Mayor Ken Miyagishima
City of Las Cruces
700 N Main
Las Cruces, NM
29 October 2021
Dr. Dave Salisbury Ph.D.
1805 E Idaho Ave
Las Cruces, NM
Subject: Unequal Treatment Before the Law, Code Enforcement, and Staff Incompetence and Unreliability
On 19 October 2021, Officer S. Chavez (#C438) drafted a letter to me complaining that my property was somehow in violation of Las Cruces Municipal Code Section 18-2(1). Which according to the website linked, states the following:
“Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation.”
Item 1: What is a “noxious weed,” how does one identify “rank vegetation?” The municipal code is vague and unclear. This means that the code enforcement officer is left to use their own opinion, opening the doors to authoritarian interpretation and the abuse of the taxpayer in the application of the municipal code. I have some deep and abiding concerns.
Item 2: The letter was dated 19 October 2021, but the postmark from the stamp machine is dated 25 October 2021, and the US Postal Service delivered this notification to me on 28 October 2021. These dates are important for several reasons. Please note, I was mandated to comply with the authoritarian and opinionated code enforcement officer’s interpretation of the municipal code by 31 October 2021.
- Why did Officer Chavez (#C438) sit on the letter for six days before stamping it and dropping it in the mail?
- I asked this exact question of Officer Chavez (#C438) and received three separate and distinct excuses, and then was “offered” an extension of the deadline without asking for it. Alerting me to the fact that Officer Chavez (#C438) knew he had done wrong, knew he had been busted, and knew he needed a plausible excuse. This is a clear indication of Officer Chavez (#C438) being incompetent and unreliable.
- When I called his supervisor on 28 October 2021, I left a message; I identified myself, left my number, and left an expectation for a callback. Officer Chavez (#C438) identified the supervisor as simply “Roach, like the bug.” Alerting me to another problem, a lack of respect for authority in the code enforcement offices. I have some concerns; if the officers do not respect each other and their supervisors, how can they respect the law, the municipal codes they are expected to enforce, the taxpayers, and themselves?
- 0815 – 29 October 2021, I called dispatch and asked for Roach’s supervisor, as I refuse to play phone tag. If “Roach” will not meet a taxpayer’s expectation or make it a priority to call that taxpayer the following day, then it is time to speak to a higher power. More than an hour later, “Roach” calls me. By the way, I am still expecting a callback from “Roach’s” supervisor. Who is that, and when is that call going to transpire? The dispatcher did not know and could not tell me.
- For the record, who is “Roach?” What is his title? What is his full name? None of which were provided when “Roach” called me. By “Roach’s” call, I have now introduced myself three times to the Code Enforcement Officers, and still, “Roach” proceeds to call me not by my name. Indicating disrespect is endemic in the City of Las Cruces Code Enforcement Department, and there is a severe lack of leadership on top of the problems with unreliability and incompetence. Where is the training of these officers coming from, and who is modeling this execrable behavior?
- When I asked “Roach” the question, “Why did Officer Chavez (#C438) sit on the notification letter for 6-days?” he proclaimed he did not understand what I was saying, chose to become offended that I was trying to explain, and claimed I was berating and belittling him. “Roach” actively refused to listen, preferring to listen to the voices in his head instead of the taxpayer voicing legitimate concerns about being abused by his staff. Are we sure “Roach” is a supervisor?
Let me pause here and clarify a few points. I possess more than 20 years of experience as an industrial and organizational psychologist. I have worked in many different roles across the United States, including government, the private sector, and non-profits. I have been in crisis management, led teams in emergency response, enforced legislation, and much more. My jobs often see me needing to evaluate and observe, quickly make conclusions, and then develop action plans to generate positive results in a timely and efficient manner. I am very good at my job! I am a data analyst, a project manager, and hold an MBA in global management specializing in human resources, a master’s in adult education and training, with deep experience in eLearning design and delivery, and am writing my dissertation to complete my Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology.
I have seen incompetence and unreliability in people many times and in many places. The experience witnessed over the last two days at the hands of the “Code Enforcement Officers” for the City of Las Cruces leaves me mentally breathless, and my blood is boiling. There is no excuse for this unprofessionalism, lack of respect, and the refusal to apply the law equally and appropriately answer simple questions from taxpayers!
Item 3: When I drive through my neighborhood, my yard is desert and is in no way, shape, or form less or better than my neighbors. How many of my neighbors received code enforcement letters for their yards? If the answer is none, then the law was not equally applied, and the officers involved need discipline for being selective in their application of the law and enforcement of the municipal code. Suppose the answer is all of my neighbors. In that case, the code enforcement officers need to visit the neighborhood and explain precisely to everyone what specifically the code means by “Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation.” The same vegetation growing in my yard is found in the desert surrounding Las Cruces.
Item 4: The vegetation in my yard was left alone intentionally because the birds had been eating the seeds. I prefer to see the birds as I am allergic to cats and dogs. Since I cannot have a pet, and the vegetation had pretty flowers and had a valuable purpose of feeding butterflies and birds, I am still at a loss as to which of the vegetation is considered, “Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation.”
Item 5: The time delay of Officer Chavez (#C438) cost me more than $1500 and worsened my injuries that were sustained in US Military service. I am a 90% disabled veteran, and the stress of having to comply due to the refusal to notify taxpayers timely meant I could not hire anyone to help, nor could I obtain assistance from friends. Thus, I had to perform the work myself, causing me significant injury over the 5-hours I was performing the yard work. I take serious umbrage at the time-lapse in the notification from Officer Chavez (#C438) and his unreliability, and incompetence which need immediately rectified and resolved to my satisfaction. Officer Chavez’s (#C438) actions were unconstitutional and potentially criminal.
I expect a prompt and timely response as a taxpayer. Please note that a copy of this letter is posted to my blog and found at this link to promote governmental transparency. Thank you for your time in this affair.
Dr. M. Dave Salisbury Ph.D.
US Army/US Navy Veteran
CC: City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez