The Daily Spin – Op/Ed
On this page we present Letters to the Editor, Opinions and Editorials from our community. Please submit all correspondence to email@example.com
DISCLAIMER – The writings presented on this page are the opinions of members of this community. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Eldorado Daily, it’s staff or parent organization.
RECENT SUBMISSIONS EDITORIALS, LETTERS AND OPINIONS
Letter from “Friends of the Legal Tender” on Sunday, June 1, 2014
“To all concerned,
Since the recent re-opening of The Historic Legal Tender (click here to read article in The Santa Fe New Mexican), we have received numerous emails and phone calls asking “What is going on?” “Are you re-opening LT with LT Volunteers?”
John & Cindy Jednak and Friends of The Legal Tender are not in anyway involved with the Lamy Railroad & History Museum’s attempt to re-open The Historic Legal Tender. Greg Jednak is not a volunteer at The Historic Legal Tender. We have no information who is operating the restaurant and bar or the condition of the historic building.
We kindly suggest that if anyone has any further questions or concerns to please contact The Lamy Railroad & History Museum directly at 466-1650.
We appreciate your concern.
Friends of The Legal Tender”
April 29, 2014 – submitted by Gershon Siegel on behalf of Hensforth organization.
I just read the letter on the Eldorado website in which the ECIA board condemns the decision by the defendants in the Poultry lawsuit to appeal the District Court ruling. I find this letter to be confrontational and accusatory and suspect it will only be counterproductive to the apparent desire of the Board to “reunite” the community.
The defendants decision to appeal the court ruling is portrayed in your letter as selfish, divisive and senseless ( given the “straightforward” language used by the judge in his ruling). This is wrong. To appeal is their right, and to characterize it as a deliberate attempt to keep the “wound festering” is unfair. In fact, court decisions that may appear to be “clear-cut” regarding the facts and conclusions reached are regularly overturned in the appeals process.
Some who read your letter might detect more than a whiff of hostility and arrogance on the part of the board. I certainly do. Perhaps this was not the intent, but I think it may reveal something about the way the board has gone about its business relative to this issue
In the last sentence of your letter defendants are accused of ignoring “simplicity and frugality” in their apparent self-centered interest to continue to foment discord in Eldorado by filing the appeal. I suspect many will find irony in this language given the fact that the lawsuit initiated by the board guaranteed principles of simplicity, frugality and common sense would be set aside for the contentious and costly workings of the legal system ( including the right of appeal).
The board’s letter will only serve to inflame the bitterness and heated rhetoric associated with this issue. If reuniting the community is the board’s goal, a more reasoned, conciliatory approach on their part would be a good start.
January 8. 2014 – submitted by The Lamy Community Association, Lamy, New Mexico.
News from The Lamy Community Association about recent developments in Lamy, New Mexico.
The Lamy Community Association is hosting an open house
Saturday, January 18th, 2014 at 4 pm at the Lamy Railroad and History Museum/Legal Tender.
” The purpose of this open house is to inform the community about the crude oil loading operation proposed for the railroad wye, owned by the Santa Fe Southern Railway (SFSR), and to discuss potential actions that can be taken by our community.
No Crude Oil in Lamy
T h e Fa c t s
THREATS loom as PACER ENERGY MARKETING, LLC and SANTA FESOUTHERN RAILWAY (SFSR) plan to TRUCK, TRANSFER, and SHIP CRUDE OIL in and out of the small historic TOWN OF LAMY. The potential DANGERS are MANY. LAMY is roughly 135 years old. It has been home to gunslingers, saloon girls, outlaws, hippies, artists, and everything in between. This small village, nestled in a quiet valley, with one narrow, twisty road in and out, is peaceful, historic, and beautiful.
PLANS are already underway to ship and transfer volatile, toxic, noxious crude oil into the heart of the village. In a July 2013 accident in Quebec, where tankers carrying light crude oil derailed, 47 people were killed. Casselton, ND was the most recent casualty in this dangerous industry.
1. Pacer Energy Marketing, LLC is the company that will be off-loading the oil onto trucks and driving it in and out of Lamy, in a deal with SFSR.
2. Routes the trucks will be traveling are Highways 550 to I-25 to 285 to CR 33 to Cerro Circle into the railroad yard “wye” in the heart of Lamy. Very little permitting was necessary, and public input was not required, as Lamy is not incorporated.
3. Pacer expects to initially ship 7-14 rail cars a week, operating 24/7. It takes 3 1/2 truckloads to fill a railroad tanker car, so 25-50 tanker trucks a week, using single and double diesel tanker trucks.
4. The trucks are equipped with their own self-powered pumps and hoses for transfer to the railroad tankers, meaning the trucks will be idling while off-loading. It takes approximately 30 minutes to unload a tanker truck. At least two light poles will be placed in the off-loading area to support night operations.
5. The “wye” site is near local housing, with Galisteo Creek on one side and the Lamy community well on the other. There are no plans to fence the terminal. Down stream are well feeds for the Eldorado and Galisteo communities.
