUT AND VOTE!
Regardless of the outcome of this election you need to hold your public officials accountable. Demand open meetings and fiscal accountability.
Look back at what has been done and then look forward to where you think we need to be.
A good example of this would be the on going issue with the Forest Service.
Commissioner Rardin has stated several times that Otero County has been fighting with the Forest Service for 20 years. This is true. Now look at both Commissioner Rardin and my other opponent former Commissioner Nivison. Over the last 20 years one or the other of them have been in office pretty much the entire time. How long do we keep putting the same people in office that keep beating the same dead horse year after year?
It's time for a change of horses. A new face, new ideas, someone who knows, understands, and has experience with the law, the open meetings act, and complex budget issues. As well as someone who has the people skills to deal with both the public and employees in a professional manner. Even if we disagree with one another on some issues. And yes, we will disagree on some issues.
But I can promise you that I will always listen with respect to your thoughts and ideas and that I will always base my decisions on what is in the best interest of the majority of the people of Otero County.

One other issue that has been mentioned by Commissioner Rardin on several occasions. That is the notion that the County Commission position is a "full time job"
It's not!
Otero County has a County Manager that is paid to run the day to day operations of the county. From what I have seen and had dealings with, she does her job well.
A single Commissioner, by law, has no authority to run county operations. A single Commissioner has no authority to make decisions, spend money, enter into contracts, or give direction to any county employee. Including the County Manager.
This power only comes through a majority public vote of a quorum of the Commission. And then they as a commission give direction to the County Manager.

For over 10 years the people of High Rolls/Mountain Park (and to a somewhat lesser degree all the people of the Sacramento mountains) have relied on me and trusted me as a member and officer of the High Rolls Fire Department to protect their lives, homes, and property by my actions, not just my words.
For the last 3 1/2 years the people have trusted and relied on me to make the right decisions in regards to the education of their children as a member of the Alamogordo Public School Board.
I ask now for your support and trust by electing me as the new Otero County Commissioner, District 3
Your vote and support is appreciated.

Public Profile and News Paper Ads

To cover a little more in depth the "Primary candidate questionnaires" that were published recently in the Alamogordo Daily News as well as my advertising that is currently running in the paper.
I mentioned that I feel the two top issues in this election are the lack of even a basic understanding of Government operations, and the budget.
I firmly believe that any government body is by far much more effective if they have public involvement and operate in an open manner.
Currently County Commission meetings are held mid week in the daytime.  This is not at all convenient for the public in general to attend and become involved. Not that it would really matter, as if you follow the Commission agendas you will find that public comment is "not permitted during regular commission meetings"
New Mexico state law is very clear on what is allowed to be discussed behind closed doors in executive session. The list of permitted discussions is very limited in nature. Every agenda that I have looked at in the last year lists topics that are outside the permitted discussions.
Topics to be discussed in executive session must be listed on the agenda and be in specific detail. Frequently the listings are very vague. When questioned as to the specific nature of the topic I have been told "that is in executive session. If the commission makes a decision they will announce it after the session is over" By law, decisions are not allowed to be made in executive session. All votes must be made in public.
Discussion between a quorum of the commission that relates to county business is limited to legally published meetings. In the case of Otero County a quorum consists of 2 members.
A check of Commissioner Rardin's county paid for cellular phone finds that the commission is talking to each other on average of every other day. Frequently records show phone calls to one commissioner, immediately followed by a phone call to the other. While there is no hard proof that county business is discussed during these phone calls, it's hard to believe they are talking about the weather.
Fiscal responsibility. Paying over $12,000.00 in a year to one commissioner (Commissioner Rardin) in travel expenses is irresponsible. In looking over the documents related to these trips you find that some of them are questionable to say the least.
For example. A trip to Arizona where Commissioner Rardin gave a public talk at a church in regards to his desire to "take over the forest"  What did this trip bring to Otero County?
A five day trip to a conference in Reno Nevada. Commissioner Rardin made this trip along with five other county employees. Commissioner Rardin and three of these employees attended the full five days, and all stayed at the same motel.
Three of these employees collected between $935.80 and $967.00 in per diem. Commissioner Rardin was paid $1,596.27 with few receipts submitted.
In the most recent financial audit the auditor stated "The county is not in compliance with the per diem act and is not providing proper stewardship of public funds"  This was in reference to the 21 audit "findings" or faults with the way the county is using tax dollars. 
A salary study needs to be done in Otero County. We create a new county department and pay employees to kill coyotes and feral hogs at a rate that is higher than what some of our Law Enforcement officers are making, then there is a problem. This new department is costing the tax payers about three times the amount that was previously being paid for a long term, highly effective program to do the same job.
It's time to bring some much needed financial accountability back to Otero County

