A Savvy Email Calling out Pete Domenici and the Quality Neighborhoods Committee

The following is an interesting email I received this morning from an anonymous, local gadfly.

Senator Pete Domenici, or St. Pete as he is known in New Mexico, has entered the fray of the local city Street Bonds debate in Albuquerque. Domenici, a Republican leader, has teamed up with Democratic Mayor Martin Chavez to support the passage of the Street Bonds and the construction of the Paseo del Norte Extension through Petroglyph National Monument.

It was Domenici who, in 1996, sponsored the last-minute rider to the Congressional Appropriations bill to slice out the right-of-way from Petroglyph National Monument needed for the Paseo Extension and give that land to the City of Albuquerque. Instead of allowing a clean vote on the Paseo Extension, Domenici snuck it into the Federal Appropriations Bill containing, among myriad other items, disaster relief for Bosnia. Mayor Chavez has accomplished a similar political sleight of hand this year by forcing voters to vote on a Street Bonds package that includes Paseo, rather than separating Paseo out as a stand-alone vote, as four of our city councilors recommended.

Domenici is now saying that the the Street Bonds—which would fund a commuter highway right through the Petroglyphs—would actually “protect" the Petroglyphs. How's that? His logic defies me —it's like saying that constructing a highway through the Vatican will actually protect the Vatican. From what? Catholics?

Domenici goes on to say in a recent mail piece from the Quality Neighborhoods Committee that "not one petroglyph will be lost or destroyed." Domenici and his counterpart, Mayor Chavez, show a profound lack of understanding and respect for what New Mexico's Pueblo tribes have consistently said on this issue over the past decade.

The Pueblos have asserted that the volcanic escarpment on which the petroglyphs sit create the sacred area that is still in use today for religious ceremony. That's why the All Indian Pueblo Council, representing New Mexico's 19 tribes; the Navajo Nation, which has thousands of members in New Mexico; and the National Congress of American Indians, representing over 250 tribes nationally, are all staunchly opposed to the Paseo extension.

So it's not a matter of moving one petroglyph from the right-of-way into a museum, it's the reality of the irreparable damage a six-lane commuter highway and 20,000 cars per day will do to this religious area.

Of course, St. Pete and his archangel, Mayor Chavez, two popular politicians, couldn't have other motives in mind, could they? The answer may be found in the recently released campaign finance report for Quality Neighborhoods, the organization sponsoring the pro-Bond vote.

As reported in the media, Quality Neighborhood's first financial report in mid-October showed that 90 percent of its contributions came from developer interests. Its report released this Friday, Oct. 29, shows more of the same. We have homebuilders Scott Patrick, Inc. and High Desert Investment Corp. We have the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and the Westland Development Corp. And we have Mesa Verde Development, Sandia Properties and Platinum Builders Corp.

Despite the Mayor, St. Pete and Quality Neighborhood's mantra that this Paseo Extension is for the people, not for the developers, it's pretty transparent that this road is for the developers. St. Pete, perhaps you're not so saintly anymore.