• Left out in the cold

    It was a cold, windy and busy Friday, with a sliver of snow blowing sideways through the air, and people rushing through Smiths.
    As I was leaving the store, I noticed very old and frail lady (whom I call Kim) standing outside with her little shopping bag leaning on her cane, and shivering.
    When I asked her if she needs any help, she told me that she has already called Aspen Ridge to pick her up to no avail, and she was concerned to miss the ride if she went inside. She asked me if I could call them on her behalf and find out when they will arrive. I suggested that she stay inside the store to keep warm, so that I can call Aspen Ridge and keep an eye for her ride.
    The receptionist at Aspen Ridge pleaded ignorance about receiving a call from Kim, and told me that they will send someone to pick her up. Then she called me a few minutes later, probably to verify that this was a real request.
    At that point, I asked her if her ride was on its way, the answer to which was not yet. A few minutes later, I went inside to check on Kim, and I noticed a younger lady with her scooter and shopping bag on the phone with Aspen Ridge, going through the same scenario.
    She was told that they have 66 residents, cannot get to all of them at the same time, and that we should have Kim go inside and wait for them.

  • Who sweeps the parking lots?

    Has anyone noticed that after a big snowstorm, the parking lots in front of the north-facing businesses get filled with cars before anyone can sweep, or plow the parking areas? The compacted snow becomes ice and the congealed mass is there until spring, posing a serious hazard for shoppers.
    Could a “Shadow Gang” of sweepers appointed by building owners, businesses, county maintenance and Chamber of Commerce be formed to deal with this problem?
    Our continuing dry sunny days have lulled us into avoiding thinking about the next big dump, but if snow could be swept from the shady side of downtown businesses early in the morning while it’s light and fluffy, injuries from falls (and possible lawsuits) could be prevented.
    Inez Ross
    Los Alamos

  • New Mexico needs broadband freedom

    Antiquated telecommunication regulations are holding New Mexico back. According to the 2013 Mercatus Center report “Freedom in the 50 States,” New Mexico suffers under some of the heaviest regulatory burdens of any state.
    The Rio Grande Foundation has spent a great deal of time researching and exposing many of these burdensome regulations, which can undoubtedly improve the economic climate in New Mexico at no cost to the taxpayer.
    New Mexico’s broadband regulations are a classic case of overregulation that should be addressed for the good of our rural economy.
    Greater competition inevitably leads to lower prices and greater choice for consumers. Antiquated landline phone service providers remain regulated by a 1985 law that dates before implementation of the Internet and smart-phone technology.
    This outdated regulatory scheme has hindered investment in rural broadband resources throughout our state.
    Having high-speed Internet access throughout the isolated communities of New Mexico will remain integral, if not a necessity, to spurring the rural economic growth everyone desires, while simultaneously increasing statewide effective educational opportunities.

  • Public shocked by recent cop scandal

    The recent Los Alamos Monitor coverage of the whistleblower lawsuit filed by Randy Foster, Scott Mills and Paige Early has been enlightening.
    The termination of Foster from the police department was an unwelcome surprise for many that know him to be a superb police officer, and the reasoning behind it seemed inscrutable at the time.
    The newspaper story helps to shed some light on the topic. While we only hear one side of the story in the Monitor coverage, and there is always two, one wonders how top administration officials in the county intend to defend their behavior.
    A mentally disturbed police officer, who threatens to harm the public, is removed from the situation by top-notch police officers acting in the best interest of the public.
    The disturbed police officer, who openly acknowledges his problem, sues the county and is then given a large financial settlement, while the police officers who proactively protected the public are harassed, humiliated and terminated.
    It just doesn’t compute. Unless one considers the possibility that the reputations of top county officials must be protected, and the mishandling of their duties should never bear public scrutiny.

  • Natural Helpers program offers help

    This is my fourth year teaching at Barranca. Over my years teaching here, I have had students abused, suffering from depression, stressed beyond belief, socially inept, suicidal, bullied and more. I was tired of seeing students struggle and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. They should not be fighting these battles alone.
    If these kids are truly our future, we must invest heavily in them now. Students must learn not only how to support each other but to accept support from others. Bradford Parker, our school principal, brought Natural Helpers to my attention as a way to address the needs of our student population. After investigating the program, I agreed and with the support of Parker and Dr. Gene Schmidt, the superintendent, I worked to get this program in place for our school.
    The Natural Helpers program is for fifth and sixth grade students at Barranca. If the beginning success is any indication, this program will continue for many years. Natural Helpers is a peer-to-peer helping program, meaning students learn how to help their friends and other students who need someone to talk to. Natural Helpers are students who are identified by their peers as someone they can trust, someone who cares, and someone who likes to help others.