6. The start date depends on siding improvements on the “wye” tracks. An Albuquerque (ABQ) firm has been contracted to provide the upgrades. This work began on January 6, 2014.
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
Pacer Energy Marketing, LLC is a midstream oil company, meaning they purchase and transport crude from oil field producers to terminals by truck, then sell and move the product to refineries by rail. It has an
office in downtown Tulsa, OK and does business in 12 states including NM, OK, TX, KS, WY, CO.
Operations in Lamy will be managed from the Farmington, NM office where they have a terminal manager and a clerk, and currently handle oil from about 600 wells. Lamy was chosen as a terminal site to supplement the crude oil terminal that they operate in Thoreau. SFSR leases the sidings (or “wye” tracks) to Pacer and provides/operates switching engines to move tank
cars. BNSF moves tank trains south to ABQ and from there, east, south, or west to refineries. Pacerʼs responsibility is to purchase and transport the crude oil from the field to Lamy in company-owned trucks, operate the terminal, load the tank cars, lease the sidings and contract the switching within the “wye,” lease the tank cars, sell the crude to refineries, and contract with BNSF to ship crude to refineries.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?
• Public safety; school bus stop and turn around at “wye” entrance
• Air, ground, and water pollution
• Noise and light pollution
• Quality of life
• Road degradation
• Traffic safety, pedestrians, dogs, bicyclists
• Property values
• Conflict with County zoning and Green Sustainability Code
• Impact on tourism
• Potential damage to historic register church due to heavy ground traffic vibration
• Impact on the Galisteo Basin wildlife corridor
• Concern over proximity of Galisteo Creek and Lamy community well
WHAT YOU CAN DO⎯CALL, WRITE, EMAIL, OR TWEET
• Senator Tom Udall
110 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510
Santa Fe County Cont.
• Commissioner Liz Stefanics
102 Grant Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87540-2061
• Congressman Ben Lujan
2446 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC, 20515
• Commissioner Robert Anaya
102 Grant Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87540-2061
New Mexico Legislators
• Senator Phil Griego
P.O. Box 10
San Jose, NM 87565
• Sierra Club Northern NM Group
Norma McCallan Co-Chair
1807 2nd St., Unit 45, Santa Fe, NM 87505
• Representative Vickie Perea
P.O. Box 1486
Belen, NM 87002
• New Mexico Food & Water Watch ABQ
7804 Pan American East Freeway #2
Albuquerque, NM 87109
Santa Fe County Commissioners
• Commissioner Kathy Holian
Join Us on Facebook
• Lamy Says No To Crude Oil
In New Mexico…in the 21st Century…water is more valuable than oil and gas.”
Friday, November 22, 2013 – Editorial by Gershon Siegel
Back in September, at the last forum conducted by this august body, someone called out in exasperation, “It’s a housing association, for Christ sake,” as if to explain what is possible and what is not possible for Eldorado governance. That comment leads me to examine a couple of definitions.
A housing association is a state incorporated entity, whose primary function, as we’ve so often been reminded, is about “fiduciary duties” narrowly focusing on the “protection of property values.” There seems to be little difference between the ECIA’s mandate than that of any other for-profit corporation entity —that of producing profit. According to Webster’s, the first definition of fiduciary relates to a confidence or trust. The irony here, of course, is that the sober, no nonsense dispatching of “fiduciary duties” over and above other more personal, human considerations, has lead to a crisis of trust and confidence for many of us Eldordo residents.
The housing association mantra of “preserving property values” has seemly degraded the very things that promote a civil, peaceful, co-existent, pleasant and desirable society. The loss of such social amenities, which are, admittedly, intangible and absent in the columns of an accountant’s spreadsheet, results in a less civil, less peaceful, less attractive community. What does that do to our property values? In the ECIA Board’s obsession with property values and the resulting discourtesy that falls upon many of us living on those properties, as in this current law suit over the interpretation of our pet covenant, the Board has created for itself a limited and naïve interpretation of fiduciary duties.
Any real protection of property values starts with promoting a civil, peaceful, co-operating society that fosters the well-being and nourishment of the people. The corporate paradigm, under which Eldorado continues to govern itself, encourages Eldorado as commodity over Eldorado as community. Webster’s defines “commodity” as an economic good” while listing “community” as first and foremost “a unified body of individuals.” We can see how the corporate paradigm must always come down on the side of monetary values over human values. And as we have seen in the larger world, when corporate values rule, human values are trampled.
So thanks to whomever it was who set me straight about Eldorado being first and foremost a corporate housing association. It is now clear that the “Improvement” contained in the title “Eldorado Community Improvement Association” is not concerned with the improvement of community. The veil has been lift from my eyes and I now see that as long as this sprawling, unsustainable subdivision, carved from an overgrazed cattle ranch continues to govern itself with a corporate mindset, it can never be much more than an option for those wishing to park their investment capital in the Santa Fe reality market.
