Thursday, December 31, 2009

New White Peak Development - AG Asks Land Commissioner to Halt Swap

There's more news in the White Peak land swap case: the Attorney General has asked the Land Commissioner to immediately halt all proposed trades at White Peak due to "significant defects" in the appraisals and other "significant concerns" of the AG.

You may recall that the White Peak swap is the proposed transaction where the Land Office seeks to swap state trust lands in the White Peak area for lands around the state. This has upset hunters and others who have long valued having access to the lands being given away by the Land Office. The proposed transactions have also raised in my mind serious questions about how this deal came to be and what analysis was done ensure that this is a good deal for New Mexico.

Among the problems the AG has identified are:
1. Faulty assumption in the underlying appraisals
2. Use of incomparable sales to determine value of the Trust Lands being lost
3. Numerous technical and clerical errors in the appraisal
4. Characterizing a "sale" and a "swap," which avoids additional public process

This is a serious development that will hopefully lead not only to a cancellation of these swaps but to much-needed reform of the Land Office's policies and practices.

I've attached today's ABQ Journal article and the letter from the AG to the Land Commissioner below.

White Peak AG Says Halt - Text

Here is the Attorney General's letter to the Commissioner:

King Letter to SLO

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