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Today's Opinions

  • Utilities charter change is not in our interest

    As a retired Los Alamos County utilities manager, 10-year member of the Board of Public Utilities (Board) and a utilities customer, I urge voters to vote against Ballot Question No. 2 — utilities. I am concerned about the potential negative effects the proposed re-write of Article V of the Los Alamos County Charter will have on Utilities customers.
    Unless a voter digs deeply into the background he/she may not realize that Article V, which was ratified in 1968 and has effectively guided utilities operations since, will be deleted and replaced with a new version that is substantially changed.
    What occurs in the proposed version is the council gains more control over utilities. Among other things, the council:
    1) will have the ability to remove one or more board members without reason
    2) will have the right to impose a dispute resolution process weighted in the council’s favor, and
    3) could potentially use utilities’ funds for other county operations.

  • A case for voting for Amendment 2

    I am voting for Amendment No. 2 on the upcoming ballot about our Utilities Board. 
    Contrary to the opponent’s dire depictions, it does not give unchecked power to council, or radically change the government structure established in the 1960s.   
    It does, however, put in some fail-safes and backstops that I think most of us would actually assume are in place now.
    Our local government has two parts. One is the Department of Public Utilities, which provides water, sewer, gas and electric. It is managed by a utility manager, policy decisions are set by a citizen utility board, and neither the board nor the manager reports to council. 
    The second is the county government, providing police, fire protection, libraries, parks, and the jail, for instance. These are managed by a county administrator, policies are set by the county council and you elect the council.
    With Amendment No. 2, the changes:
    • Require the utility board to abide by the Sunshine Laws of New Mexico — to announce all meetings and agendas.
    • Require the board to report once a quarter to the community — in a report to council — any issues that might be of concern.
    • Require the board, once every five years, to hire an outside utility consultant to review their processes.

  • 9/11 not comparable to charter vote

    Wow! Congratulations to George Chandler for somehow connecting 9/11, the BP oil spill, the alleged W-88 “theft,” and damage from Katrina to why we should vote “yes” on Charter Amendment 2!
    He forgot Watergate and the Ebola outbreak in Africa, but maybe he is saving those for a later letter.
    In the interest of space, let me just respond to the 9/11 claim. If you think the billions and billions of dollars spent on an ill-conceived Department of Homeland Security because of 9/11 is a good use of our tax dollars, then maybe you agree with George that it is OK for utility funds to be used for whatever the county council wishes.
    If you think the billions and billions of dollars spent on the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan (to say nothing of the loss of life) because of 9/11 were great ideas, then maybe you agree with George.
    But if you want utility funds to be used for utilities, then vote “no.”
    Wayne Hardie
    Los Alamos
     

  • No politics with utilities, please

    The advocates of Charter Amendment 2 are now claiming that it is preventive maintenance for the Utilities Department. This type of maintenance is based on the principle: “If it ain’t broke, fix it ‘til it is.”
    Don’t let them politicize our utilities. Vote “No” on Charter Amendment 2.
    Gil Miranda
    Los Alamos

  • ISIS, Ebola and Elvis Presley

    “Wise men say, only fools rush in.” To tell you the truth, I’ve always been annoyed by that song. Elvis Presley slurs it so much that I had to look up the lyrics to figure out what he was whining about.
    Yes, angels fear to tread rock and roll!
    Fear is an interesting commodity. It refuses to adhere to well-founded economic principles of supply and demand.
    When the supply of fear is readily available (and it always is), the price goes up, not down. Likewise, people fear to fear, so no one really wants it. And yet with virtually no demand for it, the price continues to skyrocket.
    So as another election looms in the near future, we have to wonder where all this fear is coming from. Why the sudden onslaught of fear for sale?
    Christian Nestell Bovee said it best (without using the word “moronic,” which definitely proves we’re not related). “We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”
    It’s the same old story. We fear what we don’t understand, and we hate what we fear. We fear fear and spiral into a never-ending cycle of panic and dread.
    Let’s take a look at the tsunami of fear drenching us in the news these days.

  • Dogs and chocolate are a bad combination

    The Halloween season brings with it much amusement and excitement, and one anticipated tradition is the variety of chocolate you have an excuse to enjoy. While all of these Halloween treats may only bring your children a sugar rush and a tummy ache, it can do much more serious damage to your pets.
    “Chocolate and caffeine belong to a group of plant molecules called methylated xanthine alkaloids, which are commonly found in a variety of foods, drinks and medications,” said Dr. Medora Pashmakova, clinical assistant professor in Emergency/Critical Care Medicine at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    “As stimulants, they cause excitation of the central nervous system, heart rate, and respiratory centers of the brain and can also stimulate the body’s own secretion of adrenaline. And, when in the form of candy and chocolate bars, they taste delicious, which is why dogs love to eat them in such large quantities!”
    As a rule of thumb, the higher the cocoa concentration, the more theobromine, which is the active ingredient that is toxic in high doses. Baker’s chocolate, for example, can be particularly concerning, while white chocolate contains no cocoa and is not actually toxic to dogs.

  • If it ain't broke...

    Here’s some stuff that wasn’t “broke”:
    • Airport security before 9/11
    • BP procedures for supervising its contractors before the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
    • Nuclear weapons security before a defector walked into our embassy with design information about the W-88.
    • Mississippi levees and floodwalls before Hurricane Katrina
    Get the idea? The Utilities Charter Amendment No. 2 is preventive maintenance.
    Please don’t let cynicism and a false narrative about the council stop you from voting for clearly necessary preventive maintenance.
    The smart thing to do is to fix the Charter before the problems occur.
    I’m voting for Charter Amendment 2.
    George Chandler
    Los Alamos
     

  • Ignorance, disinformation cloud candidates' debate over New Mexico economy

    Last week, we talked about job-creation promises of the 2010 gubernatorial race. Today, let’s look at the current campaign rhetoric. Republican Susana Martinez has upped her game, but fills her policy position with disinformation. And Gary King, her Democratic opponent? The dog ate his homework.
    In speeches, King touts an increased minimum wage and pooh-poohs the 2013 tax compromise package.
    Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do because every working person deserves a wage he or she can live on. But it’s not economic development. Democrats subscribe to this tooth-fairy idea that an increased minimum wage will magically stimulate the economy, but studies are inconclusive.
    The 2013 tax compromise that King doesn’t like is the one thing the administration and lawmakers have done that will actually make a difference.
    On his campaign website, King says he would change the criteria for state (State Investment Council) investments in local businesses. He complains that the state has invested in too many failed businesses. Does he not understand that startup companies are by nature riskier?