Regional Coalition Of LANL Communities Holds Retreat In Espanola

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Regional Coalition of LANL Communities executive director Eric Vasquez introduces Blanca Surgeon, left, and Laura Dubin of Rural Communities Assistance Corporation at the beginning of the RCLC retreat Saturday in Espanola. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

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Taos City Councilor Darien Fernandez, left, and Val Alonzo face off as the finalists in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors during an ice breaker at Saturdays RCLC retreat in Espanola. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamos


Some two dozen attendees at the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities retreat Saturday in Espanola reviewed the draft RCLC Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) proposed amendments and discussed the option of changing the organization’s name.

Among those participating in the six-hour retreat at Espanola City Hall were Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal, Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez, Taos City Councilor Darien Fernandez, Santa Fe City Councilor Peter Ives, Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo and Los Alamos County Councilor Randy Ryti.

Also present were Doug Hintze, Steve Horak and Paivi Nettano of LANL Environmental Management, Lillian Montoya of Christus St. Vincent, former governor of the Pueblo of San Ildefonso James Mountain, Liddie Martinez and Graig Newell of the Major Subcontractors Consortium, Val Alonzo of the Regional Development Corporation, Santa Fe County Manager Katherine Miller, Chris Hyer of Santa Fe County, Assistant Los Alamos County Manager Steve Lynne, and private citizens Erich Kuerschner, Suzanne Schwartz and Maire O’Neill.


Doug Hintze of Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Management introduces himself at Saturday’s RCLC retreat. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

The retreat was facilitated by Laura Dubin and Blanca Surgeon of the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, nonprofit organization based in Albuquerque that provides training, technical and financial resources and advocacy so rural communities can achieve their goals.

Katherine Miller explained reasons behind the proposed revisions for the nine-page RCLC Joint Powers Agreement. She said in a situation where several governments share powers it’s a good idea to identify what those powers are and that many of the proposed edit presented to the group are designed to achieve that purpose. Miller said Santa Fe County had originally worked with Los Alamos County and attorneys for both counties to try to clarify some of those things and there was a draft that the RCLC board adopted in the spring of 2018 but had never been sent back out to the actual entities who are members and entities who have the authorities to adopt it.


Santa Fe County Manager Katherine Miller explains the proposed edits to the RCLC JPA. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

Miller said some of the edits were just “language clean-ups” and that there was no intent to change the purpose of the JPA or the organization. She went through the entire document pointing out that recommendations of the State Auditor’s Office were included and that the document includes such details as how an entity could join or leave the RCLC, the responsibilities of the fiscal agent and how the RCLC would distribute funds and dispose of assets should the RCLC cease to exist.

Participants in the discussion reviewed the JPA line by line ending up with what RCLC executive director Eric Vasquez called a good kick start for the final version of the JPA.

Vasquez introduced the topic of possibly changing the name of the RCLC and presented several suggestions both for a new name and a new logo. He said it is important that the names reflect the mission and purpose of the organization. He said a lot of people thought the RCLC was a LANL entity and it isn’t, that it’s not supposed to be a LANL entity. He said the thoughts were that the RCLC board might want to look at giving it a name that would allow people to better understand that and that there is a debate as to whether LANL should be referenced in the name.

Some participants at first felt that there might be value in changing the name so that the RCLC could start fresh and that there might be some value in renaming. Others felt that even with a new name there would always be a need to explain that the organization was the former RCLC. After a long discussion, the consensus was to recommend to the RCLC board that the name remain the same.

The group spent some time listing potential goals for this year. Those suggestions included inviting Pueblos who are not current RCLC members to join, obtaining insurance, finalizing the revisions to the JPA, improving public relations, conducting elections of officers after incoming board members have been elected by their entities so that they could participate in those elections, clarifying conflict of interest possibilities and reestablishing credibility for the RCLC.  How those goals might be achieved will be a subject for future meetings.

Councilor Ryti told the Los Alamos Reporter that being newly-elected to the Los Alamos County Council and attending his first Coalition meeting, it was informative to be able to attend and hear the perspectives of the other Board members, government officials and public.

“I was struck by the number of people who were attending their first meeting. I think that having new perspectives is critical for any organization and I look forward to the RCLC developing a revised Joint Powers Agreement to better outline roles and responsibilities of its members,” Ryti said. “I also look forward to the Coalition better communicating its goals and progress toward those goals. I am scheduled to be the Los Alamos County alternate to the RCLC; Councilor Izraelevitz will be our primary representative. So, I, like others in the public, will be looking forward to regular communications from the RCLC.”

RCLC Chair Henry Roybal told the Los Alamos Reporter that Saturday’s retreat gave him the opportunity to listen to the input of other RCLC board members, elected officials, local government employees.

“We identified a lot of possible changes to the JPA and some potential goals for the board. The option to change the RCLC name has been thrown around for a few months and it was very interesting to see that the group actually recommended keeping the name as it is,” Roybal said. “I am looking forward to moving ahead with the real business of the RCLC in representing our communities while at the same time bringing the RCLC into line with the recommendations of the state auditor.”

Roybal added his thanks to all who spent their Saturday taking part in the retreat.


RCLC Chair and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal, left, and Los Alamos County Councilor Randy Ryti Saturday at the RCLC retreat in Espanola. Photo by Maire O’Neill/