City council addresses racism concerns

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

A Portales woman voiced her displeasure for how the north part of Portales is perceived by people and let it be known during the Portales City Meeting on Tuesday.
Rachel Randall, a high school graduate from 1960, said there is a public relations problem in Portales. She said the perception of the north part of Portales is something that’s not talked about.
“I grew up in this town and I love it,” Randall said. “Where on the map is Taco Town?”
Randall was referring to the derogatory term used to describe the north part of Portales.
“That’s demeaning,” Randall said. “I grew up in that part of town. That’s demeaning. This is not an acceptable attitude.”
It’s an issue Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega disagrees with. Ortega said the perception may be a result of the environment she deals with on a daily basis.
“We need to think positive,” Ortega said. Ortega disagrees with the perception and went on to say it was an area he grew up in.
Ortega went on to say that he was elected as mayor and regardless of the precinct, his margin of victory was roughly the same.
Randall went on to attack law enforcement in Portales.
“When two kids get arrested, the white kid gets to go home while the Hispanic kid goes to jail,” Randall said. “This makes for an unbelievable PR problem.”
Randall suggested an investigation into law enforcement to see if there is racial profiling. Randall Knudson, city attorney, took offense to Randall’s remarks.
“I find that offensive,” Knudson said. Knudson went on to say there was no basis for such an accusation and that the Portales Police Department is a fine law enforcement department.
“I have to agree with our attorney,” Ortega said. “I believe it’s even (arrests of whites and Hispanics).”
• City councilors unanimously rejected a recommendation from the planning and zoning committee to allow Otis Davis, owner of Sun West Securities, to build apartment complexes at the 1400 block of West 18th Street.
Mike Miller, city councilor, made the motion and said he has received many calls about the development and said the situation is similar to the Western Skies Subdivision complaint.
In May of 2003, the council accepted the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision denying Linda and Victor Baca’s desire for a zone change for their property at 1663 S. Roosevelt Rd.
The Bacas wanted to change the zone from single family residential (S-I) to Multi-Family Zone (R-2), which would allow for apartment buildings to be built. Residents from the Western Skies Subdivision, located next to the proposed lot, opposed any zone changing citing higher traffic counts possible increase of parties, loud music and crime.
Residents located within 100 feet of the proposed lot on the 1400 block of West 18th Street complained about a possible property devalue to their homes and increased traffic.
• Jonathan Chavez, Eric Padilla and Emanuel Carrillo, recent Floyd High School graduates and current Lambda Theta Phi fraternity members introduced themselves during the city meeting. Chavez said the Latin fraternity members help out with any volunteer projects around the community.
• Portales City officials will go out for request for proposals for services such as area transit, delivering commodities, delivering meals and a senior citizen meal site.
Currently the City of Portales has a contract agreement with the Community Services Center to provide such services. City councilors want a new four-year contract agreement in place by January.
The main reason for RFPs is to get an updated proposal on the services provided. The last proposal was created in 1998 and the CSC doesn’t offer some of the services provided in the proposal, such as a clothing bank, youth leadership training and citizen test teaching.
Pam O’Malley, executive director, gave a report in support of the CSC during the meeting. City representatives provided the CSC building and provide $18,000 a year.