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Letters

  • No label politics

    Our country is facing many problems -- unemployment, hunger, and homelessness, to mention just a few -- and Congress seems unable to find a solution. What is the cause of this situation, and what can we do to work around it?
      Elizabeth MacNamara has an interesting answer: part of the cause is the way we attach labels to each other, making it more difficult for us to discuss our common problems and propose solutions.
      In a recent editorial she writes that these labels divide us: “Age, race, gender, education, socioeconomic status, geography, immigration status and religious affiliation are only some of the labels that impact our political views. For some, one single label defines our politics for all time. Others of us may find that a succession of labels motivates us throughout our lifetimes. Regardless, we are all united with or divided from one another to varying degrees by those labels.”
      She then recommends the organization nolabels.org to us. They seem to have have a lot of good ideas on how we can get beyond these labels and join together in moving forward again. Civil discourse requires that we not pre-judge another person’s ideas, and problem solving requires that we discuss these problems with people whose ideas differ from ours. Let’s see if we can do that!

  • Supporting Hall in UNM-LA election

    Please vote for Michelle Hall for the UNM-LA Advisory Board. We believe Michelle is the best candidate for position one, which is the only contested seat in the election. We are writing because such an outstanding candidate for the UNM-LA Board rarely comes along.
    If elected, Michelle will bring new vision, renewed enthusiasm and new ideas to the UNM-LA Board. Here are just a few of her career highlights: She taught Geophysical Science at the University of Arizona for 10 years; she has been a Program Director at the National Science Foundation; she is the President of Science Education Solutions, a company located in Los Alamos; she worked with UNM-LA faculty to bring millions of dollars of NSF grant money to the UNM-LA campus STEM programs; she initiated and is responsible for the New Mexico Café Scientific, which brings exciting science programs to NM teens, and she recently received a $2.6M grant from the National Science Foundation to spread that program nationally; she received the 2012 Excellence in Education Award, which is the top prize from the Geophysical Union; she has written two text books: one for HS Earth Science and a college level text on Geophysical Science. She will make a terrific UNM-LA Board member.

  • Senate kills GE labels bill

    Despite passing the Senate Public Affairs Committee late Tuesday evening after an overwhelmingly positive discussion, Senate Bill 18 to amend the New Mexico Food Act to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food and feed was “deemed lost” after a majority of the Senate, in an extremely rare action, voted on the Senate Floor not to adopt the committee’s report.
    Under Senate rules, this stopped the bill in its tracks and cut off any further debate or public input.
    “Even though SB 18 is dead this year, it’s clear that New Mexicans want and deserve a label that tells them whether or not their food has been genetically engineered,” said the bill’s author Senator Peter Wirth (D-25 Santa Fe). “I greatly appreciate the Public Affairs Committee’s feedback and discussion around the issue of labeling GE food, as well as Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez’s leadership on this issue.
    “GE food labels are a right New Mexican consumers deserve and, while this defeat is a setback, this discussion will continue at the state and national level.”

  • Who’s to blame?

    In the Los Alamos Monitor of Jan. 23, columnist Sherry Robinson suggests that New Mexico’s economic development suffers from inaction in the legislature. In the Jan. 22 Los Alamos Monitor, columnist Harold Morgan complains that New Mexico has a “cool” business climate, ranking 33rd in a survey compared to the neighboring states of Texas and Arizona, who ranked first and 10th in the list of best-to-worst states for business.
    On a CNBC ranking quoted by Morgan, states were graded on the friendliness of their legal and regulatory frameworks to business.
    Neither columnist mentioned that, of the 47 states reported by the U.S. Department of Education, New Mexico was next-to-last in the fraction of students graduating from high school. (Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 21, 2013, p. 22)
    Perhaps New Mexico’s business problem isn’t so much an inattentive legislature or a cool business attitude created by regulation, but an absence of parental encouragement for persevering work and lifelong learning.

