• County not using tax dollars wisely

    I went to the county building today to drop off my ballot, voting against the latest tax levy. It seems like every year we are asked to support yet another levy, for worthy causes such as school building upgrades, UNM-LA and the like.
    My husband and I work very hard for our money and are not upper-echelon labbies that bring home the big bucks … these tax hikes have a real impact on our budget. In the past five years, my taxes have increased $616. The latest levy would increase that another $168.
    We do not have unlimited funds, and even if we did, I do not trust the county to use my tax dollars wisely. Take a gander at the “Taj Majal” projects we’ve had thrust upon us in recent years: The White Rock Visitor’s Center, the Justice Center, the new Municipal Building, the Golf Course Clubhouse, Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School are all good examples. It seems that every project must be grander than the one before, and the sky is apparently the limit.

  • Vote ‘yes’ for mil levy

    I have joined with many in our community including leaders of the local Democratic and Republican parties in supporting the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos mil levy.
    As a retiree, I benefit from the training our EMS folks get at UNM-LA. We all benefit from the fire science courses our fire department personnel take at UNM-LA. Most of all the presence of this high quality institution makes Los Alamos more attractive to the “best and brightest” that the Los Alamos National Laboratory needs to attract to compete effectively for future research and development funds.
    The value of our house depends upon a vigorous and healthy LANL. Please vote “Yes” for our community, our college.
    Morris Pongratz
    Los Alamos 

  • N.M. needs to make use of solar

    The Public Regulation Commission is preparing to rule on how much New Mexico invests in renewable energy, and clean energy advocates argue that the PRC’s proposed changes would harm renewable energy development in the state. Looking at the facts, we have to agree.
    New Mexico is the second-sunniest state in the country, but we currently get less than two percent of our electricity from the sun, lagging behind cloudy states like New Jersey. Our state needs to move toward a new, thriving clean energy economy, and not stay tethered to fossil fuels, which soak up billions in federal subsidies[1] – over five times as much as all renewables combined[2] – while polluting our air and water.
    Our current policies have helped grow the amount of solar energy in New Mexico from less than 1 megawatt in 2007 to almost 200 megawatts now.
    Judging by the number of people who spoke in favor of renewables at the PRC’s hearing in Santa Fe on Tuesday, New Mexicans clearly agree that developing our solar potential is smart for our state.
    We urge the PRC to leave renewable energy policies in place, not cut them off before they reach their full potential.
    Dominick Lawton
    Environment New Mexico

  • Dirty Drilling

    In a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the historic march on Washington,
    President Obama said “change does not come from Washington, but to Washington.”
    We agree. Last week Americans submitted more than one million comments urging President Obama to protect our national forests, parks, and the drinking water they provide from dirty gas drilling.
    Fracking — a dirty and dangerous method of drilling for oil and gas — has wrought widespread environmental damage across the country, including in New Mexico, turning treasured landscapes into industrial zones and contaminating drinking water sources.
    Now, the oil and gas industry is pushing to expose the best of our natural heritage to fracking, including Otero Mesa and outside Chaco Canyon National Historic Park.
    We are looking to President Obama to recognize the change knocking on Washington’s door. We, along with a growing number of Americans, urge President Obama to protect our forests, our parks, and the drinking water sources for thousands of New Mexicans from this dirty drilling.
    Sanders Moore
    Environment New Mexico 

  • College must evolve with town

    After being away from Los Alamos all summer, the progress in our town comes across as really impressive. Work on the Trinity Site seems really serious.
    David Griggs of the county staff, gave me my first tour of the new County Municipal Building. I haven’t had time to look closely at the pond redevelopment project, but it is good to see it moving ahead.
    It is also good to see a real building growing at the golf course that also will provide a large space and kitchen facility for the community to use for special occasions. When these wonderful projects are considered together with the county improvements over the past years, I can’t help but feel that Los Alamos has turned the corner to the dynamic future that we would like to see.
    The college needs to be part of this. Los Alamos has benefitted from the college in many different ways over the years. As Los Alamos has changed, the college has changed as well and the evolution continues.
    As Los Alamos changes further, let’s provide the support that enables this asset to grow in its contribution to a dynamic new community.
    Your community needs your vote to enable the college to help drive the new future of Los Alamos.
    Nona Bowman
    Los Alamos 

