• Public weighs in on charter amendments

    The charter amendments on the ballot group the various processes for initiative, referendum, recall, and future charter amendments into more sensible groupings within the charter, so if you want to start a petition to recall an elected official or start some other petition, and these amendments pass, the process for how you do it will be spelled out more clearly within the charter.
    The amendments clarify and unify the process. Even Rob Pelak agreed at a recent League of Women Voters Forum that the way the Charter Review Committee grouped the items makes sense. His objection to the amendments was that the CRC shortened the time frame for collecting signature from 180 days (HALF A YEAR!) to 90 days, in line with what Santa Fe and Albuquerque do. Also, the number of signatures was increased.
    My view is that if you have a good reason to circulate a petition, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting the required number of signatures in 90 days. If you allow 180 days (HALF A YEAR!) and fewer signatures, people can use these “tools” as a way to obstruct progress in a community.

  • More on the charter amendments

    Among the many important decisions facing us as a community this November, is the issue of several proposed amendments to our county charter.
    Much has been written about the process by which these amendments were composed, aside of whether each is a good idea or not.
    In a subsequent column we will discuss the merits of each proposed change, but here, let’s talk about the process itself, and specifically logrolling, because we want to correct some erroneous comments in this area.
    Logrolling is the practice of combining multiple unrelated topics so that different constituencies will vote for the “whole,” although they only support a “piece.”
     Most of the discussion about the structure of the ballots relates to whether the four proposed amendments constitute “logrolling.”  However, the key word that distinguishes logrolling is “unrelated,” not “multiple.” For example, a citizen initiative to clamp down on loose dogs (a leash law, fines for not cleaning up after your dog, fines for excessive barking, etc.) would certainly not be considered logrolling because the multiple parts of the initiative form a consistent multi-pronged approach to address a community issue.

  • A view on Charter amendments

    The four amendments to the charter seem reasonable to me. For more than two years, they have been discussed in open meetings by the charter review committee and the county council. The charter review committee was selected by the council to represent a wide cross section of our community. Many meetings were held by the committee so the public could present and persuade.
    Committee members themselves had many different viewpoints. The amendments, the product of all those meetings, were presented to the county council. After vetting the proposals with the public, the council made some modifications and decided that the amendments merited placement on the ballot.
     Not all participants in the process agreed on all the issues, but that is a feature of representative democracy — listen and then decide.
    Initiative and referendum are the last resort to rectify what the public considers widely unpopular or improper council action. They should not be used by a special interest group that disagrees with a well-aired council decision.
    The best way to have an impact on a board or council decision is to make your opinion or ideas known early in the process while policies are being formulated. This is a lot less work that resorting to a petition and much more effective.

  • Closing corporate tax loophole a win for N.M. businesses

    Developing a vibrant, diverse private sector economy is critical to getting New Mexicans back to work.  While our national labs and large, multi-state corporations are important to our economy, 98% of New Mexico businesses are small or medium sized with less than 100 employees.  To create jobs, policy makers must focus on our local businesses and give them the tools they need to grow and compete.  
    Key to the success of any small business is a fair tax code that lets it compete with the multi-state competitors down the street.  Unfortunately, in New Mexico, our tax does the exact opposite.  
    Under the guise of “economic development,” we are the last western state that allows national chain stores to expense profits to other subsidiaries and avoid paying corporate tax.  A mom and pop retailer pays its fair share, usually 4.9% as a pass through tax entity.  Yet the “big-box” chain down the street can pay little or no tax.  

  • League of Women Voters responds

    In response to the Oct. 7 letter titled “Suppression at Council Forum,” I wish to set the record straight regarding the League of Women Voters candidate forum on Oct. 4. Planning how to run a forum is not straightforward, and a major consideration is the limited time available.  At the beginning of the meeting, I explained the format we would follow.  Members of the audience were invited to ask questions, but told not to make statements and to ask only one question.  All questions were limited to 30 seconds and all answers to one minute. Asking and expecting those in the audience to adhere to the pre-established ground rules does not constitute a violation of free speech.  We were gathered to hear the candidates’ opinions, not those of the audience.
     Mr. White broke these ground rules by running over the allotted time for framing a question, and by making a statement of opinion. His accusation that the League, a nonpartisan group, planted “fluff” questions with certain audience members is totally false. Many Leagues do not permit members of the audience to ask questions directly.  Instead, they are told to write them out on cards to be sorted and screened by League members and read by the moderator. Perhaps the Los Alamos League needs to consider taking that approach.

