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Letters

  • Missing the Otowi Bookstore

    Otowi Station Bookstore and Science Museum Shop closed its doors a few days ago having served Los Alamos/White Rock residents and visitors for almost 20 years. Before that, its parent store, Ojo de Dios Bookstore, served our community many more years.
    Bart and I purchased Ojo de Dios in 1990 from Harold Burnett and expanded it to our brand new Otowi Station site in 1993.
    We owned Otowi until late 2005, when Peggy Durbin and Michele Vochosky took over — encountering a very rough business climate.
    The store is enveloped in memory.  For Bart and me in particular:
    • Wonderful employees — full time, part time, student — who gave time, energy, and support. (You will  always be family.)
    • The old-fashioned courtesy of most of our customers.
     • A smiling Danny Doss bustling in to sign extra copies of his Charlie Moon mysteries.
     • The midnight theme music, outside night lighting, and around the corner customer line of a new Harry Potter book sale.
     • Christmas Eve, when we kept the store open as long as shoppers (usually men) showed up for last minute  emergency purchases.
    • Two giggling little girls copying cookie recipes on a Sunday morning.

  • A letter of support

    Several ads list Jim Hall’s experiences. It wrongly assumes that a man 31 years older than his opponent would be a better qualified legislator.   In fact, the N.M .Legislature was set up as a citizen’s legislature.  The intent was for people from all walks of life and occupations to represent our diverse population. Stephanie Garcia Richard is intelligent, already respected in the legislature, endorsed by both U.S. Senators, several current legislators, and came within 190 votes of unseating 20-year incumbent Wallace in 2010.
    Following Hall’s logic, we should not hire young teachers, doctors, or scientists because they cannot do the job.  I want someone representing District 43 for 20-30 years as Jeannette Wallace did.  I want someone representing working people.  I want a representative who will use new ideas to help solve our state’s modern issues. I want Stephanie Garcia Richard to represent me.

    Karyl Ann Armbruster
    Los Alamos

  • Still more on charter amendments

    Laura Walton’s letter Friday night contains several untruths.  Here are the facts:
    The Charter Review Committee has finished its work and made its report to the council.  The council is now considering their recommendations.
    The Charter Review Committee considered making the office of clerk full time but decided to make no recommendation at all.
    The CRC made no recommendation regarding the office of Assessor.
    The CRC recommended changes to the charter that clarify the duties of the sheriff, but did not recommend eliminating the office.
    Los Alamos is an incorporated county, which means it is both a city and county.  Its status as a city having adopted a home rule charter means it has the same home rule privileges as many other cities in new Mexico including Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Silver City.  
    The 1966 Charter provided for 15 percent and 30 days for initiative and referendum petitions, much more stringent than is being proposed by the CRC.  The charter amendments proposed call for the same  numbers that Ms. Walton’s group LAGRI has proposed:  15 percent and 60 days. These requirements are in line with similar provisions in other home rule cities in New Mexico and are very feasible.

  • Clerk must be neutral, independent

    The Los Alamos County Clerk race has drawn very little attention.  But it should.
    In addition to keeping and providing records, the county clerk is responsible for ensuring fair elections and fair initiative, referendum and recall petition processes.  The county clerk, an elected position, is responsible to the New Mexico Secretary of State, not to the county council.
    As such, the  county clerk must be fair and independent of the Council.
    Sharon Stover, currently chair of the county council, showed a strong council bias in leading a 2009 ruling (that took a judicial matter into their own hands) against a certified citizen petition, citing logrolling (later refuted by the Attorney General’s office).
    Now Chair Stover has led the council in ruling that the four Charter amendment ballot questions, a bundling of 15 clarification ordinances and six substantive change ordinances, were not logrolling, despite the request that the six substantive change ordinances be separated out to be voted upon separately.  Councilor Ron Selvage actually explored the proposal to separate thesix substantive changes, but Chair Stover dismissed it, citing lack of time.
    Political bias in the petitioning process is unfair and has no place in the clerk’s office.

  • Vote against charter amendments

    Protecting citizen home rule in Los Alamos begins with the voter.
    You have before you four ballot questions for Los Alamos County charter amendments and a very serious decision to make about your home rule government.
    A vote of “yes” to these amendments will move us toward an impenetrable central government. A vote “no” will preserve the rights that were fiercely fought for by citizens who considered the original charter of 1967.
    That charter was defeated, mostly because the petitioning requirements for referendum, recall, and initiative were considered too restrictive. In 1964 New Mexico passed legislation allowing Los Alamos citizens their own home rule charter, meaning that the citizens could govern themselves through a charter just like that of an incorporated city.
    However, Los Alamos is not an incorporated city, it does not have municipal articles of incorporation. What it does have, however, is this special privilege granted by the state to govern itself as a home rule county. This grants us flexibility, allowing for us to create a charter that allows for maximum citizen participation.

