BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Members of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board voted Friday afternoon to approve a resolution authorizing the direction of the winding down of the RCLC at the point of its termination. The resolution also directs legal counsel Nancy Long, treasurer Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz and Los Alamos County as the fiscal agent to take all actions necessary and warranted to see that the termination and all matters that need to be attended to upon that termination, are taken care of in an orderly way and ratifies actions that have been taken to this point to accomplish that.
Long said the resolution is the beginning of the process and that the resolution expresses the will of the board that the RCLC be wound down and terminated officially with the actions that are necessary to accomplish that.
“We foresee that there will be matters relating to payment of invoices and completing the audit for the fiscal year and we’re hoping to accomplish all those in short order if the board decides this is the direction it wants to take with the organization,” she said.
Ironically, the motion to proceed with the resolution for the disbandment and dissolution of the Coalition was made by Rio Arriba County Commissioner Christine Bustos who later said it was her first and last meeting. Santa Fe City Councilor Michael Garcia seconded the motion. Garcia had abstained during voting with his own government in decisions regarding the Coalition.
Only five member entities were represented at the meeting and all five voted in favor of the resolution. Absent were Santa Fe County, Taos County, Jemez Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.
Garcia thanked the community members for their constant engagement in the RCLC process.
“I think its critical that in the RCLC or any other entity community engagement is critical and I believe that as we move forward through this process we still need to continue to keep our community members engaged and make sure we are working towards our best interests,” he said.
Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez said he learned a lot in terms of what Espanola needs to do in terms of advocacy and what need to be done to champion issues improve the lives of constituents.
“Using what I’ve learned here, I know what path needs to be taken so I appreciate it very much,” Sanchez said.
Izraelevitz thanked all current and past representatives to the RCLC.
“I’ve learned a lot about our region and the different needs of the community, and frankly I’ve developed some personal friendships that I value very much,” he said.
He thanked Long for her “careful attention to a difficult legal issue and how to construct the resolution and other questions related to it”.
“I very much appreciate the time and the value of this organization and as Mayor Sanchez said, I’ve learned a lot in the process,” Izraelevitz said.
RCLC Chair and Taos Town Councilor Darien Fernandez thanked everyone who is currently serving on the board and who has served on the board or served the organization in any capacity as well as those representing the various entities that presented to the RCLC over the course of the Coalition.
“Thank you to our constituents for showing up in our individual town and county meetings and reliably showing up for these meetings to express their voice. We all know that the Lab is not going away any time soon and we’re seeing an expansion of activities and that impact is going to be felt for years to come. A need for advocacy continues to exist even in the absence of this organization, it’s my hope that the Lab has heard from members of the community what the various concerns are with the current activities in proposed expansion and they will be committed to continue to work hand in hand with the communities that are affected by the Lab,” Fernandez said.
He said he likes to think that over the course of this organization, the elected officials representing their various communities on the board, who typically compete over the same small pots of funding have been able to come together and recognize that a lot of these issues they are facing really require a regional rather than piecemeal, competitive approach.
“I hope we can continue to work together for the betterment of this region,” Fernandez said.
He thanked Los Alamos County for being the fiscal agent for the RCLC over the years and for the leadership of Councilor Izraelevitz in helping to assist some of the smaller counties in the area with census efforts during the 2020 Census. He thanked Mayor Sanchez personally for stepping up during his time in the organization and trying to learn as much as he could about it. He also thanked Councilor Garcia for attending the meeting “and sticking it through”.
Fernandez thanked the Los Alamos Reporter for having “the best attendance of anyone who has ever served the Coalition” and for “her diligent, thoughtful and always fair reporting”.
It was a bittersweet day for the Los Alamos Reporter who has attended every RCLC meeting except one in the last several years. The concept of collaboration between communities affected by the presence of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in their midst is a good one, however, the playing field for the member communities was not level and the participation level varied greatly.
The Reporter, after all this time, still believes that the intentions of the board members who continued to regularly attend meetings despite all that has transpired with the RCLC were good, and despite insinuations or accusations thrown around over the past three years by media and members of the public, the Reporter has never observed corruption or wrongdoing by board members. A review of the accomplishments of the RCLC for 2016 (https://regionalcoalitionnm.org/oldsite/wp-content/uploads/2.-2016-RCLC-Accomplishments.pdf) will show there was a tremendous amount accomplished before things began to fall asunder. The alliances between current and former RCLC board members will continue to serve the region but in a different way.