  • On the House race

    Jim Hall is a decent person, but we have a far superior Democratic candidate, by the name of Stephanie Richard, who is running against him and who has regularly supported Democratic issues.
    Jim Hall has been on the job as an appointee and has supported Republican issues even at the expense of Los Alamos County during the brief tenure of his appointment.
    Most disappointing of all is that Jim Hall’s campaign itself sent out the misleading press release which stated that Democratic State Senators expressed “support.[of]...Jim Hall in his campaign for State House of Representatives (emphasis added).” Appointed Rep. Hall subsequently apologized for “any misunderstanding” stating that he did not mean they had endorsed him.  Clearly, Mr. Hall expected this statement to be interpreted as an endorsement by Democrats which he did not have. I was also disappointed to receive misleading mailers about Jim Hall that are funded primarily by Oil & Gas Companies.  In addition, I have received telephone surveys that misrepresent Stephanie Richard’s policies.

  • Suppression at council forum?

    It was obvious at the Los Alamos League of Women Voters  supposed forum, which was to have included the charter ballot questions, that the moderator was NOT going to allow any question which questions the government’s complete authority. Nor anything that resembles Free Speech!
    Several seconds into my question the moderator interrupted me setting a time limit on my question and then proceeded to re-interrupt me every few seconds until my time was up so naturally I kept talking, not being the kind of person who gives up their rights, she kept interrupting. And when the county guy asked to answer my question she shut him up and proceeded on to the pre-planned fluff questions they had planted in the audience.
    Going in, I had planned on voting “yes” on the questions, I just wanted some inconsistencies cleared up. Now I urge all voters to vote “NO”!!!
    Here’s the bottom line. The county council wants to make it very hard for the citizens to get what they want or stop that which they don’t want. The ONLY reason to increase the needed signatures while cutting in half the time to collect them is that the council is afraid of the citizens and what they might do or stop.

  • Not accepting contributions

    Dear Editor,
    While your Sept. 16 article, “Council Campaign Donations Subdued,” correctly states that my first campaign report showed zero contributions and zero expenditures, I feel that your article unfairly implies that this is because I entered the race at such a late date.  In fact, I am not accepting campaign contributions as I have already reached my fundraising goal of zero dollars.  Due to the fact that I am assuming Kenneth Johnson’s place on the ballot, I do not have to pay the $50 filing fee with the county clerk.  As a result of this I do not need to raise any money in order to run my campaign.  Since I entered the race on Aug. 29, several people have offered to contribute to my campaign, but I have refused all financial contributions.  I feel that there is enough money in politics as it is, and I feel that this race can be won without it.  I have accepted a few small in kind donations of used materials that I have used to create some homemade yard signs, and this will be reflected in my next finance report.  As the race progresses I may accept further in-kind donations, but I remain committed to refusing all monetary donations to my campaign for the duration of this election.
    Michael Redondo
    Los  Alamos County Council Candidate

  • Explore better Trinity Site options

    The Los Alamos Monitor’s headline, “Council short on options,” of Sept. 13, regarding the Trinity Site should not be just a lament.  It should be a call to action.
    The economic viability of the Trinity Site “lifestyle center” concept was uncertain when it was developed in 2005-06, long before investment money for such projects dried up.  Two developers, first Boyer and now NADG, have been unable to implement even scaled down versions.
    Why should we think a third entity, Kroger / Smith’s, whose interests are much narrower, would make the dream happen?
    Our options presently are so limited because generations of councilors, county staffers, and various advisors have refused to even consider developing any alternatives.  Too many have too much personal or political capital invested to admit the old concept is not working.  They keep flogging this dead horse instead of exploring options that might serve us better.  

  • Smith's, Shell don't charge pump fees

    Thanks to Roberta Marinuzzi for being a Smith’s customer!
    However, on Aug. 23 she submitted a letter that was unduly critical of Smith’s fuel program when she stated “if you use your points to buy gasoline and use a credit card you will be charged a $1 fee.”
    To set the record straight, Smith’s nor participating Shell stations charge a fee for the redemption of rewards points to save money on fuel.
    If a $1 charge appeared on her credit card statement, we would appreciate Ms. Marinuzzi contacting her credit card company rather than to place blame inaccurately on Smith’s.
    We are grateful to our Los Alamos and White Rock customers, and we look forward to providing continued savings on their fuel needs.

    Marsha Gilford
    Salt Lake City, Utah