Train wrecks and smoke and mirrors ...
Waytogo to those special Sanger people who will be honored for their above and beyond community service efforts at tomorrow's 95th annual chamber of commerce awards banquet.
Chamber boss Tammy Wolfe has a couple of added incentives to get you to the event - yes there are still a few tickets available at the chamber office, 1789 Jensen Ave., Suite B. Stop by, call 875-4575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Raiders' helmet signed by Tom Flores will be part of the live auction and a Raiders' T-shirt signed by Flores will be on a silent auction table.
It's very likely Flores will become a member of the pro football hall of fame next year. So, you'd better bid on that helmet now, before its value goes up.
Dr. Marvin Call and his wife Jean died within weeks of each other. They had been living at their home away from home - Sanger - near Albuquerque for several years.
Dr. Call practiced medicine in Sanger from 1963 to 1978. He once said he delivered more than 650 babies while he was in Sanger.
He was the Apaches' team doctor for 24 years and the press box in Tom Flores Stadium is named after him.
Tom Nicholson is among the many friends of the Calls who believe it's important to honor them here in Sanger. Tom is in the process of organizing a memorial service. He's looking at 11 a.m. on June 15 for the service - but is not sure yet where it will be held.
It will have to be a very large venue. Maybe a stadium where a press box named after Dr. Call would be overlooking the service.
Those train wrecks that seem to occur at every Measure S Citizens Oversight Committee meeting are just plain ugly.
They've gotten even uglier since the mayor with the council's approval appointed former mayor Michael Montelongo to the committee.
A very assertive Montelongo, not a fan of the Measure S grant program for nonprofits with gang and drug prevention/intervention programs, does a good job of taking over each committee meeting and leading the committee members and audience on a guided tour of all the reasons he believes the grant program should not exist.
He is challenged more often to stay on topic by members of the audience than by anyone on the committee.
Former committee member Melissa Griggs tried bringing civility and order to the oversight sessions before resigning after the April 15 meeting.
Committee chairman Johnny Perez took a shot at it at the May 13 meeting before declaring at the end of that meeting that he was going to resign.
While Montelongo may be the tip of the spear, the spear was hurled at the committee by mayor Frank Gonzalez and the council that approved Montelongo's appointment to the committee.
The results were entirely predictable.
Montelongo has made no secret of his belief that all Measure S money should go to police and fire departments, not to nonprofits.
Anyone who has paid any attention at all to Sanger politics knows that Montelongo is a take charge kind of guy who is not easily confused by facts once he makes up his mind.
So, the results were entirely predictable - chaos on the committee until everyone either agrees with Montelongo or resigns from the committee to get away from his sermon at every meeting about how Measure S was never intended to provide money to nonprofits, just to the police and fire departments.
Why was he appointed?
Why did he suddenly veer off track at the May 13 meeting and surprise everyone with a motion to recommend that the city council up the ante to nonprofits by tossing $35,000 into a pot that already held $8,000? (See the story on page 1A.)
I don't have a Magic 8-Ball to answer those questions and I'm as baffled as you.
Montelongo's principal detractor at oversight meetings has been SAM Academy boss Jerry Valadez who frequently challenges Montelongo's mantra that nonprofits are a stain on the very existence of the public safety tax program.
Valadez is among a multitude, that doesn't seem to include the city manager, staff or city council, who lament the cloud of confusion that has created chaos in the nonprofit grant program since city manager Tim Chapa walked into city hall.
Chapa and the council had an opportunity to clarify Measure S language regarding nonprofits - but declined to do it - before the measure went to voters for renewal in 2016.
Why? Again no Magic 8-Ball.
Is it possible to agree with both Montelongo and Valadez?
Absolutely, because they hold the same position on the cause of the problem and its solution.
Montelongo is right to ask that the city attorney clarify the intent of Measure S.
Was the resolution that created the grant program carried over when the measure was renewed in 2016?
The ballot language didn't say it was.
Neither did it say it wasn't.
The train wrecks with the Measure S nonprofit grant program - and the siphoning off of Measure S money to bolster the general fund - will continue until the council finally demands that the city attorney and the city manager clarify the intent and the language of the ordinance that defines Measure S.
Is that likely to happen?
There have been many opportunities to do it and all have been ignored.
Who benefits from the confusion?
Certainly not the nonprofits or the young people who would be served by the gang and drug prevention/intervention programs .
The city manager and council would apparently rather see the nonprofit grant program incrementally dismantled rather than to do the right thing. The right thing would be to ask for a legal opinion and then to clarify the language of the ordinance. But that might make it necessary for the council to formally rescind what for all but maybe two of the councilmembers appears to be a program that serves only one real purpose, draining off money that could be used to create the illusion of a balanced general fund budget.
That confusing language and the opportunities it creates for a multitude of interpretations about how the money can and cannot be used is even more necessary after that auditor's report called attention to how utility funds have been used to create the illusion of a balanced general fund budget - while handing out lots of pay raises that might not be sustained if nonprofits are allowed to continue to drain off public safety funds that are needed by the general fund.
Smoke and mirrors?
You betcha and lots of them.
Montelongo and Valadez are both right.
Get this problem resolved and move on even if it doesn't work in favor of a balanced general fund budget which probably hasn't really been balanced in a long time anyway.
"The only thing necessary for evil men to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke
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