Dear, Gov. Lujan-Grisham:
I am writing to you today in the hopes of discussing with you what is happening to our city. Since April of last year, we experienced a mass exodus of Española Police law enforcement officers and City of Española staff. Currently, the City administration has failed miserably to acknowledge the concerns of its constituents and address their constituents with simple courtesy and professionalism. This is NOT the way to govern in a democracy.
While Mayor John Ramon Vigil wrote to the governor regarding the general increase in criminal activity across New Mexico due to “limited budgets,” this did NOT accurately paint the picture of our severe problems. The City of Española consists of 31 members on its police force but how many of these 31 are patrolling our streets? What the accurate number of officers patrolling the city is … remains a mystery. I would like to see the nefarious activities occurring within our community addressed.
There are far more than “broken windows” to address. There is also the systemic defeatism plaguing our residents. When will we be addressing MURDER, HOMELESSNESS, and drug use and violence in our schools? When will we be addressing the generational trauma that has plagued our community?
Substance abuse continues to increase with each generation yet, our leaders seem content to enact decades old policies that put us here in the first place. When will we be addressing conspiracy, obstruction and the nefarious activities of those in power?
While Mr. Vigil has inundated us with his opinions on how to increase Gross Receipt Tax revenue, he has yet to address the shortage in officers by continuously failing to accurately advise us of how many officers we have out there. He chose to apply for funds from your office for a new Police Headquarters to accommodate the addition of a new commercial property venture and make a dent in the number of shoplifting/vagrancy calls for big box commercial tenants/residents.
Such places can literally afford their own security force (Walmart is a great example). While he is happy to address shoplifting to increase GRT, he and his administration are neglecting our trash issue (still unresolved), the murder of Cypress Garcia (why isn’t Mr. Vigil demanding that the accused in this heinous crime be charged?) and why is Mr. Vigil and his administration and the Española PD taking on the responsibility of the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s office regarding evictions (the Santa Clara apartments)?
Our police force should not be used as the personal armed force of the city to remove rent paying residents from SUBSIDIZED HOUSING. Our administration should NOT be adding to the numbers of displaced individuals on our streets.
While our leadership continues to use the excuse of limited staffing, I would also like to point out that the City’s limited staff has been used to apply for grant funds for a new police headquarters and refurbishment of our Plaza’s fountains. Why aren’t we applying for grants to get the proper equipment to provide adequate trash service? Why aren’t we applying to increase funds to expand our police force and to retain the officers we already have? Why aren’t we applying for grants to provide a safe place to live for our most impoverished citizens? Further, Española has a long history of hiring officers that were fired by other agencies because of the low pay and poor incentives we currently offer. This does not create trust with the very citizens they are entrusted to protect.
When will the citizens of the city of Española be heard and acknowledged? The current administration has us all set on DO NOT DISTURB. Anyone who asks a question that opposes the real estate money-making venture currently in the works for Española is IGNORED. We are grateful for your consideration of assisting us with additional officers from the state police to patrol our streets.
I also implore you and your office to launch a full investigation into the many shortfalls impacting us. For example: hiring QUALIFIED HR Department personnel will go a long way in employee/staff/officer retention. Having a job should not cost a person their very dignity. Why has this not been addressed? The systemic blatant nepotism in Española is severely impacting us on a day-to-day basis.
Why hasn’t someone investigated ETHICS violations in Española? Why hasn’t someone investigated the hiring processes at the city? How can we be successful if we only hire YES men/women instead of people who care about the RIGHT course of action? How can it be ethical to be a Realtor, Mayor and sit on the board of our only option for ELECTRICITY? How can we proceed to address anything if our City Manager cannot respond to a constituent email? How can we proceed with community engagement if our working constituents are barred from public comments at our public meetings due to the City Clerk’s lack of training in using Zoom. Your office successfully used zoom during the height of the Pandemic to address constituent concerns. Why can’t we be capable of the same? Why can’t we follow the example you have set?
Now we have been told of the Mayor and Chief of Police’s intent to implement the broken windows theory of policing of NYC in the 1990s. Is this what Española really needs? A policing theory that never proved successful but did enhance abuse of power and the criminalization of poverty.
Living in New Mexico, a predominantly BLUE state, should not force me or anyone to live under the early days of MAGA and Trumpism led by Mayor R. Giuliani of NYC in the 1990s. Española deserves better and I, as a citizen of Española, demand better. The answers to our future do not reside in the failed policies of our past.
Cynthia P. Lentini
City of Española Resident