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Property Maintenance Ordinance

Grant County Government & The Peter Principle

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PMO / Property Maintenance Ordinance

Rudy Martinez PMO / Grant County & the Peter Principle Jon Saari
Henry Torres Gilbert Helton
Mary Ann Sedillo TJ Trujillo

Grant County Government & The Peter Principle

This Grant County Commission may be capable of even greater incompetence but they'll really have to work hard to exceed this - Ordinance 07-04 - the Grant County Property Maintenance Ordinance, or as so many have come to affectionately refer to it, the PMO.

The Peter Principle states:

An observation: In a hierarchy employees tend to rise to the level of their incompetence.

Thank you Laurence J. Peter and Merriam Webster.

This obviously applies to elected officials as well but perhaps Rudy Martinez, Chair of the Grant County Commission at the time this proposal was advanced in December 2007, will reach his ultimate level of incompetence as NM Representative, having been appointed to the seat left open by the unfortunate passing of Manny Herrera.

Apparently at the instigation of Code Enforcement / Emergency Management officer Gilbert Helton, and with the approval of the commission and/or county manager, John Saari, this sweeping "gentrification" ordinance was drafted by Helton to put "more teeth" in the tools he has available to confront what he himself describes as "very few" repeat offenders. He went on to say that he's had "a lot of good results with the old ordinance... (for) property maintenance issues..."

So why this bone headed, ham fisted, Draconian law that could force property owners to pay hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars to comply in short order or face fines at the rate of $300 per day, imprisonment, forced removal of property or demolition of buildings, and liens on their property to pay what ever the cost might be? A process that could be triggered by a disgruntled neighbor or a range of players defined by the county manager?

None of the tired platitudes in the "Whereas" section mention what Mr Helton himself mentioned as a reason for this - property values.

But who benefits from this? Obviously, those who are more inclined toward the cookie cutter subdivision heading toward the gated community end of the housing spectrum, the McMansion crowd, real estate speculators, quick buck investors, outsiders wishing to impose their idea of order on a place with a unique character. They don't want to sink their money into a dream home next to some old cars or a roofless adobe. So the county needs to have this in place to apply as needed when they smell money. Local Grant County residents already can't afford to buy property at the inflated rates they're facing now. So who will buy these places? Outside money. These are the interests that are served rather than those of the longtime, current and cash poor residents.

There was a huge turnout at the 10 January 2008 commssion meeting for the hastily cancelled public hearing - that cancellation having been prompted by TJ Trujillo of Gallager & Kernnedy which represents Freeport Moran/Phelps Dodge. And yes, that's the son of longtime PD exec and WNMU Board of Regents president who was brought in as legal council to perform damage control at the 11th hour. But his advice at the January 8th work session - which resulted in the cancellation of the public hearing - was only the first step.

Now, of course, the Trujillo / Gallager & Kernnedy / Freeport Moran / WNMU connection is spelled c-o-n-f-l-i-c-t o-f i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t. But with the old boy network that has long run Grant County politics, this has never been perceived as a problem.

Seems some little bird must have chirped in the commissioners ears to set the stage for the sham "Citizen Task Force Meeting" on 19 Mars 2008 which no commissioners attended and Mr Helton, with Saari as backup, was thrown under the bus of citizen outrage. The task force and citizen input promised by all three commissioners and the county manager on 10 January was nixed. Let's not set a precedent of citizens actually having a hand in their government. Instead a quick show of hands of those opposed put the final nails in the PMO's coffin. Or did it?

At the 13 December 2007 hearing on the PMO, Helton actually suggested amending the existing ordinance to include junk cars and leave out the "dangerous buildings" portion entirely. This not because he thought it was bad policy but because the county had no budget for the requisite building inspector. Nonetheless, Mary Ann Sedillo moved to accept the ordinance and it passed unanimously.

And is this thing dead as Saari and Helton categorically declared? Absolutely not. Like Arnold in The Terminator, "they'll be back." You can bet dollars to doughnuts that "tweaks" to the existing ordinance are in the works under Trujillo's guidance and the commission will try to implement the PMO one step at a time in hopes of avoiding being flamed again as they were this time. Good work, Citizens!

Hopefully at the next election, the residents, voters and property owners will award the commssioners with a certification of having attained their level of incompetence in the form of defeat at the polls. Henry Torres has come up against term limits and progressive Democrat Joe Mondragon will vie for his seat. Jovita Gonzales, Rudy Martinez' replacement, faces a challenger in the June primary in progressive Democrat Carlos Provencio, former chair of the Grant County Democratic Party.

Click here to watch or here to listen.

Click here for
more info on the PMO issue 
Click here for
proposed PMO / Grant County Property Maintenance Ordinance 07-04
Click here for
the existing Solid Waste Ordinance 99-03-01
Click here for
Linda Pafford's letter to GCC and critique of PMO
The following links are the portions relevant to PMO as presented by CATS. Full versions of the meetings are available from CATS
Click here for the
13 December hearing on the PMO / Helton Presentation
Click here for the
work session discussion of the PMO 8 January / Trujillo, Cancel
Click here for the
10 January 2008 GCC meeting public reaction to cancelled hearing
Click here for the
10 January 2008 GCC public input on the PMO
Click here for the
final comments by commisioners and staff and Henry Torres
mea culpa
10 January 2008

Click here for the
19 Mars 2008 sham
Citizen Task Force Meeting

a classic
"sweep it under the rug" maneuver.
Click here for the
Grant County website. It has been essentially static and minimally functional in the past but is supposed to be upgraded and current soon.