Gershon Siegel is a longtime Eldorado resident and a member of Hensforth , a non-profit organization created by Eldorado residents to educate and inform residents about the chicken controversy in the Eldorado Community.
Friday, August 23, 2013 – letter from Eldorado resident Peg Weathers
“I recently spent three years in Austin, TX, babysitting for small grandchildren. Now I’m back in my house in Eldorado, and would like to say I see no objection to someone raising a limited number of hens in their own yards. I remember my own mother having a small flock back in the 1950s. They provided exceptionally fresh eggs and at some point in later life, delicious chicken stew. Why not rewrite the bylaws so there are no questions? Specify hens only, no roosters if you don’t want the noise, and a specific, number allowed, perhaps no more than a dozen? When living in Upstate NY, we knew a family from France who raised rabbits in their backyard for food. It’s been done for years other places. Why should Eldorado be different? If there are complaints from adjacent neighbors about a lack of cleanliness or unpleasant odors, the owner should be required to clean things up or get rid of the hens. Frankly, I live very near the stables and sometimes after rain, it smells! Is anyone trying to get rid of the stables? I hope not!”
July 10, 2013 – Letter from Eldorado resident Susan Aylward:
“In the community I live and love, there is currently a dispute.
One side is hen owners (some for decades), and their supporters.
On the other side are those who threatened our Eldorado Community Improvement Association board with legal action if they didn’t enforce their strict interpretation of the rules. Now, ECIA is suing some homeowners.
The question ECIA has put before the court is, can hens be “recognized pets”?
I don’t have hens. I’ve never known any hens. I’ve wondered, and asked around, can a hen be a pet? Many people’s reaction is, you’ve got to be kidding me. I was unsure, until one day I connected this issue with a powerful childhood memory.
His name was Chippy. I got him for Easter one year, when we lived in the Sunnyside Apartments. Previous, the only other pet I had was a goldfish who hopped out his bowl regularly from a height of 6 feet. In the morning mom would scoop him off the rug and plop him back in the bowl. I loved kittens dearly, but because my mother’s fearful memories of waking up in her stern grandmother’s bed filled with cats, that was never an option.
Easter was always wonderful because of my mother, who made huge baskets filled with chocolate eggs, peeps, jellybeans, and a tall solid chocolate bunny in the center. The goodies were nestled in green plastic grass, and the whole basket was wrapped tightly with colorful cellophane, wrapped on top into a bow. It was magical to gently pry it open and pop in a solid chocolate egg at 6am.
When I was 7 or 8, Easter morning was even more memorable. Before I could scout for my basket, I heard a tiny “cheep, cheep”. As I walked into the kitchen, I saw a large brown box near the patio door. Inside was the tiniest, fluffiest yellow duckling, the most adorable thing I had ever seen. Mom, in her robe and slippers, gingerly scooped up the fuzzy tot and placed him into my arms. Newspaper was spread on the floor so he could putt-putt about, waddling from lap to lap, petting hands covering his little frame.
When his feathers turned white and his size quadrupled, we took him to “Old MacDonald’s Farm” to live. I know that when you’re told your pet is going to live at a farm, that usually isn’t what’s happening. But in this case, it was an actual place we would visit.
Which this lead me to is this confession: I have loved a duck. And because of that, I believe, it is possible to love a hen.”
http://susanaylward.wordpress.com Prose, Poetry, and Pictures
http://pinterest.com/shaylward/the-presence-of-words/ The Presence of Words
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 – Letter from Eldorado resident J. Browne about coyote encounters in Eldorado.
“The area where the dogs were recently poisoned is where I walk my dogs each morning. For the past month, I’ve been chatting with one coyote who crosses the path just 10 feet in front of us. She is not afraid of me or my dog. Yesterday, there were two coyotes and today there was a pack of three. As you can see in this (bad) photo, I got a shot of one of them crossing about 50 feet in front of us, the others are off to the left side (hard to see).
They are telling me that they are hungry and are thankful for the rabbits and snakes which Mother/Father Creator provides but it’s not enough. They will start grabbing small dogs from owners who are not aware of their presence. My dogs are large and healthy, so they do not bother us but they will go after a sick, small or slow moving pet.
I highly suggest that people become intuitively aware of their immediate surroundings at this point and use a regular leash, NOT a retractable leash. You’ll have much more control over a (possible) situation if you have a standard leash.”
3 Ensenada Dr
Sunday, June 2, 2013 – Letter to the editor – submitted by local resident Susan Billings
“Instead of having the chicken lawsuit as the daily front page, I believe a much more interesting story would be that Bill Donahue, the manager of the ECIA has been on the front page of the Santa Fe New Mexican on Feb 16th, May and again June 2nd for his involvement in the bar brawl at Tiny’s where a man died shortly after Bill got into a fist fight with him. The District Attorney is reviewing the case for possible criminal charges. When asked by the reporter to comment, Bill denied comment at the request of his attorney. I am curious as well as the rest of the Eldoradoans would be, whether his attorney is John Hayes who may be representing him pro bono since Bill has given him thousands and thousands of dollars worth of business for the chicken lawsuit. Lest we not forget that Bill was the manager when thousands of ECIA dollars was embezzled a few years back right under his nose and he remained in the position. Why is he still Manager? Now there is a story…..”
Thursday, May 2, 2013 – Letter to the Editor – submitted by area businessman Richard G. Robinson.
“After reading the “Breaking News” of Monday the 29th and then the article in The Santa Fe New Mexican this morning, all I can say is that this seems to be a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The Legal Tender is the source of operational funding for Mr. Latkin’s museum. (Which by the way is not much of a museum, in my opinion.) The restaurant is the draw for visitors to the museum. The Legal Tender’s support of the Museum will provide the fund for growth and expansion of the collection. It is time for Mr. Latkin to back off.”
May 2, 2013
Thursday, March 7, 2013 – Letter to the Editor – submitted by resident Richard Beal
“Tuesday March 12 at 5pm the County Commissioners at 102 Grant Ave, Santa Fe, will hear input and have discussion about a new Joe Miller proposed development
He’s proposing a Spirit Wind Ranch West (the corner of 285 South and County Road 33 (the road into Lamy) development that adds 39 more houses on 2.5 acre lots and permits modular homes. And then there’s another project called Cielo Colorado, different developer, adding 61 homes. It’s around the area by the recycling center. So with Mr. Miller’s Tierra Bello development that’s 173 more homes total within a mile or two of one another. And we have water rationing every summer due to the lack of water! And the water table is getting lower! And we’ve had a winter with very little snow! And climate change will only make matters worse.
You are encouraged to attend the meeting and let the Commissioners know what you think.”
Richard Beal – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Letter to Eldorado Residents – submitted by Gershon Siegel
“My fellow Eldoradian,
No doubt you are all aware of the Great Eldorado Funky Chicken Fuster Cluck. Nine of your fellow Eldoradians are being sued by our own housing association for the crime of harboring chickens in our backyards. This action by the board is outrageous on so many fronts that it’s hard to track them all.
First and foremost is the plain and simple fact that our covenants, just as they are written, do not prohibit chickens. What they do prohibit is the keeping of any pets for commercial purposes. No one keeping pet hens in their yards is keeping them for such purposes. At least 30 families in Eldorado have been keeping hens (as well as other less conventional pets) for as long as there’s been an Eldorado, They have kept them for “their own use and enjoyment” which is very much allowed in the covenants as long as they cause no nuisance. We already have a covenant that handles nuisances. Any lot owner who feels an activity on a neighbor’s property is a nuisance has every right to complain to the board. So what’s the problem?
We have a small group of very determined people who have decided that chickens are some kind of a gateway animal that will open the flood gates for industrial farming. Of course this is absurd, but so determined are they in their belief that backyard hens are a threat to property values that Richard Goldstein, a retired attorney, threatened to sue the board several months ago unless the board took action to rid Eldorado of all chickens. Instead of standing up to this bully and his ridiculous notion, the board choice to sue eight families to satisfy Goldstein and his group.
As a result, we nine families are having to spend enormous resources to fight this stupidity and board cowardice. Before this is over the families could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees and the board seems quite willing to do the same with your assessment fees.
I’m asking that you take the time to send your feelings about this situation to the individual board members whose emails are listed below.
I appreciate whatever action you have the time and energy to take. I do know that the board pays attention when enough people speak up. Our community is being up-ended in by the board’s misguided behavior. Please speak up and let them know.
Email addresses of ECIA Board:
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Excerpted from the newly created non-profit organization “Hensforth”
We are Hensforth. We are fighting to defend our property rights and to preserve Eldorado as the tolerant friendly place that it was when we moved here and can become again.
We had all hoped that the GREAT CHICKEN CONTROVERSY would go away or be solved through mediatrion or consensus. But alas, the ECIA Board has made the decision to use Eldorado assessment funds to file suit against pet hen owners. After a year of debate and controversy, the Board simply abdicated it’s duty to resolve this fairly and gave the lawyer carte blanche to sue a few hand picked families. The Association assessment fees will be used to cover the ECIA lawyer’s costs while the individuals unfairly targeted will have to pay their own defense costs. We are asking the community to help. If you only give $20 it will help. Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated. This is an easy way to make your voice heard.
