As a native Northern New Mexican and former First Judicial District attorney who ran on reducing prison terms by seeking true reform, I cannot sit idly by as actual justice is averted under the guise of “restorative justice.” When the mob descended on our beloved Plaza with the intent to cause destruction, I, like many others, was committed to bringing the vandals to justice. At the time I was district attorney, and when the parties were identified and charged, I indicated I would move forward with full prosecution. I am no longer DA but instead a community member who is deeply concerned with the actions of my successor. Justice is not being served. That District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies is attempting to use pre-prosecution diversion as a front for restorative justice is dishonest and destructive to the program.

Pre-prosecution diversion is intended to help those struggling with substance abuse, mental health diagnoses, endemic social injustice and other factors that unfortunately lead our residents to crime. Everyone who goes through pre-prosecution diversion must write a letter admitting to what they did. But these defendants, many of whom are from out of town, destroyed public property in a riot-type setting. To be clear, the destruction of the obelisk was not a peaceful protest. In addition, these criminals intimidated police and, shamefully, Mayor Alan Webber would not send backup. To dismiss these cases under a cloak of darkness and the misuse of pre-prosecution diversion is unacceptable and an abuse of power. I am completely in favor of pre-prosecution diversion as well as restorative justice; however, this is not it. It is a perversion of justice to serve political ambitions.

Marco Serna

Santa Fe

Not a fan

Blowers, it seems, are getting very popular, and I wonder about them. In my opinion, the heaviest and most harmful part of pollution falls to the ground. Those blowers are raising it back up into the air, with all sorts of other harmful things, such as dust. Isn’t it harmful? Luckily, Santa Fe is less polluted than most other cities, but it would be good to keep it that way.

Massimo Macchioni

Santa Fe

Blame the fairy

Parenting the way the city of Santa Fe governs would look like this: Jake walks in and tells his dad, “I got expelled today!”

“What the heck?! What happened?”

“Well, this evil fairy flew in to my Algebra class and, for no particular reason, slapped my Algebra teacher! I happened to walk in just as the evil fairy flew out the window and I got blamed. But it wasn’t my fault, it was that stupid fairy!”

“Oh no, Son, that’s terrible! But, I’m sure your Algebra teacher will understand when I explain the situation — we’ve all had run-ins with evil fairies and I’m certain he’ll understand. All will be OK. ...”

“Gee, thanks, Dad!”

Juan Blea

Santa Fe

A bad deal

The more I learn about the proposed merger between PNM and Avangrid, the worse it smells to me. This, despite a program of full-page ads by both corporations about how good it would be for New Mexico and the environment. Turning New Mexico’s energy future over to multiple levels of international corporate rule is simply foolish. PNM already has too much political power in the state through both lobbying and financial clout. The absence of transparency in details of the merger, especially concerning the degree of independence of a local board of directors (“Examiner: Avangrid, PNM letter must be made public,” June 29), suggests intentional concealment of corporate intentions, consistent with the arrogance of corporate ambition.

The watchdog role of New Energy Economy, though irritating as it must be to those who thought this merger was a done deal, has provided an invaluable public service to New Mexico, a service that those in the state government have been unable to provide.

Hans von Briesen

Santa Fe

Stop the burns

The U.S. Forest Service has corrupted the meaning of the word “fuels.” Fuels traditionally meant materials that heat a building, such as coal, heating oil, natural gas or wood. The Forest Service says every living and dying thing on the forest floor is just fuel, not a balanced living ecosystem. They have denied the interconnected world of plants, animals, bird’s, insects and the soil. The forest is not a theme park to be managed like a business for the amusement of humans.

Our elected officials need to stop going along with the Forest Service agenda. The government-sanctioned madness already has burned 49,000 acres statewide this year and will burn another 50,000, contributing to global warming. It has been proven that thinning and burning has little effect on preventing forest fires. Burned areas are more likely to burn again (Bradley, Hanson and DellaSala 2016) (DellaSala & Hanson 2019). The time to stop runaway climate change is now. Demand an environmental impact statement for large, ecologically damaging Santa Fe National Forest cutting/burning projects before another square foot of the forest is burned. Contact elected officials now.

Fred King

Santa Fe

(8) comments

Jen Yan

It is ironic that a former District Attorney who was widely criticized for poor conviction rates, training and retention of skilled attorneys, and a general apathy for public well-being would criticize a District Attorney who is trying to bring progress and healing to our community. If Mr. Serna is this passionate about the obelisk cases, he should have put effort into resolving them personally during his administration.

Khal Spencer

I agree with Mr. Serna that this was a pathetic use of the "restorative justice" concept. That said, I don't recall the DA's office being a raving success under his leadership either.

Andrew Lucero


Stefanie Beninato

Oh, please, Marco. If you had been the DA, as in many of your cases, someone would lose the file or file too late and the case would have been dismissed. And you who touted your alternative sentencing measures! If the current DA did restorative justice, it might look like a reflection of the CHART process. Those who have a stake in the monument would gather with each individual defendant who would have to sit there, listen and respond when those affected tell that person what if felt like to experience the destruction of the monument and what it meant to them. I worked in juvenile restorative justice program and I can tell you that most teenagers I interacted with in this program were profoundly moved by the hurt they caused (it was just a dare or for fun). I hoped it would help them make wiser decisions in the future. It is a very real and direct opportunity to express the community/individual upset while giving defendants an insight into the consequences of their actions.

Mike Johnson

I think I would agree that the former, as well as the current, DA have shown incompetence and failure to protect the people. Now the question is, why do the SF voters continue to elect such people? I think I know where the problem lies here.

Dennis Romero

Big problem with Ms. Beninato’s perspective and experience is that the offenders aren’t juveniles. They are allegedly adults and should already know that their actions have consequences.

carol Johnson

Fred King's LTE of July 4 is right on. I had hoped that the Biden Administration would bring change and real science to the Forest Service. I'm still hoping. The USFS current science is dangerously out of date. It contributes to global warming by cutting and burning the very trees which contribute to critical carbon sequestration. We must stop the tree slaughter now.

Mike Johnson

Thank you Marco for speaking up. The current DA is not only soft on crime, she is incompetent and a champion for the criminals, not the victims.

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