City approves meth law

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

After three hours of debate, the City Commission passed a methamphetamine ordinance with a 6-2 vote at Thursday’s meeting.

The ordinance was previously approved by the Portales City Commission, Roosevelt County Commission and Curry County Commission.

Commissioners Randy Crowder and Isidro Garcia voted against the ordinance, which will restrict the display and sale of cold and sinus medication that can be used to manufacture meth.

Crowder said he didn’t expect to see meth use go down if this ordinance was passed.

“That would be pie-in-the-sky thinking,” Crowder said. “I want with all my heart to pass this,” Crowder said, “but I am not comfortable with this ordinance.”

Crowder said he would be more comfortable if the ordinance more closely matched the one already in place by the State of New Mexico.

Commissioner Robert Sandoval also had problems with the ordinance. Sandoval said he was afraid it would raise the police liability insurance, which jumped $400,000 last year.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler addressed Sandoval’s fears, telling the commission the ordinance had been “looked at” by the Attorney General’s office. Chandler said they found the ordinance to be “a permissible and proactive approach” to the matter.

Sandoval also expressed concerns over a section of the ordinance that requires consumers to show identification and sign a log before purchasing powder of tablet forms or medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Commissioner Fred Van Soelen responded by saying the ordinance “loses its teeth” without the log.

“The ordinance does not keep people from making multiple purchases,” Van Soelen said. “They will just be required to put their name down again.”

Van Soelen, who works in the district attorney’s office, said the list can only be used for law enforcement and will be kept behind the counter.

Several Clovis residents, a Portales schoolteacher, and several city representatives addressed the commission regarding the ordinance.

Portales schoolteacher Debbie Vinson urged the commissioners to pass the meth ordinance.

“Don’t be naive like I was,” said Vinson, who told the commission of first-hand experiences dealing with a family member turned meth addict. “We need to protect the public because meth is an epidemic.”

Roman Romero of the Region Five Drug Task Force urged the commission to use common sense.

“This won’t stop meth as a whole,” Romero said, “but it will slow it down.”

Clovis resident Dave Boswell compared the ordinance to “shooting flies with a shotgun.” He said he believes the district attorney’s office wants the meth ordinance passed for political reasons. One answer to the meth problem is “educating our children,” he said.

Walter Bradley of Clovis said he feels the county has not been serious about confronting the drug problem, and issued a challenge to the commission “to step up the bar” and fight the drug problem on a larger scale.

Chandler said the ordinance will go into effect within five days and his office is prepared to explain everything to retailers.

Additional agenda items discussed:

• Ken De Los Santos, emergency management director for Clovis and Curry County, reported it is still a possibility that Clovis will receive hurricane evacuees. He said there are currently have nine evacuees in the area who came on their own to stay with family or friends.

• Clovis MainStreet Program Manager Julie Charters was presented a key to the city.

• Fire Chief Ron Westerman recognized his HazMat team for earning third overall and third in technical at a recent challenge in Los Alamos.