WHERE IT STARTED: Last year, a small group of residents began pressuring the ECIA and staff to cite other residents who were known to have pet hens. Not one of these citations alleged a nuisance of any kind but only cited the mere existence of backyard hens. Many of these cited families have kept pet hens for many years in the privacy of their own back yards and had never had a problem but suddenly, anonymous complaints were filed. This provoked a discussion in the community about what our pet covenant said, what it meant and if indeed hens could be pets. The ECIA attorney gave the opinion that the covenant was open to interpretation so an ad hoc committee was formed to come up with a survey taking the temperature of the community on the issue. The anti chicken residents were not happy with that step so pressured the ECIA to skip the survey and to go immediately to a covenant vote. A covenant vote was conducted that sought to give the community a clear choice. An amendment that expressly allowed chickens as pets and one that expressly forbid them were offered. 848 people voted for amendment A which allowed hens as pets, 999 voted for amendment B that dis-allowed them and 946 did not vote at all. Neither of the amendments received 50% + 1 votes required by our bylaws so the vote to change the covenant failed and has no impact on the interpretation problem.
Soon after the failed vote the residents who were determined to rid Eldorado of pet hens began personally threatening the ECIA board if they did not continue the process of citations.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY:
The ECIA has filed suit against 7 lot ownerts that have pet hens in their backyard. There are 2 more residents who have received “violation” notices and will be added to the suit if they refuse to give up their pets – which they will never do. One owner who had chickens and a variance heard and tabled in June of 2011 is only now being included in the group. These brave people are willing to stand up for what is right and fight for all of our personal property rights. And stand against the overreach of power by the ECIA board and staff.
We in Hensforth believe that the current pet covenant as written allows individual choice and see nothing in the covenants or bylaws that that empowers the ECIA board and staff the power to make the choice for us. We believe that it is wrong to waste our assessment fees to sue other lot owners for such a questionable reason. We believe that this entire controversy is about much more than pet hens. It is about our right to live quietly and freely on our own property. A few families are being targeted unfairly and are being forced to fight the overreach of the board for all of us. We ask for your assistance.
Thanks for your help!”
For information contact: HENSFORTH
c/o 3 Azul Place
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508
contact: Jan Deligans at email@example.com for more information
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Letter to the editor:
Tonight, 1/17 at 7 pm at the Railroad Room is the monthly ECIA Board Meeting. Much has happened since the last meeting that you should know and be concerned about.
The day after Christmas while we were all focused on family, the ECIA lawyer filed lawsuits against 7 people who represent 4 lots between them. All own pet hens, responsibly, and some as long as 6 years. One even received a variance for their hens 6 years ago.
While the Board focused on the last year on a debate of the exact meaning of the words “recognized household pets” the staff and lawyer took action based on their false view of our covenants and our past history that the covenants mean that chickens are never allowed. In November, the Board passed a resolution that they would no longer spend any time or deliberations on the “hens as pets” issue as they referred to it and instead, handed the whole controversy over to the lawyer who the filed suit claiming that “The ECIA’s long-standing practice and policy has been that roosters and chickens are not “recognized household perts” and therefore may not be kept on a lot in the Subdivision.” In fact this is false and can be proved false. Many variances have been given for legitimate pets and the 1999 Board issued a clarification that anything smaller than a large dog can be considered a pet. These rulings have been lost and are not contained in the corporate records although we have many eyewitnesses to prove that they do exist. So the Board just abdicated it’s responsibility and threw the ball to the lawyer who acted in the most possible vindictive way without even giving the hen owners any chance of discussion. Case closed – by the lawyer who will be the benefactor – the whole community is the loser.
These lawsuits are frivolous due to the fact that they are based on the current prejudice of the lawyer and some others. But they are anything but frivolous to the people being sued, their children and their community. You will pay the very lawyer who decided the issue huge sums of money from your assessments. Some people have already moved out of the community and others have decided not to move in.
The past practices are that no one has ever been asked to give up their hens. Many people have chosen pet hens as is their right. This sudden and unsupported reversal of policy was not made by the Board as is required by our covenants. How can you continue to say that hens are not recognized pets when even Walmart sells pet hen coops!
I hope you will come to the Board meeting tonight to object or at least become informed on this sad state of affairs. Eldorado was a neighborhood where tolerance and diversity were appreciated and the covenants were applied fairly. Not so much now.
You can stay informed at hensforth.org or the facebook page where you can join the conversation and get immediate news facebook/hens in eldorado
We can let Board know that lawsuits are not the solution. They can be stopped now and we can make an honest effort to create a realistic history of Eldorado and a realistic interpretation of the pets covenants which honors our community.
-Jan Deligans, 505-920-2234
Monday, January 7, 2013
Letter to the Editor:
On Tuesday, Jan. 8 from 7am to 7pm voters of the Eldorado Area Water and Sewer District (EAWSD) will have the opportunity to elect two Board members. I urge all eligible EAWSD voters to support Dr. Duncan Sibley for the one contested seat. Dr. Sibley is a professor of geology with expertise on aquifers (Eldorado’s source of water). He supports improved communication between the Board and its customers and he will work to promote serious efforts by the District to conserve water and to find additional water supplies. Professor Sibley would provide a breath of fresh air on a Board badly in need of an alternative voice. Voting is at the EAWSD office at 1 Caliente Road (same building as the office of Eldorado’s dentist, Dr. Haley Ritchey).