  • There is no free lunch

    There is no free lunch
    A T-shirt popular when I was in college (many moons ago) proclaimed “TANSTAAFL.” It stands for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” a common phrase in economics.
    That simple axiom says much about what is wrong with our political dynamics today at all levels.
    Lunch may be free to the person eating it. But someone pays for it. If it is only partially free, the subsidized part is paid for by someone else.
    The same is true for any grant, benefit, or subsidy —whether it comes from an employer, insurer, or government. “Free” money is not free. Someone pays for it. Every “benefit,” private or government, is paid for by someone.
    A few freebies provide high leverage; their actual net benefits significantly exceed their cost. Most are promoted that way; few actually deliver.
    Politicians hate to say “no” to anyone. They are eager to trumpet the freebies, benefits, subsidies, etc. they “give” us. Every single one is paid for by someone. It may be today’s taxpayers or it may burden future generations.

  • Fracking: The rest of the story

    On Sunday Jan. 5, the Los Alamos Monitor carried a 1/3-page article on fracking of petroleum wells, authored by Marita Noon, spokesperson for organizations that, in their own terms, “influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life.”
    Noon argues against the public fear of fracking (hydraulic fracturing), its water consumption, and the chemicals used in fracking. She neglects to mention the public’s main fear, which is contamination of ground and surface waters due to fracturing through the pressure-bearing geologic formation.
    In Wyoming, the Environmental Protection Agency found widespread upward leakage of oil and gas along the outside of wells due to imperfect cementing of the well casings. Experts from New Mexico Tech offered a similar conclusion in testifying to a NM legislative committee. This problem is overlooked in the public arguments. New Mexico regulations do not require testing of the cement after it is injected to form a seal between the casing and the larger borehole.

  • Webber failed to mention specifics

    I appreciate gubernatorial candidate Alan Webber’s willingness to engage in a much-needed discussion over New Mexico’s flailing economy. However, I do want to clarify that economic leadership cannot be limited to the governor’s office. In fact, it is the Legislature that sets economic policy. The PRC and courts also have a great deal to do with policies that help or harm New Mexico’s economy.
    Speaking directly to Webber’s points, he either makes inaccurate statements or fails to specify what he’d do to improve our economy. For starters, Webber claims that our state is offering “hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts trying to lure big-box stores to New Mexico.” He offers no details as to the specifics of the policy or its harms, nor does he offer viable alternatives for developing our economy.
    Webber also writes about education reform, citing the need to “leave politics at the door.” He offers no other specific education reforms while failing to explain how politics can be eliminated from an education system that is funded by taxes and operated by a combination of elected officials and government bureaucrats.

  • Teachers key to education

    When will Governor Susana Martinez and Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera learn?
    The proposed budget for Education for the 2015 Fiscal Year includes plenty of funding for such gimmicks as increased testing, carrots for high test performance and sticks for low (without factoring in poverty statistics, percent of non-English speakers and parent participation), and fancy teaching programs from out-of-state providers, but none for raises for teacher salaries.
    Granted, the governor proposes raising the starting salary for new teachers about 10 percent, but only to suck them into teaching in our state and then treat them like dirt along with existing faculty.
    No thought is given to trying to retain experienced teachers by paying them a living wage.
    Given the number of actual hours that teachers spend in the classroom (before and after class hours and on weekends), at home, and attending various training and certification sessions, their salaries barely qualify as minimum wage.
    And their benefits are gradually decreasing while teachers’ share for them is constantly increasing.
    Teachers are the keystone species in the education ecosystem.

  • Tell full story of Manhattan Project

    The United States Department of Interior has recommended Los Alamos as the site of a national park, or national historical park, for the Manhattan Project, which built the atomic bomb in World War II in secret at more than 30 U.S. sites.
    Builders of the A-bomb anticipated its use against Germany, but in May 1945 Germany surrendered. In July, the bomb was tested successfully near Alamogordo and the U.S. called upon Japan to surrender. When Japan refused, the U.S. bombed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9. Surrender followed in September.
    The conventional justification is about 500,000 American lives were saved by eliminating the need for an invasion of Japan. In opposition is the contention that the A-bomb was unnecessary because Japan was close to surrender.
    The A-bomb was a great scientific achievement by many of the world’s most distinguished scientists, under the leadership of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, with military support by Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.