• 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.

  • Another no vote on amendments

    One would gather that the voters are voting on a bunch of amendments to the charter so that the revision is final and ratified by us.
    Apparently, NOT SO.
    We have just gotten a new adminsitrator whose input would be valuable, but there seems to be an effort to drive the CRC’s revision through with all haste.
    So, why are we now in the midst of MORE amendments by the council while we are voting? Sounds like the CRC and the council are piece mealing it to us and certainly do NOT have a firm grasp on the total situation/package. So much for a comprehensive review!
    Are we to believe that the council will eventually get around to what IT feels the charter should be and declared it GOOD and done and final, in the sense that it is the legal document that we citizens believe Los Alamos County Council is using to govern us by.
     The four gall-stones could have been placed on the ballot without all the agreed-upon rewording and changes. Based on the latest moves by the council, we citizens are NOT voting on the final revised charter.

  • Vote no on charter amendments

    We are going to vote NO on all four proposed Los Alamos County Charter Amendments for the following reasons:
    1.)    The Charter Review Committee (CRC) process was flawed. We believe the county council formed the CRC because the council was uncomfortable about their decision to reject a petition signed by 2,000 citizens. An overwhelming majority of the CRC members supported the council view to reject the petition, and consequently, the CRC gave little credibility or voice to the petitioners. What a surprise! The CRC was even more repressive than the council. They proposed Charter changes that make it more difficult for citizens to petition. If the changes pass it will be pretty much impossible for a citizen group to gather the increased number of signatures in the shortened time period. If you try it you won’t like it. We are voting NO because: a.) we don’t agree with the Charter changes, and b.) we want to protest the way this whole issue was handled by the council and the CRC.

  • Mad about the voting icons

    I just returned home from voting early here in my hometown of Los Alamos.
    I was furious to discover that the ballot had “icons” in front of the presidential candidates – not their party icons, but icons selected by the New Mexico Secretary of State:
    1. Obama had a distorted eagle
    2. Romney had the American Flag  
    When I called our local county clerk, they said the local government has no control over how the ballot looks or what is on it and that this ballot format is being used by all precincts throughout the state.
    This seems way over the top in attempting to influence citizens at the voting booth to vote for the Republican candidate.  I’ve been voting for about 45 years and this is the first time I have ever seen such a thing, is it legal?
    Too many oddities in this election.  First, voting locations are reduced “because of manpower.”  Not only are the locations reduced, but reduced to the community building and a church. I could understand using a church facility if our town had no other buildings that could house such an activity, but that is not true in Los Alamos and now this unnecessary defacement of what is supposed to be a fair, clear, non-partisan document.