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Letter to the Editor
Eldorado’s Final Solution – for Chickens
If your personal radar screen failed to register Eldorado’s most recent blip of insanity, it’s understandable. The state’s largest unincorporated community is about to have its long-simmering chicken controversy boil over into the First Judicial District Court. As with previous dust ups within the community, this latest one will reinforce Eldorado’s reputation as “The White Man’s Rez.” Such has been the subdivision’s fate.
Although long a desirable community with multiple amenities and 2,700 brown on brown Santa Fe style homes, a number of Eldorado residents believe the subdivision isn’t bland enough to protect its $310,000 median house price. One such resident, retired Florida attorney, Richard Goldstein, has even gone so far as to very publically threaten to sue individual members of Eldorado’s housing association board for failure in their “fiduciary duties.” Their duty, as Goldstein and others see it, is for the board to force the removal of every last chicken from the former over-grazed cattle ranch cum 10,000-acre subdivision.
Unfortunately for the Eldorado Community Improvement Association, (ECIA), its decades-long policy of allowing residents to keep a reasonable number of backyard hens has always been utilized by 20 or 30 families who kept them as pets. Over the years, on the rare occasion a homeowner had a problem with a neighbor’s chickens, the parties talked and worked things out among themselves. And if they couldn’t, the ECIA, invoked the “nuisance clause” from the covenants and facilitated a resolution. For more than 2 decades most Eldoradoans thought this system worked just fine until Goldstein pointed out the folly of our ways.
For Goldstein and his rabidly anti-chicken brethren, the ECIA’s past encouragement of neighbors solving problems with civility wasn’t enough of a guarantee protecting property values. As a result, five families now keeping pet hens have been singled out from among all the dozens of other hen owners the ECIA might have prosecuted. For those families now threatened with legal action and steep attorney fees, Eldorado has become “Helldorado.”
According to a recent community-wide vote, nearly a third of homeowners are in favor of allowing their neighbors to keep backyard hens. As a result, the ECIA considered making guidelines to prevent hens from ever becoming nuisances. Goldstein, however, aborted the Board’s rightful duty by threatening to sue individual ECIA Board members if they were to make such guidelines. At that point the ECIA Board removed itself from the line of fire by seeking a court opinion on the legality of keeping backyard hens in Eldorado.
Much of the problem lies in the fact that the Eldorado’s covenants, written over 30 years ago in broad legalese, allows for changing attitudes about what is and what is not a “household pet.” Decades ago few Americans were keeping backyard hens as pets. Today, it’s a multi-billion dollar market niche. Check out the chicken accoutrements in any Petco or PetSmart. Take a gander at the $10,000 chicken coop offered in this year’s Neiman Marcus Catalogue. Google which cities in the last five or ten years have passed resolutions allowing backyard hens and you’ll find Los Angels, San Francisco and Chicago among them.
Drive for days throughout Eldorado and you’ll never see a chicken. According to area realtors, no one has ever lost a sale on a house because the neighbor’s hens. However, none of this makes any difference to Goldstein or his fellow covenant fundamentalists who insist on their interpretation of an ambiguous and awkwardly worded clause.
Like all uncompromising fanatics, Eldorado’s fundamentalists are eager to push their anti-chicken agenda no matter how much of their fellow resident’s association monies are wasted on legal fees. Can it be any more ironic that their own contentiousness bullying tactics cause much more damage to Eldorado’s property values than does the presence of a few hens. Such is the fate of “The White Man’s Rez.”
Gershon Siegel is a 22-year resident of Eldorado and published “El Dorado Sun,” aka “Sun Monthly,” from 1995-2008.
RECENT LETTERS AND OPINIONS
Monday, October 22, 2012
by Gershon Siegel
Combined with its generous lot sizes and ample amenities such as the community buildings, band stand, pool, dog park, tennis and volley ball courts, playgrounds, stables, thousands of acres of wilderness areas, greenbelts and our hike and bike trails, Eldorado has garnered the image of a rather desirable community in which to live.
Eldorado also has garnered another, less than desirable image as well — that of an uptight white man’s wanna be gated-community on which the residents are forever fighting with each other about one thing or another. And what are the things we fight about? Well, space is limited so let us count but a few of the ways…
Struggle Between Residents and the ECIA
One of the earliest fights happened in the late 70s between residents and their housing association board. Erupting over how little representation and power residents had over the ECIA, residents formed the Eldorado Residents Association (ERA) as a watchdog organization. In those days AMREP, the original developer owned the vast majority of the lots and therefore the majority of the votes. No surprise that the ECIA Board consistently made policies and enforced covenants according to the wishes of developers who didn’t even live in Eldorado. Monthly ECIA Board meetings were often contentious.
As lots were sold the majority of votes shifted to the resident community and developer influence began to wane. Residents no longer felt like the ECIA’s stepchildren. The ERA, no longer so much needed as look over the ECIA’s shoulder, evolved into something of a social meeting club, organizing community events. Eldorado politics smoothed out but not for long.
The Famous “Connecting Road” Battle
The developers of Rancho Viejo came to the ECIA and offered a sweet deal — Rio Rancho would pay for a road connecting Eldorado to their subdivision and the whole Santa Fe Community College district and Richards Avenue. Such a road would cut anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes off going into town. All the residents of Eldorado had to do was pick which route they wanted to punch through. Did we want to go north through Avenida Azul or East through Vista Grande or Avenida Eldorado?
Nobody wanted to see their bucolic dirt roads turned into paved commuter highways. We were told that once such a road was built our homes would be shaken by the thundering sound of 16 wheelers short-cutting from 285 through Eldorado and onto Albuquerque. The community was in an uproar.
A survey was taken and the majority who then lived in the front of the subdivision wanted the connecting road to be Avenida Eldorado. Those close to Avenida Eldorado, who would be most severely impacted, were mad as hell seeing those who lived along Avenida Vista Grande as a bunch of Not-In-My-Backyard creeps. Tired of Eldorado not being able to decide anything, the Rio Rancho developers withdrew their offer of a connecting road.
The Incorporation Campaign
That brouhaha was small compared to the one in 1998 when a group of residents organized a campaign for Eldorado’s incorporation as a city. Those residents who thought it a bad idea campaigned back and we witnessed a very nasty fight that looked like it was tearing the community apart. In a climatic vote on January 5th, 1999, the majority voted against incorporation and a few residents were so disappointed they actually moved from Eldorado.
The year 2004 found the community once more bitterly polarized between those who wanted to buy our creaky, leaky, 30-year-old water system from the original developer and those who didn’t. In yet another dramatic vote, the community decided to form it’s own water district and buy the system. We now hear that Eldorado has the highest water rates in the state. Would we be paying the lower rates if the Dutch company that tried to buy the system had succeeded? Hard to say, but there is still a bit of bad blood between a few veterans of Eldorado’s “water wars.”
However, when it comes to the amount of bad blood created, the current battle raging over backyard hens threatens to take the very “unnoble” prize. This is especially strange given that 20 or 30 families have, for at least three decades kept hens both as a source of eggs and as pets. Past ECIA Boards have given variances for backyard hen keeping to those who thought to ask for them. Many have never asked and no one seemed to care unless the hens became a nuisance and neighbors couldn’t work things out.
Variances were given for hens because past boards recognized that pets, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. Sensible people on those boards saw that even though the infamous covenant addressing animals allows only for “recognized household pets,” and specifically names poultry and other commercial barnyard animals as forbidden, a few backyard hens kept for the please of the family was not equated with a commercial barnyard operation.
This informal laissez faire attitude on the part of the ECIA Board was given more recognition about 15 years ago. Board President Rick Minor declared in a public forum that in his interpretation of the pet covenant, any animal smaller that a large dog was permitted and therefore didn’t need a variance. At that point the issue seemed to have been settled — until now.
Rise of the Rabid Anti-Chicken Bragade
Now a small but highly vocal self-appointed group of Eldorado residents has decided that they did not move to Eldorado to live next to chickens. Because if you let in chickens then pretty soon people are going to want to have gardens. And if people are growing their own food then pretty soon you’ve attracted the “back-to-the-land” hippies and then pretty soon you’ve got old cars up on blocks in peoples’ front yards. Allowing chickens seems to begin that slippery slope toward plunging property values, which seems to be tantamount in the minds of the anti-chicken contingent.
Those who hate the idea of their neighbors keeping backyard hens seem to see Eldorado as a kind of Southwest suburbia ideal. It is rural but not too rural. There are neighbors but they’re not too close. They can choose to get to know them or they don’t even have to wave if they don’t want to. Chances are, given our aforementioned generous sized lots, if their neighbors are keeping a few hens in the backyard the chicken phobic would most likely never know.
But that doesn’t seem to matter to this anti-chicken group who are focused like a laser on a forty-year old covenant that “forbids poultry.” To them the matter is not at all settled and they now promise to sue the ECIA Board for failure to carry out its fiduciary duties in not prosecuting hen keepers. And while those with hens are ready to accept some kind of guidelines that would assure that no neighbor would be annoyed by their pet choice, the anti-chicken people have made clear their unwillingness to compromise.
Eldorado now finds itself so bitterly divided over this issue that its well-known reputation as a contentious community is about to be ratcheted up yet another couple of notches. And those who so concerned about property values seem blind to how their own intransience harms those values more than any number of backyard pet hens.
After all the battles that Eldorado has been through and overcome, the current chicken war seems sad, unnecessary and absurd. And to those who pursue this battle I say, “Get a life,” and ask, “Have you no shame?”
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Commentary on “Enduring Eldorado”
“I must say that it is a rarity when Gershon Siegel and I are in agreement. His recent Op-Ed is one of those times. It is a tempest in a teapot. Brouhahas like this are a wonderful example of why many folks in Santa Fe wonder if there is not something constructive that the residents can get exorcized over.”
