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Today's Opinions

  • Running for my life

    I hope by now most of you have seen fliers, received registration forms, or heard about the 5th Annual “Run for Her Life” at East Park on April 19.
    There is nothing more therapeutic than going out on a run. Running clears my mind and frees my soul, but it wasn’t always like that for me.
    Not too long ago, even the thought of jogging shorts and running shoes gave me panic attacks with flashbacks of a particular yelling gym teacher, a cramp in my side and frantically searching for my inhaler. I was one of those people who said “If I am running, you better run too because the only reason I would run is if it were away from something.”
    All of that changed four years ago when I moved to Los Alamos with my husband and our three small children. Due to a combination of health issues and poor lifestyle choices, I found myself weighing 240 pounds at 5 feet, 7 inches tall.  I could feel my body dying and I had to do something.
    With a family history of diabetes and cancer, I knew it was only a matter of time for that to be my fate as well.
    But luckily for me we were in Los Alamos and everywhere I looked there were happy, active people living and loving their healthy lifestyle.

  • Becoming a foster pet parent

    As an animal lover, you know just how hard it is to pass up that sweet puppy dogface while walking through your local shelter or rescue group. If adoption isn’t possible for you at the moment, fostering can be an amazing opportunity to provide a homeless pet with a nurturing, temporary home until they are able to find a permanent family.
    “It’s not as hard to find pets to foster as some might think,” said Susan Lobit, a veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and experienced fosterer. “Checking with rescue organizations is a always good place to start.”
    Before deciding to foster a pet, there are important aspects of the job you should be aware of that many people overlook.
    “You need to understand that you are in the middle,” Lobit said. “You help the pet get healthy, rehabilitated with any social or physical problems, and teach them about life in a loving home, but then have to be ready to send them on to a forever home.”
    Lobit explains that while letting go can be difficult to do, knowing that you’ve helped make such a huge difference in an animal’s life makes the separation worthwhile.

  • America’s first pet

    In its 239-year history, America has been involved in 222 years of fighting. Only a handful of presidents served during times of no war. Talk about boring administrations, eh?
    It seems that most presidents are remembered for their wars. George Washington and the Revolutionary War. James Madison and the War of 1812. James Polk and the Mexican-American War. George W. Bush and the War on Grammar.
    Some years after the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman is credited with having said, “War is hell.”  About three generations later, after World War II, Harry S Truman remarked “Peace is hell.”
    I’m not an expert in the dichotomy of hell, but I do know that whereas the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is not traveled by the best of us. By “us,” I mean those among us who are truly the divine gifts to civilization. Dogs.
    Seriously, is anything more beatific than a dog?  Even Pope Francis agrees with Goldcrest Films that all dogs go to heaven.
    Maybe that’s why ol’ Tecumseh never became president. He didn’t own a dog!  Who wants a president who doesn’t have a companion destined for the pearly gates?

  • Why can’t private sectors handle mail delivery

    In a country where people extol the virtues of free enterprise, why is the U.S. government involved in the delivery of mail? After all, it would be difficult to find a better example of a violation of the principles of free enterprise than the U.S. Postal Service.
    The Postal Service is a monopoly. That means that the law expressly prohibits anyone in the private sector from competing against the government in the delivery of first-class mail. If some private firm attempts to do so, the Justice Department immediately secures an injunction from a federal judge enjoining the firm from continuing to compete. If the firm persists, the judge jails the head of the firm until he agrees to cease and desist with his competition.
    Why should a country that prides itself on the virtues of free enterprise have a massive monopoly on mail delivery? Why not free enterprise in mail delivery?
     One option would be to simply repeal the postal monopoly. That would put the Postal Service in the same position as everyone else — as a competitor among many private firms that would be seeking people’s business.

  • Business volunteers give eighth graders incentive to graduate

    The earnings and opportunities gap that separates high school dropouts and graduates is wide, and it’s widening all the time. Yet 40 percent of New Mexico’s public school students quit their formal education before earning a diploma that can improve their options over a lifetime.
    Those dismal statistics motivated David Sidebottom, a branch manager of Century Bank, to introduce the Choices education program to Santa Fe schools six years ago. Using a curriculum designed by the nonprofit Choices Education Group, Sidebottom and other volunteers visit eighth-graders for two hour-long workshops that illustrate in tangible, age-appropriate terms the consequences of quitting school prematurely.  
    They don’t lecture, but rather engage the young teens in role-playing activities.
    In one, a student receives “play” money that represents his wages for a job that doesn’t require a high school diploma. Another classmate pretending to be a high school graduate gets more cash, while the best payout goes to the student playing the college graduate. After students surrender money for rent, food and other essentials, it’s obvious who has money left over for entertainment and recreation.

  • Transparency, accountability and the billions in unspent public funds

    Recently, the state auditor’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) released some staggering figures with respect to $4.5 billion of tax dollars sitting in more than 700 state accounts.
    As a result, many New Mexicans are rightly asking serious questions about whether this money is being put to work to meet the many needs of our state.
    The report, which is a compilation of the most recently available audited financial statements of state agencies (fiscal year 2014 in most cases) is the first in a series of reports the auditor’s office will be releasing to shine a light on fund balances building up in government.
    Moving forward, the GAO will also report on schools, municipalities and counties.
    This effort is aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability for the use of public monies that have already been allocated by the Legislature in years past for a particular use. As our state’s only independent office responsible directly to the voters for oversight of public dollars, the state auditor plans to share this information to start a public conversation about the most efficient and effective use of our tax dollars.
    In the years to come, these reports are intended to serve as a resource for the public, the governor and policymakers to make informed decisions.

  • The eyes have it, the teeth don’t

    How are legislators supposed to decide on the relative competencies of healthcare practitioners?
    In these matters, we are asking lawmakers to make a tough decision on topics outside their expertise. In some cases, it’s not the public that’s asking, but the practitioners of healthcare professions.
    The dental therapist bill came back this year, but did not have enough — pardon the pun — teeth.
    The bill was widely publicized and debated in 2014. It attempted to create a new mid-level category of dental practitioner to provide care in underserved rural communities, based on a model that has been successful in other states. Last year, the bill stopped in a Senate committee. This year, the House version of the bill (HB 349, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan), passed the House and went no further.
    Its companion Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo Jr., D-Jemez Pueblo, stalled in committee.
    Though the details are technical, the argument is simple. Small rural communities need dental services, which the state’s dentists are not providing, but dentists are concerned about competency and training.
    As a dentist told me, you never know when a simple procedure like an extraction is going to be complicated until you do it and see what’s underneath.

  • Debt and the deceased: How should spouses, heirs proceed?

    If your loved one died leaving significant debt behind, would you know what to do?
    It’s a worrisome question for everyone. Young or old, based on particular debt circumstances or geographic location, death with debt can provide significant problems for surviving family members.
    Depending on state law and the specific credit relationships involved, they might be shocked to learn that they could be legally liable for a deceased relative’s outstanding debt — anything from unpaid mortgage balances and medical debt to unpaid credit card balances.
    Spouses who may share any kind of debt jointly, particularly credit cards in dual name, could face greater challenges. It also may spell problems for co-signers of any kind of loan.
    As with all financial planning, the best time to act is before an issue arises. Watching any family deal with extensive debt problems after a spouse or relative passes on illustrates the need for financial transparency while all parties are alive. No matter how difficult a family member’s credit circumstances are, spouses and adult children should face those circumstances while options are available to deal with any problems.