  • Garcia Richard is the better option

    I hope the voters of Los Alamos County are carefully considering their vote in the House District 43 race. As we look to the future, Stephanie Garcia Richard has proven herself to be the better candidate for all of us.
    She has run a positive and ethical campaign. For example, Ms. Richard has never had to apologize to Mr. Hall for anything. Mr. Hall has had to publicly apologize to Ms. Richard for implying he had the endorsement of two Democratic senators when he did not.
    Ms. Richard answers hard questions asked at forums with clear, concise facts. When Mr. Hall was asked if he supports a woman’s right to choose, he states it’s a law and wants parental notification, but he is not clear if he supports women’s choice.
    However, he is endorsed by extremist groups that want to outlaw abortions and he is against Marriage Equality, so he supports putting the “One Woman One Man” question to a state vote. Do you want others to vote on whether you can get married in the future?
    Ms. Richard has been endorsed by our local fire fighters, Senator Bingaman and Senator Udall, and teachers.

  • Amendments may be unconstitutional

    The County Council has submitted to the voters amendments to the Charter which, if passed, will probably be ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

    On their face, these amendments appear to abrogate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    The First Amendment, in part, states "Congress shall make no law respecting…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Webster's defines "abridging" as "to reduce in scope, diminish, deprive, to shorten in duration." This is exactly what the council has in mind in submitting these proposed changes in the Charter to the voters. Its action is nothing more than a facetious attempt to circumvent the First Amendment.

    Justice Louis D. Brandeis, one of the most able men to occupy a position on the U.S. Supreme Court, said in one of his decisions, "the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." Some of our councilors, both past and present, should take note of what the judge was concerned about.

  • Endorsements of amendments mislead

    If you admire Donald Trump, voting for the Charter Amendments is the thing to do.
    They will make it harder for citizens to influence the vast building program of the county government, which has included the Municipal Building, Justice Center, White Rock Fire Station, Visitor Center, attempts at a Civic Center with internet café, a Bypass Road to the ski hill, and innumerable roundabouts. Trump would not be dismayed to learn that our building costs are about twice the national average ($400 vs. $200 per square foot).
    The county government suggests that citizens can make their voices heard at public meetings, but hardly anyone wants to participate. Better tests of public opinion are the ballot box and petitions.
    However, the purpose of the Charter Amendments is to make it hard for citizens to petition. This purpose is concealed in the proposed amendments within language about clarifying the Charter, and in letters, advertisements and columns in our newspaper.
    What is written can be totally misleading.
    A story in the June 13 Los Alamos Monitor quoted John Hopkins, who stated that five attorneys gave opinions that there is no logrolling in the amendments.

  • Support the county charter amendments

    I support the amendments to the county’s Charter. The current initiative and referendum provisions are disjointed and confusing.
    The lack of clarity has led to a number of illegal and/or illogical petition efforts that have frustrated everyone.
    The Charter Review Committee consisting of John Hopkins, Larry Warner, Harry Ettinger, Morrie Pongratz, Ralph Phelps, Chris Chandler, David Izraelevitz, Richard Dunn and Kyle Wheeler brought a diversity of views and knowledge to the effort. They proposed these amendments after working diligently to craft clear and balanced initiative and referendum processes.
    These revisions improve the process for petitioners, particularly those whose issue engenders wide popular support.
    It is also noteworthy that the council supports these amendments and that four of the council candidates (Clay, Henderson, Girrens, Redondo) are in favor of the proposed Charter Amendments.
    The Charter Amendments deserve the support of the community. I encourage you to vote FOR Ballot Questions 1, 2, 3, 4.
    Betsy Lucido
    Los Alamos

  • Jim Hall is right choice for district

    As the former State Representative in House District 43 (1971-1986) I would like to solidly endorse Representative Hall for election to that seat in the legislature.
    We are lucky to have a person with the experience and knowledge that Jim possesses. He has been a leader in the district he represents. He has deep roots in New Mexico where his grandfather was the legendary “Cowboy Preacher” Ralph Hall that carried the gospel to the little ranching communities around Roswell, Fort Sumner, Ruidoso, Pie Town and others. His father managed Ghost Ranch.
    Jim has the experience as an executive as well as a policy maker for he has served as a school board member, a county councilor, a cabinet secretary and as a state representative. That is a lot of what it takes to serve the people in District 43.
    As a former representative, I know what that experience means when it comes to working as a legislator.
    One has to be able to analyze the multitude of bails and to be able to negotiate compromises to make things work.  Jim Hall has what it takes.  He has a very good reputation with members of both parties and can be effective with both the Democrats as well as with his own party.