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Today's Opinions

  • Aspen Ridge Lodge a positive experience

    I think until you have lived or worked in an area for a while you cannot truly know the quality of what it has to offer. I have lived at Aspen Ridge Lodge in Los Alamos for eight months.
    In that entire time, I have experienced only wonderful care and observed great professionalism by all of their staff at all levels: management, dining staff, custodial staff, nursing and care staff, activities staff, and transportation staff. I have never once observed or experienced the slightest bit of negative attitude, neglect, or mistreatment by any member of the staff toward anyone, regardless of how that person may behave.
    In fact, the Aspen Ridge employees are among the most personable and professional people I have ever encountered, particularly in one fairly large establishment. I think whoever makes the hiring selections and provides staff oversight at Aspen Ridge Lodge has done an amazing job of finding and keeping this group of terrific employees.

  • Eleven of 34 proposed Constitutional amendments target education

    Amending the New Mexico Constitution ought to be more difficult, says Sen. John Ryan, Albuquerque Republican. Ryan has proposed a constitutional amendment to that effect.
    Ryan’s Senate Joint Resolution 17 is but one of 34 amendments introduced for consideration during the current legislative session. Bill introductions ended Feb. 5. Senators introduced 330 bills, House members, 357.
    SJR 17, while hardly momentous, might be a good idea. Ryan proposes requiring that two-thirds of legislators approve an amendment instead of the current majority. However it would not really address and certainly not solve the salient characteristic of the Constitution, which is that it is often amended. Once blessed by the Legislature, proposed amendments are voted upon at the next general election.
    After a quick slog through the 2014 proposed amendments, four ideas stand out — one good, three marginal — and a theme emerges.
    The marginal ideas are proposals to regulate moral behavior that I think do not fit in a constitution, which is supposed to outline the fundamental framework of government.

  • Should you buy pet insurance?

    One topic I’ve learned to avoid with new acquaintances until I know them better (along with politics and religion) is where they stand on the treatment of pets. Some people, when their dog gets sick or badly injured, say, “It’s an animal — that’s just part of the circle of life.” Others consider Rover a close family member and would take out a second mortgage to save his life.
    Pet owners from both camps probably see the barrage of ads for pet insurance and wonder whether it’s worth the expense, which might be several thousand dollars over the life of your pet. I did some research and the best answer I can come up with is, it depends.
    First, ask yourself: Do you regard pet insurance as a financial investment, where you expect to get back more in benefits than you paid out in premiums over the pet’s life? Or, is it more like auto or homeowner’s insurance, where you hope nothing ever goes seriously wrong, but you want coverage in case there’s a catastrophe?
    Either way, here are some basic facts about pet insurance that may help you decide whether it’s right for you:
    Pet insurance shares many features with human health insurance: Policies typically have annual deductibles, copayments and exclusions, and some limit which veterinarians, clinics and hospitals you can use.

  • Election could be determined by what else in on the ballot

    The 2014 election is officially underway, with the filing of qualifying petitions last week. Five Democrats have lined up to challenge Gov. Susana Martinez. All five met the goal, submitting petitions with more than 3,000 signatures. Though there’s little media attention so far, the race is already energetic.
    Martinez doesn’t have re-election locked in. She’s believed to be the heavy favorite today against an unnamed Democrat, but she could be vulnerable on a number of counts. So far, she’s managed to keep her public image separate from the most serious controversies of her administration. But we don’t know yet what voters are thinking.
    The Democratic nominee could make hay of Martinez’s many out-of-state trips pursuing her own or her party’s political interests. Her well-publicized jaunt to New Jersey in November, campaigning for the re-election of Gov. Chris Christie, could turn out to be a liability — maybe because his reputation is now in question, or maybe just because she was gadding about the country instead of doing her job in New Mexico.

  • Rural dental care stumbles in Senate

    If you live in a rural area and you have a toothache, chances are you’ll have to drive for several hours to get help.
    A bill to remedy that, now stuck in a Senate committee, shows us both the strengths of our legislative system and the weaknesses. The strengths are the power of bipartisan cooperation, in this case, between Sen. Benny Shendo Jr., D-Jemez Springs, and Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico. The weakness is the power of one person to mess things up.
    You probably know by now that New Mexico doesn’t have enough dentists. We rank 39th in the United States, according to Health Action New Mexico, a consumer advocacy group. More than a third of rural school kids have tooth decay.
    Senate Bill 76 would create a new kind of dental provider, the dental therapist-hygienist, who would occupy a niche between a dentist and a hygienist. With supervision from a dentist, the therapist-hygienist could provide many services, including extractions.
    The model is a program that has served Alaska Native villages. People in the village choose an individual, who receives training and then returns to provide dental care for his or her village.
    “The Alaska model is a Native solution to a Native problem,” Shendo told me. “It would work here.”

  • Give credit where credit is due on education reform

    Last year, high school graduation rates in New Mexico improved 10 percent over recent historic rates, from the low 60 percent range up to 70 percent.
    For the second year in a row, Hispanic New Mexican students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes have the highest completion and graduation rates of all AP students in the country.
    These are fantastic developments that are justly lauded, and which the current governor is rightly touting — for which she is incorrectly taking credit.
    The fact is, these recent developments are the product of programs the legislature and previous administrations put in place years ago, including:
    • Statewide Pre-K and early childhood development programs.
    • Increased teacher compensation including salaries, cost of living adjustments and tax credits to entice the best people to enter and remain in the field, and aid in teacher recruitment.
    • Increased AP and dual-credit courses, which allow students to earn college credits while still in high school.
    • Teacher-student mentorship and tutoring programs.
    • Programs to lower the truancy rate and encourage parental involvement.

  • Moving forward on Pajarito Mountain

    On Feb 4, the Los Alamos Ski Club (LASC) Board of Directors held a special membership meeting to inform members and bring about a vote to transfer all or part of the club’s assets (Pajarito Ski Area) to Los Alamos County, or another third party.
    Unfortunately, the voting resolution was not seen by the members until just minutes before the vote was called.
    In addition, other potential options have yet to be discussed openly.
    I respect and appreciate the significant efforts made by the LASC Board to assess options and discuss the issue with some members.
    However, many members were not even aware that dissolution was being considered and were caught off guard by the board’s announcement in the paper and the subsequent meeting and vote.
    While we all have known for years that there have been financial challenges at Pajarito Mountain, the idea of gifting this exceptional resource built from thousands of volunteer’s sweat and tears to the county was not well communicated to the members and in fact was not in any newsletter, or General Membership Meeting that I am aware of.

  • Employment rising with the sun

    One thing that doesn’t rise as consistently as the sun is our employment rate. The solar energy industry could help to change that though, because like the sun each morning, jobs in the solar industry are on the rise.
    The solar industry has added over 20,000 jobs since November 2012, a 19.9 percent increase, which is more than ten times the national employment growth rate of 1.9 percent. The best part about these jobs that are being created is that most of them are paid a living wage! Right now New Mexico is ranked 10th in the nation for solar jobs per capita.
    The solar energy industry is not only good for the unemployment crisis so many of us New Mexicans are suffering through, but it is also a positive step to a healthier environment. We have an abundance of sun here in our Land of Enchantment, and our sunsets are something we are known for.
    If we could harness more of this power from the sun, and reduce our independence on fossil fuels, then maybe we could be known as the leading state for solar energy as well! And to top it off, we would be creating much-needed jobs for New Mexicans.
    Tyler Schutte
    Albuquerque