Otero County and Law Suits

Recently the lead article in the Alamogordo Daily News was about Otero County suing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over a road that a private mining company wants access to use.
Citing "eminent  domain" the county plans to sue BLM and then purchase the road.
Currently Otero County is also being sued by the Forest Service over management of the forest. Commissioner Rardin has stated several times that the county has budgeted $700,000.00 for this law suit.
There have been no dollar figures put out yet in this latest suit but I would take a guess that in attorney bills and the cost of buying the road you would be talking in the area of a minimum of $300,000.00
Everyone that I have talked to about this issue seem to feel that these figures are on the low side.
My question, and the question that everyone should be asking, is "where is the money coming from"?
Looking over the budget presented on April 20, 2012 finds that there is NOT $700,000.00 budgeted for the Forest Service suit. In fact there is nothing budgeted for that.
There is also nothing in the budget for the suit against the BLM.
While there are funds available in the "cash carry over" this amount is being depleted at a record rate.
It's time to put fiscal responsibility and common sense budgeting back into Otero County.

And the TRUTH of the matter is...

Recently the Republican Party of Otero County allowed time for each candidate to speak at their monthly meetings. This was a much appreciated opportunity for each person to give their views on the office they sought.  Each candidate for a particular office had time at a different meeting from their opponent so there was not supposed to be any debate between candidates.
However while giving my talk Commissioner Rardin stood up and stated that I was "just mad" because I had applied for a particular job with the county, did not get the job, and sued the county over it. Well I didn't recall that happening so I denied it. Commissioner Rardin then stated that I was "a liar".
Before I could gather my thoughts, yes I was a bit shaken by his unprofessional conduct, he left the meeting. Not allowing me time to present the facts.
So, as I have done with every issue in this election, I submitted to Otero County a request for public information concerning Commissioner Rardins statements.
What I found was that the county has no record of my applying for the job in question, no record of my filing a law suit against the county or even a notice of intent to sue the county. Just as I had stated previously.
So, under Commissioner Rardins "leadership" is the county in such a mess that they have no idea that someone applied for a job, or worse yet that they were sued and never knew about it?
Or does it just show once again the unprofessional conduct by Commissioner Rardin and the fact that when confronted with facts that he does not like, he resorts to name calling and lies?
I have been researching county issues for years, and have found the various county offices and employees to be quite organized, and well aware of what was going on in their respective departments, so I would have to believe the latter.
Commissioner Rardin spoke at the next months meeting and I was encouraged to confront him with the true facts of the matter.
I declined the opportunity to do so because I refuse to stoop to his level of "professionalism". That particular setting was not the place for a debate between candidates.
It's time for a change for the better of Otero County, time for professional leadership and time for accountability on the County Commission.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Redistricting finished

At the Otero County Commission meeting on redistricting held on March 19th the Commission voted to keep a 3 member Commission. They adopted "Concept A" in their unanimous vote.

The turnout was rather sparse but that is to be expected on a Monday at 10:00 AM

Some interesting points to ponder.
Every Commissioner stated that they favored staying with a 3 member Commission.
Commissioner Rardin had 2 emails that he read in favor of a 5 member commission.
The few people that were able to attend the meeting were in favor of a 5 member commission.
It was stated by Commissioner Rardin that he had not heard from many people that were in favor of a 5 member Commission.
What no Commissioner stated was that they had talked to anyone that was in favor of staying a 3 member Commission!

