Regional Coalition passes joint powers agreement

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By Bennett Horne

ESPAÑOLA – The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities passed an amended and restated joint powers agreement Friday, but not before amending the amended version.

The coalition met at the Española City Hall Council Chambers without enough members present for a quorum, which would have allowed the meeting to be official.

However, the members who attended in person called one of the absent members and put him on speaker phone, in order to make the meeting official.

In attendance were Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal; Los Alamos County Councilor Christine Chandler; Taos County Commissioner Mark Gallegos; and Española City Councilor Peggy Sue Martinez, who was sitting in as an alternate. Town of Taos Councilor Darien Fernandez attended via conference call.

The coalition reworded a portion of the existing joint powers agreement to show it is concerned with supporting the wishes of the communities it represents.

Under the section of the agreement that entails the purposes of the coalition, with respect to the Los Alamos National Laboratory and LANL-related activities and issues, is the point detailing the promotion of economic development.

The first point in that description lists the “promotion of new missions for LANL that the citizens of the coalition members support.”

The very next point lists the “advocacy of long-term stable funding of LANL missions.”

Based on a motion by Chandler, the agreement was modified to add the same phrasing at the end of that first item to the latter half of the second item, so that the second item would then read: “… advocacy of long-term stable funding of LANL missions that the citizens of the coalition members support.”

Chandler said her motion was meant to be a way of reassuring the public that the coalition has every intention of doing what’s best for its communities.

“I feel it just clarifies what has always been the intent, that we advocate on issues that all of the communities agree are important to their communities,” she said. “There seemed to be some misunderstanding in the public about what a certain provision in our JPA meant and I just wanted to clarify that we only advocate on things where all the member communities are in agreement.”

At the beginning of the meeting, while the members were waiting for Councilor Darien Fernandez to join in via conference call so there would be enough in attendance to constitute a quorum, the decision was made to move the public comments portion of the meeting to the top of the agenda, since it can be conducted without a quorum.

During that portion of the meeting there were several comments made regarding the upcoming JPA decision that opposed the portion about long-term stable funding of LANL missions, which to them meant things like lobbying for money for the production of nuclear weapons.

Chandler said those comments added fuel to her move toward the wording change.

“My feeling is (the change) really incorporates the intent of what we’ve always wanted to do, but if there was some concern from the public we need to incorporate that into the JPA,” she said.
The JPA passed by a unanimous vote.

In other business the coalition approved the Open Meetings Act Resolution as well as a contract for professional services for a special audit being conducted by the Office of the State Auditor, then closed the meeting by passing a draft of a request for a proposal regarding recruitment of a new executive director.

A review and approval of a request for reimbursement of Andrea Romero Consulting (ARC) was tabled at the request of Martinez, who asked it be held until the next meeting because she felt she didn’t have enough information to cast a vote.