    Donald A. Neeper
    Los Alamos 

  • School Board gives thanks

    On behalf of your School Board, I would like to thank the citizens of White Rock and Los Alamos for their resounding endorsement of our public schools in the recent referendum. Whether you voted yea or nay, we appreciate that you took time to contemplate the future of your schools and provide us with direction, by way of your ballot.
    From the Ranch School days, though the Manhattan Project and into the present, Los Alamos has always been a community that values education.
    This endorsement of the schools-revitalization program by our citizens underscores our town’s ongoing commitment to top-notch, quality schools. It demonstrates that this is a community that truly invests its time, talent, and treasure in the best interests of its children and their teachers.
    We are tremendously gratified that our citizens are pleased with the rebuilding progress at the high school and middle school — to the point of being willing to entrust us with additional hard-earned dollars to continue the rebuilding at Aspen and across the district.
    We promise to put those dollars to good use for the benefit of your children, their teachers, and the entire community.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin Honnell
    LA School Board
    president
     

  • Let there be a town hall

     would like to add my comments to the discussion about a name for our new municipal building. I liked Jeannette Wallace very much and had and have a great respect for her. She has certainly done a lot for this community and Northern New Mexico, and we should honor her name and accomplishments. However I strongly believe that the new building should simply be called town hall. When I look at just about all towns and cities I know in this country or in the country of my origin, the municipal buildings are invariably called town hall, city hall, or Rathaus in Germany. The Rathaus of Aachen, where I went to school, is about 700 years old and still called Rathaus.
    I think you should consider the importance of a well understood name like town hall that the townspeople still easily understand hundreds of years from today and that visitors or newcomers instantly recognize. Name giving is a temporary indulgence that does not concern itself with the future. There are already buildings in Los Alamos that have names that few people remember, to witness the Larry Walkup Aquatic Center, where I swim regularly. I do not believe that today’s kids who frequent the pool have any idea who Walkup was. They simply go to the “pool” or sometimes “downtown pool.”

  • Pawlak made a good point

    John Pawlak’s column in the Jan. 18 Los Alamos Monitor was right on. The United States is apparently the world’s disciplinarian, and it is breaking us.
    Joseph Stiglitz highlighted the problem in his book “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” about Iraq.
    That war alone could run $3 trillion or more, when all the future costs of replacing destroyed equipment, medical care, PTSD, interest on borrowed money, etc., are added to the direct operating costs.
    So the total for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan, could easily approach $7 trillion if carried on long enough. Do those numbers sound somewhat like the national debt? Just a coincidence.

    Dick Foster
    Los Alamos 

  • Outlawing guns is not the answer

    As a society, we simply cannot allow this to go on. We must all get on our elected officials to correct the lack of punishment not hysterically make laws.
    The next Sandy Hook isn’t going to be prevented by more gun laws. The same day as Sandy Hook, a man with a knife stabbed 22 children in Chenping Village Primary School in China — the latest knifing of kids in schools across China, Thailand, Cambodia and Japan.
    The real tragedy of Sandy Hook is that it happens across the U.S. each and every day and no one cares.
    Each day, five kids are murdered and another 1,400 seriously injured, according to the Children’s Advocacy Institute of the University of San Diego School of Law. One thousand kids are kidnapped by acquaintances or strangers. 200 of them are killed.
    The majority of the rest are sexually assaulted, according to parents.com/kids/safety/stranger-safety/child-abduction-facts/.
    We live in a society where graphic and heinous violence is available to kids and adults on TV, movies through video games and online. Our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court says it’s all just fine. Well, it’s not.

  • Bond passage important for students

     My name is Kate Thomas, and I resigned in 2010 from Los Alamos Public Schools as Assistant Superintendent. Since then I have worked closely in different situations related to the schools. I have been involved in education for 42 years, either as a teacher or an administrator. I am writing this letter to strongly urge Los Alamos voters to vote “Yes” to continue the funding of school renovation in our school district.
    Learning is a complex activity, which supremely tests students’ motivation and physical condition. Teaching resources, skills, and curriculum all play a vital role in a child’s education. But what about the physical condition and design of the actual school facility itself? How do they shape a child’s learning experience?
    During the school day, teachers and students struggle with such things as noise, glare, mildew, lack of fresh air, hot or cold temperatures, limits on their technology, and allergens. Parents don’t usually have the opportunity to observe these situations as they are working and not in our schools during the day.

  • What injuries, deaths do guns cause?

    It would be useful to know what the effect of gun ownership has on injury and death rates. Unfortunately Congress limits the ability of researchers to study this issue.
    The New York Times, Jan. 5, 2011, said that appropriations for the CDC state that, “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
    Question is the NRA and other gun advocates afraid of the answers?

    Alan Hack
    Los Alamos