Commissioner Rardin did point out to me that if they should adopt "concept D" which I was in favor of it would put me at a real disadvantage in running for this office.
And he would be correct. However "concept D" is the concept that was most widely liked by the people that I have talked to about this issue.
I guess maybe my putting forth the wishes of the people ahead of what is in my best interest is not the way things are supposed to be done. Or at least not the way they are currently done!

Now lets take a quick look at the process of redistricting and getting the public engaged with that process.

When the Alamogordo Public Schools redistricted they held a number of public meetings where this was a listed agenda item. Public input was sought out and listened to.
But the school district is a smaller scale than the entire county.

Looking around the state at what some other areas did finds that Rio Rancho held 10 public meetings before their process was completed.
San Juan County had a committee that met 5 times with the public to discuss redistricting prior to making a proposal to the County Commission.
In fact looking around the state finds that most cities and counties held multiple meetings on this important issue.

Otero County held a single 52 minute meeting, on a Monday morning at 10:00 AM, on the day the County Clerk needed to have the information to the Secretary of State's office.

What was that I said about "Government Transparency" ?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Five Member Commission Information.

The Otero County web site now has the proposed redistricting options listed on their web site.

A public hearing is scheduled on Monday, March 19th at 10:00 AM in the Commission chambers.

Concept "B" and "D" are both 5 member districts. 
In looking over the posted information I am in favor of concept "D"  This plan guarantees that the citizens of the mountain areas of the county will always have at least one representative on the Commission. It also presents the possibility of a second Commissioner from the mountain areas that would also cover a small portion of Alamogordo and some of the rural areas South of Alamogordo.
This plan would provide for a more fair and balanced representation of the entire county.
Similar to the School Board however, every Commissioner should represent the entire county.

In spite of the fact that redistricting was not an item listed on the agenda for the March, 15th meeting of the County Commission, it was a topic of discussion. Commissioner Rardin stated that he would vote "no" to any proposal of a five member Commission.

I believe that holding a public hearing on an important topic at 10:00 AM on a Monday is far from being open and transparent and does not encourage or even allow for public input!
So, if you can't attend the hearing in person I would encourage you to contact Commissioner Herrell at 575-430-7186 and/or Commissioner Flores at 575-415-5319 or e-mail them (link to e-mail on Commissioners home page) and let them know your thoughts on this subject.
While Commissioner Rardin has alread stated his vote, you may also contact him at 575-415-7062
You can also contact the Commission Liasion, Rod Mayton, at 575-439-2602

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Helpful links

Over the next few months I’ll be posting different types of information, and will be referring to various laws, codes, and ordinances. Whenever I refer to a specific statute, code, ordinance, or other reference, I will give a link to that item.

In an effort to keep everyone on the same page here is a list of links that will be referred to on a regular basis.

New Mexico State Statutes

New Mexico Administrative Code. As of this time this link is not working but it should be up and running again in the next day or two.

Otero County web site

New Mexico Attorney General

New Mexico Supreme Court, Court of Appeals etc. Links to court rulings.

New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Mexico county comparisons

Here is a list of all New Mexico counties and their population. Those in red have in place a 5 member County Commission with the exception of Los Alamos county which has a 7 member commission.

Also, Otero County will be holding a "Public Hearing" in regards to redistricting.  Here is a partial copy/paste from their web page.
"The Otero County Commission will hold a public hearing on Monday, March 19th, 2012, at 10:00 AM in the County Commission meeting room located at 1101 New York Avenue, Room 123, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88310. The purpose of the meeting is as follows:
To consider approval of Resolution #03-19-12/100-50 a resolution revising the redistricting plan for the Board of County Commissioners."
While I know that the time of the day is far from being convenient, you can always call or e-mail the Commission with your opinion.
Bernalillo 642,527
Catron 3,433
Chaves 63,622
Cibola 27,036
Colfax 12,737
Curry 44,407
De Baca 1,819
Dona Ana 206,419
Eddy 52,706
Grant 29,903
Guadalupe 4,241
Harding 663
Hidalgo 5,057
Lea 60,232
Lincoln 21,016
Los Alamos 18,074 (7 member)
Luna 27,044
McKinley 70,513
Mora 4,935
Otero 63,201
Quay 8,917
Rio Arriba 40,678
Roosevelt 18,817
San Juan 124,131
San Miguel 28,323
Sandoval 125,988
Santa Fe 147,532
Sierra 12,886
Socorro 18,092
Taos 31,507
Torrance 16,475
Union 3,817
Valencia 72,913


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 member Commission continued

Time to go back and recap what I have heard over the last week or so regarding a 3 member versus a 5 member County Commission.

I have spent at least part of every day in the last week talking to people in the county about the County Commission. This includes Republicans, Democrats, a couple of “decline to state” and a few who are not registered voters. I did not approach any of these people in a manner that indicated what my thinking was on a 5 member Commission, just asking their thoughts on it. I wanted their honest opinion, not what they thought I wanted to hear.

Not one single person I talked to felt that staying with a 3 member commission was in the best interest of Otero County!

Now my reasoning behind supporting a 5 member commission is rather simple. Having 5 members on the Commission gives a more diverse view of the county. Currently the residents in the mountain area have no voice on the Commission. Not one single Commissioner lives in the mountain area!
Having differing views on issues is imperative to ensuring that all the citizens of Otero County are heard and are represented.

Commissioner Rardin has stated in the past that he opposes a 5 member Commission because it might cause a “split vote” on issues and that he does not like to bring items to the agenda that he is not positive he has a unanimous vote on. While it’s nice to have everyone on the same page and always voting the same, it does not allow for open discussion on items and outside views and thoughts. If the entire Commission is going to be in agreement all of the time then why not just have one Commissioner?

But, it does beg the question of how does Commissioner Rardin know how the other 2 Commissioners will vote prior to an open meeting!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Five Member Commission

Had the opportunity today to give a short talk at the Otero County Republican Pre-Primary Convention. Great group of people by the way!

I mentioned very briefly the fact that the County has not even started the process of re-districting and as such I really was not sure what District I should claim.  While I currently live and am running in District 3, that could change depending on the re-districting. I mentioned in my talk that it could even become a five member district, something I support!

What I did not expect was the number of people that approached me throughout the rest of this meeting in support of a five member commission.

Later in the day I sat through the forum for the city of Alamogordo candidates for City Commission.
Another great group of people.

During this two hour event I had the opportunity to talk to numerous people and asked their opinion on a five member County Commission.

Including both groups of people that I talked to today and the number of people that I have talked to in general since starting my campaign, I have only heard one person state that he opposes the idea of a five member commission. That person of course is my opponent, Commissioner Ronny Rardin.

So, I'm asking you, the citizens, to please e-mail or call me and let me know what your thinking is on this topic.

I'll give this a week or so and then post my thinking on this concept as well as the results of this informal survey.

Friday, February 24, 2012


The topic of my running for County Commission first came up around 18 months ago. The person that asked me if I would consider running had apparently had “issues” with county government and was not satisfied with the end result. At the time I gave it little thought.

Over the next few months I had several other people approach me on the subject and again I did not give it a lot of thought.

About a year ago when attempting to do business with Otero County the issues started to become clearer as they applied to me. After several run-ins and road blocks when dealing with Otero County, it started to become evident to me that changes were needed. It became obvious to me that a lot of the “rumors” that I had heard in the past were apparently true and that I was not the only person that was having issues.

Soon after that, the “have you considered running?” turned into “you are running, right?”
So, decision made, it was time to really dig in and see about what the bottom line problems in Otero County were.

What I will be posting here will be a combination of issues that have been brought to my attention AND confirmed, and things that I have found out in my research. I’m not going to be posting about the latest “rumor” that might be going around. You will be seeing my thoughts and ideas on how to improve Otero County for the betterment of the whole county.

I’ll be posting dates of public talks and for those that can’t attend I’ll be posting about what I talked about.
And of course I’ll be posting more about me, my education and experience, and how it relates to the Otero County Commission.
Any questions that come up via e-mail or in person that relate to the election will be posted as well as my response.
Please feel free to e-mail or call me with your questions, thoughts, concerns or just to visit.