FEBRUARY 8, 2005

 Commissioners Butler, Curry, Evans, McCamley, and Saldana-Caviness were present.

 Also present were cameras and crew from 4 TV stations.

 As with other recent Commission meetings, the chambers were filled and closed to new arrivals well before the scheduled start of the meeting.  This left a crowd of would-be attendees outside the chambers with less-than-adequate audio and no video of the proceedings within the chambers.

 After a proclamation of April 2005 as Senior Olympic Month in Dona Ana County, a presentation by Fire Marshal Paul Chavez on the Hazardous Materials Response to what turned out to be a water spill in Vado, and a presentation on our upcoming X Prize Cup activities, the Commission took up the consent agenda.

 There were 12 items on the consent agenda with only one item generating controversy.  The contested item was approval of out-of-state travel for commissioners who wished to attend the upcoming National Association of Latino Elected Officials' 22nd Annual Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  There was considerable discussion by both the Commission and the public on two major points:  discrimination against non-Latinos and benefit for cost of the travel.  While this item was contentious it was not removed from the consent agenda for a separate vote.  The consent agenda passed on a vote of 4 to 1 with Chairman McCamley casting the No vote based on his feeling that the money for travel to Puerto Rico could be better spent within the county.

 Next was the final interview of candidates for sheriff to replace Sheriff Hernandez.  Each candidate was asked to give his opinion of the idea of the sheriff's office targeting certain citizens and to discuss his ability to write grants (there were no female candidates).  Following their responses the Commission took 3 rounds of balloting to select Todd Garrison to serve as sheriff until the next election.

 A group representing Picacho Hills residents requested that the Commission contract with a water engineer to evaluate the infrastructure of the Picacho Hills Utility Company.  This prompted a discussion of the county's role in this issue when the utility company falls under the PRC.  While it was clear that the county has a role in protecting the health and welfare of its citizens, it was not clear that this particular situation presented a health problem.  The discussion ended without producing a motion.

 Two resolutions were approved supporting sole community hospital provider fund requests for Mountain View Regional Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center for 2005/06.  This will enable approximately $25M in federal funding for local healthcare.

Charlie Welch

Common Cause