Letter to the Editor: Just Name It ‘The Los Alamos County Municipal Building’

By Joel M. Williams
Los Alamos

The new municipal/administration building is THE Los Alamos citizens’ building! As such, it should not be a memorial to any one person, dead or alive.

While a few previous, and some current, councilors doggedly refused to allow LA citizens to vote on it, the building is still the citizens’ building and not the council’s building.

If a nickname is needed, make something like “The GRT (Golden Revenue Trove or Gross Receipt Tax-windfall) Building” as that is what enabled it.

Councilor (Fran) Berting put forth the request that the building be named in memory of Jeanette O. Wallace. Berting insisted by her actions that this be the honoree the administrator’s committee focused on even though several councilors argued that the public should be pulsed more generally about any naming.

I voiced, during “public comment”, that the motion had the appearance of council’s pre-emptive decision in the naming. Since the committee is to hear from the public and report back to council at the beginning of February, scrutiny will, by sheer time constraint, be restricted.

The building has been under construction for over a year and Wallace deceased for longer. There has been plenty of time in the last year to address this “naming” business without rushing; yet, we are now being asked to do a quickie.

Council’s putting forth Jeannette O. Wallace to be honored, subjects her to microscopic examination. Typically, advocates have a long list of special qualifications for such a nomination before hand.

None was entered to Council by Berting; just several generalizations. Thus, others are left to evaluate her qualifications for such an honor, in detail.

Firstly, she is deceased, as required; but, Council can make exceptions, as it makes the rules. Her recognition in, and contributions to, the community are less definitive.

Los Alamos citizens have been identifying “living treasures” since 1999. There have been 67 (four of them pairs.) Some of these have been LAC Councilors, one a three-term LA-NM Senator; every one has been deemed a significant contributor to the County; some still making significant contributions to the County’s governmental workings. Jeanette O. Wallace is not listed among them.

Wallace was Los Alamos’ state representative from 1991-2011; essentially unopposed from 1994-2008 – only twice and then with $O opposition.

Berting emphasized that Wallace’s contributions to Los Alamos justified the new County Building being dedicate to her memory. Wallace’s “Capital Outlay Requests” from 1996-2011 (published on the NM Legislature’s website) provides a hard look about her record in requesting funds for Los Alamos projects and what she chose to put her name on.

Over her last 16-years, Wallace made 31 ”capital outlay requests” for Los Alamos and 160 for her other (parts of SF and Sandoval) District 43 counties.

Thus, only 16 percent of her capital money requests were for the citizens of Los Alamos County and 2/3rds of those were made in 2007/2008 after the County became flush with GRT monies as a result of LANL becoming privately run in 2006.

After 2008, Wallace requested only one of her 35 capital requests for LA County. Of the 31 for LA, seven were re-requests; some were eventually funded mostly from non-state sources, if at all.

It should be noted that a “request” by a representative is not a guarantee of funding. Those 31 cited on the NM Legislative website for Los Alamos are “requests.”

Wallace’s joint house memorial resolution of 2010 requesting the NM Congressional Delegation to support UNM-LA’s Environmental Science Initiative is exemplary of her support of education.

She has been rightfully honored with the dedication of the UNM-LA lecture hall. She pushed for the judicial part of the LA Justice Center, water projects, such as the Bajo treatment plant and fire hydrants for Camp May, and improvements to N.M. 4/501/502, as well as the White Rock Visitor’s Center.

These are the sorts of places those seeking to honor her should look; things she actually attached her name to. Wallace made a request for $400,000 in state funds for the LA golf course watering system; $1 million for a Jemez Springs municipal office. There is no request for support of a municipal building in Los Alamos.

Wallace served several times on the Los Alamos Council three decades ago. Many others have served in that capacity before and after her. Service to the citizenry has been provided by a large collective of elected citizens since the County came into being.

Singling out Wallace as being more deserving of recognition by naming the Municipal Building in her memory implies that she made considerable, and singularly exceptional, contributions far beyond those of all the others. Anything less is a great disservice to all those who have served our County. I do not recall that Jeanette O. Wallace had such legendary status.

Thus, while Jeannette O. Wallace demonstrated broad public service and support for LANL in her 20 years in the NM state roundhouse, her contributions to Los Alamos County itself do not warrant a dedication of the Los Alamos County Citizens’ government building to her memory; a memory attached to a building in which she had no special part.

As I stated at the beginning, the Los Alamos County citizens’ government/administration building should be for all of us and should not be dedicated to the memory of any single individual.

It should simply be “The Los Alamos County Municipal Building.”

Wallace’s 31 Capital Outlay “Requests” for Los Alamos County as listed on the NM Legislature’s website – sorted by commonality:

2009 CAMP MAY ROAD FIRE HYDRANTS

2008 CAMP MAY RD FIRE HYDRANT EXTENSION

2007 CAMP MAY RD FIRE HYDRANTS CONSTRUCT-LOS ALAMOS CO

2006 FIRE HYDRANTS ON CAMP MAY ROAD IN LOS ALAMOS COUNTY

    

2008 LOS ALAMOS CO DAM REPAIR

2008 LOS ALAMOS WASTEWATER IMPROVE DP ROAD

2008 LOS ALAMOS WASTEWATER PLANT DEMOLISH

2007 SAN ILDEFONSO RD WATER LINE-LOS ALAMOS CO

2006 BAYO WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT IN LOS ALAMOS COUNTY

2005 THE BAYO WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT IN LOS ALAMOS COUNTY

2004 THE BAYO WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT IN LOS ALAMOS COUNTY.

2003 THE BAYO WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT IN LOS ALAMOS COUNTY.

2002 RENOVATION OF THE BAYO WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT IN LOS ALAMOS

       

2008 NORTH CENTRAL REGIONAL TRANSIT DIST BUSES & EQUIP

2007 NORTH CENTRAL REGIONAL TRANSIT DIST EQUIP

       

2008 LOS ALAMOS POLICE BLDG COURT & JAIL ADDITION

2007 LOS ALAMOS CO COURT/JAIL FACILITY CONSTRUCT

2006 LOS ALAMOS COUNTY INMATE REIMBURSEMENT

2006 PURCHASING FURNITURE FOR THE LOS ALAMOS COUNTY COURTHOUSE

2005 JURY ROOM FURNITURE FOR THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT

       

2008 WHITE ROCK VISITORS’ CENTER CONSTRUCT

2001 A MANHATTAN VISITOR AND INTERPRETIVE CENTER PROJECT IN LOS ALAMOS COUNTY

 

1996 LOS ALAMOS AIRPORT

 

2008 LOS ALAMOS CO AIRPORT BASIN CONSTRUCT

2007 LOS ALAMOS CO GOLF COURSE IMPROVE          

       

2008 NM HWY501/DIAMOND DR IMPROVE-LOS ALAMOS

2008 NM HWY 502/CENTRALAVE/4TH ST/DP RD TRAFFIC SIGNAL

2008 WEST JEMEZ BYPASS CONSTRUCT

2008 NM HWY4 IMPROVE-WHITE ROCK

2007 NM HWY501 BYPASS RD

2007 NM HWY502 ACCESS IMPROVE

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