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Today's Opinions

  • Charter change is flawed on many levels

    The debate over Charter Question 2 has rightly concentrated on the basic issue: whether the checks and balances relationship between the Board of Public Utilities and the county council that has worked well for 46 years should be replaced by a system in which council has unilateral control over utilities. Several smaller or less direct issues also merit consideration.
    A core argument used to support Ballot Question 2 is that only the council is accountable to citizens. Yet Question 2, should it pass, could actually make council less accountable. The proposed new Article V adds a new provision — Sec. 504 (f), which says “the DPU budget will identify a percentage of DPU revenues for transfer to the county general fund based on a formula agreed to by the board and council.” Any monies assessed through utility bills and transferred to the county general fund via this new route is effectively a tax. It just wouldn’t be called that. Citizens can see actual tax rates and hold councilors accountable. It would be difficult to figure out what implicit taxes might be hidden in utility bills. Council would, in practice, be less accountable for their revenues and the spending they enable.

  • Get facts straight about charter question 2

    Today, I received a mass-mailing campaign letter at my work email address at the Department of Public Utilities. As a project manager at the DPU, I could not help but read the letter and was aghast at the misleading manner in which the information was presented.
    As a county employee, it is highly frowned upon to get involved with political matters, but this one has to do with the Charter Amendment No. 2, so much information is being presented about how the Utilities Board and the DPU operate and make decisions. Getting to the point, the email contained a letter to the editor that simply misrepresents the facts and the way that the county council and utilities board interact and worse, how the utility board and the DPU operate.
    I would encourage interested voters to look at the DPU’s website for a more clear picture of the facts and the transparency of the DPU and the utilities board:
    losalamosnm.us/UTILITIES/Pages/default.aspx.

    Clay Moseley
    Los Alamos 

  • Stop attacks on Garcia Richard's support

    As the former program manager of the First Born Program of Los Alamos County, I feel compelled to respond to negative ads attacking Stephanie Garcia Richard for her support of expanding these programs. Recent ads depicting government monitors and mandatory home visits are pure distortion and demonstrate a frightening ignorance of the purpose of early childhood home visits.
    Across our state, home visitation is supported by Republicans and Democrats alike because it works. The science is clear: investment during early childhood enhances the lives of our children through the developmental years and into adulthood. This year Governor Susana Martinez signed the state budget that awarded a $27 million increase in early childhood funding and included more funding for home visiting.
    Raising children is indeed a personal responsibility. The First Born Program is, therefore, a voluntary program that offers new families free weekly visits from a trained professional who offers support, encouragement, connection to community resources and a wealth of evidence-based information.

  • Monsters are still in the closet for patients

    CHILE PAC’s half-hour infomercial titled “Breakdown” is an interesting entry into campaign debate.
    Its subject is the human impact of the state Human Services Department’s shutdown of 13 behavioral health providers and their replacement with five Arizona firms.
    Concerned Hispanics Involved in Legislative Empowerment used documentary techniques to take the audience inside the homes of people struggling to care for a mentally ill relative. It also gives a voice to providers who were disgraced and thrown out with no chance to defend themselves.
    Aired recently, “Breakdown” is obviously aimed at Gov. Susana Martinez. Her campaign filed an ethics complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office that CHILE PAC hadn’t registered with the state or filed finance reports. (Imagine an outfit sitting on millions in dark money complaining about a trifling $4,500 spent on the spot.) Still, I credit the organizers for reminding us that this is about sick, troubled people.
    We meet Gib Lovell, whose son Caleb is schizophrenic. After the state’s closure of Caleb’s accustomed provider, the new provider cut back on treatment and services. Lovell built a six-foot wall around his property. “If Caleb has a bad day,” he said, “I can keep my son out of harm’s way.”

  • Amendment 5 doesn't help

    Nearly every elected official or candidate tells us that they are going to create jobs and strengthen the economy of New Mexico and the United States.
    In reality, their actions seldom support their rhetoric. The proposed Amendment 5 to the New Mexico constitution in this year’s general election is a prime example.
    Amendment 5 would change the rules that regulate the investments of the New Mexico Land Grant Permanent Fund. Apparently, the amendment supports good intentions: to reduce risk to the fund and to produce a more reliable income stream to educate our children without raising our taxes.
    There is one major inconsistency: the amendment would remove the 15 percent upper limit on the book value of investments in “international funds”, i.e., funds that are based in all countries, except the U.S.
    Does it make sense to educate our children for jobs in the U.S. when the state of New Mexico is investing in and creating jobs in other countries — and not the U.S.?
    Apparently, Governor Martinez, Ray Powell, and the legislature didn’t “think the issue through,” or they don’t really believe the U.S. has a future.
    Vote “no” on Amendment 5.
    Joe D’Anna
    Los Alamos
      

  • Vote 'yes' on Amendment 2

    On behalf of Northern New Mexico College and the Board of Regents, I urge voters in the upcoming election to support Amendment 2 to grant Northern a voting student regent. Northern is the only four-year college in New Mexico without a voting student regent, a role that I believe is essential in representing the student perspective in administrative decision making.
    This position also provides students with an important leadership opportunity that benefits them later in life.
    I thank you for voting in support of expanding opportunities for New Mexico students and assisting us in our mission of ensuring access to higher education in our state.

    Nancy “Rusty” Barceló,
    President, Northern New Mexico College
     

  • County's utility board should be held accountable

    Let’s see if I’ve got this right: we don’t trust the county council that we elected; we do trust the utility board appointed by the council.
    We can recall elected officials but not the utility board. The council can appoint but not remove utility board members.
    Council meetings are televised. Utility Board meetings are not.
    Everyone has a boss. Private utility companies are held accountable by state regulatory agencies and boards of directors. Our public utility needs to be accountable to the council.
    The fundamental issue that charter amendment 2 addresses is accountability of the utility board. Once appointed, board members determine utility department policy with very little interaction with council other than the annual budget approval process.
    Charter amendment 2 defines a process for resolving differences between the board and council and gives the council authority to remove a board member with a super majority vote of 6 to 1. The autonomy of the Utility Department will be preserved to the extent allowed by state statute. Charter amendment No. 2 will ensure council and public input to our publicly owned utility.
    I believe the current Charter Article V is broken. It is time to fix it. Please vote for charter amendment No. 2.
    Mike Wheeler
    Los Alamos
     

  • Constitutional amendments: Yes on 1, No on others

    Five more amendments to the New Mexico Constitution face voters this fall. Amending the Constitution has been a low-key sideline or, perhaps, a sport of state politics since before statehood.
    Find the text of the amendments and pro and con arguments at websites of the Legislative Council Service (LCS).
    Proposed amendments pass the Legislature as joint resolutions and are submitted to the people in general elections, meaning alternate years. The governor has no authority to comment.
    Sometimes elitists argue that amendments are too complex or boring or whatever for “the people” to consider from the perspective of their averageness. This amounts to the same rationale given by radicals such as Sen. Tom Udall with his First Amendment proposal to regulate political speech. Udall and his far left buddies think that regular folks can’t sort through megabucks spending to make a decision.
    I disagree. Voters really do consider constitutional amendments. If that consideration is for one minute, so what? My evidence is that sometimes proposed amendments lose. Individual amendments always get different vote totals. Clearly voters, some anyway, come to different conclusions about a given proposal.