  • Look at UNM-LA tax proposal on own merits

    Los Alamos voters have a rare opportunity to consider a tax increase proposal that actually has sound justification, the UNM-LA mil levy increase.
    No community owes more to education nor values it more highly than ours. UNM-LA is an important local educational resource. It does its job well. Its graduation and job placement rates far exceed state averages.
    UNM-LA’s operating mil levy has not increased since its founding 30 years ago. Alone, that is not a valid argument for the proposed hike. Their revenue from the existing levy has increased with inflation, as have their expenses. The real question is “what has changed?”
    UNM-LA’s scope of instruction has expanded. Among other new missions, for example, they now provide college credit (dual credit) classes to high school students at NO COST to the students. In effect, they have become part of K-12 education but receive no funding to do so. At the same time, UNM-LA’s funding from the state has declined by approximately one-third in recent years. It is financially strapped.
    In effect, the state has unwittingly put more control of this component of education in local hands - where it should be.

  • Supporting a community's treasure

    The Democratic Party of Los Alamos County joins Chairman Gibson and other local Republicans in support of the UNM-LA Mil Levy.
    When I graduated from high school in upstate New York, I chose to attend the local community college for my first two years. Classmates came back from their far flung institutions with exciting tales of huge lecture halls and the anonymity of being at a large school. More than a few returned prematurely from their college experiences, not yet ready for such dramatic changes.
    In contrast, my experience was one of small classes and enthusiastic teachers. My first college professors were focused on teaching rather than publication and research. I did not feel like just one of the new batch of freshman.
    Our 17 year old son started classes at UNM-LA this month. He returns home each day talking about inspiring and engaged instructors who care about the subjects they teach and their students. In our rapidly changing world, it’s comforting to know that some things endure. I picture him in 30 years looking back with fondness on these first college years. It makes me thankful that he has the same opportunity that I had.

  • Water shortage

    “A shortage of water is a major obstacle facing the ski resort,” said the representative of the Ski Club. Well, welcome to New Mexico.
     A shortage of water is a major obstacle facing the entire state and neighboring states. And wasting water on entertainment like skiing is selling out the future of Los Alamos for a bit of fun today. If Los Alamos could reduce water use to a sustainable level, we, with our superlative and exceptional water supply, could guarantee water for generations to come. Instead, water is wasted on flower baskets and ski hills, bringing the day closer when we as a community are truly short of water.
    This is not about skiing, this is not about pretty hanging flowers. This is about whether we citizens of Los Alamos care enough about the future of this community to keep our water use within the rate of supply.
    Make no mistake: Snowmaking is consumptive, meaning that it uses water, losing it to the atmosphere. This is Hydrology 101. In Water Resources 101 we learn that water supply cannot sustainably exceed demand. It’s all simple mass balance. We either live within our means or we live at the expense of the future of our community. We have the choice.
    Please do not exacerbate our water stress.

    John Tauxe
    Los Alamos 

  • More on the gun show

    In regard to the recent gun show at the Pueblo Complex, I’m not sure of the actual wording of the school gun ban but if the wording includes the words ‘school property’ then it would seem that the gun show should not take place at the Pueblo Complex.
    Other school owned properties leased by LANL do not allow guns to be brought onto the premises by the public or workers (except by security guards). The gun show supporters however, were incensed the moment a question was raised about the appropriateness of the venue. Rather than thoughtful commentary about appropriate use of school property, we get worn out phrases like ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ and ‘only people with mental illness are committing mass shootings’.
    The facts are however that the majority of shootings in America simply wouldn’t happen without the wide availability of firearms. Slate’s (an online magazine) gun-death tracker estimates that 7,242 people have died as a result of gun violence in America since the Newtown massacre.
    This number doesn’t include gun suicides. What can be done about this? Maybe not using public school owned properties for gun shows is a start.

    Paul D. Richardson II
    White Rock

  • Hitting a nerve

    Wow. So much verbiage attacking me while defending the precious UNM-LA. Between Messrs. Pawlak, Sheehey, Izraelevitz, et al….the South Park Republican in me feels like I’m in an episode of “Pummel the Apostate.”
    Must have hit a big nerve, here in New Mexico’s smallest county, with a population under 18K (down 7 percent+ since 2000, median age over 50 by 2020), and a budget approaching $200 million a year (excludes education).
    “Methinks the Lady doth protesteth too much.”
    Wise up guys, denial is not a river in Egypt. If we don’t start thinking out of the box, Los Alamos will become a geriatric petting zoo.
    William T. Sellers
    Los Alamos