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Commentary on “Enduring Eldorado”
I wish there was a way to comment on Gershon Siegel’s article. Please let him know that I very much appreciated it. It was good to learn about the history of Eldorado and shed some light on recent goingson. I totally agree with him.
(Editor’s note – we are in the process of adding commentary/forum technology that wil make it easy for everyone to comment on items on The Daily Spin . .hope to have that in place soon.)
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
“What’s up with E-Cigarettes?”
By Sherman Park
I used to be a smoker, and I loved it. I smoked Camels, and imagined I was the epitome of the tortured poet, wearing black and drinking red wine with a pen in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I loved the packaging, inhaling to the bottom of my lungs, and the way that it gave me something to do while waiting for my friends to show up at the bar. But what did I love the most? I loved the next cigarette.
It would be redundant to say that cigarettes are addictive. With all of the studies in place on how dangerous it is to smoke, you would think that anyone who didn’t smoke right now, today, would never start. I mean, what are the benefits? Cancer, for one. Reeking of smoke, ruining your skin, tasting like an ashtray…the list just goes on and on. So, what’s up with the E-Cigarette? Now, let me clarify. I’m not talking about an adult who has been smoking for years and is trying to quit. I’m talking about teenagers, who don’t smoke, but start with an E-Cig because it’s “harmless”. Helloooo…the issue isn’t what they are smoking, but why.
The Electronic Cigarette was developed in China, and exported starting in 2005-2006. The FDA tried to regulate the Electronic Cigarette, citing that it was a drug delivery device, but they were overruled in Federal District Court in 2010. In 2009, however, the FDA “banned flavored tobacco (with the notable exception of menthol cigarettes) due to its potential appeal to children. Wagner says that the use of flavorings such as chocolate could encourage childhood use and serve as a gateway to cigarette smoking.” The E-Cig trade, however, doesn’t seem to have to follow those rules. My teenage source states that his friends have many different flavors, and he has even tried some. When I scold him for smoking, he assures me that it’s not dangerous. It’s only water vapor. Really?
Actually, There have been several studies done in the past few years which dispute the “healthy” aspect of the E-Cig. On the Rueters.com site, researchers did a study in Greece on the short term effects of the E-Cig:
“For the new study, Vardavas and colleagues in Athens had 30 healthy smokers puff on an e-cigarette to see how it affected their airways.
The researchers found that after five minutes, users showed signs of airway constriction — as measured by several types of breathing tests — and of inflammation.” Yup, that sounds healthy to me. Now, my source says his friends are only smoking the non nicotine versions of the vapors. But I ask you, what is the point of inhaling flavored water vapor into your lungs? I don’t care if it’s holy water and the Pope has blessed it, it’s still water in your lungs. This isn’t a humidifier we’re talking about, folks. This is a device which in essence is teaching kids how to inhale a foreign substance into their lungs. You know, like a practice cigarette.
An E-Cig is defined this way on e-cigarettedirectory.com: “An electronic cigarette is a battery powered vaporizer (heating element) that warms up the e-liquid (propylene glcyol, glycerin, water, flavoring and optionally nicotine) to create a vapor that can be inhaled or exhaled. If you smoke, try one.”
Oh, I’m sorry. It’s not water. It’s propylene glcyol, glycerine, and water. That must be better. To be fair, I’m glad to see that last sentence. However, I still don’t see the benefit of inhaling water.
How old do you have to be to purchase an E-Cig? I looked up an E-Cig website (southbeachsmoke.com) and was very pleased to see that in the check out I was asked for my date of birth, and reminded that I needed to be over eighteen. Well, that should do the trick, then. I mean, nobody would ever dare to change the year of their birth, right? As far as we know, that’s never been done, has it? Right.
The question here isn’t -why are kids smoking, but why AREN’T they? I mean, this e-cig looks like a toy, tastes like chocolate and is being sold as harmless. Good grief, I want to start smoking again.
I’m all for the E-Cig as a method to quit smoking. Water vapor is a much better alternative than the carcinogens from cigarettes. But why do we have to make it so appealing to kids? We don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes we did, right? The message here is don’t smoke. Anything. Period.
Letters to the Editor
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
from J. Browne
Friday, October 12th was a wild, windy ride in Eldorado. We had rain, winds and hail the size of eye-bones. The energy was biting at us from all directions and causing things to fly about without wings. These photos depict a trampoline which uprooted itself and must have traveled several acres (about 2-4) until it crashed into my neighbor’s mailbox which thankfully stalled it.
Trampolines are dangerous in more ways than one. If this had gone a few feet further, it would have ended up in the road or smashing through car windows as they drove by. I certainly wouldn’t want one of these poles driving through my front windshield ! We are lucky that no cars or houses in the immediate area were damaged.
I thank the Spirits for keeping everyone safe during this outrageous event !