Udall hears city concerns

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

From animal identification programs to the condition of the U.S. Postal Service’s general mail center in Albuquerque to wind farms for energy, residents of Quay County voiced their concerns on the domestic front to U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

The Santa Fe Democrat, who represents the third congressional district, was in Tucumcari on Tuesday for a town hall meeting at City Hall which was attended by about 40 people.

“We don’t need a national animal identification program,” said Maria Vava, who has a small farm about seven miles northeast of Tucumcari.

Vava said it would be very expensive for someone like herself who only has just goats, chickens and rabbits to have to tag and notify a governmental agency every time an animal was born, died or moved from one location to another.

It would be even be more costly if pets were to be included among regulations for farm animals, as some have suggested, said Vava, asking the representative to keep an eye on the proposal for the farmer.

Frustrated by the amount of time it takes for mail to get to Tucumcari from Albuquerque, Robert Roark, Tucumcari’s U.S. Postal Service Postmaster, said the postal service should free up some of its money for a new general mail facility in Albuquerque.

“There’s no excuse for how long it takes to get mail,” Roark said. “The people of Tucumcari and New Mexico deserve better.”

Albuquerque has become a staging area for mail rather than a processing center, said Roark.

Roark said there were no problems in getting mail processed at the Tucumcari post office, but “we just can’t get the mail here.”

Udall said he understood that a new mail facility was in the works for Albuquerque.

Constituents also brought up other matters, including:

• Federal programs and tax incentives to support alternative energy such as wind farms. Wind energy advocate Robert Lumpkin said it was viable clean energy that would benefit New Mexico’s rural areas. Lumpkin also said there were some energy providers using rural monopolies to charge their farm and ranch customers as much as a 50 percent increase to offset costs in improvements.

Udall said he was supportive of:
• Renewal energy and incentives to bring about more alternative energy sources versus oil.

• Support for legislation to give whistleblowers in governmental agencies protection.

• A reduction in health insurance and prescription costs.

• A shorter wait for “concurrent receipt,” payment of both military retirement and VA disability compensation. The phase-in for qualified veterans to receive monthly retirement and disability payments is to be complete by 2014.

• Two Iraqi war veterans attended seeking help in receiving incentive pay for their time spent in Iraq. National Guardsman Sgt. Anthony Lujan said he was having problems getting paid about $6,000 in incentive pay for serving for five months in Iraq. Lujan returned home to Tucumcari in November 2006.

On the war, Udall said, “It was time for the Iraqis to take over.”