BY MAIRE O’NEILL
With a request for proposals (RFP) for executive director services expected to be issued by the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities any day now, there is still no indication of whether or not the Department of Energy will reinstate the $100,000 annual grant to support the organization.
This means that it is unknown whether the executive director services will be part-time or full-time. The previous contract held by Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) and staffed by Eric Vasquez was for some $15,000 a month for full-time services. When the RCLC board voted in July to seek proposals for the contract when it expired at the end of July, CPLC announced that it was not interested in submitting a proposal. CPLC had previously submitted a proposal to the board to renew its contract.
The new RFP notes that the RCLC is a policy-making forum and requires executive director services that can bring together governments with varied interests and goals to develop and advocate for policies that address the needs and interests of the region. It says given that the board is comprised of elected officials, the executive director will also need to be well versed in local political issues and concerns.
Under the scope of work, the new contractor will be required to “continue and build upon the RCLC’s efforts as an effective advocacy organization” and advise the board on strategic direction and policies, including legislative strategies, to achieve its mission.
The full content of the RFP may be viewed at https://regionalcoalitionnm.org/# under the Oct. 16 meeting agenda.
The work plan for the 2021 calendar year in the RFP includes development of timely legislative priorities and an action plan for board review, approval and implementation; and completion of the application for the DOE grant and management of any work supported and funds received.
A new executive director will also be tasked with requesting data and working with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop strategy for increasing procurement of LANL goods and services within the RCLC member region. A study by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research, which has been studied by the RCLC board, indicated that half of LANL’s $752.5 million annual procurement or purchase of goods and services left New Mexico and the other half mostly went to Los Alamos, Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties. The RCLC is seeking to attract some of that procurement to member communities.
In addition, the new director will be asked to secure approval for a 2019 joint powers agreement revision from RCLC entities that they have not yet signed it including the City of Santa Fe. Although the list of RCLC members has nine entities, only Santa Fe County, Los Alamos County, Rio Arriba County, City of Espanola, City of Santa Fe and Town of the Taos are regularly represented. Taos County is represented sporadically and the Pueblos of Jemez and Ohkay Owingeh rarely if ever attend.
Meanwhile, public comment at RCLC meetings continues to reflect criticism of the organization, particularly from a group of Taos County residents who regularly attend. At the last meeting, Lydia Clark, a resident of Santa Fe and outreach director for the Los Alamos Study Group said it is very disappointing to see the RCLC “continuing down a very ineffective path”.
“In all these years you have not provided protection for northern New Mexico or acted as a real place to discuss and solve the myriad of negative issues that have occurred from the Los Alamos National Lab’s presence and activities for this region,” she said.
Clark said most recently, citizens’ organizations, specifically the Los Alamos Study Group began speaking up in opposition to LANL plutonium pit mission, which she said will have far reaching and irreparable effects on this region.
“These efforts began in February 2019 and were certainly brought to your attention many months ago through public comments, direct letters and media coverage. The requests for help to get a new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement on the LANL plutonium pit mission have gone unanswered by the RCLC and the time has now passed to get a SWEIS,” Clark said. “The amended record of decision by NNSA in denying a new SWEIS in September has eliminated all public input into this process. You delayed until it was too late for any support.”
Clark said the need for environmental review or any action regarding the proposed pit production expansion has been ignored by the RCLC as have all previous or current negative impacts from activities at LANL.
“The recent accidents at LANL are only one indication of the need for protection for workers, the public and the environment. Rocky Flats in Colorado was the last plutonium pit factory in the United States which was a huge failure and now LANL will be the new Rocky Flats. We are left unprotected on every possible level,” she told the board. “You have acted continuously as a public relations outlet for the promotion of LANL and to the detriment of Northern New Mexico. We call for the defunding and the dissolving of this coalition as soon as possible”.