Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lucrative Deal Has Sparked Criticism

Albuquerque Journal North

Journal Staff Report

"The Santa Fe Opera didn't consider alternatives before leasing the mineral rights on 27,000 acres in Mora and San Miguel counties for oil and gas drilling and is now taking a closer look at the decision.

That's according to a story posted Wednesday on the Las Vegas Optic Web site.

Opera Director Charles MacKay told the Optic: “While we believed we were acting in accordance with the donor's wishes that her gift would generate long-term support for our apprentice program, we did not explore what other options might be available to us, and now we are seeking counsel and wide consultation to better understand the situation and where we might go from here.”

The opera's public relations director, Joyce Idema, told the Journal on Wednesday that she could not comment on the matter and that MacKay was unavailable for interviews.

The lease — which yielded $150,000 for the opera — has sparked sharp criticism from anti-drilling activists and environmentalists, some of whom say the opera would never have made such a deal in Santa Fe.

MacKay said he didn't know if the opera would try to get out of the lease but was hoping for a “positive resolution.”

“As to whether the lease will be broken or revisited, that is something that I'm not qualified to determine. That is why we need counsel and consultation to better examine the options available to us,” MacKay told the Optic. “I will be working closely with the board as we consider our options in the coming weeks. We'll do everything possible to move in the direction of positive resolution.”' More>>>>

"Lucrative deal?" For whom is the deal lucrative? $150K for a $1.5M per annum budget (for the SFO Apprentice Program)? Lucrative for the residents of Mora and San Miguel counties? What about the cost of adverse impacts if the drilling were to occur? The cost to the land? To the water? To the air? And the list goes on.

The SFO has a high peak to climb before flagging a "positive resolution." In addition, some have questioned whether or not the actions the SFO took were of correct "fiduciary duty." In any event, the SFO has greatly diminished its standing with this leasing of oil and gas minerals in nearby relative poor counties. It remains to be seen how much image repair the opera can garner.

For more information, see the many related posts below.

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