I am very disappointed that I am writing a letter to your newspaper in regards to actions taken at the Bosque Farms Village Council meeting of March 21. This is a long response, but I hope that, in the interest of good journalism and public information, you will provide me the opportunity to respond to the large volume of political rhetoric, half-truths and misinformation.
I must tell you I resent the misleading information presented by your paper. Although you do a great job of presenting the mayor’s side in terms of what state statute does or doesn’t say, perhaps you should also tell the public the following:
Although not addressed by your publication, the Municipal League also says asking for resumes and information about appointees is not an uncommon practice for communities in New Mexico.
Although there is no requirement for providing an organizational meeting separate from the initial regular council meeting, many communities do. In fact, the previous administration of Bosque Farms always extended this courtesy to new councilors to provide the very information we are asking for. This information was provided for both paid and volunteer appointees.
Contrary to statements by the mayor and Councilor Ake, I, for one, am not listening to a group of 10 to 20 “distractors.” However, there is a small group of detractors. They are represented in News-Bulletin publications by the mayor, Councilor Ake and the very few letters to the editor you have chosen to publish.
The bottom line is this — this one issue, the lack of the administration providing information for the re-appointment of appointed, paid officials and key volunteer positions, is only a symptom of a larger, more alarming issue. In the past two years, we have been faced with the substantial problem of a lack of information dissemination within the village. Activities are being undertaken that are not in the best interest of the village. This includes things such as purchasing- code violations, restriction of public information, etc.
Two specific incidents stand out in my mind. The first was the attempt to annex the business district of Peralta. This activity went directly against village ordinance. The Village Annexation Policy, 10-4, states that the village “shall not” annex property unless requested to do so by property owners or to safeguard against threats to citizen health or safety. Section 10-4-3 further states “the only acceptable method of annexation to the village shall be by the petition of property owners…” Yet the mayor proceeded to attempt annexation of only the business property in Peralta purely for the ability to garner the gross receipts tax.
When the issue was finally brought to public meeting (some two months after activities began), village residents promptly discouraged this activity and councilors voted to discontinue. Residents likely do not know that the village spent over $20,000 on this activity. Where was your paper with “research” on this particular topic? It was against the law (village ordinance), and yet I did not see one article from your paper being critical of the mayor on the issue.
The second occasion was the mayor’s decision to limit resident address to 90 seconds late last year. Previous to one specific council meeting, there had been no time limit on resident address. During the council meeting the village administration was questioned about specific inappropriate activity. The response by the administration was to refuse to comment on the concerns in public, although many residents requested they do so, and to change the policy on public address so that no one has time to voice concerns. Changing the procedures for resident address was done specifically to intimidate and make it difficult for residents to question activities going on within the village. This topic was not even addressed in your publication.
My point in all of this is the village has not been following our own rules or ordinances, much less state statute. Village Attorney David Chavez states that village ordinance doesn’t require the mayor to do specific things. State statutes are basic documents that provide minimal guidance to local governments. Many details of running the village are not found within ordinance, but ultimate responsibility for running the village does — and it rests with the council. It’s ridiculous to think that state law or village ordinance can dictate that the mayor act in a prudent, ethical manner. However it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t.
I agree with the statement in your March 27, 2002 editorial — it is time to proceed. But in proceeding, I will continue to fulfill my campaign promise of leadership and accountability. I will do this by only taking action that is legal, ethical and in the best interest of the community at large. I am not embarrassed nor do I apologize for my actions. I believe the mayor should be the one to apologize: to village employees, appointed officials and, most importantly, village residents for his negligent, irresponsible and unprofessional behavior. He, with the support of his small band of followers, has placed the entire village in the undesirable position we are in.
I know that this is only the beginning of negative articles or letters to the editor in your publication about my actions on the Bosque Farms Village Council. I have four years to go — we barely made it through two weeks without being major journalistic fodder. However, unlike the mayor and Councilor Ake, I have been a public servant for over 20 years with a strong record of honesty and integrity. I don’t intend to change my approach now — not for the mayor, Councilor Ake, or a small group of people who don’t seem to mind the inappropriate activities conducted at the village office as long as they or their friends benefit.
(Editor’s note: David Linthicum is a Bosque Farms Village Councilor. The News-Bulletin did extensively cover the Peralta issue and editorialized against the move. We have printed all letters we’re received on this issue.)