Representative Asked To Leave Closed Door Meeting

by Staff Reporter / Jul 13, 2017 / comments

Representative Asked To Leave Closed Door Meeting

Nambe - NM State Representative Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe County) and residents of northern Santa Fe County, were asked to leave a Thursday meeting organized by the federal Department of the Interior to discuss the controversial Aamodt water settlement and the rights-of-way issues that affect the residents of the area. When asked by Representative Trujillo why they must leave the meeting, the expelled residents were told, “they had not been invited”.

"Their exclusion is odd, given the discussion centered around the Aamodt settlement agreement, and specifically the road rights-of-way issues involving the very land owners not invited to the meeting", said Representative Carl Trujillo who represents northern Santa Fe County.

The controversial issues stem from a federal decision in the 1920s to patent lands to non-pueblo people within pueblo land grants.  This patented land is considered “fee simple” land, meaning the owner is responsible for paying property tax to the local taxing authority, in this case, Santa Fe County.   The pueblo land grants are held in federal trust for the Pueblos.  San Ildefonso Pueblo and the BIA have stated to Santa Fe County that many of the county roads that access the “fee simple” land are in trespass, leaving thousands of residents without a clear resolution as to whether or not they have legal access to their homes. 

Representative Trujillo expressed to the more than 40-member group - which included Santa Fe County commissioners, federal, state, and tribal officials - that the issue has become very contentious in his district, and he was there to listen and suggest possible solutions that could potentially lead to a peaceful resolution. 

"I was there to represent the people of my district”, said Representative Trujillo. "Many of my constituents feel that once again they do not have proper representation as the Feds have continued to make these instrumental decisions behind closed doors that negatively affect the members of my community.  At the very least, I should have been allowed to listen in on the meeting so that I could report back to my constituents in an informed manner."

After several exchanges in front of the packed room, United States Government Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen requested that the conversation be taken outside the room, at which time Representative Trujillo obliged, but was again asked to leave.

 "The state has a $72 million stake in a regional water system and residents of the valley are very concerned about the money being spent if they are unsure that they have legal access to their homes", stated Representative Trujillo. 

The Aamodt settlement is slated for final decree Friday, July 14 at the Federal Courthouse in Santa Fe.   However, Santa Fe County has passed a Resolution that they would not fund construction of a regional water system (pursuant to the Aamodt settlement) until all road rights-of-way issues are resolved. The County’s funding agreement with the Feds is required for the final decree.