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Imagine yourself as a cashier at a grocery store with a dozen people backed up waiting to be served. You’re the night manager, so you’re also distracted by other demands on your attention.

A clean-cut young man in his early- to mid-20s comes up to your register with a six-pack of beer. According to his military ID, his date of birth is 03-11-87. You sell him the beer, right?


He won’t turn 21 until Nov. 3.

You’re busted!

I mean, handcuffed in front of everyone, thrown in the back of a squad car and dragged off to the Bernalillo County Detention Center. Not only have you just lost your job, but your career as well. You could see some jail time, and trying to prevent yourself from going to jail is going to cost you thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

This happened to a friend during a recent sting operation, and I think there’s something really wrong about how it went down.

Let me back up a second.

I’m probably one of the last people in New Mexico to want to weaken a law intended to curb underage drinking. In my mind, underage drinking is one of the most important issues that face law enforcement, school administrations and health officials in New Mexico.

According to UNM’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, drinking before age 15 leads to four times the risk of developing alcohol dependence compared to those who don’t start drinking until after they’re 21.

Rape, domestic violence, assault and all other violent as well as most nonviolent property crimes have been directly linked to alcohol use. Furthermore, it could be argued that the real so-called gateway drugs that lead to heavier drug use and addiction are two of the legal ones: alcohol and tobacco.

For these reasons and more, I strongly believe our society must do whatever possible to reduce the demand for and access to alcohol by minors. Lawmakers seem to agree because the legal drinking age in our state is 21. Unfortunately, a few members of our society disagree and view drinking as much of a teenage rite of passage as learning to drive or a first date. To aid in that rite of passage, or just maybe because drinkers want everyone to be drinkers, many adults in our state think it’s OK to supply alcohol to minors by either purchasing the alcohol or by looking the other way when selling to minors. That’s why these practices are now a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico.

But there’s a huge difference between someone who intends to supply a minor with alcohol and someone who makes an honest mistake when calculating someone’s age. Our criminal justice system has to find a way to differentiate between the two.


[Re: Feature, “Done Like Disco,” Aug. 21-27] When I read "Burque," I’m reminded of the dorky kid in middle school who thinks he’ll be cool with a nickname. He picks one, possibly with help from his mom, and insists his friends use it. They only use it to mock him.

I like the
Alibi except when they push "Burque" on us like the dorky middle school kid. (Even the dorkiest kid eventually knew to drop the nickname. When will the Alibi figure it out?)

Letters Urbanization Benefits The Mrgcd? For Real?

[Re: Ortiz y Pino, “Flush the Ditch Taxes,” Aug. 21-27] This statement—”the district benefits more financially when an alfalfa field (taxed as agricultural land at a very low rate) is converted to 12 or 15 single-family residences. Each owner will be taxed at considerably higher rates for residential property”—needs some backing up. Is Ortiz y Pino saying the amount of the Conservancy’s taxes on residential property would be greater than the assessment paid for actual irrigation plus the taxes paid on the same acreage of agricultural land? If so, I’d like to see some numbers justifying this claim.

With a water-rights middleman (Bill Turner) on the MRGCD board, any incentive the Conservancy might have to aid (by omission or comission) in the conversion of agricultural land to residential or commercial development would certainly be a bad thing. But we need some factual examples, not hyperbole.

Another statement is patently false: “Unless you are using the irrigation water that flows through the complex of ditches and laterals that the MRGCD maintains, you are not getting any benefit from your tax dollars.”

This is bullshit. Do you think trees and wildlife and a generally green and wet microclimate would exist throughout the river valley without the ditches? Is this not a benefit?

Ortiz y Pino suggests that "acequia associations are fully capable of regulating the use of water genuinely needed for agricultural purposes; that’s precisely how it’s done elsewhere in the state." As a noncommercial urban irrigator, I’d personally find it a pretty huge pain in the ass to have to suddenly come up with the infrastructure to do the maintenance and upkeep required to move water throughout the massive MRGCD service area. You can’t just snap your fingers and replace the MRGCD with a coalition of acequias.

I was at that kangaroo court lynching of the Ditches with Trails plan. It was pretty painful to watch, since the board had clearly already made up its mind to dump the program, largely because of a pricey bridge and a very vocal anti-trail neighborhood association. Any comments by supporters may well have been written on toilet paper and flushed away for all the weight they were given.

However, calling for the shutdown of the MRGCD is silly and misinformed. As an op-ed piece, it’s stimulating rhetoric, but if things are as bad as you say, let’s have the numbers to prove it.

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.

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